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Bible Commentaries
2 Peter 2

The Expositor's Greek TestamentExpositor's Greek Testament

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Verse 1

2 Peter 2:1 . ψευδοπροφῆται ἐν τῷ λαῷ . ἐν τῷ λαῷ is used for the chosen people in LXX. ψευδοπροφῆται . A class of False Prophets is frequently mentioned in the O.T. In the earlier ages it is not suggested that there was conscious deceit on the part of the prophet. His prophecy is false, if it is proved so by the event (Jeremiah 28:9 ). “When a prophet lies, without being inspired by a false or impotent god, it is because God in His anger against Israel’s sin means to destroy him, and therefore put into the prophets ‘a lying spirit’ ”. (Schulz. O.T. Th. i. 257). Cf. 1 Kings 22:5 ff. These are the prophets who cry “peace, peace,” when God is really going to bring judgment. In the later period superstitious acts and pagan practices, such as spiritualism, ventriloquism, professional soothsaying, became common ( e.g. Jeremiah 27:9 ; Isaiah 8:19 ). The cardinal distinction between the true and the false prophet lay in the moral character of their teaching (Jeremiah 23:21-22 ). ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι . The characteristics of their teaching are well-marked in this Epistle. See Introduction, pp. 115 ff. Compare Philippians 3:18 f., “enemies of the Cross,” who brought tears of shame to the eyes of the Apostle; the abuses of the Lord’s Supper in 1 Corinthians 11:0 .; also Galatians 2:4 , 2 Corinthians 11:13 .

παρεισάξουσιν . What is the force of παρα -? The idea of “stealth” or “secrecy” “stealthily to introduce” is hardly in accord with their character described elsewhere as τολμηταὶ αὐθάδεις , δόξας οὐ τρέμουσιν βλασφημοῦντες (2 Peter 2:10 ). Rather the idea seems to be of the introduction of false teaching alongside the true, whereby the ὁδὸς ἀληθείας is brought into disrepute. Cf. παρεισενέγκαντες , 2 Peter 1:5 . The idea of stealth is present in παρεισάκτους (Galatians 2:5 ). αἱρέσεις . Clearly αἵρεσις here is used in original sense of “tenet” (“animus,” “sententia”) (So Spitta, von Soden, Weiss; but cf. Zahn., op. cit. ii. 233). In Gal 5:20 , 1 Corinthians 11:19 , the sense is “dissensions,” arising from such diversity of opinion. It is used in the sense of “sect” in Acts 5:17 ; Acts 15:5 ; Acts 24:5 . The ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι were within the Church. Even the “Alogi,” who disputed the fourth Gospel in second century, were not excommunicated. They were, as Epiphanius says, “one of ourselves”. Cf. MME., Expos. Feb. 1908. αἱρέσεις ἀπωλείας . The Genitive contains the qualifying idea “corrupting tenets”. Our identification with a great cause may be maintained, as in the case of the false teachers, but personal motives may sadly deteriorate, and the influence of the life may breed corruption. Cf. Ignat. Trall. vi. 1; Eph. vi. 2. καὶ τὸν ἀγορ .… ἀρνούμενοι . καὶ = “even”. Cf. Mark 1:27 . If the ordinary use of δεσπότης in early Christian writers is followed here, viz. , as referring to God, ἀγοράζω would also be used of God, who redeemed Israel out of Egypt (2 Samuel 7:23 ). The reference here, however, is to Christ ( cf. Mayor, p. 17.). The N.T. use of ἀγορ . is illustrated in 1 Corinthians 6:20 , where reference might be to God; but in 2 Samuel 7:23 reference is clearly to Christ. So in Revelation 5:9 . Cf. our Lord’s words in Mark 10:45 , about “giving his life a ransom” and Jude 2 Peter 2:4 . The “denial” seems to have consisted in an inadequate view of the Person and Work of Christ, and their relation to the problem of human sin. Cf. Epp. of Peter , J. H. Jowett, pp. 230 ff. ταχινὴν . See note on 2 Peter 1:14 . ἐπάγοντες . The middle might have been expected. cf. v. 5, where the active is suitably used.

Verses 1-3

2 Peter 2:1-3 . The False Teachers and their Judgment . “Yet there were also false prophets in the ancient community, just as among you there will be false teachers. They will not hesitate to introduce alongside the truth corrupting heresies, even denying their Redeemer, and bringing on themselves swift destruction. Many will imitate their vicious example, and thereby the way of truth will be discredited. Nay, further, actuated by covetousness, they will make merchandise of you by lying words. Yet you must not think that the judgment passed on all such long ago is inactive. Their destruction is awaiting them.”

Verse 2

2 Peter 2:2 . ἀσελγείαις . are “acts of lasciviousness”. ὁδὸς τῆς ἀληθείας . ἀληθεία contains the root-idea of “genuineness”. It combines the ideas of the knowledge of God and His purposes in Christ; and of the human obligation to right living that springs from it. “He that doeth truth cometh to the light.” The writer of 2 Peter is, as always, concerned to oppose a merely intellectual Gnosticism, which has its ultimate fruit in immorality. Cf. Psalms 119:29-30 . βλασφημηθήσεται . The whole Church suffered in reputation because of these men. Cf. Romans 2:24 , 1 Timothy 6:1 .

Verse 3

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. James 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., 584 5 (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.

Verse 4

2 Peter 2:4 . εἰ γὰρ ὁ θεός … introducing a series of conditional sentences. The apodosis is found in οἶδεν κύριος … of 2 Peter 2:9 . σειραῖς . No doubt a rendering of δεσμοῖς in Jude 1:6 , agreeably to the practice of this writer, who is somewhat fond of using rarer words, instead of the more commonplace. σειρά usually means a “cord” or “rope” (Homer, Il. xxiii., 115, Od. xxii., 175). It would seem to mean “a golden chain” in Il. viii., 19, 25, cf. Plato. Theatetus , i. 53 C. The meaning “fetters” is peculiar to 2 Peter (for var. lect. σειροῖς , see textual note). ταρταρώσας = “cast into Tartarus”. The verb is a ἅπαξ λεγ . τάρταρος occurs in three passages of LXX. (Job 40:15 (Job 40:20 ), Job 41:22 (Job 41:23 ), Prov. 24:51 (Proverbs 30:16 ): but in none of these is there any corresponding idea in the Hebrew. The word also occurs in Enoch xx. 2, where Gehenna is the place of punishment for apostate Jews, and Tartarus for the fallen angels. In Homer ( e.g. Il. viii. 13) Hades is the place of confinement for dead men, and Tartarus is the name given to a murky abyss beneath Hades in which the sins of fallen Immortals (Kronos, Japetos, and the Titans) are punished ( cf. Salmond, H.B.D. 2:344 a ). Hence 2 Peter uses this word in agreement with the Book of Enoch and Greek mythology, because he is speaking of fallen angels and not of men. As regards the cosmology that is here implied, it has been suggested that the earth is not regarded as flat, but the universe is conceived as two concentric spheres, the outer heaven, the inner the earth. The nether half of heaven is Tartarus, and the nether half of the earth is Hades (St. Clair, Expositor , July, 1902). The use of the word by 2 Peter is remarkable as implying an atmosphere of Greek thought in the circle in which he moved, and for which he wrote. ζόφος in Homer is used of the gloom of the nether world, Od. xx. 356, cf. Hebrews 12:18 . Also Hebrews 12:17 and Jude 1:6 ; Jude 1:13 . It is implied that fallen angels and unrighteous men alike undergo temporary punishment until the day of their final doom, cf. Jude 1:9 . Enoch x. 4, 12, lxxxviii. 2.

Verses 4-10

2 Peter 2:4-10 a . A historical illustration of the Divine judgment on the wicked, and care of the righteous .

“God spared not angels who sinned, but having cast them into Tartarus, gave them over to chains of darkness, reserving them for judgment. He spared not the ancient world, but guarded Noah, with seven others, while the impious world was overwhelmed by a flood. So Divine judgment was extended to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, which were overwhelmed by ashes, and overthrown by earthquake, as an example of what is in store for impious persons, while righteous Lot was delivered, grieved and wearied as he was by the profligate life of the lawless. For day after day this man with his righteous instincts, in his life among them, was vexed with the sight and sound of their lawless deeds. In all this we have a proof that the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of trial, and to keep the ungodly under discipline until the day of judgment, especially those who follow the polluting lusts of the flesh and despise authority.”

Verse 5

2 Peter 2:5 . ἀρχαίου κόσμου . The article is omitted, which is not a mark of illiteracy. This chapter is prophetic in form, and the omission of the article is characteristic of that style. Cf. Job 3:10 , Judges 5:5 . (See Mayor, Ed. xxxiv. xxxv.). δικαιοσύνης κήρυκα . κηρ . in this sense is used in N.T. only here, and in 1 Timothy 2:7 , 2 Timothy 1:11 . 2 Timothy 1:2 Peter again borrows from Jewish tradition as to the preaching of Noah. Cf. Jos. Antiq. i. 3, 1, Clem. Rom. i. 7. κατακλυσμόν , cf. Matthew 24:38-39 , Luke 7:27 , Genesis 6:17 . ἐπάξας . Aorist participle implies co-incident action. “He saved N.… while he sent, etc.” ἐπάγω is used of “setting-on,” “letting loose,” e.g. “dogs”. Odyssey , xix. 445, Xen. Cyr. x. 19. ὄγδοον . “with seven others”. Classical Greek usage is to add αὐτόν . There is much difficulty as to the significance of the numeral. The reference is no doubt to the number of Noah’s family. The numeral is placed in a prominent place in the sentence to lay stress on the small number saved out of the inhabited world, as a striking example of mercy in the midst of judgment, cf. 1 Peter 3:20 . Cf. P. Petr. iii. 28. ὅτι ἐδραγματοκλέπτει τρίτος ὤν ( bis ), cf. Abbott, J. G §. 562

Verse 6

2 Peter 2:6 . πόλεις Σοδ . καὶ Γομορρ . Not genitive of apposition, but cities of the district, where Sodom and Gomorrah were situated. cf. Jude 1:7 . Σ . καὶ Γ . καὶ αἱ περὶ αὐτὰς πόλεις καταστροφῇ κατέκρινεν . καταστροφῇ is dative of instrument, “condemned them by overthrow”. Genesis 19:24-25 seems to imply some further destruction after the fire. Perhaps an earthquake is meant, a common accompanying phenomenon of volcanic disturbance. ὑπόδειγμα … τεθεικώς , “constituting them an example to ungodly persons of things in store for them.” With μελλ . cf. Hebrews 11:20 , Colossians 2:17 . τεφρώσας = “cover up with ashes” (not “reduce to ashes”) found in a description of the eruption of Vesuvius. (Dio. Cass. lxvi. p. 1094).

Verse 7

2 Peter 2:7 . καταπονούμενον , the word applied to the condition of the slave whom Moses delivered, Acts 7:24 . It implies outward discomfort. ἀθέσμων . Cf. 2 Peter 3:17 , “a stronger word than ἄνομος , because θεσμός is used especially of a divine ordinance, a fundamental law” (Mayor).

Verse 8

2 Peter 2:8 . βλέμματι γὰρ καὶ ἀκοῇ . Two interpretations are possible (1) Instrumental dative after ἐβασάνιζεν . “He vexed his righteous soul by what he saw and heard.” The objections are ( a ) the long interval that separates βλ . κ . τ . λ . from ἐβασάνιζεν , ( b ) that βλέμμα is never elsewhere used of the thing seen, but is used of sight from the subjective, emotional, and volitional point of view. Hence (2), reading δίκαιος without the article, and taking βλ . κ . τ . λ . with that word, we may translate with the Vulgate “aspectu et auditu Justus”. His instincts of eye and ear were nobler than those of the society around him. ἡμέραν ἐξ ἡμέρας . “Day in, day out.” Cf. ἡμέρα καθ ἡμέραν in Psalms 68:19 . ἐβασάνιζεν . It is somewhat peculiar that the active should be used. “He vexed, distressed his righteous soul.” May it not be that in the use of the active a certain sense of personal culpability is implied? Lot was conscious that the situation was ultimately due to his own selfish choice ( cf. von Soden).

Verse 9

2 Peter 2:9 . οἶδεν Κύριος , κ . τ . λ . Apodosis to protasis begun in 2 Peter 2:4 . πειρασμοῦ . See Mayor’s note on James 1:2 . The idea here is primarily of those surroundings that try a man’s fidelity and integrity, and not of the inward inducement to sin, arising from the desires. Both Noah and Lot were in the midst of mockers and unbelievers. This πειρασμός is the atmosphere in which faith is brought to full development. It was a condition even of the life of Jesus. ὑμεῖς δὲ ἐστε οἱ διαμεμενηκότες μετʼ ἐμοῦ ἐν τοῖς πειρασμοῖς μου (Luke 22:28 ). It is the word used by St. Luke of the Temptation (Luke 4:13 ). On the one hand, πειρασμός is not to be lightly sought (Luke 11:4 ), or entered into carelessly (Mark 14:38 ); the situation of πειρασμός may itself be the result of sin (1 Timothy 6:9 ). On the other hand, it is a joyous opportunity for the development of spiritual and moral strength (James 1:2 ; James 1:12 ). πειρασμός becomes sin only when it ceases to be in opposition to the will. The word is peculiar to the N.T. ἀδίκους δὲ εἰς ἡμέραν κρίσεως κολαζομένους τηρεῖν : “to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment”. The reference may be the same as in 1 Peter 3:19 , τοῖς ἐν φυλακῇ πνεύμασιν , if we interpret “spirits in prison” as meaning those who had disobeyed the preaching of Noah, and to whom Christ preached. Cf. Book of Enoch, x. 4 f. ἡμέραν κρίσεως . This day is also the day of Parousia. The same expression is used in 2 Peter 3:7 . It is called ἡμέρα κυρίου (2 Peter 3:10 ); ἡ τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμέρα (2 Peter 3:12 ). Three great results are brought about on that day. (1) The ungodly will suffer ἀπώλεια (2 Peter 3:7 ; cf. 2 Peter 2:1 , 2 Peter 3:16 ). It is noteworthy that the ultimate fate of the fallen angels is not described except as κρίσις (2 Peter 2:4 ). (2) Dissolution of the material universe by fire (2 Peter 3:11 , 2 Peter 3:7 , 2 Peter 3:12 , 2 Peter 3:10 ). (3) The righteous are promised “new heavens and a new earth”. In this new universe, or environment, righteousness has its home (2 Peter 3:13 ). The difficult passage (2 Peter 1:19 ), about the day-star, has reference to this ἡμέρα κυρίου , when the great Day shall dawn, and the sign of it shall cheer the hearts of the faithful, and the lamp of prophecy will be no longer needed.

Verse 10

2 Peter 2:10 b . τολμηταὶ αὐθάδεις . αὐθ . is to be taken as an epithet of τολμηταὶ . The idea in τολμ . is of shameless and irreverent daring. αὐθάδεις ( αὐτὸς and ἥδομαι ) = “self-willed,” “arrogant”. In 1 Timothy 1:7 , the ἐπίσκοπος must not be αὐθάδης , where the thought seems to be of irresponsibility in regard to the community. Cf. Didache 2 Peter 3:6 , μὴ γίνου γόγγυσος · ἐπειδὴ ὁδηγεῖ εἰς τὴν βλασφημίαν · μηδὲ αὐθάδης μηδὲ πονηρόφρων . ἐκ γὰρ τούτων ἁπάντων βλασφημίαι γεννῶνται . The false teachers push forward their views, regardless of consequences. Cf. P. Amh. 78, 13 f. (ii., A.D.), μ [ ου ] πλεονεκτῖ ἄνθρωπος ἀ ( υ ) θάδης . “An audacious man is taking advantage of me.” δόξας οὐ τρέμουσιν βλασφημοῦντες . δόξας is used of Unseen Powers whether good or evil. How can βλασφημ . be used of evil powers? It is obvious that we must find some sense for βλασφημεῖν here; and also in Jude 1:8 , that will be applicable to δόξας , apart altogether from their moral character. In Plato, Rep. 381 E, there occurs a passage dealing with the popular conception of the gods, which holds that they may sometimes change their form, and “in the likeness of wandering strangers, bodied in manifold forms, go roaming from city to city” ( cf. Homer, Od. xvii. 485). By such notions, as taught for example by mothers to their children, men may be said, “ εἰς θεοὺς βλασφημεῖν ”. Not only are these a misrepresentation of the Divine, but their tendency is to make light of it, belittle it, detract from its dignity. Some such sense of βλ . seems to be required here. The false teachers may have scoffed at the idea both of angelic help, and of diabolic temptation. Their tendency seems to have been to make light of the Unseen, to foster a sense of the unreality both of sin and of goodness, and to reduce the motives of conduct to a vulgar hedonism ( cf. Mayor’s note, P. 74).

Verse 11

2 Peter 2:11 . ὅπου = “whereas”. The interpretation of this verse turns on the meaning of κατʼ αὐτῶν . Does it refer to the false teachers, or to a distinction between two sets of angels, which finds an illustration in the contest between Michael and Satan for the body of Moses? (Jude 1:9 ). In the latter case κατʼ αὐτῶν would refer to the fallen angels. Another possible interpretation is that ἄγγελοι ἰσχύϊ καὶ δυνάμει μείζονες ὄντες are a superior class of archangels (Spitta), and κατʼ αὐτῶν would refer to the δόξαι in general. Chase suggests that the reference is to the false teachers, and angels are represented as bringing before the Lord tidings as to the conduct of created beings, whether angels or men ( op. cit. 797 b ).

We may note the tendency in 2 Peter exemplified here to put in general terms what Jude states in the particular, in the story of Michael and Satan. The particulars of Jude are omitted (as also the name Enoch afterwards) in order to avoid direct reference to apocryphal writings. Accordingly the sentence, οὐ φέρουσιν κατʼ αὐτῶν βλάσφημον κρίσιν , is only intelligible by reference to Jude 1:9 , where Michael does not himself condemn Satan, but says ἐπιτιμήσαι σοι κύριος . Cf. note on βλασφημοῦντες , 2 Peter 2:10 .

Verse 12

2 Peter 2:12 . γεγεννημένα φυσικὰ “born creatures of instinct”. Instinct is here distinguished from the rational centres of thought and judgment. They are ἄλογα ζῷα . Their chief characteristic is that they are “alive,” and have no sense of the moral issues of life. Like animals, they exist εἰς ἅλωσιν καὶ φθοράν . ἐν οἷς ἀγνοοῦσιν βλασφημοῦντες = ἐν τούτοις ἃ … “Speaking lightly of things they are ignorant of”. Spiritually they are incapable. They know not what they do, in thus clouding moral issues, ἐν τῇ φθορᾷ αὐτῶν καὶ φθαρήσονται . Here is a subtle example of the dependence of this epistle upon Jude. In Jude 1:10 , we have ἐν τούτοις φθείρονται , referring to ὅσα δὲ φυσικῶς … ἐπίστανται . The sense in 2 Peter is confused, and there is no distinction between the two kinds of knowledge, although the intended meaning in both passages is the same. Cf. Romans 8:5-6 .

Verse 13

2 Peter 2:13 . ἀδικούμενοι μισθὸν ἀδικίας ( cf. 2 Peter 2:12 ). This playing upon words is characteristic of 2 Peter, ἀδικεῖν has usually the sense of “doing harm to” ( cf. Acts 25:10 ; Galatians 4:12 ). Here it would seem to mean “being defrauded of the wages of fraud,” or “being done out of the wages of wrong-doing”. It has been customary to see in this phrase an illustration of the irresponsible use of words in 2 Peter. “Another example of the author’s love of far-fetched and artificial expressions” (Mayor). In P. Eleph., however 27a 24 / (iii. B.C.), the writers ask for a receipt with reference to a certain business transaction. τούτου δὲ γενομένου ἐσόμεθα οὐκ ἠδικημένοι “this having been arranged, we shall not be defrauded”. To this may be added Mayor’s citation of Plut. Cato Mi. 17 (p. 766) εὑρὼν χρέα παλαιὰ τῷ δημοσίῳ πολλοὺς ὀφείλοντας καὶ πολλοῖς τὸ δημόσιον , ἅμα τὴν πόλιν ἔπαυσεν ἀδικουμένην καὶ ἀδικοῦσαν . The accusative rei after ἀδικ . is very unusual. In classical writers it is found only with ἀδίκημα . μισθὸν ἀδικίας suggests the experience of Balaam, of whom the same expression is used in 2 Peter 2:15 , who never received his promised hire from Balak (Numbers 24:11 ). Death deprives the false teachers of all their reward. For significance of the name “Balaam,” in connexion with the false teachers, see Introduction, p. 118. ἡδονὴν in N.T. only in a bad sense, cf. Luke 8:14 , Titus 3:3 , James 4:1-3 . τρυφή only in N.T. in Luke 7:25 where it is used of “delicate living,” a luxurious life, but with no special blame attached. The word is also used of gifts of wisdom in Proverbs 4:9 , cf. Psalms 36:8 , “the river of thy pleasures”. Eden is called παράδεισος τῆς τρυφῆς , Genesis 2:15 ; Genesis 3:13 ; Genesis 3:24 . ἐν ἡμέρᾳ , “in the day-time”, ‘in broad day-light”. σπίλοι καὶ μῶμοι , cf. Ephesians 5:27 , 2Pe 3:14 , 1 Peter 1:19 , Jude 1:12 . μῶμος “reproach,” “disgrace”. Cf. Hort. on 1 Peter 1:19 , where he traces the way in which μῶμος and ἄμωμος , came to be used with superficial meaning of “blemish,” cf. Ephesians 1:4 ; Ephesians 5:27 , Hebrews 9:14 . ἐντρυφῶντες : “to be luxurious,” cf. Xen. Hell. 4:1, 30. ἐν ταῖς ἀπάταις αὐτῶν : to be taken with ἐντρυφ . ἀπάτη is a favourite word of Hermas ( Mand. viii. 5) and is frequently joined by him with τρυφή ( Mand. xi. 12 and throughout Parable 6). According to Deissmann, ἀπάτη in popular Hellenistic has the meaning “pleasure”. Cf. Matthew 13:22 = Mark 4:19 (Luke 8:14 ), (see his Hellenisierung des semitischen Monothesismus , ( Neue Fahrb. f. d. Klass. Altertum , 1903), p. 165, n. 5).

Verse 14

2 Peter 2:14 . ἀκαταπαύστους ἀμαρτίας . For use of genitive with this verb, cf. 1 Peter 4:1 . See Grammatical Note. δελεάζοντες . Cf. 2 Peter 2:18 and Mayor’s note on James 1:14 , “entice or catch by a bait”. κατάρας τέκνα . Cf. τέκνα ὑπακοῆς , 1 Peter 1:14 .

Verse 15

2 Peter 2:15 . τῇ ὁδῷ τοῦ Βαλαὰμ . The comparison of the conduct of the False Teachers to that of Balaam is significant as determining their character and motive (see Introduction, pp. 115 ff.). The writer of 2 Peter takes the miraculous narrative in Numbers 22:21-35 literally. It is no disparagement of the value of the illustration that we, in our day, can no longer do so. Balaam had the gift of real spiritual vision. He is described in Numbers 24:16 as one “whose eye was closed,” i.e. to outer things, and also as one “which seeth the vision of the Almighty, falling down and having his eyes open,” i.e. to spiritual vision. Balaam was one who allowed the greed of gain to become stronger than the prophetic impulse. He is conscious that he is tempting God, and an evil conscience makes him irritable. He fears lest God may yet interfere to rob him of his reward. When the ass starts aside he beats it, but ultimately his passion is subdued by the momentary triumph of his higher spiritual instincts, when he begins to suspect that in the stubbornness of the animal there is really the power of God exercised to hinder him in his course. The angel with the drawn sword is often the form that men’s religion takes who are disobeying the voice of conscience. “There is a strange depth of meaning in the appealing eye of an ill-treated animal. It is an appeal, in the first place, to whatever remnant of pity and generosity may still survive in the heart of the man who ill-treats it, but it is an appeal, in the second place, to the justice of the God who made them both, a cry of which we may be sure it has entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth. When animals are put to unnecessary suffering, either in the shambles or as beasts of burden, or in the interests of science or sport, or for any other reason, cases are sure to arise in which we may justly apply the words of our Epistle, and say of such poor tortured creatures that with their dying gaze, no less clearly than if they had spoken with man’s voice, they forbade the madness of their torturers” (Mayor, p. 203). Cf. F. W. Robertson, Sermons , Ser. iv. pp. 40 f.

Verses 15-16

2 Peter 2:15-16 . Example of Balaam . “They have left the straight way and wandered from it, having followed the way of Balaam, who loved the ways of wickedness, and was rebuked for his transgression, when a dumb ass spoke with a man’s voice, and forbade the infatuation of the prophet.”

Verse 16

2 Peter 2:16 . ἔλεγξιν δὲ ἔσχεν , a periphrasis for the passive of ἐλέγχω , = “was rebuked”. ἰδίας παρανομίας , emphatic, “his own transgression”. Two interpretations of ἰδίας are possible. (1) The παρανομ . is a characteristic trait in Balaam (Keil. Weiss). (2) As prophet, Belaam was expected to do and teach God’s law. He whose duty it is to rebuke others is himself rebuked for his own transgression” (Hundhausen, Wiesinger). παρανομία = “a particular transgression” as distinct from ἀνομία = “disobedience in general”, παραφρονίαν , “infatuation”. Balaam is proceeding against what he knows to be the Divine will.

Verse 17

2 Peter 2:17 . πηγαὶ … ἐλαυνόμεναι . It is interesting to compare the expressions in 2 Peter here with Jude 1:12 . It would appear as though he had felt that νεφέλαι ἄνυδροι was a contradiction in terms, and instead he substituted πηγαὶ . λαίλαπος is a strong expression = “gale,” a “storm of wind”. Cf. Mark 4:37 , Luke 8:23 . οἷς ὁ ζόφος … τετήρηται is somewhat out of place here, and is used appropriately of meteors in Jude 1:13 .

Verses 17-19

2 Peter 2:17-19 . The Libertines are themselves slaves . “They are like waterless wells, and mists that the wind disperses. For them is reserved the fate of gloomy darkness. They utter ponderous nothings, and allure through their lusts those who were just escaping from the temptations of heathen life. Promising freedom to others, they are themselves slaves of corruption. Every one is a slave to that which has mastered him.”

Verse 18

2 Peter 2:18 . ὑπέρογκα . Cf. Jude 1:16 . No doubt the reference is to the use of Gnostic terms. ματαιότης , used specially of moral insincerity. Cf. ματαίας ἀναστροφῆς , “heartless conduct,” 1 Peter 1:18 . There is no corresponding reality behind their words. σαρκὸς , to be taken with ἀσελγείαις , which is in apposition to ἐπιθυμίαις . τοὺς ὀλίγως ἀποφεύγοντας : “those who are just escaping”; who have been impressed with Christian truth, and have had strength to separate themselves from their old surroundings and customs; but are led to return through the compromises suggested by the false teachers. The phenomenon is not uncommon in all missionary work, of men who have escaped from “Gentile vices, but are not yet established in Christian virtues” (Bigg). τοὺς ἐν πλάνῃ ἀναστρεφομένους = governed by ἀποφεύγοντας : “(escaping from) those who live in error”; i.e. from their old heathen companionships. “There is great passion in the words. Grandiose sophistry is the hook, filthy lust is the bait, with which these men catch those whom the Lord had delivered, or was delivering” (Bigg).

Verse 19

2 Peter 2:19 . ἐλευθερίαν . Doubtless that Antinomianism is indicated to which the doctrine of Grace has ever been open. Cf. Galatians 5:13 . It arises from the ever-recurring confusion of liberty and license. The training of conscience is contemporaneous with the growth of Christian character. The Pauline teaching, which abrogated external legality, was open to abuse, and might easily be dangerous to recent converts from heathenism. φθορᾶς . See Mayor’s note, ed. p. 175. φθορά is that gradual decay of spiritual and moral sense that follows on wilful self-indulgence. ᾧγάρ … διδούλωται . cf. Romans 6:16 ; Romans 8:21 , John 8:34 .

Verse 20

2 Peter 2:20 . Here, again, γὰρ loosely introduces the subject of the victims allured by the false teachers away from their former faith. τὰ μιάσματα τοῦ κόσμου . (Leviticus 7:8 , Jer. 39:34), occurs only here in N.T. In LXX the word seems to have a technical religious sense, the profanation of flesh by ordinary use which is set apart for sacrifice. This sense lingers here. The body is sacred to God, and to give licentious rein to the passions is μίασμα . Cf. μιασμός , 2 Peter 2:10 , and μιαίνω , Jude 1:8 . τοῦ κόσμου is the world in the sense of the heathen society and its practises. ἐπιγνώσει . See note on 2 Peter 1:2 . τούτοις is governed by ἐμπλακέντες = “entangled by these”. Cf. 2 Timothy 2:4 , γέγονεν αὐτοῖς , κ . τ . λ . Cf. Matthew 12:45 , Luke 11:26 , and Hebrews 6:4-8 ; Hebrews 10:26 .

Verses 20-22

2 Peter 2:20-22 . The consequences of falling away . “The case of their victims is a serious one. They have escaped from the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of Jesus Christ, and are once more entangled and worsted by these. Their last state becomes worse than the first. It were better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than in spite of such knowledge, to depart from the holy commandment committed to them. They illustrate the truth of the proverb: ‘the dog that turned back to his own vomit, and the sow that went to bathe to wallowing in the mud’.”

Verse 21

2 Peter 2:21 . ὁδὸν τῆς δικαιοσύνης . Also called “the way of truth,” 2 Peter 2:2 , “the straight way,” 2 Peter 2:15 . ἐντολῆς . Elsewhere in N.T. the singular is used to mean a particular precept. Cf. Romans 7:12 , 1 Timothy 6:14 . It is characteristic of this writer to emphasise the aspect of Christianity, not only as faith, but as the moral law ἁγίας ἐντολῆς . Cf. 2 Peter 1:5 . ἐν τῇ πίστει ὑμῶν τὴν ἀρετήν . A strong ethical note pervades the teach-of 2 Peter.

Verse 22

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 βόρβορον … καὶ 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.

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on 2 Peter 2". The Expositor's Greek Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/egt/2-peter-2.html. 1897-1910.
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