John 5:22 – Who is doing the final judgment anyway? Is it God or Jesus?

John 5:20  For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.
John 5:21  For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.
John 5:22  For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:
John 5:23  That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

Consider the following context:
Say among the heathen that the LORD (YHWH) reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he (YHWH) shall judge the people righteously. Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fullness thereof. Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice Before the LORD (YHWH): for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth. (Psalms 96:10-13)

What do Psalm 67:4, Psalm 96:10-13; and Psalm 98:9 all have in common? If you guessed that they all have to do with Who presides over the final judgment, then you guessed correctly. In fact, all three verses claim that God is the one performing the final judgment; yet, Jesus in John 5:22 says that God the Father does not do any judging. Instead, Jesus says that the judging of all people will be done by Himself. Now the astute Jew of that day would have immediately understood Jesus’ statement in verse 22 as a claim to deity especially since, for instance, Psalms 7:8 states that YAHWEH (the name of God) will in “fact judge the people.” From Jesus’ assertion in John 5:22 it is easy to see why Christians conclude that the verses in the Psalms can only be referring to the second person in the Trinity, namely, God the Son who is also Jesus the Christ. As expected, when we fast forward to the day of judgment in Revelation 20:12 we read that those to be judged are standing before God; and Paul tells us in Romans 14:10-12 that the God before Whom all stand is none other than Jesus the Christ. Specifically, Paul says:

…we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
(Romans 14:10-12)

So we see that Paul, by saying that we will all stand before Christ to be judged, equates Jesus with God and thereby reaffirms that Jesus was in fact claiming to be God the Judge of the whole earth.

But wait, someone will undoubtedly say:
God the Father IS the judge of the earth spoken of in the Psalms. Jesus is just His proxy, he is thus God only by office or investiture. Even Jesus in John 5:27 says that the Father has given Him authority to be the judge. Paul also confirms this when he says that God will judge the secrets of men “by” Jesus Christ (Romans 2:16, Acts 17:31); therefore, Jesus is not YAHWEH the Judge of the whole earth spoken of in the Psalms but simply God’s proxy. God gives Him authority to judge and Jesus judges according to God’s will.

My response:
While it is certainly true that God the Father will judge the world through Jesus Christ it is also true as Jesus said in John 5:22 that “the Father judgeth no man but hath committed ALL judgment unto the Son.” It would not be wrong to call God the Father the Judge but in light of Scripture we understand that He Judges through Jesus Christ. Looking at the language of Romans 14:10-12 above, we are forced to conclude that Jesus is called God and not simply by virtue of office nor is He merely a proxy. Why? Well, regarding the Romans 14 passage Albert Barnes says:

“This passage is recorded in Isaiah 45:23…In Isaiah there can be no doubt that it refers to Yahweh. The speaker expressly calls himself Yahweh, the name which is appropriate to God alone, and which is never applied to a creature; In the place before us, the words are applied by Paul expressly to Christ; compare Romans 14:10. This mode of quotation is a strong incidental proof that the apostle regarded the Lord Jesus as divine. On no other principle could he have made these quotations…Secondly, the fact that Jesus is declared to be the Judge of all [is proof of Christ’s deity]. No being that is not “omniscient” can be qualified to judge the secrets of all people.

Furthermore, by demoting Jesus to a mere proxy, you make Paul contradict himself since as evidenced from the passage in Romans 14, Paul also thinks that Jesus is YAHWEY, the Almighty God. We must not make Paul contradict himself especially since both of his statements can coexist as true. Jesus the Christ is God to Whom we must not only bow and confess Lordship but unto Whom we must also give an account of our lives since He is our Creator (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16) and our Judge. However, Jesus is also God the Father’s ordained Judge and unto Jesus alone has this role been committed. Incidentally, that Jesus does work that is attributed to God is hardly a precedent especially at this point in the Scriptures. We must remember that all three Members of the Trinity created the World (Genesis 1:26) yet it is Jesus Who is referred to as the Creator (John 1:3, Colossians 1:16) or the Agent of creation (Ephesians 3:9, Hebrews 1:2). God, in the book of Genesis, spoke EVERYTHING into existence using Words and it is Jesus Who is called the Word of God (John 1:1, Revelation 19:13). This is the reason why the bible says that without Jesus was nothing made that has been made(John 1:3). Again, the Bible in Acts 20:28 says that God purchased the Church with His own blood; yet Ephesians 1:7 says that it was Jesus Who redeemed us with His blood. Throughout the bible, this sort of attribution of God to Jesus is readily found so that one cannot escape the fact that Jesus is referred to as God.

So God the Father judges in one sense but does not judge in another sense. This is not a contradiction since the senses in which He both judges and does not judge do not coincide. He judges in the sense that everything Jesus does God also does and vice versa; this is because there is only one God. On the other hand, God doesn’t judge in the sense that the Second Person in the Trinity, namely, Jesus the Christ, is the Person that is actually judging since He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). We must remember that no man can see God the Father (John 1:18, 1 Timothy 6:16, 1 John 4:12) or at least remain alive after doing so (Exodus 33:20) but we can and will see Jesus Christ who being the visible manifestation of God (Hebrews 1:3, Colossians 1:15) is God. This is also the reason why some of the verses in the Psalms (Psalm 96:10-13) talk about God “coming” to Judge. When one surveys the Scriptures, one realizes that God the Father never comes to Judge; the only Person coming to judge the world is Jesus the Christ. This is evident from verses such as: Isaiah 26:21, Revelations 19:11 and Matthew 25:31-46.

Regarding John 5:22 Albert Barnes states:

The power of judging the world implies ability to search the heart, and omniscience to understand the motives of all actions. This is a work which none but a divine being can do, and it shows, therefore, that the Son is equal to the Father

In summary, we see that no one can judge the world without possessing the power of omniscience which belongs to God alone. In addition, we have seen that the Old Testament refers to the Judge of the world as God and in the New Testament Jesus refers to Himself as the Judge of the world. Obviously, if the Old Testament says that God is responsible for final judgment, and in the New Testament Jesus says that He is responsible for final judgment; compelled by Scripture and reason, we must conclude that Jesus was claiming to be God.

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