2 Peter 2 Bible study

Living Word Magazine

Chapter 2.




False Prophets


2:1 But false prophets arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. These false teachers will infiltrate your midst with destructive heresies, even to the point of denying the Master who bought them. As a result, they will bring swift destruction on themselves.


In the last chapter we learned that the prophetic Scriptures were not composed by men, but by God's Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit inspired holy men of God to speak or write down the words just as He taught them. In the days of the prophets there were false prophets among the people. In the NT age there are false teachers in God's church.1 These false teachers have one aim - to deceive the church and lead it away from Christ. They seek to bring to nothing the work of God being carried out in a believer. They do this by attacking and undermining both the faith of the believer and the truth on which that faith is based (e.g. 2 Tim 2:17-18). Peter warns the church that the errors of these false teachers are very subtle. There are many different kinds of false teachers about today. Some will succeed in deceiving others by their outrageous and clearly unscriptural teachings (e.g. Jehovahs's Witnesses). Others, knowing that more experienced believers will not be taken in by such obvious errors are far more subtle. What they say may appear to be right, at least in part. It all sounds so plausible and we can be deceived into thinking that such teaching is not harmful. The devil does not come as a roaring lion to deceive, for then he would be noticed. Instead he comes as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:13-14). False teachers will go as far as denying the Lord who bought them. What does this mean? They will deny the truth of who Christ is. They will deny what he has done for them personally (deny they ever had an experience of salvation), and they will deny the truth of what Christ has accomplished by his death and resurrection. e.g. There were teachers in Paul's day who taught that a man had to be circumcised and keep the law in order to be saved. Paul refused to accept this teaching, because Christ had kept all the requirements of the law and had taken the penalty of the law in dying for our sin, so that we might be saved by trusting in Christ. Paul calls these teachers "dogs" in Phil 3:2. Swift destruction will come upon those who deny Christ's deity, or his humanity, or the full salvation he provides.


2:2 And many will follow their debauched lifestyles. Because of these false teachers, the way of truth will be slandered.


Peter warns that these teachers are in the church and that many in the church will follow their immoral and unrestrained way of life. Their behavior will cause unbelievers to speak evil of the church and of Jesus Christ Himself. These false teachers put license for liberty. They say that since we are saved by grace, there is no law for us and so we can do what we like. But Rom 6.1,2 They turn the grace of God into an excuse and for all kinds of immoral behavior (e.g. Rev. 2:20-23).


2:3 And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation pronounced long ago is not sitting idly by; their destruction is not asleep.


Such people are motivated by greed and will attempt to make a financial gain from the church by cleverly deceiving it. They will strive to win followers, not of Christ, but for themselves (Acts 20:30). It will not be long before the righteous judgment of God falls upon them.


2:4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but threw them into hell and locked them up in chains in utter darkness, to be kept until the judgment.


Peter reminds his readers of God's holiness and of His judgment upon sin by quoting several examples from the OT. The angels who followed Lucifer in his rebellious attempt to seize the throne of God were cast down and imprisoned in the darkness of hell - where they are to be kept until the Day of judgment before being cast into the lake of fire.


2:5 And if he did not spare the ancient world, but did protect Noah, a herald of righteousness, along with seven others, when God brought a flood on an ungodly world,


Because of the violence and corruption of man in the days of Noah, God flooded the world and completely destroyed the wicked. Only those who believed God's word and accepted his way of salvation (the ark) were saved. They were Noah, his wife, his three sons and their wives (Gen. 7:7)


2:6 and if he turned to ashes the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah when he condemned them to destruction, having appointed them to serve as an example to future generations of the ungodly,


Because of the evil practices of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, particularly homosexuality, God destroyed these cities and everyone in them with fire sent down from heaven. This action was intended to warn others of the final punishment of the wicked and of all those whose names are not found written in the lambs book of life (Gen. 19:24 and Rev. 20:15). JBP calls it "a fearful example to those who wanted to live in defiance of His laws."


2:7-8 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man in anguish over the debauched lifestyle of lawless men,(for while he lived among them day after day, that righteous man was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard )


Only Lot and his family were spared, because Lot was a righteous man. Although he lived among the people, he did not consent to their actions but was appalled by what he heard and saw around him each day. (Gen. 19)


2:9 — if so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from their trials, and to reserve the unrighteous for punishment at the day of judgment,


If this is so, and it is, then we know that God will not condemn the just for He is the God of our salvation (1 Thess. 5:9). Neither will God aquit the wicked. He will see to it that they do not escape His judgment (2 Thess. 1:9).


2:10 especially those who indulge their fleshly desires and who despise authority. Brazen and insolent, they are not afraid to insult the glorious ones,This is especially true of those who follow the desires of their sinful nature and indulge in corrupt passions.


The seriousness of sexually immoral behavior is in the despising of the moral order of a Creator God.  They despise all authority but especially God's authority - in fact all authority is given by God. They are self willed and self loving, unwilling to submit to God. They are not afraid to make irreverent statements about God or other heavenly beings. They scoff about the glories of the unseen world, treating them as trivial or meaningless and are even prepared to make jokes about God, His word or about other spiritual things. They even scorn angelic beings.


2:11 yet even angels, who are much more powerful, do not bring a slanderous judgment against them before the Lord.


Yet even the angels, who are superior in might and power, do not bring insulting accusations about such beings (e.g. the devil) before the Lord. They realize that it is not their place to. Since it is God who has created such beings it is He alone who has the right to rebuke or pass judgment on them. Michael the archangel, when contesting with the devil, did not dare insult him but came in the authority of the LORD God and said "The LORD rebuke you!" (Jude 1:8).


2:12 But these men, like irrational animals — creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed — do not understand whom they are insulting, and consequently in their destruction they will be destroyed,


2:13 suffering harm as the wages for their harmful ways. By considering it a pleasure to carouse in broad daylight, they are stains and blemishes, indulging in their deceitful pleasures when they feast together with you.


Brute beasts such as cattle which are caught and killed for food have no understanding. Just like them, these false teachers have no understanding of spiritual things and speak evil of whatever they do not understand. Since they have not experienced it and they cannot understand it, they think it must be nonsense and so pour scorn upon it. They will receive full payment for this - they will utterly perish in their sin (Rom. 6:23). They enjoy indulging in shameless revelry and in have drunken parties in broad daylight - even in the fellowship of the church. This was possibly happening in the so-called "love feasts", a kind of church supper involving the communion which degenerated into an excuse for a party. This practice is condemned by Paul in 1 Cor. 11:21-22. These people are like blemishes in the church. They are deceiving themselves because they think that what they are doing is unseen by God.


2:14 Their eyes, full of adultery, never stop sinning; they entice unstable people. They have trained their hearts for greed, these cursed children!


Eyes being full of adultery" could refer to that spiritual adultery which comes from being a friend of the world (James 4:4) and to the insatiable lust and craving for all that this world has to offer, rather than for what God has to offer. It could also be another reference to their immoral sexual behavior. They deliberately mislead others who are not yet grounded in the faith so as to get something out of them. JBP says " Their technique of getting what they want is, through long practice, highly developed." They are under God's curse and will be forever damned.


2:15-16 By forsaking the right path they have gone astray, because they followed the way of Balaam son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness, yet was rebuked for his own transgression (a dumb donkey, speaking with a human voice, restrained the prophet's madness).


These people have forsaken what they know to be the right way - that is, the difficult path of being a disciple of Jesus(Matt. 16:24). Instead they love self indulgence and the easy life. Balaam was a heathen prophet. God clearly told him not to go with Israel's enemy Balak to place a curse on Israel. Yet the allure of money was too much for him and he went on his way to do exactly what God had told him not to do. God intervened to prevent Balaam pronouncing the curse and even caused a donkey to speak with a human voice and rebuke the prophet (Matt. 6:24).


2:17 These men are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm, for whom the utter depths of darkness have been reserved.


False teachers like these are wells without water - they promise a lot but have nothing to offer. Just as clouds blown along by the wind do not give rain, so these people are empty. They are good for nothing - apostates - unprofitable servants who will be cast into outer darkness (Matt. 25:30, Matt. 5:13, John 15:6. and Heb. 6:7-8).


2:18 For by speaking high-sounding but empty words they are able to entice, with fleshly desires and with debauchery, people who have just escaped from those who reside in error.


Have you ever heard the saying "An empty vessel makes the most noise". These people make loud and foolish boasts but they are empty - they have nothing to give. Their boasting is not true. Many, who perhaps have been in part awakened to their need of God or have received Christ as Saviour, will be taken in by their lies. Many people would like a religion without restraint, that promises heaven to those who sin and a license for everyone to do whatever they want. It all sounds very appealing to them because of the lusts of their hearts, and so they are prepared to believe the lie.


2:19 Although these false teachers promise such people freedom, they themselves are enslaved to immorality. For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved.


When these teachers say "liberty" they mean "slavery". They promise others the liberty that they themselves have. Peter points out that according to the words of the Lord Jesus Christ, this "liberty" is nothing more than bondage, for a man is a slave to whatever has overcome and mastered him (John 8:34 and Rom. 6:16-18).


2:20 For if after they have escaped the filthy things of the world through the rich knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they again get entangled in them and succumb to them, their last state has become worse for them than their first.


Peter ends this chapter with a warning that is repeated in various ways throughout the NT. Anyone who has received the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour and has been delivered from the power of sin, yet turns back and is entangled again with the old life of sin, is worse off afterwards than when they started. After all, their previous life of sin was lived in ignorance. They have afterwards returned to their old way of life despite knowing what they should do. This only serves to increase their responsibility and guilt before God.


2:21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, having known it, to turn back from the holy commandment that had been delivered to them.


The terrible fact is that it would have been better for them to have perished in their sin and ignorance than to  have known the way of righteousness and then afterwards reject it and forsake it.


2:22 They are illustrations of this true proverb: "A dog returns to its own vomit," and "A sow, after washing herself, wallows in the mire."


Of them the proverb is true which tells us that a dog will lick up its vomit after it has been sick. These people have chosen to take up again their life of sin instead of following Christ. As another proverb says, If you wash a pig, it will only return again to wallow in the mud. There are those who have been washed, but have chosen to return to a life of sin (Heb. 6:4-6 and Heb. 10:26-31).

Further Reading Resources for you - Peter

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