Tag Archives: Second Peter

False Teachers as a Sign

Jesus Christ, the one person in the history of the world whose word can be trusted 100% of the time, stated that false teachers would arise in the church prior to the end of the Jewish System. This is stated in Matthew 24:11-14 as well as verse 24. He also said “this generation shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34). Jesus also called this judgment on the Jews “the coming of the Son of man” (Matthew 24:27, 30). Therefore, we can know 100% that one of the signs that the Jewish system was about to be destroyed (a.k.a. the Roman-Jewish War, the worst thing to ever happen in the history of mankind, the coming of Jesus Christ in judgment on them) was that false teachers would arise in the church.

The apostle Paul told the elders at Ephesus that false teachers would arise from among them—this isn’t some time in the far-off future, he’s saying that the false teachers would arise from among those specific men he was talking to! (Acts 20:29-30).

The apostle John wrote to Christians, telling them that the fact that there were “many antichrists” (false teachers) was definitive proof that the “final hour” had come (1 John 2:18). To the inspired apostle, these false teachers were a sign that the end of something was upon them.

The apostle Peter stated that the primary thing the Jewish Christians in AD 64-65 needed to remember was that in the “last of the days” mockers (false teachers) would arise, walking after their own lusts, denying that Jesus was coming in judgment. The mockers were a sign to the Christians that the “last of the days” were upon them.

It was less than two years later that Jude wrote his letter, describing the false teachers who had now made their presence known. While Peter spoke of it as something in the future, Jude spoke of as a then-present reality. Look for yourself at Jude 12, “These [false teachers] are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you…” Is there any doubt that Jude meant what he said? These false teachers were in some of the same congregations that first received Jude’s letter!!! By the time Jude wrote, the false teachers that Peter had prophesied about had come. And to cement this fact, Jude quotes 2 Peter 3:3, showing that it was being fulfilled a short time after it was written.

Jesus said the false teachers in the church was a sign that the Jewish system would be violently destroyed. Paul foretold that false teachers would arise in Ephesus during the lifetime of the elders that he spoke to. John said that the false teachers in his day were a sign that the “final hour” was upon them. Peter said that false teachers would be proof that the “last of the days” were upon them. Jude quoted Peter’s prophecy as being fulfilled in AD 65 or 66—right before the beginning of the Roman-Jewish War.

A question that must be asked is this: Did Peter tell the Jewish Christians that the primary thing for them to remember is that sometime in the far-off future (at least 1900 years later), false teachers would arise in the church? Or was he referencing something that they would actually need to worry about?

Should someone object to that question and say “Peter was just warning them, he didn’t know when Jesus was coming back,” my response is this: God knew. God knows. And God is the one who inspired Peter to write what he did. If the “last of the days” in 2 Peter 3:3 is speaking of the end of time, then you have to conclude that God thought the most important thing for first-century Jewish Christians—who were about to endure the worst thing that ever happened in the history of man—to remember is that false teachers would arise in the church thousands of years after they themselves were dead and gone.

-Bradley Cobb

The End of Judaism and the Destruction of Jerusalem

The Roman-Jewish War, the End of Judaism, and the Destruction of Jerusalem

A common objection to the idea that the “last days” in 2 Peter 3:3 is a reference to the end of the Jewish system is this: The readers were in Asia Minor, so why would they need to be warned about the destruction of Jerusalem when they’re nowhere near it?

The destruction of Jerusalem was not an isolated event. It was the culmination of a war that lasted 3 ½ years. Beginning in AD 66, the Roman Empire declared war on the Jews. They took this fight to the Jews all across the Empire. That included Galilee, Samaria, and Judea; but it also included Macedonia, Achaia, and Asia Minor. For 3 ½ years, Jews were viewed as public enemy #1 by the Empire. It didn’t matter if they were Christians or not—the Romans didn’t make that distinction. And when you consider that Christianity was viewed as a “sect” of Judaism (Acts 24:5, 14, 28:22), it meant Christians—Jew or Gentile—were also targets.

The Roman army, in preparing for the siege on Jerusalem, sent many of their boats to Caesarea, and in the process destroyed the Jewish navy, filling the shores with their mangled, broken bodies. Other boats landed around Ephesus, unloading thousands of troops who methodically marched their way across Asia Minor, wiping out Jewish communities and settlements as they went. Arriving in Galilee, they destroyed every known town and city, obliterating any city walls and burning every building to the ground.

Tens of thousands of Jews were slaughtered over this time period. This included thousands butchered in Asia Minor. And all of that was before Jerusalem was actually destroyed.

Jesus Christ described these events with the words, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). According to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Roman’s war against the Jews was the most horrifyingly violent and bloody thing to ever happen in the history of the world, and that nothing that comes since then will match it.

Jews from across the Empire (including Asia Minor) all converged on Jerusalem for one of their annual feasts. It was at that point that Jerusalem was sieged, and the people inside the city became so starved during the siege that some women ate their own children to stay alive. Finally, in August of AD 70, the Roman armies breached the walls of the city and went on a murderous spree throughout the city. According to Josephus, 1,100,000 Jews were dead by the time the Romans stopped killing them.

In the process of their destruction of the city, they also set fire to the Temple. By doing so, they fulfilled the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:1-2. The brazen altar melted. The gold on the temple melted. Everything in the temple was completely destroyed.

This was God’s doing. By destroying the temple, the altar, the holy place, and the most holy place, God Himself made it physically impossible for anyone to follow the Old Testament. There was no longer any altar to offer the sacrifices on—therefore no way to obtain forgiveness of sins. There was no most holy place in which to offer the blood once a year—therefore no way for atonement. Not only that, but the records of the genealogies were all destroyed—therefore no one could prove that they were a priest anyway. Everything that was required for forgiveness under the Old Testament was gone, making it impossible to ever follow the Law of Moses properly.

This event, this destruction of Jerusalem after 3 ½ years of intense war on the Jewish people, was the final evidence that God had rejected the Jews and that the Christians were His chosen people. Jesus had foretold it (Matthew 24:1-24, Luke 21:20-22), and if it didn’t happen, then Jesus would be a false prophet. And if Jesus is a false prophet, then Christianity is a fraud.

The objection that the destruction of Jerusalem had no impact on the Jewish Christians (and Gentile Christians) in Asia Minor is historically inaccurate. The destruction of Jerusalem was simply the final act of a war against the Jews that stretched across the entire Roman Empire. Asia Minor was part of that battlefield.

-Bradley Cobb

Tracing the False Teachers through Jude

It has been argued that Jude isn’t describing the then-present false teachers in verses 17-19, and that therefore it isn’t describing the fulfillment of Peter’s prophecy in Second Peter 3:3.  That is, that what is described in verses 17-19 is just a characteristic of some future false teachers.  But does the text bear that idea out?

Tracing the False Teachers through Jude

To confirm that Jude is speaking only of the false teachers who were living and working in the church when he wrote, in fulfillment of Peter’s prophecy, we must follow the pronouns and the word “ungodly” throughout the book. Also take special notice of what is said of the present false teachers in verse 16 and compare it with the prophecy Jude quotes in verse 18.

Verses 3-4: …it was needful for me to write unto you and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints, because there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Verses 5-7 are examples of previous judgments against rebellious people.

Verse 8: Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

Verse 9 speaks of the example of Michael the archangel

Verses 10-11: but these speak evil of those things which they know not. But what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah.

Verses 12-13: These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear. Clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots. Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

Verses 14-15: And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.

Verse 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.

Verses 17-18: But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

Verse 19: These be they who separate themselves, sensual, not having the Spirit.

Conclusion:

Jude only has one group of false teachers in mind throughout his letter. It is the group who had already crept in secretly, causing him to write this letter (verses 3-4). Each time the word “these” shows up, it is a reference back to this same group of false teachers.

This group of false teachers that the church was having to deal with in AD 65-66 (depending on whose dating you go with) was “walking after their own lusts” (verse 16). Immediately after stating that fact, Jude asks them to remember Peter’s prophecy about the mockers that would walk after their own lusts—proving that Jude (by God’s inspiration) connected that prophecy with what was happening in the church at that time.

-Bradley Cobb

What the Commentators Have to Say…

When discussing the possibility that Second Peter 3:3 is a reference to the final days of the Jewish system (culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem), I was told, “I’ve been studying the Bible for 44 years, and I’ve never heard that before.”  The next thing was “Guy N. Woods and Gospel Advocate don’t say that.”  Then came, “I searched online, and the only person that says that is Max King!”

These statements were full of logical fallacies (Guy N. Woods isn’t the standard of interpretation, just because you haven’t heard it doesn’t mean it isn’t true, just because you haven’t heard it doesn’t mean people haven’t ever said it, and I’m not Max King–nor one of his disciples).  But, in order to show that this isn’t some new interpretation, and that it isn’t something that was somehow hidden from public view, we present to you the thoughts of many well-known and well-respected commentators.

Burton Coffman on 2 Peter 3:3

Burton Coffman wrote a 37-volume, verse-by-verse Commentary, originally published by Firm Foundation. About this set, the following quotation is given online: “Many people consider the Coffman series to be one of the finest modern, conservative commentary sets written.” The following is from his notes on 2 Peter 3:3. Bold font added for emphasis

Wheaton declared that it is “likely” that the mockers here are the same as the false teachers of the preceding chapter; and Dummelow considered it “probable”; but the view here is that they were almost certainly the same. This is indicated by two considerations: (1) They are sensual characters, walking after their own lusts, as were the false teachers; and (2) they are evidently people who were familiar with the “promise” of the Lord’s coming, who had indeed once believed it, but then became mockers.

Thus, this prominent preacher/writer/teacher in the church of Christ realized that the “mockers” in 2 Peter 3:3 are to be identified as the “false teachers” of 2 Peter 2. It is not a separate group of people. If it is the same group of people, then 2 Peter 3:3 describes the “mockers” that were working in Jude’s day (Jude 16-19).

College Press Commentary on 2 Peter 3:3

Usually called the “Old Green Commentaries,” the College Press Commentary set was written by members of the Christian Church and the church of Christ. Bold font added for emphasis.

“The last days” is a term used sometimes in the New Testament with reference to the last days of Judah (and Jerusalem) as a nation (Acts 2:17, James 5:3). This could be true here

The author of that volume went on to say that it seemed more to him that it was the end of the world. But he did make it a point to say that this phrase could be a reference to the last days of Judah and Jerusalem in this passage. That was published in 1962.

John Sutcliffe on 2 Peter 3:3

John Sutcliffe, a Methodist preacher, wrote his commentaries on the New Testament in 1835. Bold font added for emphasis.

[Note on 2:10] That walk after the flesh — and despise government. The Jews, at the time of the writing of this epistle, were beginning the war against the Romans. The old proverb was realized in them: He whom God destroys is first mad. The reins were launched to passion, and the tongue to infamy.

[Note on 3:1-2] This second epistle is, with one undeviating design, to stir up your pure minds to watchfulness and prayer, and that ye may be mindful of the words of the holy prophets, and also of the cautions repeated by Christ, and by us his apostles, against all false teachers and scoffers at what we say concerning the visitations of God on the Jewish nation, and of the fall of the sacred temple. Lactantius says, “Peter and Paul preached at Rome, and what they preached, being written, remained as a record. In which they predicted many astonishing events, and this among others, that after a short time God would send a king who should vanquish the Jews, should level their cities with the ground, and besiege them so closely, that they should be so far reduced by famine, as to feed on the bodies of one another.” — This record is in perfect unison with the Holy Scriptures.

[Note on 3:3] Scoffers. The heretics described in the preceding chapter, who scoffed at prophecy respecting the fall of Jerusalem, like the filthy sinners which the deluge washed away. See the reflections on Genesis 8.

The idea that applying these verses to the final days of Judah and Jerusalem is somehow a “new” idea is false. The above was written nearly 200 years ago.

N.T. Caton on 2 Peter 3:3

N.T. Caton’s Commentary on the Minor Epistles is part of the “New Testament Commentary” series, done by members of the Lord’s church in the late 1800s. J.W. McGarvey, Moses E. Lard, and Robert Milligan also wrote volumes for this collection. Bold font added for emphasis.

Verse 3.—Knowing this first, that scoffers…

Among other things, remember that both prophets and apostles have told you that in the last days of Judaism scoffers will appear. These, walking after their own passions, deride, ridicule and attempt to make sport of the doctrine of the cross, and the teaching therewith connected.

This book was originally published in 1897, showing that this was the belief of well-respected members of the Lord’s church over a hundred years ago. This is not a new idea.

John Gill on 2 Peter 3:3

John Gill was a English Baptist who lived in the 1700s. He wrote his N.T. commentaries between 1746-1748. Bold font added for emphasis.

“the last days”; either in the days of the Messiah, in the Gospel dispensation, the times between the first and second coming of Christ; for it is a rule with the Jews(s), that wherever the last days are mentioned, the days of the Messiah are intended; see Heb. 1:1; when the prophets foretold such scoffers should come; or in the last days of the Jewish state, both civil and religious, called “the ends of the world”, 1 Cor. 10:11; a little before the destruction of Jerusalem, when iniquity greatly abounded, Matt. 24:11;

This well-known man presented this interpretation as a possibility over 250 years ago.

Thomas Coke on 2 Peter 3:3

in 1803, Thomas Coke, a prominent Methodist preacher, published his final New Testament commentary. Bold font added for emphasis.

Knowing this first— That is, either what was to happen first in order of time, or as a premise, from whence they might conclude, that they ought to remember the predictions of the prophets, and the commandments of the apostles. The last days particularly and more immediately refer to the last days of Jerusalem, or of the Jewish state. See Jude 18-19.

Again, the idea that 2 Peter 3:3 refers to false teachers prior to the final days of the Jewish system is not a new one. Here is another very well-known commentary which presented that exact interpretation over 200 years ago.

Adam Clarke on 2 Peter 3:3

Adam Clarke spent 40 years preparing his 6,000-page commentary collection, and it has been recognized as a “standard” work for nearly 200 years.

The last days – Probably refer to the conclusion of the Jewish polity, which was then at hand.

This interpretation is not new, nor is it something that was somehow kept secret. Adam Clarke’s commentary collection has sold literally over a million copies since it was first published. And it is also included in almost every computer Bible program, adding up to millions more copies spread throughout the world.

Conclusion:

The idea that the “last days” in 2 Peter 3:3 is a reference to the final days of the Jewish system (including Jerusalem) is not a new idea. It has been presented in popular and well-known commentaries for at least 250 years. Until Guy N. Woods’ commentary came out in the 1950s, the most widely-read commentary in the Lord’s Church on Second Peter was the one by N.T. Caton—and he stated clearly that the end of Judaism was under consideration in this passage. This proves that not only is this interpretation not new, but also that it was the primary view held in the Lord’s Church less than 100 years ago.

Guy N. Woods Makes the Case

It has been argued that Guy N. Wood didn’t make the connection between Second Peter and the book of Jude, and that therefore the idea that Second Peter 3:3 could have been speaking about the time when Jude wrote is “nonsense.”

Number one, Guy N. Woods is not the standard of what is correct.  He has written some very helpful material, but he himself admitted that his commentaries were not perfect, and that there were likely things that he missed.

Number two, he made the connection between the two letters, but only in his commentary on Jude (strange, I thought, but it is what it is).  So the argument about brother Woods not making the connection is a false one.  He himself makes the case that Peter and Jude are speaking of the same group of people.

[From his introduction to the book of Jude, bold font added for emphasis]

RESEMBLANCE OF JUDE TO SECOND PETER

There is a close and obvious relation between the Epistles of Jude and Second Peter; and the effort to determine which preceded the other—whether Jude borrowed from Peter or Peter from Jude, or whether both borrowed from a common source— has long occasioned the ingenuity of commentators, Bible expositors and students generally. To those of us who accept both Epistles as inspired productions, the matter is of little consequence. Inasmuch as Peter was an apostle and Jude was not, it seems more likely that Jude would expand the teaching of an apostle than that an apostle would depend on Jude for what he wrote; and an examination of the internal evidence leads plausibly to the conclusion that Jude followed the apostle. In verses 17 and 18, Jude appears to quote 2 Peter 3:3. Testimony to the apostolic office in the phraseology of this verse indicates Jude’s knowledge of 2 Peter, and his use of it, a procedure entirely proper in his case, but difficult to believe if reversed. Jude confessed dependence on what the apostles had taught as ground for the acceptance of matters; whereas, Peter never acknowledged, even in the most indirect fashion, dependence on another.

As evidence of the close connection between the two Epistles, it may be noted that both warn of heretics who deny the Lord that bought them (2 Peter 2:1; Jude 4); these false teachers, in both instances, were turning the grace of God into lasciviousness (Jude 4; 2 Peter 2:2); they had crept into the congregations privily and were doing their work deceptively (2 Peter 2:1; Jude 4); their motive was covetousness (Jude 11; 2 Peter 2:3, 15); in both references the heretics despised authority, and railed at dignitaries (2 Peter 2: 10; Jude 8); both writers call attention to the fact that they employed swelling words of vanity (2 Peter 2; 18; Jude 16); they are described in both Epistles as ignorant, being influenced by neither reason nor the gospel, but acting like brutes (2 Pet 2: 12 ; Jude 10); they are likened to Baalam (2 Peter 2:5; Jude 11); and to “springs without water,” and “clouds carried along by winds” (2 Peter 2:17; Jude 12).

From the foregoing instances, and numerous others which might be offered, it seems certain that either Jude or Peter was familiar with, and followed, in some detail, the work of the other, though which it is not possible to pronounce with certainty. Again we would emphasize that it is of little consequence; both are divine productions, both dealt with similar conditions; and it was, therefore, entirely legitimate to follow the same pattern and plan and utilize the same arguments. If the apostles Peter, John and Paul could cite Old Testament prophecy in support of their inspired utterances, what objection could be raised to a New Testament writer citing a prior production for the same reason?

Guy N. Woods above acknowledged that it was “obvious” that the two letters were discussing the same topic.

[From his notes on Jude 4, bold font added for emphasis]

For there are certain men crept in privily, even they who were of old written of beforehand unto this condemnation,—The occasion for the concern which Jude felt, and the immediate reason why he wrote the Epistle is here revealed: false teachers had appeared among the saints; they had slipped in unawares, and were thus all the more dangerous because they were unrecognized. These teachers are described as “certain men,” but not otherwise identified; they had “crept in privily,” i.e., they had entered, as it were, by a side door (pareisedusan) and without revealing their true motive of seducing the saints. Peter, in describing these same teachers, predicted that they would “bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their lascivious doings, by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Peter 2: 1,2.)

Guy N. Woods states that the false teachers described by Jude are the “same teachers, predicted” by Peter. Therefore, Guy N. Wood taught that the prediction (prophecy) of Peter regarding these false teachers was fulfilled by the time Jude wrote.

[From his notes on Jude 18, bold font added for emphasis]

That they said to you, In the last time there shall be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts.—Cf. 2 Peter 3: 2, 3, where the words are very much the same. Those who are disposed to hold that Second Peter was written earlier than Jude, and that the writer of our Epistle was dependent on that production for many of its sentences, cite this reference as evidence of the claim. It should be noted, however, that Peter, in the words which immediately precede the statement, refers the prophecy to an earlier announcement than his own: “This now beloved, the second epistle that I write unto you; and in both of them I stir up your sincere mind by putting you in remembrance; that ye should remember the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Saviour through your apostles; knowing this first, that in the last days mockers shall come with mockery, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for, from the day that the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” (2 Peter 3: 1-4.) The word translated “mockery” here is the same as that which occurs in 2 Peter 3: 3, and the reference is much the same, though Jude does not detail, as did Peter, the specific form of mockery referred to—sneers at the delay alleged in the coming of the Lord.

Guy N. Woods stated that Peter’s prophecy was a statement of an earlier prophecy. So, Jude quoted Peter, and Peter was referencing a prior prophecy given. Jesus prophesied that false teachers would come in the final days of the Jewish system (Matthew 24).

Conclusion

Even Guy N. Woods, who neglects to mention the connection between the epistles in his commentary on 2 Peter [but did mention it in his notes on Jude, as seen above], noted that Peter and Jude were speaking of the same false teachers. He admitted that Peter wrote first by saying that the false teachers that Jude spoke of were the same ones “predicted” by Peter. He even admitted that Jude 17-18 “appeared” to quote 2 Peter 3:3.

Therefore, Guy N. Woods admitted through these notes that the false teachers mentioned by Jude—false teachers that were already in the church when Jude wrote—were the same ones prophesied about in Second Peter.

-Bradley Cobb

A Comparison of Second Peter and Jude

The following comparison chart shows that both Peter and Jude were describing the exact same group of people. They used some of the exact same words to describe them, and some of those words aren’t used anywhere else in the whole Bible.

Peter foretold it as future, Jude exposed it as taking place soon thereafter.

 

Second Peter Jude Notes
2:1: 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,  Verses 3-4a, “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to all the saints BECAUSE there are certain men crept in unawares, who were of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness…  *”privily” and “unawares are the same basic word in Greek, appearing nowhere else in the New Testament.
2:1 denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 4b: denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
2:3: And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you, whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. Verse 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.
2:4: For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;  

6: And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

 

2:6-8 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:   (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

7: Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities round about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
2:9-10 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness*, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.  

Verse 8: “Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile* the flesh, despise dominions, and speak evil of dignities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*”uncleanness” in Greek is a form of the word translated “defile.”

*Guy N. Woods admitted these were “parallel passages,” that is, speaking about the exact same topic. [notes on 2 Peter 2:10]

2:11: Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusations against them before the Lord. Verse 9: Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil, he disputed over the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said “the Lord rebuke thee.”
2:12: But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not, and shall perish* in their own corruption*. Verse 10: THESE speak evil of things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt* themselves.

 

* “perish,” “corruption,” and “corrupt” all come from the same basic Greek word.
2:13: And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots are they, and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you.* Verse 12a: THESE are spots in YOUR feasts of charity, when THEY feast with YOU,* feeding themselves without fear. 

 

* The word translated “feast with you” appears nowhere else in Scripture but these two places.
2:14: Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin: beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children. Verse 4: …ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness.

Verse 11: …they ran greedily after the error of Balaam…

2:15-16: Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness, but was rebuked for his iniquity; his dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. Verse 11: Woe unto them! Because they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah. 
2:17: These are wells without water, clouds that are carried about with a tempest: to whom the mist of darkness is reserved forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Verse 12b: Clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.

 

Verse 13: Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

 

*The “mist” of darkness is the identical phrase in Greek to the “blackness” of darkness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2:18a: they speak great swelling words of vanity,

 

 

 

Verse 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. *The phrase “great swelling words” comes from one Greek word that appears only in these two verses.
2:18b they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them that live in error. Verse 4: For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our Lord into lasciviousness

 

“wantonness” and “lasciviousness” are the same word in Greek.
3:1: This second epistle, beloved, I write unto you, in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance Verse 5: I will therefore put you in remembrance, though once you knew this… 
3:2: That you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior. Verse 17: But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ
3:3: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.

 

 

 

 

 

Verse 18: How that they told you there should be mockers in the last days, walking after their own ungodly lusts.

 

Verse 16: THESE are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts

 

*The words “scoffers” and “mockers” are the same word in Greek, and that word appears nowhere else in Scriptures.
3:4: saying Where is the promise of his coming

3:7: the heavens and earth which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

Verses 14-15: Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of THESE, saying “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

 

Conclusion:

Peter and Jude are describing the exact same people.

-Bradley Cobb

False Teachers in the Letter from Jude

Like Second Peter, it is universally acknowledged that Jude writes about false teachers. But it is also pretty much universally agreed that these false teachers were a problem when Jude wrote. That is, it wasn’t something in the future, but something that was a problem at that time. Here is what Jude has to say about the false teachers:

Verses 3-4, “contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to all the saints BECAUSE there are certain men crept in [PAST TENSE] unawares, who were of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning [present tense] the grace of God into lasciviousness, and denying [present tense] the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Verse 8: “Likewise also THESE filthy dreamers defile [PRESENT TENSE] the flesh, despise [PRESENT TENSE] dominions, and speak evil [PRESENT TENSE] of dignities.

Verse 10: “THESE speak evil [PRESENT TENSE] of things which they know not [PRESENT TENSE]: but what they know [PRESENT TENSE] naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt [PRESENT TENSE] themselves.”

Verse 11: “Woe unto them! Because they have gone [PAST TENSE] in the way of Cain, and ran [PAST TENSE] greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished [PAST TENSE] in the gainsaying of Korah.

Verse 12: THESE are spots [PRESENT TENSE] in YOUR feasts of charity, when THEY feast [PRESENT TENSE] with YOU, feeding [PRESENTE TENSE] themselves without fear. Clouds they are without water, carried about [PRESENT TENSE] of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots [PAST TENSE].

Verse 13: Raging waves of the sea, foaming out [PRESENT TENSE] their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

Verses 14-15: Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of THESE, saying “Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

Verse 16: THESE are [PRESENT TENSE] murmurers, complainers walking [PRESENT TENSE] after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh [PRESENT TENSE] great swelling words, having [PRESENT TENSE] men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.

Verses 17-18: Remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. How they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

Verse 19: THESE be [PRESENT TENSE] THEY who separate [PRESENT TENSE] themselves, sensual, having not [PRESENT TENSE] the Spirit.

Conclusion:

The false teachers spoken of by Jude were present and prospering when he wrote in AD 65-66.

But also take very special notice that when Jude is talking about these false teachers, who were living and active in the church when he wrote, he quoted Second Peter 3:3 as a prophecy of what was taking place at that time.

-Bradley Cobb

False Teachers in Second Peter

The apostle Peter prophesied that there would be false teachers in the church at some point in the future from when he wrote. This is agreed upon by practically every commentator who has addressed this letter. But how far in the future? Let’s hear it from Peter himself. Take special note that Peter states the false teachers will affect his original readers (see the underlined portions).

2:1: But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be [FUTURE TENSE] false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in [FUTURE TENSE] damnable heresies, denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

2:2: and many shall follow [FUTURE TENSE] their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be [FUTURE TENSE] spoken evil of.

2:3: And through covetousness shall they [FUTURE TENSE] with feigned words make merchandise [FUTURE TENSE] of you, whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

3:3: Knowing this first, that there shall come [FUTURE TENSE] in the last of the days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.

Conclusion:

The false teachers spoken of by Peter had not yet been revealed when he wrote in AD 63-65, but would affect his original readers (see also 2 Peter 2:13 for another example).

Tomorrow, we will show how Jude fits into this whole discussion.

-Bradley Cobb

The Recipients of Second Peter

The past couple months, we have been studying the book of Second Peter on Wednesday evenings.  A commentary will, Lord willing, be arriving in the near future as a result.  But we would like to share with you some of the fruits of this studying of Peter’s final epistle.

Today’s topic: who did Peter write the letter to?

We hope you find it interesting and perhaps even challenging.

The Recipients of Second Peter

The apostle Peter, according to the inspired Paul, agreed to limit his ministry to the Jews (Galatians 2:7-9). This doesn’t mean that he never spoke to or evangelized Gentiles (Galatians 2:11-12), but that his primary work was in preaching and teaching Jews. Therefore, unless it is proven otherwise by clear evidence, it should be assumed that his letters were written primarily to Jewish Christians.

Frequently throughout his two letters, Peter makes reference to the Old Testament—something that would be meaningful to a Jewish audience, but not so to a Gentile audience. 1 Peter 1:10-12, 15-16, 24-25, 2:3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 22, 24, and 25 are all either references to, or quotations from, the Old Testament. And that is just the first two chapters of the first letter. It is because of the constant references to the Old Testament that we know Matthew was written to a Jewish audience. It is because of the focus on the Old Testament that we know the book of Hebrews was written to the Hebrews [Jews]. Therefore, since Peter makes continuous references to the Old Testament writings, his audience is primarily Jewish.

The Gentiles are mentioned as a different group than the original readers (1 Peter 2:12). Therefore, the original readers were primarily Jewish.

Peter calls his readers “sojourners” (1 Peter 1:1). The Greek word means someone who is living away from their native land. If the audience is Jewish, as the above evidence indicates, then this makes perfect sense. It was written to Jews who lived outside of the Promised Land.

He says that they are of the “scattered” (1 Peter 1:1). The ASV says “the Dispersion” [capitalized in the original]. The Greek word was a specific term for Jews living outside of the Promised Land. It appears three times in the Bible: 1 Peter 1:1, James 1:1, and John 7:35. James wrote to a Jewish audience (He agreed to work with the Jews in Galatians 2:7-9). In John, Jesus had just told the Jews that “where I am, ye cannot come.” Their response was to ask “Whither will this man go, that we cannot find him? Will he go unto the Dispersion among the Greeks; and teach the Greeks?”[1] [2] (ASV, capitalized in the original). This word proves that the original recipients were primarily Jewish.

B.W. Johnson, in his The People’s New Testament with Notes (AKA “Johnson’s Notes”), said the following about Peter’s letter:

It was directed to “the Sojourners of the Dispersion,” who lived in five provinces of the Roman Empire, all of which had been evangelized by the apostle Paul. See 1 Peter, chapter 1. The Dispersion was a term applied to the Jewish race in lands outside of Judea. Hence, not forgetful of his apostleship to the circumcision (Gal. 2:8) he addressed himself to Jews, but Jewish Christians, “the elect.”

N.T. Caton, in his Commentary on the Minor Epistles said this about the original recipients:

To those Jews who had embraced the faith of the gospel, then residing in certain provinces of Asia Minor, in the Epistle enumerated, was this letter written primarily. [Bold font added for emphasis].

Lange’s Commentary shows that it was the almost-universal belief of ancient writers that Peter wrote his letters to Jewish Christians. It also shows that the stance that it was written mainly to Gentile Christians is relatively recent [Bold font and bracketed material added]:

The believers, to whom the Epistle is addressed (1 Peter 1:1), were scattered over almost the entire peninsula of Asia Minor. The ancient fathers, with the exception of Augustine and Cassiodorus,[3] thought that the ἐκλεκτοῖς related to Jewish Christians. This opinion was prevalent until modern times: several commentators added only the modification that those Churches contained also Gentile Christians, who were, however, in the minority. On the other hand, Steiger, followed by Wiesinger, tried to prove, in his commentary, that the majority in those churches were, at all events, Gentiles. Weiss produces, however, convincing arguments that the Epistle was intended for Jewish Christians; he justly affirms:

  1. That διασπορά [Diaspora, “Dispersion”] (1 Peter 1:1) is a terminus technicus [Latin for “technical term”], and denotes the totality of Jews outside of Palestine, scattered through heathen countries (James 1:1; 2 Maccabees 1:27; Judit 5:19), and cannot be taken metaphorically.

  2. That the Epistle is entirely permeated by views taken from the Old Testament; it contains numerous Old Testament figures and termini technici [Latin for “technical terms”], allusions to the religious institutions and the history of the Old Covenant. Compare 1 Peter 1:10-12; 3:5-6; 3:20. Peter frequently intertwines quotations from the Old Testament into his language, without designating them as such, and mostly in connections where it is of essential importance that they should be recognized as Scripture (1 Peter 1:24; 2:7, 9-10, and other passages). No portion of the New Testament is so thoroughly interwoven with quotations from and allusions to the Old Testament. (It contains, in 105 verses, twenty-three quotations, while the Epistle to the Ephesians has only seven, and that to the Galatians, only thirteen).

  3. This peculiarity agrees entirely with the fact that it was Peter’s vocation to be the Apostle of the circumcision. The mode of speech which he took from the Old Testament, must have particularly recommended him to Jewish Christians. The passages quoted in favor of Gentile Christians, prove just the opposite, e.g. 1 Pet3:6; 1:14, 18; 2:9-10. See the Commentary on these passages. The same holds good of 1 Peter 4:3. It would be curious, indeed, that Peter should reproach former Gentiles with having done the will of the Gentiles. The expression ἀθεμίτοις εἰδωλολατρείαις only seems to relate to Gentiles; but this presents no obstacle on the supposition that those Churches contained individual Gentile Christians. The Jewish Christians formed, doubtless, the substance and main stem of those Churches (cf. Acts 2:9; 11:19), until after the third missionary journey of the Apostle, the element of Gentile Christians became more important in those parts of Asia Minor. (Weiss, p. 115, 116).

According to 2 Peter 3:1, the original readers of his second epistle were the same ones he sent his first letter to. Therefore, we have Peter’s word for it that the original readers of Second Peter were primarily Jewish Christians.

[1] A.T. Robertson’s Word Pictures says the following: “Unto the Dispersion among the Greeks (eis tēn diasporan tōn Hellēnōn). Objective genitive tōn Hellēnōn (of the Greeks) translated here “among,” because it is the Dispersion of Jews among the Greeks. Diaspora is from diaspeirō, to scatter apart (Acts 8:1,4). It occurs in Plutarch and is common in the lxx, in the N.T. only here, James 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1. There were millions of these scattered Jews. (Underlining added for emphasis).”

[2] Vincent’s Word Studies says it this way: “The Jews who remained in foreign lands after the return from the Captivity were called by two names: (1). The Captivity, which was expressed in Greek by three words, viz., ἀποικία, a settlement far from home, which does not occur in the New Testament; μετοικεσία, change of abode, which is found in Matthew 1:11, 12, 17, and always of the carrying into Babylon; αἰχμαλωσία, a taking at the point of the spear; Eph. 4:8; Rev. 13:10. (2). The Dispersion (διασπορά). See on 1 Peter 1:1; see on James 1:1. The first name marks their relation to their own land; the second to the strange lands.”

[3] Augustine thought everything in the Bible was to be “spiritualized” instead of taken as actual historical fact. Cassiodorus who was known to alter historical facts and theological stances in order to avoid persecution. These two men are not very credible witnesses.