22/12/19 – 2 Peter 2:18-19
2 Peter 2:18 – For when they speak great swelling [words] of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, [through much] wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
Jude 1:16 – These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling [words], having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.
when they speak – phtheggomai (to give out a sound, noise or cry; of any sort of sound or voice, whether of man or of animal or inanimate object as thunder, musical instruments, etc) Said to be from pheggos (light; light of the moon, candle, lamp, bright sunshine; a beam of light) from another word meaning to make known one’s thoughts, or to declare. Thus, to give light to what they say, make their thoughts clear to others, spelling out what they believe, like putting the spotlight on their speech. Exhibitionists! Also used in 2 Peter 2:16 of the donkey “speaking” to Balaam.
great swelling – hyperogkos (overswollen; metaphorically immoderate, extravagant) Exaggerated, boastful, excessive, over-the-top speech, making an effort to sound like they know what they’re talking about when they don’t! Only used twice in the NT, here and in Jude 1:16 above. An oratory (which is skill or eloquence in public speaking, especially in formal speeches).
vanity – mataiotes (devoid of truth and appropriateness; depravity; emptiness; without purpose) It is used 3 times in the NT. In Ephesians 4:17 Cambridge says that It is the “emptiness” of illusion, specially of the state of illusion which sees pleasure in sin. Here in 2 Peter 2:18 it would relate to the absolute emptiness, the total lack of any real substance to what was being said. Thus, pompous in-your-face teachings full of emptiness and devoid of any substance, devoid of wisdom, like the hot air speeches of many politicians!
These false teachers are ensuring that others get the message! They are putting on an act as if on stage. Most American religious teachers put on an acting style as if they think they could, by extra (excessive) emphasis, somehow sway us to the truth. For this reason I am put off by preaching that seems to rely upon this play-acting Shakespearean style of speech. If it’s worth saying and teaching, then it shouldn’t need all our extra persuasion to get the message across.
1 Corinthians 2:1-5 – 1And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. 2For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 3And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. 4And my speech and my preaching [was] not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: 5That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.
allure – to bait; catch by a bait; metaphorically to beguile by blandishments, allure, entice, deceive) Translated “beguiling” in 2 Peter 2:14.
the lusts – epithymia (lust; concupiscence; craving; desire for what is forbidden) Note them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness (2 Peter 2:10).
wantonness – unbridled lust; excess; licentiousness; lasciviousness; shamelessness; insolence. Translated “filthy” in 2 Peter 2:7.
These false teachers use stage-acting oratory to persuade those listening, presenting allurements (using the forbidden pleasures of filthy, lascivious living) as bait on the hook to catch “those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.” But who are these ones who are being hunted with such bait? The straight-forward meaning is that they are the ones who are genuinely saved, yet may still be tempted to depart from their salvation; that is, to apostatise. Many, though, seem to prefer to interpret it as either (a) those who have only been partially saved but not completely, or (b) never saved in the first place.
It seems that some do not like the word “clean”, preferring “barely” (which they say comes from “better” manuscripts). Then they say that “barely” means to have escaped a little, or partially escaped, or similar.
Cambridge says Some of the better MSS. give those who were a little (or partially) escaping … In the one case, stress is laid on the fact that the work of a real and true conversion was marred by the impurity into which the victims were afterwards betrayed; in the other, on the fact that their conversion had been but incomplete, and that therefore they yielded readily to the temptation.
The problem I see with this is: How do you actually define a partially-saved person. Or a person who is a little saved? Is it possible to have escaped a little, that is, be partially saved? A little saved? Is this like MacArthur’s “potential atonement, some kind of half-way atonement” (The Doctrine of Actual Atonement Pt 1)? At what stage is a person partially escaped from the world? If a person calls upon the name of the Lord to be saved, then is it possible for him to be only partially escaped for some reason? Would a partially escaped person go to heaven or hell?
Is it possible, then, that those genuinely saved can be drawn back into the world? Is there a point where Christians become full Christians and not part-Christians? That even though their name is written in the Book of Life, it is not permanent until they take up their crosses, deny themselves (and the world) and follow Jesus? At what stage do you become eligible for heaven?
Pulpit Commentary says Those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. The Authorized Version follows the T.R., τοὺς ὄντως ἀποφυγόντας; but most of the best manuscripts have τοὺς ὀλίγως ἀποφεύγοντας. This last reading gives a better sense, "Those who are just escaping." The adverb ὀλίγως may be understood of time, or, perhaps better, of measure - "escaping by a little, a little way." Those who were "clean escaped "would not be so easily enticed by the false teachers.
But, not being “so easily enticed” does imply that they can be enticed, yet not as easily. There is nothing straight-forward about this, it seems. If those “clean escaped” can be enticed back into the world from which they had escaped, then surely this permits false teachers to be able to allure such people. Why doesn’t it say that those clean escaped cannot be enticed? It’s just a bit too vague, not definitive enough and therefore lacks the authority of a bold straight-forward statement. It’s somewhat like MacArthur saying of 2 Peter 2:1 that although the obvious could be right, he thinks there’s another sense in which we must see it because he says so, without actually proving the other wrong. (See my message on 2 Peter 2:1 for further on this.) Such people claim to be right yet do not demonstrate the alternative view to be incorrect. Thus such statements cannot dismiss these people being genuine Christians who are allured back into the world again.
Others teach that the verse does reasonably allow for some Christians to return to the world again. In particular, they teach that this applies to those who have not long escaped from the world, or are immature Christians who have not grown in their faith yet (cf Hebrews 5:11-14).
Bengel says The compound verb ἀποφεύγειν (escaping) has of itself such force, that even without the adverb ὄντως (clean), it denotes those who truly escape, 2 Peter 2:20; 2 Peter 1:4; but ὀλίγως (barely?), for a short time, added to the verb, adds remarkably to the sense of the passage. No sooner have some escaped from those who live in error, than these wretched men are afresh ensnared by them. Such haste is expressed in 2 Peter 2:21-22, on account of which indeed the fool remains a fool, Proverbs 26:11, the dog a dog, the sow a sow.
Benson says those — Who, as Christians; were clean escaped from the spirit, customs, and company of them that live in error — That is, in sin. In other words, they bring back again to their former sensuality, and other vices, those who, having been converted, had entirely forsaken their former evil ways and wicked companions.
If one may lose his salvation, it does appear to be those who have not yet let go of the world that are at risk of losing what they gained in Christ. These are the ones who have called upon the name of the Lord to be saved, yet do not want to give up their “rights” to enjoy the pleasures of the world. It would be their love of the world that enables false teachers to entice (“allure”) them back into the world. This love of the world would cause them to let their salvation slip (Hebrews 2:1), and how shall they escape then, having neglected their so great salvation (Hebrews 2:3)?
Note that Hebrews 2:3 teaches us to not neglect so great a salvation. That word “neglect” is also used in 1 Timothy 4:14a – Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy The word for “neglect” is used in situations where someone has responsibility for something.
Also see Hebrews 8:9 (Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.)
and 2 Peter 1:12 (Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things).
So “neglect” clearly applies to those things for which one is responsible. Those false teaching calvinists say that we cannot have any say ourselves in our salvation, yet how may one neglect something for which one has no responsibility? Neglect is a form of abuse where the perpetrator, who is responsible for caring for someone who is unable to care for themselves, fails to do so. It can be a result of carelessness, indifference, or unwillingness. (Wikipedia)
I will continue to maintain that genuinely calling upon the name of the Lord (that is, truly meaning what you have prayed) will bring salvation as promised (Romans 10:13). However, if the new-born Christian fails to give up the world with its pleasures, and avoids partaking truly of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4 – Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.) then they may still be drawn back into the world from which they had escaped. The Christian must hand over full control of his life to God (see Romans 12:1), that is, give up his free will right to decide such things for himself, take up his cross, deny himself and follow Jesus (Matthew 16:24-25). Thus he must effectively give God Enduring Power of Attorney, a legally-binding covenant that gives another person control of your assets and even your life in some cases. For what is a man advantaged if he should gain the world yet lose his soul? (Matthew 16:26)
Let’s look at some more word meanings now.
clean – ontos (truly; in reality; in point of fact, as opp. to what is pretended, fictitious, false, conjectural; that which is truly or indeed …)
escaped – apopheugo (to flee from; escape) This word is only used 3 times in the NT, all in 2 Peter (1:4; 2:18; 2:20).
from them who live – anastrepho (turned away from them; turned their backs to them; to return to where they had previously left) A similar word epistrepho is used for “turn” in Vs 21 below, and for “turned …. again” in Vs 22 below.
error – a wandering; a straying about; one led astray from the right way; roams hither and thither.
The context of 2 Peter is important. He wrote this letter to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: (2 Peter 2:1). It is clear that Peter was declaring the faith of his readers to be like precious (equally precious; equally honoured; to be esteemed equal) to his own. These are not just members of a church or such; they are members of The Church! We can safely assume that these are genuinely saved Christians to whom this letter is addressed. He also says that they have knowledge (epignosis) of God, and of Jesus our Lord (2 Peter 1:2). It is difficult, even impossible, to see those to whom Peter is writing as non-Christians.
In Ch.3 (Vs 16) Peter says that unlearned and unstable people pervert the truth because it is hard to understand (and therefore makes it easier for them to deceive others). As a result such false teachers go to their destruction. However, his readers (the “beloved”) know these things beforehand (where “seeing ye know [these things] before” is proginosko, the verb form of “foreknowledge”), and because they proginosko these things, then they know what will happen to those who follow the wicked ones: they will fall away from their own steadfastness. It is a warning lest they fall away into the error of the wicked. Remember that the ones to whom he is writing have been named as those of “like precious faith with us”!
2 Peter 3:16-17 – 16As also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as [they do] also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know [these things] before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
Peter also explains in Ch.1 that because of their knowledge (epignosis) of him that hath called us to glory and virtue, they might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust and through such partaking they would be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. And then in 2 Peter 1:9, Peter tells them that if they lack these things (through not partaking of the divine nature) they are short-sighted and have forgotten (put out of their minds) that they were originally purged from their sins. He also appears to caution them by suggesting that they might even not be permitted entrance into heaven! These are still those of “like precious faith”, too.
2 Peter 1:10-11 – 10Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: 11For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Of course, calvinists would then say that the lack of works proves that they never were chosen in the first place. Yet it is hard to see how they could explain how they could be diligent to make their election sure, if they were not called in the first place. What’s the point of making your election sure unless you are one of the elect? But such are the inconsistencies of calvinism!
It is impossible to see those of 2 Peter 2:18 as anything else than genuine Christians, some of whom may have seriously backslidden.
Further in Ch.1, Peter then discusses sophisticated myths (“fables”) in Vs 16 compared with the eye-witness statements of those who were actually with Jesus. This leads into a definition of the true word of God at the end of Ch.1. The truth of the Bible (being from the Holy Spirit) is then used to declare the evil of those who deny its truth: the false teachers of Ch.2. Thus we have 2 groups: (a) the Christians to whom Peter is writing (who are then seen as either diligent to partake of the divine nature or those who would rather “forget” their Christian status for a while so that they can enjoy the world), and (b) the false teachers who teach damnable heresies. Some will then follow the false teachers. The question is: Are those who follow the false teachers genuine Christians or wannabee (pretend) Christians? Or partially saved, etc?
Peter doesn’t describe any of those to whom he is writing as non-Christians. He doesn’t even say that it is non-Christians who are enticed back into the world. All he says it that those enticed back have already clean (or barely) escaped the world previously. Apart from the two obvious options (that is, they are either Christians who lose their salvation or they never were Christians in the first place) there is a 3rd consideration. A number of views teach that they were only partially escaped, escaped only a little, their conversion was incomplete, etc.
If a person calls upon the name of the Lord to be saved, and if he believes in his heart that Jesus is Lord and confesses this with his mouth, then what more is required to be saved, if his desire and action here were genuine? Such a person is saved (or else God’s promise is not sure). But a person cannot be a disciple of Christ unless he takes up his cross, denies himself (that is, his selfish worldly desires) and follows Jesus (Luke 14:27; 33). He must hand over his life (Romans 12:1). He must fully surrender his will to God, before he is a true disciple. But it is not required that he do all this to get his name written in the Book of Life. After being saved, it is required of a person that he submit to God’s will completely. But this does not necessarily happen immediately. Many are saved, only to put their salvation to one side every time they sneak back to the world for a bit more pleasure. They are saved yet they refuse to burn their bridges (to the world) behind them. They don’t want to throw the old life completely out, so they may go through a series of slipping back into the world, then crawling back across the bridge again. The only way to avoid this is to remove their options for the world, and the only way to do that is to fully surrender to God (Romans 12:1), giving God control of their free will. Burn those bridges back to the world!
There are 3 things noted re the Book of Life. Your name is either not there, or it is there, or it has been blotted out. It seems possible, even probable that a person can be saved, have his name written in the Book of Life, yet not have surrendered his will fully to God. It is this nether area between being saved and full surrender that is the danger period. This is why discipling those saved is so important, to get them past this dangerous stage.
Hebrews 6:1-2 – 1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, 2Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3And this will we do, if God permit.
It is also clear that in Hebrews 6 the question is: What did they repent of that couldn’t be renewed again (Hebrews 6:6)? Likewise, those who escape the pollutions of the world and then return to that world are worse off than they were in the first place (2 Peter 2:20). It would have been better for them to have never heard of the gospel of salvation than to do this and turn away from it again. But how many times can a person hear the gospel and be seriously challenged without being penalised for turning away? At what stage can a person be refused permission to repent, or to turn again to the way of righteousness etc?
The Greek term epignosis is a key to much of this. Peter uses it 4 times in this epistle: 2 Peter 1:2; 1:3; 1:8; 2:20.
2 Peter 1:3 – According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
2 Peter 1:8 – For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 2:20 – 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.
See also its use in Ephesians 1:17 & also 4:13 (Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge (epignosis) of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:)
And the verb form epiginosko is used twice in 2 Peter 2:21. – For it had been better for them not to have known (epiginosko) the way of righteousness, than, after they have known (epiginosko) [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
However, it is 1 Corinthians 13:12 where we can compare the use of ginosko with epiginosko. [For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know (ginosko) in part; but then shall I know (epiginosko) even as also I am known (epiginosko).] (Also compare synagogue with episynagogue.)
Therefore, epignosis is not just a surface, shallow knowing of God; rather it is the deeper knowledge which may be compared with the deeper, fuller knowledge that God has of us. Here it clearly means the deeper, fuller knowledge that can only come through being one of God’s children through salvation in Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 2:19 – While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
liberty – eleutheria (liberty; freedom; a licence to live as we wish; liberty to do as we please) It derives from a word meaning: freeborn, not a slave; freed from slavery; not bound by obligation; free from the yoke of the Law.
The huge problem with such false teaching as per Vs 18 above is that what these false teachers promise is a lie. They promise liberty while they themselves are in bondage to the consequences of their corruption. That is, corruption doesn’t serve them; they serve corruption. Think of it as a sort of addiction. These false teachers are trapped in a cycle of corruption that they cannot (or will not) break free of. They cannot (or will not) escape it, so they try to get as many others as possible to join them in their destruction (which they call freedom). It would start off as a free will desire to live lasciviously, but, like all satan’s enticements, it soon gets to the stage where they have locked themselves in and cannot break free easily if at all.
God gives such people over to their rebellion; and from this point they will not break free.
Romans 1:28-32 – 28And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.