1 Peter 2:1-22: Living with false teachers—November 18
Nov 11, 2012
By MARK A. RATHEL

Mark Rathel is a professor of theology at The Baptist College of Florida in Graceville.
Satan is not an original thinker. God is a Trinity of Father, Son (crucified yet risen), and Holy Spirit (who exalts the Son). Satan mimics God through an unholy trio: the dragon, the beast from the sea (fatally wounded but healed), and the beast from the earth (who exalts the first beast). God sends prophets and teachers to His people. Satan mimics God by sending false prophets and false teachers. The Bible frequently warns about the reality and nature of false prophets/teachers (Deut. 13:1-5; Matt. 7:15-16; Mark 13:21-13; Acts 20:29-31; the Pastoral Epistles and Jude). Yet, many local churches refuse to deal with false teachers in a biblical manner. Peter provides one of the most extensive biblical discussions of false teachers. With strong language, Peter highlighted the nature, judgment, characterization, and method of false teachers in a local church 

First, Peter exposed the danger of false teachers by noting the sphere, method, fruit, nature, results, and motivation of the false teachers (2 Pet. 1:1-3). The sphere of the false teachers’ activities highlights the danger. The false teachers are “among you,” that is, they operate within the church not outside the church. The method of false teachers is the importation of false teaching “secretly.” Many contemporary false teachers sound orthodox. They use the correct terms but they redefine doctrinal terms. False teachings produce the fruit of factions within the church. The word “heresies” denotes the act of choosing. Paul used a form of this word to describe a divisive person (Tit. 3:10). When church members choose what they want to believe, they deny the “one faith” uniting the church (Eph. 4:5). The nature of the false teaching focuses on the person and work of Christ (deny the Master). Throughout Christian history, false teachers attacked with the deity/humanity of Jesus or the nature of the atoning sacrifice of Christ. 

Remember the broader context of 2 Peter—the second coming of Christ. False teachers love to focus on the doctrine of end-times. Because false teachers separate doctrine from lifestyle, the unrestrained life of the false teachers results in blasphemies uttered against the truth of God. Commercial gain motivates false teachers. The false teachers speak deceitful words, literally “plastic” words. They shape and fabricate their teachings to the desires of their students to exploit them for commercial gain.

Second, Peter underscored the certain doom of the false teachers (2 Pet. 2:4-10a). Peter made use of three historical judgments of God to illustrate the doom of false teachers: sinful angels, Noah’s generation, and Sodom and 

Gomorrah. The discussion about judgment provides comfort. Verse nine functions as the key thought of this section: God knows how to rescue believers tormented by evil persons. God rescued Noah’s family and Lot. God will deliver individual believers from the doom of the false teachers.

Third, Peter portrayed the sinful lifestyles of the false teachers (2 Pet. 2:10b-19). False teaching inevitably shows up in lifestyle. “Boldness” describes an attitude careless about consequences. False teachers live irrationally (v. 12); in contrast, as the “way of truth” Christians live rationally. False teachers focus on the sensual; notice the descriptive catalog of fleshly vices: carousing, eyes of adultery, seducers, fleshly desires, and debauchery. 

Fourth, Peter reveals the deceptiveness of the false teachers. Peter details the deceptiveness of the false teachers in the act of eating, “they feast with you” (v. 13). I, however, believe that this phrase could be translated “they feast together upon you.” The false teachers appear helpful, but they devour their students. Further, they deceive with undeliverable promises. Like a “spring without water,” the false teachers promise freedom when they themselves experience enslavement.­

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