Be Aware! (False Teaching Ahead) ~ A Final Autopsy – 2 Peter 2:17-22

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Be Aware! False Teaching Ahead – Part 3

A Final Autopsy

2 Peter 2:17-22

Bruce A. Hess

Now, if you would, please take out your Bibles, take out the Word of God and turn in it, in the New Testament, to 2 Peter, chapter number 2. 2 Peter, chapter 2.

I want to begin by asking you a question and you can hold your hands up high: how many of you have ever had to travel through airport security? Let me see the hands out there. Yeah, the majority of us have. You know what that is like. You end up being nearly undressed when you go through airport security. You’ve got to lose your shoes, your belt, your jacket, your jewelry. You have to empty out all of your pockets. And you have to get your computer out, your tablet out, your phone out, your purse, your carry-ons, all of that has to be organized. If you have a toddler in a stroller—multiply that times three, right?

What makes it even worse is, you’re all in a rush to do it because the people behind you are pushing and they’re anxious to get through security. If I could think of one word that would describe how you feel as you’ve come through airport security, that one word would be the word ‘discombobulated,’ right? We feel discombobulated when we go through airport security.

What is interesting about that is, some airports are learning about how we feel discombobulated and some of them are picking up on it. For example, in the General Mitchell Airport in Milwaukee they now have an area with a special sign that says, ‘Recombobulation Area.’ You know, you want to be in the recombobulation area so you can combobulate your way out of the state of disarray that you are in when you go through airport security. Right?

Now, we’ve been involved in a series of messages from 2 Peter, chapter 2, that we’ve entitled, ‘Be Aware!’ If you take chapter 2 of 2 Peter and you read just straight through the twenty-two verses, you are going to be reading about all the confrontations, the descriptions of the false teachers, the rebukes that are there, the severe consequences that are there. I think when you read all the way through those verses, you tend to feel a little bit discombobulated.

Actually, chapter 2 of 2 Peter is very difficult to outline. I have struggled in trying to find a good clear way to outline that chapter. But, one thing is clear in chapter 2, Peter is not into political correctness. You have to even wonder if there was someone who was watching him write the letter—or maybe they read if after had written it out and they might say, ‘Whoa, tone it down, [to make something you’ve said or written less severe or less forceful] Pete, just a little bit. That is pretty heavy stuff.’

But what Peter does in chapter 2 is, he tells it like it is and he unleashes heavy artillery on the false teachers. Now, here is a question, why does he do that? Why does he do that? Why does he unleash heavy artillery on the false teachers? Well, the reasons are: they were distorting gospel truth; they were misleading people who were followers of Jesus and leading them into positions where those people being discouraged, defeated. Some of them no doubt experiencing despair in their life. He is doing it because, as he says in verse 2 of the chapter, “Because of them the way of the truth will be maligned.” That means is it discredited; it is defamed.

Then, in verse 3 of chapter 2, he says of these false teachers, “They exploit you with false words.” As we saw last time, he said of them, they seek, their motivations are, to teach you motivated by sensuality and sex; motivated by money and affluence; motivated by the pride of power, influence, and popularity.

I’ve given a title to today’s message, as we conclude chapter 2, and the title is, ‘A Final Autopsy.’ We see that in verses 17-22. I would like to read verses 17-22 and invite you to follow along in your Bible as I’m reading. So, in this final autopsy, Peter says this,

“These are springs without water (talking about the false teachers) and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption, for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. (Verse 20) For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the ay of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit.” And, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”

Now, before we move into this, I just want to remind you of what we have covered in chapter 2. We first looked, in the first three verses, at the Reality of the Danger of False Teachers. Last time, in verses 3-16, we looked at the Inevitability of Judgment on False Teachers. And today, as a conclusion of the chapter, we are going to look at Peter’s Autopsy on the Effects of False Teachers, in verses 17-22.

When I say, autopsy, what is an autopsy? An autopsy is a clarifying analysis, it is a clarifying evaluation.

So, we have basically today, a two-part plan. First of all, we are going to look at A Concluding Assessment that he makes of the false teachers in verses 17-19. Then, secondly, we are going to look at what I’m calling A Confusing Epilogue, in verses 20-22. So that is where we are going, that is what we are going to cover. We are going to begin by looking at A Concluding Assessment that he gives in verses 17, 18, and 19.

Let’s look again at verse 17. Notice he says, “These (he’s been talking about the false teachers) are springs without water.” Now, if you lived in the Middle East you would know that water is very, very vital. So, when anyone in the Middle East hears of teaching about water, their ears would perk up. He says, “These (false teachers) are springs without water” That is a picture of deception. See, if you would approach a spring, you would be anticipating that the spring would have water that would refresh you. The New Living Translation translates it, “They are as useless as dried up springs.” What was happening is the false teachers were promising spiritual refreshment; they were promising spiritual vitality and they can’t deliver on that because they don’t have it.

He goes on to say in verse 17, “They are mists driven by a storm.” What would often happen in that part of the world is that there would be this heavy sea breeze that would come up and it would pick up a little bit of mist from the sea. So, if you were on the land, you might see these clouds coming and this mist flowing, and you would think there’s rain that is going to come. It is signaling rain to follow, but ultimately there is nothing there at all. In other words, in these two analogies he is using, the false teachers promise what they cannot deliver.

Then, notice he says in verse 17, regarding them, he says, “For whom the black darkness has been reserved.” The ESV says, “The gloom of darkness has been reserved.”

Now, in many ways the book of Jude, the little book just before the book of the Revelation, parallels some of these thoughts that Peter has. I want you to see the way Jude puts it in Jude 12 and 13, speaking of the false teachers again, echoes of what we’ve been looking at in 2 Peter 2.

“They are shameless in the way that they care only about themselves. They are like clouds blowing over dry land without giving rain, promising much but producing nothing. They are like trees without fruit at harvest time, they are wandering stars for whom the blackest darkness has been reserved forever.” Now, men and women that is a stark summary of these false teachers.

Now, I’m going back to 2 Peter. Look at verse 18. It says they, “Speak out arrogant words of vanity.” Literally, the word in the original is ‘swollen words.’ You know, something that is swollen is just not what it ought to be. The NET Bible translates it, “They speak high sounding but empty words.” In other words, their teaching sounds appealing, but there is a big difference between true Biblical communication and manipulation. And manipulation is what the false teachers do.

Notice in verse 18 he says there, “They entice by fleshly desires.” The emphasis is the pursuit of personal pleasures and desires and that is what they are communicating to their listeners, to pursue personal pleasures and desires. You might put it this way, they like to paint fleshly desires in appealing colors. That is what false teachers do, they paint fleshly desires in appealing colors. You see that in the arena of those who teach the wealth and prosperity teaching. They are painting fleshly desires in appealing colors – this is what you ought to want, this is what God wants for you.

Notice it goes on to say in verse 18, they also speak out these empty words by sensuality. Part of the appealing colors is appealing to sensuality. You see that a lot today in the false teaching that is out there, that seeks to justify homosexual behavior; that seeks to justify people who are not married co-habiting together. You see the same thing, these appealing colors, and the push in the arena of transgenderism, you know where they are telling young people, you get to pick your own gender.

By the way, these false teachers, Peter is going to tell us, have a special target. Notice he says that they “Speak out these words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, (who is the target?) those who barely escape from the ones who live in error.” The NIV says, “Those who are just escaping.” Most commentators believe that he is referring to newer believers, younger believers, as being a special target of the false teachers. That’s what most commentators feel.

Now, what would you say about newer believers and younger believers? Well, they’re the most vulnerable targets. They are less equipped to analyze the false teaching that is coming their way. They are less equipped simply because of a lack of experience spiritually, to analyze the tactics and propaganda of the false teachers. Men and women – that is way it is so vital for our children to learn the Scriptures well. It is why it is so vital for our students to learn the Scriptures well. It is why it is so vital for new believers to learn the Scriptures well—because that is the greatest protection from the scourge of false teaching that we can have.

Now, notice in verse 19 it says something more about the false teachers. It says there, “Promising them freedom.” Again, this is part of the allure of this push of transgenderism that is coming on our day, which wants to say, especially to our young people, be who you think you are, rather than who God says you are. “Promising them freedom,” and yet there is some irony there in verse 19, “While they themselves are slaves of corruption.” The NIV says, “They are slaves of depravity.” Verse 19, “For by what a man is overcome, by this, by this, he is enslaved.” The New Living Translation says, “You are a slave to whatever controls you.”

I just want you to see that these false teachers, they like to cry ‘Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!’ while they themselves are slaves to sin.

So, that is the Concluding Assessment we see in verses 17-19. We said, though, we had a two-part plan for today. The second thing we were going to do, after having looked at a concluding assessment, is to look at what I am calling A Confusing Epilogue. Now, I want to read verses 20 and 21 again and just follow along.

“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.”

Now, here is the question I want to ask for a moment and that is: (this is probably what you are wondering) why is this confusing? Why is this confusing? I am going to answer that question. The reason why it is confusing is, what happens when you are reading through theses verses is it is easy to do what I often call, being lost in the pronouns. Do you ever do that when someone is talking to you and they are using ‘he’ or ‘she’ and there are multiple people involved, or ‘them’ and you go, wait a minute I got lost in the pronouns, who are we talking about there?

Well, it’s easy to get lost in the pronouns, which are at times subjects of the verbs in the original language. So, I want to point out, here is the idea: in verse 20, you notice it says there are two ‘theys’ there. It says, “If after they have escaped, they are again entangled.” Those two ‘theys’ could refer to the false teachers or those two ‘theys’ could refer to the targets of the false teachers, the newer, younger believers.

Notice verse 19. We have two ‘theys’ in verse 20, well, those two ‘theys’ could track back in verse 19, either to the phrase, “Themselves being slaves of corruption.” Or the two ‘theys’ in verse 20 could track back to, They are enslaved, and they are slaves of corruption.” So, we don’t really know how exactly it tracks back.

I just want to let you know that there are two basic views that expositors have of this little epilogue. One I am calling, The Majority View. Now, why do I call it the majority view? The reason why I call it the majority view is that the majority of Bible expositors would hold to this view. There are more who hold to this view than hold to the other view. What the majority view says is this: that this epilogue that we have here—verses 20, 21, and also 22—is addressing false teachers who only claimed to know God. They are people who are mere professors of the faith; they are people who were never regenerated; they are just people who are only outwardly following Christ.

So, that is The Majority View. The Minority View, which just simply means there are less—there are many good expositors, but less of them—who would say this: that the epilogue is addressing vulnerable believers, newer or younger converts who are deceivingly led into sin.

Hang in there with me, because I want you to understand this as it is important. I want to explain the way both views look at these verses, okay? So, first let’s look at The Majority View, which is saying that these verses are addressing the false teachers who only claim to know God, who are mere professors of faith. And what they would say is that the two ‘theys’ in verse 20 (“they have escaped” and “they are again entangled”), if you look up to verse 19, trace back better to the word ‘themselves,’ rather than the word ‘them.’(which occurs at the first of the verse). That is, “Promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption.”

Here is the way they would understand this phrase: in The Majority view, who think it is addressing false teachers who only claim to know God, being  pretenders of the faith, you have the phrase described as “Escaping the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” What they would say is, when it says “they escaped” it only means in sort-of-a- sense that they escaped. They didn’t really escape, just sort-of-in-a-sense they escaped because they were pretending to follow Jesus. Pretending meant they were living differently outwardly.

And, because they were pretending to follow Jesus, they lived differently for a while masquerading as a follower of Christ. So, thus they “escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Here is more of what they would say in The Majority View: these false teachers had heard the gospel; they had fully understood the gospel of salvation, but they had never trusted in it at all; they only had head knowledge, simply mere head knowledge.

The Majority View also addresses a second phrase: “they are entangled they have been overcome, and the last state is worse than the first.” Being entangled, The Majority View would say, means that they got caught up again and entangled in their sin choices; they have been overcome; they now have returned to their previous lifestyle. And the last state is the “worse than the first.” How does the Majority view understand that little phrase there? Well, they would say, at first these false teachers were unaware of who Christ is, but then they heard about who Christ was and what He had done. Now they are rejecting Jesus—likely never to reconsider Jesus ever again—so therefore the last state is worse than the first.

Then, you have the phrase in verse 21, “It would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness.” What does the ‘way of righteousness’ mean in the Majority View? Well, they would say that the way of righteousness is the pathway of salvation. It would have been better for them not to have known the pathway of salvation, because now they are rejecting it (which is worse than not knowing it).

Then, in verse 21 it goes on to say, “…Better not having known it…than to turn from the holy commandment.” What is, in the Majority View, the holy commandment referring to? Well, they would say in the Majority View that it is referring to the gospel; the gospel message. Or, maybe it is referring to all of the Scriptures. The majority view would say this is just that Scriptural principle of ‘ the more light you have, the more responsibility you have.’ In other words, when they didn’t know about Jesus it was one thing, but when they heard and understood and ultimately, they end up rejecting Him—there is greater responsibility for them than those who had never heard; a greater responsibility in the future judgment.

You know, the future judgment of humanity is going to be tiered [different levels of judgment] by God. The notion is that if you learned about Jesus and you rejected Jesus, there is greater responsibility than someone who never heard about Jesus in the first place.

So, that is The Majority View of these verses. Are you hanging in there with me? Alright! Let’s look at The Minority View. Remember the minority view would say this epilogue is addressing the vulnerable believers, the newer or younger converts, who are deceivingly led into sin. What this view says is that the ‘theys’ in verse 20 (“they have escaped” and “they are again entangled”) track better back to the word “them,” “Promising them freedom,” [the newer, younger believers] in verse 19.

Now, how does the Minority View understand these various phrases that follow? First the phrase,  “They escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” They are saying in the Minority View that these were real believers. They would point us to chapter 1, verses 1-4, where you have language that is strongly similar—almost totally identical—to what is occurring in these verses in chapter 2.

Let’s go over to chapter 1 for a moment and look at verses 1-4. You know when Peter opened up his letter he was writing to these believers, and he was acknowledging the salvation of the recipients of the letter.

I want you to notice there is very similar phraseology here to what we see in the epilogue. Notice verse 1. He is writing, he says, “To those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours (and here we go, similar wording) by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” Look at verse 2, he says, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you (here is similar wording) in the knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord.” Look at verse 4, “He has granted to us His precious and magnificent promises, so that by them you may become partakers of the divine nature (here it comes, interesting wording) having escaped the corruption that is in the world by lust.”

Now, that verbal structure there, that says, “You escaped,” is the exact same verbal structure as the escaping that is mentioned in the epilogue, exactly the same wording. This is very significant. It seems that the language that we see in the epilogue, to me, or to the Minority View, would be the language of genuine conversion. It is not making a reference, the Minority View would say, to someone who is a mere professor of the faith, but it is a description of a true possessor of the faith.

Go back with me in chapter 2 to verse 20 again. We want to look at how the Minority View looks at these various phrases. Remember it talks about, they are entangled, they are overcome; and how the last state is worse than the first. They become entangled again in the defilements of the world and they’ve been overcome. The Minority View would say they’re spiritually defeated; they are caught up in some sin in their life after having had spiritual victory at the beginning.

Then, you have the phrase that ‘the last state is worse than the first.’ What does that really mean? Well, the Minority View would say that when you are a brand-new believer you don’t really know better, right? But as you come to faith in Christ you begin to learn to know better. Yet, these newer believers or younger believers had allowed themselves to be influenced by the false teachers and were making poor choices.

The Minority View of the phrase, “It is better for them not to have known the way of righteousness,”— the Minority View focuses on the words, the way of righteousness. It is not saying it is better for them to have not known Christ. It is not saying it is better for them not to have known the gospel. I mean, one would NEVER say that it is better for anyone to not know the way of salvation, because to not know the way of salvation leads to hell!

Now, regarding this phrase, ‘the way of righteousness,’ remember the Majority View says that is referring to the gospel message per se. The Minority View says: No, the way of righteousness is a reference, really, to the Christian life. The New Living Translation translate it, “It would be better for them not to have known the right way to live.” The Minority View says this is a Christian life issue. It would have been better for these young or newer believers not to have known the way of righteousness. Again, that is referring to the Christian life, in the Minority View.

It would be better for them not to have known it than having known it,  to turn from the holy commandment. Now, that second phrase, the holy commandment, it pivotally important again. The Majority View identifies “the holy commandment” as a reference to the gospel or a reference to all of the Scriptures. The Minority view says, no, it’s not. The Minority View says the holy commandment—in Peter’s world—refers to what Peter says in his first letter. In

1 Peter, chapter 1 and verse 15, when he is writing to believers there and he says, “Like the Holy One who called you (you, followers of Christ) be holy yourselves in all your behavior, because it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’”

So, in the Minority View, the holy commandment is referring back to Peter’s  exhortation to believers to live a holy life. The idea in this view would be that these newer believers, or younger believers, had walked with Jesus for a while, they had learned that they were to honor Him with their life, but they were now making carnal choices. And, to do that, to do that, would bring certain guilt and conviction to a believer in Christ. It would bring inner anguish; it would bring, ultimately, spiritual discipline from the Lord. It is harder to enjoy sin after your heart has been changed. It just is.

There you have the Majority View and the Minority View. So here is the question some of you are wondering, which one do you prefer, Bruce? I want you to know that I personally lean more towards the Minority View. I lean towards that not because there aren’t many great expositors who hold the majority view, but the reason why are really two reasons. The first reason is that the language of verse 20, which we saw, closely parallels the language of chapter 1, verses 1-4. It points strongly to these people being true believers; not pretend believers, but true believers. Then, the second reason why I lean more towards the Minority View is what it says at the end of 2 Peter, in chapter 3, verses 17-18, which we will eventually get to more in depth in our next study.

Here is the idea of 3:17-18. What Peter is writing is, he is saying in light of the danger of false teachers, in light of their attempt to draw you into sinful activity, here is the way that he exhorts them at the end of the letter…and you’ll see a lot of parallel with what we see in chapter 2. He says to those believers, “Be on your guard.” Why? “So that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness.” Not fall from your salvation; not lose your salvation; but fall from the steadfastness of your walk with Christ. Rather, what I want you to do is to, “Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” So, this is a big thrust at the end of the letter which points me back to the Minority View.

Now, there is a second question. The first question was:  which do you prefer, Bruce? The second question is, how does verse 22 relate to the Majority and Minority views? We want to talk about that for a moment. How does verse 22 fit into all of this?

So, look at verse 22. Notice it says there, “It has happened to them (You’ve got to answer who the ‘them’ are) according to the true proverb.” You’ll notice there it’s not proverbs (plural), it is proverb, even though there are two of them mentioned.  Note: “A dog returns to its own vomit” and “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire,” so why is there only one proverb? Well, they both illustrate the same principle.

Remember, the ‘them,’ who are the ‘them’ in the Majority View? Who are the ‘them’ in the Majority View: The false teachers who only claim to know God. In the Majority View they would say, regarding verse 22, is it emphasizes “nature,” it emphasizes nature. You know, pigs to the Jews were unclean as were dogs.

Here is what they would say verse 22 is emphasizing: you’re going to eventually find out the natures of these false, professing people. You can pretend to know Jesus, but eventually your true nature will show itself, it will show itself.

Now, the ‘them’ in the Minority View…remember the ‘them’ in the Minority View is addressing vulnerable believers, newer or younger converts. The Minority View would say that verse 22 is not emphasizing nature…that true nature will come out eventually. Rather it is emphasizing instead, behavior. In other words, for a child of the King, this is what the minority view would say: to allow yourself to engage in sin is as disgusting to God as a dog who regurgitates and then eats it. Think about that next time you make a sinful choice. It’s as disgusting to God as that, or as disgusting to God as a pig who is washed and then just chooses to go back and get in and wallow in the mud. The dog “escapes” bad food, but  then returns to it. The pig is washed, escaping filth, but then returns to it. So, the emphasis on this verse, in the Minority View, is emphasizing behavior.

So, there you have it, two different ways of viewing verses 20, 21, and 22. Now I want to talk about some Life Response, and this Life Response really applies to the entire series of three messages that we have done.

The first Life Response I want to talk about is For Those Who Do Not Know Jesus as their Rescuer. You know, we have been pointing out, and Peter has been pointing out, that false teachers are springs without water. But the person of Jesus Christ is a true source of spiritual refreshment and if you don’t know Him, I just want you to understand that You see, we can be on a search for that and miss that the solution to that search is found in the person of Christ. This is what Jesus said, He said, “Whoever drinks of the water that I give him,” notice the imagery here, “shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him or her will become in him or her a well of water springing up to eternal life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Rescuer, I want you to know this is where the refreshment that you long for can be found. It is found in the person of Jesus Christ.

A lot of times we are searching for other things, and we don’t even know what we are searching for. Augustine said these things, he says this to the Lord, “Because You made us for Yourself,” you were made when you were born to have a relationship with God, “Because You made us for Yourself, our hearts are restless until they find their rest in You.” What a great truth that is and we want to encourage you to do that very thing if you’ve never trusted in Christ. Find your rest in Him!

I just want to remind you, following Jesus, becoming a Christian, is not walking an aisle, it’s not praying a prayer, it’s not being baptized, it’s not joining a church. It is a personal life choice that someone makes to trust in; to count fully on the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. That is what believing means. And, if you’ve never done that, Do – it – right – now!

You don’t have to do anything special. It is a heart choice that we make to put our hope and trust in what Christ has done for us. I appeal to you to do that if you’ve never done it.

Secondly, we want to talk about some life response For Those Who Do Know Jesus as their Rescuer. We’ve mentioned this one already, if you know Jesus as your Rescuer, (1) Be a Berean. The Bereans would search the Scriptures carefully to see whether these things are so. All of us ought to be Bereans.

If you do know Jesus Christ as your Rescuer, (2) Live What You Believe. Don’t let there be a gap between what you believe and how you are living your life. Demonstrate in your life humility; demonstrate in your life authenticity, don’t be a pretend person; demonstrate in your life accountability.

Then, thirdly, if you do know Jesus as your Rescuer, I would say, by way of life response, (3) When You Stumble—and it will happen for all of us—Be Quick to Repent and Confess, as it says in 1 John 1:9. Let’s honor Him with our life!

Let’s pray together. Father, we thank You again for the Word of God that is alive and powerful and is able to change our thinking and our behavior and our belief systems. We thank You for Peter who cared enough to warn us about false teachers. We pray, Father, for any who are listening to my voice that do not know Jesus as their Rescuer, that they would trust in Him right where they sit, right now. Then, Father, for those of us who do know Jesus, we would pray that we would actively be Bereans, that we would live out what we believe, demonstrating humility and authenticity and accountability.   And when we do stumble, that we would please You by being quick to repent and to confess so that we may receive fresh forgiveness. We pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Questions for Reflectio

A Final Autopsy

2 Peter 2:17-22

1. Many of us know the experience of getting “discombobulated” while scurrying through airport security.  Have you had something happen to you going through security that was funny or especially frustrating?  Share some about it.

2. One thing is abundantly clear in 2 Peter 2—Peter is far from politically correct in the stance he takes regarding false teachers.  List some reasons why that is so.

3. Peter designates false teachers in verse 17 as “springs without water.”  What does he mean by that?  Can you think of some real-life examples?

4. Many scholars believe in verse 18 that Peter points out that the false teachers special target was newer or younger believers.  Why would they target that group?

5. Bruce points out that even to skilled expositors verses 20-22 are a confusing epilogue. What reason did Bruce cite for why that is?  Can you summarize both the Majority View and the Minority View?

6. Bruce cited two reasons why he leans toward the Minority View.  What were they? (see at bottom for the answer)

7. Bruce concluded by calling us to “Live what you believe.”  He stated that we can do that by demonstrating 1) humility  2) authenticity  3) accountability.  Brainstorm what it would look like in practical terms for us to demonstrate those three ideas.

8. Close in prayer by thanking God again for His indescribable gift of salvation.

1) the strong similarity of wording between 1:1:1-4 and 2:20 including the exact same verbal structure for “escape”   2) Paul’s closing statement later in 3:17-18 that seems to coincide with the Minority View

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