In the Bible, the word ‘saints’ means God’s holy people, and that does not just mean a few special people. Paul declares that God’s people will judge the world. He even adds that they will judge angels. These statements may astonish us. But for Paul, these things were clear facts. He even expresses surprise that some Christians seemed not to know these things.
Clearly today, most Christians do not know these things. And many Christian writers consider this passage hard to understand. However, we should be able to find the explanation of Paul’s words elsewhere in the Bible. Paul did not make statements like those ones unless the Old Testament (the older part of the Bible) already taught those things.
Probably, Paul was referring to Daniel chapter 7. That chapter describes how 4 powerful forces would rule the world. They would be cruel, like fierce wild animals, and they would use their power in a terrible manner. They would appoint kings, and for a period of time, they would even oppose God’s holy people.
In the end, God will declare his judgement against those evil forces. And he will appoint the saints, his holy people, to rule the world (Daniel 7:27). Their authority and power will come from God, and his rule will never end.
It is a modern idea to separate the work of judges and rulers. In former times, ‘to judge’ meant ‘to have legal authority’. So rulers acted as judges, and judges acted as rulers.
The angels are the powerful spirits that God created to serve him. But some angels were not loyal to God. These evil angels control the evil forces that now rule this world (Ephesians 6:12). When God establishes the rule of his holy people, this will be his act of judgement against those evil angels.
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© 2014, Keith Simons.