“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.”
For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness
The word “speak” literally means to call out loudly. The focus is on the verbal sound rather than the content of what is said. Peter used this word of Balaam’s ass, and now he uses this word for false teachers. All heresy uses pompous words. They try to impress their followers with pretentious and bombastic words.
“Emptiness” is something futile, purposeless, transitory, or worthless. The words of these false teachers were high-sounding but empty. They lacked true content that came from God; thus, their teaching was deceptive and pointless. In the Greek tragedies, the gods offered a partial answer to man’s purpose for life, but the plurality and mutability of the gods undermined this answer. All their grand oratory is useless for any good purpose. Their teaching was grandiose but without substance. Their verbose speak was futile in that it did not fulfill what it promised. False teaching is futile because it lacked content. All their grandiose words did was to allure like bait others into their teaching.
Ps. 60:11, “Give us help from trouble,
For the help of man is useless.”
This verse in Psalms uses the same Greek word as here in 2 Peter. It states baldly that human help is vain. The one and only true and living God can save us from futility. The reason we must look to God is that man offers nothing but nothingness.
Eph. 4:17, “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind…”
The New Testament asserts that the thoughts of the wise are empty (1 Co. 3:20). The New Testament claims of itself that if the historical fact of the resurrection is not real, then Christianity itself is a fake.
they allure through the lusts of the flesh through lewdness
False teachers often find their victims among dissatisfied church members who never understood God’s grace in salvation. They could not tell the difference between truth and error. That is why Peter calls them “unstable souls” (2 Pe 2:14). Grandiose words that dazzled the mind were not enough to mislead people. False teachers had to appeal to their dark side. They took the restraints off the flesh so their followers could run wild. Unstable people can be lured into false doctrine through their lust patterns. They want their “truth” to match their desires.
the ones who have actually escaped
“Escape” means to flee away from. New Christians flee to what they think is safety. They think that they can get acquittal from God through escape into religion. Their methodology is avoidance. This is the philosophy of sticking your head in the sand and hoping that reality will go away.
from those who live in error
“Those who live in error” were contemporary pagans of that day. A pagan is someone who rejects Christianity. They heard the gospel, but they rejected it. Usually, they are suckers for religion.
“Error” means literally wandering. Those led astray roam here and there without fixing truth. They operate in delusion (2 Th. 2:11; Jude 11) and wander off the path of truth. False teachers caused them to wander off biblical truth and mislead them to mistaken ideas.
Mt 24:4, “And Jesus answered and said to them: ‘Take heed that no one deceives you.’”
2 Ti 3:13, “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”
The Bible never divides doctrine and morals by a sharp line (Mt 27:64). Distortion in doctrine is often the effect of ill-made morality (Eph 4:14; 1 Th 2:3; 2 Th 2:11). Chapter three talks of the “error of unprincipled men” (2 Pe 3:17). These men twist thoughts so that immorality looks like morality. What is false seems like it is true. They make a lie appear true. This is a perversion of truth.
False teachers make lies appear true.
Generally, false teachers are eloquent, or people would probably not listen to them. They are good speakers. People are deceived by their ability to speak rather than the content of what they say. They use insincere words (2:3) to mislead their followers.
Co 2:4, “Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.”
Most of what they say sounds so plausible, so feasible. It seems to add up.
1 Jn 4:6, “We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error.”