Sunday, 9 February 2020
These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. 2 Peter 2:17
The words of Peter now describe the state of the false teacher in words that would be especially understood by someone living in a dry land, or in a land suffering from extended drought. First, he says that “These are wells without water.”
The word can signify a well or a spring. It signifies something that flows as a source of water, blood, or even enjoyment. A well flows underground, but it is expected that there will be water there when one comes to it. A spring flows out of the ground, and it is expected that when one goes to it, there will be the needed water. However, the false teachers are a source which has no water, signifying no life. Their teaching cannot provide what it claims it has any more than a dry well or a spring can help a weary soul who comes to it to be nourished.
He then says that these false teachers are “clouds carried by a tempest.” The word translated as clouds is not the same in some manuscripts. Some say “clouds” while others say “mists.” Either way, Peter is speaking of a vaporous mass which supposedly will give water, but which fails to provide it. As it approaches, it appears that relief from a state of heat and dry will be replaced with covering and precipitation, and yet… it just blows past without providing anything of value.
This is the state of false teachers who appear to provide something needed, but then who fail to deliver. The hope of spiritual relief passes by, and there is nothing of value which remains. Where salvation is expected, the condemned soul continues in its condemnation.
Peter says of these false teachers that for them “is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” The Greek word translated as “blackness” gives a sense of gloom. It is a murkiness which hangs as a pall for those who are caught in it. Further, the Greek includes an article before “darkness” which should not be ignored by translators. It more properly reads, “the gloom of the darkness forever.”
In this then, it speaks of a darkness which was an understood condition of the regions of hell. There is no light, and the gloom of the place will leave the soul yearning for any hint of relief, but it will never come. Jesus spoke of this darkness three separate times in Matthew, such as in Matthew 8:12 –
“But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The darkness, then, is a place of separation. As God is the source of light, and the light is called good – even at the very beginning of the Bible – one can see that it is a place where no good exists. The source of all that is good, of light, and of that which provides joy and abundance will be lacking. Such is the place where these false teachers have a forever-home reserved. And, sadly, those who follow after them will be there as well.
Life application: Peter’s words would be clearly understandable to the people who had traveled to Jerusalem for the annual religious feasts of the Jewish society.
The land of Israel has many desert areas; dry and formidable. Like much of the earth, the land is wholly dependent on the rains provided by the Lord for its very survival, but particularly in these more arid areas. Should one be thirsty, the only source of water would be the local well – dug perhaps thousands of years earlier.
Towns were built around these sources of water and they could not exist without them. When the wells dried up, there was nothing to sustain the people. The point of this analogy is that a false teacher is just as useless and just as deadly to the spirit as an empty well is to the body.
Likewise, a cloud carried along by a slow-moving wind has some sense of order, and its purpose can be easily determined – shade, a bit of rain, enjoyment to the eye, etc.
But a cloud carried by a tempest is completely lost amid the chaos around it. It is ever-changing and unreliable as a source of any enjoyment or benefit to those who are near it. In the same manner, false teachers are lost in the chaos of confused theology.
As God is a God of order, doctrine concerning Him can be determined and clearly understood. But the instruction of false prophets is ever-changing and never stable. As a contradiction in theology arises, diversionary tactics are used to hide the error. Teachers who are represented by Peter’s analogies have something in store for them from God… “the blackness of darkness forever.” The chaos and lack of nourishment they provided in life will be returned to them for eternity.
O God, thank You for the well of instruction You have provided in the pages of the Bible. Likewise, thank You for those who properly handle and clarify Your word to us. You haven’t left us without a sure word. Instead, we have one which we can turn to time and again for the filling of our souls. For this we praise You; for this we thank You. Amen.