The great judgment day of Christ will accomplish a glorious work of abolishing all evil, and bringing all beings in heaven and earth into subjection to God, that “He may be all in all.” (I Corinthians 15:28) The Christ – head and body- will be given the privilege of determining who will ultimately be found worthy of life.
The judgment spoken of in I Corinthians 6:3 does not refer to the holy angels who need no judgment. Before the flood, there were disobedient angels who left heaven materialized as natural men to marry women and have children (Nephilim). This is mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4- 5. It was these fallen angels who had a trial and were confined to “tartarus” – to our earth’s atmosphere – “restrained in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day.” (Jude 6) All angels were created perfect, spirit beings with heavenly powers, but the fallen angels used their power for sinful purposes. The angels who sinned by materializing and procreating with women have been paying the penalty for the last 4,000 years. Their disobedience broke their fellowship with God and the holy angels. Their powers and scope of influence were curtailed. These are the ones awaiting a final judgment.
The basis for the judgment spoken of in I Corinthians 6:3 will be their heart condition and repentance manifested. While in their bondage, was there a change of heart? Have they repented of their rebellion? Have they learned by personal experience what separation from God means? Have they learned anything from observing mankind’s experience with sin, death, and estrangement from God? Is their desire to now serve the heavenly Father, and his beloved Son only?
I Peter 3: 18, 19 tells us that Jesus, by his example of obedience and sacrifice, “preached to the spirits in prison.” Additionally, it is quite possible that Jesus actually did have some interaction with the fallen angels at some point after his resurrection, during which time he could have encouraged and assured them that God’s forgiveness was possible if their hearts were transformed.
Since the very object of the reign of Christ is to root out all sin and evil, the fate of the unrepentant angels will be destruction. All who are allied with evil in any way will become subjects of the second death (Revelation 20:10, 14, 15); while others who show their loyalty to God will be found worthy of everlasting life.
We can look forward to the time when at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and when every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God, the Father! (Philippians 2:10)