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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
2 Peter 2

 

 

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Verses 1-9

2 Peter 2:1-9. As there were false prophets in Israel, so there will arise false teachers among the faithful. (Writing from the assumed standpoint of the apostolic age, he projects their coming into the future; in 2 Peter 2:10 they are regarded as already active; cf. 2 Peter 3:3; 2 Peter 3:17.) By their vicious lives they will deny the Master who bought them. Many will follow them, thus causing the Gentiles to blaspheme the Church. But their punishment is certain. God's judgment on sin, pro nounced long ago, has always been and still is fulfilling itself; witness the judgment on the angels that sinned, on the world in the days of the Flood, and on Sodom and Gomorrah. But, as God saved Noah an

d Lot, so He will always save the godly, while keeping the unrighteous under punishment—as the fallen angels are kept in pits of darkness until the final judgment day. (Cf. Enoch 10:12, 5:43.)

The whole passage should be compared with Jude 1:4-7. For the reference to Israel in the wilderness, which Jude places first, 2 P. substitutes the Flood, placing it, to secure chronological sequence, after the fallen angels. He also adds, in order to soften the severity of Jude, the two cases of mercy—Noah, who in accordance with later Jewish tradition (cf. Josephus, Ant. I. iii. 1) is described as a "preacher of righteousness," and Lot; for "just Lot," cf. Wisdom of Solomon 10:6.

2 Peter 2:4. The sin of the fallen angels is not specified, but was traditionally connected with Genesis 6:1-4*. Jude's account of the sin of the angels is fuller, and shows dependence on Enoch (see on Jude 1:6). Here, as elsewhere (see on 2 Peter 2:11; 2 Peter 2:17), 2 P. shows more reserve than Jude in the use of the Apocrypha.


Verses 10-17

2 Peter 2:10-17. The sins of the false teachers are now described—licentiousness (2 Peter 2:10), audacious blasphemy (2 Peter 2:10-12), open profligacy (2 Peter 2:13), and covetousness like that of Balaam (2 Peter 2:15). They are as worthless as springs without water, and their end is blackness of darkness. The whole section is based on Jude 1:8-15.* 2 P. softens the severity of Jude's language and rearranges the order. He expands the reference to Balaam and omits Cain and Korah. In 2 Peter 2:11 he omits the explicit reference to Michael, and also, at the end of 2 Peter 2:17, the passage from Enoch quoted in Jude 1:14 f. (see on 2 Peter 2:4, reserve in use of Apocrypha).

2 Peter 2:10. dominion: render, "the Lordship," i.e. Christ or God (see on Jude 1:8).—dignities: render, "the glorious ones" (cf. mg.), i.e. the heavenly beings, or the unseen powers: it is difficult to see in what sense the false teachers reviled the unseen powers, but the word can scarcely be taken to mean the rulers of the Church.

2 Peter 2:11. Paraphrase, "They do not hesitate to revile the unseen powers, while even angels, who are far greater than these false teachers, do not dare to bring against these powers an irreverent accusation, in the presence of the Lord." The argument can be understood only in the light of Jude's reference to the story of Michael (Jude 1:9*), where the forbearance of Michael is contrasted with the audacity of the false teachers. The dispute between Michael and the devil did not take place in the presence of the Lord, and the insertion of the words, which are not found in Jude, is difficult.

2 Peter 2:12. matters . . . ignorant: they know nothing of the Lordship or the glorious ones; they only know the things of the fleshly life.

2 Peter 2:13. suffering wrong as the hire of wrong-doing. The text is almost certainly corrupt, and presents two difficulties. (1) The writer could scarcely speak of the false teachers suffering wrong at the hands of God. (2) The phrase translated "hire of wrong-doing" occurs again in 2 Peter 2:15, where it means "unrighteous gain." Here the context requires a different meaning—"penalty of wrong doing": but it is difficult to give the same phrase two such different meanings in the same passage. "Receiving the reward of unrighteousness" (cf. AV) looks like a conjectural emendation, but while removing the first difficulty, it leaves the second.—their love-feasts: render "their deceivings" (mg.); apatais (deceivings) is the reading of all MSS. except B (p. 601); agapais (love-feasts), the reading of B, followed by RV, was probably suggested by the parallel passage in Jude 1:12, where "love-feasts" is undoubtedly the correct reading: Jude, however, has "your love-feasts" not, as RV here, "their love-feasts."—while they feast with you: render, "while they share in the feast (probably the Agape—so Bigg) with you." Paraphrase, "Spots and blemishes in your midst, revelling in their deceits, while continuing to share your Agape"; despite their openly evil lives, they do not separate themselves from the Christian fellowship.


Verses 18-22

2 Peter 2:18-22. Uttering vain words they snare in the lusts of the flesh those who were just escaping (or, had actually escaped) from heathen vices, promising them liberty, while all the time they are themselves the slaves of sin. Having once been rescued from the defilements of the world, they have again become enslaved, and their last state is worse than their first; better to remain a heathen than become an apostate.

2 Peter 2:22. The first proverb is found in Proverbs 26:11; the second is, apparently, not derived from a Heb. source, and its interpretation is difficult. "The sense is, not that the creature has washed itself clean in water (so apparently RV), still less that it has been washed clean (as AV), and then returns to the mud, but that, having once bathed in filth, it never ceases to delight in it" (Bigg). [The objection to this view is that the illustration requires a change from filth to cleanliness, followed by a reversion to the old condition, so that the last state is worse than the first. The dog gets rid of his unwholesome food, but then hankers after it and returns to it; the sow gets rid of its dirt by washing itself and then rolls in the mud and becomes as filthy as ever. Wendland suggests that the proverb goes back to a saying of Heraclitus, which he gives in this form: "Swine wash themselves more gladly in mire than in clear and clean water." (Burnet reads differently: "Swine wash in the mire, and barnyard fowls in dust.") But it is much more likely that it comes from Ahikar; the passage is rendered thus by Rendel Harris: "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." (Smend's translation is somewhat different, but agrees in substance).—A. S. P.]

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on 2 Peter 2:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/2-peter-2.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 12th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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