An excerpt From John Gill’s “The Cause of God and Truth.”

10 02 2010

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, denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

I thought that I’d post a short section of the public domain book by John Gill “The cause of God and truth.” This particular section is about the assumption that many make about 2nd Peter 2:1.

Give it a read…

Section 54—2 Peter 2:1.

This passage of scripture is often produced as a proof both of the saints’ final and total apostasy, and of universal redemption; or that, besides those that are saved, Christ died also for them that perish. Dr. Whitby mentions the several answers which different men give to these words: one says, Christ bought these persons only to be slaves; another, that he died to rescue them from temporal, but not eternal punishments; a third, that he died for them because he gave a sufficient price for them; a fourth, that they denied that Lord whom they professed to have bought them; and a fifth, that they denied him, who, in the judgment of other men, had bought them. Upon which he observes, that they are so extravagant, that it is as easy to confute as to recite them.

1. I do not think myself concerned to defend any of these senses of the text mentioned, judging neither of them to be the meaning of the words, and so have nothing to do with the reasonings made use of in the confutation of them; though, perhaps, the two latter are not so extravagant as represented. However, in order to give the genuine sense of this text, let it be observed,

2. That Christ is not here at all spoken of; nor is there one syllable of his dying for any persons, in any sense whatever. The word despo>thv, Lord, does not design Christ but God the Father of Christ. The only places besides this where this word is used, when applied to a divine person, are Luke 2:29, Acts 4:24, 2 Timothy 2:21, Jude 1:4, Revelation 6:10, in all which places God the Father is plainly intended, and in most of them manifestly distinguished from Christ; nor is there anything in this text or context which obliges us to understand it of the Son of God; nor should this be thought any diminution of the glory of Christ, since the word despo>thv is properly expressive only of that power which masters have over their servants; whereas the word ku>riov, which is used whenever Christ is called Lord, signifies that dominion and authority which princes have over their subjects. Besides, Christ is called King of kings, and Lord of lords, and the only Potentate; yea, God over all, blessed for ever.

Moreover,

3. When these persons are said to be bought, the meaning is, not that they were redeemed by the blood of Christ, for, as is before observed, Christ is not intended. Besides, whenever redemption by Christ is spoken of, the price is usually mentioned, or some circumstance or another which fully determines the sense of it; (see Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:20; Eph.1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Rev. 5:9; Rev. 14:3-4), whereas here is not the least hint of anything of this kind. Add to this, that such who are redeemed by Christ, are never left to deny him, so as to perish eternally; for could such be lost, or bring on themselves swift destruction, Christ’s purchase would be in vain, and the ransom price be paid for naught. But, 4. The word buying regards temporal deliverance, and particularly the redemption of the people of Israel out of Egypt; who are therefore called the people the Lord had purchased. The phrase is borrowed from Deuteronomy 32:6; Do ye thus requite the Lord,

O foolish people and unwise? Is not he thy Father that hath bought thee? Hath he not made thee and established thee?

Nor is this the only place the apostle Peter refers to in this chapter; (see vv. 12, 13, compared with Deuteronomy 32:5). Now the persons the apostle writes to, were Jews, the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithyna, a people who, in all ages, valued, themselves upon, and boasted mightily of their being the bought, purchased people of the Lord; wherefore Peter makes use of this phrase much in the same manner as Moses had done before him, to aggravate the ingratitude and impiety of these false teachers among the Jews; that they should deny, if not in words, at least in works, that mighty Jehovah, who had of old redeemed their fathers out of Egypt, with a stretched out arm, and, in successive ages, had distinguished them with peculiar favors; being ungodly men, turning the grace, the doctrine of the grace of God, into lasciviousness

 Hence,

5. Nothing can be concluded from this passage in favor of Christ’s dying for them that perish; since neither Christ, nor the death of Christ, nor redemption by his blood, are here once mentioned, nor in the least intended. Nor can these words be thought to be a proof and instance of the final and total apostasy of real saints, since there is not anything said of these false teachers, which gives any reason to believe that they were true believers in Christ, or ever had the grace of the Spirit wrought in their souls.

, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 

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14 responses

10 02 2010
David

Hey there,

The claim that The “Lord” in 2 Peter 2:1 is not Christ is impossible given the parallel reference in Jude 4, and what we now know as the Granville Sharp rules. Thats why all modern translations have for Jude 4: “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

The interpretation of Luther and Calvin is by far much more plausible. Calvin and Luther, even tho they, too, were unaware of the Granville Sharp rule, still exegeted the passage as referring to Christ.

David

21 02 2010
rpavich

David,
Where is a GS construction in 2 Peter 2:1?

21 02 2010
rpavich

PS: Sorry your comment didn’t get posted sooner…the software marked it spam by accident…

5 03 2010
David

Hey, I chanced to check back.

You can even find the rule set out in Wiki. Greek Grammars should cover it. Its not an infallible rule, as Carson points out (from memory). However, the consensus is clear that in Jude 4, it applies. Christ is the Master (despotes) and Lord.

This being a parallel to 2 Peter 2:1 makes it impossible that despotes in 2 Peter 2:1 refers to the Father, apart from Christ. And so it follows that just about every argument that follows from that, from Gill and others, must fail.

Check out some modern translations.

You can see the same rule being used in such verses as Tit 2:13 and 2 Peter 1:1. (Compare with the KJV).

You can check out other sources, Calvinist, Reformed and Puritan, on 2 Peter 2:1 by clicking on my name, scrolling down the index to the 2 Peter 2:1 section.

Hope that helps,
David

5 03 2010
rpavich

David,
There’s no GS construction in 2 Peter 2:1… 😦

I understand that Christ can be called master, I do, but the word for Master is used by far of God. It’s not even a close contest.
(only 5 places (not counting 2nd Peter) is despotes used in the NT and each one is referencing God the Father))

And I know you realize that Peter was quoting the OT….(they were bought by God”…etc….a common idea.

Secondly; there is no reference or link to Jesus paying the price, His sacrifice, or any of that; IF this is a reference to that, then this is the ONLY place in the NT where a purchase is referenced but no purchase price; (with your blood, etc…)

Highly unlikely….

5 03 2010
David

Yeah I screwed up. I had 2 Peter 2:1 on my brain. 2 Peter 1:1.

You present 3 arguments.

The number of times despotes refers to God vs Christ. I would say that probably in 2 Tim 2:21 Christ is in view. And in Jude 4, we have Christ, undeniably. 3 times it references God as creator (in Rev. Acts and Luke). And 1 in the disputed verse, 2 Peter 2:1. I doubt very much that the three clear instances count for much. The force of Jude is undeniable. Jude confirms the use in 2 Peter 2:1, so there could be good argument for 3 vs 3. However, more fundamentally, we do not do exegesis like that. While frequency is often a factor, genre, author preference, context, similar literature/parallels also are factored in.

That Peter is alluding to the OT, does not count for much either. OT references are often given Christological and soteriological focus and import in the NT. What is more, the “redemption” of the Jews from Egypt would be typical of Christ’s redemption, would it not? Long’s arguments are really dodgy at the semantic level.

The argument that no price is mentioned, with respect, is really a non-argument. Firstly, its an argument from silence. Secondly, its arbitrary. It purports to act like a rule, but where did the rule come from? Where does it say that every soteriological and/or Christological use of despostes, the price must be stated? Thirdly, we do have the counter-factual of Rev 14:3-4 no price is mentioned. The rule is just an arbitrary assertion.

Its really tricky to argue a case on the assertion that because a descriptive element is missing, the text/subject under discussion cannot be the same text/subject identified in places where the asserted descriptive elements are present. Scripture, so to speak, does not even think that way.

With respect, the texts are clear, back to back, Jude 4 and 2 Peter 2:1 establish that Christ is the Master and Lord. And there is no good reason to not take the “buying” as soteriological in 2 Peter 2:1.

If you want to converse more, feel free to email me.

Thanks for your time and patience,
David

5 03 2010
rpavich

David,
I understand what you’re saying but asserting it over and over doesn’t make it true.
Peters allusion to the OT doesn’t count for much?
that seems like a baseless dismissal…doesn’t it?

Who says it doesn’t count for much? It’s a direct quote from the LXX….

And as for price not being mentioned…I’d say that normal usage counts for something right? We do do exegesis that way….we let the author or authors speak and then we make our deductions appropriately….

You keep saying how clear it is over and over but you’ve not done anything but assert that statement and tell me how you think that I’m wrong….

Just the phrase “master who bought them” is not proof that Jesus is in view; nor is it some proof that it’s about salvation.

It’s just not a slam dunk, though you may want it to be.

5 03 2010
David

correction:

I had said: Where does it say that every soteriological and/or Christological use of despostes, the price must be stated? Thirdly, we do have the counter-factual of Rev 14:3-4 no price is mentioned. The rule is just an arbitrary assertion.

I meant to say: Where does it say that every soteriological and/or Christological use of agorazo, the price must be stated? Thirdly, we do have the counter-factual of Rev 14:3-4 no price is mentioned. The rule is just an arbitrary assertion.

Thanks
David

5 03 2010
David

hey there,

You say:
I understand what you’re saying but asserting it over and over doesn’t make it true.
Peters allusion to the OT doesn’t count for much?
that seems like a baseless dismissal…doesn’t it?

David: Actually, I didnt assert that over and over. That was the first instance. 🙂 Nor would I say that that my comments were “baseless” because I gave arguments and reasons. 🙂

You: Who says it doesn’t count for much? It’s a direct quote from the LXX….

David: I am not sure its a direct quote, perhaps an allusion to.

2 Peter 2:1: 2 Peter 2:1 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.

Nas: Deuteronomy 32:6 “Do you thus repay the LORD, O foolish and unwise people? Is not He your Father who has bought you? He has made you and established you.

Its not a direct quote.
And in the LXX he word for bought is ktaomia. The Hebrew is qanah. The Greek in 2 Peter 2:1 is agorazo. Despostes is not used in the LXX either. The link is tenuous. Maybe a thematic connection at most I would say.

Even a rough translation of the LXX shows its not a quotation.

You say:
You keep saying how clear it is over and over but you’ve not done anything but assert that statement and tell me how you think that I’m wrong….

David: I am not trying to be rude, btw.

Jude 1:4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

2 Peter 2:1 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.

David: Its the same person. There is so much evidence that either Jude copied Peter or Peter copied Jude.

You say: Just the phrase “master who bought them” is not proof that Jesus is in view; nor is it some proof that it’s about salvation.

David: Well that’s never been my argument. The proof is in the rule I mentioned, and the parallel usage in Jude.

There are no good reasons to deny that 1) Christ is the Master, that 2) the redemptive has some sort of soteriological import.

I suspect that its probably best that if you want to talk further email is better.

I will leave it at that.

Thanks,
David

5 03 2010
rpavich

David,
I’m sorry if I came off like I thought you were rude…you haven’t been.
I’ll think about what you’ve said…It’s possible that there is a blend of what we are saying…

Christ is being spoken of, but not in a redemptive sense….

I’ll chew on it.

thanks for the good comments and sorry again if I came off strong on you…your comments didn’t warrant it.

5 03 2010
David

Hey there,

last night I sent off 2 posts. They may be in your spam folder.

Thanks,
David

5 03 2010
rpavich

David,
they were there…and thanks…they helped me understand what you’re saying more clearly…

I approved them as you can see.

5 03 2010
David

Hello again,

You say:
Here is a view that blends yours and mine: it says that Christ is despote but falls short of saying that this is a soteriological context:

Reymond quoting Long:

“…of its thirty occurrences in the New Testament, ἀγοράζω [agorazō] is never used in a soteriological context (unless II Peter 2:1 is the exception) without the technical term “price” (τιμῆς, [timēs]—a technical term for the blood of Christ) or its equivalent being stated or made explicit in the context (see I Cor. 6:20; 7:23; Rev. 5:9; 14:3, 4).… When it is translated with a meaning “to buy,” whether in a soteriological or non–soteriological context, a payment price is always stated or made explicit by the context … in contexts where no payment price is stated or implied, ἀγοράζω, [agorazō] may often be better translated as “acquire” or “obtain.”35

David: In quoting Long, who repeats Owen and Gill, Reymond is still putting forth the same assertion.

A few questions:

Where does the rule come from that every instance of a soteriological use of agorazo or purchasing, must include a reference to the price, or to or its equivalent?

What “or its equivalent” even mean?

How is that not a case of special pleading and/or stacking the deck fallacies?

Is it correct to cite Paul’s use and claim that Peter must speak the same way?

John in Rev 14 mentions no price, so how is that explained? How does “or its equivalent being stated or made explicit in the context,” apply to Rev 14:3-4? That last assertion is just so broad and yet so vague and plastic.

A few comments:

despotes is used of human masters. In these cases there is no connection with redemption in a soteriological sense, unless one wants to factor in buying of slaves; as it is a related slave-master.

In the cases where it is used of God and/or Christ, three clearly refer to God as creator.

Let me try to recap the argument against Gill, Long and Reymond, again in simpler form.

Regarding despotes

The GS Rule:
“When the copulative kai connects two nouns of the same case, if the article ho, or any of its cases, precedes the first of the said nouns or participles, and is not repeated before the second noun or participle, the latter always relates to the same person that is expressed or described by the first noun or participle…”

David: there are exceptions, as Carson and others point out.

Jude 4: For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

David: Most modern translations recognize that this speaks of one person. Jesus is the Master and the Lord.

Jude 4 parallels 2 Peter 2:1.

Also, I scoped out some critical commentaries and saw consensus on the identification of the Lord and Master, as Jesus in 2 Pet 2:1.

When Owen formulated his argument, he was not aware of this basic connection and pattern which Sharp identified. He constructed his arguments based on a less than accurate translation. Gill borrowed his arguments from Owen. Long builds and tries to shore up Owen’s arguments.

Regarding agorazo:

Reymond citing Long:

Christ, the sovereign Lord, acquired [or “obtained”] the false teachers (spots and blemishes, II Pet. 2:13) in order to make them a part of the covenant nation of God in the flesh because he had created them, within the mystery of his providence, for the purpose of bringing glory to himself through their foreordain-ment unto condemnation (see II Pet. 2:12; Jude 4).36

David: I have to ask: “How did Christ obtain them?”

I could be wrong, but I cant think of a reference in the NT which speaks to God the Father as “buying” sinners?

If we turn to the word agorazo, we find that in no instance where the word is used in reference to God or Christ is it non-redemptive.

I would agree that Peter references the non-elect in the visible church, which in my opinion is the perfect anti-type to Israel’s redemption from Egypt.

Lastly, the arguments Gill and Long adduce are not compelling, indeed, in some cases contradicts the biblical facts. In some cases their “rules” are just assertions. Tho I agree with Reymond that (at most) Peter is alluding to Dt 32.

To be clear, I take the interpretation adopted by Luther and Calvin and many other Reformed and Puritans of the 16th and 17th centuries. It is not the case that there are only two options here. If you want to read more on this, click on my name and scroll down to the 2 Peter 2:1 section. Keep in mind, Redemption for classic Augustinians and Calvinists had a two-fold aspect: universal and particular. 2 Peter 2: 1 refers to the first. Only the elect are subjects of particular redemption.

I hope that helps and again, thanks for your patience,
David

6 03 2010
David

Hey there,

I read some of your other comments after I posted my last. That’s fine, I am glad there is no hostility. On other folks blogs I try to write circumspectly because it is so easy to misread motives and tone. I wanted to communicate to you that I am not trying to bait or argue for its own sake.

It seems we’ve come a closer on the point of Christ as Master; which is good. On the redemptive aspect, part of the problem is that many folk make the mistake of thinking that Christ’s redemption is either only an ineffectual universal accomplishment, or only an effectual limited accomplishment. The early Reformers and older Augustinians had a concept of a universal aspect of the redemption, and a particular. By for the former they meant something like Christ’s taking right of ownership and possession of all men by virtue of his shed blood, making a satisfaction for all sin. By the latter, they meant the application of the effectual call, where deliverance from bondage in the life of the individual is effected. This older position poses no threat to either eternal security of the saints or to designed definite and particular redemption of the elect.

Feel free to email me at any time.

Hope that helps, and thanks again,
David

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