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False Teachers and Their Destruction July 26, 2014

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 2 Peter 2.

Summary: Peter begins by reminding his readers that there were true and false prophets in the Old Testament; similarly, Christ predicted that they would encounter true and false teachers, and he confirms His prediction. These false teachers encourage them to deliberately sever themselves from righteous thoughts and actions. These false teachers also fight against the absolute dominion of Christ – their Redeemer – and they involve themselves in destruction. Now their influence is:

  • widespread
  • immoral
  • blasphemous
  • treacherous.

He reminds his readers that God threatened long ago to judge these false teachers; although they have not been punished, their punishment is absolutely certain.

To support this point, Peter cites the following examples from the Old Testament:

  • the fall of the angels
  • the Flood
  • the destruction of the cities of the plain – Sodom and Gomorrah.

He also reminds them that a few were saved at the Flood and that Lot was righteous in terms of his judicial standing before God. Thus, God will be able to reserve the ungodly for punishment while protecting the godly.

Peter now characterizes false teachers as:

  • unclean
  • willfully contemptuous of all authority – in contrast to the good angels
  • self-indulgent
  • reckless
  • sensual – since they are riotous in the daytime
  • hypocritical – since they associate themselves with the Christian love feasts while living in sin
  • infamous – since they indulge in awful iniquity and entice weak and young Christians to imitate them
  • empty – since they have no real vitality
  • unstable – since they lack settled principles
  • boastful – since they bluster in order to dupe
  • seductive
  • heartless
  • deceptive
  • powerless.

Peter concludes by stating that these false teachers are entangled in their sin and experience spiritual degeneration; thus, moral disaster will befall them, and they will engage in utter apostasy – since they treat the Gospel message unfairly.

Thoughts: When I read through this passage, I was reminded of my stroll through the book of Jude. Thomas offers some insights on this point:

The relationship between 2 Peter and Jude…There is an evident use of one writing by the author of the other (compare 2 Peter 2:1-16 and Jude 4, 11)…Authorities differ as to which is earlier; some arguing for the priority of Jude (Alford, Salmon), others for the priority of 2 Peter (Lumby, Bigg).

I am certainly eager to meet Peter and Jude in the next life and learn 1) who wrote the earlier letter and 2) how the writer of the subsequent letter was inspired by it. Also, I wonder if the debates over the priority of these two letters were part of the larger debate over their inclusion in the New Testament canon (i.e. those who supported the priority of a particular letter might argue that the other letter should be excluded from the New Testament canon). I suppose that if I had participated in that larger debate at the Council of Carthage in 397, I would have balked at including Jude in the New Testament canon, since it contains some odd extra-biblical allusions…

In verses 20-22, Peter asserts that those who have known “our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” and then become “entangled in” the “corruption of the world” are “worse off” than those who never knew Jesus Christ. Thomas offers some insights on this point:

See Matthew 12:43-45. Peter is making a clear allusion to the Master’s teaching.

This is certainly an interesting passage, and it has played a prominent role in the debate over whether a Christian can lose their salvation. While I am currently unable to resolve that debate, I have studied the above-mentioned passage from Matthew. My understanding of that passage is that Jesus is attacking the Pharisees, who strive to break all of their bad habits – yet fail to invite Him to dwell in their hearts, which would permanently transform them. Instead, the Pharisees trust in their own strength to break their bad habits, and they are convinced that they do not need a Savior. Thus, this passage in 2 Peter may be a valuable reminder for believers to continue seeking after Christ and asking Him to work in their lives – even if they are not young Christians.

This passage extensively criticizes false teachers and their erroneous beliefs and actions. I thought about this in terms of how believers can evaluate their pastors and determine if they are genuine teachers of God’s Word. One difficulty in this regard is that believers generally do not interact with their pastors outside of organized church activities, and so they are unaware of how their pastors live outside of church. If a pastor leads a double life and skillfully conceals it from their church, then their church would probably assume that they have been called by God to shepherd them. Also, a pastor who happens to be a false teacher of God’s Word might be quite adept at cloaking their false doctrines with a veneer of doctrinal purity. Now I should note that adopting the opposite attitude where believers automatically distrust their pastors is usually counterproductive. Truly believers require the assistance of the Holy Spirit to discern truth from error in the last days.

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Comments»

1. Arthur - April 4, 2015

You don’t have to be a teacher to follow the corrupt desire of the flesh


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