(Speaking of the false teachers…) 17These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. 18For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. 20For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.” – 2Peter 2:17-22 ESV
- Springs without water and clouds without rain promise to deliver the water you need to survive but prove to be empty. Likewise, the false teachers promise freedom but they deliver slavery.
- The wisdom of course of action is determined by where it ends, not by how attractive it appears. The false teachers may look attractive now, but their end is destruction.
- How metaphorical/literal is “utter darkness” in 2:17? Light is a metaphor for the place of life, goodness and abundance, while darkness is the place where there is death, evil and danger. Utter darkness is a kind of darkness that has no dawn. Similarly, judgment is a destruction worse than death as we know it.
- The false teachers claim to be “free” from the law, but in reality they are slaves to their sin.
- “Barely” in 2:18 could have the sense of “came really close” or “just recently”. “They” in 2:20 could refer to either the false teachers or to their listeners. Both options make sense of the grammar and context. I lean toward the option that would see them both as recent converts.
- Believers escape the corruption of the world through knowing and understanding the gospel of Jesus Christ. (See also 2Peter 1:2-4)
- Believers can claim not to be defeated or overcome by sin in the sense that we are no longer deceived by it. While we still sin, we now recognize sin as our enemy and turn to God in repentance.
- Believing a distorted gospel is worse than not believing at all because false gospels offer a false sense of security and complacency.
- People who have truly embraced the gospel see themselves as healed and clean, they don’t want to go back to being sick and dirty. But like dogs return to their vomit and pigs return to the mud, the false teachers return to their sin and guilt.