2 Peter 2
Frauds at church
Watch out for fraudulent teachers1Alongside genuine prophets there were some frauds too. They were a little like the people today teaching heresies. Some fake Christian teachers even reject Jesus as our leader. It’s not going to end well for them.
2Many of these frauds follow their sex drive all the way to immorality. They trash truth in the process. 3These are greedy people who will exploit your naiveté. They’ll tell you made-up stories they pass off as fact to con you out of money. Condemnation and destruction have been wide awake since ancient times, waiting for them.
History of God’s punishment4God didn’t give angels a mulligan when they sinned. He gave them a swift kick into hell. He sentenced them to the prison of darkness. They’ll stay there until Judgment Day.
5God didn’t spare human civilization when he sent the Flood to wash away a world full of sinful people. He did spare a good man, Noah, along with seven members of his family. 6God torched Sodom and Gomorrah. He burned those cities off the map. They’re ashes now. But they live in our memory as an example of what happens to people who reject God.
7God rescued Lot, a good man harassed by some low-life men of Sodom. 8While Lot lived in that city, he became tormented. He had a good soul. He couldn’t stand the disgusting behavior he saw day after day and the words he heard.
9If the Lord can do all that, he can save good people who are suffering hard times. And he can arrest good-for-nothing people and lock them up for sentencing on Judgment Day.
Living by animal instincts10I’m talking especially about reckless and stubborn people who follow their animal instincts. They do whatever feels good at the moment, no matter how bad it is. They’ll even insult angels. 11Angels don’t treat them that way. Though angels are stronger, they don’t insult these people even when they have the perfect opportunity to report them for slandering the Lord.
12These people act like animals unable to reason. They live by instincts and are born to get captured and killed. They’ll die like those animals too. 13They’re going to suffer. It’s payback for the suffering they’re causing. They do whatever they want, and they do it in broad daylight. They are filthy stains sitting among you and sharing your meals. They love lying to you.
Fraudulent teachers as sexual predators14They keep adultery on their minds and in their prowling eyes. These people won’t stop sinning. They take others with them, seducing vulnerable souls. Watch out, these children of the devil are experts in greed.
15They left the right road behind them and took the scenic route to sin. They took the route of Balaam, son of Beor. That prophet-for-hire loved getting paid to do what he knew was wrong. 16It took a jackass to talk some sense into this prophet. The animal spoke like a man and talked Balaam out of doing something stupid.
17These frauds are empty springs without water. They’re rain clouds blown away in the wind. They’ve got nothing. They’ll end up with nothing but the blackest darkness.
18Chest out, they brag about themselves with fiction. With lies and lust and sex sins, they lure people away from the faith—people who recently escaped from that sinful lifestyle. 19These fraudulent teachers promise their victims freedom. But the frauds themselves are slaves to sin, which will be the eternal death of them. Whatever becomes our obsession becomes our slave master.
20If a person escapes from a sinful lifestyle because of our leader and Savior Jesus Christ but they’re drawn back in, they’re worse off than before. 21That’s the truth. They would have been better off if they never learned how to live devoted to God. It’s worse to learn about God’s laws and then to reject them and go back to sinning. 22If that happens, they’re proving a couple of ancient proverbs:
“A dog returns to its vomit.”
“A washed pig jumps right back into the mud.”
Noah’s family included his wife, along with their three sons and three daughters-in-law.
Some scholars say this confusing verse probably talks about false teachers who insult angels. Others say the vague language could mean the false teachers insult spirit beings that are bad angels— demons.
Balaam was a pagan prophet who shows up in Numbers 22—23. King Balak of Moab, in what is now the country of Jordan, hired him to put a hex on Moses and the approaching Israelites to keep them out of his kingdom. The Israelites wanted to pass through peacefully, on their way to their promised homeland in what is now Israel and Palestinian Territories. Women of Moab later lured the Israelite men into idol rituals involving sex sins (Numbers 25). Moses blamed those actions on Balaam’s invitation to worship the god Baal Peor (Numbers 31:16).
Instead of putting a hex on Moses and the Israelites, he did as God instructed (Numbers 23:5). He blessed them, to the horror of King Balak who had hired him to do the opposite.
When it comes to fraudulent Christian leaders, Peter says, “Condemnation and destruction have been wide awake since ancient times, waiting for them” (2:3). That might sound like God has predetermined everything and that he condemned the frauds even before they were born. How do you react to that?
Why do you think Peter is listing those scenes from the Bible about God punishing sinners?
- “God didn’t give angels a mulligan when they sinned” (2:4).
- “God didn’t spare human civilization when he sent the Flood” (2:5).
- “God torched Sodom and Gomorrah” (2:6).
Peter goes after these fraudulent Christian leaders with powerful words and images. Of all the condemning things Peter says about these people, what do you think is one of the most damning?
LIFE APPLICATION. Peter is concerned about frauds who are passing themselves off as Christian teachers. Some of these frauds “follow their sex drive all the way to immorality” (2:2). Others are simply greedy and eager “to con you out of money” (2:3). What kind of religious frauds do Christians face today?