2 Peter 2:1-3

2 Peter 2:1‑3  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 12
The apostle turns to the first of the evil classes among those of the circumcision who, if not now, had once professed the Lord's name; the class of corruption in word and deed, as chap. 3 deals with the philosophic and skeptical class.
“But there were false prophets also among the people, as there shall be also false teachers among you, such as shall bring in by-the-bye sects of perdition, denying even the Sovereign Master that bought them, bringing on themselves swift perdition; and many shall follow their disolutenesses;1 because of whom the way of the truth shall be blasphemed. And in covetousness with feigned (or, well-turned) words, they shall make merchandise of you: for whom judgment from of old is not idle, and their perdition slumbereth not” (vers. 1-3).
Thus we see that the downward progress in Israel was to have its counterpart in Christendom and a similar tide of moral pravity both cause and effect of hateful heterodoxy. If God of old, as we were told, raised up for the evil day prophets as marked for the truth as for holiness of life, Satan was not slow to supply prophets as shameless for their lies as for their selfish and corrupt ways. This the O.T. shows but too abundantly; and here the apostle foretells it would be no better but more guiltily where grace was more open to be abused than the law under the gospel.
Let me refer to a modern development as a sample; the party extensively spread over Great Britain and America which adopts J. S. Russell's Parousia, London, 1878. It is the antithesis of the Seventh-Day Baptist school, which destroys the gospel by its extreme judaizing, and is therefore too repulsive to attract any save those completely under law. But the Parousia delusion captivates the wider and more refined minds who cannot shut their eyes to the “better thing” that Christ has introduced, and the ministry of the Spirit with its subsisting and surpassing glory; yet all herein taken up in a way merely natural. It starts with the assumption that the Lord's second coming or presence took place at the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70 and that thenceforward the promised glory is fulfilled, so that we are now reigning with Christ! and therefore the fullest change so long looked for in both O. T. and N. T. has already taken place!!
Hence dogmatic and practical Christianity are alike and absolutely annulled in their pseudo-scheme; for the N. T. contemplates us and our communion, and our walk and our worship are in view of the blessed presence of Christ to receive us glorified to Himself for the Father's house, where He is now (not we till then). Not only the Gospels cease to apply but the Epistles, to say nothing of the Revelation; for they unquestionably exhort us to a path of suffering, both for righteousness' sake and for Christ's name, in a world wholly opposed to Him and His reign. When He really appears, God will use His solemn judgments, so that the world will learn righteousness, especially as Satan cannot then seduce. In short, the enemy has beguiled these visionaries into an entire abolition of all the state and duties of believers on which the Bible insists till “that day,” when all things become new, however true now to our faith and hope, as they will then be in fact, and to every eye.
Nor need one do more than glance at another egregious folly under the strange claim of “Christian Science.” It is worthy of a female teacher who cannot be ignorant that the apostle by the Holy Spirit calls her to learn in quietness with all subjection, saying by the Apostle Paul “I do not permit a woman to teach nor to exercise authority over a man, but to be in quietness.” He forbids “exercise,” and not usurpation only. Here too the notions are too preposterous to need anything but a rebuke for their presumption and impiety. If these set up to be new inventions, it would be a very long task to survey all the old schemes of falsehood which have been accumulating since our Epistle, and are designated as “heresies” or more correctly “sects of perdition.” For therein lies the difference of “schism” from “sect”: the former a party within, the latter, more aggravated as being a different party without, as 1 Cor. 11:18, 1918For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it. 19For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you. (1 Corinthians 11:18‑19) makes plain, though habitually forgotten in systematic divinity.
Even before the Kingdom of the heavens came or the church was founded on the Lord dead, risen, and ascended, He warned (in Matt. 13) of the darnel which the enemy would sow among the wheat. Clearly it is neither pagans nor Jews but nominal Christians, who could not be cut off, and should pursue their destructive evil till the Son of man come in personal judgment. So in Luke 12 He described the faithless though professing servant who would put off His return and accordingly be marked by worldliness and oppressive self-exaltation, and must have his portion with the unbelievers, punished all the more severely because he made not ready nor did His will though he knew it.
Again in Acts 20 the apostle Paul in his charge to the overseers or elders of the church in Ephesus told them that he knew of there coming in among them after his departure grievous wolves not sparing the flock, and from among their own selves men rising up speaking perverted things to draw the disciples after them. Earlier to the Thessalonian saints he pointed out the mystery of lawlessness at work, not among Jews or Gentiles desperately wicked as they were, but among Christian professors of the latter day which was to develop into the apostasy and the man of sin, the lawless one, to be consumed not by preaching however sound but by the judicial breath of the Lord Jesus. Later to the Philippians he mourned over “many” as enemies of Christ's cross whose end is perdition. So in 1 Tim. 4 he says that the Spirit speaks expressly of some in latter times falling away from the faith, heeding deceiving spirits in hypocrisy of legend-mongers without conscience yet ascetics; and in 2 Tim. 3 he speaks of the opposite school of self-will or self-indulgence and proud lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, with a form of piety but denying its power; from whom the word is, “Turn away,” with a twofold announcement, that all those wishing to live piously shall be persecuted, and that wicked men and impostors shall wax worse and worse. See also 2 Tim. 4:1-41I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (2 Timothy 4:1‑4).
The Epistle of James (5:7-9) calls to patience and establishment of heart, “because the presence of the Lord is drawn nigh.” “Behold, the judge standeth before the doors.” So Peter in his First Epistle declares it “the time for judgment to begin from the house of God.” And here we begin with his full testimony as to false teachers who corrupt the springs of all truth and righteousness. Jude goes over the same ground, only denouncing its apostate character which was a deeper view 1 John fully characterizes as the “last hour” the appalling prevalence of antichrists gone out the more freely to work their nefarious way. And we may regard the Revelation as the great Christian prophecy of the approaching judgments, first providential, then personal when Christendom becomes but a sad object for divine punishment. All point to the awful issue: not reunion save in an evil way so far as it may be; but the Lord's appearing in relentless dealing when the cup of iniquity is full.
There is no difficulty in the apostle's predicating of these false teachers that the Sovereign Master bought them. It is “purchase,” which is universal, not “redemption” which is limited to those who have in Christ the forgiveness of our offenses through His blood. In the parable too we read that He bought not only the treasure but the field. Purchase acquired all as His slaves or chattels; but redemption sets free from Satan's power as well as divine judgment. Hence they are never said to be “redeemed,” but they were bought and then disowned the purchase in rebellion against His rights.
What can bring a deeper stigma on “the way of the truth” than the dissolutenesses, whatever their form, of accredited false teachers? It is in Jeremiah's writings where we find most fully the prophets prophesying falsely and the priests conniving thereby at it so as to rule. “And my people love to have it so; and what will ye do in the end thereof?” says the true prophet in his anguish. But throughout Jewish history we see the same principle from the beginning to the crisis in our Lord's day, which ended in the Romans taking away both their place and their nation. Still more terrible is God's vengeance on the abominations of the N. T. Babylon and the false teachers who for their covetousness and well-turned words have all along drawn the mass into departure from the truth, despite of His Spirit, and rebellion against God and His Anointed. Jubilant at man's progress in his own way without Christ, how little they believe that God's eye is on their selfish merchandise, and that their perdition does not slumber according to the judgment pronounced on such evil even before the deluge! How utterly unfounded to expect in Christendom, any more than in Israel, a real reunion and recovery! For the mass it is worse and worse, whatever superficial appearances say to the contrary.