2 Peter 2:1
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
Denying the Master. These false prophets and false teachers are not misguided Christians but unbelievers who deny the Lord (Matt. 10:33). They may claim to have great ministries, but Jesus doesn’t know them (Matt. 7:23).
Who bought them. Jesus gave himself as a ransom for all (1 Tim. 2:6). With his blood he ransomed the lot of us. That doesn’t mean everyone is saved, but everyone is free to leave the prison of sin because the ransom has been paid. “You have been bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:20).
2 Peter 2:4
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;
Hell. The original word (tartaroo) is not a noun but a verb derived from the Greek word Tartarus, a subterranean place of gloom and darkness. Tartarus is not Hades, the abode of the dead (see entry for Matt. 16:18), but neither is it the fiery Hell (see entry for Matt. 5:22). It is a dungeon or pit of darkness where fallen angels are confined until Judgment Day. Much more than that we cannot say.
2 Peter 2:5
and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;
(a) Noah was known as a righteous man (Gen. 6:9) and an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith (Heb. 11:7).
(b) Preacher of righteousness. Noah encouraged his neighbors to put their faith in God.
(c) The ungodly. In the time of Noah, people did what was right in their own eyes, which is the definition of self-righteous and ungodly behavior. See entry for Self-righteousness.
2 Peter 2:7
and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men
Righteous Lot. Before the cross, no one could be made righteous. The gift of righteousness had not been given and the “one act of righteousness” had not be done (Rom. 5:18). This is why Old Testament saints such as Abraham were credited with righteousness on account of their faith in God (see entry for Rom. 4:3). Like his uncle Abraham, Lot was credited or reckoned righteous on account of his faith.
2 Peter 2:9
then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,
The Lord knows how to rescue the godly. It is not wrong to be tempted. Jesus was tempted in every way, yet remained without sin (Heb. 4:15). For this reason, Jesus is able to aid us when we are tempted (Heb. 2:15).
2 Peter 2:10
and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.
Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties,
(a) Indulge the flesh. Greedy, self-indulgent revellers (see 2 Pet. 2:13, 15).
(b) Its corrupt desires. The desire to get your own way, get everything for yourself, and to appear important (see entry for 1 John 2:16).
2 Peter 2:15
forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
Gone astray. In the new covenant, faith is described as a rest (Rom. 4:5, Heb. 4:3), while unbelief is described in terms of actions and verbs.
Unbelief is resisting the Holy Spirit and clinging to worthless idols (Acts 7:51, 14:15). Unbelief is rejecting Jesus (John 3:36) and denying the Lord (Jude 1:4). It’s thrusting away the word of God and judging yourself unworthy of life (Acts 13:46). It’s suppressing the truth (Rom. 1:18) and delighting in wickedness (2 Th. 2:12). It’s turning away (Heb. 12:25), going astray (2 Pet. 2:15), and trampling the Son of God underfoot (Heb. 10:29).
2 Peter 2:20
For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
(a) Escaped the defilements. These religious teachers wanted to escape the moral contamination of the world, so they came to the church to hear about Jesus. But they didn’t like what they heard. Perhaps they wanted a religion of rules and self-denial. Instead, they heard the message of grace and forgiveness and they could not accept it.
We should have no doubt that Peter is describing false prophets (verse 1) who deny the Lord (verse 2) who never stop sinning (verse 14) and remain slaves of corruption (verse 19). He is talking about unrighteous people (verse 9), not Christians who had fallen out of the kingdom.
(b) Knowledge without faith does not equal salvation. There are those who know and believe the love that God has for us (1 John 4:16). And there are those who know (they hear the good news) but don’t believe. Any knowledge these false teachers had was unaccompanied by the work of believing in Jesus (John 6:29).
(c) The last state has become worse. Those who are lost may be found, but those who have heard the gospel and rejected it put themselves beyond salvation.
2 Peter 2:21
For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.
(a) Better for them not to have known. The one who rejects the way of righteousness (the gospel) is worse off than the one who has not heard it because he has hardened his heart to that which could save him.
(b) The way of righteousness is synonymous with the gospel of grace for both reveal the righteousness that comes from God and is received by believing in Jesus (see entry for Php. 3:9).
(c) The holy commandment of the Lord is command to believe in his Son Jesus Christ (1 John 3:23).
Further reading: “Does 2 Peter 2 say you can lose your salvation?”
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- 2 Peter 2:1
- 2 Peter 2:4
- 2 Peter 2:5
- 2 Peter 2:7
- 2 Peter 2:9
- 2 Peter 2:10
- 2 Peter 2:15
- 2 Peter 2:20
- 2 Peter 2:21