When Peter wrote about the false teachers of his day, he used vivid language that may seem to us to be too strong. As Alistair Begg explains, we can best understand this passage in the context of Peter’s role as shepherd protecting the flock of God under his leadership, much like parents protect their children from harm. Believers today must be on guard against error, choosing God’s ways over false promises of “knowledge” that is darkness and “freedom” that is slavery.
10and especially those who indulge5 in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions,6 while they feast with you. 14They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet's madness.
17These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves7 of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20For 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. 21For 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. 22What 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 Apostle Peter sent his second letter into an environment where false teaching was on the rise and moral carelessness was beginning to take root among the people of God. To oppose these challenges, he reminded his readers of the Gospel truths they already knew – truths that provide the necessary basis for growing to Christian maturity. These same truths are vitally important to 21st century Christians: we, too, must study to deepen our knowledge of God's Word, relying on its authority and sufficiency to guide our beliefs and behavior. We, too, must guard against false teaching and error, and we too must look forward to Christ's sure return.
We invite you to join Alistair Begg in remembering anew that by God’s divine power, He has given believers everything we need for the commencement, the continuance, and the completion of the Christian life. Such truth is, as Peter described it, truly a “great and precious promise.”
|Grace and Peace||2 Peter 1:1-4|
|The Great Escape||2 Peter 1:8-11|
|An Eyewitness Account||2 Peter 1:12-21|
|False Teachers Among You, Part One||2 Peter 2:1-10|
|False Teachers Among You, Part Two||2 Peter 2:10-22|
|The Day of the Lord||2 Peter 3:1-13|
|Grow In Grace||2 Peter 3:14-18|