In this second letter, Peter is greatly concerned about the impact and influence of pseudo-Christian leaders on the brethren. Thesaurus.com has noted that pseudo “is a prefix [which means,] counterfeit, deceptive, false” and provides further detail saying that pseudo includes the idea of being “not genuine” instead it is something which is “pretend.” While this prefix is common to the English language, what may not be known is that the English word pseudo is a transliteration of the exact same prefix used in the Greek. Knowing this, we could translate false prophets and false teachers to pseudo-prophets and pseudo-teachers.
These pseudo-leaders promote themselves as truth teachers and persuade people with great immoderate, extravagant dialog, yet these same pseudo-leaders are devoid of spiritual truth (II Peter 2.18). Peter spends much time, the entirety of what we call chapter 2, expounding why pseudo-prophets, pseudo-teachers (and I will include pseudo-preachers, and pseudo-whosoever-else) cannot be believed.
In II Peter 2.12, the KJV calls the pseudo-leaders natural brute beasts; the ASV says they are creatures without reason; and the ESV refers to them as irrational animals. The KJV has Peter (in no politically correct, soft-spoken manner) stating that these pseudo-truth-teachers should be destroyed and that they vilify things they do not understand. Peter continues his condemnation of these pseudo-leaders by describing their worthlessness in verse 17, and their hollow promise of liberty in verse 18. Peter is so decisive in his denunciation of pseudo-leaders that in verse 12 he states that they will die in their corruption and will receive the reward of unrighteousness, verse 13.
The contents of II Peter 2 are not kind to those who teach lies in the guise of truth beguiling the children of God. What is interesting is that II Peter 2 does not label the pseudo-leaders as espousing liberalism, or conservatism, or any-other-ism. From this section of Scripture we must realize that pseudo-leaders come from any direction, and play to the desires of the hearers. One could use various examples, but hopefully the following conceptual statements provide a broad application to the influence of pseudo-leaders. Pseudo-leaders will exploit the hearers who have tendencies to believe that God permits unrighteous behavior and that salvation is possible. Additionally, other pseudo-leaders will exploit the hearers who have tendencies to believe that God condemns a soul to hell for scripturally acceptable behavior.
Pseudo-leaders are devious, seemingly pious, but disastrous. Unfortunately, we can be easily persuaded to believe. The bottom line is that Christians must spend time in God’s Word to not be persuaded by pseudo-leaders.