The Quick and the Dead

"And he commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead." (Acts 10:42)

This is the climax of the first Christian sermon to the Gentiles delivered by Peter in the house of the Roman centurion, Cornelius. Peter emphasized the truth that Jesus was not just the promised Messiah of Israel, but that "he is Lord of all" (Acts 10:36), and that it is He alone who will judge the "quick and dead."

This striking phrase occurs only three times in the Bible, each time denoting that Christ is Judge of all men. Paul wrote to Timothy as follows: "I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word" (2 Timothy 4:1-2). Peter wrote concerning the gross Gentile sins from which his readers had been delivered: "|They| shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead" (1 Peter 4:5).

The term "quick" is the same as "living." When Christ returns, "the dead in Christ shall rise first" (1 Thessalonians 4:16), and then all believers, including those still alive in the flesh at His coming, "must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ" (2 Corinthians 5:10). This will be the judgment of the "quick." All the saved are alive in Christ at "the resurrection of life."

But He must also judge the dead--that is, those who are "dead in trespasses and sins" (Ephesians 2:1) at "the resurrection of damnation" (John 5:29), "For the Father . . . hath committed all judgment unto the Son" (John 5:22). "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God . . . and they were judged every man according to their works. . . . This is the second death" (Revelation 20:12-14). HMM

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