Was the Apostle Peter a Calvinist? Well, some say that he was. In fact, of course, all Calvinists will say that Peter’s a Calvinist.
If you don’t know what a Calvinist is just find my little lesson entitled, “What is Calvinism.”
Of course, all Calvinists will say that Paul was a Calvinist, and John was a Calvinist, and Jesus was a Calvinist, as well. Let’s look at something Peter wrote and see if he’s a Calvinist.
Did Peter Teach Calvinism?
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen… – 1 Peter 1:1
Oh boy, there you go! Peter must have been a Calvinist, because he believed that people were chosen. There you have it. That’s the basis to believe that Peter was a Calvinist.
However, in my Little Lesson describing what Calvinism is, I listed one of the cardinal doctrines of Calvinism as unconditional election. It’s the second of the five cardinal doctrines of Calvinism. Unconditional election means that God chooses some people to be saved and some people not to be saved.
Of course, it has to be that way. If he chooses someone to be saved, by default he’s choosing some people not to be saved. And he does it unconditionally. There’s no reason, there’s nothing that he sees in the person that he chooses. Nothing.
He just chooses some and doesn’t choose others. So, as I described to you, that is random chance. It’s not a choice at all. There’s no such thing in the whole universe as really unconditional election. That’s an oxymoron completely, no election, no choice. It could be considered unconditional. If it is unconditional, it’s not a choice because every choice, you do it for a reason. Every choice God makes, He does it for reason.
A Closer Look
And, in fact, Peter, goes on to say something here. And here’s the important part looking at the context, “…who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God” (emphasis added).
So, no one can deny that God’s foreknowledge has something to do with his choosing people. And it almost goes without saying, of course, that if God is choosing anyone, He has to know them.
And in this case, He foreknows them. He foreknows everything, and so He foreknows everybody. And He knows what they’re going to do. One way of interpreting the fact that God has chosen us according to his foreknowledge is that God looked ahead, as it were, from our time frame. He looked ahead in time, from the foundation of the world and saw those who would, under His gracious drawing, repent and believe in Jesus. And so, those are the people that He chose.
He chose that He would save everybody, He would forgive everybody, who would repent and believe in Jesus. It’s not an unconditional election. Something that doesn’t exist anywhere in the universe. It’s a conditional election. They met God’s conditions and He said, “All right, you’re the person that I’ve chosen, you’re the kind of person that I’m choosing, those who repent and believe.”
Peter a Calvinist? Think Again.
Well, not only that little bit of context helps us understand if Peter was a Calvinist. We can go to Peter’s second epistle, where he says,
But false prophets also arose among the people [he’s talking about the days of Israel and the Old Testament], 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
Now listen to this, he more specifically defines the destructive heresies, at least one of them. “Even denying the master,” listen closely, “who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.”
The third cardinal doctrine of Calvinism is limited atonement. That Christ didn’t die for everyone. He only died for the alleged ones who are unconditionally preselected. But here, Peter says that the Master, obviously Jesus, who bought them, they will deny him by their destructive heresies and false teachings. Still the master bought them.
He, Jesus, died not just for our sins, John wrote. He’s not just a propitiation for our sins, but for the sins of the entire world (see 1 John 2:1-2).
Peter Taught That Salvation Could Be Forfeited
For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. – 2 Peter 2:20-21
“For if, after they have escaped the defilement’s of the world…” How do you do that? By the knowledge of our Lord, Jesus Christ. They know, they understand the Gospel and they believed it because it’s worked. They’ve escaped the defilements of the world.
So, the fifth cardinal doctrine of Calvinism is the perseverance of the saints. Obviously, if God has preselected you unconditionally, if you get saved, you can never get into a state of being unsaved. But, yet here, Peter believed that was possible.
Peter Was Not a Calvinist
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. – 2 Peter 3:8-9
Why is God waiting so long and taking so long to send Jesus back? Because He’s waiting for people to be saved. So, obviously, human free will has something to do with salvation. Because if it was all a sovereign act of God, that verse would make no sense. God doesn’t just want some to be saved. He doesn’t wish for any to perish, but for all to come to repentance.
Answering our question, Peter was not a Calvinist.
All right, thanks so much for joining me.