During World War II the government of the United States conducted a huge campaign to warn citizens of the dangers of enemy agents, subversive activity, and enemy propaganda, all of it occurring among us. There were posters such as “Loose Lips Sink Ships” warning of the dangers of incautious associations and careless talking. In any war the enemy will seek advantage through all possible means; participants must be made aware of secret dangers.
The same is true in spiritual war and in chapter two the Apostle Peter seeks to warn us of the enemy’s methods. He is speaking of the future and his warnings come down to us with the same importance they had 1900 years ago. We do well to pay attention and look around us at what is happening today in the church.
II. Beware the false teacherson whom certain judgement
restswho will try to lure you into their error.
A. False teachers
will come to exploit you. 1-3
False teachers will come among you bringing heresies. 1
Their methods are sensuality, greediness, and false words.
They will cause many to follow them and bring slander to the
way of truth. 2
Their destiny is sure and their destruction imminent. 1, 3
Much of the teaching and writing in the church today fails to consider context and flow-of-thought in the Bible. This chapter is an illustration of the importance of paying attention to the author’s argument. 2 Peter chapter two is not, as seems to be indicated in some treatments of the epistle, a separate essay on false teachers. Peter has already stressed how important it is for him to enable his readers to “remember these things.” What he has taught in the first chapter is the God-ordained method for living as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Since this is how we glorify God, Satan is bound to try to rob God of his glory by subverting the process. Peter’s warnings about false teachers is vitally connected to the necessity of diligently supplying Christian graces.
We know that there is a connection between chapter two and chapter one, first of all, because the word ‘but’ beginning the chapter is a conjunction. Conjunctions must join two things. Secondly, ‘but’ introduces a contrast—therefore there must be a contrast. What is it? Well, the immediate contrast is with the “holy men of God” in 1:21. In addition, we should probably include Peter’s personal testimony concerning Christ in 1:16-18. Thirdly, there is the word ‘also’ which logically must have an antecedent reference, something to add to.
So chapter two introduces—in contrast to the “holy men of God” who have written Scripture, including Peter himself—Satan’s counterfeit: false teachers. Peter begins by connecting the fact that just as false prophets were among the people in the past—presumably the Israelites, the people to whom God gave His revelation—so false teachers will be among us, the church, in the future. They will bring in destructive heresies; they will operate in secret; they will bring on themselves sure destruction; they will use sensuality, greediness and false words to accomplish their goals. Beyond this summary notice two things that stand out: the result of their work is the slander of “the way of truth,” and they will even go so far as to deny “the Master who bought them.” The slander of God’s truth is perhaps to be expected, and certainly He allows it. Of course, we know that in the end it won’t matter. But it will increase the condemnation of these false teachers.
The statement “even denying the Master who bought them” has occasioned a great deal of controversy. The word ‘bought’ is from agoradzo, the Greek word used for redemption, as in 1 Cor. 6:20: “For you were bought at a price.” Some claim this means these false teachers are saved. This view, however, in light of the rest of the chapter, is too difficult to maintain. I believe all the scriptural teaching is better represented by taking this as meaning that Christ died for all mankind (1 John 2:2), but not all are saved in the end because they do not trust Christ (John 3:36). A saved person certainly can participate in false teaching out of ignorance but this is not class of people Peter is talking about.
Do we indeed see these false teachers today? There is no doubt in my mind that we do, and they are closer than you may think. There are the liberals or modernists who deny the miracles of the Bible including the virgin birth of Christ, there are those who supposedly believe the Bible but twist it to mean what they want for their own ends, and there are those who add works to salvation. This is a very general list. Hopefully a study on discernment will be offered at some point on this web site. But we do need to exercise discernment—carefully comparing what people or organizations say with biblical doctrine.
Next study...more on the imminent destruction of these false teachers.
2 Peter Flow Chart
2 Peter 1:1-7
2 Peter 1:8-11
2 Peter 1:12-15
2 Peter 1:16-21
2 Peter 2:3b-10a
2 Peter 2:10b-22
2 Peter 3:1-6
2 Peter 3:7-10
2 Peter 3:11-16
2 Peter 3:17-18