The Teachings of

Zane Hodges, Joseph Dillow, Robert Wilkin
(The Grace Evangelical Society)

and the extreme teachings of J. D. Faust

Who are the "Joint Heirs"?


"And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together" (Rom. 8:17).

The Teaching of Zane Hodges, Joseph Dillow, Robert Wilkin and Paul Benware

The fruitful believer

The partaker or heir

The believing believer

The overcomer

The barren believer

The carnal one (non-heir)

The saved person who stops believing

The non-overcomer

This saved person is an heir of God as are all believers, but he is also a "joint-heir with Christ" because of the fact that he suffers with Christ.

This person is saved but not faithful and he is unwilling to suffer with Christ. He is an heir of God, as are all believers, but he is not a "joint-heir with Christ."



This teaching insists that all believers are heirs of God but only those believers who suffer with Christ are joint-heirs with Christ. It is only these suffering believers who will inherit the kingdom and reign with Christ during His millennial reign. Dillow says, "All Christians are heirs of God, but not all are heirs of the kingdom and joint-heirs with Christ" (p.90).  This is also the position of Paul N. Benware, in his book, The Believer's Payday (see Chapter 2 of Benware's book).

The Bible, however, teaches that suffering with Christ affects all those who are saved to some degree. See John 15:18-21; 16:33 1 Thess. 3:3-4; Rom. 8:16-17; 2 Cor. 1:5; 2 Tim. 2:11; 1 Pet. 1:6-7; 2:20-21; 4:12-13; 5:10, etc.

The following is taken from our verse by verse study in Romans, under Romans 8:17:

There are some who teach that every believer is an "heir of God" but not every believer is a "joint-heir" or "co-heir" with Christ.  They understand the "joint-heirs" to be a special class of believers who are victorious and who persevere to the end even though doing so requires difficulties and suffering.  This is a misunderstanding of this verse.  Paul is not talking about some special class of overcoming believers who qualify as joint heirs of Christ and who will reign with Him in the kingdom, in contrast to worldly, non-suffering believers who will be excluded from the millennial kingdom and who will be cast into outer darkness with weeping and gnashing of teeth. Though it is true that some believers suffer more than others, it is also true that all believers share in Christ's sufferings (2 Cor. 1:5; John 15:18-21; 16:33; etc.).  Every believer is a joint-heir with Christ, sharing in both His suffering and His glory.  All believers will reign with Christ in His kingdom (Matthew 13:40-43).

Are the Joint-Heirs of Christ
A Special, Elite Class of
Victorious, Overcoming Christians?

William Newell says the following under his commentary under Romans 8:17:

If so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified with Him---Here  two schools of interpretation part company, one saying boldly that all the saints are designated, and that all shall reign with Christ; the other, that reigning with Christ depends upon voluntary choosing of a path of suffering with Him.

"That we may also be glorified together."  This is the key to our question:  WHO are to be glorified with Christ when He comes?  In Chapter Five Paul says (and that of, and to, all the saints), "We rejoice in hope of the glory of God."  And in 2 Thessalonians 1:10 we read, "When He shall come to be glorified in His saints, and to be marveled at in all them that believed."  And again (Col. 3:4): "When Christ our life shall be manifested, then shall ye also [evidently all the saints!] with Him be manifested in glory."  Again (1 John 3:2): "Now are we [all the saints] children of God . . . We know that, if He shall be manifested, we [all the saints] shall be like Him; for we shall see Him even as He is!"  (Romans, pages 316-317)

Zane Hodges is among those who teach that only an elite group of believers will reign with Christ, thus dividing the body of Christ during the millennium. The unfaithful, non-suffering believers will be cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. They will not reign with Christ. Hodges teaches that all believers are "heirs of God," but that only suffering, victorious, overcoming believers are "joint heirs with Christ."  But this is not what the text of Romans 8:16-17 actually says.  Romans 8:16 teaches that we are the children (tekna) of God (and certainly this is true of all believers--John 1:12). Romans 8:17 teaches that if we are children (and we are!) then we are also heirs.  As God's children, what kind of heirs are we?   We are heirs in two ways:  1) we are heirs of God;  2)  We are joint-heirs of Christ (see Heb. 1:2 where we learn that Christ is the great Heir). 

In his excellent Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics, Daniel B. Wallace translates Romans 8:17 as follows:  "Now if we are children, [we are] also heirs: on the one hand, heirs of God, on the other hand, fellow heirs with Christ" (p. 129).

"If so be" (eiper) means "if so be that."  It is used six times in the New Testament.  It is used by Paul in Romans in only one other place, also in this same chapter:  Romans 8:9--"But ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you."  Paul makes a statement that is true of every believer ("you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit") and then he follows this with another statement that is true of every believer  ("the Spirit of God dwell(s) in you"). Paul was saying something like this:  "You are a true Christian (not in the flesh but in the Spirit) because I'm assuming that the Spirit of God dwells in you."

Let's follow the same pattern in Romans 8:17.  Paul makes a statement that is true of every believer ("you are heirs--heirs of God and joint-heirs of Christ") and then he follows this with another statement that is true of every believer (a true believer suffers with Christ--John 15:18-21; 1 Pet. 5:10; Phil. 1:29; etc.).  Paul was saying something like this:  "You are  true Christians (heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ) because I'm assuming that He is IN YOU, and if He is in you, then the world who hated Him is going to hate you because you have been so identified with Him (Col. 1:24; John 16:33).  Every true believer, therefore, suffers with Him.  That is, those who share His glory then are those who share His sufferings now (see 1 Peter 5:10 where Peter gives no indication whatsoever that he is talking about some elite group of suffering believers as opposed to carnal, non-suffering believers; nor does Paul in Philippians 1:29).

Another similar example of "if so be that" is found in 1 Peter 2:2-3.  Here we find a similar pattern.  Peter gives a command to every saved babe in Christ:  "Desire the pure milk of the word."  He follows this with another statement that is true of every believer:  "you have tasted that the Lord is gracious."   Peter was saying something like this:  "You are true Christians (true babes in Christ) and you ought to desire the pure milk of the Word because I'm assuming that you have tasted that the Lord is gracious (and every believer has so tasted!).  If you have truly tasted of the Lord's grace, then you are going to desire more and more and more!

When Christ was in the world, He was under constant attack from the world and from the devil.  Today Christ is in His believers who are in the world, and He, in them, continues to be under constant attack.  The result of this is that we share in Christ's sufferings. Paul, in writing to the sometimes very carnal Corinthians, said to them, "For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us" (2 Cor. 1:5 and compare 2 Cor. 4:16-18).  In Romans 8:18  Paul speaks of "the sufferings of the present time" and what Spirit-indwelt believer is exempt from such? 

Finally, Peter tells all believers to expect "fiery trial" and difficult testing, and to rejoice in it, "inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings, that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy" (1 Peter 4:12-13).  There is not even a hint here that Peter is addressing these words to some elite group of suffering believers in contrast to other believers who are unwilling to suffer for Christ.  Peter was talking about the sufferings that all believers share in and partake of.  

It is certainly true that some believers suffer more than others. Likewise some believers are more faithful in serving the Lord than others.  Some believers share the gospel more effectively than others.  Some believers walk in the Spirit more than others.  No one would doubt that there are different levels of faithfulness displayed by God's children, and that many will suffer loss at the judgment seat of Christ.  And yet we must not say that some believers are exempt from the sufferings of Christ of which we are all partakers.  Christ walked down the road of suffering, and we who follow Him must do the same.  Suffering is not optional for the child of God in this Christ-hating, Christ-rejecting world.  God's children in this world are marked by suffering (compare Hebrews 11:36-38 where this same principle is illustrated by O.T. saints).

There is indeed the condition of suffering with Him in order that we may be glorified together; but this He makes good in all that are His…. all suffer with Him, who have the divine nature, even Himself as their life, in an evil world, which constantly wounds and tries those who have that nature…. This suffering [together] flows from possessing life in Him whilst passing through a scene where all is opposed to Him…. Hence, if this place of suffering in the world as it now is be a necessary consequence of divine life surrounded by all that is working out its way of misery, estrangement, and rebellion against Him, it is an immense privilege to suffer with Christ, cheered along the road by the prospect of sharing His glory.” – William Kelly (Notes on the Epistle of the Romans, p.142-144)

“This is not to be taken into such close connection with the phrase ‘joint-heirs’ as to make that position conditional upon our suffering with Him here. The word eiper, ‘if so be,’ indicates here that to suffer with Christ is characteristic of believers generally. True Christianity is, in one way or another, a suffering quantity in this world. What is in view here is not is not the rewards hereafter to be given for the endurance of suffering in this life, but the eternal portion of those who are in Christ as distinct from those who walk after the flesh and do not belong to Him."  W.E. Vine, in his commentary on Romans.

Just as the writer of Hebrews teaches that those who are without chastisement are bastards (illegitimate children) and not sons (Hebrews 12:8), so Peter (1 Peter 4:12-13) and Paul (Romans 8:16-18; 2 Cor. 1:5; Phil. 1:29) would say something similar with respect to suffering:  But if ye be without suffering, of which all are partakers (1 Pet. 4:13; 2 Cor. 1:5), then are ye bastards and not sons.  But rejoice insomuch as you are sons and you are children and you are heirs of God and you are joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:16-17)!  You share in His cross and you will share in His crown.

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