False Prophets and False Teachers
Comments for Study 2
2 Peter 2:1-22
Memory Verse: 2:1
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I. Many Will Follow Their Sameful Ways (2:1-3)
>1. Can we believe every preacher, Bible teacher, prophecy, ink, and tongue? (1)
* 2 Peter 2:1 "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves."
* "false prophets... false teachers" -Israel was warned of false prophets. (2 Kings 18:19; Isaiah 9:13-17; Jeremiah 5:31, 14:14, 23:30-32) Jesus' warned his disciples against false prophets from the Jews who would claim Jesus as the Messiah. (Matthew 7:15, 24:11, 24) As more and more Jews are accepting Jesus as the Messiah right now, false prophets are increasing in numbers. Peter's warning of false teachers includes Gentiles who accept Jesus as the Messiah, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. (Matthew 24:4-5, 11; Acts 20:29-30; Galatians 1:6-9; Philippians 3:2; Colossians 2:4, 8, 18, 20-23; etc.) A false prophet claims they have the right teaching for man, even saying it came from God. A false teacher may or may not say his teaching is from God. They may say it came from an angel, or that they have the correct translation of the Bible and all other translations are incorrect.
* "But there were also false prophets among the people" -The "people" here is the Israelites that came out of Egypt. The false prophets were Israelites. So the different congregations that Peter was writing to must beware from within. This includes any and all congregations.
* "there will be false teachers among you" -Peter's first letter was for attacks from the outside. This letter addresses attacks from within a congregation.
* Jesus is recorded saying this in Matthew 7:15-17. It records, "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit."
He also said this during the Mount of Olives discourse. He said, "Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many... At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people... At that time if anyone says to you, 'Look, here is the Christ!' or, 'There he is!' do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect--if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time." (Matthew 24:4-5, 10-11, 23-25)
What does Jesus mean by watching? When Jesus went to pray just before he was arrested he told his disciples to pray and keep watch. This is the meaning of immanence, to keep watch and be ready like the five virgins in Jesus' parable. (Matthew 25:1-13)
* Jude also warned the congregations about this.
* Just because a person or group calls themselves Christian and/or Christ followers does not mean they are a part of the body of Christ.
>Are false believers easily identifiable?
* "They will secretly introduce" -A false prophet is not easy to spot. Jesus said they will be sheep in wolves clothing. However, they can be recognized by their fruit.
* A very important job for an elder is to watch for false prophet. For this reason elders should remain amongst the congregation as long as they are elected as an elder. They should not take month or months long vacations to warmer climates in the winter months.
* False prophets teach things that go against Jesus teachings. They destroy God's set order and way.
* Example of false prophets: Muhammad, Marx and Marxism, Hitler, Capitalism, Materialism, Evolution, Humanism, Hinduism, New Age, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, The Way International, etc.
* False prophets give false hopes apart from Christ, or Christ plus something else (i.e. works, keeping the law, circumcision, baptism, speaking in tongues, witnessing, science and technology, medical field, weapons and armies, etc.)
>Is it possible for someone to introduce false teachings in your congregation?
* "introduce destructive heresies" -The original Greek word for "heresies" is "hairesis" having in its meaning choice, disunion, and sect. Thus, they start a new teaching by their own doing and convince others that their way is true. The false teachers' opinions result in the moral and spiritual destruction of those who accept them. Eventually they will break away from the original group.
* "even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them" -Eventually a sect will deny something about Jesus. Some have rejected his deity, his virgin birth, his coming in the flesh, his physical death and resurrection, his being seated at the right hand of God, his second coming, his judgement, his kingdom, etc. Peter states that Jesus bought the heretics and they eventually deny Christ. They were among believers and claimed to believe, but they were not believers in truth in their hearts. Christ's death paid the penalty for their sin, but it would not become effective for their salvation unless they trusted in Christ as Savior. They are like Judas who followed Jesus for over three years, but eventually betrayed him because he could not accept who Jesus was and what Jesus did.
* "sovereign Lord" -The original Greek is "despotes" meaning a husband, ruler, and master. The root Greek word for "despotes" is "deo" meaning to bind and tie such as in marriage or some kind of contract.
* Every congregation will have this problem and needs to beware. During my twenties I attending a group that broke away, or perhaps I should say its leader was expelled from a mainstream denomination. This group was doctrinally correct about most of the Bible's teachings. However, its founding leaders gave a general appearance of following Jesus' teaching while secretly practicing something other than Jesus' teachings. The leaders grew rich at the expense of other members and committing sins behind closed doors. Any congregation member should beware of wolves in sheep clothing. After a few years their deceptions were made more and more apparent to me, persecution increased, and so the Lord lead me to leave that congregation though I had to separate from some who were my friends.
>What will happen to someone who continually teaches something contrary to what is written in a good Bible translation? (1b, 3b)
* 2 Peter 2:1c "bringing swift destruction on themselves"
* 2 Peter 2:3b "Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping."
* "bringing swift destruction on themselves" -The Lord is judge. However, the deception is not from the Lord. Therefore, heretics bring on their own destruction. Jesus will come again and judge them and his judgement will be swift.
* "Their condemnation" -Their reproof and censure is coming. Jesus taught a parable about such leaders. (Matthew 24:5-51) He warns that they will be assigned a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
* "has long been hanging over them" -The image is pending and assured judgment. Consider a piano falling on someone.
* "their destruction has not been sleeping" -Delay makes it seem like God's judgement will not come at all. Yet, it comes. Peter perhaps was thinking about when he and the other disciples slept while Jesus prayed on the Mount of Olives. Jesus was awaiting God's judgement to fall on him. The disciples did not keep watch and prayed as Jesus warned them. Jesus did and was ready when the crowd came to arrest him.
* Why do those who joined and/or was always in a congregation eventually become a false teacher? Jesus parable of the four soils gives us a glimpse into their thinking and faith. (Luke 8:4-15)
>2. What are two effects of false teachers? (2)
* 2 Peter 2:2 "Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute."
* "Many will follow their shameful ways" -Shame of sin does not keep them in obedience. Many follow sinful ways. Hence Jesus' teaching of the narrow and broad roads. (Matthew 7:13-14) The shameful ways are the sins they engage in.
* "way of truth" -Christian faith in not only correct doctrine but also correct living. (NIV Study Bible)
* "will bring the way of truth into disrepute" -Because the false teachers come with within a congregation those on the outside will use this to undermined all Christians. The disruption caused by a few false teachers will destroy the reputation of all who confess Christ.
* Peter was writing congregations that had and perhaps still were experiencing persecution. Those who were persecuting them looked for any reason to justify their actions. When they learned of the sins of a few amongst the congregation they exclaimed that all of them were engaging in immorality.
* Jesus gave us many instructions. While it is true we are not under the law of the Old Testament we still are given instructions. This is why the elders of Jerusalem could write to the congregations, "It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. Farewell." (Acts 15:28-29) The command about sexual purity has been in every age from Noah to the present. One of the marks of heresy is breaking this command.
>What is a big motivator behind false teachers? (3a; 1 Thess. 2:3)
* 2 Peter 2:3a "In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up."
* 1 Thessalonians 2:3 "For the appeal we make does not spring from error or impure motives, nor are we trying to trick you."
* "In their greed these teacher" -False teachers seek wealth in this world. They commercialize the faith. They charge for their services. They will not do anything if they do not gain in the end. I have offered materials that has taken me years to create and write free of charge on the internet. I accept offerings as even the apostles did. Interesting, enough I have only received one small five dollar offering in over three years of asking for offerings.
* "will exploit you with stories they have made up" -Exploit means taking advantage of another's talents for personal gain. How many people have falsely called themselves servants while exploit others for selfish gains? They can exploit because they are elegant speech that has a mixture of lies and truth. The ultimate such person is called the Anti-Christ (or opposite of Christ).
* Do you serve or expect others to serve you? Do you tell the truth or add a few lies to truth to give you an advantage? Are you like Christ or like the anti-Christ?
>Why does God allow this to happen? (James 1:12; 1 Thess. 2:4)* James 1:12 "Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him."
* 1 Thessalonians 2:4 "On the contrary, we speak as men approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel. We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts."
* Do you love Jesus? Do you trust Jesus? Do you fear God? How is anyone to know the answer to these questions including yourself? If we are tested and pass the test then the answer is made clear. If we are tested and failed the test then by God's grace we can be tested again. Sad is the life that is untested for they do not know full extent of God's love. New truths are revealed when we are tested, even more when we pass the test.
Jesus showed us the way through his life. He was tested and passed. (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13) When Abraham passed the test (Genesis 22:1) by offering his son the Lord said, "Do not lay a hand on the boy. Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son." (Genesis 22:12) Before Job was tested the Lord said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil." (Job 1:8) Satan questioned God's statement saying if Job was tested he would fail by cursing God if troubles came. (Job 1:9-11) And so Job was tested.
All are tested (1 Thessalonians 2:4; Revelation 3:10) and we can test ourselves. (2 Corinthians 13:5; Galatians 6:4) The end to tests is not the end. Rather, the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. (Job 28:28; Proverbs 1:7, 2:5-6, 9:10; Psalm 33:18, 111:10; Luke 12:5) And the end of wisdom is a love relationship with Jesus. How much are you aware that everything in your life is solely dependent on God's grace and mercy?
When we are tested we learn this and gain more. (James 1:3-4, 12; Revelation 2:10) Fear of the Lord keeps us from sin. Love compels us to obey. (John 14:15)
* Proverbs 14:27 "The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death."
* Proverbs 16:6 "Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the LORD a man avoids evil."
* Proverbs 19:23 "The fear of the LORD leads to life: Then one rests content, untouched by trouble."
* John 14:15 "If you love me, you will obey what I command."
II. The Lord Knows How To Rescue Godly Men (2:4-12)
See two wood engraving by Gustave Dore (1832-1883) to the right. Dore's drawings were in Bibles that are now in public domain. This one was scanned in by creationism.org. The top one is of the flood. The bottom one is of the flight of Lot from Sodom.
>3. What are some similarities between the angels, the ancient world, and Sodom and Gomorrah as mentioned in verses 4-7 and 10?
* 2 Peter 2:4-7 "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment; if 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; if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men"
* 2 Peter 2:10 "This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings;"
* In verses 4-8 Peter gives three examples showing that God will rescue the godly and destroy the wicked. (9)
* "angels" -Angels are spirits (Hebrews 1:13-14; Psalms 104:4) created by God (Nehemiah 9:6; Colossians 1;16) before the creation of man (Job 38:7).
Angels comes from two Hebrew words. The first is "ben." It means; "a son (as a builder of the family name), in the widest sense (of lit. and fig. relationship, including grandson, subject, nation, quality or condition, etc.,"
The second is "elohiym." It is plural of the Hebrew word "elowahh" which comes from the Hebrew words "el", "ayil", and "uwl". "Elohiym" means; "gods in the ordinary sense; but spec. used (in the plur. thus, esp. with the art.) of the supreme God; occasionally applied by way of deference to magistrates; and sometimes as a superlative: -angels"
* Satan leads the revolt against God. Satan is a Hebrew word. It means; "an opponent; espec. (with the art. pref.) Satan, the arch-enemy of good:- adversary, Satan, withstand." In other words "Satan" means "accuser". In Job the Hebrew for this word is always preceded by the definite article. In the Hebrew of 1 Chronicles 21:1 the article is not used, because by then "Satan" had become a proper name.
Verses about the Satan are as follows:
Genesis 3:1 "Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?"
Genesis 3:14-15 "So the LORD God said to the serpent, 'Because you have done this, 'Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.''"
Zech. 3:1-2 "Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?"
Mark 4:15 "Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them."
Luke 13:16 "Then should not this woman, a daughter of Abraham, whom Satan has kept bound for eighteen long years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?"
Luke 22:31 ""Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat."
John 8:44 "You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies."
2 Cor. 2:11 "in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes."
2 Cor. 11:14 "And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light."
Revelation 12:7-9 "And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down--that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him."
Rev. 20:2 "He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years."
Rev. 20:7 "When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison"
Satan's purpose is to separate men and women from God and each other and so destroy their life and God's work. Satan is condemned already. Satan and his kind are spiritual with authority and they have a free will just as man did. They choose to rebel against God and all who rebel are his children.
* "God did not spare" -God loves them, yet he is just. They are guilty and he dealt with them as such.
* "when they sinned" -Jude 1:6 gets more specific. It says, "And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home" The fallen angels are used by Jude as an example of those who started good and ended terrible.
* "sent them to hell" -The original Greek is "Tartaroo" found only here meaning "cast into hell". See question 5 below for more on hell.
* "putting them into gloomy dungeons" -See question 5 below for more on hell. Jude 1:6 says, "these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains" Most of the fallen angels (demons) are in chain in hell. 1 Peter 2:4 agrees with this. They cannot leave hell as many modern day movies and television shows claim. A few demons are not in chains yet and have influence the kingdoms and many leaders of the world since Adam and Eve sinned.
* "to be held for judgment" -See question 5 below for more on hell. Hell is currently used as a place of holding for the unsaved. Eventually it will be their place of punishment. (Revelation 20:11-15)
* "ungodly people" -They refuse to know God and obey him.
* "he condemned" -God is the only rightful judge. Jesus is the judge. (Matthew 28:18; John 4:26-27)
* "burning them to ashes" -The Lord rained down fire and burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah. (Genesis 19:24; Luke 17:29)
* "made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly" -Hell is often described as a torment of fire and sulfur. (Revelation 20:10, 21:8) The wrath of God soon to come will include fire and sulfur. (Revelation 9:17-18, 14:10)
* "the filthy lives of lawless men" -They disobey the laws of God because they do not love God. God sees lawless lives as filthy.
* "follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature" -All are born with the sinful nature. The sinful nature is our natural tendency to sin. Corrupt desires are like rust that spoils steel, food that rots, and cancer that spreads.
* "despise authority" -Heaven has a hierarchy with God the Father at the top and Jesus at his right hand.
* "Bold and arrogant" -Sinners are bold about their sin. They believe that since they sin and nothing bad has happened to them that they are right and the righteous are wrong. So they boldly show off their sin believing they are free and righteous.
* "not afraid to slander celestial beings" -The original Greek for "celestial beings" is "doxa" translated elsewhere as dignities, glory, honour, praise, and worship.
>4. What are some similarities between Noah and Lot? (8; Gen. 6:9)
* 2 Peter 2:8 "for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard"
* Genesis 6:9 "This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God."
* "Noah, a preacher of righteousness" -Noah preached to the people as he built the ark. Peter was the only one who claimed Noah was a preacher.
* "righteous man" -Lot knew what was right and did it. He was not wise when he moved into the sinful cities because it caused him more grief. Yet he remained righteous.
* Noah is also called righteous, "blameless among the people of his time". None of his peers could accuse him of wrong.
* When the Bible says "he walked with God" it means they had a personal relationship with God.
>What can we learn from them who also lived among false teachers, those in verses 4-7?
* We must keep on doing what is right, preaching and teaching the truth even though the ungodly persecute us and most if not all do not accept our message.
>5. What does Peter reveal about God's character from his dealings with Noah and Lot? (9)
* 2 Peter 2:9 "if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment."
* "if this is so" -Peter is referring to the three examples in verses 4-8.
* "the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials" -Those Peter was writting were experiencing trials. Tests and trials are the same thing. God does not test. However, he does at times allow Satan to test us. There is always a limit to the test. God makes it very clear to each test we undergo that he is the one who rescues us so that we give him the glory and not take the glory to ourselves. A Christian attitude is not to pick ourself up from the strap of our boots. A Christian attitude is not to make lemonade out of lemons that life throws at us. A Christian attitude is to give God the glory for deliverance from tests.
* When undoing trials we must be patient on God to deliver us. We must trust his love will save us.
>What does it mean "to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment"? (Dan. 7:9-10; Rev. 20:11-15)
* Matthew 24:10-13 "At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."
* Daniel 7:9-10 "As I looked, "thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was as white as snow; the hair of his head was white like wool. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze. A river of fire was flowing, coming out from before him. Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened."
* Revelation 20:11-15 "Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."
* "to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment" -The grave is obviously meant and is elsewhere in the Bible described as a prison. (1 Peter 3:19-20) The day of judgement is still coming. See below discussion on the subject of hell.
* "while continuing their punishment" -The unrighteous wait for the day of their trial while under punishment. Just as the righteous wait for the day of their judgement while under grace and mercy.
* It's important here to understand where people went when their physical body died before Jesus rose from the dead. Jesus taught before his death and resurrection that people went to one of two places. The righteous went to a place Jesus referred to as "Abraham's side (bosom)"; a place where their spirits and souls gathered when their physical body died. (Luke 16:22) Jesus also taught that the unrighteous went to hell in the same parable. (Luke 16:23) After Peter's confession that Jesus was the Messiah (Christ) Jesus proclaimed that Hades, not simply the place of the dead but the power of the underworld would not be able to stop the gospel. (Matthew 16:18) So people went to one of two places which according to Jesus were completely separate, but each side could see and talk to each other.
What are the words used in the Bible for the place where people had gone when their physical bodies died? The Old Testament Hebrew word Sheol (found sity-five times in the Old Testament) and the New Testament Greek words Hades, Gehenna (meaning valley of Hinnom), and Tartaroo (Only found once in the New Testament, 2 Peter 2:4 meaning cast into hell) are translated as the English (Anglo-Saxon) Hell or the grave and the pit. Whereas in the Old Testament, the distinction in the fates of the righteous and the wicked was not always clear, in the New Testament Hades refers to a place of torment opposed to Abraham's bosom. However, a common descriptive phrase for Sheol in the Old Testament (mostly in 1 and 2 Kings and 1 and 2 Chronicles) when a person (the kings) died is "rest with his (or your) fathers", and is used for both righteous and unrighteous kings. (2 Samuel 7:12; and 1 Kings 1:21, 2:10, 11:21, 11:43, 14:20, 14:20, 14:31, 15:8, etc.) Descriptive phrases used in the New Testament include "outer darkness" (Matthew 8:12, 22:13, 25:30), "lake of fire" (Revelation 20:14-15), "fire of hell" (Matthew 5:22, 18:9; James 3:6), "prison" (1 Peter 3:19), and "the second death" (Revelation 2:11, 20:7, 14, 21:8).
"The Old Testament uses Sheol to refer to a place in the depths of the earth. The expressions "go down" or "brought down" are used twenty times in connection with Sheol. The depths of Sheol are mentioned six times (Deut. 32:22; Ps. 86:13; Prov. 9:18; 15:24; Isa. 7:11; 14:15). Four times Sheol is described as the farthest point from heaven (Job 11:8; Ps. 139:8; Isa. 7:11; Amos 9:2). Often Sheol is parallel with the “pit” (Job 17:13-14; 33:18; Ps. 30:3; 88:3-4; Prov. 1:12; Isa. 14:15; 38:18; Ezek. 31:14-17). Nine times it is parallel with death (2 Sam. 22:6; Ps. 18:4-5; 49:14; 89:48; 116:3; Prov. 5:5; Isa. 28:15,18; Hos. 13:14; Hab. 2:5). Sheol is described in terms of overwhelming floods, water, or waves (Jonah 2:2-6). Sometimes, Sheol is pictured as a hunter setting snares for its victim, binding them with cords, snatching them from the land of the living (2 Sam 22:6; Job 24:19; Ps. 116:3); Sheol is a prison with bars, a place of no return (Job 7:9; 10:21; 16:22; 21:13; Ps. 49:14; Isa. 38:10). People could go to Sheol alive (Num. 16:30,33; Ps. 55:15; Prov. 1:12). With rare exceptions, such as Elijah (2 Kings 2:1-12), all people were believed to go to Sheol when they died. (Job 3:11-19; Psalm 89:48)" (Holman Bible Dictionary)
1 Samuel 28:1-19 records an event in Saul's life just before he died. He asked a medium to "Bring up Samuel." The woman said, "I see a spirit coming up out of the ground." "What does he look like?" he asked. "An old man wearing a robe is coming up," she said. Then Saul knew it was Samuel, and he bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground. Samuel said to Saul, "Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?" Clearly the prophet of the Lord God had come up from Sheol as a spirit.
In 1 Peter 3 he wrote that Jesus went to the hell side of the grave and preached. Peter did not mention it there, but it is believed that Jesus also emptied Abraham's bosom at this time bringing the righteous who had been there to heaven. Jesus did these two things during the three days his body was in the grave. Since Jesus' resurrection those who believe in Jesus go to heaven, a place prepared for them until the resurrection of the dead when Jesus comes to the earth in physical form again. (1 Corinthians 15) On that day the dead in Christ will be raised from the grave in their newly obtained glorious resurrected bodies and the righteous still on the earth will be changed to be like them.
>What can we learn from this about the near future of the righteous? (Matt. 24:10-1; and 1 Thess. 4:13-17; Rev. 20:4-6)
* Matthew 24:10-13 "At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."
* 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17 "Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever."
* Revelation 20:4-6 "(I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years."
* The last seven years of this age will be the time of God's wrath, especially the last half. During these years there will be righteous people living on earth. All around them the ungodly will undergo God's wrath. The righteous are not under God's wrath. During these seven years the righteous will be rescued like Noah, Lot, and Rahab were.
>6. Who are angels more stronger than? (11)
* 2 Peter 2:11 "yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord."
* "angels" -See question 3 above.
* "although they are stronger and more powerful" -Angels are stronger than humans and demons (fallen angels) because the Lord is their strength.
* "such beings" -Peter is referring to beings that are elsewhere called demons, fallen angels, and evil spirits.
* "in the presence of the Lord" -Angels and demons come and go in and out of the Lord Jesus' presence. See passages like Job 1 and the times the prophets were brought in the presence of the Lord. (Ezekiel 1; Isaiah 6)
>When do we know of a time that an angle did not slander another? (Jude 1:8-10)
* Jude 1:8-10 "In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals--these are the very things that destroy them."
* Jude is a parallel passage to this one in Peter's letter.
>7. Who are the men in verse 12? (Reread verse 1.)
* 2 Peter 2:12 "But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish."
* "these men blaspheme" -The heretics and deceivers in their congregation speak against the work of the Holy Spirit. (Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10) Because they are men of the flesh, they do not understand the working of the Spirit. Like the Pharisees ridiculed Jesus' work, so these men and people like them make ridicule Jesus' people.
* "They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct" -Instead of following the Spirit's leading they follow physical impulses. They even study physical impulses so they can use them to their advantage. God programmed many involuntary physical functions such as the heart beating and breathing. Instincts are inborn patterns of behavior that are characteristic of a species and is often a response to specific environmental stimuli. An example would be the spawning instinct in salmon. These people teach people to follow these instincts. Yesterday I was channel surfing on television and came across a preacher who was teaching visualization is the key to access miraculous powers. He used two Bible passages out of context and meaning to back up his point. His teachings lead people to glorify a physical instinct and label it as a miraculous secret power within us. He even went as far to say the ungodly discover and use this miraculous power. He said, "If the ungodly use it why can't we?" He was using physical instincts the same way as those in Peter's day.
* "born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish" -Peter is speaking of the coming day of God's wrath.
* "brute beasts" -False teachers are often brutal towards the true church.
>Why don't they understand some things even though they are teachers? (John 15:26, 16:13-15)
* John 15:26 "When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me."
* John 16:13-15 "But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you."
* "matters they do not understand" -They do not understand the gifts and work of the Spirit. They are like Nicodemus who came to Jesus at night. (John 3:1-21)
* The heresy to which Peter refers may have been an early form of second-century Gnosticism that claimed to possess special, esoteric knowledge. If so, it is ironic that those who professed special knowledge acted out of abysmal ignorance, and the reult was arrogant blasphemy. (NIV Study Bible)
III. Slaves of Depravity (2:13-22)
>8. What characteristics are displayed in false teachers? (13-14)
* 2 Peter 2:13-14 "They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, revealing in their pleasures while they feast with you. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed--an accursed brood!"
* "They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done." -Judgement comes. What we do in this life has future consequences. Psalm 31:23 states, "Love the LORD, all his saints! The LORD preserves the faithful, but the proud he pays back in full." Isaiah 65:2-7 says, "All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations-- a people who continually provoke me to my very face, offering sacrifices in gardens and burning incense on altars of brick; who sit among the graves and spend their nights keeping secret vigil; who eat the flesh of pigs, and whose pots hold broth of unclean meat; who say, 'Keep away; don't come near me, for I am too sacred for you!' Such people are smoke in my nostrils, a fire that keeps burning all day. "See, it stands written before me: I will not keep silent but will pay back in full; I will pay it back into their laps-- both your sins and the sins of your fathers," says the LORD. "Because they burned sacrifices on the mountains and defied me on the hills, I will measure into their laps the full payment for their former deeds."
* "Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight." -They get drunk during the day something not even most ungodly people did.
* "They are blots and blemishes, revealing in their pleasures while they feast with you." -Apparently the heretics were getting drunk during Christian gatherings. In the early days of Christianity many congregations started celebrating the Passover meal monthly and perhaps even weekly instead of once a year as was given to the Israelites by Moses. They were following Jesus' actions. Jesus changed the Passover meal during the Lord's Supper. (Matthew 26:17-30; Mark 14:12-26; Luke 22:7-23) Passover is a whole meal where wine is served. The early congregations were doing the same because Jesus said, "Do this in memory of me." The heretics were getting drunk during these congregational meetings. Paul wrote about this same subject in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. Eventually to deal with this problem congregations stopped having full Passover meals as often as they did. Eventually many congregations celebrated Jesus' death and resurrection with just bread and fermented wine as many do now.
* "With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed--an accursed brood!" -Peter lists other sins of the heretics. Money and sexual exploit are part of many cults. Every woman they saw they wanted as a sex partner. They would do anything they could to have sex with as many woman as they saw. The Greek word implies fisherman using bate to attract victims. No love is in their actions. They loved money and possessions.
>What can be learned from Balaam? (15-16)
* 2 Peter 2:15-16 "They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness. But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey--a beast without speech--who spoke with a man's voice and restrained the prophet's madness."
* "They have left the straight way and wandered off" -John the Baptist made straight paths for people by preaching. (Matthew 3:3; Mark 1:3; Luke 3:4-5; John 1:23) Jesus taught the life of faith was like walking down a narrow road that lead to a narrow gate. (Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 13:24) The heretics started down the narrow road, but left it.
* "Balaam son of Beor" -Balaam is found in Numbers 22, 23, and 24. Jesus told the church in Pergamum, "Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality." (Revelation 2:14) Jude also brings up Balaam in his letter stating, "Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion." (Jude 1:11)
* "loved the wages of wickedness" -Wickedness has wages. Sin has pleasure. But the pleasure is short lived and never fully satisfying. Sin leaves a person wanting more and more because that which once gave pleasure is eventually not enough, so it requires more. Addiction follows. In the end the wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)
>9. Who are most susceptible to false teachers? (17-18)
* 2 Peter 2:17-18 "These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error."
* "These men are springs without water and mists driven by a storm." -The image is promises unfulfilled, cruel deceptions, and the appearance of substance to satisfy thirst, but having none and no control.
* "Blackest darkness is reserved for them." -Hell is often described as such. See above for more information. Darkness is without light.
* "lustful desires of sinful human nature" -Earlier Peter wrote, "the corrupt desire of the sinful nature". (2 Peter 2:10) See above for more.
* "they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error." -A heretic's target is new converts to Christ's teachings. Peter wrote in his first letter, "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion." (1 Peter 5:8) Lions attack the young and weak. Jesus in his parable of the four soils says, "A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path; it was trampled on, and the birds of the air ate it up." (Luke 8:5) And in his parable of the mustard seed said, "What shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest seed you plant in the ground. Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds of the air can perch in its shade." (Mark 4:30-32) The heretics are like the birds. Beware of the birds. They are in every congregation.
>Why then is the responsibility of those who know the truth so important? (Titus 1:8-9)
* Titus 1:8-9 "Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it."
* Bible teachers and preachers in congregations should be mature Christians, and if all possible even from the elders.
>10. What is the main theme of these false teachers? (19)
* 2 Peter 2:19 "They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him."
* "They promise them freedom" -Freedom from the law is not freedom to sin. Freedom from the law is to live by the Spirit. (Acts 9:31; Romans 8:9-15; Galatians 5:16-18)
* "slaves of depravity" -Sin is not freedom from the law its becoming slaves to the sinful nature.
* "a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him" -We can be slaves to our sinful nature or servants of God.
* Many still preach this today.
>Were they always false teachers? (20-22)
* 2 Peter 2:20-22 "If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."
* "If" -Peter is using a hypothetical argument. The original Greek word is "ei" and definitely a conditionality.
* "If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" -Peter is stating that if these two things are true, not that they are true. He did not know. He did not cast judgment. Jesus is the only judge.
* "are again entangled in it and overcome" -Peter is still in his hypothetical argument. He's talking about the heretics who are in the congregation. Some of the congregation must have been hurt and/or surprised by these men's actions and Peter's previous words about them.
* When understanding this passage it is important to keep in mind the heart of God. Jesus said, "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." (John 10:27-30)
>How are they different than the righteous?
* "they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning." -Consider Jesus teaching, "When an evil spirit comes out of a man, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it. Then it says, 'I will return to the house I left.' When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order. Then it 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." (Matthew 12:43-45)
* "It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them."
* "Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit," and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."
* Some point to this passage as clear proof that a genuinely saved person may lose his salvation. He knows the Lord; he escapes the world's corruption; he knows the way of righteousness. Then he turns away from the message and goes back to his old way of life. His knowledge is said to have been genuine; his change of life was real; and his return to his old way of life was not superficial. Others insist that the knowledge of the Lord and of the way of righteousness could not have been genuine. If the person had been truly regenerated, he would have persevered in his faith. It is argued that the teaching of John 1027-30 and Romans 8:28-39 makes it clear that no genuinely saved person can be lost. Thus, according to this view, the persons described here could not have been genuinely saved. (NIV Study Bible)
* Do you know the Lord? Jesus says, "If you love me you will obey my commands."
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