1 - 6 Examples of God’s Judgment
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. 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. 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; 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; 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;
V1. In contradiction to those who were driven by God, the genuine prophets, Peter now refers to the prophets who are being driven by the devil, the “false teachers”. Everything that comes from God, which is therefore good, is being copied by the devil. The false prophets are the weed that looks very much like wheat (Mt 13:24-25). They are among the people of God, among whom Peter has his ministry. He warns the believers of them. False prophets and false teachers are not a new phenomenon. They were also there among God’s people in former times (Jer 23:11-21). They proceed their work in the false teachers, who in the meantime have populated Christianity.
Today there is quite an amount of people who pose as prophets, whereby they also pretend to be teachers. False teachers have been able to enter the Christian company, because God’s Word is not being read or is scarcely read. That is because many Christians have no life out of God and those who have, find it hard to read God’s Word. That especially applies to the prophetic word. That’s the reason why they do not carefully pay attention (2Pet 1:19).
He who does not know what God’s Word says about the future, is an easy prey to false teachers who surely know how to picture a beautiful future. They let themselves be paid for that too (Mic 3:11). False teachers twist God’s Word and give another meaning to biblical words. They say things that people love to hear (Jer 5:31). Their message is completely in line with people who only live for the here and now; they love to hear that (2Tim 4:3-4).
These false teachers seek to “secretly introduce destructive heresies” (cf. Acts 5:17; 26:5; 1Cor 11:18). Their teachings always sow conflicts and division, because they never point to the Lord Jesus, but they always seek their own honor and glory. They look for unstable souls and win these souls for their destructive teachings. In that way they gather people around themselves and separate these people from the fellowship of believers of which they first were a part. Forming a sect is a work of the flesh and not of the Spirit (Gal 5:20). Within this work is the seed of destruction.
False teachers do not openly operate, but they do that secretly. That proves that they are doing works that belong to the darkness. Such works cannot stand the light. Therefore, be alert as soon as you notice that a person is secretly trying to win your support for his ideas, for instance about forming a church. Try to discern what comes after you from God’s Word.
Ask yourself whether the proposal is doing justice to the authority of the Lord Jesus. Another character of a false teacher is namely that he will deny the Master by Whom he was bought. He first pretends to be doing what the Master says, but soon it will become apparent that he does not consider Him at all.
That he has been bought by the Master does not mean that he is a believer. He has indeed been bought, but not redeemed. The Lord Jesus is the Owner of the universe and everything within it, including the people. Through His work on the cross He has bought the world. He bought the world to possess the treasure that was hidden there (Mt 13:38,44). In the same way He has control over all flesh, that is all people. He uses that power to give eternal life to those whom were given to Him by the Father (Jn 17:2).
The authority of the Lord Jesus is unlimited, but these corrupted people do not consider that. Their corrupt actions will quickly and unexpectedly bring an appropriate judgment of destruction over them. It is a destruction which they have prepared for themselves (Rom 9:22). They actually draw the judgment towards themselves. He Who will judge them is the One of Whom they now deny the rights that He has over them.
V2. They are dragging “many” in their slipstream on the way to destruction. Their lawless view of life and their way of living is very attractive for the mass of people. If you follow them, you do not need to take anything into account. You can follow your lusts without restraint. That is what the false teachers prove as an example. This is the way they love to hear and experience the truth. Away with that narrow-minded thinking of petty Christians who take the Bible as an enslaving principle for their lives. They too can read themselves and they cannot read anywhere that God forbids you to delightfully go wild yourself. Love is after all from God and is to be enjoyed limitlessly. Limitations are invented by man. And a human being is a free creature.
The fact that by this way of thinking and acting “the way of truth will be maligned” (cf. Rom 2:24), does not arise with them or they refuse to have anything to do with it. With ‘the way of truth’ the whole Christian truth is meant, both in teaching and in life. Because Christians who speak of principles and values at all costs, disregarding God’s truth, unbelievers refuse to have anything to do with God’s truth and are mocking it.
V3. Their lawless life comes forth from their “covetousness”. Not only their deeds are corrupted, but also inwardly they are full of corruptness. They seek to take money out of their followers’ pockets. Through their wonderful speeches and argumentations that they completely invented themselves, they make their victims. These naive people are being systematically robbed from their identity and property.
As far as the false teachers are concerned, there is no humanity in them. They are predators who see humans only as merchandise, in order to earn money. In Babylon the Great, which stands for the roman catholic church in the end of time, the predator has come to maturity (Rev 18:12-13). The judgment has already been established a long time ago and will definitely happen. There is absolutely no mention of slumbering or dozing off, as if it will turn out better and will probably pass by.
V4. The fact that God will absolutely judge the destruction, is illustrated by Peter with three examples from the past. The first example is with regard to the angels who have sinned. I think, that by comparing Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7 with Gen 6:2 the sin of the angels is the sin that is described in Jude 1:6. These angels have adopted human stature and have had sexual intercourse with women. In that way they abandoned the place which was given to them by God. That is a terrible disobedience that God had to punish. Therefore He did not spare them.
He who falls away from God, deliberately and purposefully proves to go against Him and to defy Him in His Being. He was indebted to His righteousness to cast these angels “in the bottomless pit”, away from the earth and away from heaven. They had chosen for the darkness and that they received as a prison. Till this day they find themselves in secure detention at the access point of hell, in anticipation of the final sentence. This will be executed at the end of the millennial kingdom of peace when all evil will be forever locked up in hell, the lake of fire.
V5. The second example is the flood that came over the “ancient world”. God could neither spare the ancient world. The cause is the persistence of man in his wickedness. Man continuously invents evil, until the whole earth has been completely filled by it (Gen 6:5-12). God actually has been very patient for a long time, no less than one hundred and twenty years (Gen 6:3). In those days God warned men in His mercy.
Through Noah He revealed His righteousness to men that He has to judge sin. At the same time he gave the way for salvation in the ark that Noah was to build. Each blow of the hammer was a warning for a coming judgment. Unfortunately, the preaching of Noah remained without result, without any change in the content of his message. The proof, the flood, came. Noah, together with his household that also entered the ark (Heb 11:7), was the only one who was protected against this disaster that destroyed everything.
V6. The third example is the judgment over the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. These cities were full of the most horrible sins. The life of the people in these cities consisted of satisfying all of their physical needs and lusts, from eating and drinking till a general experiencing of homosexual intercourse (Lk 17:28-29; Gen 19:4-5). This deeply depraved way of living cries out for God’s judgment over itself. God’s action in judgment is most emphatically mentioned in the judgment over these cities (Gen 18:20-21; 19:24).
Also the radicalism of the judgment is impressive. Peter speaks about a point of “being burnt into ashes”. It is in no way possible to make something from ashes. God also reversed these cities. These cities had reversed God’s order of creation by their homosexual conduct and they therefore received an appropriate punishment.
There is another aspect attached to this judgment and that is that it serves as a deterrent example for each who would consider to live such an ungodly life. You sin against your own life when you follow the life of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah in their sinful practice of life.
I think that the city of Amsterdam breathes the spirit of Sodom and Gomorrah and that the whole Dutch society is heading fast in that direction, because it is infused by that spirit. Let yourself be warned by this example and remain faithful to God and His Word.
Now read 2 Peter 2:1-6 again.
Reflection: What is it that Peter is warning about?
7 - 16 The Way of Balaam
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), 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. 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. 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. 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; 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.
V7. The same God Who brings judgment over the ungodly, is the God who delivers the righteous. If you know the history of Lot as it is described in Genesis, then you must be rubbing your eyes to make sure that you’re not mistaken about what is said of Lot here: that he was “righteous”. It is even said three times.
He was everything but a Noah, who preached righteousness. The righteousness of Lot had not become visible, it was not reflected, neither in his words and nor in his deeds. Still he was a righteous man and indeed inwardly. Therefore we had to be informed by the Scripture itself, for else we would have never known. Of course it does not do credit to Lot. It also would do you no credit if nobody knows that you are a believer or if other believers have to put a question mark on your faith, because they do not see anything of it.
V8. That Lot was certainly a believer, appears from the fact that he was truly suffering by what he saw around him. He saw immoral people living in lawlessness. He dwelled in their midst and came into contact with them day by day. He heard their dirty talking, he saw their filthy behavior and that all sliced through his soul. He was filled with disgust by what he saw and heard. In that respect he is an example for Christians who are saying that it doesn’t affect them when they for instance watch sexually oriented scenes in a movie. Does it also slice through your soul when you see the immoral signs on the billboards along the road or when you hear filthy speech around you?
V9. The examples that Peter has mentioned make clear that the Lord knows how to distinguish between “the godly” and “the unrighteous”. That appears from His dealings with them. His dealings with Godly appears from their deliverance. His dealings with the unjust appears from the judgment that He brings over them.
He knows the trials that people are facing, who have respect for Him. These trials are tests of faith: outer circumstances wherein believers may find themselves, through which their faith is being tested. The Lord knows how to deliver His own from them. He is able to change the circumstances or to help them through these circumstances, or even, like the case of Lot, to take away the believer out of those circumstances.
The unjust are reserved for the judgment. None of the unjust will escape the judgment. Nobody can run away from God. For those who do not want to bow before God, blackness of darkness will be reserved (verse 17). This forms a great contrast with the believers who are reserved for the inheritance, while the inheritance is reserved for them (1Pet 1:4-5).
V10. After the examples that have demonstrated the inescapability of God’s judgment, Peter continues to expose the false teachers. Among them there is a category that operates more depraved than the false teachers already do in general. It is a category of men who surrender themselves to the filthy lusts of their flesh and who, in limitless arrogance, treat all authority given by God with contempt. Those people especially will be struck by God’s judgment.
Today it is about ‘Christian’ teachers who, in order to satisfy their own dirty lusts, teach that you are allowed to have sex with whoever you want. In order to succeed they know how to manipulate the truth of God’s Word in such a way that they convince others of their freedom and that they can to live out their lusts in that way.
They find the nerve to defy every authority that gives them the feeling of imposing limitation on them. They are that arrogant and proud that they feel no hindrances to blaspheme and reject God’s authority. Blaspheming is falsely accusing and deliberately evil speaking of something or somebody, in order to make the other despicable. An example of that you find in the feminist theology that rejects and disempowers God’s order of creation and refuses to speak about God as Father.
V11. In their recklessness and arrogance these kind of people go that far, that they exalt themselves above the mightiest angels. Angels who in power and holiness go far beyond these void and through and through depraved people (Psa 103:20; 2Kgs 19:35), do not dare what these people dare to (Jude 1:9; Zec 3:2). Their big words and blasphemy are proven to be completely reprehensible by the conduct of these powers that are many times greater.
V12. The people who are guilty of that, are unbelievers who arrogantly call themselves Christians. They behave like” natural brute beasts” and therefore they are classified in line with them. Balaam is even classified below the beasts, for he is lectured by a beast (verse 16).
As less able as natural brute beasts, false teachers are able to ponder on these things with insight. They do not simply realize what they are talking about, even though they use such scholarly words. Just as natural brute beasts are destined to be caught and killed after their nature, false teachers are being caught and destroyed. They are acting after their evil nature and receive the result of their actions.
They are not created for destruction as if they were destined to, but they perish “in their own corruption”. They bring themselves under the corruption. In that way a person, who practices a sexually free way of living, may be infected by AIDS and in this way receive the wages that goes hand in hand with his life in unrighteousness.
V13. They exercise their activities for wages and this is the way that God will repay them. By that I do not mean that all people who for instance have AIDS, have received this disease as wages for their life in unrighteousness. A person can also contract this disease by an inaccurate action of others. I heard about someone who was infected by a transfusion of contaminated blood. A person can also contract this disease through patients with this disease.
“A pleasure to revel in the daytime”, when normal people are working, is the highlight of pleasure for them. Instead of being generous they are greedy and gluttonous. And consider thereby that Peter does not talk about their behavior in the world, but in the midst of the Christian company. They carouse “with you”. They succeeded in taking their place in the midst of Christians to mingle with them. There they take part in eating and drinking in a way that it reveals where their life consists of.
Exactly because of this kind of people, separation is needed. If we allow them to act their way freely, they will ‘blemish and spot’ the Christian community. “Blemishes and spots” are no adornment, but taint what is beautiful and clean. That’s why they are to be removed as soon they become visible.
V14. While they are feasting, their eyes go restlessly to and fro, in order to lustfully look at beautiful women as much as they can (cf. Job 31:1). In their mind they commit adultery (Mt 5:28). They have no restraints on their consumption and no restraints on their sexual lusts. People who cannot control themselves, regarding eating and drinking, are often also not able to control themselves in other areas. They are constantly sinning, without any moment of pausing.
They seek how they can entice “unstable souls”, those are people who are not steadfast in the Scripture (cf. Col 2:7), in order to profit from them. This behavior comes forth from “a heart” that is trained “in greed”. They have developed a sense through which they exactly know who they can make prey of their covetous desires.
Peter briefly and fervently calls them “accursed children”. They come forth from a curse and are a curse for all who come into contact with them. Their end is in accordance to that, for the Lord Jesus will refer them to the eternal fire as accursed (Mt 25:41).
V15. False teachers have known the right way (cf. 1Sam 12:20-24; Hos 14:9), that is the way of obedience to God and His Word, but have abandoned it. Then they also distort the right ways of the Lord (Acts 13:10). After the error of Balaam (Jude 1:11) and the doctrine of Balaam (Rev 2:14) they will end up on the way of Balaam and will follow his way.
By speaking about “the way of Balaam” Peter sets Balaam as the example of going a way that makes religion a merchandise. You find his history in Numbers 22-24. There it appears that he presented himself as a prophet of God, while he was planning to curse God’s people, because he was offered a lot of money to do so. That is considered by God as ”wages of unrighteousness”. It is wages that is earned by doing evil works.
V16. In a special way God hindered the foolishness of the prophet to curse His people. He gave the “mute donkey” that Balaam rode on, the ability to speak “with a man’s voice”. The donkey reprimanded Balaam for his own lawlessness. He hit the donkey three times, while the donkey only carried him and protected him against calamity (Num 22:22-33). He proved by that that he was blind to the warnings and persistently continued his own way. By letting the donkey speak to him, God made clear how foolish the prophet was. In connection to that God allowed Balaam to continue his way, while He forced him to bless His people.
Also today God has His methods to speak to false teachers and He often does that in a way that makes false teachers, who are persistent and greedy for money, despicable. It would be a good thing if they want to listen for their own well-being, otherwise they will take part in the fate of Balaam (Num 31:8).
Now read 2 Peter 2:7-16 again.
Reflection: Which characteristics of false teachers are given in these verses?
17 - 22 To Turn from the Known Way
17 These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 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, 19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 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. 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. 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.”
V17. False teachers are like “springs without water”. They promise refreshment to people who need it, but instead they give bitterness. It is no living water that comes from the well that they pretend to be, but it is death. That is in direct contrast to the well of living water which is the Lord Jesus. He gives water that in each that receives it, becomes a well of water with which they can refresh others (Jn 4:14; 7:38-39). From that well false teachers have never drunk, for they refuse to believe in Him Who is the well. They are to be compared with broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jer 2:13).
These people are also to be compared with ”mists driven by a storm”. When someone is shrouded in clouds he does not know where he is and he also is in no way able to show somebody else the way. Clouds can in no way offer any guidance and orientation. Therefore their use of language is foggy, their statements are woolly, the tone ingratiating. They appeal only to the emotion. They are mercilessly and restlessly being driven by higher, slippery powers (cf. Jam 3:4). You can be kept from being tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine when you heed the teaching of the gifts that are given by the Lord to His church (Eph 4:14-15).
The clouds in which the false teachers are shrouded and in which they shroud others who listen to their doctrines, will transfer in a complete “black darkness”. They have shrouded themselves and others in the clouds, the blackness of the darkness is reserved for them by God. That is where they will end up too, because God will bring them there.
It is the place where all light is absent. God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all (1Jn 1:5). In the blackness of darkness even the smallest trace of God’s presence is missing. There is nothing worse for a person than when God has abandoned him and has totally delivered him to what he has chosen.
V18. False teachers talk a lot but their talk means nothing. It is a load of hot air: arrogant, hollow and without content. Countless people allow themselves to be fooled by them and trust and build on those empty words. Their speech is full of words that activate the “fleshly desires”. Their false doctrine intrigues people because it gives them the nice feeling that they can satisfy their sexual lusts in a lawless way and that they can also limitlessly surrender themselves to all kinds of evil.
Their words gain entrance in those who are still seeking the true meaning of life, because they did not find it in the company of wanderers to which they first belonged. In their search they also listen to these false teachers. Because they themselves have no handhold at all on the truth of God’s Word and are also naïve in their personal examination of it, they are caught by the greedy hands of these wicked people.
V19. The bait that the false teachers present to the unstable souls, is the promise of “freedom”. Freedom in every view is the highest goal for the self-contained man. People also think that in the church of God there should be liberty. We should not be slaves of traditions. You are to be allowed to give substance to the life with God in your own way. It is nobody’s business in what way you do that. You do not acknowledge authority, you determine for yourself whatever you want. That message is swallowed like sweet cake. There is no requirement to take responsibility. It is all about pleasure, about my pleasure of course.
But people who are preaching this are “slaves of corruption” themselves (Jn 8:34; Rom 6:16). They are “overcome” by the devil and brought into bondage. They allow themselves to be used by him, but they are blind to the fact that they are nothing more than his accomplices. In their loud proclamation of liberty they do not realize that they are the voice channel of the devil as his slave.
However, you have become a bondservant of God (Rom 6:12-14), because God has overcome you by His love. That has brought you into true liberty. True liberty means that you are under the obedience of God with thereby the new nature that wants nothing more than being obedient to Him. As long as a person is not under the control of the Lord Jesus, he is not free, for the Lord Jesus alone, can indeed make free (Jn 8:36).
V20. Therefore it is about those who first have been going the way of the Christian, but have become an apostate. They first confessed to be Christians, but they turned back to the outward uncleanness of the world, “the defilements of the world”, from which they, by becoming a Christian, escaped (2Pet 1:4). It is evident that with the people who are the issue here, everything turned out to be only appearance. Their knowledge seems to be no more than only outward, rational knowledge.
People may come to the conclusion, that of all the world religions, Christendom has the best credentials. It is a religion of tolerance and loving care and liberty. That may be appealing and win a person to be a supporter of it. There is nothing of conviction of sin and repentance of it; there is no mention of any necessity of conversion to God and of salvation by the blood of Christ at all. Inwardly nothing has changed, actually.
What has attracted them in Christendom, is experienced only in the selfish sense: others must tolerate me, others must make sure that I lack of nothing, I am free to do what I like to do. They confess Jesus as Lord and Savior, but not in the way that the Bible instructs us to. Their confession that He is Lord, is just a lip confession (Mt 7:21-23; Lk 6:46). Their confession that He is Savior, is nothing more than the confession that He is a ‘Whole-Maker’ (that meaning also lies in the word ‘Savior’) of situations they do not know how to deal with.
As soon as such people come into contact with false teachers, they seem to be highly susceptible to the nonsense that these people rave about. The false idea that they have of the Lord Jesus, is a perfectly prepared basis for receiving more corrupt ideas about Him. Once they find themselves in the slipstream of the false teachers, they are irresistibly dragged to “the defilements of the world” where they formerly were stuck into and are now again “entangled” in. Once they got entangled they cannot resist anymore and are “overcome” by it. The world completely has caught hold of them again. This time their situation becomes worse than when they outwardly were converted (cf. Mt 12:45).
V21. The greater the privileges that a man has, the greater is his responsibility to live according to that. Therefore a person who has known the will of God and didn’t do it will be beaten with many stripes (Lk 12:47-48). It may seem like it is dangerous to know much of God’s Word and that it is safer to pretend that you know nothing of it. Such a perception, however, does not testify any love for the Lord Jesus and the Word of God.
Peter is saying this with a view to those who complacently present themselves as Christians who know everything and where everyone can get satisfaction concerning the teaching about the truth. Of course you have to pay for it. Such people are more responsible than people who were not raised with the Bible. They have no regard for “the holy commandment” of the Lord, that is the word of the Lord to be holy (1Pet 1:16). They were just outwardly holy, without possessing the holy nature as a result of conversion and faith.
V22. He who has been familiar with the meaning of Christendom and has even joined that company for a while, but yet again chooses the pollutions of the world, looks like a dog and a sow. Peter uses a proverb or a metaphor with two images that are both a truthful expression of what happens when a person has confessed the Christian faith and then returns to the world.
The first image is that of a dog. A dog is an unclean animal that, without any emotion, gluttonously and shamelessly fills his stomach with whatever he finds or gets to eat (Isa 56:11). A dog knows no measure. When he has eaten too much, he vomits it out. When he gets hungry again, he eats his own vomit. This image is applied to people who first said goodbye to the world and, by the influence of false teachers, return there. They did not find inward satisfaction in the world and abandoned it. Now they still go back to it. This proves that they inwardly have not really changed. The dog remained to be a dog.
They not only inwardly returned to the world, the vomit. It is also to be seen in their life. Outwardly they are like the sow that returns to wallowing in the mire. You may wash a sow and make him smell nice, but as soon as he gets the chance to wallow himself in the mire, he will do that. He feels at home in the mire. That is the big difference with a sheep that is an image of the believer. A sheep may fall into the mire, but it doesn’t feel at home there and will try to get out of it.
Now read 2 Peter 2:17-22 again.
Reflection: What kind of people is this portion dealing with?