CHAPTER 18 // Heirs of God ≠ Fellow Heirs with Christ

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Heirs of God and Fellow Heirs with Christ

As we discovered in the previous chapter there is a difference between entering the Kingdom and inheriting the Kingdom. In this chapter we will discover that there are various types of inheritance. The line of distinction will be drawn between being heirs of God, and being co-heirs with Christ. What’s the difference between being an heir of God, and a co-heir with Christ? Paul lays out these two types of inheritance in the same verse. Let’s look at his words in Romans 8:17.

And if we are children, we are also heirs—heirs, on the one hand, of God, and on the other hand, co-heirs with Christ if we suffer together with Him so that we may also be glorified together with Him⁠1

We notice two types of inheritance mentioned in this verse, one that children of God will receive, and one that co-heirs with Christ will receive. In the ancient world, every family experienced two types of inheritance as well. All children would generally inherit something, unless the Father decided to cut them out of the inheritance. However, a first-born son would get a double portion⁠2 of inheritance or sometimes more. From the verses above we learn that every believer is child of God⁠3 and will receive a general inheritance. What is the inheritance that all believers regardless of faithfulness will receive? He gives us a clue in a previous verse. In talking about the transaction that takes place at salvation paul says,

For you have not received again a spirit of bondage producing fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons, by means of which we cry out, “Abba, Father!”⁠4

Roman adoption—which could take place at any age—canceled all previous debts and relationships, defining the new son wholly in terms of his new relationship to his father, whose heir he thus became.⁠5Therefore the heirs of God receive forgiveness, are no longer slaves to the law, and are free from the fear of condemnation. All believers are heirs of these things, which is to say that all children of God have salvation. Where as being a heir of God, is equal to being saved, being co-heirs with Christ is something greater.

This is where we draw the line between salvation and discipleship. It is committed disciples who will be co-heirs with Christ. We know that because Paul gives a requirement for being co-heirs. Let’s see what that condition is.

…if we suffer together with Him⁠6

The condition for being co-heirs with Christ is that we suffer with him. He tells us in a number of places that discipleship will cost us a great price. Jesus promised that those who choose a life of discipleship will be  hated⁠7 and  persecuted by the world.⁠8 However, here he promises that those who are willing to accept that kind of suffering will be his co-heir.

We know it is going to cost us, but what is the benefit of being a co-heir with Christ? The first clue is in the verse.

…so that we may also be glorified together with Him.⁠9

Paul says that co-heirs will be glorified with Christ.⁠10 We find out in another place that Christ humbled himself but will be exalted to the highest place and that everyone everywhere will bow down before him and call him Lord.⁠11 Not only does glory surround Christ but also inheritance. Who is going to have the best inheritance in the Kingdom of God? In the same chapter that Paul tells us we can be co-heirs, he calls Jesus the “first born among many brothers.”⁠12  Calling Jesus “first born” is a way of saying he will have the biggest inheritance in the Kingdom. That means at least a double portion or even more. However, when Paul says we are co-heirs with Christ, he is telling us that Jesus will share that great inheritance with those who suffer with him. His disciples will get a piece of the pie. We find out that the inheritance that will be shared between Jesus and his disciples will outweigh the suffering by an astronomical margin.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.⁠13

 

In other words, suffer with Christ because it is going to be worth it. Everyone who is saved is an child and heir of God. However, those who choose the painful path of discipleship will enjoy the portion of first-born sons. They will be co-heirs with Christ.

1 Romans 8:17

Translation by: Zane C. Hodges, Romans: Deliverance from Wrath, ed. Robert N. Wilkin (Corinth, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2013), 224.

2 Deuteronomy 21:17

3 John 1:12

4 Romans 8:15

Translated by: Zane C. Hodges, Romans: Deliverance from Wrath, ed. Robert N. Wilkin (Corinth, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2013), 221.

5 Craig S. Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1993), Ro 8:15.

6 Romans 8:17

Translation by: Zane C. Hodges, Romans: Deliverance from Wrath, ed. Robert N. Wilkin (Corinth, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2013), 224.

7 John 15:18

8 John 15:20

9 Romans 8:17

Translation by: Zane C. Hodges, Romans: Deliverance from Wrath, ed. Robert N. Wilkin (Corinth, TX: Grace Evangelical Society, 2013), 224.

10 Romans 8:17

11 Philpians 2:9-10

12 Romans 8:29

13 Romans 8:18.

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About Lucas

Lucas is a staff writer with simply belief, and sci-fi/fantasy novelist. He has a B.S. in Bible, Psychology, and History/Political Science. He lives and writes from his home office in East Texas with his wife, daughter, and cat.