Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download. Includes the Catholic Encyclopedia, Church Fathers, Summa, Bible and more all for only $19.99...
Objection 2. Further, whoever judges has authority over that which he judges. Now those things about which the coming judgment will have to be, such as human merits and demerits, are subject to Divine authority alone. Therefore no one is competent to judge of those things.
Objection 3. Further, this judgment will take place not vocally but mentally. Now the publication of merits and demerits in the hearts of all men (which is like an accusation or approval), or the repayment of punishment and reward (which is like the pronouncement of the sentence) will be the work of God alone. Therefore none but Christ Who is God will judge.
I answer that, To judge has several significations. First it is used causally as it were, when we say it of that which proves that some person ought to be judged. In this sense the expression is used of certain people in comparison, in so far as some are shown to be deserving of judgment through being compared with others: for instance (Matthew 12:41): "The men of Nineve shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it." To rise in judgment thus is common to the good and the wicked. Secondly, the expression "to judge" is used equivalently, so to say; for consent to an action is considered equivalent to doing it. Wherefore those who will consent with Christ the Judge, by approving His sentence, will be said to judge. In this sense it will belong to all the elect to judge: wherefore it is written (Wisdom 3:7-8): "The just . . . shall judge nations." Thirdly, a person is said to judge assessorially and by similitude, because he is like the judge in that his seat* is raised above the others: and thus assessors are said to judge. [An "assessor" is one who "sits by" the judge.] Some say that the perfect to whom judiciary power is promised (Matthew 19:28) will judge in this sense, namely that they will be raised to the dignity of assessors, because they will appear above others at the judgment, and go forth "to meet Christ, into the air." But this apparently does not suffice for the fulfilment of our Lord's promise (Matthew 19:28): "You shall sit . . . judging," for He would seem to make "judging" something additional to "sitting." Hence there is a fourth way of judging, which will be competent to perfect men as containing the decrees of Divine justice according to which men will be judged: thus a book containing the law might be said to judge: wherefore it is written (Apocalypse 20:12): "(Judgment took her seat*) and the books were opened." [The words in brackets are not in the Vulgate. Apocalypse 20:4 we find: "I saw seats, and they sat upon them and judgment was given to them."] Richard of St. Victor expounds this judging in this way (De judic. potest.), wherefore he says: "Those who persevere in Divine contemplation, who read every day the book of wisdom, transcribe, so to speak, in their hearts whatever they grasp by their clear insight of the truth"; and further on: "What else are the hearts of those who judge, divinely instructed in all truth, but a codex of the law?" Since, however, judging denotes an action exercised on another person, it follows that, properly speaking, he is said to judge who pronounces judgment on another. But this happens in two ways. First, by his own authority: and this belongs to the one who has dominion and power over others, and to whose ruling those who are judged are subject, wherefore it belongs to him to pass judgment on them. In this sense to judge belongs to God alone. Secondly, to judge is to acquaint others of the sentence delivered by another's authority, that is to announce the verdict already given. In this way perfect men will judge, because they will lead others to the knowledge of Divine justice, that these may know what is due to them on account of their merits: so that this very revelation of justice is called judgment. Hence Richard of St. Victor says (De judic. potest.) that for "the judges to open the books of their decree in the presence of those who are to be judged signifies that they open their hearts to the gaze of all those who are below them, and that they reveal their knowledge in whatever pertains to the judgment."
Reply to Objection 1. This objection considers the judgment of authority which belongs to Christ alone: and the same answer applies to the Second Objection.
Reply to Objection 3. There is no reason why some of the saints should not reveal certain things to others, either by way of enlightenment, as the higher angels enlighten the lower [Cf. I:106],: or by way of speech as the lower angels speak to the higher [Cf. I:107:2].
Objection 1. It would seem that the judicial power does not correspond to voluntary poverty. For it was promised to none but the twelve apostles (Matthew 19:28): "You shall sit on twelve seats, judging," etc. Since then those who are voluntarily poor are not all apostles, it would seem that the judicial power is not competent to all.
Objection 2. Further, to offer sacrifice to God of one's own body is more than to do so of outward things. Now martyrs and also virgins offer sacrifice to God of their own body. whereas the voluntarily poor offer sacrifice of outward things. Therefore the sublimity of the judicial power is more in keeping with martyrs and virgins than with those who are voluntarily poor.
Objection 3. Further, it is written (John 5:45): "There is one that accuseth you, Moses in whom you trust—because you believe not his voice," according to a gloss, and (John 12:48): "The word that I have spoken shall judge him in the last day." Therefore the fact that a man propounds a law, or exhorts men by word to lead a good life, gives him the right to judge those who scorn his utterances. But this belongs to doctors. Therefore it is more competent to doctors than to those who are poor voluntarily.
Objection 4. Further, Christ through being judged unjustly merited as man to be judge of all in His human nature [Cf. III:59:6], according to John 5:27, "He hath given Him power to do judgment, because He is the Son of man." Now those who suffer persecution for justice' sake are judged unjustly. Therefore the judicial power is competent to them rather than to the voluntarily poor.
Objection 5. Further, a superior is not judged by his inferior. Now many who will have made lawful use of riches will have greater merit than many of the voluntarily poor. Therefore the voluntarily poor will not judge where those are to be judged.
Further, a gloss on Matthew 19:28, "You who have left all things' [Vulgate: 'You who have followed Me']" says: "Those who left all things and followed God will be the judges; those who made right use of what they had lawfully will be judged," and thus the same conclusion follows as before.
I answer that, The judicial power is due especially to poverty on three counts. First, by reason of congruity, since voluntary poverty belongs to those who despise all the things of the world and cleave to Christ alone. Consequently there is nothing in them to turn away their judgment from justice, so that they are rendered competent to be judges as loving the truth of justice above all things. Secondly, by reason of merit, since exaltation corresponds by way of merit to humility. Now of all the things that make man contemptible in this world humility is the chief: and for this reason the excellence of judicial power is promised to the poor, so that he who humbles himself for Christ's sake shall be exalted. Thirdly, because poverty disposes a man to the aforesaid manner of judging. For the reason why one of the saints will be said to judge as stated above [Cf. Article 1], is that he will have the heart instructed in all Divine truth which he will be thus able to make known to others. Now in the advancement to perfection, the first thing that occurs to be renounced is external wealth, because this is the last thing of all to be acquired. And that which is last in the order of generation is the first in the order of destruction: wherefore among the beatitudes whereby we advance to perfection, the first place is given to poverty. Thus judicial power corresponds to poverty, in so far as this is the disposition to the aforesaid perfection. Hence also it is that this same power is not promised to all who are voluntarily poor, but to those who leave all and follow Christ in accordance with the perfection of life.
Reply to Objection 1. According to Augustine (De Civ. Dei xx), "we must not imagine that because He says that they will sit on twelve seats only twelve men will judge with Him. else since we read that Matthias was appointed apostle in the place of the traitor Judas, Paul who worked more than the rest will have nowhere to sit as judge." Hence "the number twelve," as he states (De Civ. Dei xx), "signifies the whole multitude of those who will judge, because the two parts of seven, namely three and four, being multiplied together make twelve." Moreover twelve is a perfect number, being the double of six, which is a perfect number.
Reply to Objection 2. Virginity and martyrdom do not dispose man to retain the precepts of Divine justice in his heart in the same degree as poverty does: even so, on the other hand, outward riches choke the word of God by the cares which they entail (Luke 8:14). Or we may reply that poverty does not suffice alone to merit judicial power, but is the fundamental part of that perfection to which the judicial power corresponds. Wherefore among those things regarding perfection which follow after poverty we may reckon both virginity and martyrdom and all the works of perfection: yet they do not rank as high as poverty, since the beginning of a thing is its chief part.
Reply to Objection 3. He who propounded the law or urged men to good will judge, in the causal (Cf. Article 1) sense, because others will be judged in reference to the words he has uttered or propounded. Hence the judicial power does not properly correspond to preaching or teaching. or we may reply that, as some say, three things are requisite for the judicial power; first, that one renounce temporal cares, lest the mind be hindered from the contemplation of wisdom; secondly that one possess Divine justice by way of habit both as to knowledge and as to observance; thirdly that one should have taught others this same justice; and this teaching will be the perfection whereby a man merits to have judicial power.
Reply to Objection 4. Christ humbled Himself in that He was judged unjustly; for "He was offered because it was His own will" (Isaiah 53:7): and by His humility He merited His exaltation to judicial power, since all things are made subject to Him (Philippians 2:8-9). Hence, judicial power is more due to them who humble themselves of their own will by renouncing temporal goods, on account of which men are honored by worldlings, than to those who are humbled by others.
Reply to Objection 5. An inferior cannot judge a superior by his own authority, but he can do so by the authority of a superior, as in the case of a judge-delegate. Hence it is not unfitting that it be granted to the poor as an accidental reward to judge others, even those who have higher merit in respect of the essential reward.
Objection 1. It would seem that the angels will judge. For it is written (Matthew 25:31): "When the Son of man shall come in His majesty, and all the angels with Him." Now He is speaking of His coming to judgment. Therefore it would seem that also the angels will judge.
Objection 2. Further, the orders of the angels take their names from the offices which they fulfill. Now one of the angelic orders is that of the Thrones, which would seem to pertain to the judicial power, since a throne is the "judicial bench, a royal seat, a professor's chair" [Cf. St. Isidore, Etym. vii, 5. Therefore some of the angels will judge.
On the contrary, It is written (John 5:27): "He hath given Him power to judgment, because He is the Son of man." But the angels have not the human nature in common with Him. Neither therefore do they share with Him in the judicial power.
Further, the same person is not judge and judge's minister. Now in this judgment the angels will act as ministers of the Judge and, according to Matthew 13:41: "The Son of man shall send His angels and they shall gather out of His kingdom all scandals." Therefore the angels will not judge.
I answer that, The judge's assessors must be conformed to the judge. Now judgment is ascribed to the Son of man because He will appear to all, both good and wicked, in His human nature, although the whole Trinity will judge by authority. Consequently it behooves also the Judge's assessors to have the human nature, so as to be visible to all, both good and wicked. Hence it is not fitting for the angels to judge, although in a certain sense we may say that the angels will judge, namely by approving the sentence [Cf. Article 1].
Reply to Objection 1. As a gloss on this passage observes, the angels will come with Christ, not to judge, but "as witnesses of men's deeds because it was under their guardianship that men did well or ill."
Reply to Objection 2. The name of Thrones is given to angels in reference to the judgment which God is ever pronouncing, by governing all things with supreme justice: of which judgment angels are in a way the executors and promulgators. On the other hand, the judgment of men by the man Christ will require human assessors.
Reply to Objection 3. Equality with angels is promised to men as regards the essential reward. But nothing hinders an accidental reward from being bestowed on men to the exclusion of the angels, as in the case of the virgins' and martyrs' crowns: and the same may be said of the judicial power.
Objection 1. It would seem that the demons will not carry out the sentence of the Judge on the damned after the day of judgment. For, according to the Apostle (1 Corinthians 15:24): "He will then bring to naught [Vulgate: 'When He shall have brought to naught', etc.] all principality, and power, and virtue." Therefore all supremacy will cease then. But the carrying out of the Judge's sentence implies some kind of supremacy. Therefore after the judgment day the demons will not carry out the Judge's sentence.
Objection 3. Further, just as the demons suggest evil things to men, so good angels suggest good things. Now it will not be the duty of the good angels to reward the good, but this will be done by God, immediately by Himself. Therefore neither will it be the duty of the demons to punish the wicked.
I answer that, The Master in the text of Sentent. iv, D, 47 mentions two opinions on this question, both of which seem consistent with Divine justice, because it is just for man to be subjected to the devil for having sinned, and yet it is unjust for the demon to be over him. Accordingly the opinion which holds that after the judgment day the demons will not be placed over men to punish them, regards the order of Divine justice on the part of the demons punishing; while the contrary opinion regards the order of Divine justice on the part of the men punished.
Which of these opinions is nearer the truth we cannot know for certain. Yet I think it truer to say that just as, among the saved, order will be observed so that some will be enlightened and perfected by others (because all the orders of the heavenly hierarchies will continue for ever) [Cf. I:108:7; I:108:8], so, too, will order be observed in punishments, men being punished by demons, lest the Divine order, whereby the angels are placed between the human nature and the Divine, be entirely set aside. Wherefore just as the Divine illuminations are conveyed to men by the good angels, so too the demons execute the Divine justice on the wicked. Nor does this in any way diminish the punishment of the demons, since even in torturing others they are themselves tortured, because then the fellowship of the unhappy will not lessen but will increase unhappiness.
Reply to Objection 1. The supremacy which, it is declared, will be brought to nought by Christ in the time to come must be taken in the sense of the supremacy which is in keeping with the state of this world: wherein men are placed over men, angels over men, angels over angels, demons over demons, and demons over men; in every case so as either to lead towards the end or to lead astray from the end. But then when all things will have attained to that end there will be no supremacy to lead astray from the end or to lead to it, but only that which maintains in the end, good or evil.
Reply to Objection 2. Although the demerit of the demons does not require that they be placed over men, since they made men subject to them unjustly, yet this is required by the order of their nature in relation to human nature: since "natural goods remain in them unimpaired" as Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv).
Reply to Objection 3. The good angels are not the cause of the principal reward in the elect, because all receive this immediately from God. Nevertheless the angels are the cause of certain accidental rewards in men, in so far as the higher angels enlighten those beneath them, both angels and men, concerning certain hidden things of God, which do not belong to the essence of beatitude. In like manner the damned will receive their principal punishment immediately from God, namely the everlasting banishment from the Divine vision: but there is no reason why the demons should not torture men with other sensible punishments. There is, however, this difference: that merit exalts, whereas sin debases. Wherefore since the angelic nature is higher than the human, some on account of the excellence of their merit will be so far exalted as to be raised above the angels both in nature and rewards [Cf. I:108:8], so that some angels will be enlightened by some men. On the other hand, no human sinners will, on account of a certain degree of virtue, attain to the eminence that attaches to the nature of the demons.
Objection 1. It would seem that men will not all be present at the judgment. For it is written (Matthew 19:28): "You . . . shall sit on twelve seats, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." But all men do not belong to those twelve tribes. Therefore it would seem that men will not all be present at the judgment.
Objection 3. Further, a man is brought to judgment that his merits may be discussed. But some there are who have acquired no merits, such as children who died before reaching the perfect age. Therefore they need not be present at the judgment. Now there are many such. Therefore it would seem that not all will be present.
On the contrary, It is written (Acts 10:42) that Christ "was appointed by God to be judge of the living and of the dead." Now this division comprises all men, no matter how the living be distinct from the dead. Therefore all men will be present at the judgment.
Further, it is written (Apocalypse 1:7): "Behold He cometh with the clouds, and every eye shall see Him." Now this would not be so unless all were present at the judgment. Therefore, etc.
I answer that, The judicial power was bestowed on Christ as man, in reward for the humility which He showed forth in His passion. Now in His passion He shed His blood for all in point of sufficiency, although through meeting with an obstacle in some, it had not its effect in all. Therefore it is fitting that all men should assemble at the judgment, to see His exaltation in His human nature, in respect of which "He was appointed by God to be judge of the living and of the dead."
Reply to Objection 1. As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xx, 5), "it does not follow from the saying, 'Judging the twelve tribes of Israel,' that the tribe of Levi, which is the thirteenth, is not to be judged, or that they will judge that people alone, and not other nations." The reason why all other nations are denoted by the twelve tribes is because they were called by Christ to take the place of the twelve tribes.
Reply to Objection 2. The words, "The wicked shall not rise in judgment," if referred to all sinners, mean that they will not arise to judge. But if the wicked denote unbelievers, the sense is that they will not arise to be judged, because they are "already judged" (John 3:18). All, however, will rise again to assemble at the judgment and witness the glory of the Judge.
Objection 1. It would seem that none of the good will be judged at the judgment. For it is declared (John 3:18) that "he that believeth in Him is not judged." Now all the good believed in Him. Therefore they will not be judged.
Objection 2. Further, those who are uncertain of their bliss are not blessed: whence Augustine proves (Gen. ad lit. xi) that the demons were never blessed. But the saints are now blessed. Therefore they are certain of their bliss. Now what is certain is not submitted to judgment. Therefore the good will not be judged.
Objection 3. Further, fear is incompatible with bliss. But the last judgment, which above all is described as terrible, cannot take place without inspiring fear into those who are to be judged. Hence Gregory observes on Job 41:16 "When he shall raise him up, the angels shall fear," etc. (Moral. xxxiv): "Consider how the conscience of the wicked will then be troubled when even the just are disturbed about their life." Therefore the blessed will not be judged.
On the contrary, It would seem that all the good will be judged, since it is written (2 Corinthians 5:10): "We must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, whether it be good or evil." Now there is nothing else to be judged. Therefore all, even the good, will be judged.
Further, the "general" includes all. Now this is called the general judgment. Therefore all will be judged.
I answer that, The judgment comprises two things, namely the discussion of merits and the payment of rewards. As regards the payment of rewards, all will be judged, even the good, since the Divine sentence will appoint to each one the reward corresponding to his merit. But there is no discussion of merits save where good and evil merits are mingled together. Now those who build on the foundation of faith, "gold, silver, and precious stones" (1 Corinthians 3:12), by devoting themselves wholly to the Divine service, and who have no notable admixture of evil merit, are not subjected to a discussion of their merits. Such are those who have entirely renounced the things of the world and are solicitously thoughtful of the things that are of God: wherefore they will be saved but will not be judged. Others, however, build on the foundation of faith, wood, hay, stubble [Cf. I-II:89:2]; they, in fact, love worldly things and are busy about earthly concerns, yet so as to prefer nothing to Christ, but strive to redeem their sins with alms, and these have an admixture of good with evil merits. Hence they are subjected to a discussion of their merits, and consequently in this account will be judged, and yet they will be saved.
Reply to Objection 1. Since punishment is the effect of justice, while reward is the effect of mercy, it follows that punishment is more especially ascribed antonomastically to judgment which is the act of justice; so that judgment is sometimes used to express condemnation. It is thus that we are to understand the words quoted, as a gloss on the passage remarks.
Reply to Objection 2. The merits of the elect will be discussed, not to remove the uncertainty of their beatitude from the hearts of those who are to be judged, but that it may be made manifest to us that their good merits outweigh their evil merits, and thus God's justice be proved.
Reply to Objection 3. Gregory is speaking of the just who will still be in mortal flesh, wherefore he had already said: "Those who will still be in the body, although already brave and perfect, yet through being still in the flesh must needs be troubled with fear in the midst of such a whirlwind of terror." Hence it is clear that this fear refers to the time immediately before the judgment, most terrible indeed to the wicked, but not to the good, who will have no apprehension of evil. The arguments in the contrary sense consider judgment as regards the payment of rewards.
Objection 1. It would seem that none of the wicked will be judged. For even as damnation is certain in the case of unbelievers, so is it in the case of those who die in mortal sin. Now it is declared because of the certainty of damnation (John 3:18): "He that believeth not is already judged." Therefore in like manner neither will other sinners be judged.
Objection 2. Further, the voice of the Judge is most terrible to those who are condemned by His judgment. Now according to the text of Sentent. iv, D, 47 and in the words of Gregory (Moral. xxvi) "the Judge will not address Himself to unbelievers." If therefore He were to address Himself to the believers about to be condemned, the unbelievers would reap a benefit from their unbelief, which is absurd.
On the contrary, It would seem that all the wicked are to be judged, because all the wicked will be sentenced to punishment according to the degree of their guilt. But this cannot be done without a judicial pronouncement. Therefore all the wicked will be judged.
I answer that, The judgment as regards the sentencing to punishment for sin concerns all the wicked. whereas the judgment as regards the discussion of merits concerns only believers. Because in unbelievers the foundation of faith is lacking, without which all subsequent works are deprived of the perfection of a right intention, so that in them there is no admixture of good and evil works or merits requiring discussion. But believers in whom the foundation of faith remains, have at least a praiseworthy act of faith, which though it is not meritorious without charity, yet is in itself directed to merit, and consequently they will be subjected to the discussion of merits. Consequently, believers who were at least counted as citizens of the City of God will be judged as citizens, and sentence of death will not be passed on them without a discussion of their merits; whereas unbelievers will be condemned as foes, who are wont among men to be exterminated without their merits being discussed.
Reply to Objection 1. Although it is certain that those who die in mortal sin will be damned, nevertheless since they have an admixture of certain things connected with meriting well, it behooves, for the manifestation of Divine justice, that their merits be subjected to discussion, in order to make it clear that they are justly banished from the city of the saints, of which they appeared outwardly to be citizens.
Reply to Objection 2. Considered under this special aspect the words addressed to the believers about to be condemned will not be terrible, because they will reveal in them certain things pleasing to them, which it will be impossible to find in unbelievers, since "without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6). But the sentence of condemnation which will be passed on them all will be terrible to all of them.
The argument in the contrary sense considered the judgment of retribution.
Objection 1. It would seem that the angels will be judged at the coming judgment. For it is written (1 Corinthians 6:3): "Know you not that we shall judge angels?" But this cannot refer to the state of the present time. Therefore it should refer to the judgment to come.
Objection 2. Further, it is written concerning Behemoth or Leviathan, whereby the devil is signified (Job 40:28): "In the sight of all he shall be cast down"; and (Mark 1:24)* the demon cried out to Christ: "Why art Thou come to destroy us before the time?" for, according to a gloss, "the demons seeing our Lord on earth thought they were to be judged forthwith." [The reference should be Matthew 8:29: 'Art Thou come hither to torment us before the time?' The text of Mark reads: 'Art Thou come to destroy us?'] Therefore it would seem that a final judgment is in store for them.
Objection 3. Further, it is written (2 Peter 2:4): "God spared not the angels that sinned, but delivered them drawn down by infernal ropes to the lower hell, unto torments, to be reserved unto judgment." Therefore it seems that the angels will be judged.
On the contrary, It is written (Nahum 1:9) according to the Septuagint version: "God will not judge the same thing a second time." But the wicked angels are already judged, wherefore it is written (John 16:11): "The prince of this world is already judged." Therefore the angels will not be judged in the time to come.
Further, goodness and wickedness are more perfect in the angels than in men who are wayfarers. Now some men, good and wicked, will not be judged as stated in the text of Sentent. iv, D, 47. Therefore neither will good or wicked angels be judged.
I answer that, The judgment of discussion nowise concerns either the good or the wicked angels, since neither is any evil to be found in the good angels, nor is any good liable to judgment to be found in the wicked angels. But if we speak of the judgment of retribution, we must distinguish a twofold retribution. One corresponds to the angels' personal merits and was made to both from the beginning when some were raised to bliss, and others plunged into the depths of woe. The other corresponds to the merits, good or evil, procured through the angels, and this retribution will be made in the judgment to come, because the good angels will have an increased joy in the salvation of those whom they have prompted to deeds of merit, while the wicked will have an increase of torment through the manifold downfall of those whom they have incited to evil deeds. Consequently the judgment will not regard the angels directly, neither as judging nor as judged, but only men; but it will regard the angels indirectly somewhat, in so far as they were concerned in men's deeds.
Reply to Objection 2. The demons will then be cast down in the sight of all because they will be imprisoned for ever in the dungeon of hell, so that they will no more be free to go out, since this was permitted to them only in so far as they were directed by Divine providence to try the life of man. The same answer applies to the Third Objection.
The Summa Theologiæ of St. Thomas Aquinas
Second and Revised Edition, 1920
Literally translated by Fathers of the English Dominican Province
Online Edition Copyright © 2017 by Kevin Knight
Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol.
Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius Generalis. Westmonasterii.
Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L.
Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ
MARIÆ IMMACULATÆ - SEDI SAPIENTIÆ