A MIGHTY DELIVERER
Lord, You are perfect in all Your ways.
Read 2 PETER 2:1–10a
False Teachers and Their Destruction
2 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. 3 In their greed these teachers will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,[a] putting them in chains of darkness[b] to be held for judgment; 5 if he did not spare the ancient world when he brought the flood on its ungodly people, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others; 6 if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; 7 and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man, who was distressed by the depraved conduct of the lawless 8 (for that righteous man, living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)— 9 if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment. 10 This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the flesh[c] and despise authority.
Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings;
a 2 Peter 2:4 Greek Tartarus
b 2 Peter 2:4 Some manuscripts in gloomy dungeons
c 2 Peter 2:10 In contexts like this, the Greek word for flesh (sarx) refers to the sinful state of human beings, often presented as a power in opposition to the Spirit; also in verse 18.
New International Version (NIV)
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“Immortal, invisible, God only wise. / In light inaccessible, hid from our eyes” (Walter C. Smith, 1824–1908). Lord, we worship You today, for You are a holy, pure, just and merciful God.
Peter is concerned for the purity of the church and its fidelity to doctrine and practice. He sees that false teachers are already operating within the community and are leading people astray. The nature of their toxic teaching will be discussed later in the chapter, but essentially it amounts to permissiveness of conduct, leading to a cheapening of God’s grace.
Peter emphasizes that God’s nature is holy and therefore requires us to be holy in our actions. It also requires judgment for sin. He draws on the story of the Nephilim, who according to Jewish tradition were understood to be the offspring of evil angels who engaged in sexual relations with young women—leading to destruction across the whole known world (Gen. 6:1–7). Citing these accounts and the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah, Peter wants to underscore the reality of God’s holy judgment. We may balk at this aspect of God’s character, but when someone is treated unfairly, sometimes to a high degree, it is important to remember that God is just and ultimately will reward those who have served him, while holding to account those who harmed others.
In addition to judgment, Peter reminds his audience of the reality of God’s mercy and grace. Noah was spared (Gen. 6–8), as was Lot (Gen. 19:1–29). Even in these difficult passages of divine destruction, there is a light which is God’s deliverance of his righteous people.
For a community experiencing suffering and persecution, the message that God delivers his people is a significant message of hope. God never promises immunity from trials—centuries of Christian experience prove this all too well—but he does promise to deliver us through such struggles.
“Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” (Gen. 18:25). Lord, we praise You that even in trial and struggle, You are the God who brings us through.
Lord, deal kindly with those who served You in this life as You deal harshly with those who defied You.