I recently heard a talk on the notion of "multiple judgments"; the idea is one is initially judged simply on the fact of their salvation - did that person put their life in Christ's hands and accept Him as savior. If yes, that person is accepted into Heaven. If no, that person is cast off.

Then, I heard of more judgments after this - essentially, being judged on what one "accomplished" based on what they had available. This seems to contradict the idea in Ephesians 2:8 of faith saving someone, not works:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God

There may have been more judgments that I heard, but I was so perplexed by this and didn't recall anything else.

My question is: Besides the initial judgement of salvation, what is the Biblical basis for multiple judgments, and are those judgments based on "merit" or "good works"?

  • In Catholic doctrine, and I'm not certain where it is in scripture so I won't answer, the particular and final judgements won't have different outcomes, they're just different in that one judgement is at the end of your life and the other is at the end of the world.
    – Peter Turner
    Jan 24, 2012 at 21:52

4 Answers 4


It sounds like you're referring to the White Throne Judgment and the Bema Seat Judgment, which are typically believed to be different judgments by Evangelical Protestants.

The White Throne Judgment is described in Revelation 20:11-15. This, to the traditions that believe in the two judgments, is the judgment that everyone faces, where you are judged to be innocent or guilty; whether you will be cast into the eternal lake of fire, or accepted into Heaven.

Revelation 11-15: (KJV) 11 ¶ And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

The Bema Seat Judgment, on the other hand, is believed to be the judgment of rewards to those who are saved, who have in essence, "made it through" the White Throne judgment. It's based on several scriptures scattered throughout the Bible.

There's an article that describes it here, with Scripture references. The page has a copyright notice, so I won't copy sections of it, rather a short summary follows:

Several passages in Scripture indicate that we will receive rewards for faithful service. - 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20 - Revelation 22:12 - Romans 14:10-11 - 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 - 2 Corinthians. 5:9-10 - 1 John 2:28 - Revelation 3:11-12

Both Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:9 reference a "judgment seat", which is a translation of the Greek word "Bema". There are arguments from some circles that this term has connotations of rewards coming to athletes competing for a prize. The article I referenced above states it this way. Others argue that these explanations are extra-Biblical and contradictory.

Whether or not there are separate judgments is something that's been debated for centuries. I won't put my own personal beliefs here, as they are flavored heavily by the doctrines I've been immersed in.

However, I will say that from an evangelical protestant perspective, the doctrine of two separate judgments does reconcile otherwise contradictory passages.

  • First, the doctrine of salvation by faith alone apart from works would indicate that our good works do absolutely nothing to earn us salvation. (The White Throne Judgment)
  • Second, we are told in various places in Scripture that we will be judged by our works, and will be rewarded. If the core doctrine of salvation by faith alone, apart from works is true, then these judgments and rewards must be something other than salvation.
    • There is the promise of crowns in Heaven (Rev. 3:11, Matt. 6:2, Rev. 4:4)
    • There is the promise of Heavenly treasure (Matt. 6:20, 1 Pet. 1:4)
    • There are promises of Responsibility, Authority, and inheritance of God's possessions. (Matt. 19:28; 24:45-47; 25:21, 23; Lk. 19:17-19; 22:29-30; Rev. 2:26).

As to whether the doctrine of two judgments is Biblical depends on the definition of "Biblical". Scripture does not come out and state directly that there are two judgments, so in that regard, it might be considered "extra-Biblical". On the other hand, there is a bit of Biblical support for the doctrine. In that regards, it's as Biblical as the doctrine of the Trinity, and other doctrines not explicitly stated in Scripture.

  • Thanks David Stratton. This answers my main question, but brings up another, but I'm not sure it'd be a good format for this site. Jan 27, 2012 at 14:00
  • Matt 6:2+ says nothing about crowns. Rev 3:11 does mention crowns we have, but doesn't indicate their meaning/purpose. Rev 4:4 only discusses the 24 elders having crowns. This is all a minor point - I'd lump Matt 6:2 and Rev 3:11 under general rewards/authority and drop the Rev 4:4 one.
    – LightCC
    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:55
  • I do like this answer, but I think another touchpoint is that there are many instances where the negative consequences of poor stewardship is highlighted in scripture as well. For example, the parable of the talents, the one that hid the talent in the ground - even though he returned it he was punished for not increasing it (depending on interpretation, he was cast out or unsaved even). Paul mentions those who are saved, but barely, as if through the fire (compared to those who were more faithful). Etc.
    – LightCC
    Mar 13, 2017 at 6:59

As for being judged on what you accomplish there is biblical basis for that as well:

James 2:14-18

14) What doth it profit, my brethern, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?` 15) If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, 16) And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? 17) Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18) Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

The very act of calling one's self a Christian is to take upon one's self the name of Christ. While Christ had perfect faith, He also went about doing good. So His example is a pretty good biblical indication of how faith and works go together.

Edit: I know this doesn't exactly answer the OP's question of "basis for two judgments," I just wanted to point out that there is biblical basis for being judged on works as well as faith. Which lends itself, albeit slightly, to the notion that their is more then one judgement.


One has to be born again to escape from the Great White Throne Judgment. (Revelation 20:7-15) This judgment will take place after the millennium and after Satan, the beast, and the false prophet are thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7-10). The Judgment Seat of Christ is an entirely different judgment in which the saved, those who have received Jesus as their Savior, are judged by Christ and are rewarded according to their works. For it was when the seventh angel sounded and the kingdoms of this world became the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ that He rewarded His servants the prophets and the saints, and those who feared His name, small and great. (Revelation 11:15,18; Revelation 10:7; 1Corinthians 15:51-52, 1Thesolonains 4:17-18; Matthew 24:29-31)


It is very biblical that the Bride of Christ will be judged differently. Perhaps dissecting this scripture in a plain format would help you to understand.

And I saw thrones and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them (Revelation 20:4, NKJV)

This verse is talking about the those that were raptured pre-tribulation (i.e. the Bride of Christ). They had already been judged at this time because the Bible says that he would judge every man. However, at this time we are judges, just as Jesus promised and Paul spoke about.

  • How do I know that it is not the sinners? Well, they don't get the chance to judge.
  • How do I know it's not those who were in the tribulation? The Bible says further in verse 4 "Then I saw the souls who were beheaded" .

So, who are the judges? If it is not those that were in the tribulation and if it is not those that are sinners, who is it? It is us, the Bride of Christ.

  • Can you explain more how you know these things?
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 15, 2014 at 21:40
  • 1
    Maybe there's an answer in this, but I'm having trouble seeing it. Start by breaking this up into paragraphs. It's kind of a mess.
    – user3961
    Jul 15, 2014 at 22:08
  • This has the potential to become a good answer. It seems to presuppose pre-trib. rapture, and badly needs references to put it in context.
    – Bit Chaser
    Jul 28, 2015 at 4:43
  • I am a bit surprised the bema_ judgment is not mentioned. It agrees with the idea I've often heard, that the saved (perhaps only those of certain dispensation(s) ) will not appear at the great white throne.
    – Bit Chaser
    Jul 28, 2015 at 4:50

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