New Covenant Believers Being Rewarded

Here is a list of 9 verses or passages which teach that New Covenant believers are rewarded in heaven for their service to God:

 

         Matthew 5:12 and Luke 6:23 refer to being rewarded “in heaven”. [1]

         Revelation 11:15-18 and 22:12 refer to rewards being given to God’s people and prophets after His Second Coming.

         In Matthew 16:27, Jesus says His rewards will be given after His Second Coming: “For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”

         1 Corinthians 3:11-16 teaches that believers will be rewarded for their works on the Day of Christ's Judgement. 1 Corinthians 3:12-14 says: “ Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become manifest; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.”

         Luke 14:12-14 records some of Jesus’ Words: “Then He also said to him who invited Him, ‘When you give a dinner or a supper, do not ask your friends, your brothers, your relatives, nor your rich neighbors, lest they also invite you back, and you be repaid. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just.” In context here, Christ is saying if we as believers are generous towards others, we will be rewarded by God in future after our bodies are resurrected by Christ.

         In Luke 19:11-19, we see Jesus told a parable about good servants receiving rewards from their master. Verse 11 relates this parable to the future manifestation of the kingdom of God. Verse 12 shows this parable relates to the time after Jesus’ Second Coming.

         Hebrews 10:35 says: “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward.” Here we see believers will be rewarded partly in relation to the degree their confidence in Jesus Christ expresses itself in continued service for Him and through Him when under great trials. Hebrews 10:32-35 says these Hebrew Christians endured great sufferings and joyfully accepted the confiscation of all their earthly possessions. New King James and King James Versions translate Hebrews 10:34 as “…and joyfully accepted the plundering of your goods, knowing that you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven.”

Even though the New American Standard Bible leaves out the words “in heaven” in verse 34, the context of these verses suggests the rewards for this service will be obtained in heaven. The expression “you have a better and an enduring possession for yourselves in heaven” was said in relation to Hebrew Christians who had lost all their earthly possessions. Those believers who have lost all earthly possessions are obviously not being given earthly prosperity as a merited reward.

Also, the expression “better and enduring possession” can only refer to rewards in heaven. This is because the New Testament teaches that earthly prosperity and riches are not enduring (see James 5:1-3 and Luke 12:33). In Matthew 6:19-20, Jesus said: “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves  do not break in and steal.”

In Greek, the word “enduring” in the expression “enduring possession” in Hebrews 10:34 is a form of the word “meno” which means in this context “to be permanent”. [2] Even God-given earthly financial prosperity is not permanent. So the “better and enduring possession” of Hebrews 10:34 cannot be earthly possessions.

 

Remaining New Testament verses using Greek words for rewards

 

Of the remaining verses in the New Testament which refer to God rewarding believers and which use the Greek words for merited or earned “rewards” – “misthos”, “misthapodotes”, “misthapodosia”, “antapodosis” and “apodidomi”,

 

         8 verses use the future tense when referring to when New Covenant believers will be rewarded. These verses are Matthew 6:4, 6:6, 6:18, 10:41 (twice), Luke 6:35, 1 Corinthians 3:8, 3:14 and Colossians 3:24. The future tense can refer to either the future on Earth and/or the future in Heaven.

         In Matthew 6:1, Jesus stated: “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven.” But this verse does not say if these rewards from God will be on Earth and/or in heaven.

         Matthew 5:46 states: “for if you love those who love you, what reward have you?…” In Greek, the phrase “have you” is in the present tense and refer to either the continuous potential or actual possession of these rewards.

         Three other verses teach that believers will be rewarded by God for their good works but do not say anything about when. These are Matthew 10:42, Mark 9:41 and 2 John 8. In Greek, the phrases “he shall lose” in Matthew 10:42, “he will lose” in Mark 9:41 and “we may receive” in 2 John are in the aorist tense. The Greek aorist tense has no inherent time features which tell us when the action will occur.

         Romans 4:4 refers to merited rewards or wages owed as a debt for good works and compares these to their opposite – free grace. But this verse mentions nothing about when God will give such earned rewards to believers.

         Luke 10:7, John 4:36, 1 Corinthians 9:17-18 and 1 Timothy 5:18 refer to God’s earthly rewards or wages for those who preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

         Hebrews 11:26 refers to an Old Testament example of Moses looking forward to his future reward. But it is very difficult to determine from the context whether it relates to earthly and/or heavenly rewards.

Hebrews 11:6 refers to God being a rewarder: “…He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” In Greek, the word “is” is in the present tense. In Greek, the present tense nearly always refers to a continuous or repeated action.

 

Paul’s revelation about heavenly rewards

 

Paul’s words to the Philippian Church reveal that believers will be rewarded in heaven for their giving in support of the Gospel. In Philippians 4:15-17, Paul reveals that when believers supply the needs of God-ordained church leaders, this results in God crediting this to these believers’ account: “Now you Philippians know also that in the beginning of the gospel, when I departed from Macedonia, no church shared with me concerning giving and receiving but you only. For even in Thessalonica you sent aid once and again for my necessities. Not that I seek the gift, but I seek the fruit that abounds to your account.” In the original Greek, the word “account” above is the word “logon”. In the context of Philippians 4:17, the word “logon” means “a record of assets and liabilities”. [3]

The same word “logon” is used in Matthew 12:36, 18:23, 25:19, Luke 16:2, Romans 14:12, Hebrews 13:17 and 1 Peter 4:5 in relation to humans giving account to Jesus Christ after their death. The usages of “logon” in these seven other verses tend to support the idea that in Philippians 4:17, Paul is referring to their generous giving being recorded by God on an account and Him later rewarding them at Jesus’ Judgement Seat.

Matthew 25:14-29 is a very good example of what the word “logon” or “account” means in Philippians 4:17. Matthew 25:19 uses the word “logon” in Greek. In this parable, Jesus Christ taught that His accounting with humans at His Judgement Seat after His Second Coming is like that of a human master who later settled accounts with His slaves to whom he had entrusted his material possessions and money while he was away.

Note in the original Greek, the word “talent” used many times throughout Matthew 25:14-29 is the word “talanion” which refers to a sum of money. [4] The master gave them his possessions and money not as their permanent possession, but in trust while He was away (see verse 14). Note verse 18 calls the money “his lord’s money” and verse 27 reveals the master regarded the money he gave to his slaves as his money even after he gave it to them. In verse 27, the master called the money “my money”.

This parable symbolically teaches that Jesus Christ – our Heavenly Master – will require us to “settle accounts” with Him when He returns. In Matthew 25:19, Christ said: “After a long time the lord of those servants came and settled accounts with them.” In this context, Christ settled accounts with them on the basis of how wisely they had used His possessions and money.

The usage of “logon” or “account” in this parable fits in with the fact that in Matthew 25:31-46, Jesus spoke of His future Final Judgment. Note also, verses 21 and 23 of the Parable of the Talents symbolically teach Jesus will reward His servants after He returns. Also note there is not one verse in the New Testament which uses the word “logon” in the sense of Jesus settling accounts with believers by giving them rewards during their earthly lives.

 

An earthly reward for leaders who preach the Gospel

 

Luke 10:7, John 4:36, 1 Corinthians 9:7-18 [5] and 1 Timothy 5:18. promise God will give earthly rewards to church leaders who preach the Gospel. 1 Timothy 5:18 contains a quote from Luke 10:7.

Under the Mosaic Covenant, God commanded that His ministering priests be given offerings, tithes and parts of the animal sacrifices (see Numbers 18:8-31, Leviticus 6:16, 6:26, 7:6, 7:31 and Deuteronomy 18:1). But note these wages for priestly ministry or service were a different category of rewards than those continually mentioned in the Mosaic Covenant for those Israelites who obeyed its laws.

Out of the twelve Israelite tribes, it was only the one tribe of Levi who received as wages the tithes, heave offerings and portions of the animal sacrifices to eat. But the earthly rewards for obedience to the laws of the Mosaic Covenant were promised to any Israelites who could obey them and not just the Levites (see Leviticus 26:1-13 and Deuteronomy 28:1-14).

1 Samuel 2:12-17 and 22-34 record that the two Levite sons of Eli the High Priest wickedly disobeyed God’s commands against adultery, abused His sacrificial offerings and God punished them with death as a result. This punishment was based on the curses listed in Leviticus 26:14-39 and Deuteronomy 28:15-68. But note God had previously for a lengthy period given to Eli’s two sons the rewards or wages for priestly service through tithes, offerings and so on. God distinguished between rewards or wages for priestly ministry and rewards for service to God in all areas of living.

In Exodus 19:6, God said all the Israelites were His priests. But Numbers 1:50-53 and 8:1-19 records God later appointed only the tribe of Levi to perform the priestly ministry at the Tabernacle. God punished King Uzziah with leprosy because Uzziah tried to operate in the priestly functions that only the Levites were commanded by Him to do (see 2 Chronicles 26:16-21).

Even though all Israelites were God’s priests in one sense, only the Levites were commanded to be given wages or rewards for priestly service. Similarly, all New Testament believers are God’s priests (see 1 Peter 2:5, 2:9 and Revelation 1:6), but only those with certain leadership ministries are called by God to receive wages for service or earthly rewards for their ministry.

 

 

 

 

The things for which believers are rewarded

 

The things recorded in the New Testament for which Jesus Christ will reward believers are:

 

         any action done on the foundation of Christ Himself (see 1 Corinthians 3:11-14).

      enduring insults, persecution and all kinds of evil because of loving Jesus Christ (see Matthew 5:11-12).

         loving those who do not love us (see Matthew 5:46).

         giving to the needy (see Matthew 6:2 and 6:4).

         praying to God (see Matthew 6:5-6).

         fasting (see Matthew 6:16-18).

         sincerely receiving a prophet of God (see Matthew 10:41).

         sincerely receiving a righteous man (see Matthew 10:41).

         giving a cup of cold water to a little one because he/she is a disciple of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 10:42). This may refer figuratively to ministering to and/or helping young disciples of Jesus Christ in any way. Jesus’ words in Mark 9:41 speak of giving a cup of water to anyone of any age.

         loving our enemies, doing good to them and even lending to them without expecting anything in return (see Luke 6:35).

         planting the seed of the Gospel in the lives of unbelievers or watering it (see 1 Corinthians 3:8).

         our work in the Lord (see 2 John 8).

 

Ephesians 2:10 shows all the good works above must be done in and through Jesus Christ living within us by His Spirit: “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.” If we do the above-listed things purely out of self, these things will not provide us with rewards at Jesus’ judgment seat. This is because He does not want anyone to boast in His Presence (see Isaiah 42:8, Jeremiah 9:23-24 and 1 Corinthians 1:29). Jesus Christ is the only foundation for any of the good works in our life for which we will obtain rewards from Him (see 1 Corinthians 3:11-15).

Some Bible teachers argue that the Sermon on the Mount was spoken only to the Pharisees, teachers of the Law and other unconverted Jews and therefore cannot be used as the basis of any teaching about New Covenant believers receiving rewards. [6] But this is wrong. There is nothing in the New Testament to suggest there were not many believers in Christ also listening to the Sermon on the Mount. This is especially since in this Sermon, Christ taught His listeners to pray “Our Father” (see Matthew 6:9) and told them God was their Father in reality (see Matthew 5:16, 5:45, 5:48, 6:1, 6:6, 6:8, 6:14-15, 6:18, 6:32 and 7:11). [7]


 


[1] The King James and the New King James Version add the word “openly” to Matthew 6:4, 6 and 18 in relation to God’s rewards to believers. (The New American Standard Bible does not add “openly” to these verses because this translation focuses on some different original Greek manuscripts which do not include this word in these three verses.) In the original Greek, the word “openly” is “en to phanero”. The Greek word “phanero” can refer to being manifested in the open on Earth (see Acts 4:16 and 7:13). But note “phanero” is also used in relation to Christ's judgement after His Second Coming in Luke 8:17, 1 Corinthians 3:13, 4:5 and 2 Corinthians 5:10. 1 Corinthians 3:13-14 says: “each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward.” 1 Corinthians 4:5 states: “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts; and then each one’s praise will come form God.”

[2] Perschbacher, page 270.

[3] Louw and Nida, page 583.

[4] Vine, page 617.

[5] In 1 Corinthians 9:7-18, Paul discusses his own possibility of receiving rewards for his preaching of the Gospel.

[6] One view suggests that the mention of rewards in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount which are recorded in Matthew 5:1-7:27 were only a part of the Old Covenant and not the New Covenant and were only for the Jews. But this involves false principles of Biblical interpretation.

It is true Jesus Christ was preaching to Jews living under the Old Covenant. But Jesus was here introducing them to the type of lifestyle suitable for those among them who would later fully accept Him as Lord and Saviour and live under the New Covenant. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ changed two of the Mosaic Law’s Ten Commandments to a higher New Covenant standard (see Matthew 5:21-28).

The Sermon on the Mount was originally spoken to Jews. But to say it was only for Jews is just as wrong as saying the two books of Corinthians were only for the Christians at Corinth at the time of Paul. 1 and 2 Corinthians are relevant to Christians from every nation and time despite their specific original context.

We cannot apply verses from the Mosaic Covenant to New Covenant believers but this is different from applying Jesus’ New Covenant preaching in the Sermon on the Mount to New Covenant Gentile believers.

Similarly, all of what Jesus taught over His three years of ministry was originally spoken to Jews who either did or did not believe in Him and who were not living under the New Covenant. So if we say the Sermon on the Mount does not relate to New Covenant believers, we must make the ridiculous conclusion that none of what Jesus taught in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John except what He said after His death and resurrection applies to New Covenant believers.

[7] In these verses, Christ was referring to God being their Father by adoption. Being their Father by nature through regeneration was not possible until after Jesus’ death and resurrection. Note in John 8:42-47, Christ told Jews who did not believe in Him that Satan and not God was their father.

 

 


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