Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
But there were false prophets also among the 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.
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 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.
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
2. follow—out: so the Greek.
pernicious ways—The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read, "licentiousness" (Jude 4). False doctrine and immoral practice generally go together (2Pe 2:18, 19).
by reason of whom—"on account of whom," namely, the followers of the false teachers.
the way of truth shall be evil spoken of—"blasphemed" by those without, who shall lay on Christianity itself the blame of its professors' evil practice. Contrast 1Pe 2:12.
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.
3. through, &c.—Greek, "IN covetousness" as their element (2Pe 2:14, end). Contrast 2Co 11:20; 12:17.
of a long time—in God's eternal purpose. "Before of old ordained to condemnation" (Jude 4).
lingereth not—though sinners think it lingers; "is not idle."
damnation—Greek, "destruction" (see on 2Pe 2:1). Personified.
slumbereth not—though sinners slumber.
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
4. if—The apodosis or consequent member of the sentence is not expressed, but is virtually contained in 2Pe 2:9. If God in past time has punished the ungodly and saved His people, He will be sure to do so also in our days (compare end of 2Pe 2:3).
angels—the highest of intelligent creatures (compare with this verse, Jude 6), yet not spared when they sinned.
hell—Greek, "Tartarus": nowhere else in New Testament or the Septuagint: equivalent to the usual Greek, "Gehenna." Not inconsistent with 1Pe 5:8; for though their final doom is hell, yet for a time they are permitted to roam beyond it in "the darkness of this world." Slaves of Tartarus (called "the abyss," or "deep," Lu 8:31; "the bottomless pit," Re 9:11) may also come upon earth. Step by step they are given to Tartarus, until at last they shall be wholly bound to it.
delivered—as the judge delivers the condemned prisoner to the officers (Re 20:2).
into chains—(Jude 6). The oldest manuscripts read, "dens," as Alford translates: the Greek, however, may, in Hellenistic Greek, mean "chains," as Jude expresses it. They are "reserved" unto hell's "mist of darkness" as their final "judgment" or doom, and meanwhile their exclusion from the light of heaven is begun. So the ungodly were considered as virtually "in prison," though at large on the earth, from the moment that God's sentence went forth, though not executed till one hundred twenty years after.
And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
5. eighth—that is, Noah, and seven others. Contrasted with the densely peopled "world of the ungodly."
preacher—not only "righteous" himself (compare 2Pe 2:8), but also "a preacher of righteousness": adduced by Peter against the licentiousness of the false teachers (2Pe 2:2) who have no prospect before them but destruction, even as it overtook the ungodly world in Noah's days.
And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;
6. with, &c.—"TO overthrow" [Alford].
ensample—"of (the fate that should befall) those who in after-time should live ungodly." Compare Jude 7, "set forth for an example."
And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
filthy conversation—literally, "behavior in licentiousness" (Ge 19:5).
the wicked—Greek, "lawless": who set at defiance the laws of nature, as well as man and God. The Lord reminds us of Lot's faithfulness, but not of his sin in the cave: so in Rahab's case.
(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)
8. vexed—Greek, "tormented."
The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
9. knoweth how—He is at no loss for means, even when men see no escape.
out of—not actually from.
to be punished—Greek, "being punished": as the fallen angels (2Pe 2:4), actually under sentence, and awaiting its final execution. Sin is already its own penalty; hell will be its full development.
But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
10. chiefly—They especially will be punished (Jude 8).
lust of uncleanness—defilement: "hankering after polluting and unlawful use of the flesh" [Alford].
government—Greek, "lordship," "dominion" (Jude 8).
Presumptuous—Greek, "Darers." Self-will begets presumption. Presumptuously daring.
are not afraid—though they are so insignificant in might; Greek, "tremble not" (Jude 8, end).
speak evil of—Greek, "blaspheme."
Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.
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."
But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;
12. (Jude 19).
But—In contrast to the "angels," 2Pe 2:11.
brute—Greek, "irrational." In contrast to angels that "excel in strength."
beasts—Greek, "animals" (compare Ps 49:20).
natural—transposed in the oldest manuscripts, "born natural," that is, born naturally so: being in their very nature (that is, naturally) as such (irrational animals), born to be taken and destroyed (Greek, "unto capture and destruction," or corruption, see on Ga 6:8; compare end of this verse, "shall perish," literally, "shall be corrupted," in their own corruption. Jude 10, naturally … corrupt themselves," and so destroy themselves; for one and the same Greek word expresses corruption, the seed, and destruction, the developed fruit).
speak evil of—Greek, "in the case of things which they understand not." Compare the same presumption, the parent of subsequent Gnostic error, producing an opposite, though kindred, error, the worshipping of good angels": Col 2:18, "intruding into those things which he hath not seen."
And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;
13. receive—"shall carry off as their due."
reward of—that is, for their "unrighteousness" [Alford]. Perhaps it is implied, unrighteousness shall be its own reward or punishment. "Wages of unrighteousness" (2Pe 2:15) has a different sense, namely, the earthly gain to be gotten by "unrighteousness."
in the daytime—Translate as Greek, "counting the luxury which is in the daytime (not restricted to night, as ordinary revelling. Or as Vulgate and Calvin, "the luxury which is but for a day": so Heb 11:25, "the pleasures of sin for a season"; and Heb 12:16, Esau) to be pleasure," that is, to be their chief good and highest enjoyment.
blemishes—disgraces: bringing blame (so the Greek) on the Church and on Christianity itself.
sporting themselves—Greek, "luxuriating."
deceivings—or else passively, "deceits": luxuries gotten by deceit. Compare Mt 13:22, "Deceitfulness of riches"; Eph 4:22, "Deceitful lusts." While deceiving others, they are deceived themselves. Compare with English Version, Php 3:19, "Whose glory is in their shame." "Their own" stands in opposition to "you": "While partaking of the love-feast (compare Jude 12) with you," they are at the same time "luxuriating in their own deceivings," or "deceits" (to which latter clause answers Jude 12, end: Peter presents the positive side, "they luxuriate in their own deceivings"; Jude, the negative, "feeding themselves without fear"). But several of the oldest manuscripts, Vulgate, Syriac, and Sahidic Versions read (as Jude), "In their own love-feasts": "their own" will then imply that they pervert the love-feasts so as to make them subserve their own self-indulgent purposes.
Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:
14. full of adultery—literally, "full of an adulteress," as though they carried about adulteresses always dwelling in their eyes: the eye being the avenue of lust [Horneius]. Bengel makes the adulteress who fills their eyes, to be "alluring desire."
that cannot cease—"that cannot be made to cease from sin."
beguiling—"laying baits for."
unstable—not firmly established in faith and piety.
heart—not only the eyes, which are the channel, but the heart, the fountain head of lust. Job 31:7, "Mine heart walked after mine eyes."
covetous practices—The oldest manuscripts read singular, "covetousness."
cursed children—rather as Greek, "children of curse," that is, devoted to the curse. Cursing and covetousness, as in Balaam's case, often go together: the curse he designed for Israel fell on Israel's foes and on himself. True believers bless, and curse not, and so are blessed.
Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;
15. have—Some of the seducers are spoken of as already come, others as yet to come.
following—out: so the Greek.
the way—(Nu 22:23, 32; Isa 56:11).
son of Bosor—the same as Beor (Nu 22:5). This word was adopted, perhaps, because the kindred word Basar means flesh; and Balaam is justly termed son of carnality, as covetous, and the enticer of Israel to lust.
loved the wages of unrighteousness—and therefore wished (in order to gain them from Balak) to curse Israel whom God had blessed, and at last gave the hellish counsel that the only way to bring God's curse on Israel was to entice them to fleshly lust and idolatry, which often go together.
But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbad the madness of the prophet.
16. was rebuked—Greek, "had a rebuke," or conviction; an exposure of his specious wickedness on his being tested (the root verb of the Greek noun means to "convict on testing").
his—Greek, "his own": his own beast convicted him of his own iniquity.
ass—literally, "beast of burden"; the ass was the ordinary animal used in riding in Palestine.
dumb—Greek, "voiceless-speaking in man's voice"; marking the marvellous nature of the miracle.
forbade—literally, "hindered." It was not the words of the ass (for it merely deprecated his beating it), but the miraculous fact of its speaking at all, which withstood Balaam's perversity in desiring to go after God had forbidden him in the first instance. Thus indirectly the ass, and directly the angel, rebuked his worse than asinine obstinacy; the ass turned aside at the sight of the angel, but Balaam, after God had plainly said, Thou shalt not go, persevered in wishing to go for gain; thus the ass, in act, forbade his madness. How awful a contrast—a dumb beast forbidding an inspired prophet!
These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.
17. (Jude 12, 13.)
wells—"clouds" in Jude; both promising (compare 2Pe 2:19) water, but yielding none; so their "great swelling words" are found on trial to be but "vanity" (2Pe 2:18).
clouds—The oldest manuscripts and versions read, "mists," dark, and not transparent and bright as "clouds" often are, whence the latter term is applied sometimes to the saints; fit emblem of the children of darkness. "Clouds" is a transcriber's correction from Jude 12, where it is appropriate, "clouds … without water" (promising what they do not perform); but not here, "mists driven along by a tempest."
mist—blackness; "the chilling horror accompanying darkness" [Bengel].
For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
18. allure—Greek, "lay baits for."
through—Greek, "in"; the lusts of the flesh being the element IN which they lay their baits.
much wantonness—Greek, "by licentiousness"; the bait which they lay.
clean escaped—Greek, "really escaped." But the oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read, "scarcely," or "for but a little time"; scarcely have they escaped from them who live in error (the ungodly world), when they are allured by these seducers into sin again (2Pe 2:20).
While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
19. promise … liberty—(Christian)—These promises are instances of their "great swelling words" (2Pe 2:18). The liberty which they propose is such as fears not Satan, nor loathes the flesh. Pauline language, adopted by Peter here, and 1Pe 2:16; see on 1Pe 2:16; (compare 2Pe 3:15; Ro 6:16-22; 8:15, 21; Ga 5:1, 13; compare Joh 8:34).
corruption—(See on 2Pe 2:12); "destroyed … perish … corruption."
of whom—"by whatever … by the same," &c.
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
20. after they—the seducers "themselves" have escaped (2Pe 2:19; see on Heb 6:4-6).
pollutions—which bring "corruption" (2Pe 2:19).
knowledge—Greek, "full and accurate knowledge."
the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ—solemnly expressing in full the great and gracious One from whom they fall.
latter end is worse … than the beginning—Peter remembers Christ's words. "Worse" stands opposed to "better" (2Pe 2:21).
For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
21. the way of righteousness—"the way of truth" (2Pe 2:2). Christian doctrine, and "the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour."
turn—back again; so the Greek.
from the holy commandment—the Gospel which enjoins holiness; in opposition to their corruption. "Holy," not that it makes holy, but because it ought to be kept inviolate [Tittmann].
delivered—once for all; admitting no turning back.
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.
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.