More on Judging Others

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I am really struggling with this point, and I hope to faithfully articulate why shortly. But in the meantime, dipping into Koine Greek and trying to make sense of the various understandings of a key passage in Matthew, I was aided by the passage in Romans cited below.

Many contend that the judging that Jesus precludes in Matthew 7:1-2 and Luke 6:37 is judgment that results in condemnation. That indeed we are called to judge people, but we may not condemn them.

However, the Greek argues against this, and it was only in the passage from Romans that I discovered this. The Greek word for judging in the general sense of how we presently use the word judging is krino. In Romans, we find both this word and the word for condemnation—a most interesting construction katakrino (from kata—bad, krino—to judge.)

Thus what I may conclude, which is not conclusive, is that Jesus’s use of the word judge in the passages noted above was not restricted to the judging which condemns but was more universally the word as a whole. I would argue that if he intended the restricted meaning of the word “judge” he would have used the Aramaic for “katakrino” not the more general word.

Now, as the Greek New Testament is not in the original language that Jesus spoke, I must admit that there is the possibility that the Aramaic had no word for “condemn” and used only judge. This seems very unlikely to me, but I am not an Aramaic scholar, I couldn’t possibly begin to advance an opinion . However, if I am to believe in both the inspiration and the inerrancy of scripture (which I do) I am forced to ask the question as to whether so key a point would have been left to chance. I rather think not, but that thought is not conclusive.

One last point, in the interest of complete disclosure, the sense of “krino” does not seem to include the notion of passing sentence, but it does include the idea of censuring or judging as in a civil case. So it is possible that krino could contain within it the meaning of katakrino. My thought there is that one would tend to the more accurate representation of the thought—thus if Jesus had meant condemn, he would have used the word.

Later: In the interest of full disclosure, most of this post was made possible by extensive consultation and perusal of the On-Line Interelinear Greek New Testament (gateway here, , actual reference source here)with study notes. Hence the assertions i make are based on the efforts of others, not on my own knowledge. I am sorry for any confusion that I may have caused by this. Note to self: remember to credit ALL sources.

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Jumping in here with two feet and no brain, I will make this comment:

We are told that we will be measured by the same standard that we use. Being critical (in the negative sense), self-righteous, looking down at other folks, and passing those types of judgements to declare some folks worthy and other folks unworthy is something Jesus condemns over and over and over again. You can realize the actions a person are bad, but to deny that that person has worth in God's eye is something you are not allowed to do, and something we want to do soooooo badly.

It gets HARD!!!! what do you do when the dirty, smelly, unwashed person comes hustling you for spare change? What do you do when the person in front of you is a person who stands for everything you think is wicked?

Mother Teresa and St. Francis give us good role models of ways to behave, but what Jesus asks is not trivial, nor easy, but very transformative if we let him transform us. I am guilty of not living up to it. All I can do is pray for forgiveness when I fall, and try again.

I'll be the second one to jump in with no brain.

I have a different experience. I've always welcomed judgment. Doesn't judgment come from love? I want to go and tell every young woman I see to cover herself up and stop wearing these tiny Abercrombie skirts and little, itty-bitty tops. I desperately wish that someone would have said it to me when I was 18 and 19; it would have saved me quite a bit of psychological pain and sin. At this point in my life, I still welcome judgment. If someone sees my sinning, I really, really want them to come to me even if it will be painful and embarrassing.

Does that make sense?

Dear Amanda,

This is a not-quite-continuation of a dialogue started somewhat earlier, so it is absent context. In that prior dialogue I argued that it is NEVER licit to judge a person, but that judgment of actions is a requirement. What you suggest--that someone judge your actions and set you straight, would be precisely the kind of thing I would support. What I would not support is a person who looked at your young self and said to themselves, "That hussy." (I was going to use a stronger word, but discretion forbids.) They might even say something of the sort to your face.

I won't go into here because I probably will post on this again; however, I would say that what you wrote falls into the category that I would say each of us is required to do within certain parameters. But more about this later, just trying to clarify the previous dialogue and say, I agree.





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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on July 28, 2004 8:24 AM.

How NOT to Read Scripture—Part I (with an Agenda) was the previous entry in this blog.

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