On Judgement Day, What Will happen to the People Who Have Never Heard of Jesus Christ?

Will all those people who have never heard of Jesus Christ be sent to hell? First we must note that the Bible says God will judge all people righteously.1 It seems there will be a stricter judgment for those who have rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ than those who have never heard.2 Paul tells us that those who have never heard of the law are not imputed sin under the law.3 Paul also tells us that those who follow the law (e.g., practicing Jews) will be judged by the law.4 The people who have never heard of the law are judged by the law of God which He has placed into their hearts:

A further indication that the judgment of God is based upon what we know and what we have been given can be seen in a warning by James:

In other words, those who know the gospel, study it, and teach it will be under stricter judgment, since they have the ability of guide others, or lead them astray. Jesus, in the parable of the Master and the slaves (Luke 12:41-48) talked about the difference in judgment between those who know the will of God vs. those who do not know:

Do people have to know the name "Jesus Christ" to be saved? Many people do not know that "Jesus" is not the "real" name of the Savior. His real (Hebrew) name is "Yeshua," which is usually translated into the English as "Joshua." The Greek transliteration is "iaysous." In fact, in three verses of the New Testament (Luke 3:29, Acts 7:45, and Hebrews 4:8), iaysous is translated into the English as "Joshua," since the text refers to the Old Testament saint. In addition, the word "Christ" is not Jesus' name, but His title. The Greek word "christos" (translated "Christ" in the English) means "Messiah," the "anointed one." This is why the New Testament letters often refer to Jesus as "Christ Jesus," which means "Messiah Jesus." Other languages have different pronunciations of the name of Jesus. However, God is able to understand whom we are talking about and save us no matter what we call the name of the Savior. In addition, Job, from the Old Testament, was saved even though he did not know the name of the Savior.5 Therefore, although it is true that Jesus is the only way to get into heaven,6 you don't necessarily have to know His name to get there.

I know there are many Christians who say that all those who die without faith in Christ will be relegated to spend eternity in Hell - even if they have never heard the gospel. I think scripture suggests otherwise - that we are judged on the basis of what we know and how we act upon it. This is not any sort of ecumenical theology or "all ways lead to God." Those who have heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and have refused to believe have rejected Him, and, as such, will fall under the condemnation of God, because they have rejected His provision for our disobedience.2 Therefore, atheists are still without excuse7 in rejecting God. Those who perpetrate evil, even without the knowledge of the gospel, will likewise be condemned, since they have violated their God-given conscience. In the same way, those who play the "religion game" of going to church on Sunday, but living apart from a relationship with God, will be condemned.


  1. And He will judge the world in righteousness; He will execute judgment for the peoples with equity. (Psalms 9:8)
    Before the LORD; for He is coming to judge the earth; He will judge the world with righteousness, And the peoples with equity. (Psalms 98:9)
    But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously, Who tries the feelings and the heart, Let me see Thy vengeance on them, For to Thee have I committed my cause. (Jeremiah 11:20)
    But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, who WILL RENDER TO EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS: to those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, eternal life; (Romans 2:5-7)
    see also Genesis 18:25, 1 Kings 8:32, 2 Chronicles 6:23, Psalms 7:8, Psalms 7:11, Psalms 9:4, Psalms 9:8, Psalms 19:9, Psalms 96:10, Psalms 96:13, Psalms 98:9, Isaiah 11:4, Jeremiah 11:20, Acts 17:31, Romans 2, 10:12-14, James 2:12, Revelation 16:7

  2. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him." (John 3:36)
    There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; that very word which I spoke will condemn him at the last day. (John 12:48)

  3. for the Law brings about wrath, but where there is no law, neither is there violation. (Romans 4:15)
    for until the Law sin was in the world; but sin is not imputed when there is no law. (Romans 5:13)

  4. For there is no partiality with God. For all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law; and all who have sinned under the Law will be judged by the Law; (Romans 2:11-12)

  5. "And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth." (Job 19:25)

  6. Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me." (John 14:6)

  7. For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. (Romans 1:18-20)

This fine article comes from the outstanding GOD AND SCIENCE website, and we are grateful to them.

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