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The Certainty of Deliverance and Destruction (2 Peter 2:3b-10a)

3b Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter; 7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds), 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in [its] corrupt desires and despise authority (2 Peter 2:3b-10a).

    Luke 17:26-30

    26 “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it shall be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; 29 but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed.”

    2 Peter 3:3-7

    3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” 5 For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God the heavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, 6 through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. 7 But the present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

    Jude 1:5-7

    5 Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day. 7 Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

      Their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

      4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter; 7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds), 9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in [its] corrupt desires and despise authority (2 Peter 2:3b-10a).

      Introduction

      The movie “Pollyanna” portrays a preacher who is harsh and judgmental. Sunday after Sunday, he preaches “hellfire and brimstone” messages, virtually scorching his audience with the wrath of God. Pollyanna finally comes to his rescue by telling the preacher about her father who was also a preacher. Her father avoided the negative texts and instead preached the “happy texts,” those texts with words which seem to offer encouragement and comfort and leave one feeling good after hearing them.

      “Happy texts” can only be happy for those to whom they apply. Likewise, “unhappy texts” are those which desperately need to be heard and heeded by those who are in peril. The good news is that the “unhappy texts” warn men about destruction to bring them to repentance so that they will receive God’s salvation, which alone makes men truly “happy” (see Matthew 5:3-16).

      Our 2 Peter 2 text is one everyone desperately needs to hear and to heed, for it speaks both of the destruction of the wicked and of the deliverance of the righteous. Peter seeks to prove his point by turning our attention back in time to the ancient days described in the first half of the Book of Genesis. He draws upon two major events in ancient history, the destruction of civilization and the deliverance of Noah and his family at the flood (Genesis 6-9), and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah along with the deliverance of Lot and his two daughters (Genesis 18-19).

      The Context

      In the last part of chapter 1, Peter emphasizes that the apostles have a “more sure word of prophecy” (1:19), because they have seen the glory and power of the Lord Jesus Christ at His transfiguration. Thus, the Scriptures which Peter and the other apostles have penned are our guiding light until the time when the Lord comes and illuminates us fully (1:19). The Scriptures must be interpreted correctly, however, prompted not by the impulses of our flesh but by the Holy Spirit through Whose promptings the inspired Scriptures were written (1:20-21).

      True prophets were continually opposed by the false prophets of old, who rose up among the people to lead them astray. They secretly introduced false teaching which brought destruction on them and their followers. False teachers can likewise be expected in our time. They will do the same thing, enticing men with their sensuality and, in their greed, gaining from the following they attract (2:2-3). This error goes so far as these false teachers, like the false prophets before them, denying the Master who bought them (2:1). The judgment of such men “from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep” (2:3b).47

      What does Peter mean when he says their judgment is not idle from long ago? He explains in verses 4-10a. The expression, “from long ago” is found elsewhere only in 2 Peter 3:5 (“long ago”). There, Peter speaks of the creation of the earth and the separation of land and water, later to be inundated by water in the judgment flood of Noah’s day (3:6). Peter is telling us that the events of ancient times have a great deal of bearing on the events of our own day. The deliverance of divine judgment on the wicked and the rescue of the righteous from temptation in ancient times is proof positive that God will not only deliver the righteous from temptation, but He will deliver the wicked to eternal judgment (2:9).

      The Structure of the Text

      The structure of our text is indicated by the words “if” in verses 4, 6, and 7, and “then” in verse 9.48 Verses 4-8 set down the destruction of the ancient world by the flood and of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire, along with the divine deliverance of Noah (and his family) and Lot (with his two daughters). Peter’s argument goes like this:

      “If God doomed the disobedient angels, destroyed the ancient world of Noah, and turned the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes, does He not know how to deliver the wicked to judgment; and if God spared Noah and Lot and their families, does this not show us that God knows how to deliver the righteous from temptation?”

      Verses 4-8 are therefore written to document the statement that the destruction of false teachers has, from long ago, been a certainty, and at the same time reaffirms that those who diligently pursue godly character, God will not allow to fall but will rescue them from worldly temptations (see 1:8-11).

      Deliverance and Destruction at the Flood
      (2:4-5)

      4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness,49 reserved for judgment; 5 and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; … 

      There are those who see the confinement of the angels in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 as unrelated to the events of the flood, and to these verses in Genesis chapter 6:

      1 Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore [children] to them. Those were the mighty men who [were] of old, men of renown. 5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 And the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD (Genesis 6:1-8).

      They believe the “sons of God” were men who were of the “godly line of Seth.” They believe the “fall” and subsequent incarceration of some angels referred to by Peter (2:4) and Jude (verse 6) occurred at some other time and is not related to the Genesis flood.

      I believe they are wrong and that Peter and Jude are referring to the “fall” of some angels at the time of the flood. The Scriptures never refer to a “godly line of Seth.” Nor does this merely human view of Genesis 6 explain the appearance of the Nephilim, those “supermen” of ancient times (verse 4). Neither does it square with the biblical use of the expression, “the sons of god.”

      That the expression “sons of god” sometimes refers to angelic beings can be seen in Job 1:6 and 2:1 (see also Psalm 29:1). That angelic beings can take on masculine (never feminine) bodies is evident in many texts. It is most clear in Genesis 19 where these “angel-men” were thought to be men and were so convincing as such that they were desired as men and sought out by the homosexuals living in Sodom. If Peter is not speaking of the “fall” of some angels as described in Genesis 6, then he is referring to an event not recorded in the Old Testament, and this seems hard to accept. How could Peter refer to an undocumented “fall” with the assumption that his readers will know what incident he is referring to as with the events related to Noah (Genesis 6-9) and those related to Lot (Genesis 18 and 19)? The intermarriage of angels and women would also explain the appearance of the Nephilim, the super race of Noah’s day. This inappropriate sexual union of angels and humans fits precisely into the contexts of 2 Peter and Jude, where sensuality and sexual aberrations is the reason for divine judgment.

      There is one further argument in favor of the fallen angels being the “sons of God” in Genesis 6. The main point Peter emphasizes is the certain doom of those false teachers whose doctrine and practice corrupts those who follow them. If the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 are the angels referred to in 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6, then their destructive involvement with the human race is very similar to that of the false prophets of old and the false teachers of more recent times. They themselves are immoral, and their teaching promotes immorality. If they had not been judged and placed in confinement, they would have destroyed the entire human race.50

      Consequently, I understand Peter to be referring to the judgment of fallen angels and the destruction of sinful men by means of the Genesis flood in verses 4 and 5. Regardless of whether or not you accept this interpretation, it is clear that certain angels fell and were subsequently placed in confinement awaiting their final day of judgment. God will deal in judgment with those who sin, especially those who seek to corrupt others. They are kept in confinement not only to await their final doom but to keep them from continuing their corrupting work until that day of doom arrives.

      The flood did not only concern fallen angels or the super race they seem to have been producing. It was also about the sinful men and women of Noah’s day. Interestingly, Peter does not emphasize the specific details of men’s sins, neither those of the civilization of Noah’s day nor those of the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah. In Genesis 6:5, the sins of that civilization are described in terms of the hearts of men and not in terms of their outward actions. Later in Genesis 6:11-13, the deeds of that society are summed up with the terms “corruption” and “violence.”

      It was a sinful and corrupt society. Yet God did not immediately wipe out that civilization. He gave the earth’s population nearly a generation to repent as the ark was being constructed. Finally, the wickedness of that generation reached full bloom, and the time for judgment arrived. With the flood, God wiped out every living soul. Only Noah and his family were spared by finding refuge in the ark which brought them safely through the flood. And so in the flood we see both divine destruction and divine deliverance.

      Destruction and Deliverance at Sodom and Gomorrah
      (2:6-8)

      6 And if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly thereafter; 7 and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men 8 (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day with their lawless deeds).…

      Here Peter says plainly what he implies elsewhere in this text: the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and the deliverance of Lot and his daughters is an example, a prototype of future deliverance and destruction (verse 6). What happened “long ago” (verse 3) is not just an ancient story; it is written as a warning to the wicked of the days yet to come (verse 6) and as an encouragement to the righteous who will read of these events in future years as well (see Romans 15:4; Hebrews 11).

      A few chapters further into the Book of Genesis, we find man’s sin reaching full bloom once again in Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities. God chose to reveal His purposes concerning these cities to His friend Abraham:

      17 And the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 since Abraham will surely become a great and mighty nation, and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed? 19 For I have chosen him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice; in order that the LORD may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him.” 20 And the LORD said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. 21 I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know” (Genesis 18:17-21).

      Abraham’s appeal to God is fascinating in the light of Peter’s argument:

      22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, while Abraham was still standing before the LORD. 23 And Abraham came near and said, “Wilt Thou indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city; wilt Thou indeed sweep [it] away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it? 25 Far be it from Thee to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are [treated] alike. Far be it from Thee! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Genesis 18:22-25).

      Abraham rightly understood that justice required God to distinguish between the just and the unjust. It would not be right to destroy the righteous along with the wicked. God must distinguish between the two. And distinguish He did. God did not spare the wicked men of Sodom and Gomorrah. He destroyed them with fire, turning the cities to ashes. But He did spare Lot and his daughters. God delivered the righteous from judgment, and He delivered the wicked to judgment.

      Peter’s words recall the familiar account found in Genesis 18 and 19 concerning Lot and his daughters and their rescue from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. What is new and surprising to us is that Lot is identified by Peter as a righteous man. Peter is emphatic on this point. Three times in verses 7 and 8 he refers to Lot as righteous. We would hardly have expected this. Lot was the one who took the better (watered) land, leaving Abram with the less desirable land (Genesis 13:1-13). Lot offered his virgin daughters to the wicked men of Sodom and Gomorrah to use as they pleased, if they would not molest his guests (Genesis 19:8). Lot is made drunk by his daughters and then while in a drunken stupor, he becomes the father of their sons (Genesis 19:30-38).

      How then can Peter call Lot a righteous man? We must first recognize that Abraham appealed to God to spare the righteous. Only Lot and his daughters were spared. Therefore, we must assume that God considered them to be righteous. But Peter goes further. Clearly by divine enlightenment, Peter describes the response of Lot’s heart and soul to the sin of his society. Lot observed the wickedness of his fellow-citizens, and he was deeply grieved by what he saw and heard (verse 8). Not only did Lot grieve over the sins of his society, he grieved continually, “day after day” (verse 8). Would that I could say in all honestly that I am as deeply and consistently grieved by the sin of my day as Lot was by the wickedness of his. All too often we pride ourselves for not participating in the sin practiced all around us, and yet we take a kind of pleasure in seeing and hearing it (such as on television or in the movies).

      Too many want to judge the righteousness or wretchedness of a man by mere outward appearances. They want to judge a man on the basis of where he lives or in terms of with whom he associates. God judges a person on the basis of what is in their heart. Lot may have lived in a wicked city, among very wicked men, but he never loved the “world” in which he lived. He loathed their sin, and it brought him constant grief.

      We tend to think of righteous suffering primarily in terms of persecution. Peter, in his first epistle, has much to say about the suffering the ungodly cause us in reaction to the righteousness which God works out through our lives. But here Peter indicates a very different kind of suffering, a kind of suffering we (along with our Lord, see Mark 3:5; 9:19; 16:14; John 14:9; Hebrews 5:7) may experience in our souls—the suffering we experience from being in a fallen and imperfect world, a world tarnished by sin (see also Romans 8:18-25).

      The Lesson To Be Learned
      (2:9-10a)

      9 Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge the flesh in [its] corrupt desires and despise authority … 

      If ancient history teaches us anything, let it be this: God knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and how to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment. Let us consider both statements Peter makes here, for they are vitally important truths.

      First, the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation. What the text does not say (but we are inclined to suppose) is that God knows how to keep the godly from destruction. It is easy to think Peter is making two contrasting statements:

      • God knows how to deliver the righteous from judgment.
      • God knows how to deliver the wicked to judgment.

      This is true, and it can even be seen in the stories of the rescue of Noah and Lot, along with their families.

      Peter is saying that God is able to keep the righteous righteous (this is no misprint), even when they are living in a most unrighteous environment. God was able to keep Noah and Lot and their families from succumbing to the temptation of their society, even when that corrupt and violent society was so corrupt it was ripe for divine judgment.

      Christians today are becoming too much like the Pharisees of old. They wrongly suppose that holiness is measured in terms of the distance we put between ourselves and “sinners.” The Bible speaks of holiness more in terms of our loss of affection for the world and its sinful lusts. We suppose that if we isolate ourselves and our families from the world, we will be untainted by it. What an encouragement we find in Peter’s assurance that God knows how to rescue us from temptation, even when we live in the midst of a society that is corrupt and violent, ripe for divine judgment.

      Second, God knows how to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment. Once again, we may be tempted to jump to the wrong conclusion. Peter’s examples from ancient history are not intended to demonstrate merely that God has judged sinners or that God will judge them, though this is true. Peter’s examples are cited to prove that God not only knows how to keep the righteous from falling into temptation, but that He also knows how to keep the unrighteous for the great eternal judgment which is yet to come. The judgment of the society of Noah’s day, of those fallen angels, and of Sodom and Gomorrah is not complete. Their judgment is only partially complete, and they still await their final doom. They are being kept for judgment, a judgment still to come, a judgment described in the Book of Revelation:

      4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given to them. And I [saw] the souls of those who had been beheaded because of the testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. 6 Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years. 7 And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, 8 and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. 9 And they came up on the broad plain of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city, and fire came down from heaven and devoured them. 10 And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. 11 And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one[of them] according to their deeds. 14 And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:4-15).

      The ultimate judgment is not temporal but eternal. In the words of the Book of Revelation, the final judgment is not the “first death,” but the “second death.” Those who were judged at the flood and in the fire which came upon Sodom and Gomorrah experienced the first death. But this judgment is only temporal. It is but the “first fruits” of God’s judgment. The angels were cast into Tartarus,51 and not really into hell, which takes place at the end of time as described in Revelation 20. The term “hell” in 2 Peter 2:4 is a translation of the term TARTARUS, and not one of the terms employed for “hell.” The angels were put out of circulation, so that they could no longer corrupt mankind. They were confined, kept in solitary confinement so to speak, awaiting their final judgment at the return of Messiah. The same is true for the men and women who perished in the flood and in the fiery judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), our Lord describes Lazarus as entering into some of the bliss of his eternal rewards, yet without yet entering into heaven. He also describes the rich man’s torment while he awaits his final day of judgment. The wicked who perish as a result of God’s temporal judgment have not yet tasted His full and final judgment, but they are being preserved for it like a condemned murderer awaits the day of his execution while confined on death row.

      The wicked are kept “under punishment,” Peter tells us. That is, their doom is not only certain, it is sealed. They are now destined for destruction with no hope of rescue. Their destiny is irreversible. There are those who teach reincarnation. This false teaching makes a promise which it cannot keep—that men and women can have another chance after they die. The Bible teaches that death seals one’s fate. Our Lord taught this in Luke 16. The apostle John teaches this in Revelation 20. This is Peter’s teaching here. It is also what the writer to the Hebrews taught:

      27 “… it is appointed for men to die once, and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).

      And so Peter is not teaching us that the judgment of the wicked at the flood or at Sodom and Gomorrah is the final judgment; he is teaching that this temporal judgment demonstrated at the flood and at the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, is a prototype of the final judgment yet to come. It is a demonstration that God both can and will judge the wicked, just as He can and will rescue the godly from temptation.

      Conclusion

      Our text has some important principles and implications of those principles for men today.

      (1) Peter makes it clear that the events of ancient times are relevant and applicable to us today. The judgment of the ancient world of Noah’s day and of Sodom and Gomorrah in Lot’s day is an example for men who live today (verse 6), an example which indicates that God is able and willing to deliver the wicked to judgment and to rescue the righteous from temptation.

      (2) The principle of judgment and deliverance, demonstrated in the flood and in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, is not one which Peter invented. It is a theme frequently referred to by the Old Testament prophets, by our Lord, and by other New Testament writers. The flood and the fiery destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah become symbols of divine judgment and of divine rescue. And so we see these themes frequently arising in the Old Testament and in the New. For example, the flood theme can be seen in Psalm 18 (all); 29:10-11; 32;6-7; 69:1-2, 13-15; 90:5; 124 (all); Isaiah 17:12-14; 43:107; 51;9-11; 54:9; Nahum 1:6-8. Sodom and Gomorrah become symbols of divine judgment, as can be seen in Deuteronomy 29:23; 32:32; Isaiah 1:9-10; 3:9; 13:19; Jeremiah 23:14; 49:18; 50:40; Lamentations 4:6; Ezekiel 16:40-59; Hosea 11:8; Amos 4:11; Zephaniah 2:9; Matthew 10:15; 11:23-24; Luke 10:10-12; 17:26-30; Romans 9:29; Jude 7; Revelation 11:8. This is not the limit of the allusions to these themes in the Scriptures but rather a sampling of them.

      Perhaps the closest parallel to this passage in 2 Peter comes from the lips of our Lord Himself, where He refers to both these events as an example of divine judgment in the past. Jesus especially emphasizes the spiritual dullness of the doomed as they blindly continue pursuing the fleshly pleasures of life, aloof to the imminence of their own doom:

      26 “And just as it happened in the days of Noah, so it shall be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 they were eating, they were drinking, they were marrying, they were being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 It was the same as happened in the days of Lot: they were eating, they were drinking, they were buying, they were selling, they were planting, they were building; 29 but on the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 It will be just the same on the day that the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:26-30).

      How could Peter not have had our Lord’s teaching in mind as he turns our attention to these same two incidents?

      (3) Peter wants us to understand that biblical history is more than history alone; it is prophecy. Because God does not change, His character and His dealings with men do not change. The way God has dealt with sinners and saints in ancient times becomes a pattern for the way in which He deals with men throughout time and eternity. Old Testament history is therefore directly relevant to us and to our times.

      (4) This text should serve as a warning to the wicked that a day of judgment is coming which sinful men dare not ignore and cannot escape. There may well be a day of temporal judgment, for an individual or for a nation. But there is also the ultimate day of eternal judgment which every sinner will face.

      (5) The warnings which this Scripture and others declare to sinners are denied by false teachers. Not only will the wicked face divine judgment, they now seek to deny it. This is especially true of the false teachers:

      3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4).

      Ultimately, this denial of judgment comes from the “father of lies,” the devil, who from the very beginning sought to deny divine judgment. And so after God assured Adam and Eve they would die for partaking of the forbidden fruit of the garden, Satan sought to assure them otherwise:

      4 “You surely shall not die” (Genesis 3:4).

      (6) The sins which characterized the people of old, who were destroyed by the flood and by fire, seem no greater than those which characterize our nation today. Violence and corruption characterized these condemned societies. How different is our society from those which were doomed? I do not think the difference, if any, is great. Does this mean divine judgment is imminent for us? Personally, I think it is. The only ones who would disagree with this, in my opinion, are those who are false teachers.

      (7) The good news for sinners: there is time to repent and be saved from the wrath of God. God delayed His judgment on these corrupt societies. God had His witnesses in those wicked places. People were given an opportunity to repent, and they did not. The God who did not spare the people of Noah’s time and who did not spare the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, is also the God who did not spare His own Son, sending Him to die in the sinner’s place so that we might be declared righteous in Him and thus be delivered from sin and judgment:

      31 What shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us (Romans 8:31-34).

      There is no need to perish in our sins, for Christ has died for sinners, bearing the wrath of God, bearing the punishment for our sin. To be saved from the wrath of God, all we must do is acknowledge our sin and trust in the Lord Jesus as our Sin-bearer, who died and was raised in our place. He bore our sins; He offers us His righteousness. All we must do is to receive it by faith. And when we do, we have the assurance that God will not deliver us to judgment but will deliver us from temptation.

      (8) The good news for the Christian: God will rescue us from temptation. We may live in a society so wicked that it is ripe for judgment. We may see and hear the evidences of the corruption and violence of our time, but we need not succumb to it. God’s grace is such that we will not only escape from the icy grip of temptation, but we will actually come to loathe it as Lot did.

      (9) The task of the righteous: practice righteousness and proclaim the good news of the gospel to a condemned people who face God’s temporal and eternal wrath. Noah was a “preacher of righteousness” (verse 5), and so, I believe was Lot (see Genesis 19:9). This is our calling as well (see 1 Peter 2:11-12, 24; 3:15-16).

      (10) Thank God that those whom He makes righteous are not perfect. What a comfort to be told that Lot was a righteous man. We surely know that he was not perfect. His righteousness was not due to his good works but to Christ’s righteousness, which he believed in and received by faith. It was Christ’s righteousness which caused him to grieve over the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah. It was Christ’s righteousness which was victorious over the temptations of that society. And, it is Christ’s righteousness which will save, sanctify, and keep us from temptation and judgment as well.


      47 See 1 Kings 18:27; Ps. 44:23; 121:4; Isaiah 5:27; see also Psalm 73:8-10.

      48 Technically, in the Greek text the “if” is only found in verse 4, but it has been employed in verses 6 and 7 because this is the inference of the original text.

      49 “These angels were cast down ‘to pits of darkness’ (sirois zophou). This reading is very uncertain. The manuscript evidence is about evenly divided between ‘pits’ (sirois or seirois) and ‘chains’ (seirais). The textual editors differ in their preference, and our English versions also vary.” Dr. D. Edmond Hiebert, Second Peter and Jude (Greenville, South Carolina: Unusual Publications, 1989), p. 97.

      50 It is also interesting to note that while the Genesis 6-9 incident (if angels are involved here) speaks of the corrupting influence of fallen angels, who prey upon the women of that day in Genesis 18 and 19, unfallen angels are the instruments of divine destruction and deliverance, and the male inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah seek to corrupt or destroy the angels.

      51 “Peter says that God condemned the sinning angels to the lowest depths of hell. Literally the Greek says that God condemned the angels to Tartarus (tartaroun). Tartarus was not a Hebrew conception but Greek. In Greek mythology Tartarus was the lowest hell; it was as far beneath Hades as the heaven is high above the earth. In particular it was the place into which there had been cast the Titans who had rebelled against Zeus, the Father of gods and men.” William Barclay, The Letters of James and Peter (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, [rev. ed], 1976. The Daily Study Bible Series, p. 321.

      Literally, the word is not a noun but a verb. God “tartarized” the angels; that is, He cast them into tartarus.

    Related Topics: Hell, Heaven, Suffering, Trials, Persecution