2 Peter & Jude

by Eileen Poh

Day 13

Read 2 Peter 2:17-19

Some years ago, my husband and I decided to walk from Bradford-upon-Avon to Bath in England. It was a lovely spring day, and my husband reassured me that it was only 10 km. It was a very pleasant walk along the Avon River, but after we covered about 10 km, Bath was still nowhere in sight. We plodded on, and were most delighted when we spotted Bath in the distance. It turned out that the actual distance was 16 km! As soon as we arrived, we went to our favourite tea shop, where I drank a whole pot of tea.

But this is an empty promise. The false teachers themselves are not free.

Imagine how disappointed I would have been if the tea shop had not been serving tea that day! It would have been like the metaphor Peter uses in 2 Peter 2:17 to describe the false teachers. They are ″springs without water″. A thirsty traveller would be terribly disappointed to find a spring that has run dry. Similarly, the false teachers promise life through their teaching, but in reality they are not able to provide their followers with life-giving teaching, for they speak only ″empty, boastful words″ (2 Peter 2:18).

In verse 17, Peter also uses another metaphor to illustrate the same point. The false teachers are ″mists driven by a storm″. Instead of promising rain, the mists are, as New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham puts it, ″the haze which heralds dry weather and is quickly dispersed by a gust of wind″.9 The false teachers promise their followers freedom from the fear of God's judgment, which allows them to throw away all moral restraint and live in any way they please.

But this is an empty promise. The false teachers themselves are not free. They are enslaved by their depraved lifestyle–carousing in broad daylight and revelling in their pleasures during the feasts, and they never stop sinning (vv. 13-14).

So, the false teachers' words may sound impressive, but in reality they are empty, arrogant, and deceitful. They appeal to ″the lustful desires of the flesh″ (v. 18), because that was the kind of life their target audience have just recently come out of. In 1 Peter 4:3, Peter describes their former way of life as one characterised by ″debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry″. They entice new Christians who are not yet grounded in the faith, are unstable (2 Peter 2:14), and can be easily seduced to return to the pagan ways that they had recently left. That is why Peter writes to warn believers of the false teachers by exposing their true character and tactics. For these false teachers, divine judgment awaits.

9 Bauckham, Jude-2 Peter, p.274.

Think through:

How can the descriptions in 2 Peter 2:17-19 help you identify false teachers?

How can new Christians be equipped to grow in their faith so that they will not be easy preys for false teachers?




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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