Peter’s motivation to keep the saved saved is apparent in this book. He determined to remind them of the present truth so long as he lived in order to protect them from the false teachers (ch. 1-2). As chapter three begins, Peter repeats his theme. In this case, he said he wanted to “stir up (their) pure minds by way of remembrance” (II Pet. 3:1).
The word “pure” in this text means what we think it means -- “unmixed, unsullied, sincere” (Arndt and Gingrich; Strong’s). Having a “pure mind” stands in contrast with the false teachers whose minds were wicked, and had “exercised” themselves to act in a covetous manner (II Pet. 2:14). The pure minds of the people needed to be preserved and the only way to do this was to make sure their minds were focused on God’s word (II Pet. 3:1-2). These people had not been stained or sullied by the false doctrines referred to in chapter two, and Peter was trying hard to keep it that way!
It gives me pause to read that these folks had pure minds because they, like all of us, have sinned (Rom. 3:23). Their minds had been corrupted with sin and wickedness. How could they have pure minds, now? If I know how these people who lived in sin developed pure minds, then I will know how I can develop a pure mind! The answer is that though they had acted in wicked ways, things changed when they heard the truth, believed in Christ, repented of their sins, confessed Christ, and were baptized (Acts 2:36-38, 8:35-38, 16:30-34). Having followed the Lord’s plan of salvation, and as they continued to learn the truth and be reminded of what they knew, Peter said they had “pure minds.”
How can we who have sinned keep our minds pure now, i.e., unmixed with error and sin? We now know the answer. In order to have pure minds, we need to cleanse them (Ps. 119:9), and keep them pure! We need to follow the Lord’s plan of salvation (Jn. 8:24; Lk. 13:3; Rom. 10:10; Mk. 16:16). As saved people, we must also keep our noses in the Book (Eph. 3:4; II Tim. 2:15; II Pet. 3:2)! Only when we know what God has said can we then apply it to our lives to make the right decisions. To keep our minds pure, we need to avoid those doctrines and practices that will corrupt us (I Thess. 5:21-22)! How will we know what corrupts, though, if we don’t remember the truth (Jn. 17:17)?
How much time do you spend in God’s word? How do you expect to have a pure mind otherwise? Peter said there was no other way to be pure except to spend time learning and especially being reminded of the truth that we know (II Pet. 3:1-2)! Let’s make sure and listen to the story the never grows old and apply it to our lives daily so we can have pure minds!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
The last three verses of II Peter 2 are perhaps more well-known than other parts of this chapter. This section of Scripture is used to show (correctly) that a Christian may fall away from God and be lost (also II Pet. 3:17). “Once-saved-always-saved” or the impossibility of apostasy is not a teaching found in Scripture. Therefore, let us take a look at this section and see what lessons we can learn.
First, II Peter 2:20 is talking about the people who had been fooled by false teachers (v. 19). The reason why Peter wanted to make sure that the Christians were grounded in “the present truth” (II Pet. 1:12-15) is that it was possible for one who had “escaped the pollutions of the world” to be “again entangled and overcome”! To be “again entangled” implies that these folks had, at one point, been “untangled!” Yes, false teachers can tempt us to return to error if we are not vigilant (II Pet. 3:17)! Therefore, if people become entangled once more, then “the latter end is worse than the beginning.”
I find this statement fascinating because if the impossibility of apostasy doctrine is true, then Peter’s last statement is not true. According to those who believe in “once-saved-always-saved,” a man who is “again entangled” never really was saved anyway! In that case, the latter end couldn’t be worse than the beginning for this person, because, from the beginning, this man was doomed and damned to Hell! At the same time, if the impossibility of apostasy doctrine is true for the saved person, then Peter’s last statement is still not true! This is because if a man is saved and bound for Heaven, then he stays saved regardless of what he does while on earth. So, from the beginning, this man was going to Heaven, and how could his destiny be any better? Can we see now how the “once-saved-always-saved” teaching contradicts plain truth? Let’s stop reading the Bible through a “filter,” and let’s accept the Bible for what it says!
II Peter 2:21-22 continues to describe this one who has fallen back into his old ways of sin. Included in this is Peter’s quotation of Proverbs 26:11. God looks upon the saved person who reverts to a life of sin like a dog that vomits and then laps it back up! If this is a disgusting description to you, then you got the point! The actions of a Christian who goes back into sin and the world are as repulsive to God as watching a dog eat puke! Similarly, it reminds God of a freshly-washed sow who rolls in the mire. For those reading who have not been around hogs, please understand that “mire” is not merely “mud.” There is something else in the mud that she is rolling in in order to stay cool! If we think that it is disgusting for a hog (or anything) to root and roll in their own waste, then you get the point! When God sees Christians leave Him and go back into sin, they are rolling in the filth once more!
God does not teach the “once-saved-always-saved” doctrine. The old dodge that says, “a man that falls back into sin never really was saved in the first place” can’t be correct. First, it is not correct because the statement is illogical. Someone who “never really was saved” was just that -- not saved! You can’t fall back into the mire if you never left! Second, we know that old dodge can’t be right because the text says the sow was “washed”! If she was washed, she was clean. She was free from the filth! Then she went back to the “wallowing.” She was out of the mire, washed and clean, and then went back. This is a picture of a person who was taught the truth, saved, cleansed from sin (I Cor. 6:11; Acts 22:16), and then went back to his life in sin. A living example of II Peter 2:20-22 is Simon (Acts 8:13-22). Peter witnessed that event.
Let the words from II Peter 2:20-22 stand as a warning to us. Christians can sin so as to be lost! What can saved people do to prevent this? Get our minds saturated in God’s word (II Pet. 1:12-15) and live it! Don’t listen to false teachers, those who lie to us about our souls (II Pet. 2:19), but listen to the truth of God and be faithful all of our lives (I Cor. 15:58)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
When Peter spoke of the false teachers “among you” (II Pet. 2:1), he warned that these people would “with feigned words make merchandise of you” (v. 3). This concern about false teachers has been repeated since the gospel was first preached! In Matthew 7:15, Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” Similarly, Paul warned the Ephesians about the “grievous wolves” that would come, “speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:29-30). Paul also warned the Colossians, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2:8). The term “spoil” in this text carries with it the same meaning as the term “making merchandise” from II Peter 2:3.
When we remember the broader context of II Peter, we can see why Peter was motivated to preach and remind the folks of the truth. He knew false prophets were active. This is the tragedy that faces us. As soon as the gospel is preached, there is a warning concerning false teachers! This fact shows us just how hurtful and deceptive Satan is. You see, as soon as something beautiful comes along, Satan is ready to ruin it. He did this in the Garden (Gen. 3:1-6), he did it through false prophets (Matt. 7:15; II Pet 2:3; etc.), and he still does it today. He wants us “drawn away” from God and drawn to his kingdom (Acts 20:28; Jas. 1:14-15). Satan has his false teachers promise us freedom (II Pet. 2:19), but they are trying actually to make us their “spoil” and enslave us in sin.
How can I know who the false teacher is? I will know when I see someone who is willfully teaching a doctrine that is opposed to the truth -- a “damnable” or destructive heresy! This is not someone who has a different opinion or a “quirk,” (Rom. 14) but someone who is teaching a doctrine opposed to the Lord’s word and wants you to go with him! Listen to Solomon, “My son, if sinners entice thee, consent thou not” (Prov. 1:10)! The warning against listening to false teachers was given in Deuteronomy 13, and it needs to be heeded still today (Rom. 15:4)!
False teachers are not your friends! The false teacher tries to endear himself to others, but he is merely using “feigned words,” misleading words, lies, or perverse teachings, to “draw away disciples,” and make “merchandise,” or make you a “spoil.” The false teacher may come along to tell you that he has “discovered” something that no one else has seen in millennia. Why, he has seen through the religious “fog” and has discovered something unique, special, and it will put you closer to God than you have ever been before (see: II Pet. 2:19). If you would only listen to him and follow him, then you could be smart, too! Don’t stay in ignorance, but accept this “truth” that has been hidden, or lost for ages! This is but one example of “feigned words,” and simply put, you are nothing more to the false teacher than something to conquer. You do not have value in the eyes of a false teacher. Your worth is gauged by what you can do for the false teacher rather than what you can do for God!
Don’t become the “spoil” or “merchandise” of a false teacher! Instead, submit your life to the inspired Word of God (II Pet. 1:20-21) and follow it all of your life (Rev. 2:10; Heb. 5:9). See the blessings that come when we listen to God instead of man (Jer. 10:23; II Tim. 2:15; Eph. 3:4)!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
God is a God who likes to remind us of things. He knows that humans are forgetful, and so we read of numerous times when He had men establish memorials. Sometimes, it was when they won a battle, or when some miracle occurred like the crossing of the Jordan River. In the New Testament, Christ established a memorial when He instituted His Supper (Matt. 26:26-29)!
Peter, writing by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, told the readers that he intended to remind them of things they already knew (II Pet. 1:12-15). He was making it his personal goal to tell them of things they knew -- the truth in which they were “established” (v. 12). Peter said he thought it fitting to remind them, so long as he lived, in the hope that after he died, they would still remember what he had said (v. 15). Peter knew he did not have much longer to live (v. 14), and he saw reminding the brethren of what they already knew as the best use of the time he had left.
Why remind people of things they know? Is this not the most efficient way to teach someone? Small children repeat the same action, speak the same words, sing the same songs, listen to the same stories ad nauseam. Yet, when this is done, they know the songs, the stories, the words, and actions to where they are second nature. This is what Peter wanted to do with his final days on earth. He wanted the brethren to repeat and go over the things they knew about Christ so that it was second nature to them!
What benefit is there in following Peter’s example? When we have spent time learning and relearning the same truth, it becomes a part of us. It is no longer that I have to go hunt for “x” Bible passage. Instead, when facing certain situations in life, God’s words flow from me! They burst forth to encourage, heal, and focus us on the right things. Peter was aware of the hard times facing those Christians after his death, and he knew that being grounded in the truth was the only way to make sure they survived what was coming.
So it is with us. Whatever we face in life, things will turn out better when we have the word of Christ “dwelling in (us) richly in all wisdom” (Col. 3:16). This kind of knowledge does not come from reading God’s word one time or two times. It develops by a constant feeding and assimilation of the word, even though we know it and are established in the present truth! Brethren, this is part of the reason behind choosing one book or at most two books to read through the month. The hope is that by slowing down, we can read a book (ex: II Peter) so many times that all the truth flows through us. Friends, read, and don’t grow weary because it only benefits us. If you tire of reading from one version of the Bible, use another. If you tire of reading only, choose a Bible app or some recording, and listen as someone reads the Bible to you! There is no ill effect from this practice, only a benefit for your soul (II Pet. 2:2)!
The story of salvation is a story that never grows old! Let’s go back and read it until it comes out of us in our conversation, in our actions, and in our manner. Let us pass this love for God’s word along to our children and grandchildren! Let us apply Peter’s words in reminding Christians of the present truth so long as we live!
- Jarrod M. Jacobs