2 Peter 2:21
For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it…
By this expression the Apostle Peter denotes the same course of moral life as he designates in previous verses "the way of truth" and "the right way." The epithet "righteous" here employed to define and describe what in the New Testament is sometimes called "the way," is peculiarly suggestive and instructive.
I. IT IS THE WAY DESIGNED BY A RIGHTEOUS GOD. There is nothing that more signally distinguishes the true God from the deities of the heathen than his inflexible righteousness. His character is righteous; his works and the administration of his moral government are righteous; the laws which he promulgates for the direction of his subjects are righteous. "Righteous and true are thy ways, O thou King of the ages!"
II. IT IS A WAY CONSTRUCTED BY A RIGHTEOUS SAVIOUR. The execution of God's righteous plans for man's salvation was by him entrusted to his own Son. In Christ God appears before men as "a just God and a Saviour." The mediatorial dispensation in all its provisions is distinguished by righteousness; it is a revelation of righteousness as much as of love.
III. IT IS A WAY WHICH AVOIDS THE PATHS OF UNRIGHTEOUSNESS. This, it may be objected, is tautological. But it is well to insist upon the fact that there can be no fellowship between light and darkness; that however professed travelers in the narrow way may disgrace their profession by unrighteous conduct, the religion of Christ can tolerate no such practices. Other religions may require only verbal assent or ceremonial conformity, but Christianity demands righteousness of life and, what is more, righteousness of heart. "Except your righteousness," says the Founder of our faith, "exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no wise enter into the kingdom of heaven."
IV. IT IS THE WAY TRODDEN BY RIGHTEOUS MEN. The interest and attractiveness of a road depend in no small measure upon those who are its habitual frequenters. Judged by this test, the way of righteousness has attractions far beyond any other. It is the path which has for centuries been trodden by the great and good. The stimulus and encouragement afforded by the noblest and the best society are there enjoyed.
V. IT IS THE WAY WHICH LEADS TO THE NEW HEAVENS AND THE NEW EARTH WHEREIN DWELLETH RIGHTEOUSNESS. AS is the road, so is its termination, its destination. If righteousness has a hard battle to fight for existence here on earth, it is comforting and inspiriting to be assured that the state to which we are advancing is one where unrighteousness is altogether and for ever unknown.
1. Seek and find this way.
2. Having entered upon it, turn not back, but persevere even unto the end. - J.R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.