II Peter 2:1–22. There Will Be False Teachers.

Key Notes: Judgment of false teachers. Major non-Christian religions seen in America. Historical origins of minor non-Christian religions in America. Unusual Christian groups.

In the previous passage (1:20–21), Peter tells us that no prophecy of Scripture may be privately interpreted. Nevertheless, many will try. Some will be false teachers with destructive heresies. In this chapter, Peter denounces them. We may not like his tone of voice, but we are also largely unaware of the serious issues.


2:1–3 False prophets in OT become the false teachers in NT. (IIPet.2:1). Heresy (Gr, hairesis: a seizure, a choice, a deviation from the line) was the distinctive teaching of a school of thought, not a bad word in Greek culture. It developed a bad connotation for Christians as the word 'heresy". "False words" (2:3) is "plastic words" in Greek.

False prophets are first heard of in Deut.13:1–5. A dreamer may give a sign that appears valid and then entice the people to follow other gods. Such a prophet should be stoned. Israel must not follow wizards. (Deut.18:9–14).
God will raise up a prophet like Moses who must be obeyed. Peter says this prophet is Jesus. (Acts 3:22). If the prophet's word does not come true, the prophet is presumptuous and no one should fear or respect him. Deut.18:15–22

False prophets appear in IK.13 and IK.22 but were especially troublesome to Jeremiah: 23:9–40; 27:9; 28:1-; 29:21,24. Jeremiah was presiding over the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and had to tell the people not to fight but to surrender. False prophets accumulate when people are in crisis and looking for quick answers that are more appealing than those of God's servant.

Old Testament criteria for a false prophet:
     *the prediction does not come true Deut.18:22;
     *the prophet tempts people to go after other gods. Deut.13:1–18

In NT, Jesus warned against "wolves in sheep's clothing", and said there would be many false prophets in the last days. (Matt.24:11). Paul also warned the Ephesian Elders against them. (Acts 20:29). He complained that the Corinthians accepted them readily. IICor.11:4

New Testament criteria for a false teacher:
*heresy regarding the person of Christ. IIPet.2:1;
* encouraging lawless behavior.

NT false teachers are within the churches:
"Fierce wolves will come among you...and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things." (Acts 20:29). "There will be false teachers among you." (IIPet.2:1).

2:4–10 If God did not spare angels that sinned,
If God did not spare the ancient world,
but preserved Noah, a teacher of righteousness, and seven others.
If God turned Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes,
but preserved righteous Lot, vexed by their lawlessness,
Then God knows how to save the godly from trial and keep the unrighteous under punishment until Judgment.

The passage contains a stern warning against apostasy and an assurance of protection. Saving the righteous from trial may be the trial of being under the influence of a false teacher. Can true Christians become Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses?

2:11–16 They revile angels but angels do not revile them in return. They are irrational, like animals. They follow Balaam. He was paid by the Moabites to curse Israel for money, just as they were to enter the Promised Land. He failed three times (Num.22–25) because God compelled him to bless Israel. But then Balaam counseled the Midianites and Moabites to seduce Israel (Num.31:16) and that succeeded. (Num.25:1–3). Twenty-four thousand died in the process.

2;17–22. Both the false teachers and their followers often appear to be new believers, vulnerable to passionate attachments, ending up worse than before. Studies of present-day false leaders indicates that most were on the fringes of church life and were discontented.
•Motives: Greed (IIPet.2:3), not usually for money, but for the pleasures of leadership.
•Stimuli: Many false spiritual leaders describe angelic messengers.

Their Judgment: In OT, the penalty for trying to draw people away to other gods was death (Deut.13) even if a whole city was involved.
In NT, destruction is promised. "But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and killed...will be destroyed...." (IIPet.2:12). But the Church under the Roman authority, could do no more than excommunicate (ICor.5:14) and denounce the leaders.

How should we treat the followers who have been led astray?
"...washed only to wallow in the mire." (II Pet. 2:22)
"Save some, snatching them from the fire..." ( Jude 23)
"By rejecting conscience, certain persons have made shipwreck of their faith, among them Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme. " (ITim.1:19–20)
"...having the form of godliness but denying the power of it. Avoid such people." (IITim.3:5)

Non-Christian religions affecting Americans

Ancient non-Christian religions
Animism. Spiritist, polytheistic, ancestor-worship
Hinduism. Polytheistic, with multiple religious philosophies
Buddhism. Nontheistic, philosophical, ethical
Judaism. Monotheistic, legal
Zoroastrianism. Dualistic, philosophical
Islam. Monotheistic, legal, militant

Smaller more recent non-Christian religions

?600.Rosicrucians. Christian Rosenkreutz. Mystical

?1227. Zen Buddhism. Non-theistic; non-rational. Goal: enlightenment

?1605.Unitarians. Faustus Socinus. Monotheistic, ethical culture

?1717.Free Masons. Monotheistic, social, philanthropic

1745. Swedenborgians. Emanuel Swedenborg. Revelation based on visions

‘30.Mormons. Joseph Smith, Brigham Young. Polytheistic; family- oriented.

‘63.Bahai. Off-shoot of Islam. Syncretistic; peace-seeking

‘66.Christian Science. MB Eddy. Non-theistic; offers healing

‘75.Jehovah's witnesses. Charles Russell, Josesph Rutherford. Arian; revelations of the future

‘92.Unity. Charles, Myrtle Fillmore. Non-theistic; offers healing

’20. Satanism. Aleister Crowley; Anton LaVey. Offers power

’30.Black Muslims. Elijah Mohammed. Malcolm X. Monotheistic, racist

’34.World Wide Church of God. H.W.Armstrong. Polytheistic; Anglo-saxons are the ten lost tribes.

’46.Unification Church. Sun Myung Moon. Pseudo-Messianic

’48.Scientology. Ron Hubbard. Non-theistic; psychotherapeutic

?1948.Spiritism. Margaret and Katie Fox. Non-theistic, occult. {Arthur Conan Doyle}.

’55.The Way International. Wierwille. Monotheistic; counterfeit  Christian

’60.People's Temple. Jim Jones. Dominating leader

’65.Hare Krishna. Swami Prahbupada. Hindu; polytheistic

?1966.Transcendental meditation. Western Hindu. Rajneesh; polytheistic; offering yoga and meditation

’70.Children of God. David Berg. Evangelistic, using sexual attraction; counterfeit Christian.

?1970.New Age. Shirley McLaine. Non-theistic; occult; spirit guides

’71.EST. Werner Erhard. Non-theistic; self-actualization

Unusual Christian groups

1560. Amish. Descendents of Anabaptists, Mennonites; detached from the culture
1652.Quakers. George Fox. Some are evangelical, some are unitarian
1818. Seventh Day Adventists. William Miller. Helen White. Evangelical, legalistic