Judge Not?

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Being "judgmental" has attained a negative connotation, but realistically, what is wrong with judging? Everyone makes judgments constantly. Moral judgments are not wrong. It is not wrong to consider murder, theft, or false witness immoral. Indeed, if someone were to say that judging is wrong, that would itself be a value judgment, and thus those accusing others of being "judgmental" would themselves be guilty of judging in the sense of calling what others are doing wrong. The reality is that those accusing others of being "judgmental" have no problem with judging, and are likely to criticize others themselves. Rather, they dislike others criticizing their personal lifestyles, and dislike the moral beliefs of those who disagree with them, and judge their lifestyles to be inappropriate.

Although the Bible gets brought up to justify criticism of "judging" such a criticism is typically false and out of context. Logically, such a commandment to not judge others, to be Biblically consistent, would have to involve more than just judging between right and wrong, since the Bible repeatedly states certain actions are right and certain actions are wrong. The confusion is caused by the English language having multiple meanings of the word "judge" and when the KJV chose the term centuries ago, it was translating a Greek word that means to take legal action in court of law whether suing somene with a lawsuit, or pronouncing a sentence as a judge. It did NOT mean simply criticizing people or actions as wrong, which is perfectly Biblical.

"Tolerance"?

Tolerance comes from the root word tolerate, and you cannot tolerate someone that you already agree with. As pointed out by Michael Horner, tolerance means allowing someone the free speech to state their beliefs even though you disagree with them. It does not mean pretending that all views are equally alright which as Horner elsewhere points out is a logical impossibility given their mutually exclusive natures.

Some people might question this, saying it is intolerant to think only one religion has things right. But this response shows a misunderstanding of what intolerance really is. Intolerance comes from the word 'tolerate.' To tolerate means to allow something, such as a belief, to exist even though we don’t like it or agree with it. Tolerance does not mean never disagreeing with anybody. The word implies disagreement. True tolerance means allowing differing views to coexist without necessarily agreeing with them or claiming that all views are true. Therefore, we can hold that one view is true or better than other views without being intolerant. If we were truly intolerant, we would seek to silence other points of view. But merely engaging in persuasive conversation with someone you disagree with is not intolerance. We show more respect for each other when we take our religious claims seriously than when we clothe them in a patronizing cloak of relativism.
-Michael Horner[1]

Examples of Judging

The Bible displays numerous prophets criticizing the actions of others, often on behalf of God. Simply criticizing others is thus obviously not the intended meaning of "judge not" according to the Bible. John the Baptist for example criticized Herod for committing incest and Paul critized a chief Pharisee for breaking the Mosaic Law. Paul even publicly blamed Peter at one point for not walking uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel.

Mark 6:17 For Herod himself had sent forth and laid hold upon John, and bound him in prison for Herodias' sake, his brother Philip's wife: for he had married her.
18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife.

Acts 23:3 Then said Paul unto him, God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?
4 And they that stood by said, Revilest thou God's high priest?

Galatians 2:11 ¶ But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

Jesus in particular lambasted the Pharisees as lazy pretentious hypocrites (23:3-5,13-14), tools of Satan enslaving others to Hell (23:13-15), blind fools (23:16-19,24-26), whited graves that outwardly appear beautiful but are full of death within (23:27-28), murderers of the prophets on whom lies the blood of all the Earth's righteous (23:31-32), and a generation of vipers damned to Hell. (23:33)

Matthew 23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,

13 ¶ But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.
14 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.
15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves.
16 Woe unto you, ye blind guides, which say, Whosoever shall swear by the temple, it is nothing; but whosoever shall swear by the gold of the temple, he is a debtor!
17 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gold, or the temple that sanctifieth the gold?
18 And, Whosoever shall swear by the altar, it is nothing; but whosoever sweareth by the gift that is upon it, he is guilty.
19 Ye fools and blind: for whether is greater, the gift, or the altar that sanctifieth the gift?

23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
24 Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.
25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.
26 Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.
28 Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.
29 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,
30 And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.
31 Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.
32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.
33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
34 ¶ Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:
35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

This lends new meaning to "What would Jesus do?" The Biblical concept of a meek, unassuming pacifist that does not criticize anyone or anything is a complete myth and entirely at odds with the Gospels and entirety of the Bible, wherein Jesus and the prophets speak strongly against evil wherever they see it.

Krino, Legal Term

The New Testament Greek word translated "judge" is krino. It should also be pointed out that we are told not to judge others so we won't be judged. It is ironic that those criticizing Christians for judging have no problem with judging others, they only quote the verse when they are judged in return. Yet Biblically, those who judge others are judged.

Matthew 7:1Judge <krino> not, <me> that <hina me> ye be <krino> not <hina me> judged. <krino>
2 For <en> with <hos> what <gar> judgment <krima> ye judge, <krino> ye shall be judged: <krino> and <kai> with <en> what <hos> measure <metron> ye mete, <metreo> it shall be measured <antimetreo> to you <humin> again. <antimetreo>

Luke 6:37 ¶ <kai> Judge <krino> not, <me> and <kai> ye shall <krino> not <ou me> be judged: <krino> condemn <katadikazo> not, <me> and <kai> ye shall <katadikazo> not <ou me> be condemned: <katadikazo> forgive, <apoluo> and <kai> ye shall be forgiven: <apoluo>

The word krino is a legal term meaning to go to law against as with a lawsuit, or a judge's sentence of punishment upon another person.

Krino, Strong's Number: 2919

kree'-no, Verb
Definition:
to separate, put asunder, to pick out, select, choose
to approve, esteem, to prefer
to be of opinion, deem, think, to be of opinion
to determine, resolve, decree
to judge
to pronounce an opinion concerning right and wrong
to be judged, i.e. summoned to trial that one's case may be examined and judgment passed upon it
to pronounce judgment, to subject to censure
of those who act the part of judges or arbiters in matters of common life, or pass judgment on the deeds and words of others
to rule, govern
to preside over with the power of giving judicial decisions, because it was the prerogative of kings and rulers to pass judgment
to contend together, of warriors and combatants
to dispute
in a forensic sense
to go to law, have suit at law

King James Word Usage - Total: 114 judge 88, determine 7, condemn 5, go to law 2, call in question 2, esteem 2, miscellaneous 8[2]

This same word krino is elsewhere used in contexts clearly referring to cases in court of law, showing that it has a legal meaning, not simply one of deciding opinions for oneself.

Matthew 5:40 And <kai> if any man will <thelo> sue <krino> thee <soi> at the law <krino>, and <kai> take away <lambano> thy <sou> coat <chiton>, let <aphiemi> him <autos> have <aphiemi> thy cloke <himation> also <kai>.

John 18:31 Then <oun> said <epo> Pilate <Pilatos> unto them <autos>, Take <lambano> ye <humeis> him <autos>, and <kai> judge <krino> him <autos> according <kata> to your <humon> law <nomos>. The Jews <Ioudaios> therefore <oun> said <epo> unto him <autos>, It is <exesti> not <ou> lawful <exesti> for us <hemin> to put <apokteino> any man <oudeis> to death <apokteino>:

Acts 23:3 Then <tote> said <epo> Paul <Paulos> unto <pros> him <autos>, God <theos> shall <mello> smite <tupto> thee <se>, thou whited <koniao> wall <toichos>: for <kai> sittest <kathemai> thou <su> to judge <krino> me <me> after <kata> the law <nomos>, and <kai> commandest <keleuo> me <me> to be smitten <tupto> contrary to the law <paranomeo>?

Acts 25:9 But <de> Festus, <Phestos> willing <thelo> to do <katatithemi> the Jews <Ioudaios> a pleasure, <charis> answered <apokrinomai> Paul, <Paulos> and said, <epo> Wilt thou <thelo> go up <anabaino> to <eis> Jerusalem, <Hierosoluma> and there <ekei> be judged <krino> of <peri> these things <touton> before <epi> me <emou>?
10 Then <de> said <epo> Paul, <Paulos> I stand <eimi> <histemi> at <epi> Caesar's <Kaisar> judgment seat, <bema> where <hou> I <me> ought <dei> to be judged: <krino> to the Jews <Ioudaios> have I done <adikeo> no <oudeis> wrong, <adikeo> as <hos> <kai> thou <su> very well <kallion> knowest. <epiginosko>
11 For <gar> if <ei> <men> I be an offender, <adikeo> or <kai> have committed <prasso> any thing <tis> worthy <axios> of death, <thanatos> I refuse <paraiteomai> not <ou> to die: <apothnesko> but <de> if <ei> there be <esti> none <oudeis> of these things <hos> whereof these <houtos> accuse <kategoreo> me, <mou> no man <oudeis> may <dunamai> deliver <charizomai> me <me> unto them. <autos> I appeal unto <epikaleomai> Caesar. <Kaisar>

Revelation 20:12 And <kai> I saw <eido> the dead <nekros>, small <mikros> and <kai> great <megas>, stand <histemi> before <enopion> God <theos>; and <kai> the books <biblion> were opened <anoigo>: and <kai> another <allos> book <biblion> was opened <anoigo>, which <hos> is <esti> the book of life <zoe>: and <kai> the dead <nekros> were judged <krino> out of <ek> those things which were written <grapho> in <en> the books <biblion>, according to <kata> their <autos> works <ergon>.
20:13 And <kai> the sea <thalassa> gave up <didomi> the dead <nekros> which <ho> were in <en> it <autos>; and <kai> death <thanatos> and <kai> hell <hades> delivered up <didomi> the dead <nekros> which <ho> were in <en> them <autos>: and <kai> they were judged <krino> every man <hekastos> according to <kata> their <autos> works <ergon>.

Christians Told to Judge Between Right and Wrong

Christians are actually told if there is such legal judgment they should "judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment" (Acts 7:24) and to judge in ourselves what is right. Christians are actually called to judge in matters of morality to determine for themselves what is right (Luke 12:57) and to judge what others say to determine its value (Acts 4:19, 1 Corinthians 10:15).

John 7:24 Judge <krino> not <me> according to <kata> the appearance <opsis>, but <alla> judge <krino> righteous <dikaios> judgment <krisis>.

Luke 12:57 Yea, <de> and why <tis> even <kai> of <apo> yourselves <heautou> judge ye <krino> not <ou> what is right <dikaios>?

Acts 4:19 But <de> Peter <Petros> and <kai> John <Ioannes> answered <apokrinomai> and said <epo> unto <pros> them, <autos> Whether <ei> it be <esti> right <dikaios> in the sight <enopion> of God <theos> to hearken <akouo> unto you <humon> more than <mallon> <e> unto God, <theos> judge ye. <krino>

1 Corinthians 10:15 ¶ I speak <lego> as <hos> to wise men; <phronimos> judge <krino> ye <humeis> what <hos> I say. <phemi>

Forgive to be Forgiven

It should be pointed out that the critics are only quoting half of what Jesus said when they say "Judge not, that ye be not judged." (Matthew 7:1) That's only half the saying, the other half is in the next verse, which never seems to be quoted, "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matthew 7:2) The reason we are urged not to judge is that God will judge us at the end of time with the same judgment we judged others with, and we will be condemned with the same condemnation we condemned others with. (Luke 6:37)

Jesus urged us not to judge others ourselves whenever possible, and instead of condemning others with the Law or any laws, to forgive them, knowing that otherwise God will not forgive us. Therefore, when we are told in the Lord's prayer "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors" it is quite literal, we will be forgiven only by the standard we forgive others with. (Luke 11:4) Ultimately, we cannot "cast the first stone" unless sinless ourselves (John 8:7), and God will not forgive those who condemn others to death, but judge them by the same standard for their guilt, for we are all guilty before God of similar things. (Romans 2:1)

Matthew 7:2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

Luke 6:37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:

Luke 11:4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.

Matthew 18:32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

John 8:7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.

Using Righteous Judgment

Jesus reiterates the Old Testament commandment (Leviticus 19:15) to use righteous judgment. (John 7:24) As seen from James 2, the principle is simply not to give preference to the rich over the poor in evaluating people differently by societal status.

James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.
2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;
3 And ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:
4 Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?
5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?
6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?
7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?
8 ¶ If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:
9 But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.
10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.
12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.
13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

Matthew 7 on the other hand is a caution against suing others at court of law, seeking to punish others rather than showing mercy, since we are all guilty before God, and cannot expect mercy if we do not show it. 'Judge not' does not mean the modern perversion claimed in recent years of not criticizing anyone or anything, but Biblically means not punishing others for debts unpaid, as in a legal system.

Matthew 18:28 But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest.
29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
30 And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt.
31 So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.
32 Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me:
33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
34 And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him.
35 So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses.

John 8:7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.

The Real Commandment, No Lawsuits

The real issue in the early Christian church involved Christians suing one another in court of law. This led Paul to point out that if lawsuits must necessarily occur, the least esteemed Christian in the church is worthy to judge, since Christians will ultimately judge angels and the world itself at the end of time, acting as legal judges. They thus have the right to make such legal judgments. However, as Paul points out, their mindset should instead be to take wrong rather than risk defrauding their Christian brethren.

1 Corinthians 6:1 ¶ Dare <tolmao> any <tis> of you, <humon> having <echo> a matter <pragma> against <pros> another, <heteros> go to law <krino> before <epi> the unjust, <adikos> and <kai> not <ouchi> before <epi> the saints <hagios>?
2 Do ye <eido> not <ou> know <eido> that <hoti> the saints <hagios> shall judge <krino> the world <kosmos>? and <kai> if <ei> the world <kosmos> shall be judged <krino> by <en> you, <humin> are ye <este> unworthy <anaxios> to judge <kriterion> the smallest matters <elachistos>?
3 Know ye <eido> not <ou> that <hoti> we shall judge <krino> angels <aggelos>? how much more <metige> <ge> things that pertain to this life <biotikos>?
4 If <ean> then <men> <oun> ye have <echo> judgments <kriterion> of things pertaining to this life, <biotikos> set <kathizo> them <toutous> to judge who are least esteemed <exoutheneo> in <en> the church. <ekklesia>
5 I speak <lego> to your <humin> shame <pros>. <entrope> Is it so, <houto> that there <esti> is not <ou> a wise man <sophos> among <en> you <humin>? no, not <oude> one <heis> that <hos> shall be able <dunamai> to judge <diakrino> between <ana> <mesos> his <autos> brethren <adelphos>?
6 But <alla> brother <adelphos> goeth to law <krino> with <meta> brother, <adelphos> and <kai> that <touto> before <epi> the unbelievers. <apistos>
7 Now <ede> therefore <men> <oun> there is <esti> utterly <holos> a fault <hettema> among <en> you, <humin> because <hoti> ye go <echo> to law <krima> one with <meta> another. <heautou> Why <diati> do ye <adikeo> not <ouchi> rather <mallon> take wrong <adikeo>? why <diati> do ye <apostereo> not <ouchi> rather <mallon> suffer yourselves to be defrauded <apostereo>?
8 Nay, <alla> ye <humeis> do wrong, <adikeo> and <kai> defraud, <apostereo> and <kai> that <tauta> your brethren. <adelphos>

Related

Sources

  1. Horner, Michael. Do All Religions Lead to God? Thoughts About God.
  2. Thayer and Smith. Greek Lexicon entry for Krino. The KJV New Testament Greek Lexicon.