The Arminian understanding of 2nd Peter 3:9 refuted

The Arminian understanding of 2nd Peter 3:9 refuted

Without doubt, 2 Peter 3:9 is the single most popular verse used to dismiss the reformed doctrine of election, bar none. Usually the meaning of the verse is assumed without taking any time to study it, which is the very hallmark of tradition. In fact, traditions are so strong that many do not even see the need to study the verse because they believe there is no need to do so. I have to admit that I did this for many years. Those most enslaved to their traditions are those who believe they do not have any. First of all then, let us read the verse in its context.

2 Peter 3:1-9 –

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

The first thing we notice is that the subject of the passage is not salvation but the second coming of Christ. Peter is explaining the reason for the delay in Christ’s second coming – He is still coming, and will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night (v. 10).

The second thing to notice is the clear identity of the people he is addressing. He speaks of the mockers as “they”, but everywhere else he speaks to his audience as “you” and the “beloved.” This is very important because the assumption that is usually made is that the “you” the “any” and the “all” of 2 Peter 3:9 refers to everyone on the planet.

But surely “all” means “all,” right? Well usually, yes, but not always. This has to be determined by the context in which the words are found. For example, when a teacher is getting ready to start a class and asks his students, “Are all here?” he is not asking if every last living person on planet earth is present in the room. Rather he is referring to all the students enrolled in the class. It is context that provides the basis for a sound interpretation.

So, the question in 2 Peter 3:9 is whether “all” refers to all human beings without distinction, or whether it refers to everyone within a certain group. The context indicates that Peter is writing to a specific group and not to all of mankind – “to those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours” 2 Peter 1:1. The audience is confirmed when Peter writes, “This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved.” (2 Peter 3:1)

Can we be even more specific? Yes, because if this is the second letter addressed to them, the first makes it clear who he is writing to. 1 Peter 1:1 – “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect…” So Peter is writing to the elect in 2 Peter 3, saying:

“This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved…. But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (v. 1, 8, 9 – emphasis mine)

If the “any” or “all” here refers to everyone in human history, the verse would prove far more than Arminians would want to prove – it would prove universalism rather than Christianity. (Universalism is the false doctrine that teaches that everyone will ultimately be saved, with no one going to hell).

If God is not willing that any person perish, then what? No one would ever perish! Yet, in context, the “any” that God wills not to perish must be limited to the same group he is writing to, the elect, and the “all” that are to come to repentance is the very same group. Christ’s second coming has been delayed so that all the elect can be gathered in. God is not willing that any of the elect should perish, but that all of them come to repentance.

Rather than denying election, understood in its biblical context, it is one of the strongest verses in favor of it.

This article By Pastor John Samson


3 responses

19 04 2013
Rayburne F. Winsor

Thank you, Pastor Samson. 2 Thessalonioans 2:13 states: . “But we are bound to give thanks to you, brethren, beloved by the Lord, because God from the beginning chose you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and belief in the truth”. You could not make it any clearer than that. Acts 13:48 states that: “And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed”. Notice, here that it specifically states the reason they believed (the result of effect) is because they had been appointed (KJV, “were chosen” ) to eternal life. In other words, they were not appointed on the basis of their believing or forseen faith: rather their believing was the result of their having been appointed to eternal life. Jesus teaches the same truth in John 10:26: “But you do not believe, because you are not of my sheep”. Notice, Jesus did not say “You are not my sheep because you do not believe”. No, He said just the opposite. “You do not believe because you are not of my sheep. Here, as in Acts 13:48 above, believing in Christ for salvation is rooted in divine election. The reason anyone believes savingly in Christ is because he/she has been chosen to do so. And please, Romans 8:30, which is even more telling, teaches the same truth. Those whom God predestined, , He also called, whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He also justified, these He also glorified”. In short, God will completes salvation from beginning to end–from election, to effectual calling, to justification and glorification. The verbs “predestined,” “called” “justified,” “glorified” are in the aorist tense , which means that it is good as done–that whom God predestines, calls,He also will justify and glorify (it is as good as done).

God does not predestine anyone to go to hell. When God chose us, He chose us “in Christ”; that is, with a view to Adam’s fallen race and the Messiah, who would redeem His people, both Jew and Gentile, who together would complete His church or bride (see Eph. 5:25; Rev. 21:9). How could God possibly predestinate someone to go to hell who is already on his way to hell by the choice of what many popularly call “free will” (I believe unregenerate sinners have “free agency”, but not “free moral will” ). One thing is certain, the choice that unregenerate sinners make in rejecting the Gospel according to the inclination of their own sinful hearts is as free and willing as that of regenerate sinners who believe the Gospel and receive Christ in genuine repentance and faith. None of us have any claims on God’s grace for salvation. We are all sinners by birth, by nature and by choice on account of what sin, not God, has made us–spiritually dead, blind and enemies of Christ and His gospel (Eph. 2:1; 1 Cor. 2:14; Romans 8:7). God would be perfectly just in saving none. The fact that He saves any is a testimony to His amazing grace and mercy (Remember, it is free to all who will repent of sin and trust Jesus Christ to save them, but it costs God His only begotten Son (John 3:16). Election sends no one to hell, but it does get some people, who are chosen “in Christ” (see Eph. 1:4-5) into heaven, where the reverse is true of what is said in hell. Not a single soul in heaven will say “I am here because of my “free will”–because God provided salvation for all and I was willing to let Jesus save me. On the contrary, every lost sinner will blame will blame his/her own wicked heart in the day of judgment for rejecting Christ–for their lost estate. Yes, God of love, mercy and justice. Because God is a God of justice, as well as of mercy and love, He must punish sin. If He didn’t He would be neither loving nor just. You think about that. Scriptures are very clear that God takes no delight or pleasure in the punishment of the wicked, but sincerely desires that men everywhere turn away from sin (repentance)in faith to Jesus Christ, Who alone can save them. One can neither blame God nor election for the fact that spiritually blind and rebellious sinners refuse to come to Christ in true repentance and faith. Sinners do not come to Christ because they believe they are God’s elect–rather they find out they are God’s elect after God has brought them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.

Unbelief is as much a decision of the mind, will and heart , as is saving faith. Unbelief is an active faith–however, it is faith in oneself (man trying to save himself without God and His perfect plan of salvation in Jesus Christ–and on the basis of his own filthy rags of unrighteousness rather than the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ). Many, show you they condemn that which they really don’t understan

31 07 2014

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (KJV)

Since the writer said, “writing to you” and “to us-ward” , Should not the writer have also said, not willing that we should perish, or not willing that any of the elect should perish, or any of the chosen should perish, or any of you should perish?
Also, “that all should come to repentance” should be, – that all of you, or all of us , or all of the elect, or all of the chosen, or all of the predestined,

31 07 2014

Short answer?


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