Master Deniers

There are some who would pause at the idea of people being able to deny the Master who bought them. What does that mean?
Take a look:
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. ()
We usually think this verse is talking about being purchased with the blood of Jesus. However I think that’s a bit hasty:
  1. This passage doesn’t say anything about blood.
  2. Nor does it mention Jesus Christ – it says “Master”.
  3. The above point is relevant because the Greek word used here for “Master” is actually used only of the Father, not of the Christ.
  4. Other than Zechariah’s prayer about the nation of Israel, this is the only verse in the New Testament with language about the Master (Father) buying anyone. That alone should pique our curiosity.
Let’s remember that “redeem” does mean “to purchase or buy back”. There’s a transaction taking place. ThingA is being given in exchange for ThingB. What does it mean for the Master to buy a person?

Some Suggestions

I’ve heard a few explanations for that verse, some of which I don’t find terribly compelling – but worth noting:
  • Arminians use this verse to say that Scriptures, plainly read, teach that we can use our salvation. Naturally, I reject this. Salvation cannot be lost.
  • Others would say that the false teachers are not denying that the Lord bought the false teachers, but rather, the false teachers are denying that the Lord purchased the believers. In English, it’s not clear who the pronoun “them” refers to. But this explanation sounds a little odd to me since Peter uses “you” in the previous part of the same sentence. Why would he change pronouns from “you” to “them” in the same sentence? So I’m not good with that explanation.
  • Within conservative circles, this verse is used to affirm the idea that Christ did the necessary work and now offers salvation to all. All that now remains is for the sinner to confess, believe and accept that free gift. I’m really not comfortable with this view because the verb is “bought”. That’s much stronger than “offer salvation”. Remember – the debt is owed to God, and Jesus is the one purchasing our salvation. If Jesus *paid* the Father and *bought* salvation ..that person is saved, period, whether he knows it or not. The same is true of any other financial transaction: if your rich uncle *bought* a house for you, you own it whether you know it or accept it. You may still consider yourself homeless, but you would be misinformed. So that explanation doesn’t sound quite right to me.
  • Perhaps the best explanation I’ve seen actually requires a bit more footwork. As noted earlier, this verse doesn’t mention Christ, and the word used for “Master/Lord” is always associated with the Father, not the Son. So that leads us to a rather odd (but very interesting!) question: does God purchase anyone in a sense that is distinct from the way Christ purchases people with His blood. Oddly enough, the answer is ‘yes’! And it’s a very interesting one.

Purchased of God

The first time we see God purchasing anyone is in Exod 15, where He saves the Israelites by killing the Egyptians in the Red Sea.
 
You will lead the people You have *redeemed* with Your faithful love; You will guide them to Your holy dwelling with Your strength. When the peoples hear, they will shudder; anguish will seize the inhabitants of Philistia. Then the chiefs of Edom will be terrified; trembling will seize the leaders of Moab; the inhabitants of Canaan will panic; and terror and dread will fall on them. They will be as still as a stone because of Your powerful arm until Your people pass by, LORD, until the people whom You *purchased* pass by. ()
 
The idea of this being a “purchase” is reinforced in , and -4 actually does say that He paid for Israel with the blood of men, giving the Egyptians, Cushite and Sabeans as a ransom for them!
More importantly, from Exod 15 onward, almost every single time the word “redeemed” is used in conjunction with salvation, it is a direct reference to this verse in Exodus, describing how God “redeemed” His people from slavery in Egypt. Here are a few: ; ; ; ; ; ; Is 51:10; Is 63:9; ; Your concordance will help you find more.
 
Are there other uses for the word “redeemed”? Yes:
  • There are about 11 references in Isaiah and one in Zech where God “redeemed” His people out of Babylon. ..but that’s the same motif as being redeemed out of Egypt, is it not?
  • There are a few references in Psalms where David and others were spared in a battle.
  • One reference to Abraham being redeemed out of Ur, the land of idolatry (again – strong similarities to the motif of Egypt and Babylon)
And that’s all!
So on the whole, the entire OT almost always uses the word “redeemed” to focus on God the Father bringing His people out of bondage in Egypt/Babylon.
 
Which leads us to a final question: is this “redemption” equivalent to eternal salvation – ie, the redemption we have in Jesus Christ, paid by His blood (as opposed to the blood of the Egyptians)?
 
The answer, of course, is a resounding “NO!”
No sooner were the Israelites out of Egypt that they started grumbling and complaining against their Maker, denying that He redeemed them (ie, golden calf), and pining for the delicacies of Egypt. God repeatedly says that they rebelled against Him and Hebrews says they did *not* enter the rest (meaning they are in hell, not heaven).
 
It would appear that God’s “purchase” / “redemption” of Israel is to set them aside out of the world of idolatry as a special people for His covenant. It does not mean they are saved from hell.
And if we’re to be consistent, the NT use of this word should suggest the same idea: God the Father (not Christ the Son) setting aside people for a special relationship. It does not mean they are saved from hell.
 
 
So when we see someone being “redeemed by the blood of Jesus” () or “redeemed in Christ our Lord” (, ), it’s talking about a permanent salvation from sin and hell. This is the kind of salvation that can never be lost, as Paul explains in .
 
 
Therefore, it is my conclusion that Peter is referring to God “buying” people in the sense of a special relationship (not a salvific relationship), and exposing them to the truth of His word. It does not mean they are saved. It is this “purchase” that the false teachers are denying. (and I think the rest of bears this out).
For more, check out the article “Two Boughts

2:1 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. (ESV)


13 “You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed;
you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode.
14 The peoples have heard; they tremble;
pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia.
15 Now are the chiefs of Edom dismayed;
trembling seizes the leaders of Moab;
all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away.
16 Terror and dread fall upon them;
because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone,
till your people, O Lord, pass by,
till the people pass by whom you have purchased. (ESV)


Remember your congregation, which you have purchased of old,
which you have redeemed to be the tribe of your heritage!
Remember Mount Zion, where you have dwelt. (ESV)


43:1 But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
he who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by name, you are mine. (ESV)


but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 9:26

26 And I prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord God, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.

Deuteronomy 13:5

But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

Deuteronomy 15:15

15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.

Deuteronomy 21:8

Accept atonement, O Lord, for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and do not set the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of your people Israel, so that their blood guilt be atoned for.’

Deuteronomy 24:18

but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 9:26

26 And I prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord God, do not destroy your people and your heritage, whom you have redeemed through your greatness, whom you have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.

Deuteronomy 13:5

But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of slavery, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

Deuteronomy 15:15

15 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.

Deuteronomy 21:8

Accept atonement, O Lord, for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and do not set the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of your people Israel, so that their blood guilt be atoned for.’

Deuteronomy 24:18

18 but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this. (ESV)


23 And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making himself a name and doing for them great and awesome things by driving out before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, a nation and its gods? (ESV)


21 And who is like your people Israel, the one nation on earth whom God went to redeem to be his people, making for yourself a name for great and awesome things, in driving out nations before your people whom you redeemed from Egypt? (ESV)


15 You with your arm redeemed your people,
the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah (ESV)


42 They did not remember his power
or the day when he redeemed them from the foe, (ESV)


10 So he saved them from the hand of the foe
and redeemed them from the power of the enemy. (ESV)


11 For the Lord has ransomed Jacob
and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him. (ESV)


For I brought you up from the land of Egypt
and redeemed you from the house of slavery,
and I sent before you Moses,
Aaron, and Miriam. (ESV)


In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, (ESV)


39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)


18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (ESV)


39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. (ESV)


2:1 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. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” (ESV)

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