The Evangelical Universalist Forum

"Otherwise you have believed in vain"?

Straight from the favorite chapter of Universalists, 1 Corinthians 15, we have this in verse 2

"By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. "


The first step is to translate the verse correctly. Not “otherwise” but “unless.”
Two Greek words are used “ει μη” that literally mean “if not.” (…if you have not believed in vain.)

Alright, fair point. Always good to have a proper translation. Now how does that change the meaning of the text? Still seems to imply to me that only true believers (Followers) are saved.


Presently only believers are saved.

Eventually all will be saved (1 Cor.15:22-28; Rom.5:18-19, Rev.5:13, etc), either in this life or the afterlife.

But the wicked will suffer “hell” first (Rev.20:11-15, etc).

If you haven’t read it, for most people this might be the best introductory book on the topic of universalism:

I’d recommend it.

UNLESS you have believed in vain (in other words (imo) unless we’re all wrong about all this) said, in my imagination, with a certain inflection of irony. Remember, the Bible–yes, all of it–was written by middle-easterners–people of “the mother of all battles” and similar surgically scientific statements.

In my personal opinion,I believe the difficulty arises when a Person believes in the immortal soul or a self existent spirit that carries on existing after physical death. Adam was created as a living soul, It doesn’t say he was given a soul:—

*Gen 2:7.
7 And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being/soul.

The punishment for sin was death, from dust you are and to dust you will return :-

Gen 3:19
“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”

Romans 6:23.
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” :——[ie] conscious of nothing at all :——

Eccl 9:5.
For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten.”

At death mans immortal soul does not separate from his earthly body to exist else were. We are living souls and at death we cease to be a living soul. But :——God through the death of his son has saved [all] mankind from this death [ie] a death of complete non existence. Not a partial death in body only [whatever that really
means] :—-

Romans 5:18-19
18 Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life.
19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.

For the gift of God is eternal life:——

Romans 6:23 (b)
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Corinthians 15:22
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive”

This is what mankind has been saved from, this is the part that mankind could never achieve, without Gods saving grace through his sons death and resurrection. This means that all mankind who has ever lived will be brought back to life at either one of the two resurrections. Both resurrections lead to a judgment of some

2 Corinth 5:10.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”

Mark 9:49
For every one shall be salted with fire, and every sacrifice shall be salted with salt.

The first resurrection for repentant believers is not unto condemnation:—

Jhon 3;18 (a)
He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

but a judgment of their efforts and works, even the least, most struggling believer will be spared corrective punishment:—-

Corinthians 3:15.
If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire”

The Only way one will escape the harsher judgment of condemnation, is by trusting and believing in Christ:——

*Rom 5:9-10
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.”

for there is a kinder judgment and a harsher judgment:—-

Matt 21:44.
And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.”

So it would seem we do have have a choice as to what kind of judgment we will face, either by believing [with in its correct context] or by not believing:—-

Acts 2:38-40
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. 40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

How does one save themselves ? Well the way I see it Contrary to what many may believe, one has to take an active role in saving him/ herself from the harsher judgments to come [ie] Lot had to actively flee S/G, Noah actively built the arc and those obedient Jews actively fled the city for the hills, to save themselves from their untoward generation at AD 70. All these are our examples. I believe this same message is for the generation We live in now. The kingdom has now come to the Gentiles :——

Matt 12: 39
But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

As Jonah was released from the belly of the fish to preach to the Gentile city of Nineveh, so Christ when was released from the jaws of death he gave the gospel of the kingdom to Gentiles:——

Matt 21:43
Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.

Therefore so has its Gospel [Ie] the gospel of the coming kingdom reign, along with its warning :—

Matt 3::2
2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

Luke 13:31
I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise [perish] = apollumi/ be lost.

We are to repent and be saved in the same manner as Christ preached to the house of Israel:—

Matt 4:17.
From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

We are to hold fast to our faith and not be deceived :—

Heb 10:23
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.

Col 2:8.
Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.

We are to make our minds over and die to our sinful flesh:—

Romans 12:2.
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

Eph 4: 22-24
22 that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, 23 and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, 24 and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.

Also we are to preach the Gospel of the kingdom [ie] The coming kingdom reign on earth.

Mark 16: 15
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.

Matt 24:14.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Those who endure to the end will be saved from the harsher judgment to come :—

Matt 24:13
*But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

And will not be hurt by the second death.:—-

Rev 2:11.
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” ’

Matt 24:50-51.
50 the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of,
*51 and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth

For all those who don’t believe or fit
Gods requirements, they will be condemned to corrective punishment:—

*Matt 25:46. Rotherham’s):-
And, these, shall go away, into, age-abiding, correction, but, the righteous, into, age-abiding, life.

Now here is were I believe 1 Corinthians 15:2 comes in [ie] those who do not hold fast to the faith and fail to overcome [after ] receiving the knowledge of the truth, have believed in vain. If a believer is overcome by the ways of the world after being washed, their end is worse than their beginning.

2 peter 2:20
For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning :—[ie] it will be more tolerable for someone who had never known the faith, than to know it and turn from it :—

Luke 12:47-48.
47 And that servant who knew his master’s will, and did not prepare himself or do according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes.48 But he who did not know, yet committed things deserving of stripes, shall be beaten with few. For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.

They have believed in vain and will face a harsher judgment than that of a nonbeliever. Such ones will watch on as they themselves were once sons of the kingdom, along with those rejecting sons of the kingdom in Christ’s day, as tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom ahead [not instead] of them :—-

Matt 21:31.
Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to Him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God [before] you.

Their weeping and gnashing of teeth, outside the kingdom will be harsher and a lot longer than those Who never believed:-

Matt 8:11-12.
11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

To me it looks like they will eventually be saved from their incarceration outside of the Kingdom :—

Matt 5:26
Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.

but it seems it will be long after those who have never believed :—-

Just my thoughts.

I fully agree with your thoughts about a “ψυχη”. Just translate the word as “self” instead of “soul” and all will become clear.

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