12 False Prophets: Their Rise and Fall 2 Pet 2:1-22 – Study NotesFireproof Faith
Unlike the true prophets in 2 Pet 1:20-21, who were moved by the Holy Spirit to write God’s Word, there were many false prophets in the Old Testament era as well. History inevitably repeats itself. False teachers in the church would supplant the truth with their own message promoting sensuality and worldly ways. Christians must be on guard and not be led astray by their confident attitude, smooth words, and persuasive manner.
2:1-3 Destructive and Deadly
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.
Before we go on, let’s emphasize inspiration, inerrancy, authority.
“But” – contrast w/ true prophets: 1:20-21. Certain. History repeats.
Dt 13:1-5; 18:18-22. Matt 24:24. 2 Th 2. 1 Jn 4:1-3. OT examples: of Baal. 1 Kg 18. Of Ahab. 1 Kg 22. Cf. also Jer 18.
Secret, subtle, and sneaky. Like the snake in Gen 3.
Heresies: divisive teachings. Heretic = divisive false teacher.
Possible to fall away, to deny the Master who bought and owns us.
Causing their own destruction. Swift: quick when it comes.
2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 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.
Why will they be so popular, so attractive, to so many? Broad way. Mt 7.
Sensuality: unrestrained moral attitudes and behavior, permissiveness, promiscuity, licentiousness, lewdness. “If it feels good, it IS good.”
Maligned: slandered, blasphemed. Dishonoring the truth.
Their motive: selfish greed. Their method: smooth words. Cf. 2:18-19.
Destroying others … to be destroyed themselves. Judged long ago.
2:4-10a Defeated (Ungodly) or Delivered (Righteous)
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;
2:4-10a: single Greek sentence. “If in the past … so in the future.”
If God judged the wicked and saved the righteous in the past…
Jude 1:5 notes first God saving and destroying those leaving Egypt.
Case # 1: Angels that sinned. *tartaroō: Tartarus, orig. the underworld area where the Titans, ancestors of the Olympian gods, were consigned. To Peter and his readers, a borrowed term referring to Hades or hell.
Emphasis not on angels’ origin or specific sin, but on God’s response.
Read Jude 1:6-7. Re: “sons of God” in Gen 6? Did angels have relations with human beings? Whoa! Not necessarily so!
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;
Case # 2: The Flood.
Gen 6-9. (Gen 1-11 is the foundation for all the Bible and all of history.)
How, what, and when did Noah preach?
Note “righteousness” and “ungodly.” Leads up to same terms in 2:9.
Heb 11:7 Noah: heeded God’s warning and saved his family.
1 Pet 3:20 God’s patience. Flood as a type prefiguring baptism.
Matt 24:36-42 “As it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be …”
2 Pet 3:3-7 Earth then destroyed with water, at the end with fire.
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 lives thereafter;
Case # 3: Sodom and Gomorrah.
Gen 19. Classic, frequently-cited biblical prototype of God’s judgment.
Isa 21:9 (Rom 9:29); Lk 17:29; Rev 14:10; 19:20; 20:10; 21:8.
“Made an example” – past punishment as a deterrent. Important!
7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds),
In what sense was Lot righteous? He chose Sodom! Gen 13:1-13.
Especially warned by God. Hospitable to angels. Gen 19:1-3.
Troubled by – not engaging in – sensual conduct and lawless deeds.
Heeded the warning.
Escaped destruction but lost his wife, sons-in-law, and all possessions.
9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority …
Conclusion: the Lord knows how to handle the godly and the unrighteous!
Temptation – trials, tests, difficulties, obstacles that the godly face.
Keep under punishment (in custody or jail) until – the Day of Judgment.
Note: God’s wrath in NT parallel to OT. … Two charges, hand-in-hand:
Indulging the flesh: hedonism, sensuality, immorality.
Despising authority: God, Christ, Scripture, apostles, faithful leaders.
To do the first, one must also do the second.
2:10b-14 Devious and Defiant
10b … Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, 11 whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord.
Arrogant. Autonomous. Accusatory.
To reject biblical authority, one must make himself the higher authority.
False teaching is always false, regardless of the motivation.
When the motive is evil, too, the false teacher is doubly wrong.
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, 13 suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong …
Animalistic, behaving as wild beasts without reason or conscience.
As all animal creatures, these too will be destroyed.
“Born as creatures of instinct” – Was this God’s arbitrary decision?
Or have they chosen to do wrong, deserving to be paid sin’s wages?
The wages of sin – one’s own sin – is death. Rom 6:23.
13b … They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children;
Brazen and blatant, openly parading and flaunting their drunken revelry.
Think of each descriptive phrase. Absolutely vile.
Strong words! Not gentle, soft, or casual. We must call sin what it is!
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; 16 but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.
Balaam: hired by Moab’s King Balak to curse Israel. Num 22-25.
Outwardly: “I must obey Yahweh!” Inwardly: “I must enrich myself!”
Ironically, he was restrained and corrected by his donkey!
Re 2:14 … kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.
Balaam was behind the idolatry and immorality of Num 25.
Peter understood the donkey talking to be a historical event. So do we!
2:17-19 Deceptive and Depraved
17 These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved.
Promising and appearing to bring water, but actually dry and worthless.
Full of hot air.
Looking good and sounding good, but empty and vain.
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,
Self-confident. Cocky. Full of themselves. Offering sinful, fleshly pleasures.
Attractive to naïve new converts, not yet trained to discern such tactics.
19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.
Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you want to pay.
The chains of sin are too light to be felt until they are too heavy to be broken. Tom Drout
Everyone who sins is a slave to sin. John 8:33-36.
1 Co 6:12 “All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything.
Rom 6:16-18 Slaves of the master you choose to serve.
2:20-22 Defiled and Doomed
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.
Again Scripture refutes the “once saved, always saved” doctrine.
One who believes, “I can’t fall!” – grave danger of falling! 1 Cor 10:12-14
Matt 12:43-45 Unclean spirit leaves, returns with seven more, worse.
Heb 6:4-6 Fallen away … impossible to renew again to repentance.
Calvinist: “If you have it, you can’t lose it. If you lose it, you never had it.”
How can you lose what you never had? Fall from where you never were?
Calvinist: “If you are free to fall away, God is not really sovereign.” ???
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 handed on to them.
Ignorance does not save. We must teach so that all may know!
However, “You should have known better! It’s worse for you!”
Degrees of sin and punishment. Luke 12:47-48; John 19:11.
K+A+O=R. Knowledge + Ability + Opportunity = Responsibility.
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.”
First, a biblical proverb, then a non-biblical one that is similar.
Pr 26:11 Like a dog that returns to its vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.
Calvinists: “God chose not truly to regenerate these nominal church members. They were only outwardly clean, but still inwardly depraved. If they had really been saved, God would not let them revert and be lost.”
So … you never know until the end of life whether you were ever saved!
If you were never saved, why warn you about being lost?
Fact: One can abandon his faith and go back to his old ways. But don’t!
Written by Cory Collins
Cory Collins is a Bible teacher and a minister of the gospel. He serves with Keller church of Christ in Keller, Texas. He and his wife, Tanya, have been married since 1977. They have two children and one grandchild.