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Did Jesus come to judge the world or save the world? Context, context, context

A favorite tactic for those who take verses out of context, is to read only part of the verse. Or, as in today’s case, to take a complete verse as the statement or their defense, but forego the next verse, which is obviously attached to the former. Here is the example.

As for anyone who hears My words and does not keep them, I do not judge him. For I have not come to judge the world, but to save the world. (John 12:47)

It’s popular for many people to rely on that verse as their defense in saying not to point our error or to name false teachers. “Stop judging!” people say. “The Bible says not to judge, even Jesus didn’t come to judge!”

However, the verse 47 continues the thought into verse 48.

There is a judge for the one who rejects Me and does not receive My words: The word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.

So people WILL be judged. Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible says of John 12:47-48,

and receiveth not my words; the doctrines of the Gospel, but disbelieves them, and denies them to be true, looking upon them as the doctrines of a mere man, and an impostor:

hath one that judgeth him; let not such an one think that he shall escape righteous judgment; though Christ does not judge him now, there is one that judges him, yea, even now; and declares, that he that believeth not shall be damned, and that he is condemned already

the word that I have spoken unto you the same shall judge him in the last day; according to the different dispensations wicked men are under in this world, will be the rule of their judgment hereafter: such who are only under the law of nature, will be judged according to that, that will accuse them, convict them, and condemn them: such who have been under the law of Moses, or the written law, will be arraigned, proved, and pronounced guilty, and punished by, and according to that law; and such who have been under the Gospel dispensation, and have been favoured with the revelation of the Gospel, but have condemned and denied it, that will judge them at the last day. The judge will act by its present declaration, and according to that proceed, as it stands in Mark 16:16. It will rise up in judgment against such persons, and be an aggravation of their condemnation.

Part of what we mean when we say don’t take verses out of context is first, read the whole verse, not just part of it. Second, read the verses around the verse you want to quote. As a matter of fact, it’s good to read the entire passage, page, or even chapter. You will get a better idea of the flow and the points raised and settled. If realtors’ mantra expression is: “There are three things that matter in property: location, location, location,” then the Bible student’s mantra should be “There are three things that matter in Bible study- context, context, context.”




Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.

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