For the upright will live in the land,
     and the blameless will remain in it;
but the wicked will be cut off from the land,
     and the unfaithful will be torn from it."

Proverbs 2:21-22 (NIV)

"The land" seems like it is the land of God, which might symbolize heaven. So how is the eternal security doctrine defended in light of these verses? Does it have something to do with the fact that they are in the Old Testament?

  • Does it mean Heaven? Or the New Earth?
    – wax eagle
    Aug 22, 2013 at 14:37
  • 3
    TO CLOSE VOTERS: The question explicitly says "So how is the eternal security doctrine defended in light of these verses?" This is exactly the type of question this site was designed to answer. It is not opinion based. Read the body of questions before you close vote.
    – user3961
    May 15, 2015 at 15:51

3 Answers 3


It is problematic to spiritualize verses too quickly. Recall that the Proverbs were written by Jewish people living in the Jewish homeland of Israel under the Mosaic Covenant--not the New Covenant spoken of by Ezekiel and identified by Jesus at the Last Supper.

This proverb is speaking about upright and wicked people living in the land of Israel at that time. Proverbs are general wisdom also--not incontrovertible truths. Some upright people died young, and some wicked people live to be quite old.

So, again, this is a general proverb that identifies that those who live righteously are often rewarded with long life. The wicked, however, often receive God's judgment in various forms or are just exposed to greater risks for various reasons.

This has nothing to do with the New Covenant.

  • 1
    Are you saying that "the land" is just not a type, or that it's not being used as a type in this verse?
    – Ben Dunlap
    Aug 22, 2013 at 16:21
  • 1
    Right, the verses, and all of Proverbs in fact, are wisdom for this life. There is little in the Proverbs about the next one.
    – user3961
    Aug 22, 2013 at 20:18
  • @fredsbend Is your claim about Proverbs fairly standard? It doesn't sit right with me as a Catholic, and even a casual perusal of patristic commentary indicates that there is a long Christian tradition of reading Proverbs spiritually. I am just wondering if/when the opposite approach became standard.
    – Ben Dunlap
    Aug 22, 2013 at 20:52
  • @BenDunlap Perhaps there is a confusion on how we each define "spiritual". I would say that Wisdom, by nature, is spiritual. You cannot live a Godly life without God conferring Wisdom on you. I would not say, however, that spiritualism, by nature, confers Wisdom. There are other aspects of spiritualism that do not include Wisdom, faith being one. You seem to use the term differently enough that it seems to me that you would say Wisdom and spiritualism are nearly the same thing, or that one necessitates the other.
    – user3961
    Aug 22, 2013 at 21:05
  • So what we are left with is me saying, basically, that Wisdom is acquired though Spiritualism, but the Proverbs do not talk about that. They seem to be more of a definition of Wisdom; a rubric to identify it. They don't really teach any doctrine. I find that confusion on terms is common between me and Catholics.
    – user3961
    Aug 22, 2013 at 21:07

It depends what you mean by "once saved, always saved" (OSAS).

That is usually a catch phrase of the Free Grace brand of evangelicals (Zane Hodges, Charles Stanley, et al.). That sort of doctrine is refuted better with regard to a James 2-type argument that true faith necessarily results in good works.

The other brand of evangelicals that OSAS might apply to is Calvinists, but their doctrine is that God himself keeps his elect from falling away or being unfaithful and that any final apostasy implies the person wasn't truly saved to begin with.

See the Wikipedia's perseverance of the saints for a discussion of both types.

As for the passage in Proverbs, Narnian nailed it -- you're applying it in spiritualized way to OSAS without much warrant. There are plenty of real problem passages for OSAS such that you don't need to bend this one into service.

  • 2
    This does not address the passage in Proverbs at all, and thus does not seem to really answer the question.
    – Narnian
    Aug 22, 2013 at 15:23
  • @Narnian: right. So how did it get three upvotes in three hours?! Aug 22, 2013 at 18:35
  • 1
    Updated, just for you two. :-)
    – metal
    Aug 22, 2013 at 19:25
  • @Wikis People agreed with it in general. It still does not address the particular verse mentioned in the question, though.
    – Narnian
    Aug 23, 2013 at 14:58
  • @Narnian, what more do you want?! I give you the nod, and my answer functions as a supplement to yours.
    – metal
    Aug 23, 2013 at 16:40

Doesn't Proverbs 2: 21-22 disprove “once saved, always saved”?

Proverbs 2:21-22 For the upright shall dwell in the land, and the perfect shall remain in it. But the wicked shall be cut off from the earth, and the transgressors shall be rooted out of it.

I see three ways to look at these verses.

  1. Practical. In context the preceding verses talk about the dangers of visiting the local prostitute specifically and fornication generally. Here the penalty might be seen as immediate in terms of Levitical consequences.

Leviticus 19:20 And whosoever lieth carnally with a woman, that is a bondmaid, betrothed to an husband, and not at all redeemed, nor freedom given her; she shall be scourged; they shall not be put to death, because she was not free.

  1. Kingdom. In this perspective "dwelling in the land" could refer to entrance into the Kingdom. Here the pursuit of unrighteousness could be seen as a bar to entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 5:20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

  1. Heaven. If one takes "the land" to mean heaven, being "cut off" as a result of wickedness seems to support a loss of access to heaven. However, it also opens the salvation by works can of worms.

What can complicate the interpretation of verses that use the word righteousness or perfect in particular with regard to the Old Testament is that righteousness was imputed by faith.

Romans 4:21-22 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness.

I see the wickedness that is cut off as unbelief. Those that do not trust in God can often be identified by their preoccupation with fornication. To me these verses do not speak so much to the issue of salvation, but rather to the issue of living by faith.

Romans 1:17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

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