2 Peter 2:22
But it is happened to them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(22) But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb.—More literally, There has happened to them what the true proverb says; “but is of very doubtful authority. The word for “proverb” is the one used elsewhere only by St. John in his Gospel, and there translated once “parable” and thrice “proverb.” “Parable,” or “allegory,” would have been best in all four cases (John 10:6, where see Note; John 16:25; John 16:29). The first proverb is found, Proverbs 26:11, and if that be the source of the quotation, we have here an independent translation of the Hebrew, for the LXX. gives an entirely different rendering, “dog” being the only word in common to the two Greek versions. The word for “vomit” here is possibly formed by the writer himself; that for “wallowing” is also a rare word. The LXX. adds, “and becomes abominable,” which has no equivalent in the existing Hebrew text; and it has been suggested that these words may misrepresent the Hebrew original of the second proverb here. But it is quite possible that both proverbs come from popular tradition, and not from Scripture at all. If, however, the Book of Proverbs be the source of the quotation, it is worth while noting that no less than four times in as many chapters does St. Peter recall passages from the Proverbs in the First Epistle (1Peter 1:7; 1Peter 2:17; 1Peter 4:8; 1Peter 4:18). In the Greek neither proverb has a verb, as so often in such sayings—a dog that has returned to his own vomit; a washed sow to wallowing in the mire; just as we say “the dog in the manger,” “a fool and his money.”

The word for “mire,” not a very common one, is used by Irenæus of the Gnostic false teachers of his day, who taught that their fine spiritual natures could no more be hurt by sensuality than gold by mire. “For in the same way as gold when plunged in mire does not lay aside its beauty, but preserves its own nature, the mire having no power to injure the gold, so they say that they, no matter what kind of material actions they may be involved in, cannot suffer any harm, nor lose their spiritual essence.” (chap. vi. 2). But it is not probable that Irenæus knew our Epistle.

2:17-22 The word of truth is the water of life, which refreshes the souls that receive it; but deceivers spread and promote error, and are set forth as empty, because there is no truth in them. As clouds hinder the light of the sun, so do these darken counsel by words wherein there is no truth. Seeing that these men increase darkness in this world, it is very just that the mist ofdarkness should be their portion in the next. In the midst of their talk of liberty, these men are the vilest slaves; their own lusts gain a complete victory over them, and they are actually in bondage. When men are entangled, they are easily overcome; therefore Christians should keep close to the word of God, and watch against all who seek to bewilder them. A state of apostacy is worse than a state of ignorance. To bring an evil report upon the good way of God, and a false charge against the way of truth, must expose to the heaviest condemnation. How dreadful is the state here described! Yet though such a case is deplorable, it is not utterly hopeless; the leper may be made clean, and even the dead may be raised. Is thy backsliding a grief to thee? Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved.But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb - The meaning of the proverbs here quoted is, that they have returned to their former vile manner of life. Under all the appearances of reformation, still their evil nature remained, as really as that of the dog or the swine, and that nature finally prevailed. There was no thorough internal change, any more than there is in the swine when it is washed, or in the dog. This passage, therefore, would seem to demonstrate that there never had been any real change of heart, and of course there had been no falling away from true religion. It should not, therefore, he quoted to prove that true Christians may fall from grace and perish. The dog and the swine had never been anything else than the dog and the swine, and these persons had never been anything else than sinners.

The dog is turned to his own vomit again - That is, to eat it up. The passage would seem to imply, that whatever pains should be taken to change the habits of the dog, he would return to them again. The quotation here is from Proverbs 26:11; "As a dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool returneth to his folly." A similar proverb is found in the Rabbinical writers. Of the truth of the disgusting fact here affirmed of the dog, there can be no doubt. Phaedrus (Fab. 27.) states a fact still more offensive respecting its habits. In the view of the Orientals, the dog was reckoned among the most vile and disgusting of all animals. Compare Deuteronomy 23:18; 1 Samuel 17:43; 2 Samuel 3:8; 2 Samuel 9:8; 2 Samuel 16:9; Matthew 7:6; Philippians 3:2. See also Horace, II. Epis. 1, 26:

Vixisset canis immundus, vel amica luto sus.

On the use of this proverb, see Wetstein, in loc.

And the sow that was washed ... - This proverb is not found in the Old Testament, but it was common in the Rabbinical writings, and is found in the Greek classics. See Wetstein, in loc. Its meaning is plain, and of the truth of what is affirmed no one can have any doubt. No matter how clean the swine is made by washing, this would not prevent it, in the slightest degree, from rolling in filth again. It will act out its real nature. So it is with the sinner. No external reformation will certainly prevent his returning to his former habits; and when he does return, we can only say that he is acting according to his real nature - a nature which has never been changed, any more than the nature of the dog or the swine. On the characteristics of the persons referred to in this chapter, 2 Peter 2:9-19, see the introduction, Section 3.

This passage is often quoted to prove "the possibility of falling from grace, and from a very high degree of it too." But it is one of the last passages in the Bible that should be adduced to prove that doctrine. The true point of this passage is to show that the persons referred to never "were changed;" that whatever external reformation might have occurred, their nature remained the same; and that when they apostatized from their outward profession, they merely acted out their nature, and showed that in fact there had been "no" real change. This passage will prove - what there are abundant facts to confirm - that persons may reform externally, and then return again to their former corrupt habits; it can never be made to prove that one true Christian will fall away and perish. It will also prove that we should rely on no mere external reformation, no outward cleansing, as certain evidence of piety. Thousands who have been externally reformed have ultimately shown that they. had no religion, and there is nothing in mere outward reformation that can suit us for heaven. God looks upon the heart; and it is only the religion that has its seat there, that can secure our final salvation.

22. But—You need not wonder at the event; for dogs and swine they were before, and dogs and swine they will continue. They "scarcely" (2Pe 2:18) have escaped from their filthy folly, when they again are entangled in it. Then they seduce others who have in like manner "for a little time escaped from them that live in error" (2Pe 2:18). Peter often quoted Proverbs in his First Epistle (1Pe 1:7; 2:17; 4:8, 18); another proof that both Epistles come from the same writer. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb: this is added, to prevent the scandal that might arise from their apostacy; q.d. It is not to be wondered at that they are again entangled in and overcome by their former pollutions, when there never was a thorough change wrought in their hearts. Dogs and swine (beasts unclean by the law) they still were, under the greatest appearances of reformation, and such they now show themselves to be by their vile apostacy.

The dog is turned to his own vomit again: as dogs vomit up what is burdensome to them, but, still being dogs, and not having changed their natures by easing their stomachs, lick up their own vomit again; so these, under a fit of conviction, through the power of the word, disgorge those sins which burdened their consciences, but having thereby gotten some ease, and their old nature and love to their former lusts still remaining, they again return to the same sins they had for a time forsaken.

The sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire: as swine, that naturally love the dirt and mire, if sometimes they be washed from it, yet, still retaining their former disposition, return again to it; so likewise these here mentioned, however they may be washed from the pollutions of the world, and by the preaching of the gospel brought off from their former ways of sin, and brought into a profession of holiness, yet, still retaining their old nature and corrupt dispositions, they are easily prevailed over by them, and so relapse into their former abominations. But it is happened unto them, according to the true proverb,.... Which is true, both in fact and in the application of it, and which lies in the Scriptures of truth, at least the first part of it, Proverbs 26:11.

The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire; which expresses the filthy nature of sin, signified by vomit, mire, and dirt, than which nothing is more abominable and defiling; and also the just characters of these apostates, who are filly compared to dogs and swine and likewise their irreclaimable and irrecoverable state and condition, it being impossible they should be otherwise, unless their natures were changed and altered. In the Hebrew language, a "sow" is called from the root which signifies to "return", because that creature, as soon as it is out of the mire and dirt, and is washed from its filthiness, naturally returns to it again: so such apostates return to what they were before, to their former principles and practices: in this manner the Jews explain the proverb,

"Tobiah returns to Tobiah, as it is said, Proverbs 26:11; as a dog returneth to his vomit (r).''

(r) Vajikra Rabba, sect. 16. fol. 158. 4.

But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Peter 2:22. The two proverbial expressions which form the close bring out how contemptible is the conduct just described.

συμβέβηκε αὐτοῖς] “it has happened to them,” “has befallen them.”

τὸ τῆς ἀληθοῦς παροιμίας] The same construction, Matthew 21:21 : τὸ τῆς συκῆς; παροιμία denotes a figurative speech or mode of expression generally. ἀληθοῦς is added in order to bring out that the proverb has here too proved true; the author employs the singular παροιμίας, because the two proverbs following have one and the same meaning.

κὑων ἐπιστρέψαςἐξέραμα] The verse of the O. T. Proverbs 26:11, LXX., runs: ὥσπερ κύων ὅταν ἐπέλθῃ ἐπὶ τὸν ἑαυτοῦ ἔμετον μισητὸς γενῆται, οὕτως ἄφρων τῇ ἑαυτοῦ κακίᾳ ἀναστρέψας ἐπὶ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἁμαρτίαν; in spite of the similarity, it is yet doubtful whether the writer had this passage in his eye; probably he took this παροιμία, like that which follows,—which can be traced to no written source,—from popular tradition.

ἐπιστρέψας] is not to bo taken as a verb fin., but the predicate is, after the manner of proverbial expression, joined without the copula to the noun (Winer, p. 331 [E. T. 443]): “a dog that has returned to its ἐξέραμα” (ἅπ. λεγ.: “what has been vomited”).

ὗς λουσαμένηβορβόρου] ἐπιστρέψασα may be supplied from what precedes, but thus this second παροιμία would lose its independence; breviloquence is natural to proverbs (Winer, p. 547 [E. T. 735]); εἰς, according to the sense, points sufficiently to a verb of motion to be supplied: “a sow that has bathed itself, to the κύλισμα βορβόρου.”[83]

κύλισμα (ἅπ. λεγ.), equal to κυλίστρα: the place for wallowing. The genit. βορβὁρου (ἅπ. λεγ.) shows the nature of the κυλίσμα where the swine wallow; the other reading, κυλισμόν, indicates the act of wallowing.

Similar passages are to be found in the Rabbis. Cf. Pott in loc.

[83] Steinfass interprets erroneously: “A sow that was bathed, in order the better to wallow in the mire.”2 Peter 2:22. τὸ τῆς ἀληθοῦς παροιμίας: “the content of the true proverb” has been “verified,” or “realised” in their case. The first proverb is found in Proverbs 26:11. The second is apparently not derived from a Hebrew source. Both are quoted familiarly in an abbreviated form (cf. WM. p. 443). The interpretation of the second is an exegetical crux. Bigg takes λουσαμένη = “having bathed itself in mud”. The sense is, “not that the creature has washed itself clean in water (so apparently the R.V.), still less that it has been washed clean (as A.V.), and then returns to the mud; but that having once bathed in filth it never ceases to delight in it”. This, however, is to force the meaning of λουσαμένη, which is consistently used of washing with water. Again, the point of the proverb is to illustrate to τὰ ἔσχατα χείρονα τῶν πρώτων. The dupes of the false teachers were cleansed and returned to pollution.

The question is important whether λουσαμένη is Middle or Passive? Dr. Rendel Harris (Story of Aḥiḳar, p. lxvii.) may have discovered the original proverb in the following, appearing in some texts of Aḥiḳar. “My son, thou hast behaved like the swine which went to the bath with people of quality, and when he came out, saw a stinking drain, and went and rolled himself in it”. If this be the source of the παροιμία. λ. is Middle (Moulton, Proleg. pp. 238–39).

A friend of my own, with a knowledge of animals, tells me that the pig is often washed in certain forms of dishealth, to open the pores of the skin. The animal, being unprotected by hair, finds the sun’s heat disagreeable, and wallows again in the mud for coolness. The dried mud protects the skin from the rays. βόρβορος found only here and in Jeremiah 38:6. Cf. Acta Thomae, 53. εἶδον βόρβορονκαὶ ψυχὰς ἐκεῖ κυλιομένας. In the Legends of Pelagia, which, though late, are written in good vernacular Greek, both noun and corresponding verb are found. ἐλθοῦσα περιστερὰ μελάνη καὶ βεβορβορωμένη περιεπέτατό μοι, καὶ τὴν δυσωδίαν τοῦ βορβόρου αὐτῆς οὐκ ἠδυνάμην φέρειν. (Die Pelag. Legend., ed. Usener, p. 21). Bishop Wordsworth suggested that the double proverb is an inexact quotation of two iambic lines—

εἰς ἴδιον ἐξέραμʼ ἐπιστρέψας κύων

λελουμένη θʼ ὗς εἰς κύλισμα βορβόρου.

If he is right, 2 Pet. cannot be charged with the use of the two rare words, βορβόρου and ἐξέραμα. Bigg suggests (ed., p. 228) that the Proverbs of Solomon had been unified by some Jewish paraphrast, and this one of the pig added to the canonical collection.22. it is happened unto them according to the true proverb …] Literally, that (saying) of the true proverb has happened to them … In the words that follow we have another of St Peter’s references, without a formal citation, to the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 26:11). See notes on 1 Peter 4:8; 1 Peter 5:5. The form in which he gives the proverbs is participial. “The dog returned to his own vomit; the washed sow to her wallowing in the mire.” We have, however, the colloquial, allusive form which the proverb had assumed in common speech rather than an actual quotation, and the second part of the proverb is not found in the passage referred to. In both cases stress is laid on the fact that there had been a real change. The dog had ejected what was foul; the sow had washed herself, but the old nature returned in both cases. Those who after their baptism returned to the impurities they had renounced, were, in the Apostle’s eyes, no better than the unclean beasts. In the union of the two types of baseness we may, perhaps, trace a reminiscence of our Lord’s teaching in Matthew 7:6.2 Peter 2:22. Δὲ, but) You may wonder that they thus turn back: but there is little room for wonder; for they were before, and they still continue, dogs and swine.—παροιμίας, proverb) משׁלי, Septuagint, παροιμίαι Σολομῶντος, the Proverbs of Solomon, Proverbs 1:1; also Proverbs 26:11, ὥσπερ κύων ὅταν ἐπέλθῃ ἐπὶ τὴν ἑαυτοῦ ἔμετον, καὶ μισητὸς γένηται, κ.τ.λ., as a dog, when he returneth to his vomit, and becometh hateful, etc. Peter had frequently quoted the Proverbs of Solomon in his former Epistle, 1 Peter 1:7, 1 Peter 2:17, 1 Peter 4:8; 1 Peter 4:18, and now he quotes them also in the other. This may be added to the other arguments, which show that both the Epistles are the production of one and the same writer.—ἐξέραμα, vomit) Animals which live among men more easily contract the stomach [which takes place in the act of vomiting] than those which are wild. It is a word which is rarely met with; and Gataker notices some traces of Iambic verse,—

Κύων ἐτιστρέψας ἐπʼ ἴδιον ἐξέραμʼ,

Ὗς θʼ ἡ λουσαμένη εἰς χύλισμα βορβόρου.

Who would not loathe the vomit of sin?Verse 22. - But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb. The conjunction "but" is omitted in the best manuscripts. The literal translation is, "There hath happened unto them that of the true proverb (τὸ τῆς παροιμίας);" comp. Matthew 21:21, τὸ τῆς συκῆς. The dog is turned to his own vomit again. The construction is participial; literally, a dog having turned. See Wirier (3:45, 6, b), who says that in such proverbial expressions there is no reason for changing the participle into a finite verb: "They are spoken δεικτικῶς as it were, with reference to a case actually observed." St. Peter may be quoting Proverbs 26:11; but his words are very different from the Septuagint Version of that passage; perhaps it is more probable that the expression had become proverbial, and that the apostle is referring to a form of it in common use with his readers; like that which follows, which is not in the Book of Proverbs. And the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire; literally, the sow that had washed to her wallowing; or, according to some ancient manuscripts, "her wallowing-place." St. Peter compares the lives of the false teachers to the habits of those animals which were regarded as unclean, and were most despised by the Jews (compare our Lord's words in Matthew 7:6). The words ἐξέραμα, vomit; κυλισμός, wallowing; and βόρβορος, mire, are not found elsewhere in the New Testament.



According to the true proverb (τὸ τῆς ἀληθοῦς παροιμίας)

Lit., that of the true proverb, or the matter of the proverb. For a similar construction see Matthew 21:21, that of the fig-tree; Matthew 8:33, the things of those possessed. On proverb see notes on Matthew 13:3.

Vomit (ἐξέραμα)

Only here in New Testament.

Wallowing (κυλισμὸν)

Only here in New Testament.

Mire (βορβόρου)

Only here in New Testament. This use of dogs and swine together recalls Matthew 7:6.

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