If the Righteous is Scarcely Saved?
I needed to look up the word “scarcely” in the original language to see the clearest meaning of the word. The same original word is translated “with difficulty” in the following passage, “We sailed slowly for a number of days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus, and as the wind did not allow us to go farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone.” (Acts 27:7). They made it, but scarcely, to the island called Cnidus, but could not go any farther because of the wind. They made it, but just barely, scarcely, with difficulty. So Peter thinks the righteous are barely going to make it!
He doesn’t even want to think what is going to happen to the “godless” or “sinner”. The righteous will make it, but just barely. Here is the fuller quote, “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1Peter 4:17-18). So by looking at this passage carefully, we should be able to conclude that the righteous obey the gospel. But also that the godless and the sinner do not.
Peter said something similar to this while talking to Cornelius, “Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him.” (Acts 10:34-35). Cornelius was earlier introduced as, "a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually” (Acts 10:1-2). Yet even this godly man needed to put his faith in Jesus (10:36-43). When he believed in Jesus he was baptized, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ…. ” (Acts 10:47-48).
Was Cornelius scarcely saved? It seems so. For unless Jesus “with difficulty” or “scarcely” endured the cross, none of us would be saved. But he was saved! He prayed continually, gave alms, and was considered “righteous and god-fearing” by all the Jews (10:22).
Obeying the gospel is not a one time act. It’s more like obeying Christ, which is not a slam dunk and then your done. But waking up every morning to obey the things that Jesus taught. “He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. The Lord GOD has opened My ear; And I was not disobedient, Nor did I turn back.” (Isaiah 50:4-5). May we love Christ enough to obey, and not turn back. Dan Peters