2 Peter 2:3
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
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(3) And through covetousness.—Better, In covetousness. This is the atmosphere in which they live. (See Notes on 2Peter 2:18 and 2Peter 1:1-2; 2Peter 1:4; 2Peter 1:13.) Wiclif and Rheims have “in.” Simon Magus offering St. Peter money, which no doubt he was accustomed to take himself for his teaching, may illustrate this (Acts 8:18; comp. 1Timothy 6:5; Titus 1:10-11). These false teachers, like the Greek Sophists, taught for money. A bombastic mysticism, promising to reveal secrets about the unseen world and the future, was a very lucrative profession in the last days of Paganism, and it passed over to Christianity as an element in various heresies. (Comp. the Shepherd of Hermas, Sim. IX. xix. 3.)

Make merchandise of you.—The verb means literally to travel, especially as a merchant on business; and hence “to be a merchant,” “to trade,” and, with an accusative, “to deal in,” “make merchandise of.” (Comp. our commercial phrase, “to travel in” such and such goods.) It may also mean simply “to gain,” or “gain over,” which would make good sense here; but our version is perhaps better. The word occurs elsewhere only in James 4:13. “With feigned words” possibly refers back to “cunningly devised fables” (2Peter 1:16).

Lingereth not.—Literally, is not idle, the cognate verb of the adjective in 2Peter 1:8. Their sentence has long since been pronounced, is working, and in due time will strike them. We have a similar thought in 1Peter 4:17.

Their damnation slumbereth not.—Better, their destruction. (See fourth Note on 2Peter 2:1.) Wiclif and Rheims have “perdition.” The destruction involved in the judgment pronounced by God is awake and on its way to overtake them. The word for “slumbereth” occurs in Matthew 25:5 only.

We now pass on to see how it is that this judgment “of a long time” has been working. It was pronounced against all sinners, such as they are, from the first beginning of the world.

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.And through covetousness - This shows what one of the things was by which they were influenced - a thing which, like licentiousness, usually exerts a powerful influence over the teachers of error. The religious principle is the strongest that is implanted in the human bosom: and men who can obtain a livelihood in no other way, or who are too unprincipled or too indolent to labor for an honest living, often turn public teachers of religion, and adopt the kind of doctrines that will be likely to give them the greatest power over the purses of others. True religion, indeed, requires of its friends to devote all that they have to the service of God and to the promotion of his cause; but it is very easy to pervert this requirement, so that the teacher of error shall take advantage of it for his own aggrandizement.

Shall they with feigned words - Greek formed, fashioned; then those which are formed for the occasion - feigned, false, deceitful. The idea is, thug the doctrines which they would defend were not maintained by solid and substantial arguments, but that they would make use of plausible reasoning made up for the occasion.

Make merchandise of you - Treat you not as rational beings but as a bale of goods, or any other article of traffic. That is, they would endeavor to make money out of them, and regard them only as fitted to promote that object.

Whose judgment - Whose condemnation.

Now of a long time lingereth not - Greek, "of old; long since." The idea seems to be, that justice had been long attentive to their movements, and was on its way to their destruction. It was not a new thing - that is, there was no new principle involved in their destruction; but it was a principle which had always been in operation, and which would certainly be applicable to them, and of a long time justice had been impatient to do the work which it was accustomed to do. What had occurred to the angels that sinned, 2 Peter 2:4 to the old world, 2 Peter 2:5 and to Sodom and Gomorrah, 2 Peter 2:6 would occur to them; and the same justice which had overthrown them might be regarded as on its way to effect their destruction. Compare the notes at Isaiah 18:4.

And their damnation slumbereth not - Their condemnation, (Notes, 1 Corinthians 11:29) yet here referring to future punishment. "Mr. Blackwell observes, that this is a most beautiful figure, representing the vengeance that shall destroy such incorrigible sinners as an angel of judgment pursuing them on the wing, continually approaching nearer and nearer, and in the mean time keeping a watchful eye upon them, that he may at length discharge an unerring blow" - Doddridge. It is not uncommon to speak of "sleepless justice;" and the idea here is, that however justice may have seemed to slumber or to linger, it was not really so, but that it had on them an everwatchful eye, and was on its way to do that which was right in regard to them. A sinner should never forget that there is an eye of unslumbering vigilance always upon him, and that everything that he does is witnessed by one who will yet render exact justice to all men. No person, however careful to conceal his sins, or however bold in transgression, or however unconcerned he may seem to be, can hope that justice will always linger, or destruction always slumber.

3. through, &c.—Greek, "IN covetousness" as their element (2Pe 2:14, end). Contrast 2Co 11:20; 12:17.

of a long time—in God's eternal purpose. "Before of old ordained to condemnation" (Jude 4).

lingereth not—though sinners think it lingers; "is not idle."

damnation—Greek, "destruction" (see on [2630]2Pe 2:1). Personified.

slumbereth not—though sinners slumber.

With feigned words; deceitful speeches, which have a show of truth to hide their errors.

Make merchandise of you; as of slaves or beasts: it seems to be a metaphor taken from merchants that speak great things of bad wares, the better to vend them; the sense is, with specious words, and pious pretences, they shall deceive you to make a gain of you.

Whose judgment; or, condemnation.

Now of a long time; being of old determined by God, and foretold in the Scripture, and so nearer than they themselves imagine.

Lingereth not; i.e. goes on apace, and hastens on them.

And their damnation; or, destruction.

Slumbereth not: i.e. watcheth, as ready to overtake them in its time: it may be a metaphor taken from a traveller, as Proverbs 6:11; or the apostle alludes to Deu 32:35, where the like expression is found: see 2 Peter 2:1.

And through covetousness;.... Which is generally a prevailing vice among false teachers, they having no other end in view than themselves; either to gain popular applause and vain glory, which they are always covetous of; or to amass riches to themselves, after which they have an insatiable desire:

shall they with feigned words; made words, words of their own devising, and not which the Holy Ghost teacheth; whereby they cover themselves, and privily introduce their pernicious principles; and therefore new words and phrases are always to be suspected and guarded against, especially in articles of moment and importance: or with flattering words and fair speeches, great swelling words of vanity, having men's persons in admiration, because of worldly advantage; and in this way they gain their point:

make merchandise of you; deal with the souls of men, as merchants do with their goods, carry them to market and sell them; so false teachers deal with the souls of their followers, draw them, and sell them to Satan, and they themselves pay for it; see Zechariah 11:5 but in the issue, and that in a short time, they will be no gainers by such practices:

whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not: that is, their condemnation, which God in righteousness has determined, "from the creation of the world", as the Ethiopic version reads, or from all eternity, see Jde 1:4, to bring them into, for their vile principles and practices, is not retarded and delayed; it does not linger and stay behind, or slacken its pace; it will not tarry, it will come upon them at the appointed time:

and their damnation slumbereth not; an avenging God, who has appointed them to damnation for their sins, slumbers not; the justice of God is not asleep, nor careless and negligent, but is awake, and watches over them, to bring the evil upon them they have deserved, and is in reserve for them, and will hasten to perform it; the determined destruction does not lie dormant, but in a little time will be stirred up, and fall with dreadful weight on such sinners, as may be concluded from the following awful instances.

{3} And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make {b} merchandise of you: {4} whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

(3) Covetousness for the most part is a companion of heresy, and makes trade in souls.

(b) They will abuse you, and sell you as they sell cattle in an auction.

(4) Comfort for the godly: God who cast the angels that fell away from him, headlong into the darkness of hell, to eventually be judged; and who burned Sodom, and saved Lot, will deliver his elect from these errors, and will utterly destroy those unrighteous.

2 Peter 2:3. καὶ ἐν πλεονεξίᾳ] i.e. as it were encompassed by covetousness, living in it, governed by it; it is incorrect to translate ἐν by διά. πλαστοῖς λόγοις] ἅπ. λεγ., i.e.with deceitfully invented words,”[63] which are not in accordance with truth; incorrectly Hofmann: “artfully contrived doctrines.”

ὑμᾶς ἐμπορεύσονται] “they will seek gain of you;” Gerhard: quaestum ex vobis facient, ad quaestum suum vobis abutentur; thus, too, Wiesinger, Schott, de Wette-Brückner; cf. also Winer, p. 209 [E. T. 279]; this meaning of the verb c. acc. in classical Greek is sufficiently assured.[64] The ΠΛΑΣΤΟῚ ΛΌΓΟΙ are not, as Hofmann supposes, “to be thought of as the merchandise which they bring to the market, in order to be repaid for such instruction,” but as the means by which they carry on the ἘΜΠΟΡΕΎΕΣΘΑΙ. Steinfass translates ἘΜΠΟΡΕΎΕΣΘΑΙ as equivalent to: to buy, and ὙΜᾶς as the direct object of purchase; thus Pott too: vos sectae suae conciliare conantur. It is undeniable that the object traded in may stand in the accusative (cf. Proverbs 3:14, LXX.), but the context here is opposed to this, partly on account of the ἘΝ ΠΛΕΟΝΕΞΊᾼ, partly because this thought is already contained in the preceding verse. Fronmüller incorrectly renders the word by “to deceive.”

By deceitful words as to Christian freedom, etc., they sought to delude others, and, in accordance with their covetous desires, to make gain of them; cf. 2 Peter 2:13-14, and Judges 1:16.

οἷς τὸ κρῖμα ἔκπαλαι οὐκ ἀργεῖ] ΟἿς: dat. incommodi; refers to the subj. in ἘΜΠΟΡΕΎΣΟΝΤΑΙ. ΤῸ ΚΡῖΜΑ is the judgment of God ordering the ἈΠΏΛΕΙΑ. ἜΚΠΑΛΑΙ is not to be combined with ΤῸ ΚΡῖΜΑ into one idea, equal to: ΚΡῖΜΑ ἜΚΠΑΛΑΙ ΑὐΤΟῖς ΠΡΟΓΕΓΡΑΜΜΈΝΟΝ; cf. Judges 1:4 (Pott, de Wette); such a mode of combination is to be found nowhere in the N. T. It belongs rather to ΟὐΚ ἈΡΓΕῖ. There is not, as de Wette insists, any contradiction involved in this connection, especially as ΟὐΚ ἈΡΓΕῖ is a positive idea; strictly: “is not inactive, does not tarry;” the idea of haste is not implied in it (de Wette). ἔκπαλαι sets forth prominently that for a long time the judgment has, as it were, been approaching, that is, ever since it was given and pronounced; it is living, and will come in due time. It is possible that ἜΚΠΑΛΑΙ refers to the judgments mentioned in 2 Peter 2:4, formerly put into execution (Dietlein, Scott, Wiesinger), which, however, Hofmann disputes.

ΚΑῚ Ἡ ἈΠΏΛΕΙΑ ΑὐΤῶΝ (2 Peter 2:1) Οὐ ΝΥΣΤΆΖΕΙ] ΝΥΣΤΆΖΕΙΝ, strictly: “to nod,” then: to slumber (only elsewhere in Matthew 25:5; there, however, in its literal meaning), is used in the classics in a figurative sense; Plato, de repub. iii. 405 C: μηδὲν δεῖσθαι νυστάζοντος δικαστοῦ. Steinfass inexactly: “to become sleepy.”

[63] Plato, Apol. Socrat.: πλάττειν λόγους; Artemidor. i. 23: πλάσσειν δόκειἀγαθὸν ῥήτορσιδιὰ τὸ μὴ ὄντα ὡς ὄντα δεικνύειν τὰς τέχνας ταύτας.

[64] Cf. Athenag. xiii. 569: Ἀσπασία ἐνεπορεύετο πλήθη γυναικῶν. Philo in Flacc. p. 984: ἐνεπορεύετο τὴν λήθην τῶν δικαστῶν. J. Chrysostom: τὴν πενίαν τοῦ πλησίου ἐμπορεύεσθαι. The translation of the Vulg. is inexact: de vobis negotiabuntur, as also that of Luther: “they will trade with you.”

2 Peter 2:3. ἐν is causal. πλεονεξίᾳ = “covetousness”. Cf. Luke 12:15. πλαστοῖς: here only in N.T., “manufactured,” “feigned,” “artificial”. ἐμπορεύσονται Originally used in intrans. sense = “go a-trading”. Cf. Jam 4:13. Then = “import,” in trans. sense. Here = “make gain of,” “exploit”. Cf. 2 Corinthians 2:17, 1 Timothy 6:5.

οἶς τὸ κρίμα ἔκπαλαι οὐκ ἀργεῖ: ‘whose judgment has for long not been nactive,” although there is an appearance of delay. This delay is the argument used by the false teachers. ἔκπαλαι occurs in O.G.I.S., 5845 (ii. A.D.) διʼ ὧν ἔκπαλαι αὐτὴν (sc. τὴν πατρίδα) εὐεργέτ[ησεν]. (Cf. 2 Peter 3:4 and 2 Peter 2:1, ἐπάγοντες ἑαυτοῖς ταχινὴν ἀπώλειαν.) For ἀργεῖ see note on 2 Peter 1:8. The judgment has long been gathering, and is impending. νυστάζει. The word used of the slumbering virgins in Matthew 25:5. In Isaiah 5:27 it is used of the instruments of God’s anger employed against those guilty of social abuses.

3. through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you] Better, in or with covetousness. The adjective for “feigned” is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. This greed of gain, found in strange union with high-flown claims to a higher knowledge and holiness than that of others, seems to have been one of the chief features of the heresies of the Apostolic age. Comp. 1 Timothy 6:5; Titus 1:11. If they made proselytes it was only that they might get profit out of them.

whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not] Better, for whom judgment for a long time idleth not.

damnation] Better, destruction, as keeping up the continuity of thought with the preceding verses. The thought involves a half-personification of the two nouns. “Judgment” does not loiter on its way; “destruction” does not nod drowsily, like the foolish virgins of Matthew 25:5. Both are eager, watchful, waiting for the appointed hour.

2 Peter 2:3. Πλεονεξίᾳ, covetousness, avarice) 2 Peter 2:14.—πλαστοῖς, feigned) as dealers do.—ὑμᾶς ἐμπορεύσονται) The writers of the Septuagint put ἐμπορεύεσθαι with an accusative for the Hebrew סחר, Genesis 34:21; Proverbs 3:14; Ezekiel 27:21, ed. Vat. The meaning is, they shall make merchandise of you: they shall deceive; take money. Pliny says, respecting certain physicians, Nor is it doubtful, that all these, hunting after reputation by some novelty, immediately make merchandise of our lives.—Plin., book xxix., chapter 1.—οἷς, to whom) It tends to the consolation and protection of the righteous, that the punishment of the ungodly is fully described before the mention of their wicked deeds.—ἔκπαλαι) as it were from of old, from the fall of the angels.—οὐκ ἀργεῖ) is not inactive; that is, is altogether vigorous. It is one and the same judgment which hangs over all sinners, and which is revolved in the mind of the Judge without intermission, until it breaks forth; and in the case of those who are mentioned in Scripture as being punished, it is shown what awaits others; although sinners think that it lingers, and they themselves slumber.—ἀπώλεια αὐτῶν, their destruction) the destruction, to which they will be adjudged. Thus also judgment and destruction are mentioned in connection, ch. 2 Peter 3:7.—οὐ νυστάζει, does not slumber) The same word is used, Matthew 25:5 note. Compare knoweth, 2 Peter 2:9.

Verse 3. - And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you; rather, in covetousness. Covetousness was their besetting sin, the sphere in which they lived. St. Paul warned Titus against false teachers who taught "things which they ought not, for filthy lucre's sake" (Titus 1:11; see also 1 Timothy 6:6 and Jude 1:16). Simon Magus, the first heresiarch, sought to trade in holy things; the like sin seems to have been characteristic of the false teachers of apostolic times. The word translated "feigned" (πλαστοῖς) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament; the words of these men were not the expression of their real thoughts and feelings; they were invented, craftily contrived to deceive men, and that for the sake of money. The last words of the clause will admit another sense: "shall gain you," i.e., "shall gain you over to their party;" and this view derives some support from the use of the verb ἐμπορεύεσθαι in the Septuagint Version of Proverbs 3:14. But the verb is often used in classical writers in the sense of making a profit out of people or things, and this meaning seems most suitable here. The false teachers will work hard, as the Pharisees did, to make proselytes; but their real motive is, not the salvation of souls, but their own selfish gain. Whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not; literally, for whom the sentence of a long time idleth not. The sentence of judgment is for them, for their condemnation; in the foreknowledge of God it has been pronounced long ago, and ever since it has been drawing near; it doth not tarry (comp. Jude 1:4 and 1 Peter 4:17). The word rendered "of a long time" (ἔκπαλαι) occurs only here and 2 Peter 3:5. And their damnation slumbereth not; destruction: it is the word which has been used already twice in verse 1. The verb means literally "to nod," then "to slumber;" it is found elsewhere in the New Testament only in the parable of the virgins (Matthew 25:5). 2 Peter 2:3Through covetousness (ἐν πλεοεξίᾳ)

Lit., in covetousness; denoting the element or sphere in which the evil is wrought.

Feigned (πλαστοῖς)

Only here in New Testament. From πλάσσω, to mould, as in clay or wax. The idea is, therefore, of words moulded at will to suit their vain imaginations.

Make merchandise (ἐμπορεύσονται)

Only here and James 4:13. Compare Jde 1:16, for the sake of advantage; their glory being in having a multitude of followers.

Judgment (κρίμα)

Rev., sentence. So, commonly, in New Testament; the process or act of judging being expressed by κρίσις.

Of a long time (ἔκπαλαι)

Rev., better, from of old, bringing out thus more sharply the force of ἐκ. Only here and 2 Peter 3:5. Construe with lingereth.

Lingereth (ἀργεῖ)

Only here in New Testament. Compare on the kindred adjective idle, 2 Peter 1:8. There is a graphic picture in the sentence. The judgment is not idle. It is "represented as a living thing, awake and expectant. Long ago that judgment started on its destroying path, and the fate of sinning angels, and the deluge, and the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah were but incidental illustrations of its power; nor has it ever since lingered....It advances still, strong and vigilant as when first it sprang from the bosom of God, and will not fail to reach the mark to which it was pointed from of old" (Salmond and Lillie).

Damnation (ἀπώλεια)

More literally, Rev., destruction. The word occurs three times in 2 Peter 2:1.


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