2 Peter: Characteristics of Apostates.

12 “But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.”

 It is probably as good a time as any to define an apostate? An apostate is an individual who once professed faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior but has renounced, defected and deserted their prior profession and confession of faith in Christ. Not only have they deserted their faith in Christ, but they also seek to lead others astray. Especially those within the church.

Peter has already called apostates false prophets and false teachers at the beginning of chapter two. Remember when Peter wrote, “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (2 Peter 2:1-3)

 It is at this juncture of Peter’s epistle that he begins specifically describing these false teachers or apostates. His illustrations are graphic and striking.

To begin with, Peter compares false teachers to irrational animals. Irrational (ἄλογος; alogos) means without reason or unable to reason. False teachers lack the capacity to think properly. They are like dumb animals born to be captured or killed, caught and destroyed. Additionally, they are creatures of instinct (φυσικός; physikos) without the desire or inclination to rationally think.

Additionally, they continually blaspheme (βλασφημέω; blasphemo) or specifically slander God and His followers about subjects in which they are ignorant (ἀγνοέω; agnoeo) lacking the capacity to grasp or understanding the things of God (I Corinthians 2:14).

Peter goes on to say that false teachers will be destroyed in their destruction. To be destroyed (φθείρω; phtheiro) is to be corrupted, depraved and ruined. What will destroy them is their own destruction (φθορά; phthora) or moral corruption.

They will suffer wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. To suffer wrong (ἀδικέω; adikeo) means that they will be harmed and injured. This will be because they have earned (μισθός; misthos) suffering as a paycheck or payback for their wrongdoing (ἀδικία; adikia) or unrighteousness before God.

Peter continues his condemnation of apostates by stating that they count it pleasurable to revel in the daytime. The Greek word for pleasure is ἡδονή (hedone) from which we derive our English word hedonist or hedonism. It is doing that which is enjoyable even if it is sinful and wicked. To revel (τρυφή; tryphe) is to carouse and to be self-indulgent.

Finally, Peter calls them “blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you.” Blots (σπίλος; spilos) are stains or spots. Our English word “spill” comes from this Greek word. Blemishes (μῶμος; momos) are defects. Both words refer to the apostate’s immorality and ungodliness. As such, false teachers continually indulge themselves in their deceptions (ἀπάτη; apate) or lies. They do so while they worship alongside sincere and committed believers in Christ.

Peter’s reference to false teachers being slots and blemishes parallels what Jude says about them in his epistle. Jude writes, 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.”

Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “The false teachers of the first century were like brute beasts. They operated from instinct, which was locked into their sin nature, rather than from rational choice. Creatures of instinct translates the one Greek word physika, “belonging to nature.” They followed their natural desires. Like animals in a jungle, their only value was in being caught and destroyed (cf. Jude 10). This harsh language from Peter is an indication of how serious he considered these heresies to be. Like beasts they too will perish is literally, “in their corruption (phthora) they too shall be corrupted” (phtharēsontai), an interesting play on words (cf. “corrupted” in Eph. 4:22). Corruption here probably means eternal punishment.”

 We must always remember that false teachers are not just outside of the church, but also are within the covenant community of God. We must ever remain on our guard.

Soli deo Gloria!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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