2 Peter ii. 1.
OUR views on this scripture are called for by sister “E. B.” as will be seen in the postscript of her letter on page 21. of this number. The principle difficulty complained of in understanding the subject, is involved in the words, The Lord that bought them, applied to those who in verse 3, are subjects of judgment and damnation. By reference to our remarks on the 6th verse of this chapter, in our last number, the reader will discover that we hold those characters to be the angels which kept not their first estate. The text on which we are now to remark reads thus - ” 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, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”
This epistle was addressed to the Hebrew brethren, such as had been scattered abroad by the persecution; this will appear by reference to the introduction of the first epistle; as also from his allusion to their having been addressed on the same subject, of the second coming of Christ, by our beloved brother Paul. See Chap. iii. 15. We will now proceed to notice the text - But there were false prophets also among the people, viz: among the people of Israel, to which nationally or according to the flesh, these brethren, as well as the false teachers belonged. This fact requiring for its confirmation nothing more than a reference to the Old Testament history of Israel, in almost every page of which these sinning angels, false prophets, sons of Belial, &c., were detected. Hence, from this palpable fact that in all ages of Israel the people were infested with false prophets, so now when Jesus was ascended, and before he should be revealed in the utter destruction of Jerusalem, these Jewish converts to the christian faith, might, with certainty expect to be troubled with false teachers from the same quarter, viz: from among the Jews. In confirmation of our view of this subject we refer the reader to the solemn admonition of our Lord, to his disciples before he ascended. He told them He was going away, but would shortly return to them with pow& and great glory, and that some of them should live to witness the fulfilment of this promise; but they begged him to tell them when these things should be, and what would be the sign of his coming and of the end of the world? (i.e. that world). To which enquiries Jesus answered and said - ” Take heed that no man deceive you; for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” Matt. xxiv. 3 - 5. Again in same Chap. ver. 11. “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many;” again verses 23 - 27. “Then if any shall say unto you, Lo here is Christ, or lo there, believe it not. For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold I have told you: For as the lightening cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” The testimony of our Lord in the concluding part of the xxiv. Chap. of Matt. and the instructions contained in the parables in the xxv. Chap., settles the point in regard to who these false prophets and false teachers were, and from whence they were. He calls. them his own servants, wicked servants, slothful servants, &c., also by the parable of the virgins, they are clearly presented as being of the stock of Abraham after the flesh, and were then, and soon should be found among his nominal disciples. Our readers will perceive that Peter was now addressing the scattered saints, under these very circumstances, and impressing on them these admonitions of his, and of our Lord. There shall be false teachers among you; among you who are now waiting the fulfilment of your Lord’s predictions; you who are not to see death until these things are fulfilled; until your Lord shall be revealed in flaming fire, taking vengeance on the Jews, in the destruction of Jerusalem, and to be admired by all who love his appearing. These false teachers should bring in damnable heresies; saying I am Christ, and lo here is Christ, and lo there; and “Since the fathers have fallen asleep, all things remain as they were, and where is the promise of his coming?” These were damnable heresies, and even amounted to denying the Lord that bought them. For they could not set themselves or any thing else up as Christ, without denying the true Christ; and. such heresy is damnable, because if Christ be rejected or denied, in his absence there is nothing can save from damnation. Hence could they, or could our modern false christs who set themselves up as intercessors, revival makers, &c., establish their doctrines, it would make the damnation of all who trust in Christ alone inevitable. But the main question with our sister is: “How can it be said that the Lord bought those false teachers, whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not and their damnation slumbereth not?” We have shown that these false prophets alluded to by Peter, were members of the national family of Israel, and on this account were called servants, foolish virgins; wicked and slothful servants, &c., it therefore remains for us to show how the Lord bought them. And first we take the ground that it was not in the redemption purchase, by which his elect are redeemed from damnation, or their damnation would slumber; nor are they redeemed from all iniquity, see Titus ii. 14, or they would not continue in the iniquitous course of promulgating damnable heresies, nor from wrath and the curse of the law, or their judgment, which dooms them to flaming fire, and utter destruction, would at least linger. But the question returns, How then were they bought? We answer, in that redemption purchase, by which the whole family of national Israel were delivered from the house of bondage in Egypt, and elevated to a distinction above all other nations then under heaven. There redemption from Egypt is often referred to as being highly figurative of the redemption purchase which Christ has with his own blood, made of his own church from sin, death and hell, from the demands, wrath and curse of the law of God, and which secures to them all the benefits of Christ’s mediatorial office. But while they in their distinct character as a nation were typical of the true and heavenly Jerusalem, they were only the Jerusalem which then was, and which was in bondage with her children, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. That judgment that lingered not, and that damnation that slumbered not, may well be called swift destruction; and this as far as related to a temporal display of their judgment, &c., was most dreadfully realized by those false prophets, when the sign was descried of the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. Their destruction was swift, like the vivid flash that leaping from the east shineth even unto the remote west, without allowing time for those who were upon the housetop to come down, to take any thing out of the house, nor such as were in the field to return to their houses. Behold, said Jesus, I have told you before! “As the days of Noah were, so shall the coming of the Son of man be; for as in the days that were before the flood, they were eating and drinking, and marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” In this awful calamity those false teachers might consider this disdress as brought by themselves, as abundant warning had been given unto one and all to watch; yet setting aside all these admonitions of Christ and His apostles, they were swept away by these overflowing judgments. Under the influence of the spirit of God the apostle Peter very well knew, that while these vile perverters of the truth of God were drawing away many from their steadfastness, that these impending judgments were gathering thick; and although they may count it pleasure to riot in the day time, and in the full light of all those admonitions which began to be spoken by Christ, and were confirmed and reiterated by those that heard him; and although they may be willingly and criminally ignorant of God’s manner of computing time, (Chap. iii. 5.) and say, Where is the promise of his coming? verse 4; still the apostle knew and testified, The day of the Lord would come as a thief in the night, in which those old Jewish heavens should pass away with a great noise, &c. Nevertheless the apostle and many of the primitive saints, according to his promise, looked for (and finally realized) a new heavens and a new earth wherein dwelleth Righteousness, or wherein Christ should dwell.
From all the above-named considerations, Peter warned the saints, seeing they looked for such things, to improve from the circumstances in which they were placed; and we at this late age may also derive from these examples instruction in righteousness, to beware of false teachers, to watch and be sober; for we who have been by divine grace admitted into that heaven, wherein Jesus dwelleth, which the apostles looked for, how much more does it become us to consider what manner of persons we ought to be, in all holy conversation and godliness.
ALEXANDRIA, D. C.,
January 15, 1840.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 1
Pages 580 – 585