2 Peter 2:1
"Denying the Lord that Bought them"
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of." 2 Peter 2:1-2.
I am aware of at least five different explanations of what the phrase "denying the Lord that bought them" means. Only two of them make sense to me. The purpose of this article is to present the Arminian, or universal potential atonement view so common today, and then the other two ways of looking at the passage.
Those who reject "Calvinism" frequently bring up this verse and say: "See, these false prophets were bought by the blood of Christ and yet they perish. So the doctrine of limited atonement can’t be right."
There are those who do not believe in eternal security and, unfortunately, their number is growing in these last days of departing from the faith once delivered to the saints. Among these are full fledged 5 point Arminians who believe once a person has been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb and has everlasting life, he can then lose it all and finally perish in hell. This was the teaching of Joseph Arminius and John Wesley.
If a Christian is this far off base in his theological understanding, there is little point in discussing the issue with him. However this article is addressed primarily to those who still believe " Christ died for everybody and I made the choice of my own free will to believe in Him" and yet hold to the doctrine of the eternal security of the believer. These are the four point Arminians, and there are a lot of them around today.
The Arminian view always "proves too much". If "denying the Lord that bought them" refers to the false teachers having been bought by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, then they were indeed bought and redeemed. Yet they end up being lost. The four point Arminian has to redefine the word ‘bought’ to mean that Christ only "offered or provided redemption", rather than actually and in fact bought them. He does this in order to keep his doctrine of eternal security and yet maintain the false idea that Christ died for every individual who ever existed or will exist.
The word Bought is Agorazo and it always means to actually buy or to redeem; it never means to offer to buy. It is used in the expressions: " I have bought a piece of ground", "I have bought five yoke of oxen", "he bought fine linen", and "bought the potter’s field".
When the word is used in referrence to Christ’s buying His people, it always refers to a once and for all time completed action. In Matthew 13:44-46 Jesus tells us: "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls: Who, when he hath found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had, and bought it."
Both these parables refer to Christ as the one who sold all that He had and bought His people. He bought the field that contained the treasure and He bought the pearl of great price. The treasure and the pearl represent the people of God whom Christ loved and gave all that He had to purchase.
Man cannot sell all that he has to buy the kingdom. He has nothing to sell and he couldn’t purchase heaven by his own works or effort if his life depended on it. Man is not seeking goodly pearls, because there is none that seeketh after God. These two parables speak of Christ seeking and buying His people, not to vain fallen man seeking and buying the kingdom of heaven.
The word is used in 1 Corinthians 6:20 where Christians are told: "For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s." Again it is found in 1 Corinthians 7:23 "Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men."
The word agorazo is also translated as Redeemed in the following verses. "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and HAST REDEEMED us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." Revelation 5:9.
"and no man could learn the song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which WERE REDEEMED from the earth…These WERE REDEEMED from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." Revelation 14:3-4.
There is another similar word, exagorazo, which is used in Galatians 3:13 and 4:5. "Christ HATH REDEEMED us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us…to REDEEM them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons."
As you can see, all the uses of this word refer to an actual, effective and complete action of Christ buying, purchasing and redeeming His people.
Those who try to defend the idea that Christ bought these false teachers who eventually perish, have to redefine the word Bought to mean He only offered or provided a way for them to be redeemed but that they never really were effectively purchased. It is they who are twisting the Scriptures and teaching a false doctrine.
There are two other ways of looking at 2 Peter 2:1 which are far more consistent with sound Biblical doctrine.
"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction."
The word used for Lord here is Despotees, from which we get the word despot in English. It is translated as ‘master’ five times and refers to the master of servants. "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own MASTERS worthy of all honour, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed." 1 Timothy 6:1.
It is also translated as ‘Lord’ five times and, according to this view, it always refers to God the Father and not to the Lord Jesus Christ, who is called Kurios and not Despotees. Despotees is used in Luke 2:29 where Simeon says: "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation."
It is also used in these Scriptures referring to God the Father. Acts 4:24 "And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, (despotees) thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is."
Jude 4 "For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord (despotees) God, and our Lord (kurios) Jesus Christ."
Revelation 6:10 "And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, (despotees) holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?"
According to this view, the Lord that bought them, refers to God the Father who bought the children of Israel out of Egypt in the Old Testament. The "them" does not refer to the false teachers but rather to the people mentioned in the first part of the verse: "there were false prophets also among the people".
God did in fact buy or purchase His people out of Egypt. Exodus 15:13-16 tells us: "Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast REDEEMED…till the people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which THOU HAST PURCHASED."
Deuteronomy 32:6 rebukes God’s people. They were often disobedient but they were still His sons and daughters – see verse 19. "Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that HATH BOUGHT thee?"
So, according to this view, the false teachers are denying the Old Testament revelation of the one true God of particular redemption who chose Israel to be His people above all the people on the face of the earth and bought them to be His own. It is ironic that this "denying the Lord that bought them" is a similar doctrine being put forth by many of today’s Christian teachers.
The second Calvinistic view of 2 Peter 2:1 admits the possibility that the Lord referred to in "denying the Lord that bought them" does refer to the Lord Jesus Christ and He bought them with His blood. However the important thing to notice in this view is that the word "them" again does not refer to the false teachers but rather to the people whom they are misleading by their false teaching.
Notice that this whole section refers to the future when Peter wrote this epistle. There shall be false teachers among the Christians and what they shall teach is damnable heresies, and many shall follow their pernicious ways, and the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
If you read on down through the rest of the chapter you will notice these false teachers are further described in verses 18 and 19. There we are told: "For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, throught much wantonness, THOSE that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise THEM liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption."
The "them" of "denying the Lord that bought THEM" refers to the weak and unlearned Christians who were indeed bought by the blood of the Lamb but will be misled by these false teachers. That is why Peter closes his epistle with these words. "Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen."
The Armininan point of view always proves too much and is itself false doctrine. If those who believe in eternal security and once redeemed always redeemed insist on holding their interpretation of this verse, then they should be consistent in their theology and go all the way and conclude that they too can be lost forever even though the Son of God shed His precious blood to buy them.
I’ll stick with the finished work of redemption of the Lord Jesus Christ who loved the church and gave himself for it that He might present it to Himself holy and without blemish. "And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all that he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day." John 6:39.