What does it mean to inherit salvation?
In brief, the aspect of salvation that Scripture speaks of being “inherited” has to do with the salvation of the soul, not the spirit. The inheritance (soul) aspect of the tripartite (spirit, soul, body) salvation of man, unlike spirit-salvation, is not guaranteed. It in fact may be denied to the believer due to his disobedience to God’s Word and thereby his failure to faithfully persevere in the faith during his temporal lifespan. It is an aspect of God’s comprehensive redemption plan for man that may only be understood in light of the inheritance of firstborn sons relative to the Jewish economy as prescribed in the Old Testament. Hope, salvation (redemption and adoption), and inheritance are inextricably connected in Scripture. Whereas spirit-salvation has only eternal considerations in view, soul-salvation is concerned primarily with the coming millennial reign of Christ. It is quite unfortunate that the present day Church has little understanding of this association, an understanding of which offers foundational benefits to the believer in his path to spiritual maturity and his future (most certain) appearance at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
This inheritance, as depicted in Scripture in its inseparable association with hope and salvation, is treated in a more comprehensive manner by both Chitwood and Whipple, as follows.
Hope, Inheritance, Salvation
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved [‘preserved’] in heaven for you,
who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3-5)
Peter in his epistles, as James in his epistle (or any of the other writers in their epistles), directs his message to the regenerate, not to the unregenerate. Peter’s message is for the “elect,” those who have been “begotten” from above, those in a position to receive the Word of God into their saved human spirits, those who have been called “out of darkness into His marvelous light,” those who have “obtained mercy,” those who are “strangers and pilgrims” on the earth, those who have “obtained like precious faith with us” (1 Peter 1:2, 3, 23; 2:1, 2, 9-11; 2 Peter 1:1).
The epistles of 1 & 2 Peter have been written to encourage Christians, who are being tried and tested, through holding up before them prizes, rewards, compensations. The subject matter in these epistles, set forth at the very beginning, concerns a present “living hope,” a future “inheritance,” and a future “salvation”; and encouragement for proper conduct in trials and tests is derived from “a knowledge” of God’s revelation concerning these things (cf. 1 Peter 1:2-9; 2 Peter 1:2-8).
A Present, Living Hope
Christians have been “begotten” from above unto “a living hope” through “the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Christ lives, and Christians will live with Him. But this fact is not the object of one’s hope. Hope is described as “living” because of Christ’s resurrection, but a Christian’s hope lies in things beyond His resurrection. And these things are revealed in the text to be an “inheritance” and a “salvation.”
“Hope,” “inheritance,” and “salvation” are inseparably linked in Scripture. It is only because we are saved (past, salvation of the spirit) that we can possess a “hope.” And this hope looks ahead to the reception of an inheritance within a salvation (future, salvation of the soul) to be revealed.
Christians are commanded,
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear. (1 Peter 3:15b)
Since this hope pertains to a future inheritance and salvation, the “reason” for this hope must also be futuristic in scope. Thus, to respond in accordance with 1 Peter 3:15, Christians must be knowledgeable concerning scriptural teachings pertaining to present and future aspects of salvation (reference chapter 1 of this book), for their hope is inseparably linked with the salvation of their souls.
The Christians’ hope is a subject found numerous places throughout the Pauline and general epistles (Hebrews being included in the general epistles). Two of the best books to help Christians understand exactly what is involved in the hope that they possess are the books of Titus and Hebrews. Both books deal with the same subject matter as 1 & 2 Peter, or any of the other epistles for that matter.
1. “Hope” in Titus
The epistle of Titus centers on the Christians’ relationship to both “hope” and “the coming age,” for it is in the coming age that the hope of our calling will be realized. Hope in Titus 2:13 is called “that blessed hope” and is associated with the “appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (ASV). The structure of the Greek text shows the “appearing of the glory” as the object of one’s hope (through placing both “blessed hope” and “appearing” under one article). Christians are the ones who possess this hope, as they are the ones who are to be partakers of Christ’s glory when it is revealed. In this respect, participation in the coming glory of Christ will be the realization of the Christians’ present hope, for one cannot be separated from the other.
The word hope is also used in this same framework within its two other appearances in Titus (1:2; 3:7). In Titus 1:1 & 2, hope is associated with a “mature knowledge” [“acknowledgment” (v. 1) is epignosis (mature knowledge) in the Greek text] of truth, and with “(aionios) life, which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (v. 2). Then, in Titus 3:7, this “hope” is reserved for the justified alone, and it has to do with a future inheritance:
That having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal [aionios] life. (Titus 3:7)
The Greek word aionios appearing in Titus 1:2; 3:7, translated “eternal” in most English versions, does not itself mean “eternal.” The Greek language actually contains no word for “eternal.” Aionios can be, and many times is, used in the sense of “eternal”; but this meaning is derived from its textual usage, not from the word itself. Aionios refers to “a period of time,” usually thought of as “an age.”
The only way the Greek language can express “eternal,” apart from textual considerations, is by using the noun form of aionios (aion) in the plural (“ages” [e.g., Luke 1:33; Hebrews 13:8]), or by using aion twice in the plural (“unto the ‘ages [aionas]’ of the ‘ages [aionon]’” [e.g., Revelation 1:6, 18; 4:9, 10; 5:13, 14; 7:12; 10:6; 11:15; 14:11; 15:7; 19:3; 20:10; 22:5]). A person using the Greek language thinks in the sense of “ages,” with eternity being thought of in the sense of “endless ages,” i.e., “aeons,” or “the aeons of the aeons.”
Aionios life in Titus 1:2; 3:7 — a hope associated with an inheritance set before the believer — must be understood contextually to mean “age-lasting,” referring to the coming age, the Messianic Era. “Eternal life” cannot be in view at all. Neither “hope” nor “inheritance” is used pertaining to eternal life that Christians presently possess; but both words are used numerous times concerning Christians and their relationship to the coming kingdom (with its glory), which is what is in view in the book of Titus. The hope (the blessed hope) set before every Christian is simply that he/she may, at the judgment seat of Christ, be found qualified to occupy one of the numerous, proffered positions with Christ in His kingdom. A Christian — already in possession of eternal life — may or may not realize this hope, for such depends entirely upon one’s faithfulness during his present pilgrim walk.
2. “Hope” in Hebrews
In Hebrews 6:11 & 12 a Christian’s hope is associated with faith, patience [patient endurance; a lengthy waiting during the pilgrim walk for postponed promises], and the inheritance set before Christians. This hope is to be held with “diligence” until “the end,” with “full assurance” that the hope of one’s calling will be realized. The “end [Greek: telos]” in this passage is the same “end” set forth in 1 Peter 1:9: “Receiving the end [Greek: telos] of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” The end in both instances has to do with faith brought to perfection, brought to maturity, brought to its goal, through “works” (cf. James 2:22).
In Hebrews 6:18-20 “the hope” set before Christians is stated to be “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil.” Christ Himself presently resides beyond the veil in the Holy of Holies; but His future ministry, “after the order of Melchizedek,” rather than His present ministry (after the order of Aaron), is in view in Hebrews chapter six (v. 20; cf. Hebrews 5:6-11).
An anchor, firmly secured, will moor a ship that it might withstand the movements of currents, winds, etc., and remain in a certain place; and the anchor of our souls, firmly secured in the very presence of Christ beyond the veil, provides protection from the onslaught of the enemy in order that we might be “steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58). The salvation of our souls is in view; and just as a ship in mooring is continually being drawn toward the place where its anchor lies, we are continually being drawn toward the place where our anchor lies — unto Christ and His Melchizedek priesthood.
The book of Hebrews is built around five major warnings; and, prior to the writer’s comments concerning “hope” in chapter six, he had previously introduced the Christians’ “hope” in the second warning (chapters 3, 4) by showing the relationship between hope and faithfulness. The central portion of the second warning, introducing “hope,” is in Hebrews chapter three:
But Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:6)
This hope within the text has to do with the house of Christ; and within the context (chapters 3, 4), in order to teach Christians the deep things of God in this realm, the Spirit of God draws a parallel between the house of Christ (present) and the house of Moses (past). This parallel constitutes a type-antitype treatment of Israelites under the leadership of Moses with Christians under the leadership of Christ. The experiences of the Israelites under Moses have their counterpart in the experiences of Christians under Christ. And all these things have been “written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:6, 11).
Christians are presently members of the house of Christ in the same sense that those who appropriated the blood of the paschal lambs in Egypt during the days of Moses were members of Moses’ house. An earthly inheritance lay before the Israelites under Moses, and a heavenly inheritance lies before Christians under Christ. Through unfaithfulness to their calling, the majority of Israelites within the accountable generation under Moses were overthrown (cut off from the house of Moses); and through unfaithfulness to their calling, the majority of Christians under Christ will also be overthrown (cut off from the house of Christ).
Neither the type nor the antitype has to do with eternal verities. The faithless Israelites were overthrown on the right side of the blood in the type, and thus will it be for faithless Christians in the antitype.
Many are called [as the entire accountable generation under Moses], but few are chosen [lit. “called out,” as Caleb and Joshua]. (Matthew 22:14)
The key words in Hebrews 3:6 pertaining to hope are “confidence” and “rejoicing.” The Greek word translated “confidence” (parresia) has to do with being “bold,” or “courageous”; and the Greek word translated “rejoicing” (kauchema) has to do with “the object of boasting,” “a thing of pride.” Christians are to be bold, courageous as they journey toward their heavenly inheritance; and they are to exult in the hope set before them. They are to display this hope as the very object of the salvation that they possess in such a manner that the One who secured this hope for them will receive the praise, honor, and glory.
A Future Inheritance
The future inheritance of the saints (1 Peter 1:4), mentioned numerous times in Scripture, must be understood from the standpoint of the inheritance surrounding the birthright, having to do with firstborn sons. The word translated “birthright” in the New Testament is from the Greek word prototokia, a plural noun that should be properly rendered, “the rights of the firstborn.” And the rights of firstborn sons consists of a plurality of rights, which are inherited rights.
The rights of firstborn sons in the Jewish economy in the Old Testament consisted of three things: (1) ruler of the household under and for the father, (2) priest of the family, and (3) the reception of a double portion of the father’s estate. Every Jewish firstborn son was in line to receive this threefold inheritance; but, according to that which God has revealed in His Word, this inheritance was forfeitable. The positional standing as a firstborn son did not itself guarantee that the inheritance would be received. A firstborn son, through rebellious actions, could forfeit the rights of primogeniture.
Two classic examples of the forfeiture of the rights belonging to firstborn sons are given in the book of Genesis, the book wherein the roots of all biblical doctrine lie. One is the account of Esau, and the other is the account of Reuben.
1. Esau and the Birthright
Esau, the firstborn of Isaac, forfeited his birthright to his younger brother, Jacob. Esau forfeited his birthright to satisfy a fleshly gratification. He sold his birthright to his younger brother, Jacob, for a single meal (Genesis 25:27-34).
Since the rights of the firstborn had ultimately been promised to Jacob (Genesis 25:23), some doubt that Esau ever actually possessed these rights. However, Esau was no pretender to the rights of the firstborn. The Greek word translated “sold” in Hebrews 12:16 (referring to Esau and the birthright) is inflected in a tense implying that the article sold belonged to Esau alone, and he was fully aware of his actions when he sold his birthright to Jacob.
In Genesis 25:34 we read that Esau “despised his birthright.” The Greek word in the Septuagint version of the Old Testament translated “despised” implies that Esau regarded the birthright as a paltry, a mere trifle. Esau regarded the birthright as practically worthless, and sold his rights as firstborn with the thought in mind that what he was selling was of no real value.
It was only later, at a time when it was too late, that Esau realized the value of that which he had sold. Though the forfeiture of the birthright did not affect Esau’s sonship, it did affect forever blessings surrounding his relationship to Isaac as firstborn.
After Jacob had been blessed as the firstborn in the family, Esau, apparently for the first time, realized the value of that which he had forfeited. Esau then tried to retrieve the birthright, but the Scripture records that “he found no place of repentance.” After Esau realized the value of the birthright and the finality of that which had occurred, he pleaded with his father, Isaac, to change his mind and bless him also. Esau cried out to Isaac:
Have you but one blessing, my father: bless me, even me also, O my father.
And it is recorded,
Esau lifted up his voice, and wept. (Genesis 27:38)
(The way in which Genesis 27:38 is worded in the Hebrew text shows that Esau was literally beside himself with grief at this time, apparently from not only coming into a full realization of the value of that which he had forfeited but from realizing the finality of his previous actions as well.)
The word “repentance” means to change one’s mind. Esau sought to effect a change of mind on the part of his father, but “he found no place of repentance,” i.e., Esau was unable to get his father to change his mind.
In this respect, in the light of that which Esau was seeking to accomplish, the American Standard Version of the Bible (ASV, 1901 ed.) has possibly the most accurate rendering of Hebrews 12:17 to be found in any of the translations presently available. This verse in the American Standard Version reads,
For you know that even when he afterward desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected; for he found no place for a change of mind in his father, though he sought it diligently with tears. (Hebrews 12:17)
Isaac could not change his mind. The birthright had been forfeited, the blessing had been bestowed upon Jacob, and the rights belonging to the firstborn were now beyond Esau’s grasp forever.
2. Reuben and the Birthright
Reuben, as Esau, was in direct line to inherit the rights of primogeniture; but because of one grave sin committed during his life, Reuben forfeited these rights. Reuben’s sin, resulting in the forfeiture of his birthright, was sexual impropriety of a nature that dishonored and shamed his father: “Reuben went and laid with Bilhah his father’s concubine” (Genesis 35:22).
Because of this one sin, years later when Jacob called his twelve sons into his presence (shortly before his death) to relate that which would befall not only them but their descendants “in the latter days,” Reuben heard the words:
Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity and the excellency of power.
Unstable as water, you shall not excel, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it — he went up to my couch. (Genesis 49:3, 4)
Not only did Reuben not excel, as Jacob prophesied, but the tribe of Reuben did not excel. Reuben’s forfeiture of the rights of the firstborn affected not only himself but his descendants as well. No judge, prophet, or king ever came out of the tribe of Reuben.
That which Reuben lost, he lost forever. But he himself remained a son of Jacob and was blessed in measure, but not as the firstborn.
Reuben’s birthright was divided among three of his brothers. The tribal rulership was bestowed upon “Judah”; the priestly office was bestowed upon “Levi”; and the double portion of the father’s estate was given to “Joseph.” The tribe of “Judah” became the kingly line; the tribe of “Levi” became the priestly line; and the tribe of “Joseph” received the double portion through Joseph’s two sons, “Ephraim” and “Manasseh,” who each received a full inheritance (1 Chronicles 5:1, 2).
During the Messianic Era the status created by Reuben’s sin will still abide. The King will be of the house of Judah (Revelation 5:5); the priests will be of the house of Levi (Ezekiel 44:15, 16; 48:11); and the double portion will be held by the house of Joseph, through Ephraim and Manasseh (Ezekiel 47:13; 48:4, 5).
3. Christians and the Birthright
Every Christian is presently a firstborn child of God awaiting the adoption, to be followed by the reception of the inheritance belonging to firstborn sons. As in the Old Testament, this inheritance consists of three things: (1) a position as ruler, (2) a position as priest, and (3) the reception of a double portion of the Father’s estate.
The position of ruler has to do with occupying a position of “power over the nations” with Christ during the coming age (Revelation 2:26, 27). God’s original purpose for the creation of man in the beginning involved rulership over the earth (Genesis 1:26-28), and following the complete redemption of man (spirit, soul, and body) and the removal of the earth from its present position (under a curse), this purpose will be realized.
Let Us make man in Our image, after Our likeness: and let them have dominion [let them rule]. (Genesis 1:26)
The gifts and calling of God are without repentance [without a change of mind]. (Romans 11:29)
God will not change His mind concerning the reason He brought the earth out of its ruined state and called man into existence in Genesis chapter one. Redeemed individuals from the lineage of the first Adam will, in the coming age, with the last Adam, rule over a restored, inhabited earth.
The position of priest has to do with a combined kingly-priestly function that will be exercised by Christians at the same time they are given “power over the nations.” Christians are presently “priests,” but are not presently “kings and priests.” This position is reserved for the coming age (cf. 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 5:10). Our present ministry as priests, as Christ’s present ministry as High Priest, is connected with the tabernacle in heaven (cf. Hebrews 9:11, 12; 10:19, 20; 1 John 1:5-2:2). But this status of existing conditions will continue only until the end of the present dispensation. During the coming dispensation (the Messianic Era) Christ’s ministry on behalf of Christians will no longer be connected with the tabernacle. He will, prior to that time, come out of the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle, judge Christians, and subsequently appear to Israel on earth as the great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek.
And the Christians’ ministry at that time will also be no longer connected with the tabernacle. Christians in that day will appear with Christ in glory. They will appear in the position of “kings and priests” with the great “King-Priest” and will rule with Him during the day of His power.
The reception of a double portion of the estate can only have to do with the dual sphere of the kingdom that is to be inherited — both heavenly and earthly. Christians are to rule from the heavens over the earth as joint-heirs with Christ. Occupying such positions really means possessing an inheritance that is associated with both the heavens and the earth. God has promised His Son,
Ask of Me, and I will give You the nations [the Gentiles] for Your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Your possession. (Psalm 2:8)
This earthly inheritance and possession is open only to God’s Son and those who rule from the heavens as “joint-heirs” with Him. Thus, a rule from the heavens over the earth will incorporate this double portion.
Every Christian is in line to receive the inheritance belonging to the firstborn; but, according to that revealed in Scripture, this inheritance is forfeitable. The positional standing of Christians “in Christ” places all Christians in a position wherein God can deal with them in relation to the inheritance awaiting firstborn sons, but this positional standing does not itself guarantee that this inheritance will be received. A firstborn child of God, through rebellious actions, can, as firstborn sons in the Old Testament, forfeit the rights of primogeniture.
The fifth and last of the five major warnings to Christians in Hebrews (12:14-17) concerns the account of Esau and the forfeiture of his rights as firstborn. This warning has been placed in the book of Hebrews in a type-antitype arrangement, as the wilderness journey of the Israelites in chapters three and four, to sternly remind and warn Christians that the things that befell Old Testament saints can also befall New Testament saints.
Esau, Isaac’s firstborn son, was in line to receive the rights belonging to the firstborn, but he, through disobedience, was rejected. Esau was denied the rights of primogeniture — his rightful inheritance within the family.
The Israelites in the wilderness — forming God’s firstborn son (Exodus 4:22, 23) — were in line to go in, conquer, and take possession of the land. They were in line to realize their earthly inheritance. But the entire accountable generation, twenty years old and above, save Caleb and Joshua, was overthrown in the wilderness, short of the goal of their calling.
And Christians on their pilgrim journey, with a heavenly inheritance in connection with the rights of the firstborn in view, can, through disobedience, also be overthrown and be denied their inheritance “reserved in heaven.” This is seen in both the type dealing with Esau and the type dealing with the Israelites under Moses, together forming the foundational material for all five of the major warnings in Hebrews.
“To deny the parallel is to overthrow inspiration: to ignore the parallel is to silence Scripture: to admit the parallel is to disclose a momentous peril to the believer in Christ.”— D. M. Panton
A Future Salvation
The underlying theme throughout the epistles of Peter involves our present hope, which is centered in the salvation to be revealed, wherein Christians will realize the inheritance “reserved in heaven” for firstborn sons. During our present pilgrim walk, anticipating “that blessed hope” set before us, we are being “kept [guarded] by the power of God through faith” for the purpose of realizing the salvation of our souls and occupying positions as joint-heirs with God’s Son during the coming age. The entire program of God for Christians today moves toward this end.
As the living hope possessed by Christians and the inheritance “reserved in heaven” for Christians have their respective counterparts within teachings drawn from the five major warnings in Hebrews, so does the salvation “to be revealed in the last time.” Hebrews 1:14 speaks of a future salvation that is so intimately associated with the inheritance of the saints that “salvation” itself is said to be inherited; and Hebrews 2:3 calls this future salvation, “so great salvation.”
It is the greatest thing God could ever design for redeemed man, for it consists of the recipients exercising power and authority from the heavens over the earth with God’s Son when He rules as “King of kings, and Lord of lords.” Through coming into possession of this future salvation, Christians will realize the very purpose for their present salvation — the goal of their calling, the end of their faith, the salvation of their souls.
However, the first warning in Hebrews, as the other warnings in this book, gives two sides to the overall picture; and the lessons at the very beginning, as in subsequent warnings, are drawn from Old Testament history. The object lesson beginning these warnings surrounds the experiences of the Israelites in the wilderness:
For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward [retribution or penalty];
How shall we escape, if we neglect so a great salvation . . . ? (Hebrews 2:2, 3a)
The “just recompense of reward” is receiving exactly what an individual deserves. All of the Israelites who left Egypt under Moses were saved (1 Corinthians 10:1-4). All of these Israelites had availed themselves of the substitutionary atonement in Egypt through the death of the paschal lambs. The death of the firstborn was past and could never be their lot, for the paschal lambs had previously died in their stead.
The danger that the Israelites faced was not that of being returned to Egypt and being removed from the safety of the blood. Such an act was an utter impossibility, for the firstborn had died (via a substitute), and God was satisfied.
Rather, the danger that the Israelites faced lay in the fact that they could be overthrown in the wilderness and not realize the purpose for their deliverance from Egypt. Through obedience they would realize this purpose, but through disobedience they would fail to realize this purpose. In either instance, they would receive a “just recompense of reward” — receiving exactly what they deserved, based upon faithfulness or unfaithfulness to their calling, whether positive or negative.
The same is true for Christians today. All Christians have availed themselves of the substitutionary death of the Passover Lamb. The death of the firstborn is past and can never be their lot, for the Passover Lamb has already died in their stead.
The danger that Christians face is not that of being removed from the safety of the blood. Such an act is an utter impossibility, for the firstborn has died (via a Substitute); and God, as in the type, is satisfied.
Rather, the danger that Christians face is the same as that which the Israelites under Moses faced: Christians can be overthrown in their present position and fail to realize the purpose for their salvation.
Through obedience, which involves a “living” faith — connected with faithfulness in carrying out the works that the Lord has outlined for one’s life — an individual will realize this purpose. But through disobedience, which involves a “dead” faith — connected with unfaithfulness in carrying out the works that the Lord has outlined for one’s life — an individual will fail to realize this purpose.
In either instance, Christians will receive “a just recompense of reward.” They will receive wages exactly commensurate with services rendered as household servants in the Lord’s house, receiving exactly what one deserves in this respect, based upon faithfulness or unfaithfulness to their calling, whether positive or negative.
The “so great a salvation” in Hebrews 2:3, synonymous with the salvation to be inherited in 1:14, is, within the context, associated with the inhabited earth to come:
For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. (2:5)
Angels occupy positions of power over the nations during the present age. But, during the coming age, angels will not occupy these positions. Satan and his angels will be removed from their positions of power at the end of the present age; and Christ, with His “companions” (cf. Hebrews 1:9; 3:14), will exercise power over the nations during the coming age.
The writer of Hebrews clearly states that this coming inhabited earth under the rule of man is what the preceding verses are dealing with. The inherited salvation (1:14), the so great salvation (2:3), has to do with the coming age when a new order of rulers — a new order of sons (Hebrews 2:9, 10; cf. Romans 8:18, 19) — will be crowned and will exercise regal power and authority over the earth.
The books of Hebrews, James, and 1 & 2 Peter all deal with the salvation to be revealed, the salvation of the soul; and these epistles, as all of the other epistles (which also deal with this same subject), must be interpreted within this same framework. The warnings in Hebrews and works in James have to do with the same thing as the text in 1 Peter 1:3-5 — a “just recompense of reward” to be realized in the coming age.
REDEPTION, ADOPTION, INHERITANCE
For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:22, 23).
In this chapter we will examine the three major truths that are necessary for one to enter into the Great Salvation. They are redemption of the body, adoption, and the inheritance. For purposes of clarity, we will be presenting the doctrine of adoption first, and then the redemption of the body. As we study these truths it will become clear to the believer that adoption is not related to the salvation of the spirit, nor is the inheritance an automatic entitlement when one first believes in Jesus Christ as his Savior.
When Adam fell in sin in the Garden of Eden, he suffered death (body, soul, and spirit) and all of creation was marred. The rulership that God had promised man over the earth was forfeited to Satan and evil entered into the world and the world systems. Since that time, all of creation, including man himself, has groaned in continuous pain awaiting for this curse of sin to be lifted and for that day when man would be adopted and become the “sons of God” (Romans 8:19-21).
By reading this verse, one may assume that adoption and redemption of the body are the one and the same event, but they are not. Adoption is the result of the redemption and not visa-versa. Redemption of the body takes place on the earth, and thereafter adoption takes place in the heavens. Since only those who have the “first-fruits of the spirit” (salvation of the spirit) are eligible to be adopted; and since the body is not redeemed until the rapture of the Church, then the adoption can not take place until immediately after the rapture.
The word adoption means “placing one as a son.” Contrary to popular belief, one is not placed as a son at the moment of salvation. To understand why, one must first understand Eastern culture concerning adoption, as opposed to that of the West. In the West, adoption means taking someone else’s natural child and legally “placing him as your own son.” In the East, it means taking your own natural child and “placing him as your son.” In the West, a child can become a son the moment you adopt him no matter what his age may be. In the East (the Jewish culture), your own child cannot become a son until his thirteenth birthday. The Jews call this the “bar mitzvah.” In the West a child can inherit his father’s property at any age. In the East, he must first be placed as a son at his bar mitzvah. Since Scripture always use patterns of truth connected to Israel in order to teach the truths of the New Testament (1 Corinthians 10:11), there must be a heavenly bar mitzvah after the rapture of the Church in order for the whole body of Christ (children of God) to be adopted as “sons of God.” We get a further understanding of this in the book of Galatians, chapter four.
Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, (2) but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. (3) Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. (4) But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, (5) to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. (Galatians 4:1-5).
Here, the Apostle Paul tells us that a child born into a family is no different in position than a servant of that family when it comes to rights and privileges, even though he has been born an heir (v. 1). He must grow under tutors and governors (teachers) until the
appointed time of being placed as a son (v. 2). Likewise, all who are elected to sonship must first be born again (redeemed from the law) and have the opportunity to grow in the Word under the direction of the Holy Spirit (tutors and governors) with a view to becoming adopted as sons (v. 5).
In principle, all who have been born again are sons. But that sonship has not yet been manifested [realized], and cannot be until the body is redeemed. Until that occurs, Scripture refers to all believers, except in a few cases, as “children of God.” This is in opposition to many translations of Scripture, which translates “children of God” as “sons of God.” The translators, not knowing the difference used these expressions interchangeably. For instance in John 1:12 the King James Version translates the Greek word “teknon” as “sons;” whereas, it should be translated “children.”
But as many as received Him [Christ], to them He gave the right to become children (Gk. teknon [children]; not huios [sons]) of God, to those who believe in His name. (John 1:12)
It is an interesting that God does not use the word “son” (Gk. huios) in the New Testament except in connection with Christians who are striving to have their soul saved. Those who are being led by the Holy Spirit; those who are living a life separate from sin (Romans 8:14; 2 Corinthians 6:17-18); those who are experiencing a father-son relationship. But, as to one being “placed as a son” (Gk. huiothesis), that cannot occur until we reach the heavenly “bar mitzvah” after the redemption of the body.
The questions are asked: “Why does one have to strive to become a firstborn son while growing up under his tutor (the Holy Spirit)? Isn’t he automatically placed as a firstborn son when he arrives at the judgment seat?” The answer to both is “no.” Scripture teaches that only those children of God who present a saved soul will inherit the kingdom, and as a result will be placed as firstborn sons, i.e. “the church of the firstborn” (Hebrews 12:23). This inheritance will be manifested in the “out-resurrection” (a higher resurrection at the Judgment Seat of Christ out from among those who have been raptured Philippians 3:11). Those who fail to present a saved soul (at the Judgment Seat of Christ) will lose all rewards and inheritance of age-life (millennial life). They will however, remain as “sons of God” as a result of their adoption, even though they will fail to share in the out-resurrection.
THE REDEMPTION OF THE BODY
One of the great misconceptions concerning the redemption of the body is the belief that redemption and glorification are the same event. Or, stated in a different way, when the rapture occurs, the body will be raised out of the grave in a glorified state. However, when other truths are revealed that are connected to this event, it will be seen that glorification of the body is in addition to the redemption and not the very same thing.
The word, “redeem,” means “to buy back that which was lost.” When applied to the body, it means, buying back the lost body of a redeemed person, whether physically alive or in the grave. The purchase price is the finished work of Christ at Calvary. When one believes on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31) the redemption of the spirit immediately occurs, with the guarantee that the body will be raised and redeemed at the time of the rapture. However, when the body is redeemed (bought back), it will be restored to the exact same state of existence it had before it was lost. This is so because of the legal meaning of the word “redeem.” One cannot buy back more than that which was lost! Since the whole human race was lost in Adam when he sinned, then the raised and redeemed bodies of all believers cannot be immediately restored to a higher state than that which constituted the body of Adam before he sinned.
Only in the second Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:45-46), can a believer have a glorified body. But this resurrection, i.e. “out-resurrection,” cannot occur until the Judgment Seat of Christ — after the adoption. The apostle Paul informed us of this when he wrote: “if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection [Gk. exanastasis, out-resurrection] of the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me” (Philippians 3:11-12). Here, he plainly tells us that this resurrection is not automatically given to all who are saved, for he did not know if he would be a part of it. But rather, this resurrection was something that must be attained to, i.e. worked for. However, when we consider the rapture, we are speaking of the redemption of the body that is raised from the grave. This raising is automatic to every one who is saved. For all who are in Christ shall be raised (1 Thessalonians 4:15:17), and all must appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:l0b).
To sum up the meaning of redemption, there will be a raising of the dead to the likeness of Adam’s redeemed body that will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ. This redemption is dependent on the salvation of the spirit. Then at the Judgment Seat there will be an out-resurrection (a higher lifting up), in which one can be resurrected to the spiritual body (Philippians 3:11) of the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:45). This out-resurrection from among those who have been raised from the dead is dependent on the salvation of the soul.
At this point, we can surmise that the reader may be saying: “What about the chapter 15 of 1 Corinthians?” Does this not prove that a glorified body likened to Jesus’ body will be given to all believers at the resurrection? The answer is “yes,” but the rapture of the church is not the resurrection. In 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17, the resurrection of dead bodies into glorified bodies is not mentioned.
Only “raised” and “caught up” bodies of the dead and living are mentioned. Paul addresses this misconception in 1 Corthinians 15:35, 36. He writes: “But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” He answered, “Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies.” Paul is not speaking here about sowing a dead body. For it would be a bit on the ridiculous side to teach that one has to be careful in making sure that his body is dead, when he places it (sows it) in the grave, so that it could be resurrected. No, here he is speaking about the soul dying. The dead soul (life) is the principle that governs the resurrection of the body. Only bodies with souls that have died to the flesh and to this world, in order to become alive for Christ, can be raised to glorified bodies. Hence a believer cannot gain his life in the coming kingdom (salvation of the soul) if he fails to lose his life here on earth in his daily living. The teaching in 1 Corinthians chapter 15 concerns itself with the coming resurrection of the dead bodies of believers with lives (souls) that have died to self and to this world (suffered with Christ). These will be raised in their redeemed bodies and then,
at the Judgment Seat of Christ, their bodies will be changed into glorified bodies. Its teaching is outside the scope of the coming rapture, which will include the raising of all dead believers and the translation of all live believers (including those whose souls have
To add to this truth, Paul in the next verse writes “And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain [Gk. ‘a naked grain’] —.” (1 Corinthians 15:37). This verse tells us that Christians do not sow the same body at death that will be resurrected. As a matter of fact, they do not sow a body at all, but rather, they sow a bare (naked) grain. This naked grain is the soul without a body and is that portion of the believer (the life) that must die (be sown) in this present life, and be dead when their body dies. If indeed, the soul dies before the body dies, it will come forth from the grave in a body of wheat, or of some other body of grain (a celestial body that God will give it). The Christian then, must sow his own soul (purposefully cause his life to die to the flesh and to this world) in order to have a part in the resurrection (not the rapture).
To shed even more light on this, Jesus Himself tells us that this grain of wheat is the soul “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain” (John 12:24). The corn of wheat here is the same as the naked grain in 1 Corinthians. If the soul (life) does not die to this world, it will bring forth no fruit, and as such, no placing as a firstborn son at the judgment seat, or obtaining a glorified body in the first resurrection, i.e., the out-resurrection. But if it should die it will bring forth much fruit, an inheritance in the kingdom, and a body likened unto Christ’s body (details of these truths will be presented in a later chapter). In the verse following this, Jesus adds a commentary that describes the naked grain or soul: “He who loves his life [soul] will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life [Gk. ‘age life’] (John 12:25).” We might paraphrase this verse to say: “he that loves the things of this life and not the things of God will lose his soul during the one-thousand year millennial kingdom. Contrary to this, he that hates the things of this world and continues to live his life for Christ shall gain his life (soul) in the coming millennial age.”
Considering all that has been included in this section, our summary thoughts are as follows: All believers will stand at the Judgment Seat of Christ having raised and redeemed bodies. However, only those believers that have died to this world in this life (salvation of the soul) and brought forth fruit, will experience the out-resurrection into
glorified bodies, and as such will be placed as firstborn sons.
Those remaining sons, whose souls did not die to this world in this present age, will suffer loss during the millennial kingdom age, where their souls will die. Then, after the millennium, they will experience resurrection into glorified spiritual bodies for the eternal ages.
This is the third major truth necessary for the believer to experience, in order to enter into the “great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). The first is the redemption of the body, the second is the adoption, and the third is the inheritance. In order to teach this third truth, we must make our beginning at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
(2 Corinthians 5:10).
In this verse of Scripture we need to see where the “body of Christ” (comprised of all of the Church saints) will be immediately after the rapture of the church. Here we learn we must individually stand before our Lord in our bodies (not yet glorified) and give an account for all the works that we produced in that body while on earth, whether they be good works or bad works. It is here that we will receive the “just recompense of reward” (Hebrews 2:2b) (meaning to receive exactly what we deserve). This is the gaining of a reward or the suffering of loss (1 Corinthians 3:14, 15).
The following is a possible order of events leading up to the “great salvation:” first, the rapture, or the redemption of the body to the judgment seat; second, the testing of works of all the redeemed in the all-consuming fire of God (1 Corinthians 3:13; Hebrews 12:29); third, the choosing of the firstborn sons through the out-resurrection into a glorified body and the inheritance; and fourth and finally, the suffering of loss for all of the remaining sons of God for a thousand years.
The out-resurrection of the church of the firstborn will result in having their souls saved (1 Peter 1:9; James 1:21; Hebrews 10:39), receiving the prize (Philippians 3:13, 14) and becoming joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).
Becoming Joint-heirs is Conditional
The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs — heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together. (Romans 8:16, 17)
Many teach erroneously that becoming a joint-heir with Christ is automatic when one is saved (spirit salvation). While the verses before us do teach that we become heirs of God at the moment of salvation, they do not teach that joint-heirship with Christ is automatically given at the new birth. Rather, it states clearly that it is given to a believer on the basis of a condition of suffering with Christ in this present life, so that he may be glorified together with Him in His coming kingdom.
To rightly understand the doctrine of the inheritance, you must first understand Sonship. In a previous section, we learned that a Jewish child cannot inherit his father’s possessions even though he is an heir. He must first grow into maturity and appear at his “bar mitzvah” in order to be placed as a son. The same is true with the believer. He is born into the family of God and as such is an heir of his father. But in order to inherit, he must first appear at the Judgment Seat of Christ to be “placed as a son” (adopted). Once he becomes a son he can become a joint-heir with Christ and inherit all things with Him. However, there is a condition that he must have met first. That condition is to have suffered with Christ in this life. In order to do this, one must lose his life (soul) here (yield it to Christ) in order to gain it there in the millennial kingdom (the naked grain must die). This “suffering with Christ” is [to be understood as coming from and is the Christian’s continual confrontation with] the persistent attacks of the world, the flesh and Satan on the believer because of Christ. It is the result of the believer who is willing to lose his life (soul) here, in order to find it there in the millennial kingdom (Matthew 16:24-26). This suffering is also an agent that God uses to effect the “maturing of the [believer’s] faith,” which comes by hearing and doing the Word of God (James 1:22). Again, this suffering is indicative of those who are “having their souls saved” in preparation of becoming glorified together with Christ (becoming firstborn sons.).
Those that stand before the Judgment Seat with lost souls, though they be heirs of their Father, will be disinherited from being a joint-heir with Jesus Christ, lose all rewards forever, and will not be glorified with Him during His thousand year reign!
The Rights of the Firstborn
But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven, to God the Judge of all, to the spirits of just men made perfect” (Hebrews 12:22, 23).
In this section of Hebrews, we must first identify the “church of the firstborn” before we can discuss their rights. In the two verses of Scripture before us (Hebrews 12:22, 23), God gives us a glimpse of “the mountain in heaven.” Since this mountain is compared with a. literal mountain on earth, i.e. Mt. Zion (Hebrews 12:18-21), then it and all that is seen on it, may be taken literally. In other verses of Scripture, this same mountain is shown as being in the direction of north above the region of the universe. That region that has no stars [note there is an empty place without any stars above the polar star], and is called “the mount of the congregation” (Job 26:7; Psalm 48:1, 2; Isaiah 14:13). Therefore, heaven must be due north or straight up and beyond the physical universe.
Of all of the things that are reported in Hebrews as being on this heavenly mountain, we want only to draw your attention to four groups of beings: first, an “enumerable company of angels;” second, “the general assembly;” third, “the church of the firstborn” whose names are only registered in heaven; and fourth, to “the spirits of just men made perfect.”
What is the “church of the firstborn”? It is a future group of redeemed people who will experience the “out-resurrection” from among the general assembly and become joint-heirs with Jesus Christ when His kingdom is ushered into its rightful place of prominence.
To better understand the teaching of the rights of the firstborn, we need to return to the Old Testament and study their types. These are patterns and prefigured emblems of the “firstborn” (or primogeniture).
(1) Abraham’s Firstborn
And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her. Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” And Abraham said to God, “Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!” Then God said: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.” (Genesis17:16-19)
In studying Abraham’s firstborn, we learn that one cannot even be considered as an heir if he is born under bondage. In Genesis 16:15 we learn that Hagar, the Egyptian handmaid of Sarai, gave birth to Abram’s firstborn son who was named Ishmael. This was done by the permission of Sarai, Abram’s wife, since she believed that she herself
was beyond child-bearing years. In Genesis 17:1 when Ishmael became thirteen years of age (the age of adoption), God appeared unto Abram and confirmed the covenant and the promise that He would give them a child (verses 2-13). In verse 18, Abram presented
Ishmael to God as his heir, but God rejected him, telling Abram that he would give him a son who would be his heir. Hence, the firstborn of Abraham and Sarah was born when both parents were beyond the age of producing children. God deliberately waited until Abraham and Sarah were forced to cease from their own efforts in trying to help God. Because of their old age, all they could do was put their faith in God’s Word that He would do the necessary work supernaturally in order for Isaac to be born.
It is the same with the Christian. God cannot accept our self-efforts in trying to produce that which we think will inherit the promises. Like Abraham, He wants us to cease from our self-efforts (let the soul die here in this life) and trust in Him totally for all things. Then, through the continuous work of grace in our saved spirits, He will cause the Ishmael of our old nature to die, and the Isaac of our spirits to live. Remember, only Isaac can be the heir.
Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not hear the law? For it is written that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai that gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar — for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem that now is, and is in bondage with her children — but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written: “Rejoice, O barren, you who do not bear! Break forth and shout, you who are not in labor! For the desolate has many more children than she who has a husband.” Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are children of promise. But, as he who was born according to the flesh then persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the bondwoman and her son, for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman but of the free. (Galatians 4:21-31).
In Galatians, God gives us a deeper look into this type. Here, the apostle Paul is showing us the difference between law and grace, as well as the fruits of both. Please read this section of scripture carefully and consider these five points:
To conclude our thoughts in Isaac vs. Ishmael, God tells the believer that he has both of these natures residing in him. If he allows Ishmael, to rule his life here, he will lose his life there (be disinherited in the kingdom). On the other hand, if he puts to death the Ishmael in his life here (death of the naked seed, i.e. the soul), he will gain it in the kingdom (inherit the promise).
(2) Isaac’s Firstborn
But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?” Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob. (34) And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. (Genesis 25:31-34)
Isaac and Rebecca had twin boys whose names were Jacob and Esau. Esau was the firstborn and as such had the right to his father’s inheritance. However, he had no interest in his birthright and sold it to his brother for a mess of pottage, that caused him to lose his family inheritance.
Lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. (Hebrews 12:16, 17)
The writer of Hebrews uses this same story of Esau from the Old Testament in order to warn the Church not to live the life of Esau, else the same thing will happen to them at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Hebrews 12:16, 17). Please read this portion of Hebrews carefully, and remember according to 1 Corinthians 10:11 “. . . all these things happened to them as examples (types), and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.” In other words, this is an Old Testament type (pattern) of a believer losing his inheritance in the coming kingdom and God wants us to look at it closely and to consider it seriously!
The message in this type is this: The worldly or carnal Christian who goes after the trinkets of this world in order to satisfy his live soul is selling his birthright. The Christian who has no interest or desire for the “great salvation” that is coming on the earth and doesn’t have any interest in the possible position that they could have in it, will subsequently lose his inheritance in the millennial kingdom.
In these last days, the Church is demonstrating a complete lack of interest in the deep things of God’s Word, while going after riches and power in this present life that only satisfies their live souls (their Ishmaels, or old natures). Their thoughts are that they are saved and going to heaven and that there is no need for any other spiritual concerns.
These are Esau Christians and they will make up the majority of the general assembly in heaven that will find no place for repentance, i.e. no changing of the mind of the Lord, at the Judgment Seat of Christ (v. 17). Like Esau, they will have despised and sold their birthright to an inheritance worth untold and eternal riches, and all for just a few pennies. Oh! The tears that will be shed at the Judgment Seat of Christ (v. 17), but to no avail!
(3) Jacob’s Firstborn
Jacob’s firstborn was Reuben who also lost his inheritance. In this type of the firstborn, God will not only show us the loss of the inheritance but of what the inheritance is comprised.
In Genesis 35:22, Reuben sinned against his father by lying with Bilhah, his father’s concubine, and as a result lost his inheritance. Later on in God’s Word we learn that the inheritance normally given to the firstborn is in three parts, which are:
These three are identified when Jacob took the inheritance from Reuben and divided it up into three parts, giving it to three of his other sons.
The double portion means giving twice as much to the firstborn son as the other sons received. To explain this, all of Jacob’s property was divided into thirteen parts. His twelve sons each received one part each with a double portion going to Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh.
This is a type of the heavenly adoption. Jacob could not
give an inheritance (double portion) to his sons (grandsons). Instead, he had to first adopt them as his own firstborn Sons (Genesis 48:5; Hebrews 11:21). So likewise, there must be a heavenly adoption of the sons of God into the firstborn sons of God at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Likewise, at the Judgment Seat of Christ, those sons of God who will have their souls saved and participate in the “out-resurrection” from the “general assembly,” will become joint-heirs with Christ and receive a spiritual body (likened unto Jesus’ body) along with the position of kings and priests over this earth (Revelation 5:9-10), as well as a double portion of riches.
Those who lose the inheritance will gain a small blessing but will not be able to receive it until the end of the kingdom age (the last one-thousand years). Those sons of God who gain the inheritance will be called the “church of the firstborn,” “the chosen,” “the out-called,” and “the bride of Christ.” Those sons from whom the firstborn are resurrected at the judgment seat are presently known as “the general assembly,” “the called,” and “the body of Christ.”
(4) God’s Firstborn Son Is Israel
In Exodus 4:22, God tells us that Israel is His firstborn son. This includes Jacob (named Israel by God), His twelve sons and all who have been born of the twelve tribes of Israel down through time to this day. Their birthright was a spiritual birthright that included
rulership in the coming kingdom of God. But due to their sin in rejecting God’s only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, they lost their inheritance to a new nation that would bring forth fruit (Matthew 21:43; 1 Peter 2:9). It is important to note that when Jesus uttered this judgment against His brethren the Jews, He did not say that the inheritance of the kingdom of God would be given to a new nation (those who had salvation of the spirit only), but to a new nation bringing forth fruit (salvation of the soul).
(5) Jesus the Firstborn of Creation and of the Dead
In Colossians 1: 15-18, God tells us that Jesus is the “firstborn over all creation.” This does not say that He was created as some cults teach, but rather that He is the Creator. The meaning is that He is the “first cause” of all creation whether visible or invisible (v. 16). God says, in John 1:3, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.’
In Colossians 1:18 we are told that He is the “firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Others that were before Him have been raised to life, but no one had ever been raised into a spiritual body as Jesus had when He was raised. Why?
The answer is that Jesus was the first-fruits of the resurrection, and as such, had to be the first to receive this kind of resurrected body.
Taking into consideration these two truths that point to Jesus as the firstborn, we can well understand the title that will be given to all those who will gain the inheritance, as the “church of the firstborn.”
 Salvation of the Soul by Arlen L. Chitwood, The Lamp Broadcast, Inc., 2003, pages 81-94
 Shock & Surprise Beyond the Rapture by Gary T. Whipple, Schoettle Publishing Co., Inc., 2003, pages 39-54 [NKJV verses have replaced KJV in original text. Furthermore there are addition comments in brackets as well as some minor sentence structure/grammatical changes by www.bibleone.net for clarification]