In his first letter to the Corinthian Christians, Paul said, “The unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her husband” (7:14). Does this mean that unbelievers are saved by virtue of being married to believers?
First, if unbelievers can be saved through marriage, there would be at least two ways to be saved: one by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ; the other, by marriage to a believer. And if that were true, unbelievers would be forced into the kingdom of Christ against their wills.
Furthermore, being sanctified is not the same as being saved. In context, to be sanctified means to be set apart. As such, the unbeliever has been sanctified for the sake of the marriage, not for the sake of salvation. In other words, the believer is not defiled by the spiritual deadness of the unbeliever. Rather, the unbeliever comes under the special influence of the Holy Spirit.
Finally, in the same context, Paul distinguished between being sanctified and being saved when he wrote, “How do you know, wife, whether you will save your husband? Or, how do you know, husband, whether you will save your wife?” (v. 16).
Clearly, being sanctified is not synonymous with salvation, and an unbeliever is not saved by marriage to a believer.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. 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.
John 3:16 –18 NKJV
**Note the preceding text is adapted from a new Revised and Updated version of The Complete Bible Answer Book that is forthcoming. When available we will update this page with corresponding information. Until then you can still purchase or receive for your partnering gift the current version by clicking here for purchase or here for partnering gift. ***
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