#8 Post of 2014 – What Does “Inherit the Kingdom” Mean in 1 Cor 6:9-10?

Post Author: Bill Pratt

Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson recently cited 1 Cor 6:9-10 when asked about sin in a GQ article. Here is the passage:

Do you not know that the wicked will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. (NIV)

What everyone has been focused on is the fact that “homosexual offenders” is included in this passage. The apostle Paul is clearly giving a list of vices that should be avoided, with homosexual behavior included in the list.

But what hasn’t been discussed, at least not that I’ve seen, is what “inherit the kingdom of God” means. This phrase appears twice in these two verses, and clearly Paul is claiming that not inheriting the kingdom of God is a bad thing.

Some Christians will argue that this phrase refers to entrance into heaven, and that it is targeted at non-Christians who are not saved, but I think this is wrong. We know that a thief did go to heaven – the thief on the cross. In addition, common sense tells us that many people who have truly professed faith in Christ have subsequently been drunk, or slandered, or stolen. Right? So it follows that true Christians have also committed the rest of the sins in Paul’s list.

If “inherit the kingdom” doesn’t mean enter into heaven, then what does it mean? Theologian Joseph Dillow provides the answer in his book The Reign of the Servant Kings. Listen to what he says.

[Paul] is not warning non-Christians that they will not inherit the kingdom; he is warning Christians, those who do wrong and do it to their brothers. It is pointless to argue that true Christians could never be characterized by the things in this list when Paul connects the true Christians of v. 8 with the individuals in v. 9.

It is even more futile to argue this way when the entire context of 1 Corinthians describes activities of true Christians which parallel nearly every item in vv. 9-10. They were involved in sexual immorality (6:15); covetousness (probable motive in lawsuits, 6:1); drunkenness (1 Cor. 11:21); dishonoring the Lord’s table (1 Cor. 11:30–for this reason some of them experienced the sin unto death); adultery (5:1); and they were arrogant (4:18; 5:6).

Yet this group of people that acts unrighteously, . . . and that is guilty of all these things has been washed, sanctified, and justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 6:11)! They were washed and saved from all those things, and yet they are still doing them. That is the terrible inconsistency which grieves the apostle through all sixteen chapters of this book.

His burden in 6:9-10 is not to call into question their salvation (he specifically says they are saved in v. 11) but to warn them that, if they do not change their behavior, they will, like Esau, forfeit their inheritance. As Kendall put it, “It was not salvation, then, but their inheritance in the kingdom of God these Christians were in danger of forfeiting.”

This, of course, does not mean that a person who commits one of these sins will not enter heaven. It does mean that, if he commits such a sin and persists in it without confessing and receiving cleansing (1 Jn. 1:9), he will lose his right to rule with Christ. Those walking in such a state, without their sin confessed, face eternal consequences if their Lord should suddenly appear and find them unprepared. They will truly be ashamed “before Him at His coming” (1 Jn. 2:28).

According to Dillow, then, “inherit the kingdom” in the context of 1 Cor 6 is referring to rewards in heaven, not entrance into heaven. The Christian who persists in committing the sins enumerated by Paul will lose her rewards in heaven.

This is no small threat. Christians face losing a seat at the wedding feast, forfeiting their reign with Christ, and not hearing “Well done, good and faithful servant” at the judgment seat. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to give up any of those things.

2 thoughts on “#8 Post of 2014 – What Does “Inherit the Kingdom” Mean in 1 Cor 6:9-10?”

  1. The text could be talking about inheriting a ham sandwich. The thing is people don’t want to be told that they can’t do our receive something because they see it as not fair. So even though knowing about the kingdom of heaven and what’s it is all about is important; most will hit a wall the moment they have to give up something in order to obtain it. I don’t think Phil was wrong in quoting that particular text. Whether someone is a wicked Christian or a wicked unbeliever the person will still not inherit the kingdom of God. God is no respecter of person’s; so breaking down phil’s theological exegetical interpretation of the text really seems fruitless.

  2. Wow what nonsense. You shouldn’t set up yourself as a teacher if you’re going to blatantly misrepresent the truth because the Word says you will suffer a harsher judgment because of this. The kingdom IS INDEED heaven. And there are MANY other verses that point To the fact that people who willfully, blatantly sin aren’t going there. It also talks about formication, unbridled anger, gossip… James said even the demons believe… and tremble. So it’s not just about “what you believe.” It’s about what you DO. Do you actually DO what jesus said? If not your soul is in danger. Paul even said in these verses “do not be deceived”. So if you believe otherwise, you are DECEIVED.
    Jesus said that many will call him “Lord,Lord,” but he will say “away from me you EVILDOERS”
    You can’t continue in willful sin such as living as a formicator or adulterer and enter into heaven. God won’t speak to you and won’t guide you and you aren’t a child of God then either. I know this from personal experience, because this was me. Paul was warming people who had been cleansed that if they didn’t stop sinning, they wouldn’t enter the kingdom of heaven. Plain and simple. And so I also warn you along with anyone else reading this.
    This is from the word of God. It’s best to look to the word of God for interpretation of the word, not men. However, you also misrepresented what that other author wrote. He wasn’t talking about rewards in heaven at all.
    Now here’s a word for you and anyone who thinks like you.
    You have bought into easy American Christianity. It requires no real sacrifice, while TRUE Christianity requires that you give up EVERYTHING. To be jesus’ disciple, you must pick up your cross, and follow him. That means sacrificing what YOU want, to do what GOD wants.

    if I sound angry it’s because I am. You’re misrepresenting Paul and you’re misrepresenting my Lord. He said a lot about judgment and blindness. You’re like the Pharisees… blind leading the blind. And you and anyone who reads this will fall into a pit. I will, as Jesus says, leave you alone now, so that you can do just that. Maybe you ought to pray that God would show you your blind spots. I did that and it changed my life. I pray it changes yours.

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