The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
July 17, 2011


1) 2 Peter 2:1-3 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


2 Peter 2:1-3
by Tom Edwards

In 2 Peter 2:1,2, Peter writes: "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.  Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned."

In the close of 2 Peter 1, mention is made of the true prophets who "spoke from God" as they were "moved by the Holy Spirit"; but now Peter shows the contrast to that, and of which he warns the brethren.  

In OT times, though there were many good prophets, there were also some bad and false ones, as can be seen in Jeremiah 6:13-14, where God says through Jeremiah, "For from the least of them even to the greatest of them, Everyone is greedy for gain, And from the prophet even to the priest Everyone deals falsely.  They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, 'Peace, peace,' But there is no peace."   Consider also Jeremiah 14:14: "Then the LORD said to me, 'The prophets are prophesying falsehood in My name. I have neither sent them nor commanded them nor spoken to them; they are prophesying to you a false vision, divination, futility and the deception of their own minds.'"

It appears that the false prophets had often deceived even themselves (Micah 3:9-12).  

Notice Jeremiah 23:14,31,32: "Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; And they strengthen the hands of evildoers, So that no one has turned back from his wickedness. All of them have become to Me like Sodom, And her inhabitants like Gomorrah."  "'Behold, I am against the prophets,' declares the LORD, 'who use their tongues and declare,' "The Lord declares." 'Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,' declares the LORD, 'and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,' declares the LORD."

So just as there were those false prophets of the OT period, there would also be false teachers during the NT age, and of whom Peter is alerting the brethren.  This kind of needful warning is seen in several places of the NT:  For instance, in Paul's farewell to the Ephesian elders, in Acts 20:29-31: "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them...."  In 1 John 4:1, the apostle John warns the brethren to "...not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because MANY false prophets have gone out into the world" (emphasis mine).  Jesus, too, warned in Matthew 7:15-23 about the false prophets and their deceptive nature; but that they could be detected.  

Those who do not love the truth will be more susceptible to these false teachers:  For notice what causes some to stray, according to 2 Timothy 4:3,4: "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."

Just as we saw John speaking of the "many false prophets" that had gone out into the world, Jesus, in addition, shows that many people would be led astray by them: "And many false prophets will rise up; and they will deceive MANY" (Matt. 24:11, emphasis mine).  

These false teachers would "privily" bring in "damnable heresies," as the KJV words it.   "Privily" is from the Greek word "pareisago," which Thayer defines as "to introduce or bring in secretly or craftily."  The NASB renders it as "secretly introduce" destructive heresies. 

Thayer shows that the Greek word for "destructive" (apoleia) can be used to refer to "utter destruction," "a perishing," "a ruin," and even "the destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell."   This word is also used again in the last part of 2 Peter 2:1, where Peter informs that these false teachers are "bringing swift destruction upon themselves."  It is also the same Greek word that Jesus uses when saying, "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it.  For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it" (Matt. 7:13,14).   Paul speaks of those who have become "enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is DESTRUCTION, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is their shame..." (Phil. 3:18,19).  The "love of money," which is "a root of all sorts of evil," can also lead to that destruction (1 Tim. 6:9,10), as well as distorting the Scriptures (2 Pet. 3:16).  Of course, any sin can lead there; so the Christian must continue to live righteously and maintain the "faith to the preserving of the soul," in order to not "shrink back to DESTRUCTION" (Heb. 10:38,39).  

The destructive nature of heresies can also be inferred from 2 John 1:9: "Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son."  (See also Galatians 1:6-9.)

Peter says of these false teachers that they were "...even denying the Master who bought them..."  (2 Pet 2:1).  So they had been Christians who had fallen away.  For only the Christian has been bought by the blood of Christ; and, therefore, to go back into sin (regardless of what kind) is to reject Jesus as being Lord in one's life, which also results in losing out on all the spiritual benefits they could have had from the Lord.  Corresponding to this, Hebrews 10:29 declares, "How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?"  God's grace can be nullified and made vain by going back into sin.

We will see later that it was also those Christians who had fallen away whom Peter speaks of in 2 Peter 2:20-22, and shows how much more terrible it is for them to have fallen away, after having been set free, than to never have become a Christian to begin with.  

Much of what we find in 2 Peter 2 parallels with Jude 1.  These false teachers had denied their Lord.  Jude speaks of the same thing in Jude 1:4: "For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."   

Paul shows one way in which people can deny the Lord in Titus 1:16: "They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed."  So one doesn't have to become an atheist or an agnostic to deny the Lord.  For one can do so by simply rejecting God's message.  And as Paul states in 2 Timothy 2:12, "...If we deny Him, He also will deny us."  We think of what a terrible thing it was when Peter denied the Lord three times, but let us remember that we can also do the same by yielding to temptation and ceasing to listen to God.  

Peter says, "And many will follow their sensuality...." (2 Pet. 2:2).  The KJV refers to this as  following their "pernicious ways."  Again we see the similarity in the type of sin these false teachers will lead others into with Jude 1:4, where Jude speaks of those "ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness..."  Though the word "licentiousness" is used there, it is from the same Greek word as "sensuality" in 2 Peter 2:1; and that is "aselgia," which Thayer defines as "unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence."   "Sensuality" is the most common rendering of this Greek word in the NASB.  It is spoken of as a "deed of the flesh" in Galatians 5:19, and which will keep one out of God's kingdom.  It appears to lead to many other sins as well: "and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness" (Eph. 4:19).  The adjective "sensual" is defined as "1. arousing or preoccupied with gratification of the senses or appetites; carnal.  2. lacking in moral restraints.  3.  worldly; materialistic;  irreligious..." (Random House Websters Electronic Dictionary).  

Concerning these particular false teachers, Guy N. Woods writes: "These teachers of whom Peter wrote made a religion of lust, and while confounding Christian liberty with license, preached the gospel of libertinism.  Errors which allow such liberty have ever been attractive to those who live for the world, and many were led to adopt such and to follow willingly and gladly those who propagated them."

Peter says that because of these false teachers, "the way of the truth will be maligned" (2 Pet. 2:2) -- from the Greek word "blasphemeo," which Thayer defines as, "1) to speak reproachfully, rail at, revile, calumniate, blaspheme  2) to be evil spoken of, reviled, railed at."

We can probably think of many examples of this.  For instance, when Christians (especially those much in the public eye) are publicly exposed for some crime or immoral behavior, it gives many non-church-goers more reason, in their own mind, as to why they should not even go to church.  To them, those who bring reproach upon the church are simply showing how corrupt the church is -- and why no one should need to be a part of it.  Of course, the truth of the matter is that these individuals don't epitomize the true church of the Lord; but, yet, they do cause others to think badly about the church in general, by wrongly stereotyping and forming a negative prejudice.  

Peter also shows one of the motivations of these false teachers -- "and in their GREED they will exploit you with false words..." (2 Pet. 2:3).  So their greed leads to using others selfishly for personal gain, and their "tools" are their "false words."  The KJV renders this as, "they with feigned words make merchandise of you."

Jude also indicates the greed of the false teachers in Jude 1:11, where he points out that, "...for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam...."  As we recall, Balaam was the man whom Balak offered a great reward for bringing a curse upon Israel.  Though it appears that Balaam initially wanted to do what was right, he eventually allowed greed to lead him astray.  Peter also speaks of Balaam in 2 Peter 2:15, "forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness."

If one is motivated by worldly greed, he will surely be heading in the wrong direction. Proverbs 11:6 states, "The righteousness of the upright will deliver them, But the treacherous will be caught by their own greed."  And Jesus warns, "...`Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed; for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions'" (Luke 12:15).

Peter also speaks of these in 2 Peter 2:14,  "having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children."  Again we find a parallel in Jude 1:16, where Jude speaks of them as "...following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage."

The path of sin that these have chosen will never lead to heaven.  

The apostles, however, were very much the opposite of this (cf. 1 Thess. 2:3-8).  Not only did the apostles preach the pure word of God, but they also did so from hearts that had been made pure by that word.  

Iniquity can never be hidden from God, and the Lord is not passive toward sin.  As Peter shows about these false teachers, "their judgment from long ago is not idle" (2 Pet. 2:3).  In other words, God's judgments, which were with God before the world even began, will be carried out.  Just because we do not see immediate judgments being outpoured as we often do in the OT, it does not mean that the Lord's attitude toward sin has diminished during our NT Age.

Sometimes people seem to think that time itself can blot out sin, but such is not the case.  Though man forgets, God doesn't.  And whether a man committed a sin yesterday or 50 years ago, what difference would that make to God?

In the parallel account, Jude speaks of certain false teachers, in Jude 1:4, as "...those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation...."  This doesn't mean that the Lord pre-ordained these people to commit iniquity; but He certainly knew in advance not only that they would do wrong, but that it would, therefore, also require the sacrificial atonement of His Son Jesus.  But He went ahead and made man anyway!

Peter says "their destruction is not asleep" (2 Pet. 2:3).  The same God who, according to Psalm 121:4, would neither "slumber nor sleep" while watching over Israel, is also the same God who watches over all today.  "The Lord looks from heaven, He sees all the sons of men; From His dwelling place He looks out on all the inhabitants of the earth" (Psa. 33:13,14).  

May it be that when the Lord looks down on us that He will see us striving to live for Him, being well equipped with His word so that we won't be led astray by any of the many false teachings today, which lead to destruction.  We can, therefore, be very thankful for God's word.  For  if we take heed to it, it will keep us on that narrow path, which helps us here on earth and leads to that supernal realm in heaven above. 


News & Notes

For those of us who are Christians, let us continue praying for the following people:

Danny Holton, who has pancreatic cancer in the 4th stage. 

R.J. Evans, who recently found out that he does have prostate cancer.  On a positive note, however, this was detected during its early stage; and it is also said to be a very slow developing kind.    

Bill Barfield, who also has prostate cancer.  He is 85 and not doing very well physically.  About 11 years ago, he had also suffered a stroke that has impaired his walking; and lately he has been confined primarily to his home -- and just going out for doctor appointments. 

Anthony Branton, Ken Robertson's 28-year-old nephew, who recently had his entire large intestine removed, due to Crohn's disease.

Bill Holt, who is now out of the hospital (after spending about 2.5 weeks there -- or more), but will probably need several more weeks to recuperate. 

Dottie Newcomb and her 7-year-old grandson Caleb Newcome who are recuperating at home from a 3-wheeler motorbike accident that had put them both in trauma hospitals for several days.  Dottie also suffers from dizziness, due to an inner ear problem she acquired while going on an ocean cruise about three years ago; but now her dizziness has been even worse.

Cheryl Crews, who continues to undergo various health problems.

Here is a link to an audio sermon on "Prayer" that I preached July 14, 2011 for the Park Forest church of Christ in Baton Rouge: http://ThomasTEdwards.com/sermons/prayer.mp3

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

9923 Sunny Cline Dr., Baton Rouge, LA  70817
Sunday services: 9:00 AM (Bible class); 10 AM & 6 PM (worship)
Tuesday: 7 PM (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/go (Gospel Observer website)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)