“For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.”
For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world
The “they” of verse nineteen [false teachers] is the “they” of this verse. These are also the false teachers of verse one.
The word “escaped” occurs three times in the New Testament and all three times in this little book (1:4; 2:18). Those who “escaped” here are people who were at one time positive to Christianity but never embraced it. They had significant exposure to the gospel but were never true converts.
We get our English word “miasma” from this Greek word. The Greeks used the word “pollutions” for the odors that came off a swamp. The Greeks used “pollutions” especially for cultic pollution of pagan practices. What is the nature of this sin? Some think that Christians can lose their salvation by reverting into their lifestyle before they became Christians. However, both the context and explicit statements (2:22) portray these people as those who completely reject Christ.
through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
For a time, these people were exposed to the truth. The word “knowledge” implies that they had full exposure to the “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” This unique word for “knowledge” means full and intimate knowledge. Ancient Greek uses “knowledge” in legal contexts referring to careful investigation and interrogation. It is amazing that these false teachers could gain a full dose of Jesus and His work and still reject Him as their Savior.
they are again entangled in them
The word “entangled” means to weave in. These false teachers relapsed back into religion. They went back to the pollutions of paganism. They forsook religion for a while when they came to an exposure of Christ and then became entangled again in it. They left religion for a time only to return to it again.
“Overcome” carries the ideas of subjection and enslavement. Therefore, false teaching controls them. They were enslaved to religion. Religion defeated them and they were led away into a prison of false teaching.
the latter end is worse for them than the beginning
To hear the truth and revert to religion it is worse than never hearing it at all (Mt 12:45).
Mt 12: 45 “Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”
Peter’s point is that to receive a “full” exposure to Jesus and His work and to finally reject it, is a worse condition than having never heard of Jesus in the first place. They repudiate the Lord Jesus in the face of knowing fully who He is and what He did.
The “beginning” here is the point of exposure to salvation in Christ. The “latter end” is their condition in the corruption of reversion to paganism. To receive a full exposure to Jesus and to reject Him in the end is worse because they fly in the face of truth. The more light that we sin against, the more responsibility we carry. It is amazing how much of the Bible you can know and still go to hell.
Negative volition finds security in false teaching.
False teachers prey on unstable people. They cannot get away with their deceptive with anyone but the naïve who were previously described as “unstable” earlier in the chapter.
Not everyone who hears the gospels believes the gospel. You must believe after you hear. If you hear it and do not believe it, it did not do you any good to hear it. In fact, it may do you harm.
Ac 18: 8 “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized.”