2 Peter 2:1
by John Gill
The Cause of God and Truth, Part I, Section LIV
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.2 Pet. 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 severa1 answers which different men give to these words: one saith, 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 "despotes", 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 Tim. 2:21, Jude ver. 4, Rev. 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 "despotes" is properly expressive only of that power which masters have over their servants; whereas the "kurios" 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 forever. 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, and 19:3-4, 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 nought. 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 Deut. 36:6; 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 ver. 12, 13, compared with Deut. 36:5. Now the persons the apostle writes to, were Jews, the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 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 favours; 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 favour 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.