Questions to Consider
1. Examine the first half of verse 1. Using your cross references and these passages, which “people” did false prophets arise among? Who were some of these false prophets? Were false prophets/teachers only an Old Testament problem? What are the similarities between Old Testament false prophets and New Testament false teachers? If false teachers were a problem in the New Testament church – while the apostles were still around teaching the church in person and writing Holy Spirit inspired Scripture to them – do you think false teachers might still pose a problem in the church today?
2. Examine verses 1-3. Explain, in your own words…
a) what false teachers will do
b) how people will respond to false teachers
c) how people will be affected by false teachers
d) what will happen to false teachers.
Look closely at the phrase “denying the Master who bought them” (1b). Does this verse indicate that someone who is genuinely saved can lose her salvation, or does it indicate that this person is either a false convert or a fraud? Compare this phrase with “Their condemnation from long ago is not idle” (3b), and these passages. Explain what the Bible says about false converts and the spiritual condition of those who claim and appear to be Christians, yet teach a false gospel.
3. Examine verses 4-10a. This is a very long sentence. Take note of where the sentence begins and where it ends. This is also an “if/then” sentence: If X happens, then Y will happen. Chart out the “ifs” and the “then” in this sentence (it may also help to chart out the “buts” to distinguish them from the “ifs” and the “then”):
If… (But…) Then…
(4a)- (4b)- (9)-
(If you have time, go back to the Old Testament stories of Noah and Lot to refresh your memory on the details of these events.) What are the examples Peter cites in 4-8 that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials” (9a)? What are the examples in 4-8 that the Lord knows how to “keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment” (9b)? In your own words summarize the point Peter is making in this passage.
4. Read 10b-11. Who are “the glorious ones”? (10b) (Don’t forget to use your footnotes and cross-references.) Explain the comparison Peter is making between false teachers and angels in terms of attitude, audacity, power, and position. Who exercises better “common sense” (for lack of a better term) and more fear of the Lord?
5. Examine verses 12-19. Think about the false teachers you’re familiar with (or explore some at the “Popular False Teachers & Unbiblical Trends” tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page) and explain the metaphors Peter uses for false teachers in this passage- how are false teachers like “irrational animals” (12), “blots and blemishes” (13), “waterless springs” and “mists driven by a storm” (17)?
In this passage, list all of the…
a) false teacher’s motives
b) false teacher’s sins
c) false teacher’s actions
d) consequences for false teachers
e) ways false teachers impact their followers
Read the story of Balaam and explain what Peter means in verses 15-16.
6. Read verses 20-22 in light of what you studied in question 1 about losing one’s salvation versus being a false convert:
Look closely at 20-22, and look at the phrase “denying the Master who bought them” (1b). Do these verses indicate that someone who is genuinely saved can lose her salvation, or does it indicate that this person is either a false convert or a fraud? Compare this phrase with “Their condemnation from long ago is not idle” (3b), and these passages. Explain what the Bible says about false converts and the spiritual condition of those who claim and appear to be Christians, yet teach a false gospel.
Why is it better for someone “never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back”? (21) Compare with these Scriptures. Have you ever known someone who lived life as a “Christian” for a while and then “left the faith” altogether? How often does someone like that later get genuinely saved?
7. Briefly review from lesson 10 (link above), Peter’s emphasis on the supremacy of the written Word over and above personal experiences, and answer this question: Why do you think Peter referred back to the Old Testament so many times in this chapter instead of telling his audience anecdotes about a false teachers he knew of at various New Testament churches?
8. In this chapter, does Peter make it sound like false teachers are rare or no big deal? Imagine you’re Peter and a reporter is interviewing you. She says, “Peter, tell me about the problem of false teachers in the church.” How would you answer?
a) Read 2 Peter 2 and the book of Jude side by side. What similarities do you notice? What differences? Why was it so important to warn the early church about false teachers?
b) You may wish to read my article Can a False Teacher Be a Christian?
Suggested Memory Verse