The apostle Paul says something pretty wild in 1 Corinthians 6:3. He says, “Do you not know that we are to judge angels?” Christians—human beings—will one day judge angels.
What on earth is Paul talking about? How can we do that? And when exactly will this happen?
First, we need to understand the context of this verse. In the church at Corinth, Christians were taking each other to court. They were suing each other. So Paul says, more or less, “You guys aren’t able to settle your own disputes, and you’re taking each other to non-Christian courts so that pagans can sort out your problems. That’s a bad witness. You need to learn how to deal with issues within the church.”
In some situations, Christians do need to get outside authorities involved, but in this situation, Paul says, “When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matter pertaining to this life!” (1 Cor. 6:1–3).
In other words, you’re going to judge the world and even angels someday, so you should be able to figure out this petty stuff and not depend on pagan judges to figure it out for you. You should be able to make right judgments about things happening in the life of the church.
But still, we’re going to judge angels?
Some people say that the word judge here could also be translated “rule.” We’re going to rule angels. But that doesn’t really fit the context. Paul is talking about judgment. Of course, the Bible says in other places that the disciples are going share in Christ’s rule. We’re going to reign with Christ. Paul says in another letter, “If we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Tim. 2:12). If we’ll rule with Christ, we’re going to participate somehow in the judgment of angels as well.
This is going to take place in the future, on the last day at the final judgement. What is that going to look like? Who knows. God’s word doesn’t give us any further revelation about this event. But we do know we’re going to reign with Christ and somehow participate in the judgment of angels.
Remember the context, though. For now, we need to learn to get along within each in the the church and settle disputes within the body of Christ. We need to bring honor to the name of Christ by living in peace with each other, being patience with each other and forgiving each other, instead of bringing our ugly squabbles into the courts of this world. If we’re going to judge angels one day, we can surely tend to our own affairs within the church.