“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (II Peter 2:1).
Peter’s warning to be wary of false teachers is as appropriate today as ever. Thankfully, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he has delineated specific aspects of their actions and conduct by which we can recognize them.
Recalling the fact that false prophets (literally pseudo-prophets) have throughout history plagued God’s people (see for example Deuteronomy 18:20–22), Peter predicts in our text that pseudo-teachers will come. But look at what they bring.
First, “damnable heresies.” The Greek word translated “heresy” indicates a chosen, self-willed opinion, elsewhere translated “sect,” as in “sect of the Sadducees” (Acts 5:17); “damnable” in the sense that it brings “swift destruction.” The particular heresy in mind here is that of rejection of the Lordship of Christ and His redemptive work.
Second, “pernicious [licentious or sensuous] ways” (II Peter 2:2). Many of the false teachers of recent memory have been known for their immoral behavior. Sadly, such frauds can usually gain large followings (perhaps because many seek to justify their own behavior), and their exposure leads to the maligning of Christ and His church.
Third, “covetousness” (v.3), even to the fleecing of their own flock. Uncontrolled greed, opulent lifestyles—sounds all too familiar today.
Thankfully, “the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (v.9). JDM