How Is Christ the Judge of “Both Quick and Dead?”

Moroni ends the Book of Mormon by bidding us farewell until he meets us at the Final Judgment. In his description, he refers to the Savior as “the Eternal Judge of both quick and dead” (Moroni 10:34). What does that mean?

The phrase actually appears three times in the King James Version of the Bible:

  1. In the Book of Acts, Peter tells Cornelius and his friends that Jesus “was ordained of God to be the judge of quick and dead” (Acts 10:42).
  2. Paul admonished his young companion Timothy “before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom” (2 Timothy 4:1).
  3. Peter later wrote to members of the church that all sinners must one day “give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.” Immediately after, Peter explains that the gospel has been preached to the dead, “that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (1 Peter 4:5-6).

In common usage, the word “quick” means “fast,” but in these passages, it means “alive.” How is Christ the judge of both the living and the dead?

Peter’s use of the phrase in his epistle serves to emphasize that those who have died are preparing to be judged just like we are.

Perhaps Moroni used the phrase for a similar purpose: to strengthen his connection with his readers. He knew he would be dead when we received his words. But even though he has died and we are still alive, he wanted us to feel a kinship with him, to recognize what we have in common: We will all one day stand before God’s judgment bar. In that way we are all the same, those who are living and those who are dead.

President Russell M. Nelson has summarized the message of the gospel in these words:

We invite all of God’s children on both sides of the veil to come unto their Savior, receive the blessings of the holy temple, have enduring joy, and qualify for eternal life (“Let Us All Press On,” General Conference, April 2018).

Today, I will remember that the living and the dead are not as different as we might think. Those who have died like us, have the opportunity to receive the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and thereby prepare themselves to receive eternal life in the presence of God.

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