Judging the Twelve Tribes of IsraEl
info This commentary was written by a volunteer for our Bible translation project. It’s not an official view of our project; we are not a religious denomination and we do not establish doctrine. These commentaries reflect a variety of views and some disagree with each other.
At Matthew 19:27, Peter said to Jesus:
‘We have left everything and followed you.
So, what will we really get?’
Then in verse 28, Jesus replied:
‘I tell you the truth; in the rebirth, when the Son of Man sits down on his glorious throne;
You who have followed me will sit on twelve thrones to judge the twelve tribes of IsraEl.’
What was Jesus talking about here?
Well, one Bible commentary says that Jesus was promising his Apostles the same thing that Paul spoke of at 1 Corinthians 6:2 where he wrote:
‘Don’t you know that the Holy Ones will judge the world?’
Yet this doesn’t make much sense, because the term ‘IsraEl’ usually refers to those in a covenant relationship with God, while the Greek word kosmos (which is translated as ‘world’ here) is usually used to describe those that are not in such a relationship.
So these two judgments can’t mean the same thing.
So was Jesus saying that his Apostles will judge the literal nation of IsraEl?
Well, that isn’t likely either, because only a small portion of that nation can still be identified today, since the original tribes have (for the most part) been scattered and interbred among all the nations of the earth. Therefore, there really are no pure ‘twelve tribes of IsraEl’ anymore, since a large portion of the population of the earth can also claim some roots in IsraEl.
So what did Jesus really mean? Well, note what Paul said at Romans 9:6:
‘Not all that came from IsraEl are really IsraEl, nor are all of AbraHam’s seed his children.’
Then he went on to describe faithful Christians (whether Jews or gentiles) as the true IsraEl. So, perhaps judging the twelve tribes of IsraEl is symbolic in meaning; a way of saying that they will judge everyone who claims to be a Christian.