The Master and His Slaves
2 Peter 2:1
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you…

There were three great stains on the civilisation of the world into which Christianity came — war, the position of women, and slavery. The relation of the New Testament to the last of these great evils naturally connects itself with the words before us. This same wicked thing, slavery, is used as an illustration of the highest, sacredest relationship possible to men — their submission to Jesus Christ. With all its vileness, it is still not too vile to be lifted from the mud, and to stand as a picture of the purest tie that can bind the soul. The word in our text for "Lord" is an unusual one, selected to put the idea in the roughest, most absolute form. It is the root of our word "despot," and conveys, at any rate, the notion of unlimited, irresponsible authority. Nor is this all. One of the worst features of slavery is that of the market, where men and women and children are sold like cattle. And that has its parallel too, for this Owner has bought men for His. Nor is this all; for, as there are fugitive slaves, who "break away every man from his master," and when questioned will not acknowledge that they are his, so men flee from this Lord and Owner, and by words and deeds assert that they owe Him no obedience, and were never in bondage to Him.

I. CHRIST'S ABSOLUTE OWNERSHIP. To material things and forces He spake as their great Commander, saying to this one "GOD" and he went, and showing His Divinity, as even the pagan centurion had learned, by the power of His word, the bare utterance of His will. But His rule in the region of man's spirit is as absolute and authoritative, and there too "His word is with power." Loyola demanded from his black-robed militia obedience so complete that they were to be "just like a corpse," or "a staff in a blind man's hand." Such a requirement made by a man is of course the crushing of the will and the emasculation of the whole nature. But such a demand yielded to from Christ is the vitalising of the will and the ennobling of the spirit. The owner of the slave could set him to any work he thought fit. So our Owner gives all His slaves their several tasks. As in some despotic Eastern monarchies the sultan's mere pleasure makes of one slave his vizier and of another his slipper-bearer, our King chooses one man to a post of honour and another to a lowly place; and none have a right to question the allocation of work. What corresponds on our parts to that sovereign freedom of appointment? Cheerful acceptance of our task, whatever it be. The slave's hut, and little patch of garden ground, and few bits of furniture, whose were they — his or his master's? If he was not his own, nothing else could be his own. And whose are our possessions? If we have no property in ourselves, still less can we have property in out" properly. These things were His before and are His still. Such absolute submission of will and recognition of Christ's absolute authority over us, our destiny, work, and possessions, is ennobling and blessed. We learn from historians that the origin of nobility in some Teutonic nations is supposed to have been the dignities enjoyed by the king's household — of which you find traces still. The king's master of the horse, or chamberlain, or cupbearer, becomes noble. Christ's servants are lords, free because they serve Him, noble because they wear His livery and bear the mark of Jesus as their Lord.

II. THE PURCHASE ON WHICH THAT OWNERSHIP IS FOUNDED. This master has acquired men by right of purchase That abomination of the auction-block may suggest the better "merchandise of the souls of men which Christ has made when He bought us with His own blood as our ransom. First, then, that is a very beautiful and profound thought, that Christ's lordship over men is built upon His mighty and supreme sacrifice for men. We are justified in saying to Him, "O Lord, truly I am Thy servant" only when we can go on to say, "Thou hast loosed my bonds." Then consider that the figure suggests that we are bought from a previous slavery to some other master. He that committeth sin is the slave of sin. If the Son therefore make you free, you shall be free indeed.

III. THE RUNAWAYS. We do not care to inquire here what special type of heretics the apostle had in view in these solemn words, nor to apply them to modern parallels which we may fancy we can find. It is more profitable to notice how all godlessness and sin may be described as denying the Lord. All sin, I say, for it would appear very plain that the people spoken of here were not Christians at all, and yet the apostle believes that Christ had bought them by His sacrifice, and so had a right over them, which their conduct and their words equally denied. How eloquent that word "denying" is on Peter's lips! It is as if he were humbly acknowledging that no rebellion could be worse than his, and were renewing again his penitence and bitter weeping after all those years. All sin is a denial of Christ's authority. It is in effect saying, "We will not have this man to reign over us." It is at bottom the uprising of our own self-will against His rule, and the proud assertion of our own independence. It is as foolish as it is ungrateful, as ungrateful as it is foolish. That denial is made by deeds which are done in defiance or neglect of His authority, and it is done too by words and opinions.

(A. Maclaren, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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.

WEB: But false prophets also arose among the people, as false teachers will also be among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction.

False Teachers
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