(2 Pet. 2:1) Do false teachers lose their salvation?

CLAIM: Peter writes that these false teachers will undergo judgment, because they denied “the Master who bought them” (2 Pet. 2:1). How can it be possible that these men are “bought” by Christ, and yet, they are judged as the rest of the passage teaches (v.9, 17, 20-21)?

RESPONSE: This is only a difficulty for the five point Calvinist who holds to the doctrine of limited atonement. Under this view, Jesus only died for the elect, and he didn’t die for those predestined to hell. However, under our view, Jesus died for all people, whether they were believers or unbelievers (Jn. 1:29; 1 Jn. 2:2; 2 Cor. 5:19; 1 Tim. 4:10; Heb. 2:9; Titus 2:11; see “Limited Atonement: A Critique”). Therefore, it is possible that these false teachers were indeed “bought” by Christ, but they were never true Christians. Christ died for them, but they never really had saving faith.

To explain this, five point Calvinists argue that these false teachers merely claimed to be bought by Christ, but they really weren’t. For instance, five point Calvinist James Montgomery Boice writes, “The best approach is to think of this as describing what the unbelieving teachers claimed rather than what they had actually received from Jesus.”[1] But this twists the grammar of this passage. The passage doesn’t say that the teachers claimed to be bought by Christ; instead, Peter states that they were bought by Christ. Boice’s interpretation would work if Peter stated what the false teachers were claiming. But instead, here we have an inspired author making the claim that the false teachers were indeed bought by Christ—not the false teachers themselves. Therefore, this is an instance where someone is bought by Christ’s blood, but since they reject him, they never have salvation. Like a person who was given a million dollar check, they had the money in the bank, but they never cashed in on it. These false teachers were bought by Christ, but they never cashed in on this. For this reason, five point Calvinism has an inadequate interpretation of this passage.


[1] Boice, James Montgomery, and Philip Graham Ryken. The Doctrines of Grace: Rediscovering the Evangelical Gospel. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2002. 129.