Drinking Deeply

Monday, March 12, 2007 at 10:37 AM

TULIP (20) - 2 Peter 2:1ff

I've been asked to elaborate upon my view of 2 Peter 2:1ff in light of the doctrine of limited atonement.

2 Peter 2
1But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
Much of my thoughts here are parallel with Simon Escobedo III, who has an article on James White's aomin.org. It is quite a long article and a bit technical in areas, so I'm going to just post a "main points."

The first thing I notice about the passage is that Peter's emphasis isn't exactly upon the atonement. The passage's focus is not on who Christ died for or what that accomplished, but is upon the false teachers and the destructive heresies. In fact, the rest of 2 Peter doesn't seem to be focused upon Christ and the atonement at all. There is a lot of encouragement to make our calling and election sure, to be obedient, seeking to be without blemish on the last day, and so on, but nothing (with 2 Peter 2:1 the possible exception) about the calling itself, about the atonement itself, or the process of salvation. Of course, this doesn't discount that Peter may make points that are related to the atonement, but is something that we can keep in mind.

(Hebrews 7-10 is a very full treatment of the atonement, and I've touched on that text here)

The second thing I would point out is that if the passage is actually interpreted to imply that Jesus died for all people universally, then not only must we reject limited atonement, but we must also reject preservation of the saints (the 5th point of Calvinism, hopefully I'll get to that soon), as the passage is not saying that "redemption was bought" but that "people were bought." That these people had their sins paid for and they weren't saved. One might wonder what they are judged for if their sins are paid for already (remember, the claim is that Jesus bought these people).

Third, the word for "Master" (despotes) isn't the one we traditionally used for God as Savior. Strong's says it's used for master, owner, absolute ruler, from it we get despot. This word is acknowledged to never be used for Christ in a redemptive context but rather in a "Sovereign Lord" context. Master and slave, creator and created. In Jude, which often is seen as parallel to 2 Peter, we see the same sort of wording, where the "Master" part is highlighted even clearer.

Jude 4
4For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master (despotes) and Lord, Jesus Christ.
So how do I understand this verse? I understand it to be referring to being bought by the Master in the same sense that they were created by God and therefore He owns them. The false teachers were not bought redemptively by the blood of Jesus Christ but created by the Lord God who owns them in the same way He owns all things. I don't see an argument for the notion of a universal atonement, as if Jesus died for everyone (which somehow is able to separate "dying" from "paying for sins"). Now, I will conceed that I am unable to prove limited atonement from this passage, but I don't think that's something that I need to prove. I think the rest of Scripture is clear enough to establish limited atonement as is (as I've posted about here and here).

For a parallel in the OT (in the NASB, since the ESV uses a different word)

Deuteronomy 32:5-6 (NASB)
5"(A)They have acted corruptly toward Him,
They are not His children, because of their defect;
(B)But are a perverse and crooked generation.
6"Do you thus (C)repay the LORD,
(D)O foolish and unwise people?
(E)Is not He your Father who has bought you?
(F)He has made you and established you.
To tie it all up my last point is going to be about the inconsistency of 4-point Calvinism, so that'll be my next post.

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