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Bible Dictionaries

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament

Condemnation (2)

CONDEMNATION.—The disappearance of the term ‘damnation’ in the Revised Version NT 1881, OT 1885 of the Gospels is suggestive of more sober and reasonable thoughts about the Divine judgment against sin. Condemnation at the last may indeed fall like a thunderbolt upon the rejected (Matthew 21:19). The fig-tree in the parable has a time of probation and then may be suddenly cut down (Luke 13:6-9). At the Day of Judgment the universal benevolence of God experienced here (Matthew 5:45, Luke 6:35) will give place to His righteous wrath against the persistently rebellious. Condemnation is the irrevocable sentence then passed upon the abusers of this life (Matthew 25:41-46). Especially will this sentence of rejection and punishment descend then upon the hypocrite (Mark 12:40). The state of the condemned will be a veritable Gehenna (Matthew 23:33). Weeping and gnashing of teeth picture the dreadful condition of condemned souls (Matthew 22:13; Matthew 24:51; Matthew 25:30). Not only, we must suppose, punishment by pain for rebellion, but regret at past indifference, remorse at past folly, shame at past malice, will be the terrible feelings lacerating souls that have found not forgiveness but condemnation. The condemned will regret their indifference to Christ’s demands, which they have ignored (John 3:36). They will be tortured by the keen perception of their extreme folly in rejecting the knowledge they might have used (Luke 11:31-32). They will feel the shame of having their secret thoughts of evil exposed to a light broader than that of day (Matthew 23:28). This will be the condemnation to perpetual darkness for those who have loved darkness more than the light (Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13; Matthew 25:30).

But in this present life there is always at work a certain inevitable and automatic Divine condemnation. ‘The earth beareth fruit of herself’ (αὐτομάτη, Mark 4:28), and yet the fact is due to the directing will of God. So, even in this life, the Divine condemnation of evil is being worked out, without that irrevocable sentence which constitutes the final condemnation. The guest may already feel the lack of a wedding-garment (Matthew 2:11), and so, warned by the present workings of condemnation, escape the last dread sentence. Nothing but what God approves can endure the stresses and storms that are imminent (Luke 6:46-49). Without the sap of God’s favour the vine must already begin to wither (John 15:6).

But this present immanent condemnation is rather a most merciful conviction of sin and wrongfulness (John 16:8-11). In this present age condemnation is not final for any; nay, God’s purpose is the eternal security of men in true peace and true happiness (John 3:17; John 12:47). So far from condemnation being any man’s sure fate, there is no need for any member of the human family to have to undergo such judgment as might result in condemnation (John 5:29). The strong assertion in the present ending to the second Gospel, ‘He that disbelieveth shall be condemned’ (Mark 16:16), is surely the expression of the true conviction that Christ is the only Way to avoid condemnation (cf. John 3:36). Condemnation is God’s prerogative, and not the privilege or duty of the individual Christian as such: ‘Condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned’ (Luke 6:37).

W. B. Frankland.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Condemnation (2)'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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