Posted by: stpowen | September 11, 2015

Two Tough Texts for Calvinists, Part 2

2 Peter 2:1. ‘But there were also false prophets among the people,  even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift judgement.’

This text is certainly a difficult text for those who support the Doctrines of Grace.  At first glance, it seems to be saying that people bought by the Lord Jesus Christ may depart from the faith and deny His name, striking at the very heart of the doctrines of Particular Redemption and the Perseverance of the Saints.  The commentaries (at least the ones I have read) do not give a great deal of help.  They suggest that these teachers merely ‘claim’ to have been bought by Christ and point to verse 22:  ‘A dog returns to its vomit….etc’ which indicates that these people were not regenerate.  But this does not satisfy the supporters of ‘General Redemption’ who see this verse as a proof text that Christ died for all men, but that only those who believe are saved.

So how shall we answer this?  The first part of the answer is to look at the word despotes, translated as ‘Lord’ in the NKJV and as ‘Master’ in other versions.  Despotes is mostly used to describe human masters.  On the few occasions where it is used of God, it usually speaks of the Father, not the Son.  The regular word for ‘Lord,’ when used of the Deity, is Kurios, which has divine overtones, being the word used by the writers of the Greek ‘Septuagint’ translation to render the Divine name, ‘Yahweh.’  The only other place in the N.T. where despotes might refer to Christ is Jude 4, but even here it seems to speak of God the Father.  It is also important to observe that whatever this ‘buying’ entailed, there is no mention of the blood of the Lord Jesus as there is in 1 Peter 1:18 or Rev. 5:9.

So if despotes does indeed refer to God the Father, in what way did he ‘buy’ believers?  We should first be aware that the verse is looking back to the O.T. period:  ‘But there were false prophets among the people…..’  The Israelites were regarded as having been bought or redeemed out of Egypt by God.  ‘Until the people pass over, O LORD, until the people pass over whom You have purchased’ (Exod. 15:16).  ‘Do you thus deal with the LORD, O foolish and unwise people?  Is He not te Father who bought you?’ (Deut. 32:6).  God purchased the Israelites with His great power which He exhibited when He brought the plagues upon Egypt.  But although all were ‘bought’ in that they all came out of Israel, very few of them ever reached the Promised Land (cf. 1 Cor. 10:1-5).

It is here that we find the great difference between the Old and New Covenants.  The Old Covenant was made with all the Israelites and was conditional; only a small number of those were saved (Exod. 33:19; Isaiah 1:9).  The New Covenant by contrast, was made with believers of every language and nation.  These are Christ’s sheep and are bought with the blood of the Good Shepherd.  They will come to Him and they shall never perish (John 10:27-28).  The Old Covenant was conditional; the New is unconditional (compare Exod. 19;5-6 with 1 Peter 2:9-10).

This  contrast is made especially clear in the famous ‘New Covenant’ prophecy of Jeremiah 31:31, repeated by the writer to the Hebrews:

‘Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah- not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the Lord.  For this is the ccovenant that I shall make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord:  I will put their laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I shall be their God and they shall be My people.  None of them shall teach his neighbour, and none his brother, saying, “Know the Lord,” for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.  For I shall be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more’ (Heb. 8:8-12).

So we can clearly see that the false teachers of 2 Peter 2:1 were not Christians, since their ‘swift destruction’ proves that they were not in the New Covenant.  Their allegiance to Christ was shown to be fleeting and insincere; they were never His sheep, and one day they would hear the dread words of the One they had professed to know but actually scorned, saying, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practise lawlessness’ (Matt. 7:23).

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