Does It Matter What we Teach?
2 Peter 2
Many in our world today are suggesting that it doesn't matter what we teach. That one teaching is as good another, as long as one is sincere. But that cannot be right--contradictory information cannot be accepted as truth. It cannot be that 2+2 = 4 and 5 at the same time. I know that the theorem, the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, is true in plane geometry and false in solid geometry, but this is not a contradiction.
The point of Peter's focus in chapter 1 is that there is an authentic word from God--a word focused in Jesus, verified by eyewitnesses, a majestic and honoring word, which is according to promise, is the dawning of a new day, and is not of human origin, although humans were involved, but is the very word of God, as of old, by the Holy Spirit. This word is authentic and valid, this word must be heard. It is against this background that Peter warns of false teachers, or false prophets.
The meaning of the OT word nabi, and NT word prophet is generally to carry forward or carry along. This is similar to the thought found in 2 Pet. 1:19-21. One of my professors was fond of saying that OT prophets were forth-tellers, for-tellers, and fore-tellers.
Throughout the NT we are admonished to distinguish false prophets, Mt 7:15; 1 Jn 4:1ff. Peter is concerned about identifying false prophets, and about their influence upon God's people.
We cannot overemphasize the importance of correct teaching (sound or healthy doctrine), and of building lives solidly on the foundation of truth. There is an objective truth that is true whether it is recognized or not. Jn. 8:32; 17:17; 2 Tim. 1:13; 1 Tim. 4:16; Tit. 2:1. Certainly we want to teach right, believe right, live right.
How do we know what is right? The Bible is right, but requires diligent study to identify departures, 1 Tim. 4:11-16; 2 Pet. 1:19-21. This emphasis on knowledge is apparent in Scripture.
We must be perpetually on guard. Our study in 2 Peter 2 is an extension of chapter 1, for there are no chapter divisions in the original text.
How can I distinguish the false from the true? (1) By knowing the Bible, the things being taught; (2) by knowing the teacher, the distinguishing characteristics of false teachers.
DESCRIPTIONA. Description of their activity, v. 1
Description of these false teachers is revealing.
B. Description of their methods
- 1. Damnable--privately bringing heresies and division
- 2. Denial of the Lord, perhaps in the same vein as those today who deny Jesus Christ as the Son of God
- 3. Destruction of such is swift and sure
- 1. Subtle. Clever, not openly hostile. Introducing heresies, divisions, choices, options, opinions. In this they follow Satan, as in Gen. 3:1.
- 2. Seditious, denying the sovereign Lord. They sow seeds of rebellion.
- 3. Sensual, v. 2, licentiousness. Not all false teachers are sensual in the obvious sense, but many are. Underlying mindset is physical not spiritual; thus the truth is blasphemed, v. 10a, 14a.
- 4. Slick. Exploit because of greed, v. 3, 14b. In vv. 15-16 Peter cites an OT example of such, from Num. 22-31.
- 5. Self determining, self-governing. These despise authority, v. 10b. May have been similar to those described in Rom. 6:1-2.
- 6. Self-willed, v. 10b. To please self, they don't care about others.
- 7. Slanderous, vs. 10b. Daring, brazen, for these are bold to blaspheme where even angels fear to tread, in a sense similar to Jude 9.
- 8. Simple, in sense of ignorance, v. 12. When pressed, they cannot explain and teach these things.
- 9. Superficial, vv. 17-18. Valueless.
- 10. Sly, dishonest, v. 18b. Implied in concept of false teachers, secret, v. 1, exploit, v. 3.
- 11. Seductive, v. 14.
- 12. Straying, v. 15.
Notice these truths. It does matter what we teach.
DESTRUCTIONI. What we teach matters because God will destroy false teachers and false teachings, 1-5
- Judgment is certain, we can see the certainty of their judgment, 2:1-10, 13.
- Divisive, denying, destruction
- The result of their activity is destruction, vv. 2-3
DISTRESSII. What we teach matters because false teachings bring distress to truly righteous people, 5-8
- A. When truth is blasphemed, compare Gen. 1-11
- B. When others follow their example, which is why we are to oppose them
- C. When covetousness is encouraged
- D. When people are taken advantage of
- E. Because judgment is sure
BE DISTINCTIII. What we teach matters because God distinguishes the true from the false, 9.
In vv. 4-9, we can see the punishment or judgment of their activity, vv. 4-9
A. God judges....angels...the ungodly of the old world...Sodom and Gomorrah...the unjust
B. But God delivers....Noah...Lot...the godly and righteous
Peter's message is one of hope because God knows how to divide the righteous from the unrighteous. The paragraph (vv. 4-9) concludes with the message: be distinct from false teachers.
- 1. The angels, v. 4, were unrighteous and God punished
- 2. The ancient world, v. 5, was unrighteous, and God punished
- 3. Noah, v. 5, was righteous, protected
- 4. Sodom & Gomorrah, v. 6, unrighteous, punished
- 5. Lot, v. 7, righteous, protected
- 6. Conclusion: v. 9.
DANGERIV. The DANGER of the false teachers. We must follow true teaching. Doctrine is reflected by activity or conduct, vv. 10-16. They even dare to sin; they are that bold and malicious, 2:10ff
Doctrine leads to conduct, it is equally as possible to hear, believe, and obey a lie as it is to hear, believe, and obey the truth. Notice again the descriptive phrases just from this section.
- 1. Sensual, licentious, lustful, 10
- 2. Self willed, self-determining, self-governing, 10
- 3. Slanderous, 10
- 4. Simple, in sense of ignorance, 12
- 5. Slick, 15-16
- 6. Sinful, 14
- 7. Superficial, 17-18
- 8. Sly, dishonest, 18
- 9. Seductive, 14
- 10. Straying, 15
- 11. Seditious, denying sovereign Lord, 1
DESTINYV. Consider the DESTINY of the false teachers, and those who follow them, vv. 19-22. God will deal with false teachers, vv. 1,3,4-9, 13, 19ff.
When we consider their influence, we can see some of the danger, 18-22
- A. Allurement, 18. Why oppose such? Because they lead others astray.
- B. Their false promises which lead to bondage, 19.
- C. The result is re-entanglement in the world, 20-22
ConclusionHave no fellowship, Eph. 5:11, with false teaching
Be a student of God's Word, teach what is right
Take heed lest ye fall, be constantly on guard
Last updated March 20, 2005.