Continue traveling down the Rapture Road with Nathan Jones and Vic Batista in this verse-by-verse study of the incredibly prophetic book of 2 Peter! You can start at the beginning with Part 1 or listen in to The Truth Will Set You Free podcast (above).
Three False Prophets
Vic Batista: We were talking in our last segment about how we as Christians are to be prepared in season and out of season to give a reason for our faith in Jesus Christ. One of the ways that you and me have been helping to equip and prepare Christians is with this study of the book of 2 Peter. We hope and pray that it continues to be a blessing to your faith in our Lord.
Peter is next going to directly address false prophets. We can all assuredly agree that there is so much deception going on in these last days. So much spiritual confusion has been wrought due to the teachings by a plethora of false teachers and false prophets. Just look at some of the “health and wealth” televangelists who are popping up every week. So many heresies are being taught out there.
As we have been going through the prophetic book of 2 Peter, we will notice the warnings made by Peter to the readers of his epistle. Let’s now dive into the first few verses of chapter 2.
Nathan Jones: Let’s first jump back to something Jesus said in Matthew 24. When the Apostles asked Jesus to identify the signs concerning the end of the age that would herald the return of Jesus, He answered in verse 4, “And He said to them, ‘Let no one deceive you, for many will come in My name and say “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many.'” He repeats that revelation two more times in Matthew 24.
One of the signs of the end times that Jesus provided was that false prophets would proliferate in the last days. These false teachers would deceive many and would increase in frequency and intensity. Spiritual deception would define the end times.Nathan Jones: One of the signs of the #endtimes that Jesus provided was that false prophets would proliferate in the last days. Spiritual deception would define the end times. Click To Tweet
Here in the epistle of 2 Peter, Peter is writing it near the end of his life. So, we are talking about possibly 60-70 AD. He will again broach the same topic of false teachers as Jesus did years earlier. Peter is continuing his thought from chapter 1 where he explained how he and the other Apostles were eyewitnesses to the life and miracles of Jesus Christ and that the Holy Spirit was speaking through them and giving them the prophecies that they were sharing. Peter continues that thought about the false prophets in verses 1-3.
“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. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.”
Vic Batista: Wow, what powerful verses! Peter says some strong words in speaking out against these false prophets. Notice that Peter said “among the people.” That reminds me of something the Apostle Paul wrote to the Early Church. He warned that often these false teachers would be sitting right next to you in the pew, so to speak, spewing their false information.
Nathan Jones: Certainly, and during the first century, there were already quite a number of false prophets whom the Bible described. Take for instance Acts 5:37. There was a man named Judas the Galilean. He told the Jews around ten years before the birth of Jesus that it was shameful for them to be consenting to pay tribute to the Romans and to be tolerating worldly masters after having God as their glory. Judas had a false prophet who followed him proclaiming Judas’ messages. He even presented himself to be the forerunner, Elijah, announcing the the messiah had come as Judah the Galilean. These men ending up forming a cultic group called the Zealots. Interesting fact, one of the Apostle was saved out of the Zealot movement — Simon the Zealot. Simon had been a member of Judas’ heretical teaching. He had been trapped in this cult, but Jesus had rescued Simon out of it.
Vic Batista: When you look back at Church history, you can see that there were quite a number of false prophets and false teachers in that time. Today, we are seeing a great increase of these false teachers, and a lot of times, Christians get surprised when these individuals come out from among them.
Nathan Jones: The Jewish historian Josephus wrote in his book, Antiquities of the Jews, and we can also find this mention in Acts 5:36, about a man named Theudas. In 45 AD, he had provoked the majority of the masses to take up their possessions and go across the Jordan River. Theudas claimed that when he finally arrived at the Jordan River it would part at his command. Obviously, once he got there, the Jordan didn’t part. He ended up looking very foolish. A lots of Theudas’ followers paid for their faith in him with their lives. The Romans did not tolerate false prophets trying to raise up rebellions and so they killed a lot of his followers.
We can also read in Acts 21 about another heretic who was simply labeled the “Unamed Egyptian Jew.” As Paul was about to be killed by a hostile mob, a Roman commander who was stationed at the temple in that town arrested Paul. Paul said something to him in Greek, which surprised the commander, leading him to ask Paul how he knew Greek. He had thought Paul was the Egyptian who had stirred up a revolt and led 4,000 assassins out into the wilderness. Paul assured the commander that he was not that man.
Josephus added some details: “This man led his followers to the Mount of Olives, threatening forced entry into Jerusalem, and liberated from the Roman occupation. And many of his followers were killed in the battle.” Again, the Romans did not tolerate false prophets leading open rebellions.
So, here are three references in the book of Acts alone that refer to false teachers and false prophets in that day and age.
Vic Batista: It’s just amazing to me what the Bible and history have to say about all of the false prophets that have risen up, and yet, they have all gone by the wayside. As Paul foretold, “their destruction does not slumber.”
In the fourteenth part of our faith journey down the Rapture Road through the book of 2 Peter, we’ll address the theological debate between Calvinism and Arminianism to see if these teachings fall into the category of heresy.