THE “SLEAZE FACTOR”
2nd Peter chapter 2 has some words that are important to understand to get the impact of what is being said and addressed.
Take the time to read each one so that you can understand what it being said then, by the cultural understanding of the word as it was used then, instead of trying to understand the word and its use as it is understood culturally now.
Let’s point them out by verse:
2 Peter 2:1 (CJB)
1 But among the people there were also false prophets,
just as there will be false teachers among you.
Under false pretenses they will introduce destructive heresies,
even denying the Master who bought them,
and thus bring on themselves swift destruction.
- False Prophet – ψευδοπροφήτης pseudoprophētēs.A compound word formed from 2 Greek words: pseudos “lie,” and prophētēs “prophet.”
- False Teacher – ψευδοδιδάσκαλος pseudodidaskalos.A compound word formed from 2 Greek words: pseudos “lie,” and didaskō “teacher.”
- Secretly – παρεισάγω pareisagō.With stealth and “from the side” – Think of this as someone letting someone in the back door of a theater so they don’t have to pay.
- Heresies – αἵρεσις ahiresis.This word’s etymology evolves . . . and the evolution is interesting: It is a “choice or selection” that evolves into a “description between philosophical thought” (Philo and Josephus both used it this way) which then evolves to mean “division or separation of religious sects from each other” (think Baptist vs Lutheran vs Pharisee vs Sadducee etc) ie, discord (the nuance of hostility over those divisions can not be ignored). This all evolves into how it is used in the text here in 2nd Peter:
haíresis creates a new society alongside the ekklēsía and thus makes the ekklēsía itself a haíresis and not the comprehensive people of God. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, trans., Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, ed., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament: Abridged in One Volume, (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans, 2003), s.v. “,” WORDsearch CROSS e-book.
Succinctly put, ahiresis or “heresies” evolved into the understanding of a departure from orthodoxy – a departure that involves the acceptance of incorrect doctrine over the correct one (biblical one). Heresy then by definition would be:
A departure from orthodoxy that is a lie taught falsely by men that cause division within the Assembly itself.
- Destructive – ἀπώλεια apōleia.The opposite of salvation. Eternal destruction, damnation, death, ruin, wasted, to be lost . . . eternal punishment – soul damning.
- Denying – ἀρνέομαι arneomai.
“I didn’t do it! I did NOT laugh!” (Sarah denying in Genesis 18:15). This word can also mean to disown, renounce, refuse. To reject . . . One of the most important uses of it:
1 John 2:22 (CJB)
22 Who is a liar at all, if not the person who denies that Yeshua is the Messiah?
Such a person is an anti-Messiah — he is denying the Father and the Son.
This word can also apply to denying self. I have written on this in my 3 part series: The Largest Church in America: where the 2nd and 3rd part break down, amplify and expound the following verse which also uses the Greek word for deny (renounce):
Titus 2:12 (CJB)
12 It teaches us to renounce godlessness and worldly pleasures, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives now, in this age;
Of course, there are other familiar verses about deny such as the following:
2 Timothy 3:5 (CJB) 5 as they retain the outer form of religion but deny its power. Stay away from these people!
Matthew 10:33 (CJB) 33 But whoever disowns me before others I will disown before my Father in heaven.
2 Timothy 2:12 (CJB) 12 If we persevere, we will also rule with him If we disown him, he will also disown us.
John 13:38 (CJB) 38 Yeshua answered, “You will lay down your life for me? Yes, indeed! I tell you, before the rooster crows you will disown me three times. Luke 9:23 (CJB) 23 Then to everyone he said, “If anyone wants to come after me, let him say ‘No’ to himself, take up his execution-stake daily and keep following me.
- Master – δεσπότης despotēs.As a form of address in classical Greek, despotēs could denote the positional difference between a master and a slave, between a ruler and subject, or between a god and a man. The emphasis is upon the authority invested in the despotēs by virtue of his position (Liddell-Scott). Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “1197. δεσπότης,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Delta-Epsilon, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “1197. Î´ÎµÏƒÏ€á½¹Ï„Î·Ï‚”.
- Bought them – ἀγοράζω agorazō .Purchased, buy, paid a price for . . .
1 Corinthians 6:20 (CJB)
20 for you were bought at a price. So use your bodies to glorify God.
If we look at this first verse in 2nd Kefa (Peter) in the 2nd chapter and the words that are used in it, Kefa paints us a picture of the times. He WARNS us! He shows us in this picture that there are people guilty of promoting division within the assembly of believers through dishonesty. He writes about these “liars” that promote soul-damning breaks from orthodoxy. He writes that these breaks from orthodoxy, this division will produce sects, some of which will even deny the Master. He warns that there will be consequences that they will bring on themselves – dire consequences!
“This chapter is the first century’s picture of the “sleaze factor” at work.
Then, just as now, immoral and greedy persons misled God’s people by assuming the role of teachers and had a devastating effect on the morale and reputation of the Messianic Community.”
David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary
As there shall be false teachers among you—
At a very early period of the Christian Church
many heresies sprung up; but the chief were those of the
Ebionites, Cerinthians, Nicolaitans, Menandrians, and Gnostics,
of whom many strange things have been spoken by the primitive fathers,
and of whose opinions it is difficult to form any satisfactory view.
They were, no doubt, bad enough, and their opponents in general have doubtless made them worse.
By what name those were called of whom the apostle here speaks, we cannot tell.
They were probably some sort of apostate Jews, or those called the Nicolaitans.
Adam Clarke, Adam Clarke’s Commentary
2 Peter 2:2 (CJB)
2 Many will follow their debaucheries;
and because of them,
the true Way will be maligned.
- Debaucheries – ἀσέλγεια aselgeia.Licentiousness, wantonness, lasciviousness, filthiness . . .
Webster 1913 Dictionary defines “licentiousness” as:
a. [L. licentiosus: cf. F. licencieux. See License.]
1. Characterized by license; passing due bounds; excessive; abusive of freedom; wantonly offensive; as, a licentious press.
A wit that no licentious pertness knows.
2. Unrestrained by law or morality; lawless; immoral; dissolute; lewd; lascivious; as, a licentious man; a licentious life. “Licentious wickedness.” Shak.
Syn.—Unrestrained; uncurbed; uncontrolled; unruly; riotous; ungovernable; wanton; profligate; dissolute; lax; loose; sensual; impure; unchaste; lascivious; immoral.
Noah Porter, ed., Webster’s 1913 Unabridged English Dictionary, (Springfield, Mass.: G. C. Merriam Co., 1913), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Licentious”.
Debaucheries – ἀσέλγειαaselgeia would be synonym with ἀσωτίαasōtia. ἀσωτίαasōtia would be informed by the Hebrew word ָזלַלzālal. Let’s look at some verses that use the Hebrew word ָזלַלzālal:
Deuteronomy 21:20 (CJB) 20 and say to the leaders of his town, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he doesn’t pay attention to us, lives wildly, gets drunk.’
Proverbs 23:20-21 (CJB) 20 Don’t be one of those who guzzle wine or of those who eat meat to excess, 21 for both drunkard and glutton will become poor — drowsiness will clothe them with rags.
Proverbs 28:7 (CJB) 7 A wise son observes Torah, but a friend of those lacking restraint shames his father.
Lamentations 1:8 (CJB) 8 Yerushalayim sinned grievously; therefore she has become unclean. All who honored her now despise her, because they have seen her naked. She herself also moans and turns her face away.
Lamentations 1:11 (CJB) 11 All her people are groaning, as they search for something to eat. They barter their treasures for food to keep themselves alive. “Look, Adonai! See how despised I am.
As you can see in the text above, this is a serious word . . . a serious charge. Notice the following in the Greek dictionary entry:
The origin of this word is uncertain, but it did occur in secular Greek to denote “licentiousness” and “shamelessness.” Plato used the word in such a manner (Republic 424e).
In the New Testament aselgeia is joined with the most heinous of sins such as covetousness, adultery, lewdness, and drunkenness. Barclay characterizes aselgeia as “shameless greediness,” “bestial pleasure,” and “pure self-enjoyment,” and he says that it is “in many ways the ugliest word in the list of New Testament sins” (New Testament Words, pp.60,61).
Lightfoot says that “a man can be unclean, and hide his sin; he does not become aselgēs until he shocks public decency” (Epistle of St. Paul to the Galatians, p.210).
Josephus combined aselgeia with mania, “madness.”
Those under the control of this sin do not care what others say or think, as long as they can satisfy their desires.
It is said that the inhabitants of Sodom spoke openly of their sin (Isaiah 3:9). Thus aselgeia denotes open licentiousness and shameless sin.
Isaiah 3:9 (CJB) 9 Their very look witnesses against them! They parade their sin, like S’dom; they don’t even try to hide it— all the worse for them!— they bring evil on themselves.
Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “760. ἀσέλγεια,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Alpha-Gamma, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “760. á¼€Ïƒá½³Î»Î³ÎµÎ¹Î±”.
“ugliest word in the list of New Testament sins?” This statement alone is why I have included the Hebrew equivalents and dictionary entries – it is a really serious word!
But it doesn’t stop there, there is MORE!
The Interlinear says: ἀπώλεια ἀσέλγεια or apōleia aselgeia. The word right next to licentiousness? Destructive ways. Let’s have a look at Destructive Ways:
- Destructive ways – ἀπώλεια apōleia.Destruction, ruin, waste, perdition, damnable, perish.
This word becomes very real in the context of other verses that use it in the text:
Matthew 7:13 (CJB) 13 “Go in through the narrow gate; for the gate that leads to destruction is wide and the road broad, and many travel it;
Philippians 3:19 (CJB) 19 They are headed for destruction! Their god is the belly; they are proud of what they ought to be ashamed of, since they are concerned about the things of the world.
1 Timothy 6:9 (CJB) 9 Furthermore, those whose goal is to be rich fall into temptation; they get trapped in many foolish and hurtful ambitions which plunge them into ruin and destruction.
Revelation 17:11 (CJB) 11 The beast which once was and now is not is an eighth king; it comes from the seven and is on its way to destruction.
MANY will FOLLOW their Debaucheries and Destructive ways. This is in the body of believers. These will be people that will be IN the assembly that are LIARS – Liars that Secretly introduce Destructive or more succinctly . . . soul-damning Heresies. (departures from orthodoxy with the purpose of division within the ekklesia – assembly – ie, church). You could actually call them counter-missionaries. Why do I say they could be called counter-missionaries? The last part of verse:
because of them, the true Way will be maligned
- Truth – ἀλήθεια alētheia.Dependability, freedom from error, integrity:
The nearest analogous Hebrew word to the Greek alētheia is ’ĕmeth,
although other words like ṯôv (“good”) and tsaddîq (“righteousness”)
are also translated by the alētheia word group in the Septuagint.
Sometimes even ’ĕmeth is translated by other Greek words
like pistis (3963) “faith” or “faithfulness.”
Since under certain circumstances ’ĕmeth means “truth,”
and in others “faithfulness,”
this must reveal something about the nature of the word itself.
It often happens that truth and faithfulness join together whenever word and deed correspond.
Added to this picture is the fact that in the Old Testament
’ĕmeth is a fundamental expression of the character of God. Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “223. ἀλήθεια,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Alpha-Gamma, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “223. á¼€Î»á½µÎ¸ÎµÎ¹Î±”.
- Maligned – βλασφημέω blasphēmeō“.As you can see, the word is actually Blasphemed. Insult – Speak evil of – speak abusively – slander.
Different translations of the text use different words:
“maligned” – CJB (Complete Jewish Bible)
“maligned” – NASB (New American Standard Bible)
“bring into disrepute” – NIV (New International Version)
“maligned and defamed” – AMP (Amplified)
“speak evil of” – TEV (Today’s English Version)
“evil spoken of” – KJV (King James Version)
Some of the verses that use this word blasphēmeō?
Mark 2:7 (CJB)
7 “How can this fellow say such a thing? He is blaspheming!
Who can forgive sins except God?”
Mark 3:29 (CJB)
29 however, someone who blasphemes against the Ruach HaKodesh
never has forgiveness but is guilty of an eternal sin.”
1 Corinthians 4:13 (CJB)
13 when we are slandered, we continue making our appeal.
We are the world’s garbage, the scum of the earth — yes, to this moment!
1 Timothy 1:20 (CJB)
20 among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander.
I have turned them over to the Adversary,
so that they will learn not to insult God.
Jude 1:10 (CJB)
10 However, these people insult anything they don’t understand;
and what they do understand naturally,
without thinking, like animals —
by these things they are destroyed!
Revelation 13:6 (CJB)
6 So it opened its mouth in blasphemies against God
to insult his name and his Sh’khinah,
and those living in heaven;
So this 2nd verse is the RESULTANT of the 1st verse:
MANY within the body will FOLLOW teachers within the body – LIARS that SECRETLEY worm their way in the back door and TEACH HERASIES and departures from orthodoxy that will cause DIVISION and/or sects within the ASSEMBLY that results in:
INSULTING, SLANDERING, and BLASPHEMING the TRUTH which is blaspheming the “fundamental expression of the character of God”
This is the first two verses of 2nd Kefa (Peter) Chapter 2.
These were some of the words you needed to understand in these verses so that you could more carefully consider what is coming in the following verses.
This is the “Sleeze Factor” at work within the body – within the assembly – within the church.
In our next post, we will continue where we left off.