Over the past two weeks, we have covered vs. 1-10a, where Peter systematically calls out condemnation on false teachers, using the fallen angels, the flood, and Sodom and Gomorrah as examples of "what is going to happen to the unrighteous" (meaning they are not justified or saved at all), while he uses Noah and Lot as an example of how God will "rescue the godly from trials" (meaning confirmed believers who are growing in holiness and bearing fruit).
At this point in his letter, Peter more clearly defines the deception and greed of false teachers with copious adjectives. He has already spoken of them as "bold and willful," blasphemers, irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed. Then, he defines them as "counting it pleasure to revel in the day time" (another way to say that is, "they're stealing the biggest car in the county under the cover of brightest afternoon"), blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions during communion (which means they are secretive, sly, known regulars amongst all of the disciples, and speak some truths while carefully introducing error). They are adulterous, never ceasing from sin, trained in greed.
He goes on.
17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18 For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that, he is enslaved. 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”
17. These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them, the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.
- Waterless Springs
- COMMENTS: What are waterless springs? Jude, who seems to steal a lot of great material from Peter, uses the phrase "waterless clouds" to mean an unfulfilled promise. For a farmer, clouds give the hope of rain and growing crops. Waterless crops are like a flirting girl who has NO intention of following up on the flirt. And, what does Peter say regarding these teases, these flirtations? The gloom of utter darkness has been reserved for them. Why? Old Testament prophets were to be killed if their prophecies did not come true.
- [Jde 1:12-13 ESV] These are hidden reefs at your love feasts (again, speaking of communion), as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves (as opposed to feeding the sheep, likely referring to taking money from the treasury); waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.
- Faith Healers are some of the most brazen, some of the most obvious false teachers because of their astounding claims. Recently, Conti Hinn, nephew of the "famed" faith healer, Benny Hinn, released a book on his 2-year stint with his uncle. He would also be considered a "waterless spring," as his ministry has not produced one verifiable healing, whether it be from cancer, people missing limbs (yes – he claimed to be able to grow limbs from stumps). Check out the entire interview on wretched.tv.
- COMMENTS: What does Paul say about people who wander about like wind? 1. Eph 4:14 - so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
- COMMENTS: Jesus, Jude and Peter all mark a coming condemnation to outer darkness of "worthless servants," "sons of the kingdom," "wild waves of the sea," and "wandering stars" to a place reserved for the devil and his angels.
- [Jde 1:10-16 (13) ESV] wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.
- See other verses: [2Pe 2:4 ESV], [Mat 8:12 ESV], [Mat 25:30 ESV]
18. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.
- Speaking Loud Boasts of Folly
- We are aware of many who boasted in Scripture and were punished because of it. Nebuchadnezzar, Herod, Pharoah, Satan, to name a few. In this passage, false teachers are found to utter loud foolish boasts.
- Loudness is often seen as "authoritative." In this case, their loudness is accompanied by foolishness (think of the faith healers mentioned earlier). Frankly, you might get better training by watching Steve Martin's "Leap of Faith" about a false faith healer who ends up getting vindication by praying for rain during a drought, and it rains...
- It's like those sorts of individuals who Brian Regan refers to as "me-monsters." Their stories are always better than yours, their molar removals are more horrendous, and their truth truer than the Gospel itself. They win arguments by talking louder and longer until their opponents simply give up. And, that is considered a victory for them. Let me comfort you, o despondent ones. The Lord knows how to keep rescue and punish.
- That said: Q: Some say we should live and let live, that it is arrogant and even wrong to question the "sincere" beliefs of others. What does this passage say in response to such a charge?
- [Act 8:9 ESV] "But there was a man named Simon, who had previously practiced magic in the city and amazed the people of Samaria, saying that he himself was somebody great." Simon, then, heard the gospel and believed. Belief and salvation are not always correlated. In this case, Simon was like the Muslim I once heard about who was adding religions to her belief system so she could be sure to not be punished for her sins. In this case, Simon was a greedy power-seeker. READ Acts 8:28-24.
- Q: What were the apostles' response to Simon?
- [Acts 12:20-24.] Passages from Revelation tell us that certain false teachers will be able to deceive people with signs and wonders. Yet, Peter reminds us that God knows how to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment. The Herod spoken of in Acts 12 is a proper example of those speaking loud boasts of folly being judged by God with scary immediacy.
- See also Rev 13:5-6; Isaiah 14:12-15; Psa 73:8-9; 2Th 2:4; Jde 1:16 ESV
- [Rom 13:13 ESV] Let us walk properly as in the daytime, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in quarreling and jealousy.
- John MacArthur states, "Seduction, rather than the winsomeness of truth, is their ploy. They offer people a kind of religion that they can embrace and yet still hold on to their fleshly desires and sensuality."
- Q: What are ways false teachers seduce people into believing them?
- They can work for it.
- Hyper-grace, which gives way to licentiousness.
- Claiming you can produce healings, cast out demons
- Claiming to produce wealth
- See also [Jas 5:5 ESV]
19. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.
- As John MacArthur states, "False teachers promise those “trying to escape” the struggles of life, the very freedom they seek."
- Is it truly that these false teachers know they are slaves and wish to be freed? Is it that they are preaching Christ out of rivalry? Whatever the case, they are as enslaved to the corruption they are promising to free others from. Notice the false teacher doesn't say "sin" but "corruption."
- See other verses [Gal 5:1, 13; 1Pe 2:16 ESV]
- They themselves
- [Jhn 8:34 ESV] Jesus answered them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.
- See also [Rom 6:12-14,16-22 ESV] [Tit 3:3 ESV]
- What is the opposite of being overcome by the flesh? Paul tells Timothy in 2Ti 2:26 that "they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will."
20. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
- [Mat 12:43-45 ESV] "When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none. Then it says, 'I will return to my house from which I came.' And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation." [See also Luke 11:24-26].
- [Heb 10:26-27] For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.
- 2 Peter 1:4; 2:18
- Note the word "if." This has similarity to Hebrews 6 about falling away after having "tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come." As reformed believers, we believe as is stated in 1 John that those who are backsliders, never slid forward. "They went out from us because they were not of us." Peter, the writer to the Hebrews, and the whole of the NT agrees: What has been given to Jesus, no one can snatch from his hand.
- Through the knowledge
- 2 Peter 1:2
- The Latter
21. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.
- It would have been better
- [Heb 6:4-8 ESV] For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
- [Jhn 15:22 ESV] If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin.
22. What the true proverb says has happened to them: "The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire."
- The dog
- Pro 26:11 - Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.
- Q: If we are to be imitators of Jesus, what should be our response to false religion and teachers?
- Q: What do these passages say about apostasy, that is, about rejecting the truth after one has claimed to believe it?