By Steven Martins
Rick Renner has recently been identified by the current generation of students for his scholarly writings in scriptural interpretation and his extensive knowledge of the Greek language. He has written numerous high-quality books, including a particular piece that garnered the attention of many parishioners. The book Merchandising the Anointing proved to be a rather controversial piece of literature; it enlightened the Church community with deep insightful truths, while also warning fore coming generations of false teachers and prophets. As one can imagine, the anticipated flak resulted in the book’s out-of-print status, many ministries were hard hit by the book. This hasn’t been the only book to go out of print because of its firm truthful approach towards the edification and safety of the Church, Ronald Enroth’s Churches that Abuse also shared the same fate. Albeit for different contextual reasons, both books were instrumental tools towards building a healthier church. However in Rick Renner’s book, we evaluate the thirteenth chapter, detailing the warning of false teachers and prophets and how we can possibly discern as to whether we are being deceived or enlightened. Additionally, we will also consider why some church communities may have reacted negatively to the chapter itself.
Renner focused primarily on 2 Peter 2:1 which states:
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”
The exposition was admirable as he deconstructed and dissected the Greek in order to expand the meaning and interpretation of the scriptural passage. In the beginning of the verse, the phrase “but there” was found to be the Greek word “de kai” which means “on the other hand” or “in addition.” This particular phrase was used by the apostle Peter to inform the Church that both real prophets and false prophets can co-exist. Furthermore, the phrase “there were” was discovered to be the Greek word “ginomai” which means “something that occurs slowly” or “over a period of time.” What was meant by this particular phrase was the nature of the progression from an orthodox believer to a false prophet or teacher, it takes place slowly and gradually. Furthermore the term “false prophets” came from the Greek word “pseudoprophetes” which is a compound of the words “pseudo” and “prophetes”, pseudo means “sham” or “hoax” while prophetes means “prophet.” The term “teachers” comes from the Greek word “didaskalos” which was referred to in the rabbinical sense as a “revelator” for instruction and understanding.
The exposition provided up to this point was that false prophets and teachers take time to develop, but just as there were false prophets there are now false teachers. Renner argues that our current crisis isn’t a false teacher problem but rather a false “revelator” problem. This is further explained when considering the similarities of both ministries. Both the prophet and the teacher occupy the role of revelators, the difference however is that prophets speak inspired (God-breathed) words, while teachers speak and teach the word of God from study and reason. His main argument was that when God was working on restoring one of the five-fold ministries, Satan would attempt to duplicate it. He proves persuasive, as when there are genuine prophets, suddenly false prophets will begin to gather where they have been. The same can be said of evangelists, teachers, and apostles. Well-meaning individuals attempt to duplicate the work of God, only to become false prophets and teachers because they are attempting to fulfill a role that they were never called to do.
He proceeds with revealing that the word “who” used in the passage is the Greek word “hoitines” which means “special class” or “category of people.” Renner makes it clear that these individuals cannot be categorized into Christian orthodoxy according to Peter’s choice of words. The proceeding phrase “privily shall bring in” is also revealed to be “paresiago”, a triple compound of “para” which means “alongside” like a parasite, “eis” which means “into” conveying penetration and “ago” which means “I lead.” Altogether they can be understood as “leading something (ago) into the Church (eis) alongside (para)”, which denotes covert activity. When false prophets and teachers are communicating a false doctrine, they will often do so while presenting it alongside truth. This way they can smuggle in their “new” revelation. Another phrase worth considering was the Greek word for “damnable” which is “apoleia”, meaning “destruction, decay or rot.” They aren’t yet condemned for all eternity, but rather they experience a slow death and can still repent and return to the Lord.
The following word was “heresies” which is from the Greek “hairesis”; its literal meaning is “choice” which would lead us to the translation of “destructive choices.” In classical times the word “heresy” denoted a sect or school of thought, but would later come to depict a belief that was completely incompatible with the foundations of the Christian faith. What should be noted is that God won’t release judgment on these individuals, this is because false prophets and teachers will “bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Pet. 2:1). The same decay and rot that they sow into the church will be exactly what they reap in their own lives.
It ought to be noted that Renner attempts to identify false teachers and prophets as individuals who attempt to replicate a successful ministry to which they were not called, who have an insatiable desire for money, power and influence, and who preach and teach false doctrines without any firm scriptural support. The Church is warned to not rely on nor feed upon subjective experiences, but to rather remain firm upon scripture and its appropriate interpretation.
There have likely been ministries who have not responded well to Rick Renner’s book because they may have been exposed or affected by the firm stance presented within his work. The thirteenth chapter alone is enough to rustle a few feathers, but it is truth, an excellent example of expository teaching. It would come as a surprise as to how many churches are currently preaching and teaching “new” revelations, only to later be discovered as false prophets and teachers. It comes as no surprise then that some churches may have been offended by his work, and perhaps even discouraged believers from reading through the book. Yet regardless of the factors that may have come into play, there still also lies the question as to whether Renner did effectively identify the correct Greek words and its appropriate interpretation. His warning is biblical and consistent with the times, but for those in doubt as to whether this truly is the correct interpretation and exposition, it is recommended that you conduct the research yourself. Purchase an English and Greek New Testament (you could do the same with the Old Testament by purchasing an English and Hebrew Bible), along with the necessary dictionary, and begin your own research. Consult professional scholars and discover the truth of scripture, without such passion and fervor for the truth, we won’t have much of knowledgeable and healthy church.