SPIRITUAL ERROR IS RAMPANT
2 Peter 2:1-22 May 20 2005
This study entitled "Spiritual Error Is Rampant". Not
every religious idea is based on truth – not even
every idea taught within the church. False teachers
sometimes arise from within the fellowship of the
church. We must learn to distinguish between spiritual
truth and error if we are to grow healthily as
1. Identify Spiritual Error (2 Pet. 2:1-3)
2Pet. 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the
people, just as there will be false teachers among you.
They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even
denying the sovereign Lord who bought them —bringing
swift destruction on themselves. 2:2 Many will follow
their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into
disrepute. 2:3 In their greed these teachers will exploit
you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation
has long been hanging over them, and their destruction
has not been sleeping.
False Prophets. (2Ki 18:19; Isa 9:13-17; Jer 5:31;
14:14; 23:30-32). There will be false teachers
among you . Numerous NT passages warn of false
teachers who are already present or yet to come
(Matt 24:4-5,11; Acts 20:29-30; Gal 1:6-9; Php 3:2;
Col 2:4,8,18,20-23; 2Th 2:1-3; 1Ti 1:3-7; 4:1-3;
2Tim 3:1-8; 1John 2:18-19,22-23; 2John 7-11;
Jude 3-4). Destructive heresies. Divisive opinions
or teachings that result in the moral and spiritual
destruction of those who accept them. The Sovereign
Lord who bought them. Does not necessarily mean
that the false teachers were believers. Christ’s death
paid the penalty for their sin, but it would not become
effective for their salvation unless they trusted in
Christ as Savior. (However, where it is obvious that
the heretics had at least professed knowing the Lord.)
Swift destruction. Not immediate physical calamity,
but sudden doom, whether at death or at the Lord’s
second coming ( Matt 24:50-51; 2Th 1:9).
Shameful ways. Open, extreme immorality not held in
check by any sense of shame. Way of truth. (Ps 119:30).
The Christian faith is not only correct doctrine but
also correct living.
In their greed. They will be motivated by a desire for
money and will commercialize the Christian faith to
their own selfish advantage. Long been hanging over
them. Long ago, in OT times, their condemnation was
declared (2 Pet.2: 4-9 for OT examples of the fact that
judgment is coming on the wicked). Destruction has not
been sleeping. Although delay makes it seem that they
have escaped God’s judgment, destruction is a reality
that is sure to come upon them.
2. Denounce Spiritual Error (2 Pet. 2:12-14)
2Pet. 2:12 But these men blaspheme in matters they do
not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of
instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like
beasts they too will perish. 2:13 They will be paid back
with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of
pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots
and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they
feast with you. 2:14 With eyes full of adultery, they
never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are
experts in greed —an accursed brood!
Matters they do not understand. The heresy to which
Peter refers may have been an early form of second-
century Gnosticism that claimed to possess special,
esoteric knowledge. If so, it is ironic that those who
professed special knowledge acted out of abysmal
ignorance, and the result was arrogant blasphemy.
Like brute beasts. A scathing denunciation. They are
like irrational animals, whose lives are guided by
mere instinct and who are born merely to be
slaughtered. Destruction is their final lot.
Carouse in broad daylight. (1Th 5:7). Even the pagan
world carried on their corrupt practices under cover
of darkness, but these heretics were utterly shameless.
In the pleasures while they feast with you. See Jude
12 without doubt reads “love feasts,” which may well
have been the intended reading here. These false teachers
seem to have been involved in the sacred feasts of
brotherly love that, in the early church, accompanied
the Lord’s Supper. In fact, it appears that they injected
their carousing into these holy observances and delighted
in their shameless acts.
Eyes full of adultery. Lit. “eyes full of an adulteress,”
which means that they desired every woman they saw,
viewing her as a potential sex partner. Never stop Sinning.
Their eyes serve as constant instruments of lust. Seduce
the unstable . For a parallel use of the Greek word for
“seduce” see Jas 1:14. It depicts the fisherman who
attempts to lure and catch fish with bait. Experts in
greed. The Greek text implies that they had exercised
themselves like an athlete, not in physical activity but
3. Stand Against Spiritual Error (2 Pet. 2:17-22)
2Pet. 2:17 These men are springs without water and mists
driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.
2:18 For they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing
to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice
people who are just escaping from those who live in error.
2:19 They promise them freedom, while they themselves
are slaves of depravity —for a man is a slave to whatever
has mastered him. 2:20 If they have escaped the corruption
of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and
are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at
the end than they were at the beginning. 2:21 It would have
been better for them not to have known the way of
righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their
backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.
2:22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its
vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her
wallowing in the mud.”
Springs without water. A picture of cruel deception.
The thirsty traveler comes to the spring expecting cool,
refreshing water but finds it dry. So the false teachers
promise satisfying truth but in reality have nothing to
offer. Mists driven by a storm. Gone before a drop of
moisture falls. Blackest darkness. Their destiny is hell.
Mouth empty , boastful words. Words that sound impressive
to the new convert but in reality have nothing to offer.
Entice. (2 Pet.2:14) (“seduce”). People who are just
escaping. New converts who have just broken away from
pagan friends. Thus the depraved false teachers prey on
new converts, who have not yet had a chance to develop
They promise them freedom. Probably freedom from moral
restraint (1Co 6:12-13; Gal 5:13). The very ones who
promise freedom from bondage to rules and regulations are
themselves slaves of depravity. Freedom from law resulted
in bondage to sin, and liberty was turned into license.
(2 Pet2:20-22) Some point to this passage as clear proof
that a genuinely saved person may lose his salvation. He
knows the Lord; he escapes the world’s corruption; he knows
the way of righteousness. Then he turns away from the
message and goes back to his old way of life. His knowledge
is said to have been genuine; his change of life was real; and
his return to his old way of life was not superficial. Others
insist that the knowledge of the Lord and of the way of
righteousness could not have been genuine. If the person had
been truly regenerated, he would have persevered in his faith.
It is argued that the teaching of (John 10:27-30) (especially
2 Pet 2: 28) and (Rom. 8:28-39) makes it clear that no
genuinely saved person can be lost. Thus, according to this
view, the persons described here could not have been
genuinely saved. (2 Pet.2:20) If they have escaped the
corruption of the world . A reference to false teachers who
had once apparently been believers in Christ. Their professed
knowledge of Christ had at least produced a change in life-style.
Again entangled in it and overcome . A complete return to the
old sinful pattern of life.
Better. . . Not to have known the way of righteousness.
Knowledge of the way increases one’s responsibility and
his hardness of heart if he then rejects it. In its early days,
Christianity was known as “the way” (Acts 9:2; 18:25;
19:9,23; 22:4; 24:14,22). Sacred command. The whole
Christian message that people are commanded to receive.
A dog returns. . . A sow. . . Goes back. In both cases the
nature of the animal is not changed. The sow returns to
the mud because by nature it is still a sow. The change
was merely cosmetic.
In the first century the church of Jesus Christ already
had discovered it was made up of sinful human beings. The
church at Jerusalem discoveded dishonesty and jealousy in
its midst. The church at Corinth discovered immorality,
doctrinal heresy, and divisiveness among its members.
Similarly , Peter learned of churches (likely in the Roman
provine of Asia or modern-day Turkey) with members who
openly taught doctrinal and moral heresy. Thus he wrote
2 Peter to these churches.
We do not know exactly to what school of thought these
people belonged. We can detect, however, some of their
beliefs from Peter’s second letter. They denied the second
coming of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:16;3:3-4). They apparently
also denied there will be a future judgment before God
(2 Peter 2:9-10;3:7).