How do the examples of God’s deliverance relate to his work in Christ Jesus?

In a previous article, I outlined two of numerous motivations for God’s deliverance of Noah and his family as described in 2 Peter 2. Recognizing these motivations broadens our viewpoint on any deliverance God may provide for those he calls righteous. It shows the greater depth of why God delivers some, and illustrates reasons that are not simply to protect a chosen group from experiencing something negative. These two motivations were:

  1. Protecting the seed and the lineage of the future Son of Man
  2. Ensuring the connection between the first Adam and the last Adam (Jesus Christ)

In this article, let’s continue to look deeper into 2 Peter 2 and examine the other examples of God’s deliverance cited there. Rather than try to arrive at two possible conclusions due to the differences in the way some define the Great Tribulation, we’ll operate from the presupposition that the Great Tribulation is an expression of Satan’s wrath, and the Day of the Lord is an expression of God’s wrath. This prevents us from encountering contradictions as we seek to understand the work of Jesus Christ as it relates to God’s deliverance.

To begin to see the relationship between the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord: Read more.

Deliverance for Some, Prison for Others

In the examples provided in 2 Peter 2, Peter’s objective is not just to show how God is able to rescue the Godly from trials. It’s also to show his power to restrain the wicked sufficiently so that the whole world throughout time is not engulfed in wickedness.

2 Peter 2:9-10a (ESV throughout)
9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.

As we review each example Peter gives, it’s important to distinguish which of these motivations applies. The contrast in motivation points to distinct objectives behind the will of God.

2 Peter 2:4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;

The example cited for the sinning angels hints to an underlying process and illustrates the certainty of God’s judgment:

  • The chains of darkness refers to being constrained. Those who’ve committed a crime are first charged, committed to jail, and await their trial and judgment by those with authority to judge.
  • They are held until future judgment
  • They are the first sinners Peter mentions in this group; sinning angels, the resulting flood upon the ungodly, followed by the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
  • It is recorded in the writings of Enoch, which Peter would have been familiar with, that these angels and their offspring were responsible for the rapid corruption of humanity which results in the judgment and flood by God(1) (Genesis 6).

2 Peter 2:5if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;

An obvious motivation for preserving Noah is his role and the example of righteousness he exhibits to the world. This example continues as a herald even today. As we well know, Noah and his family were exempt from God’s wrath and judgement applied to the ungodly. Let’s look further at God’s method of judgment.

  • For their part in the corruption of humanity, created to be God’s image-bearers, those of the ancient world are judged, and the payment for their sin is death (Romans 6:23).
  • They too are held in the darkness of the grave until a future judgment (Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:13) by the righteous judgement of Christ.

Part of Peter’s message in this chapter is to encourage those who are faithful to God and his Christ.

  • Just as exemption from God’s wrath is attributed to Noah, it is likewise attributed to those remaining faithful to our Lord until his return (Hebrews 11:6-7; 2 Thessalonians 1:5-7; Philippians 3:8-11).
  • Noah came through water and death, spending over a year in the ark(2) relying on God’s provision and exemption from wrath. Similarly we too come through death by water into the light and eternal life which is in Christ Jesus (Psalm 27:1; Fourth Gospel(3) 8:12; Romans 6).
  • Noah’s preservation through the flood speaks like a herald of God’s faithfulness toward those who acknowledge and are faithful to him.

2 Peter 2:6if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction [destruction], making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

  • Here is yet another example of severe corruption of those God created to be his image-bearers, though their corruption occurs post-flood.
  • Their destruction was complete and utter, an example to any who would live ungodly lives (2 Peter 3:1-13)
  • Their prison, like the pre-flood ungodly, is the same – the darkness of death and the grave.
  • Like the pre-flood ungodly, their judgment is yet future (Matthew 10:14-15; 11:22-24)

2 Peter 2:7and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked

  • The deliverance of Lot did not come at the beginning of his stay in Sodom, but at the end of it. After Lot departed Abraham, he appears to have dwelt in Sodom for sixteen years.(4) Over that time Lot endured their wicked behavior, yet didn’t take part in it, nor did his family. Certainly this would have brought the wrath of some upon Lot and his family, just as they sought to do upon the arrival of Lot’s guests (Genesis 19).
  • The wrath Lot was to be delivered from was not the wrath of the wicked, but the wrath of God’s judgment upon those cities and the ungodly who dwelt there (Genesis 19).

2 Peter 2:9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment,

  • The godly have surrendered to God’s will, to perform it and live it, even under duress.
    • They have no need for his wrath and correction unto death.
  • The ungodly however, have not submitted to the will of God. They are presumptuous and self-willed, walking according to the lusts of the flesh (vs 10).
    • They must endure God’s wrath and correction; the wages of sin is death.

Clearly the contrast Peter is making in this chapter is between ungodly living versus that of godly living. The one leads to destruction and death, and in some cases that death is brought about by God’s hand. It is later, in the future, that they will be delivered for judgment. Godly living on the other hand leads ultimately to God’s salvation and exemption from his wrath. The underlying purpose for the contrast between these two is not as obvious as traditionally held.

Deliverance of the Ungodly to Justice

To look further into what this contrast really means, we must consider the outcome intended for both groups. Let’s begin with the ungodly. On the surface, it appears that the ungodly are intended only for destruction. Yet when we step back and look first at the redemptive work of Christ, we can see that he lived, died, and was resurrected for these very same people.

Romans 5:6-11
6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 . . . 8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

Let’s make some observations based on what Paul is describing here:

  • God showed his love for us through Christ’s death. For who – Christians only? No. Christ died for all humanity, for all lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane. (1 Timothy 1:8-11)
  • Paul reminds believers that they too were once enemies of God, but instead received mercy and are now reconciled through Christ (vs 10-11). (1 Timothy 1:12-17)
  • We must therefore remember that we are not unique among the ungodly, except in being called according to the grace of God (2 Timothy 1:8-10).

It would appear that from Paul’s letter to the Romans and many other epistles, there is a common thread that connects the godly (those believing in God and his Christ) and the ungodly (those in unbelief) – that is at one time we all dwelt in unbelief (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Timothy 1:12-17).

However, we can’t come to any conclusion about those who remain in unbelief without first fully understanding God’s fundamental will and desire for all humanity. Then we must consider the process being used to achieve it. There isn’t sufficient room here to walk thoroughly through each of these presuppositions, so a brief introduction to each will have to do.

  1. Having already established that the Lamb of God has removed the sin of the world, we can see it is consistent with God’s desire that all come to repentance and live (Ezekiel 33:11).
  2. An underlying and primary purpose for God’s judgment, as illustrated in his relationship with Israel, is the use of his judgment to lead the ungodly to repentance (Ezekiel 18:30-32).
  3. Death is not a barrier to God or the work he is doing in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:4, 16-23)
    • Those enslaved to sin, the ungodly, are destined for death, the wages of sin.
    • Those called into Christ have come through death also, but through Christ’s death, that they might enter fully into his righteousness and eternal life at his appearing (Romans 5:5-9; 2 Timothy 4:7-8; Titus 2:11-14).
  4. The distinction between those in Christ and the ungodly is that believers are currently being called by God, hear his word of truth, and respond to the gift of grace and mercy through faith (Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 1:1-2; 1 Peter 1:1-2; 1 Peter 2:9-10).
    • These faithful enter into Christ’s righteous judgment daily as they work out their own salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13).
    • This follows the pattern of Hebrews 9:27 – through accepting Christ and his death, they enter into his righteous judgment as they grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord, bearing the fruit of the Holy Spirit as evidence of their repentance (Romans 5:5-9; 2 Peter 3:11-13,18; Matthew 7:18-20; Fourth Gospel 15:1-8,16; Galatians 5:22-24).
    • These faithful, called a kingdom and priests to our God, are only the firstfruits of salvation (Revelation 5:10; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; James 1:17-18). Those who are called the first are not the only.
    • Their salvation is not from the first death, but the second (Revelation 20:6). Many who died in Christ in order to live in Christ (Romans 6:7-8) still perished in the flesh and are buried. As it was for all the prophets and King David, so it is for Christ’s original apostles and all those who’ve believed from their words, they all died the first death (Acts 2:29-36; 13:36-37; Fourth Gospel 3:12-13).
  5. The ungodly don’t confront their Savior until the final judgment. It is only then, in the awareness of their resurrected physical life, do they consider taking the Lord at his word.
    • For some, this will be their first awareness of his truth. Yet all will be subject to the same righteous judgment, and all will need to choose whether to surrender to that righteous judgment or not (Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:48; Romans 2, especially verse 16).
    • All will recognize his Lordship, but not all will voluntarily surrender to that Lordship. (Psalm 8; 72; Daniel 7:13-14; Micah 4:1-5; Matthew 13:41-43; Philippians 2:9-10; Colossians 1:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 1:7; 19:11-20:6)
    • The final outcome for those who wish to remain lawless and disobedient, the ungodly and sinners, or unholy and profane is death; their end is the second death (Revelation 20:14-15). From this death there is no hope of resurrection.

For many, grasping the first four points is not a great challenge. There is a logical coherence to it. This can be attributed primarily to the amount of discussion it receives in the scriptures. The fifth point, on God’s righteous judgment, requires one to dig much deeper into scripture and into their own presuppositions in order to grasp it fully. It will be the subject of future articles and books.

To discover more about Christ’s plan for his body of believers, their exemption from God’s wrath, and the role of Christ’s righteous judgement, read my recent book . . .

The Rapture Question An Unfiltered View

Those in Christ are a New Creation

The hope of all committed Christians is to share in the glory of our Lord at his appearing. Paul refers to this as a mystery, in that nothing like it has ever been considered before – For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:50-57). Paul later refers to this complete reconciliation with God in another way.

2 Corinthians 5:16-19
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

Note Paul’s focus here is on the new; a new creation. The form of this new creation is unlike the form of the original creation. The new is eternal, full of life and the Spirit (vs 1-5). In fact the Holy Spirit is the guarantor of our hope (Romans 8:14-17). Paul even goes so far as to outline the contrast between the old and the new in his first letter to the Corinthians.

Building an Everlasting Kingdom 

One confusing element of Paul’s discussion of the kingdom of God in 1 Corinthians 15, is that he spends very little time distinguishing between the multiple kingdoms to which he refers. Let’s take a look at what he does say.

1 Corinthians 15:20-26
20 But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death.

Since most of the chapter, including this paragraph, develops around the contrast Paul makes between death and Jesus Christ as the source of life through the resurrection of the dead, he is showing a fundamental component of God’s work to establish an everlasting kingdom; the Godhead’s power over death. Though an enemy, called the last enemy, death will not hinder any from experiencing the reality of this first phase of the kingdom. Not only is Christ the doorway to life beyond the grave during the reign of his earthly kingdom, he’s the doorway to the final phase of that everlasting kingdom in the the age to come. All must pass through Christ and his righteous judgment in order to have any part in the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. With that in mind we can begin to see the need and purpose for what Paul describes must come first:

  • To establish the firstfruits of the new creation, a kingdom of priests to rule with Christ. This is one of the first things Christ does upon his return.(6)
  • To establish dominion over all the nations of the earth along with powers and dominions in heaven. Bringing into subjection all God’s enemies. Some will choose to take part in that new creation, others will not.(7)
  • Once that work is completed by the end of his 1000-year reign, this earthly phase of the kingdom is transformed and handed over to God the Father.(8)

Again we can see the focus of Christ’s work during this earthly kingdom is to do the Father’s will; prepare the world for the kingdom to come to a new heavens and a new earth. This is the end goal.

Conclusions

There is a process God is using to redeem the bulk of humanity from the necessary disobedience, destruction, and even deception to which they’ve been subjected to. Their redemption from sin and its result, death, is only one part of that process (Romans 11:32-36). The other involves his righteous judgment. Though Yeshua the Christ will execute God’s wrath upon a disobedient and wicked world, the destruction it leads to is not their final state (Revelation 8:1,6; 19:11-16). God’s righteous judgment will also be executed through Christ with the intent of leading all that are willing to obedience in Christ (1 Corinthians 15:24-26; Fourth Gospel 5:21-23, 26-29).



To discover more about what Christ’s kingdom-building process means for his body of believers, the faithful in Israel, and unbelievers in the world, read my recent book . . .

The Rapture Question – An Unfiltered View

The very same process of righteous judgment has been at work in all those called, chosen, and faithful of our Lord (1 Peter 4:12-17). They all began, whether Jew or Gentile, in the same state of disobedience. It was only by God’s grace that they should hear his word of truth and respond in faith (Ephesians 2:1-10). In that calling they had a choice as to how, or whether, they would respond. Those who surrender to Christ’s righteousness are promised eternal life.

Though developed over a longer period of time, this same process is at work in Israel’s past, present and future, with the same intent of leading the descendants of Jacob toward obedience in Christ. They too will receive God’s mercy, seek repentance, and be the recipients of a new covenant (Isaiah 59:20-21; Ezekiel 37:12-14; Jeremiah 31:31-34). Their example of divine redemption serves as an example for the world. The apostle Paul shows this clearly in his discourse on the relationship between the descendants of Jacob and the Gentile world in Romans 9, 10, and 11. It is there he concludes, with the most telling motivation on God’s part, regarding the work being done in Yeshua, the Christ.

Romans 11:32For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.


There is much more to learn about each of these topics and links have been provided to related articles. Those tagged with Read more lead you to related channel questions and their basic answers. Those tagged Discover more are part of a more in-depth study program. Any tagged with Learn more address methods, processes, and resources which can aid your approach to learning. All are free resources to assist you in gaining a more unfiltered view of God’s word.


Presuppositions

At the close of each article, the relevant presuppositions that support it will be cited. This enables the reader to gain a clearer and deeper understanding of the context. To learn more about presuppositions, see the About page.

  1. God is proactive and purposeful in all that he does
    (Matthew 13:34-35; Ephesians 1:3-14; Hebrews 1; 1 Peter 1:18-21)
  2. God is faithful and will fulfill in those called and chosen what he has already completed in Christ (Fourth Gospel 1:9-13)
  3. God and his Christ are involved in a redemptive work for humanity
    • A key method in God’s redemptive work involves the offering of reconciliation, redemption, and salvation to eternal life – all through belief in Yeshua as the Son of God.
    • Entering into belief in the Son of God we leave behind the state of being under God’s wrath, which exists to humble the proud and correct the deceived. (Fourth Gospel 3:36; Romans 1:18-32; 9:21-23; Isaiah 2:6-22)
    • All will have the opportunity to receive God’s righteous judgement and be led into the truth of Yeshua, the Christ, but some will not surrender to truth. (1 Corinthians 15:22-26; Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-13; Fourth Gospel 12:44-50; Romans 2:12-16; 11:32; Revelation 20:14-15)
  4. God’s redemptive work on humanity’s behalf is to save them from the second death, not the first death.
    • The death spoken of in God’s command to Adam – in dying you shall surely die does not refer to spiritual death, but the second death – which results in separation from God and from which there is no hope of resurrection.
      (Genesis 2:16-17; Fourth Gospel 3:14-21; 5:24; 6:40; Romans 5; 6; 1 Corinthians 15:19; Hebrews 9:25-28; Revelation 20:6, 14-15)
  5. The grace of God is greater-than the sin of humanity (Romans 5)
  6. Based on God’s promise to offer the new covenant to all Israel after Christ returns to establish his earthly kingdom, clearly this is not the only day of salvation.
    (Jeremiah 31; 32:37-41; Ezekiel 37:24-28; Zechariah 8; Romans 9, 10, 11)

Footnotes:

  1. Reversing Hermon – Enoch, the Watchers & the Forgotten Mission of Christ, Michael S. Heiser, 2017 – Defending Press
  2. Though Noah’s time on the water was 150 days (including the 40 days it rained [Pulpit Commentary] – Genesis 7:24), he spent additional time in the ark waiting for the waters to recede. From the date the rain started (600th year, 2nd month, 17th day of Noah) to the time God called them out of the ark (601st year, 2nd month, 27th day of Noah), it was one year and ten days they spent inside the ark (Genesis 7:11-12; 8:13-16).
  3. We adhere to the belief that the authorship of the Fourth Gospel has been misrepresented. Typically this authorship is attributed to John the brother of James and author of the Book of Revelation of Jesus Christ. I have concluded on the side of such authors as J. Phillips (ISBN13: 978-0-9702687-3-0) who has shown conclusively John could not be the sole author and instead attribute primary authorship to Lazarus – the disciple whom Christ loved. Due to this, I will refer to the book as the Fourth Gospel.
  4. Benson Commentary on 2 Peter 2:6
  5. By definition, inherit (verb) means to receive from an ancestor a right or title, descendible by law, at the ancestor’s death. Whereas to dwell (verb) means to live as a resident within the subject location. So the important distinction that needs to be made here is that an inheritance carries with it a legal right to, or ownership of, the object being inherited. For the subject of our discussion, that object is Christ’s kingdom on earth. Conversely, the idea of dwelling in Christ’s kingdom carries no sense of ownership or legal right of possession.
  6. Peter 2:9-10; Romans 8:18-23, 29-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14; Hebrews 5:7-10; James 1:17-18
  7. Psalm 8; 72; Daniel 4; 7:13-14, 19-27; Micah 4:1-5; Matthew 13:41-43; 24:27,30; Ephesians 6:12-13; Philippians 2:9-10; Colossians 1:16; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; Revelation 1:7; 19:11-20:6; 22:12
  8. Fourth Gospel 18:36; Luke 4:42-44; 19:11-27; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Revelation 21:1-4

Published by GMajella

Husband, father, and author on theological topics, with a focus on the underlying presuppositions which either cloud or enhance our view of reality. My focus is to challenge and guide fellow Christians into a deeper knowledge of God; his work, his will, and his overall purpose. My primary methods will be through books, blogs, and virtual or personal events.

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