The book Dr. Dean mentioned during this class is called Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
Who are the unrighteous that Paul says will not inherit the kingdom of God? Are they unbelievers or believers? Listen to this lesson to learn their identity and see if inheriting the kingdom and entering Heaven are the same thing. Find out when commas came to be used in translating the Scriptures and how punctuation can change the meaning of a verse. Learn about the Corinthians and that there were two kinds of believers and ask yourself which type you are.
Inheriting the Kingdom
Ephesians 1:14, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, Ephesians 5:5, Galatians 5:19–21
Ephesians Lesson #037
August 4, 2019
“Our Father, we’re thankful for Your Word, for it is Your Word that informs us, strengthens us, transforms us. You use Your Word to edify us. Father, Your Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our souls, and, Father, we’re thankful for it. We’re thankful for its illumination. We’re thankful that we can recite it in times of need, that through Your Word we are comforted.
“Father, there are times when it looks, in our translations, as if there is a conflict or problem. This morning we look at one of those passages, and we pray that You would help us to understand what You have revealed and how we should understand what Paul taught here in 1 Corinthians 6 in relation to inheritance. We pray this in Christ’s name, amen.”
Open your Bibles with me to 1 Corinthians 6. I’ll review why we’re here in our study in Ephesians.
Ephesians 1:14 says that we have been given God the Holy Spirit, that we have been sealed by God the Holy Spirit, and that He is the guarantee of our in inheritance. Four or five weeks ago, I started a sub-series—as I’m wont to do—to help us understand the background for terms. These are highly significant terms, often misunderstood. The Bible’s teachings about inheritance are designed to motivate us, to encourage us, to get us focused on living today in light of eternity. We’ve looked at some problem passages on inheritance in the past. We’ve learned as we’ve gone through this study that believers have two areas of inheritance, not only in this age, but also in the Old Testament.
We looked at 1 Peter 1:3–4, which talks about the fact that we are born again to an inheritance, incorruptible, undefiled, that does not fade away, and is reserved in Heaven for us. We all have this first category, an inheritance that we all have in common, that which we will all receive when we die physically and are face-to-face with the Lord. Eventually, we will get our resurrection bodies when the Rapture occurs. A number of other things are true for every single believer who goes to Heaven.
We also have passages such as Colossians 3:24, which teach that we work for something. Salvation is free. Salvation is a free gift. We don’t earn it. We don’t deserve it. We don’t work for it.
Here, we have a second category of inheritance related to serving the Lord. Colossians 3:24, “… because we know that from the Lord, we will receive the reward of the inheritance”—then the command. “Y’all serve the Lord.” Why? To receive that reward of our inheritance.
These two categories relate to the free gift of our inheritance and, as we saw in Romans 8:17, being heirs of God. Then, there is an additional reward.
I’ve used the illustration for years that this is like a contract with an incentive clause. We are incentivized by the Scripture to live for God. There’s controversy over this even among those who are in what we might refer to as a free grace, dispensational camp. Everybody believes that rewards are going to be distributed at the Judgment Seat of Christ. What’s interesting is everybody seems to believe that some at the Judgment Seat of Christ will suffer loss. They won’t lose their salvation, but they won’t have any rewards. They will come up with bupkis because they failed to walk with the Lord, to serve the Lord. They failed to grow in any way, shape, or form. They are saved, but that’s it. They are regenerate, but it doesn’t go any further than that.
A distinction is made between those who have the bare essentials, who have eternal life and will spend eternity in Heaven, and those who pursued serving the Lord and will have additional rewards and blessing both in time and in eternity. This is designed to motivate us, not to scare us, so that believers will not become lax.
On the other hand, some even within our milieu, our group of churches, believe, “No, no, no. Everybody gets the same thing.” In my opinion, that is a form of spiritual communism. It is the idea that you find behind a lot of sports teams in California, that everybody gets the same participation trophy. All you have to do is show up, and you get the same thing as those who pursued spiritual growth and grew to maturity, that there is no distinction.
The problem we see in the economic world and socialism and communism is that when everybody gets the same thing whether they work hard or not, motivation is destroyed. It destroys that incentive. You say, “We’re all going to end up getting exactly the same thing at the Judgment Seat of Christ, so why should I pursue spiritual growth or spiritual maturity? I’m just going to live my life on the basis of my sin nature and enjoy life here, and then we will all have the same thing when we get to Heaven.” I do not believe the Bible teaches that. The Bible teaches that some have rewards and some lose rewards.
There’s another problem on the opposite end of the spectrum. Some legalists think that not only do you lose rewards, but they take passages out of context in the Gospels and say that you’re going to suffer some temporary punishment during the Millennial Kingdom. You’re going to be in a place where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. As a result of misinterpreting parables, for example, at the end of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, they interpret those parables as applying to the church and not applying to the rewards for believers at the end of the Tribulation. It just leads to a real mess in theology.
The position that we have is that all believers will get the same inheritance, the same possessions related to eternal life, but additional blessings and rewards come as a result of serving Him. That brings us to some passages that seem to counter a grace gospel. A grace gospel being defined by
Ephesians 2:8–9, “… it is by grace that we are saved … and not by works …”
Titus 3:5, it’s “… not by works of righteousness which we have done …”
Galatians 2:16 that we are “… not justified by the works of the law …”
Therefore, works are completely excluded from salvation.
Then, we run into passages like the one we will study this morning, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, where Paul said, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetousness, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the Kingdom of God.”
Just as an intro observation, the second half of 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 expands on the phrase that I have underlined, “the unrighteous” in verse 9 (which is where there is debate over that meaning), which is then defined not as unbelievers but as those who practice certain unrighteous acts or certain mental attitude sins that are not compatible with the righteousness of God. Those who are the unrighteous of 1 Corinthians 6:9 are further defined as the fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexual, sodomites, thieves, covetous, etc. in those next verses. In both cases, they will not inherit the Kingdom of God.
The problem is that in some denominations and groups, the idea of inheriting the Kingdom is equivalent to entering into eternal life, going to Heaven. The sad part of that is they say the people who do these things don’t inherit the Kingdom and won’t go to Heaven. Either they will lose their salvation if they do these things, or if they do these things, they weren’t ever really saved.
The position that if you do these things you lose your salvation is known as Arminianism. It is a works-based, legalistic-based system. If you take the view that you weren’t really saved, that’s what we call Lordship salvation, that faith is more than simply believing in Christ. It is a commitment to Him; therefore, if you’re truly regenerate, you will have works that are consistent with being regenerate.
When we look at this passage, we see that it is a dividing line between those who truly understand the grace of God and those who do not. If you go to the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, those areas, the Slavic Baptist churches in the different nations do not believe in eternal security. They go to passage like this, and usually when you start off and say, “Do you think people who are fornicators will go to Heaven?” “Oh, no, no, no.” “Or idolaters who don’t even believe in the true God or they wouldn’t be idolaters. Do they go to Heaven?” “No, no, no. They don’t go to Heaven.”
It seems to work pretty well until you get down to maybe the beginning of verse 10 where you have being covetous. Have you ever coveted anything? Have you ever gone to a store and said, “I really need that! I’m going to go into debt to get it just because it’s going to make me happy. I need that kind of a car or dress or suit or clothes because that’s the status that’s going to make me happy.” Wait a minute! Now that gets beyond those overt sins to mental attitude sins. Also, what about drunkards, or revilers, extortioners? You get into some other areas of sin.
It might get even worse. Ephesians 5:5 basically summarizes those sins in 1 Corinthians 6. Paul wrote in that parallel passage, “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater …” Here in Colossians, Paul identified covetousness as greed. It is looking to money or the things that money can buy as the source of happiness rather than to God. That’s what makes it idolatry. Paul said this mental attitude sin of idolatry excludes you from having an inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.
Galatians 5:19–21. After we get past the overt sins listed in verse 19 and the beginning of verse 20, we have hatred. Have you ever hated somebody? Have you ever been really angry at somebody, and you wish, you fantasize about a torturous death for them? Or have you been contentious? Anybody who’s been in a church that didn’t have some faction that was being contentious hasn’t been in a real-life church. Have you ever been contentious? Have you ever had contention in your marriage or at work? That starts to get pretty dicey for some people. Have you ever been jealous of somebody? They got a promotion, and you didn’t? Wait a minute! This is moving beyond those overt sins and getting to a point where it’s getting pretty scary for everybody.
Paul added sins like outbursts of wrath. I’m not going to name any names, but I would imagine anybody who has taken the time to drive on a Houston freeway in just the last couple of days has probably had an outburst of anger because somebody has cut him off.
I was coming back the other day, coming down [Interstate] 610, and I saw this guy coming behind me ninety miles an hour or more. When he got even with my passenger side door, he started changing lanes to get in front of me, and I had to put on the brakes. Five minutes later I had a guy at my 1 o’clock position. I had another guy in a huge Suburban pull up next to me. I could see that he was looking at his cell phone for his Google Map or whatever. The front end of my car was level with his driver-side door. He changed lanes into my lane. Fortunately, I was in the left lane, and I went into the shoulder, but he kept coming into the shoulder and finally heard my horn. I think that you could’ve barely passed a piece of paper between our cars.
Those are two of maybe four incidences in just one trip. Have you ever had an outburst of anger? If you interpret inheriting the Kingdom as entering into Heaven, maybe you won’t make it. This starts getting pretty tough. We have envy and jealousy and dissensions. All these sins are listed.
We have looked at this in terms of trying to understand what inheritance means because Paul marked it in Ephesians 1:14 as something we all have. Then, in Ephesians 5:5, which is where we’re going, it’s clear that it is additional and conditioned on our behavior. Ephesians 1:14 is conditioned on God’s decision. Ephesians 5:5 is conditioned on our behavior.
We looked at what the Bible teaches about inheritance and possession. That’s basically what it means. We went through Old Testament passages looking at inheritance in the Old Testament.
Conclusion: Though not all have an inheritance in the Land, the Land was given to Israel as their possession. The word for inheritance is used there. All have God as their inheritance and possession. The Levites did not have any land. They did not have any real estate, but God was their possession. Thus, the Old Testament teaches these two categories of inheritance, the inheritance of God for all believers and an inheritance that is not for all believers.
We looked also at what the Bible teaches about heirship, asking key questions.
- Is inheritance a synonym for receiving eternal life? Key interpretive question.
- Is an inheritance earned, given, or both?
- What exactly is the meaning of inheritance, and what does it mean to inherit the Kingdom of God?
Those are the core questions we need to answer. 1 Corinthians 6:9–10 and Ephesians 5:5 and Galatians 5:19–21.
Conclusion: The two categories of inheritance are inherit the Kingdom (Ephesians 5:5, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10) and inherit salvation (Romans 8:17, Hebrews 1:14).
This verse looks like this if it’s not punctuated: “… and if children then heirs heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ.”
Those of you have been with me for a while know that I’ve used for many, many years this line: Woman without her man is nothing. It can be punctuated a couple of different ways, and you get some opposing meanings. I said I needed to come up with something new. Vicki, who does the illustrations for the DBM website, sent this meme to me. The bottom line says it all. “Commas save lives.” A mother has a meat cleaver in her right hand. She’s chasing two children and she says, “Time to eat children!” No comma. If you put a comma in there, “Time to eat, children!”
I was talking with Jim Myers about this last week, and he said, “Have you ever read this book called, Eats, Shoots, and Leaves?” So I ordered it. Y’all ought to get this! In fact, I have made the suggestion to our Greek exegesis professor that this needs to be required reading for all pastors. I’m also requiring it for my Friday morning pastors’ class, and we’re going to talk about it. When we as exegetes are translating the original language into English, we have to figure out how to punctuate it so English readers will read it correctly. That’s the purpose of punctuation.
The original Hebrew, original Greek, and even the ancient Latin manuscripts did not have punctuation. There were a few examples of early punctuation among the Greeks, mostly with a set of pauses so that actors reading the dramas would pause at the right place, but they never really settled in.
In the Middle Ages, a couple of different marks were used. When we end a sentence, we put a period, and then the next sentence starts with a capital [letter]. In the Medieval manuscripts between, let’s say, the third, fourth century, and the seventh century, when they finished the page, if they didn’t finish it where the last word finished the sentence, when they started at the top of the next page, the first word, whether it was the last word in a sentence, the middle of the sentence or whatever, began with a capital [letter]. Not until the printing industry came into being in the late 1400s did punctuation come into effect.
This book Eats, Shoots, and Leaves is by Lynne Truss, and it’s based on the punchline of a joke, and I’m going to read you the joke. A panda walked into a café, sat down, ordered a sandwich, ate it, and then drew a gun and fired two shots in the air. The waiter came over and said, “Why?” The panda was getting up and going to the exit, and he pulled out a badly punctuated wildlife manual, tossed it to the waiter, and said, “I’m a panda. Look it up.” The waiter turned to the relevant entry, and sure enough, he found this explanation. Panda: Large black and white bear-like mammal native to China. Eats, shoots, and leaves.
By putting the commas in there, you turn those three words into three verbs. If you take the commas out, you have one verb and two nouns. Isn’t it amazing what punctuation can do?
Anyway, this book is hilarious. The lady who wrote it has a great sense of humor. I found myself laughing uncontrollably at a lot of the things that she commented on and said, especially if you’ve got grandkids or kids who are getting into junior high or high school and dealing with punctuation. This book is subtitled “The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation.” You all think, “Boy, that’s pretty geeky and nerdy, isn’t it?” But it makes a difference, especially if you’re handling grammar like I do in trying to figure out what a verse means and how it should be communicated.
We talk about commas, and how the word comma came into English. It actually originated with the Greek word to define, what we would call a phrase or clause, to set off a group of words from the rest of the sentence. Later on, it came to refer to not just the phrase, but the dot with the tail on it that we associate with the symbol for a comma. This came into existence around the early 1500s to mid-1500s. Think about that. That’s within fifty years of the translation of the King James Bible. They had not settled on the rules of the comma.
Guess what? We still haven’t settled on the rules for the comma. I bet we could have a rip roaring debate between a couple of people here over whether or not to use the Oxford comma, and we’d have a good debate with the rest of you who say, “Who cares?”
This was significant in the King James Version, the original 1611 and its punctuation of Romans 8:17. You need to realize that they really hadn’t decided why they were putting that punctuation in there yet. It was still kind of fuzzy. They didn’t get clear on more specific rules until closer into the end of the twentieth century.
I’m telling you this because we’re going to look at a semicolon in a minute. The colon was begun by a printer named Aldus Manutius the Elder in 1494. That was twenty-three years before the Protestant Reformation. They were just beginning to crank out a lot of Bibles, and they were just introducing a semicolon. That gives you a hint that it took a little while for this to come into effect.
Here’s an example of testing on a comma from a county school exam in England in 1937. “Charles the First walked and talked half an hour after his head was cut off.” How are you going to punctuate that?
The correct punctuation: “Charles the First walked and talked. Half an hour after, his head was cut off.” Punctuation really matters.
Then, we have this sentence, somewhat similar to the one I’ve been using, “Johnny said the teacher was stupid.” Is that “Johnny, said the teacher, was stupid?” Or is it “Johnny said, the teacher was stupid.” Commas are important, and commas change the meaning of Bible verses.
For example, in the King James when Jesus was on the Cross and talking to the thief in Luke 23:43, “Verily, I say into thee, This day thou shalt be with me in Paradise.” (KJV) Punctuated that way it means that day, not long and the thief would be in Paradise with Jesus. The second example is New King James and most Protestant translations, even a couple of Catholic translations now. Older Catholic translations translated it according as the bottom one, “Verily, I say unto you this day …” In other words, “this day” relates to when Jesus said it, not when they would be in Paradise. That opened the door so they could shove the whole doctrine of Purgatory in there. Punctuation affects theology.
Here, on the left hand, you have a facsimile of the page of Romans 8 in the original 1611 King James Version. This is a great thing to do. You can go to the Internet and find these facsimiles if you ever run into one of those folks who believe in the King James only. You know, “King James was good enough for Paul, so it’s good enough for me.” You will discover that the King James that you and I are familiar with is not the way it was in 1611. It’s been updated I don’t know how many times to modernize the language, and it has changed.
Here, on the right side, is Romans 8:17. The English reads like this, “And if children, then heires, (they used to use a lot more commas than we do today) heires of God, and ioynt heires with Christ:” I’m scratching my head going, “Why did they put the semicolon and colon there?” Looking at Truss’ book, I realized that they had no clue why they put semicolons or colons anywhere until a couple hundred years later. It’s not really clear what was happening, other than a lot of punctuation was initiated to show readers how they should read, where they should pause, where they should speed up, things like that.
The King James Version was translated with a rhythm. How many of y’all think it’s easier to memorize the King James Bible than anything else? That’s because of the rhythm of the language. It was written to be read out loud, so the punctuation was designed to help the reader read it out loud. Others say that by about AD 1600, printers were putting the punctuation in to reveal the syntax. Who knows why. I tried to do some research on it, but there’s not enough information to determine why these guys punctuated this verse this way.
The King James or the New King James or the New American Standard are not translated this way today. They don’t have a semicolon after heirs of God. We could agree with this, that heirs of God is one category, that joint heirs with Christ is another category, and that the conditional clause “if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him,” relates to the “joint heirs with Christ.”
In these passages/translations that I have on the board, the New American Standard at the top says “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ,” with no comma separating them. That’s NASB 95, also New King James, and a lot of others.
The second ones are the World English Bible and the American Standard Version, “and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ;” That’s closer to what I think it should be. It distinguishes two different kinds of inheritance.
The ESV, the NIV, and a number of others, set it off with an em dash [–]. There are about three or four other ways this gets punctuated, so punctuation matters when it comes to theology.
The two types of heirs are heirs of God, which refers to all believers, and joint heirs with Christ for those who grow spiritually. We have to distinguish between the passages that relate to what is for every believer and what’s directed as an incentive or motivation to believers for additional rewards.
The problem passages are 1 Corinthians 6:9–11, Galatians 5:19–21, and Ephesians 5:5.
Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 6:9–11. The key issue is that Paul asked the question in verse 9, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the Kingdom of God?” Then, he gave a grocery list of ten sins and concluded by saying those who commit those sins will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Is it just committing them once or is this lifestyle practice? That’s another question.
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:11 is important because a lot of people read this, that some of you were like this. The “some of you” refers to the ones who were believers, but the rest of you weren’t washed and sanctified. You’re unbelievers, so you live like the devil. A lot of people read it that way, and we have to understand why that doesn’t work.
We will answer six basic questions.
- To whom was Paul writing? What do we know about these Corinthian believers?
- Who are the unrighteous? The noun or adjective is used in verse 1, and the verb is used in verses 8 and 9, so we have to look at those issues.
- What did Paul mean when he said do not be deceived? That’s interesting. When he addressed them, was he saying don’t be deceived that people who do these things won’t inherit the Kingdom of God? If he was saying that the ones that do these things won’t inherit the Kingdom of God, if those were unbelievers, why should they be deceived? Everybody knows that unbelievers aren’t going to have anything to do with the Kingdom of God. That indicates right away that this is not a passage that is contrasting believer and unbeliever, but two different kinds of believers.
- What does inherit mean? What does inherit the Kingdom mean?
- “And such were some of you?”
- Apply this to Ephesians 5:5 and Galatians 5:19–21
To whom is Paul writing? What we know about these Corinthians? If you think about the Corinthians in the first five chapters, they were not a pleasant bunch. They were not a picture of spiritual maturity. In fact, at the beginning of 1 Corinthians 3, Paul called them babies and used a term that was an insult. It was like telling a teenager, “You’re acting like a whiny baby!” It’s an insult. “You’re carnal. You’re fleshly. You’re living on the basis of the sin nature. You’re walking like mere men, not regenerate people.” He hammered them with the fact that they were living on the basis of sin, not on the basis of God the Holy Spirit. In the first chapter, he told them that they were divided, contentious, and arrogant. They emphasized human wisdom over divine wisdom. In 1 Corinthians 3, he called them carnal and spiritual babies. In 1 Corinthians 4:7, 18, he said they were puffed up, arrogant. In 1 Corinthians 4:21, he said, “Shall I come to you with the rod of correction or in love and a spirit of gentleness?” He hadn’t said anything positive about these folks yet, but he addressed them over and over and over again as believers. They were believers living no differently than the culture that surrounded them.
When we get to 1 Corinthians 6, one of their problems was that they had created a hyper-litigiousness within the culture of the church. Whenever anybody offended them, instead of turning the other cheek, they took that person to court. Paul said, “Dare any of you, having a matter”—or a problem—“against another”—that’s another believer—“go to law before the unrighteous …” We will get back to that in a minute. “… and not before the saints?” Why were they taking each other to court all the time? Again, this was a sign of their spiritual immaturity.
As we look at Corinth, we have to recognize that first of all, it was established as a Roman colony. It had an ancient history, but the court at the time of Paul was established for a Roman colony. It was housed by military veterans. A lot of military veterans have a way of speaking that includes language that would get bleeped out on the television although those standards are changing today. And freedmen. It was also a port city like Houston, and it brought sailors and slaves and Greeks and Egyptians and Asians and Jews, all kinds of people together.
It was the crossroads of commerce in the ancient world, and they brought all their religious systems with them, so there was rank paganism. Immorality was associated with fertility in the different mystery religions and mystery cults, such that numerous writers in the ancient world remarked about Corinth as the poster child for immorality and licentiousness and sexual perversion. “What happened in Corinth stayed in Corinth.” It was the Las Vegas of its time.
The Corinthian believers were saved out of that context. That was their normal lifestyle. They thought all was great and good and fine in their culture until Paul came along and started giving them the gospel. Actually, it was Apollos and some others that preceded him in giving the gospel to them.
He was addressing a group that had come out of this culture, but they were still living like it. They were still involved in this. They were ignoring immorality in the church. At the beginning of 1 Corinthians 5, they were ignoring incest taking place in the church. A man married his stepmother, and they were not doing anything about it. They were not shocked, but all the unbelievers outside of the church were shocked.
They were suing each other in 1 Corinthians 6. In 1 Corinthians 7, they were immoral. They were fornicating. There was probably homosexuality and adultery as part of their subculture. In 1 Corinthians 11, they were using the Lord’s Table as an opportunity to get drunk because they had wine at the Lord’s Table; and they were gluttonous. They used it as an opportunity to feed and stuff themselves. In 1 Corinthians 12–14, we see that they were challenged with using pagan methodologies.
We could go on and on. They were not anywhere close to being a picture of what a Christian ought to be. They were still living as they did before they were saved. That’s who Paul was addressing. They were not plaster saints. They had some serious spiritual problems. Who were the unrighteous? ADIKOI is the verb, and the term unrighteous, translating the noun, comes up in 1 Corinthians 6:9.
First of all, back in 1 Corinthians 6:1, “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unrighteous, and not before the saints?” It’s clear that the second category was talking about believers. Many, many people will look at that and say, “The unrighteous is in contrast to the saints, so this must be unbeliever versus believer.” But when we get down to 1 Corinthians 6:6, Paul used the term unbeliever. “But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers.”
That word for unbelievers is APISTOS. PISTOS is the noun for belief, and the “a” at the beginning means unbelief. They were going to law before unbelievers. APISTOS is the word Paul used over and over again for unbelievers, not unrighteous. He was using unrighteous here because these judges they were going to were just as immoral as the people whom they were suing. They were going to the bad to judge the bad, in other words. The use of that term is not defining, necessarily, their spiritual status.
The Bauer, Danker, Arndt, Gingrich (Greek–English Lexicon), current version, says ADIKOS pertains to acting in a way that is contrary to what is right. DIKOS relates to righteousness. DIKAIOS is the verb to be righteous, and the negative in front of it means not righteous. It’s not a word that means unbeliever. In other lexicons, it refers to being unjust, being unrighteous, dishonest, or untrustworthy. Not one of these lexica define it as an unbeliever. It just means somebody who’s not doing right.
In 1 Corinthian 6:6, unbeliever is the term APISTOS.
The term ADIKOS means unjust or unrighteous. That can refer to an unrighteous unbeliever or an unrighteous believer who is also immoral and disobedient.
When we get down to 1 Corinthians 6:7–8, which immediately precedes our problem passage, we shift from the noun, ADIKOS, that was used in 1 Corinthians 6:1, to the verb form of ADIKEO. 1 Corinthians 6:7, “Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another.” “If you’ve gotten to the point where you are taking each other to court, you have blown it already. You are so far down the wrong road that you need to quit.”
“Why do you not rather accept wrong-doing?” ADIKEO, should be translated as wrongdoing. “Why do you not rather let yourself just be cheated?” 1 Corinthians 6:8, “No, you yourselves do wrong …” That’s how it should be translated, ADIKEO. “… do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!” That sets us up. What does ADIKEO mean? It means wrongdoing, the verbal form.
1 Corinthians 6:7–9 translates ADIKEO as unrighteous, whereas before it was translated as doing wrong. There’s a flow there. In 1 Corinthians 6:7 it was used for doing wrong; in 1 Corinthians 6:8, it was used for doing wrong, so it should be translated in 1 Corinthians 6:9 also as doing wrong to be consistent. If we translate 1 Corinthians 6:9 as, “Do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the Kingdom of God?” Now he was talking about the inheritance issue. He was not talking about whether they were believers or not. “If you’re a believer and you continue to live like an unbeliever, you continue to be immoral and you continue to practice all these things, then you won’t inherit the Kingdom of God.” It’s not that they would lose their salvation.
“Don’t be deceived.” What was he saying here? Were they in danger of being deceived that unbelievers would not inherit the Kingdom? No! Everybody knew unbelievers wouldn’t inherit the Kingdom. He was warning them to not be deceived into thinking that if a believer continued in these practices, he wouldn’t have consequences. One of those consequences would impact eternal rewards. They wouldn’t have an inheritance in the Kingdom.
What does inherit mean? It means to have possession or ownership. What does inheriting the Kingdom mean? We’ve seen that it means having a position, having responsibilities in the Kingdom ruling and reigning with the Lord Jesus Christ. It has to do with positions of privilege and extra blessing in the Kingdom. Those who don’t grow spiritually, those who continue in their sins and stay in carnality, won’t inherit.
Let me add a little caveat to this. We all sin. We all sin a lot, a lot more than we probably would admit to ourselves, because a lot of sins flow out of our own arrogance. When we confess sins, we are cleansed of those sins. A lot of people don’t care about God anymore, and they live according to their sin natures. They never confess sins so they are never cleansed. They waste their lives spiritually by living in the world with no spiritual cleansing and no forgiveness.
If we sin and we confess sins, not in a licentious way, we’re constantly being cleansed, so that we are growing in the Spirit. Spiritual maturity takes place. The fruit of the Spirit is produced in our lives. We are serving the Lord when we are walking with Him. As a result, we will be rewarded because we are serving the Lord.
It’s not saying that if you commit any of these sins, you’re never going to see any rewards. There’s got to be a recognition that these are sins and confession and attempts to deal with them in your life and grow and mature spiritually.
Slides 40 and 41
1 Corinthians 6:11, “And such were some of you.” That word “such” is talking about the homosexuals, the sodomites, the adulterers, the fornicators, the cheaters, all the different sins listed there, the covetous, the drunkards, the revilers, the extortioners. He was saying that some of them had been like that, past tense. A lot of people read that as “some of you used to be unbelievers and now that you are believers,” but that’s the wrong way to read it.
That’s what we see up here (View 1) in this chart, that the “some” equals “believers” as in “such were some of you,” and that “you” equals unbelievers, and that’s a contrast there. The second view is that “some” or “all” are just rhetorical, but they’re all viewed as being positionally saved. That really doesn’t go anywhere. It ignores the thrust of the passage. I think it’s this view (View 3). The big circle is all of you are believers. All of you are washed because that’s what it says. “But you all …” It’s a plural. “… you all were washed. You all were sanctified”—positionally—“but you all were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ …”
Only a subset, only a few had left that pagan lifestyle behind. The rest of them were washed, sanctified. They were saved. They were going to Heaven. They were justified, but only some of them had become believers who had set aside those past behaviors. That’s the thrust of that last verse. Inheriting the Kingdom is in the sense of a special ownership, special responsibility, special privilege in the Kingdom when the Lord comes back and establishes His Kingdom during the Millennium and then on into the future. That inheritance can be jeopardized by our failure to grow spiritually.
That’s the same thing as in Colossians 3:23–24. “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Jesus Christ.” We receive that so we can serve the Lord, build capacity to rule and reign with Him in the Kingdom.
Ephesians 5:5 basically summarizes that list of ten sins in 1 Corinthians 6 under four categories, “For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater …” That characterized their lives after they were saved. “… has an inheritance in the Kingdom of Christ and God.” He was addressing believers again, but he was addressing these Ephesian believers because many of them still had lives characterized by these sins.
The same thing is true in Galatians 5:19–21, where he had a list of seventeen sins. Many are parallel to those in 1 Corinthians 6. Here, he said that if you “practice these things …” The Greek is PRASSO; it’s not POIEO, which means to do it, but if you practice it. If this characterizes your life, you will not inherit the Kingdom of God. Confess your sins. Remember, you were cleansed and forgiven so you can grow through this, and you can grow and mature and serve the Lord. We all sin. We all commit sins we don’t want anybody to know about. We all commit sins that shock us at different times, but that’s not our normative position.
We confess sins. We move on. That which is produced by walking by the Spirit is that which is rewarded in this special category, where we have spiritual growth to develop capacity to rule and reign with the Lord in the Kingdom and on into eternity.
We have two categories of inheritance. The Holy Spirit is given to us, He seals us marking us as God’s possession, and He is the guarantee of that future inheritance that we all have in common. The issue is, what are we going to do with this great position that Christ has given us? Are we going to take advantage of it and grow spiritually and have additional rewards and blessings? Or are we going to be satisfied with the minimal and live our lives for ourselves in this world? That becomes the issue that Paul addressed in the second half of Ephesians.
Next time, we will come back, wrap up with the rest of Ephesians 1:14, and go into the rest of the first chapter.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to study these things, to be reminded of Your grace to us, that our salvation is not dependent on anything that we do. It is dependent on what Christ did on the Cross. It is His work on the Cross when He paid the penalty for our sins in total. It is complete. Nothing can be added to it. All we do is accept it as a free gift by believing in Him as our Savior, the One who died for our sins.
“But Father, being born again just brings us into a new life. Beyond that we have to nourish it. We have to grow. We have to learn all about You and about Your plan for our lives. We have to learn to serve You, to grow spiritually, to recover from sin, and all that is necessary. The incentive for growing, the incentive for facing the opposition, adversity, suffering that comes our way because we are believers, the incentive is that we will receive additional blessings and will be identified as overcomers, those who are victorious in our spiritual lives. Father, we pray that You would help us to understand these things.
“If anyone here, anyone listening, isn’t sure about his/her salvation, make the gospel very clear to them, that God the Holy Spirit would make it clear that they need to trust in Jesus Christ as Savior.
“We pray all these things in Christ’s name. Amen.”