2 Peter 2:21
Parallel Verses
New International Version
It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.

New Living Translation
It would be better if they had never known the way to righteousness than to know it and then reject the command they were given to live a holy life.

English Standard Version
For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

New American Standard Bible
For 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.

King James Bible
For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy command delivered to them.

International Standard Version
It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to know it and turn their backs on the holy commandment that was committed to them.

NET Bible
For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, having known it, to turn back from the holy commandment that had been delivered to them.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than that when they knew, they would turn away afterward from the holy decree that was delivered to them.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
It would have been better for them never to have known the way of life that God approves of than to know it and turn their backs on the holy life God told them to live.

Jubilee Bible 2000
For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

King James 2000 Bible
For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

American King James Version
For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

American Standard Version
For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

Douay-Rheims Bible
For it had been better for them not to have known the way of justice, than after they have known it, to turn back from that holy commandment which was delivered to them.

Darby Bible Translation
For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known [it] to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

English Revised Version
For it were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

Webster's Bible Translation
For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

Weymouth New Testament
For it would have been better for them not to have fully known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandments in which they were instructed.

World English Bible
For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after knowing it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them.

Young's Literal Translation
for it were better to them not to have acknowledged the way of the righteousness, than having acknowledged it, to turn back from the holy command delivered to them,
Parallel Commentaries
Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary

2:17-22 The word of truth is the water of life, which refreshes the souls that receive it; but deceivers spread and promote error, and are set forth as empty, because there is no truth in them. As clouds hinder the light of the sun, so do these darken counsel by words wherein there is no truth. Seeing that these men increase darkness in this world, it is very just that the mist ofdarkness should be their portion in the next. In the midst of their talk of liberty, these men are the vilest slaves; their own lusts gain a complete victory over them, and they are actually in bondage. When men are entangled, they are easily overcome; therefore Christians should keep close to the word of God, and watch against all who seek to bewilder them. A state of apostacy is worse than a state of ignorance. To bring an evil report upon the good way of God, and a false charge against the way of truth, must expose to the heaviest condemnation. How dreadful is the state here described! Yet though such a case is deplorable, it is not utterly hopeless; the leper may be made clean, and even the dead may be raised. Is thy backsliding a grief to thee? Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved.

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 21. - For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness; better, as in the Revised Version, for it were better. (For this use of the imperfect indicative, see Winer, 3:41, 2, a.) The verb ἐπεγνωκέκαι, "to have known," here, and the participle ἐπιγνοῦσιν, "after they have known," in the next clause, correspond with the noun ἐπίγνωσις of the preceding, and, like that, imply that these unhappy men once had the full knowledge of Christ. (For "the way, of righteousness," compare "the way of truth" in verse 2, and note there.) Than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. The manuscripts exhibit some slight variations here: the Sinaitic and Alexandrine give "to turn back." By "the holy commandment" St. Peter means the whole moral Law, which the Lord enforced and widened in his sermon on the mount; from this the false teachers turned away. For the word "delivered" (παραδοθείσης), comp. Jude 1:3. Like the corresponding word παράδοσις, tradition (2 Thessalonians 3:6), it implies the oral transmission of Christian teaching in the first ages (comp. also 1 Peter 1:18).

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible

For it had been better for them,.... Not that ignorance is good, or to be excused; but it would have been a lesser evil, and not so much aggravated:

not to have known the way of righteousness; the same with "the way of truth", 2 Peter 2:2, and "the right way", 2 Peter 2:15, the Gospel, which points out the way and method of a sinner's justification before God, which is not by the works of the law, but by the righteousness of Christ imputed to them, and received by faith; and which teaches men to live soberly, righteously, and godly; and a large, notional, though not an experimental knowledge, these apostates had of the word and doctrine of righteousness, and indeed of the whole of the Christian religion, which may truly go by this name:

than after they have known it; owned, embraced, and professed it:

to turn: the Vulgate Latin version, and some copies, as the Alexandrian and others, add, to that which is behind; to their former lusts, or errors, or worse, which they had turned their backs upon externally:

from the holy commandment delivered unto them; by the commandment is meant the Gospel also, see 2 Peter 3:2; called holy, because of its nature and influence, and in opposition to the pollutions of the world; and which is the faith once delivered, Jde 1:3, and which they received, as delivered to them; and, particularly, the ordinances of it, which they once submitted to, kept, and observed, as they were delivered to them, but now relinquished, or corrupted: wherefore, it would have been better for them to have been in their former ignorance, either in Judaism, or in Gentilism, since proportionate to a man's light is his guilt, and so his punishment, see Romans 2:12.

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

21. the way of righteousness—"the way of truth" (2Pe 2:2). Christian doctrine, and "the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour."

turn—back again; so the Greek.

from the holy commandment—the Gospel which enjoins holiness; in opposition to their corruption. "Holy," not that it makes holy, but because it ought to be kept inviolate [Tittmann].

delivered—once for all; admitting no turning back.

2 Peter 2:21 Additional Commentaries
Context
Profane and Blasphemous Seducers
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."
Cross References
Psalm 85:8
I will listen to what God the LORD says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants-- but let them not turn to folly.

Ezekiel 18:24
"But if a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked person does, will they live? None of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness they are guilty of and because of the sins they have committed, they will die.

Ezekiel 33:13
If I tell a righteous person that they will surely live, but then they trust in their righteousness and do evil, none of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered; they will die for the evil they have done.

Galatians 6:2
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

1 Timothy 6:14
to keep this command without spot or blame until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Hebrews 6:4
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,

Hebrews 6:6
and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

Hebrews 10:26
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left,

James 4:17
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn't do it, it is sin for them.

2 Peter 3:2
I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.

Jude 1:3
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God's holy people.
Treasury of Scripture

For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.

it had.

Matthew 11:23,24 And you, Capernaum, which are exalted to heaven, shall be brought …

Luke 12:47 And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, …

John 9:41 Jesus said to them, If you were blind, you should have no sin: but …

John 15:22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they had not had sin: but now …

the way.

Proverbs 12:28 In the way of righteousness is life: and in the pathway thereof there …

Proverbs 16:31 The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness.

Matthew 21:32 For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you believed …

to turn.

Psalm 36:3,4 The words of his mouth are iniquity and deceit: he has left off to …

Psalm 125:5 As for such as turn aside to their crooked ways, the LORD shall lead …

Ezekiel 3:20 Again, When a righteous man does turn from his righteousness, and …

Ezekiel 18:24 But when the righteous turns away from his righteousness, and commits …

Ezekiel 23:13 Then I saw that she was defiled, that they took both one way,

Zephaniah 1:6 And them that are turned back from the LORD; and those that have …

holy.

Romans 7:12 Why the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.

1 Thessalonians 4:2 For you know what commandments we gave you by the Lord Jesus.

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