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. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping (2 Peter 2:1-3 NIV).

A “heresy” is “a divergent opinion, here, one that is damnably destructive” (Strong’s #139 haireseis). In this passage the word “destructive” (Strong’s # 684) means “fatally destructive heresies that exclude one from salvation resulting in external exclusion from Christ’s kingdom, loss and ruin.”

The opening verses of 2 Peter addressed a participatory kind of faith based on our ever increasing knowledge of the Savior, a knowledge acquired by thorough participation, changing our behavior and our religious life, laying claim to our personal involvement as we pursue ever more knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord. His divine power gives us everything we need for a godly life through this knowledge of the Lord who called us by his own glory and goodness.

Addressing heresies is the flip side of 2 Peter 1:10-11: “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”

Heretics and false teachers are people who attempt to destroy the faith of believers and of those who have newly deconstructed and are now attempting to reconstruct.

Peter now writes strong words of judgment for those who attempt to ruin believers, sending those whose faith is not fully committed off to an eternity away from Christ’s presence.

Peter begins the second part of this letter by directly addressing the false prophets and heretical teachers who have been harming the church. “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1-2 NIV).

Who are these people?

Peter writes in 2 Peter 2:1-3: “But there were also. . .

  • false prophets among the people,
  • just as there will be false teachers among you.”

A false prophet is: “One who falsely assumes the work of a prophet by pretending to foretell things to come OR teaching false doctrines in the name of God.” (Strong’s #5578, pseudoprophetai)

A false teacher is: “A teacher who pretends to be a Christian teacher but who actually teaches false doctrine” (Strong’s #5572, pseudodidaskaloi).

We can assume that these are also living out their false viewpoints.

Imagine how having these people in your church might impact it. Someone in authority is teaching doctrine that isn’t true and/or is acting in sinful ways that damage members of the congregation. Imagine the harm that would cause in the church. Peter spells it out:

What will these false teachers do after they have wiggled their way into a church, conning the leaders, misleading the congregation, and being false in every way?

  • They will secretly introduce destructive heresies (2 Peter 2:1a),
  • “…even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them (2 Peter 2:1b)
  • “–bringing swift destruction on themselves (2 Peter 2:1c).

What are heresies: “divergent opinions, here damnably destructive” (Strong’s #139, haireseis)

What are these destructive heresies: “fatally destructive heresies that exclude ones from salvation, resulting in eternal exclusion from Christ’s kingdom, loss and total ruin.” (Strong’s #684, apoleias).

False teachers lead unsuspecting people down the road to an eternity away from God by casting doubts on the reliance of the Scriptures and/or by not believing faith in Christ is the way to salvation. For even one person to have their faith destroyed in this way is tragic.

False teachers lead unsuspecting people down the road to an eternity away from God by casting doubts on the reliance of the Scriptures or by not believing that faith in Christ is the way to salvation. Click To Tweet

Imagine all of eternity to never be able to come into the presence of Christ because of your denial of Him in this life. Once on the other side, no one repents. Believe in Christ Jesus today, now.

Imagine for all of eternity to never be able to come into the presence of Christ because of your denial of Him in this life. Once on the other side, no one repents. Believe in Christ Jesus today, now. Click To Tweet

But, this is not a small problem, for next we are told that:

  • Many will follow their depraved conduct

Many indicates “great quantity, many in number” (Strong’s #4183, polloi). And these many will, “follow, conforming to depraved conduct.” (Strong’s #1811 exakolouthesousin).

Once more we come to sexual mores of the culture being brought into the church. Christian churches in the first century were surrounded by Greek and Roman pagans. Their depraved conduct includes “lust, license, debauchery, sexual excess, absence of restraint, insatiable desire for pleasure” (Strong’s #766, aselgeiasis). Now imagine that “many” in the church are embracing this conduct.

What if a leader in a former church who wrongly harmed young women in that church has now been sent off to serve in another church without warning to the new church. This happens.

What will the outcome be? These false prophets and false teachers will . . .

  • bring the way of truth into disrepute (2 Peter 2:2).

Imagine the grief of the couple who have raised up their daughter in the church, teaching her to love the Lord, and now they discover that the false teacher who discipled the youth group has molested and harmed many young women in their previous church. Nobody told their church leaders, and so their guard was down. Now this couple’s daughter no longer wants to attend church, and yet her innocence has been stolen from her.

The false prophets and false teachers have taken the truth of the gospel, which is the divine message of the Scriptures from the true God, and have then twisted it, presenting a path of action that is heathen or is based on Jewish myth.

As a result, they have blasphemed the Gospel, the way of truth, bringing it into disrepute, hurting the reputation of the church, smiting with words, reports, and evil speaking of what has been done.

  • In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories (2 Peter 2:3a).

No only have they harmed the innocence of the youth, but they have also introduced their depraved conduct to many, exploiting you with fabricated stories, false words that are put together with logical, intelligent, and well-conceived outcomes, while being totally false in every way. Their goal is to traffic in deception, as often as possible deceiving you for their own gain (Strong’s #1710, emporeusontai).

  • Their condemnation has long been hanging over them… (2 Peter 2:3b)
  • and their destruction has not been sleeping” (2 Peter 2:3c)

God’s judgment will fall upon these who have harmed you and your church, but the damage cannot often be undone, for it has usually fallen upon the young and the new believers, who are not yet established on a solid foundation.

Therefore, since the leaders of the church couldn’t keep the members secure and see that all were taught by wise leaders and wise teachers, the justice that the Lord metes out upon these false leaders IF they never repent is that they face God’s condemnation and judgment. (2 Peter 2:2b)

Their destruction is not sleeping (2 Peter 2:3c). It’s not something that will merely go away, simply because they left to go to a new church to try to corrupt it. No, their destruction comes from the Lord on that final day, IF they have never repented. Their “destruction” means: “the state after death where exclusion from salvation is a realized fact. This person instead of becoming what he/she might have been, is lost and ruined, eternally excluded from God’s kingdom” (Strong’s #684, krima).

Several important truths:

  1. The church is not immune to false teachers.
  2. Advocating sexual immorality is heretical, for it is turning others toward sin.
  3. Divine judgment is coming on those who deny Jesus in this way.
  4. Any of these can be saved from judgment IF they repent and trust Christ Jesus, who bought them with His own blood.

In these three short verses, Peter has made quite clear that God is watching His church, and He is prepared to bring justice at the end of this life, IF one who has harmed others does not repent. The Lord will carry this out, as He did in the past:

2 Peter 1:4 says, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, [Strong’s #5020, tartarosus, consignment to Sheol, hell. Angels are held in this neither region until judgment day. Peter adopts the cultural word so readers understand] putting them in chains of darkness [Strong’s #2217, zophou, the darkness of Gehenna or Tartarus, served to restrain fallen creatures. The darkness exercises some type of dominion; the angels remain imprisoned under its control] to be held for judgment [Strong’s #5083, to keep an eye on, to guard, to keep in store or reserve here for judgment];

2 Peter 1:5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, [Strong’s #765, “ungodly” — people with no fear or reverence of God, opposite of righteous, one who actively practices the opposite of what God demands], but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;

2 Peter 1:6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

2 Peter 1:7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct [Strong’s # 766, “depraved conduct” aselgeia: lascivious, license, perversion, debauchery, sexual excess, no restraint, insatiable desire for pleasure] of the lawless;

2 Peter 1:8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)

2 Peter 1:9 IF THIS IS SO, then the Lord knows how to continually rescue the godly [Strong’s #1492, oiden, to know intuitively or instinctively, to see, apprehend how to continually drag out of difficulties, drawing or snatching from danger these…drawing them to Himself] [Strong’s “godly” #2152 eusebias, godly believing ones who oppose unrighteousness, having a holy life of Christian commitment] and dragging them out of difficulties] from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment (2 Peter 2:4-9 NIV).

When the church fails to protect the innocent and the just, the Lord sees to their protection. He brings judgment upon those who harm, who never repent, but who continue to harm for all their days.

10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; 11 yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord. 12 But these people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish” (2 Peter 2:10-12 NIV).

The Lord is just. Judgment will come upon those who do not repent. For those who do repent immediate forgiveness, grace, peace, and the gift of the Holy Spirit are given to every person who turns to Christ, repentant and believing upon Him as the only way to salvation. (2 Peter 1:1-4)

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a. In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit; also in verse 18.