2 Peter 2
After Peter assures his readers that he is an eyewitness and that his teachings are not false, Peter goes on to address a rise in the number of false prophets and teachers that believers are encountering.
In the very first verse Peter speaks about false prophets and false teachers among the people. He’s speaking about these false people within the body of believers. He is telling them to watch out for those who secretly introduce “destructive heresies” to the body of believers.
I looked up the words “destructive” and “heresies” and tried to paste them to my notes here but Open Office has decided to freak out on me tonight and won’t let me. Anyway, what it said was that destructive is just what we would think, it means destruction but it can also mean “the destruction which consists of eternal misery in hell”. That’s pretty destructive and I can’t imagine it getting any more destructive than that.
“Heresies” was a bit of a shock to me in the meanings. Here is a brief list:
~ act of taking, capture (e.g. storming a city)
~ choosing, choice
~ that which is chosen
~ a body of men following their own tenets (sect or party)
~of the Sadducees
~of the Pharisees
~of the Christians
~dissensions arising from diversity of opinions and aims
| 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.
Anyway, based on these verses, destructive heresies clearly means sects.
Clear back in the 1st century, before the Apostles passed away, they were already dealing with false teachings. It makes me think of that game where everyone sits in a circle and one person begins a “whisper”… the next person whispers it to the next and the next and so on down the line until the last person in the circle stands up and speaks out loud what was whispered to them. Everyone has a great laugh because of how much the first whisper had changed.
It’s been 2,000 years since the first “whisper” from Jesus Christ Himself. Without the Bible having been so carefully transcribed and handed down through the generations, we would have nothing of His teachings today. Our faith today may not be exactly as intended in the beginning, but after 2000 years, my hope is that the Bible hasn’t changed too much from the first whisperings of Jesus. We can have a certain confidence that the words we are reading from the main literal translations of the Bible are very close to the originals because of one simple fact: Jewish or Hebrew scribes were renowned for their accuracy in their trade.
It really hits me how very important following the Bible truly is. Even if there are “mistakes” in translations, even if certain verses have strayed from their original meanings, we know from many Biblical scholars throughout the ages who are keeping their eyes on each version of the Bible, that the “mistakes” are followed up with various commentaries. Many verses and books are constantly under scrutiny and debate and microscopic investigation. The Bible is the most researched and debated book in history and it has stood up to the scrutiny. Yes, there are questions. Yes, there are things that do not have tangible proof for them. But those things also have no proof against them. We can trust the Bible still after 2000 years.
To realize that the Bible was written by so many different authors spanning over 1000 years and yet from the beginning to end of all the books, God’s love story plays through the pages, spanning the various books, to the very end finale, just like the most beautiful orchestra. In a time before computers and email and common libraries, where knowledge was passed down through the generations through word, and scrolls, stories, and memory…the cohesion of the Bible is truly God breathed. Sorry got off on a topic I could spent hours on!
If Peter was already seeing false prophets and teachers and false sects emerging clear back in his lifetime, how many are we faced with today?
It’s a good reminder to filter all churches (or sects) through the filter of the Bible. How do they view and treat the Bible? It’s not 100% to catch the false ones but it’s a start.
Verses 4-10 I see as a warning of God’s power against those who would introduce false teachings. Peter is reminding believers how God didn’t spare the angels, or Sodom or Gomorrah, He didn’t spare the entire world but did spare Noah and his family and Lot. Peter reminds them that judgment will come. The day of judgment is not here yet but when it comes…those false teachers better beware.
Verses 10-16 go into an in-depth description of the type of people the false prophets and teachers are. Peter uses many examples to describe them including “daring” “self-willed” “they revile angelic majesties” “unreasoning animals” “born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed” “stains and blemishes” “eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin” “accursed children” and so on and so forth.
Pretty strong words. Peter says they have gone astray and follow the way of Balaam, son of Beor who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 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.
I looked up Balaam:
A native of Pethor a city in Mesopotamia, endued by Jehovah with prophetic power. He was hired by Balak to curse the Israelites; and influenced by the love of reward, he wished to gratify Balak; but he was compelled by Jehovah’s power to bless them. Hence later the Jews saw him as a most abandoned deceiver.
I also looked up Beor but couldn’t find much on him other than he was the father of Balaam .
| 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 defilement’s 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.”
These verses have several nuggets of wisdom in them.
for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved…
Is that true or what? Again, I go back to the smoking addiction. Talk about being overcome and enslaved. This holds true for all addictions. Food, alcohol, drugs, money? All of the above.
It goes on to tell about how much worse it is to escape the defilement through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and then fall back into the defilement or addiction or “insert bad thing here”.
I have experienced a miracle. God carried me and broke my chains of addiction. I am free from being enslaved by that particular addiction. If I was to go back to smoking, that is like saying the miracle never happened or suddenly isn’t worthy of my “awe” and “praise” and such anymore. Suddenly, it would be worse for me because I would have to turn my back on the awesome gift that God gave to me. How could I do that?
But if I did…it would be sooo much worse for me. Where would my hope be then? I couldn’t hope to have God carry me to freedom again, after turning my back and snubbing my nose at His first gift. Could I? I would be left hopeless and in chains.
Talk about worse than where i started from huh?
I for one have no plans to ever snub my nose at the gift God gave me. It was so miraculous and so merciful and so loving, I will keep talking about it to whoever will listen because I feel so thankful/grateful/blessed I can’t even begin to convey it with words. I’m all filled up.