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In 2 Peter 2:1, the author warns believers about false teachers, saying:

But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves.

The Master here is obviously Jesus, and He "bought" them, but what exactly does this mean in the view of the author of 2 Peter?

Does this mean that these false prophets have received (and still have) salvation, received salvation, but have since lost it, never received salvation, or something else entirely in the context of the passage? For example, is asking this question nonsensical because a ransom doesn't take place until after a later judgement - IE, these persons are bought upon death or at the end of the age in the Author's view?

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  • "If the Master is Jesus, and He bought them ..." What do you mean here? What Scriptures are you referring to?
    – user33515
    Nov 27 '17 at 23:38
  • Your question about 2 Peter 2:1 is tied up with a lot of assumptions that may or may not be true about other Scriptures you see as relevant, but you don't name these Scriptures. I'm voting to close the question as unclear what you are asking. Please feel free to edit, though.
    – user33515
    Nov 28 '17 at 1:30
  • 1
    See my justification for re-opening this here. Nov 28 '17 at 21:17
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An Overview of Standard Viewpoints

There are a number of views on what it means that the "false teachers" were "bought" by the "Lord."1 These views are summarized in Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37 of The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003) under 2 Peter 2:1. He categorizes like so:

  1. The buying is actual, but "nonsoteriological" (i.e., not relating to salvation). Schreiner accurately notes this was John Owen's view, who was a staunch advocate that Christ's atonement was only made for and applied to the elect (i.e. particular redemption/limited atonement), and so he cannot allow for the verse to be a reference to atonement. See Book IV, chapter V of Owen's The Death of Death in the Death of Christ for his discussion where he attempts to argue for the conclusion of

    a deliverance, by God’s dispensations towards them, from the blindness of Judaism or Paganism, by the knowledge of the gospel; whereby the Lord bought them to be servants to him, as their supreme head.

    Even though Schriener holds a similar position on atonement as Owen, he is correct to reject this view on the passage when he states

    The problem with this view is that the New Testament nowhere else uses the word for redemption [the contextual meaning of ἀγοράζω as buying a person] in association with Christ in a nonsoteriological sense.

  2. The buying is actual and soteriological, but believers can commit apostasy and lose salvation. Schriener does not elaborate on this view at this point, but saves the discussion for 2 Pet 2:22, where he states:

    What do these verses [all of chapter 2, but specifically v.17-22] say about apostasy? Can a genuine believer forsake his or her salvation? We can certainly see why most commentators draw such a conclusion after reading these verses in 2 Peter, for they are not merely a warning about apostasy but reflect on those who have abandoned the church, who were previously members of it. ... Perseverance is the mark of genuineness, as Peter taught throughout the letter. Only those who continue to live a life of godliness will receive the reward of eternal life (1:5–11). Those who teach that genuine Christians can and do apostatize are taking these verses seriously, and sometimes believers who deny such a possibility brush them off without serious reflection.

    While Schriener sees the apostate view as one that takes the "verses seriously," he (I think rightly) rejects it:

    Nevertheless, I think it is a mistake to conclude that genuine believers can apostatize. The God who calls believers will see to it that they will reach their destination, participation in the divine nature (see the comment on 2 Pet 1:3). Furthermore, we saw in 1 Pet 1:5, from the same author (see the commentary there), that God guards believers so that they will certainly [emphasis his], not probably, obtain eschatological salvation. Peter did not contradict himself, teaching in one place that believers can fall away and in another that they cannot.

  3. The buying is actual and soteriological, but the application of the purchase is still potential, based upon true belief. This is the standard unlimited atonement view of those that believe that true believers cannot become apostate. Schriener believes this view has issues because it

    seems to say that eschatological judgment will be the destiny of those who were bought by the Lord, who were members of the church, who, apparently, acknowledged Jesus Christ at some point as their Lord and Savior. The verse does not refer to people in general who are the potential beneficiaries of Christ’s death [emphasis his].

    So he sees issues (rightly, I think) with the actuality of the purchase only ending up being potential in the acquiring of what was purchased.

  4. The buying is phenomenological language (i.e. by appearance), not actual. This is Schriener's view:

    I would suggest that Peter used phenomenological language. In other words, he described the false teachers as believers because they made a profession of faith and gave every appearance initially of being genuine believers. Peter did not refer to those who had been outside the community of faith but to those who were part of the church and perhaps even leaders among God’s people. Their denial of Jesus Christ reveals that they did not truly belong to God, even though they professed faith. Peter said that they were bought by Jesus Christ, in the sense that they gave every indication initially of genuine faith."

    But Schriener's phenomenological view has two serious flaws. First, he builds it upon the phenomenology of the apparent "Christian" walk the false teachers had in looking like real Christians in the later verses; yet the "buying" of them is not something observable, that is, Peter cannot be calling on any observable phenomenon in that transaction to build his statement upon. But second, and the more fatal flaw, is that the denial of their own buying by the Lord is the chief "destructive heresy" that Peter says will bring their "swift destruction." That is, the purchase must be something actual that they, in their false ways, are denying. If they were denying something that did not occur, then one could hardly condemn them for being "false" or "heretical" for that denial.

As you can see from my comments above either in agreeing with Schriener, or in opposition with his view, each of those views has issues reconciling the verse in my opinion. Before I get to my view, which is not one that Schriener covered, let's discuss the passage itself further.

Context of 2 Peter 2:1

Given the meaning of ἀγοράζω as an exchange of one thing for another in a purchase arrangement (as in note #1 below) and that purchase being denied as a basis for the chief condemnation of the false teachers in 2 Pet 2:1 (as I noted in my opposition to Schriener's view in point #4 above), Peter must be making a factual statement that some actual purchase of these false teachers occurred.

The word ἀγοράζω is not used otherwise in Peter's writings.2 The clear contexts where it is used of Christ's work are in Paul's writing (1 Cor 6:20, 7:23) and John's (Rev 5:9, 14:3). The composition of Revelation is likely after Peter's writing. However, 1 Corinthians is one of Paul's earliest epistles (ca. AD 53-54), also generally considered genuinely Pauline by even the most critical scholars), and the book of 2 Peter (if authored by Peter, as I hold, is ca. mid to late AD 60s) itself declares that Peter is familiar with some of Paul's writings (2 Pet 3:15-16).3 So there is circumstantial cause to see Peter possibly utilizing the same language as Paul from 1 Corinthians to refer to this purchase transaction that theologically is known as the atonement (of course Peter could have simply used the term himself, based on redemption language from the Hebrew bible [Old Testament]). The point here is that, theologically, the book of 2nd Peter in historical context may be drawing its theology from almost all of what is now termed both the Old and New Testaments, with just a few exceptions of later writings.

Peter also does not use the related ἐξαγοράζω (exagorazō), also used by Paul of Christ's redemption from the curse (Gal 3:13) and the Law (Gal 4:5).

What is clear, as Schriener also had noted in objection to John Owen's view, is that the terms, when used of God/Christ purchasing something in the New Testament, always refer elsewhere to the soteriological work of purchasing people from something and to God/Christ.

There is no reason to see Peter using it differently than Paul or John here:

  • Peter sees himself as one purchased, a "bondservant ... of Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 1:1a). There, δοῦλος (doulos) refers to the purchased state of a slave, hence "bondservant."
  • Peter sees himself in unity with those that acknowledge this relationship by faith, his primary audience of "those who have obtained like precious faith" (2 Pet 1:1b).
  • Peter sees the faithful as having "all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Pet 1:3a) and "having escaped the corruption [φθορά, phthora; in this context probably meaning depravity, but otherwise means destruction or decay, so in this case, moral decay] that is in the world through lust" (2 Pet 1:4b). This is the grounds for the believers holy behavior (2 Pet 1:5ff).
  • Peter sees, in contrast, these false teachers that have denied their purchase (denied being owned by God/Christ) are "slaves [δοῦλος] of corruption [φθορά]" (2 Pet 2:19). By denying their purchase by God, they are not liberated, but in bondage to that corruption. And so they "will utterly perish in their own corruption [φθορά], and will receive the wages of unrighteousness" (2 Pet 2:12b-13a).

So within the context of 2 Peter, Peter is using other slave language that goes along with the idea of a master (δεσπότης) as one who has purchased (ἀγοράζω) another person, and therefore has certain expectations of that one whom he has ownership and authority over.

We find the Owner's expectations further articulated in both positive (calling for holiness) and negative (anticipating eternal judgment/destruction) ways in 2 Peter:

  • Positive: "giving all diligence to add ... even more diligent to make your call and election sure" (1:5-10)
  • Negative: "destructive ways ... made to be caught and destroyed" (2:2-12)
  • Positive/Negative: "the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment" (2:9)
  • Negative: "the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men" (3:7)
  • Positive: "what manner of person ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness" (3:11)
  • Positive: "be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless" (3:14)
  • Negative: "untaught and unstable people twist [Paul's—yes, not Peter's specifically—writings, and 'the rest of Scriptures'] to their own destruction"

What Peter makes clear throughout the epistle is that the Owner has a right to demand what He will (holiness, godliness, etc.) and a right to judge those that do not meet His requirements. This indicates that both believers and unbelievers, saved and unsaved, are under His ownership, even if the latter do not recognize it.

Conclusion

To summarize thus far, every indication in the text of Peter shows that he means God/Christ made an actual, soteriological purchase transaction (of which Scripture only recognizes the atonement as such) of the false teachers, and thereby as His bondservants, they should recognize and embrace that fact, living holy lives because of it (as he calls the faithful to do as well); but those that do not recognize/embrace (unbelievers) it will face eternal judgment for it, and those true believers, "beloved," that get caught up into the lies of those that do not recognize/embrace it will "fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked" (2 Pet 3:17). Believers can still fall to temptation if they are not seeking to walk godly (2 Pet 2:9), not diligent in pursuit of that, thus being made "shortsighted, even to blindness, and [having] forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins" (2 Pet 1:9).

So if the atonement, the purchase of redemption, has actually been made for these false teachers that are evidently unbelievers (by their denial of the purchase), how is it that they end up in eternal judgment?

As I said above, I do not entirely agree with any of the four views Schriener gave. That is because my view of atonement differs from many modern scholars (meshing better with some of the early church fathers). So a fifth view would be:

  1. The buying is actual and soteriological, and the redemptive result will be their resurrection from the penalty of sin, which is death. In denying their purchase, they deny Christ's work to redeem them from the penalty. When they could have been made "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Pet 1:4), having "an entrance ... supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Pet 1:11; notice that the entrance into this kingdom is yet future for the believer in Peter's mind; other Scripture would indicate that the kingdom entrance comes after belief [Act 14:22], but is predicated on belief [Mt 18:3 et al.], being born of water and Spirit [Jn 3:5]), they instead find they are facing destruction.

This contrast of delayed entrance into the kingdom vs. destruction comes after the resurrection, when the unjust are resurrected to condemnation (Act 24:15, Jn 5:29) and face the second death of casting in the lake of fire (having been freed by Christ from the first, physical death) because of their unrighteousness, while the just are resurrected to eternal life (also Act 24:15, Jn 5:29, along with other passages, such as Jn 2:25), and enter freely the gates of the kingdom capital, New Jerusalem (Rev 21:27, 22:14). Notice that Peter himself speaks of the burning destruction of the heavens and earth (2 Pet 3:10-12), which fire on "the day of judgment" is tied as well to the "perdition of ungodly men" (2 Pet 3:7), as the fire is part of their "punishment for the day of judgment" (2 Pet 2:9).

God restrains judging the earth at this time because He is "longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet 3:8). In context, that "us" refers to the "beloved," of which some still need to repent (become believers) and leave their ungodliness, for in context, the perishing refers back to the judgment of the ungodly in v.7. So God gives time for those that will yet come to accept the Lord who bought them, while reserving those that deny that purchase to their judgment for denying that God made such a purchase of them.

The false teachers are bought, just as all humanity was, and so will be redeemed from death by the resurrection that Christ has purchased. Those that accept it and believe will find eternal life, those that deny it and disbelieve will find eternal judgment. Both outcomes by the decree of the One Who bought them all, having rights of ownership to reward or punish as He sees fit.

NOTES

1 The "bought" is an aorist active singular masculine participle form of the verb ἀγοράζω (agorazō), making it the noun ἀγοράσαντα (agorasanta), and hence translated "who bought." The verb has the idea of acquiring something in exchange for something (usually money).

It should be understood that the word translated "Lord" here is not the typical κύριος (kurios), but the accusative form of δεσπότης (despotas), which has a slightly stronger idea of legal control and ownership of persons than κύριος, which is more generally legal control of property. Both carry an idea of authority. The use of the term δεσπότης is not clear cut that it refers to Jesus Christ, as it generally is used of God (the Father, in my Trinitarian view), with a clear contrast of use in Jude 4. But even if it is God the Father, it seems unarguable that the purchase He made was itself via the transaction of Christ on the cross, which is really the only "purchase" by God in Scripture.

For the above info, see the entries for the Greek words in William Arndt, Frederick W. Danker, Walter Bauer, and F. Wilbur Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000).

2 I hold a view that the apostle Peter is the one who wrote 1st and 2nd Peter, and that the text is inspired by God. These presuppositions are not defended here.

3 The direct context of the statement on the familiarity with Paul's writings does not itself indicate 1 Corinthians is a candidate (see my answer to this question here). But that does not mean Peter is only familiar with Paul's writings that might be directly tied to the context of 2 Pet 3:15-16. And even here, the "purchase" language does still deal with "salvation" (which is a topic of the direct context there, per v.15).

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There is nothing in this particular text that refers literally to salvation or states that the false prophets or false teachers were at one time "saved", unless one equates being bought or (redeemed) with being "saved".

So I don't think this particular text alone means that the false prophets and teachers had somehow "received salvation" but had since "lost it." Drawing that conclusion would require either:

(a) accepting as a premise a priori that being bought, as stated in 2 Peter 2:1, means the same thing as to be saved; or

(b) drawing the conclusion before hand from other Scriptures that "being bought" means the same thing as "being saved."

The only other reference to "saving" (σῴζω - sōzō) or "salvation" (σωτηρία - sōtēria; σωτήριον - sōtērion) in 2 Peter is in 3:15, which the NIV translates as:

Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him.

This is a little distorted, as the Greek text does not actually say that the Lord's patience means salvation, but rather something like the Lord's patience [is] salvation (there is no verb present). The meaning is that Lord awaits patiently for more persons to come to be saved, not that the Lord's patience is actually what saves a person.1 In any case, there seems to be nothing in 2 Peter that implies that the author believed that "being bought" was equivalent to "being saved".

We could turn to the other Petrine Epistle (acknowledging, though, that it might not be from the same author). Here, it is declared, again quoting the NIV:

For it is time for judgment to begin with God’s household; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? And, “If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?” (1 Peter 4:17-18)

This verse shows that the author understood that salvation comes from obeying the gospel of God. This particular verse also indicates that the author understood being righteous (or just or justified - essentially the same in Greek: δίκαιος - dikaios) as being something different than being saved, since otherwise it would make no sense to say that it is hard for the righteous to be saved.

This teaching in 1 Peter - that salvation comes from obeying the Gospel - is entirely consistent with what is taught elsewhere in Scripture. According to John, Jesus Himself taught that He will make His abode with those who keep His word and that He would reveal Himself to those who keep His commandments (John 14:21,23). At the "Great Commission", Christ - at least according to Matthew - instructed the Apostles to not only baptize, but to teach those baptized to observe all that I have commanded you (28:19-20). Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,', said Christ (according to Luke), and do not do what I say? (6:46).

Thus, I don't believe it makes sense to think of the false prophets or teachers as having been saved or not saved at some point. Because salvation ultimately comes from obeying the Gospel, nothing would have been assured until the end of their lives, when they are judged according to their works (erga):

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God “will repay each person according to what they have done." (Romans 2:5-6)

One thing God has spoken, two things I have heard: “Power belongs to you, God, and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”; and, “You reward everyone according to what they have done.” (Psalm 62:11-12)

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. (Revelation 20:12)

As well the parable of the final judgment (Matthew 25:36-41).


1. See, e.g., Bede, Commentary on 2 Peter

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'Once Justified Always Justified'

The idea that one can be justified and never subsequently fall away from that state is a doctrinal novelty, and contradicts many explicit passages of Scripture.e.g. Rom 11:21-22; 6:15-16; Mt 5:29-30; 7:24-27 etc. You can fall away after being 'saved' by Jesus, just as Adam could fall away from his intitial state of justification or amity with God.Gn 1:31,3:17 Likewise the angles once justified.2 Pet 2:4 There is no robbing of the free will to become reprobate in the New Testament, else there cannot be true love and a relationship with God. That one cannot misuse or abuse grace is contrary to Scripture.Jude 1:4

Probably the most straightfoward and explicit passage which refutes this idea is Hebrews 10:28-30.

Hebrews 10:28-31 (AKJV)

He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose you, shall he be thought worthy, who has trodden under foot the Son of God, and has counted the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and has done despite to the Spirit of grace? For we know him that has said, Vengeance belongs to me, I will recompense, said the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

But right there in 2 Peter 2, is just as clear on the subject:

2 Peter 2:20-22 (AKJV)

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it is happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

It's made clear here, especially given the 'again' language, that their first state, reprobation and unbelief, is contrasted with the escape of the defilements of the world found in Christ alone. They were justified and ingratiated with teh grace of Christ, or they could not have done so (otherwise is to deny the need for Christ to do so).

Jesus likewise commands believers to remain in Him, else they are damned. Which wouldn't make sense if they could not not remain in Him:

John 15:1-10 (AKJV)

I am the true vine, and my Father is the farmer. Every branch in me that bears not fruit he takes away: and every branch that bears fruit, he purges it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches: He that stays in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. If [any] abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done to you. Herein is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; so shall you be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you: continue you in my love. If you keep my commandments, you shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.


False Doctrine = No Handle on Who Christ Truly Is, And No Salvation

1 Timothy 4:16 (AKJV)

Take heed to yourself, and to the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this you shall both save yourself, and them that hear you.1

By corrupting the saving doctrines of the Gospel, then, you will not be saved, obviously.

The many, many passages warning believers not to be decieved is to prevent this kind of being carried away by false doctrine, which will lead to damnation.e.g. Eph 5:5-8


The text says that this person was redeemed or bought, not that they only thought they had been but really weren't. Passage of Scripture like 1 John 2:19 and others like them merely speak of the objective reality underlying or explaining apostasy—it is true that you were not ultimately saved if you later openly profess apostasy yourself, because you perhaps forfeited it by, for example, not enduring to the end, by succumbing to wickedness.Mt 24:12; Heb 10:36; Lk 21:19; Rom 2:7

The promise of endurance to believers is that He is ready and able to "keep you from sin."Jude 1:24 He isn't going to if you will contrary to that, not submitting your to His.Heb 10:26-27; Gal 5:19-21 Jesus promises He will not cast us off from Him,Jn 10:29 but some people confuse this with believers not casting themselves off from God.Mt 10:33 Or have the nonsensical idea that something recieved as a gift cannot be just as easily forfeited as it is accepted, as 'accepting' (volition) implies.

Yet it says they went on to deny their Master, which is unquestionably Jesus Christ.Jude 1:4 They might not have been saved (if we take saved in the proper, ultimate sense of objectively being of the elect which are to inherit heaven) but they were certainly justified. You cannot escape the pullutions of the world in the knowing of Jesus Christ, except by Christ.

"His atonement has not taken effect for their sin and they will be condemned" is true: His grace won't be applied to them, and they will therefore not be justified. Which is to inherit Hell instead.

Hebrews 5:9

and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;


1 Being a bishop, it is Timothy's profession to teach sound doctrine. 2 Tim 4:3; Titus 2:1; 1 Cor 9:14 cf. Jas 3:1; Wis 6:3-4,6

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    Care to share how? :] Nov 28 '17 at 14:35
  • "To be justified is an eternal matter" "It is irrevocable" This is precisely what I set out to refute, as it stands in the way of the truth concering the question. The examples given preclude this doctrine: the angels, Adam, and the Scripture passages showing it to not be the case. In other words, which argument(s) do you disagree with, that I might have made in my answer? Nov 28 '17 at 16:35
  • I believe you are confused: eternal life refers to the kind of life, not the period during which you are entitled to that as an inheritance. If I have an everlasting fountain pen, it doesn't mean I'll always have the pen, or always have access to it. I may lose it, give it away, forfeit it, whatever. This is why Scripture constantly warns us to persevere and endure to the end, to run the race—all run indeed, but not all recieve the prize. Nov 28 '17 at 17:21
  • I think the question related to being saved or not saved, not being justified or not justified.
    – user33515
    Dec 2 '17 at 4:56
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The text does not say that these people were justified. The word δικαιοο, dikaioo, is not there. Nor does the text say that they were redeemed - in the full sense of redemption. The word απολυτροσις, apolutrosis, is not there.

What is there is αγοραζο, agoratso, which is the visible effect of redemption, that is the separating of persons from the world. Agorazo and exagorazo express the acquiring of persons out of certain conditions.


'Whom he justified, them he also glorified,' Romans 8:30, indicates the irrevocable effect of Divine justification. But who are they ? Are all justified who say they are ?


Agora is not the 'market place' as some have tried to argue. It is the place of concourse, properly. The two words, agoratso and exagoratso, express the removal of persons out of the concourse of humanity, as a result of redemption. The degree of difficulty, depending on the conditions in context, is expressed by the addition of the ex.

But many will be separated from the world and gathered into congregation who are not, actually, redeemed and justified. They are only apparently so. And some of these will start to teach others. Having opened their mouths they will expose themselves for what they truly are.

They were not justified by God himself. They had never been redeemed. But the gospel had influenced them, apparently. Or they had alinged themselves with it in order to have a place in a religious society ( with all of the advantages that come with that privilege).

Thus once they speak their bad doctrine they deny him who had (apparently) separated them from the concourse of humanity, agoratso. And indeed, he had been the cause of their separation. It was his gospel. It was his church.

But they denied the very one whose influence they had come under. They denied, in their doctrine, the very Lord who had gathered the people together.

Thus denying the Lord, their destruction is a certainty.


For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea and gathered of every kind : which, when it was full, they drew to the shore and sat down and gathered the good into vessels . . .

but cast the bad away.

Matthew 13: 47, 48.

So shall it be at the end of the world : the angels shall come forth and sever the wicked from among the just[ified], and shall cast them into the furnace of fire.

There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.


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  • "The text does not say that these people were justified ..." I think her question related to salvation and not justification.
    – user33515
    Dec 2 '17 at 5:00
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Human freedom is indestructible even after one becomes a Christian, i.e. even after one is metaphorically "bought" by Jesus with His blood, and becomes, thus, His "slave" (δούλος) (1 Cor. 6:20), again metaphorically, for He who enjoined His disciples to be His friends (John 15:15), and who gave them authority to call His co-eternal Father also their Father (John 20:17) will not suffer slaves in His eternal Kingdom.

Thus, He warns that even those who accept Him and His words eagerly, can wither in faith through idleness, negligence, earthly pleasures (Matthew 13:20-21) and Lord will not cultivate their salvational faith for them, He will not be so disrespectful to their dignity in freedom: He will never "hypnotize" anybody to salvation, or give it to anybody by chance.

Therefore, even greatest Christians should take heed, lest they fall, lest the fate of the five foolish virgins befalls also them (Matt 25:1-13): for those five virgins symbolize chaste Christians, who nevertheless did not gather and multiply oil of mercy in their lives, and therefore have fallen out of the Kingdom, in which only merciful and loving people live, for everything else, even chastity and virginity, must serve to love and mercy, which is the fulfillment and goal (1 Tim. 1:5) and without the latter, the former is futile; but not only futile, but dangerous also, for one may conceive an illusion that those things that are auxiliary for the goal of attaining mercy and charity are themselves goals, and thus think that he is pleasing Jesus through them. Such people will be surprised in a bad way when Jesus will tell them that He does not know them notwithstanding the fact they did great deeds and even worked miracles in His name (Matt 7:22-23).

Thus, the salvific grace of God which is bestowed upon us only through faith of His only-begotten Son, is for us to cultivate and increase as the most precious talent given to us in order to return it to the Giver with interest (Matt 25:14-30), and unless we do it, we will deserve not salvation, but wrath, and even that which we thought we possessed will be taken away from us (Luke 8:18).

Thus, Jesus warns us to be alert and not become like a foolish servant whose part will not be in the Kingdom (Matt 24:48), and Paul warns Christians to work their salvation if fear and tremble (Phil. 2:12).

And, eventually, a Christian life and a Christian doctrine are closely interconnected, and the first influences the second, therefore even doctrine can be corrupted if one does not cultivate Christ in his heart, if one does not grow and progress in Christ. Therefore, also Paul says that there will be a distinction between Christians in their understanding of Christ and that it is a right thing that there will be quarrels between them, so that the better and genuine doctrines may be separated from worse and false ones (1 Cor. 11:19).

To give an example: if someone, say, Bob, has to learn koine Greek grammar with a purpose to read the New Testament and become steeped in the wisdom of those inspired writings; now, for each grammatical rule learned Bob gets a scoop of an ice-cream, to boost his desire to study; initially Bob has a healthy attitude to learning the Greek, and even to eating the ice-cream, as related towards the aim of reading the NT in original and growing in divine wisdom. However, in the course of learning grammar he starts loving ice-cream so much, that forgets about the purpose of learning the grammar - acquiring, in the infinite process, the divine eternal wisdom - and starts teaching a novel doctrine that learning the Greek grammar is good for getting scoops of ice-cream, and such a stupid doctrine will eventually bring Bob's destruction, for what is, in fact, destruction other than depriving oneself of growing in divine wisdom?

Similarly, there can come up Christians who would forget about the eternity and teach about Christ without reference to the eternal salvation; without reference to the selfless sacrificial love towards others, in the manner of Christ's love, who gave Himself for salvation of others and commanded His followers to do the same (John 15:13) through Him (John 15:5); however, those mentioned will teach about "Christ" tamed according to their own limited and egotistic pleasures and desires, for their own depravity and destruction: they will not shatter and break their own created limitations being touched by the uncreated limitlessness of Christ in order to emit a fragrance of His glorification, like that jar of precious ointment shattered by the woman in order to anoint Jesus (Matt. 26:13), but on the contrary, they will stupidly try to circumscribe the uncircumscribable and uncreated Logos of God within their limited, created and circumscribed natures and the natural desires, forgetting about the supra-natural, the eternal and the uncreated, and this for their own destruction.

Thus, a Christian leading a fleshly and worldly life, will develop a misconceived idea about Christ the Savior, whose sincere and rightful following will rather make him long for the eternal things and not temporal (Matt 6:20). But, since they are not growing in Christ, they also degrade in Christian life (for not growing in Christ is impossible without also degrading) and this degradation will bring also degradation of the doctrine in all those Christians, who once received Him as God, but then made Him wither in their heart and, subsequently, their own bellies (i.e. earthly interests) became their god (Phil. 3:19). Such will of course develop a foul teaching about Jesus, complacent rather to their earthly strivings, for their own destruction, than to God's calling towards His invisible and eternal riches (2 Cor. 4:18).

This is the reason for why Paul is emphatic that Christians should not put hope in Christ only for the matters of this earthly life, but primarily and principally for their eternal life (1 Cor. 15:19), and there is no limit in understanding and mystically perceiving what the eternal life is - and this knowledge is not something that one can have without practicing the life in Christ, without growing in Christ. Thus, as there are differences in growth of different Christians, so there is a difference of grace and glory acquired by them, for a star differs from a star by glory (1 Cor. 15:41), and so also doctrines differ from each other by their depth, paradoxality, splendor and glory.

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I believe the sense is that they will "disappoint the employer that hired them". This is an allusion to:

NIV Nehemiah 13:2because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam to call a curse down on them. (Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.)

The sense of "bought" might refer to a bribe, as in "bought them off".

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