“And count the patience of our Lord as salvation, just as our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, as he does in all his letters when he speaks in them of these matters. There are some things in them that are hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.” (2 Peter 3:15–16, ESV)
Some might remember the “Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle” show that ran from 1959 through 1964. It was a cartoon animation that featured Rocky the flying squirrel and Bullwinkle the moose. There was a particular part of the show called, “Fractured Fairy Tales.” They were parodies of the originals that twisted the original message. This was done for comedic value. Most often the moral teaching of the tales would be craftily twisted to represent something entirely different.
Here, Peter has written about something much more sinister. He has been writing about false teachers and scoffers. They were a danger to the church and scoffed at the promise of the coming of the Lord and the judgment for the ungodly. To this Peter wrote regarding the truth of the coming judgment and of the coming of the new heavens and a new earth (v3-7).
Peter told his readers that the Apostle Paul wrote of these same things. He went on to say that some of the things Paul wrote were very deep and difficult to understand. Yet, difficulty in understanding the deeper things did not dissuade the false teachers from expounding on them.
The false preachers and teachers used the Scriptures as their basis. This is the very dangerous thing that can lead the unsuspecting down the wrong path. The problem is that they misinterpreted the truth of Scripture for their own devices. Peter calls these false teachers the “ignorant and unstable.”
The word “ignorant,” amathes refers to one who is unlearned and thus ignorant of the truth (Strong G261). This means that they were uneducated in the truth of Scripture. This may have resulted from their having a preconceived idea or fleshly desires, and thus a failure to even seek the truth. It is likely that they were not truly saved and therefore void of the illumination of the Spirit required to properly interpret the truth. If they were true believers, which is doubtful, then they may have just been immature babes in Christ. In any case these false teachers should never have been teaching and claiming the authority of Scripture.
From this, we can take away two things. First, churches must properly vet their teachers and preachers to ensure they have a proper view of doctrine and display a level of Christian maturity. Second, teachers must be able to study the Scriptures to ensure they have done their best to properly interpret them. Paul wrote on this, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15, AV).
Peter also told his readers that the false teachers were “unstable.” They were not standing on a solid foundation. Thus, their footing on the truth was shaky at best.
The result of all this was that they “twisted” the Scriptures. They perverted the truth of God into something false.
This error is prevalent in professing Christianity today. Churches must be on the watch. We must properly educate all our parishioners so they will not be ignorant and may stand on a solid foundation.