The Greek word bema (Strong’s G968) appears thirteen times in the King James New Testament. Eleven of those times it describes a raised platform of judgment. The Apostle Paul’s use of this word is a better fit because of its original use in Greek games, than as it is used in describing the judgment seat of Pilate, Herod or Gallio. The word bema is derived from Greek games where a contestant would compete for a prize. The judge would watch the game and would award a prize to those who won the game according to the set rules.
The Apostle Paul admonishes us to run the race of our lives so that we may win a prize. (First Corinthians 9:24-27) Paul used the Greek word bema twice when mentioning the Judgment Seat of Christ. (Romans 14:10 and Second Corinthians 5:10) The Judgment Seat of Christ is frequently called the “Bema Seat.” The judge of a Greek athletic event gave awards or prizes at the bema. He did not whip, beat or punish any contestants. And there is no punishment at the Judgment Seat of Christ! There can be an absence or loss of reward, but there is no punishment.
The “Bema Seat” is the Believer’s place of reward or loss, as it demonstrates the purity of our works. It is a time of rewards given or lost after evaluation, but it is not a time of punishment where Believers are shamed and judged for their sins. This would be inconsistent with the completed work of Jesus on the Cross. Jesus said, “It is finished.” (John 19:30) because He completely paid the penalty for our sins. And the memory of those sins has been removed “as far as the east is from the west.” (Psalm 103:12)
The Parable of the Talents found in Matthew 25:14-30 is a clear example of the principle of rewards. The “master,” a type of Jesus, left on a long journey. Before he left, he gave talents (money) to some of his servants. When he returned, those that used what was given them to an increase were rewarded. The servant who did not use his talent had it taken away and given to another.
“Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the Day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” – First Corinthians 3:13-15
Praise the Lord for His mercy and grace. He provided a way that all sinners might be saved and spend eternity with Him. He provided a lamb; the Lamb of God. Praise Jesus and serve Him until the Day when we will stand before Him at the Bema Seat. And pray He will be able to say of us, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”