29 September, 2006

Explain "If The Righteous Scarcely Be Saved"

Brother Waddey:
I have a question I was hoping you would help me out with. What is the meaning of 1 Peter 4:18 that the righteous scarcely be saved?
-- Darlene

Dear Darlene:
Peter's epistle was written in ca 65 A.D. some five years before the awful judgement on and destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Romans. Christians were undergoing fiery trials at the hands of the Jews (4:12), but Peter wanted them to know that God would soon judge their enemy.

To see his application we must read 4:17-18 together: "For the time is come for judgment to begin at the house of God: and if it begin first at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God? And if the righteous is scarcely saved, where shall the ungodly and sinner appear?" This last sentence is a quote from the Greek edition of Prov. 11:31.

The Hebrews used a method called parallelism to express their thoughts. By repetition they emphasized their points.

"The time has come for judgement to begin at the house of God"
"And if it first begin with us."
"And if the righteous (man) is scarcely saved"

Note that the "house of God," the "us" and "the righteous man" all refer to the same people...God's people.

"Them that obey not the gospel" are the same as
"The ungodly and sinner."

When the Romans ravaged and destroyed the Jewish state and their capital, Jerusalem, the Christians all abandoned the city and fled as Jesus had warned them to do (Matt. 24:16). In Pella on the east side of the Jordan they found refuge and survived the storm. The wicked stayed in the Jerusalem and were reduced to such straits that they fought and killed each other for scraps of food and some turned to cannibalism. A million Jews perished in the Roman war, hundreds of thousands were enslaved, or driven from their homeland. This judgement they brought on themselves by their rejection of Messiah. Remember their words, "Let his blood be on us and our children" (Matt. 27:25).

Peter does not mean that Christians will barely be saved in the great day of judgment. In II Pet. 1:10-11 he writes, "for thus shall be richly supplied unto you the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord." He is speaking of Christians being saved through the awful impending ordeal at the Jewish state faced. . If God allows his righteous ones to endure such hardships, imagine what will happen to the ungodly and sinners such as those who have been persecuting them?

Back -- or go -- Home

© Copyright 2006, First Century Christian