The Literal Usage of Convenience

My problem with many of my fellow brethren who interpret the Bible literally is that usually their literalness stops at a point where being literal is inconvenient to maintain a pet doctrine.

Many of my literal brethren will balk at being literal with certain passages. Allow me to illustrate with 1 Corinthians 9:27, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

My literal brethren’s commentaries all interpret the word “castaway” to refer to Paul losing reward for service.

However, if a fellar were to look up the Greek word for “castaway” and how it is used in the rest of the NT (allowing Scripture to tell us what Paul meant with this word) you will notice that every other time the word is used it refers to a nonbeliever. (Romans 1:28; 2 Corinthians 13:5-7; 2 Timothy 3:8; Titus 1:16; Hebrews 6:7,8). It is never used to merely describe losing a reward.

If a guy were interpreting Scripture with Scripture one would have to conclude that Paul is worried about being called an unbeliever. The obvious problems with this arise. Is Paul saying he could lose his salvation? Is eternal security out the window?

Perhaps the context includes Paul talking about rewards or perhaps about losing his apostleship, a subject he defends in this epistle. Then again, he uses dying Israelites as his object lesson (1 Corinthians 10).

One thing I do know: if many of us were around to hear Paul talking about severely disciplining his body so as not to be thought of as a reprobate heathen scum, I bet many of us would tell him he doesn’t know what “grace” is.

One thought on “The Literal Usage of Convenience”

  1. For the Bible tells us that our being “it is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body” (1 Cor. 15.44). Yet here is a vital point: we who have been joined to the resurrected Lord can even now have our spirit rule over the whole being. We are not united to the first Adam who was made a living soul but to the last Adam Who is a life-giving spirit (v.45).

    If a man who claims to be born-again continues in submitting to his sinful flesh, has he truly been raised up in Christ? I have read many surveys where pastors have admitted to being addicted to porn, it would seem that their flesh rules their soul, and not the spirit of Christ. Paul says it is why he keeps his body under subjection, he trusted his spirit the part that has been raised in Christ, to rule his flesh.

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