This article is not easy to write. The reason is that reading the phrase “righteous Lot” seems contradictory. How can we think that a man who chose to live in Sodom is righteous (Gen. 13-19)? How can we believe that a man who defended strangers in town (who later revealed themselves to be angels) by offering his daughters to a mob is righteous (Gen. 19:1-12; Heb. 13:2)? How can we fathom that a man who was made drunk so his daughters might commit incest with him is righteous (Gen. 19:30-38)?
Calling Lot “righteous” might be hard for us to do, but it wasn’t hard for God to do (II Pet. 2:7-8). How can God say this? Is He ignoring sin? I am not saying I have the “one and only answer,” but could I suggest a few thoughts I have had concerning Lot in this context?
First, God is the biographer who presents His characters “warts and all.” He is a true journalist, telling us only the facts about people. What did they do? Where did they fail? God lets us know, and this is the way it is with Lot. II Peter 2 affects me because when I read this chapter, Lot becomes “real.” He becomes “human” to me. He is not someone who went into Sodom in ignorance (Gen. 13:10-12). The “men of Sodom were wicked and sinners,” and I am sure Abraham and Lot knew this. Since we are not told Lot’s thought process beyond the attraction of the land (v. 10), we can only assume his reasoning. Since God called Lot righteous, and a man “vexed” at the people’s wickedness, I have to assume that he thought he might be able to change the people when he moved into the city (Gen. 14:12). He even became someone of prominence in the area (Gen. 19:1, 9). Did he think that this position might make it possible for him to turn the people to God? God says their wickedness “vexed his righteous soul” daily (II Pet. 2:8). “Vexed” means torture or torment (Strong’s). Therefore, in Genesis 13-19, we read about a man who was agonizing over the people, and no doubt agonizing as he thought he might be able to change them.
Sadly, we see how this did not work. Lot and his girls left Sodom, but Sodom never left the girls (Gen. 19:30-38). By the end of Genesis 19, we read of a broken man, and might I say a depressed man as well? He’s lost everything but his girls. While having your children is a great blessing, I see a man focused on loss. He came into Sodom a rich man, and left a pauper (Gen. 13:5-7, 19:15-29). He came in married and left a widower (Gen. 19:26). Might I venture to say Lot entered this area and idealistic man, and left in depression? Notice how the angels had to drag Lot and his family out of town (Gen. 19:16)! Could he have thought that one more day might have made the difference? Thus, now sitting with his daughters in a cave, he has given up! When we think about this perspective, Lot takes his place with many righteous people in the Bible who became depressed at the reality of sin that surrounded them.
The Bible says the reason God had the angels drag this man and family out of town is that the Lord was “merciful unto him” (Gen. 19:16). For a long time, I thought mercy was shown because of his uncle. Perhaps this was a factor. Based on II Peter 2, however, I believe God is merciful because of Lot’s righteous soul. God saw and knew what Lot had been doing for years (Prov. 15:3; Jer. 23:24; Heb. 4:13). Thus, God extended mercy to a man “vexed” at the wickedness of the people and powerless to change them!
Is this the quintessential answer to II Peter 2:7-8? Of course, not, but I do believe Peter’s second letter demands we look at Lot again and see him as a three-dimensional person, as we all are. God, knowing all sides, shows us how to be merciful. Let us follow that example. Yes, people need to repent of their sin, and yes, we will answer for unrepented sin (Acts 17:30; II Pet. 3:9; Lk. 13:3, 5). However, let us not be so quick to judge people’s decisions when we do not know their motivation or other factors that led to their decision. For the record, I do not agree with Lot’s decisions, especially those highlighted in the first paragraph! However, why did he do these things? Except for the drunken incest, I believe God, through Peter, gives us insight into a flawed man’s motivation. I might not have done what Lot did, but then again, maybe I am doing what he did at times. Perhaps I am holding out hope on a situation that is hopeless? Do I think “one more day” is what is needed? What do I do after that day has come and gone, and nothing has changed? Perhaps I am waiting on someone or on a situation that has passed me by? Maybe it is time for me to face reality on some situations in my life because things are not changing and are not going to change?
Friend, When you reach the point where you can understand you have acted like Lot, then please don’t act like Lot and descend into a depression, which can lead to even more sin (Gen. 19:30-38). Please look to God for strength (Ps. 110:1-2), for courage (Josh. 1:6, 9), for hope (Rom. 8:24), for forgiveness (Acts 2:38), and acceptance (Jas. 4:8). Remember, God has not been able to preserve all of His children for Heaven. Therefore, let us not think we will have a 100% success rate. Let us remember our responsibilities before God and make sure our righteous souls are prepared for Heaven and look for those who will listen, who will obey, and who appreciate the truth of God’s word (Mk. 16:15; II Tim. 2:2).
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
Peter, by inspiration, gives Noah a unique description. He calls Noah a “preacher of righteousness” in II Peter 2:5. The word “preacher” in this text means what we think it means. “Preacher” is from the Greek word meaning, “herald of divine truth” (Strong’s). Is this the usual picture we have in our minds when we think of Noah? If not, it should be!
Noah is well-known as the man who “found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:9). God instructed him to build an ark so that he might save his family from the coming Deluge (Gen. 6:14; Heb. 11:7). The Ark he built sometime in the years between his 500th and 600th birthday (Gen. 5:32, 7:11), served the purpose of saving land animals as well as the humans that chose to join him (Gen. 6:19-22, 7:2-3, 7-9; I Pet. 3:20). Again, when we think about Noah, we might think “obedience,” or “shipwright” or “faithful,” or other worthy descriptions, but when was he ever a “preacher”?
Perhaps our confusion on this subject results from the fact that we forget that we’re not told about Noah until he was 500 years old (Gen. 5:32). What was he doing during the five centuries prior to the Ark? Was he following in the example of great-grandpa Enoch (Gen. 5:22-24; Heb. 11:5; Jude 14-15)? Was he warning people about their wickedness and sin? We are not told explicitly, but praise such as “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen. 6:9) does not come for no reason!
Don’t forget that Noah built the Ark during his 500th and 600th year (Gen. 5:32, 7:11). Since folks hadn’t seen such a thing before (Heb. 11:7), if they came to Noah and asked what he was doing, was this not an “open door” to preach and warn people about what was to come? I think he did a lot of preaching in those years!
Lastly, once off of the Ark, what do we see Noah doing? The first thing he did was stop and worship God (Gen. 8:20). Wouldn’t the preaching of Noah have to continue? He lived another 350 years after the Flood (Gen. 9:28-29)! Therefore, he had to tell future generations who had not been on the Ark about God’s covenant (Gen. 9:8-11), the rainbow’s connection (Gen. 9:12-17), not to murder (Gen. 9:6), not to eat blood (Gen. 9:4), not to mention God’s plan for marriage (Gen. 2:18-25) and many other things. As patriarch, he would have had such a responsibility to warn and instruct.
When thinking about it in this light, how could we not think of Noah as a preacher? He knew what God said, and he spoke it and lived it before the people. Noah’s righteous example was recorded for us to follow (Rom. 15:4). We need to be preaching God’s word (II Tim. 2:2). We need to speak it and live it daily. We have many to influence and bring to the Lord before the coming destruction -- not by water, but by fire (II Thess. 1:6-9)! Are you preaching like Noah?
- 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
When Peter warned the Christians about the false teachers they would face, he said that these people would bring with them “damnable heresies” (II Pet. 2:1). “Damnable” in this verse means something that brings destruction or ruin. “Heresies” in this passage is a reference to the opinions or dogma that these false teachers espoused. While the KJV (Bishop’s, Geneva, etc.) uses the term, “damnable heresies,” other versions use such phrases as:
- “Destructive heresies” (ASV, NAS, ESV, ISV, NET, RV, WEB)
- “Wrong teachings for your destruction” (BBE)
- “Harmful lies” (CEV)
- “They will teach things that are wrong—ideas that will cause people to be lost” (ERV)
- “Destructive, untrue doctrines” (GNB)
- “Fatal divisions” (Weymouth).
I list these versions for a side-by-side comparison. There is no Bible version I am aware of that says that false teachers would bring in harmless teachings, or teach doctrines that had no eternal consequence if followed. In every case, we see that false teachers were teaching things that had horrible implications for the hearers.
When we read passages like II Peter 2:1, we become aware of God’s attitude toward false teachers and false teaching. God makes it clear that there is such a thing as right and wrong or truth and error. In the post-modern world we live in, the majority deny that right and wrong exist. Not so with God! He doesn’t say, “Everyone has their truth, and we need to let them express it.” He doesn’t say that all people’s actions are equally valid and deserve our respect. Instead, He says there were some people in the long ago, and some today who were false teachers and brought damnable, or destructive heresies (doctrines). He further teaches that Christians ought not to listen to any of it! He said they had ulterior motives (v. 3) and their “damnation slumbereth not”!
Let us be on guard for false doctrines and the destruction that follows. Let us spend time in God’s Book daily, so we know truth from error (Jn. 17:17) and can prepare ourselves for an eternity with God one day!.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs
One reason why Peter thought it “meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance” (II Pet. 1:13), is because of the false teachers that abounded in that day (II Pet. 2:1). Peter declares this had been a problem for generations, and it is not going away when he said, “But there were also false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you.”
In times past, some have argued about what a false teacher is. Some said it had to do with a person’s bad attitude (If so, what about Jonah?). I have heard some say everyone is a false teacher since everyone makes mistakes. Is a false teacher someone who made a mistake and is ready to correct his error (like Apollos, Acts 18:24-28)? Let us allow Peter to tell us who the false teacher is. First, is this person promoting and preaching “damnable heresies” (II Pet. 2:1)? That’s a false teacher! How can I know when I hear a “damnable heresy”? Peter answers this question in II Peter 1:12-15. When my mind is saturated with God’s word, and I am reminded of the truth consistently, when someone says something contrary to what I have been taught in Scripture, I can know it is false (Gal. 1:6-9). This was one of the reasons why Peter wanted to safeguard the people while he was alive. The constant reminders would serve as protection against false teachers, those who were going to deceive the “unstable souls” (II Pet. 2:14).
Sadly, false prophets are not going away any time soon. Peter said they were a problem in the past as well as a current problem. We could say the same thing today. For as many as will tell God’s truth, there are as many who want to pervert it (Gal. 1:7). Therefore, let us make sure we know what God has said (Eph. 3:4, 5:17). Let us spend time studying and growing closer to God (Jas. 4:7-8). When we determine to accept only the inspired word of God in all of our faith and practice (II Pet. 1:20-21), then we are well-armed against the false teachers that come our way.
- Jarrod M. Jacobs