1 Peter 4:17-18 (ESV):

17 For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”

Does the fact that the righteous, those who belong to the household of God, who follow and obey His Gospel, are scarcely saved indicate that there is a non-negligible probability that a righteous person may stumble along the path and ultimately be judged unfavorably, unworthy of salvation?

  • 1
    'Scarcely saved' indicates a state of being 'saved' in a manner of 'scarcely'. It does not state what you are suggesting. The state of 'saved' is definite, not 'probable' (as you put it).
    – Nigel J
    May 12, 2021 at 14:01
  • 1
    @NigelJ - sounds like the beginning of a very good answer :-)
    – user38524
    May 12, 2021 at 14:41
  • 1
    Upvoted +1 and answered. Close vote retracted.
    – Nigel J
    May 12, 2021 at 18:50

2 Answers 2


Liddell & Scott reference the Greek word makran in order to explain molis, the idea of being 'a great way off'.

Thayer translates molis as 'with difficulty' or 'not readily'.

Luke uses the word in connection with a nautical difficulty related to wind conditions when sailing under Crete, they hardly (molis) passed it.

But there is nothing in Paul's words here, or in Paul's words anywhere, that would lead us to suppose that salvation, in and of itself, as administered by God almighty through his Son Jesus Christ and through his own Holy Spirit, is in any way unreliable, probable or uncertain.

But also, nowhere is it suggested that this is an easy path. Far from it, much exhortation is required, in every single apostolic epistle, to ensure that those who have once believed the gospel maintain their path right through to the end, that is to say, all the way to eternal glory, despite persecutions, afflictions and many trials of various kinds, which will perfect them and make them complete.

Overall, the idea is that of something that is desirable to be attained, valuable to be possessed, but is not expected to be an easy, trivial, superficial matter.

It will take the investment of all one can gather, as the merchant who sold all that he had in order to obtain a single pearl of great price, Matthew 35:46.

It will require being separate from all others, that one might be married to just one, Revelation 14:4.

It will require hating father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and one's own life also, Luke 14:26.

It may well require that one take joyfully the spoiling of one's goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance, Hebrews 10:34.

It will necessitate that I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway, 1 Corinthians 9:27.

But through all this, and much more, there is no doubt that One stands above, ready to save, ready to chastise, ready to correct, ready to purge, ready to purify and ready to heal, Psalm 85:9, Hebrews 7:25.

For in all these things, and many more, indeed, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us, Romans 8:37.

For this is the victory and this is the certainty, to look unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God, Hebrews 12:2.

For it was no easy path for Him.

Right to the end, he endured, and only at the very end, through sufferings beyond imagination, did he triumph and cry :

It is finished ! . . . . . . . John 19:30.

All references are to the KJV.


Yes, I believe that this implication is there. God never removes from us His most sacred gift to us: the freedom of choice. There is no such thing as a forced salvation, and no such thing as a salvation from which one cannot later turn away.

Consider the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13): All ten went out to meet the bridegroom; but only half had been wise, while half had been foolish. All ten thought they were faithful. But Jesus shows that, in reality, even though we may think we are Christians, we may not be recognized as such by the Searcher of hearts.

"Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:21-23)

How will someone prophesy, cast out devils, or do all those wonderful works if he or she is not a disciple of Christ? Yet even one of the 12 who had followed Jesus in person for three and a half years rejected him in the end.

It is always necessary for us to maintain our relationship with Christ, and to never let go our hold upon God, lest we, too, fail of reaching the finish line. As Paul says:

"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain." (1 Corinthians 9:24)

And James adds:

"Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him." (James 1:12)

Which parallels what Jesus said:

"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." (Matthew 10:22)

Many may start to run the race, but a select group will endure it to the end. To be saved, we must be among those who endure--all the way to the end.

  • The 'freedom of choice' = salvation by works.
    – Nigel J
    May 12, 2021 at 18:13
  • @NigelJ Not at all. If you program a computer to say "I love you" to you every morning, how much would you enjoy hearing it? The computer didn't have a choice, did it? But God has given us true freedom of choice, making us to be "free moral agents," as some would term it. When we obey Him, it is voluntary on our part, and not forced; and God can then appreciate our praises and service of love. God will never coerce our will. The choice is always ours as to whom we will believe, follow, and obey. See Joshua 24:15; Deuteronomy 30:19; 2 Samuel 24:12; etc.
    – Polyhat
    May 12, 2021 at 20:31

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