1But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.2Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;3and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 2 Peter 2:1-3 NASB
Here Peter is warning that there will men who deceive people into believing they are speaking the words of God to them, and that these men will be among them. (The believers) These false prophets will teach false doctrines that are destructive in intent towards the church and towards the personage of Christ. The Gnostics were the main group that was being warned against here. They taught that all flesh material things are evil and a hindrance to the spiritual things which are good. They also taught that Christ was either a purely spiritual being who only appeared to have a body or that the body he had was just a shell to be shed at the crucifixion. Gnostic teachers would come to town and claim to be prophets. They would stay in a home and teach for the time they stayed. Usually they would find the home of a woman whose husband was away or a widow’s home. They would seduce them with lies about some deeper knowledge that could only be gained by them through sex or money. The Gnostics had no problem teaching that Christ was God, but denied His human nature. On the other had we had the Judaizers who were teaching to keep obeying the laws for righteousness instead of teaching the appropriate doctrine of grace through faith, in Christ’s work and righteousness.
Because of these false teachers, good teachers and the truth would get a bad reputation. People then didn’t know the difference just like many people now. We always hear about some Christian doing something or teaching something that is bad. When this happens people tend to lump everything with the words, “Jesus” or “Church” together, and throw the baby out with the bathwater. So the way of truth was maligned. These same teachers would stay in the household where they were guests, eat the food, do no work, and lead people down the wrong path towards mysticism or legalism much like what happens today except ours are on television, going door to door, or selling books marketed to all of the undiscerning.
The warning was needed then and it is needed now. We must be vigilant and be on the alert for false teachers and lying men (and women) who say they are speaking the words God gave them. There is some comfort in verse 3. “…Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep…” We know that our God is true and all knowing. Nothing escapes His notice or knowledge. All of the deeds of these abusers are weighed against them and they shall surely be punished for their crimes. God is just and will punish the wicked and restore the victims. We can trust Him.