Calvinism and 2 Peter 2:1 – “denying the Master”

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Some argue that Calvinism and 2 Peter 2:1 are contradictory because 2 Peter 2:1 teaches that people whom Jesus has “bought”, or died for, can lose their salvation. They argue that this contradicts the doctrine of limited atonement. However, there is a very reasonable interpretation of this verse that does not at all contradict with the doctrine of limited atonement.

2 Peter 2:1 and Calvinism

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

2 Peter 2:1

Calvinism’s Answer to 2 Peter 2:1

The meaning of the word “bought” in 2 Peter 2:1 is arguably quite ambiguous. When we look at the context of the verse, it seems likely that the word “bought” does not refer to Jesus purchasing salvation, but rather to a general deliverance from the idolatry of the world.

This is supported by Peter’s later statement in verse 20 that these people who were “bought” have “escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” It is certainly possible to escape “the defilements of the world” through the knowledge of the gospel without actually being saved.

Some professing Christians are baptized and serve in the church as if they were truly regenerate, but they eventually apostatize and demonstrate that they were in actuality never truly regenerated. It is entirely possible that these are the kinds of people Peter is referring to in 2 Peter 2:1.

There are other passages in Scripture that are very clear that Jesus actually saves those for whom He died. 2 Peter 2:1 does not speak directly about this topic, and, taken by itself, it is unclear exactly what the phrase, “even denying the Master who bought them,” really means. Because of this, it is important to interpret 2 Peter 2:1 in light of other, clearer, more foundational passages, rather than seeking to interpret it in isolation.

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