2 Peter 2:1, False prophets denied the Lord who bought them

2 Peter 2:1, "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves."

 Question: If Jesus only paid for the Christians, then why does it say that the false teachers denied the Lord who bought them?

Those in opposition to Calvinism often bring up 2 Peter 2:1 to challenge the Reformed doctrine that Jesus only legally paid for the sins of the elect as well as the perseverance of the saints. Does this verse refute two of the five points of Reformed Theology? No, it does not.

To begin with, Peter addressed his first epistle to the Jews who were aliens scattered abroad (1 Pet. 1:1), just as James was addressing "the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad," (James 1:1). In 1 Peter and 2 Peter, he referred to the Old Testament many times: 1 Pet. 1:22-25; 2:6-9; 2:24; 3:8-12; 2 Pet. 2:5-8; 2:21; 2 Pet. 3:4-6. Therefore, it seems natural to conclude that he is continuing to refer to the Old Testament when he speaks about people being bought. Past tense. What people? Consider this verse.

Deut. 32:6 says, "Do you thus repay the Lord, O foolish and unwise people? Is not He your Father who has bought you? He has made you and established you."

Moses was addressing the rebellious Israelites who were turning away from God, "Is not He your Father who has bought you?" He says in 2 Pet. 2:1 that "there arose among the people." Again, this is past tense. So, he is expounding from the Old Testament when he then switches to future tense and says "just as there will also be false teachers among you." This is important. Peter switches from past tense to future tense referring to false teachers of past times, and false teachers to come. It makes sense to see that Peter is referring to the Jew's being freed from their bondage in Egypt. They were bought, but they were not true believers. But Peter it is not talking about being born again, being redeemed, or having their sins paid for and cancelled (Col. 2:14). He's talking about the false teachers of the past who were delivered from the bondage of Egypt. They should have listened to God's prophet, Moses. But they did not. They rebelled against the work of God provided for them.

We need to interpret Scriptures in harmony with other scriptures. You should note that sin is a legal problem since it is breaking the law of God (1 John 3:4). Jesus equated sin with legal debt in Matt. 6:12 and Luke 11:4. Furthermore, during Jesus' crucifixion, He said in John 19:30, "It is finished" which is the Greek 'tetelestai'. That word has been found at the bottom of ancient legal documents signifying that a legal debt had been paid in full. Also, Col. 2:14 (NASB) says, "[Jesus] having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross." We clearly see the legal payment of our sin has been made and that the sin debt has been canceled. If Jesus bore the sin of everyone who ever lived, and the certificate of debt has been canceled, then all should go to heaven - because how could God judge anyone for damnation if there is no sin debt that could be held to their account? If God sends them to hell even though their sin debt has been canceled, then that would mean God is unrighteous. Nevertheless, since not all people go to heaven (Matt. 25:46; Mark 3:29), we know he could not have paid, and cancelled everyone's debt.

Furthermore, the Bible says that people do not lose their salvation. Consider Jesus' words.

John 6:37-39, "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. 38 "For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day."

Jesus will lose none.

1 John 2:19 says, "They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us." So, what do we do with 2 Pet. 2:1? Is it saying that people lose their salvation or that Jesus paid for all people's sins? Neither.



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Copyright by Matthew J. Slick, B.A., M. Div., 2022
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