2 Peter 2:11
Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.
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(11) Whereas angels.—Literally, Where angels—i.e., in circumstances in which angels. This verse, if it refers to the same incident as Jude 1:9, seems at first sight to tell somewhat in favour of the priority of Jude; for then, only when compared with Jude 1:9, does it become intelligible. The inference is that this is an abbreviation of Jude, rather than Jude an amplification of this. But (1) such an inference is at best only probable. The writer of this Epistle might possibly count on his readers at once understanding his allusion to a tradition that may have been well known, while St. Jude thought it best to point out the allusion more plainly. (2) It is possible that the contest alluded to is not that between Satan and Michael about the body of Moses, but that between Satan and the angel of the Lord about Joshua the high priest (Zechariah 3:1-2). (3) It is also possible that it does not refer to any contest with Satan at all, but merely to angels not denouncing these false teachers before God, but leaving them to His judgment. If either (2) or (3) is correct, the argument for the priority of Jude falls to the ground. If (1) is right, then the argument really favours the priority of 2 Peter; for if the author of 2 Peter had Jude before him (and this is maintained by those who contend for the priority of Jude), and wished to make use of St. Jude’s illustration, why should he so deface St. Jude’s statement of it as to make it almost unintelligible? The reason suggested is altogether inadequate—that reverential feelings made him wish to avoid mentioning Michael’s name—a name that every Jew was perfectly familiar with in the Book of Daniel.

Greater in power and might.—This is taken in two ways—either “greater than these audacious, self-willed men,” which is the simpler and more natural explanation; or “greater than other angels,” as if it were a periphrasis for “archangels,” which is rather awkward language. But either explanation makes good sense.

Railing accusation against them.—Literally, a railing judgment. Wiclif has “doom,” all the rest “judgment” both superior to “accusation.” “Against them,” if the reference is either to the contest about the body of Moses or to Zechariah 3:1-2, must mean against “dignities,” and “dignities” must here mean fallen angels, who are considered still to be worthy of reverence on account of their original glory and indefectible spiritual nature. The position is, therefore, that what angels do not venture to say of devils, this, and worse than this, these audacious men dare to say of angels and other unseen powers. But “against them” may possibly mean “against the false teachers,” i.e., they speak evil of angels, yet the angels bring no denunciation against them, but leave all judgment to God (Deuteronomy 32:35-36; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30). This explanation avoids the awkwardness of making “dignities” in 2Peter 2:10 mean unseen powers generally, and chiefly good ones; while “against dignities” in this verse has to mean against evil powers only.

2:10-16 Impure seducers and their abandoned followers, give themselves up to their own fleshly minds. Refusing to bring every thought to the obedience of Christ, they act against God's righteous precepts. They walk after the flesh, they go on in sinful courses, and increase to greater degrees of impurity and wickedness. They also despise those whom God has set in authority over them, and requires them to honour. Outward temporal good things are the wages sinners expect and promise themselves. And none have more cause to tremble, than those who are bold to gratify their sinful lusts, by presuming on the Divine grace and mercy. Many such there have been, and are, who speak lightly of the restraints of God's law, and deem themselves freed from obligations to obey it. Let Christians stand at a distance from such.Whereas angels - The object, by the reference to angels here, is to show that they, even when manifesting the greatest zeal in a righteous cause, and even when opposing others, did not make use of reproachful terms, or of harsh and violent language. It is not known precisely to what Peter alludes here, nor on what the statement here is based. There can be little doubt, however, as Benson has remarked, that, from the strong resemblance between what Peter says and what Jude says, Jde 1:9-10, there is allusion to the same thing, and probably both referred to some common tradition among the Jews respecting the contention of the archangel Michael with the devil about the body of Moses. See the notes at Jde 1:9. As the statement in Jude is the most full, it is proper to explain the passage before us by a reference to that; and we may suppose that, though Peter uses the plural term, and speaks of "angels," yet that he really had the case of Michael in his eye, and meant to refer to that as an example of what the angels do. Whatever may have been the origin of this tradition, no one can doubt that what is here said of the angels accords with probability, and no one can prove that it is not true.

Which are greater in power and might - And who might, therefore, if it were in any case proper, speak freely of things of an exalted rank and dignity. It would be more becoming for them than for men. On this difficult passage, see the notes at Jde 1:9.

Bring not railing accusation - They simply say, "The Lord rebuke thee," Jde 1:9. Compare Zechariah 3:2. The Greek here is, "bring not blasphemous or reproachful judgment, or condemnation" - βλάσφημον κρίσιν blasphēmon krisin. They abhor all scurrility and violence of language; they simply state matters as they are. No one can doubt that this accords with what we should expect of the angels; and that if they had occasion to speak of those who were opposers, it would be in a calm and serious manner, not seeking to overwhelm them by reproaches.

Against them - Margin, "against themselves." So the Vulgate. The more correct reading is "against them;" that is, against those who might be regarded as their adversaries, Jde 1:9, or those of their own rank who had done wrong - the fallen angels.

Before the Lord - When standing before the Lord; or when represented as reporting the conduct of evil spirits. Compare Zechariah 3:1-2. This phrase, however, is missing in many manuscripts. See Wetstein.

11. which are—though they are.

greater—than these blasphemers. Jude instances Michael (Jude 9).

railing accusation—Greek, "blaspheming judgment" (Jude 9).

against them—against "dignities," as for instance, the fallen angels: once exalted, and still retaining traces of their former power and glory.

before the Lord—In the presence of the Lord, the Judge, in reverence, they abstain from judgment [Bengel]. Judgment belongs to God, not the angels. How great is the dignity of the saints who, as Christ's assessors, shall hereafter judge angels! Meanwhile, railing judgments, though spoken with truth, against dignities, as being uttered irreverently, are of the nature of "blasphemies" (Greek, 1Co 4:4, 5). If superior angels dare not, as being in the presence of God, the Judge, speak evil even of the bad angels, how awful the presumption of those who speak evil blasphemously of good "dignities." 2Sa 16:7, 8, Shimei; Nu 16:2, 3, Korah, &c., referred to also in Jude 11; Nu 12:8, "Were ye (Aaron and Miriam) not afraid to speak evil of My servant Moses?" The angels who sinned still retain the indelible impress of majesty. Satan is still "a strong man": "prince of this world"; and under him are "principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this world." We are to avoid irreverence in regard to them, not on their account, but on account of God. A warning to those who use Satan's name irreverently and in blasphemy. "When the ungodly curseth Satan, he curseth his own soul."

Angels; good angels, Judges 1:9.

Greater; either greater than these audacious false teachers, or else greater than the forementioned dignities.

In power and might; i.e. greater in their natural strength, and in their dignity.

Bring not railing accusation; use not reviling, reproachful language; the same with speaking evil in the former verse.

Against them; either:

1. Against dignities, 2 Peter 2:10; and then the meaning is, that good angels, great and powerful as they are, yet bring not a railing accusation before the Lord against magistrates and princes, but when they have had any thing against them, yet have carried themselves with modesty, and due respect to that dignity in which God had placed such, having a regard to civil government as God’s constitution, and being themselves, at God’s appointment, guardians and keepers, even of wicked kingdoms, as Daniel 10:1-21 and Daniel 11:1-45. Or:

2. Against themselves, as in the margin; and then the sense is, that angels do not reproach nor revile each other, nay, not the devil himself as appears, Judges 1:9, which place may explain this; and therefore it did ill become these false teachers, who were so much below angels, to contemn, revile, or rail on princes and civil magistrates, who were so much above themselves, and had their authority from God. Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might,.... Which is not to be understood of evil angels, or devils; for, besides that they are greatly weakened and impaired by their fall, they are the accusers of men, and railers and slanderers of the best and greatest of men, and the origin of all the blasphemies that are vented against God or men; but of good angels, who excel in strength, who are not only guardians to particular men, and encamp about the saints, but preside over provinces and kingdoms, for which their power and might do abundantly qualify them; and in which they are greater, that is, not than the devils, or than the false teachers, though both are true, but than dominions and dignities, than kings, princes, and civil magistrates: and yet these

bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord; either "against themselves", as the Arabic version and one of Beza's copies read; against one another, against those of their own species, that are in a higher or lower class or office than themselves; and therefore men ought not to despise magistracy, or the higher powers that are over them: or else against the fallen angels, the devils, as should seem from Jde 1:9, or rather against civil magistrates, kings, and princes of this world, who, though so much below them, they vouchsafe to take under their care, and protect them, even Heathen princes, Daniel 10:20; and though there may be oftentimes many things unbecoming in them, yet they do not accuse them, or rail against them before the Lord; and even when, by his orders, they inflict punishment on their persons, as on Sennacherib, and Herod, and others, yet they do not speak evil of their office; and therefore, since angels, who are so much above men, even above the most dignified among them, behave in this manner, it must be an aggravation of the sin of these persons, who are so much below them, to speak evil of them.

Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.
2 Peter 2:11. Compare Judges 1:9. What Jude says specially of the archangel Michael is here more generally affirmed of angels. In this its generality the thought is hardly intelligible; the necessary light is obtained only by comparing it with Jude (de Wette). If the priority of this epistle be assumed, the thought here expressed must have reference to Zechariah 3:2 (thus Schott, Steinfass, Hofmann).

ὅπου] cannot stand here as assigning the reason, as it sometimes does in the classics, since it refers back not to τολμηταί, but to δόξας οὐ κ.τ.λ.; but neither is it equal to “whilst even, since even;” this use can nowhere be established. It is meant rather to indicate the similarity of the relationship (with respect to the δόξαι).[71] The adversative relationship lies not in the particle, but in the thought.

ἄγγελοι] according to the parallel passage, not evil, but good angels.

ἰσχύϊ καὶ δυνάμει μείζονες ὄντες] The comparative expresses the relation in which they stand either to the τολμηταί or to the δόξαι. The latter reference deserves the preference, since—and to this Hofmann has called attention, Schriftbew. I. p. 460—it is understood of itself that angels are more powerful than men (Wiesinger, Schott, Steinfass).

οὐ φέρουσικρίσιν] φέρειν κρίσιν (Jude: ἐπιφέρεις κρίσιν) does not mean “to endure a judgment” (Luth.), but “to pronounce a judgment.”

βλασφημόν, with an eye to βλασφημοῦντες.

κατʼ αὐτῶν] not adversum se (Vulg.), but αὐτῶν goes back to δόξας (Calvin, Beza, Hornejus, Wolf, de Wette, and all the more modern interpreters, with the exception of Fronmüller), by which are to be understood here—as in Jude—the diabolical powers. The opposite interpretation, according to which the meaning should be that the wicked angels are not able to bear the judgment of God on their blasphemy (Luther, Fronmüller, etc.), is opposed not only to the language (βλάσφημος κρίσις equal to κρίσις βλασφημίας) but to the context.

παρὰ κυρίῳ] These words, the genuineness of which is doubtful, may not be explained with Bengel: apud Dominum … reveriti, abstinent judicio; for, as Hofmann justly remarks, παρὰ κυρ. “belongs to that which is denied, and does not explain why that does not happen which is denied.” “The conception is, that angels appear before God, and, before His throne, tell what evil spirits are doing in the world.” Cf. Winer, p. 369 [E. T. 493].

[71] It corresponds to “where” in passages such as: some laugh, where others weep; thus here, these rail where the angels οὐ φέρουσιν κ.τ.λ. It must not be interpreted, with Hofmann, as equal to καθʼ ὦν.2 Peter 2:11. ὅπου = “whereas”. The interpretation of this verse turns on the meaning of κατʼ αὐτῶν. Does it refer to the false teachers, or to a distinction between two sets of angels, which finds an illustration in the contest between Michael and Satan for the body of Moses? (Judges 1:9). In the latter case κατʼ αὐτῶν would refer to the fallen angels. Another possible interpretation is that ἄγγελοι ἰσχύϊ καὶ δυνάμει μείζονες ὄντες are a superior class of archangels (Spitta), and κατʼ αὐτῶν would refer to the δόξαι in general. Chase suggests that the reference is to the false teachers, and angels are represented as bringing before the Lord tidings as to the conduct of created beings, whether angels or men (op. cit. 797 b).

We may note the tendency in 2 Peter exemplified here to put in general terms what Jude states in the particular, in the story of Michael and Satan. The particulars of Jude are omitted (as also the name Enoch afterwards) in order to avoid direct reference to apocryphal writings. Accordingly the sentence, οὐ φέρουσιν κατʼ αὐτῶν βλάσφημον κρίσιν, is only intelligible by reference to Judges 1:9, where Michael does not himself condemn Satan, but says ἐπιτιμήσαι σοι κύριος. Cf. note on βλασφημοῦντες, 2 Peter 2:10.11. Whereas angels, which are greater in power …] Some of the MSS. omit the words “before the Lord.” The words as they stand here leave it uncertain of what instance the Apostle speaks, but it is probable that he refers to the tradition mentioned by St Jude (see notes on Judges 9), or possibly to the words spoken by the Angel of the Lord to Satan as the accuser of Joshua the son of Josedech in Zechariah 3:2. In the “railing” accusation, we have a distinct reference to the “reviling” or “speaking evil” of the previous verse. The Vulgate rendering “non portant adversus se execrabile judicium” is probably meant to convey the sense “against each other,” but it has been strangely interpreted by Lyra and other Roman Catholic commentators as meaning that as “evil angels cannot endure the accursed doom that falls on them from the Lord,” how much less will ungodly men be able to endure it. The true sequence of thought is obviously that if good angels refrain from a railing judgment (not “accusation”) against evil ones, how much more should men refrain from light or railing words in regard to either.2 Peter 2:11. Ὅπου) where, used for when. A particle suitable for reproof: 1 Corinthians 3:3.—ἄγγελοι, angels) and moreover the archangel. That which Peter had in mind, as either already known to his readers, or as not yet to be disclosed, Jude afterwards expressed. The Epistle of each is in a remarkable manner parallel with the other.—ἰσχύϊ) Right is defended by strength; and these are both in agreement with each other. Men are little [dwarfs] in both respects; angels are greater; God is best and greatest.—μείζονες, greater) A grave pleasantry: greater than mere petty men.—οὐ φέρουσι κατʼ αὐτῶν, do not bring against them) that is, do not assail dignities, etc., Judges 1:9.—παρὰ Κυρίῳ) before the Lord. They abstain from judgment, through reverence of the Judge and His presence.—βλάσφημον) That is sometimes railing, which is spoken against any one with truth, but in an unbecoming manner. Judgment belongs to God, not to angels.Verse 11. - Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord. The conjunction is ὅπου, literally, "where" - they speak evil of glories, "where," i.e., "in which case." The literal rendering of the following words, "angels being greater," makes it probable that the comparison is with the false teachers of the previous verse rather than with the "glories." The false teachers rail at glories, where angels, though greater than they, bring not a railing judgment against those glories. It seems certain that the words "against them" (κατ αὐτῶν) must refer to the "glories," and cannot mean, according to the Vulgate, adversum se. Men rail at these glories; but the elect angels, when they are commissioned to proclaim or inflict the just judgment (for κρίσις is "judgment," not" accusation") of God upon the angels that sinned, the fallen glories, do not rail; they remember what those lost spirits once were, and speak solemnly and sorrowfully, not in coarse, violent language. The apostle may be alluding to Zechariah 3:1, 2, but the resemblance to Jude 1:8, 9 is so dose that this last passage must have been in his thoughts, even if he is not directly referring to the dispute between Michael the archangel and the devil. Luther's interpretation (adopted by Fronmuller and others), that the wicked angels are not able to bear the judgment of God upon their blasphemy, cannot be extracted from the words. The Alexandrine Manuscript omits "before the Lord;" but these words are well supported. The angels of judgment remember that they are in the presence of God, and perform their solemn duty with godly fear. Power and might (ἰσχύΐ καὶ δυνάμει)

Rev., might and power. The radical idea of ἰσχύς, might, is that of indwelling strength, especially as embodied: might which inheres in physical powers organized and working under individual direction, as an army' which appears in the resistance of physical organisms, as the earth, against which one dashes himself in vain: which dwells in persons or things, and gives them influence or value: which resides in laws or punishments to make them irresistible. This sense comes out clearly in the New Testament in the use of the word and of its cognates. Thus, "Love the Lord thy God with all thy strength" (Mark 12:30): "according to the working of his mighty power" (Ephesians 1:19). So the kindred adjective ἰχσυρός. "A strong man" (Matthew 12:29): a mighty famine (Luke 15:14): his letters are powerful (2 Corinthians 10:10): a strong consolation (Hebrews 6:18): a mighty angel (Revelation 18:21). Also the verb ἱσχύω. "It is good for nothing" (Matthew 5:13): "shall not be able" (Luke 13:24): "I can do all things" (Philippians 4:13): "availeth much" (James 5:16).

Δύναμις is rather ability, faculty: not necessarily manifest, as ἰσχύς: power residing in one by nature. Thus ability (Matthew 25:15): virtue (Mark 5:30): power (Luke 24:29; Acts 1:8; 1 Corinthians 2:4): "strength of sin" (1 Corinthians 15:56). So of moral vigor. "Strengthened with might in the inner man" (Ephesians 3:16): "with all might (Colossians 1:11). It is, however, mostly power in action, as in the frequent use of δυνάμεις for miracles, mighty works, they being exhibitions of divine virtue. Thus "power unto salvation" (Romans 1:16): the kingdom coming in power" (Mark 9:1): God himself called power - "the right hand of the power" (Matthew 26:64), and so in classical Greek used to denote the magistrates or authorities. Also of the angelic powers (Ephesians 1:21; Romans 8:38; 1 Peter 3:22). Generally, then, it may be said that while both words include the idea of manifestation or of power in action, ἰσχύς emphasizes the outward, physical manifestations, and δύναμις the inward, spiritual or moral virtue. Plato ("Protagoras," 350) draws the distinction thus: "I should not have admitted that the able (δυνατοὺς) are strong (ἰσχυροὺς), though I have admitted that the strong are able. For there is a difference between ability (δύναμιν) and strength (ἰσχύν). The former is given by knowledge as well as by madness or rage; but strength comes from nature and a healthy state of the body. Aristotle ("Rhet.," i., 5) says "strength (ἰσχὺς) is the power of moving another as one wills; and that other is to be moved either by drawing or pushing or carrying or pressing or compressing; so that the strong (ὁ ἰσχυρὸς) is strong for all or for some of these things."

Railing judgment

Compare Jde 1:9; Zechariah 3:1, Zechariah 3:9.

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