The Last Judgment, Final Judgment, Day of Judgment, Judgment Day, or The Day of the Lord or in Islam Yawm al-Qiyāmah or Yawm ad-Din is part of the eschatological world view of the Abrahamic religions and in the Frashokereti of Zoroastrianism.
In Christian theology, it is the final and eternal judgment by God of every nation. The concept is found in all the Canonical gospels, particularly the Gospel of Matthew. Christian Futurists believe it will take place after the Resurrection of the Dead and the Second Coming of Christ while Full Preterists believe it has already occurred. The Last Judgment has inspired numerous artistic depictions.
- 1 Christianity
- 2 Islam
- 3 Judaism
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
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The doctrine and iconographic depiction of the "Last Judgment" are drawn from many passages from the apocalyptic sections of the Bible, but most notably from a Jesus parable in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke:
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so, every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Therefore, by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me: Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of Heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in Heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:13-23 KJV)
Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. (Luke 13:23-28 KJV)
When the Son of Man comes in His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates his sheep from the goats, and He will set the sheep on His right hand but the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those on His right hand, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you took Me in, I was naked and you clothed Me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” ... “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My Brethren, you did it to me.”
Then He will also say to those on the left hand, “Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry and you gave Me no food, I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.” ... “Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.” And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life. (Matthew 25:31–36, 40–43, 45–46 NRSV)
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. 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. (Rev 20:11–12)
Adherents of millennialism, mostly Protestant Christians, regard the two passages as describing separate events: the "sheep and goats" judgment will determine the final status of those persons alive at the end of the Tribulation, and the "Great White Throne" judgment will be the final condemnation of the unrighteous dead at the end of all time, after the end of the world and before the beginning of the eternal period described in the final two chapters of Revelation.
Even now the axe is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. "I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing-floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
Just as the weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and they will throw them into the furnace of fire, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Let anyone with ears listen!
Luke 12:4–5, 49:
"I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that can do nothing more. But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him! ... I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!"
Belief in the last judgement (often linked with the General judgment) is held firmly in Catholicism. Immediately upon death each soul undergoes the particular judgment, and depending upon the state of the person's soul, goes to heaven, purgatory, or hell. A soul in purgatory will always reach heaven, but those in hell will be there eternally.
The last judgement will occur after the resurrection of the dead and the reuniting of a person's soul with own physical body. The Catholic Church teaches that at the time of the last judgement Christ will come in His glory, and all the angels with him, and in his presence the truth of each man's relationship with God will be laid bare, and each person who has ever lived will be judged with perfect justice with those believing in Christ (and the unknown number of the righteous ignorant of Christ's teaching, but who are mysteriously saved through by Christ's atonement), going to everlasting bliss, and those who reject Christ going to everlasting condemnation. At that time, those already in heaven will remain in heaven; those already in hell will remain in hell; and those in purgatory will be released into heaven. Following the last judgement, the bliss of heaven and the pains of hell will be perfected in that those present will also be capable of physical bliss/pain. After the last judgement the universe itself will be renewed with a new heaven and a new earth in the World to Come. The Eastern Orthodox and Catholic teachings on the last judgement differ only the exact nature of the in-between state of purgatory/Abraham's Bosom. These differences may only be apparent and not actual due to differing theological terminology and tradition (see Eastern Orthodox).
The Eastern Orthodox Church teaches that there are two judgments: the first, or "Particular" Judgment, is that experienced by each individual at the time of his or her death, at which time God will decide where the soul is to spend the time until the Second Coming of Christ (see Hades in Christianity). This judgment is generally believed to occur on the fortieth day after death. The second, "General" or "Final" Judgment will occur after the Second Coming. Although in modern times some have attempted to introduce the concept of Soul sleep into Orthodox thought about life after death, it has never been a part of traditional Orthodox teaching—in fact, it contradicts the Orthodox understanding of the intercession of the Saints.
Eastern Orthodoxy teaches that salvation is bestowed by God as a free gift of Divine grace, which cannot be earned, and by which forgiveness of sins is available to all. However, the deeds done by each person are believed to affect how he will be judged, following the Parable of the Sheep and the Goats. How forgiveness is to be balanced against behavior is not well-defined in scripture, judgment in the matter being solely Christ's. Similarly, although Orthodoxy teaches that salvation is obtained only through Christ and his Church, the fate of those outside the Church at the Last Judgment is left to the mercy of God and is not declared.
The theme of the Last Judgment is extremely important in Orthodoxy. Traditionally, an Orthodox church will have a fresco or mosaic of the Last Judgment on the back (western) wall, (see the 12th-century mosaic pictured at the top of this page) so that the faithful, as they leave the services, are reminded that they will be judged by what they do during this earthly life.
The icon of the Last Judgement traditionally depicts Christ Pantokrator, enthroned in glory on a white throne, surrounded by the Theotokos (Virgin Mary), John the Baptist, Apostles, saints and angels. Beneath the throne the scene is divided in half with the "mansions of the righteous" (John 14:2), i.e., those who have been saved to Jesus' right (the viewer's left); and the torments of those who have been damned to his left. Separating the two is the River of fire which proceeds from Jesus' left foot. For more detail, see below.
The theme of the Last Judgment is found in the funeral and memorial hymnody of the Church, and is a major theme in the services during Great Lent. The second Sunday before the beginning of Great Lent is dedicated to the Last Judgment. It is also found in the hymns of the Octoechos used on Saturdays throughout the year.
Amillennialism is common among some Protestant denominations such as the Lutheran, Reformed and Anglican churches. Many, but not all, partial preterists are amillennialists. Amillennialism declined in Protestant circles with the rise of Postmillennialism and the resurgence of Premillennialism in the 18th and 19th centuries, but it has regained prominence in the West after World War II.
Lutherans do not believe in any sort of earthly millennial kingdom of Christ either before or after his second coming on the last day. On the last day, all the dead will be resurrected. Their souls will then be reunited with the same bodies they had before dying. The bodies will then be changed, those of the wicked to a state of everlasting shame and torment, those of the righteous to an everlasting state of celestial glory. After the resurrection of all the dead, and the change of those still living, all nations shall be gathered before Christ, and he will separate the righteous from the wicked. Christ will publicly judge all people by the testimony of their faith—  the good works of the righteous in evidence of their faith, and the evil works of the wicked in evidence of their unbelief. He will judge in righteousness in the presence of all and men and angels, and his final judgement will be just damnation to everlasting punishment for the wicked and a gracious gift of life everlasting to the righteous.
Particularly among those Protestant groups who adhere to a millennialist eschatology, the Last Judgment is said to be carried out before the Great White Throne by Jesus Christ to either eternal life or eternal consciousness in the lake of fire at the end of time. Salvation is granted by grace based on the individual's surrender and commitment to Jesus Christ. A second particular judgment they refer to as the Bema Seat judgement occurs after (or as) salvation is discerned when awards are granted based on works toward heavenly treasures. What happens after death and before the final judgment is hotly contested; some believe all people sleep in Sheol until the resurrection, others believe Christians dwell in Heaven and pagans wander the earth, and others consider the time to pass instantaneously. Nevertheless, the body is not fully redeemed until after Death is destroyed after the Great Tribulation.
Protestant Millennialism falls into roughly two categories: Premillennialist (Christ's second coming precedes the millennium) and Postmillennialist (which sees Christ's second coming as occurring after the millennium).
Dispensational premillennialism generally holds that Israel and the Church are separate. It also widely holds to the pretribulational return of Christ, which believes that Jesus will return before a seven-year Tribulation followed by an additional return of Christ with his saints.
Esoteric Christian tradition
Although the Last Judgment is preached by a great part of Christian mainstream churches; the Esoteric Christian tradition—composed, among others, by the Essenes and Rosicrucians—the Spiritualist movement, Christian Science, and some liberal theologies reject the traditional conception of the Last Judgment as inconsistent with an all-just and loving God, in favor of some form of universal salvation.
The Western Wisdom Teachings of the Rosicrucians teach that when the Day of Christ comes, marking the end of the current fifth or Aryan epoch, the human race will have to pass a final examination or last judgment, where, as in the Days of Noah, the chosen ones or pioneers, the sheep, will be separated from the goats or stragglers, by being carried forward into the next evolutionary period, inheriting the ethereal conditions of the New Galilee in the making. Nevertheless, it is emphasized that all beings of the human evolution will ultimately be saved in a distant future as they acquire a superior grade of consciousness and altruism. At the present period, the process of human evolution is conducted by means of successive rebirths in the physical world and the salvation is seen as being mentioned in Revelation 3:12 (KJV), which states "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God and he shall go no more out". However, this western esoteric tradition states—like those who have had a near-death experience—that after the death of the physical body, at the end of each physical lifetime and after the life review period (which occurs before the silver cord is broken), it occurs a judgment, more akin to a Final Review or End Report over one's life, where the life of the subject is fully evaluated and scrutinized. This judgment is seen as being mentioned in Hebrews 9:27, which states that "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment".
In art, the Last Judgment is a common theme in medieval and renaissance religious iconography. Like most early iconographic innovations, its origins stem from Byzantine art, although it was a much less common subject than in the West during the Middle Ages. In Western Christianity, it is often the subject depicted in medieval cathedrals and churches, either outside on the central tympanum of the entrance, or inside on the (rear) west wall, so that the congregation attending church saw the image on either entering of leaving. In the 15th century it also appeared as the central section of a triptych on altarpieces, with the side panels showing heaven and hell, as in the Beaune Altarpiece or a triptych by Hans Memling. The usual composition has Christ seated high in the centre, flanked by angels and the Virgin Mary and John the Evangelist who are supplicating on behalf of the souls being judged (in what is called a Deesis group in Orthodoxy). Saint Michael is often shown, either weighing souls on scales or directing matters, and there might be a large crowd of saints, angels, and the saved around the central group.
At the bottom of the composition a crowd of souls are shown, often with some rising from their graves. These are being sorted and directed by angels into the saved and the damned. Almost always the saved are on the viewer's left (so on the right hand of Christ), and the damned on the right. The saved are led up to heaven, often shown as a fortified gateway, while the damned are handed over to devils who herd them down into hell on the right; the composition therefore has a circular pattern of movement. Often the damned disappear into a Hellmouth, the mouth of a huge monster, an image of Anglo-Saxon origin. The damned often include figures of high rank, wearing crowns, mitres and often the Papal tiara during the lengthy periods when there were antipopes, or in Protestant depictions. There may be detailed depictions of the torments of the damned.
The image in Eastern Orthodox icons has a similar composition, but usually less space is devoted to Hell, and there are often a larger number of scenes; the Orthodox readiness to label figures with inscriptions often allows more complex compositions. There is more often a large group of saints around Christ (which may include animals), and the hetoimasia or "empty throne", containing a cross, is usually shown below Christ, often guarded by archangels; figures representing Adam and Eve may kneel below it or below Christ. A distinctive feature of the Orthodox composition, especially in Russian icons, is a large band leading like a chute from the feet of Christ down to Hell; this may resemble a striped snake or be a "river of Fire" coloured flame red. If it is shown as a snake, it attempts to bite Adam on the heel, but as he is protected by Christ is unsuccessful.
In Islam, Yawm al-Qiyāmah (Arabic: يوم القيامة "the Day of Resurrection") or Yawm ad-Din (Arabic: يوم الدين "the Day of Judgment") is believed to be God's (or Allāh's) final assessment of humanity. The sequence of events (according to the most commonly held belief) is the annihilation of all creatures, resurrection of the body, and the judgment of all sentient creatures.
The exact time when these events will occur is unknown, however there are said to be major and minor signs which are to occur near the time of Qiyamat (End time). Many verses of the Qu'ran, especially the earlier ones, are dominated by the idea of the nearing of the day of resurrection.
Belief in al-Qiyāmah is considered a fundamental tenet of faith by all Muslims.. Belief in the day of Judgement is one of the six articles of faith. The trials and tribulations associated with it are detailed in both the Qur'an and the hadith, as well as in the commentaries of the Islamic expositors and scholarly authorities such as al-Ghazali, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Majah, Muhammad al-Bukhari, and Ibn Khuzaimah who explain them in detail. Every human, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, is believed to be held accountable for their deeds and are believed to be judged by God accordingly.
The importance of the 'last judgment' is underlined by the many references to it in the Qur'an and its many names. For example, it is also called "the Day of Reckoning", "the Hour", "the Last Day", "Day of Judgment", "Day of the Reckoning".
Wrongdoers who have bowed to the idols of this world will have no intercessors or friends at judgment. As Allah is omniscient nothing can be hidden from Him ("Allah knows the fraud of the eyes, and all that the breasts conceal").
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In Judaism, the day of judgment happens every year on Rosh Hashanah (a day which is also known as Yom HaDin, Judgment Day); therefore the belief in a last day of judgment for all mankind is disputed. Some rabbis hold that there will be such a day following the resurrection of the dead. Others hold that there is no need for that because of Rosh Hashanah, while yet others hold that this accounting and judgment happens when one dies. Still others hold that the last judgment only applies to the nations and not the Jewish people.
- Atonement in Christianity
- Christian Eschatology
- Day of Atonement
- General judgment
- God the Father in Western art
- Intermediate state
- Lawsuits against God
- New World Order (conspiracy)
- Particular judgment
- Plan of salvation (Latter Day Saints) Mormon view
- Second Coming
- Yama (Buddhism and Chinese mythology)
- Problem of evil
- Catholic Encyclopedia: General Judgment: "Few truths are more often or more clearly proclaimed in Scripture than that of the general judgment. To it the prophets of the Old Testament refer when they speak of the "Day of the Lord" (Joel 2:31; Ezekiel 13:5; Isaiah 2:12), in which the nations will be summoned to judgment by the Fathers. In the New Testament the Parousia, or coming of Christ as Judge of the world, is an oft-repeated doctrine. The Saviour Himself not only foretells the event but graphically portrays its circumstances (Matthew 24:27 sqq.; 25:31 sqq.). The Apostles give a most prominent place to this doctrine in their preaching (Acts 10:42; 17:31) and writings (Romans 2:5-16; 14:10; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 2 Timothy 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:5; James 5:7). Besides the name Parusia (parousia), or Advent (1 Corinthians 15:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:19), the Second Coming is also called Epiphany, epiphaneia, or Appearance (2 Thessalonians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Timothy 4:1; Titus 2:13), and Apocalypse (apokalypsis), or Revelation (2 Thessalonians 2:7; 1 Peter 4:13). The time of the Second Coming is spoken of as "that Day" (2 Timothy 4:8), "the day of the Lord" (1 Thessalonians 5:2), "the day of Christ" (Philemon 1:6), "the day of the Son of Man" (Luke 17:30), "the last day" (John 6:39-40). The belief in the general judgment has prevailed at all times and in all places within the Church. It is contained as an article of faith in all the ancient creeds: "He ascended into heaven. From thence He shall come to judge the living and the dead" (Apostles' Creed). The two shall come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead" (Nicene Creed). "From thence they shall come to judge the living and the dead, at whose coming all men must rise with their bodies and are to render an account of their deeds" (Athanasian Creed). Relying on the authority of Papias, several Fathers of the first four centuries advanced the theory of a thousand years' terrestrial reign of Christ with the saints to precede the end of the World (see article on MILLENNIUM). Though this idea is interwoven with the eschatological teachings of those writers, it in no way detracted from their belief in a universal world-judgment. Patristic testimony to this dogma is clear and unanimous."
- New American Bible and commentary.: Matthew 25:40 and Matthew 25:45.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 990
- The Orthodox do not have an understanding of "Purgatory." Rather, they believe that the souls of the departed will await the Final Judgment either in heaven or hell--but that there are different levels of heaven and different levels of hell--and they believe that the prayers of the Church can help to ease the sufferings of the souls, but do not dogmatize as to how exactly this is accomplished.
- John 18:36, Augsburg Confession, Article 17, Of Christ's Return to Judgment.
- John 6:40, John 6:54
- John 5:21, John 5:28-29, Matthew 25:32, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Acts 24:15
- Romans 8:11, Philippians 3:21, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Job 19:26, 1 Corinthians 15:44, 1 Corinthians 15:53, John 5:28, Revelation 20:12
- Daniel 12:2, Matthew 25:41-46, John 5:29
- Daniel 12:1-2, John 5:29, 1 Corinthians 15:52, 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 1 Corinthians 15:49-53, Philippians 3:21, Matthew 13:43, Revelation 7:16
- John 6:40, John 6:44, John 11:24
- 1 Corinthians 15:51-52, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17
- Matthew 25:32, Romans 14:10, John 5:22, Acts 17:31, Revelation 1:7
- Matthew 25:32, Mark 16:16
- 2 Corinthians 5:10, 1 Corinthians 4:5, Romans 2:5, Romans 2:16
- Ephesians 2:8-10, 2 Corinthians 5:10, Matthew 25:35-36, Matthew 25:42-43
- Isaiah 43:25, Ezekiel 18:22, 1 John 2:28
- Matthew 25:34-35, John 3:16-18, John 3:36, Revelation 14:13, Galatians 5:6, John 13:35
- Matthew 25:42, Matthew 7:17-18, John 3:18, John 3:36
- Romans 2:5, Acts 17:31, Romans 2:16
- Luke 9:26, Matthew 25:31-32
- Matthew 25:41, Matthew 25:34, Matthew 25:46, Graebner, Augustus Lawrence (1910). Outlines Of Doctrinal Theology. Saint Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House. pp. 233–8.
- Passage: Matthew 6:19-24 (ESV Bible Online)
- Max Heindel, The Days of Noah and of Christ in Teachings of an Initiate (posthumous publication of collected works), ISBN 0-911274-19-7
- Cf. Matthew 25:31-35
- Max Heindel, The Rosicrucian Christianity Lectures (The Riddle of Life and Death), 1908, ISBN 0-911274-84-7
- Max Heindel, Death and Life in Purgatory - Life and Activity in Heaven
- Remarkably, only three Byzantine icons of the subject survive, all at St Catherine's, Sinai. Daly, 252
- Janson, H. W.; Janson, Dora Jane (1977). History of Art (Second Edition ed.). Englewood and New York: Prentis-Hall & Harry N. Abrams. p. 428. ISBN 0-13-389296-4.
- Major Signs before the Day of Judgment by Shaykh Ahmad Ali
- Signs of Qiyaamah
- Isaac Hasson, Last Judgment, Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an
- L. Gardet, Qiyama, Encyclopaedia of the Qur'an
- "Tafsir Ibn Kathir", (Volume 8), p. 459, Shaykh Safiur Rahman Al Mubarakpuri,ISBN 9960892719
- "Will there be trial and judgment after the Resurrection?". Will there be trial and judgment after the Resurrection?. Askmoses.com. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
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- Catholic Encyclopedia "General Judgment"
- Judgment Day Past and Future - slideshow by Life magazine
- Swedenborg, E. The Last Judgment and Babylon Destroyed. All the Predictions in the Apocalypse are at This Day Fulfilled (Swedenborg Foundation 1951)