Rawlings School of Divinity


Master of Arts in Biblical Studies (MA)


Robert Talley


exegesis, rewards, works, New Testament, eschatology, heaven




While no Bible-believing Christian would deny that salvation comes only through the work of Christ's sacrifice on the cross, several New Testament passages appear to teach that there will be additional, works-based heavenly rewards. This interpretation has become somewhat of a default position within modern Christianity, especially American Christianity. Moreover, it has had very few scholarly challengers, and none have done so from a contextually-based exegesis of the relevant NT texts. Therefore, this thesis exegetes the major NT texts to argue that these specific passages do not teach varying, proportional heavenly rewards for believers in the eschaton, but rather that these key texts simply convey salvation and/or the dichotomy between the saved and the unsaved. The first main chapter addresses 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, arguing that Paul is alluding to the eschatological future wherein God will return to purify and refine the Church, separating the truly faithful from the faithless. The second major chapter exegetes Luke's parable of the minas, contending that this parable is not about responsible stewardship but teaches that true Kingdom citizenship requires loyalty and obedience. The final main chapter looks at the myriad of NT verses utilizing "crown" imagery, arguing that this motif simply refers to salvation, glorification, etc. Overall, this thesis aims to present a challenge to this widely held belief through exhaustive exegeses of the most often cited NT texts.

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