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The Scriptorium

To Speak Evil of Dignitaries

2 Peter 2.10b, 11
They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries, 11 whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord.

The Story :Now there is a certain amount of mystery and uncertainty involved in this text. Peter was privy to information about heavenly matters that we don’t find elsewhere in Scripture. I think we can understand this passage if we keep it in context. “[P]resumptuous and self-willed” obviously refers to the false teachers who “despise authority” (10a). The “authority” here is doubtless that of the Scriptures and the Church, especially the apostles. False teachers set themselves up as the final authority on matters of faith and practice, and they don’t feel constrained to account for their teaching or conduct by submitting to all the counsel of God in Scripture or the historic teaching of the Church.

So they “speak evil of dignitaries,” that is, those who have been entrusted with divine revelation, either in first giving it (the apostles) or in faithfully teaching it to the Church. False teachers don’t feel a need to be accountable to anyone other than their own views, which they piously couch in very spiritual language(“God told me…” “The Spirit has spoken to me…” And so forth.). Not even angels are that stupid, Peter says – and they have a lot more real power and might than those who blaspheme before the Lord by their false teaching.

The Structure: The age in which we live, the age in which God, by His grace is restoring all things to Himself through our Lord Jesus Christ, is all of a piece. We are one with those who have gone before and those who will follow after us. Look for false teachers to set themselves apart as sui generis in some sense. They don’t know or care what the Church has taught in the past. They reserve the right to make up their own rules about how to interpret the Bible. They recognize only the authority “of the Spirit” as they spout their false and blasphemous views into the hearts and minds of unguarded, trusting followers.

What should we expect of those who teach when it comes to positioning their views within the larger context of the body of faithful teaching from the Church in all ages?

Each week’s studies in our Scriptorium column are available in a free PDF form, suitable for personal or group use. For this week’s study, “Truth and Consequences: 2 Peter 2.1-11,” simply click here.

T. M. Moore

Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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