Join us as we study through 2 Peter verse by verse. Our discussion questions, teaching points, and applications can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.
2 Peter 2:1-10 Verse by Verse Bible Study Notes With Questions for Small Group Leaders
I. The danger of false teachers (1-3)
II. God judges those who cross the line (4-10)
I. The danger of false teachers (1-3)
- What false prophets arose (past tense) among the people?
- What did Peter warn them would happen in the church?
- What does verse one teach us about false teachers?
- What kind of heresies are destructive (every kind)?
- Why are heresies destructive?
- What do verses 2-3 teach us about false teachers?
- How do false teachers affect the whole church?
- What will happen to false teachers?
- What motivation do we see they have in verse 3?
- How can you protect yourself against false teachers?
- What should you do when you see false teaching?
- Is there a difference between a false teacher and a teacher who is teaching something false?
1 John 4:1 – Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 – For 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.
Jude 1:4 – For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Matthew 7:15 – Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.
Galatians 1:6-9 – I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
1 Timothy 6:5-6 – And constant friction between men of depraved mind and deprived of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment.
1. False prophets arose among the people – Peter is going to warn them about false teachers who will come. But he starts off reminding them false prophets already came in the past. And as the writer of Ecclesiastes says, “there is nothing new under the sun.” One of Satan’s favorite attacks against followers of God is to infiltrate and mislead using people who claim to be working for the Lord.
Two examples of false prophets in the Old Testament:
A. Hananiah (Jeremiah 28) – This false prophet lied that the yoke of Babylon over Judah would be broken and that within two years all of the confiscated items from the temple would be returned along with Jeconiah. He also prophesied that all nations would be freed from Babylon’s reign within two years. Jeremiah called him out on it, but Hananiah doubled-down on his false prophesy.
Jeremiah rebuked him for causing Judah to believe in a “lie” (verse 15). And Jeremiah prophesied that he would pay for it with his life in that same year. And this prophesy came true.
B. Zedekiah and his league of false prophets (1 Kings 22:1-28) – Ahab was trying to convince Jehosophat to go up to war with him against Syria. An entire school (or business) of false prophets were in the employ of the king. Their job was to say what he wanted to hear and to give spiritual authorization to his own plans. In some aspect, these false prophets were like the public relations arm of the king. He could declare any course of action and then his prophet minions would proclaim to all in the court (and by extension the whole public) that God would bless the endeavors and give victory. The king could therefore get an automatic stamp of approval on whatever he sought to do.
Jehosophat saw through this charade. He asked for a real prophet (ie: one who was not on the payroll of Ahab.) Micaiah came. In his first public statement he sarcastically parrots what everybody else is saying. But then he prophesies that King Ahab was going to die in the battle. The king was very upset and Zedekiah, who was leader of the false prophets, even more emphatically claimed a thorough victory. Micaiah was thrown into prison and promised again that Ahab would not return. His prophesy was proven to be true and Zedekiah to be a liar.
There are many types of false prophets. Some of them are clearly working for the enemy (like the four hundred prophets of Baal.) Others, claim to be serving God, but are as Jesus warned, wolves in disguise.
Application: False prophets have been infiltrating God’s people and spreading lies for thousands of years. Don’t be surprised when they continue to do the same thing today!
2. Just as there will be false teachers among you – Peter doesn’t say that there “might” be false teachers. He says there will be. It is a guarantee. Throughout the Bible we see that where God is working Satan is also working. Satan is diametrically opposed to God and does not give up easily. One example we can see of this is in Matthew 5. Jesus sets foot off the boat to bring the good news to a new area. He is instantly greeted by a man possessed by a legion of demons. Jesus did not pre-announce that he was going there. Satan’s intelligence network knew it and he also sent this man there to oppose Jesus’ work and create a distraction.
What Peter warned the church about is still true today. Maybe more than ever, false teachers are spreading lies and misleading people all over the globe. The internet and modern media has made it even easier than before for them to gain an audience. As we go through this chapter we will discuss some of the ways we can spot these false teachers. For now it is important to recognize that they are there and to commit to equipping ourselves so that they cannot lead us astray.
3. Who will secretly bring destructive heresies – False teachers will not tell you that they are false teachers! They don’t stand up in the church pulpit and say, “I am a false teacher. Today I am going to deceive you.” They bring in their false teachings secretly.
- How do they do this? What methods to they use?
- How do they disguise their message so that they are not discovered?
Here are a few possible methods they use:
- They look like a Christian. They dress like a Christian.
- They talk like a Christian. They often use a Bible (sometimes with a a good translation and sometimes not). They often quote Scripture. However, they do not apply sound hermeneutics. They pick verses out of context and twist the meaning to suit their own purposes.
- They often pretend to be a godly believer for a period of time while they lull the flock into a false sense of security.
- They often start to spread their false teachings to the immature or more vulnerable such as new believers or the sick or poor who desperately are searching for help.
Application: How can you protect yourselves from these false teachers?
4. Denying the Master – Here we see the heart of the problem. They are not serving God. They are serving someone else, themselves and also Satan (whether knowingly or unknowingly.)
5. Many will follow them – Unfortunately in all time periods there have been many who follow their teachings. The promises which they make are attractive to people.
6. Because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed – False teachers are a bad testimony for the church. When they are exposed, they leave behind scandal and hurt. Enemies of Christ quickly jump up and start pointing fingers and making accusations against the Church. It hurts the church’s reputation and it brings dishonor to Christ. It is easy for unbelievers to point at proven frauds from TV and then claim that “Christians are hypocrites. They are no different from or even worse than everyone else. They are frauds in it for the money. Church is a big scam.”
The good news is God is greater than all of this. He can protect His own reputation. He will be proven and He will be glorified. But people who use His name to steal and destroy (John 10:10) will face the consequences.
Application: We should never be the reason a person says he doesn’t want anything to do with Christ. And we should never be the cause of stumbling for any believer (Matthew 18:6). Beyond this, we also have a responsibility to speak up and take away the platform or the mic from those who use it to spread false teaching and therefore are a bad testimony. Sometimes it just takes the courage of one person to stand up to stop these people.
7. In their greed – We will discuss this more in the second half of the chapter, but we see here a glimpse into their motivation.
8. Condemnation and destruction – False teachers are going to be punished. Their “destruction is not asleep.” God is not going to let them get away with it. He doesn’t take kindly to false shepherds coming in and misleading the sheep. We will see starting in verse 4 that God has taken drastic action to intervene in the world to punish those who deserved it in the past. And He will do so in the future. Sometimes He will intervene in this world. Sometimes He will wait and judge the false prophets after their death. All will finally be judged and ever secret sin and motivation will be brought to light.
Luke 12:3 – Therefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops.
Luke 8:17 – For nothing is hidden that will not be made manifest, nor is anything secret that will not be known and come to light.
II. God judges those who cross the line (4-10)
- What do these angels and the time of Noah and Sodom and Gomorrah have to do with false teachers?
- What do these historical examples teach us about God?
- What do we learn about His justice?
- How could you use this passage to warn a false teacher?
- What do these three examples have in common?
- What angels is Peter referring to in verse 4? What other Bible passages shed light on this?
- What do we learn about Noah here?
- Why does this passage say God acted so strongly against Sodom and Gomorrah (He doesn’t always do this)?
- Why do you think Peter calls Lot “righteous?” What can we learn from this?
- What difference do we see in these examples between how God treats the evil and the godly?
- When is the day of judgment?
Genesis 6:1-4 – When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.
Luke 8:31 – And they begged him not to command them to depart into the abyss.
Jude 6-7 – And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
1 Peter 3:20 – Because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.
Romans 4:3 – For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.
Genesis 18-19 – In these chapters you can read about the punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah.
1. Peter gives three historical examples of God intervening to judge those who crossed the line – Each of these three cases is an egregious example of committing abominations against God’s designed order of things. Sin of course has always existed since the fall. And all sin will be ultimately judged. But some sins go so far to upset God’s natural order and design that He doesn’t wait until the day of judgement, but steps in to set an example as a warning that His patience and mercy have limits and that He should not be tested!
These historical examples are given by Peter as a warning to the false teachers that they have it coming and also as a comfort to believers that God is watching and will deal will such people. God is very well aware of what is going on. He will deal with wolves who try to hurt the sheep.
The world has not learned the lessons from the past. Many still defy God and certain egregious sins are becoming more and more common. Experimenting with human cloning and similar ways of tampering with God’s creation are growing more common. Abortion is another terrible mark of the callous disregard for human life. And of course homosexuality is being celebrated and pushed around the world. Other sins against God’s design include sex robots and transgender operations.
While it is hard for us to point to any single disaster and say “this is God’s judgment,” we can know God is going to judge the world for these things.
Application: Knowing that these sins are becoming more popular and God’s patience is limited, how should we respond to these things? What is the role of a believer in the modern corrupt world? What can you do about it?
2. God did not spare the angels when they sinned, but case them into hell – Read-cross references. This is likely a reference to the “sons of god” in Genesis 6. Fallen angels abandoned their natural position (angels do not reproduce or have sexual relations) and possessed men, taking over their bodies and lusting after human women, having relations with them. The Nephilim (pre-flood giants) were likely the unnatural offspring of these illegitimate unions. One possible reason for this attack from Satan is that he wanted to pollute human bloodlines and therefore nullify the promise of the Messiah given to Eve after the fall.
God would not stand for His creation to be polluted in this way and intervened, sending the offending fallen angels prematurely into an abyss, where they are chained waiting for the final day of punishment. Being chained in the “pit” or “hell,” they are no longer allowed to roam the earth and to influence it any way.
In Luke 8:31 the demons probably allude to this same abyss and begged Jesus not to send them there. They knew that one day they would face judgment, but they wanted to avoid that fate and keep their relative freedom for as long as possible.
Jude 6-7 strengthens this interpretation. Jude mentions this event in connection with Sodom and Gomorrah, which is another example of a flagrant “leaving their proper bounds” sexual sin. Notice that Peter also lists this first and then the flood and then the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. It is likely that he is listing them in chronological order, which would put this fallen angel event pre-flood. In addition to chronological order they are grouped together thematically as glaring examples of rebellion against God’s natural order.
Application: It is important for us to know that God is sovereign. Satan is active in the world and his demons are working against God’s plans. But God only allows them to operate within His grand scheme. He will not allow the to do anything which jeopardizes His plan for the world including: salvation, Jesus’ second coming, sanctification of believers, the millennial kingdom, etc.
3. He did not spare the ancient world – The second example of God’s judgement given is the flood He sent to destroy the world which practiced “great” wickedness (Genesis 6:5). This was a widespread global judgment and as such is the most clear example that God will deal with a corrupt world and no one who rebels against Him will escape.
4. Noah a herald of righteousness – This phrase gives us an important glimpse into Noah’s life and ministry. Was Noah doing anything else during those 100 years besides building the ark? The answer is “yes.” He was preaching about God to the world around him. He certainly would have had many opportunities for this. Building a boat that size would not have gone unnoticed. It is likely many people went to watch and mock Noah for his efforts. There wasn’t television in those days so why not spend a weekend laughing at who they would have considered the village idiot. During those interactions, it is reasonable to believe that Noah would have preached to those people and warned them to repent and escape the wrath to come. Did anybody listen?
The answer most people will likely give is “no.” But first of all his family believed. And it is also possible that his sons’ wives came to believe due to his preaching as well. It is also possible others believed, but died before the flood came. When a person preaches about God, His Word will not return void. Noah’s teaching certainly served to make sure his generation had no excuse for their rebellion. Beyond this, some few people may have believed and then died before the flood.
Sometimes preachers are very concerned with quantity, but quality is also very important. A minister should not ignore his family to do outreach. Often the most important ministry is to one’s own family.
Application: Do not be discouraged when your preaching seems to bear little fruit. Noah persisted for one hundred years with little fruit to show for it. But in the end his family followed God and the entire future of humanity was saved and Jesus’ came as the Savior. These things would not have happened that way if Noah wasn’t faithful to preach!
5. The judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah – Sodom and Gomorrah were overthrown and turned into wastelands by the Lord as punishment for their sexual perversion. When angels came down to get a firsthand view of the state of things there men tried to force them into having homosexual sex. It doesn’t get much more perverted than that! The divine punishment God unleashed on those cities is the third precedent Peter shows in these passages proving that false teachers will likewise all be judged one day.
6. Righteous Lot – I always have a bit of hard time understanding how Lot can be called righteous. The culture of the city he lived in influenced him. When the angels were staying with him, he offered up his daughters to be sexually assaulted by the men in the city. Later he committed drunken incest with them. How can such a man be called righteous?
Clearly it was not a righteousness of his own. Lot is a reminder that no person has righteousness of themselves. Lot’s righteousness was imputed to him the same as Abraham’s and that is through faith.
Romans 4:3 – For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.
Lot did believe God and because of his faith God did save him. He was not a perfect man or even close to it. His conduct was influenced by the people he lived with. But whereas they sold themselves out to pursuing and enjoying sin, Lot clearly had an internal struggle with it. Peter says that their deeds were “tormenting his righteous soul.” None of us can claim to be completely set apart from the society we live in. We too make foolish mistakes and commit terrible sins like Lot did.
But the fact that inspired Scripture calls him righteous is an important lesson to us about where righteousness comes from. In a similar manner, we too can be righteous before God, not because of our own deeds, but because He imputes it to us in His abundant grace and mercy.
7. The Lord knows how to rescue the godly and punish the wicked – These are the two possible outcomes. We can be rescued (saved) by God or punished by Him. Lot was saved. Noah was saved. Their families were saved. But all the others around them were not. For a long time those people living in their sin thought they were safe, but the judgment came quickly.
8. Especially those who indulge in lust and despising authority – These three accounts show the depths lust takes people to. In all three cases God’s divine authority was also thrown off as people revolted against His good will.
Application: How can you apply what you have learned today? How can you be better equipped to recognize false teaching? What is your role in a world that so wickedly throws off God’s law and pursues every form of wickedness?
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