“The Dog Returns To Its Vomit”— 2 Peter 2.

Here, Peter speaks of false preachers who seek to corrupt God’s message. Vs. 1 says, “But there were also false prophets AMONG THE PEOPLE, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

He had spoken earlier about true prophets who were inspired by God, in the previous chapter.

1 Peter 1:20-21 (NKJV)

20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke AS THEY WERE MOVED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT.

As there were true prophets “among the people” (the Jews), there were also false prophets (Deuteronomy 13 speaks of false prophets, and the punishment to be meted out to them). In the same way, there are false prophets today, even in the Church age. The Early Church suffered this pandemic of heretics.

Jesus had warned that false teachers would arise. He says in Matthew 7, “BEWARE OF FALSE PROPHETS, who COME TO YOU in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles?” (vv. 15-16).

These false prophets Peter speaks of “secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them.” The work of Christ is for EVERYONE, even the unsaved. This is the sense Peter means when he says “even denying the Lord who bought them.” The Lord bought/redeemed all men, by paying the price for their sins.

1 John 2:1-2 (NKJV)

1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and NOT FOR OURS ONLY but also FOR THE WHOLE WORLD.

The sins of the world (not just believers) have been paid for by the work of Christ. So in this sense, Jesus has “bought” the world from sin. This does not mean all men have received His payment though.

Although He has bought all men (i.e. paid the price for their redemption, by His blood), men still need to exercise faith to enjoy that reality. These false teachers have failed to do so. They “deny” Christ.

The word “deny” translates the Greek “arneomai” (ἀρνέομαι), which literally means “to say no to,” to refuse to accept something offered. So these false prophets/teachers Peter refers to are not saved. Their end is swift destruction. Before their destruction, they would lead many astray.

Vs. 2 says, “And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.

The heretics of the Early Church (the Nicolaitans, the Gnostics, Carpocratians and others) taught destructive doctrines which led many to sin, and lead lascivious lives. Because of such a conduct, the way of truth, which is the Gospel (Acts 9:2, 19:9, 23, 22:4, 24:14, cf. 16:17, 18:26), will be spoken ill of. Where the conduct of professing Christians does not match their profession, occasions would arise for the same to be blasphemed.

1 Timothy 6:1 (NKJV)

1 Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, SO THAT the name of God and His doctrine MAY NOT BE BLASPHEMED.

Titus 2:5 (NKJV)

5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, THAT the word of God MAY NOT BE BLASPHEMED.

Vs. 3 says, “By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words…

Ecclesiastical tradition reveals that Simon Magnus (of Acts 8) later spearheaded an heretical group (the Simonians). It was this same Simon who had offered the Apostles money to receive power.

Acts 8:18-23 (NKJV)

18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, HE OFFERED THEM MONEY, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because YOU THOUGHT THAT THE GIFT OF GOD COULD BE PURCHASED WITH MONEY! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. 22 Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.”

His heretical camp (Simonianism) was known for teaching covetousness (just like Simon did). False teaching and greed usually go hand in hand.

1 Timothy 6:5 (NKJV)

5 useless wranglings of MEN OF CORRUPT MINDS and destitute of the truth, WHO SUPPOSE THAT GODLINESS IS A MEANS OF GAIN. From such withdraw yourself.

Titus 1:10-11 (NKJV)

10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, 11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, FOR THE SAKE OF DISHONEST GAIN. 

In the first century, many made a living by charging money to reveal “deep mystical secrets.” These false teachers were no different. They WILLINGLY perverted the message of the Gospel, to make gain.

Peter continues in vs. 3, “…for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.” Their judgment draws nearer. This is an allusion to Deuteronomy 32:35 which says, “Vengeance is Mine, and recompense; their foot shall slip in due time; for THE DAY OF THEIR CALAMITY IS AT HAND, AND THE THINGS TO COME HASTEN UPON THEM.” Peter’s point is this: these false teachers must not presume that they would go scot-free. Their judgment is imminent.

Peter then cites Old Testament examples to further buttress his point:

2 Peter 2:4-11 (NKJV)

4 For if God did not spare THE ANGELS WHO SINNED, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare THE ANCIENT WORLD, but saved Noah, one of eight people, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood on THE WORLD OF THE UNGODLY; 6 and turning THE CITIES OF SODOM AND GOMORRAH into ashes, condemned them to destruction, making them AN EXAMPLE to those who afterward would live ungodly; 7 and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of THE WICKED 8 (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing THEIR LAWLESS DEEDS)— 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and TO RESERVE THE UNJUST UNDER PUNISHMENT FOR THE DAY OF JUDGMENT. 10 and especially THOSE WHO WALK ACCORDING TO THE FLESH in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, 11 whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.

Just as fallen angels were not spared (Gen 3:14-15, Jude 6 cf. John 8:44), the world of the UNGODLY was destroyed during the time of Noah (Gen 6-8), and Sodom was destroyed (Gen 19), even so the judgment of these false teachers was SURE! They had gone beyond their limits, in speaking ill of sacred things. They presented a corrupted message to the people of God. They have strayed from the truth of God’s Word to teach error, DELIBERATELY.

Vv. 12-17 further describe these false teachers.

2 Peter 2:12-17 (NKJV)

12 But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, 13 and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. 15 THEY HAVE FORSAKEN THE RIGHT WAY AND GONE ASTRAY, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, WHO LOVED THE WAGES OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS; 16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet. 17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

By their false doctrine, these men lead true believers astray. Vs. 18 says, “For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, THEY ALLURE through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, THE ONES WHO HAVE ACTUALLY ESCAPED from those who live in error.” Peter differentiates these false teachers from those “who have ACTUALLY escaped from those who live in error.” So these false prophets had not truly escaped the world of sin yet. They were unsaved.

Vs. 19 makes this clear. It says, “While they promise them liberty, THEY THEMSELVES ARE SLAVES OF CORRUPTION; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.

The term “slaves of corruption” is used to describe sinners, the unsaved, who are in bondage to sin (see John 8:34, Romans 6:16-20).

Vs. 20 says, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.

To “escape the pollutions of the world” here does not mean they were at some point saved. It simply means they stopped being ignorant of God as some point. The “pollutions of the world” here refers to ignorance, in context. Peter had been speaking about spiritual ignorance, heresies and false knowledge throughout the chapter (vv. 1, 12, 15). Those of the world are in spiritual darkness i.e. they don’t know God (see 1 Pt 1:14, Eph 4:18-19, Luke 1:79, Acts 26:17-18, 1 Thess 4:5, 2 Thess 1:8). This is what these false teachers “escaped.

These false teachers escaped “the pollutions of the world” (ignorance about God) by having the Gospel preached to them. They came to know about Him at some point. Saving knowledge was presented to them (“the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ“). Yet, they rejected the same and rather embraced heresies. They were AGAIN “entangled in these pollutions (ignorance, false understandings of God) and overcome.” They chose to disregard the information they now had, and go back AGAIN to false knowledge. Their previous state (“latter end“) is therefore worse than the first, since now they cannot feign ignorance anymore.

A man would be judged by the degree of his knowledge. More light (knowledge) means more condemnation; a man will be judged by how much he knows of the truth (See Rom 1:18-32, 2:12). These false teachers already knew the truth FULLY, making their rejection even more severe. What they have done is a blatant, willful rejection of saving Truth (the Gospel), and the consequences would be dire!

Vs. 21 says, “For it would have been better for them NOT TO HAVE KNOWN THE WAY OF RIGHTEOUSNESS (or “it would have been better for them to have remained in the pollutions of this world” which is ignorance of God), THAN HAVING KNOWN IT (i.e. having escaped the pollutions, which is false information or ignorance contextually), to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

These false teachers knew “the way of righteousness” which is the Gospel i.e. the Christian faith and its practice (see 2 Pt 2:2, 15). They understood the Gospel clearly. But instead of believing it, they turned away from the same. This is the “holy commandment delivered to them.” Peter refers to the Gospel as God’s “holy commandment” since God commands every man to believe!

Acts 17:30-31 (NKJV)

30 Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now COMMANDS ALL MEN EVERYWHERE TO REPENT, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness BY THE MAN whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.”

These heretics knew all these. Their rejection means they can anticipate greater judgment than those who did not have as much knowledge (light) as they did. They remain unsaved.

Therefore vs. 22 says, “But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: ‘A dog returns to his own vomit,’ and, ‘a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.’” Peter quotes Proverbs 26:11 here, which says, “As a dog returns to his own vomit, so a fool repeats his folly.” An appropriate text to describe these false teachers, who rejected the Gospel to remain in ignorance (“folly“).

What they have done is akin to a dog reingesting its own vomit or a pig, just washed, returning to the mud. True believers are never called “dogs” or “pigs” in the Bible, but the unsaved are (see Rev 22:15, cf. 1 Corin 6:9-10 & Gal 5:19-21).

Dogs were regarded as very vile and unclean beasts amongst the Orientals. It was regarded as highly pejorative to be called a “dog” (see Deu 28:18, 1 Sam 17:43, 2 Sam 3:8, 9:8, 16:9, Matt 7:6, Phi 3:2). Pigs were unclean animals under Moses’ Law, and were not to be consumed (Lev 11:7, Deu 14:8). Both animals come together as imageries of a vile or unclean state, describing those who have never believed.

They go back to their past lives (of sin and spiritual ignorance), because they were never truly regenerated. These false teachers are dangerous, because a false Gospel would raise false converts (those who are not truly saved, but think they are). This is why heresy was a grave concern for the Apostles—it was literally a matter of life and death!


© Josh Banks Ministries. 2022.


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