2 Peter & Jude

by Eileen Poh

Day 12

Read 2 Peter 2:13-16

Peter is not done yet with the false teachers. How else can they identify false teachers in their midst? In 2 Peter 2:13-16, he focuses on the sensuality and greed of the false teachers, whose appetite for sensuous pleasure is insatiable.

Not only are these false teachers gratifying themselves, but they are also seeking to seduce Christians who are not firmly established in their faith

The pursuit of sensuous pleasure usually takes place under the cloak of darkness. But not for these false teachers: they are revelling in their pleasures in broad daylight (2 Peter 2:13)! They even indulge in their pleasures during the feasts (or fellowship meals) which the Christians hold during the day (v. 13). These feasts usually include the celebration of the Lord's Supper. No wonder Peter denounces them as ″blots and blemishes″ (v. 13). This is in contrast to the way Christians are to prepare themselves, to be found spotless and blameless before God when Christ comes again (3:14).

The eyes of the false teachers are ″full of adultery″ (2:14). They look upon every woman with lust, seeing each one as a potential adulteress. And they continue sinning and sinning. They are not able to stop because, as New Testament commentator Michael Green puts it, ″lust is subject to the law of diminishing returns.″7 So their appetite for sensuous delight grows and manifests in even more depraved behaviour.

Not only are these false teachers gratifying themselves, but they are also seeking to seduce Christians who are not firmly established in their faith (v. 14). That is why these ″unstable″ believers are easy targets for the false teachers, who lure them into a trap, like hunters ensnaring their prey. And these false teachers do this for the sake of money.

Peter cites the story of Balaam in the Old Testament (v. 15). Balaam was a prophet who was offered a great deal of money by Balak, the king of Moab, to curse Israel (Numbers 22:1-20). On the way to Moab, Balaam was stopped when an angel of the LORD appeared before him. Ironically, Balaam was not able to see the angel but his donkey could (vv. 21-35). And the donkey spoke to him! God used a speaking donkey to restrain Balaam's madness (2 Peter 2:16). Like Balaam, the false teachers have wandered away from God's way to pursue their greed (v. 15).

How should we see these characteristics of the false teachers? I find New Testament scholar Tom Wright's exhortation helpful: ″We ought to read this list, not with a self-righteous pride ('Oh, yes, look at those wicked people! Not at all like us!'), but with appropriate sorrow and fear. These tendencies are present in all of us; the point of self-control is to keep them back, to crucify wrong desires and grow right ones in their place.″8

7 Green, 2 Peter & Jude, p.110.
8 Wright, Early Christian Letters for Everyone: James, Peter, John and Judah, p.115.

Think through:

Could you be an easy target for false teachers? How can you strengthen yourself against them?

How do you regard money? Is greed or love of money an issue that you struggle with? What can you do to ″crucify wrong desires and grow right ones in their place″?




About Author

Eileen Poh was a lawyer for some years before doing full-time theological studies. Her doctoral thesis (at King’s College London) examines the social relationships between Christians and non-Christians in Asia Minor in the second half of the first century AD. Eileen lectures in Biblical Studies at Discipleship Training Centre, Singapore. She is married to Philip Satterthwaite.

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