Proverbs 11:31—Are the righteous rewarded in this life or in the next one?

Problem: Here Solomon speaks as though the godly person receives his reward in this life, claiming, “the righteous will be recompensed on the earth.” However, the Bible repeatedly speaks of the rewards of the believer as being yet future, after Christ returns (cf. 1 Cor. 3:12–15). Jesus said, “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work” (Rev. 22:12).

Solution: Rewards only begin in this life—they are not completed until the next life. They are only partially passed out on earth—they will be fully given in heaven. The same is true of punishment for the wicked. The same retributive justice that governs this world will also rule the world to come. The wrath of God is already abiding on unbelievers (John 3:36), yet we are told to flee from the wrath to come (Matt. 3:7).

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.