2 Peter 2:1–22 (NKJV)
1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. 4 For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on the world of the ungodly; 6 and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)—9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, 11 whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, 13 and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. 15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet. 17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. 18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
False prophets have always been around, threatening the Christian Church from within, and they will never leave the Church in peace on this earth. St. Peter isn’t warning his readers about pagan prophets, but about those prophets, preachers, and teachers who claim to be Christian, but who bring a message that corrupts or contradicts the true Christian faith.
False prophets have multiplied over the centuries, causing the visible Christian Church to divide and splinter countless times. Some are openly wicked and immoral, supporting abortion and sexual deviancy, teaching that there is salvation apart from faith in Christ, openly denying the truthfulness of God’s Word. Others shun such things, but still teach falsehood about the person of Christ, the ministry of the Word, the Real Presence of Jesus’ body and blood in the Sacrament, justification by faith alone, etc. They all have their own followers. They all are successful in their deceptions among certain groups of people who “do not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved” (2 Thess. 2:10).
But St. Peter assures us that God is storing up judgment for all these false teachers. They will not get away with their deceptions for much longer. Even now, Christ preserves a little flock on this earth that hears the voice of the Good Shepherd and adheres to the truth of His Word. He “knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations,” just as He knows how and when to mete out judgment to those who lead His sheep astray.
Hold onto the precious treasure of God’s Word. Pray for those who proclaim it rightly. Support them. Defend them. Listen to them. For in the midst of so much falsehood, God will continue to provide faithful preachers and teachers for His people, even if they seem few and far between.
Let us pray: Almighty God, preserve Your little flock and defend it against the assaults of Satan. Grant wisdom to Your children, that we may discern between truth and error, and make us bold to adhere to Your Word at all times; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.