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Dealing today with the biggest question of all: Who qualifies for entrance into God’s Kingdom and enjoyment of all Kingdom Blessings? There was much fuzzy thinking and denial of reality among the Corinthians just as there is much fuzzy thinking and denial of reality in our culture today. Paul was urging the Corinthians to take sin seriously. It was unthinkable that a converted believer who was now consecrated to the Lord Jesus Christ could persist in the types of sins mentioned here. When one sees clearly the distinction between the righteous and the unrighteous, why would one ever consider submitting conflicts between believers to the adjudication of the unrighteous?

How does this section mesh with the overall context?

Stedman: What ties this section with that which has gone before is found in the word in Verse 8, “But you yourselves wrong,” and the word in Verse 9, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” Those are the same basic root words. What Paul is really saying is, “Look, when you are so aggressive in defense of your own rights that you take another brother to law before a secular court, you are wronging that brother. Even though you may be right in your cause, you are wronging your brother, and that wronging, that unjust action, gives rise to the question, ‘Have you yourself ever been justified before God?'” That is what Paul is saying. To treat another unjustly makes one ask if you have ever been justified, and he says the unjustified, the unrighteous, the unregenerate cannot inherit the kingdom of God if they are committed to these things that he lists as a life style.

Now he surely does not mean that those who have been involved in these things cannot be saved, for he goes on to say, “such were some of you”; they have come out of it. But what he is saying, very clearly, is that these things cannot be continued as a lifestyle for Christians. Conversion makes a visible difference, and if it does not, there is room to question whether there has ever been a conversion.




A. (:9a) General Characterization of Who is Excluded from God’s Kingdom

1. No Surprise

“Or do you not know”

Common expression in 1 Corinthians – cf. our similar expression to our children: “Don’t you know any better? Of course you do!” Gil Rugh

2. Universal Standard – Stated in General Terms

“that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?”

Hodge: The tendency to divorce religion from morality has manifested itself in all ages of the world, and under all forms of religion.

a. Definition of “the unrighteous”

described earlier in 6:1 as those contrasted with the saints;

contrasted with believers in 6:6;

only 2 groups of people

Morris: Unrighteous is without the article in the Greek, the stress being on the character of these people, and not on the unrighteous as a class. People of this kind are excluded from the kingdom.

b. Concept of “inherit”

(Error of Joseph C. Dillow in The Reign of the Servant Kings)

Inheritance derives from family relationship – not meritorious works

c. Identification of “the kingdom of God”

The kingdom that Christ will establish on earth when He returns; new birth is requirement for entrance (John 3) – We are not yet in the kingdom physically. Destiny of unbelievers is the eternal fire of Matt. 25:41 — Gil Rugh

B. (:9b-10) Specific Characterization of Who is Excluded from God’s Kingdom

1. Danger of Deception

“Do not be deceived”

Do not presume upon the doctrine of God’s grace and wink the eye at sin; Do not water down the impact of what God says in this passage. It is difficult for us to explain some individual case testimonies . . . but here is what God says about who will not inherit the kingdom of God.

2. Universal Standard – Illustrated by Ten Specific Sinful Practices

Reveals who are the unrighteous by position and practice

a. Neither fornicators

Boyer: one guilty of any sexual immorality

MacArthur: by unmarried persons in particular

Rugh: There is no safe sex outside of marriage because God will call you to account for it. .. The real problem is not AIDS, but Hell – fear God!

b. Nor idolaters

Idolatry and immoral sex very closely related in Corinth

c. Nor adulterers

Boyer: a particular kind of fornicator, referring to infidelity within the married state

Heb 13:4 – God will judge fornicators and adulterers – make no mistake

d. Nor effeminate

Boyer: probable that it is used in the technical sense of a man who submits to homosexual relations, a passive homosexual

e. Nor homosexuals

Boyer: abusers of themselves with mankind (KJV) . . . The vividly descriptive term which Paul uses in the original Greek (“one who goes to bed with a male”) makes the meaning distinct

MacArthur: Effeminate and homosexuals both refer to those who exchange and corrupt normal male-female roles and relations.

Scripture could not be clearer that such practices are immoral – not some type of alternative lifestyle that should be accepted and accommodated by society.

f. Nor thieves

Boyer: those who steal by stealth, the sneak-thief, as compared with a robber who steals by force

g. Nor the covetous

Boyer: a greedy, grasping person, one who is always after more.

h. Nor drunkards

By inclusion in this list it is obvious that Scripture treats alcohol and drug addiction as sinful behaviors rather than medical disorders. Despite any amount of genetic predisposition, the individual is viewed as accountable for his choices leading to whatever degree of bondage is experienced.

i. Nor revilers

Boyer: one who speaks harshly, reproachfully, uses abusive language

j. Nor swindlers

MacArthur: Swindlers are thieves who steal indirectly. They take unfair advantage of others to promote their own financial gain. Extortioners, embezzlers, confidence men, promoters of defective merchandise and services, false advertisers, and many other types of swindlers are as common to our day as to Paul’s.

3. Exclusion from God’s Kingdom

“will inherit the kingdom of God”

Again, this is a blanket statement – no exceptions


A. Pre-Conversion State

“Such were some of you”

B. Process of Conversion – What Happened? Tremendous Transformation

1. Cleansed and Forgiven of Your Sins

“but you were washed”

There was a lot of filth and defilement and guilt associated with our sins;

This washing was pictured in baptism.

Rugh: Don’t you feel like you need a bath after you go through the listing of these sins?

Isaiah 1:18

2. Consecrated to God

“but you were sanctified”

Set apart from our sins and this evil world and Satan and consecrated as clean vessels to the Lord

3. Considered Righteous

“but you were justified”

Imputation of the righteousness of Christ

Should these three actions be taken as generally synonomous or be treated with individual significance? While all wrapped together in the process of conversion, it seems best to give each term its specific emphasis.


  • Washed speaks of new life, of regeneration . . .

  • Sanctified speaks of new behavior. . .

  • Justified speaks of new standing before God.

C. Powerful Agency of the Triune God

1. Redemption Accomplished by Christ

“in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ”

On the basis of His authority and work

2. Redemption Applied by the Holy Spirit

“and in the Spirit of our God”

The Spirit is the one who has baptized us into the body of Christ

Hodge: These clauses are not to be restricted to the preceding word . . . they belong equally to all three of the preceding terms.