Tuesday, November 9, 2010

2 Peter 3:9 God is not willing that any of His elect perish.

 "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." -2 Peter 3:9

A quick citing of the second part of this verse is usually enough for my non-reformed brethren, "not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance."  It's usually enough, it is thought, to put that annoying Calvinist who likes to argue in his place.  This will not do if we are ever going to let the text speak for itself.  The non-Reformed usually assume that "any" and "all" refers to all of the human race. When the context is taken into account this is shown not to be true.  2 Peter 3:9 is a text that strongly supports the Reformed position and not the non-Reformed position.  Adding bold to the following text will help to make this point.

"Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation."  For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water.  But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.  But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day.  The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.  But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.  Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat!  But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells." -2 Peter 3:3-13

It should be noted that the context of this passage is speaking of the second coming of our Lord, salvation is mentioned in passing.  When reading this text it is obvious that there are two different groups of people being addressed, "Mockers"(unbelievers) and the ones "looking for new heavens and a new earth"(believers).  The "Mockers" are making fun of believers because Jesus hasn't come back yet, much like non-believers do today.  But Peter is quick to point out that God's time isn't like our time.  The "your" in "do not let this one fact escape your notice" and "beloved" in V.8 are addressed to Christians.  This gives us the meaning of: "you," "any," and "all" in V.9.  In V.9 When Peter says that God "is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance," he is referring to Christian's who have the promise of Jesus' second coming and of the new heavens and new earth.  In 2 Peter 1:1 Peter tells us the audience to whom he is writing, "...to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours..."  God's elect are the audience of Peters previous letter as well, 1 Peter 1:1 "...to those who reside as aliens...God's chosen."  The contrast between Christian and non-Christians informs us on how Peter uses "any" and "all" in V.9 as well as his use of "patient toward you."  The use of "you" in V.9 is obviously a reference to Christians.  This is especially the case since only Christian's have the promise of His coming, and the fact that God's patience is only towards Christians.  Thus the "any" and "all" in V.9 are God's elect who God will certainly bring to repentance without fail.

The non-Reformed interpretation of 2 Peter 3:9 has God trying to save as many as He can, but is frustrated since man will not cooperate with His saving grace, as if God's grace needs man's cooperation in order to be effective.  God's effectual grace is a powerful force and cannot fail.  Rather then contradicting the Reformed position 2 Peter 3:9 affirms that God is not willing that any of His elect should perish.  Peter tells his audience that Jesus' second coming has not been delayed but that God is patiently gathering His chosen people.  God isn't trying to bring people to repentance and then being frustrated by the will of Man.  God does require repentance for all of His creatures but He only grants it to His chosen people by His sovereign hand.

Monday, November 1, 2010

2 Peter 2:1 Who is the Master and how did he buy them?

 "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." -2 Peter 2:1

On one occasion my significant other and I spent over an hour arguing about this passage.  We were both misinterpreting very key words in the text and it resulted in us being slightly miffed at one another.  Such is the case with a great many whenever discussion of 2 Peter 2:1 ensues.  It is usually assumed that "Master" refers to Christ, and that "bought" is a reference to the atonement.  Hence the interpretation follows that Jesus bought the "false teachers" in a redemptive fashion but they denied "the Master who bought them" by teaching heresy and were lost despite Christ's redemptive work.  The interpretation of this passage just cited is then used to support the idea that Christ's atonement was made on behalf of every single individual and not specifically for His elect.  It is assumed that Jesus can die for someone, and yet never see redemption.  If this "Master" is not Christ, and "bought" does not refer to the atonement, then the interpretation cited above does not fit the text. So then to whom and what do "Master" and "bought" refer?

In 2 Peter 1, Peter urges those that have obtained a faith of equal standing to make their calling and election sure.  He also gives an account for the veracity of the prophetic word, that it is of the Holy Spirit.  Peter does this so his readers can have confidence in what they have been taught, and so they can be aware of false teachers.  Then Peter says this in 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."  2 Peter is filled with OT imagery, he refers to Noah, Lot, Sodom and Gomorrah, and Balaam.  In 2 Peter 2:1, he makes a parallel between the false prophets that arose in OT Israel and the false teachers in the NT church, when he says "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you."  The phrase "the people" is a clear reference to OT Israel. The "false teachers among you" are the false teachers that the NT church had to strive so much against.  It makes sense that Peter would write using OT phraseology since he is referring to the people of the OT, this is important especially when we turn to the phrase "bought".  But first who is the "Master who bought them"?  There are two Greek terms that can be translated "Master" or "Lord," depending on the context, kyrios or despotes.  The normative Greek word applied to Jesus throughout the NT is kyrios for Lord.  That word isn't used here, instead Peter uses the Greek word despotes for the word "Master."  So why doesn't Peter use the normative phrase kyrios? Although Jude verse 4 uses despotes translated "Master" to refer to Jesus, despotes usually refers to God the Father (Luke 2:29, Acts 4:24, Revelation 6:10).

As for the phrase "bought," there are two Greek terms that are used, ktaomai and agorazo.  In 2 Peter 2:1, Peter uses agorazo for "bought." Luke uses ktaomai for the word "acquired" in Acts 1:18, "Now this man acquired a field..."  In Deutoronomy 32:5-6 ktaomai is used for "bought" in the Septuagint.
       "They have acted corruptly toward Him,
         They are not His children, because of their defect;
         But are a perverse and crooked generation.
         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"-Deuteronomy 32:5-6

Here we have parallel phraseology with ktaomai in Deuteronomy 32:6 and Peter's use of agorazo.  In both instances they refer to ownership not redemption, especially since not all OT people were saved in virtue of being "bought."  All of Israel would have thought to have been purchased by God out of Egypt in the Exodus account.  By rebelling against God the OT Jews were "denying the Master who bought them" after being "bought" out of Egypt.  Peter is comparing the rebellious Jews of the OT, to the false teachers in the NT.   He is saying that the false teachers of  the NT are in the same place as the OT people, and that by denying who God is they are "bringing swift destruction upon themselves."  Just like the OT people denied the sovereignty and ownership of God over them, the NT false teachers were acting in the same way, they were "denying the Master who bought them," by their false teaching.  As I pointed out above, Peter is using OT phrases to communicate his message, Peter's reference to Deuteronomy 32:5-6 defines how "bought" should be interpreted in 2 Peter 2:1.  It should also be mentioned that everywhere in the NT where it mentions bought, purchase, obtain, acquired in a redemptive sense, a price is always mentioned.  Revelation 5:9 "...and purchased for God with Your blood...."  In 2 Peter 2:1, Peter never mentions a purchase price.  The lack of mentioning the purchase price points us to the fact that Peter is not using "bought" in a redemptive sense.

Given the analysis above it is safe to say that "Master" does not refer to Christ, but to the Father, and that "bought" refers to sovereignty/ownership and not redemption.  The normative word for Jesus isn't used and a purchase price isn't mentioned.  All of these factors make sense given Peter's OT allusion.  They make no sense on the general atonement position.  The idea that Jesus' death paid for the false teachers and yet were lost does not fit the text.  I agree with Wayne Grudem when he refers to 2 Peter 2:1, "Christ's specific redemptive work on the cross is not in view in this verse" (Systematic Theology 600). The context in 2 Peter 2:1 is about false teachers not the atonement.  For clear passages about the atoning work of Christ we must turn to Hebrews 7-10 and Romans 8-9 where the atonement is the main topic of discussion.