Day 192, 2 Peter 2

If Peter wrote his second epistle near the same time as Jude wrote his epistle, then there is little doubt that Peter would have been equally horrified over the heresy that was infiltrating the church then, a heresy that “turned the grace of God into licentiousness” (Jude 4). Peter also describes the false teachers who were responsible for spreading this heresy, and his words are so similar with some of Jude’s words that it seems safe to assume that one borrowed from another. Preachers take note: It is OK to borrow material from other preachers, as long as what you are borrowing is biblical!

The false teachers whom Peter warned against would “secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them” (2:1), indicating a subtlety in their methodology. Naturally, they were not publicly teaching, “We deny the Master, the Lord Jesus Christ,” or else they would have been easily identified and shunned by every believer. Rather, their teaching undermined the necessity of holiness while their lifestyles were characterized by sensuality and greed (2:2-3), which is why Peter wrote that they denied the Master, a title which emphasizes Jesus’ rightful role as Lord and our obligation to obey Him.

Notice Peter believed that Jesus had “bought” the false teachers, which indicates that Jesus died for their sins, paying the price for their redemption. Using the identical Greek word that Peter used that is translated “bought” (agarazo), Paul wrote to the Corinthian believers, “You have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). So, undeniably, Jesus died for the sins of the false teachers who were “bringing swift destruction upon themselves” (2:1). This exposes the error of the Calvinistic idea that Jesus only died for those whom God allegedly predestined to be saved.

Because it is impossible to circumvent Peter’s plain declaration that Jesus bought the false teachers, some Calvinists resort to claiming that the “swift destruction” that those false teachers would experience was only speaking of their imminent physical deaths, after which time they would be welcomed into heaven, secure in God’s grace. That is, however, a worse heresy than the one being promoted by the false teachers. If it were true, then we are to think that adulterers and greedy people (2:2-3, 14), whom Scripture repeatedly warns will not inherit eternal life (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-5), will inherit eternal life. Moreover, the three groups whom Peter immediately cites to illustrate what happens to those like the false teachers, namely, the angels who rebelled and were cast into hell, the ancient world whom God judged with a flood, and the perverts in Sodom and Gomorrah upon whom God reigned fire and brimstone (2:4-6), are not very good examples of people who were ultimately welcomed into heaven!

Take note that the false teachers whom Peter condemned were formerly in good standing with God, having at one time “known the way of righteousness,” they had “escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2:20-21). Peter used a similar expression in 1:4, where he wrote of believers who have “escaped the corruption that is in the world” through knowledge of Jesus. There is no doubt that the false teachers had at one time been delivered from their sins through Christ. Yet they, like all of us, were still free moral agents, and they became “again entangled in [their sins] and were overcome,” so that “the last state had become worse for them than the first” (2:20).

This passage clearly debunks the cardinal doctrine of Calvinism that maintains that all true believers will persevere in their faith. It also debunks the widely-held notion among evangelicals that those who believe in Jesus for any amount of time, no matter how limited, can never forfeit their salvation.

It is also interesting that all Calvinists adamantly maintain that no person can escape his sins without the divine help of the Holy Spirit (which is absolutely true), yet some Calvinists want us to believe that the false teachers of whom Peter wrote were never actually saved, but had only experienced false conversions. Yet they had been delivered from their sins.