First, Paul says of himself, that he himself can be disqualified (or elsewhere translated as rejected, reprobate, castaway) (adokimos), 1 Cor. 9:24-27.
24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.
25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable.
26 Well, I do not run aimlessly, I do not box as one beating the air;
27 but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
If Paul had to run the race for salvation, so do I. I know it is nice to say, well, I have an absolute assurance, and it gives you the feel good theory, but Scripture does not match up with that for Paul in 1 Cor. 9:24-27. Some try to limit Paul's reference here to not getting more crowns in heaven or that he was only being barred from ministerial work if and when he fell into sin or became unfaithful to the Christian cause. However, the whole context is about salvation, about him wanting to bring others to salvation. (1 Cor. 9:19-23)
19For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a slave to all, that I might win the more. 20To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews; to those under the law I became as one under the law--though not being myself under the law--that I might win those under the law. 21To those outside the law I became as one outside the law--not being without law toward God but under the law of Christ--that I might win those outside the law. 22To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.
Thus, we see in the background Paul striving to bring others to salvation. His emphasis is nowhere how many crowns they get into heaven. They must be won to Christ for their own salvation. Then, in verses 24-27, as we have seen, he talks about that he must run the race or he may disqualify himself. I am no Greek scholar, but I have a concordance. The word for disqualified is adokimos, which also is translated as rejected, or castaway, or reprobate, and in every other context in the New Testament talks of either unregenerate people or those whose sins have separated them from Christ.
Look at the instances where this word, adokimos is used: (Rom. 1:28, Tit. 1:16, 2 Tim. 3:8, Heb. 6:8, 2 Cor. 13:5-7). Let us look at the context of each of these Scriptures, so we can see Paul n not one of these instances is Paul writing about people who are in a justified state, who are just getting less crowns. Remember, as we look at these passages, Paul himself is worried about falling into the same category as the following people:
The KJV translates Rom. 1:28 adokimos as reprobate, the same word as used in 1 Cor. 9:27. Rom. 1:26-28:
26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient:
He is talking of people who become homosexuals, and using the same word as was used in 1 Cor. 9:27, defines them as reprobate, and totally cut themself off from God. Paul is not talking about people going to heaven here.
The word used in 1 Cor. 9:27 is translated as reprobate in Tit. 1:15-16
15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled. 16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.
Paul is again specifically talking of people on their way to hell, as they have been corrupted by the world. Same word as Paul used in 1 Cor. 9:27.
Next, 2 Tim. 3:8 is where the word Adokimos is used which Paul specifically uses in 1 Cor. 9:27
. 2 Tim. 3:6-8:
6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.
Here it is talking of the Egyptians who worked for Pharaoh in trying to combat Moses. It specifically speaks of them resisting the truth, and were reprobates. Definitely those folks were not 'chosen people' just trying to get extra rewards. They specifically opposed God and his plans.
Next, a look at Heb. 6:6-8:
6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: 8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.
Hebrews 6 shows for sure that one can fall away, but I am staying away from that one for now. I am again focusing on how this word, and passage relates to 1 Cor. 9:27. No one will dispute that here, Paul is speaking of people who have crucified the Lord, bore bad fruit, in fact thorns, and are rejected, and are to be cursed. Again, the word adokimos, the same word as used in 1 Cor. 9:27 about Paul fearing he may become, is used about to be cursed and rejected. That is obviously not the common lot of those whose ultimate end is in heaven.
Finally 2 Cor. 13:5-7 the word used in 1 Cor. 9:27 is used here three times:
5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? 6 But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates. 7 Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates
Again, Paul is saying that if you are not in Christ Jesus, you are reprobate, adokimos. Paul is saying that he is not a reprobate here, but that all must examine ourselves so we do not become reprobate. Again those who are reprobate are clearly those not in Christ (v. 5).
The word adokimos is thus used outside the context of 1 Cor. 9:27 only of those who are not going to heaven. Paul speaks of homosexual reprobates (Rom. 1:28), , those corrupted and defiled and abominable (Tit. 1:16), those who opposed Moses, had corrupt minds and resisted the truth (2 Tim. 3:8), those who bore thorns and are getting cursed (Heb. 6:8), and those who are reprobates and are not in Christ Jesus 2 Cor. 13:5-7. Thus, remember, Paul specifically uses a phrase in 1 Cor. 9:27 (specifically surrounding the context of salvation) which says that he must run the race, which he himself may become reprobate, if he doesn't run it correctly. Therefore the only time that the word adokimos, (reprobate, castaway, or rejected, castaway, depending upon the translation), is used of those who will be condemned by God. The word that Paul used that it may be possible for him to become is absolutely never used of a believer. Thus, Paul is very clear, that he himself could lose his salvation, and any way to get around what Paul specifically says goes beyond the pale.
The following context even more confirms that Paul says one can lose salvation. In 1 Cor. 10, the whole chapter deals with a warning against being overconfident. chapter verses 1-5..."I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our ancestors were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, and all of them were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. All ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they drank from a spiritual rock that followed the, and the rock was the Christ. Yet God was not pleased with most of them, for they were STRUCK DOWN IN THE DESERT! (My emphasis) 6Now these things are warnings for us, not to desire evil as they did. 7Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, "The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to dance." 8We must not indulge in immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9We must not put the Lord to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents; 10nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as a warning, but they were written down for our instruction, upon whom the end of the ages has come."Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall."
Paul specifically writes of the Old Testament how people who experienced the blessings and were in union with God were specifically punished by God. He specifically relates their woes to us. He warns the same things can happen to us. Of course, as we have seen the whole context is about salvation. How anybody can read these clear words, and especially the surrounding of context, and one say they follow the Bible and yet follow eternal security is beyond me.
Also, another good Scripture that shows that one can lose salvation is the following: 2 Pet. 2:20-22
"20 For if, after they have escaped the defilement's of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overpowered, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog turns back to his own vomit, and the sow is washed only to wallow in the mire. "
Some have argued that escaping the corruption of the world, is merely hearing about Christ. That did not actually mean that they followed Christ. However, in this passage, we see that those who have escaped the defilement of the world, Knew our Lord Jesus Christ, get entangled again in these sins and lose their salvation. In case anybody says, 'well, they knew about Jesus but didn't accept him," really avoids what the text says. Peter specifically writes that these have escaped the defilement of the world.. You only escape the corruption of the world, if you are actually in Jesus Christ. Besides that, Peter specifically writes that after this, he went into these same sins again. If one had just heard about Jesus, but not really change their lives, there would be no reason for Peter to say, that they went back into their sins again. They would have never stopped these sins in the first place. In fact, according to Peter, they indeed escaped the corruption of the world, and through this knowledge of Christ, they had indeed stopped their sins. Another point that drives home that these people really were in God's grace was the prior chapter, to show what Peter meant by knowledge of Christ, and escaping the corruption of the world: 2 Pet. 1:1-4.
1Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ: 2 May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 3 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, that through these you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of passion, and become partakers of the divine nature.
Here, it uses the same terminology as in 2 Pet. 2:20-22, in talking about people in God's grace. The people who KNOW Christ Jesus escaped the corruption of the world, and had KNOWLEDGE of Jesus Christ, and were partakers of the divine nature. Notice the only way that they have escaped the corruption of the world is if they know him and had divine power. Only once they have known him and had his divine power, have they escaped the corruption of the world. Thus, it was not merely hearing about Christ. The only means, according to Peter, of escaping the corruption of the world is by not only knowing him, as specifically stated in 2 Peter 2, but because the people have been granted and given divine power and became partakers of the divine nature. Peter is clearly speaking in 2 Peter 2:20-22 of those who have truly known God, and truly participated in the divine nature. Those are the ones who will then be punished eternally with even worse consequences than those who never were in Christ. Thus, the possibility of losing salvation is shown clearly here, even more when we compare the texts of 2 Peter 2 and 2 Peter 1.
Finally, I must make sure that there is no idea here of us earning things to get to heaven. Salvation is indeed purely a gift of God; nevertheless, that gift does not exclude our obedience. As St. Augustine (Letters 194:5:19 [A.D. 412])succinctly writes: "What merit, then, does a man have before grace, by which he might receive grace, when our every good merit is produced in us only by grace and when God, crowning our merits, crowns nothing else but his own gifts to us?"
For a more thorough study of the issue with many more Scriptures that confirm what we have seen here, click the following:
Are All True Christians Predestined to Persevere?
© 1999 Two Biblical Passages that disprove the error of Eternal Security ....By Matt1618. This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.
This article created, August 4, 1999