The Error of the Wicked

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Peter understands human nature quite well. He is fully aware that some believers will be easily swayed by the arguments and glitzy showmanship of false teachers, especially those who can seem totally sincere, completely earnest for the betterment of their listeners. What he is saying here is, “Look, you’ve been warned. You know, now, that you need to be careful of what you hear and to whom you listen. You’ve been told the truth in scripture, both in my words and in Paul’s. Right now you are steadfast, firm in your faith and understanding. Beware that you are not fooled by the error of wicked teachers.”

Peter’s final salutation is indicative of his deep love and concern for the believers to whom he writes. He urges them to grow in the grace and in knowledge of God.

One thing of which I become more keenly aware every day is that growing in the Lord never stops. We easily drift away on our own concerns, losing sight of the more important things of God that will keep us grounded and settled.

Finally, Peter reminds them that ALL glory, both now and forever, belongs to God.


We have finished the study of I-II Peter. I have decided to spend some time in the Psalms next. I won’t be tackling every single Psalm but perhaps will pick through some of my favorites, or at least favorite passages. I’ll start that study on Monday, taking a little break for the next three days.

Twisting God’s Word

II Peter 3:16. “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”

Verse 16 is a continuation of verse 15, in which Peter mentions “our beloved brother Paul” who also wrote about the same things Peter mentions. He (Peter) acknowledges that these things can be hard to understand. He says that those who are uneducated in the scripture, or who are spiritually unstable, tend to wrest the things they don’t understand in order to make sense of them. Of course, I had to look up wrest, and here is what I found:

to twist, turn awry

to torture, put to the rack

metaph. to pervert, of one who wrests or tortures language in a false sense

Strong’s Numbers

I couldn’t help but think of all the different ways we’re seeing language, here in the States, being turned to make that which is wrong seem right; to make that which is evil seem good. When we do not understand God’s perspective, or simply refuse to accept it, then we have to find a way to twist and pervert words to mean something that was never intended.

Those who twist and pervert scripture, Peter says, are doing so to their own destruction. We need to take scripture at its word, not changing and twisting it to fit man’s perspective.

Peter and Paul

II Peter 2:15-16.

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;

As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

Peter tells us, in v. 15, to take into account, or reckon up, that God’s patience in putting an end to all things gives the ongoing opportunity for people to turn to Him for salvation. He mentions Paul as teaching that same thing in his own epistles, with which Peter was clearly familiar.

We often mention to other believers that we are eager for the Lord to return and put an end to the ungodliness of this world. We fail to take into account, in the first place, that God is not bound by time. Second, we want Him to be ever patient with us while at the same time we want the unjust to be brought to judgment right now. I freely admit to feeling this way as I watch my beloved country spin out of control. We somehow feel that God ought still to be blessing America, in spite of the fact that we have legislated Him out of so much of civil life; and in spite of the blood of millions of babies being on our hands. This death spiral did not start in this century nor the last, but way before America was even thought of as anything more than a British colony. As a lover of history, I know that there was, and always has been, evil brewing in the hearts of mankind. Satan surely plays on that evil, twisting and turning it to his own advantage in his desperate and fruitless effort to destroy everything God loves.

Some people like to believe that Peter and Paul were at odds with each other. There was only one time that the scripture records in which Paul confronted Peter “to his face” in Galatians 2:11-13. Peter had been eating with the Gentile believers, something he would not have done under the Law, until some Judaizers came and questioned Peter’s practice. He felt awkward then, and refused to eat with the Gentiles again. Paul rebuked him for that hypocrisy because Peter was “clearly in the wrong.” We have no indication that Peter was then angry with Paul, or that these two giants clashed ever again. Peter refers to Paul in our passage today with great respect, saying that he was beloved, and wise.

How refreshing it would be if only we would follow the examples these to great men set for us. Paul confronted Peter openly, and personally. He did not go among the Gentile Christians complaining about Peter and accusing him behind his back. He went directly to Peter with his observation. Maybe he pointed out to Peter that Jesus ate with Gentiles quite often. We don’t know the exact words he used, not the words with which Peter responded. We do know that Peter spoke of Paul, as I said before, with great respect. Because Paul addressed the issue directly, Peter was not left to find out after the fact that Paul had been unhappy with him and had told many others how wrong Peter was.

I have been, more than once, the subject of just the opposite behavior. Someone has disagreed or been unhappy with me, and never come to me face to face. Instead, they have gone to those in authority and told them of my transgression. I never had the opportunity to address the issue with whoever accused me because they were protected by the authority to whom they went. It’s a terrible way to deal with someone who has offended you in some way, never really tying up loose ends or settling anything.

We ought to follow Paul’s example, and the clear teaching for this type of situation in Matthew 18:15-18.

I was going to address v. 16 today as well, but I think it best to wait until tomorrow. This has grown long enough 🙂

Diligent to Live for Him

II Peter 3:13-14.

Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.

Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.


Charles Haddon Spurgeon has long been a great favorite of mine. I have a copy of his Morning and Evening devotional book that is over 40 years old, and I still go back to it now and then for the year’s worth of wonderful meditations he wrote. I saw this quote from him this morning, and thought it an appropriate introduction for today’s passage:

 “The king is coming; He is coming to His throne, and to His judgment. Now a man does not go up to a king’s door, and there talk treason; and men do not sit in a king’s audience-chamber when they expect him every moment to enter, and there speak ill of him. The King is on His way, and almost here; you are at His door; He is at yours. What manner of people ought ye to be? How can ye sin against One Who is so close at hand?” (Spurgeon)

The nevertheless in v.13 refers to the description of the destruction of the heavens and the earth as we know them. God will consume them with fire, the like of which has never been seen before. Nevertheless, we, as believers, can look forward to a new heaven and a new earth, which will be filled with righteousness. Sin will no longer prevail.

And because we look forward to that day, we can hasten its coming by our diligence in living for Him now, in spite of all the evil that abounds. We have the sure promise of eternity with Him, and that is what keeps us diligently living for Him here on this tired old world.

How Should We Behave?

II Peter 3:11-12.

Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness,

Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?

Here’s my own version of these verses: “Since we know that God will melt the heavens and the earth with an intense heat, how should we behave? We should live in holy behavior and show godliness to all those around us. We should look forward to the Day of the Lord when He will destroy this earth and the heavens, knowing that He will create a new heaven and a new earth. “

The word conversation in the KJV Elizabethan English means “manner of behavior.” It includes our words, of course, but is not limited just to our words. All of our behavior should be to show honor to the Lord. We are to live holy lives because He is holy and cannot look on sin.

I want to say here that living holy lives does NOT mean that we are to be busy making rules for each other regarding dress, hair, makeup, jewelry, and so forth. We are not given the right to examine what other people watch, or listen to or read until or unless such things create conflict within the church. Then, it is to be handled with love, not judgment. The goal of dealing with sin in someone else’s life is to restore that person, not to berate him. When it is done according to Matthew 18:15-18, church discipline has the ultimate goal of repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. You can read my comments on v. 18 at this link:

Living a holy life is to live as free from sin as possible. I believe that when we are faithfully in God’s Word, faithful in prayer, that the Holy Spirit will prompt us when our behaviors are unholy. If we are constantly watching others to make sure they are following the “rules,” we are doing so from a self-righteous, pharisaical perspective.

The Day of the Lord

II Peter 3:10. “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”

I don’t think anyone really completely understands what God has in store for this tired old world. It will surpass any human imagination.

The Day of the Lord: This is the day in which He will be clearly seen. It is called His day, because He will be overwhelming in His appearance. No one will be able or willing to scoff at Him when He appears. There will be no doubt about Who He is when He appears as the Judge over all the heavens and the earth. Luke 17:27 describes the time just before the Flood when people were going about their normal routines and were shocked by the incredible rush of mighty waters that washed them all away. So will the coming of Jesus take people by surprise. There will be no warnings. Warnings have been in His Word for a very long time. When He comes, judgment will be swift and final.

I wonder if there is anything to which we can compare that great noise that will accompany the destruction of the heavens and the earth. Such a calamity has never taken place, so we have nothing to which we can compare the incredible noise that will accompany the destruction by fire of all that we know.

Elements: There is some debate over exactly what is meant by this word. Is it referring to the traditional concept of the four elements: Fire, water, earth and air. But the text refers here to the earth AND the heavens, which is far more vast than our concept of these four elements. Another explanation lies in the translation of elements as the rudimentary building blocks of every single part of God’s creation, right down to the tiniest molecule, atom, proton, neutron, electron and any other minuscule part upon which His creation is built. Mankind, in our limited minds, has trouble grasping the immensity of His creation; we also cannot know the limitless content of the tiniest speck of His creation. All of it, every infinitesimal part, will be destroyed by fire.

All will melt in the most fervent heat that has ever existed. All the so-called mighty works of man will melt in the fervent heat of God’s judgment. Gone. Worthless. The vainglorious efforts to deify mankind will be done away with forever.

The Lord Wants ALL to Repent!

II Peter 3:9. “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”


  1. He to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord
    1. the possessor and disposer of a thing
      1. the owner; one who has control of the person, the master
      2. in the state: the sovereign, prince, chief, the Roman emperor
    2. is a title of honour expressive of respect and reverence, with which servants greet their master
    3. this title is given to God, the Messiah

God is sovereign. The word Lord is from the Greek kuros, which is the root of kyrios; it means He Who is sovereign.

His promise: This word comes from epangelía, an announcement of a divine good or blessing.

It is all too easy for us to forget this underlying principle of exactly Who God is. Things seem to be going so badly in almost every area these days: Politically, morally, spiritually, there is a trend away from God, away from His supreme authority over everything. I suspect that even believers are guilty of thinking that God is surely taking His sweet time to put things right!

If we would focus more on the right of ownership that He has over everything, perhaps we could be more patient in waiting for Him to show Himself as the immortal, invisible, God only wise. We could be less impatient and worried about the future if we would accept that He is not bound by our schedules!

The truth is that He is not slow. It is WE who are slow in understanding that He waits patiently for ALL to come to repentance. His desire is that no one should perish for eternity in hell, but that all should turn to Him in repentance and humility to seek His forgiveness of our sinful nature.

He is Timeless

II Peter 3:8. “But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”

God is not limited by time. He does not live by clocks and calendars.

The concept of time is so ingrained in us that it is impossible to imagine existence without the boundaries of time. Our lives are recorded in time from the moment we are born until we die. We live by the clock, by schedules and plans. There’s nothing wrong with that, and a lot right with it! Imagine, wives and moms, if you prepared meals only when you felt hungry. Your poor family would never know when they could expect to eat. Imagine having no time by which you need to be at work, or going to a medical appointment with no specific time that is scheduled for you. Let your imaginations run wild, thinking about a world in which time does not exist. For us, here on earth, it would be utter chaos! No schedules for flights, or trains, or anything!

God is not bound by time, but He established order when He created the world. There are seasons; there is light and dark, day and night, weeks and months and years. He knew we would need order and organization, and He supplied that for us.

He is the timeless One. He has never not existed–another concept that goes beyond our understanding.

Some would point to today’s verse as proof that Creation did not necessarily happen in six specific days–it could have been at least 6,000 years or more. That makes no sense when compared to Genesis 1:5, which clearly states that the evening and the morning were the first day. The truth is that God didn’t need thousands of years to complete His creation. He could have done it all in a fraction of a second, but part of His plan was to create order for us, a time to work, to eat, to sleep, and to fellowship with Him.

I Corinthians 14:40 tells us to do all things decently and in order. This was spoken by Paul to the church, but application can be made to each of us in our personal routines and practices.

Part of maturity is learning to honor commitments that are made for a specific time and place. If we don’t learn this, and we are always late or absent, we are inconveniencing others as well as ourselves. God is not a God of chaos, but of order.

Willingly Ignorant

II Peter 3:5-7.

For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the Word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water:

Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished:

But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same Word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

They in v. 5 refers to the false teachers in the previous passage. They are “willingly ignorant” concerning creation itself. Peter wastes no time defending the biblical account of creation, knowing that those who are willingly ignorant won’t be persuaded. If they were to acknowledge God’s supremacy, doing so would interfere with their purpose and destroy their income flow.

What Peter does make clear is that God destroyed that earth and all its people because of their insolence and complete rejection of Him. He doesn’t spend time pointing out that all who perished were given plenty of time to heed the warning and the preaching of Noah while the ark was being built. The scoffers continued to scoff even as the animals miraculously converged on the ark and walked on board, or crawled, or slithered–that must have been a sight to see!

God promised that He would not destroy the entire earth by flood again. He did NOT promise, though, that He wouldn’t use another way to do so.

Peter’s point is that things on this earth have not always continued the way they are now. The earth was different when God first created it and then it was different again after the flood. Therefore no one should scoff at God’s promise that He will make it different once again, judging it not with water but with fire. The same word of God that created all matter and judged the world in the flood will one day bring a judgment of fire upon the earth.

i. “The lesson taught by the flood was that this is a moral universe, that sin will not for ever go unpunished; and Jesus Himself used the flood to point to this moral (Matthew 24:37-39). But these men chose to neglect it.” (Green)(, Guzik)

Uniformitarianism is the theory that all changes in the earth’s crust during geological history have resulted from the action of continuous and uniform processes, and will always continue to do so. This theory leaves no room for a sovereign God Who spoke the heavens and the earth and all they contain into existence; and that He can end all that He made when He so chooses.

Willing ignorance.


II Peter 3:3-4.

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,

And saying, Where is the promise of His coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

Peter desired his readers to be mindful of false prophets. As they have always existed, they will continue to exist. They will proliferate as the end times approach, because more and more people will be drawn to the puffed up promises of these false teachers. The people who follow false teachers will be a huge money source for the unbiblical “prophets” who follow their teaching.

Peter says these false teachers walk after their own lusts. That is, they follow the path of least resistance to gain their own selfish desires. Those desires can cover every aspect of human desire and depravity, all under the guise of their great, spiritually empty but cleverly disguised promises of health, wealth and happiness.

The scoffers will question the truth of the biblical prophesies of the return of Jesus. They will say, “So, where is He? Nothing has changed in this world. He still hasn’t returned to establish His kingdom, and it’s been SUCH a long time! Look how His followers have suffered over the centuries! And still nothing has really changed. He promised to come back, right? Well, WHEN? Look, you can wait for the rest of your lives, but the only way things are going to improve is if you take control of your own lives. Just send me a gift to support this ministry, and I’ll send you a book with step-by-step instructions for living a free and happy life! Send your gift today! Don’t wait one more minute to begin your journey to a better life!”

If. you fall for that pitch, you may as well be sending in cereal box tops for that wonderful plastic decoder ring you coveted as a child. It probably had as much value as the empty claims of wealth, health and happiness that come from false teachers.