Wednesday, February 22, 2006

2 Peter 2:1 (part 2)

Building off of 2 Peter 2:1 (part 1), I think that it is the right understanding to see "Master" as referring to God. Many wiser men who are better at exegesis than I am have singled out Jesus as the specificly mentioned "Master." I am not going to dispute that Master is referring to the 2nd Person of the Trinity because I think that the contextual clues as well as what we know of Jesus and His role in the Godhead do not exclude Him being the "Master" in question. So if Christ is the "Master" then the correct understanding this passage hinges on the word "bought" and what it means.

When looking at the word used for "bought" (agorazo), I found that everywhere that this word is used in the New Testament it implies that the person not only purchased something, but owned and or possessed it. Every time. This is a big point, in my opinion. Such a large point that it colors the entire understanding of this text. Let me show you what I mean:

  • Matt 13:44 - the man "buys" the field containing the treasure
  • Matt 13:46 - the mearchant sold everything and "bought" the pearl of great price
  • Matt 14:15 - the disciples urge Jesus to send away the crowd to "buy" food for themselves
  • Matt 21:12 - Jesus drove all out of the temple who were "buying" and selling
  • Matt 25;9,10 - the wise virgins tell the foolish ones to go "buy" lamp oil
  • Matt 27:7 - the cheif priests & elders "bought" the field to bury Judas
  • Mark 6:36,37 - Matt 14:15 and Luke 9:13
  • Mark 11:15 - same as Matt 21:12
  • Mark 15:46 - Joseph "bought" linen to wrap Jesus' body in
  • Mark 16:1 - the women "bought" spices to annoint Jesus' body with
  • Luke 9:13 - same as Matt 14:15; Mark 6:36,37; and John 6:5
  • Luke 14:18,19 - one man "bought" land and another "bought" oxen that they need to examine
  • Luke 17:28 - the time of the coming of the kingdom of God is compared Lot's day where "buying" and selling were going on
  • Luke 22:36 - sell your coat to "buy" a sword just before Jesus is betrayed
  • John 4:8 - disciples had gone to "buy" food
  • John 6:5 - same as Matt 14:15; Mark 6:36,37; and Luke 9:13
  • John 13:29 - disciples guessing that Jesus had instructed Judas to "buy" feast supplies
  • 1 Cor 6:20 - flee immorailty because we were "bought" with the price, so glorify God
  • 1 Cor 7:23 - you were "bought" with a price (by Christ), do not become slaves of men
  • 1 Cor 7:30 - "buy" as though do not possess
  • 2 Peter 2:1 - deny the master who "bought them
  • Rev 3:18 - "buy" from Me (Christ) gold refined by fire
  • Rev 5:9 - the Lamb "purchased" for God with His blood men from every tribe, tongue, and people, and nation
  • Rev 13:17 - no one can "buy" or sell without the mark of the beast
  • Rev 14:3,4 - the 144,000 who had been "purchased" from the earth
  • Rev 18:11 - merchants mourn because no one "buys" their goods
Now, with the exception of 2 Peter 2:1 (because we are working on this passage), every single verse implies or states directly that what was purchased or bought was then owned or posessed by the one doing the buying. I believe that this word for buying or purchasing (agorazo) has the direct understanding of being owned, and you can see it most clearly in 1 Cor 7:30 where Paul says, "those who buy, as though they did not possess...." Now (you may ask), why is this such a big deal? Simply this...the wrong and correct interpretation of this passage rests (in my humble opinion) in correctly understanding this word.

Wrong Interpretations:
Wrong Interpretation #1: These false teachers were saved (bought) by Christ (the Master), but they forsook the truth and fell away. They lost their salvation.
  • What is "right" about this interpretation: This interpretation consistently interprets this passage in that the understanding of "bought" means purchased and possessed by Christ, the Master. They are interpreting this as a description of the false teacher's salvation - being saved by Christ through his substitutionary sacrifice on the cross (2 Cor 5:21).
  • hat is wrong with this interpretation: If this interpretation is the correct one, it must be reconciled with a vast quantity of scriptures teaching that once you are saved by God, you cannot lose it, you will not be lost. (see John 6:37-39 and John 10:27-30 for a few of the BIG eternal security passages)
Wrong Interpretation #2: These false teacher’s sins were paid for (bought) Christ (the Master), and that they did not accept Christ’s forgiveness, so in this sense they denied or rejected the Master who paid for their sins, and because of this rejection, they are then lost.
  • What is “right” about this interpretation: This particular interpretation of this passage is used to argue for general atonement i (or unlimited atonement) and in doing so, it is consistent with this theology.
  • What is wrong with this interpretation: The main reason that this interpretation is incorrect is for a similar, but yet distinctly different, reason as the previous interpretation is. While this interpretation rightly rejects the incorrect assertion that you can lose your salvation, they miss the clear implication in this verse of the fact that whatever was bought by the Master is owned or possessed by Him.
Wrong interpretation conclusion:

Basically, if we understand that bought has a direct implication of ownership or possession, then both of these above interpretations cannot be correct.

Possible Correct Interpretation: The false teachers are rejecting the salvation offered by Christ (Master) who created and sustains (bought) them. We know that God created all things, and that all things are His (Exodus 9:29;19:5; Deuteronomy 10:14; Psalms 50:10,12; 1 Corinthians 10:26; Colossians 1:16). So, since we understand that God exerts His power and is in control over thevery air that we breathe, and the lungs that work to breathe it (or to give out and not to breathe it), So, if we understand bought/ownership in the creative and not redemptive sense in this passage, this makes sense would be true of these false teachers.

Possible problems: The biggest problem that I can see with this understanding is that it might be seen as too much of a stretch. I don’t think that this is the case, but I am willing to concede the point that it is definitely not the first understanding that most readers would have.

Correct Interpretation: The false teachers give lip service to God and claim that they have been redeemed (bought) by Christ (Master), but their actions, teachings, and lifestyle deny this and show that they are indeed false teachers who made false claims of salvation. This seems to me to be the most plain and simple and correct understanding of the text. The context has already called them out as false prophets, so it is not any stretch to see that their claim to have been bought by Christ is a lie. And we know that it is a lie because of the points that I’ve been a-hammerin’ on throughout this whole article – once you’re saved...truly saved, you cannot ever lose that salvation.

Conclusion: This is a very difficult passage of scripture. I am firmly convinced that the ways to interpret this passage labeled above as incorrect are, in fact, incorrect. I am convinced that the correct interpretations are plausable, but I (even now) do not know or would not say that this one specific interpretation of this passage is exactly what it means, to the exclusion of any others.

That being said, we must always be careful to not force ideas on a passage of scripture, even if that idea seems to be what the rest of scripture says. We know that God cannot lie, He cannot say that you cannot lose your salvation and then say later that you can lose it. So we must be diligent to understand the scripture as it is intended as opposed as the theologically expedient understanding of it.

i General Atonement is a view that is best understood when contrasted to Limited Atonement (otherwise known as Particular Redemption). The theology of General Atonement is basically that when Christ died on the cross, he paid for all of the sins of all people of all time. In order to be saved, a sinner must repent of his sins and place his faith and trust solely in the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. Both understandings of the atonement agree on this process. The disagreement comes into play when dealing with the purpose or scope of the work on the cross. General Atonement states that when Christ died on the cross, he paid for all of the sins of all people of all time. This gives all people the same opportunity, ability, or possibility of receiving the forgiveness of their sins. And since this theology rejects a consistent rendering of Unconditional Election, this work didn’t actually save anyone specifically and not save anyone else specifically, it only saves those who freely believe.

This is a response, or opposite position to the Calvinist position of Limited Atonement which states that since God has Unconditionally Elected all who would believe, that the purpose of the cross was to completely pay for the sins of the elect. This position says that when Christ died on the cross, he paid for all of the sins of all elect of all time. This secures the forgiveness of their sins in an actual and not possible way. The same idea that was discussed in 2 Peter 2:1 of “bought” is consistent in this theology: payment for = ownership of.

This article is not designed to attack or defend either General or Limited Atonement. It’s only purpose is solely to attempt to interpret 2 Peter 2:1 as it is intended to be interpreted, and not to have an interpretation “forced” onto it that, even though it may be theologically and biblically consistent, is not intended by the author.

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