Jesus and Judgment

By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Gospel of John, Jesus


Our little Bible study group is studying the Gospel of John. We struggled over 5:22 which says that "the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." Then 8:15 where Jesus says "I judge no man." What does it mean that the Father has committed all judgment unto the Son?


The complete passage reads: "…the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these. For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son gives life to whom he is pleased to give it. Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father." (NIV 5:20-23)

In this context Jesus proclaims that all of his work is an emanation of the divine work. The healings, exorcisms, et al, that he does are simply the works of divine love becoming manifest. Both he and the Father give life "to whom they are pleased to give it." This doesn't mean Jesus is randomly making decisions on his own. Far from it. His claim is that his will and the Father's are the same. So even when he appears to be acting on his own, he is doing exactly what the Father wants done. This extends as well to the issue of judgment. The Father can entrust all judgment to Jesus because He and Jesus are one. Jesus will judge exactly as the Father does. This is an example of their oneness and sameness. They have different, distinct functions, but they execute them in exactly the same way.

Most scholars connect this passage to 3:17: "God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." Is there a contradiction here? Not necessarily. God's purpose in sending Jesus is primarily for salvation. But some will reject Jesus outright. Eventually, all will face him and be judged by him at the end of time. For those who reject the Messiah, their judgment will lead to condemnation.

The passage in 8:15 comes in the context of Jesus' teaching in the synagogue and his discussions with the Pharisees. Again, they are discussing judgment. Here, however, it is the judgment of the Pharisees. Jesus is admonishing them for judging according to human standards and says that "I pass judgment on no one." In other words, he doesn't use human standards to make judgments. The passage continues, "But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father who sent me." (16) This is in accord with his previous statement of 5:22. He and the Father use divine standards for judgment, unlike the Pharisees who are quick to judge based on appearances or points of law. 

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