Perseverance and Apostasy in the New Testament

Perseverance and Apostasy in the New Testament

Unpacking the Dynamic of God’s Sovereignty and Human Responsibility

Dongsu Kim


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Perseverance and Apostasy in the New Testament thoroughly examines all the New Testament texts relevant to the controversial questions of whether a genuine believer can apostatize and/or whether an apostate can be restored. The primary contribution of the book lies in the in-depth exegesis of the relevant New Testament Greek texts against the socio-historical circumstances of each faith community in the New Testament. The book inductively shows that the New Testament writers maintain a uniform perception on perseverance and apostasy based on Jesus’ words that bear upon the subject described in the Gospels. It also illuminates questions of the relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility, the role of the Holy Spirit for the believer’s perseverance, and the role of Satan for the apostates’ falling away. The book is a needed addition to earlier works on perseverance and apostasy.




The debate over the issues of perseverance and apostasy will likely remain in the church until the coming of Christ. Many despair of ever coming to a definitive conclusion, often contending that the biblical evidence is inconsistent and beyond resolution. Don Kim’s near-exhaustive analysis of the relevant NT texts proves otherwise. He is thoroughly conversant with virtually all contributors to this subject and his meticulous contribution will surely prove to be the standard for future dialogue. Anyone who proposes to engage with this controversial matter cannot afford to overlook this remarkably helpful and insightful book.

Dr. Sam Storms, Lead Pastor of Bridgeway Church, Oklahoma City Enjoying God Ministries


Don Kim has written an amazingly thorough and careful study on perseverance and apostasy in the New Testament. Scholars disagree on how to interpret these difficult passages, but Kim defends well his own understanding, and his important study will have to be reckoned with in future work on this controversial topic.

Dr. Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Professor of Biblical Theology The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary


Perseverance and Apostasy in the New Testament is a well-executed and thorough examination of New Testament texts that bear upon or otherwise illuminate the difficult question of whether a true believer can apostatize. The author neither avoids difficult questions nor skirts challenging texts. Rather, he carefully works his way through each relevant New Testament text’s central exegetical questions, offering judicious insights and integrating those insights into a collective explanation. I found some of my own assumptions challenged while reading this book. I am happy to recommend it as a helpful addition to—and sometimes needed correction of—earlier works on perseverance.

Dr. Kenneth Berding, Professor of New Testament Talbot School of Theology at Biola University


Perseverance and Apostasy in the New Testament concentrates on the crucial questions of whether genuine believers in Jesus could apostatize and whether the NT presents a consistent picture on that very issue—by providing a careful exegetical treatment of numerous passages across the New Testament, beginning with the Synoptics and John’s Gospel, walking through Acts and the letters, and completing with the book of Revelation. One’s theological presuppositions will, of course, affect how he/she receives and responds to Kim’s case. It will also be unrealistic to expect even those agreeing passionately with Kim to concur on every detail in a tome of this magnitude. Yet, undoubtedly, Perseverance and Apostasy in the New Testament proves to be an essential reading for pastors and theological students who (should) wrestle with the issue of perseverance and apostasy and the relevant biblical texts to form their own conclusions. This well-written book will serve its readers effectively by sharpening or challenging their views, if not both.

Dr. John Lee, Associate Professor of New Testament Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary


This substantial study by Dongsu Kim is a decisive demonstration of the historic doctrine of the perseverance of the saints taught and defended by the Reformed tradition. “Perseverance and Apostasy in the New Testament” provides a thoroughly biblical and hermeneutically and canonically sensitive study. Kim’s exposition is scholarly, rigorous and articulate. He argues persuasively that the various biblical writers’ engagements with apostasy are consonant with the Scriptures’ declarations of divine sovereign grace in salvation. “Perseverance and apostasy in the New Testament” is an extensive arsenal of biblical and theological insights that will be of value for exegetes and theologians alike.

Dr. Peter A. Lillback, president, Westminster Theological Seminary, Philadelphia


The Reformed doctrine of perseverance of the saints has recently been tremendously challenged and egregiously distorted. For example, the New Perspective on Paul has seriously rejected the traditional wisdom, advocating revisions not only of the doctrine of perseverance but also justification. In response to these criticisms, challenges and distortions, this book provides a most comprehensive and compelling antidote with profoundly detailed and meticulous exegetical engagements with the New Testament texts. Dr. Kim did an excellent job in presenting a powerful and persuasive case for God’s gracious and faithful preservation of true believers in Christ. This is a masterpiece and must read for anyone interested in Scripture’s teachings about the ideas of perseverance and apostasy.

Dr. Sung Wook Chung, Professor of Christian Theology Denver Seminary


Kim asks whether New Testament authors maintain a consistent theology of perseverance and apostasy or not. Is it conceivable that divinely inspired authors contradict each other with different theologies of perseverance and apostasy? Or must we admit they contradict each other and deny plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture? Kim is fully aware that no scholar asks these questions without theological presuppositions which predetermine his answers. He himself enters this hermeneutical circle with his own working definitions of perseverance and apostasy. He challenges himself and his readers allow the New Testament itself to revise and refine our theological presuppositions and working definitions. Kim is also aware of the error of selective evidence. To avoid it, he chooses passages from the entire New Testament that he deems critical to understanding the subject of perseverance and apostasy. Kim’s book is new essential reading for everybody who wants to formulate a comprehensive New Testament theology of perseverance and apostasy.

Dr. Andrew D. Parlee, Professor of Systematic Theology Greater Europe Mission, Thirdmill Seminary


Dongsu Kim:

Dr. Dongsu Kim earned his MDiv and PhD in biblical hermeneutics at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) and taught New Testament exegesis, Christian doctrine, and the biblical Greek at Nyack College in New York City for 20 years. He has written books including An Exegesis of Apostasy Embedded in John’s Narratives of Peter and Judas Iscariot; A Symphony of the New Testament; and A Commentary on Romans. He currently serves as president of Saint Paul Academy of Theology and teaches as an adjunct professor at Pillar College, Denver Seminary, Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Bethel Theological Seminary.