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According to Peter
© Tim Warner - 04/2004
The second Epistle of Peter is similar
to Hebrews in that it repeatedly warns believers against apostasy. In chapter
one, Peter used very specific language to describe believers. Then, in
chapter two, he warned believers against the false teachers who would attempt
to seduce them away from the Gospel. He used the same language regarding
those who fall away from the Faith as he used in chapter one regarding
true believers. It is therefore obvious that Peter taught his Christian
readers could abandon the faith and be lost.
|2 Pet 1:2-4
2 Grace and peace be multiplied
to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus
3 as His divine power has given
to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through
the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue,
4 by which have been given to us
exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be
partakers of the divine nature, having escaped
the corruption that is in the world through lust.
|2 Pet 2:18-22
18 For when they speak great swelling
words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through
lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped
from those who live in error.
19 While they promise them liberty,
they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome,
by him also he is brought into bondage.
20 For if, after
they have escaped the pollutions of the world through
the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they
are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them
than the beginning.
21 For it would have been better
for them not to have known the way of righteousness,
than having known it, to turn
from the holy commandment delivered to them.
22 But it has happened to them according
to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having
washed, to her wallowing in the mire."
Peter equated the term "knowledge"
of Jesus Christ with salvation. The Greek word is "epignosis," meaning
full or intimate knowledge. Notice that the ALL THINGS necessary to live
a godly life come THROUGH (dia - the channel of an act) the "knowledge"
of Christ. Those with this "knowledge" had "escaped" the corruption of
the world. There is no question that this terminology was used by Peter
in reference to salvation. Yet, in the end of chapter 3, those deceived
by the false teachers had also previously "escaped" the polution of the
world through the "knowledge" of Christ. Precisely the same terminology
is used of those who follow the false teachers and fall away!
Peter wrote of the apostates, "the
latter end is worse than the beginning." It would have been better
for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than after having
known, to turn away again. Being worse off than never knowing God can only
refer to one who has no hope of repentance, just as Hebrews 6 & 10
What could have possibly happened
to these people between the beginning of chapter one and the end of chapter
2? Peter tells us plainly.
2 Pet 2:1-22
1 But there were also false prophets
among the people, even as there will be false
teachers among you, who will secretly
bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord
who bought them,
and bring on themselves swift destruction.
2 And many
will follow their destructive ways,
because of whom the way of truth will
3 By covetousness they
will exploit you with deceptive words;
for a long time their judgment has
not been idle, and their destruction
does not slumber.
4 For if God did not spare the
angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains
of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;
5 and did not spare the ancient
world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness,
bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly;
6 and turning the cities of Sodom
and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an
example to those who afterward would live ungodly;
7 and delivered righteous Lot,
who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked
8 (for that righteous man, dwelling
among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and
hearing their lawless deeds)--
9 then the Lord knows how to
deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment
for the day of judgment,
10 and especially those
who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise
authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed.
are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries,
11 whereas angels, who are greater
in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before
12 But these,
like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of
the things they do not understand,
and will utterly perish in their own corruption,
13 and will receive the wages
of unrighteousness, as those who count
it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They
are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they
feast with you,
14 having eyes full of adultery
and that cannot cease from sin, beguiling unstable souls. They
have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed
have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam
the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
16 but he was rebuked for his
iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man's voice restrained the madness
of the prophet.
are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom
is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
18 For when they
speak great swelling words of emptiness, they
allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the
ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.
19 While they
promise them liberty, they
themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a
person is overcome, by him
also he is brought into bondage.
20 For if, after they
have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord
and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again
entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them
than the beginning.
21 For it would have been better
for them not to have known the way
of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment
delivered to them.
22 But it has happened to them
according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a
sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."
Based on all the bold statements,
It cannot be denied that the false teachers will end up in hell. Peter
made an incredible statement here, saying that the Lord "bought" the false
teachers. The Greek word is agorazo, the same word translated "redeemed"
elsewhere. Below are some other passages containing the same Greek word.
1 Cor 6:20
20 For you were bought
at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which
1 Cor 7:23
23 You were bought
at a price; do not become slaves of men.
9 And they sang a new song, saying:
"You are worthy to take the scroll, and to open its seals; for You were
slain, and have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every
tribe and tongue and people and nation,
3 They sang as it were a new
song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders;
and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand
who were redeemed from the earth.
4 These are the ones who were
not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow
the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among
men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.
Consequently, we could translate
2 Pet. 2:1 as, "even denying the Lord who redeemed them, and bring on
themselves swift destruction."
The remainder of the chapter describes
the false teachers and their impending doom, based on God's past record
of dealing with such people. The chapter ends with a stern warning for
those tempted to follow the smooth talking preachers of a perverted Gospel.
Their "Gospel" permits unholy living according to the lust of the flesh,
while promising "liberty." It leads straight to hell.
Peter had in view here the pseudo-Christian
gnostic cults that were beginning to spring up. John dealt with them as
well in his first Epistle. Paul did too in 1 Cor. 15 and in Colossians.
Gnostics blended Christianity with Greek philosophy. Like Plato, they taught
that matter was corrupt, and that salvation entailed escaping the material
creation and reaching the Pleroma (Fullness). Christ came to show us the
way to the Pleroma, not to die in our place. Because of their low regard
for the material creation, they also had a low regard for the human body.
They taught that the things done by the flesh are of no real consequence
to the inner man, who consists of "soul." The body was viewed as merely
the temporary dwelling place of the soul. Therefore, fornication was no
big deal, since it concerned the material body, not the soul. These groups
were called "Gnostics" (the Greek word for "knowledge"), because they taught
that salvation ultimately was achieved through learning the secret "mysteries"
of Christ. Some Christians were leaving the true Apostolic churches and
following these preachers of perversion and heresy.
In this book, Peter intentionally
chose the Greek word, "epignosis" — the Greek word for full or intimate
knowledge — in order to contrast real Christianity with Gnosticism (gnosis
meaning merely "understanding" or "knowledge"). Believers already had escaped
the corruption of the world and flesh through "epignosis" (intimate knowledge
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