2 Peter 2:1-10a
Relevant Overview Text:
Peter explains in chapter two of his second letter everything you need to know about false teachers but were afraid to (or maybe just didn’t want to) ask. Again, I have to resist the temptation to give you all of that study at once, or we will be here for an extra hour or more. A couple of things are worth mentioning, however. Note what it says in verse 1:
“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.”
Peter is writing in the future tense here, indicating that even if some of these guys were already active, it was going to be a lot worse, and that very shortly. He also indicated that this wasn’t a new thing happening, it happened in the days of ancient Israel as well.
We shouldn’t be surprised that this happens, either. God has individuals in the cosmos that do not like Him, and do not agree with His ways that have a lot more power than we do. Lucifer and all of the fallen ones that fell in with him are those that oppose everything God wants and stands for, and they actively work against what the Lord has ordained. I know, it sounds dumb, because they cannot win, but nevertheless they do it, and they make things a real mess for those of us who are trying to follow the One True King as it were. They seem to delight in it. It is simply what they do, and they must until the King finally puts a stop to it. It’s hard to watch, and it’s harder to go through, and it is particularly hard when some of US get involved actively.
Allow me to explain. When a man stands in the “pulpit” that God gave him and then shouts loudly that “I am God Almighty,” you are dealing in that individual with a false teacher, not by my standards, by God’s. Exodus 20:3 says, “You shall have no other gods before me.” If you are claiming to be god instead of Him, or even rank yourself as equal with Him, you are placing yourself as a god in front of God Himself. Folks, that’s Commandment Number One blown to bits by Steven Furtick on May 4, 2021. And the audience CHEERED!!!!
The Teacher in Ecclesiastes says it this way: “That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.” (1:9) Even Sci-fi writers have picked up on this principle. “This has all happened before. It will happen again.” That’s from the Battlestar Galactica (BSG) reboot in the early 2000s if you missed it. I will admit to a former sci-fi TV addiction.
I suppose this means that the enemy of God, Lucifer really has no tricks that our Lord has not seen before and He does know how to deal with Him. The thing that our enemy has done is to enlist some human help to destroy mankind. You have to remember that he hates all of humanity, and if he can get people to attack other people either willingly or by trickery, he can conserve his own resources for the big showdown that is coming, but that’s not really what is in this chapter. This chapter introduces the idea of those who teach false ideologies and heresies so as to destroy as many as they can. So let’s get into the text and see what Peter is saying to his audience.
I broke the chapter down as follows:
KV9: The Lord knows what to do with false teachers
9: …then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment…
1-3: False teachers: History repeats itself
4-5: The case of Noah and the Angels – the result
6-10a: The case of Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah – the result
What we do need to keep in our mind here is those three basic rules of Biblical interpretation: context, context, and context. The context for this section of text, as usual, comes from the verses that immediately precede it, the last part of chapter 1. You will recall that Peter has just been saying that he was not making this up! Scripture was not something that was his own brainchild, and it is a result by men being inspired by God the Holy Spirit writing down what are divine principles and wisdom. No sooner has he said that, he writes about how false teachers arose then, and they will arise now. That’s the subject that begins with the text this evening. We’ve broken the chapter in roughly half so that we all have time to digest the really rich teaching, or meat if you like as opposed to milk, of this letter. That said, let’s jump in.
KV9: The Lord knows what to do with false teachers
9: …then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment…
As Peter wrote this letter, we must remember that his own execution at the hands of Rome was imminent, potentially days or even hours away. It is possible that it was handed to a disciple, possibly Luke, possibly someone else, to carry away to his audience as they were leading Peter out to crucify him upside down, though that is a bit of conjecture on my part. However, this is the very last thing that Peter communicated to the souls that God placed under his care, and as such, we should give heed to them.
When Peter wrote or dictated this letter, these false prophets that would come were referred to in the future tense, and we take that to mean that this had not yet happened, or was just beginning at the time. This section of text begins to deal directly with the subject, and so will we, though for us, this is an ongoing thing. We can and have named more than just a few of them over our time here. One of my friends has actually done more than 50 profiles on individual false teachers. These are available for the reading at disntr.com if you are so inclined, and Jeff doesn’t pull punches or cut corners. He’s researched everything.
This whole “false teacher” thing isn’t exactly a new idea, either. These individuals have come to mankind all the way through history, and like their father the devil, always seem to ask questions like, “Did God really say?” The issue doesn’t so much matter, it’s the question itself. Some have learned the question is being actively listened for and have changed their approach, but at some point, they will diverge from the clear teaching of Scripture on some point. For this, our Lord has gifted certain members of the church with the gift of discernment for the purposes of warning God’s people of false teachings and false teachers. I can hear from the kid in the back row on the internet you don’t believe me, so let’s look at 1 Corinthinas 12 for a moment.
“But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”
The word for “distinguishing” in Greek is diakrisis, and literally means DISCERNMENT. It’s plural as well, and it is to combat this very phenomenon. Today, we call this field of theology POLEMICS. It isn’t a lot of fun, and there are some really good teachers out there that do it right. My personal favorite is Christ Rosebrough of Fighting for the Faith, and of course Protestia Tonight with Dave Morrill. I have done some polemics, and I have to tell you it isn’t my favorite work. But from that passage in 1 Cor. 12, it is listed as one of the gifts of the Spirit. Somehow, this is always the one that gets missed, too, but that’s likely because it isn’t fun or flashy. This is not really the difference between right and wrong doctrine, it’s the difference between right and almost right doctrine. Because almost right doctrine is still all wrong.
Sometimes, we misunderstand something in the Word of God ourselves, and that is not the same thing as falsely teaching the Word of God. False teaching is done by an individual that at some level knows what he or she is teaching is false, like the individual who wrote a fake letter to the Thessalonians and pretended to be the Apostle Paul saying that the resurrection of the righteous had already occurred and the Thessalonians had missed out, so they had better follow closely the instructions that False Paul said. Paul discovered at that point that he had to personally sign each letter or write a bit in his own hand to avoid that. Beloved, that individual cannot claim that he misunderstood Scripture. He was pretending to be someone he was not!
That’s also one of the proofs I use for this letter being authored by Peter, by the way. The argument goes that this letter was not written by Peter, but by a disciple of Peter in Peter’s name after his death. Um…that brother would have to write a letter while pretending to be someone he is not to warn believers about these people who were not who they claimed to be. Hmmmm. The irony is strong with this one…
And Peter is very clear in our key verse this evening: The Lord knows exactly how to deal with such individuals if they do not repent of their false teachings and humbly learn Christ. I’ not going to give that away, because it will come out in the text itself. Let’s get into the text and find out what the Lord has to say to us through Peter.
1-3: False teachers: History repeats itself
Remember when we looked at that verse in Ecclesiastes earlier? Nothing new under the sun? Here we are, right away. This has happened before, this will happen again. Any movement of truth through history if you look at it has this issue. There is a relatively short period of time where the truth comes out, it’s message spreads, and things are calm. Then this starts and the storms come. You might actually be tempted to think there is some kind of conspiracy! You would be right, though, but it isn’t the conspiracy that anyone thinks. It’s this spiritual conspiracy of the enemy of man in the attempt to destroy man, and nothing else, though often people view this in terms of their polity. It’s those dirty Conservatives and their secret agenda! It’s those greasy liberals and their downward spirals! You get the idea, I think.
Beloved, none of this can be simply framed in human terms. Whether you like it, believe it, agree with this or not, the simple reality is that our common enemy Lucifer and his servants hate us, and will destroy us any way they can. They are far stronger, much smarter, and more real than most of us will ever give them credit for. One of the best ways to do this is turn us against ourselves, and the easiest way of doing that is to dispute the actual truth with counter-claims of reality. That’s what false teachers do. Let’s have a look at the text.
1: But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.
- There are some things to note right off the bat here. The Greek word for “false prophets” is one word, pseudoprophētai. It’s almost a transliteration, isn’t it. We could do this by simply calling them pseudoprophets, the actual Greek word, and no one would not understand that, even though these days peoples’ Greek and Latin probably aren’t where they were 30-40 years ago. So…not really actual prophets. If you follow Scripture, the last Old Testament prophet in that true sentence was John the Baptist. After that, we had Apostles and prophets in the New Testament sense. An example of this was seen in Acts 21, in the person of Agabus. The passage reads, “As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”” This is a prophet, telling us what God the Holy Spirit said about the owner of the belt. Interestingly, he did not say whether it was good or not, he simply delivered the message. People that deliver moral words for you without referencing Scripture are NOT following this pattern, and as we saw in our study of 1 Corinthians 13, this particular gift was one of those that had an expiry, “When the ‘perfect’ is come…” It is our view that this “perfect” is the completed canon of the New Testament, and we have reasons as to why that I will not explain here, but you can check out the video at BereanNation.com. I say that, because many so-called theologians disagree with that thought, though none of them have good reasons for doing so.
- Another important note is that these pseudoprophets arouse among the people. They would have been our friends and neighbours potentially! And until they began espousing their false teachings, there may not have been a good and reliable way to tell! I get kind of put off by people that make themselves self-appointed fruit inspectors that try to put others into this category without thinking about the consequences to the church. Please stop doing that. I could name names, but somehow, I think the only surprise would be to the individuals that are doing it. Instead, I am supposed to gently and patiently instruct these ones with all “longsuffering and [correct] doctrine.” If you are sitting there wondering why I am slow to jump on people, consider how a pastor is supposed to behave. Yes, we stand against the wolves. I can do that and have. But some of these people are not wolves, they are deceived. Should we treat them the same way? I think not, unless they will not repent after a second and third public warning.
- “There will be also…” At the time Peter was dictating this letter to his scribe (again, I think it may have been Luke, but this is conjecture), this was a future event that Peter saw coming, like the New Testament prophet he was. And like the Apostle (capital A) he was, he simply had to warn the church of the coming storm. These pseudoprophets ended up doing just what Peter said they would, introducing destructive heresies to the believers in the church. The word for “destructive” here may be familiar to those of you who were here for our series in 2013 through Revelation. The Greek word is apolieia, the root form of the name of the angel of the bottomless pit, Apollyon. It should come as no surprise that the word is translated “destructive” here. The word “heresies” is a transliteration from the Greek, and “denotes (a) “a choosing, choice” (from haireomai, “to choose”); then, “that which is chosen,” and hence, “an opinion,” especially a self-willed opinion, which is substituted for submission to the power of truth, and leads to division and the formation of sects, Gal. 5:20 (marg., “parties”); such erroneous opinions are frequently the outcome of personal preference or the prospect of advantage,” according Vine’s Expository Dictionary.
- These pseudoprophets will even deny Christ if it comes down to a choice between what the Lord Jesus commands and their own false ideologies. We have recently seen this with Ken Copeland, who actually mocked Christ by telling his followers, and please forgive my quotation, these are Copeland’s words, not mine, “The little wormy spirit of Jesus went to hell to be tortured by demons.” First, that is categorically untrue, but more importantly, there is nothing wormy about the King of kings and Lord of Lords, and this to me is akin to mocking heavenly majesties. This is in fact blasphemy, and he needs clearly to repent. We pray he does, or Peter is clear on what will happen next…they will face their own destruction before that King of kings and Lord of lords. Next verse.
2: Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;
- This is the beginning of what Robert Shindler called the “downgrade,” a cause that actually saw his friend Charles Haddon Spurgeon take his Metropolitan Tabernacle out of the Baptist Union in London in I think 1887. They called this a fight against the slide into liberalism, but it is characteristic of these wolves in sheep’s clothing.
- The first word to pay attention to here is “will follow.” This is the Greek future tense of the word exakoloutheo, which means to imitate, obey, or yield. Whatever these purveyors of false spirituality and religion will present, many will imitate it, obey them in it, and yield themselves to it. I know it is easy to pick on the Charismatic movement here, but they are not the only body of believers to fall victim. Think of the “sinless perfection” people or the full preterists, or even our present-day Arians, the JWs. They present something to those who will not believe the truth that eases their consciences and allows a conformation to that false teaching. What might that be?
- That is the next word to pay attention to here. “Sensuality” is the Greek word aselgia, and it means more than just sensuality, it is a wantonness or licentiousness that is not limited to just the erotic, or the word porneia would have been used. Greed or love of money would be another example, or political power, or status of some kind. That is what Peter means here. This is where it becomes easy to pick on Charismaniacs of all sorts, because this becomes like shooting fish in a barrel. But what of those who make status or other things their focus? These individuals seek power, for example, because they are motivated by “being the best they can be” or other such nonsense. The thinking for the servant of Christ is that one should do what is the best according to the will of God and how best to serve him. If that means you man the phones or clean up after fellowships, then you do it. Leadership is given by God to those He has chosen for the role, and He will always qualify them and then present them with opportunity at the right time for Him and for Them. But that’s just an example.
- Peter is very clear that because of these individuals, the way of truth will be maligned, that is BLASPHEMED, spoken against in the strongest possible terms. What that means is that Christianity and Christ Himself will be spoken ill of in public for things done by men who are lying and claiming to belong to Him. There are a number of things that I could say here, and a number of names that I could name. Ken Copeland, Brian Johnson, Andrew Wommack, Kris Valotton, are all examples of this. Finer and non-charismatic (at this point anyways) is a guy like Andy Stanley. His dad is the respected Dr. Charles Stanley, and has had to denounce his own son as a false teacher, though you will struggle to find public references to that. Most have to do with the “daddy issues” he has and his parent’s 1995 divorce, but that doesn’t explain the pure heresy that comes out his mouth. That’s the false teaching we should be concerned with: a blatant attempt to invalidate at least a part (a large part) of the Scriptures God gave us just because he has difficulty with the differences between some of the things expressed by God in the Old Testament. In invalidating that for himself, he is then able to throw out the entire law of God, including the moral law, the 10 commandments, and just simply talk about “being a good person” without an absolute moral standard. This leads to a person doing whatever he or she wants and still calling themselves Christian. This has caused people IN MY HEARING to speak down to Christianity that we are all huge hypocrites and not able to answer the seeming contradictions between Old and New Testaments. These things do have resolutions, by the way. That’s what it means to blaspheme the way of the truth, and we can see the wholesale result of it by simply reading headlines in the newspaper these days. For anyone serious about following Christ, this is a real concern!
3: and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
- The English reading of this is simple enough. These false teachers are all greedy, and that greed will cause them to take advantage of you with things they literally made up, at least that’s the sense of the Greek. But that clarity has more depth that makes this even worse.
- That word “greed” is a translation of the Greek pleonexia. THAT word means to covet or to desire an advantage over something, presumably you. It is basically a desire for more and more because the appetite of a false teacher can never be satisfied. Here, it is used in the sense of material possessions, according to Vine, but one gets the idea that there is more to that desire than simple comfort and pleasure. The desire for control and for power must needs accompany this if you ask me. What does that basic covetousness cause them to do?
- Why exploit you, of course! The word translated “exploit” here means literally to make merchandise of you, or “traffic” you. You become nothing to them if you cannot generate some form of profitability for them, most often monetarily. There are other kinds of exploitation that are also possible. A man named Clayton Jennings exploited young female victims sexually as he claimed to go around preaching the gospel. He’s not the only fellow to covet that, either. Beloved, that has nothing to DO with authentic Christianity, but tell that to the parents of those exploited girls. Incidentally, Jennings had his ministry license revoked. He SHOULD have gone to prison. However, he is still apparently under investigation by the FBI (US state lines become irrelevant there), for whatever that’s worth. Hopefully, he repents of his behaviour, and truly believes the gospel. If not, the second half of this verse will apply. I still see google search hits on the articles we posted on BereanNation.com about Mr. Jennings. The only articles that got more hits than those was about Beni Johnson’s cancer and subsequent tragic death.
- Their “judgement” from “long ago” is “not idle.” The word for judgement is krima, and means a sentence that has been pronounced after the giving of a guilty verdict. We could also use a single word there: condemnation. “From of old” is another way you could translate that “long ago” phrase, but it means “for a long time.” This isn’t a new thing, or a reaction, in other words. It is “not idle,” meaning it is not lingering, it is being racked up to be applied at the right time, which will likely be at their deaths. Then any chance for turning from their sin is gone, because death fixes all those penalties, and fixes our character permanently. Their destruction is not asleep. It is standing by and waiting. Lord have mercy, we want them to turn to Christ now and be saved. Sadly, not all will.
One of the biggest questions we face is the question of the free will of man versus the sovereignty of God. Interestingly, I think both are true, and one of the reasons I say that is that it creates incredible situations that cannot be resolved at the human level, but must be resolved, and must therefore be resolved at the level of the Divine.
No one in their right mind will be able to deny that man has a free will. What they fail to understand is that so does God, and He is able to allow for everyone else’s free will in real time to accomplish His purposes. So both are true, even though they create conflict for human intellects.
These false teachers are doing nothing more than exercising the free will that God gave every person on earth. But they are doing it in a way that only benefits them, with stuff they basically made up that is contrary to the truth, all just to hoodwink people in the churches. However, this actually has a purifying effect on the church, because people who follow these false teachers reveal themselves by their own actions. When these kinds of people are revealed by godly people who are exercising discernment, the only people who will continue to follow them are those that are willingly blind. It isn’t that they can’t turn, but they rarely do. And lest you think I’m joking about any of this talk of the destruction of these purveyors of unrighteousness, Peter is about to hit us with some examples.
4-5: The case of Noah and the Angels – the result
Whenever you want to give studies in the word of God and use examples, you do what Peter is doing here–you show major examples, and Peter is starting with the first major example of men turning aside from God and following their hearts into wickedness and evil–the flood through which only eight people survived. There is some controversial stuff here, and I’ll try to be fair as to what is said about it, but I still have to tell you that I’m going to tell you what I think happened and why, so Bereans take note here, it’s time to pay attention closely.
4: For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment;
- Interestingly, this is the first time that I find that theology is subject to the same desire to manipulate beliefs as the rest of history. It isn’t a new phenomenon, either. Thucydides, the author of The History of the Peloponnesian War, for example, still wrote with political bias, and he wrote his work a little over 400 years before the birth of Christ. His point of view was classic Athenian in my opinion, and he wrote with understanding of things like the use of ostracism as a political tool, geopolitics from that perspective, Spartans as kind of thugs and villains, like that. This is what I think we have here from more modern theologians. I will attempt to explain.
- If you have a bible with cross references, look at the first cross reference in this verse of our text. It correctly references Jude v.6, which reads, “And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day…” Now if you look in the cross references for Jude v.6, you will notice the cross reference back to this verse. A New Testament passage referencing an Old Testament event with a New Testament passage. You can’t learn the Scriptures like that! What are they referencing? Modern “theologians,” and you may note the use of quotations there, are trying to obfuscate this truth from us Bereans. It turns out, they are referencing (and I’m getting this from the context Peter is providing that Jude simply quotes) Genesis 6. We need to take some time to read some of that.
- Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” (Gen. 6:1-3)
- Try as I might, I could not determine whether the idea is actually the majority view, but an exceedingly popular view is that after the murder of Abel by his brother Cain, the seed of the woman shifted from Abel (who left no children that we read of) to Seth, another named son of Adam and Eve directly. These were referred to by theologians that hold this view as the huiou tou Theou (LXX) or “sons of God” [b’nai Elohim, Heb.]. But were they really? I don’t think so, and if you want to hold that view that’s fine, but I personally think it guts the Scriptures of consistent meaning on this subject. For the record, this position is known as the Sethite view.
- The opposing view of this text is called the Nephilim view. In this, we observe two terms: the former b’nai Elohim and the term bath’i Adam, or “daughters of Adam” (man, literal meaning, but also the name of the first man). Those, like myself, who hold this view see this as an angelic incursion into the human race by cross-breeding. The offspring produced by this unholy and disallowed-by-God union became the Nephilim, the men of renown of old. If you wonder what that means, think Hercules or the like. They became gigantes in Scripture, and that word was transliterated as “giant,” not incorrectly, but also not necessarily, though there is some largely discredited archeological evidence that has been found, and DNA-tested, and the DNA is NOT HUMAN in these skeletal remains. Now y’all know I have a biology degree, and as such, I tend to view biological evidence with more weight than a guy interpreting words from another ancient language, so take that for what it is, but I don’t think the evidence here is wrong. If it is, why would everyone in the world of archeology be trying to deny and obfuscate like their lives depended on it? To me, a plain reading of the text itself tells us what happened. Cooper’s rules of biblical interpretation state that when Scripture makes plain sense, seek no other sense. And in this case, it seems to have evidence to support it from actual science. Now you know what I think, so we can now look at this in the light of what Peter has actually said.
- Peter is STARTING his multi-verse argument here, not finishing it, and this becomes important to the context, because if you will remember where we started here, many modern “theologians” do not want you to think this is true, and I can only speculate on reasons other than that they wish to challenge the integrity, infallibility, and sufficiency of the Scriptures themselves.
- What was the sin of these angelic beings? It was seducing human females or worse to interfere with the propagation of the seed of the woman and the genetic integrity of the human race itself. For this sin, Peter tells us that God did not “spare,” or forego the penalty and retribution for the referenced act, but cast them into “Tartarus,” the deepest darkest part of Hell, and gave them over to the “gloom of the regions of the lost” [Vine], guarded (by what I wonder), until their final condemnation when sentence is passed on them eternally. That’s just what is in store for the angels that sinned here. What happened to the human race as a result? Well, if you can’t say Amen, say ouch. Next verse.
5: and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly;
- This verse actually provides necessary context as I mentioned earlier. This is how we know that the angels were from Noah’s day, and why Jude would quote it, because as we will see when we get there, Jude knew about another source of information that was not included by the Jews in their Old Testament Canon (and there are solid reasons for the entirety NOT to be included, maybe we will explain when we get there), and Jude actually quotes that work as well. We’ll see when we get there.
- Here we see that God did not spare, remember, forego the penalty and retribution for the referenced act, in this case allowing themselves to be turned to evil continually, as it records for us in Genesis 6.What was the penalty and retribution for that referenced act? Death by drowning to every human save eight of them: Noah, Ham, Shem, and Japheth, and their respective wives. You remember the story of the big boat that God told Noah to build? Well, he did, and here we all are. Why? Noah was a preacher of righteousness according to this verse. What was he preaching? It doesn’t come out and say it, but maybe it was “get your knowledge from God, not these interlopers.” Or maybe it was “don’t marry those aliens!” I don’t know, but I’m certain that it had something to do with that preaching of righteousness. Everyone else did die by drowning. Forty days and nights of heavy rain and then about 180 days or so of no land except straight down will do that. Even if they had boats, they were small boats, and they would have been sunk as they filled with rain or capsized by the waves that would have build up in the waters on the earth physically. And the Lord started with that again, but it wasn’t like starting over. There were differences in the earth now, and things like diet changed for people and maybe even for animals, though that isn’t clear.
Why are we all of a sudden talking about Noah’s flood here? We need now to zoom out and see the larger subject we are speaking of, and that is the coming judgement on these false teachers. Do not think, Peter tells us, that God does not know how to judge those who do this kind of insidious, deliberate evil and harm. Neither should we think that God lacks the will to do so. God has already shut up the entire unbelieving world under sin and its just condemnation. Unless God grants mercy, those who will not believe will be judged and condemned to a very real place called hell, and hell at the end will be thrown into the lake of fire. There an unbeliever will suffer for the rest of eternity, without meaning, without relationships, without a name, without anything but pain and a consciousness of your own sin, which you at that point will be bound to for all eternity. Not my idea of a good time.
However, if you are concerned that you might be in that condemned population, there is a means of escape. I’m going to tell you that now, so you can at least have a little hope, and possibly a lot more. This same God that caused an entire planet filled with people to drown in wrath for sin is still merciful. Notice Noah and His family were all spared, carried through the flood, and came safely out the other side. It is possible you can as well. What you need to do is go from not believing to believing, and that’s something very specific. God has always had mercy upon those he has chosen to have mercy. He does not explain His reasons, but for those individuals that will see it, He offers some good news. He sent His Son to be born of a virgin girl in Judea. You know who I mean, we celebrate His birthday on December 25 of every year. People love the little baby Jesus! What you need to know though is the reason He came to earth in the first place was for your sake! In this analogy, He is like the ark. Who boarded the ark? Those whom God called to board it! How many of them answered that call? All of them. How many of them lived through the flood and came out of the boat on the other side because they took God at His word? All of them. God is calling to you even now with a different kind of boat. Will you trust Him now, like many who are here, and many others we could name?
We will talk about WHY you need to believe Him (or board the figurative boat) in the next section.
6-10a: The case of Lot and Sodom and Gomorrah – the result
This next example is different, but is definitely relatable. It isn’t so much that false teachers came in like a flood here, but that so many followed their own natural and sinful inclinations to their logical and horrible end. This example isn’t as extreme as the last in which the living God wiped out most of the planet except eight people, but the severity of this judgement is nonetheless terrifying, and what is more, perhaps a pattern to see what might be a glimpse of our future if time permits. Let’s look at the text.
6: and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter;
- Sodom and it’s twin city Gomorrah were real cities in the ancient world. For decades, I heard that many places in the bible were fictional, not that I believed that, but Sodom was one of them. Then last year, I read an article online in September that explained that not only had the ancient city of Sodom had been located, but that it had in fact been wiped out by a meteor strike and the subsequent sulphur rain that accompanied it. That city it seems is in the approximate place where it is thought Sodom was in the Jordan valley, and was renamed Tall el-Hammam. About 3600 years ago, which is about the right time frame, it was destroyed in a large cosmic airburst similar to the one in the Tunguska forest in the early 1900s in Russia. There was geological evidence of temperatures of over 2000℃, levelled walls, burned and melted stone, and fragmented skeletons consistent with a bomb going off over the city about 1000 times larger than Hiroshima. I saw actual footage of sulphur balls that were still flammable set on fire that came directly from the appropriate geological stratum. No one saw Lot’s wife to my knowledge, but there was an insane concentration of salt in the earth, which came from lower sediments in the area that were thrown up in the explosion. Now, no one can really say for sure if that was really Sodom, but all of the observations are consistent with the Genesis account, so I’m leaning toward that. But was it just a freak cosmic accident? No, Scripture says otherwise.
- Peter tells us here that GOD destroyed these twin cities by reducing them to ashes. That is certainly consistent with the data gathered there. But this wasn’t to give us data so we could marvel at how the Bible is true, although this does have that as a side effect. It was to make an example of all those in those cities that would live in sin after that. In case you think these were just little villages at the time, you would be wrong. Sodom itself was a thriving Bronze-age settlement that was 10 times larger than Jerusalem and 5 times larger than Jericho at the time. I had difficulty getting an actual count of the people that was reliable, because the literature I found was from 2008 and estimated between 600 and 1200 people. That means Jerusalem at the time had 6-12 people, and given that we meet the King of Salem (before it was called Jerusalem), it’s hard t imagine a king of 6-12 people being very royal or majestic as Melchizedek is reported to be. Anyway, then why did God destroy Sodom and Gomorrah?
- There are varying opinions on this ranging from male homosexuality to how they were vexing Lot, but the basic answer is here in the text: They lived ungodly lives. If they gave any time to God or thought to Him at all, it was flippant and as little as possible. I am reminded of an episode of MASH where one of the characters, upon being confronted with the Chaplain’s direct superior who had just preached a sermon, complimented said superior, and was asked in return if he was a regular church-goer. His reply? Oh of course! It’s a great place to kill an hour. As funny as that was in MASH, it isn’t funny at all in the real world where God always sees and knows what is in the heart of every person, is it? The message from Peter here is that if you are ungodly in your life, including your thought life, you’re in some real trouble, given what happened in Sodom.
7: and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men
- God rescued Lot, Abraham’s nephew, as a part of that passage. Peter tells us that Lot in that text was a righteous man! Here he calls him, “righteous Lot.” That word for “righteous” is one that paid attention to the fulfillment of duties towards God and man, things that were in accordance with what is right according to God.
- Peter also tells us that righteous Lot was “oppressed.” The Greek for that word is a form of kataponeō, which means to tire down with labour or toil, to exhaust. Here it is in the passive voice, meaning the action is being done to Lot, so he is being oppressed. Peter is also specific about what Lot was being oppressed by: that same aselgia wantonness or licentiousness that we talked about in verse 2. Remember, the term is not restricted to just sexuality, but it certainly includes it, and more so if you know what happened in the story in Genesis, where ostensibly to “save the lives” of two angelic visitors from God, Lot offers up his own two virgin daughters to gang rape rather than have two celestial guests assaulted. As it turned out, the angels needed no aid from Lot, and struck the men at Lot’s door blind. That word “unprincipled” makes them sound more noble to me than they really were. That’s the Greek word for “lawless.”
- And God used those two angelic visitors to rescue Lot from that horrible situation and environment he was in. I’ll say more about that in a moment.
8: (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds),
- Peter tells us more about the mental torment that Lot was in while living in Sodom, and what it meant for him to remain there day after day. Peter actually says that this torment was transmitted to Lot by what he saw and heard living in Sodom. I can relate living in this present evil world, as Paul puts in Galatians 1:4 when He tells us that a very much more powerful celestial being, God the Son came to rescue us: “…who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father…”
- What was doing the tormenting? The lawless deeds of the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah in context. And it was a daily torment. You know, we were this past Monday at our regular weekly prayer meeting, and I expressed that exact sentiment. I am so disgusted with the sin I see around me, and so distressed with the sin I see in myself that my prayer is that the Lord would return soon, because apart from the grace of God in Christ, it is really too much to bear. And it lasted while he lived among them, in the same way this will last for us as long as we live among them. And God did not tell us to go and become hermits or live in isolated communes, Beloved. But He is returning, and He will be coming to get us and finally rescue us from this present evil age. Again, more in a moment.
9: then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,
- God rescued Lot in the way that was perfect for Lot’s perfection, although from the story after Lot’s departure from Sodom you might not think that, but if you’re looking at it objectively, Lot played a part in the lineage of Christ, the seed of the woman, because one of the nations that came from Him was Moab, who eventually produced Ruth, who was the mother of Obed, who was the grandfather of David the King. It sure didn’t seem like it at the time, but it ended up not so bad, for anyone who will believe!
- And here is some application for us this evening. Peter is telling this not to Lot, but to US, that the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation. Yes, we all are vexed by that sin in the world around us and within us, but the Lord has a plan, and I think it might be being mirrored here. Think about this.
- Lot, a believer, was rescued supernaturally from Sodom, a type here of the corrupt world system in which we live. He and his believing household members were rescued from destruction just before it began, and they were escorted through a wilderness to a place of safety for all that were able to obey the instructions on how to behave on that journey. Beloved, that sounds like a type of how the Lord Jesus will be coming to escort us to a place of safety just before His wrath destroys the corrupt world system that is run by the lawless one. This is what I meant in verses 7 and 8 when I said that I would say more in a moment. That moment has arrived. The Lord is telling us by type about how He will rescue His people from this present evil age. Lot tried to bring everyone he loved with Him, but some of the people he talked to just thought he was crazy. How many family members think you’re nuts for following Christ? I have a few, and I’m sure some of you do as well. Some will go with you! And they cannot truly obey because they do not truly believe, and will not follow instruction from the Lord. These, like Lot’s wife (who Jesus commands us to remember) will turn to salt in the escape, meaning that they will not make their escape at the time of rescue if ever. The “if ever” part is in God’s hands. The vast difference here is that the Lord is coming to fully rescue His people, not just preserve a man’s life, but don’t you think that makes a great type of something we call Lordship salvation around here? Lot’s wife represents those in your circle that say they believe and don’t really. Lot is the rescued believer, as are his daughters. The family he had that stayed behind and were destroyed are those who think you’re crazy and would probably put us in an institution if they could.
- What’s more, the Lord doesn’t just know how to rescue us, but He knows how to keep those who will not believe and will not repent under the condemnation on all sinners until the day of judgement. I personally do not want you to be a part of that, so I will tell you how you may obey Christ and escape the condemnation that is on the rest of the planet. You must do two things by the command of God: Repent and believe. Repentance is the changing of one’s mind and direction. It means admitting not only that you are a sinner, and that the things you do are sin, but it means leaving off sinning, stopping your own way and direction, and turning around and going God’s way. If you will do that, then you need to believe that Jesus died on the cross for YOUR sins, not just in some general way that satisfies some intellectual requirement you think God has. I must say that God does not care how intelligent you think you are, or even how intelligent He made you. He wants you to humbly come to Him, because He is smarter than you are, and also much more merciful than you can imagine. Turn to Him and believe He paid the price for your sins, and that God was so pleased with that sacrifice on your behalf that He was raised from the dead! Do that, and you will be saved from the coming wrath of God that will destroy the planet, just like God destroyed the earth in a flood or like He destroyed the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their unrighteous lives, no matter what form that unrighteousness may take. Turn! He will receive you with mercy. Otherwise, you will be exposed to the wrath of Almighty God and the Wrath of the Lamb, and everything that goes with that. As for me, no thanks, I want out of here before it starts.
10a: and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.
- This is more of the same who will experience the wrath of God because they will not repent, because they enjoy their sin more than they want to escape the wrath of God. These individuals are marked by an incredible habit of indulging their flesh anytime the desire strikes them, and that’s more frequent as one ages, not less. Sometimes your desires move from object to object, but you are never truly satisfied, because your desires are all corrupt. We talk sometimes about the radical depravity of humans in the way that we are all thoroughly tainted with sin. It touches every part of us, and is represented in almost everything we do, including attending church at times, or even praying out, or wanting to serve in church leadership. Such individuals focus on the term “leadership” instead of the term “serve.” They want to be in authority. There are a number of reasons for that, but they are all motivated by the basic way that each despises all authority except their own. Some even become false teachers, which is the very thing we will look at next time.
To draw some more application out of this is very easy for me. Those who will remain under judgement are those who Indulge their fleshly desires when we are clearly commanded to walk in the spirit so that we will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. For those that will not act and change, condemnation is applicable. For those that passively go with the flow, those for example that simply let everything they value go down the drain while they espouse verbally a different value system are doing nothing but storing up wrath for themselves.
Beloved, don’t be like that. Instead, yield to the authority of Christ. Instead of talking about so and so who you think is a hypocrite for example, instead be concerned that your own behaviour is not full of hypocrisy. For those that are caught in a sin, stop sinning. If you are a car thief, stop stealing cars! Like that. Instead, yield to Christ in repentance and faith so that He will come and rescue YOU from this present evil world.
That’s what I saw in the chapter!