2 Peter 2:3-10
God Knows How to Save
First the bad news: There will be false teachers. Now the good news: God knows how to deliver the godly and punish the evildoer. This is proven throughout Scripture and the Apostle provides specific examples from the Old Testament. Of course, the greatest proof of all is the work of our Lord Jesus Christ who was delivered from death and thereby delivers those from death who trust in him. And he explicitly teaches us to pray, “Deliver us from evil.” So, Christians need not fear false teachers, that is, as long as they are abiding in Christ and his word.
Peter’s method is sometimes called a “lesser to the greater” argument, such as, “If A is true, then how much more is B also true!” (ESV Study Bible, 2420-21). He employs three examples (which serve as proofs) for his argument. Each of these examples is preceded by the “if” statement; the “then” comes at the end of the list like a thunderclap answering all of the if’s and proving God’s knowledge and ability to both save and condemn accordingly.
The first exhibit is comprised of the fallen angels. Peter writes, “If God did not spare the angels that sinned….” The first example is different from the rest as no one is delivered, though one might suggest that the angels now in heaven were given grace so to remain obedient and even so now. The second example is of the ancient world that suffered the deluge: “If [God] did not spare the ancient world but preserved Noah….” Here, godly Noah is saved. The third example consists of the destruction of ancient, wicked cities: “If by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes…and if he rescued righteous Lot….” In this case, righteous Lot is saved. So, IF in all of these examples, God condemned the wicked while saving the godly, THEN the thunderclap: “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment.” And that is wonderful news!
And what might we say is the one ingredient each of the wicked in these examples manifest; in a word, rebellion—the fallen angels, the ancient world, and the wicked cities. Rebellion is the essence of sin. And concerning these rebellious, Peter further describes them as “those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority,” the latter being at the heart of rebellion while taking passion in its train desiring something other than God. Abide in Christ and ever remain under his authority.