"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « Dr. James White's web site | Main | Book Review: The Big Picture Story Bible, by David Helm »

    Does 2 Peter 2:1 Deny Particular Redemption?

    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.

    When someone tells me that they are a 4 point Calvinist, it is almost always the case that their struggle is with the "L" in the famous TULIP acrostic, namely so called "Limited Atonement." "Definite Atonement" or "Particular Redemption" might be better terms to use (though they destroy the acrostic TULIP into "TUDIP" or even worse, "TUPIP" - hardly good memory devices).

    Concerning the letters of Paul, the Apostle Peter was right when he related that some things are "hard to understand" (2 Peter 3:16). Sometimes it takes a good deal of prayer, hard work and study to determine what the Bible is teaching on certain matters. For my part, I have not always been a 5 point Calvinist and have great sympathy for those who struggle with these very vital "doctrines of grace." I tend to think however that many do not struggle with them nearly enough.

    Our traditions can be so strong that we are often blind to them in our own thinking. We all have our blind spots. Part of my own intellectual struggle with the doctrine of Limited Atonement stemmed from a faulty understanding of certain biblical texts. One of them was 1 John 2:2, another being 2 Peter 2:1. For many years, I thought that these verses were irrefutable texts that rejected the idea that Christ died to infallibly secure the salvation of a certain group (His people, His sheep, His friends, His elect - Particular Redemption) and were proof that Christ died for all people, at all times, in every part of the world (Universal Redemption). I wrote an article some time back called "The Divine Intention of the Cross" found here, in which I made a case for Particular Redemption from scripture.

    I also wrote a short article on 1 John 2:2, found here, but also wanted to post a few brief comments I came across today made by Dr. James White on 2 Peter 2:1 in a comment section on a blog.

    Regarding 2 Peter 2:1, Dr. White writes:

    1) Derive soteriological truths from soteriological passages (this isn't);
    2) "Lord" is δεσπότης (despotes--sovereign title) not κύριος (kurios--soteriological title);
    3) Is this the Father or the Son? Can it be proven?
    4) "bought" (ἀγοράζω) has no purchase price mentioned, which would be the only time that happens in the NT *if* this is a soteriological reference;
    5) The passage says the Master did not *potentially* purchase these men, but that He did, in fact, purchase these men (sovereignty, not redemption). Compare Deuteronomy 32:5-6 for parallel use in the OT.
    6) Derive the extent of the atonement from Hebrews that discusses it, not from 2 Peter's reference to false teachers.

    Though obviously these six short comments are not full rebuttals to the Arminian understanding of the verse, there is enough here to hopefully whet the appetitite for further study.

    For anyone interested in a more thorough discussion of 2 Peter 2:1, I would recommend an article written here by Simon Escobido. Of course, John Owen's "The Death of Death in the Death of Christ" is the classic work on this subject.

    Posted by John Samson on January 26, 2008 12:14 AM


    Excellent recommendations. From another perspective, when I was working through this verse something I forced myself to do was to take the Arminian understanding of this verse, then tried to fit it back into the context: if this passage does teach universal atonement, what is it saying?

    If the word "bought" is to be understood in a universal sense, what becomes of the emphasis of the passage? What about "denying the Master that bought them" warrants special emphasis, considering that every man who does not accept Christ is also "denying the Lord that bought them"?

    I think the conclusion one should come to is that the message passage, while still perhaps unclear, seems an ill fit for building a doctrine of universal atonement.

    I don't know how much sense that makes, but maybe it's a good alternative for those like me whose biblical languages are quite up to par. :)

    I think in this passage we often overlook the sheer significance of the word 'denying'. That is not the mark of the 'elect'but the reprobate faithless. The elect differ because of their faith- a grace/gift of God bought by Christ's blood, surely.
    Thus if the 'bought' in this passage is referring to that saving source of faith it can only be in the sense of ' who to all appearances and claims were amongst the blood bought' as their position would otherwise have led us to expect and conclude, though in the end it emerged this was a false perception. They were fakes.

    In 2 Peter 2:1 the apostle seems to say that certain false teachers were redeemed by Christ’s blood. I believe Peter is using redemptive language in a non-redemptive sense; He seems to be drawing from the Septuagint (cf. Deuteronomy 32:5-6; Exodus 15:16; Psalm 74:2) where the term ‘bought’ (Gk. agorazō: “redeem or deliver”) is used to refer to Israel being saved from the land of slavery (Judges 6:8-9; 1 Samuel 10:18; Exodus 6:6).Instead ofkyrios[1],the word for Masterhere is despotēs; probably referring to the Father, not the Son (cf. Acts 4:24). I believe Peter is writing to scattered Jews (Gk. diaspora) (1 Peter 1:1; Galatians 2:9),yet some scholars believe that this epistle was written to Gentiles because of Peter’s description of his audience’s previous lives (1 Peter 4:3-4; 1:18; 2:10) – the sins listed in 4:3-4 seem to be errors only Gentiles would commit, but the Bible’s portrayal of man’s sinfulness refutes this notion (Romans 1-3; Ephesians 2:3). I believe that theevil traditions handed down by their forefathers (1:18) were those of hypocrites who worshiped God in vain (Isaiah 29:13; Mark 7:3). In reply to 2:10; I believe OT phraseology is being used (cf. Hosea 1:9-10; 2:23). Thus God redeemed these Jewish heretics as a nation out of Egypt (Jude 5); yet not salvifically (cf. John 12:39).

    A wonderful books has been written on this topic by Tom Wells, A Price for a People, published by Banner of Truth. It is excellent.

    A wonderful books has been written on this topic by Tom Wells, A Price for a People, published by Banner of Truth. It is excellent.

    Really? We still debate Calvin and Arminius? And we must view all Scripture through these men?

    Dee - It is not so much viewing Scripture through "these men" as it is the fact that Calvinism and Arminianism are the two main schools of thought on the Christian spectrum. Folk on either side of the debate would not wish to be "blind" devoted followers of Arminius or Calvin. For instance, C. H. Spurgeon declared, "There is no soul living who holds more firmly to the doctrines of grace than I do, and if any man asks me whether I am ashamed to be called a Calvinist, I answer—I wish to be called nothing but a Christian; but if you ask me, do I hold the doctrinal views which were held by John Calvin, I reply, I do in the main hold them, and rejoice to avow it."

    Another possibility is that Peter is accommodating his remarks to their profession. These people have professed that the Lord bought them and that they have completely escaped the pollutions of the world through faith in The Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, but the reality is none of this was true. They have proven it by returning to their sins just like the dog returns to his vomit and the sow to the mud. If we suggest that these people were really bought, we will have an even bigger problem when it comes to the security of the true believer in Christ. If we take verses 19-22 to be reality and not an accommodation to their profession that they have been bought and delivered from their sins, then the passage must be taken to mean that true believers have fallen away and are lost. In both cases, it appears Peter is simply saying these are people who have professed to have been bought by The Lord, to have been delivered from the defilements of the world through the full knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and to have known the way of righteousness. It is clear their profession was not true at any point.

    I'm inclined to take the passage to propose that the Lord's buying of Israel in the exodus. the statement "just as there will be false teachers among you" is more likely parenthetical and the "denying the lord that bought them" does not refer to the false teachers among the new testament saints.

    The reality is that there are far more answers to the question than are necessary. Any of those possibilities would be sufficient to answer the objection, but all of them taken together are overwhelming.

    Calvinism and Arminianism are the two main schools of thought? Whatever happened to the Lutherans, who reject both?

    In number 4, "Dr" White is either lying or doesn't know scripture. Galatians 4:4-5 talks about being redeemed by Christ without mentioning the price:

    "But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."

    This is a desperate attempt to make scripture fit ideas that are completely alien to the Word of God

    But it’s the same Greek root word used in the NT for bought, wether price is noted or not. Why compare to the OT Hebrew? Regardless, qanah, does not mean deliver.

    But it’s the same Greek root word used in the NT for bought, wether price is noted or not. Why compare to the OT Hebrew? Regardless, qanah, does not mean deliver.

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