II Peter 2:20-22

Sunday, August 14th, 2016

THE FOLLOWERS OF THE FALSE TEACHERS

INTRODUCTION:

 

In chapter two Peter begins to discuss his major theme, i.e. the false teachers.

 

            1.   Believers must recognize that false teachers will come into the midst of the churches – II Peter 2:1

 

            2.   Believers must recognize that false teachers are dangerous – II Peter 2:2-3

 

            3.   Believers must recognize that false teachers will be judged by the Lord – II Peter 2:4-9

 

            4.   Believers must recognize and reject the sinful and self-centered way of life of the false teachers – II Peter 2:10-19

 

                  (1) The spiritual characteristics of false teachers – II Peter 2:10-13

 

                  (2) The moral characteristics of false teachers – II Peter 2:14-16

 

                  (3) The practical characteristics of false teachers – II Peter 2:17-19

 

In II Peter 2:20-22 , we see the result of knowing the truth and rejecting it.

 

Those who follow the false teachers will end in a worse state than when they started because there has only been reformation and not regeneration. Whatever change has taken place has been completely external and not at all internal. They are still unsaved, they would have been better off never to have known the truth than to have known it and rejected it.

We see that –

    I.     THESE FOLLOWERS OF THE FALSE TEACHERS HAVE EXPERIENCED REFORMATION – 2:20-21

 

II Peter 2:20-2120 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

 

            1.   They have escaped the pollutions of the world through the full knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ – 2:20

 

Verse 20 might serve to explain verse 19 as for implies. It might instead indicate a continuation of the thought of verse 19 in the sense of now.

 

II Peter 2:19 While they [i.e. the false teachers] promise them [i.e. their followers] liberty [i.e. freedom], they themselves are the servants of corruption [i.e. they themselves are the slaves of depravity]: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

 

If introduces a simple condition which, for sake of discussion, is assumed to be true. The condition is if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome.

 

The conclusion of the conditional statement is the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. It is also true.

 

If is, therefore, understood in the sense of since, because, inasmuch as, or assuming that. Some had escaped the pollution of the world and had again become entangled and overcome.

 

After indicates that their escape from the pollutions of the world took place before their being again entangled in them and overcome.

 

They does not refer to the false teachers; instead, it refers to the ones whom the false teachers were successfully luring by their false teaching.

 

Have escaped suggests have escaped from.

 

What they escaped from was the pollutions of the world.

 

Pollutions literally means defilements or corruptions. It is used in this verse of moral corruption through crimes or vices in the sense of shameful deeds, misdeeds, or crimes.

 

Of the world suggests the shameful deeds or crimes that the world commits.

 

Through indicates by means of.

 

The knowledge is the full (i.e. the thorough-going or complete) knowledge (or recognition).

 

Of the Lord and Saviour indicates the One about Whom they have this full, thorough-going, or complete knowledge or recognition; and Jesus Christ specifies Who this Lord and Savior is. It indicates that they have more than enough knowledge about the Lord Jesus Christ to receive Him as their personal Savior and Lord. They have heard and understood the gospel message, that Jesus Christ, God’s Son, died on the cross and paid for their sins and rose again from the dead.

 

He is described as the Lord which means that He is the Master, and He is also described as (the) Saviour which means that He is the Deliverer or Preserver.

 

            2.   Does this mean that they have been saved?

 

No, it means that they have had an external change in that they stopped doing some of the corrupt things they had formerly done, but it does not mean that their hearts have been cleansed by the blood of Christ. This is made clear by the verses which follow in II Peter 2 .

 

We note that a miraculous change occurs in someone when he is genuinely saved. If there is no change, there is no salvation. Only those who are genuinely saved receive new sinless natures.

 

II Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 

We also note that not everyone who shows an initial interest in the gospel message is genuinely saved.

 

Matthew 13:1-91 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. 3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.

 

Matthew 13:18-2318 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower. 19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side. 20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. 22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful. 23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.

We also see that –

  II.     THESE FOLLOWERS OF THE FALSE TEACHERS HAVE RETURNED TO THEIR FORMER BONDAGE TO SIN – 2:20B

 

II Peter 2:20 b-21 – 20b For if . . ., they are again entangled therein, and overcome. . . .

 

            1.   They are again entangled in the pollutions of the world – 2:20

 

They is another reference to those who were clean escaped from them who live in error (v. 18).

 

Are again entangled therein suggests once more become involved in these pollutions (or moral corruptions) of the world.

 

            2.   They are overcome by the pollutions of the world – 2:20

 

And overcome suggests and are defeated by or succumb to. The same word was used in verse 19.

 

            3.   They have turned from the holy commandment delivered unto them – 2:21

 

                        (1) Hebrews 6:4-64 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

 

For those people who were at one time enlightened regarding the gospel message but ultimately and completely rejected it because they concluded that Jesus deserved to die on the cross, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance. It is not impossible for God, but it is impossible for humanity to do so. It is impossible from the standpoint that these persons have taken up a set position against Christ, believing that He deserved to die; and, even if God would allow them to change their minds, they are not about to do so. Impossible cannot be softened to mean difficult.

 

                        (2) Hebrews 10:26-29 26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

 

Sinning wilfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth means rejecting Christ after understanding the gospel message. There is no other way of salvation. It is Christ or hell.

 

                        (3) Matthew 12:43-4543 When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. 44 Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. 45 Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

 

Reformation is not the same as salvation. Reformation without salvation will result in spending eternity in the lake of fire.

In addition, we see that –

 III.     THESE FOLLOWERS OF THE FALSE TEACHERS DID NOT EXPERIENCE REGENERATION – 2:22

 

II Peter 2:22 22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

 

            1.   There has been no change of nature – 2:22

 

                  (1) II Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

 

II Corinthians 5:17 indicates that these people have never been saved in the first place.

 

                  (2) Hebrews 3:6 6 But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

 

They have not become Christ’s house. If we do not hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end, i.e. if we do not continue to trust Christ as our Savior from sin and its consequences, then we are not Christ’s house now. Continuing to trust Christ as our Savior is the proof, not the condition, of salvation.

 

                  (3) Hebrews 3:14 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.

 

They have not been made partakers of Christ. We have been made partakers of Christ on the condition that we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end, i.e. that we continue to believe the gospel. However, if we do not continue to believe the gospel, then we have not been made partakers of Christ in the past. Continuing to believe is the proof, not the condition, of salvation.

 

Back to II Peter 2:22

But is used to show a mild contrast with what has preceded. It might instead be understood as and or now.

 

It is happened unto them means it has come about for them.

 

What has come about for them is the (matter of) the true proverb.

 

The true proverb is the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

 

            2.   They are like the dog returning to his vomit – 2:22

 

This proverb illustrates the case of those who had understood the gospel and rejected it. They are like the dog returning to eat its own vomit. The dog is acting consistently with its nature. Although it is repulsive for us even to think about it, this is what dogs do.

 

            3.   They are like the sow returning to wallowing in the mire – 2:22

 

Wallowing is rolling.

 

Mire is mud or slime.

 

The sow is acting consistently with its nature. This is what pigs do. They cool themselves by rolling in the mud.

 

These followers of the false teachers are also acting consistently with their old sin natures. They were never saved in the first place, and they will eventually demonstrate their true condition for others to see. They had experienced reformation but not regeneration. This is what unbelievers do. They try to clean up their own lives, but it doesn’t work.

Finally, we see that –

 IV.     THESE FOLLOWERS OF THE FALSE TEACHERS WILL SPEND ETERNITY IN HELL – 2:20C-21

 

II Peter 2:20 c-21 – 20c . . . The latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

 

We have already looked at the condition. It is if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome.

The conclusion of the conditional statement is the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. The conclusion is true because the condition is true.

 

The latter end is the last state and refers to their resultant state of having been defeated again by the pollutions of the world from which they had previously escaped.

 

With them refers to those who had once escaped the pollutions of the world and had again become entangled in them and had been defeated by them.

 

Is worse . . . than the beginning compares the last state with the first state.

 

The beginning is the first or the earlier state. It refers to their original involvement in the pollutions of the world.

 

II Peter 2:21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

 

For may be used to introduce an explanation of verse 20; but it may instead be indicating a continuation of the thought of verse 20 in the sense as now or be understood in an emphatic sense as indeed, certainly, or but really.

 

It had been better introduces a comparison between not to have known the way of righteousness and after they have known it (i.e. after they have known the way of righteousness), to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

 

Better . . . than denotes comparison.

 

For them refers to those who have clean escaped from them who live in error (v. 18). They have also escaped the pollutions of the world (v. 20). It would be to their advantage to have been ignorant of the way of truth rather than to have rejected it knowingly, and the reason is that the degree of their punishment in hell would be less. They knew the way of righteousness and rejected it. Compare what Jesus said in Matthew 11:20-24 .

 

Matthew 11:20-24 – (20) Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not: (21) Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. (22) But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. (23) And thou Capernaum, which are exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day. (24) But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

 

Back to II Peter 2:21

Not to have known is used in the sense of not to have fully understood or not to have completely recognized.

 

These people have a full, thorough-going, or complete understanding of the way of righteousness. It is not a way of righteousness as if there were several. It is the way of righteousness. It is specific because there is only one way of righteousness.

 

Righteousness is uprightness. It is the righteousness of God which is taught in the Bible. The way of righteousness is understood to mean the way which produces righteousness.

 

Again, better . . . than denotes comparison. Better introduced the first thing being compared and than is now introducing the second thing.

 

After they have known it indicates that they previously were fully acquainted with something, i.e. with the way of righteousness.

 

Have known is the same word used earlier in the verse and means fully, completely, or thoroughly understood or recognized.

 

To turn from suggests to turn away from, indicating that they had changed their minds regarding the way of righteousness.

 

The tense of to turn from indicates that their action of turning away from the way of righteousness was done decisively.

 

What they turned away from is the holy commandment delivered unto them.

 

This commandment, however, is the specific commandment which was delivered to them.

 

It is further defined as holy, which is used in the sense of dedicated to God or sacred.

 

Thus, the holy commandment is the gospel message, and it was delivered unto them, which may mean handed down to them, passed on to them, transmitted to them, related to them, or taught to them. Somehow they received it.

 

Them refers to those persons who had known the way of righteousness but had rejected it.

CONCLUSION:

 

Are you saved?

 

Are you sure?