It is apparent that the theme of judgment to come was prominent in the Lord's mind, and He wishes us to meditate deeply upon it. His many references to judgment day in the parables of judgment reveal at least two themes:
1. He puts far more emphasis on the rejected than on the accepted.
2. There is the theme of surprise in many of the parables of judgment. Both worthy and unworthy are surprised at both the process and outcome of judgment.
The day of judgment was an important theme with the Lord. There is an element of unreality in the way He speaks of the King as being the judge (Mt. 25:40); the implication is that our judgment will be an extremely important event; the King Himself is the judge (actually, the King of heaven and earth). This indicates that the Lord wishes to put before us the picture of those who have been called to the Kingdom but reject His offer. Sadly we seem to be shying away from this picture as a community, falling victim to the sloppy picture of God peddled by an apostate Christendom. This stress on rejection is only a continuation of the emphasis of the Old Testament. The real possibility of rejection at judgment day was evidently a motivator in Paul's life (e.g. 1 Cor. 9:27), and he used " the terror" of the coming day of judgment to persuade men in his teaching of the ecclesias (2 Cor. 5:11), and also in his preaching to the world (e.g. Acts 17:31). Paul's exposition of judgment to come caused Felix to tremble (Acts 24:25). I wonder whether he would if he walked into a Christian meeting today.
The parables of judgment have stress the theme of surprise at the process and outcome of the judgment. This ought to be a powerful influence on our thinking and behaviour. For all our study and preparation, that day will surprise us, it will shake us to the roots, as the newly built houses were rocked and battered to the foundations by the stormy wind and rain (representing Christ's interrogation of our conscience at judgment, Mt. 7:27). If that day is to be a surprise to us, we better have an appropriate humility now, recognizing that ultimately our perceptions of many things will be shown to be wrong. There is even the possible implication that some who will be accepted by the Lord who even at the judgment have wrong attitudes towards their brethren. Thus before the Lord of the harvest, those who thought they had worked hardest complained that those they thought had done less, were still getting a penny. They were rebuked, but they still had their penny (cp. salvation; Mt. 20:11). The subsequent comment that the first shall be last might imply that they will be in the Kingdom, but in the least place. Likewise the brother who takes the highest place in the ecclesia will be made with shame to take the lower place (Lk. 14:9). Or the bitter elder brother, angry at the Father's gracious enthusiasm for the worthless brother, is addressed by the Father (God) in language which is relevant to the Lord Jesus: " Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine" (Lk. 15:30). These sentiments are elsewhere expressed about the Lord Jesus. Is the implication that bitter elder brother is still in Christ and accepted in Him, even though his attitude to his brother is not what it should be? The least in the Kingdom will be those who break commandments and teach men so (Mt. 5:19); but the least in the Kingdom will be counted greater than John the Baptist was in this life (Mt. 11:11). The simple message is that there will be some in the Kingdom who simply weren't very obedient in this their day of probation. Admittedly, these details are capable of other interpretations. But bear these points in mind, especially if you ever struggle with the apparent harshness of some Christians you may meet.
Different parables of judgment give different aspects of the judgment. It may be that we can put them all together and build up a time sequence of the process of judgment. Or it may be that the judgment will be different for each of us, and the parables reflect the different cases which the Lord (even in His humanity) foresaw coming before Him at the judgment. For the rejected, the process may be like this:
Firstly, incomprehension (Mt. 25:37) and surprised anger, then realization of the Lord's verdict.
He points out their failings,
Then they give an explanation of their behaviour (Mt. 25:24), justifying themselves (Mt. 25:44).
The Lord asks a series of questions, to which there is no answer.
Then there is the speechlessness (Mt. 22:12),
Followed by an ashamed slinking away from the judgment (1 Jn. 2:28 Gk.),
A desire to escape but having no place to run (Heb. 2:3, quoting Is. 20:6 concerning the inability of men to escape from the approach of the invincible Assyrian army). The rejected will see that the Lord is coming against them with an army much stronger than theirs, and they have missed the chance to make peace (Lk. 14:31).
It surely isn't incidental that this is exactly the pattern of events which the men went through who beheld the Lord's crucifixion. It's this correspondence which makes me lean towards the idea that the descriptions of the judgment are intended to be read as chronological fragments from the rejection of those who crucify the Lord afresh.
We must ever remember that judgment as we meet it in the parables of judgment is only a figure being used to describe our meeting with the Lord. It's difficult to know how far to take the figure. Thus the question arises, Does Christ know beforehand who will be accepted, and the degree of their reward? Lk. 19:15 suggests that perhaps not; the Lord calls the servants " that he might know how much every man had gained by trading" . He is ordained to be judge of all (Acts 10:42). However, as Lord of Heaven and earth, with all power given to Him, this seems unlikely- although it must be remembered that in the same way as God is omnipotent and yet limits His omnipotence, so He may limit His omniscience. The shepherd sees the difference between sheep and goats as totally obvious. It needs no great examination. And yet the parables and the very figure of a judge weighing up evidence and coming to a conclusion seems to suggest the opposite. Surely the idea is that the judge, the omniscient Lord of all, will act at the judgment as if He needs to gather evidence from us and thereby reach His verdict. The parables give this impression because they surely describe how the judgment will feel to us. We demonstrate below how many of the parables imply that our acceptance at the judgment all depends on our attitude to our brother. But we know (or we ought to) that this isn't the only thing that our redemption hinges on; but the point of the parables is that this will be very prominent in our minds then.
So what is the purpose of the judgment, according to the parables of judgment? My sense is that it is for our benefit, not the Lord's, although an obsession with the figure of judgment may imply the opposite. In one parable, the Lord Jesus taught that before the actual judgment, the righteous will tell the Lord how many pounds the pound they were given has gained. In another, the Lord's picture was of the faithful after the judgment had been pronounced, questioning with the Lord as to whether they really had done what He had said. We get the picture of an initial account from us, the Lord's judgment, and then a discussion with us after the verdict has been pronounced. This of itself indicates that we are not to see the judgment merely as a method for dividing up the rewards and sorting out the punishments. It's aim is to glorify God through our response to the realizations which we are then driven to. The faithful and all their works are foreknown. From God's perspective there seems no reason why the faithful cannot be immediately transferred to immortality at the Lord's coming. They are, after all, seen by Him as being in Christ, who has risen again and received immortality. But how little appreciation of God's grace, what small self-knowledge would we have if this were the case. A few years of what we considered suffering, scratching around on the surface of our natures, almost spoilt by the constant care of our loving Father, then death, and then the next we know we are in the eternal glory of the Kingdom. The judgment seat will surely be a vital part of our spiritual education and preparation for receiving God's nature (1). Immediately after it, we are told, " the Kingdom...will be likened unto ten virgins..." (Mt. 25:1 and context), the implication being that then we will perceive the truths contained in that parable; only then will we fully appreciate the result of watchfulness and keeping oil in the lamps. The rejected will see themselves thrust out of the Kingdom (Lk. 13:28); as if somehow they see themselves from outside of themselves. What spirituality they thought they had they will see as it were taken away from them (Lk. 8:18 A.V.mg.). This will be the result of the judgment process. 1 Cor. 11:32 may also be a reference to the educative effect of judgment: " When we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world" . The world's condemnation will be at the second coming; the judgment and chastening to which Paul refers must therefore be that of the last day. However, in the context He is making the point that our self-examination at the memorial meeting and our response to the chastening hand of God in our present life is in fact a foretaste of that final judgment experience.
Then we will realize our sinfulness, then we will behold the greatness of God's grace and the supremacy of Christ's victory. Then we will realize how small our understanding was, how little of God we knew, and how great is the reward we are being given, how out of proportion it is to our present experience and responsibilities. We almost get the feeling that the servants thought they had done well when they presented the pounds they had gained as a result of how they had used the pound given them. The pound (mina) given was equivalent to at most $1000 (2005). Yet the reward was way out of proportion, both to what had been given, and to what they had achieved with it: ten cities! The Master's words almost seem to be a gentle rebuke: " Because thou hast been faithful in a very little , have thou authority over ten cities" (Lk. 19:17); " thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things" (Mt. 25:23). The " Truth" we have now (and it is that) is " a very little...a few things" . We mustn't see it as an end in itself. Yet because of our humanity, our limited vision, the way we are locked up in our petty paradigms, we tend to think that the Kingdom will be rather similar to our present experience of " the Truth" . Yet the Lord emphasizes, at least twice, that what we have now is pathetically limited compared to the infinitely greater spiritual vision of the Kingdom. We (personally) will then be made ruler over all that Christ has (Mt. 24:47; the " many things" of Mt. 25:23); and in him are hid all the riches of spiritual wisdom (Col. 2:3).
Lk. 16:11, in another of the parables of judgment, hammers home the same point; if we are faithful in how we use the things lent to us by God in this life, we will be given " the true riches" . What we now have is " the Truth" , because this is how the Spirit speaks of it. But Truth is relative, and the Truth God wants us to accept as Truth is doubtless designed by Him to be acceptable by mere mortals. But it isn't " the true riches" spoken of here. We are asked to be faithful in that which is God's, and then we will be given " that which is your own" (Lk. 16:12) in the Kingdom, as if we will be given " true riches" which somehow are relevant to us alone, the name given which no one knows except ourselves (Rev. 2:17). " Riches" represent the riches of wisdom and knowledge (Col. 2:13), and they are paralleled with " that which is your own" , as if somehow in the Kingdom we will be given a vast depth of spiritual knowledge and perception which is in some way relevant to us alone. To me, those few words of Lk. 16:11,12 take me to the brink of understanding what the Kingdom will be about. We can go no further.
But judgment day is not only for our personal education and humbling. It is for the enlightenment of us all as a community, in that there is fair evidence that in some sense the process of judgment will be public, and all the believers will see the true characteristics of those with whom they fellowshipped in this life. Thus the unworthy will be revealed as being without a wedding garment, and the faithful will see Him (for the first time) as walking naked and in shame (Mt. 22:11; Rev. 16:15). The evil servant will be " cut asunder" (Mt. 24:51), i.e. his hypocrisy will be openly revealed for the first time (remember, he was an ecclesial elder in mortal life, according to the parable). What we have spoken in the Lord's ear will be revealed by Him openly (" from the housetops" ) at the judgment (Lk. 12:3).
According to another of the parables of judgment in Lk. 19:23, the Lord will shew the unworthy how they could have entered the Kingdom. Again, notice how the judgment is for the education of those judged. He will shew them how they should have given their talent, the basic Gospel, to others, and therefore gained some interest. This has to be connected with the well known prohibition on lending money to fellow Israelites for usury; usury could only be received from Gentiles (Dt. 23:20). Surely the Lord is implying that at the least this person could have shared the Gospel with others, especially (in a Jewish context) the Gentile world. This would have at least brought some usury for the Lord. This would suggest that issues such as apathy in preaching, especially the unwillingness of the Jewish believers to share their hope with the Gentiles, will be raised by the Lord during the judgment process. Of course, the Lord hadn't told the servant (in the story) to lend the money to Gentiles; he was expected to use his initiative. The overall picture of the story is that at least the man should have done something! The Lord would even have accepted him if he lent money on usury, something which the Law condemned; if he'd have done something, even if it involved breaking some aspects of God's will... Instead, his attitude was that he had been given the talent of the Gospel, and he saw his duty as to just keep hold on it. He was angry that the Lord should even suggest he ought to have done anything else! We really must watch for this attitude in ourselves. He justifies himself by saying that he has " kept" the money (Lk. 19:20), using the word elsewhere used about the need to keep or hold on to the doctrines of the One Faith (1 Tim. 1:19; 3:9; 2 Tim. 1:13; Rev. 6:9). He had done this, he had held on, he hadn't left the faith. And he thought this was enough to bring him to the Kingdom. Sadly, our view of spirituality has almost glorified this very attitude. Any who show initiative have been seen as mavericks, as likely to go wrong. The emphasis has been on holding on to basic doctrine, marking your Bible with it, attending weekly meetings about it (even if you snooze through them), regularly attending...And, son, you won't go far wrong. The Lord, in designing this parable as He did, had exactly this sort of complacency in mind.
Finally. The Lord foretells the spiritual culture which He will show even to the rejected, when He mentions how He will call the rejected " friend" (Mt. 22:12), using the same word as He used about Judas (Mt. 26:50). Vine describes it as a word meaning " comrade, companion, a term of kindly address expressing comradeship" . if this is how the Lord will address those who have crucified Him afresh- surely there is hope, abundant hope, for us.
The figure of judgment in the parables of judgment would suggest a grim faced judge, with all the dignity and soberness of the courtroom, whatever the verdict is. But there are elements of unreality in the pictures of judgment which are put before us in the parables. This judge is emotionally involved in each case (unheard of in a human court); He exalts: " Well done...enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (Mt. 25:23). The picture of the happy judge, breaking down in joy at the verdict, inviting the hesitant believer to share his joy in their victory. The picture seems so imaginable; " enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" suggests a reticence, an unbelief, at the outcome. Compare this with the one hour labourers receiving a day's pay (Mt. 20:9), and the faithful almost remonstrating with their Lord that they have not done the things He reminds them of (Mt. 25:38-40) (2). But we will overcome our reticence; we will enter our Lord's joy; for we shall stand before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24). The Master is so delighted that His servants are watching for Him that He immediately sits down and gets a meal ready for them, doing the serving Himself (Lk. 12:37). There is an arresting element of unreality here. Would a Master really do this, at such an unlikely time at night, would he really serve himself, and would he really be so glad that the servants were waiting up for him? But these elements of unreality serve to teach the lessons: that the Lord will have unspeakable joy at His return because of our expectancy of the second coming, and He will surprise us by His glee and enthusiasm for us. In Him, in that day, will be fulfilled Zeph. 3:17: " The Lord thy God in the midst of thee...He will save, He will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing. I will gather them that are sorrowful (us) for the solemn assembly" , when the Lord will keep Passover with us again.
As stressed above, the purpose of the judgment is for our benefit, to develop our appreciation and self-knowledge. This is perhaps reflected by the ten pound man saying that Christ's pound had gained, had worked to create (Gk.) the ten pounds he could now offer (Lk. 19:16). The man who achieved five pounds uses a different word in describing how the pound given him had made five pounds (Lk. 19:18), while the men in Mt. 25:20,22 uses yet another word to say the same thing. This is surely a realistic picture, each of the faithful comes to the same conclusion, that what spirituality they have developed is an outcome of the basic Gospel given to each of us at our conversion; yet they express this same basic idea in different words. The place of basic doctrine as the basis for the development of all true spirituality should need no further stress, if the Lord's teaching here is appreciated. But in the present easy-going attitude of the brotherhood, the importance of basic doctrine does need stressing the more. The man who didn't develop as he should have done accuses the Lord of reaping what he didn't sow (Lk. 19:21). But the Lord does sow the seed of the basic Gospel, as the parable of the sower makes clear. The point is that the unworthy fail to let that seed bring forth fruit, they fail to see that the Lord expects fruit from those doctrines they have been given. But they fail to see the link between the basic Gospel and practical spirituality; they feel he's reaping where he didn't sow. Christ will require His own, i.e. that which he has sown, the basic Truths of the Gospel, with usury (Lk. 19:23). The parable of the tiny seed moving the great mountain was surely making the same point; the basic Gospel, if properly believed, will result in the most far reaching things (Mt. 17:20 cp. 13:31). There is an element of unreality in the parables of the judgment, especially that of the pounds: wise use of a few coins results in power over several cities. We are left to imagine the men marvelling in disbelief at the reward given to them. They expected at most just a few pounds to be given to them. And in their response we see a picture of the almost disbelief of the faithful at their rewards.
One of the themes of the parables of judgment is that our attitude to our brethren will have an impact on the outcome of the judgment. Mt. 25:45 seems to suggest that our attitude to the weak ones of the ecclesia will especially be considered by the Lord. Of course, He knows the verdict and why He has reached it already; but it seems that the parable is teaching that we will be brought to realize that our attitude to our weak brethren has such an impact on our position before the Lord. For then we will realize that we are all weak. Consider His repeated emphasis on the importance of our attitude to others, to using the Truth we have been given in the service of others:
- The 'unjust steward' was saved because he forgave others their debts after getting into a mess himself. He wasted his Lord's goods, as the prodigal did (Lk. 15:13 connects with 16:2). Seeing the prodigal represents all of us, the lesson is surely that we all waste our Lord's goods, therefore the basis of salvation is through our forgiving others as an outcome of our own faith in the Lord's grace. This is one explanation of why the parable of the steward flows straight on from that of the prodigal.
- The rich man was condemned for not helping Lazarus.
- The Pharisee was condemned not just for being self-righteous but especially for his despising of his sinful brother.
- The one talent man was rejected because he didn't give his talent to the Gentiles and earn usury for the Lord.
- The big debtor was rejected because he wouldn't forgive his brother. The Lord says that He will make such a person pay all the debt (Mt. 18:36). There is a connection here with an earlier parable, where He spoke of how unless a man agrees with his adversary quickly, the adversary will drag him to court and jail until he pays all that is due (Mt. 5:26). The adversary of the parable, therefore, is the Lord Himself. He is the aggressive invader marching against us with an invincible army (Lk. 14:31), with whom we must make peace by total surrender. Putting the Lord's teaching in context, He is showing Himself to be very harsh and demanding on the unforgiving believer, but very soft and almost unacceptably gracious to those who show forgiveness. Consider these aspects of the parables of judgment:
- The elder son went out of the Father's fellowship because he couldn't accept the return of the younger son.
- Many will be rejected at the judgment because they refused to care for their weak brethren.
- The drunken steward was condemned because he failed to feed the rest of the household and beat them.
- The lamp went out because it was kept under a bucket rather than giving light to others.
- Perhaps the hard working labourers were sent packing by the Lord because of their complaint at the others getting the same payment for what they considered to be inferior work to theirs. If the parable is meant to be read in this way, then it seems so sad that those hard working men (cp. brethren) were almost saved, but for their attitude to their brethren.
The RSV renders 2 Cor. 5:10 as teaching that we will be judged according to the deeds we have done in “the body”, and it may just be that Paul had in mind ‘the body of Christ’. Our actions there, to our brethren, will be the basis of our judgment. To keep the faith to ourselves without reaching out into the world of others was therefore foreseen by the Lord as a very major problem for us. And indeed it is. Disinterest in ecclesial meetings and overseas brethren, unwillingness to really enter into the struggles of others, apathy towards preaching, all often as a result of an obsession with ones' own family...this is surely the sort of thing the Lord foresaw. We all have the desire to keep our faith to ourselves, to hold onto it personally on our own little island...and it was this attitude which the Lord so repeatedly and trenchantly criticized. And in his demanding way, He implied that a failure in this would cost us the Kingdom. He more than any other must have known the desire for a desert island spiritual life; but instead He left the 99 righteous and went up into the mountains (i.e. He prayed intensely, after the pattern of Moses for Israel?), in order to find the lost sheep (Mt. 18:12). In a sense the judgment process has already begun; Mt. 18:24 says that the Lord has " begun to reckon" now, and so now we must urgently forgive one another. He is watching our attitude to each other here and now. Mt. 18:33,35 teach that the attitude we have towards our brother deep in our heart will be revealed and discussed with us at the judgment.
The lighting of the candle is a symbol of our conversion (Mt. 25:1; Heb. 10:32). Our lamps were lit by the Lord Jesus (Lk. 8:16; Heb. 10:32) for the purpose of giving light to the house. The Lord lights a lamp in order to search for His lost coin, that weak brother or sister that means as much to Him on a deep, indescribably personal level as a woman's dowry money in the Middle East (cp. a wedding ring; Lk. 15:8). But the lamp He lights is us. This is yet another example of His parables being intended to fit together. We must burn as a candle now, in shedding forth the light, or we will be burnt at the judgment (Mt. 5:15 and Jn. 15:6 use the same words). This is but one of many examples of the logic of endurance; we must burn anyway, so why not do it for the Lord's sake and reap the reward (3) ? The ecclesias, groups of believers, are lampstands (Rev. 2:5 cp. Ps. 18:28). We must give forth the light, not keep it under a bucket, because " there is nothing hid which shall not be manifested; neither was any thing kept secret, but that it should come abroad" (Mk. 4:21,22). In other words, the very reason why God has hidden the things of His word from the world and some aspects of them from our brethren, is so that we can reveal them to them.
If we don't shine forth the light, both in the world and in the household, we are not fulfilling the purpose for which we were called. Perhaps this is the meaning of Acts 16:10, where Luke says that they preached in Macedonia because they perceived that " the Lord had called us for (in order that) to preach the gospel (in this case) unto (the Macedonians)" . Whether such an interpretation appeals or not, there are many passages which teach that our salvation will be related to the extent to which we have held forth the word both to the world and to the household (Prov. 11:3; 24:11,12; Dan. 12:3; Mk. 8:38; Lk. 12:8; Rom. 10:9,10 cp. Jn. 9:22; 12:42; 1:20; 1 Pet. 4:6 Gk.). Those who reap the harvest of the Gospel will be rewarded with salvation (Jn. 4:36). Such work isn't just an option for those who want to be enthusiastic about it. With what measure we give to others in these ways, we will be measured to at the judgment (Mk. 4:24 and context). 1 Cor. 3:9-15 likewise teaches that the spiritual " work" of " any man" with his brethren will be proportionate to his reward at the judgment. Paul certainly saw his reward as proportionate to the quality of his brethren (2 Cor. 1:14; 1 Thess. 2:19,20; Phil. 2:16; 4:1).
Mt. 24:42-50 teach that the servant who must feed the household with appropriate food represents each of us; he must watch for the Lord's return and be diligent in feeding the household; yet (it must be stressed), this parable is intended for each of us (cp. Mk. 13:37). If he doesn't do this, he is rejected. We are set a high standard here. Christ is " the goodman of the house" , i.e. the senior slave who is responsible for all the others (Mt. 20:11), but here " the goodman of the house" represents each of us (Mt. 24:43; Lk. 12:39,40). We are in Him, and therefore we must try to share His level of concern for His household. He carried His cross for us, for our salvation. And He asks us to share His cross, i.e. His devotion to the body of believers, even unto death.
The " porter" was commanded to watch (Mk. 13:34); and he represents us all (Mk. 13:37). Watching over God's household is an idea taken from Ez. 3:17; as the prophets in the Old Testament parables of judgment were the watchmen of the house of Israel, so each of us are. When the Lord had earlier told this parable, Peter (like us) asked the obvious question: " Speakest thou this parable unto us (the twelve in the first century), or even to all?" (Lk. 12:41). The Lord's basic reply was " To all" , although He didn't say so explicitly. Instead He said that if the Lord of the servant was away and came back unexpectedly, late at night, what a joy it would be to him if he found the lights on and the servant working diligently in caring for the others; any servant doing that is going to give his Lord joy; 'So, Peter, don't think about whether others are called to do the job, this is the ideal servant, you're all servants, so you get on and try to be like this ideal servant!'. The porter's job was to keep out wolves; the Greek for " porter" literally means 'the watcher' (s.w. Jn. 10:1, another example of how the parables fit together). An apathy in looking out for false teachers means we aren't doing the porter's job well, we are sleeping rather than looking after the household. Mt. 24:43-45 define watching for Christ's return as tending to the needs of our brethren; this is what will lead our hearts towards preparedness for the second coming, rather than the hobby of trying to match current events with Bible prophecy.
One final feature of the parables of judgment calls for attention. They often speak of the Lord Jesus as if He is the role of God. This shows the intensity of God manifestation there will be in Christ at the day of judgment; and yet the way Christ manifests God so closely is seen in other parables too. Thus Mt. 15:13 speaks of the Father as the sower, whilst Mt. 13:24,37 applies this figure to the Lord Jesus. Likewise in the parables of Lk. 15, God the Father lost the Son, but Christ, the seed of the woman, lost the coin, and He was the shepherd who lost the sheep. In constructing these parables as He did, surely the Lord was emphasizing that the Father and Son are absolutely united in their attitude to us; it is on account of this that the Father can really know our feelings as Christ does, even though He has never been human. Many of the descriptions of Christ in the parables are taken from Old Testament passages describing the feelings of God towards Israel, showing the truth of this in the first century context when Israel were still God's people. Thus the Lord's description of Himself as a hen wishing to gather the chicks of Jerusalem (Mt. 23:37) is based on Is. 31:5: " As mother-birds flying, so will the Lord defend Jerusalem" Heb.). Yet Lk. 13:8 could suggest that Christ's attitude to Israel was even more patient than that of God Himself; yet because their feelings to Israel are identical, the implication is perhaps that the Son enables and thereby persuades the Father to be even more patient with us than He would naturally be!
(1) And if we consider why there will be a Millennium instead of the Kingdom just starting, surely the answer must be that it is for our benefit, a preparation for us to enter the fully established Kingdom. Some of the mortals of the last generation will be given the opportunity to be the mortal inhabitants of the Millennium, whilst millions of others in previous generations have lived and died without hope. It seems one of the reasons why they will be there is for our benefit.
(2) This all suggests that even after our acceptance at the judgment, we may be more 'human' than we may now imagine. Some will be in the Kingdom who have big questions about the justice of God (Mt. 20:12,13 " friend" ); the elder son is apparently accepted in the Father's fellowship, although his attitude to his weak brother is so wrong (Lk. 15:31); the wise virgins, apparently selfishly, won't give any oil to the others; some will sit in the Kingdom in " shame" because they thought they were greater than other brethren (Lk. 14:9- cp. the elder brother?); some remonstrate that a highly rewarded brother already has ten pounds, and surely doesn't need any more exaltation (Lk. 19:25).
(3) See The Logic Of Endurance.