Just who will be saved from the group of people that Christ has dealt with from the time of Adam up to the judgment at His second coming?
Here is a frightening scripture:
1 Peter 4:18 And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?
“Scarcely” is Strong’s #3433, meaning “with difficulty…” Vines’ Dictionary says about this word, “difficult, hardly, scarcely…” This is truly frightening if you believe God’s word and know that the righteous will hardly make it to salvation.
The New Testament says in eight different places that the MANY will not be saved. Seven of these verses are “red-letter” in the King James Verision which means that they are quotations from Christ’s own mind and mouth. We do not have the option of arguing with Jesus Christ about who will be saved. We must believe Him or perish.
Let’s examine the definition of this word, “many.” It is Strong’s #4183. Spiros Zodhiates’ Complete Word Study Dictionary New Testament says that it means, “much of number, quantity or amount…” Vines’ Complete Expository Dictionary says, “much, many, great…” These are people who think that they are Christians. This includes the “tares”, the three categories of good seed that go bad, and the five foolish virgins. These people, this “many,” are people who are fooling themselves by “playing church.”
Let’s examine these eight passages more closely:
Matthew 7:13 is “red-letter” and Christ here says that the “many” go to destruction:
Matthew 7:13 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and MANY there be which go in thereat:
The “many” in verse 22 are arguing their case, but in verse 23 they loose that argument:
Matthew 7:22 MANY will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
“Many” have an opportunity to gain salvation, but choose not to meet the requirements:
Matthew 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for MANY be called, but few chosen.
Matthew 22:14 For MANY are called, but few [are] chosen.
The “many” let salvation slip by because of their lukewarm attitudes:
Matthew 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of MANY shall wax cold.
Two translations that I checked use “most” instead of “many” in the above verse. Another version expresses this as “the great body of people.” This, no doubt, includes the five foolish virgins of Matthew 25, and the third potential good seed that goes bad which fell among thorns and endured for a while (Lk 8:7,14)
Luke 8:7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it.
Luke 8:14 And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of [this] life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
“Many” are even TRYING to some degree:
Luke 13:24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for MANY, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
According to Zodhiates, “strive” is Strong’s #75, meaning, “to fight or wrestle.” They are not fighting or wrestling hard enough.
The “many” in Luke 14 do not attain salvation either, for they are denied to eat of the lord’s supper:
Luke 14:16 Then said he unto him, A certain man made a great supper, and bade MANY: 17 And sent his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready.
18 And they all with one [consent] began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it: I pray thee have me excused. 19 And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them: I pray thee have me excused. 20 And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.
21 So that servant came, and shewed his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the halt, and the blind. 22 And the servant said, Lord, it is done as thou hast commanded, and yet there is room.
23 And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel [them] to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I say unto you, That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper.
The “many” in John 6 chose to turn their backs upon the Lord and walk back into the ways of the world. :
John 6:60 MANY therefore of his disciples, when they had heard [this], said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it?
John 6:66 From that [time] MANY of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.
What IS the “hard saying,” referred to in verse 60 above, which these people used as an excuse to desert Him? Christ was claiming TO BE GOD AND TO HAVE THE POWER OF SALVATION:
John 6:51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. 52 The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us [his] flesh to eat?
53 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. 54 Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him.
57 As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. 58 This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. 59 These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum.
The reason Jesus’ words became a “hard saying” was because all that the Jews could see before them was just a man. Church of God members today will be facing the same dilemma when Elijah comes on the scene. We will see just a man–God will see His chosen prophet. Christ says that Elijah is yet to come, Matthew 17:11-13:
Matthew 17:11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. 12 But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. 13 Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.
John the Baptist went to his death not knowing that he was Elijah:
John 1:21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? And he saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
Church members looking for Elijah may be looking for great miracles, but John the Baptist did not do miracles:
John 10:41 And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true.
The only way we will be able to recognize the end time Elijah is by his message.
Now, let’s look at the “few,” which is Strong’s #3641, meaning “puny in extent, degree, number, duration, or value…” Webster defines “puny” as, “inferior in strength, size or importance.” Zodhiates says about “few,” “small or little; the opposite of many…” Vines’ adds, “used of number, quantity and size. Denotes few, little, small, and slight…”
Only the FEW attain salvation. The MANY will not put forth the necessary effort:
Matthew 7:14 Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and FEW there be that find it.
Matthew 20:16 So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but FEW chosen.
Matthew 22:14 For many are called, but FEW [are] chosen.
Luke 13:23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there FEW that be saved? 24 And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for MANY, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able.
Note that the question in verse 23 is NOT red-lettered, but the ANSWER is. Why did this man even ASK this question? Was it common knowledge at that time that only the FEW would be saved?
What is the actual Bible definition of a “few”? When speaking of the survivors of the flood, Peter used the same word, Strong’s #3641. Why is this definition in the Bible, if it is not to put fear into human hearts about the small number that “few” represents?
1 Peter 3:20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein FEW, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
Few is relative to many. Let’s look at Ezekiel 5:2-4. Notice, just a FEW of the final third are put in a place of safety, so to speak. Then a FEW OF THE FEW are taken and cast into the fire. Remember that here again, FEW is relative to the MANY from which the few are removed. THIS “few” is Strong’s # 4592, meaning “a little or few…”
Ezekiel 5:2 Thou shalt burn with fire a third part in the midst of the city, when the days of the siege are fulfilled: and thou shalt take a third part, [and] smite about it with a knife: and a third part thou shalt scatter in the wind; and I will draw out a sword after them. 3 Thou shalt also take thereof a FEW in number, and bind them in thy skirts. 4 Then take of them again, and cast them into the midst of the fire, and burn them in the fire; [for] thereof shall a fire come forth into all the house ofIsrael.
There IS a word of reassurance from Christ’s own words, red-letter, for the “good seed” who take these verses of warning seriously:
Luke 12:32 Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.
“Little” is Strong’s #3398, meaning, “small in size, quantity, or number…” Zodhiates says, “small, little, the opposite of large…”
Dare we argue with our Savior? Dare we even think of universal salvation? If so, we are calling Jesus Christ a liar.
Published November 1, 1997
© Edgar Y. Bennett
PO Box 509
Black Hawk, CO 80422 USA