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Bible Commentaries

Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament

2 Peter 2

Verse 1

2Pe 2:1. All good things can be abused and that which is true will always have pretenders or imitators. In old times the Lord had faithful prophets and many people learned to love them for their work's sake. Profiting by the respect that was rightly had for the true prophets, others attempted to put over some unrighteous schemes in the name of prophecy. Among the people of Israel were many false prophets and the number of instances is too great to enumerate, but the one in 1 Kings 18 is a noted case. Likewise in the time of the New Testament Peter says there will be false teachers (one name for prophets). Damnable heresies means false doc- trines that will condemn all who accept them. The apostle specifies one of the false doctrines namely. a denial of the divinity of the Lord notwith-standing that He has bought them with his own blood. Privily means secretly; false prophets or teachers are not usually open ith their wicked works for fear of being exposed by someone who knows the truth. (Joh 3:19-21.) Swift destruction means the condemnation that God will bring on these false teachers: it will be swift in that it will be sure and the Lord will not hesitate to inflict the punishment when the time comes.

Verse 2

2Pe 2:2. The leading thought in pernicious is something that is destruction of the truth. That definition is confirmed by the rest of the verse, for it says the way of truth shall be evil spoken of by the ones who follow the false teachers.

Verse 3

2Pe 2:3. Through coretousness indicates the motive of the false teachers. Feigned words means those so formed as to deceive the hearer. Make merchandise denotes that they were so successful in imposing their false theories on the people that they could make a gain off of them. There are so many things that could be conducted on this Principle that it would be useless to try specifying. We understand that many people are conscientious regarding the propagation of religious principles. If they can be made believe that people are working in the interest of truth, they will be willing to give liberal support to a man engage'l in it. Whose judgement now of a long time. God has always condemned the false teacher and evil worker. Lingereth not. The leading definition of the first word is "to be idle." The passage means that the judgement or condemnation of such characters is of long standing, but that God has not changed his mind about it nor even tempered His wrath against them. Thayer explains the definition as follows: "Whose punishment has long been impending and will shortly fall." However, the word "shortly" must be understood in a compartive sense, because the apostle proceeds at once to illustrate his declaration by referring to the unjust to be reserved unto the day of judgement to be punished.

Verse 4

2Pe 2:4. For if. This phrase will be taken up with comments when we get to verse 9. God spared not the angles that sinned. We occasionally meet people who are troubled over the idea of angels sinning since they are in heaven. They are overlooking the truth that neither angels nor man have reached the judgement day, and until that time both classes are capable of sinning. Were that not the case there would not now be such a creature as "the devil," for he was once in heaven and was thrust out because of his pride (1Ti 3:6; Luk 10:18). But after the judgement no more changes will take place either for better or for worse. (See Rev 22:10-11.) That means after that all wicked men and angels will be in the place of everlasting punishment where they can never reform, and the righteous men and angels will be in heaven where they can never sin because the divine decree is that the righteous shall "be righteous still." The English word "hell" in the King James Version comes from three different Greek words that have different meanings. In our present passage it comes from TARTAROO which means that part of the intermediate state where the wicked go at death. This whole subject of "hell" is explained in detail at Mat 5:30, in the first volume of the New Testament Commentary. Into chains of darkness is figurative and refers to the regions of the wicked dead, because that place was thought of as one of midnight darkness. Reserved unto judgement. These fallen angels have no prospect of deliverence but must await the final judgement day. The only relief that any of them ever had was when some of them were released temporarily to enter into men in the time of Christ and the apostles. See the long note on this at Mat 8:28-31 in the first volume of the New Testament Corn-mentary.

Verse 5

2Pe 2:5. Spared not the old world refers to the people that were living in the days of Noah, because the last v ord is from KOSMOS which is defined "the inhabitants of the earth." They were wicked and God did not spare them from the flood; Noah was spared because he was a man of faith. Noah the eighth. This could not mean that Noah was number eight in the genealogy for he was tenth. The lexicons and various translations prefer to word this place, "Noah and seven others." He is called a preacher of righteousness because lie preached what was right and what pertained to the needs of the day. The people were wicked and living after their evil imaginations, and the situation required teaching directing them to reform. World of the ungodly is the same as old world in the beginning of the verse.

Verse 6

2Pe 2:6. The history of Sodom and Gomorrha is in Genesis 19. Into ashes states the result of the overthrow which was sent on them in the condemnation from God. An example. The punishment of evildoers is not only for their own sakes, but also that the example may be a lesson for warning to others. (See 1Ti 5:20.)

Verse 7

2Pe 2:7. Just Lot. This statement is made by an inspired writer and must be accepted as true. Much criticism has been made of Lot because of the choice he made in the time of Abraham. The criticism is unjust because it is contrary to the facts of the circumstance. The reader may see a full explanation of this subject at Gen 13:9-12, in Volume 1 of Bible, Commentary. Vexed with the filthy conversation (conduct) of the wicked. This has special reference to their gross immorality, for the account that is given in Gen 19:4-11 shows them to have been worse than dumb beasts.

Verse 8

2Pe 2:8. This is the same as the preceding verse.

Verse 9

2Pe 2:9. This verse resumes the thought that was introduced at verse 4, but was interrupted with a list of facts set forth as a basis for the present passage. The argument is that if God was able and also disposed to do all the things referred to, He is able and determined also to do the following. Deliver the godly out of temptation. God does not promise to work a miracle to keep the trials from coming, but if a disciple is faithful He will care for him and hell) him overcome them (1Co 10:13). Reserve the unjust indicates that the punishment of the unjust is to be at a future time. This spoils a wishful-thinking notion that "a man will get all of his 'hell' in this life." Wicked men as well as wicked angels will not be given their final sentence until the judgement at the last day.

Verse 10

0 2Pe 2:10. Chiefly has no reference to the kind of punishment that is to be meted out to these sinners for all will receive the same doom. In Mat 25:31-46 we see that those whose only sin mentioned is a failure to relieve the needy, will receive the same punishment that was "prepared for the devil and his angels." The word chiefly means that Peter is making particular mention of these characters. Walk after the flesh. The connection shows they were living after the lowest desires similar to the Sodomites. Despise government means they belittled the laws that would curb their immoral lives. Presumptuous and self- willed mean virtually the same, referring to people who are determined to have their own way, regardless of whether it is right or wrong. Speak evil of dignities. The last word means any thing or any being that is glorious, but the connection shows Peter is writing of angels because of their dignity and glory.

Verse 11

2Pe 2:11. The angels of whom the mentioned "presumptuous" persons are not afraid to speak evil, show more courtesy toward their inferior accusers than the accusers show to them. Power and might have virtually the same degree of importance in the lexicon definition, hence their use is for the sake of emphasis. Bring not railing accusation which means blasphemous charges. A specific instance of this kind of angelic mildness shown in Jud 1:6.

Verse 12

2Pe 2:12. These refers to the ungodly people described in verse 10. The Englishman's Greek New Testament translates the next four words, "as natural irrational animals," and it is these creatures that Peter says were made to be taken and destroyed. He compares the wicked men to these in that they act as if they were as irrational as they. He is expressing the situation as one that is surprisingly foolish, that human beings would behave no better than creatures that were not intended to be any more important than to be taken and slain. But the comparison is just, since they speak cell of the things that they understand not. Certainly men who thus speak do not show much better intellect than the brute beasts. Utterly perish in their own corruption. This is said as a contrast to the case of the dumb animals. They are taken by others and slain, while these will be self-destroyed; perish in their own corruption.

Verse 13

2Pe 2:13. Reward of unrighteousness means they will be treated as an unrighteous man should be treated; they will "reap what they have sowed." Pleasure to riot in the day time. It is wrong to riot at any time, but the usual practice is to use the night for it. "For they that be drunken are drunken in the night" (1Th 5:7). But these characters are brazen and take pleasure in flaunting their evil conduct at a time when everyone can see it. Spots and blemishes. Paul says the church was desired to be without spot (Eph 5:27), but the conduct of these wicked men puts a terrible blemish on the institution. Sporting themselves is defined by Thayer, "To live in luxury," and it was done while they feast with you. This has refesence to the love feasts that the Christians conducted in the early times. Such feasts were intended only as an expression of good will and were put on for the special benefit of the poorer Christians. But they were often abused as most good things may be, and evil persons attended the assemblies merely to indulge themselves in the good things provided by the brethren for the help of the poor. (See Jud 1:12.)

Verse 14

2Pe 2:14. Adultery is from a Greek word that is defined by Thayer, "An adulteress." He explains about eyes being full of her as follows: "Eyes always on the watch for an adulteress, or from which adulterous desire beams forth." That cannot cease from sin. We know the Lord will not condemn a man for something he actually cannot avoid, hence we must look for the meaning of this phrase. In Thayer's definition of the Greek (the words in italics), he says, "Not quieted, that cannot be quieted," and he explains it as follows: "Eyes not quieted with sin, which they commit with adulterous look." Hence it does not mean these men cannot cease looking at an adulteress (for they could), but they cannot satisfy themselves just by looking; they will desire to obtain gratification. Doubtless that is why Jesus said "Whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her bath committed adultery with her already in his heart" (Mat 5:28). Beguiling unstable souls. These men looking round for an adulteress may not find one with such intentions, but if they are unstable (not firm in character), these evil men may entice them into sin. Covetous practices. In addition to being immoral they are grasping and try to take undue advantage of the free provisions that were intended as an expression of brotherly fellowship. Cursed children. The first word is an adjective and describes children which means a certain class of individuals. These people are under the curse of the Lord because He has pronounced condemnation upon all such characters who do not repent before death.

Verse 15

2Pe 2:15. Forsaken the right way indicates these men had once been righteous, but had gone astray which means to step aside from the pathway of righteousness. Bosor is the same as Beor, the father of Balaam. Balaam pretended that all the wealth of Balak could not entice him to come to him, but he finally yielded and went in the direction of sin (Numbers 22-24).

Verse 16

2Pe 2:16. This verse continues the case begun in the preceding one, and the record is included in the chapters in Numbers cited. The point is that the false prophet was rebuked even though no other was at hand through whom God could speak. Yet since He was able to give speech to the dumb brute to chastise the prophet, it is made sure that the Lord will be able to give wicked men their proper punishment when the time comes for the judgement of evildoers.

Verse 17

2Pe 2:17. Wells without water are places that are supposed to furnish water but have gone dry. Clouds carried with a tempest are those without much moisture and hence are so light they are driven about with the wind. Both figures are used to illustrate men who make the pretense of service for the Lord but who are empty of real worth. Mist of darkness is reserved. Since these pretenders are like a mist without rainfall, they deserve to go into another form of mist or gloom, and that is eternal darkness which is being reserved for them.

Verse 18

2Pe 2:18. The principal subject of this verse is the influence these evil men have over those who would de sire to be good if left alone. They accomplish their• wicked designs by means of great swelling words of vaity. This means they use deceptive language that causes others to expect certain enjoyments. They make their contact with the victims at the point of wantonness (impure desires) and lusts of the flesh, that being the place in the nature of a human being where he is the most apt to be influenced. These wicked pretenders are so successful that they allure (draw aside) those who were clean escaped from a life of error. Some translations render this as if the victims were only in the process of being brought out of error, but the word for clean is defined by Thayer, "Truly, in reality, in point of fact." This definition agrees also with the reasoning in verses 20-22 below.

Verse 19

2Pe 2:19. A man cannot truly impart something to another he does not have himself, especially when it concerns moral or spiritual principles. These evil workers held out the prospect of a life free from the restraints of law. Yet while emphasizing the good fortune of being "free men," they were themselves a group of slaves. Not to temporal or literal masters it is true, but to the harsh master of sin. Peter proves his assertion by the self-evident truth that if a man is overcome by any person or thing he is the slave of that thing; Paul teaches the same in Rom 6:16.

Verse 20

2Pe 2:20. The words latter end are from a Greek word that is defined "last state" in the lexicon. It does not mean that he has come to the end of his oportunity; that there is nothing he can do about it. The only point the apostle is making at this place in the man's life, is a comparison between his state at the two periods of his experience. They are the one where he escaped from error and the one after he went back to it; of the two the second is worse.

Verse 21

2Pe 2:21. For it had been better, etc. It is sometimes argued from this verse that it would be wise not to become a Christian in the first place, then one can avoid what Peter says is the worse of two states. The apostle had no such idea in mind when he wrote this passage, and the theory does him an injustice. Besides, the one who makes such a proposition assumes that only two states are possible and everyone must take one or the other of them. Such is not true for it is not necessary to decide on either, namely, either remain unconverted or go back into sin afterward. The thing he can do and should do is to know and enter the way of righteousness, then remain in it. The reason a backslider is in worse state than the alien sinner, is that his heart has been hardened by the experience and will be less favorable to the truth.

Verse 22

2Pe 2:22. The proverb about the dog is in Pro 26:11, but I have no information about the one concerning the sow. The two proverbs are stated only as an illustration of what men did, not that they had to do. If we apply the reasoning and my comments of the preceding verse to this one, it will say that the sick dog did not have to retain the objectionable matter in his stomach, nor did he have to return to it afterward. Likewise, it was proper to wash the sow after her mire and then for her to stay away from the place of filth. It is not so strange that dumb animals would act as here described, but men may be expected not to imitate them. If they do they will duplicate the saying in verse 12 where men are shown to act like the "brute beasts that were made to be taken and destroyed," and certainly no person would wish to place himself in that class.
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Bibliographical Information
Zerr, E.M. "Commentary on 2 Peter 2". Zerr's Commentary on Selected Books of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/znt/2-peter-2.html. 1952.