2 Peter 2:1-21 continues the thought that began in 2 Peter 1:16.
In this passage, Peter assures his audience that the gospel of Jesus Christ is trustworthy, being amply supported by witnesses of his ministry, his death, and his resurrection. The prophetic revelation contained in that message is clear, accessible, and both birthed and confirmed by the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. God did not hide either the identity or the mission of his Son. The Scriptures all testify of the son; the Spirit bears witness “with signs and wonders and his various gifts, distributed according to his own will” (Heb 2:4).
Chapter two begins with the word, δὲ, “one of the most common Greek particles, used to connect one clause to another, either to express contrast or simple continuation. When it is felt that there is some contrast between clauses—though the contrast is often scarcely discernible—the most common translation is ‘but’.”
Peter transitions from the clear, shining light of the revelation of the Son to the deceitful, destructive, dark confusions of the false teachers. The true prophets were part of the commonwealth of Israel, but sometimes, so were the false prophets. The true teachers are members of the Church on earth, and sometimes, so are the false teachers. Just as the people of Israel would not readily listen to a foreigner who came in their midst proclaiming strange gods, neither would the members of the church readily listen to outsiders who spoke against the gospel. Therefore the devil, in both Old and New Testaments, raises up those who "will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Pet 2:1).
But, God will expose the false teachers. He won’t do it simply to win the fight against heretics or triumph over the competition. He will do it because God is the truth, and always deals with and in the truth. The Church is built upon the word of truth. God cannot, therefore, allow teachings that lead people away from the pure gospel to stand. He cannot allow those who would seek to corrupt the pure milk of the word with doctrines of demons to go unchallenged. Those who are led astray by these false teachers do so because "the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim 4:3–4). The present proliferation of prosperity prophets, media ministers of self-promotion and pseudo-scholarship “who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ”(Jude 4), are just this generation’s contribution to the efforts of the devil to obscure the pure gospel and keep as many in darkness as possible. They will join all “those who cause those who believe in [Christ] to sin” in “the unquenchable fire” (Mark 9:42-43).
He will do it because God is the truth, and always deals with and in the truth.
The deadliest, most damaging errors cause people to doubt the pure gospel of salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. Dr. Luther wrote in the Smalcald Articles that “Upon this article everything that we teach and practice depends, in opposition to the pope, the devil, and the whole world. Therefore, we must be certain and not doubt this doctrine. Otherwise, all is lost, and the pope, the devil, and all adversaries win the victory and the right over us” (SA II:I:5). Therefore God, while he may allow us to entertain errors of doctrine, stands against those things which deny the gospel (2 Pet 2:4-11).
In what many describe as a “post-Christian” culture, where the values, goals and the purpose of the church have been challenged and questioned, either we trust that God is still watching over his word to perform it and repent of our forgetting of our first love, or we walk away. The Kingdom of God is either the ultimate reality, or it doesn’t exist at all, and it is the purpose of the church to bear witness to the existence of his kingdom, even as it is the mission of the devil to deny that it exists. Every sinful act the world embraces and celebrates stems from its acceptance of the devil’s lie, the same lie that he flung at Adam that led to the fall: Has God truly said…?
Has God truly said that “Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God?” Has he truly said that “Every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father?” (Phil 2:10-11). Has he truly said, “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt 28:18-20).”
The Lord does not ask anything of us that he has not already enabled us to do through the power of the Holy Spirit who was gifted to us in Holy Baptism and nurtured through the preaching and teaching of the gospel.
If you know this to be true, to do other than what Christ has called, commissioned, and equipped us to do is nothing less than “to turn back from the holy commandment that was delivered” to you. To ignore the mission that has been entrusted to the Bride of Christ while claiming to be a part of her is to deceive yourself. The judgment of God stands firm, as it is written, “But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death” (Rev 21:8).
The Lord does not ask anything of us that he has not already enabled us to do through the power of the Holy Spirit who was gifted to us in Holy Baptism and nurtured through the preaching and teaching of the gospel. If you feel weakened by doubt and sin, Christ presents the remedy of repentance and returning to his “exceeding great and precious promises” that will enable you to “escape the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pet 1:3-4). If you feel alone with the weight of “the burden/oracle of the Lord” (Mal 1) like the prophets of old, remember, you are not alone, just like Elijah was not alone, and just like the Apostles were not alone. For Jesus said, at the close of His commissioning statement, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age!” (Matt 28:20b). So go in peace; serve the Lord. Thanks be to God.