John 10:9 I am the gate; whoever (ean) enters (aorist subj) through me will be saved. (fut ind) He will come in and go out, and find pasture.(all fut ind)
Acts 2:21 And everyone who calls (aorist subj) on the name of the Lord will be saved.(fut indic)
Acts 16:31 They replied, "Believe (aorist imp) in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved (fut ind) -- you and your household."
Rom 6:5 If we have been (perfect) united with him like this in his death, we will certainly also be united with him in his resurrection.
Rom 6:8 Now if we died (aorist) with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
Rom 10:9 That if (ean) you confess (oarist subj) with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe (aorist subj) in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
1Tim 2:11 Here is a trustworthy saying: If we died (aorist) with him, we will also live with him;The future indicatives are basically promises of that which will occur, not simply may or may not occur. For the subjunctive would be used for possibility, but the indicative for certainty. But notice the condition. Here each example is a case in which a promise of future salvation is contingent not upon continued faith, but upon a past or point in time event. Not that there isn't a continued faith, for in fact there is. But since perseverance is inevitable, therefore salvation can be spoken of as being contingent solely upon one's initial faith, if it is genuine.
However, once a person has been born of God and thus saved, can
lose his salvation status and revert to a nominal or non-Christian
There have been different points of view on this issue.
There is often confusion among Christians between the Calvinistic doctrine of the perseverance of the saints and the Free Grace doctrine of eternal security. Here is a general summary of both doctrines:
Free Grace Theology
In his commentary on 1John 3:8-10 Calvin says,
"John (the apostle) denied that any one belongs to Christ except he who is righteous and shews himself to be such by his works; ... Hence two conclusions are to be drawn, that those in whom sin reigns cannot be reckoned among the members of Christ, and that they can by no means belong to his body ... all who are born of God lead a righteous and a holy life, because the Spirit of God restrains the lusting of sin ... John not only shews how efficaciously God works once in man, but plainly declares that the Spirit continues his grace in us to the last, so that inflexible perseverance is added to newness of life. Let us not, then, imagine with the Sophists that it is some neutral movement, which leaves men free either to follow or to reject; but let us know that our own hearts are so ruled by God's Spirit, that they constantly cleave to righteousness ... John declares that all who do not live righteously are not of God, because all those whom God calls, he regenerates by his Spirit. Hence newness of life is a perpetual evidence of divine adoption." John Calvin
Some of an Arminian persuasion may be surprised at hearing Charles Finney's position on this matter. For Finney is often characterized as Arminian, as in fact he is in some of his theology. But on this matter he states, "Another effect of gospel justification is to ensure sanctification. It not only insures all the means of sanctification, but the actual accomplishment of the work so that the individual who is truly converted will surely persevere in obedience till he is fitted for heaven and actually saved."
According to the second part of this verse, no one who lives a lifestyle of sin had ever been a "real" Christian. He had never known Christ. He had never been born of God. Furthermore, according to the first part of this verse, of those who do "live in him" (are born of God - are real Christians) not one of them lives a lifestyle of sin. Why is that? John explains a few verses later in 1John 3:9
"No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God."
The word "cannot" is the greek word "dunamai" where we get the English "dynamite" and it refers to ability (see its usage in Hebrews 7:25). Those who have been born of God have lost the ability to live a lifestyle of sin because God's seed (the Holy Spirit) lives in them. The word "remain" is the word "meno" which in 1John 3:6 is translated "lives" and means the same thing here. (see "meno" study further down)
Free Grace advocates a "no fear" philosophy, regardless of the performance of the supposed "Christian". And even if one falls away and doesn't believe in Christ such a person is still supposedly "saved".
Lordship Salvation advocates that Christians should fear that perhaps they are only nominal Christians and have yet to be born of God. And thus they don't fear losing salvation, but they fear that they may not have gained it yet.
Arminians advocate that Christians should fearthat they may lose their salvation.
The Bible advocates the Calvinist point of view on this issue, as there are clear warnings to make sure you have been born of God, as in 2Cor 13:5, and warnings to nominal Christians against falling away (as I deal with below), yet the security of the true believer is also clearly advocated (as in Ephesians 1 and 1John 4:15-18) and other places. In fact 1John 4:18 advocates no fear of condemnation for those living in Christ as does Romans 8.
1John 2:19, 1John 3:6,9 (as explained above)
John 5:24 "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."
John 6:37 "All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away." (Combine this with Jeremiah 32:40 above)
John 10:28 "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand."
Romans 6:8 "Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him."
Romans 8:9-10 "You, however, are controlled not by the sinful nature but by the Spirit, if the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ. But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, yet your spirit is alive because of righteousness."
1Cor 1:8,9 "He will keep you strong to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful."
1Cor 3:15 "If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."
Ephesians 1:5 "he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will--"
Ephesians 1:11 "In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,"
Eph 1:13,14 "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-- to the praise of his glory."
Hebrews 7:25 "Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them."
1Pet 1:3-5 "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade-- kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time." (xref Eph 1:14)
1John 5:4 "for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith."
Their belief did not have savific merit from the start. Not just any quality of faith is acceptable to God. These were nominal Christians who had not yet been saved.
Nominal Christians on the road to salvation, getting side-tracked by legalistic teachers. They had fallen away from the concept of grace. Just having a concept of grace, as Paul was preaching doesn't make one saved. For accepting something as a concept is not the same as accepting something as a conviction. And it was evident by their listening to the legalistic teachers that they hadn't held grace as a conviction. (Just as the Hyper-Arminians reject the concept of grace)
1 John 3:6 "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him."
According to the second part of this verse, no one who lives a lifestyle of sin was ever a real Christian. He had never known Christ. He had never been born of God. Furthermore, according to the first part of this verse, of those who do "live in him" (are born of God - are real Christians) not one of them lives a lifestyle of sin. Why is that? John explains a few verses later in 1John 3:9
"No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God's seed remains ("meno") in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God."
The word "cannot" is the greek word "dunamai" where we get the English "dynamite" and it refers to ability. Those who have been born of God have lost the ability to live a lifestyle of sin because God's seed (the Holy Spirit) lives in them. The word "remain" is the word "meno" which in 1John 3:6 is translated "lives" and means the same thing here.
"Living in Christ" is not so much a condition for salvation as it is a description of a saved person. Are there any verses which indicate that a person who has been living in Christ and who then stops living in Christ and loses his salvation status? Let us continue to consider other verses with this in mind.
John 15:5-6 "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains ("lives") in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain ("live") in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."
"If anyone does not live in me": This is not to say that such a man ever lived in Christ to begin with. But those who are real Christians will inevitably produce fruit, not by their own efforts, but simply because Christ produces such through them.
John 15:2 "He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit" Here he doesn't use "live, abide or dwell", but simply says "in". I believe he's speaking of those who associate with the visible church, who have a surface knowledge of Christ, but who have not established a living relationship with Christ as is evident of their fruitlessness.
Notice from verse 5 that it is inevitable that branches that have a living relationship with the vine produce fruit. How does a branch produce fruit? It simply allows a passage way for nutrients to flow through it from the vine to the fruit. Why do some branches not produce fruit? Because they are only attached on the surface, but have not opened up inwardly to the Lord. These are nominal Christians.
1John 2:24 "See that what you have heard from the beginning remains ("lives") in you. If it does, you also will remain ("live") in the Son and in the Father."
This could simply mean "Make sure you're not just a nominal Christian, but a real Christian (one born of God). If you believe what you have heard and hold it as a conviction (rather than merely an opinion), then I guarentee that you will continue to live in Christ." Realize that John is speaking to those who call themselves "Christians", but then again how does he know that they are "real" Christians? This is the major subject of the book of 1John - HOW CAN YOU IDENTIFY THOSE BORN OF GOD. And provides many examples of those who call themselves Christians, but are not.
Romans 11:19-23 "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 be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again."
From the context, Paul is not referring to individuals, but societies. The Jewish society as a whole was the "branch" broken off that he is referring to. But that is not true on an individual basis, for many Jews did believe. After all, Paul himself was Jewish. Paul's warning about being "cut off" is referring to the Gentiles as a group, or more specifically, to the society in which these "Christians" lived. This warning is repeated by Jesus in the first three chapters of Revelations where he said "If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place." Most of the areas where the early Christian churches existed are now dominated by Islam - they're lampstands have been taken away. Why? Because the churches became nominal.
The Churches of RevelationsRevelation 2:5 "Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place."
The church as a whole was becoming nominal and eventually would no longer be a lamp to the society around it. This is true of the history of many churches. Over generations they often become nominal. But again, this is not speaking on an individual basis.
Revelation 3:1-5 "To the angel of the church in Sardis write: These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels."
Most of this church was composed of dead-unsaved nominal Christians, just as Jesus says "you are dead". In 1John 5:12, Jesus says, "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life." Most of these Christians did not have the Son. But a few did and to those Jesus promised that he would never blot out their names from the book of life.
Also, some point out that the phrase "I will never blot out his name" implies that there are some people who do have their name written in the book of life whose name will be blotted out. But it does not say that explicitly. However some will point out Luke 10:20 "However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven." which was spoken to the disciples of whom we assume Judas was among them, but who was later condemned. Did he lose his salvation?
Besides the fact that no one had been born of God until the Spirit came at Pentecost and so the guarantees to those born of God were not effective until then, Jesus may not be telling them that their names were actually written in the book of life at that time. For example, if I said "Don't cry over spilt milk, rather cry at the lose of your brother." (Meaning the death of your brother), but in fact I'm not saying that your brother has died, but rather that if it occurs, cry over that. So Jesus may be saying "rejoice over your names being written in the book of life", not that they had yet been, and not over something like demons being subject to you.
Revelation 3:16-17 "So, because you are lukewarm-- neither hot nor cold-- I am about to spit you out of my mouth."
Again referring to nominal Christians who have not yet been saved. Though salvation (being born of God) occurs at a point in time, it usually takes a long process before a follower of Jesus is actually converted and so along the way, it's possible to get side-tracked and fall away, as many of these passages refer to.
They also experienced how good the Word of God is, although had yet to really put their faith in it. They also experience miracles, which made them even more accountable in God's sight just as Jesus had said: "Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you." Matt 11:21,22 Were such people born of God just because they had such experiences? No!
A person who has such knowledge and experience, and rejects Christ will be permanently lost. Having reject what the Holy Spirit had been revealing to him, he has sinned against the Holy Spirit, and as Jesus says, "whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin." Mr 3:29 Having led the person to the point of salvation, having given him sufficient evidence to make a decision, and having been rejected, the Holy Spirit breaks His partnership with the unbelieving nominal Christian and never returns. For "land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned." Heb 6:8
See also Wuest (Translator of the NASB) commentary on Heb 6:4
Just "receiving the knowledge of the truth" does make one to be born of God. Knowledge itself doesn't save. And in particular, the "knowlege" here is epignosis, which is knowing about something. (As opposed to gnosis, which is relationship knowledge. So again he is referring to nominal Christians, as John says, "No one who lives in him keeps on sinning. No one who continues to sin has either seen him or known him." 1John 3:6 So if a "Christian" has such a behavior it is indicative that he has never been born of God.
Hebrews 10:38-39 "'But my righteous one will live by faith. And if he shrinks back, I will not be pleased with him.' But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved."
vs 38 is a quote taken from Hab 2:4 from the Septuagint "If he should draw back my soul will have no pleasure in him: but the just shall live by my faith." Was "my righteous one" born of God? No one was born of God until Pentacost. So what is true of those born of God (like 1John 3:6,9), was not necessarily true of those "righteous ones" in the Old Testament as in Heb 10:38. They could have shrunk back and been lost. But Hebrews makes clear this is not true of New Testament Christians who have been born of God as Heb 10:39 declares "we are not of those who shrink back." How could he make such a statement if it were not inevitable for true believers? The ones who "shrink back" are those in Heb 10:26,27 he had just mentioned above who were merely nominal Christians.
Paul speaking to the Ephesian elders. Being an elder of a church
mean you're born of God.
1 Timothy 1:18-21 "Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme."
It didn't say that Hymenaeus and Alexander had saving faith to begin with. Such were nominal Christians, never having been born of God.
2 Timothy 2:16-18 "Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have wandered away from the truth. They say that the resurrection has already taken place, and they destroy the faith of some."
Two cult leaders who had never been born of God are leading some nominal Christians astray.
1 Timothy 4:1 "The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons."
"The faith" is referring to Christianity as defined in the Bible. Some nominal Christians will abandon Biblical Christianity for cults or other religions. Such indicate that they had never been born of God as John declares in 1John 2:19.
1 Timothy 6:20-21 "Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you."
Where does it say that the "some" who wandered from the faith had been born of God? Could John Wesley have been an example of such a person who wandered from the faith?
2 Peter 2:1 "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them-- bringing swift destruction on themselves."
Where does it say that these false prophets and false teachers had even been born of God? Jesus said "Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'" So according to Jesus, such people had never really been born of God.
2 Peter 3:17 "Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position."
The term "secure position" is actually a single word "sterigmos" meaning "steadfastness". It is not declaring what their position actually is but is rather describing a characteristic of salvific faith. Its verb form is often translated "strengthen" or "stand firm". As in 1 Thessalonians 3:2 "We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God's fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith." As such this verse is not saying that they have been saved and born of God. For Peter admits at the beginning of his letter that he is uncertain about their salvation status as he says, "Be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure." Paul does the same in 2Cor 13:5 where he says, "Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you-- unless, of course, you fail the test?" Peter is writing to them uncertain of their actual salvation status, but confident that at least they correct knowledge of the gospel, as he says, "you are firmly established in the truth you now have." 2Pet 1:12 But knowledge alone is not sufficient to save a person if one's faith is not characterized as a conviction - rather than a mere waverying opinion which may change from time to time when introduced to other ideas as the myths proposed by the false teachers whom Peter makes reference to throughout this letter.
He is warning the nominal Christians to make their belief in Christ into an unwavering conviction which inevitably produces the fruit of righteous behavior. For only then "if you do these things, you will never fall, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." 2Pet 1:10,11
2 John 8-9 "Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully. Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son."
It is not saying that such people who "run ahead" and claim to have new revelations and start their cults had ever belonged to God to begin with. (Once again this is explain in 1John 2:19 that those who are God's don't commit such apostasy) Continuing in the truth is an indication that one has been born of God, departing from it is an indication that one had never been born of God.
The phrase "wandered from the faith" doesn't necessarily mean that
lose salvation. Nor does it indicate that such people where born of God
to begin with.
2 Peter 2:20-22 "If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.""
"Kowing" here is not gnosis (relational knowledge), but epignosis (knowing about something). This is a description of people who have decided to follow Christ and so start to separate from sin and extricate themselves from the world's entanglements, yet whose faith had not yet been of the quality that was acceptable to God for salvation when they turn away from Christ and back to their own ways. Much as those who left Egypt and then regretted doing so later on. Such had never been born of God.
Galatians 6:1 "Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted."
Doesn't say that the person lost his salvation and even so, doesn't say whether this person was merely a nominal Christian
This neither says that these were born of God not does it say that they perished after they died. Don't over-interpret historic passages.
This is describing a righteousness which is by the law rather than that which is by faith. Paul makes mention of this distinction in Romans 2:13 "For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous." Paul contrasts this performance-based righteousness to righteousness by faith in Romans 3:20-23 "Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
Furthermore, as the passage is taken from Ezekiel, no one was born of God at that time. It wasn't until Pentacost that the new birth was available. So this is not saying that one born of God can lose his salvation.
Doesn't want any nominal Christians to perish, but all to be saved.
1Tim 4:16 "Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers."
Paul exhorts Timothy that he will save himself from false teachings and other such heresies (note the context), if he carefully studies the Bible. One could say also that indirectly Paul is warning Timothy to make sure that he is a "real" Christian - born of God. By abiding in the Word of God. (1Pet 1:23; 1John 2:14)
The error that many Arminians make in interpreting such passages is that they assume that these are are talking about conditions for a person to be saved rather than realizing that these are describing attributes of a saved person. (Something to think about the next time you run across an "if" passage)
Heb 6:4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, (NIV)
Heb 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, (AV)
We must be careful to note that the Greek word translated "partakers" does not mean "possessors," in the sense that these Hebrews possessed the Holy Spirit as an indwelling Person who had come to take up His permanent abode in their hearts. The word is a compound of the Greek verb "to have or hold", and a preposition meaning "with" thus "to hold with." It is used in Luke 5:7 where it is translated "partners," signifying one who co-operates with another in a common task or undertaking. It is used in Hebrews 1:9 where the angels are "fellows" of our Lord, partners or associates with Him in the work of salvation. It is used in Hebrews 3:1 where the recipients of this letter are called participators in the heavenly calling. That is, they participated together in the heavenly calling. These Hebrews had left the earthly calling of the nation Israel, and had identified themselves with the Church which has a heavenly calling. It is used in Hebrews 3:14, where it speaks of those who participate together in the Lord Jesus.
The word (metochos) was so used in secular Greek. Moulton and Milligan give examples of its usage in the following phrases: "We, Dionysius son of Socrates and the associate collectors;" Pikos son of Pamonthes and his colleagues," "the Joint-owner of a holding," "I am unable to take part in the cultivation," "Some do so because they are partners in their misdeeds." Thus the word signifies one who participates with another in a common activity or possession. It is so used here. These Hebrews became participators in the Holy Spirit insofar as an unsaved person can do so, namely, in the sense that they willingly co-operated with Him in receiving His pre-salvation ministry, that of leading them on step by step toward the act of faith. He had led them into the act of repentance. The next step would be that of faith. Here they were in danger of turning their backs upon the Spirit and returning to the sacrifices. Peter in his first epistle (1:2) in the words, "through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience," speaks of this work of the Holy Spirit on the unsaved, setting them apart from unbelief to faith. This word in its context does not at all imply that these Hebrews had been born of the Spirit, sealed with the Spirit, indwelt by the Spirit, anointed with the Spirit, baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ, or filled with the Spirit. This work of the Holy Spirit in leading them on towards faith was a once-for-all work, so thoroughy done that it needed never to be repeated. However, there was nothing permanent of itself in this work, for the work was only a means to an end. This is shown by the aorist participle used, referring to the mere fact, not a perfect, speaking of a finished act having present results. The fact that the writer did not use the perfect tense here, which is a specialized tense, but rather the aorist, which is the maid of all work, points to the incompleteness of the work of the Spirit in the case of these Hebrews. So far as the work had been done, it was perfect, thorough. But it would not be complete until the Hebrews accepted the proffered faith from the Spirit. The incompleteness of the work would be due, therefore, not to the Spirit, but to their willingness to go on as a partner or cooperator with the Spirit.
"They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us." (NIV)The words "out from" and "of" in this verse are the translation of the preposition ek which is followed by the ablative case. There are two classifications of the ablative here, ablative of separation and ablative of source. In the statement, "They went out from use," we have the ablative of separation. These false teachers (antichrists) went out from the true believers in the sense that they departed doctrinally from the position of the Church as to the Person of the Lord Jesus, a position which they had held only in an intellectual way. It was a mental assent to the doctrines concerning, not a heart acceptance of, the Person of Christ.
"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." (AV)
In the words, "They were not of us," we have the ablative of source. That is, the antichrists did not have their source in the Mystical Body of Christ composed only of true believers. They were merely members of the visible, organized church on earth. They did not partake of the divine life animating the members of the Body of Christ, made up of true believers. All of which means that an apostate is an unsaved person who has mentally subscribed to the doctrines of the Christian faith and who then rejects those doctrines while still remaining within the organization of the visible church and posing as a Christian.
John argues that had these antichrists belonged to the Body of Christ, thus possessing the divine life in company with true believers, they would in that case have remained with these true believers in matters of doctrine. But, he says, they departed from the doctrinal position of the Church so that it could be shown that they did not belong to the company of the saints. The words of the A.V. are misleading, "that they were not all of us," the implication being left with the reader that some of these antichrists had belonged to the company of the saints. The translation should read, "All were not of us." In the Greek text, the verb separates not from all. In such cases, accordign to New Testament usage, the negation is universal. The A.V. not all makes it partial.