Setting

Peter has reminded the believers the necessity of being diligent in the knowledge of the Lord to keep from stumbling. This passage reveals the danger that faces the church and warns us against this serious threat. Peter predicts the rise of false teachers, depicts their teachings and conduct in detail, and speaks of the certainty of their condemnation. His purpose is so that believers of all times may be careful to guard against the destructive power of false teachers.

Key Verse

(2:1)

Did You Know...?

1. “Did not spare the ancient world” (2:5): See Genesis 6 and 7.
2. “Turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes” (6): See Genesis 19.
3. Balaam the son of Beor (2:15) was willing to curse God’s people because he was greedy for the money Balak offered him (Num 22-24). He also taught Balak to lure the Israelites into idolatry and sexual immorality (Num ch. 25; 31:16; Rev 2:14).

Outline

  • Rise of False Prophets and Teachers
    (2:1-3)
  • Law of Recompense
    (2:4-10a)
  • Punishment of rebellious angels
    (2:4)
  • Destruction of Noah’s generation
    (2:5)
  • Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
    (2:6-8)
  • Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
    (2:9-10a)
  • Wickedness of the False Teachers
    (2:10b-16)
  • Empty Promises and Apostasy of the False Teachers
    (2:17-22)

Segment Analysis

  • 2:1-3

    1.

    Where are false prophets and teachers found?

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    They are among God’s people (1).

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  • 2a.

    What does this paragraph say about the message of false teachers?

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    They preach destructive heresies using deceptive words , and they go as far as to deny the Lord Jesus (1, 3).

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  • 2b.

    What damages can false teachers bring to the community of believers?

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    False teachers can mislead believers and ruin their faith in the Lord, bringing them to destruction (1; cf Mt 23:15). Consequently, when others see the corrupt ways of these false teachers and believers who have been misled, they will blaspheme the way of truth (2Pet 2:2; cf. Rom 1:23-24).

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  • 2c.

    Why are these false teachers able to win many followers (2)?

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    The false teachers “secretly bring in destructive heresies,” and they use deceptive words. They pretend to be preachers of the truth, but they subtly convey misleading messages (cf. 2Cor 11:12-15). Believers who are not careful will easily fall into their trap.

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  • 2d.

    What must we do to guard ourselves?

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    In the first chapter, Peter has already prepared his readers for the threat of heresies. He urged us to be diligent in equipping ourselves with spiritual qualities so that we will not stumble (1:5-8,10). Only when we become mature in our spiritual growth can we guard against the deception of false teachings (Eph 4:13-14). Furthermore, we must devote ourselves to watchful prayers (1Pet 4:7; 5:8) and ask the Lord to give us wisdom and discernment.

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  • 3.

    What is the motive of the false teachers?

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    They are driven by covetousness and aims to exploit the believers (3).

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  • 2:4-10a

    4.

    What is the main message of this paragraph?

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    Just as God delivered the righteous but brought judgment upon the wicked in history, He is now also reserving the false teachers and their followers under punishment for the day of judgment.

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  • 5.

    Based on this paragraph, what characterize the ungodly?

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    They sin (4). They behave with filthy conduct and lawless deeds (7-8). They walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority (10).

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  • 6a.

    What assurance do you see in verse 9?

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    Because the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation, we should not give up in our struggle against sin or become envious of evildoers. Instead, we ought to rely on the Lord with a steadfast faith and resist sin while trusting that the Lord will deliver us from evil.

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  • 6b.

    Have you ever experienced the Lord’s deliverance from temptations? Write down or share one such experience.

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  • 2:10b-16

    7.

    Record the sins of the unrighteous described in this paragraph.

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    They are presumptuous and self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries (10). They speak evil of things they do not understand (12). They carouse in the daytime in their own deceptions while they feast with the believers (13; “feast” refers to the love feast among believers; cf. Jude 12). While they join the fellowship of believers, they have eyes that are full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls (14). They practice covetousness (14). They follow the way of Balaam, who loved the wages of unrighteousness (15).

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  • 8.

    What is Peter’s point in mentioning the angels in verse 11?

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    The reference to angels shows how presumptuous these false teachers are. If even angels, who are not greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against the “dignitaries” (probably referring to the servants of God, cf 2Cor 3:5-11, or certain celestial beings), how arrogant are these men who speak evil of those in authority!

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  • 9.

    In what sense are the false teachers “spots and blemishes” (13)?

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    Their wickedness make them blemishes in the holy fellowship of believers (1Cor 5:6-8). Such people will not be able to stand in the assembly of the righteous (Ps 1:5).

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  • 2:17-22

    10.

    Explain the meaning of the analogies in verse 17.

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    Based on verse 18, we understand that the analogy of the wells without water and cloud carried by tempest illustrate the futility of the false teachers, who can only make empty claims.

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  • 11a.

    What kind of liberty do the false teachers promise?

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    The liberty that they promote is the liberty to sin against God’s law.

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  • 11b.

    Why is such liberty a false liberty?

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    Those who think that they are free from God’s law are in fact the slaves of sin (19; Jn 8:34).

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  • 12.

    What do verses 20-22 teach about apostasy and its consequence?

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    Apostasy means becoming entangled and overcome by the pollutions of the world after having escaped them (20). It means turning from the holy commandment delivered to us (21). It would have been better for such to not have known the Lord in the first place because their judgment will be more serious than that for unbelievers (20-21).

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  • Final Thoughts

    13.

    With this passage in mind, what are the basic distinctions between true and false teachers? How can we make the right judgment based on their teachings and conduct?

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    Teachings and conduct of false teachers
    Deny the Lord, covetous, deceptive, indulge in fleshly desires, presumptuous, slanderous, full of adulterous intent, make empty promises, turn from the holy commandments.

    Teachings and conduct of teachers of righteousness
    Acknowledge and honor the Lord, not greedy for unjust gain, truthful, self-controlled, humble, gentle in speech, pure, preach faithfully from God’s word and acting accordingly.

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