What does “pernicious” mean?

WHAT DOES “PERNICIOUS” MEAN?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Authorized Version uses “pernicious” only one time, in 2 Peter 2:2: “And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” What does this word mean? By learning it, how can we better grasp end-times prophecy?

Whatever its definition, “pernicious” is definitely situated in a bad context: “[1] 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. [2] And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. [3] And through covetousness shall they with feigned [faked, pretend!] words make merchandise of you [take advantage of you for purposes of gain]: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.”

Although we could study all 22 chapters of the Revelation, or all 12 chapters of Daniel, or all 14 chapters of Zechariah, to gain a great deal of insight into what lies ahead for our planet; a quicker method would be to study the Olivet Discourse, the Lord Jesus’ end-times sermon delivered just prior to His crucifixion. It is recorded in Matthew chapters 24–25, Mark chapter 13, and Luke chapter 21.

Of particular interest to us in this study is what the Lord said about deception during the recommencement of the prophetic program (after our mystery program has ended):

  • Matthew chapter 24: “[4] And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. [5] For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many…. [11] And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many…. [23] Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. [24] For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. [25] Behold, I have told you before.”
  • Mark 13: “[5] And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: [6] For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many…. [21] And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: [22] For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. [23] But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.”
  • Luke 21:8: “And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.”

This deception is also featured in 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12, particularly verses 9-12. While Jesus Christ is away at His Father’s right hand in Heaven—the period between His First Coming and Second Coming (but excluding our 2,000-year-long Age of Grace!)—“many” imposters will arise. All these men will claim to be Messiah or Christ, allowing apostate or unbelieving Israel a multiplicity of opportunities to follow someone other than Jesus the genuine Christ (cf. John 5:43). This mounting deception allows one ultimate Antichrist (fake Messiah) to take over Israel’s government.

“Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time” (1 John 2:18). “For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist(2 John 1:7). “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:1-4).

Having run through cross-references, we return to 2 Peter 2:1-3 and better understand the passage: “[1] 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. [2] And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. [3] And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” Basically, all these false prophets have one message: someone other than Jesus is Christ! Not only will many preach this blasphemy, many will be misled because of it. Such deception will cement the Antichrist’s power in Israel and his influence over the nation. His satanic religion will ensnare the multitudes, influencing even the nations (Revelation 13:3,7,14). It is here in 2 Peter that we come across that interesting term “pernicious.”

“Pernicious” is based on a Latin word that means “destructive,” itself derived from a term for “ruin,” itself related to a word meaning “death.” In English, it is defined as: “destructive or harmful, especially in a subtle or gradual way.” In the Greek New Testament, it is “apoleia,” 8 times rendered “perdition” (John 17:12; Philippians 1:28; 2 Thessalonians 2:3; 1 Timothy 6:9; Hebrews 10:39; 2 Peter 3:7; Revelation 17:8,11); five times “destruction” (Matthew 7:13; Romans 9:22; Philippians 3:19; 2 Peter 2:1; 2 Peter 3:16); two times “waste” (Matthew 26:8; Mark 14:4); once “damnable” (2 Peter 2:1); once “damnation” (2 Peter 2:1); once “die” (Acts 25:16); and once “perish” (Acts 8:20).

In fact, as you might have just noticed, “apoleia” is found four times in the three verses with which we opened our study: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable [“apoleia”] heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction [“apoleia”]. And many shall follow their pernicious [“apoleia”] ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation [“apoleia”] slumbereth not.” This is quite strong language! God does not appear to be happy with these people, does He?

The “pernicious ways” of unbelievers during the end times can be seen in Matthew 7:13, Acts 8:20, 1 Timothy 6:9, and Hebrews 10:39; their result is in 2 Peter 3:7,16; their doom, meeting the Lord Jesus Christ face-to-face as He returns in flaming fire to take vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of His power (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)!

Also see:
» “In your patience possess ye your souls?”
» Does doctrine really matter?
» How do we identify false teachers?
» How many Bible teachers should someone have?
» What does “Anathema Maranatha” mean in 1 Corinthians 1
6:22?

Leave a Reply