16 in the day when God will judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my gospel
This verse narrows the criterion by which God judges man. He judges man by the gospel. Those with a “conscience” about God can know Him truly by the gospel. The work of the conscience (v. 15) will lead people to the right conclusion about how God will execute final judgment. Culpability is necessary for God’s judgment—He will judge according to the light people receive.
in the day
“The day” here is the day of God’s judgment. This is the climax of the argument from verse 12. This judgment is the final judgment, the Great White Throne Judgment for non-believers.
Ro 2:2, 5, But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who practice such things…. 5 But in accordance with your hardness and your impenitent heart you are treasuring up for yourself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God. . .
when God will judge the secrets of men
God will surface every secret of man by just judgment. He sees more than what we can see openly. God judges the motive as well as overt action. There is a solemnity to this judgment, for God will not judge according to reputation; He will judge the reality of who and what people are. Respectability will not stand up to God’s absolute norms.
by Jesus Christ,
Jesus is the Agent of divine judgment. We either accept His judgment for our sins or we take accountability for our sins. Final judgment of man will rest on his attitude toward the finished work of Christ for our sins.
Jn 5:22-24, 22 For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgment to the Son, 23 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. 24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
Jn 5:17, and has given Him [Jesus] authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.
Ac 17:31, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.
according to [the norm and standard of] my gospel
The words “according to” means according to the norm and standard of. The gospel is the criterion God uses for judging men. It is a penetrating judgment that leaves nothing unturned. Part of the norm of the gospel is that sin caused judgment on Christ; He bore our sins personally on the cross. God will exercise judgment on the principle of the cross.
Paul claimed the gospel for himself by the use of the word “my.” The gospel was his in the sense that he owned it as his own.
The gospel mitigates God’s judgment.
God’s judgment demands the gospel. The gospel is “good news” because it delivers man from eternal judgment.
Many people carry respectable fronts before others. God’s judgment will strip this false façade from them and they will be seen for what they are in the day of God’s judgment.
Shifting standards of the world blind us to the absoluteness of God’s perfect character, the standard by which He must judge us. Some people commit sin in a fashionable sense but God will judge them by His own standards, not theirs. All secrets will come to light in view of who God is.