QUESTION: I have heard that 2 Peter was not really written by the apostle Peter, and is known as a “pious fraud.” Does this mean we cannot trust it?
ANSWER: 2 Peter is written in a different style of Greek than 1 Peter is. Many scholars conclude that the two letters were written by different people. Some even say that 2 Peter was written in the second century, after Paul’s letters were considered to be part of the “Scriptures” (2 Peter 3:16).
But there are several possible reasons for one person to write in a different style, and it is not certain when Paul’s writings began to be considered on a par with “the other Scriptures.”
We accept this letter as authoritative not because we can prove that an apostle wrote it (even apostles can make mistakes), but because the writings have shown themselves to be, and were accepted in the early church as, accurate witnesses of the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ.
QUESTION: Trinitarian theologians say that Jesus’ atoning work is “always effectual despite human decision.” Does this mean that everyone is saved whether they want to be or not?
ANSWER: The question stems from an assumption about what “effectual” means. We need to let the biblical evidence guide us in understanding this word.
Scripture says that Christ has reconciled the whole world, died for the sins of all humanity, and redeemed the entire universe. Scripture says he did it, and that is what these theologians mean when they say that his work was effectual. It does not necessarily mean that everyone accepts what Jesus has done.
Let’s use a financial analogy. Suppose Bill Gates transfers five million dollars into your bank account. It was an effectual transfer. You are a millionaire—even if you don’t believe it. The effectual-ness of the gift is based on the donor and the bank, not on the receiver.
The point that the theologians want to make is that atonement is 100 percent dependent on what Christ has done; it is not dependent in any way on what humans might or might not do. Our belief does not make it effective; neither does our repentance. Rather, atonement is effective because of what Christ has done, and that was done long before anyone comes to learn about it, long before anyone even has an opportunity to believe.