Terrance Callan, «The Soteriology of the Second Letter of Peter», Vol. 82 (2001) 549-559
2 Peter presents Jesus as savior in that he purchased his followers from
slavery to corruption and the defilements of the world. Human beings became
slaves of corruption through erroneous thinking and following the desires of the
flesh, i.e. sin. Jesus’ followers have been released from this servitude by their
recognition that Jesus has purchased them from their previous owner and is now
their master. The ethical teaching of 2 Peter is based on continuing in the freedom
from slavery to sin that has come through Jesus. The eschatological teaching of 2
Peter describes the completion of salvation, the culmination of both slavery to sin
and following Jesus.
The Pauline character of the soteriology of 2 Peter is very marked. In view of the author’s claim (in 2 Pet 3,16) that Paul agrees with what the author has said, this is not surprising.
or soul25. These defects may especially consist of inner states that lead to bodily wrongdoing. Thus Philo refers to defilement of the minds of those who premeditate murder (De spec. leg. 3.92) and speaks of love of money, reputation and pleasure as defilement (De spec. leg. 1.281).
Second, in 2 Pet 2,18 the author implies that enslavement to fqora/ is equivalent to living in error (pla/nh) and involvement in licentious desires of the flesh26. Philo also connects error and corruption in various ways. Thus he says that those who listen neither to right reason nor to education will receive corruption (De ebr. 35)27. Destruction of the reasoning principle causes corruption (Quod Deus 16); one who will not listen will receive corruption (Quod Deus 183). Those who lack knowledge receive corruption28. In Quod Deus 15 Philo links desire and corruption.
The author of 2 Peter may understand enslavement to corruption to mean ‘subject to corruption’, i.e., mortal. This seems to be the meaning of slavery to corruption in Rom 8,21. In line with this, the author of 2 Peter mentions frequently that destruction (a)pw/leia) is the end of those enslaved to corruption. The false teachers introduce heresies of destruction and by denying the Master who bought them, bring destruction on themselves (2,1). Their destruction does not sleep (2,3). Just as the former world was destroyed (3,6), so the present heavens and earth are treasured up for the destruction of the impious (3,7). Because God does not wish that any be destroyed, God gives time for repentance (3,9). The ignorant and unstable twist the letters of Paul to their own destruction (3,16)29.
However, the author of 2 Peter also understands enslavement to corruption as meaning being overcome by the defilements of the world, living in error and being subject to licentious desires. In 2,10 the author describes those whom the Lord will punish as going after the flesh in the desire for defilement (miasmou=). Cf. also 3,3. Enslavement to this metaphorical corruption leads to literal corruption.
3. Origin of Predicament
The followers of Jesus were previously enslaved to corruption and the defilements of the world, and have escaped this enslavement through recognition of Jesus as savior. 2 Peter does not explain how this enslavement to corruption and the defilements of the world came to be; however, several passages hint at an explanation that seems to be presupposed. 2,18 says that the false teachers tempt those who have escaped those who live in error, by speaking bombast of futility (mataio/thtoj) and appealing to licentious desires of the flesh. Having escaped those who live