The Gospel Observer
"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them
observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even
the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
August 7, 2011
1) 2 Peter 2:14-16 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes
2 Peter 2:14-16
by Tom Edwards
As we consider the description Peter gives of these particular false
teachers, he also refers to them as those who "entice unstable
souls." Words often have both a literal and a figurative
meaning. It is helpful to see that the Greek word for "entice"
(deleazo) means not only "2) metaphorically to beguile by
blandishments, allure, entice, deceive"; but also that its primary
meaning is literally "1) to bait, catch by bait" (Thayer).
as a fisherman, was probably well aware of the literal meaning of
this Greek word, as well as its figurative usage. He also uses
again in 2 Peter 2:18 and shows there the type of "bait" these false
teachers were using: "For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they
entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape
the ones who live in error[.]"
The Greek word for "unstable" (asteriktos) also means
"unsteadfast." So it would appear that one way to mend this
problem of being unstable would be to become steadfast for the truth
God's word. For in our doing so, the false teachers won't be
to then lead us astray or make us waver in our beliefs. James
Strong shows "asteriktos" to mean "unfixed, that is, (figuratively)
vacillating." And Bullinger defines it as "not set fast, not
firmly set or fixed, not established." As we have pointed out,
primary theme of 2 Peter is the need for a full knowledge of the
gospel, that the Christian can become firmly established through
knowledge, and not steered in the wrong direction by the false
These false teachers have "a heart trained in greed" (2 Pet.
2:14). So not only are they covetous; but, as Peter indicates,
they are deeply entrenched in their greed. For it arises from
heart that has been trained to be that way.
Interestingly, "trained" (from "gumnazo") is what the ancient Greeks
used to refer to the rigorous training athletes would undergo,
at a palaestra (which was "a building with a courtyard for training
wrestling or other sports, usually forming part of a gymnasium") or
school of athletics. So we are not talking about a mere casual
exercise; but, instead, one that requires much effort. Thayer
defines the term as "to exercise vigorously, in any way, either the
body or the mind." So Peter is using this athletic term to
just how much these false teachers had given themselves over to
or covetousness. It appears to have been their primary
motivation, what they lived for; and, thus, a main characteristic of
Rather than being like these false teachers, who have a "heart
in greed," Paul shows the type of training we need to concentrate on
1 Timothy 4:7,8: "But have nothing to do with worldly
fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline
for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of
profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds
promise for the present life and also for the life to come."
Here Paul uses the same Greek word (gumnazo) twice, but translates
as "discipline" -- instead of "trained."
In Hebrews 12:11, the writer also speaks of the great advantage of
having the proper type of training: "All discipline for the moment
seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been
TRAINED by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of
righteousness." He also uses this Greek word in expressing
who "because of practice have their senses TRAINED to discern
good and evil" (Heb. 5:14). What a major difference this is,
contrast to those whose hearts are trained in greed. We note,
too, that to have our senses properly trained to discern good and
we must work at it. For the writer shows that it will come
"because of practice." So we need to practice at training our
senses for spiritual things, to be able to know what is pleasing to
and what is not.
That these false teachers were given to greed can also be seen in
very next verse -- 2 Peter 2:15: "forsaking the right way,
have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of
who loved the wages of unrighteousness[.]"
Though often translated as "love" in the English, the Greeks
used different words to express different types of love. Do
have any idea which one is used in this previous verse? It is
verb form (agapao) of the noun "agape." We speak of this love
being the greatest love of all; and, therefore, it should be
directed toward God foremost, and then to our neighbor, as we see in
greatest commands that Jesus cites in Mark 12:29,30. But what
it when the greatest thing that one loves is only worldly things or
unrighteousness -- as Balaam was doing? Jesus teaches on this in
Matthew 6:24,25: "No one can serve two masters; for either he will
the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the
other. You cannot serve God and mammon. For this reason I say
you, do not be anxious for your life, as to what you shall eat, or
you shall drink; nor for your body, as to what you shall put on. Is
life more than food, and the body than clothing?"
What is "mammon"? The dictionary defines it as "riches or
material wealth, esp. as an influence for evil or immorality.
Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:9,11,13" (Random House Webster's College
Dictionary). It is always wrong when we love anything more
we love God. For that will then become a type of idol to
us. As Paul shows, even greed or covetousness is the
of idolatry (see Col. 3:5 and Eph. 5:5). How much room
was there in Balaam's heart to love righteousness, when he was
busy in loving the wages of unrighteousness? No room.
loving God above others will make us unworthy in God's sight: "He
loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who
loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me" (Matt.
10:37). In other words, when we disregard or compromise God's
truth for someone else, then we love that someone else more than we
love God. Consider also what the psalmist states in Psalm
52:3, "You love evil more than good, Falsehood more than
what is right." This might also remind you of the explanation
that Jesus gives for why some people reject the gospel in John
"And this is the judgment, that the light is come into the world,
men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were
evil. For everyone who does evil hates the light, and does not come
the light, lest his deeds should be exposed."
Peter refers to these false teachers as "accursed children."
ASV renders this as "children of cursing," which might sound as if
are people given to using bad language; but that is not what is
meant by this phrase. As Guy N. Woods points out, it is "a
idiom expressing character through sonship." So this phrase
not indicate that these people were cursing; but, rather, that they
under a curse. We can compare this to Judas in John 17:12,
he is referred to as "the son of perdition." What does that really
mean? Since "perdition," means not only "ruin or loss
spiritual, or eternal)," but also "damnation" (Strong) and "the
destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell" (Thayer), then
this phrase, "son of perdition," identifies Judas as being one who
related to or characterized by this ruin, this loss, this
condemnation. Another example would be Ephesians 2:2,3 where
speaks of those who are following the course of this sinful world as
being the "sons of disobedience" and the "children of wrath."
Again, we see how the phrases "sons of" and "children of" show them
being in a relationship to, and characterized by, disobedience and
God's wrath. The phrase, "children of cursing," is also
as "children of a curse" (Young's Literal Translation) and "They are
doomed to a curse" (International Standard Version).
What appears to parallel with this in Jude's account is Jude 1:13
refers to the false teachers as being those "for whom the black
darkness has been reserved forever." That sure will be a terrible
curse. Even if it were possible for a witch doctor to inflict
curse through a voodoo doll, that would still be nothing compared to
being the recipients of God's eternal wrath. To, therefore,
up being "accursed children," as Peter speaks of, is the worst
state anyone could ever fall into. Nothing can even come close
being more terrible than that.
The fact that these false teachers had forsook the right way and
astray indicates that they were at one time in that right way.
they had been Christians who apostatized. As Peter also shows
later in 2 Peter 2:20-22, these individuals were those who had
the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord"; but, by
going back into sin, "they are again entangled in them and are
overcome." This is why one of the things they are likened to
"a sow," who, after being washed, "returns to wallowing in the mire"
(v. 21). These false teachers had at some time in their past
cleansed by the precious blood of Jesus, but now they had become
defiled again by their transgressions.
In the epistle of Jude, he also likens the false teachers to Balaam;
but adds a couple more individuals, as well, in Jude 1:11: "Woe to
them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have
headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of
Korah." Cain, Balaam, and Korah. What do these three men
have in common? They all went against God's will, which is
exactly what these false teachers were doing.
The account of Balaam is in Numbers 22-24, but it is primarily in
NT where the error of his way is made most clear. The parallel
passage in Jude 1:11, for example, shows that these false teachers
"...for pay...rushed headlong into the error of Balaam." And
addressing the church at Pergamum, the Lord points out that there
some there "who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak
put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things
sacrificed to idols, and to commit acts of immorality."
In Numbers 31, God had Israel to select a thousand men from each
so that 12,000 of them would go to war against the Midianites.
Balaam was also killed among them. But when Israel spared the
women of Midian, Moses was angry and said, "Have you spared the
women? Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the
counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the matter of
so the plague was among the congregation of the Lord" (vv.
Peter then goes on to show a most unusual way that God had
Balaam in 2 Peter 2:16: "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." Many versions refer to
this donkey as being "dumb." That word, of course, is not used
with regard to a level of intelligence. Rather, it is
that the donkey could not speak. It was "mute," as some other
versions render it. For it is from the Greek word "aphonos,"
Thayer defines as "voiceless" or "without faculty of speech." One
version translates it, in this verse, as "a speechless donkey." But
that is no obstacle when God chooses to speak through such an
animal. For as Jesus states in Matthew 19:26, "...with God all
things are possible."
To the contrary of many modernistic thinkers today, what took place
this reference of 2 Peter 2:16 is not a mere allegory or some kind
fable. For Balaam was a real person of history. Nor is what
place merely something that Balaam imagined -- or only thought that
heard. It, too, actually took place. This is also what
implied in this statement of fact that Peter is presenting -- a
that was given to Peter by the Holy Spirit Himself. To see
of the account of Balaam's donkey, read Numbers 22:21-33.
It is interesting to consider the unusual ways that God sometimes
to bring about His will. Take a look, for instance, at the
He used in Jonah 4:5-11 to teach an important lesson to Jonah.
The Lord had "appointed a plant to grow" overnight, which caused
to be comforted in its shade and be happy. But the Lord also
"appointed a worm" to attack that plant, so that it would wither and
die and teach Jonah a lesson. Earlier, in this same book, it
a much larger creature that the Lord had used. Jonah 1:17 says
that the Lord "appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah." Even
today, we can still learn some lessons from even the small creatures
that God has made -- such as the little ant that is diligent in
preparing for the future (Prov. 6:6-11).
But in the case of the donkey and Balaam, it was something
miraculous which the Lord had done. God made the donkey to
actually speak with the voice of a man.
An observation that Zerr makes from this passage, that certainly
along with the context, is that "...since [God] was able to give
to the dumb brute to chastise the prophet, it is made sure that the
Lord will be able to give wicked men their proper punishment when
time comes for the judgment of evildoers."
God's desire, of course, is for the salvation of all -- rather than
their being eternally lost (cf. 2 Pet. 3:9). But each one must
willing to accept the way of the Lord by their faith and obedience
the gospel plan of salvation. Many false teachers today are
giving a false message, which gives a false hope, that will not save
anyone. So as Peter shows, we need to each look to God's word
know God's truth, so that we will not be led astray by the numerous
false teachings that are in the world today. For only in God's
word can the path to eternal life be found.
News & Notes
Due to uterine cancer, my sister Helen
is now recovering from a hysterectomy, and hoping that all the
cancer will have been eliminated. In about a week, she will
know if it had already spread elsewhere, based on a biopsy performed
on a lymph node. I would appreciate the prayers of the saints
for my sister; and I know she will, too.
Let those of us who are Christians, also continue praying for the
had surgery. Everything
very well. It was originally planned to be a 3-to-4-hour
operation, but because of how much Gabrielle has continued to
her surgery was performed in about 20 minutes, due to 2 of the
procedures turning out to now be unnecessary.
Danny Holton, who has
pancreatic cancer in its 4th stage.
R.J. Evans, who will be
undergoing radiation treatments for prostate
cancer. Fortunately, it was detected during its
early stage and is also said to be a very slow developing
Jackie Evans (R.J.'s wife),
will soon be having an MRI before deciding what her next step will
to eliminate a 3-year back pain.
Bill Barfield, an 85-year
cancer, who has not been doing very well physically.
Holt, who is still recuperating at home, after his recent
hospital stay of about 3 weeks. Just about all the time that
was in the hospital, he was wired up for intravenous feeding and had
food until about the last day he was there. So that, along with
bedridden for so long, is another reason why it is taking a while
him to get his strength back -- but he is improving and wants to try
make it back to church this Wednesday, which I was glad to
who had been treated with antibiotics for an infection; but it came
back again, soon after she discontinued the medicine. She has
also been suffering from migraines and other health problems..
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
(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;
CHURCH OF CHRIST
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
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