Jesus warned of false teachers who would twist His words and the words of the apostles (Matthew 23:11; Mark 13:22, 23). Peter proclaimed that those days had come. Some were downplaying the significance of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but Paul saw this as the essence of the gospel. (1 Corinthians 15.). Others claimed Jesus could not be God. Still others claimed He could not have been a man. Some were even promoting wrong and immoral acts.
Peter gave his readers several Old Testament illustrations to demonstrate that "the Lord knows how to rescue the godly men from trials and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment, while continuing their punishment" (2:9). While we do not know for sure, the angels referred to in 2:4 could be their fall with Satan when he rebelled against God (Ezekiel 28:15) or the sin of angels in Genesis 6:1-4. Also look at Jude 6-7 for a cross-reference regarding these angels. All the other illustrations come from the book of Genesis. See if you can find them!
Peter went on to explain some of the characteristics of false teachers. They were rebellious, animalistic, deceitful, chronic sinners, and greedy (see the "error of Balaam" in Jude 11; Numbers 22-24; 25:1-3; 31:16; and Revelation 2:14). He concluded the chapter by talking about the destruction these false teachers can bring to a church.
Peter's warning was clear: Be on the alert for false teachers!
Are you on the alert for false teachers today?
Are you able to discern true teaching from false teaching?
Here are some questions from p. 54-55 of Precept Upon Precept - 2 Peter:
- When you evaluate the popular teachings put forth in the name of Jesus Christ today, what or where is the emphasis?
- Do you see any common denominators between today's Christian messages and the messages of the false prophets in 2 Peter 2?
- What type of message do you like the best? What do you think constitutes a good message? Why?
- What do you think should happen as a result of a message?
- What do you think are the missing key elements in Christian messages today?
- When someone expounds a message from the Word of God, are you familiar enough with the Word of God to know whether or not that person is handling the Scriptures properly? He may even be speaking truth, but does the passage he is handling really mean what he is saying it means? Can you tell? Why or why not?
- Do you go to Christian conferences or seminars? If so, why?
- What is your plan to fulfill 2 Timothy 2:15?
- What do you think you need to strengthen your Christian walk? An experience? A vision, a dream, or a prophecy? A clear understanding of His Word? Obedience to the truths of God?
Lord, help us to be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves in this world. Help us to discern between true and false teachers. We ask this in Jesus' name, and for Your glory. Amen.