THE UNRIGHTEOUS WILL NOT INHERIT THE KINGDOM OF GOD
By Wayne S. Walker
“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 homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 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 Corinthians 6:9-11).
These words were written to “the church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2). The church at Corinth had its beginning in Acts 18 as a result of the preaching of Paul and his companions in that city. “After these things Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth….And he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks. When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ….Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:1-8).
Corinth is a city of Greece on the narrow isthmus between the Peloponnesus peninsula and the Greek mainland. It was the capital of the ancient Roman province of Achaia, the southern portion of Greece, and occupied a strategic geographical location. The city was founded probably by Phoenician settlers and has an ancient and very interesting history. It was taken over by the Greeks and at the height of its powers very likely had a free population of 200,000, plus half a million slaves.
In Roman times, Corinth was a city of not only great wealth and luxury but also great immorality. To live “like a Corinthian” was a common phrase even in the first century which meant to lead a life of profligacy and debauchery. It was customary in a stage play for any Corinthians to be portrayed as drunk. Further, of all pagan deities, the greatest devotion was given to Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Her temple in the city had more than a thousand priestesses, called “vestal virgins,” who actually served as sacred prostitutes. The worship of Aphrodite involved engaging in fornication, and this vice attracted worshippers from all over the world.
Many of the Corinthian Christians had come from such a depraved background, and as has been true in all ages including still today, there was the very real danger that the prevailing attitudes and practices of the surrounding society would find their way among the members of the church. Therefore, Paul wrote beginning in verse 9, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” Here, Paul emphasizes the fact that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God and then goes on to identify some specific kinds of people who fall into the category of unrighteous. The next several editions of this bulletin will contain a series of articles about these sins and God’s antidote for them.
—in Search for Truth, 5/3/2015 (Vol. VI, No. 38)