|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
2:1-9 Though the way of error is a hurtful way, many are always ready to walk therein. Let us take care we give no occasion to the enemy to blaspheme the holy name whereby we are called, or to speak evil of the way of salvation by Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. These seducers used feigned words, they deceived the hearts of their followers. Such are condemned already, and the wrath of God abides upon them. God's usual method of proceeding is shown by examples. Angels were cast down from all their glory and dignity, for their disobedience. If creatures sin, even in heaven, they must suffer in hell. Sin is the work of darkness, and darkness is the wages of sin. See how God dealt with the old world. The number of offenders no more procures favour, than their quality. If the sin be universal, the punishment shall likewise extend to all. If in a fruitful soil the people abound in sin, God can at once turn a fruitful land into barrenness, and a well-watered country into ashes. No plans or politics can keep off judgments from a sinful people. He who keeps fire and water from hurting his people, Isa 43:2, can make either destroy his enemies; they are never safe. When God sends destruction on the ungodly, he commands deliverance for the righteous. In bad company we cannot but get either guilt or grief. Let the sins of others be troubles to us. Yet it is possible for the children of the Lord, living among the most profane, to retain their integrity; there being more power in the grace of Christ, and his dwelling in them, than in the temptations of Satan, or the example of the wicked, with all their terrors or allurements. In our intentions and inclinations to commit sin, we meet with strange hinderances, if we mark them When we intend mischief, God sends many stops to hinder us, as if to say, Take heed what you do. His wisdom and power will surely effect the purposes of his love, and the engagements of his truth; while wicked men often escape suffering here, because they are kept to the day of judgment, to be punished with the devil and his angels.
Verse 3. - And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you; rather, in covetousness. Covetousness was their besetting sin, the sphere in which they lived. St. Paul warned Titus against false teachers who taught "things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake" (Titus 1:11; see also 1 Timothy 6:6 and Jude 1:16). Simon Magus, the first heresiarch, sought to trade in holy things; the like sin seems to have been characteristic of the false teachers of apostolic times. The word translated "feigned" (πλαστοῖς) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament; the words of these men were not the expression of their real thoughts and feelings; they were invented, craftily contrived to deceive men, and that for the sake of money. The last words of the clause will admit another sense: "shall gain you," i.e., "shall gain you over to their party;" and this view derives some support from the use of the verb ἐμπορεύεσθαι in the Septuagint Version of Proverbs 3:14. But the verb is often used in classical writers in the sense of making a profit out of people or things, and this meaning seems most suitable here. The false teachers will work hard, as the Pharisees did, to make proselytes; but their real motive is, not the salvation of souls, but their own selfish gain. Whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not; literally, for whom the sentence of a long time idleth not. The sentence of judgment is for them, for their condemnation; in the foreknowledge of God it has been pronounced long ago, and ever since it has been drawing near; it doth not tarry (comp. Jude 1:4 and 1 Peter 4:17). The word rendered "of a long time" (ἔκπαλαι) occurs only here and 2 Peter 3:5. And their damnation slumbereth not; destruction: it is the word which has been used already twice in verse 1. The verb means literally "to nod," then "to slumber;" it is found elsewhere in the New Testament only in the parable of the virgins (Matthew 25:5).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And through covetousness;.... Which is generally a prevailing vice among false teachers, they having no other end in view than themselves; either to gain popular applause and vain glory, which they are always covetous of; or to amass riches to themselves, after which they have an insatiable desire:
shall they with feigned words; made words, words of their own devising, and not which the Holy Ghost teacheth; whereby they cover themselves, and privily introduce their pernicious principles; and therefore new words and phrases are always to be suspected and guarded against, especially in articles of moment and importance: or with flattering words and fair speeches, great swelling words of vanity, having men's persons in admiration, because of worldly advantage; and in this way they gain their point:
make merchandise of you; deal with the souls of men, as merchants do with their goods, carry them to market and sell them; so false teachers deal with the souls of their followers, draw them, and sell them to Satan, and they themselves pay for it; see Zechariah 11:5 but in the issue, and that in a short time, they will be no gainers by such practices:
whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not: that is, their condemnation, which God in righteousness has determined, "from the creation of the world", as the Ethiopic version reads, or from all eternity, see Jde 1:4, to bring them into, for their vile principles and practices, is not retarded and delayed; it does not linger and stay behind, or slacken its pace; it will not tarry, it will come upon them at the appointed time:
and their damnation slumbereth not; an avenging God, who has appointed them to damnation for their sins, slumbers not; the justice of God is not asleep, nor careless and negligent, but is awake, and watches over them, to bring the evil upon them they have deserved, and is in reserve for them, and will hasten to perform it; the determined destruction does not lie dormant, but in a little time will be stirred up, and fall with dreadful weight on such sinners, as may be concluded from the following awful instances.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
3. through, &c.—Greek, "IN covetousness" as their element (2Pe 2:14, end). Contrast 2Co 11:20; 12:17.
of a long time—in God's eternal purpose. "Before of old ordained to condemnation" (Jude 4).
lingereth not—though sinners think it lingers; "is not idle."
damnation—Greek, "destruction" (see on 2Pe 2:1). Personified.
slumbereth not—though sinners slumber.
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