2 Corinthians 5:10 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

2 Corinthians 5:10, NIV: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad."

2 Corinthians 5:10, ESV: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil."

2 Corinthians 5:10, KJV: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad."

2 Corinthians 5:10, NASB: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad."

2 Corinthians 5:10, NLT: "For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body."

2 Corinthians 5:10, CSB: "For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may be repaid for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil."

What does 2 Corinthians 5:10 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Previous verses described Paul's longing to leave behind the suffering of earthly life and his failing, temporary body. His motivation is not suicide, but a desire to be with the Lord in eternity and receive his eternal, resurrected body. Knowing that day is guaranteed, someday, gives him courage to keep fulfilling the mission God has given to him. That security allows Paul to endure, and to carry the gospel to more and more people. His goal in whatever he does, Paul has written, is to please the Lord.

One motivation to please God is Paul's knowledge that he will be judged by Christ for his works in this life. Paul insists that all believers in Jesus will appear before the judgment seat of Christ when He returns to earth. Paul is clear in his letters that this judgment is not about salvation. Christ will not declare in that moment whether someone will go to heaven or hell. In no sense is this verse implying that that judgment, or the deeds it examines, are what decide someone's eternal fate. Salvation is a gift given to everyone who trusts in Christ. Paul's gospel is that the gift of salvation is "not by works" (Ephesians 2:8–9), or nobody could achieve it (Romans 3:23; 6:23).

The judgment seat of Christ is something exclusively for believers, as Christ's evaluation of our works on earth. This refers to an assessment of what each saved, heaven-bound Christian has done "in the body" since coming to faith in Christ. How has he or she used this life in Christ? What have they done, for good or for evil? Paul wrote in Romans 14:12 that each believer will "give an account of himself to God."

How will Christ respond? Every good action will be rewarded. Christians will receive those efforts "back from the Lord" (Ephesians 6:8). The works of those who have lived only for themselves, however, will be "burned up" or shown to be worthless. "If anyone's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (1 Corinthians 3:15).

Paul is motivated by the awareness of this coming judgment, and he wants his readers to be motivated by it, as well. God's grace to us in forgiving sin does not mean He's careless about how Christians live our earthly lives. We will stand before Him and be held to account for our choices. That accountability does not affect our eternal destiny. It declares our time as spent well or foolishly, courageously or cowardly, in faith or in spiritual blindness and selfishness. The consequences of reward or reprimand in that moment will be genuinely pleasurable and/or painful, based on the choices we have made in our bodies on this side of eternity.