Differing Levels of Rewards in Heaven


Order of Contents

A Summary Verse
That Believers are Included at the Day of Judgment
That Particular Good Works will be Particularly Rewarded in Heaven

There will be Differing Levels of Reward in Heaven
The Judgement Will be Proportioned
The Westminster Confession




A Summary Verse

1 Cor. 3:11-15

“For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.”



That Believers are Included at the Day of Judgement 

Eccl. 12:14

“For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”


Matt 12:35-37

“A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.”


Matt 16:27

“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”


Rom. 2:16

” In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”


Rom. 14:10,12 

“But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ… So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.”


2 Cor. 5:10

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”


Rev. 20:12,13 

“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.”


That Particular Good Works will be Particularly Rewarded in Heaven

1 Sam. 24:16,18,19

Saul said… to David… forasmuch as when the Lord had delivered me into thine hand, thou killedst me not.  For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore the Lord reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day.

Ps. 19:8,11

The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart…  Moreover by them is thy servant warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward.


Prov. 24:12

“If you say, “See, we did not know this,” Does He not consider it who weighs the hearts? And does He not know it who keeps your soul? And will He not render to man according to his work?”


Jer. 31:16

Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.


Dan. 12:3

“And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.”


Matt 5:11-12

“Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me.  Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”


Matt 5:44-46

“Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you…  For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?”


Matt 6:3-6

“But when you do alms, let not your left hand know what your right hand does: That your alms may be in secret: and your Father which sees in secret himself shall reward you openly…  But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly.”


Matt 6:17-18

But thou, when you fast, anoint your head, and wash your face; That you appear not unto men to fast, but unto your Father which is in secret: and your Father, which sees in secret, shall reward you openly.”


Matt 6:20

“But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:”


Matt 10:41-42

“He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.  And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward.”


Luke 6:22-23

“Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.  Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven”


Luke 6:35

“But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great.” 


1 Cor. 3:8-9

“Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.  For we are labourers together with God.”


1 John 3:8

“Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.”

David Brown (†1897) comments:

“A full reward – of grace, not debt: consummated glory. If ‘which YE have wrought’ be read, the reward is that of their “work (of faith) and labor of love.”  There are degrees of heavenly reward proportioned to the capability of receiving heavenly blessedness.  Each vessel of glory hanging on Jesus shall be full. But the larger the vessel, the greater will be its capacity for heavenly bliss (Is.22:24, “And they shall hang upon him all the glory of his father’s house, the offspring and the issue, all vessels of small quantity, from the vessels of cups, even to all the vessels of flagons.”).  He who with one pound made ten, received authority over ten cities; he who made five pounds, received five cities: each in proportion to his capacity of rule, and his faithfulness (Lk. 19:15-19; 1 Cor.15:41, “There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.”).  ‘There is no half reward. It is either lost altogether or received in full: full communion with God’ (Bengel).  No service of minister or people shall fail of its reward.”


Rev. 22:12

“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”



There will be Differing Levels of Reward in Heaven

Matt 5:19

“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”


Matt 18:4

“Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”


Luke 19:12-26

A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.  And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come…  And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.  Then came the first, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained ten pounds.  And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.  And the second came, saying, Lord, thy pound hath gained five pounds.  And he said likewise to him, Be thou also over five cities.  And another came, saying, Lord, behold, here is thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin… And he saith unto him… Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury?  And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give it to him that hath ten pounds…  For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.”

Matthew Poole (†1679) comments:

“The different account the servants brought in, signifies that men do not equally use the gifts with which the Lord blesseth them; some use them well, some ill; some bring honour and glory to God by the use of them, and that some in one degree, and some in another. Some bring him no honour or glory at all. The master’s answer to them upon their accounts, lets us know that every man shall be rewarded according to his work. There will be degrees in glory, (though we cannot well open them), as well as of punishments.”



1 Cor. 15:39-42

“All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.  There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another. There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.  So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:”



The Judgement Will be Proportioned to How we Judge Others in this Life, and how much Responsibility and Power we Have

Matt 7:1-2

“Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”


James 3:1

“My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.”



The Westminster Confession

Ch. 16, Of Good Works

6.  Yet notwithstanding, the persons of believers being accepted through Christ, their good works also are accepted in Him;[u] not as though they were in this life wholly unblameable and unreproveable in God’s sight;[w] but that He, looking upon them in his Son, is pleased to accept and reward that which is sincere, although accompanied with many weaknesses and imperfections.[x]

[u] Eph. 1:6. 1 Pet. 2:5. Exod. 28:38. Gen. 4:4 with Heb. 11:4.
[w] Job. 9:20. Ps. 143:2.
[x] Heb. 13:20,21. 2 Cor. 8:12. Heb. 6:10. Matt. 25:21,23.



God hath appointed a day wherein he will judge the world in righteousness by Jesus Christ,[a] to whom all power and judgment is given of the Father.[b] In which day, not only the apostate angels shall be judged,[c] but likewise all persons that have lived upon earth shall appear before the tribunal of Christ, to give an account of their thoughts, words, and deeds, and to receive according to what they have done in the body, whether good or evil.[d]

[a] Acts 17:31.
[b] John 5:22,27.
[c] 1 Cor. 6:3. Jude ver. 6. 2 Pet. 2:4.
[d] 2 Cor. 5:10. Eccl. 12:14. Rom. 2:16. Rom. 14:10,12. Matt. 12:36,37.




Venema, Cornelius – ‘Degrees of Reward in the Kingdom of Heaven?’ being the second half of chapter 14 in his The Promise of the Future,  Buy  p. 405-419

Venema is a professor at Mid-America Reformed Seminary and devotes a chapter of his book to the question of differing levels of rewards and punishments in the afterlife.  His discussion surveys all the relevant Biblical data, quotes respected theologians on the subject, and provides the fullest analysis of the issue that is easily available.




Related Pages

Bible Verses on Degrees of Punishment in Hell

Judgment Day

The Resurrection