False Prophets and Teachers
1Sometimes false prophets spoke to the people of Israel. False teachers will also sneak in and speak harmful lies to you. But these teachers don't really belong to the Master who paid a great price for them, and they will quickly destroy themselves. 2Many people will follow their evil ways and cause others to tell lies about the true way. 3They will be greedy and cheat you with smooth talk. But long ago God decided to punish them, and God doesn't sleep.
4God did not have pity on the angels that sinned. He had them tied up and thrown into the dark pits of hell until the time of judgment. 5 And during Noah's time, God did not have pity on the ungodly people of the world. He destroyed them with a flood, though he did save eight people, including Noah, who preached the truth.
6 God punished the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and this is a warning to anyone else who wants to sin.
7-8 Lot lived right and was greatly troubled by the terrible way those wicked people were living. He was a good man, and day after day he suffered because of the evil things he saw and heard. So the Lord rescued him. 9This shows that the Lord knows how to rescue godly people from their sufferings and to punish evil people while they wait for the day of judgment.
10The Lord is especially hard on people who disobey him and don't think of anything except their own filthy desires. They are reckless and proud and are not afraid of cursing the glorious beings in heaven.
Seldom in the 21st century do we encounter those who speak of real evil and sinister forces in the way that Peter does in this second chapter of his second letter. Like the short letter of Jude, which is thought to have been written about the same phenomena a few years later, there is a sharpness to Peter’s critique of false prophets/teachers that finds few parallels in the New Testament.
Peter is very concerned and wants his readers to be alert to such individuals and to their methods. They can be recognized by the fact that they lie about the true ways of God. They appear to know about Jesus but they have failed to recognize how his death and resurrection actually redeemed them from condemnation and eternal death. The Revised Standard Version of the Bible says they “deny the Lord” meaning that they act and speak as if what Jesus did is insignificant and without effect.
There is no way, in Peter’s mind, that these false teachers will be spared because God did not spare angels who sinned (v 4) nor the contemporaries of Noah who ignored his warnings (v 6) nor the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. All are under God’s judgment.
But for true believers there is hope, even for those who find themselves surrounded by the kind of people who promote ideas that are completely contrary to the message of the gospel and do so with both selfishness and greed. God is powerful and fully able to rescue those who are his and whom he loves. He did it with Noah and with Lot and he will do it again whenever there are “godly people” who are in dire straits.
Lord God, although my situation may not be as dire as the one Noah or Lot found themselves in, I am grateful that you are the one who is fully able to rescue me and deliver me from evil. Amen.