2 Peter 2:1
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you…
I. A NARRATION.
1. The connection of the words. "Also" implies that there were always true prophets. God never leaves His people without tutors.
2. The corruption of the persons. "False prophets."(1) They that came in the name of God, but were never sent by God (Jeremiah 23:21).
(2) They that come in God's name, and are sent, but deliver a false message.
3. The intrusion of their mischief. "Among the people." But durst these black impostors press into so famous a light, and not fear discerning? (1 Kings 18:19; 1 Kings 22:6.) They say it is half a protection to foreknow a danger: behold the apostle's fidelity, and therein God's mercy.
II. A CAUTION.
1. Who they be that assault us. Falsehood insinuates itself always in the semblance of truth. For error is so foul a hag, that if it should come in its own shape, all men would loathe it.
2. Whither they come. Not to the Turks, or Gentiles, or other heretics only; but to "you "that have the gospel. They seem to come unto you, but indeed they come against you; they promise your good, but they perform your hurt.
(1) God suffers these for the trial of our faith (1 Corinthians 11:19).
(2) God suffers them, that the true pastors might more patiently exercise their knowledge. Heresy makes men sharpen their wits, the better to confute it.
(3) God permits them for men's ingratitude.
3. These false teachers intrude themselves — as sometimes a gamester, being flushed with his luck — and they meet with three encouragements:
(1) The numbers and applaudings of their auditors (Jeremiah 5:31).
(2) The honour and respect that is done them.
(3) Large gifts and riches.
4. Their unavoidable necessity. They will press in, and we cannot easily stave them off. Jesus Christ must enlighten our hearts to decline these false teachers. Now the means whereby Christ teacheth us is the Scripture.
III. A DESCRIPTION of these pernicious liars, concerning whom we find a threefold mischief: one that issues from them, another that abides in them, a third that is inflicted on them.
1. Their seminary mischief, offensive and noxious to others.
(1) The matter, what they bring in — "damnable heresies."(a) Heresy is that which doth diametrically oppose the truth, and set up an opinion against it. Error is when one holds a wrong opinion alone; schism, when many consent in their opinion; heresy runs further, and contends to root out the truth.
(b) "Heresies," in the plural, to point at a multitude. The troubles of the Church seldom come single; but either unite their forces, as the five Amorite kings combined against Gibeon (Joshua 10:5); or separately they vex her on every side, as Solomon was assaulted by Hadad, Rezon, and Jeroboam (1 Kings 11.).
(c) They "shall bring in." Here is the necessity. "Shall"; though provision spend all her wit, and prevention all her strength, yet no avoiding it.
(d) The malignity of them. "Damnable heresies."
(i) Because they are reprobated of God.
(ii) Because pestilent to the kingdoms or nations where they are admitted.
(iii) Because they bring destruction to all their followers and defenders.
2. The causes that produce such inevitable effects.
3. The manner of their induction: underhand, "privily."(1) Their subtlety, whereby they insinuate their unseen poisonous seeds (Ephesians 4:14).
(2) Their vigilant care to spy out the opportunity, how they may privily bring heresy in (Micah 2:1).
(3) Their hypocrisy, with the covertly carriage of their intended plagues (Romans 16:18). Vice dares not walk without a borrowed shape.
4. Their criminal evil.
(1) They "deny." It were bad enough to slight Him, worse to forget Him, yet worse to forsake Him; but to deny Him is fearful.
(2) "The Lord." Not a creature, not a man, not a father, not a friend, not an angel, not themselves; but the Lord, this is more fearful.
(3) "That bought them." It is much to deny a benefactor, more to deny a parent, more to deny a Creator; but yet there is a step higher: to deny a Redeemer. Denial of Christ is of two sorts — either in judgment or in practice; denial in faith or denial in fact. The latter is of infirmity, the other of infidelity.
5. The punishment.
(1) They "bring upon themselves."(a) The wicked are the causes of their own condemnation (Isaiah 50:1; Proverbs 5:22; Psalm 64:8; Jeremiah 2:17).
(b) God is not the cause of man's transgression or damnation (James 1:13; Romans 9:19).
(c) They themselves bring it; therefore not any fatal necessity out of themselves, but their own malice within them.
(2) "Destruction." This is the measure of their punishment — total ruin.
(3) "Swift." Man may shoot and miss, or his arrow be so slow of flight that it may be avoided; but if God shoots, He hits and kills.
Parallel VersesKJV: But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.
WEB: But false prophets also arose among the people, as false teachers will also be among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction.