When I was in high school, rap music was just coming into the popular consciousness. Now, most of that stuff is, as far as I’m concerned, garbage but I have found some that I like. Some of the stuff from the early to mid-eighties was pretty catchy. In fact, I remember one called “You talk to much” which was pretty simple. The whole chorus was two sentences long—“You talk to much. You never shut up.”. The rap went on to describe someone who was constantly running his mouth and not saying anything. In much the same way, Peter describes false teachers as doing the same thing. However, there is a purpose, a sinister one, to their verbosity.
First of all, observe the substance of what they say. Peter describes their words first of all as “arrogant” which, in the Greek, means inflated or puffed up. These guys are convinced that what they have to say is important and that their words have value. However, as Peter points out, they have severely overestimated the importance of what they have to say. They talk as though they are something when the fact is they’re really nothing. Further, notice these arrogant words are also words “of vanity”. Literally, they are empty. I picture this like a giant bag of cotton candy which you could eat and when you were finished realize that you haven’t eaten anything. There was color and the smell of the sugar—it was a very impressive, large bag of cotton candy. In the end, though, there was no substance. These men teach false doctrine that sounds impressive and they can draw folks to follow them. In the end, however, their words have no power because they are a big pile of nothing. There is no truth. There is no life. Their words can’t profit anyone because,, in the final analysis, they really haven’t said anything. Their words are empty.
Peter tells us, though, not only what their speech is like, but also their motive for speaking. He says these false teachers use their false doctrine to “entice”. Literally, they use their speech to trap people. They’re like used car salesman. They want power, prestige, and money and they peddle the gospel, or rather pervert the gospel, in an attempt to trap people with false doctrine. They spread a trap and lie in wait for victims. These are fast talking manipulators we see people as a consumable resource. These are the wolves in sheep’s clothing in Matthew 7. Their selfishness leads them to manipulate people for the purpose of enriching themselves through the acquisition of money, influence, or prestige. They are looking out for number one first, last, and always.
People who try to trick you into taking something worthless are, in simple words, scoundrels. That would be an apt description of these false teachers. They use slick, impressive sounding speech to persuade people to accept their soul damning doctrine. As believers, we need to be on the look out for these false teachers and oppose their doctrine when we find it.