The Agora
Bible Commentary
2 Peter

1 2 3

2 Peter 2

2Pe 2:1

2Pe 2: The false teachers: Peter next warned his readers of the false teachers who presented a message contradictory to that of the apostles to help them avoid their influence. In 2Pe 1 Peter stressed the importance of building oneself up spiritually. In 2Pe 2 he described the reason it is important that we are strong. He began by describing the characteristics of false teachers, then the consequences of their teaching, then their conduct, and finally their condemnation. The connecting link with the end of 2Pe 1 is the reference to the OT prophets. "Only Christ's withering woes on hypocritical leaders in Matthew 23 and the parallel picture in the Epistle of Jude convey the same severe denunciation of false teachers contained in this chapter" (Hiebert).

FALSE PROPHETS AMONG THE PEOPLE: False prophets in OT times sought to lead God's people away from the revelations of the true prophets. False teachers in Peter's time would try to lead God's people away from the teaching of the apostles. These men -- they were typically males in Peter's day -- would arise from the believers (cf Jer 5:31; 23:9-18; 29:9; Acts 20:29; 2Ti 3:8). The term "false prophets" (lit, "pseudo-prophets") may refer to those who falsely claim to be prophets of God and or those who prophesy falsely. Likewise "false teachers" (Gr "pseudodidaskaloi") can refer to those who claim to be teachers of God's truth but whom the churches' leaders do not recognize as teachers, the composers of pseudo-apostolic letters (cp 2Th 2:2; 3:17), and/or those who teach falsehood.

THEY WILL SECRETLY INTRODUCE DESTRUCTIVE HERESIES: "Secretly introduce" literally means to bring in alongside. The heretics would seek to add some other teaching to the orthodox faith and or some other teaching as a substitute for the truth (cf Gal 2:4). The implication is that they would seek to do this in some underhanded way. They would unobtrusively change the doctrinal foundation of the church and thereby make it unstable. "Heresies" refers to ideas inconsistent with the revealed truth of God.

DENYING THE SOVEREIGN LORD WHO BOUGHT THEM: Originally, they had been true converts to the Faith. But now they have become followers of the apostate Judas Iscariot (1Jo 2:22,23; Rev 3:9).

BRINGING SWIFT DESTRUCTION ON THEMSELVES: The fire and sword of AD 70 would engulf and destroy many of these men, along with many of their countrymen, since they would be intent on perpetuating the Temple and its worship.

2Pe 2:2

MANY WILL FOLLOW THEIR SHAMEFUL WAYS AND WILL BRING THE WAY OF TRUTH INTO DISREPUTE: Reckless and hardened immorality would accompany their doctrinal error. Clearly they permitted and defended immorality in a very broad sense. When people abandon God's standard of truth they usually adopt a lower standard of morality. Since sensuality appeals to the flesh many people follow the example of heretics -- believing that they are correct in doing so because of the rationalizations of their teachers.

2Pe 2:3

EXPLOIT: "Making merchandise" (AV) is the same as "buying and selling" in Jam 4:13. This idea of false teaching for gain appears often in the NT denunciation of such men: cp Tit 1:11; 1Ti 6:5; 2Co 12:17,18; Mat 13:25; Joh 10:1,13; Jud 1:11.

STORIES THEY HAVE MADE UP: Myths and false teachings of such books as Book of Enoch (cp Jud 1:4,5). Cp the "merchandise" of "Babylon" (Rev 18:13,14)!

MADE UP: Gr "plastos", lit "molded", as a potter (Rom 9:20); "fabricated words" might be a better translation, and "logoi" may mean written or spoken words.

"The Greek word is 'plastos', from which we get our English word plastic. Plastic words! Words that can be twisted to mean anything you want them to mean! The false teachers use our vocabulary, but they do not use our dictionary. They talk about 'salvation,' 'inspiration,' and the great words of the Christian faith, but they do not mean what we mean. Immature and untaught believers hear these preachers or read their books and think that these men are sound in the faith, but they are not" (Wiersbe).

"There are also plastic preachers who can be molded and shaped by the people that they serve" (McGee).

Cp these quotations from the Book of Enoch:

2Pe 2:4

See Lesson, Enoch, Book of...

Cp 2Pe 2:3: "stories they have made up", ie myths and fables such as Book of Enoch. And cp v 9: "IF this is so".

ANGELS: "Aggelos" may ref to men: Mat 11:10; Luk 7:24,27; 9:52; Jam 2:25. Everyone who carries any message from God is His "messenger", or "angel" -- and may commit sin!

2Pe 2:5

HE DID NOT SPARE THE ANCIENT WORLD WHEN HE BROUGHT THE FLOOD ON ITS UNGODLY PEOPLE, BUT PROTECTED NOAH, A PREACHER OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND SEVEN OTHERS: God did not spare the sinners in the ancient world of Noah's day. Consequently there is no basis for supposing that He will spare any sinner in the world today. Both types of sinners are ungodly. Peter called Noah a herald of righteousness here (cf 1Pe 3:19). By his words and deeds Noah proclaimed righteousness to his ungodly neighbors. By referring to seven others whom God saved with Noah (ie, his family members), Peter was probably hinting that he was the beginning of a new creation.

2Pe 2:6

HE CONDEMNED THE CITIES OF SODOM AND GOMORRAH BY BURNING THEM TO ASHES: God already demonstrated that He would judge ungodly sinners with fire when he destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. The ungodly from then on should not expect to escape the same fate, though the fire that will judge them will be eternal. God also delivered Lot and his family before He brought fiery judgment on his world. Undoubtedly the author sees the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire as a pattern for the fiery judgment of the ungodly at the Parousia (2Pe 3:7). "It has well been said that if God spares today's cities from judgment, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah" (Wiersbe).

2Pe 2:7

HE RESCUED LOT, A RIGHTEOUS MAN, WHO WAS DISTRESSED BY THE FILTHY LIVES OF LAWLESS MEN: This example shows that God will not only punish the wicked but He will also extricate the righteous from the judgment He will send on the ungodly that surround them. This example, as well as the example of Noah (v 5), assured Peter's faithful readers that God would not lose them in the mass of sinners whom He would judge. The destruction of Jerusalem was going to destroy the unbelieving Jews living there in 70 AD. However the primary warning deals with eschatological deliverance and punishment at the return of Christ.

2Pe 2:8

THAT RIGHTEOUS MAN: That Lot was a righteous man in the sight of God is undeniable (cp Gen 18:21; 19:1,9), although his life -- seen simply -- gives very little evidence of that fact.

2Pe 2:9

WHILE CONTINUING THEIR PUNISHMENT: KJV has: "to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished".

"The adverbial participle can refer either to contemporaneous time or subsequent time. At stake is the meaning of the following prepositional phrase (does it mean: 'AT the day of judgment', or 'UNTIL the day of judgment'?)... the present participle is the normal one used for result, and is often used of purpose (cf, eg, for present participles suggesting result, Mar 9:7; Luk 4:15; Joh 5:18; Eph 2:15; 2Pe 2:1, mentioned above; for present participles indicating purpose, note Luk 10:25; Joh 12:33; Act 3:26). Further, the context supports this: 2Pe 2:1-10 seems to be inclusive, in which the final end of the false teachers is mentioned specifically in v 1, then as a general principle in v 9. The point of v 3 -- that the punishment of the false teachers is certain, even though the sentence has not yet been carried out -- is underscored by a participle of purpose in v 9" (from NET notes).

2Pe 2:10

Vv 10,14,18: Cp great whore of Rev 18:9; 17:1,2,4.

AUTHORITY: Always associated with heavenly powers: Eph 1:21; Col 2:16; cp Rom 8:10.

THESE MEN ARE NOT AFRAID TO SLANDER CELESTIAL BEINGS: That is, they accuse angels of having sex with humans (as suggested -- though wrongly -- in Gen 6:1,2, and described in fanciful detail in Book of Enoch)! The surest way to lead the gullible into immorality (ie vv 13-15,18,19) is to suggest that even "heavenly angels" can so sin!

2Pe 2:12

BRUTE BEASTS: In Rev, beast of sea, beast of earth, "dragon", etc.

2Pe 2:13

BLOTS AND BLEMISHES: God will give them punishment in keeping with their crimes (Rom 6:23; Gal 6:7). Rather than concealing their carousing under the cover of darkness they shamelessly practice immorality in broad daylight. The pagans did this in their worship of false gods. Pagan worship often involved "sacred" prostitution. These practices were similar to stains on the clean fabric of the church, blemishes on its countenance, since the practitioners claimed to be Christians (cf Eph 5:27). The faithful Christians did not carouse. The false teachers did the carousing, but they did it as part of the Christian community. Peter could say they reveled in their deceptions since they practiced immoral reveling while claiming to be followers of Christ.

Like the blemishes on an animal not fit for sacrifice (Lev 1:3) or on a man not fit for priestly service (Lev 21:21), these immoral people were frustrating the church's aim of holiness and could make the church unfit to be presented as a sacrifice to God.

WHILE THEY FEAST WITH YOU: That is, "in your Love Feasts" -- allusion to the memorial meetings.

2Pe 2:14

WITH EYES FULL OF ADULTERY, THEY NEVER STOP SINNING; THEY SEDUCE THE UNSTABLE; THEY ARE EXPERTS IN GREED -- AN ACCURSED BROOD!: The person who has eyes full of adultery is one who thinks only of fornication when he or she sees members of the opposite sex. The false teachers sinned without restraint (cf Mat 5:28). Furthermore they lured people not firmly committed to Jesus Christ to join them, as a fisherman lures his prey. They had considerable experience practicing greed and were experts in it. They behaved like children, undisciplined and self-centered, and were under God's judgment.

2Pe 2:15

THE WAY OF BALAAM: The false prophet Balaam counseled Balak, the king of Moab, to invite the Israelites to participate with his people in a feast to honor Moab's gods (Num 31:16). This worship included sacred prostitution (cf Num 25:1-3). Balaam is the classic example of the false teacher who leads people astray for his own personal gain. The false teachers Peter referred to were also trying to get the Christians to participate in idolatry and immoral practices. They urged the faithful to wander from the narrow path of righteousness back on to the broad way that leads to destruction (cf Isa 53:6; Rev 2:14). Balaam's motive was greed as was the false teachers'. By advocating unrighteousness they gained followers and profited personally.

SON OF BEOR: Sarcastically, Paul seems to have changed this to "son of Bosor" (as it appears in KJV), which sig "son of the flesh"!

2Pe 2:16

BUT HE WAS REBUKED FOR HIS WRONGDOING BY A DONKEY -- A BEAST WITHOUT SPEECH: Perhaps Peter cannot resist this typical story of the OT, for his enemies amongst the Judaizers, being some of the most educated and erudite of Jews, would look upon him as a "dumb ass"!

"It is sufficient to say to one who believes at all in miracles, that it was no more difficult for God to utter thought through the mouth of the ass in the words of men, than to stop men, as he once did, from talking in a given language and cause them to talk in another" (NW Williams, cited in Const).

2Pe 2:17

SPRINGS WITHOUT WATER: Deceitful, promising what they cannot deliver. Such language is borrowed from the Book of Enoch: "Woe to you who drink water from every fountain, For suddenly shall ye be consumed and wither away, Because ye have forsaken the fountain of life" (Enoch 96:6).

MISTS DRIVEN BY A STORM: "Clouds carried with a tempest" (KJV). Perhaps the dark cloud of the angel of God, separating the Israelites from the Egyptians (Exo 14:19,20).

BLACKEST DARKNESS IS RESERVED FOR THEM: Cp Mat 22:13 -- sig separation from God. Again, borrowing from the Book of Enoch: "And again the Lord said to Raphael: 'Bind Azazel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dudael, and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there for ever" (Enoch 10:4,5). "And now we long for a little rest but find it not: We follow hard upon and obtain (it) not: And light has vanished from before us, And darkness is our dwelling-place for ever and ever" (Enoch 63:6). "And into darkness and chains and a burning flame where there is grievous judgement shall your spirits enter; And the great judgement shall be for all the generations of the world. Woe to you, for ye shall have no peace" (Enoch 103:8).

2Pe 2:18

FOR THEY MOUTH EMPTY, BOASTFUL WORDS... APPEALING TO THE LUSTFUL DESIRES OF SINFUL HUMAN NATURE: The false teachers appealed to their audiences with boastful (lit, swollen) words, promising more than they could deliver, with vain words empty of anything to back them up. "Grandiose sophistry is the hook, filthy lust is the bait, with which these men catch those whom the Lord had delivered or was delivering" (Bigg).

THEY ENTICE PEOPLE WHO ARE JUST ESCAPING FROM THOSE WHO LIVE IN ERROR: Furthermore, they appealed to people who were only just escaping from those who live in error. This group probably includes new Christians and/or older carnal ones who were still in the process of making a final break with their pagan friends.

2Pe 2:19

SLAVES: As Paul discusses in Rom 6.

2Pe 2:20

AND ARE AGAIN ENTANGLED IN IT AND OVERCOME: "It may be that Peter's unusual word... is a reminiscence of how Samson, that great and foolish man of God, was on the very edge of disaster when he suffered his seven plaits of hair to be woven into the web of Delilah's loom [Jdg 16:13]" (WPet).

THEY ARE WORSE OFF AT THE END THAN THEY WERE AT THE BEGINNING: Along with v 21... "Then it [the evil spirit] goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that man is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation" (Mat 12:45; cp Heb 6:4-6; Eze 3:20; 18:24).

2Pe 2:22

V 22: Peter compared the false teachers to unclean dogs and swine (cf Mat 7:6; Pro 26:11). Practice betrays nature. Dogs return to corruption that comes from within themselves, vomit. Pigs return to filth that they find outside themselves, even though their handlers may clean them up occasionally. The false teachers in view do both things. Instead of being sheep (cp 1Pe 2:25), they were pigs and dogs.

Peter's statement about the false teachers in this verse is his most derogatory of them, and it brings his warning to avoid these heretics to its climax.

DOG: May ref to sodomites, or male temple prostitutes (Deu 23:18). Cp, generally, sin of Balaam (v 15; Rev 2:14; Num 25:1,2).
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