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That’s a good question. Thanks.

1. This is merely a detail, but I don’t think it will be Christ who will be the final judge. It is God who is seated on the “great white throne” (presumably); Jesus is judge at the parousia, which I think has reference to the beginning of his reign over the nations. Coincidentally, I came across this statement in Schweitzer’s The Mysticism of Paul the Apostle, differentiating, as I do, between the messianic kingdom and the final kingdom of God, when God becomes all in all. I wouldn’t use “kingdom” for the latter state, and it’s a little convoluted, but I think that Schweitzer is roughly right:

This eschatology recognises therefore two blessednesses (the Messianic and the eternal); and two Judgments (the judgment of the Messiah at the beginning of the Messianic Kingdom upon the survivors of the last generation of mankind, and the final judgment of God upon the whole of risen humanity after the Messianic Kingdom); and two Kingdoms (the temporary Messianic and the eternal theocracy). Jesus expects one blessedness only (the Messianic, which is also eternal); one Judgment (the Judgment of the Son-of-Man Messiah and the beginning of the Kingdom of God, which includes both the survivors of the last generation and also the whole of risen manldnd); and one Kingdom (the Kingdom of the Son-of-Man Messiah, which is also the eternal Kingdom of God).

2. I don’t know the answer to your question about the justification of the “righteous living”. Revelation 20:13 says that at the final judgment all the dead will be judged “according to what they had done”. Is that all there is to it? But I do think it’s helpful to make “justification” a more concrete phenomenon. It’s a basic question that we all face as believers in an aggressively secular culture: are we / will we be justified for believing our defining narrative about Jesus and the creator God? 

3. I am, however, rather more confident that Paul believed righteous non-Christian Gentiles would be found to be in the right, justified, when Israel’s God judged the idolatrous pagan world. See “Righteous Gentiles and their justification by works”, and my book on Romans. I think that reflects the sociological realism of his eschatology, but the passage is much debated.

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