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Does 1 John 2:19 Teach Eternal Security

Does 1 John 2:19 Teach Eternal Security

THEOLOGY BLOG

THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

 THEOLOGY

THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

DOES 1 JOHN 2:19 TEACH ETERNAL SECURITY?

DOES 1 JOHN 2:19 TEACH ETERNAL SECURITY?

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.  1 John 2:18-19

This passage has probably been one of the more difficult passages of scripture for me to interpret. Not because of the text itself but because of the way it was presented to me by eternal security advocates. However, upon a proper examination of this text it doesn’t seem to support eternal security at all.

The eternal security argument usually goes some thing like this “but they were never of us; for if they had ever been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us forever: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were never of us“. Notice that I added the words “never”, “ever” and “forever“, because that is what eternal security advocates are claiming that this text is saying. But before we begin to break down these verses, let’s first look at the passage in context.

Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. 1 John 2:18

John is speaking of people he calls “antichrist’s”, this is not talking about all believers. Essentially, these are false teachers who deny that Jesus has come in the flesh. They were gnostics who believed that all flesh was evil and that the spiritual realm was good, and therefore it didn’t matter how they lived because the flesh will always be sinful and it cannot effect the spirit. This is why they were denying that Jesus came in the flesh. So this is not a good passage to use to teach the eternal security of believers, because its not the topic being discussed. It falls into the category or an unclear passage and shouldn’t be used to interpret the clear passages which teach conditional security.

They went out from us, but they were not of us; 1 John 2:19

The passage here says that these false teachers went out from us, that is the fellowship of believers, but they were not of us. It does not say that they were never of us. It simply says that at the time they left us, they were not of us. That’s it. They left us because they were not of us at that point in time. We cannot insert the word “never” before the words “of us”.

For if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us. 1 John 2:19

This next section of the verse continues the flow and says that if they had been of us, they would have no doubt continued with us, but it still doesn’t add the words “never”, “ever” or “forever”. These words are assumed by eternal security advocates. John is referring to a group of anti-christs who left the company of believers at a particular point in time. He is not speaking of eternal security. Therefore, this passage can be understood as simply saying that if they had been of us, at the time which they departed from us, then they would have continued with us instead of departing from us. This shouldn’t be understood as saying they would have continued with us forever. The word forever is not used and John is referring to an event which took place at a particular point in time. Furthermore, that interpretation would contradict the clear passages which teach that a believer can lose their salvation. A objective reader, not polluted with once saved always saved opinions, would conclude that John is saying no more than this; if they had been believers when they left us then they would have continued with us instead of leaving us. 

The final words of the passage become simple to understand when this interpretation is accepted. These anti-christs went out from us instead of continuing with us so that it would be revealed that at that time they were not of us. We shouldn’t see this passage as an attempt by John to teach eternal security. He isn’t even touching the topic. I accept that these anti-christs may never have been believers. But the the fact that John does not discuss their prior condition nor does he say that anyone of us will continue with us forever, rules out this passage as a proof text for eternal security. 

With this interpretation being a plausible one, we ought then to interpret the vague and unclear passages in light of the clear ones. When we do that we will end up with conditional security rather eternal security. 

You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Romans 11:19-21

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away … If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. John 15:2, 6

Does Philippians 1:6 Teach Eternal Security?

Does Philippians 1:6 Teach Eternal Security?

THEOLOGY BLOG

THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

 THEOLOGY

  THINKING BIBLICALLY ABOUT GOD

DOES PHILIPPIANS 1:6 TEACH ETERNAL SECURITY?

DOES PHILIPPIANS 1:6 TEACH ETERNAL SECURITY

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Thanksgiving and Prayer I thank my God every time I remember you. In every prayer for all of you, I always pray with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:1-6

Philippians 1:6 is frequently misinterpreted as referring to the salvation and eternal security of the individual believer. However, that is not what the text is about. Neither the context nor the words used by Paul in this wonderful text support the idea that a believer’s salvation is eternally secured from the moment they believe. That belief would contradict many other passages of scripture which imply conditional security.

Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers. 1 Timothy 4:16

Instead, this text is speaking of the financial aid gift which the Philippians sent to the Apostle Paul for the advancement of the gospel. If we begin in Philippians 1:1 we see that Paul and Timothy are writing to the saints in Philippi along with the leaders of the church there. In Philippians 1:1-5 He informs them that whenever he prays for them he does so with joy because of their partnership in the gospel. This aspect of Paul’s words must not be overlooked. In Philippians 4:15-16 he speaks of this in more detail and brings to their memory the fact that in the early days no-one partnered with him in the matter of giving and receiving except the Philippians. Furthermore, Philippians 4:18 implies that they had just sent him another gift. This is what Paul is referencing in Philippians 1:5 when he says that he remembers them with joy because of their partnership with him in the gospel.

 

In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now  Philippians 1:4-5

 

Nevertheless, you have done well to share in my affliction. And as you Philippians know, in the early days of the gospel, when I left Macedonia, no church but you partnered with me in the matter of giving and receiving. For even while I was in Thessalonica, you provided for my needs again and again. Not that I am seeking a gift, but I am looking for the fruit that may be credited to your account. I have all I need and more, now that I have received your gifts from Epaphroditus. They are a sweet smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God. Philippians 4:14-18

With that context in mind, what is the good work Paul is referring to? It’s not salvation, its the giving of the gift to Paul isn’t it? This becomes especially clear to me when I noticed that verses 1-6 are all part of the exact same sentence. That changes the meaning of the passage completely. No longer can the passage be understood as a reference to eternal security. Paul is telling the Philippians that the good work which God began in them, namely their gift of financial aid, will continue to be perfected until Christ returns for his church at his second coming. Think about that, we are still continuing to benefit from that great work God which God began in the hearts of the Philippians saints today, and the church will continue to benifit from that gift until the very day Jesus Christ returns.

Even if you disagree with me on the interpretation of this verse, you still can’t get eternal security from it. This epistle was not written to you personally, it was written to the Philippians. Furthermore, Paul is not making a promise to the Philippians, he is expressing his confidence. He is confident that he who began a good work in them will continue to perfect it until the day of Christ. Even if you take this as a reference to salvation, Paul certainly doesn’t express this confidence to everyone.  In Galatians 5:4 Paul says the opposite to those who ceased trusting in Christ alone and put their trust in works. Both Philippians 1:6 and Galatains 5:4 need to be read in a way that both texts can be harmonised. The only way to accomplish this is by interpreting Philippians 1:6 in the manner I have outlined.

In conclusion, In Philippians 1:6 Paul is in no way teaching eternal security, neither is he making a promise to us or the Philippians. Rather, Paul is expressing his confidence that God will perfect the good work which he began in the hearts of the Philippians saints, namely the gift of financial aid from the Philippians to Paul, until the return of Christ.