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Bible Commentaries
2 Peter 2

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

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Verse 1

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.

Who privily shall bring in — παρεισαξουσιν , or, fraudulently foist in false doctrines under the title of truth, and pretext of piety. Some truths shall teach, the better to persuade to their falsehoods. Together with the gold, silver, and ivory, orthodox tenets, they have store of apes and peacocks, as Solomon’s ships had. Sunt mala mista bonis, sunt bona mista malis.

Denying the Lord that bought them — Or, freed them, viz. from their former idolatries and enormities, ut verbum αγοραζειν frequentius significat, saith one. Or that bought them, as they conceited, and others charitably imagined; but it proved otherwise, as appeared by their apostasy. Christ is said to buy reprobates, in the same sense wherein it is said that the gods of Damascus smote or plagued Ahaz,2 Chronicles 28:23; 2 Chronicles 28:23 , that is, in his opinion they did so: for an idol is nothing in the world, and can do neither good nor evil, Jeremiah 10:5 ; 1 Corinthians 8:4 . Or, that bought them, viz. in laying down a sufficient price for all sinners, in taking upon him the common nature of all men, and in preaching to them in the gospel that he died for sinners indefinitely, offering salvation, and beseeching them to receive it.

Verse 2

And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

The way of truth shall be, … — The ancient Christians were generally hated and hooted at by the heathens for the heretics’ sake, who were also a kind of Christians, as Augustine complaineth (De Cir. Dei). And Epiphanius addeth that many Pagans refused to come near the Christians to join with them in any good exercise, Improbis scelestorum illorum factis consternati, as being offended at the unclean conversation of various heretics, the Priscillianists especially, whose doctrine was,

" Iura, periura, secretum prodere noli. "

Verse 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.

With feigned words — Covetousness is never without a cloak and flattering words 1 Thessalonians 2:5 for a colour; as, what wool is so coarse, but will take some or other colour? Seducers pretend the glory of God and good of souls to their worldly and wicked practices,Philippians 3:18-19; Philippians 3:18-19 . And hereunto they want not fine set words, forms of speech, whereby they first carry captive silly souls, and then make price or merchandise of them; driving a trade with hell, and being factors for the devil, who will thank them well one day for their diligence; like as in the days of Hildebrand letters of thanks were said to be sent from hell to the Popish clergy for those great numbers of souls every day sent thither by their means. (Mat. Paris, 4. D. 1072.)

Verse 4

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;

If God spared not the angels — Though but for one sin only, and that in thought only. It sprang from the admiration of their own gifts, it was confirmed by pride and ambition, it was perfected by envy, stirred by the decree of exalting man’s nature above angels in and by Christ. Some say it was a transgression of some commandment in particular (not expressed), as Adam was.

Verse 5

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;

Bringing in the flood — And so burying them all in one universal grave of waters. In this universal deluge God swept away all: as if he had blotted that out of his title, Exodus 34:6 , and now took up that emperor’s motto, Fiat iustitia et pereat mundus, Let justice be done, though the whole world be undone.

Verse 6

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;

And turning the cities — Burying them likewise in the Dead Sea, after that he had rained down hell from heaven upon them. See Trapp on " Genesis 19:24 " See Trapp on " Genesis 19:25 "

Making them an ensample — Hanging them up in gibbets, as it were, that others might hear and fear.

Verse 7

And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

Vexed — Gr. καταπονουμενοι , labouring under it, as under a heavy burden, and as much tortured as if he had been set upon a rack, as it is 2 Peter 2:8 .

Verse 8

(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

In seeing and hearing — Every sinful Sodomite was a Hazael to his eyes, a Hadadrimmon to his heart.

Vexed his righteous soul — Guilt or grief is all that the good soul gets by conversing with the wicked.

Verse 9

The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

The Lord knoweth how — He hath ways of his own, and commonly goeth a way by himself, such as we think not of; helping them that are forsaken of their hopes. Peter (if any man) might well say, "The Lord knoweth how to deliver his;" for he had been strangely delivered, Acts 12:4-11 .

Verse 10

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.

But chieflySee Trapp on " Hebrews 13:4 "

That walk after the flesh — That is, the harlot; as filthy dogs follow after a salt bitch: so the harlot is called, Deuteronomy 23:18 . The Helvetians had an old custom in their towns and villages, that when they received any new priest into their churches, they used to premonish him before, to take his concubine, lest he should attempt any misuse of their wives and daughters.

To speak evil of dignities — Here we have a lively picture of the Popish clergy. Aretius, by a longer custom of libellous and contumelious speaking against princes, had got such a habit, that at last he came to diminish and disesteem God himself. How boldly and basely doth Baronius bellow against the king of Spain his sovereign! and he defends himself against another cardinal, reprehending his fierceness, thus, An imperious (impetuous he should have said) zeal hath no power to spare God himself.

Verse 11

Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.

Which are greater in power — viz. Than the mightiest monarch, Daniel 10:20 , and are therefore called principalities and powers, 1 Peter 3:22 . Mighty ones, Isaiah 10:34 . See 2 Thessalonians 1:7 ; Exodus 12:23-27 2 Samuel 24:15 ; 2 Kings 19:35 . This is all for our comfort, they being our guardians. See my Common Place of Angels.

Verse 12

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;

As natural brute beasts — Some men put off all manhood, fall beneath the stirrup of reason, and are bestialized, yea, satanized. Such a one was that man mentioned by Luther, who was so possessed with an unclean spirit, a vehement impetus, a spirit of whoredom (as the prophet calleth it), that he was not ashamed to spew out of his foulest mouth these filthiest words, If I might be sure that this life would always last with me, I would wish no other heaven but to be carried from one brothel-house to another, from one harlot to another, Voe dementioe, et impietati. (Horndorf. Theatr.)

Speak evil of the things — Dare to reprehend what they do not comprehend, dispraise sound doctrine; yea, the Holy Scriptures, blaspheming them and their priests, as Sanctius doth the prophet Ezekiel; calling the description of the temple made by him, Ezekiel 48:21-23 , …, insulsam descriptionem, a senseless description. See his argument upon Eze. xl.

Verse 13

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;

To riot in the day timeSee Trapp on " 1 Thessalonians 5:7 " The word here rendered riot, comes of a root that signifies to break, for there is nothing that doth so break and emasculate the minds of men as rioting and revelling; luxury draws out a man’s spirits, and dissolves him. ( τρυφη , One of an irregular class of retainers who performed the lowest offices in royal or baronial households, especially in France during the 14th and 15th centuries, and were employed in warfare as irregular troops; hence, a menial or dependent of low birth. Obs. ŒD θρυπτω , frango. ) Hence Venus is called λυσιμελης by the ancients, and harlots are called cruces, crosses, by the young man in Terence. Solomon’s prodigal found them no better,Proverbs 5:11; Proverbs 5:11 , after he had paid for his learning.

Spots they are — σπιλοι , blots of goodness, botches of Christian society. Such are the Jesuits, who tell us they can daily be with the fairest women and yet not lust after them. Such was that profligate priest, who persuaded many maids and matrons to lie with him under a pretence of religion; asserens impietatis et hypocriseos plenam esse fiduciam, qua castitate et pudicitia sua potius quam Christi gratia niterentur, telling them that that faith of theirs was naught and counterfeit, whereby they were drawn to rest more upon their chastity and modesty than upon Christ’s grace and merits. (Theatr. Histor. Horndorf.) I much doubt we have many such merchants, such marcidi bibauldi, rascal ribalds a (as Math. Paris calls them), now abroad among us, in these last and loosest times.

Verse 14

Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:

Having eyes full of adultery — Gr. Of the adulteress, as if she were seen sitting in the eyes of the adulterer. The wanton Greek was said to have in his eyes ου κορας αλλα πορνας , non virgines sed meretrices, not maids but minions. Plutarch. Κορη puellam et pupillam oculi significat. Vitiis nobis in animum per oculos est via. Quintil. Archilaus the philosopher told a young wanton, Nihil interest quibus membris cinaedi sitis, posterioribus an prioribus. The leper was to shave his eyebrows, to teach us to take away the lust of the eyes, Leviticus 14:9 . These, like Jacob’s sheep, too firmly fixed on beautiful objects, make the affections bring forth spotted fruit. And it is as easy to quench the fire of Etna as the thought fixed by lust.

And that cannot cease to sin — Though they have made many covenants with God, promises to men. So Proverbs 19:19 . They break all, as easily as Samson did the new ropes.

Exercised with covetous practices — Which they constantly follow, as the artificer doth his trade.

Verse 15

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;

The wages of unrighteousness — The mammon of unrighteousness, wages of wickedness.

" Lucra iniusta putes iustis aequalia damnis.

Dum peritura paras, per male parta peris. "

Verse 16

But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.

The dumb ass speaking — The angel (some think) spake in the ass, as the devil had done in the serpent. Who now can complain of his own inability and rudeness to reply in a good cause, when the dumb ass is enabled by God to convince his master? There is no mouth into which God cannot put words; and how often doth he choose the weak and unwise to confound the learned and mighty! (Dr Hall’s Contempl.) Benedictus the Sorbonist affirmeth, that the ass in Balaam’s history signifieth their Church, An quia Pontifex Balaam est qui ei insidet? saith Dr Reynolds. Meaneth the man that the pope is that Balaam that rideth on the ass?

Verse 17

These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

These are wells, … — Not fitted nor filled with wholesome doctrine, but as the brooks of Tema, Job 6:17 , in a moisture they swell, in a drought they fail. The river Novanus in Lombardy at every midsummer solstice swelleth, and runneth over the banks; but in midwinter is clean dry. So these.

Verse 18

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.

Great swelling words — Gr. υπερογκα , bubbles of words, full of wind, big swollen fancies, sesquipedalia verba. Swenckfeldius the heretic bewitched many with those big words (ever in his mouth) of illumination, revelation, deification, the inward and spiritual man, … Faith, he said, was nothing else but God himself indwelling in us. And have we not those now that tell their disciples they shall be Christed, Godded, …?

Through much wantonness — As Hetserus and Monetarius the Anabaptists, who corrupted many matrons whom they had drawn to their side. (Joh. Manl. loc. com.) David George, a ringleader among them, was so far from accounting adulteries, fornications, incest, …, to be sins, that he did recommend them to his most perfect scholars, as acts of grace and mortification. This man (or monster rather) was confident that the whole world would in time submit to him, and be of his mind. And are not our Ranters (as they call themselves) come up to him, and gone beyond him in their most prodigious opinions and practices?

Verse 19

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.

Promise them liberty — As Mahometism, and Popery, which is an alluring, tempting, bewitching religion. Sir Walter Raleigh knew what he said, that were he to choose a religion for licentious liberty and lasciviousness, he would choose the Popish religion. No sin past, but the pope can pardon; no sin to come, but he can dispense for it. No matter how long men have lived in any sin (though it be the sin against the Holy Ghost), extreme unction at last will salve all.

Verse 20

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.

Again entangled — As a bird in a gin, as a beast in a snare. Saepe familiaritas implicavit, saepe occasio peccandi voluntatem fecit. (Isidor. solil, ii.)

The latter end is worse — They fall ab equis ad asinos, from high hopes of heaven into hell’s mouth, where they shall have a deeper damnation, because they disgrace God’s housekeeping, as if they did not find what they looked for in religion.

Verse 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.

It had been betterNocuit sane Iudae fuisse apostolum, et Iuliano Christianum. To begin well and not to proceed is but to aspire to a higher pitch, that the fall may be the more desperate. Non quaeruntur in Christianis initia, sed finis, The begining of a Christian is not to be sought but the end, saith Jerome. Bp Bonner seemed at first to be a good man, and a favourer of Luther’s doctrines. Harding was once a powerful preacher against Popery, afterwards a cruel persecutor of the truth. Dr Shaxton, bishop of Salisbury, said to William Wolsey, martyr, and to others brought before him, Good brethren, remember yourselves and become new men. For I myself was in this fond opinion that you are now in, but I am now become a new man. Ah, said Wolsey, are you become a new man? woe be to thee, thou wicked new man! for God shall justly judge thee for an apostate. Queen Ann Boleyn procured Latimer and Shaxton to be made bishops, for the good opinion she had of them both. Acts and Mon. 1558. Islebius Agricola, that first Antinomian, condemned his error, publicly recanted it, and printed his revocation. Yet, when Luther was dead, he relapsed into that error.

Verse 22

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.

The dog is turnedProverbia haec sunt Canonica, quae Christiano nauseam commoverent. God will spew out apostates for ever, teaching them how they should have spewed out their sin.

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on 2 Peter 2". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/2-peter-2.html. 1865-1868.
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