Exploring the biblical theology of Christian egalitarianism

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Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 (NIV)

In 1 Corinthians 9:19-27, Paul revealed the tremendous lengths he went to for the sake of the Gospel. In verse 27 he says that he went to these lengths so that he could share (literally, be a co-partner) in the blessing (literally, the produce or outcome) of the gospel.  Paul regarded himself as a stakeholder in the gospel. Like Paul, we have a share in both the work and the outcome of the gospel. Our share in the outcome of the gospel is described in terms of “rewards” or “wages” in the New Testament.[1]

I’ve found that many Christians are reluctant to speak about the rewards of Christian service. But Jesus and Paul both spoke about real rewards for those who serve God and his people devotedly, faithfully and selflessly.

Salvation and eternal life are not rewards as such. Salvation is a gift, an undeserved and unearned gracious gift that we receive simply by placing our faith and trust in Jesus. On the other hand, rewards are what we receive in accordance with what we have done in obedience and devotion to God.[2]

While we are promised rewards now, we are also promised rewards in the future, plus an eternal inheritance. Our future rewards and inheritance are beyond our understanding—we really have no understanding of what form these will take. But they are being kept safe and secure in heaven by our Father who is in heaven (Matthew 6:11; 1 Peter 1:4).

What we are doing now has a direct bearing on our future eternal life. Jesus wants us to produce real fruit that will last, fruit that has eternal value (John 15:16). He wants us to store treasure in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21). Paul tells us to build carefully on the foundation of Jesus Christ with valuable work (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) .

Jesus says:

“Look, I am coming quickly and my reward is with me, to repay to each person according to their work.” Revelation 22:12

Do you have treasure that is being kept in heaven for you?

More verses about rewards

  • 1 Corinthians 3:8-15 indicates that some Christians are going to scrape into eternal life with nothing to show, while others have “stored treasures in heaven.”
  • Matthew 10:41-42 reveals that there are different kinds of rewards.
  • Mark 10:29-30 tells us that there are also rewards in our present age.
  • Matthew 25:14-30 and Luke 19:11-26: these parables are important reading!
  • In 2 John 1:8 John urges the Chosen Lady and her congregation to take care that they do not lose the reward they have worked for.

I recommend reading Matthew’s gospel and highlighting every instance where rewards and wages are mentioned.  More about our inheritance here.

Howard Snyder has written an excellent article on “treasure in heaven” and Matthew 6:19-21; Colossians 1:5; 1 Peter 1:4 here.


[1]  The Greek word for “rewards” (misthos) may also be translated as “wages”.

[2] Christians will not be judged for their sins, because their sins have been completely removed and atoned for by Jesus; but Christians will be judged for their works. This judgement does not affect their salvation but it will have an effect on their eternal inheritance. Please read: Matthew 16:27; Ephesians 6:7-8; 1 Corinthians 3:13-15; 2 Corinthians 5:10.

© 6th of August 2009, Margaret Mowczko
(Reposted on the 1st of August, 2010)

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