Are Entering The Kingdom And Inheriting The Kingdom Different?

Antonio seems to think so. In response to my outline of Galatians 5:16-26 he says,

As far as any Greek lexicon I have ever viewed, notwithstanding all English dictionaries I have consulted, there stands a great gulf of difference between the ideas of “inherit” and “enter”.

It is clear and plain reasoning to see the difference between merely living in a house and owning it or ruling over a city and being a mere citizen there.

He then cites 1 Cor 6:7-11 and interprets it like this,

Notice the verb “do wrong”. This is the Greek verb for unrighteous activity, unrighteousness. The Corinthian Christians were “doing unrighteousness” and this to their Christian brothers! The next part serves as a warning to the Christian readers in Corinth! After charging them with “doing unrighteousness”, Paul says that “unrighteous” (anarthrous construction) will not inherit the kingdom of God, using the same Greek word in its noun for for “unrighteous”.

If inherit = enter in this passage, the warning to the Corinthian Christians who were “doing unrighteousness” would be of no effect, for they are Christians and guaranteed heaven.

It would seem to be so, but really that is not the case. Antonio’s view seems to come from a false belief that everyone who has ever confessed ‘Jesus is Lord’ is saved. But Christ Himself dispels this view when He says,

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Mat 7:21-23)

Jesus tells the crowds gathered to hear His teachings at the Sermon on the Flat Place on the Mount:-) that not everyone who calls Him Lord enters the Kingdom. In fact, in these verses we find Him rejecting them entrance to the Kingdom. And these are not just liars who come to Jesus after their deaths saying that they regarded Him as Lord in their lives, because these have also prophesied, cast out demons, and done many mighty works, all of which were attributed to Jesus. The difference we find here is that they were confessors-they confessed Jesus as Lord, but they were not possessors-they had not inherited the Kingdom by faith in Christ alone.

Further, in Revelation, the risen Christ tells John,

And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.” (Rev 21:6-8)

And in the next chapter, He tells John again,

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. Outside are the dogs and sorcerers and the sexually immoral and murderers and idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood. (Rev 22:14-15)

Now it is true that as far as words and ideas go, ‘inherit’ and ‘enter’ mean entirely different things.
‘Inherit’ means to come into the possession of some ‘thing’, ‘attribute’, or ‘idea’. As in a person inherits a house, or, a boy inherits his mother’s blue eyes, or as a scientist is said to be heir to the science developed by some other scientist from the past.
‘Enter’ simply means to go in.

But what about in theology? Are ‘enter’ and ‘inherit’ synonyms? Or are they completely unrelated? What if we throw in another term that Jesus uses-‘seeing’?

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (Joh 3:3)

And what if these themes of seeing the Kingdom, entering the Kingdom, and inheriting the Kingdom are all synonomous with other theological terms found in the New Testament? Such as, believing the Gospel, entering into life, gaining eternal life, knowing Christ, etc.

Now I am not suggesting that these different ways of speaking about salvation do not represent different aspects of salvation, but only that they all refer to the same salvation. I am also not suggesting that you can believe the Gospel and not inherit the Kingdom at the same time. You cannot know Christ and not have eternal life, you cannot enter the Kingdom and not inherit it. All those who enter the Kingdom are those who have inherited it by faith in Christ.

Looking at Paul’s use of of inheritance, we can ascertain what it is exactly that he means when he says, “I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:21)

In chapter three Paul begins by talking about the blessing of Abraham and the promise of the Spirit. Later, referring back to these he uses the word, ‘inheritance’.

For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise. (Gal 3:18)

He then tells us that all those who have faith in Christ are the heirs of Abraham,

…for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (Gal 3:26-29)

Next, Paul says that all who are sons of God by faith, adoption, etc. are also the heirs of God.

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Gal 4:1-7)

Paul then uses an allegory to present this truth that there are two types of people, sons born through promise, and sons according to the flesh. Only those who are born of the Spirit are heirs, while those who are sons of the flesh are cast aside.

But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman. (Gal 4:30-31)

So what does Paul mean when He says in the next chapter,

But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Gal 5:16-21)

I believe he is saying just what he has been saying all along, that receiving the Spirit by faith produces something in us making us heirs, and without faith there is no Spirit to produce it’s fruit and we are left in our natural condition, evidencing the works of the flesh and being destitute of the inheritance promised to all who have faith.


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8 responses to “Are Entering The Kingdom And Inheriting The Kingdom Different?

  1. bluecollar


    That was a patient and thorough response. Good job.

    We can not approach scripture without seeing that those who truely come to Christ in faith experience conversion, a changed life. We can not approach scripture without seeing that those who come to Christ in faith also enter into a relationship of obedience to Him. See 1 Peter1:2 “for obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ”. The sprinkling of blood in this verse not only speaks of giving believers perfect atonement for sin, but also is speaking of entering into a relationship of obedience to Christ as Lord and Master. The language here of “sprinkling blood” brings to mind Exodous 24:3-8 where the people promised to do all that the LORD had commanded. Then Moses sprinkled them with blood – they were now in covenant to obey God.

    No where in scripture does one come to Christ without coming into a place of obeying Him-Nowhere! The call to salvation and to disciplship are one. Nowhere in scripture is there a division. Such a view is unscriptural and deadly. That view is 1 part exagetical and 99 parts logic. Logic is a great mistress, but a terrible slave owner.

    One should be able to lead a person to Christ in Matthew, Mark and Luke just as easily as they can through John. How did the “synoptics” present the message of salvation? Merely by Jesus saying “Follow Me”.

    As someone else has said, ” no repentance= no faith=no salvation”!

  2. Jeremy Weaver

    Thanks, Mark.

  3. Antonio

    Turning our attention to the 1 Cor 6 parallel passage, briefly.

    Is Paul addressing unsaved people in this passage? That idea just cannot pan out.

    He is talking specifically and only to believers:

    1 Cor 6:4-8
    4 If then you have judgments concerning things pertaining to this life, do you appoint those who are least esteemed by the church to judge? 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! 7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated? 8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!

    Paul is clearly saying that believing Christians are to be SHAMED for 1) Not taking their petty matters before the brethren and 2) Not allowing themselves to be cheated in the first place and 3)Performing unrighteousness (“do wrong”) and cheating their brethren.

    The Corinthian believers are being rebuked by Paul for their unrighteous activities! The following becomes a WARNING to those who are “doing unrighteousness”:

    1 Cor 6:9-10
    9 Do you not know that [I have removed the article for this is a anarthrous construction, meaning those who are characterized by unrighteous behavior and NOT a specific designation of people] unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, 10 nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God.

    Paul says “You Corinthian believers are performing unrighteousness and cheating your fellow believers! Didn’t you know that those characterized by unrighteous activity will not inherit the kingdom of God?”

    The warning loses all force and becomes absurd if it is addressing unbelievers. First, to state such, would go against the clear statements of the text addressing it to believers! Next, we are faced with the problem of it implying this:

    Eternal life, entering the kingdom of God, no longer is appropriated free by faith alone in Christ alone. It now becomes a contract that a man has to quit the nasty nine and dirty dozen before He can be saved. Paul in Galatians even adds more petty offenses: outbursts of wrath, jealousy, selfish ambition, and envy.

    What kind of warning is this supposed to be?

    “Do you not know that if you sin too much you go to hell? Don’t you know that if you sin too much that you truly aren’t a Christian? You need to get saved! The first thing that you need to do is to stop your unrighteous activity and start living righteously!” This my friends is works-salvation, works-righteousness.

    Why wouldn’t Paul instead say, “Those of you so-called Christians who are acting unrighteously, you need to get saved! You are on your way to hell! You have yet to believe the gospel! You need to 1) 2) 3) 4) (the multitude of Traditionalism’s requirements for one to actually step foot in heaven)”

    The plain, simple, and clear message is that the Corinthian believers were acting unrighteously, and Paul states that those whose Christians whose lives are characterized by unrighteousness will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    Jesus is clear in John 3 that believing in Christ is the sole requirement for entering, seeing the kingdom of God.

    Paul is clear that perseverance in practical righteousness is required for inheriting the kingdom of God.

    One is by grace through faith.

    The other is by perseverance in works and faithfulness.

    And Jeremy,

    As to your characteristicly Traditionalist straw-man that says that I believe that anyone who says that “Jesus is Lord” is saved: I, nor any other Free Grace advocate believes this.

    The one who has beleived Jesus Christ’s promise to give unto them eternal life and guaranteed resurrection is the one who is saved, and ALL who believe Jesus’ promise are saved.

    The Catholics, the Arminians, the Calvinists, all say that “Jesus is Lord”, but unless they believe Jesus, who is the Guarantor of eternal life to the believer in Him for it, apart from any works, they are unsaved.

    You quote Matthew 7. If you read the passage correctly, those who say “Lord, Lord” are those who are pushing their works as reasons for their kingdom entrance. “Didn’t I do this, and this and this in your name?”

    For an excellent exposition of Matthew 7 that deals with the verses that Jeremy gives for his argument, please click:

    The Broad Way Contrasted with the Narrow


  4. Jeremy Weaver

    Do you really and truly find it so hard to believe that lost people might try to identify themselves with the Church? Jesus said that tares would grow up among the wheat.

    In 1 Corinthians 6 you conveniently leave out verse 11, which is very much a part of what Paul is saying;
    Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.(1Co 6:9-11)
    Paul is clearly saying that believers do not act that way. They are indwelt by the Spirit and the Spirit does not produce those things. Paul is calling them to repent of these sins…if they repent, then they evidence their salvation, if not, they are not truly saved.
    To understand the warnings passages I would recommend this book titled, The Race Set Before Us.

    Don’t tell me that I believe in a works righteousness anymore. It’s not accurate and it makes it hard for me to take you seriously.

    I was also careful to say that it seemed as though you believed that anyone who says “Jesus is Lord” is saved.
    I am glad that is not the case. I do not have a problem with your position as you state it here.

    Unless you mean that belief is merely intellectual. then I would very strongly disagree with you that intellectual consent equals biblical faith.

  5. Antonio


    I did not conveniently exclude that verse. The verse you bring up actually strengthens my position.

    This warning is addressed to those of whom Paul could acknowledge, “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 Cor 6:11).

    1 Cor 6:8
    8 No, you yourselves do wrong and cheat, and you do these things to your brethren!

    Paul is emphatic here in the Greek. “you yourselves”, the pronoun, is emphatic! (Paul is saying “I am not talking about unbelievers or wordlings, but of you SAME individuals who WERE washed, sanctified, and justified!)

    Has the “you” changed? It would be some kind of miracle if it did!

    “YOU YOURSELVES do wrong (adikeite) and cheat” (vs 8)

    “Do you not know that wrong doers (unrighteous – adikoi) will not inherit the kingdom of God?” (vs 9)

    Jeremy, when one consistently practices the grammatical and literal approach to interpretation, they pay close attention to pronouns and their antecedents.

    Paul is thus asserting:

    1)that those who have been justified, sanctified, and washed from their old sins may “do wrong” (perform unrighteousness – adikeite) and were doing it! and
    2) that “wrong doers” (adikoi) shall not inherit the kingdom!



  6. Jeremy Weaver

    I believe that the same group of people are being addressed in this passage. I have no problem saying that. But I see these warnings passages as functioning in two different ways.

    1) The warnings passages are to goad believers to persevere in their faith, and
    2) The warnings passages are to expose unbelievers in the midst of the local church.

    So I take both sides of what Paul says to be true;
    1) That believers can and do sin and need to be reprimanded, and
    2) Those who do not repent of their sins are excluded from the Kngdom as unbelievers.

  7. Antonio


    but nowhere in the text is the unbeliever addressed, on the contrary. It is only the believer who is addressed.

    And since the believer “does wrong”, or performs unrighteousness, would he not consider himself unsaved?

    In the Traditionalist, Calvinist system, how could any warning be of value to the born-again Christian when by virtue of their regeneration they will by necessity persevere?

    The warnings are at best superfluous, and at worst, extremely dangerous, causing born again people to doubt if they are saved and continue to seek eternal life by their persevering works.


    The plain sense of this passage is the correct sense.

    The Corinthians, in whom Paul is addressing, were sanctified, washed, and justified. These same people were performing unrighteousness. Paul warns these justified Corinthian believers that they will fail to inherit the kingdom of God if their lives are characterized by “doing wrong”.

    This is the simply clear flow and understanding of the passage.

    You do harm to communication in general and the passage in specific when you import your theology into the text rather than see Paul’s plain statements for what they are.

    Paul is speaking pastorally here and has no thought of the unsaved in his exhortation here whatsoever. His warning is to “you, yourselves” who had been doing wrong, who nevertheless were justified, sanctified, and washed. The warning is specifically and only to them!

    You are playing around with the communication here! Your theology does not accept the clear meaning of the text and so it becomes the ridiculous and absurd notion that the warnings do not contain any penalty whatsoever to the TRUE Christian, but are MERELY goads to move them to perseverance!

    What a travesty of interpretation!

    What a fatal wound to assurance!

    What a blow to the clear sense of the text!

    What becomes the result of someone who is unsaved, who thought they believed unto salvation, but life is characterized by unrighteous deeds? The warnings don’t tell them to instead fully trust in Christ for salvation, but to expend every effort to persevere in their works!

    Here are some quotes from the Caneday and Schreiner book:

    “We must run the race with dogged determination to obtain the prize of eternal life, and it takes remarkable discipline and training to make it to the end.”

    [Commenting on Philippians 2:12-13] “Note he does not say, “You are saved. Now work for your reward, which is in addition to salvation.” He summons the Philippians to bring to accomplishment their salvation! Effort, toil and energy are all communicated in this phrase [“work out your salvation”]. We are to use all the resources at our disposal in order to be saved on the last day. We must obey, pray, resist the flesh and yield to the Spirit to inherit salvation. No theology is acceptable that diminishes this call to work out our salvation.”

    “Since the writer [of Hebrews] portrays the Christian life as a race needing gutsy endurance and a training ground in which discipline is meted out, we are correct in saying that obtaining the eschatological prize takes ardent effort. There is no call to passivity here!”

    This is works-salvation!

    It takes “ardent effort” to win the “prize” which is “eternal life”?

    “The racetrack represents salvation. If one abandons the race one will not receive the prize. The prize is salvation, eternal life.”

    So we are aredently working for the prize which is eternal life!

    For a review of this horrible book, click here:

    Review of ‘The Race Set Before Us’


  8. Jeremy Weaver

    The Race Set Before Us is an outstanding book, if you read it you would be able to interact intelligently with me on these passages.

    I’m tired of wrangling over words. See you next post.

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