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The Judgment before "the great white throne"

A painting of the great White Thone Judgment, with a very bright white light on a round dais representing the Supreme Judge and figures representing souls lined up to go before the Great White Throne.

Revelation 20:11-15

“Then I saw a great white throne and the one who sat on it; the earth and the heaven fled from his presence, and no place was found for them.  And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Also, another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books. And the sea gave up the dead that were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and all were judged according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” NRSVA

Dear reader, could it be that this judgment before the “great white throne” revealed to the apostle John on the island of Patmos in the year 95 CE (Common Era. Christian Age for Christians) is the same one as the judgment of the nations prophesied by Jesus Christ in the year 30 during his earthly ministry? Two distinct scenarios of the same event from somewhat different viewpoints? Personally, I consider it highly probable.

A painting of a majestic figure in white seated on a white throne and before him a being brought for judgement for a study on the Great White Throne Judgment.

A “throne” is present in both scenarios. A “throne of… glory” in Matthew 25; the “great white throne” in that of Revelation 20.

In both scenarios, a member of the Deity occupies the throne. The “Son of Man” in Matthew 25; “God” in that of Revelation 20. Now, God the Father “has given all judgment to the Son,” as the Son himself explains in John 5:22 and 27. Nevertheless, to my understanding, this does not necessarily mean that the Father is not present at all for the “throne of… glory” judgment, nor that the Son is not at all present for the “great white throne” judgment.


For the Son acts on the authority of the Father (Matthew 28:18), the Father not being subjected to the Son at any time. Though he has “put all things in subjection under” the “feet” of the Son during the present Common Era, “it is plain that this does not include” the

Father himself, writes the apostle Paul. 1 Corinthians 15:27. “Plain” to some; a total mystery to those who have a different understanding of the Father-Son relationship.

So then, the Son, when he judges, would judge according to the guidelines set down by the Father. Jesus Christ himself affirms: I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek to do not my own will but the will of him who sent me.” John 5:30. “I do nothing on my own, but I speak these things as the Father instructed me.” John 8:28. “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants.” Revelation 1:1. Thus, the Son Jesus did not originate the book of Revelation. God the Father gave it to him.

Back to the two judgments, in both scenarios, the judgment is carried out precisely after the Second Coming of Christ. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him,” in Matthew 25:31. After “the earth and the heaven” have “fled from” the “presence” of God, “and no place was found for them,” in Revelation 20:11.

Deceived, ungodly peoples appear in both scenarios, their atheistic, materialistic, totally secular leaders standing out among them. They are from the nations which exist during the “little time,” the last period of time previous to the Second Coming of Christ. Revelation 20:1-3. They are the “goats” of Matthew 25. And we see them clearly in the scenario of Revelation 20, for they are the…

 “…small and great, standing before the throne.” Revelation 20:12

Surely these are the same small and greatthat “were killed” by Jesus Christ at the conclusion of the battle of Armageddon. Revelation 19:17-21

The phraseology of the two texts above is, essentially, the same, and in terms of the timeline, the “great white throne” judgment takes place immediately after Armageddon ends. The “small and great” are killed. Then are raised to go stand “before the throne.”

In a vivid, colorful painting, the small and the great are brought before the Supreme Judge in the Great White Throne Judgment.

These “small and great” are kings
captains… the mightyriders

(cavalry) bothfree and slavethat war against the Lamb in Armageddon.
Revelation 19:18

I understand them to be the unbelieving and depraved of all kinds set on dethroning God and destroying his church on the earth.

They are undoubtedly the same as the “goats” of Matthew 25! Standing spiritually naked and trembling before the Just Judge of souls, they try desperately to save themselves by appealing to their own good works. Matthew 25:44. Maybe they did do some such works among those of their same mentality and conduct, but they “did not do” them “to one of the least of these who are members of my family.” They are told so by the Judge himself. Matthew 25:40. They are not of the “family” of God. “God’s family”  (Ephesians 2:19) during the Common Era is his Church, the one established by his Son, Jesus Christ. Matthew 16:18. They did not treat members of the church kindly or fairly; did not favor them with good works. On the contrary, they rose up in arms against God and his elect at the place called “Armageddon,” also spelled “Harmagedon.” Revelation 16:12-16 NRSVA

Since their names are not written “in the book of life,” they are “thrown alive into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15), synonymous with “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” of Matthew 25:41.

Unbelievers and bad, evil, vice-ridden, criminal people of all kinds and countries would do well to take notice of the defense made by their compatriots in the Judgment of the Nations. Face to face with the Just Judge of Souls, they appeal to their own good works. Now absolutely convinced that God and Jesus Christ exist, they attempt to make it look like they did those works to please them. Did not work! Will not work! I think to be rare indeed a human being so totally depraved that he/she would not do even a few good works during his/her entire lifetime. However, the good works of the unbelieving and evil who remain so until their death are given no consideration whatsoever in the day of judgment. Any pretense to the contrary is summarily dismissed by the Just Judge of Souls. He says:

“For to all those who have, more will be given, and they will have an abundance; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away.” Mateo 25:29

“Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it [any good work] to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. Matthew 25:45-46

Let us return once more to the two judgments. In both scenarios, souls-spirits exonerated of their sins are present, to whom the blessing of going away “into eternal life” is granted in virtue of their having lived as “sheep” in the midst of wolves during the days of their lives upon the earth.

This is very clear in Matthew 25 and is implicitly implied in Revelation 20.

A painting of the Great White Thone Judgement for the study of the same name, with a multitude of souls before a majestic throne.

Regarding Revelation 20, since “the book of life was on hand in the “great white throne” judgment, it is to be reasonably deduced that God, moved by his marvelous divine mercy, would allow some souls cited for that judgment to go “into eternal life.”

Additionally, the statement “…and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire,” implies, most assuredly, that the names of some were definitely found “in the book of life,” and would, therefore, be saved eternally.

With respect to Matthew 25, the “sheep” respond to the statements of the Judge on the throne as if they had not truly known him, his Word, or his people on earth. “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food…?" Adding two more questions beginning with “When…?” Matthew 25:37-39. Conversely, a faithful Christian would surely know “when, where, and to what extent” he did all those works, leading me to deduce that those “sheep” would not be in the same category as faithful Christians. That conclusion is fully supported by the Judge’s reply to the “sheep,” also identified as “the righteous.” Matthew 25:37

“Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” Matthew 25:40. So, the “sheep” were obviously not members of “God’s family” (Ephesians 2:19), but they had conducted themselves as if they were!

Now, the “sheep” were there before the throne in the judgment of the “nations,” but so were “these who are members of my family!” Who are thesemembers of the family of God present in that judgment? They are the righteous dead who are resurrected at the beginning of the “day of the Lord” that “will come like a thief in the night,” and the righteous alive on Earth when that day arrives who are then transformed, both groups caught up “in the air” to accompany Jesus Christ in his Second Coming. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. When the Nation Judgment begins, they are with him.

It seems, therefore, quite evident that both those whose names are found in the “book of life” in the Great White Throne Judgment and the “sheep” in the Nations Judgment are, in fact, one and the same.

Due to their charitable works and overall justness (Matthew 25:34-40), their clean conscious, and to the fact that, though they “do not possess the law,” they “do instinctively what the law requires,” showing that the law “is written on their hearts,” (Romans 2:14-16), their names appear in “the book of life.” Revelation 20:12. “God, who is rich in mercy” (Ephesians 2:4; Romans 9:18), grants them entrance into his glorified, eternal Kingdom. Matthew 25:34; 19:14; 2 Peter 1:11

Humble as sheep (Matthew 25:33), they treat persecuted Christians with kindness (Matthew 25:40), and perhaps even some of the unbelieving and persecuting, for such is the naiveness and goodness of some truly humble human beings that, though they know not the gospel, they naturally treat even bad people with kindness, just as the true Christian loves even his enemies. Matthew 5:43-48

In this painting of the Great White Throne Judgment, a few souls in whitle and a multitude in drab dress are brought before pedestals with open books lying on them, from which they will be judged.

So then, “sheep” in the judgment of the nations, according to Matthew 25. And, by inference, also in the “great white throne” judgment.


Recapitulating for emphasis: The just and righteous of all the ages of Earth before the Second Coming of Christ are not among the “sheep” before God and Christ in the judgment of the nations, synonymous with the white throne judgment. For those

in Paradise are resurrected at the very beginning of the “day of the Lord” that “will come as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-7; 2 Peter 3:10-13) and immediately following that initial event true Christians still alive on planet Earth are transformed (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), not experiencing the death of their physical bodies (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). Both groups coming together “in the air” to accompany the Lord Jesus Christ in his Second Coming. 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.

Obviously, the judgment of the nations-white throne judgment takes place after these events. Indeed, also after the destruction of the wicked alive on earth, the resurrection of the wicked dead, and the fleeing away of the material planet Earth and the rest of the material universe. That is precisely the scenario of Revelation 20.

Text and Document Composition by the author Homer Dewayne Shappley. All rights reserved. The only restrictions on the use of this document are the sale of it in any format and proper identification of its origin.

CATEGORY Revelation: Its Ongoing Relevancy and Fulfillment. 21st Century commentary.

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