Right before execution, Peter warns against false teachers | 2 Peter commentary

Peter constructed his second letter around 67-69 A.D., just before his execution. Peter gives stern warnings about false teachers in the church. Peter encourages believers also that good qualities will help believers avoid false teachings. He writes to them that have obtained precious faith through the righteousness of God and our savior, Jesus Christ.

Peter greets the readers, before talking about the Lord’s divine power given to us all things pertaining unto life and godliness. God has called us to glory and virtue. No additional knowledge or wisdom is needed to complete the sufficient Word of God, especially through salvation in Christ. Being partakers of the divine nature, believers have escaped the corruption of the world through lust. Virtue and knowledge shall also be added to believers’ faith. Therefore, Peter hopes that the calling and election of each believer should be sure, as so to never fall.

Next, Peter writes about the prophecy of Scripture, where he contrasts worldly ideas with God’s Word. God’s messages are free from error; His Word is true and reliable. Writers in the Bible did not write from their own interpretation, ideas, etc. – but it came from the Holy Ghost. Then, Peter talks about false teachers in the church. Teachers and leaders in the church and began to introduce heresies among God’s people. Through covetousness, false teachers commercialize the gospel. They also tell fake stories and other experiences to try to gain extra money from believers.

Peter explains that false teachers have destruction awaiting them. False teachers are described as natural, brute beasts that speak evil of the things they do not understand, and shall perish in corruption. They also receive the reward of unrighteousness and are blemishes. False teachers have eyes full of adultery, cannot cease from sin, who beguile unstable souls, who exercise covetousness, and are cursed children. False teachers, Peter explains, are willingly ignorant. Soon, the Lord will come back in the Day of Judgment, and false teachers will be destroyed by fire.

Peter writes next that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years is one day. In addition, that the Lord will keep His promise, so that no one should perish, but instead come to repentance. “The Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” – to which the Heavens pass away, the elements will melt, and the earth and its things will burn up. Peter encourages believers to live holy until that day, and concludes the letter by warning them to be careful and grow in grace.

As much as Peter and Paul disliked heresy, it seems that Peter was just as intent on getting them to stop just as Paul did. What is troubling is that even today, we are still dealing with heresies and other false teachers. Nothing has changed, because people have a common craving and that is money. Where there is a craving for money, there is recklessness in decision-making that leads to these heresies, for example.

People naturally create their own “bible” or “truth” that people are so drawn to, because they have a hunger or need for money and know they can make it if they align with the desires of men instead of the desires of God. It is a common bait-and-switch situation. But, what needs to happen, whether people like it or not, is that Biblical truth needs to be ministered on a truthful, Spirit-led level – so that people can be properly furnished with the Word of God, instead of a false truth that this world system creates. People are sucked into the teaching that they miss important details. These apostles were intent on straightening men back to the truth and making sure they focus on the truth of the Word.

Lessons from Peter and other notes

What he means by “cunningly devised fables” is that he hasn’t been giving them some kind of theory from his own imagination, but that, he himself had an experience of God’s Power through Jesus’ transfiguration, by being an eyewitness of His Majesty.

Precious faith: Peter refers to the faith as “precious” in verse one, which seems to be the thought that this is precious because it’s of great value, for a great price was given that this faith might be ours. This priceless gift comes from the “righteousness” of our God and through His Son, Jesus Christ, who gave His Life – in that, we might have this treasure.

Power: The word “power” used in 1:3 is referring to “divine power” – which probably means some form of glory of the divine that is worth of note. He has given all of us this power of Divine Nature, to which, He does so for life and godliness – for He has called us to glory and virtue. He gives for us great and precious promises – we are partakers of the divine nature and we have escaped the corruption that is in the world of lust. We have everything we need to live lives of holiness in a world that is so corrupt of uncontrolled desires, to which, we must be keeping with the life that God has given us, for His Promises are the assurance of Him helping us!

Peter’s list of Christian virtues that he believes Christ taught in his parables and other messages:

  • Diligence: People need to apply determination and effort in their lives, especially in faith, for it will produce goodness.
  • Virtue: This refers to moral excellency, for virtue should be involved in how we minister. The development of good character.
  • Knowledge: We should have knowledge of God’s Will, especially in what we do for Him.
  • Temperance: We should have a form of self-control, and should be able to keep ourselves cool, especially as we minister to another. It’s important to keep ourselves sober, so that we don’t minister negativity from our heart.
  • Patience: There are many difficulties and exercises His People must endure, and should strive them in patience, so that they are not easily discouraged.
  • Godliness: Our internal exercise of the Fruit of the Spirit, expressed in everything that we do.
  • Kindness: Being kind to one another is a great way to be Christlike, just as love can be (see charity). Kindness involves doing nice things for others with delight and for their benefit.
  • Charity: We should be showing love to one another by acknowledging them as beloved by Christ, and making them feel connected in unity through kindness.

The marks of a false teacher:

  • They have no power to hold the flesh in check concerning the untruths they proclaim. (They proclaim things that are contrary to what Jesus taught, or minister in hypocrisy)
  • They secretly and often live in lust, uncleanness, and make excuses for their ungodly behavior. Or they attach God’s name with their evil. People like this seem to always find a way to involve God as a “helper” for influence by using His name to gain. It’s similar to people who commit violence in the name of God, as if God ordained such violence, even though He never does.
  • They despise authority and will not be subject to anyone (Law, government, mate, employer, etc.). These kind of people tend to be very prideful, and seems like they never learn from anyone else but themselves (and wallow in their folly – dung).
  • They are presumptuous. They are self-willed and determined to have their own way (even if against God), so they can gain a higher rank (and pride).

Strange sayings from Peter:

Natural brute beasts: Imitating wild animals that are void of any reason and following their own depraved lustful instincts. Not possessing intelligence and give way to their vicious appetites. Thus, Peter warns and reminds us “total” destruction awaits them.

Receive the reward of unrighteousness: They that count it pleasure to riot in the day time – spots they are and blemishes, who sport themselves with their own deceivings. (For the Lord is coming for a Church that doesn’t have a spot nor blemish.) These teachers of error mingle among the saints with their “spots” and “blemishes” marring and disturbing the fellowship of the Children of God.

Loved the wages of unrighteousness: Balaam, the son of Bosor, loved the wages of unrighteousness, but was rebuked for his iniquity. He forsook the right way and went astray, as many have in the world. They found pleasure to destroy God’s People morally and spiritually, because they desired personal gain (power and wealth, most likely).

Willingly Ignorant: Many people will become willingly ignorant for their own protection. They purposely would act dumb or do things contrary to what’s right, so a certain desire or reaping could be attained. Some people will hear truth, but not adhere to it, because they don’t want to follow it, they want to be rebellious, or they don’t think it’s true (because they don’t trust the speaker or the one who inspired the speaker).

The example of Balaam: He explained the example of Balaam, because like Balaam, false teachers would use and destroy His People, both morally and spiritually, because of their own desires for personal gain. Balaam was a false teacher, because he (falsely) announced God’s approval of the Israelites, and comforted himself with the idea that if Balak killed him, at least he could have “felt” like he did something right. Balaam tried not to see misfortune on Israel, but Balak told him to curse Israel – but since God was on Israel’s side, He defended the Israelites from Egypt. Balak then told Balaam to stop blessing them, and continued to try to get him to curse Israel – but he just kept speaking blessings over Israel as if nothing was wrong. He prophesied a victorious and prosperous time for Israel in the future, to which, never came, however. He failed to give them proper warnings, because he didn’t want to be cursed, and didn’t want the people to hate him.

Connecting thoughts

A good and sharp warning to false teachers is what usual writers would do, and Peter was not much different. He had good warnings to stay away from false teachers and anything that looks like them. Similar to Paul and other disciples, he made sure to mention the false teachers were lurking about, and he wanted to make sure other Christians knew about it, so they weren’t easily deceived.

At the time he was writing, it seemed that Peter was in prison in Rome, most likely in term of potential execution – and Peter was well aware of deceivers, for he had heard of their activities. He wanted to reassure Christians of certain truths and hoped they would remember His goodness. People taught gnostic heresies, and Christians needed to be far away from such so that they didn’t backslide.

Peter illustrated their tendencies and hopes that Christians would know the signs so they could avoid mimicking such liars, and hoped that they would only emulate Christ. If people would “think” they were false teachers, they could encounter even worse unwanted persecution or even judgment. Overall, his ministry was very helpful to me concerning God’s power at work in believers, his warning against false teachers, and his increased significance he placed on Christ’s return, which all provided good fuel for everything us “good teachers” do! We must keep to the faith in every way, and we can do this by growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord!