2 Peter 2:1
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privately shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
FIRST PREDICTION: False teachers shall have great success and certain ruin (2Peter 2:1-10).

(1) But there were false prophets also.—To bring out the contrast between true and false prophets more strongly, the clause that in meaning is secondary has been made primary in form. The meaning is, “There shall be false teachers among you, as there were false prophets among the Jews;” the form is, “But (in contrast to the true prophets just mentioned) there were false prophets as well, even as,” &c.

Shall be false teachers among you.—We must add “also.” With this view of Christians as the antitype of the chosen people comp. 1Peter 2:9. The word for “false teachers” occurs here only. It is probably analogous to “false witnesses,” and means those who teach what is false, rather than to “false Christs,” in which case it would mean pretending to be teachers when they are not. “False prophets” has both meanings—sham prophets and prophesying lies. Justin Martyr, about A.D. 145 (Trypho, lxxxii.), has “Just as there were false prophets contemporaneous with your holy prophets” (he is addressing a Jew), “so are there now many false teachers amongst us.” Another possible reference to this Epistle in Justin is given below on 2Peter 3:8. As they occur close together, they seem to render it probable that Justin knew our Epistle. “There shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in heresies of destruction,” is quoted in a homily attributed, on doubtful authority, to Hippolytus. (See below, on chap. iii. 3.)

Privily shall bring in.—Comp. Jude 1:4, and Galatians 2:4; and see Notes in both places. Comp. also the Shepherd of Hermas, Sim. VIII. vi. 5.

Damnable heresies.—Rather, parties (full) of destruction (Philippians 1:28), “whose end is destruction” (Philippians 3:19). Wiclif and Rheims have “sects of perdition.” “Damnable heresies” comes from Geneva—altogether a change for the worse. The Greek word hairesis is sometimes translated “sect” in our version (Acts 5:17; Acts 15:5; Acts 24:5), sometimes “heresy” (Acts 24:14; 1Corinthians 11:19; Galatians 5:20). Neither word gives quite the true meaning of the term in the New Testament, where it points rather to divisions than doctrines, and always to parties inside the Church, not to sects that have separated from it. The Greek word for “destruction” occurs six times in this short Epistle, according to the inferior texts used by our translators (in the best texts five times), and is rendered by them in no less than five different ways: “damnable” and “destruction” in this verse; “pernicious ways,” 2Peter 2:2; “damnation,” 2Peter 2:3; “perdition,” 2Peter 3:7; “destruction,” 2Peter 3:16.

Even denying the Lord that bought them.—Better, denying even the Master that bought them. (See Note on Jude 1:4.) The phrase is remarkable as coming from one who himself denied his Master. Would a forger have ventured to make St. Peter write thus?

This text is conclusive against Calvinistic doctrines of partial redemption; the Apostle declares that these impious false teachers were redeemed by Jesus Christ. (Comp. 1Peter 1:18.)

And bring upon themselves.—More literally, bringing upon themselves. The two participles, “denying” and “bringing,” without any conjunction to connect them, are awkward, and show that the writer’s strong feeling is already beginning to ruffle the smoothness of his language.

Swift destructioni.e., coming suddenly and unexpectedly, so as to preclude escape; not necessarily coming soon. (See first Note on 2Peter 1:14.) The reference, probably, is to Christ’s sudden return to judgment (2Peter 3:10), scoffing at which was one of the ways in which they “denied their Master.” By their lives they denied that He had “bought them.” He had bought them for His service, and they served their own lusts.

2 Peter

THE OWNER AND HIS SLAVES

2 Peter 2:1.

The institution of slavery was one of the greatest blots on ancient civilisation. It was twice cursed, cursing both parties, degrading each, turning the slave into a chattel, and the master, in many cases, into a brute. Christianity, as represented in the New Testament, never says a word to condemn it, but Christianity has killed it. ‘Make the tree good and its fruit good.’ Do not aim at institutions, change the people that live under them and you change them. Girdle the tree and it will die, and save you the trouble of felling it. But not only does Christianity never condemn slavery, though it was in dead antagonism to all its principles, and could not possibly survive where its principles were accepted, but it also takes this essentially immoral relation and finds a soul of goodness in the evil thing, which serves to illustrate the relation between God and man, between Christ and us. It does with slavery as it does with war, uses what is good in it as illustrating higher truths, and trusts to the operation, the slow operation of its deepest principles for its destruction.

So, then, we have one Apostle, in his letters, binding on his forehead as a crown the designation, ‘Paul,’ a slave of ‘Jesus Christ,’ and we have in my text an expanded allusion to slavery. The word that is here rendered rightly enough, ‘Lord,’ is the word which has been transferred into English as ‘despot,’ and it carries with it some suggestion of the roughness and absoluteness of authority which that word suggests to us. It does not mean merely ‘master,’ it means ‘owner,’ and it suggests an unconditional authority, to which the only thing in us that corresponds is abject and unconditional submission. That is what Christ is to you and me; the Lord, the Despot, the Owner.

But we have not only owner and slave here; we have one of the ugliest features of the institution referred to. You have the slave-market, ‘the Lord that bought them,’ and because He purchased them, owns them. Think of the hell of miseries that are connected with that practice of buying and selling human flesh, and then estimate the magnificent boldness of the metaphor which Peter does not scruple to take from it here, speaking of the owner who acquired them by a price. And not only that, but slaves will run away, and when they are stopped, and asked who they belong to, will say they know nothing about him. And so here is the runaway’s denial, ‘denying the Lord that bought them.’ Now I ask you to think of these three points.

I. Here we have the Owner of us all.

I do not need, I suppose, to spend a moment in showing you that this relationship, which is laid down in our text, subsists between Jesus Christ and men, and it subsists between Jesus Christ and all men. For the people about whom the Apostle is saying that they have ‘denied the Lord that bought them’ can, by no construction, be supposed to be true Christians, but were enemies that had crept into the Church without any real allegiance to Jesus Christ, and were trying to wreck it, and to destroy His work. So there is no reference here to a little elected group out of the midst of humanity, who especially belonged to Jesus Christ, and for whom the price has been paid; but the outlook of my text in its latter portion is as wide as humanity. The Lord--that is, Jesus Christ--owns all men.

Let me expand that thought in one or two illustrations which may help to make it perhaps more vivid. The slave’s owner has absolute authority over him. You remember the occasion when a Roman officer, by reflecting upon the military discipline of the legion, and the mystical power that the commander’s word had to set all his men in obedient activity, had come to the conclusion that, somehow or other, this Jesus whom he desired to heal his servant had a similar power in the material universe, and that just as he, subordinate officer though he was, had yet--by reason of the fact that he was ‘under authority,’ and an organ of a higher authority--the power to say to his servant, ‘Go,’ and he would go; and to another one, ‘Come,’ and he would come; so this Christ had power to say to disease, ‘Depart,’ and it would depart; and to health, ‘Come,’ and it would come; and to all the material forces of the universe, ‘Do this,’ and obediently they would do it. That is the picture, in another region, of the relation which Jesus Christ bears to men, though, alas, it is not the picture of the relation which men bear to Christ. But to all of us He has the right to say, wherever we are, ‘Come,’ the right to say, ‘Go,’ the right to say, ‘Do,’ the right to say, ‘Be this, that, and the other thing.’

Absolute authority is His; what should be yours? Unconditional submission. My friend, it is no use your calling yourself a Christian unless that is your attitude. My sermon to-night has something else to do than simply to present truths to you. It has to press truths on you, and to appeal not only to your feelings, not only to your understandings, but to your wills. And so I come with this question: Do you, dear friend, day by day, yield to the absolute Master the absolute submission? And is that rebellious will--which is in you, as it is in us all--tamed and submitted so as that you can say, ‘Speak, Lord! Thy servant heareth’? Is it?

Further, the owner has the right, as part of that absolute authority of which I have been speaking, to settle without appeal each man’s work. In those Eastern monarchies where the king was surrounded, not by constitutional ministers, but by his personal slaves, he made one man a shoeblack or a pipe-bearer, and the man standing next to him his prime minister. And neither the one nor the other had the right to say a word. Jesus Christ has the right to regulate your life in all its details, to set you your tasks. Some of us will get what the world vulgarly calls ‘more important duties’; some will get what the world ignorantly calls more ‘insignificant’ ones. What does that matter? It was our Owner that set us to our work, and if He tells us to black shoes, let us black them with all the pith of our elbows, and with the best blacking and brushes we can find; and if He sets us to work, which people think is more important and more conspicuous, let us do that too, in the same spirit, and for the same end.

Again, the owner has the absolute right of possession of all the slave’s possessions. He gets a little bit of land in the corner of his master’s plantation, and grows his vegetables, yams, pumpkins, a leaf of tobacco or two, or what not, there. And if his master comes along and says, ‘These are mine,’ the slave has no recourse, and is obliged to accept the conditions and to give them up. So Jesus Christ claims ours as well as us--ours because He claims us--and whilst, on the other hand, the surrender of external good is incomplete without the surrender of the inward will, on the other hand the abandonment and surrender of the inward life is incomplete, if it be not hypocritical, without the surrender of external possessions. All the slave’s goods belonged to the owner.

And the owner has another right. He can say, ‘Take that man’s child and sell him in the market!’ and he can break up the family ties and separate husband and wife, and parent and child, and not a word can be said. Our Master comes, not with rough authority, but with loving, though absolute authority, and He sometimes untwines the hands that are most closely clasped, and says to the one of the two that have grown together in love and blessedness, ‘Come!’ and he cometh, and to the other ‘Go!’ and she goeth. Blessed they who can say, ‘It is the Lord! Let Him do what seemeth Him good.’

Now, dear friends, this absolute authority cannot be exercised by any man upon another man, and this unconditional submission, which Jesus Christ asks from us all, ought not to be rendered by any man to a man. It is a degradation when a human creature is put even in the external relation of slavery and servitude to another human creature, but it is an honour when Jesus Christ says to me, ‘Thou art Mine,’ and I say to Him, ‘I am Thine, O Lord, truly I am Thy servant; Thou hast loosed my bonds.’ In the old Saxon monarchies, some antiquarians tell us, the foundation of our modern nobility or aristocracy is found in that the king’s servants became nobles. Jesus Christ’s slave is everybody else’s master. And it is the highest honour that a man can have to bow himself before that Lord, and to take His yoke upon him and learn of Him. So much, then, for my first point; now a word with regard to the second.

II. The sale, and the price.

‘The Lord that bought them.’ You perhaps remember other words which say, ‘Ye are bought with a price; be not the servants of men’; also other words of this Apostle himself, in which he speaks, in his other letter, of being ‘bought with the precious blood of Christ, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot.’ Now notice, Christ’s ownership of us does not depend on Christ’s Divinity, which I suppose most of us believe, but on Christ’s sacrifice for us. It is perfectly true that creation gives rights to the Creator. It is perfectly true that if we believe, as I think the New Testament teaches, that He, who before His name was Jesus was the Eternal Word of God, was the Agent of all Creation, and therefore has rights. But Christ’s heart does not care for rights of that sort. It wants something far deeper, far tenderer, far closer than any such. And He comes to us with the language that is the language of love over all the universe, as between man and woman, as between man and man, as between man and God, as between God and man, upon His lips, and says, ‘Thou must love Me, for I have died for thee.’ Yes, brother; the only ground upon which absolute possession of a man can be rested is the ground of prior absolute surrender to Him. Christ must give Himself to me before He can ask me to give myself to Him. So all that was apparently harsh in the relationship, as I have been trying to set it forth to you, melts away and disappears. No owner ever owned a slave as truly as a loving woman owns her husband, or a loving husband his wife, because the ownership is the expression of perfect love on both sides. And that is the golden bond that binds men’s souls to Christ in a submission which, the more abject it is, the more elevating it is, just because ‘He loved me, and gave Himself for me.’

I do not dwell upon any cold theological doctrine of an Atonement, but I wish you to feel that deep in this great metaphor of our text there lie the two things; first, the price that was paid, and, second, the bondage from which the slave was delivered. He belonged to another master before Christ bought him for Himself. ‘He that committeth sin is the slave of sin.’ Some of you are your own despots, your own tyrants. The worse half of you has got the upper hand. The mutineers that ought to have been down under hatches, and shackled, have taken possession of the deck and clapped the captain and the officers, and all the sextants and log-books, away into a corner, and they are driving the ship--that is, you--on to the rocks, as hard as they can. A man that is not Christ’s slave has a far worse slavery in submitting to these tyrant sins that have tempted him with the notion of how fine it is to break through these old-womanly restraints and conventional fads of a narrow morality, and to have his fling, and do as he likes and follow nature. Ay, some of you have been doing that, and could write a far better commentary than any preacher ever wrote, out of your own experience, on the great words, ‘Whilst they promised them liberty, they themselves are the slaves of corruption!’ Young men, is that true about any of you--that you came here into Manchester to a situation, and lonely lodgings, comparatively innocent, and that somebody said, ‘Oh, do not be a milksop! come along and see life,’ and you thought it was fine to shake off the shackles that your poor old mother used to try to put upon your limbs? And what have you made of it? I will tell you what a great many young men have made of it--I have seen scores of them in the forty years that I have been preaching here: ‘His bones are full of the iniquity of his youth, which shall lie down with him in the dust.’

There is a slavery which is blessedness, and there is a slavery which at first is delightsome to the worst part of us, and afterwards becomes bitter and deadly. And it is the bondage of sin, the bondage to my worst self, the bondage to my indulged passions, the bondage to other men, the bondage to the material world. Jesus Christ speaks to each of us in His great sacrifice, by which He says to us, ‘The Son will make you free, and you shall be free indeed.’ The Lord has bought us. Have you let Him emancipate you from all your bondage? Dear friends, bear with me if I press again upon you, I pray God that it may ring in your ears till you can answer that question, Jesus Christ having bought me, do I belong to Him?

III. And now, lastly, notice the runaways.

Did it ever occur to you what a pathetic force there is in Peter’s picking out that word ‘denying’ as the shorthand expression for all sorts of sins? Who was it that thrice denied that he knew Him? That experience went very deep into the Apostle; and here, as I take it, is a most significant illustration of his penitent remembrance of his past life, all the more significant because of its reticence. The allusion is one that nobody could catch that did not know his past, but which to those who did know it was full of meaning and of pathos:--’Denying the Lord, as I did on that dismal morning, in the High Priest’s palace. I am speaking about it, for I know what it comes to, and the tears that will follow after.’

But what I desire to press upon you, dear friends, is just this: That in that view of the lives of people who are not Christians there is suggested to us the essential sinfulness, the black ingratitude, and the absolute folly of refusing to acknowledge the claims of Him to whom we belong, and who has bought us at such a price. You can do it by word, and perhaps some of us are not guiltless in that respect. You can do it by paring down the character and office of Jesus Christ, and minimising the importance of His sacrifice from the world’s sins, and thinking of Him, not as the Owner that bought us, but as the Master that teaches us. You can do it by cowardly hiding of your colours and being too shamefaced, too sensitive to the curled lip of the man that works at the next bench, or sits at the next desk, or the student that is beside you, or somebody else whose opinion you esteem, which prevents you from saying like a man, ‘I belong to Jesus Christ, and whomsoever other people serve, as for me, I am going to serve Him.’ And you can do it, and many of you are doing it, by simply ignoring His claims, refusing to turn to Him, not yielding up your will to Him, not turning your heart to Him, not setting your dependence upon Him. Is it not a shame that men, whose hearts will glow with thankfulness when another man, especially if he is a superior, comes to them with some gift, valuable, but nothing as compared with the transcendent gift that Christ brings, will yet let Him die for them and not care anything about Him? I can understand the vehement antagonism that some people have to Christ and Christianity, but what I cannot understand is the attitude of the immense mass of people that come to services like this, who profess to believe that Jesus Christ’s love for them brought Him to the cross, and yet will not even pay the poor tribute of a little interest and a momentary inclination of heart towards Him. ‘Is it nothing to you, all ye that pass by,’ that Jesus Christ died for you? He bought you for His own. Let me beseech you to ‘yield yourselves’ servants, slaves of Christ, and then you will be free, and you will hear Him say in the very depth of your hearts, ‘Henceforth I call you not slaves, but friends.’2 Peter 2:1. But — Now that I am speaking of the divinely-inspired Jewish prophets, whose writings you must give heed to, I must remind you that there were also false prophets among the people — Of Israel, whose doctrine and pretended predictions were to be disbelieved and disregarded, and whose society was to be shunned. Under the name of false prophets, that appeared among the Israelites of old, those that even spake the truth, when God had not sent them, might be comprehended; and also those that were truly sent of him, and yet corrupted or softened their message. Even as there shall be false teachers — As well as true; among you — Christians. The entrance of false teachers into the church of Christ, their impious doctrines, their success in perverting many, and the influence of their doctrines in corrupting the morals of their disciples, were all very early made known by the Spirit to the Apostle Paul, as we learn from his speech to the elders of Ephesus, and from his epistles to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, and to Titus. The same discoveries were made to the Apostles Peter, John, and Jude, who, as well as Paul, published them in their writings, that the faithful might oppose these false teachers, and confute their errors, as soon as they appeared. Peter, therefore, here records the revelation which was made to him concerning the false teachers who were to arise in the church, and concerning their destructive ways. But, lest the prospect of these great evils should grieve the faithful too much, as suggesting a fear that God had forsaken his church, he observes, by way of preface, that such a thing was not unexampled; because that, together with many true prophets, there were also many false ones in God’s ancient church, which, however, God had not therefore forsaken, but continued to superintend and take care of it. Who privily shall bring in — Into the church; damnable, or destructive heresies — As αιρεσεις απωλειας signifies; understanding by the word heresies not only fundamental errors in doctrine and practice, but divisions and parties occasioned by them, formed among the faithful. See note on 1 Corinthians 11:18-19. Even denying the Lord that bought them — They either, first, by denying the Lord, introduced destructive divisions, or they occasioned first those divisions, and then were given up to a reprobate mind, even to deny the Lord, both by their doctrine and their works. By the Lord here may be understood either the Father, who hath redeemed mankind by the blood of his Son, or the Son, who hath bought them with his own blood. Observe, reader, the persons here spoken of as denying the Lord, and therefore as perishing everlastingly, were nevertheless bought by him; by which it appears that even those who finally perish were bought with the blood of Christ; a full proof this of the truth of the doctrine of general, redemption. And bring upon themselves swift destruction — Future and eternal misery.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.But there were false prophets also among the people - In the previous chapter, 2 Peter 2:19-21, Peter had appealed to the prophecies as containing unanswerable proofs of the truth of the Christian religion. He says, however, that he did not mean to say that all who claimed to be prophets were true messengers of God. There were many who pretended to be such, who only led the people astray. It is unnecessary to say, that such men have abounded in all ages where there have been true prophets.

Even as there shall be false teachers among you - The fact that false teachers would arise in the church is often adverted to in the New Testament. Compare Matthew 24:5, Matthew 24:24; Acts 20:29-30.

Who privily - That is, in a secret manner, or under plausible arts and pretences. They would not at first make an open avowal of their doctrines, but would, in fact, while their teachings seemed to be in accordance with truth, covertly maintain opinions which would sap the very foundations of religion. The Greek word here used, and which is rendered "who privily shall bring in," (παρεισάγω pareisagō,) means properly "to lead in by the side of others; to lead in along with others." Nothing could better express the usual way in which error is introduced. It is "by the side," or "along with," other doctrines which are true; that is, while the mind is turned mainly to other subjects, and is off its guard, gently and silently to lay down some principle, which, being admitted, would lead to the error, or from which the error would follow as a natural consequence. Those who inculcate error rarely do it openly. If they would at once boldly "deny the Lord that bought them," it would be easy to meet them, and the mass of professed Christians would be in no danger of embracing the error. But when principles are laid down which may lead to that; when doubts on remote points are suggested which may involve it; or when a long train of reasoning is pursued which may secretly tend to it; there is much more probability that the mind will be corrupted from the truth.

Damnable heresies - αἱρέσεις ἀπωλείας haireseis apōleias. "Heresies of destruction;" that is, heresies that will be followed by destruction. The Greek word which is rendered "damnable," is the same which in the close of the verse is rendered "destruction." It is so rendered also in Matthew 7:13; Romans 9:22; Philippians 3:19; 2 Peter 3:16 - in all of which places it refers to the future loss of the soul The same word also is rendered "perdition" in John 17:12; Philippians 1:28; 1 Timothy 6:9; Hebrews 10:39; 2 Peter 3:7; Revelation 17:8, Revelation 17:11 - in all which places it has the same reference. On the meaning of the word rendered "heresies," see the Acts 24:14 note; 1 Corinthians 11:19 note. The idea of "sect" or "party" is that which is conveyed by this word, rather than doctrinal errors; but it is evident that in this case the formation of the sect or party, as is the fact in most cases, would be founded on error of doctrine.

The thing which these false teachers would attempt would be divisions, alienations, or parties, in the church, but these would be based on the erroneous doctrines which they would promulgate. What would be the particular doctrine in this case is immediately specified, to wit, that they "would deny the Lord that bought them." The idea then is, that these false teachers would form sects or parties in the church, of a destructive or ruinous nature, founded on a denial of the Lord that bought them. Such a formation of sects would be ruinous to piety, to good morals, and to the soul. The authors of these sects, holding the views which they did, and influenced by the motives which they would be, and practicing the morals which they would practice, as growing out of their principles, would bring upon themselves swift and certain destruction. It is not possible now to determine to what particular class of errorists the apostle had reference here, but it is generally supposed that it was to some form of the Gnostic belief. There were many early sects of so-called "heretics" to whom what he here says would be applicable.

Even denying the Lord that bought them - This must mean that they held doctrines which were in fact a denial of the Lord, or the tendency of which would be a denial of the Lord, for it cannot be supposed that, while they professed to be Christians, they would openly and avowedly deny him. To "deny the Lord" may be either to deny his existence, his claims, or his attributes; it is to withhold from him, in our belief and profession, anything which is essential to a proper conception of him. The particular thing, however, which is mentioned here as entering into that self-denial, is something connected with the fact that he had ""bought"" them. It was such a denial of the Lord "as having bought them," as to be in fact a renunciation of the uniqueness of the Christian religion. There has been much difference of opinion as to the meaning of the word "Lord" in this place - whether it refers to God the Father. or to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek word is Δεσπότης Despotēs. Many expositors have maintained that it refers to the Father, and that when it is said that he had "bought" them, it means in a general sense that he was the Author of the plan of redemption, and had causeD them to be purchased or redeemed. Michaelis supposes that the Gnostics are referred to as denying the Father by asserting that he was not the Creator of the universe, maintaining that it was created by an inferior being - Introduction to New Testament, iv. 360. Whitby, Benson, Slade, and many others, maintain that this refers to the Father as having originated the plan by which men are redeemed; and the same opinion is held, of necessity, by those who deny the doctrine of general atonement. The only arguments to show that it refers to God the Father would be,

(1) that the word used here Δεσπότην Despotēn is not the usual term (κύριος kurios) by which the Lord Jesus is designated in the New Testament; and,

(2) that the admission that it refers to the Lord Jesus would lead inevitably to the conclusion that some will perish for whom Christ died.

That it does, however, refer to the Lord Jesus, seems to me to be plain from the following considerations:

(1) It is the obvious interpretation; that which would be given by the great mass of Christians, and about which there could never have been any hesitancy if it had not been supposed that it would lead to the doctrine of general atonement. As to the alleged fact that the word used, Δεσπότης Despotēs, is not that which is commonly applied to the Lord Jesus, that may be admitted to be true, but still the word here may be understood as applied to him. It properly means "a master" as opposed to a servant; then it is used as denoting supreme authority, and is thus applied to God, and may be in that sense to the Lord Jesus Christ, as head over all things, or as having supreme authority over the church. It occurs in the New Testament only in the following places: 1 Timothy 6:1-2; Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18, where it is rendered "masters;" Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24,; Revelation 6:10, where it is rendered "Lord," and is applied to God; and in Jde 1:4, and in the passage before us, in both which places it is rendered "Lord," and is probably to be regarded as applied to the Lord Jesus. There is nothing in the proper signification of the word which would forbid this.

(2) the phrase is one that is properly applicable to the Lord Jesus as having "bought" us with his blood. The Greek word is ἀγοράζω agorazō - a word which means properly "to market, to buy, to purchase," and then to redeem, or acquire for oneself by a price paid, or by a ransom. It is rendered "buy" or "bought" in the following places in the New Testament: Matthew 13:44, Matthew 13:46; Matthew 14:15; Matthew 21:12; Matthew 25:9-10; Matthew 27:7; Mark 6:36-37; Mark 11:15; Mark 15:46; Mark 16:1; Luke 9:13; Luke 14:18-19; Luke 17:28; Luke 19:45; Luke 22:36; John 4:8; John 6:5; John 13:29; 1 Corinthians 7:30; Revelation 3:18; Revelation 13:17; Revelation 18:11 - in all which places it is applicable to ordinary transactions of "buying." In the following places it is also rendered "bought," as applicable to the redeemed, as being bought or purchased by the Lord Jesus: 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23, "Ye are 'bought' with a price;" and in the following places it is rendered "redeemed," Revelation 5:9; Revelation 14:3-4. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It is true that in a large sense this word might be applied to the Father as having caused his people to be redeemed, or as being the Author of the plan of redemption; but it is also true that the word is more properly applicable to the Lord Jesus, and that, when used with reference to redemption, it is uniformly given to him in the New Testament. Compare the passages referred to above.

It is strictly and properly true only of the Son of God that he has "bought" us. The Father indeed is represented as making the arrangement, as giving his Son to die, and as the great Source of all the blessings secured by redemption; but the "purchase" was actually made by the Son of God by his sacrifice on the cross. Whatever there was of the nature of "a price" was paid by him; and whatever obligations may grow out of the fact that we are purchased or ransomed are due particularly to him; 2 Corinthians 5:15. These considerations seem to me to make it clear that Peter referred here to the Lord Jesus Christ, and that he meant to say that the false teachers mentioned held doctrines which were in fact a "denial" of that Saviour. He does not specify particularly what constituted such a denial; but it is plain that any doctrine which represented him, his person, or his work, as essentially different from what was the truth, would amount to such a denial.

If he were Divine, and that fact was denied, making him wholly a different being; if he actually made an expiatory sacrifice by his death, and that fact was denied, and he was held to be a mere religious teacher, changing essentially the character of the work which he came to perform; if he, in some proper sense, "bought" them with his blood, and that fact was denied in such a way that according to their views it was not strictly proper to speak of him as having bought them at all, which would be the case if he were a mere prophet or religious teacher, then it is clear that such a representation would be in fact a denial of his true nature and work. That some of these views entered into their denial of him is clear, for it was with reference to the fact that he had bought them, or redeemed them, that they denied him.

And bring upon themselves swift destruction - The destruction here referred to can be only that which will occur in the future world, for there can be no evidence that Peter meant to say that this would destroy their health, their property, or their lives. The Greek word (ἀπώλειαν apōleian) is the same which is used in the former part of the verse, in the phrase "damnable heresies." See the notes. In regard, then, to this important passage, we may remark:

continued...

CHAPTER 2

2Pe 2:1-22. False Teachers to Arise: Them Bad Practices and Sure Destruction, from Which the Godly Shall Be Delivered, as Lot Was.

1. But—in contrast to the prophets "moved by the Holy Ghost" (2Pe 1:21).

also—as well as the true prophets (2Pe 1:19-21). Paul had already testified the entrance of false prophets into the same churches.

among the people—Israel: he is writing to believing Israelites primarily (see on [2629]1Pe 1:1). Such a "false prophet" was Balaam (2Pe 2:15).

there shall be—Already symptoms of the evil were appearing (2Pe 2:9-22; Jude 4-13).

false teachers—teachers of falsehood. In contrast to the true teachers, whom he exhorts his readers to give heed to (2Pe 3:2).

who—such as (literally, "the which") shall.

privily—not at first openly and directly, but by the way, bringing in error by the side of the true doctrine (so the Greek): Rome objects, Protestants cannot point out the exact date of the beginnings of the false doctrines superadded to the original truth; we answer, Peter foretells us it would be so, that the first introduction of them would be stealthy and unobserved (Jude 4).

damnable—literally, "of destruction"; entailing destruction (Php 3:19) on all who follow them.

heresies—self-chosen doctrines, not emanating from God (compare "will-worship," Col 2:23).

even—going even to such a length as to deny both in teaching and practice. Peter knew, by bitter repentance, what a fearful thing it is to deny the Lord (Lu 22:61, 62).

denying—Him whom, above all others, they ought to confess.

Lord—"Master and Owner" (Greek), compare Jude 4, Greek. Whom the true doctrine teaches to be their Owner by right of purchase. Literally, "denying Him who bought them (that He should be thereby), their Master."

bought them—Even the ungodly were bought by His "precious blood." It shall be their bitterest self-reproach in hell, that, as far as Christ's redemption was concerned, they might have been saved. The denial of His propitiatory sacrifice is included in the meaning (compare 1Jo 4:3).

bring upon themselves—compare "God bringing in the flood upon the world," 2Pe 2:5. Man brings upon himself the vengeance which God brings upon him.

swift—swiftly descending: as the Lord's coming shall be swift and sudden. As the ground swallowed up Korah and Dathan, and "they went down quick into the pit." Compare Jude 11, which is akin to this passage.2 Peter 2:1-6 The apostle foretelleth the appearance of false

teachers, the impiety of them and their followers,

and the judgments that would overtake them.

2 Peter 2:7-9 The godly shall be delivered, as Lot was out of Sodom.

2 Peter 2:10-19 The wicked principles and manners of these seducers

described.

2 Peter 2:20-22 The mischief of relapsing into sin.

But there were false prophets also: the apostle having

been exhorting them to continuance and progress in faith, admonishes

them here of such as might labour to draw them from it; and having

made mention of the Old Testament prophets, holy men of God, he hereby

takes occasion to tell them of, and caution them against, false

teachers which would be among themselves. This also in the text

plainly relates to what went before: q.d. Together with those

prophets which were sent by God, there were likewise false prophets,

such as were not sent of him.

Among the people; the people of Israel.

Even as there shall be false teachers; teachers of false doctrine,

Matthew 7:15 Acts 20:29.

Among you; among you Jewish, as well as among the Gentile

Christians; or, among you as Christians and God’s people under the New

Testament, in opposition to the people of God under the Old.

Who shall privily bring in: the Greek word signifies either to

bring in slily and craftily, under specious pretences, and without

being observed, Galatians 2:4 Judges 1:4; or, to bring in over and above,

or beside the doctrine of the gospel, which they did not renounce; or

both may be implied.

Damnable heresies; Greek, heresies of destruction, i.e.

destructive, such as lead to destruction, viz. eternal, or damnation.

Even denying; either in their words or their practices, either

directly, or by consequence of their doctrines or actions; they that

profess they know God, but contradict that profession in their lives,

are said to deny him, Titus 1:16.

The Lord; either:

1. God the Father, so called, Luke 2:29 Acts 4:24, &c., and probably

Revelation 6:10; nor is there any necessity, but, Judges 1:4, the

word may be understood of God the Father. Or rather:

2. Christ.

That bought them: if we understand it of God the Father, the sense

is, either:

1. Denying God that bought them, or acquired them and made them his,

viz. by calling them out of the darkness and gross wickedness of

the world, to the knowledge of Christ and the gospel, and the

fellowship of his church. In this general sense the word buying is

sometimes taken, Isaiah 55:1 Revelation 3:18. Or:

2. Denying God that bought the people of Israel (whereof these false

teachers that should be among the Christian Jews were to be a part)

out of Egypt, to make them his peculiar people, whereof they would

boast themselves, and yet by their wicked practices deny that God

that bought them; the words seem to be taken out of Deu 32:6:

Is not he thy Father that hath bought thee? As likewise from

2 Peter 2:5 of that chapter. Peter calls them spots, 2 Peter 2:13

of this chapter.

But if we understand it of Christ, which seems most probable, the

sense is, either:

1. That Christ bought or redeemed them, (in which sense the word is

sometimes taken), in that by his death he purchased the continuance

of their lives, and the staying of their execution, and rescued

them from that present destruction which, without Christ’s

interposition, had seized on them, as it had likewise on the whole

visible creation immediately upon the apostacy of mankind. Or:

2. This is spoken not only of their pretences, that they should

profess themselves redeemed by Christ, but in the style of the

visible church, which should judge them to be so till they declared

the contrary by their wicked actions; and it likewise holds true in

a forensical or judicial style, according to which whosoever

professeth himself to be redeemed by Christ, and yet denies him in

his deeds, is said to deny the Lord that bought him; it being alike

as to the greatness of the crime, whether he be really redeemed,

or, professing himself to be so, denies his Redeemer.

And bring upon themselves swift destruction; shall hasten their

own destruction, it may be temporal in this world; to be sure, eternal

in the other. It may be called

swift, as coming upon them

unawares, and when they think least of it, as 1 Thessalonians 5:3.

But there were false prophets also among the people,.... As well as holy men of God, who gave out prophecies, by the inspiration and impulse of the Holy Spirit; that is, among the people of the Jews, God's professing people, whose God was the Lord, and who had chosen them to be a special and peculiar people, above all people of the earth; and had distinguished them by his favours from all others: among these, though the Syriac version reads "in the world", there were false prophets, who ran, and were not sent; and who prophesied, and the Lord spake not to them: of these there were many in Jeremiah's time, and in the times of Ezekiel; and in Ahab's time, besides the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal, slain by Elijah, there were four hundred that called themselves the prophets of the Lord; among whom went forth a lying spirit, encouraging Ahab to go up to Ramoth Gilead, promising him prosperity and success; Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah, with whom Micaiah, the true prophet, had much contention, was at the head of them; and such there were among that people in all ages, until the times of Christ, and in his likewise; see Matthew 7:15 now from these, by an easy transition, the apostle proceeds to another part of his design in this epistle, to describe the characters of false teachers under the present dispensation, that saints may beware, and avoid their pernicious principles and practices:

even as there shall be false teachers among you; which need not to be wondered at, or stumble any, it being no new or strange thing, but what was always more or less the case of the people of God. This is a prophecy of what should be, and agrees with the prediction of our Lord, Matthew 24:11 and which regards not only the times immediately following, in which it had a remarkable fulfilment, for false teachers now began to arise, and appeared in great numbers in the age succeeding the apostles, but to all periods of time from hence, to the second coming of Christ; and these were to spring from, and be among such that bore the Christian name, and so regards not Mahometans and Deists; and it is to be observed, that the phrase is varied in this clause, and these are called not "prophets" but "teachers": because as prophecy was more peculiar to the former dispensation, so is teaching to the present:

who privily shall bring in damnable heresies: errors in the fundamental doctrines of the Gospel; such as relate to a trinity of persons in the Godhead; and to the person of Christ, to his proper deity, distinct personality, eternal sonship, and real humanity; and to his office as Mediator, rejecting him as the true Messiah, and as the only Saviour of sinners; denying his sacrifice and satisfaction, and the imputation of his righteousness; and to the Holy Spirit, his deity, personality, and divine influences and operations: these are "damnable", or "destructive", or "heresies of destruction"; which lead to eternal destruction both those that introduce and propagate them, and those that embrace and profess them; for they remove, or attempt to remove, the foundation of eternal life and happiness: the manner in which these are usually introduced is "privily"; at unawares, secretly, under a disguise, and gradually, by little and little, and not at once, and openly; and which is the constant character and practice of such men, who lie in wait to deceive, creep into churches at unawares, and into houses privately; and insinuate their principles under specious pretences and appearances of truth, using the hidden things of dishonesty, walking in craftiness, handling the word of God deceitfully, and colouring things with false glosses and feigned words: and even denying the Lord that bought them; not the Lord Jesus Christ, but God the Father; for the word is not here used, which always is where Christ is spoken of as the Lord, but and which is expressive of the power which masters have over their servants (i), and which God has over all mankind; and wherever this word is elsewhere used, it is spoken of God the Father, whenever applied to a divine person, as in Luke 2:29 and especially this appears to be the sense, from the parallel text in Jde 1:4 where the Lord God denied by those men is manifestly distinguished from our Lord Jesus Christ, and by whom these persons are said to be bought: the meaning is not that they were redeemed by the blood of Christ, for Christ is not intended; and besides, whenever redemption by Christ is spoken of, the price is usually mentioned, or some circumstance or another which fully determines the sense; see Acts 20:28 whereas here is not the least hint of anything of this kind: add to this, that such who are redeemed by Christ are the elect of God only, the people of Christ, his sheep and friends, and church, and who are never left to deny him so as to perish eternally; for could such be lost, or deceive, or be deceived finally and totally by damnable heresies, and bring on themselves swift destruction, Christ's purchase would be in vain, and the ransom price be paid for nought; but the word "bought" regards temporal mercies and deliverance, which these men enjoyed, and is used as an aggravation of their sin in denying the Lord; both by words, delivering out such tenets as are derogatory to the glory of the divine perfections, and which deny one or other of them, and of his purposes, providence, promises, and truths; and by works, turning the doctrine of the grace of God into lasciviousness, being disobedient and reprobate to every good work; that they should act this part against the Lord who had made them, and upheld them in their beings and took care of them in his providence, and had followed them with goodness and mercy all the days of their lives; just as Moses aggravates the ingratitude of the Jews in Deuteronomy 32:6 from whence this phrase is borrowed, and to which it manifestly refers: "do ye thus requite the Lord, O foolish people and unwise! is not he thy Father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?" nor is this the only place the apostle refers to in this chapter, see 2 Peter 2:12 compared with Deuteronomy 32:5 and it is to be observed, that the persons he writes to were Jews, who were called the people the Lord had redeemed and purchased, Exodus 15:13 and so were the first false teachers that rose up among them; and therefore this phrase is very applicable to them:

and bring upon themselves swift destruction; either in this life, being suddenly cut off in the midst of their days, and by the immediate hand of God, as Arius and other heretics have been; or eternal damnation in the other, which their tenets lead unto, and which will swiftly come upon them when they are promising themselves peace and safety.

(i) Vid. Ammonium , in voce

But {1} there were false prophets also among the {a} people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

(1) As in times past there were two kinds of prophets, the one true and the other false, so Peter tells them that there will be true and false teachers in the Church, so much so that Christ himself will be denied by some, who nonetheless will call him redeemer.

(a) Under the law, while the state and policy of the Jews was yet standing.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Peter 2:1. From here onwards: a description of the false teachers, who were to arise in the church, and a warning against them.

ἐγένοντο δὲ καὶ ψευδοπροφῆται] δέ: antithesis to what goes before. καί: “also,” that is, besides the true prophets mentioned in chap. 2 Peter 1:21. The expression: ψευδοπροφήτης, already in the O. T. LXX., e.g. Jeremiah 6:13, frequently in the N. T., not after the analogy of ψευδολόγος: “one who prophesies falsely,” but: “one who falsely gives himself out for a prophet,” on the analogy of ψευδάδελφος, ψευδαπόστολος.

ἐν τῷ λαῷ] i.e. among the people of Israel. These words are in form a principal clause, but in thought a secondary clause: as there were false prophets in Israel, so will there be also among you, etc.

ὡς καὶψευδοδιδάσκαλοι] ἔσονται; designates the ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι as such, who would arise only in the future. They are afterwards pictured as actually present; see on this, the Introd. § 2, p. 281. The expression ψευδοδιδ. is in the N. T. ἅπ. λεγ.; Wiesinger and Brückner interpret: “such as teach lies;” Dietlein and Fronmüller: “such as lyingly pretend to be teachers.” The analogy of ψευδοπροφ., with which it is here contrasted, makes the last the preferable interpretation (thus, too, Hofmann). Both result in the same sense (Schott); what the ψευδοπροφῆται were in the O. T., the ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι are in the N. T.

οἵτινες] equivalent to quippe qui, “such as.”

παρεισάξουσι] cf. Judges 1:4 : “to introduce by the side of,” with the secondary idea of secrecy.[61]

αἱρέσεις ἀπωλείας] αἱρέσεις, according to N. T. usage, “party-divisions,” cf. 1 Corinthians 11:19 (synonymous with σχίσματα); Galatians 5:20 (synonymous with διχοστασίαι); also Titus 3:10, which have their origin in false doctrine; thus Brückner, Wiesinger, Schott, etc.; Hofmann, too, says that the word is to be taken in no sense different from that which it has elsewhere in the N. T., but then interprets it as equivalent to “particular systems of opinion,” thus attributing to it a meaning which it has nowhere else. Others take αἵρεσις here to mean “false doctrine, heresy” (Bengel, de Wette, Fronmüller). This interpretation is better suited to the connection, and especially to the verb παρεισάγειν. In the N. T., doubtless, the word has not this meaning, yet Ignatius already uses it with this force. ἀπωλείας (which is not to be resolved into the adject. “destructive”) designates the heresies as those which lead to ἀπώλεια; cf. 2 Peter 2:2-3.

καὶ τὸν ἀγοράσανταἀπώλειαν] Winer (5th ed. p. 399 f.) translates: “since they also, denying the Lord, draw upon themselves swift destruction;” but the connection of καί with ἐπάγοντες, so far removed from it by τὸν ἀγοράσαντα κ.τ.λ., cannot be justified. Fronmüller connects the member of the clause beginning with καί not with the relative clause οἵτινες, but with ἔσονται ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι. This construction was formerly supported in this commentary, with the remark, however, that a particular species of false doctrine was not, as Fronmüller assumes, indicated here, but that the participial clause more nearly defined the ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι, καί being here put in the sense of: “and withal;” this construction, however, is anything but natural. The καί must undoubtedly be connected with the clause immediately preceding, though not as a simple copula, but in the sense of “also;” thus de Wette and Wiesinger,[62] taking καί as an intensification, equivalent to “even:” “whilst they deny even the Lord who bought them.” On the other hand, Hofmann does not admit any such intensification, and takes καί as equivalent to “also,” in the sense of addition, and interprets: “with their particular systems they break up the unity of the church, which, however, they do not do without at the same time denying the Lord.” But, on this interpretation, it is not clear why the author did not put the finite verb instead of the partic. ἀρνούμενοι; the thought, too, that they break up the unity of the church, is simply imported. The participle shows that this clause is meant to serve as an explanation or a more precise definition of what goes before. De Wette’s view, accordingly, is to be preferred to that of Hofmann; it is, however, also possible that Schott is right in assuming an irregularity of the construction, in that the author, led astray by the participle ἀρνούμενοι, wrote the participle ἐπάγοντες instead of the finite verb ἐπάξουσι; in which case καί must be taken as a simple copula.

The participle ἐπάγοντες is connected in a loose fashion with what precedes, in the sense: “by which they,” etc. The ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι are more precisely characterized as: τὸν ἀγοράσαντα αὐτοὺς δεσπότην ἀρνούμενοι; with ἀρνούμενοι, cf. Judges 1:4; Bengel correctly: doctrina et operibus. By δεσπότην Christ is here meant; the author speaks of Him thus, in order to lay stress on the fact that they deny that Christ is the Lord; ἀγοράσαντα αὐτούς is added by way of emphasis: they deny the Lord who “bought” them, i.e. procured them for Himself by paying the purchase price. This does not only serve to emphasize more strongly what is reprehensible in the ἀρνεῖσθαι, but points out also that they deny the act to which allusion is made, and by which He has become their Lord. With ἀγοράζειν, cf. 1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23; Revelation 5:9; the blood of Christ must be thought of as the purchase price.

ἐπάγοντες ἑαυτοῖς ταχινὴν ἀπώλειαν] With ἐπάγ. ἑαυτοῖς, cf. 2 Peter 2:5, as also Acts 5:28. ἑαυτοῖς indicates that they prepare an ἀπώλεια not only for others (αἱρέσεις ἀπωλείας), but for themselves.

With ταχινήν, see chap. 2 Peter 1:14, not: a speedy ἀπώλεια; Hornejus correctly: inopinatam et inexspectatam; the destruction will come over them suddenly, and before they are aware of it (Schott, Fronmüller, Hofmann).

[61] Hofmann is wrong in asserting that in classical Greek παρεισάγειν has not the secondary meaning of secrecy; the verb occurs both with this secondary meaning and without it, see Pape, s.v.

[62]
Winer (6th ed. p. 314 [E. T. 441], 7th ed. p. 329) says: “Both participles, ἀρν. and ἐπάγ., are connected with παρεισάξουσιν; they are not, however, co-ordinate with each other, but ἐπάγοντες is annexed to the clause οἵτινεςἀρνούμενοι;” he does not state how καί is to he understood.2 Peter 2:1-3. The False Teachers and their Judgment. “Yet there were also false prophets in the ancient community, just as among you there will be false teachers. They will not hesitate to introduce alongside the truth corrupting heresies, even denying their Redeemer, and bringing on themselves swift destruction. Many will imitate their vicious example, and thereby the way of truth will be discredited. Nay, further, actuated by covetousness, they will make merchandise of you by lying words. Yet you must not think that the judgment passed on all such long ago is inactive. Their destruction is awaiting them.”1. But there were false prophets also among the people] The section of the Epistle which now opens contains so many parallelisms with the Epistle of St Jude that we can scarcely avoid the conclusion that one was derived from the other, or both from a common source. For a discussion of the questions which thus present themselves see Introduction. As regards the meaning of the words it is again an open question whether the Apostle refers to the remoter past of the history of Israel, to the false prophets of the days of Ahab (1 Kings 22:12), or Isaiah (Isaiah 9:15, Isaiah 28:7), or Jeremiah (Jeremiah 14:14; Jeremiah 27:10), or Ezekiel (Ezekiel 13:3), or Zechariah (Zechariah 13:4), or to those who in his own time had deceived the “people” (the distinctive term for “Israel”) in Jerusalem. The warnings against false prophets in our Lord’s discourses (Matthew 7:22; Matthew 24:24), and the like warnings in 1 John 4:1, make it probable that he had chiefly the latter class in view. In the Greek compound noun (pseudo-didaskaloi) for “false teachers” we have another word peculiar to St Peter. The word was, perhaps, chosen as including in its range not only those who came with a direct claim to prophetic inspiration, but all who without authority should appear as teachers of a doctrine that was not true, and, as such, it would include the Judaizing teachers on the one side, the Gnosticizing teachers on the other. Comp. the distinction between “prophets” and “teachers” in Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:29.

who privily shall bring in] The verb is that from which was formed the adjective which St Paul uses for the “false brethren unawares brought in” (Galatians 2:4). Are we justified in thinking that St Peter speaks of the same class of Judaizing teachers, or that he uses the word as indicating that it was applicable to others also, who were, it might be, at the opposite extreme of error?

damnable heresies] Literally, heresies of destruction. The word “heresy,” literally, “the choice of a party,” was used by later Greek writers for a philosophic sect or school like that of the Stoics or Epicureans, and hence, as in Acts 5:17; Acts 15:5; Acts 24:5; Acts 26:5; Acts 28:22; 1 Corinthians 11:19, for a “sect” or “party” in the Church, and thence, again, for the principles characterizing such a sect, and so it passed to the ecclesiastical sense of “heresy.” The English adjective “damnable” hardly expresses the force of the Greek genitive, which indicates that the leading characteristic of the heresies of which the Apostle speaks was that they led men to “destruction” or “perdition.” Comp. the use of the same word in 1 Timothy 6:9. It may be noted that it is a word specially characteristic of this Epistle, in which it occurs six times; twice here, and in 2 Peter 2:2-3, and chap. 2 Peter 3:7; 2 Peter 3:16.

even denying the Lord that bought them] The word for Lord (despotes), literally, a master as contrasted with a slave (1 Timothy 6:1-2), is used of Christ here, in the hymn, which we may fairly connect with St Peter, in Acts 4:24, in Revelation 6:10, and, in conjunction with the more common word for Lord (Kyrios), in Jdg 1:4. Here the choice of the word was probably determined by the connexion with the idea of “buying,” as a master buys a slave. The use of that word presents a parallelism with the thought of 1 Peter 1:18, and here, as there, we have to think of the “precious blood of Christ” as the price that had been paid. No words could better assert the truth that the redemption so wrought was universal in its range than these. The sin of the teachers of these “heresies of perdition” was that they would not accept the position of redeemed creatures which of right belonged to them. The “denial” referred to may refer either to a formal rejection of Christ as the Son of God, like that of 1 John 2:22-23, or to the practical denial of base and ungodly lives. The former is, perhaps, more prominently in view, but both are probably included. We cannot read the words without recollecting that the writer had himself, in one memorable instance, denied his Lord (Matthew 26:69-75). In his case, however, the denial came from a passing cowardice and was followed by an immediate repentance. That which he here condemns was more persistent and malignant in its nature, and was as yet unrepented of.

bring upon themselves swift destruction] The adjective, which is peculiar to St Peter in the New Testament (here and in chap. 2 Peter 1:14), implies the swift unlooked-for manner of the destruction that was to be the end of the false teachers rather than the nearness of its approach. The Apostle seems to contemplate either some sudden “visitation of God,” or possibly some quick exposure of their falsehood and baseness before men, ending in their utter confusion.2 Peter 2:1. Ἐγένοντο δὲ καὶ ψευδοπροφῆται, But there were also false prophets) An antithesis to the true prophets of the Old Testament, concerning whom see ch. 2 Peter 1:19. Καἰ, also.—λαῷ, among the people) of Israel. He is writing to Israelites. An example of a false prophet is given, 2 Peter 2:15.—ἔσονται) there shall be; and even at that time there had begun to be. A prophecy, already given, is now repeated, ch. 2 Peter 3:2; Judges 1:4; Judges 1:14.—ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι, false teachers) Antithetical to the true teachers of the New Testament.—παρεισάξουσιν, shall privily bring in) παρὰ, beside the salutary doctrine respecting Christ.—αἱρέσεις ἀπωλείας) heresies, not only bad, but of the worst character, ruinous or abandoned.—καὶ) even. The epithet swift, added to the word perdition, which is repeated, is suitable.—τὸν ἀγοράσαντα αὐτοὺς, Him who bought them) To the confession of whom they ought to have been devoted, even to death: ch. 2 Peter 1:16.—δεσπότην) whom the true doctrine testifies to be Lord.—ἀρνούμενοι, denying) in doctrine and works: Judges 1:4. They deny that He truly came in the flesh, and thus they take away altogether the mystery of redemption: 1 John 4:2-3.—ἐπάγοντες, bringing on) Man brings upon himself: God brings upon him, as an avenger: 2 Peter 2:5.—ταχινὴν, swift) On account of the speedy coming of the Lord.Verse 1. - But there were false prophets also among the people; rather, as in the Revised Version, but there arose false prophets also among the people. The transition is simple and natural. Besides the true prophets mentioned in the last chapter, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, there arose false prophets, men who wore "a rough garment to deceive" (Zechariah 13:4), and assumed without warrant the prophetic character. Such pretenders would commonly prophesy false things; but the word ψευδοπροφῆται seems principally to imply the absence of a Divine mission. By "the people" (λαός) is meant the people of Israel, as in Romans 15:11; Jude 1:5, etc. It is plain from these words that St. Peter, at the end of the last chapter, was speaking of the prophets of the Old Testament. Even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies. By the false teachers, again (the word ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι is peculiar to St. Peter), may be meant men whose teaching was false, or men who falsely claimed the teacher's office. St. Peter describes them as such as (οἵτινες) shall bring in damnable heresies. The verb (παριεσάξουσιν) is found only here in the New Testament; the adjective derived from it is used by St. Paul in Galatians 2:4, "false brethren unawares brought in." It means "to bring in by the side of," as if these false teachers brought in their errors by the side of the true doctrine; it implies also the secondary notion of secrecy. Compare St. Jude's use of the verb παρεισέδυσαν, compounded with the same prepositions (verse 4); and notice the difference of tenses - St. Jude using the past where St. Peter looks forward to the future; but St. Peter passes to the present tense in verse 10, and maintains it for the rest of the chapter. We may, perhaps, infer that the false teaching referred to was already beginning to affect the Churches of Asia Minor; but the errors were not so much developed there, the' false teachers had not gained so much influence as it seems they had in the Churches which St. Jude had principally in his thoughts. The literal translation of the words rendered "damnable heresies" is "heresies of destruction," the last word being the same which occurs again at the end of the verse. These heresies destroy the soul; they bring ruin both to those who are led astray and to the false teachers themselves. The word for "heresy"(αἵρεσις), meaning originally "choice," became the name for a party, sect, or school, as in Acts 5:17, "the sect of the Sadducees;" Acts 15:5," the sect of the Pharisees;" Acts 24:5 (in the mouth of Tertullus). "the sect of the Nazarenes;" then, by a natural transition, it came to be used of the opinions held by a sect. The notion of self-will, deliberate separation, led to its being employed generally in a bad sense (see especially Titus 3:10, "A man that is a heretic, (αἱρετικὸς)"). Even denying the Lord that bought them; literally, as in the Revised Version, denying even the Master that bought them. The word for "Master" (δεσπότης) implies that the deniers stand to the Lord in the relation of slaves, bondservants. The Lord had bought them; they were not their own, but his, bought with a price, "not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ" (1 Peter 1:18; see also the parallel passage Jude 1:4). These words plainly assert the universality of the Lord's redemption. He "tasted death for every man" (Hebrews 2:9), even for those false teachers who denied him. The denial referred to may have been doctrinal or practical; most of the ancient forms of heresy involved some grave error as to the Person of Christ; and the germs of these errors appeared very early in the Church (see 1 John 2:22, 23), denying sometimes the Godhead of our Lord, sometimes the truth of his humanity. But St. Peter may mean the practical denial of Christ evinced in an ungodly and licentious life. The latter form of denial appears most prominent in this chapter; probably the apostle intended to warn his readers against both. It is touching to remember that he had himself denied the Lord, though indeed the price with which our souls were bought had not then been paid; but his denial was at once followed by a deep and true repentance. The Lord's loving look recalled him to himself; his bitter tears proved the sincerity of his contrition. And bring upon themselves swift destruction; literally, bringing. The participial construction unites the two clauses closely; the latter expresses the consequence of the former: they bring heresies of destruction into the Church, and by so doing bring upon themselves swift destruction. The word for "swift" (ταχινός) is used by no other New Testament writer. There is an apparent allusion to this verso in Justin Martyr ('Cum Tryph.,' 82), and the first clause of it is quoted in a homily ascribed to Hippolytus of Portus. Notice St. Peter's habit of repetition, he repeats the word ἀπώλεια three times in verses 1-3; δίκαιος three times in verses 7, 8; the verb προσδοκάω three times in 2 Peter 3:12-14, etc. But

Introducing a contrast with those who spake by the Holy Ghost (2 Peter 1:21).

There were (ἐγένοντο)

Rev., better, there arose.

There shall be

Note that Peter speaks of them as future, and Jude (Jde 1:4) as present.

False teachers (ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι)

Only here in New Testament.

Who (πὅτινες)

Of that kind or class which, etc.

Privily shall bring in (παρεισάξουσιν)

Only here in New Testament. The kindred adjective occurs Galatians 2:4, "false brethren privily brought in" (παρεισάκτους). The metaphor is of spies or traitors introducing themselves into an enemy's camp. Compare Jde 1:4, crept in unawares. The verb means, literally, to bring (ἄγειν) into (εἰς) by the side of (παρά).

Damnable heresies (αἱρέσεις ἀπωλείας)

Lit., heresies of destruction. Rev., destructive heresies. Heresy is a transcript of αἵρεσις, the primary meaning of which is choice; so that a heresy is, strictly, the choice of an opinion contrary to that usually received; thence transferred to the body of those who profess such opinions, and therefore a sect. So Rev., in margin, sects of perdition. Commonly in this sense in the New Testament (Acts 5:17; Acts 15:5; Acts 28:22), though the Rev. has an odd variety in its marginal renderings. See Acts 24:14; 1 Corinthians 11:19; Galatians 5:20. The rendering heretical doctrines seems to agree better with the context; false teachers bringing in sects is awkward.

continued...

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