47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him—the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
There are two forms of unbelief in verses 47 and 48:
—those who hear Jesus’ words but do not embrace them, 47
—those who reject categorically His words, 48
And if anyone hears My words [audible] and does not believe, I do not judge him;
The word “hears” means to hear with approval. There are those who have apparent approval to the message of Christ, but they do not embrace it as their own. The Father, not Jesus, will deal with them.
for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world.
The purpose of Christ’s coming into the world was not to judge but to “save” (Jn 3:16-17). People judge themselves by rejecting the message of Christ (Jn 3:18-19). Jesus did not come to judge in His first coming, but He will judge at His Second Coming. At the Second Coming, He will become King Jesus, King of the world.
He who rejects Me,
The other side of Jesus’ point is that those who outright reject His words do indeed have a judge; it is the judge of His words.
and does not receive My words,
Jesus is the Father’s revelation; He is the light of the world. To discard His words is to disregard the Father’s words.
has that which judges him—
The Father already has the role of judgment; the Son does not need to do it in this situation.
the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.
Even though the Father is the judge, Jesus’ words will judge those refuse to believe on Him. God’s judgment is not caprice but eternal justice. The Father’s message in Christ is what gives eternal life to those who embrace it.
God’s judgment will be based on the content made available to each person. Their judgment began with rejection and ends with condemnation at the “last day.” God will use the words that were to save people to instead judge them.
The “last day” is the final boundary of history. This is a day of judgment and vindication, a day when God Himself will be vindicated. This is a time when God shall be all in all. The standard for judgment at this time are the words of Christ.
Unbelief is not simple unwillingness to assert a fact but refusal to accept truth.
The primary purpose of Christ’s first coming was not to bring judgment but salvation. Jesus did not come into the world with the express purpose to condemn the world (Jn 3:17, 36). However, indirectly those who reject His words bring condemnation on themselves. People who hear what Jesus has to say yet reject His words bring judgment on themselves.
Jesus is the light of the world; He is the Father’s Word to people. God spoke finally and decisively in Him (He 1:1-3). The Father’s purpose of God’s revelation in Jesus is to shed light on eternal things.
There is no escaping the coming judgment of unbelievers in the last day. The same message that offers salvation will bring condemnation for those who do not believe it. They will stand before the great white throne judgment where they will formally be pronounced lost forever (Re 20:11-15). Unbelief lies not in the faculty to believe but in willful rejection to believe (Jn 3:18).