Which is greater in God: Mercy or Justice?

We know that in God there is both mercy and justice; rather, that God is both mercy and justice. However, we also pray that, upon our death, we might meet in Christ not the just Judge, but the merciful Savior. Knowing that mercy and justice can never truly contradict one another, we might still ask which is greater in God, and which comes first and which is greater.
Is justice the foundation from which mercy builds? Or, is mercy the fundamental disposition of God toward his creatures?
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Editor’s note: Those who approach God in charity, and with genuine humility are likely to encounter their merciful Savior. Otherwise … ???


  1. Mercy and justice are at opposite polarities: the closer you come to justice, the further you move from mercy; the closer you come to mercy, the further you move from justice. God, however, claims both justice AND mercy…

    He accomplishes it at the cross, where God became the accused, meeting the demands of justice, that mercy might be extended THROUGH His justice.


  2. If God were Just more than Merciful or vica versa it would imply an imbalance in his divinity. It is rather akin to asking if god is more good than powerful or is God more all seeing than all knowing? The question itself is flawed because it assumes that Justice and Mercy are seperate virtues. The truth is that we cannot have Mercy without Justice because it begs the question Mercy from what? And we can not have Justice without Mercy because that would be a terrible tyranny and denies Gods Very Goodness and thus his Just Will to be compassionate to his lowly creatures.

    In History and across many religions God is All Just and this is as it should be since if God is Good than Justice is how he would show that Goodness to his creation. The opposite is injustice which is the very epitomy of evil because all wickedness comes from it. Yet in Jesus we have God entering his creation. Why? Certainly not as some ego trip and not because he has to win our approval. He does so because he is all love and that love intended from Genesis onwards to be glorified and draw us to his glory. Knowing our frailty and our total lack of responsible virtue he is revealled firstly by Judaism and then in his Incarnation in Christianity as Mercy. That is the quality that allows us to see; that whilst he is the Eternal Judge and Supremely Good he is also compassionate and loving towards those that fear him. As Mary proclaims in her Magnificat “His mercy reaches from age to age for those that fear him”.

    Jesus through out his ministery showed that God did not deal with humainty in the way we deserve but is patient and merciful and brings us home to him.

    Neither Mercy nor Justice contradict each other nor do they act as some kind of eternal rivalry in some spooky and mysterious fashion that we do not understand. They are compliments to each other and act like the sides of a sword in benefitting our lives. So we should not become worried or boged down by foolish concerns that spiral nowhere. God is both and at the same moment All just and All Merciful and we should probably thank him for being both.


    • So Paul, in light of your above comments, how do explain the existence of Hell? Is anybody in there? If so, who … and why?

      Thanks for writing … and have a very happy and holy Divine Mercy Sunday!



      • Not certain that I mentioned Hell Doug? BUT as you ask I will try to reply.

        Basically hell in the “Christian” sense (not the same in Jewish tradition but I will stress the Christian notion of hell as clearly as I can) is the abode of the damned. That is Satan and his fallen angels etc and these remain by pride and by sin against the Holy Spirit therein as eternally seperated from Gods love. They eternally reject God and he deals with them in a good and Just manner! They are in hell.
        Hell exists because God is All justice when dealing with his angels. Their intellect etc is far greater than human and their understanding was and remans also. It is not that God refuses them mercy it is rather that they never ask him. Of course in Scripture Legion does beg Our Lord for Mercy and he responds accordingly. Yet usually Christians understand that satan refuses to ask for mercy because that denies his pride.
        Apart from the devils we have the implied possibility of human souls being damned although we do not know of any individual that is so nor should we expect such and such a person is in hell because we do not know any individuals state etc. Nevertheless, we understand that the “wicked” those that choose evil may come before the throne of Justice. Here I refer to the saints but also others and my own favourite here is C.S.Lewis whom described Hell as a door Locked from the inside. It means that a soul sends itself to hell. God does not lord over us and damn us for some sin or other but a soul flees from Gods mercy when it is wicked. It chose evil in the world and now flees before his loving grace. It means that it is us that damn ourselves because we reject Gods mercy, his all loving embrace.

        I hope my answer Doug is a little clearer than mud! Basically I agree that souls of the wicked are in hell because I believe that God is Good hence Just and scripture warns that he will deal with each according to their deeds. BUT in Jesus I understand that God is all merciful and desires our salvation to the point even wherein he comes between us and his Fathers wrath so that he can cry out on the cross for us all “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do”.

        All best wishes and have a great weekend. Paul


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