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II Peter 2

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

UBS4 NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
False Prophets and Teachers Destructive Doctrines Attack Upon False Teachers False Teachers False Teachers
2:1-3 2:1-3 2:1-3 2:1-3 2:1-3
  Doom of False Teachers     Lessons of the Past
2:4-10a 2:4-11 2:4-10a 2:4-10a 2:4-10a
        The Punishment to Come
2:10b-16 Depravity of False Teachers 2:10b-16 2:10b-16 2:10b-12
  2:12-17      
        2:13-16
2:17-22 Deceptions of False Teachers 2:17-22 2:17-22 2:17-22
  2:18-22      

READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

1.  First paragraph

2.  Second paragraph

3.  Third paragraph

4.  Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS INTO 2 PETER 2:1-22

A.  This section parallels the book of Jude. There has been literary borrowing, but it is not obvious who borrowed from whom. It is possible Jude is alluding to Peter's prophecy because after his death, it has come true (NET Bible).

 

B. These false teachers seem to be antinomian, incipient Gnostics with a highly developed angelology (which may reflect a Persian influence; cf. 1 Tim. 6:3-5). All of the OT accounts mentioned involve angels in some way.

 

C. Peter pulls from the common knowledge of his day (OT accounts; I Enoch; pagan sources).

 

D. The Bible is very ambiguous as to the origin, the fall and the activities of the angelic world. Don't let your curiosity go beyond God-given information (i.e., modern novels).

 

E. There is an extended list of characteristics of the false teachers

1. secretly introducing destructive heresies (2 Pet. 2:1)

2. denying the Master (2 Pet. 2:1)

3. following sensuality (2 Pet. 2:2)

4. being greedy (2 Pet. 2:3)

5. despising authority (2 Pet. 2:10)

6. acting like animals (2 Pet. 2:12)

7. seeking pleasure (2 Pet. 2:13)

8. subverting the Christian love feasts (2 Pet. 2:13)

9. causing weak believers to sin (2 Pet. 2:14)

10. promising freedom, but they are slaves (2 Pet. 2:19).

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2 PETER 2:1-3
 1But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.

2:1 "false prophets" True prophets are discussed in 2 Pet. 1:19-21. The OT mentions false prophets often (cf. Deut. 13:1-5, 18:19-22; 1 Kings 18:19, 22:6ff; Jer. 5:3, 23:9-18), as does the NT (cf. Matt. 7:15; 24:11,24; Mark 13:22; Luke 6:26; Acts 13:6; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 John 4:1; Rev. 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). See SPECIAL TOPIC: APOSTASY (APHISTĒMI) at 2 Peter 1:10.

▣ "also arose among the people" This refers to the OT people of God. Notice the parallelism between the first two clauses (repeat "among"). Notice the false prophets came from among the people of God, and not from the outside.

▣ "false teachers" The clues in 2 Peter 2 show that these were incipient Gnostics. See Special Topic: Gnostics at 1 Pet. 3:22.

▣ "secretly introduce" This compound of para and eisagō has the connotation of "to sneak in alongside" (cf. Gal. 2:4 and Jude verse 4).

▣ "destructive heresies" The term "heresies" (divisions) is used in three ways in the NT.

1. as a religious sect or group (cf. Acts 24:14; 26:5)

2. as divisions within Christianity (cf. 1 Cor. 11:19)

3. as the teachings that are contrary to orthodoxy

They are usually a mixture of truth and error. Often, they magnify some truth to the exclusion of other biblical truths or a perversion related to Christology. Heresy always comes from within the Christian fellowship (cf. Matt. 7:15-23, 24:24; 1 Tim. 4:1-5; 1 John 2:18-25). A description of their actions can be seen in (1) Contextual Insights E. and (2) Gal. 5:19.

▣ "even denying the Master" This is a present middle (deponent) participle, which speaks of ongoing personal rejection of Christ by the false teachers. This refers either to denial of Jesus (1) by theology or (2) lifestyle (cf. Jude 4). This is the first of four descriptive phrases (2 Pet. 2:1-3) about false teachers denying the Master by

1. their actions and beliefs

2. their immoral ways

3. their greed

4. their self-deception

The title "master" is the term despotēs, which means "lord" or "master." It is used of slave owners (cf. 1 Tim. 6:1,2; Titus 2:9; 1 Pet. 2:18).

It is interesting to note that the term "master" is normally used for God the Father (cf. Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24 [quoting the LXX of Exod. 20:11 or Ps. 146:6]). However, it is also used of Christ (cf. 2 Tim. 2:21; Jude 4; Rev. 6:10). Here is another title of the Father transferred to the Son to assert His Deity.

▣ "who bought them" This is an aorist active participle. This seems, like 2 Pet. 2:20-22, to imply that they were once saved, but not now! This is a reference to (1) YHWH's saving His people in the OT or (2) Christ's redemptive work in the NT (cf. Mark 10:45; Acts 20:28; 1 Cor. 6:20; Eph. 1:7; 1 Tim. 2:6; Heb. 2:9; 1 Pet. 1:19; 1 John 2:2; Rev. 5:9). In the OT to buy someone back from slavery (i.e., ransom or redeem) referred to physical deliverance. Usually in the NT it refers to salvation. In the OT to sell someone into the hands of their enemies referred to judgment.

The NJB has the interesting translation "who bought them freedom." Apparently they see the context (2 Pet. 2:2-3) as relating to believers who live godless lives and bring reproach on Christ and Christianity. This then would refer to believers who die early because of their godless living and destructive influence.

"bringing swift destruction upon themselves" No first century believer would has asked this question, but modern believers think about it a lot, especially related to how their group views assurance! Some link the phrase to "YHWH" or "the people," which would then refer to Exodus (i.e., Wilderness Wanderings).

The real question is, "Were the heretics truly saved?" I believe that biblical doctrines are given in dialectical or paradoxical pairs, which is characteristic of Eastern literature. Modern western readers and interpreters tend to propositionalize and decontextualize verses. I surely affirm the security of the believer, but am more and more uncomfortable with "once saved, always saved" because of passages like this. Security is evidenced by (not based on) godly living (cf. James and 1 John). Believers struggle and sin, but they continue to trust in Christ and respond (sometimes slowly) to the correcting of the Holy Spirit.

However, the Parable of the Soils (cf. Matthew 13) and the active, but lost, religionists of Matt. 7:15-27, assure me that there do exist false professions of faith (cf. 2 Pet. 2:20-22; 1 John 2:18-19).

False teachers have caused and still cause great turmoil in the church. In 1 John there are several tests for true believers.

1. willingness to confess sin (1 John 1:5; 2:22)

2. lifestyle obedience (1 John 2:3-6)

3. lifestyle love (1 John 2:7-11)

4. victory over evil (1 John 2:12-14)

5. forsaking the world (1 John 2:15-17)

6. perseverance (1 John 2:19)

7. doctrine (1 John 2:20-24)

Peter also lists the inappropriate actions of these false teachers (see Contextual Insights, E). If it is true that the gospel is a (1) person; (2) a message about that person; and (3) a lifestyle emulating that person, then these false teachers violated all three.  Can someone be "bought" by Jesus and deny Jesus? This is the problem. Salvation is free and for all who will respond in repentance, faith, obedience, and perseverance. But, maturity is a cost-everything discipleship. We must hold tightly to both of these biblical truths. Doctrine comes in tension-filled pairs because Christianity is not only a biblical theology (cf. Rom. 6), but a daily struggle (cf. Romans 7) for godliness. Salvation is a relationship, not an isolated decision!

2:2 "Many will follow" Oh, the tragedy of leading others astray (cf. Matt. 18:6-7). Peter uses this compound term often (cf. 2 Pet. 1:16; 2:2,15,21; Matt. 18:6).

NASB"their sensuality"
NKJV"their destructive ways"
NRSV"their licentious ways"
TEV"their immoral ways"
NJB"their debauched behavior"

The term aselgeia can be translated "licentiousness," "debauchers," or " sensuality," implying out-of-bounds sexual activity (cf. 2 Pet. 2:2,7,18; 1 Pet. 4:3; Jude 4). It is often included in the lists of sins of pagan society (cf. Rom. 13:13; 1 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19).

▣ "because of them the way of truth will be maligned" It is crucial how believers live. They are to reflect the family characteristics of God (i.e., faith in Jesus restores the image of God in mankind, cf. 1 Tim. 6:1; Titus 2:5).

▣ "the way of truth" "The Way" was the early name used for Christians (cf. Acts 9:2; 18:25-26; 19:9,23; 22:4; 24:14,22). It reflects the OT concept of biblical faith as a clearly marked path that we must follow (cf. Ps. 119:105; Pro. 6:23). This phrase refers to the gospel message. Obviously a godly lifestyle is an integral aspect of salvation (Eph. 1:4; 2:10).

▣ "will be maligned" Pagans misunderstood believers and accused them of immoral practices. The lives of these false teachers added to these misconceptions.

2:3 "in their greed" This term has a negative connotation in both the Septuagint and the NT. False teachers are characterized by desire for more and more at any cost (cf. 2 Pet. 2:14; Micah 3:11; 1 Tim. 6:5; Titus 1:11; Jude 16). This term is used often in the NT (cf. Mark 7:22; Luke 12:15; Rom. 1:29; 2 Cor. 9:5; Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5; 1 Thess. 2:5; 2 Pet. 2:3,14) because it characterizes the self-centered nature of fallen humanity. This can refer to financial greed, sexual greed, or places of honor (i.e., teachers) within the churches.

"they will exploit you" The King James Version has "make merchandise of you." We get the English word "emporium" from this Greek word.

NASB"with false words"
NKJV, NRSV"deceptive words"
NJB"untrue tales"

The adjective denotes that which is molded or made (cf. Rom. 9:20). We get the English word "plastic" from this Greek term. The false teachers caused problems within the believing community and in society. Their lives brought reproach on the gospel and their lies perverted the gospel message.

▣ "their judgment" There have always been false teachers among the people of God. They were condemned in the OT (cf. Deut. 13:1-5,6-11,12-18). Their temporal, as well as eschatological, judgment is sure and not delayed (cf. Gal. 6:7). In this text both "judgment" and "destruction" are personified.

This is a spiritual principle. God is ethical-moral and so is His creation. Humans break themselves on God's standards. We reap what we sow. This is true for believers (but does not affect salvation) and unbelievers (cf. Job 34:11; Ps. 28:4; 62:12; Pro. 24:12; Eccl. 12:14; Jer. 17:10; 32:19; Matt. 16:27; 25:31-46; Rom. 2:6; 14:12; 1 Cor. 3:8; Gal. 6:7-10; 2 Tim. 4:14; 1 Pet. 1:17; Rev. 2:23; 20:12; 22:12).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2 PETER 2:4-10a
 4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5and 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; 6and 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 lives thereafter; 7and 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 by their lawless deeds), 9then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 10and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority.

2:4 "if" This is a first class conditional which is usually assumed to be true from the author's perspective or for his literary purposes. This begins an extended sentence which runs through verse 10a. It is possible that this conditional pattern is to be repeated through this long, involved Greek sentence. The NRSV has an "if" in 2 Pet. 2:4,5,6,7; NIV has an "if" in 2 Pet. 2:4,5,6,7,9, but it only occurs in the Greek text in 2 Pet. 2:4. This context delineates a series of OT judgments involving angels.

▣ "angels when they sinned" This is parallel to Jude 6. The following are the notes from my commentary on James and Jude (Vol. 11).


Notes from Jude Commentary

Jude 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" Sodom and Gomorrah, in the same way as these angels, indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh. Both are exhibited as examples undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

Jude 6 "and angels" This verse adds angels to his lists of those who initially worshiped and later rebelled against YHWH and were thus destroyed or judged. But which angels? Some information is given to describe this particular group of angels:

1. they did not keep their own domain

2. they abandoned their proper abode

3. they will be kept in eternal bonds under darkness for judgment day

4. "sinned" (2 Pet. 2:4)

5. "committed them into Tartarus" (2 Pet. 2:4)

6. "committed them to pits of darkness reserved for judgment" (2 Pet. 2:4)

Which angels in the OT rebelled and sinned?

1. angels as powers behind pagan worship

2. the lesser angelic beings, called by specific demonic names in the OT. Examples: Lilith (cf. Isa. 34:14), Azazel (cf. Lev. 16:8), and goat demons (cf. Lev. 17:7)

3. the "sons of God" in Gen. 6 (often discussed in intertestamental apocalyptic writings, I Enoch 86-88; 106; II Enoch 7,18; II Baruch 56; Jubilees 5)

4. angels mentioned in an example from a Jewish apocalyptic intertestamental writing (because of Jude's use of other books of this kind in Jude 9, 14)

 

NASB"who did not keep their own domain"
NKJV"who did not keep their proper domain"
NRSV"who did not keep their own position"
TEV"who did not stay within the limits of their proper authority"
NJB"who did not keep to the authority they had"

There is a play on the tense of the verb "keep" in 2 Pet. 2:6. The angels did not keep their place (aorist active participle) so God has kept them in a place of imprisonment until judgment day (perfect active indicative). Those angels who violated God's will faced both temporal and eschatological judgment, just as the rebels of Israel during the wilderness wandering period and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah.

The term "domain" is the Greek term archē, which means the "beginning" or "origin" of something.

1. beginning of the created order (cf. John 1:1; 1 John 1:1)

2. the beginning of the gospel (cf. Mark 1:1; Phil. 4:15)

3. first eyewitnesses (cf. Luke 1:2)

4. beginning signs (miracles, cf. John 2:11)

5. beginning principles (cf. Heb. 5:12)

6. beginning assurance/confidence (cf. Heb. 3:14)

It came to be used of "rule" or "authority"

1. of human governing officials

a. Luke 12:11

b. Luke 20:20

c. Romans 13:3; Titus 3:1

2. of angelic authorities

a. Romans 8:38

b. 1 Cor. 15:24

c. Eph. 1:21; 3:10; 6:10

d. Col. 1:16; 2:10,15

These false teachers despise all authority, earthly and heavenly. They are antinomian libertines. They put themselves and their desires first before God, angels, civil authorities, and church leaders.

NASB"but abandoned their proper abode"
NKJV"but left their own habitation"
NRSV"but left their proper dwelling"
TEV"but abandoned their own dwelling place"
NJB"but left their appointed sphere"

These angels left their heavenly domain and went to another (earth). This fits the angelic interpretation of Gen. 6:1-4 very well. This act was a willful rejection of God's will and authority.

▣ "in eternal bonds" Chains are used on angels in I Enoch and Satan is bound with a "great chain" in Rev. 20:1-2. The term "eternal" may mean "powerful," "adequate," "sure," not literally eternal, because these angels are only held until Judgment Day, when other means of incarceration shall be used (cf. Rev. 20:10,14-15). The point is, some angels are imprisoned now, so as to control their evil activities.

▣ "under darkness" The term Tartarus (not used in Jude but present in 2 Pet. 2:4 and I Enoch 20:2) was used in Greek mythology for the holding place of the Titans, the half divine, half human giants. This fits the angelic interpretation of Gen. 6. I Enoch describes the new abode of these rebellious angels (cf. I Enoch 10:5,12) as eternal darkness. How different from heavenly brilliance (glory). The rabbis divided Sheol into "Paradise" (for the righteous) and Tartarus (for the wicked). The term "abyss" (cf. Luke 8:3, Rev. 9:1; 11:7; 20:3) is synonymous with the metaphors of darkness used in verse 13b.

▣ "the great day" This is another way of referring to Judgment Day, the day when God will hold all conscious creation responsible for the gift of life (cf. Phil. 2:10-11; Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:10-12).


SPECIAL TOPIC: "the sons of God" in Genesis 6

NASB, NKJV,
NRSV, TEV,
NIV"Hell"
NJB"the underworld"
Weymouth"Tartarus"

See note above on "under darkness" in notes on Jude 6.

▣ "pits of darkness" The term sirois is found in the ancient Greek uncial manuscripts א, A, B, and C. The King James Version has "chains" (seirais), which is similar in meaning to the word "bonds" (demois) in Jude 6, which is found in the ancient papyri manuscript P72, also compare I Enoch 10:12, ).

2:5 "and did not spare the ancient world" This refers to God's judgment on the wickedness of mankind (cf. Gen. 6:5,11-12,13; 8:21b). This judgment by water is described in Gen. 6-9. This same event is mentioned in 1 Pet. 3:18-22.

▣ "Noah" One man and his family "found favor in the eyes of the Lord" (i.e., Noah, cf. Gen. 6:8-9,18). This event is also described in Josephus' Antiquities of the Jews 1.3.1; I Clement 7.6, 9.4; and the Sibylline Oracles 1.128).

▣ "a preacher of righteousness" The OT does not mention Noah's preaching, but rabbinical tradition surely does (cf. Jubilee 7:20-29; Sibylline Oracles 1.128-129).

"a flood" From this Greek word comes the English word "cataclysm." According to I Enoch, this was God's judgment on the mixed races of the human/angelic sexual relationships of Gen. 6:1-4.

2:6 "Sodom and Gomorrah" The destruction of these wicked cities is described in Gen. 19:24-28. Angels were the means of escape for Lot and his family and, by implication, they were involved in the destruction of these cities of the plain.

This is parallel to Jude 7. It seems that Noah is an example of judgment by water and Sodom and Gomorrah an example of judgment by fire.

I have included the following notes from my commentary on Jude 7

 


Notes from Jude Commentary

Jude 7 "Sodom and Gomorrah" This is the third example of rebellion that involved sexual activities outside of God's revealed plan of marriage:

1.the Canaanite fertility worship at Shittim (cf. Numbers 25)

2. the attempt by angels to mix the orders of creation (cf. Gen. 6:1-4; 2 Pet. 2:4)

3. the homosexual activity of Sodom and Gomorrah toward angels (cf. Gen. 19; 2 Pet. 2:6)

 

▣ "and the cities around them" These cities are listed by name in Deut. 29:23.

▣ "same way" This is an accusative which relates grammatically to the angels (cf. Jude 6), not "the neighboring towns." It has been speculated that Jude used these OT illustrations because as angels took women in Genesis 6, so here men tried to take angels (cf. Gen. 18:22; 19:1). If so, this would be another example of the attempt to mix the orders of creation. However, to me it seems that the inhabitants of Sodom did not know these were angels and thought them to be men (cf. Gen. 18:22).

▣ "gross immorality and went after strange flesh" This is in reference to "different kind of (heteros) flesh." This seems to relate both to (1) the angels and women according to Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews 1:3:1 and (2) the homosexuality (cf. Rom. 1:26-27) so prevalent in the area of Sodom.

"are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire" Jude uses these OT examples as a clear warning to his readers. Beware of sexual exploitation by anyone.

The NT speaks clearly of eternal punishment (cf. Matt. 25:41,46; 2 Thess. 2:8-9; Rev. 19:20; 20:11,14-15; 21:28; and also I Enoch 54:1). This subject is difficult to discuss because the Bible does not give much information about heaven or hell. It affirms their reality, but does not reveal specific information, usually describing them in metaphorical language. Jesus uses the "valley of the sons of Hinnom," which was just south of Jerusalem and was used by the Israelis under Manasseh for the worship of Molech, the Canaanite fire god who required child sacrifice. The Jews, out of shame and regret for their own participation in these fertility rites, turned this locality into the garbage dump for Jerusalem. Jesus' metaphors of fire, smoke, and worms came from this place, Gehenna.

This place of torment was not created for mankind, but rebellious angels (cf. Matt. 25:41). Evil at all levels will be removed and segregated from God's creation. Hell is the Bible's way of describing this permanent divide.

Before I leave this topic let me express the pain with which I approach this subject. This is the only suffering in the Bible that is not redemptive. This is not the will of God for anyone. It is a result of willful, continuous rebellion, both angelic and human. It is an open, bleeding sore in the heart of God that will never heal! God's willingness to allow free will among His creatures results in some painful, eternal losses.

The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. II, p. 379 mentions that Jude's description of the punishment of these angels is very similar to I Enoch 10:4-6,11,13; 12:4; 15:3; 19:1. This seems to confirm Jude's familiarity with this interbiblical Jewish apocalyptic work.

 


2:7-8 "the righteous Lot" This may be an allusion to (1) the extra-canonical Jewish book of the Wisdom of Solomon 10:6 or (2) a rabbinical tradition. Lot was spiritually grieved by the actions of contemporary evil people (some rabbinical tradition reflected in 2 Pet. 2:8 and I Clem. 11:1) as 2 Peter's readers were by the immoral false teachers.

This entire section is a form of OT typology. Things that happened in the history of Israel were being repeated in Peter's day.

2:9 This is the conclusion of the extended sentence begun in 2 Pet. 2:4. God will rescue His own (i.e., Noah, 2 Pet. 2:5 and Lot, 2 Pet. 2:7) and hold the unrighteous accountable for their deeds (i.e., angels and humans).

2:10 "those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires" This refers to human instincts given by God but with certain restrictions (i.e., human sexuality, but within marriage). Fallen mankind takes God's gifts beyond their God-given bounds for selfish, egocentristic purposes (more and more for me at any cost).

"and despise authority" This is parallel to Jude 8 in several ways.

2 Peter 2:10 Jude 8
1. indulge the flesh
2. despise authority
3. revile angelic majesties
1. defile the flesh
2. reject authority
3. revile angelic majesties

Jude obviously refers to angels by this phrase, but 2 Peter may very well link it to 2 Pet. 2:4 and further refer to rejecting Christ. I have included my notes of Jude 8.

 


Notes from Jude Commentary

Jude 8 "Yet in the same way" The false teachers of Jude's day had similarities to the rebellious ones of old. The exact nature of the similarity is not specified.

▣ "these" This is Jude's way of referring to the false teachers who had invaded the church (cf. Jude 8,10,12,14,16,19).

▣ "also by dreaming" This term is used of OT false prophets (cf. Deut. 13:1-5; Jer. 23:25-32), those who claimed special revelations from God (cf. Col. 2:18).

▣ "defile the flesh" This is the metaphorical use of the term "stain." There was obviously an amoral aspect to their teachings and/or lifestyles. All of these OT examples involved some type of sexual sin (cf. 2 Tim. 3:1ff; 2 Pet. 2).

▣ "reject authority and revile angelic majesties" There are three characteristics of "these."

1.  "defile the flesh"

2.  "reject authority" (NASB, NKJV, NRSV)

"despise God's authority" (TEV)

"disregard Authority" (NJB)

3.  "revile angelic majesty" (NASB)

"speak evil of dignitaries" (NKJV)

"slander the glorious ones" (NRSV)

"insult the glorious beings above" (TEV)

"abuse the Glories as well" (NJB)

It is obvious the first has to do with sexual sins, but what of the second and third? The second designation, "reject authority," has been interpreted at least two ways.

1. the Greek term for "authority" is kuriotēa, which is related to the term "Lord" (kurios); therefore some link this rejection (although the verbals are different) to the denial of Jesus in Jude 4 ( "our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ")

2. the Greek term for "authority" is kuriotēta, which is related to kuriotēs, used in 2 Pet. 2:10 (cf. Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16) to refer to angels

This context seems to be referring to angels, so #2 fits best.

The third designation uses an OT term "glory" (kabod), which was used of God (cf. Jude 24,25; 2 Pet. 1:3,17; 3:18) and all things connected to God, especially in heaven or the life to come. In this instance Jude is picking up on the interbiblical expansion of this OT concept to refer to angelic beings, beings of power and authority.

This might even refer to the rejection of the OT Law because the Jews believed that angels served as mediators for YHWH giving the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai (cf. Acts 7:35).

This point of the context is the out-of-bounds lifestyle of "these" false teachers in the area of morality and authority. The list of characteristics of the false teachers which began in Jude 1-4 is continued: (1) despise authority, 2 Pet. 2:10; (2) like animals 2 Pet. 2:12; (3) pleasure seekers, 2 Pet. 2:13; (4) subvert love feasts Jude 13; (5) cause weak believers to sin Jude 14; and (6) promise freedom but they are slaves, Jude 19.

 


NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 2 PETER 2:10b-16
 10bDaring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, 11whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. 12But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, 13suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong. They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, 14having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; 15forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet.

2:10b "daring" (cf. Mark 12:34; 15:43)

▣ "self-willed" (cf. Titus 1:7)

"they do not tremble" (cf. Matt. 28:4; Luke 8:47; Acts 7:32; 1 Cor. 2:3).

The three preceding terms describe the false teachers' lack of respect for spiritual powers and authorities. They possibly relate to the Gnostics' extensive theology of angelic levels (aeons) and the secret names of these angels necessary to supposedly pass through their realm on the way to fellowship with the high, good god.

NASB"angelic majesties"
NKJV"speak evil of dignitaries"
NRSV"slander the glorious ones"
TEV"no respect for the glorious being above"
NJB"offending the glorious one"

See note in previous section from Jude on "glories" (doxai).

2:11 "do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord" This is parallel to Jude 9, which may be a quote from The Assumption of Moses. It relates an incident between Michael (i.e., the Arch Angel and guardian of Israel) and Satan over the body of Moses (cf. Deut. 34:6).

There is a Greek manuscript variant in this phrase.

1. before the Lord (para with the locative, א, B, C, K, P, cf. NASB, NKJV, TEV, NJB)

2. from the Lord (para with the ablative, P72, cf. NRSV)

 

2:12 This verse is parallel to Jude 10. Jude 9 describes Michael's encounter with Satan. This verse in 2 Peter and Jude 10 describes how the false teachers react to angelic authority and power

1. they act like unreasoning animals

2. they are creatures of animal instinct

What they know (and how they act) will destroy them.

▣ "destruction. . .destroyed" See Special Topic following.

SPECIAL TOPIC: DESTROY, RUIN, CORRUPT (phtheirō)

2:13 "suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong" This is an unusual construction which is either (1) an idiom or (2) a word play (i.e., adikoumenoi, meaning "suffering wrong" and adikias, translated "of wrong").

▣ "to revel in the daytime" They flaunt their actions for all to see. This phrase and the last phrase of 2 Pet. 2:12 are saying the same thing.

NASB"stains and blemishes"
NKJV"spots and blemishes"
NRSV"blots and blemishes"
TEV"a shame and a disgrace"
NJB"unsightly blots"

The first term spilas (and its forms) has two distinct meanings: (1) originally it refers to unseen dangers, literally, hidden or shallow reefs (cf. Jude 12) and (2) stains or spots (cf. Eph. 5:27; James 3:6; 2 Pet. 2:13; Jude 23).

The second term is somewhat synonymous. It is used metaphorically of "blemishes" or "spots." Both of these refer to the immoral false teachers' sexually preying on believers at the Christian love feasts (the Lord's Supper meal).

NASB"as they carouse with you"
NKJV, NRSV"while they feast with you"
TEV"join in your meals"
NJB"even when they are sharing your table"

This is parallel to Jude 12. The meal referred to was called "The Love Feast" (cf. 1 Cor. 11:17-22), which was a communal Eucharist of the believing community.

2:14 "eyes full of adultery" They looked at every woman at Christ's table as a sex object. These false teachers were sexually exploitive (cf. 2 Pet. 2:2,10,14,18). The rabbis say that the eyes are the windows of the soul. Sin begins in the thought life. These false teachers' eyes never rest!

▣ "enticing unstable souls" They snare and entrap weak or new believers (cf. Matt. 18:6; 2 Tim. 3:6).

"having a heart trained in greed" This is a perfect passive participle. We get the English word "gymnasium" from this word. They regularly trained to get more and more for themselves at any cost! See SPECIAL TOPIC: THE HEART at Mark 2:6.

NASB"accursed children"
NKJV"and are accursed children"
NRSV"Accursed children"
TEV"They are under God's curse"
NJB"They are under a curse"

This is a Hebrew idiom (cf. Eph. 2:3). They demonstrate the characteristics and settled character of their father, the Devil. The positive opposite of this idiom is "obedient children" of 1 Pet. 1:14!

2:15 "forsaking the right way" This reflects the Hebrew idiom for "sin" (cf. NRSV, TEV, NJB). Righteousness was described as a path or road. The godly were to follow the path (cf. Ps. 119:105; Pro. 6:23). Any deviation from the path was sin.

▣ "have gone astray" The term "astray" is our English word "planet," which meant "wanderer." This is parallel to Jude 13.

▣ "the way of Balaam" This same OT incident is mentioned in Jude 11. It is recorded in Num. 22-25; 31:8,16. As Balaam desired money, so too, these false teachers (i.e., greed, 2 Pet. 2:14).

NASB, NKJV,
TEV"Beor"
NRSV, NJB"Bosor"

The first reading is from the Septuagint of Numbers 22 and is the reading in MS B. The second reading is found in MSS P72, אi2, Ac, C, and UBS4 gives it an "A" rating (certain). However, there is no example of this name anywhere else.

2:16 "a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man" This refers to Num. 22:24 and 31, another OT incident involving an angel.

NASB (UPDATED TEXT: 2:17-22
 17These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. 18For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, 19promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. 20For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. 22It has happened to them according to the true proverb, "A dog returns to its own vomit," and, "A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire."

2:17 "springs without water and mists" This is paralleled in Jude 12. They had the promise of blessing, but gave only death.

▣ "for whom the black darkness has been reserved" This is literally "thick darkness of darkness" (cf. 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6,13). The verb is a perfect passive indicative implying permanent judgment and confinement by God.

This is also paralleled in Jude 13. It is a metaphor for eternal punishment using darkness (cf. Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30 and I Enoch 10:4-5; 63:6).

2:18

NASB"speaking out arrogant words of vanity"
NKJV"speak great swelling words of emptiness"
NRSV"speak bombastic nonsense"
TEV"make proud and stupid statements"
NJB"high-sounding but empty talk"

This is parallel to 2 Pet. 2:17 and Jude 12-13,16. They appear spiritual and truthful, but it is a sham, a deception.

NASB"they entice by fleshly desire"
NKJV"they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through licentiousness"
NRSV"with licentious desires of the flesh they entice"
TEV"use immoral body lusts to trap"
NJB"they tempt. . .by playing on the disordered desires of their human nature and debaucheries"

This is again the sexual aspects of the false teachers. They were in error not only theologically, but also morally.

NASB"those who barely escape"
NKJV"the ones who actually escaped"
NRSV"who have just escaped"
TEV"those who are just beginning to escape"
NJB"people who have scarcely escaped"

There is a Greek manuscript variant in this phrase.

1. oligōs, meaning "almost" (cf. MSS P72, אi2, A, B, and the Vulgate; Syriac, and Coptic translations)

2. ontōs, meaning "truly" or "actually" (cf. MSS א*, C, and the Armenian and Slavonic translations).

The theological issue is were these believers being led astray (cf. NKJV, NRSV, NIV) or were they almost believers (cf. NASB, NRSV [footnote], TEV)? The context of 2 Pet. 2:20-21 surely implies they were believers (i.e., first class conditional sentence).

2:19 "promising them freedom" These false teachers were promising freedom in two senses: (1) a theological freedom based on secret knowledge of the angelic spheres and (2) a freedom from moral restraints based on salvation only involving an intellectual attainment (i.e., libertine or antinomian gnostics).

Paul urged believers not to use their freedom as a license to sin (cf. Gal. 2:16), as did Peter (cf. 1 Pet. 2:16). Freedom has always been the forbidden fruit. Self control is a mark of spiritual maturity (cf. Gal. 5:23). This is not in the Stoic sense of self mastery, but in the Christian sense of a believers yielding to the indwelling Spirit and conforming themselves to God's revelation (the NT). The real question then is who or what controls and/or characterizes our lives?

▣ "corruption" See Special Topic at 2 Pet. 2:12.

2:20 "if" This is a first class conditional that is assumed to be true from the author's perspective or for his literary purposes. This implies that the victims of 2 Pet. 2:18 were believers.

"they have escaped the defilements of the world" This is an aorist active participle, which implies a completed action (their profession of faith in Christ). The gospel had freed them from the power of the fallen nature (cf. Rom. 6).

"by the knowledge of the Lord" This is the term epignōskō, which has the connotation of full experiential knowledge (cf. 2 Pet. 1:2). The means of their salvation was the gospel which is a person, truth about that person, and a lifestyle like that person. The false teachers violated all three!

"they are again entangled in them and are overcome" The first verbal is an aorist passive participle, while the second is a present passive indicative. Notice the passive voice, which implies an outside agency (i.e., the false teachers or the evil one). The immediate context defines the entanglement as sensuality and fleshly desires. For a good discussion of this verse see Hard Sayings of the Bible, pp. 729-730. I fully concur with their assessment.

▣ "the last state has become worse for them than the first" This could relate to (1) new believers (2 Pet. 2:14b, 18b, 21) or (2) the false teachers (2 Pet. 2:17, 18a). This same ambiguity relates to 2 Pet. 2:19.

2:21 How could their condition be worse? (1) They became vaccinated against the real faith. They are like Heb. 2:1-4; 6:4-6 and 10:26-31 (i.e., unbelievers in the presence of great light); (2) This could refer to new or weak believers' lifestyle witness being lost more than their personal salvation. There is an intense warfare between the old and new natures (cf. Romans 7), both before salvation and even after.

"the way of righteousness" This refers to the gospel, as does "the holy commandment" also in 2 Pet. 2:21 and "the knowledge of the Lord" in 2 Pet. 2:20 (cf. 2 Pet. 3:2).

2:22 "the true proverb" The proverb of the dog is from the MT, not the LXX of Pro. 26:11. The proverb of the hog is from the Aramaic wisdom book of Ahikan (i.e., 8:18), which was well known to the Jews during the Assyrian exile. Ahikan is mentioned in the Jewish book Tobit as a wise man from one of the northern ten exiled tribes. Jewish tradition says he rose to be a high government official (i.e., like Daniel) during the reigns of Sennacherib and Esarhaddon. These false teachers looked as if they were believers (i.e., wise men), but their actions showed it was only a surface change and not true repentance (cf. Matthew 7 and 13).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Were the false teachers true Christians? (2 Pet. 2:1)

2. Were their followers Christians?

3. List the characteristics of these false teachers.

4. Why is there so much talk of angels in this chapter?

5. What is the implication of verses 20-22?

 

Related Topics: Bible Study Methods