Home » Various Sermons » 2 Peter 10b-22: Bold and Willful

2 Peter 10b-22: Bold and Willful

“Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord.  But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.  They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!  Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.

These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.  For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.  They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.  For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.  For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.  What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”” – 2 Peter 2.10b-22

Introduction

“Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord.” – 2 Peter 2.10b-11

Peter describes the teachers as “Bold and willful,” and he pointes really to the teachers all too apparent arrogance, their pride.[1] These two words that Peter uses to describe them could easily be translated together as “Boldly arrogant.”[2] Their arrogance is all the more highlighted when Peter goes on that they don’t tremble even as they blaspheme or slander, even speak lightly of what Peter calls the “glorious ones.”[3] What the false teachers may be speaking lightly of is that they deny that angels have any sort of influence upon mankind.[4] Or perhaps the false teachers are saying that the angels are not used as agents of God’s judgments.[5] But the most likely suggestion is that that the Glorious Ones, do refer to angels, but fallen angels and that false teachers have no worries no fears in what they say of them, though not even righteous angels do this.[6]

These two verses are similar to Jude 8 and 9 “Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.  But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”

While wicked angels are indeed quick to judge, the righteous ones leave that to God (as Jude 9 also notes).[7] That even Michael did not make a “blasphemous judgment,” even when dealing with such a vile creature as Satan, and even though the angels are more entitled to than man, shows that the false teachers are indeed wrong in their blaspheming.[8] Simply put as Schreiner states, “Good angels do not venture to announce judgment over evil angels.  They leave such judgment to the Lord.”  If the angels dare not to face demons and slander them, how much more should man when facing demonic beings not be as arrogant as the false teacher?[9]

In this first example Peter points to how truly arrogant the false teachers were that they thought themselves above any sort of power.  They didn’t fear demons not because God was on their side, but merely because of their pride.  Therefore they would do what even the righteous angels would not.  Arrogance can one in deep trouble rather quickly.  When one gains pride in himself he begins to think he can do more than anyone else and in that way find himself in more trouble than before.  We do well to avoid being arrogant, to avoid the thought that we are above all and nothing can harm us.

“But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.  They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children!” – 2 Peter 2.12-14

Peter begins verse 12 with, “But these,” though the false teachers thought themselves so wise and more powerful than demons they aren’t, instead they are just like animals.[10] In the next example, Peter then shows that immoral lives of the false teachers show them more akin to animals than humans.[11] Some see verse 12 as an expansion of Jude 10.[12] “But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.”  The teachers are in many ways like a wild beast in that they eat and eat, that they only seem to have contentment when destroying![13] Instead of any sort of wisdom, the false teachers instead are acting on pure instinct, and are guided instead by desire.[14]

The sinfulness of the false teacher isn’t limited to merely doing this at night in any sense of secrecy; instead they perform their sins in full sunlight.[15] “The wage for their wrong doing,” will catch up to them, if not in this life, in the end God will bring justice to all.[16] Their desire to all out sinfulness at all times, makes Peter describe them as “blots and blemishes,” and these two words speak of things that in many ways nasty, their defects, scabs, disease.[17] Moreover this gross sin of theirs continues on as they seem to come right in and eat with Christians.[18]

Their eyes are said to be full adultery and it gives the idea that their false doctrine only leads to as Neyrey says, “a totally corruption of the heart.”[19] Peter describes even their eyes being in continual sins that the false teachers seem to look at every woman who passes by as a potential target.[20] And yet this is not their only sin.  The false teachers also entice, they bait or entrap weaker in the faith.[21] Peter sees that the false teachers have a way of tempting Christians, especially weaker ones over to their way of living, so Peter warns against even associating with them.[22] They go to the weaker and perhaps younger ones in the faith and appear to right, but instead they are quite wrong.[23] Peter points then to a third sin, their greed, and the idea is that the false teacher’s greed is something that seemed to have devoted a great deal of time of their energy too.[24] They are greedy people.

Peter ends this example by calling them Cursed Children, or more literally, “Children of the Curse,’ and gives the idea of someone who is certain to be destroy or who is devoted to the curse.[25] In other words, Peter once again brings to mind, that the false teachers are to be punished.[26]

The false teachers are devoted to their lives of sin, and they care about nothing except that which will pleasure and benefit them.  But, their destruction will come, their punishment will come.  Though live as animals, there will be a punishment.  But besides this, Peter highlights that they are able to confuse the weaker in the faith.  It easy sometimes to forget that those who are new in coming to the faith don’t understand all it right away.  And because of that, they are more aptly to be deceived.  For this reason we who are more mature in the faith need to all more keep to guard over them.  To train them up in and show them what God’s word truly says and not what simply sounds good.

“Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness.” – 2 Peter 2.15-16

This pair of verses corresponds well to Jude 11 “Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.”   Verse 15 begins with “Forsaking the right way,” and by this Peter means that the false teachers like Balaam have chosen to forsake the way of God, i.e. obedience to his word and chosen a different way.[27] In looking at the example of Balaam, Peter sees in him a false prophet who departed from the true message and thus Balaam show the readers what happens if they go down the wrong path.[28]

So Peter then turns once again to an Old Testament example to prove his point that God does indeed judge sinners.[29] Here, he refers to the story of Balaam.  Balaam is an interesting story within the Old Testament in which we see someone who is said to be Prophet and thus one would expect to hear the words of Yahweh, but instead for his own greed he choose to Curse Israel, when that failed he chose to entice Israel to sexual sin and so in many ways his sins, do readily reflect that of the false teachers.[30]

If the false teachers continue to go down the path of sin then they face the same end which Balaam face, namely destruction.  And Peter in sense is warning them as did Balaam’s donkey, but is that enough to stop them?  The false teachers have gone down a path of sin that leads only to destruction, but there is hope namely if they turn away and seek repentance.  As does anyone who is continuing down a path of sin, down the road without Christ, has that hope of forgiveness if they only seek him and thus become spared the coming judgment.

“These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.  For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error.  They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved.” – 2 Peter 2.17-19

Verse seven seems to reflect that of Jude 12b-13 “waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.”[31] Peter speaks of them as empty cisterns, and it gives the idea that they were making empty promises.[32] In many ways this is similar to something said in Jeremiah  2.13 “for my people have committed two evils:  they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”  The False teachers were promising to be “satisfaction for thirsty soul,” to be able to quench what the people felt they were lacking, but in the end, these teachers only left their followers more thirsty.[33]

Peter moves from these examples to show his readers, how easy it is for these false teachings to influence believers, especially those newly converter.[34] The false teachers sought those who were “barely escaping,” from the world, but idea is that they had just escaped, that the target of the false teachers were new converts and thus easy to mess with.[35]

We see that they promise freedom, and the freedom they mean is from the law, authority, and especially judgment, freedom basically to do as they want.[36] Moreover he moves to show that by denying both the Second Coming and a final judgment, it gives people little reason to Fear God.[37] But, instead of freedom all that these false teachers have become are slaves, slaves to corruption and a return to the world of flesh, instead of as Peter noted in 1.4 and in 3.9 that they should flee this corruption, and do so by heeding God’s word and his coming judgment.[38]

There is only one way to God and that is through Jesus Christ, but belief in Christ does not give one the option to sin, but instead it forces one to live all the more holy.  The doctrine of the false teachers gave a false hope and gave a desire to sin more, and they sought the newly converted for they in a way didn’t know as well.  In this culture there are indeed many false teachers who have a message that appears quite closely at first to the Christian message, but in truth its far different.  It’s a message that those who are on the borderline or have recently converted can easily fall into. Therefore, those of us who do know better have a greater responsibility to show the errors of those who preach a wrong doctrine that looks good. To not just convert someone, but to also teach them so that they do not fall prey to lies of the world.

“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.  For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.  What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”” – 2 Peter 2.20-22

The ones in view here are most likely the false teachers instead of the ones who have been enticed.[39] The false teachers instead of actually having knowledge in Christ, have become entangled as it were in the world, to the point that they cannot esacape its power, the power of sin, and are deeper in.[40]

Moving from how these false teachers harm others, Peter than moves into how they are harming themselves, and that they have grown worse than they were before.[41] Moreover things are much worse, due the fact that knowing what the truth is and turning the opposite way equals a harsher judgment.[42] As Jesus once said in a parable found in Luke 12.47-48 “And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating.  But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.”

Peter than illustrates his points with a two proverbs, the first one being found in Proverbs 26.11 and the second one’s source unknown, though likely a common said one of his culture.[43] “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly.”  These proverbs are used to call to mind imagines of things which were repulsive.[44] The two proverbs also remind the readers of Peters words back in 2.11 that the false teachers are nothing but animals, disgusting animals.[45] The false teachers professed to have found Jesus and yet in truth they did not, and so like a pig they return to the mud.[46]

The false teacher professed to be followers of Christ, and they appeared in many ways to be followers.  But their actions, their teachings, showed that they were not and ultimately due to the fact that knew the truth but turned away from it their punishment is increased.  Peter speak at first in terms that act as if they were Christian because that is how they presented themselves, but never were, and it evidence strongly by their return to their sins and in abundance.  Just because someone says their Christian does not make it so, just because they professed strongly, and at first appeared so, does not make it so.  A life that is pleasing to God, shows the mark of who you really are.

It doesn’t mean one is prefect in all that they do once they are saved, but it does mean that after one is saved that they are truly trying to live a life pleasing to God instead of be okay with sinning being okay being just like the world.  It doesn’t work like that.  If one truly believes in God, they will by that true belief want to live rightly.


[1] John MacArthur Jr., The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 2 Peter & Jude (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2005), 97.

[2] Thomas R. Schreiner, the New American Commentary: 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 347.

[3] MacArthur, 97-8.

[4] Patrick J. Hartin, “The Second Letter of Peter,” in The New Collegeville Bible Commentary: New Testament ed Daniel Durken (Collegeville: Liturgical Press, 2008), 802.

[5] Jerome H. Neyrey, “2 Peter,” in the New Jerome Biblical Commentary, ed. Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy (Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1990), 1020

[6] Schreiner, 347.

[7] Dalton, 1255.

[8] Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament: James, Peter, John, and Jude (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1949), 244.

[9] Schreiner, 348.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Hartin, 802

[12] Thomas W. Leahy, “the Second Epistle of Peter,” in the Jerome Biblical Commentary, ed. Raymond E. Brown, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and Roland E. Murphy (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall, 1968), [NT], 497.

[13] Barnes, 244.

[14] Schreiner, 349.

[15] Leahy, 497.

[16] Barnes, 245.

[17] MacArthur, 100.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Neyrey, 1020.

[20] Schreiner, 352.

[21] Barnes, 246.

[22] Hartin, 803.

[23] MacArthur, 101.

[24] Schreiner, 353.

[25] Barnes, 246.

[26] Schreiner, 353.

[27] MacArthur, 102.

[28] Hartin, 803.

[29] Neyrey, 1020.

[30] MacArthur, 103.

[31] Leahy, 497.

[32] Neyrey, 1020.

[33] Schreiner, 356.

[34] Hartin, 803.

[35] Scheriner, 358.

[36] Neyrey, 1020.

[37] Hartin, 803.

[38] Neyrey, 1020.

[39] Leahy, 497.

[40] MacArthur, 106.

[41] Hartin, 803.

[42] MacArthur, 107.

[43] Hartin, 803.

[44] Ibid.

[45] Neyrey, 1021.

[46] Schereiner, 363.

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