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1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (NASB)

“Or 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 effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.”

What does the word “inherit” (κληρονομήσουσιν) mean in the context of these verses? Does it simply mean receive salvation, or does it refer to a special place in heaven (i.e. where one would rule with Christ)?

I understand the most common interpretation is probably that it means salvation (given that Paul talks about those in the church formerly being these things but now are sanctified/justified by Christ in the next verse), but I’d like to know if this is correct or if another interpretation is to be preferred.

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    The word translated as "inherit" means to receive one's rightful share of something. In this scripture, whether that inheritance means living in Heaven, or ruling on Earth, or something else, is a matter of doctrine and interpretation. (E.g. the question's reference to a place in heaven where one would rule with Christ is a specific doctrine, a doctrine not accepted by many Christian denominations.) This sounds more like a question for Christianity.SE. Mar 22, 2022 at 17:11
  • κληρονομέω βασιλείαν Θεοῦ - see also 1 Cor 15:50, Gal 5:21
    – user33515
    Mar 22, 2022 at 17:14

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Only particular people can inherit that which has been legally assigned to them to inherit. An inheritance typically is given once the person who named them in their will has died, and the portion of their estate designated for that named person is then handed over. Exceptions might be made by a living testator allowing a person to encash what would have been their share of the inheritance while both parties are alive. Jesus spoke of that with the younger son asking his father to give him his [future] share of the estate so that he could go off and enjoy the money there and then.

"The younger of [the two sons] said to his father, Father give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living..." (Luke 15:11-32)

At the last verse, when the son had repented and returned to his father, the father said to the indignant elder son that it was good to rejoice at his return to the household, "for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found."

This has a direct bearing on the text you ask about, for it relates to spiritually dead people, spiritually alive people, and which of them will be given an inheritance in the Kingdom of God.

The point is made in the book of Hebrews that Christ is the mediator of the new testament, which is "a covenant for a Kingdom" (Luke 22:20 & 29, & Matthew 26:28 & 34). But this covenant had to be ratified by the death of Christ:

"And for this cause he is the mediator of a new testament [= covenant], that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead; otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth." (Hebrews 9:15-17)

Now that Christ has died and has risen, those who are brought to spiritual life by faith of and in Christ become inheritors of the Kingdom.

"God has chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he has promised to those that love him" - James 2:5

Now the text in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 becomes clear. It speaks of those who were not saved and, therefore, who would not inherit the Kingdom of God (location being beside the point here). Then it speaks of some of the Corinthian Christians who used to be in that 'prohibited' list of people who would not inherit, but "ye are washed, ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God."

Once a believer in Jesus is spiritually alive, having been spiritually 'washed' (cleansed), sanctified and justified, they are children of God - part of the family of God - and thus heirs of the Kingdom. Their portion in the Kingdom is secured because the testator (Christ) had died in order to effect the covenant for the Kingdom. They are legal inheritors due to the will of God who has 'named' them as his spiritual children. Alas, all the unrepentant sinners listed in verses 9 and 10 are not spiritual children of God, and so they are not heirs - they have no share in the spiritual inheritance due the children of God. They are not 'named' as heirs and inheritors of the Kingdom.

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  • A substantial answer. Up-voted +1.
    – Nigel J
    Apr 4, 2022 at 17:09
  • Very helpful answer, thank you, Anne! Apr 8, 2022 at 15:09
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The verb κληρονομέω (kléronomeó) occurs 18 times in the NT. According to BDAG, it means:

  1. to be an inheritor, inherit, eg, Gal 4:30
  2. acquire, obtain, come into possession of, ... especially participation in the Messianic salvation, ... eg, Matt 5:5, 1 Cor 6:9, 10, etc.

Of the second meaning, we have two main uses:

(a) Inherit the kingdom of God

  • Matt 25:35 - Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
  • 1 Cor 6:9 - 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 men who submit to or perform homosexual acts,
  • 1 Cor 6:10 - nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor verbal abusers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
  • 1 Cor 15:50 - Now I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
  • Gal 5:21 - and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

(b) Inherit eternal life

  • Matt 19:29 - And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for the sake of My name will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life.
  • Mark 10:17 - As Jesus started on His way, a man ran up and knelt before Him. “Good Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
  • Luke 10:25 - One day an expert in the law stood up to test Him. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
  • Luke 18:18 - Then a certain ruler asked Him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

(c) Other uses

  • Matt 5:5 - Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
  • Heb 1:14 - Are not the angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?
  • Heb 6:12 - so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
  • 1 Peter 3:9 - Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.
  • Rev 21:7 - The one who overcomes will inherit all things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son.

Therefore, apart from a very few literal senses (Gal 4:30, Heb 1:4, 12:17), the word is used in a salvific sense of participation in Messianic, eschatological rewards for the righteous. Whether this is heaven or something else depends on one's theology of eschatology; however, the point remains that "inheriting salvation" is the same as "inheriting eternal life" or "inheriting the kingdom of God" or "inheriting the blessings", etc.

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After reading the Bible ~19 times, it is clear from the OT and NT that we literally will inherit, be heirs to, a Kingdom here on earth. That's where eternity is. God WILL have His earth and human family exactly as He wants them: righteous, orderly, holy.

"Salvation" means being saved out of slavery to sin, if we believe Christ in John 8:31-36 and Paul in Rom. 6:1-4, 14, and actually all of Rom. 6. Most folks don't read their Bibles so don't realize that Christ saved us OUT of slavery to sin.

Thus, all folks still slaves to sin will not inherit the Kingdom of God. See Gal. 5:19-21, a list of sins of the flesh that hold much of mankind today. Folks would rather be slaves to sin and believe they are "going to heaven" after death (but the Kingdom is here on earth--- see what happens if you don't really KNOW your Bible) than repent of sin, BELIEVE the GOSPEL (that Christ SAVED us OUT of slavery to all sin), and walk in the Spirit. See Rom. 8:1-13, which discusses walking in the Spirit versus living in the Flesh.

Christ expects us to choose a Master: Either it's Him, or it's self, sin, and flesh. See Matt 16:24-27: Deny self, "lose our lives" for Him, and follow Him. See Matt 7:13-27: Life on the "narrow way" is hard, and few "christians" will choose it. Also, what we DO does matter. Christ WILL judge us by our WORKS. See Matt 16:27, Rev. Ch. 2-3. Probably no present-day preacher will tell you that. They are keeping MANY from inheriting the Kingdom of God. It's awful. See Matt 23:15 (all of Matt 23) & Jeremiah 23. God is VERY angry with today's pastors, just like He was back in Christ's and Jeremiah's day.

God is only having "Holy" saints rule His Kingdom with Christ. Christ said that "looking at a woman with lust" is the same thing as adultery. Matt 5:28. So that includes porn, right? Yet 60% of men in the church are reportedly "addicted to porn". Are they saved? Certainly they are NOT saved out of slavery to porn. Bible says they will not inherit the Kingdom. Gal. 5:19-21 ("Lasciviousness").

Christ equates porn with adultery. This would also probably include "fantasies" that women might have. All these folks are considered "whoremongers" by Christ (AKA "loose") and won't inherit the Kingdom. In fact they will be in the lake of fire. Rev. 21:8. Please read your Bible. I'm not making this up. Read it 5 times cover to cover over the next 2 years and see what you come up with.

All those church women sleeping around, and sleeping with boyfriends, having babies out of wedlock? Not inheriting the Kingdom of God. 1 Cor. 6:9-10, Eph. 5:1-6, Gal. 5:19-21, Rev. 9:20-21, Rev. 21:8, etc.... Of course, they can all repent. But few even realize that they have to. Sad, horrific situation here.

All liars will be in the lake of fire. Rev. 21:8. Any pastor ever tell you that? I never heard it taught in a church or by any pastor. See Isaiah 30:10 and 8:20. They are not preaching the true, full Word of God. So you and I need to find it and "eat it up" ourselves. Jere. 15:16.

Jesus tells us to count the cost of following Him. It will cost us everything, even our "selves". Our self-will, self-desires, etc... If we are not following and obeying Christ, He is not our God, we are our god. How do we follow and obey Christ if we don't even know what He expects us to do, or that we have to "obey" Him? Saying a silly Sinner's Prayer will not "save" anyone. But... believing the TRUE gospel, that Christ IN US saves us OUT of slavery to sin, BELIEVING IT, and then immersing ourselves in this Word that will change us... will save us.

The Word of God transforms us. Jesus said it. John 17:17. We must renew our minds by the Word of God. Rom. 12:1-2. Grace TEACHES us how to be holy. Paul said it. Titus 2:11-12.

So, if you KNOW the Word of God, chances are you really KNOW GOD. If you know God, you have eternal life. Jesus said that. John 17:3. If you don't know the Word of God like the back of your hand, you probably don't know God, probably don't even know the Gospel, probably are not saved out of slavery to sin (most folks don't really want to be anyway, they like the false gospel that says they can keep their sin and get "heaven" too), and are probably heading in the wrong direction (like, lake of fire-- this should terrify folks, but due to the false gospel out there, no one seems worried).

We must get our noses in this book, read, reread, study it. If I read 8 pages in my version of the Bible every day, I can read it Gen-Rev twice a year. Food for thought. Man does not live by bread alone.... Deut. 8:1-8.

At least, read your Bible enough times to try to prove me wrong. While I don't yet fully understand EVERYTHING about the coming Kingdom here on earth, like timing etc... I understand enough to be craving the Kingdom! This life as we know it is dark, surrounded by evil and sin, and without God's full & literal presence (like when Moses spoke to Him face to face, like Jeremiah and Isaiah and the prophets hearing from Him, like being with Christ for 3.5 years daily, etc...). We have never seen a righteous earth, with righteousness in all its inhabitants. We only see evil. Look at our decaying cities, our moral decay, our diversions and distractions.

Look at the REAL Jesus in Matt. 22:1-14. Look at His anger with sin in Rev. Look at what God told the Children of Israel about how He would curse them for sin and idolatry in Deut. 28:15-63. This is what I see happening to my nation right now. God doesn't play, He was not joking, He hates sin. Period.

He expects us to take this marvelous gift of faith and grace, and the power of the Holy Spirit of God in us (Christ Himself) to overcome sin. Why else is Jesus telling most of the 7 churches of Rev. 2-3 to be "overcomers"? Overcome what? Sin! Just like He overcame sin!

Read the prayers in 1 Pet 5:5-10 and Heb 13:20-21. God DOES expect us to be holy. He clearly defines sin and holiness throughout the NT for us. See passages like Eph. 4:22-28, 4:1-3, Eph. 5:1-6, 22-24, etc... Peter teaches us how to deal with unpleasant bosses in 1 Pet 2:17-25. There are Scriptures all over the NT that tell us HOW TO BEHAVE and HOW NOT TO. These are Jesus' "commandments" that we must obey.

If we live in a Kingdom, there is a King who RULES OVER US, period. We have no wiggle room on obeying, or sinning. Most "christians" would hate the Kingdom (they think it's "heaven" in the skies) because they wouldn't get to have all their sins, or their pastimes there. It's all about glorifying and obeying God! Who wants to do that? Almost no one, it seems. Tragically.

Meanwhile, all the pabulum and false doctrines promulgated by the greatly apostate church system in this world had led to great idolatry in churchy folks. To believe anything other than the doctrines of God, Christ and the Apostles is idolatry. It's worshiping and following our own ideas of christianity, rather than God's. This is what ancient Israel did in the OT, and God judged them harshly for it. I can see Him judging the USA similarly now. Again, see Deut 28:15-63.

Jesus said that the Words that He speaks to us (i.e., the Bible), they are "Spirit and they are Life". They can transform us and sanctify us. John 6:63, 17:17. Jesus IS the Word of God. John 1:1. Rev. 19:13. So we had better KNOW this Word if we really want to KNOW GOD and KNOW CHRIST, and make it to the Kingdom.

So, do we want to inherit the Kingdom and rule it alongside of our God, Jesus Christ, in true righteousness and complete holiness, with godly justice (something we're not seeing today)? Is it worth "losing OUR lives" for, "denying self" for? See Matt 16:24-27, Luke 14:26-33, Mark 10:28-30. Or would we rather stay in our false-christianity oblivion, believing we are "heaven-bound" after saying the Sinner's Prayer, keep our sin, and burn in hell for eternity, where the "worn dieth not and the fire is not quenched"? Mark 9:43-48. Jesus was NOT happy with Laodicea (Rev. 3). Will He be any happier with today's lukewarm, apostate, sin-laden church system? Doubtful.

Closing with the words of Paul in 1 Cor. 15:34: Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

I hope this was helpful. I know I digressed some. Good luck. See you in the Kingdom I hope!

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    @ BornAgainBride - Thank you for your response to the posted Question. However BH.SE seems to prefer Answers that point to a direct hermeneutical, scholarly answer. You present a lengthy, exhortative sermon here---which has merit---but sermons are not what is desired on this site. Rather hermeneutic research, or linguistic information. Keep studying the Bible; it's great for the Soul!
    – ray grant
    Feb 18 at 22:44
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1 Corinthians 6:11: And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Praise Christ for that truth. We are saved by His Grace through faith, not by works, so no man can boast.

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