Monday, February 20, 2006

2 Peter 2:1 (part 1)

For those of you who know me, you will know that I have a desire and (I believe) a calling into some kind of ministry. This ministry that I'm being called into has not been defined, and so I don't know whether I will be a pastor, missionary, or a devoted teacher and student while being a member of the secular work force. Now, regardless of what role God has me play, all of them are similar in that I will be responsible for accurately understanding and communicating the truth of God's word. The Bible, and the truth and the message contained in it's pages and meaning, has become an ever growing passion of mine which has thrown me into studying passages or ideas that I had not studied in depth before.

Ok, so knowing my mentality, we've been working through 2nd Peter in Sunday School, and I was scheduled to teach in chapter 2. When I was preparing for the lesson, I was met with this following verse:

"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 (NASB)

This is a huge verse, and a difficult one (in my opinion) to correctly interpret. Now, focusing mainly on the phrase "even denying the Master who bought them" at first reading, you may come out with one of the following interpretations:

  • People can lose their salvation - these false prophets were bought by Christ (the master) but denied Him and are then condemned.
  • These guys were not saved, since you cannot lose your salvation - Christ died to pay for all people's sins, even false prophets, but people go to hell because we reject His forgiveness.
  • I like cheese (this possible interpretation is for you postmodern people).

Well, when interpreting any passage of scripture, we need to be aware of a few things and follow a few rules. I am not going to go into the rules of interpretation (grammatical , historical, authorial intent, etc) but I will make a mention of our presuppositions. The
Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary gives this definition to the word "presupposition", "to require as an antecedent in logic or fact" which basically means that a presupposition is something that you know or think you know before you read or are confronted with something, and this fact or conclusion influences how you interpret what you're reading. The thing that we need to do is not let our presupposition force an understanding onto a Biblical text that is not what the author intended.

Quick Lesson:

Example - If you look at Colossians 1:15 where Christ is described as the "firstborn of, all creation" with the understanding of a Mormon, for example, that Jesus Christ is not eternal and that He came into being when He previously was not a living being, you would say, "Ah HA! This is proof that Jesus is not eternal or the same as the Father - even the apostle Paul knew this." This is one of the passages that Mormon's will use to promote their heretical view of Jesus. However, if one reads Colossians 1:15 in light of the rest of it's context as well as the rest of scripture and understanding what it meant to be a "firstborn" in the time that this book was written, you would be able to see that Paul is not (nor does he ever) denying the eternality of Christ, but he is asserting that Christ has power over all creation and that he carries all of the authority, power, and He is seen the same as His Father.

Explanation - The Mormon forces the text to "say" what they want it to say because they are convinced by the book of Mormon that Jesus was a created being, brother of Lucifer. But, when we (or they) examine the text for what it is trying to say and not what we may want it or expect it to say, we see exactly what the writer intended to communicate about Jesus. Wow, what a difference a presupposition can make!

Back to 2 Peter 2:

I have been wrestling with this passage for many weeks (for many reasons that I won't go into now), and so I really wanted to hammer through this one to find out what this verse means. So, first of all, I think that the main things to look at in order to understand this verse are the words "Master" and "bought" because everything else revolves around who the Master is and what he bought.

It appears that "Master" is referring to God. A false teacher would deny the truth about God in his theology - subtly, most likely, but he would deny God none the less. Maybe a better way would be that in their teaching, these false teachers would teach about a god of their own understanding that differs from the revealed God of scripture. False teachers in the Old Testament taught false things about God, but were able to sound and look like actual teachers of the Law. Just look at some of Jesus' scathing condemnations of the Pharisees and Scribes in Matthew 23:13 and following (especially in verse 15) and how this sheds a light on how they might have had the appearance of godly men, but were really whitewashed tombs - they looked good and clean on the outside, but on the inside were filled with dead men's bones (Matt 23:27).

Click here to read Part 2.

No comments:

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson