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"SOUL SALVATION," PART 5
SUFFERING WHICH RESULTS IN ABUNDANT LIFE
1 PETER 1:9
by Bob Wilkin
"Receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your
This is the most difficult of the passages on
"soul salvation" in the Bible, in my opinion.
reading of this text seems to suggest that eternal salvation is
in view. This is suggested by the fact that the salvation in
question is said to be the result of faith (v 9). Since we know
from many other passages that eternal salvation is conditioned
solely upon faith, it would seem reasonable that eternal
salvation is meant.
However, there are insurmountable
difficulties with that view which lead me to a different
First, the very first word in v 9, receiving (Gk
komizomenoi), cannot be made to fit the eternal salvation
interpretation. This word is one which refers to "pay"
or "wages" received for work done (BAGD, p 442). It is
used in a number of passages dealing with the accountability of
believers. See 1 Pet 5:4, 2 Cor 5:10, Eph 6:8, and Col 3:25.
Believers will receive a recompense from the Lord for what they
have done with their Christian lives.
It is also used to refer to
unbelievers receiving wages for their evil deeds (2 Pet 2:13).
The only other NT uses of this word also deal with someone
receiving something they deserve (Matt 25:27; Luke 7:37; Heb
10:36; 11:13, 19, 39).
There is not even one NT use of this term
to refer to receiving something undeserved. While one could argue
that this use is the exception, that is very unlikely. The two
other times Peter used the term in his epistles (1 Pet 5:4; 2 Pet
2:13) it referred to receiving wages for something one deserved.
If Peter wanted to refer to the reception of an undeserved, free
gift, then he would have used another word like the one used in
John 1:12 (lambano).
Second, the reference to faith in v 9 does
not concern saving faith. Rather, it concerns faith that stands
the test of fire (v 7). Of course saving faith undergirds all
good conduct. However, Peter is concerned with the practical
outworking of what we believe.
We may, for example, believe that
it is better to give than to receive. However, if we are not
practicing giving in our daily living, then we are not putting
that belief into practice.
Third, what is promised is broader
than eternal life. The context speaks of "praise, honor, and
glory [to be received] at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (v
7) and of God "who without partiality judges according to
each one's works" (v 17). Eternal salvation is not based on
our works! Praise, honor, and glory at Christ's coming are. Only
believers whose works stand the test of fire will receive those
things (cf. 1 Cor 3:10-15; 1 Pet 1:7).
salvation" is not used anywhere else in Scripture to refer
to eternal salvation. Elsewhere it either refers to temporal
salvation (deliverance from physical death) or to eternal
rewards. For further details see the previous articles in this
Fifth, the "soul salvation" in view here is
future, not present. Eternal life is the present possession of
all who believe (John 5:24). This salvation, whatever it is, is
Sixth and finally, the rewards view best fits the theme
of the whole book as well as this subsection. The theme is this:
if believers are faithful in their earthly trials--willingly
suffering for Christ, then they will obtain an abundant life
forever. "Soul salvation" in this context is the
abundant life which faithful believers will receive.
following references from First Peter support this understanding
of 1:9. Notice how Peter repeatedly refers to suffering and to
the rewards that come to the believer who does so for Christ's
"Be holy, for I am holy. And if you call on the
Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's
work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in
"When you do good and suffer, if you
take it patiently, this is commendable before God" (2:20).
"But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake,
you are blessed" (3:14a).
"Beloved, do not think it strange
concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some
strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you
partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed,
you may also be glad with exceeding joy" (4:12-13).
"The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a
of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory
that will be revealed: Shepherd the flock of God which is among
you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not
for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those
entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the
Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that
does not fade away" (5:1-4).
The salvation of the soul in 1
Peter 1:9 refers to the abundance of life which shall be the
eternal experience of the believer whose faith stands the fiery
test. We should live each day with our hearts set on obtaining
this "soul salvation." As the Lord Himself said,
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth. . . but
lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven. . . For where your
treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt 6:19-21).
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