Question : I am a student at (certain college). My question is concerning "once saved always saved." My friend doesn't believe in eternal salvation. Her reason for not believing is 2 Peter 2:21. Can you please tell me what this verse is really saying?
Answer: 2 Peter 2:21 says,
“For it had been better for them not to have known (Greek "epiginosko" and means "to have a knowledge of, but not to partake in.") the way of righteousness, than, after they have known (epiginosko) it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.”
2 Peter 2 deals with false teachers, beginning in Verse 1,
“...there were false prophets among the people...there shall be false teachers among you...”...who... shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them...
Verse 2 says,
“...many shall follow their pernicious ways, by reason of whom the WAY OF TRUTH shall be evil spoken of.”
These false teachers are deniers of the truth. They know (epiginosko) the truth, as 2 Peter 2:21 says; but, they do not BELIEVE the truth. They “turn from” the truth and preach a perverted, or accursed, message of reformation or good works for salvation (Galatians 1:6-9). They have not lost their salvation. They never possessed it, because they never accepted Christ!
In Verse 3, Peter warns that these false teachers,
"...with feigned words will make a merchandise of you...”
The example of Balaam, who preached for gain, is given in Verse 15. They lead others astray with their false message. The blood of those that go into a Christ-less eternity will be on the hands of the false teachers, and God will judge them for it (Ezekiel 33:8). That is why 2 Peter 2:21 says,
"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 unto them."- 2 Peter 2:21
There are degrees of punishment in Hell (Revelation 20:13).
Peter warns the followers of these false teachers with examples of the judgment that falls on those who do not accept God’s truth. In Verse 4, everlasting fire for the angels that sinned (Matthew 25:41). In Verse 5, the “old world” perished in the flood because they did not believe the preaching of Noah. We see the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Verses 6-8. If we die without accepting Christ’s payment on the cross for our sin, we will spend eternity in Hell (John 3:36).
Verses 10 through 20 describe the false teachers:
“Presumptuous...self-willed (10). “...speak evil of the things they understand not...(the Gospel) (12)” “...sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you....(13)” “Wells without water...(17)”
...or a message containing no truth about salvation by belief in Jesus Christ (John 4:14). They are like those in Matthew 7:22-23.
“...Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
“...Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved...” (Acts 16:31).