2 Peter 2:5
And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness…
In the Book of Genesis we read that Noah was a righteous and blameless man, who found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and walked with God. Josephus, who preserves, it would seem, an old Hebrew tradition, witnesses not only to Noah's just and pious character, but to his ministry to the sinful generation among whom his lot was cast. After describing the sinfulness of the people, Josephus proceeds, "But Noah was very uneasy at what they did; and, being displeased at their conduct, persuaded them to change their dispositions and acts for the better; but, seeing that they did not yield to him, but were slaves to their wicked pleasures, he was afraid they would kill him." The office and ministry ascribed to Noah are required in every generation, and God ever raises up faithful men whom he empowers to discharge amongst their contemporaries the duties devolving upon the preachers of righteousness.
I. THE NECESSITY FOR PREACHERS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
1. This appears from a consideration of man's nature. Human beings are constituted with moral capabilities and with faculties to be employed in a moral life. Intelligence, conscience, and will are the prerogative of men among the inhabitants of this earth. And even the most degraded, those most nearly allied in habits to the brutes, are susceptible of elevation in the scale of moral life. He who examines, fairly and completely, the nature of man must admit that he is made for righteousness.
2. And the requirement of God corresponds with the nature of man. God calls men to righteousness, holds them responsible to himself, as the righteous Governor and Judge, for obedience or disobedience to his commands.
3. Yet it is not to be questioned that the ideal of human character and conduct has not been reached, that unrighteousness has prevailed amongst men, that in the highest sense "there is none that doeth righteousness" - none who has no failings to acknowledge, none who has a perfect obedience to present.
II. THE IMPORT OF THE PREACHING OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
1. The standard of righteousness has to be maintained. It would be base indeed on the part of the preacher were he to substitute an inferior standard for the Law of God, were he to accommodate his teaching to the corrupt nature and the ungodly life of the sinful. The Law, which is holy, just, and good, must he upheld in all its purity and in all its rigidity. And this may he done with the assurance that the conscience, even of the iniquitous, will in all likelihood acknowledge that the right is a higher and better standard than the agreeable or the customary, however human infirmity may have practically adopted and followed the latter. Every minister of religion is bound to insist upon a scriptural rule of right, to apply the laws of morality to all parts of human nature, to all relations of human society.
2. The violators of the Law of righteousness have to be rebuked. Probably the reference in the text is especially to this aspect of the preacher's service. It is not enough to say, "This is what men should be and do!" It is necessary to address to the disobedient the remonstrances, the rebukes, the warnings, which are authorized by the Word of God. Expostulation, reproach, and admonition are not the most agreeable or the most easy parts of a preacher's work; yet they are indispensable, and are often most valuable in their effects. Many faithful preachers have, like Noah, to lament that their rebukes and warnings seem to have been in vain; yet they have the satisfaction of having done their duty and delivered their soul.
3. The restoration of righteousness by means of the Divine Mediator has to he proclaimed. There is a righteousness which is by the Law; but there is also a higher righteousness which is by faith in Christ unto those who believe, and this is exactly adapted to the needs of sinful men, who upon repentance and faith may become "just with God." It is the privilege and the delight of the Christian preacher to exhibit the beauty and appropriateness of this spiritual righteousness, and to invite men to use those means by which they may secure this for themselves.
III. THE METHODS OF THE PREACHING OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
1. The most natural and obvious method is by the utterances of the living voice, the organ by which, according to the constitution imposed upon man, truth is communicated and impression produced by the rousing of deep and divinely implanted emotion.
2. Yet there are other means of preaching righteousness, for which some may be qualified who are not gifted with effective speech. The press affords in these days an outlet for much consecrated Christian energy, and most important is it, when gifted authors are found endeavouring to lower by their writings the standard of human morality, that Christian thinkers and writers should wield their pen, in all departments of literature, in the service of righteousness and of God.
3. In any case righteousness may be, and should be, preached in the impressive and effective language of the life.
IV. THE RESULTS OF THE PREACHING OF RIGHTEOUSNESS.
1. Such preaching must be witness of condemnation against those who refuse it.
2. But to those who accept and obey the Divine message it is the means of salvation and of life eternal. - J.R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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;