The False Teachers: (vv.1-10a)
This chapter of 2 Peter is concerned with false teachers that have arisen within the church community. These false teachers share certain characteristics. First (v.1), these teachers engage in “destructive heresies.” They have departed from the teachings of the apostles. See, 2 Thess. 2:15. In the Greek, a heresy is a self-chosen opinion that is in discord or contention with existing teachings. According to the writer, these heresies consist of rejecting the Master (i.e. Jesus) who brought them out of sin. These heresies, therefore, do not appear to be disagreements over points of doctrine but a backsliding into the sinful culture from which the teachers first came. (Think about Roman temple prostitution.)
These false teachings (v.2) lead to lasciviousness and debauchery. There may be an echo of this same problem in the church in Corinth that Paul addresses when certain Christians take his teaching on Christian liberty to return to visiting prostitutes. 1 Cor. 6:12-20. These false teachers also engage in their heresies in order to exploit unsuspecting believers for financial gain. This exploitation comes from their plastios logois, literally plastic words.
The writer gives us two examples of licentious behaviors that God punished. We looked at these examples more fully in our prior discussion of Jude.
The Condemnation: (vv.10b-22)
In the remainder of this chapter, the writer engages in a series of verbose condemnations of these false teachers. As one commentator writes: in these verses we have “the most violent and colourfully expressed tirade in the NT.” Read through these verses slowly and try to follow the condemnation.
In vv. 10b-16, the character of these false teachers is compared to irrational animals born to be destroyed by either capture or slaughter. They are willfully ignorant and act on base animal sexual instincts with eyes full of adultery and insatiable sins. The writer compares them to Balaam in Numbers 22-24, who was a for-hire (greedy) prophet whose own donkey was smarter than he was. Num. 22:21-30.
In vv.17-21, our writer compares the effect of these false teachers to waterless wells and clouds without rain. In other words, they outwardly appear to provide life-giving sustenance but are actually empty of the promised provision. Because of their empty words, they drive people back into the slavery of sin. Think of the story of the Exodus, when the water failed the Israelites, they wanted to return to Egyptian slavery. Ex. 17:3. Having escaped slavery to sin, these false teachers are taking away the freedom that Jesus obtained for them. Once more, this is similar to problems that Paul also encountered. See, Rom. 6:15-23.
The writer ends his harangue of these false teachers with two proverbs: “The dog turns back to its own vomit” and “The sow is washed only to wallow in the mud.” The first proverb is from Proverbs 26:11 and the second is from the Book of Ahikar, VII.27. These proverbs are intended to invoke a viscerally negative reaction These false teachers are being compared to the two dirtiest, most unclean animals there are: dogs and pigs. These dirty animals are also engaged in dirty and disgusting behavior. The tirade ends with an exclamation point.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is chicken pesto pasta (change). Discussion about 6:45. Compline at 8. Hope to see you here.
Do not give dogs what is holy; and do not throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you.Matthew 7:6