Beware of false teachers
2 Peter 2:1-9
2 Peter 2:1-3. This chapter contains a description of and warning concerning false teachers and preachers. They are described by their doctrines, their covetousness, their ways, their success, and their end.
1. There are false teachers and preachers in the Christian church Just as there had been false prophets among the Jews (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; Jeremiah 23:16-17; Matthew 7:15-16; 2 Timothy 4:1-4).
2. These false teachers bring in doctrines that are contrary to the Scriptures (even denying the Person and Work of Christ, our Lord). All true preachers will give Christ his proper place and glory, and all false preachers and heresies deny in some way the redemptive work of Christ (1 John 4:1-3). Weigh all preaching in the light of Christ–his eternal Sonship and humanity, his sovereignty and suretyship, his perfect righteousness and effectual sacrifice, his priestly work and intercession, his exaltation and second coming. All false preachers will either deny or diminish in some way Christ as Just and Justifier.
3. These false teachers are motivated by covetousness. Their goal is not the glory of God nor the good of the church, but their own gain, glory, and personal satisfaction. Not knowing or loving Christ, they can never lose themselves, deny themselves, or take up their cross and follow him.
4. These false teachers’ ways of deception are: (a) privily; that is, they come in secretly, under a disguise of righteousness, gradually, little by little, under pretence of truth, introducing their heresy. (b) with feigned words–words of their own choosing, cunning arguments, and logic, not words of the Holy Spirit, new and flattering words which have men’s persons in admiration because of worldly gain. (c) make merchandise of you–dealing with men’s souls as a merchant with his goods. They care not for you nor your eternal welfare. You are but a means by which they enrich themselves with gain and worldly glory.
5. These false teachers are usually successful because many shall follow their corrupt, worldly ways. The road of error and religious idolatry is a broad way in which many walk. ‘Many will say to me in that day...’ (Matthew 7:22).
6. These false teachers (with their followers) are moving toward swift destruction. Their heresies are damnable, for they will lead to certain damnation. God’s Judgments are not asleep, and their foot shall slide in due time (Deuteronomy 32:35).
2 Peter 2:4-6. God’s Judgments against heresy, idolatry, and evil are illustrated and confirmed in these verses.
1. The angels that sinned were once pure and holy, high and honorable. They abode not in the truth but (through pride and covetousness) sought equality with God (John 8:44; 1 Timothy 3:6).
2. God spared not the world of the ungodly but destroyed them all in the flood of judgment.
3. God turned the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes as an example to all those who afterwards would live ungodly.
All of this is saying that God will punish sin. He will deal in judgment with the ungodly, whether it be the openly wicked who walk in corrupt evil or the false teachers who hide their evil pride and covetousness under a cloak of religion (Exodus 34:7; Isaiah 45:23-25; Psalms 73:17-22).
2 Peter 2:7-9. Notice is taken in these and the preceding verses of the Lord’s mercy in delivering the righteous, such as Noah and Lot, when wicked men are destroyed (Romans 8:1; Romans 8:35-39).
‘The Lord knoweth how to deliver’ those that fear him and worship him out of trial and tribulation such as Noah and Lot were exposed to. Evil may abound, false teachers may increase, and the true worship of the Lord may all but perish from the earth; but our God has a people who are chosen by him, redeemed by his Son, and called and sanctified by his spirit. He will keep them from falling (Jude 1:24) while he reserves, in his long-suffering and patience, the ungodly (to be punished) for the day of judgment.
Two great errors of false teachers
2 Peter 2:10-22
There were and are false preachers and teachers in the Christian church, just as there were false teachers among the Jews. We are warned to mark them and beware of them (Matthew 7:15-16; 2 Timothy 4:3-4).
2 Peter 2:10. These false teachers and preachers (besides denying the true gospel of redemption through Christ alone—2 Peter 2:1) are guilty of two great errors.
‘They walk after the flesh’ in the lust of uncleanness; that is, their tenor of life is the satisfaction, pampering, and attention to the flesh. Their bodies, not their souls, are their main concern. The emphasis today in their circles is healing, fleshly entertainment and enjoyment, and financial well-being.
‘They despise dominion’ or authority. They are always advocates of man’s free-will and enemies of the absolute sovereignty and authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. These false teachers and their followers never preach the sovereignty of God in salvation, they never declare the Lordship of Christ in a believer’s life (Christ is accepted as Saviour only), they never emphasize the authority of the man in the home and church (their women lead, teach, and usurp authority on an equal basis). They seldom have any local church authority but are usually a movement or organization outside the church, denouncing the churches, pastors, and doctrine. Their cry is usually, ‘let’s forget doctrine and let every religionist do his own thing.’
They are presumptuous, bold and daring, not fearing to speak of holy things in the most familiar fashion. There is no reverence or fear of God in their hearts or words.
They are self-willed, pleased with themselves, proud of their accomplishments, vain in their reports of numerical success.
They are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. The name of our Heavenly Father rolls off their tongues carelessly. They use the word ‘god’ as frequently and meaninglessly as they would the name of a fellow human.
They speak of ‘Jesus’ as if he were a next-door neighbor (rarely calling him, ‘Lord’). They won’t hesitate to correct or take issue with the apostle Paul. Reverence, holy awe, and humility are things unknown to them.
2 Peter 2:11-12. Even the elect angels (who are superior in might and power to any man, who are guardians over particular men, and who preside over kingdoms) do not bring charges and accusations against the other angels that fell nor against magistrates nor those in authority (Jude 1:9); but these false teachers who are like dumb beasts, made to be killed and consumed, do not hesitate to speak of mysterious and holy things which they neither understand nor love. They shall perish in their corruption.
2 Peter 2:13-14. These false religionists shall receive a fit reward for their wrong—doing (Matthew 7:22-23). They are interested only in living luxuriously and comfortably in this world of daytime, but the night cometh. They claim the name of Christ and the fellowship of the body of Christ; but they are only spots and blemishes, reveling in their own deception and hypocrisy. They have lustful, adulterous eyes, they have hearts that are filled with covetousness and materialism, and they prey upon unstable people who are easily led astray with their fleshly promises and preaching.
2 Peter 2:15-16. Balaam was promised great reward and honor to curse the people of Israel (Numbers 22:17). Balaam entertained these men (not just once, but twice) because of his covetousness. False teachers forsake the right way, the way of truth, and the gospel of truth for the rewards of unrighteousness, greedy of money and praise.
2 Peter 2:17. They are wells without water, which look large and deep and promise much, but have nothing in them. They promise much to their followers, but in the end prove to be but dry, empty wells. Christ is the well of living water. To drink of him is to never thirst again (John 4:14; John 7:37-39).
They are clouds that are carried with the wind. We see large, dark clouds overhead and expect a refreshing rain on our parched land; but we discover that they are empty and only driven by a dry wind. They have excited our hopes and expectations only to disappoint us–nothing but dry wind.
2 Peter 2:18-19. They bestow flattering words, titles, and praise on the flesh for their own interest and worldly advantage. They beguile and lure the people with their promises of health, happiness, prosperity, and eternal life, while they, themselves, are in the gall of bitterness and depravity. The people who are led astray by the false teachers are not the elect of God (who cannot be deceived); but they prey upon the ignorant and the untaught who have religious interests, who have reformed their lives, and who are trying to establish a righteousness before God. But in following these false teachers, they become enslaved to a greater bondage than worldliness, and that is self-righteousness! (Matthew 23:15.) It is a deadlier form of worldliness.
2 Peter 2:20-22. If a man temporarily escapes the pollutions of this world through an exposure to the gospel and again becomes entangled and overcome, his condition is worse; for he is hiding in a false refuge, whereas before he had no refuge! He makes God a party to his evil, whereas before he sought mercy. He is sinning against the light, whereas before he could plead ignorance.
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Mahan, Henry. "Commentary on 2 Peter 2". Henry Mahan's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/
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