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Bible Commentaries

Mark Dunagan Commentary on the Bible

2 Peter 2

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

Outline of Chapter 2:

Beware Of False Teachers:

God’s Track Record Of Judgment/Deliverance:

Profile Of False Teachers:

Their Dangerous Teaching:

Introductory Comments:

‘Peter’s thought still lingers in the Old Testament prophecies (). In Israel there were false prophets also among the people as well as true; and now history was repeating itself.’ (Green p. 93)

In this chapter Peter is now moving from ‘defense’ (defending what he and the other apostles taught ), to the attack mode. This chapter shatters many modern religious myths, and Peter probably wouldn’t be allowed to preach this sermon in most denominational churches of our time. In contrast to the current religious climate and thinking, Peter states: 1. False teachers will exist. They existed in every generation in the O.T., and N.T., so why do we think that our generation will be exempt? 2. They will be very popular and they will have many followers (2:2). 3. They will preach a very popular and easy to believe message (2:19). 4. Doctrine does matter! What makes a person a false teacher is the false doctrine that he or she spreads (2:1).

I recently was given a book which many in the left wing of the liberal churches have embraced. The book is entitled ‘The Twisted Scriptures’ by W. Carl Ketcherside. As I have been reading the book, I am reminded that people need to take seriously the truths presented in Second Peter chapter 2. Mr. Ketcherside writes, ‘A man may hold a view as to the perseverance of the saints (once saved, always saved, Calvinism-MD), the manner of the resurrection, or the second coming of our Lord (Premillennialism, A.D. 70 Theory, or no second coming-MD), and he may prove to be as wrong as one could be, but he cannot be debarred from citizenry in the kingdom of heaven by the other subjects, any more than one can be disenfranchised in the United States because he disagrees with the government space program or the approach of overseas help.’ (p. 46)

It is sad when Biblical truths are likened to one’s opinion about the space program or the foreign policy of a secular nation. In effect, the above author is saying that the doctrines in the Bible are completely unimportant in reference to our salvation. Peter in this chapter clearly denies such shallow thinking.

Commentary:


Verse 1

2 Peter 2:1 ‘But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.’

‘But false prophets also arose among the people’-In contrast to the true prophets previously mentioned ().

Points to Note:

Another historical reference to the Old Testament, and simply one more place where the New Testament confirms the historical accuracy of the Old Testament Scriptures. 2. Again, we see the importance of correctly handling the Word of God (2 Timothy 2:15), teaching and believing the correct doctrines (1 Timothy 4:16). In the Old Testament, the death penalty was attached to the crime of spreading false doctrine (Deuteronomy 13:5; Deuteronomy 18:20). ‘That is how important it was to pay attention to what God really had said and not to make it up according to what people wanted to hear.’ (Lucas/Green p. 86) 3. The Old Testament is filled with warnings against, and actual cases of false prophets. Note the tendencies found among the false prophets: A. They were more interested in gaining popularity than in telling the truth. Their policy was to tell people what they wanted to hear (Jeremiah 6:14; 1 Kings 22:1-53). In fact their messages were often pleasing to the ear, very upbeat, positive and reassuring (Jeremiah 5:31; Jeremiah 14:13-16; Jeremiah 23:17; Jeremiah 27:9-10; Jeremiah 27:14; Jeremiah 27:16-18; Jeremiah 29:8-9). B. They were interested in personal profit (Micah 3:11). C. They were often immoral in their personal lives (Isaiah 28:7; Jeremiah 23:14; Jeremiah 23:32). D. They claimed to speak from God, when in reality God wasn’t speaking through them (Jeremiah 14:14).

‘”False prophets” may mean that they falsely claimed to be prophets, or that they prophesied false things; probably both. The men were as untrustworthy as the message. Mayor made an interesting collection of the characteristics of the false prophets which were strikingly present in the situation to which Peter addresses himself. Their teaching was flattery; their ambitions were financial; their lives were dissolute; their conscience was dulled, and their aim was deception..’ (Green pp. 93-94)

Carefully consider the above comment. In our own time we are increasingly hearing voices within the Church claiming that a false teacher is someone who is intentionally trying to deceive, rather than simply a man who is spreading false doctrine. But that definition doesn’t fit or exhaust the meaning of ‘false’ prophet. One was still a false prophet, if they simply claimed to speak from God, when God wasn’t speaking through them-regardless of their intentions.

‘just as there will also be false teachers’-‘False’-‘teachers of falsehood’ (Alford p. 1679); ‘one who teaches falsehoods’ (Arndt p. 891) ; ‘men whose teaching was false’ (P.P. Comm. p. 42) If we claim that the word ‘false’ demands that these teachers are intentionally trying to deceive, i.e. they know they are spreading error. And that we can’t call anyone a false teacher unless they are dishonest, then we have just handcuffed ourselves. Since no man today can read the heart of another man (1 Corinthians 2:11), it would be impossible to know for sure if someone is a false teacher (spreading error intentionally) or simply a man spreading falsehood, but with sincere motives. I would agree that a person teaching falsehood might be sincere, but if you teach something that leads others into error and that error condemns their souls, then you are just as dangerous!

Peter is not the only New Testament writer who warned us about such individuals: Jesus also sounded the warning (Matthew 7:15; Matthew 24:11; Matthew 24:24); so did Paul (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Corinthians 11:13-15; Romans 16:18; 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3; 1 Timothy 4:1-4; 2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Peter may have called these individuals ‘false teachers’ in contrast with ‘false prophets’, because they may not have claimed to speak by inspiration, but rather, twisted the existing Scriptures instead.

‘among you’-Which is placed in contrast to ‘among the people’ (i.e. the nation of Israel). This is simply another indication that Christians, the Church is the true Israel of God in the New Covenant (1 Peter 2:9-10).

‘secretly introduce’-‘to introduce or bring in secretly or craftily’ (Thayer p. 487); ‘with the connotation that it is done secretly or maliciously’ (Arndt p. 624) (Galatians 2:4; Jude 1:4).

Points to Note:

‘These people will not have big signs around their necks, saying, “I am a false teacher, so please do not listen to me”. They will be highly plausible, and they will secretly introduce, or “smuggle in”, their ideas’ (Lucas/Green p. 87) 2. It suggests that error is not always easy to spot. The approach won’t be, ‘Stop serving God, or become an atheist’. Rather, it will be subtle. 3. The above word actually means, ‘to bring in by the side of’. Which suggests that they will be preaching some truth, but alongside of that truth, will come error. 4. The word ‘secretly’ should inform us that their tactics will probably be to work behind the scenes. The discipleship movement is famous for working within small little cell groups within congregations.

A couple of years ago I ran into the following statement that reminded me of the above expression used by Peter: In the May 1993 issue of Wineskins, an article entitled ‘Change Without Chaos’, states, ‘Strategy one: WEAVE!….Teach new ideas for a while, stretching your church out beyond comfort zones and into fresh thinking….But when you feel your church approaching the limits of tolerance, back off! Talk about familiar and safe things for a while. Then, move back out to the cutting edge again. Weave in and out: first the new ideas, then as you actually implement new practices’ [Note: Lynn Anderson, “Change Without Chaos”, Wineskins, Vol. II, No. 1, May 1993.]

Concerning all sorts of subjects this “weave” practice is being implemented. I have read about ‘experts’ in this practice, being solicited by elderships to give them a seminar on how to introduce the practice of choirs and soloists into the worship service. Usually the advice is to start out making small deviations, so that you actually set people up to accept error. This typically involves having certain groups (the basses, women, etc..) sing all by themselves (i.e. in this verse of the song, let’s just have the altos sing), which will get people used to the idea of listening to the singing of others, without singing themselves.

Can you imagine Jesus, Paul, Peter and any other of the apostles and early Christians engaging in such deceptive practices? (1 Peter 2:1)

**Mark this down. People who often go off into error claim to have a deeper love for God than the person trying to stand for the truth. It is claimed that they are free-the other person is bound. They are open and transparent, the other person is legalistic. They have found real Christianity! I didn’t know that deception was part of real Christianity! (1 Peter 2:1)**

‘destructive’-‘heresies that lead to destruction’ (Arndt p. 103). So much for the idea that it doesn’t matter what we believe. Or, that no-one will be lost for believing the wrong thing (Galatians 5:1-4; Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12).

‘heresies’-‘denotes a choosing, choice, then, that which is chosen, an opinion, esp., a self-willed opinion, which is substituted for submission to the power of truth, and leads to division and the formation of sects (Galatians 5:20). (Vine p. 217) ‘opinion, dogma’ (Arndt p. 24) ‘new, self-chosen doctrines, alien from the truth’ (Alford p. 1679) ‘opinions destructive of true faith…the word is used in our sense of “false doctrine”.’ (Green p. 94) Peter did believe that ideas have consequences! Peter is drawing a line of fellowship on the basis of doctrine.

‘even denying the Master who bought them’-‘Denying’-‘disowning’ (TCNT); ‘repudiate, disown’ (Arndt p. 107). ‘the Master’-i.e. Jesus. ‘who bought them’-(1 Corinthians 6:20; Revelation 5:9).

Points to Note:

These false teachers at one time had been brethren, they had been purchased with the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). A Christian can fall away from the truth. 2. In what sense were they denying the ‘Master’ who bought them? A. The practical denial of Jesus by living an ungodly life (Titus 1:16). B. The denial of His authority, by teaching things that contradicted His revelation. Anytime that we depart from His word, we are in effect saying, ‘I don’t need His guidance.’ C. The denial of His right to judge us, or the denial that we will be judged at all (2 Peter 3:4 ff). It is clear that one cannot profess to love Jesus and at the same time repudiate and contradict His teachings (John 14:15). Too many people want a relationship with Jesus, that is a relationship of co-equals, or a relationship that allows them to deviate at will from His teaching. Jesus is the Master, the ‘Lord’. Our relationship with Him must include the concept of obedience and submission, which are cheerfully and gratefully given to One who is so worthy.

‘bring swift destruction upon themselves’-‘Swift’-quick, ‘speedy ruin’ (TCNT); ‘sudden and unexpected’ (Alford p. 1679). Same word as used in . The idea isn’t that God will strike them dead at any moment, but rather, when destruction comes (and it will), it will catch those who have failed to repent by surprise, with no chance for repentance (1 Thessalonians 5:3). When judgment comes it will be swift, unexpected and impossible to escape. The very teachings that they deny (the judgment day, hell, etc…)will come upon them. People who deny the existence of hell, will experience it first hand!


Verse 2

2 Peter 2:2 ‘And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be maligned;’

‘And many will follow’-(Matthew 7:13-14).

Points to Note:

False doctrine spreads! Not only do they bring destruction upon themselves, but they also bring it upon others. 2. ‘Follow’-‘Following close at their heels, imitating and copying their ways..’(Oberst p. 296) 3. We should put little confidence in numbers, the majority opinion, the ‘mainstream’, or the ‘great middle section of the Church.’ 4. In addition, we cannot accept the naïve belief that there are only a few false teachers in the world today and that they have a very limited influence.

‘sensuality’-‘denotes excess, absence of restraint, indecency, wantonness, the prominent idea is shameless conduct.’ (Vine p. 310).

Points to Note:

It doesn’t necessarily mean that these men are living in the gutter, but their teachings encourage the casting off of restraint and rules. 2. The ethics and morality of such men have become a matter of private choice or personal opinion. The key words they use are ‘self-expression’, ‘fulfillment’, rather than purity and obedience. ‘If there is no longer a master to please, then there will only be ourselves to please; and if someone starts speaking a message that flatters people rather than calling them to repentance and faith, and that encourages them to enjoy their darkest and most secret wishes rather than hard discipleship and learning, it will not be surprising that many will follow. Such a message makes no demands other than the ones we want to make on ourselves..’ (Lucas/Green p. 90) 3. Such individuals have the habit of claiming that their opponents don’t understand ‘grace’. That ‘grace’ will cover the person in error, sin or we don’t have to worry about doctrinal deviations, for grace will take care of that (Jude 1:4). 4. As a modern example, note what is happening in the denominations, where people presently involved in homosexual practices are being accepted and even appointed to positions of leadership.

‘the way of truth will be maligned’-‘reviled at, railed at’ (Thayer p. 102). ‘and thereby bring discredit on the way of truth’ (Phi).

Points to Note:

Non-Christians are very perspective, they can tell when religion has become nothing more than a blanket, behind which habitual sinners are hiding. They aren’t fooled by new definitions of grace or love. Neither are they impressed by high-sounding arguments. If professed ‘Christians’ are as immoral as people in the world, then what they profess is a sham. 2. ‘The theme of God’s name being blasphemed by the heathen because of the unsatisfactory life of His people is a commonplace in the Bible (Romans 2:24; Isaiah 52:5).’ (Green p. 95) (See also 1 Timothy 6:1 and Titus 2:4-5) 3. Christianity is ‘the way of truth’, not, ‘one of the ways of truth’ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). 4. Christianity contains ‘objective truth’.

In contrast to what Peter says, notice what some are saying today: ‘faith is more a matter of intuition and feeling than of logic and reason…we will not win this fight for faith if we wage it on the basis of reason’. [Note: William S. Banowsky, former president of Pepperdine University. 1996 Abilene Lectures.]


Verse 3

2 Peter 2:3 ‘and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.’

‘in their greed’-Indicating that part of their motivation stems from greed. ‘Flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage’ (Jude 1:16). People who look at religion as a means to personal gain (1 Timothy 6:5; Titus 1:11).

Points to Note:

This isn’t just financial gain. ‘Gain’ can also come in the form of popularity, fame and praise. 2. People don’t get off track because the Scriptures are too difficult or a passage throws them a curve. Rather, people get in trouble when they start thinking, ‘I wish I could be popular at the same time, I wish I could be in demand for big speaking engagements, seminars and the like. I wish earthly success could be part of the package. I wish I could avoid all scrutiny, and be able to teach and preach what I want without any sort of criticism or examination.’ 3. ‘Even in honest churches…there is always the temptation to put fingers in the till, and to ask the preacher to preach in ways that will uplift and make people “feel good” before the collection is taken up. That is the start of the rot, which lets the bank balance rule the church’s priorities.’ (Lucas/Green pp. 91-92)

‘exploit you’-‘to deal in, use a thing or person for gain’ (Thayer p. 208); ‘buy and sell, trade in’ (Arndt p. 256). ‘they will try to make you a source of profit’ (TCNT). Carefully note that the pew basically gets the preaching that it wants. If we want to feel good-then there will be an abundance of speakers to accommodate our wishes (2 Timothy 4:3-4). But we forewarned! They aren’t doing this out of the goodness of their hearts, they have their own demands.

‘with false words’-‘fabricated’ (Vincent p. 690). ‘words artfully and skillfully forged for the occasion’ (Woods p. 164). ‘phony arguments, which were designed not for helping the hearers but for fleecing them.’ (Green p. 96). ‘They will exploit you with cunning arguments’ (Mof). When personal prestige is the goal, then truth no longer matters. “Our ministry” now takes priority over serving God. Promoting my book, seminar or video series, is more important than preaching the Word. Attracting greater audiences and making a name for myself is more important than getting back to the Bible. Therefore, a person will be willing to ‘fabricate’ arguments, definitions of words, etc…whatever it takes to hold on to his or her status or position.

‘their judgment from long ago is not idle’-From ancient times God has made it clear that sin will be punished (Jude 1:14-16). False prophets/false teachers have always been condemned (Deuteronomy 13:1-5). ‘idle’-‘inactive, to linger, delay’ (Thayer p. 72). ‘The judgment is not idle, it is represented as a living thing, awake and expectant…long ago that judgment started on its destroying path, and the fate of sinning angels, and the deluge, and the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah were but incidental illustrations of its power, nor has it ever since lingered.’ (Vincent p. 690)

‘and their destruction is not asleep’-‘to be napping, negligent, careless’ (Thayer p. 431); ‘and on their trail destruction is awake’ (Mof). ‘perdition waits for them with unsleeping eyes’ (NEB) ‘they may pooh-pooh the idea of a final retribution, but they are doomed men, on the edge of punishment’ (Mof). ‘God’s verdict on sin has been crystal clear from the very first warning about the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the garden.’ (Lucas/Green p. 93) Friend, next time you become discouraged concerning the spread and success of those groups which advocate error. Next time you are tempted to envy their huge facilities, large crowds, place of prestige in the community---remember these verses! You are envying people who like the Pharisees, have traded an eternal reward for the praise of men (Matthew 6:1-5). No statue of limitations handicaps the judgment of God. Here we find the true ‘long-arm’ of the law.

God’s Track Record:

‘In order to explain why we would be very foolish to presume on God’s patience, Peter uses the important principle that God delays judgment so as to exercise mercy.’ (Lucas/Green p. 93)

Lest, the false teachers and their follows scoff at the strong statements made by Peter, he gives three historical proofs.

Concerning this section of Scripture, Green observes: ‘Doubtless such stringent condemnations as Peter’s appear to twentieth-century readers as old-fashioned and inappropriate, because we have largely lost any sense of diabolical danger of false teaching, and have become as dulled to the distinction between truth and falsehood in ideas as we have to the distinction between right and wrong in behavior. But it is impossible to be alive, as Peter was, to the ethical and intellectual importance of “the way of truth”…without being incensed when that way is flouted, particularly in the Church.’ (p. 97)


Verse 4

2 Peter 2:4 ‘For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;’

‘For’-Peter argues from Old Testament precedent (approved examples?), and then makes a necessary inference at the end (). This section of Scripture completely destroys the idea that the Old Testament is historically untrustworthy, or the idea that God won’t punish anyone, or the popular idea that God will change His mind about sin.

‘God’-God hasn’t changed. The God Who revealed Himself in the Old Testament, is the same God Who reveals Himself in the New Testament. God feels the same way about sin. Therefore, all the examples in the Old Testament are relevant examples for all time (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:1-11).

‘did not spare angels when they sinned’-‘angels’-‘a messenger..to deliver a message. Angels are always spoken of in the masculine gender, the feminine form of the word does not occur.’ (Vine p. 55). The word rendered ‘angels’ is at times used for human messengers (Mark 1:2; Luke 7:24; Luke 7:27; Luke 9:52). Some have speculated that this verse might refer to human messengers, who in the past became unfaithful to their Divine charge. But I have always viewed it as referring to what we usually call ‘angels’.

Points to Note:

Some have had a problem with ‘sin’ happening in heaven. And yet in the book of Job, God allows the devil to approach Him (Job 1:6). 2. There are certain passages that seem to infer that these angels, including whatever the devil might have originally been, fell into sin because of pride and arrogance (Jude 1:6; 1 Timothy 3:6). 3. Other passages confirm that purely spiritual beings have sinned and will end up lost (Matthew 25:41; 1 Corinthians 6:3; 2 Corinthians 12:7; Galatians 1:8; Revelation 12:7; Revelation 12:9; Hebrews 2:16). 4. We know that God has created all things, both material and immaterial (Colossians 1:16). The devil and his angels are created beings. Therefore, we must conclude that originally they stood in a right relationship with God, and later decided to rebel. 5. Like the false teachers, these angels had apparently figured that they were beyond God’s judgment. ‘they mock Peter’s naïve and primitive faith in a day of judgment. But Peter says that no-one, not even the most glorious and powerful of those who stand against God, can avoid him.’ (Lucas/Green p. 96)

I think there is a great and inspiring thought to consider. Rebellion has taken place both in the spiritual realm as well as in this earthly realm. All who presently oppose God are siding with the devil and the angels who arrogantly opposed God. All who side with God, are siding with the good angels, the faithful messengers, glorious and unselfish individuals who serve God with joy and loyalty. On which side do you stand? Brethren the person who understands the Bible, understands that real life is a far more compelling story than any fictional drama that we could witness on the big screen. We are in a battle for our eternal lives!

‘cast them into’-Even the mighty angels are completely powerless to reverse the decisions of God. What a lesson for the human race! What a lesson for people who think that some human invention is going to liberate them from God’s jurisdiction.

‘hell’-the Greek word means, ‘to consign to Tartarus’. This is the only occurrence of this word in the New Testament.

Points to Note:

From the verse it is clear that this isn’t Gehenna, the final abode of the wicked (Matthew 25:41), but rather a temporary holding place until final sentencing. 2. In secular literature, the word ‘Tartarus’ was used by the Greeks as a subterranean place lower than Hades where Divine punishment was meted out. It was the Greek word for ‘hell’ in their culture. ‘In Homer, Hades is used as the place of confinement for dead men, while Tartarus is the name given to the murky abyss beneath Hades in which the sins of fallen immortals (Kronos, Japetos, and the Titans) are punished.’ (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 135)

Unfortunately, some people get all worried when Biblical writers use a secular term for a Divine truth. But remember, God chose the word! God is saying, ‘Unbelievers do understand some truths: A. Hell is real, yes there is a place of eternal torment. B. Yes there is a place where mighty beings (not Greek immortals or gods), but fallen angels have been imprisoned. Such references should remind the Christian that if there is any similarity at times between the Biblical account and some secular account, then the secular account is a human embellishment, a mass of human tradition and myth.

‘committed them to pits of darkness’-(; Jude 1:13; Hebrews 12:18). Life apart from God is blackness and gloom. Apart from God, even God’s physical blessings, such as light, are absent. One way of looking at hell, is solitary confinement for eternity. Hell is a place where you are left all by yourself. You didn’t want to have anything to do with God-hence that is your wish. But apart from God, you can’t create your own world, you can’t even create light, happiness, etc…In fact, you can’t even create a book to read.

‘reserved for judgment’-‘to await their doom’ (Gspd) Jude 1:6; Matthew 25:41.


Verse 5

2 Peter 2:5 ‘and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;’

‘and did not spare’-The repetition of this phrase () is an attack upon the false teachers insistence upon ‘grace’ as an automatic ticket to heaven. ‘Grace’ didn’t cover the angels, and grace didn’t save Noah’s contemporaries. God did not spare! But like then, today we are hearing that ‘God will spare’. God will spare all the people in error, God will spare the denominations, God will spare the Premillennialists and the Calvinists, and God will even spare the good moral person who ever becomes a Christian. What about the seemingly sincere people who refused to believe Noah’s preaching?

‘the ancient world’-and not merely the people in Noah’s home town or neighborhood. The flood was universal in scope! (2 Peter 3:5-6). Again, the flood really happened! Genesis is historical truth, it isn’t myth. If Genesis is mythical, then the false teachers were right about the Second Coming being a myth. Either both events are true or neither event is true. God links them together (2 Peter 3:1-18).

‘preserved Noah’-Noah was a real person. His name was ‘Noah’. In the flood, Noah doesn’t represent a whole race of people. The flood isn’t an allegory. Noah was a real man.

‘a preacher of righteousness’-‘lit., a herald’ (Vincent p. 692). One who proclaimed righteousness, i.e. a man who proclaimed the standards and will of Almighty God. Through Noah, Jesus preached to Noah’s generation (1 Peter 3:19-20).

Points to Note:

‘How could a good man keep quiet when he saw others going to ruin?’ (Lucas/Green p. 97) Not only was Noah building an Ark, he was also preaching to his contemporaries. ‘Righteousness’-‘the state of him who is such as he ought to be…the condition acceptable to God..virtue, purity of life, uprightness, correctness in thinking, feeling, and acting.’ (Thayer p. 301) (See Ezekiel 14:14; Ezekiel 14:20; Hebrews 11:7).

‘with seven others’-Historical detail (1 Peter 3:20). Only seven people (eight, when we include Noah) were saved! ‘Here, against the background of judgment on a rebellious and wicked world…we find God’s salvation depicted. Peter insists that it was available for all, but was effective only for few. The fewness of the saved and the certainty of judgment had immediate relevance for his first readers.’ (Green p. 99) ‘false teachers, notwithstanding their multitude of followers, and long success in propagating their errors, have no reason to imagine to themselves an escape from the wrath of God.’ (Lucas/Green p. 98) Noah preached the truth, and he only was able to save seven other people! We often hear people saying, ‘Surely God won’t allow the vast majority of humankind to end up lost!’ But the vast majority of those who lived during the time of Noah did perish! God didn’t change His mind. The false teachers might have many followers, but sheer numbers have never meant anything to God (Matthew 7:13-14).

‘when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly’-‘Ungodly’-‘destitute of reverential awe towards God’ (Thayer p. 79). Rejecting the Word of God places one into the category of ‘ungodly’. ‘The point of the whole Noah illustration is well brought out…Peter’s readers must, he says, “chose between apostolic orthodoxy and contemporary heresy. The consequences of their choice will follow as certainly as those illustrated in the fate of Noah and the ancient world.’ (Green p. 100)


Verse 6

2 Peter 2:6 ‘and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter;’

‘Sodom and Gomorrah’-These two cities really existed. Once again, the New Testament confirms in detail the historical accuracy of the Old Testament. Other writers mention both of these cities (Isaiah 1:9-10; Ezekiel 16:48-56; Luke 17:28-32).

‘destruction’-‘overthrow, lit., a turning down, Eng., “catastrophe”. Moses, as well as Peter referred to this event as an ‘overthrow’ (Genesis 19:25).

‘reducing them to ashes’-‘cover with or reduce to ashes’ (Arndt p. 814). Confirming the specific fate which came upon these cities (Genesis 19:24-25).

‘having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter’-An example is relevant, only if God feels the same way about such things, and will always feel that way. Every example in the Old Testament and New Testament is relevant for our time (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:1-11). What happened to these cities-is what will happen to those who live ungodly in every generation. A fiery fate awaits every sinner who refuses to repent (Jude 1:7). ‘holding them up as a warning to the godless of what was in store for them’ (TCNT); ‘making them an object-lesson’ (NEB). Jude reveals that God’s wrath went further than just physical destruction (Jude 1:7). If you want a picture of hell and the fate of the disobedient then look at the fate of these two cities.


Verse 7

2 Peter 2:7 ‘and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men’

‘He rescued’-Mercy and condemnation are often found in the same event. The same will be true at the Second Coming (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3). Lot had to be positively dragged out of Sodom, to be rescued (Genesis 19:16). Again, note how few were saved! Lot’s wife lost her life, because she was unwilling to make a clean break (19:26). Lot’s deliverance reveals some important truths: ‘It may come to any man to have to make the choice between settlement and security, and the new start and the clean break; and there are times when a man can only save his soul by breaking clean away from his job and his environment and his present situation, and beginning all over again.’ (Barclay p. 388)

‘righteous Lot’-This description of Lot has caused some to wonder. Especially in light of the fact that Lot appears at times to be selfish (Genesis 13:10-13); he finds himself involved in drunkenness and incest following this deliverance (Genesis 19:30-38).

Points to Note:

1. ‘Because the contrast with Abraham is ever present in the reader’s mind, so that the most lasting impressions are made of Lot’s selfishness, worldliness, vacillation, cowardice, and finally his drunkenness and incest…Peter, however, is fair-minded and gives credit where credit it due. Lot’s life, taken as a whole, was righteous..’ (Oberst p. 303) 2. In addition, Lot tried to do the right thing (Genesis 19:1-7), and his soul was vexed by the evil that surrounded him. 3. There are tremendous lessons to be learned from Lot’s life: A. Evil influences at times cannot be overcome by a good example. Lot found that he had no influence upon those surrounding him (19:7-8). B. He had no influence upon his son-in-laws (19:14). C. He lost his wife. Her heart was still with her possessions in Sodom. D. In the end, he had little influence upon his daughters. ‘Clark notes sharply that “However strange this may seem, there are many Christians today who are in no position to criticize. They should listen to the rumblings of the volcano beneath them.’ (Lucas/Green p. 100)

‘oppressed’-‘to tire down with toil, hence to afflict, oppress’ (Vine p. 325); ‘torment, wear out’ (Arndt p. 416) ‘shocked by the dissolute habits of lawless society’ (NEB); ‘wearied out..’(ABUV) ‘It is customary for Christians today, living in a secularized society, no longer to be shocked by sinful things which they see and hear. They will, for example, without protest sit through a television program presenting material which a generation ago they would never have contemplated watching at a theater or cinema. But when a man’s conscience becomes dulled to sin, and apathetic about moral standards, he is no longer willing to look to the Lord for deliverance.’ (Green p. 101)

‘sensual conduct’-‘unbridled lust, excess, shamelessness’ (Thayer p. 79). ‘absence of restraint, indecency’ (Vine p. 310). ‘these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh’ (Jude 1:7). It is clear that the sins of these two cities included homosexuality (Genesis 19:5-7). Let us be impressed that homosexual practices didn’t turn the inhabitants into peace-loving and gentle people (Genesis 19:9). Sodom wasn’t an utopian community of gentle people who honored the rights of others.

‘unprincipled men’-‘lawless’. ‘men who cared not for rule or decency’ (Alford p. 1681). Like the false teachers that Peter was battling, the inhabitants of Sodom were arrogant individuals who also despised rightful authority ().


Verse 8

2 Peter 2:8 ‘(for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds),’

Point to Note:

What a verse! A verse, while written 2000 years ago, reads like it was just written to address a need in our own time. Lot wasn’t politically-correct. Unlike some professed ‘spiritual’ people today, Lot didn’t rejoice in diversity, when such diversity was simply rebellion to the laws of God. Lot didn’t support or endorse the views of his homosexual neighbors. Notice the clear point: HOW DOES A RIGHTEOUS PERSON respond to sin, and in this context, the sin of homosexuality? A righteous man or woman is tormented, vexed, wearied, and distressed in their soul by such behavior. Lot may have lived in this region for about 20 years, but he never grew accustomed to such practices. Therefore, religious people and religious groups which endorse homosexuality, are people and groups who are no longer righteous in the sight of God.


Verse 9

2 Peter 2:9 ‘then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,’

‘then’-The lesson or applications from the previous examples. 1. From the angels that sin, we learn: A. No-one is exempt from God’s judgment or God’s law. B. Judgment, though it might be delayed, is real and final. 2. From the flood we learn: A. Numbers mean nothing. If condemning sin, means condemning the whole world, then God will condemn the whole world. B. The godly must stand and oppose the disobedient, righteousness needs to be preached, a righteous person cannot sit by and remain silent. 3. Concerning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah we learn: A. Hell is real! The fire that came upon these cities is only a type of the eternal fire that awaits the rebellious. B. A man or woman cannot remain ‘righteous’ while at the same time, becoming insensitive to sin.

‘the Lord knows how’-Every question concerning God’s power can be answered by this expression. The Lord knows how to get the gospel to an honest and good heart, the Lord knows how to preserve His word, and on and on.

‘to rescue the godly from temptation’-as is demonstrated in the previous examples. In fact, God can rescue a single individual or just a few out of millions (Noah and his family). Carefully note that God knows exactly who is godly and who isn’t (2 Timothy 2:19). These verses answer that age-old question, ‘What about the people in Africa, or those in remote places?’ The Lord knows all about them! The Lord knows how to get the gospel to them. God found Noah, among the millions that were alive during Noah’s lifetime. God found Lot, even though he was in the midst of immorality. If God could find Lot in the city of Sodom, then surely God can find any honest and good heart.

‘from temptation’-‘adversity, affliction, trouble’ (Thayer p. 498)

Point to Note:

‘Note that God delivers a man “out of” not “away from” trials. Christianity is no insurance policy against the trials of life…the examples of Noah and Lot are instructive for showing how God delivers the godfearing….Neither had immediate deliverance. Noah had to help himself by building an ark in obedience to God’s instructions-despite the mirth of his neighbors: Lot had to endure long years of self-recrimination for his foolish decision to go and live in Sodom…God may allow us to face long years of waiting before He intervenes…The faithful to whom Peter wrote may well have wondered, “Why does God allow us to be plagued with such venomous heresy in our midst?”…”When will God vindicate His name by judging the wicked?”…’ (Green p. 102)

‘and to keep’-present tense. God has the power to continually keep the unrighteous under punishment. Just as the rebellious angels are being held for judgment, the same is true for rebellious human beings. This means that the dead stay dead! It also means that ‘ghosts’, spirits which roam the earth-do not exist. God is in control of the spiritual world, and spirits do not get misplaced or forgotten. And neither are the spirits of evil men allowed to torment others (Ecclesiastes 12:7; Luke 16:19 ff).

‘unrighteous under punishment’-lit., being punished. The present tense emphasizes the constant nature of the punishment. ‘and to keep the wicked, who are even now suffering punishment, in readiness for the Day of Judgment’ (TCNT). Punishment for the wicked precedes and follows the judgment day (Luke 16:19-31; Jude 1:6-7)

‘for the day of judgment’-Which infers an intermediate state for the dead between now and the final judgment.

‘God is in control, and the men and women who run the world and the church their own way will one day find that out to their cost. That was the lesson Jesus himself taught from the stories of the flood and the cities of the plain. In the meantime, those who hold on to their belief in God must not lose heart because he has not yet vindicated himself. He will.’ (Lucas/Green p. 102)


Verse 10

2 Peter 2:10 ‘and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties,’

Deadly Preachers:

What was true in all past generations, is also true in Peter’s generation. The righteous found themselves surrounded by the ungodly and plagued by false teachers who were very popular. The statement, ‘then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation….’(), is exactly the view that these Christians are to have of their own times and situation.

‘Peter’s abhorrence of the errorists produces some of the most colorful and shocking language in the New Testament, and Kelly reflects much modern sentiment when he talks of Peter’s “violent and colorfully expressed tirade” and his “repertory of abuse”. But before we become too embarrassed, we should remember our twentieth-century tendency to assume that all positions are right, rather than some being “damnable heresies”…..Clark says wisely, “What twentieth-century Christians might well notice is the sharp difference between the respect paid to false teachers today and the treatment they received from the apostles.’ (Lucas/Green p. 103)

‘and especially’-This statement links us back to the last words in ‘and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment’. God will especially punish individuals such as are described in the following verses. In the eyes of God, the false teacher is just as dangerous as sinning angels, Noah’s contemporaries and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gormorrah. ‘Especially’-most of all, or above all.

‘indulge’-‘become his adherent, to seek, run after’ (Thayer p. 531)

‘the flesh in its corrupt desires’-The ‘desires’ here mentioned are desires that pollute. People who are looking for evil things. ‘in their longing for the sordid.’ (Green p. 103) (Jude 1:8 ‘by dreaming, defile the flesh’).

‘despise authority’-‘Despise’-‘lit., to think down upon or against, think slightly of’ (Vine p. 301) ‘Authority’-‘power, lordship, one who possesses dominion’ (Thayer p. 366) ‘craving polluted things and scorning control’ (Wey).

Points to Note:

This probably includes all kinds of authority. They resent God’s authority (Matthew 28:18), the authority of the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 14:37), the authority of parents, the authority of elders in the local congregation (Hebrews 13:17). 2. The phrase “question authority” has become a theme song for our current generation. 3. The tense is present, indicating that this is their habitual practice. Like the angels that sinned, they resent any kind of control in their lives. They don’t want to be in subjection to anyone.

‘Daring’-‘bold, audacious’ (Arndt p. 822); ‘shameless, irreverent daring’ (Vine p. 267) ‘Presumptuous’ (KJV); ‘Rash’ (Gspd). ‘Fools, it is said, rush in where angels fear to tread, and certainly this principle applies to the arrogant stupidity of the false teachers.’ (Lucas/Green p. 105)

‘self-willed’-‘self-pleasing, arrogant’ (Thayer p. 83). ‘one who, dominated by self-interest, and inconsiderate of others, arrogantly asserts his own will’ (Vine p. 342). ‘a self-loving spirit’ (Vincent p. 695). ‘They are presumptuous and self-willed…smacks of the reckless daring that defies God and man…the obstinate fellow who is determined to please himself at all costs.’ (Green p. 104)

‘they do no tremble when they revile angelic majesties’-‘they do not tremble’-‘they think nothing of’ (Phi); they are not afraid to and neither do they stand in awe of such powers. ‘Revile’-‘to blaspheme, rail’ (Vine p. 244) ‘angelic majesties’-‘glorious angelic beings, the meaning majesties, illustrious persons is also possible’ (Arndt p. 204).

Points to Note:

These men might have scoffed at any idea of the supernatural or the after-life, including angels and other spiritual beings. 2. They also scoffed at the idea that God would intervene in the future to judge mankind (ff). 3. On another level, such men also revile the authority of God’s messengers, the apostles. Now and then some theologian or religious scholar will claim to have a better knowledge of what God meant, than the original writers. Professed religious experts will at times say something like, ‘Paul said…..but those were simply the views of a male-chauvinist…’


Verse 11

2 Peter 2:11 ‘whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord.’

Points to Note:

By slandering such angelic authorities, the false teachers demonstrate the depth of their irreverence. In stark contrast, angels, who are far above such men, do not even use such slanderous speech against those who are truly guilty. 2. Angels (the good angels) understand that they are not the Judge (James 4:12). ‘Angels are obedient messengers, who do not take it on themselves to alter the message they deliver….Are they (the false teachers) laughingly copying the rebellious angels in their daring defiance, mocking the lack of freedom of the angels who remained obedient? Are they sniggering over the idea that angels brought God’s laws from heaven to earth? Do they deny that there is a real power of evil who has an authority over those who rebel against God? ….There are still those today who will all too easily discard inconvenient Christian doctrine and ethics in order to make life seemingly more pleasurable and the gospel more attractive….What could do that better than dismantling any idea of ultimate personal judgment according to a revealed and fixed set of morals?’ (Lucas/Green pp. 108-109) 3. ‘The false teachers do not hesitate to bring vituperative accusations against their superiors; whereas the angels do not even dare to impugn their inferiors in such terms in the Lord’s presence.’ (Green p. 105) See Jude 9. 4. Carefully consider the dignity of the angels. Instead of rambling at the mouth (like the false teachers), they simply respond, ‘the Lord rebuke thee’. They leave the condemnation to God. what a ‘fitting contrast to the undisciplined and irreverent tongues of the false teachers’ (Green p. 106)


Verse 12

2 Peter 2:12 ‘But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed,’

‘unreasoning animals’-‘destitute of reason, brute’ (Thayer p. 29), ‘lit,, unreasoning, irrational’ (Vincent p. 696); ‘like irrational animals’ (Mof); ‘with no more sense than the unreasoning brute breasts’ (Phi). Such men have abandoned any sort of loyalty to reason, logic, or truth. They are only interested in what strengthens their position.

‘born as creatures of instinct’-Those who live merely on the physical level. What is most important to them is the instant gratification of some desire. Carefully note that all of this is said concerning people who claimed to offer true knowledge, special insights, true enlightenment. In reality their teaching is primitive. ‘Although it promises that we will be better, fuller human beings, it actually offers lower, not higher, possibilities, even if they are dressed up in impressive language and ideas. Well-explained rationalism and modern reinterpretations of Christian ethics are an excuse for people to get away with what they want…’ (Lucas/Green p. 108)

‘to be captured and killed’-‘intended by nature to be caught and killed’ (TCNT).

Point to Note:

Peter wouldn’t be impressed by those who claim that killing an animal is murder and eating meat is a sin. Peter compared (God compares) these false teaches to animals, whose purpose on this planet is to serve the needs of mankind (Genesis 9:3).

‘reviling where they have no knowledge’-‘a picture of loud ignoramuses posing as professional experts’ (Robertson p. 166). This is often the case among false teachers. They are frequently ignorant of basic and fundamental bible principles or teaching. When I hear of someone deriding the Church for failing to fellowship someone of a Premillennial persuasion, I think to myself, ‘That person must not even understand Premillennial teaching’. (1 Timothy 1:7; 2 Timothy 3:7 ‘always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.’)

‘will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed’-‘shall in their destroying surely be destroyed’ (ASV). Like the animals, the slaughter-house is the fate that awaits him. ‘Like farm animals reared for slaughter, these teachers have ahead of them only judgment and condemnation. Once again, Peter has raised the certainly of future judgment…..There is a sickening inevitability about the destiny of the false teachers. In the long run, if they behave like animals they are treated like animals, and if they cheat they will find they have been outwitted’ (Lucas/Green pp. 109-110)


Verse 13

2 Peter 2:13 ‘suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you,’

‘suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong’-‘suffering themselves, as the penalty for the suffering they have inflicted’ (TCNT) Compare with Galatians 6:7-8; Romans 1:27; Colossians 3:25; Acts 1:18. The KJV reads ‘And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness’. Besides spiritual death (Romans 6:23), and eternal death, sin also has earthly consequences. ‘Such pleasure is corrupt and has in it the seeds of corruption and destruction. The aim of the man who gives himself to such fleshly things is pleasure; and his tragedy is that in the end he loses even the pleasure…if a man makes them his only joy, in the end he so ruins himself in bodily health and in spiritual and mental character, that he cannot even enjoy them…the glutton destroys his appetite in the end; the drunkard ruins his health; the sensualist destroys his own body; the self-indulgent ruins his own character and his own piece of mind…..In themselves they lose their thrill, so that as time goes on it takes more and more of them to satisfy…everything must be done to make the thrill sharper and more intense’ (Barclay pp. 391-392) See also 2 Timothy 3:13.

‘They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime’-‘Revel’-‘indulgence, reveling’ (Arndt p. 828). ‘pleasure’-from whence we get the English word “hedonism”. ‘in the daytime’-‘They think that pleasure consists in the indulgence of the moment’ (TCNT). Even the pagans considered drunkenness in the daytime to be inexcusable (1 Thessalonians 5:7). Usually most worldly people keep their sins private, and reserve participation in some vice for the night hours. But the above individuals have ceased to care what other people think, they are brazen and bold and have lost the ability to blush or feel ashamed of their sins (Jeremiah 8:12).

‘They are stains and blemishes’-‘Stains’-‘a moral blemish’ (Thayer p. 584) (Ephesians 5:27) ‘Blemishes’-‘blot, disgrace, insult’ (Thayer p. 420). ‘they are a stain and disgrace’ (TCNT) ‘These men, because of their licentious behavior, were disgraces to society, and certainly to true religion, or genuine spiritual living.’ (Oberst p. 310)

Points to Note:

In this context we clearly seen the relationship between false doctrine and immorality. It is impossible to have a message that is morally pure and yet doctrinally corrupt. 2. Not only are such men turning non-Christians off from the truth (), but are also tainting the Church. Jesus expects His body to be without stain (Ephesians 5:27); therefore, such men need to be removed (Matthew 18:15-17).

‘reveling in their deceptions’-‘reveling’-‘to live in luxury, live delicately’ (Thayer p. 219). ‘deceptions’-The Manuscripts here vary between ‘deceivings’ and ‘love feasts’. Jude 1:12 ‘these are they who are hidden rocks in your love feasts when they feast with you, shepherds that without fear feed themselves.’

‘as they carouse with you’-‘to entertain together, to feast sumptuously with’ (Thayer p. 604); ‘to feed abundantly’ (Robertson p. 167); ‘the word originally conveys the idea of ‘sumptuous feasting’ (Vincent p. 698). ‘that stuff themselves at your tables by means of their deceptions’ (Ber).

Points to Note:

At this point many denominational writers cite what was known as the ‘love feast’ that arose after the days of the apostles. It was supposedly a meal before the Lord’s Supper, at which the poorer Christians mingled with the wealthier and partook in common with the rest of the food provided by the wealthy. This apparently was incorporated from the meals which non-Christians had enjoyed in various pagan brotherhoods. As time went on the love feast became something completely detached from the Lord’s Supper. 2. We know that such a feast isn’t under consideration in these passages, for Paul directly commanded the Corinthians to have all social meals outside of the assembly (1 Corinthians 11:22; 1 Corinthians 11:34). Thus the ‘love-feast’ found in post-apostolic times is not what is being referred to in the above passages. The ‘love-feast’ described in post-apostolic writings probably grew out of the desire among some Christians to combine the religious and fraternal meals they had enjoyed in trade guilds, etc…with the worship of the New Testament Church. 3. The love-feast here doesn’t appear to be the Lord’s Supper, for it does appear that they false teachers were gorging themselves. 4. It makes more sense to say that the love-feasts were simply the meals that Christians enjoyed with other Christians in their own homes (Acts 2:46). 5. This reveals how these false teachers were being able to live such pampered lives. They were taking advantage of the hospitality given by other Christians (2:3). Not only were they eating everything in sight, and taking advantage of every free meal they could find. In addition, the expression ‘hidden rocks’ in Jude 1:12, seems to indicate that they were using this time to spread their error to their unsuspecting hosts and other guests. 6. The statement ‘reveling in their deceptions’ could infer that these men were secretly enjoying how they were completely fooling and taking advantage of other Christians. They really thought that they had everyone fooled.


Verse 14

2 Peter 2:14 ‘having eyes full of adultery and that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children;’

‘having eyes full of adultery’-‘They lust after every girl they see; they view every female as a potential adulteress. Peter makes another shrewd psychological observation. Lascivious thoughts, if dwell upon and acted upon, become dominant. It becomes impossible for them to look at any woman without reflecting on…the possibilities of persuading her to gratify their lusts.’ (Green p. 111)

‘that never cease from sin’-‘as though there is nothing they can see that does not suggest and encourage sin.’ (Lucas/Green p. 112). ‘Those here described cannot cease from sin; that is, he cannot as long as he is ruled and dominated by such passion. The immoral stares would cease if his heart was clean and pure.’ (Oberst p. 311) ‘eyes never at rest from sin’ (NEB). ‘eyes never tired of sin’ (TCNT) As long as their thoughts dwell on sin, they could never break the cycle of sin. The only way to stop the habitual practice of sin, or to break chronic sin, is to get control of your thoughts (Mark 7:20-23).

‘enticing unstable souls’-‘enticing’-‘allure, deceive’ (Thayer p. 128). ‘to lure by bait’ (Vine p. 36). ‘unstable’-They are actively recruiting. ‘Entice…a fishing word which describes their careful luring of unwary Christians.’ (Lucas/Green p. 112) ‘they captivate the unstable ones’ (Phi); ‘They know how to win wavering souls to their purpose’ (Knox).

Points to Note:

Here we see the great importance of being grounded in the faith (Colossians 1:23). 2. These individuals do not try to deceive the strong, but they look for wavering, unstable, and naïve individuals (Romans 16:18). Often preying upon the recently converted (2 Peter 2:18). 3. They know how to entice people, they know how to play upon people’s discontentment, discouragement, and ignorance. They are experts in looking for easy marks. 4. Spiritual growth, taking your Christianity seriously is so important. Failing to grow is simply setting yourself up, so someone can take advantage of you.

‘having a heart trained in greed’-‘trained’-Note that they weren’t born greedy. Rather, they have trained themselves to become greedy. Every sin is something that we have learned or acquired. ‘The word “trained”…from the same root as our word “gymnasium”..to exercise vigorously in any thing.’ (Oberst p. 312) We either have the choice to exercise our minds with godly things (Hebrews 5:14) or the ungodly. Our choice in this area will determine what type of person we become and where we will spend eternity. Let the reader really think before they once again engage in some chronic sin that has plagued them. Every time you give in, you are making it that much more difficult to quit the practice! When you commit sin, you are strengthening evil in your life.

‘accursed children’-‘accursed’-Compare with (Ephesians 2:2-3; John 17:12). People who have made themselves accursed in the sight of God and who also are a curse to others. ‘This sickening picture is summed up in two words: “accursed brood”, a Hebrew-style phrase which is literally “children of a curse”.’ (Lucas/Green p. 112) ‘God’s curse is on them!’ (NEB)

The Way Of Balaam:


Verse 15

2 Peter 2:15 ‘forsaking the right way they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness,’

‘forsaking the right way’-‘forsaking’-‘to depart from, leave’ (Thayer p. 333). Present tense, they are continually leaving. Always moving farther and farther away from the truth.

‘gone astray’-‘to cause to wander’ (Vine p. 39) And note that one can go astray, the right way can be forsaken! Increasingly we are hearing that people can go astray, but not depart from the right way. That a person can be wrong about almost every teaching in the Bible, but still be on the right way.

Points to Note:

These men weren’t born depraved or born in sin. They had found the right way (and note there is just one right way- Matthew 7:13-14). 2. Obviously, these men had learned the truth, they had seen it, they were Christians at one time (2:1). 3. They hadn’t accidentally lost sight of the truth, rather “they” have gone astray (personal responsibility and choice).

‘having followed the way of Balaam’-Simply one more Old Testament event which the New Testament endorses. The account of Balaam is told in Numbers 22:1-41; Numbers 23:1-30; Numbers 24:1-25, and the account is accurate! Balaam was a real individual and everything that Moses said about him was true. In addition, history repeats itself. Seeing that man remains the same, and the world remains the same, we will always be faced with people who choose to follow in the footsteps of previous compromisers.

‘who loved the wages of unrighteousness’-‘fell in love with the profits of wrong-doing’ (Wms).

Points to Note:

Like these false teachers, Balaam had been a prophet of God (Numbers 22:8). 2. Balak was willing to pay big money, if Balaam would only curse Israel (22:7,17). 3. ‘the story makes one thing quite clear, that Balaam’s covetous heart longed after the rich rewards which Balak was offering, even if he was afraid to take them..’(Barclay p. 394)


Verse 16

2 Peter 2:16 ‘but he received a rebuke for his own transgression; for a dumb donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.’

‘but he received a rebuke for his own transgression’-God made it clear that Israel was His people (). But Balaam continued to ask God-when more enticing offers were made by Balak (22:17-19). God was angry when Balaam went to meet with Balak, because God knew that Balaam secretly was willing to sell out Him and His people for the money that Balak was offering (22:22,32-34).

‘for a dumb donkey, speaking with a voice of a man’-‘Peter regards the account as authentic, it was to him, no imaginary incident, no fictious account. Modernistic scholars in seeking to eliminate the supernatural from the sacred writings entirely, allege that Balaam merely heard the promptings of an uneasy conscience on this occasion and that the beast did not really speak’ (Woods p. 174). Again, we find the New Testament endorsing all the miraculous events in the Old Testament which liberal scholars criticize and attempt to rewrite or remove. ‘Peter makes a good deal of the Balaam incident in order to encourage the simple orthodox among his readers, who might easily be overwhelmed by the specious arguments of their seductive teachers. “A dumb donkey possessed sounder prophetic vision than a religious official whose moral sense had been perverted by gain from wrongdoing.’ (Green pp. 113-114)

‘restrained the madness of the prophet’-‘restrained’-to check or restrain. ‘madness’-insanity. This madness was caused by a love for money (1 Timothy 6:9-10). From a practical standpoint, every sin is a form of insanity. For it is crazy to think that one could rebel against God and not suffer for it. Or that one could ignore the will of God and build a secure and happy future at the same time.

Points to Note:

Balaam is often cited as an example by other biblical writers (Deuteronomy 23:4; Joshua 13:22; Joshua 24:9; Nehemiah 13:2; Nehemiah 13:27; Micah 6:5; Revelation 2:14. 2. He is the classic example of willing to compromise the truth in order to profit financially. 3. God had prevented Balaam from cursing Israel, and thus forfeiting the huge reward offered by Balak. But Balaam found a way to get that reward. Balaam’s greed wasn’t to be denied and probably some time after Balak’s anger had cooled, Balaam suggested that while he couldn’t curse them, that didn’t mean that he couldn’t offer advice (for a price) concerning how Balak could defeat them. From the chapter that follows Numbers 24:1-25, it seems that the advice was to lure the Israelite men, with Moabite women into immoral and idolatrous practices (hence they would be cursed in the sight of God) (Numbers 25:1 ff). He counseled Balak to send forth the daughters of Moab and entice the men of Israel to join them in their lascivious worship (Numbers 25:1-3; Numbers 31:1-9; Numbers 31:16***; Revelation 2:14). When God had Israel take revenge, we find that Balaam was killed for he was among the idolaters (31:8). 4. Like Balaam, these false teachers were willing to sell out their brethren for money, fame and prestige. 6. ‘He tempted many of the people down a path of moral and theological compromise.’ (Lucas/Green p. 113). And carefully note, Balaam didn’t directly tempt the Israelites, he only offered the advice. But he was still held accountable. 7. Some try to excuse their error by saying, ‘But I am not directly advocating that anyone should do this.’ God doesn’t buy that excuse. God does hold us accountable for what we say and the fate of those who act upon our advice.


Verse 17

2 Peter 2:17 ‘These are springs without water, and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved.’

‘springs without water’-1. ‘describes the unsatisfactory nature of the false teaching. You come to it as to an exciting new spring-and find it has no water to offer’ (Green p. 114) ‘Wells without water are a most tragic disappointment to the Eastern traveler’ (Lucas/Green p. 116) Often false teachers promise that they are offering something new and refreshing, in contrast to what they consider to be the stale and enslaving teachings found in the Bible. But all their promises and claims turn out to be empty. They have nothing to offer to the thirsty soul. They are like the broken cisterns of Jeremiah’s time (Jeremiah 2:13).

‘mists driven by a storm’-‘Clouds which bring no rain, clouds that hold much promise, expectation, that in the hot summer time excites the hopes of the farmer, only to deliver none of what was promised, and to pass by, without a drop.’ This figure also suggests their instability. They only preach the latest fad. Their teachings are constantly changing, always claiming that they have discovered something new.

‘black darkness’-the densest darkness (Thayer p. 272). Thick darkness, darkness that can be felt (Vine p. 268). See and Jude 1:6; Jude 1:13.

‘has been reserved’-Men may argue that God will change His mind, or that God doesn’t or will not punish. But none of these arguments will change reality. ‘lit., “the” darkness, denoting well-understood doom.’ (Vincent p. 701). Jesus spoke of the same condition (Matthew 8:12 ‘outer darkness’; see also Jude 1:13). Seriously consider the word “reserved”. If I am not serving God right now-then eternal doom is presently reserved for me. Heaven and hell are both “reserved” (1 Peter 1:4). If you love life outside of Christ, if you love the darkness (John 3:19); then eternal darkness is your reward.


Verse 18

2 Peter 2:18 ‘For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error,’

‘For’-The reason why they are called ‘springs without water’ and ‘mists driven by a storm’.

‘arrogant words’-‘excessive size, puffed up, swollen, also haughty, bombastic’ (Arndt p. 841). ‘a kind of speech full of high-sounding verbosity without substance’ (Vincent p. 702). ‘Overblown, with exaggerated claims dressed in fancy words, these people were like spiritual puffer fish, inflating themselves to impress and intimidate.’ (Lucas/Green p. 116)

‘of vanity’-‘using fine phrases that have no meaning’ (Knox). Big words strung together, but only words, words that don’t meaning anything.

Points to Note:

I have always liked the following illustration: ‘The following was found among the graffiti on a wall at St. John’s University. “And Jesus said unto them, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ And they replied, ‘You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma in which we find the ultimate meaning of our interpersonal relationship’. And Jesus said: “What?”’ (Plain Talk 17/5/1) 2. The words are empty because they are void of truth. Be impressed that just any message won’t save or lead one to salvation (Romans 1:16).

‘they entice’-‘allure, entice, deceive’ (Thayer p. 128). The following, they use as “bait” to entrap possible followers and disciples.

‘by fleshly desires’-‘by’-through. ‘fleshly desires’-‘and use physical cravings to lure into immorality’ (Gspd). ‘This means of trapping the young Christians is enticing, for they speak on those areas of life which the new disciple will find hardest to change. They say that if their way is followed, new Christians need not change at all, and can have the best of both worlds.’ (Lucas/Green p. 117)

‘by sensuality’-(1 Peter 4:3; 2 Peter 2:2; 2 Peter 2:7). ‘No doubt these teachers maintained that the salvation of the immortal soul was all that mattered…they may have suggested that the deeply spiritual should expressed their religion sexually, as some second-century heretics did.’ (Green p. 116) 1. To this day we hear people trying to argue just like these first century false teachers. 2. It seems like certain people are always trying to find an angle where they don’t have to “toe the line” that Peter and the other apostles taught. A way that we can be selfish and yet spiritual at the same time.

‘those who barely escape from the ones who live in error’-‘those who have barely begun to escape from their heathen environment’ (NEB); ‘those who have had but a short respite from false teaching’ (Knox).

Points to Note:

Here we see the importance of getting involved with strong and sound people immediately after your conversion. For false teachers (who can be nothing more than what appears to be a well-meaning family member who is giving you advice) prey on new converts (Romans 16:18). 2. Get yourself grounded in the faith, take good care of your new relationship with God (Colossians 1:23).


Verse 19

2 Peter 2:19 ‘promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.’

‘promising them freedom’-‘fancied liberty, i.e. license, the liberty to do as one pleases’ (Thayer p. 204). The content of their great swelling words was “freedom”. But it is a false freedom. ‘Freedom! That was the great catchword.’ (Lucas/Green p. 117) Again, nothing has changed! The apostles had to fight the idea that Christian liberty allows you to sin with impunity (Romans 3:8; Romans 6:1 ff; Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 2:16; Jude 1:4). ‘Unpleasant though it may be, we ought at this stage to pause and review the poisonous strategy that will be eating away at churches even now…The offer will be of true freedom, perhaps carrying the implication that the New Testament message that converted them did not truly liberate them. That freedom will operate in two areas: freedom to think their own thoughts, so they need not submit to the authority of the apostles…An non-judgmental ethic and an open-ended theology will be an offer to immature Christians, who do not know enough to refuse it and cannot see the selfishness masquerading as spirituality. It is sharply contemporary.’ (Lucas/Green p. 119)

‘while they themselves are slaves of corruption’-‘slaves to corrupt habits’ (TCNT). ‘While’-while they are pretending to have an insight to true freedom, they are in fact slaves. ‘Corruption’-moral decay. ‘They keep on chattering about liberty when all the time they themselves have been (and still are) in the prison-house of lust (Romans 6:16; Romans 8:34)…..Barclay quotes Seneca’s apophthegm, “to be enslaved to oneself is the heaviest of all servitudes.” (Green p. 118)

‘for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved’-What an insight! Every man has a master, and it doesn’t do any good to argue otherwise. Everyone serves someone or something. No man or woman is truly their own person (Matthew 6:24; Romans 6:13; Romans 6:16). False teachers are always trying to set God’s grace and God’s law against each other. In contrast, ‘So here he (Peter) shows that precept and love, charity and chastity, law and gospel are not combatants but correlatives. It is ever the way of licence to champion gospel over law…Healthy Christian living comes when God’s commands are seen as the kerbstones on His highway of love, the hedge encompassing His garden of grace.’ (Green p. 118)


Verse 20

2 Peter 2:20 ‘For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.’

‘For if after they have escaped’-There is some question concerning whether the “they” in this verse applies to the false teachers just mentioned or their converts. Woods notes, ‘the antecedent of the pronoun “they” is the false teachers of the preceding verse’ (p. 176). And yet the same truth would apply to their followers who had also escaped from defilements in the world ().

‘escaped’-Clearly these false teachers had been faithful Christians at one point in their lives. A Christian can fall away, in fact, Christians in positions of leadership can also fall into error (Acts 20:29-31). And carefully note that these people are going to end up lost, if they don’t repent. At times we just think that God is going to give former faithful Christians, who go into error, a break. But God didn’t give the angels a break!

‘defilements’-‘polluting influences’(TCNT).

‘by the knowledge of the Lord’-‘Knowledge’-full and correct knowledge, accurate and precise knowledge (,3,8; Hebrews 10:26). The knowledge that liberates, is the knowledge of Jesus Christ, which includes rules (John 14:15) that one must keep and a lifestyle that one must live. Again, people are always looking for some sort of doctrine or slant of the Scriptures that will enable them to feel wonderful about themselves and at the same time make no demands upon them. Advocates of once-saved-always-saved try to argue that these people were never Christians in the first place, or simply marginal Christians. But the above word “knowledge” means full knowledge. They had escaped from the world by the full knowledge of Jesus Christ.

‘they are again entangled in them’-like fish caught in a net. ‘The word-picture is of a gladiator caught in the thrown net of his opponent.’ (Lucas/Green p. 120)

‘and are overcome’-These false teachers, like some Christians think that they now ‘know better’ and ‘know enough’ to go back into the world and yet not get into trouble, like they did before they became a Christian. The arrogant attitude is, ‘I can now do those things, without becoming addicted, etc..’ But such in impossible. Sin will always enslave.

‘the last state has become worse for them than the first’-‘A servant who willfully disobeys his master is far more culpable than one who disobeys through ignorance…(Luke 12:47-48).’ (Green p. 119) Jesus taught the same truth (Matthew 12:45; Luke 11:26). ‘It is also true….. that the apostate frequently goes deeper into sin, and with less restraint, than he did formerly.’


Verse 21

2 Peter 2:21 ‘For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them.’

‘For it would be better….not to have known’-This once again clearly emphasizes the fact that these false teachers had known the truth and had known it well. Such people have a clear understanding of the truth and not, a mere acquaintance. ‘Better’-it would be advantageous. ‘Known’-‘to become thoroughly acquainted with, to know thoroughly, accurately, know well’ (Thayer p. 237). ‘fully perceive..a more special recognition of the object known’ (Vine p. 299); ‘to know fully’ (Robertson p. 170)

‘the way of righteousness’-There is only one way. (See Matthew 3:3; Matthew 7:13-14; Matthew 21:32; John 14:6; Acts 16:17; 18:25-26; 19:9; 32). ‘Way of righteousness’, because righteousness characterizes those who walk in it (Isaiah 35:8).

‘than having know it’-and they knew it well.

‘to turn away from’-A choice that they had made. Carefully note that the Bible hadn’t confused them. They didn’t trip up in their thinking because the text was too complicated or a hard verse steered them in the wrong direction. They knew the truth, knew it was the truth, understood the truth, and deliberately turned from it.

Point to Note:

Be impressed that in this whole section God never tells Christians, ‘Now try to understand these erring brethren, they need a lot of love and support right now, they are sincere in their beliefs, don’t judge their motives, don’t tell them that they are wrong, going to hell or lost.’ God says everything about these false teachers that modern experts in interpersonal relationships tell us that we must not say.

‘from the holy commandment’-‘collectively of the whole body of the moral precepts of Christianity (1 Timothy 6:14; 2 Peter 3:2)’ (Thayer p. 218) Carefully note that ‘law’ or ‘commandments’ aren’t bad words to God. God looks at the entire system of Christianity and calls it ‘the holy commandment’. These false teachers are forerunners of those who try to set love against law, the gospels against the epistles and the gospel against doctrine ‘the whole body of the moral and spiritual precepts of Christianity’ (Oberst p. 321) ‘was standard Christian shorthand for the entire message, Old Testament, New, or both (3:2).’ (Lucas/Green p. 122)

‘delivered to them’-delivered to them through the writings and preaching of the apostles (Acts 6:14; 1 Corinthians 11:2; 1 Corinthians 11:23; 1 Corinthians 15:3; Jude 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:15).


Verse 22

2 Peter 2:22 ‘It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”

‘It has happened to them according to the true proverb’-‘the content of the true proverb has been “verified or realized” in their case’ (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 141). (Proverbs 26:11).

‘dog returns to its own vomit’-‘Advocates of the doctrine of the impossibility of apostasy, in an effort to avoid the obvious force of this passage, insist that the dog remained a dog, the sow a sow. Such is not the point of the proverb. A dog ejected that which was foul, the sow had been washed. That each returned to its former manner of life reveals that the old nature “returned” in each case that animal returned to its “former offensive habits”, just like these false teachers did.’ (Woods p. 178)

Points to Note:

1. Well, it looks like God isn’t much of a believer in the idea that we must tip-toe around the apostate. 2. ‘The dog which has got rid of the corruption inside through vomiting it up cannot leave well alone; it goes sniffing around the vomit again. The pig that has got rid of the corruption outside it by means of a scrubbing cannot resist rolling in the manure heap…….Covetousness, sophistical arguments, pride in knowledge, gluttony, drunkenness, lust, arrogance against authority of all kinds, and, most of all, the danger of denying the lordship of the Redeemer----are these not all the paramount temptations of money-mad, sex-mad, materialistic, anti-authoritarian, twentieth-century man?’ (Green p. 121)

 


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Bibliography Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on 2 Peter 2:4". "Mark Dunagan Commentaries on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dun/2-peter-2.html. 1999-2014.

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