Ready for a bird’s-eye view of Second Peter? Listen to this lesson to learn the emphasis in this epistle and what Peter wanted his readers to know. Find out that it is only through knowledge of God’s revealed Word that we can understand divine thinking. See how false teachers can lead those astray who are not grounded in God’s truth and hear examples of false teachers in times past. Find out about the sufficiency of God and how those who live by their lusts self destruct.
2 Peter Overview
2 Peter Lesson #002
May 16, 2019
“Father, it’s a great privilege we have to come before Your throne of grace because the veil has been torn and our Lord Jesus Christ has opened the way. He is our intercessor. God the Holy Spirit is the One who enables our prayers for we often do not know how to pray as we ought and He makes our prayers clear.
“Father, we thank You that we have this time to go over Your Word and get an understanding of a text of Scripture, the significance of it for our lives, and how it should transform our thinking so that we should think as You would have us to think.
“Father, we pray that you would challenge us with the message of 2 Peter, which is summarized at the end that we are to pursue our spiritual growth in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. We pray this in His name. Amen.”
You might want to open your Bibles to 2 Peter 1 and we’re going to start working our way through 2 Peter tonight. We’re going to do an overview and we’ll get into it a little more in depth. We have 61 verses total to survey. We have approximately 60 minutes so that’s one minute per verse.
We’re going to cover it to give you that bird’s eye view of what Peter has written here and its significance for us today. One of the things that kept hitting me as I walked through this and have read through this many times in the last couple of weeks is that Peter is doing something here that is similar to a diagram I put together a few years ago.
The emphasis on this epistle is on knowledge. The English word knowledge or one form of it or another is used sixteen times which reflects the various usage of three different Greek words, GNOSIS, EPIGNOSIS, and OIDA and you have nouns and verbs based on the cognates there.
It’s an emphasis on the importance of knowing what God has revealed to us, knowing the truth of God’s Word, knowing what God has provided for us and our spiritual life and acting upon that. Thus, it is putting the emphasis on what is known in philosophy as epistemology, which is the study of knowledge.
That study of knowledge here is related to two things that go either before or after epistemology. If you remember several years ago I developed this iceberg illustration. At the time I was applying this to political discourse, but it applies to just about any specific issue of application in life.
On the surface is where we live, how we live, what we say, how we say it, who we talk to, the things that we are engaged in, our value systems, and our norms and standards. That’s at the top. This is the area where we talk, where we argue, where we engage one another, and where we live our lives.
That’s just the tip of the iceberg. As the saying goes, 90% of the iceberg is underneath the water. There are things that lie behind every value that we have. There are presuppositions and assumptions that lie behind our understanding our reality. All of this is what’s beneath the surface.
The real ultimate issues are the issues that are below the water line. These are the real issues that are usually ignored in any kind of argument or discussion, especially as we’re beginning to embark on one of the craziest political seasons in the history of this country. We are going to recognize that very few, if anyone, ever talks about anything that is below the surface.
That’s where the real issues lie. That’s what really makes the difference and that’s what we ought to be discussing. As I said in this label here on the side, logical sequence, goes from the bottom up. What we have at the top is the conclusion to the foundation that starts at the bottom.
Down at the bottom we have the foundation for all thought. It doesn’t matter what you’re talking about, it doesn’t matter whether you’re talking about or evaluating a movie, whether you are critically thinking about music, its development or what kind of music to listen to, and all kinds of things, every issue in life.
There’s no issue in any area of our life that hasn’t been touched by sin. Everything in the creation of God was corrupted by sin. There’s nothing neutral. Not one, single area of human thought is neutral. Every area has been impacted by sin. Whether you’re talking about opera, whether you’re talking about music, whether you’re talking about law or politics, whether you’re talking about education, whether you’re talking about how to rear your children, whatever it is, every single thing we talk about is part of God’s creation; therefore, God knew about it and had something to say about it to begin with. Every part of it has been corrupted by sin.
We start at the very lowest level which is foundational to everything in philosophy that is called metaphysics or that which is beyond the physical. This is ultimate reality. We don’t see it. We don’t feel it. We don’t taste it, but in this Church Age there’s no direct experience that we have with God.
We may experience the results of things, but we don’t have direct experience. That really falls under the category of mysticism, which comes under the second category which is knowledge. Metaphysics has to do with ultimate reality, that is the question of whether the ultimate reality is God or is it matter, is it energy or is it just nothing?
The next level asks how do we know that? Whatever your answer to the first question is, how do we know that? What’s your evidence for that? How can you come to conclusions on that? What is the basis? How do you know truth? Is there truth? What is truth?
How do you know right from wrong? You claim, you make various claims and value judgments. People today talk about social justice, whatever that means. From those who have studied it a lot it’s used to mean all kinds of different things depending on the person and their agenda. There’s no set, agreed upon, concrete definition by any two people.
When you talk about justice that implies some sort of value. You can say this is right or this is wrong. Where did you get those values? How do we arrive at them? This is going to be an issue in 2 Peter because Peter talks about false teachers. As soon as you identify false teachers and false teaching, what are you saying?
You’re making a value judgment, that something is wrong. It’s not true. It’s false. This comes into play. How do you know truth from falsehood? How do you know right from wrong? Where is that coming from? This is why Peter will spend time and will weave knowledge of God throughout all of his discussions in the epistle.
You have that second category related to knowledge and, of course, as I’ve pointed out, knowledge is a key word throughout this brief three-chapter, sixty-one verse Epistle. How do you know things and what should you know? What is right? What is truth?
It’s on the basis of knowledge that we come to ethics. What’s right? What’s wrong? What’s good? What’s bad? What’s acceptable? What’s unacceptable? What is false? The whole Epistle is wrapped around the warning that comes in 2 Peter 2:1 that false teachers will arrive.
That is a definite statement of what will occur. So if there are false teachers, there has to be a way of discerning what they are. You have to know truth from error, right from wrong, and then we make decisions in terms of our actions and out involvement and living our lives. That’s what’s above the waterline level.
It may be political or national decisions. They may be individual decisions. Decisions about how you spend your time. Decisions about priorities. Decisions about how you parent your children. How you interact with your grandchildren. How you interact with people at the workplace. What do you do when there’s disagreement among people?
All of those things flow from the bottom up. Normally what happens is when we start getting pressure at the top, then that pressure begins to expose different things as you move from the top down to the bottom. That’s usually what happens in discussions.
You expose this only by asking questions. Only by asking what someone means by something. Where do you get that? Of course, a lot of people don’t want to answer those kinds of questions. I think they sense that they’re going to get caught in a trap. They don’t want to think about those things because they’ve never thought about them.
In our culture today they’re just emoting. They have no real basis in fact. This is what you’ll find out if they often argue and dispute what a fact is. Think about this as we go through what Peter says. I’ll refer back to this a few times as we do this overview of 2 Peter.
As we look at 2 Peter itself, we have basic organization. We have three basic divisions. Each is related to each chapter. It starts with a salutation at the beginning that seems pretty basic, but it has a couple of things in there that are important for us to learn and evaluate. That’s the first two verses.
Then we get into the first section which is the remainder of the chapter, from 2 Peter 1:3 down to 2 Peter 1:21. We learn that it is God’s will for us to grow to spiritual maturity. Maybe one way you can write that down in your notes is to say it’s God’s will for me to grow to spiritual maturity. Make that personal.
It’s God’s will for each one of us, for me, to grow to spiritual maturity and this is what Peter sets up at the front of this Epistle because it’s necessary to grow to spiritual maturity so we don’t become deceived by false teaching, and so we aren’t led astray by those who have various thought claims, various truth claims, various philosophies whether it’s the philosophies we see today.
We’ve moved beyond what I’ve taught in the past, which is understanding the movements that derive from post-modernism, which is just a denial of any kind of absolutes, which itself is self-contradictory because that is an absolute. At the very core of post-modernism is a self-contradiction that there are no absolutes. Well, is that an absolute?
Yes, that’s an absolute, so if there are no absolutes how do you know anything? Do you even know that’s true? Well, we have that system but that’s morphed today into something more destructive and that is this whole idea of identity politics. I’m just beginning to really get into a lot of this right now.
It’s important to understand a lot of what’s going on today because this is in direct contradiction to everything in the Judeo-Christian heritage, everything in the Bible. Foundational to the human being’s relationship to God is the principle of individual responsibility and accountability.
The individual is important. This is what set up western civilization to be distinct from all other civilizations, the emphasis on the individual saying that every individual is created in the image and likeness of God. Every individual is held personally accountable for their decisions and not for someone else’s decisions.
In identity politics it really doesn’t matter what you’ve done or haven’t done, what you believe or don’t believe. What matters is what group you’re in. If you’re in various minorities depending on how many minorities you’re a member of you have more credibility. If you’re an older white male you have no credibility whatsoever because anything you believe is just instantly negated because you’re the oppressor. You’re the older white male so you’re responsible for every evil in the world.
This, in itself, is historically contradictory because it seems to me it was white males who fought to free slaves, it was white males such as William Wilberforce who fought in Parliament of England to stop the slave trade, and it seems that many good things we have came from white, Christian males. That changed western civilization.
Western civilization began as a result of biblical Christianity based on the Judeo-Christian worldview. Otherwise all of Europe was no different from the tribal breakdown in Africa, the worship of many different gods, all of the inter-tribal wars and everything going on in Africa. They were going on in Western Europe and in western Asia. What stopped that and what broke everything down and what transformed Europe was Christianity.
That’s why Christianity is the whipping boy today. We live in a world that has rejected biblical Christianity. I’m not talking about Roman Catholic Christianity. I’m not talking about denominational Christianity. I am talking about biblical Christianity and the Judeo-Christian heritage that derives from and is grounded on the Torah.
We have to learn this. What’s happening in our world today, what’s happening to your children and your grandchildren, what’s happened to those going to university is that there’s an anti-Christian agenda that is dominating much of the curricula. In order to be prepared for that, young people have to know something. They have to know the truth. That’s the real meaning and the context of Jesus’ statement which is often misquoted and abused, which is “you shall know the truth and the truth will set you free”.
You shall know THE truth. One truth. That’s Jesus’ statement. You know that and you’re free. You’re free from what? You’re free from the bondage of sin. You’re free from the sin penalty. You’re free from the negative, corrupting effects of thinking that comes from sin, which comes from arrogance, that comes from the rejection of God.
That’s why Peter starts off talking about the importance of spiritual growth which is based on what he states at the conclusion of 1 Peter 3, which is that we’re to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ”. Notice he doesn’t say we’re to grow by singing contemporary Christian music. He doesn’t say we’re to grow by experience. He doesn’t say we’re to grow by speaking in tongues. He doesn’t say we’re to grow by having all kinds of existential experiences with whatever you’re involved in or mystical experiences, none of that is there. It’s to know something. He just cuts through the philosophical garbage that keeps questioning whether we can really know anything.
Descartes demonstrated that after a while that if you can’t know anything, you can’t even know if you exist, but you can know you exist, so therefore you know one thing. You know that you exist. Well, then we can build on that. He’s building on that from the framework of the creature and it didn’t have a rock-solid foundation that can only come from God.
We have to grow. What we see in the overall outline is that it starts with the importance of growing to spiritual maturity, which is grounded on knowing the truth. The second chapter is a warning to us and to them about false teachers. Peter begins by saying that false teachers will come. It was yet future.
When Jude writes his very short one-chapter Epistle he’s talking to his recipients because the false teachers have come. There’s this warning about false teachers. In 2 Peter there’s a proper order. You have to get your spiritual maturity squared away. That begins with your relationship with God, which relates to the foundational area of metaphysics or ultimate reality. Built on that is knowledge that you can know truth and you can know it absolutely.
Because you know truth and you know it absolutely you can make judgments of evaluation. You can know truth and you distinguish it from error. God warns about false teachers and then gets to some specifics in the 2 Peter 3:1–14, where God as the Author of Scripture refutes specific false teaching that is in light of the future return of Christ.
If Jesus is not coming back that makes a huge difference. Then there’s no accountability. That wipes out the first divine institution of human responsibility because it implies no accountability. That brings in a whole area then. Then in the conclusion God mandates that every Christian grown spiritually in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
That’s important. We talked about grace in terms of spiritual skills, grace orientation, and doctrinal orientation as foundational. That comes in at the very beginning of the spiritual life. You have to understand grace or you can’t be saved. You have to understand the knowledge of God’s Word or you don’t understand who God is and what He’s provided for you and you cannot grow spiritually.
Then we come to the first chapter which lays the foundation for spiritual growth in terms of spiritual knowledge. It begins with a salutation in the first two verses where Peter identifies himself as the author and identifies himself as a DOULOS, which is translated a bond servant, but it has more the idea of a slave, and then he calls himself an apostle of Jesus Christ.
He will give a little bit of autobiography here in this first chapter where he talks about his approaching death. He talks about the fact he saw the transformed Jesus Christ on the Mount of Transfiguration and he will talk about the prophetic word that has been revealed, which is the foundation and basis for knowing anything.
We see that Peter writes this Epistle just as he did the first Epistle, to establish believers in their faith. There’s a sense in this Epistle through the use of several words so you can have stability. Isn’t that what we all want in life, stability?
Sometimes we can’t have situational stability because of external forces, but at least as far as our own personal control of our lives we want to have some measure of stability. If we’re not grounded in our relationship with the Lord then we don’t and won’t make the kind of decisions that can result in personal stability. He wants us to be established in the faith.
He writes this in order to stir them up. In 2 Peter 3:1 he’ll state this a second time. He says that he’s writing this second Epistle to “stir up your minds”. This is the idea of reminding them of what he has been teaching before. “That you may be mindful.” It’s the same root for reminder and mindful. In other words, he’s just repeating what they’ve already been taught. He needs to bring it back to their minds.
You can’t imagine how much you’ve forgotten that you’ve learned. Then all of a sudden you’ll hear me touch on a subject or touch on a verse and you’ll say, “Oh, yeah. That’s right.” We always have to be reminded.
Then in 2 Peter 3:3 he says, “Knowing this first …” Because you know something. Again that emphasis on knowledge. He starts off in this first chapter by emphasizing the things that we have to know.
Then in the first section of 2 Peter 1:3–11 we can state it this way: God wants us to grow and be spiritually productive so as to be able to discern false teaching. We need to be prepared for when these false claims come along that we are not taken captive by them and we do not falter or lose our balance spiritually because we are thrown off course.
I’m surprised and always amazed at people I run into who once were steadfast and solid and they’ve been led astray. What’s the basic problem here? It’s our own sinfulness. We give into our sin nature. We pamper our sin nature. We do what the sin nature tells us what to do by saying, “I just can’t avoid it.”
We don’t understand the resources that God has given us. This is why Peter starts off with this in these very first verses, 3–4, where he says, “As His divine power …” He focuses on what? God’s power. At the very beginning God’s power is given to us. That takes us to that foundational level of metaphysics and our knowledge of ultimate reality.
Ultimate reality is a God who omnipotent. A God who created everything. A God whose knowledge is such that He can create everything and all of the intricacies and interactions in creation. Ultimate reality is not unstable but stable because it’s under His control.
This God who is omnipotent has given to us “all things that pertain to life and godliness”. He’s given us everything. Not some things. Not most things. He gave us everything at the instant of salvation. It is all ours. This leads us to the doctrine or teaching of Scripture on the sufficiency of God.
The sufficiency of God’s grace. The sufficiency of the Scripture. God gives us everything necessary to handle whatever the onslaughts of life are. We do not have to wait until those insights of various people down through history before we could come up with something to make life work.
There were believers in God from the time of the beginning who faced all the sin problems we all deal with. Problems that people have with hopelessness, with despair, and with depression. Problems with addiction and bad habits. That’s what addiction is. You’ve just got a bad habit because you’ve let your sin nature go wild.
No matter how bad your problems are or overwhelming for some people, they’re not new. They’re not unique. It didn’t just show up in the world last year. It didn’t just show up last century. It showed up about six thousand years ago.
You can go through the Scripture and see people struggle with these things, but the solution is the Word of God. It’s not going to remove the struggle. It’s going to give us the ability to correctly understand what the struggle is and live with it in the way that we can surmount the problems.
God gives us those resources. His divine power has given us everything pertaining to life and godliness. The first word has to do with our physical life, the second with our spiritual life, and it’s through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue.
There’s the emphasis of knowledge. He calls us and we get help through knowledge. We have to learn about it and we get this from studying His Word. It’s been given to us through these exceedingly great and precious promises, so we have to understand the promises of God. We have to properly interpret them and as a result we may be partakers of the divine nature.
We’re going to have to understand what that means and go into that. It enables us to fulfill our original destiny as image bearers, those created in the image and likeness of God to be able to fulfill the destiny God created mankind for.
That’s the way we look at the end of that verse. We escape the corruption that is in the world through lust. Lust is the prime motivator from the sin nature, our wrong desires. As a result of feeding the lust patterns, we generate more and more corruption in our own souls.
This is self-destructive. We’ll come back to that idea when we get toward the end of the second chapter, this emphasis on self-destruction by following the deception of the false teachers.
Then as we move into verse 5, we see, “For this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith.” Then we have various values that are set forth. Or various virtues or character qualities that are set forth there. These are not human qualities. These are character qualities that are developed through our walk by means of God the Holy Spirit.
The fact that it says to add to our faith virtue and to virtue knowledge and to knowledge self-control to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love indicates a progression. What kind of progression?
As you go through these virtues you realize that these are the virtues that were beginning to come on the scene surrounding them at this time. This is middle AD 60s and you’ve already seen the main ideas that will crystalize and come together in the 2nd century in a system of truth known as Gnosticism.
You don’t have the full-blown system of Gnosticism on the scene yet, but you do have those ideas present. Just like in recent years, people didn’t really talk about post-modernism until you got towards the end of the 20th century, but the term had been around for almost a hundred years. People were functional post-modernists even before World War II. They just didn’t know what the label was for it.
It went back that far and you could even see some of its roots in the philosophies of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche in the 19th century, but it doesn’t come together as post-modernism until you really get into the latter part of the 20th century.
It’s the same way here. At that time Gnosticism doesn’t come together as a system until you get into the 2nd century. The reason I point that out is that you’ll read in various commentaries that Peter is writing against Gnosticism. There are liberals who assume that’s what he was writing against so they want to date 2 Peter so it couldn’t be Peter. They say it was written in the 2nd century and that’s all because they’ve misidentified what the problem was.
The early development of these ideas, the relativism and the secret knowledge and lots of things, even go back before the Flood. Satan is not coming up with anything new. He’s just sort of repackaging it from generation to generation.
There is a list of key character qualities that develop in a maturing believer as a result of walking by means of the Spirit. When you go back to that iceberg illustration, this is that upper level. This is that area of aesthetics where we have values, where we have character, where we have various character traits that emulate the character of Jesus Christ.
Then he comes down to 2 Peter 1:10 where he says, “Therefore brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure.” That’s been used by some people to emphasize what we know as Lordship salvation. It says you can’t really be sure of your salvation unless you’re living the right kind of life. That is not what Peter is saying at all.
What he is talking about as he moves into the next verse and the next section is he’s looking forward to how today we should live in light of the future. The future is the coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ. As Church Age believers we will have a role in ruling and reigning with Jesus Christ when He establishes His Kingdom. That is determined by how we live our life today under the pressure of adversity and persecution.
Notice 2 Peter 1:11, “For so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.” So, we’re going to note a couple of things when we get there. First of all, the concept of a kingdom, the Kingdom of Jesus, the Christ.
That’s what the word CHRISTOS is—the Greek word for anointed, which is the same as Mishiach or Messiah in Hebrew. It is His Kingdom because as the greater Son of David He is going to rule and reign over His Kingdom. Notice this “will be supplied to you abundantly into …” What is the grammatical tense of “will be supplied”?
It’s a future tense. This kind of struck me today and I thought that the tense of that verb certainly seems to indicate that the entrance into the Kingdom is future. That means we’re not living in a Kingdom today. We’re not living in the Messianic Kingdom in any way, shape, or form.
Now as I’ve taught in the past, this idea of a perfect utopic kingdom on earth is an idea that was perverted by Karl Marx, perverted by 19th century European liberals, that the idea that through politics we could bring in a perfect kingdom in this world.
That isn’t going to happen because every human being is a corrupt sinner. Our Founding Fathers understood that. That’s why we have the balance of power, the checks and balances in the Constitution is because they understood that power corrupted and that absolute power corrupts absolutely.
There has to be a check on that power. You don’t want to give too much power to the central government. The more power the central government has the more the individual loses their own freedom and their own liberty.
Then in the 19th century you really see things shift. You see these ideas of Marxism, socialism, and others coming into play in Europe and in the United States. We hear a lot about them today. All of this is grounded in the idea that man isn’t really a corrupted sinner, that man is basically good and all we have to do is find the right environment and then we can bring in utopia. That environment is going to be provided by government.
That’s where this comes from. It’s a perversion of the biblical idea that you can only have a perfect kingdom when you have a perfect king. You only get a perfect king when it is the Lord Jesus Christ who returns to the earth to establish that Kingdom that was postponed because Israel rejected it in His First Coming.
That is all part of the background for understanding those two verses and then Peter will build on that and says, “For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you …” In 2 Peter 1:12, 13, and 14 Peter is talking about this reminder and they have to grow spiritually. That’s the only basis for establishing stability. “For this reason I will not be negligent to remind you of these things though you know and are established in the present truth.”
Peter encourages them. They know this. They are steadfast by means of the faith as he said in 1 Peter 5. Then he goes on the say, “I think it is right as long as I am in this tent—his mortal body—to stir you up by reminding you because you know that shortly I will be gone.”
This is in effect Peter’s last will and testament. It is his final letter and then he will be executed under Nero in a very, very short time. He is reminding them of these things so that they can go forward and be stable.
As he does this, he then reminds them of what transpired in the First Coming of the Lord. They didn’t follow fables. They had the Word of God. All of what he says is based on the certainty of Scripture that he talks about in 2 Peter 1:20–21.
He’s not grounding his argument on the fact he had an experience with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. He’s grounding it on the prophecy, the unbreakable, immutable revelation of God in the Old Testament that told exactly who the coming King would be, gave all the signs and indications, and that He would have to come and He would be the one to establish this perfect Kingdom.
He says, “We didn’t follow cunningly devised fables.” He talked about the Mount of Transfiguration when he and James and John went up on the Mount of Transfiguration and there the glory of Jesus Christ in His humanity was shown forth. They fell down to worship Him. They heard the voice of God the Father telling them that this was His beloved Son in whom He was well pleased. This is covered in Matthew 17:1–8.
As I always say, if you’ve been there with an MP3 recorder, you could have recorded the very voice of God. It was external. It was objective. It wasn’t a group hallucination.
Then we get this great passage, “Knowing this first …” This is foundational truth. “That no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation.” That’s an awkward translation. What it means is that it did not derive from these individuals. They didn’t originate it. It wasn’t their interpretation of reality. It is God’s interpretation of reality.
That’s what prophecy was. It was a challenge to the kings and the people of Israel to obey God’s revelation and His law. Then he says, “For prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” It is a revelation from above breathed out by God and into men according to 2 Timothy 3:16–17.
The foundation comes in that first section of 2 Peter. It emphasizes a future Kingdom and that rewards are at stake and roles and responsibilities in that Kingdom are at stake and that is why you don’t want to succumb to the false teachers.
That’s the warning in 2 Peter 2. God warns us about these false teachers. We see that in the first part of the first verse that there is the certainty that these false teachers will come. Then the destructiveness of their deceptive lies, their false teaching, is described down through 2 Peter 2:3.
Then from 2 Peter 2:4–9 there are illustrations from the Old Testament that God will certainly judge them just as He has always judged this kind of heresy and false teaching throughout history. Then this ends in the last big section of verses, 2 Peter 2:10–22, that it is based on their sin nature, the core of their sin nature.
All of that develops in chapter 2. Now let’s look at the first half of the first verse, “But there were also false prophets among the people …” Who are the people? Who is he talking about there? He’s talking about Israel in the Old Testament. They were called the people of God over and over again.
Many times when God is speaking throughout the Old Testament He calls them “My people”. So, Peter is picking up this very clear term and he’s talking about the fact false prophets showed up among the people. As a contrast here he says, “Even as their will be—not yet, but will be, future tense—false teachers.”
Notice the difference. False prophets in the Old Testament. Why? Because the Word of God came through prophets, so it’s going to be distorted by false prophets.
The New Testament Canon was almost closed by this time. All of the revelation of the New Testament had almost all been written, outside of John’s epistles, Jude, maybe Hebrews, and Revelation. Almost everything else had already been written by the time Peter died.
He is saying that what will happen in the future is going to be false teachers. They will come in and twist and distort the revelation of God in the New Covenant and they will even be denying the Lord who bought them and that’s going to bring them into the whole issue of whether Christ died for everyone or whether Christ died for only the elect. That’s a key verse in understanding the whole biblical teaching on unlimited atonement—that Christ paid for the penalty for everyone.
When you get into the second half of the verse, he starts emphasizing the destructiveness of these deceptive heresies. He calls them destructive heresies because they will lead to the destruction of the false teachers as well as those who follow them.
He warns that if you get mired into false thinking, which comes from false teaching, the result will be self-destruction. Not only is there self-destruction but there will be judgment from God just as you see in various historical incidences.
It all comes from the lusts of the sin natures of these false teachers. Many will follow their destructive ways [verse 2], because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. That’s exactly what we see today. “You claim to know the truth. There is no truth,” they say.
We are ridiculed and blasphemed. There is increasing hostility towards Christians. They claim we teach such outdated concepts like God created man and woman, male and female, and there aren’t 72 genders. There aren’t all of these varieties of sexes. There’s only men and women.
God created marriage and marriage is for one woman and one man. The hostility that is coming from the LGBTQ movement against Christianity just because we believe this way is unbelievable. They cannot stand that. They must get the approval of everyone, even if it includes torturing them, killing them, forcing them, or intimidating them. People with these biblical beliefs cannot live, they believe. They can’t stand it if anyone on the planet believes that what they’re doing is immoral or wrong, so they are attacking the truth in many, many ways.
In England they have adopted a diversity curriculum that every kid in England has to be brought up on this totally self-destructive diversity concept. There are some that are homeschooling. One of the main homeschooling groups are Orthodox Jews who believe that homosexuality is wrong and it’s self-destructive, so the government is coming down on them. They want to end home schooling because if you have parents training their children at home, they may teach them values that are different from the values they want everyone in England to have, and they’re these destructive diversity values.
There’s this war against the truth. Remember the old saying that a neurotic person is someone who is building castles in the air? A psychotic person is someone who moves in. See, a neurotic person creates their own reality, but then a psychotic person lives as if that is actually reality. The person who runs the castles is the psychotherapist.
That’s why so many people are living in sin. They have no stability, no happiness, and they’re spending incredible amounts of money on psychotherapy and on drugs in order to somehow make life work. All of this comes from the sin nature, which is what Peter says in 2 Peter 2:3, “By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words.”
Covetousness isn’t just money. It is a desire to control everything. “By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words,” but if you don’t know the Word of God you won’t know you’re being deceived. You’ll just get sucked right in to all the fallacious ideas of reality.
They want to force you to live in their psychotic castle in the sky. The end of verse 3 says, “… and their destruction doesn’t slumber.” This is going to come. It’s a certainty.
Then Peter runs through this list of false teachers who have been judged in the past. He talks about the angels who sinned. That’s a reference to Genesis 6 where this group of angels took on human form so that they could cohabit with human beings. They took women as wives. It was a sexual sin. All of these are sexual sins.
So God did not spare the world. There’s a worldwide Flood and a worldwide judgment. This is one the reasons that evolution must be taught because if evolution is true, you didn’t have a worldwide judgment or a worldwide Flood. If you don’t have a worldwide Flood, then you don’t have a worldwide judgment from God, everything is okay because there really isn’t a God.
Evolution is theology, not science. It is all designed to come up with a rational explanation for why the biblical norms and biblical values are just another form of mythology.
Then Peter talks about the sin of sexual perversion, homosexuality, and the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah and God’s judgment there. That’s in 2 Peter 2:6. Yet there was still grace. God is not harsh. His judgments may seem harsh, but He knows that we’re sinners. He knows people are corrupt. He knows there are all these problems and He has solved it. He has provided a solution and so there’s always the offer just to turn to Him and accept His solution and there is deliverance.
That was Lot. Lot is called righteous Lot here even, though he’s living in the midst of pagan Sodom. God rescues Lot and his daughters from Sodom and they have been oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked. Sinful mankind in rebellion against God cannot stand for those who are following God to survive and be happy, so they oppress them. They torment them. They persecute them.
Then we’re given a great promise. “The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust for punishment for the Day of Judgment.” There is accountability. That famous sermon by R.G. Lee is called Payday Someday. You cannot escape it. There is righteousness in the universe and God will eventually come down on you.
Then the objects of God’s judgments are described in 2 Peter 2:10, especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. Every person who is spiritually dead falls into that category, but those who trust in Christ are given the righteousness of Christ.
That doesn’t make them righteous. It doesn’t mean their behavior is righteous. It means that in God’s eyes their sin has been taken care of by Jesus Christ so they can have eternal life by accepting that payment on their behalf. This is what he’s talking about.
Those who don’t accept that payment on their behalf will destroy themselves through their unrestrained lust. This is what we’ve seen in our culture in the last fifty years. We shifted from a legalistic-type culture, because legalism is just as wrong as antinomianism or lasciviousness. Both are produced by the sin nature. Both come out of our pride and arrogance.
That’s what Peter is talking about here. Judgment will come and self-destruction. These false teachers then going from 2 Peter 2:12 down to the end of the chapter are described by various comparisons like natural brute beasts who are made to be caught and destroyed. They speak evil of things they don’t understand.
They are speaking out of their ignorance. So often people who are talking negatively about the Bible and Christians don’t know what they’re talking about. Usually they’re quoting Christians who don’t know what they’re talking about, because too many Christians are so legalistic and they don’t understand grace that they have misrepresented the biblical view on all of these kinds of sexual sins.
All sin separates us from God. No sin is greater or lesser than any other sin. No sin is too great for the grace of God. Every sin is covered by the Cross and that is God’s free offer of salvation for everyone. So, as Peter develops this, he talks about just what happens in the self-destructive cultural consequences.
They are carousing in their own desires. There’s just this total antinomianism, total unrestrained licentiousness, having eyes full of adultery that can’t cease from sin, enticing unstable souls that have a heart trained in covetousness and they’re like a curse totally. That just doesn’t seem like a pleasant group of people to spend time around. They’re all driven by their own arrogance and their own self-absorption.
Peter says they’ve forsaken the right way and gone astray. Again, he uses another example of Balaam in the Old Testament who had perverted truth and was willing to pervert truth for the sake of the payment of the king of Moab. Balaam is rebuked for his iniquity.
We need to look at all of those different examples and then from 2 Peter 2:18–22 he continues to talk about the dangers of sin and its self-destruction. Even those who seem to have improved themselves, he says that they are like a dog returning to its own vomit. They’ll go back to their sin and their self-destruction will get even worse.
That’s the second chapter, talking about the certainty of judgment, self-destruction, as well as the intensified divine judgment on people who give into their sin nature and who live in this corrupt manner.
Then we come to 2 Peter 3 where we get into a couple of specifics related to what is going on here. Peter begins by reminding them in 2 Peter 3:1–2 of what has been taught. Again, he’s reminding them of knowledge, reminding them of what has been revealed and what has been taught.
2 Peter 3:3, “Knowing this first that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts.” These scoffers are the same people as the false teachers. They are walking according to their own lusts. That’s what motivates them, their lust for approval, their lust for recognition, their lust to get as many likes in social media as they possibly can.
It’s just approbation lust. It’s part of the sin nature and because they don’t want to be judged, they have rejected the teaching of Scripture that Jesus is going to come back and judge the quick and the dead, that’s the living and the dead, and He is going to then establish His Kingdom.
What they say is “Where is the promise of His coming? He said He was coming. It’s been two thousand years? Where is He?” Then they say, “For since the beginning all things continue as they were …” You have the same processes. That is known as a core doctrine in evolution known as uniformitarianism, that everything continues the way it always has been, from millennia to millennia, and therefore you can extrapolate back. That’s a complete rejection of catastrophism.
The whole design is to give a rationale saying that since Jesus never came back in the past means He won’t come in the future. Well, yes, Jesus did come in the past. He came with the First Coming. God has intervened in history with all these different judgments.
They’re in complete denial. It is a form of psychosis. They’re living in that castle they’ve created in the heavens. This is why some conservatism say that liberalism is a mental disease. It is psychosis. It is recreating reality according to your own antagonism to the eternal principles of the Word of God.
This is what Peter warns. He says, “For this they willfully forget—they’ve made a decision, they’re volitionally responsible. They forget. They ignore. They deny.—the heavens of old, the earth standing out of the water and in the water.” That goes back to Genesis 1. It is at the core of all these false doctrines and all of this false teaching, the doctrine of evolution. Some form of it.
You go back to Aristotle. You go back to Plato. They had their forms of evolution. Go back to the ancient religions. Go back to the Babylonian creation myths and the Egyptian creation myths. They all have these same ideas that are just given a scientific camouflage in the modern era.
Go back as far back as we know in historical times and you’ll see that people rejected a Creator God who was distinct from His Creation. They had a rationale to justify their own idolatry and that’s the core of what Peter is saying here.
When you get down to 2 Peter 3:9 he says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise.” You may think it’s been a long time, but God doesn’t count time the way you do. As far as God is concerned a day to you is like a thousand years to Him and a thousand years to you is like a day to Him. He’s timeless, so you can’t bring your concepts to Him.
Then he warns, “The Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night.” With all the warnings, all the books written, and everything else, those who have rejected God will be taken by surprise just like a thief in the night. Then there will be destruction.
There are a number of issues that come up in those verses that we’ll have to take a look at in working things out in terms of the end times. Then he comes to a conclusion stated in 2 Peter 3:14. He says, “Therefore beloved, looking forward to these things be diligent to be found by Him in peace without spot and blameless.”
That’s the conclusion to 2 Peter 3, that we are to be steadfast in these things and to continue to be diligent, just what he used at the beginning of the chapter. We are to be diligent in our spiritual life.
Then we have the last part of the conclusion in 2 Peter 3:15–18, that we are to look at the longsuffering of God to allow as many to be saved. Remember, God desires that all be saved, but it’s up to them whether or not they will accept Him.
Then we get to 2 Peter 3:17–18 where he says, “Therefore, beloved, since you know that beforehand, beware, lest you also fall from your own steadfastness.”
In spite of our salvation we can fall from stability. We can fall into sin and error and it leads us into complete self-absorption, and we end up living like the wicked and being unstable. In contrast, we are to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and forever.”
The key is knowledge. Not the superficial knowledge that was being developed in the first century that led to the secret Gnosticism and in the second century some sort of mystical idea. It is the knowledge of the Word of God that leads us to an absolute truth that is available to anyone who comes to the Lord desiring to know the truth. God will reveal it to him, but he does it on His terms and it’s through His Word.
That is how we grow. We have to understand grace, that God extends favor to all without exception because He desires all mankind to be saved. It’s up to them whether they will accept that free gift of salvation or not. Next time we’ll come back and begin our study with the opening verses in 2 Peter.
“Father, thank You for this opportunity to look at these things and be reminded that there is truth. There is absolute truth. It can be known. You have revealed it to us. We can study it and we can learn it. It is in contrast to false ways of thinking that lead to self-destruction, the destruction of us as individuals who follow the lusts of our sin nature to the destruction of cultures.
“A mass amount of people rejects truth. Father, we pray that we may not fall into the trap of the values and the ideas of our culture, but that we might continue steadfast in Thy Word, above all recognizing that none of us are any better than anyone else. We have all fallen short of Your glory, Your grace, and Your righteousness.
“We have all sinned and fall short of Your glory. You have given us a solution to that as you have with every other problem, which starts with Jesus Christ. It starts at the Cross, just as You have provided a salvation that is not dependent on who we are and what we do. You have provided a spiritual life that comes as a result of Your grace and the knowledge that is acquired through a study of Your Word.
“We pray You would help each of us to understand these things. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”