From:  Over 50 Interpreters Explain Second Peter and Jude             Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2018



List of All Sources Quoted At End of File






CHAPTER 2:1-11




2:1                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     But there were also false prophets among the people, as there will be teachers of falsehood among you also, who will cunningly introduce fatal divisions, disowning even the Sovereign Lord who has redeemed them, and bringing on themselves swift destruction.

WEB:              But false prophets also arose among the people, as false teachers will also be among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction.

Young’s:         And there did come also false prophets among the people, as also among you there shall be false teachers, who shall bring in besides destructive sects, and the Master who bought them denying, bringing to themselves quick destruction,

Conte (RC):    But there were also false prophets

among the people, just as there will be among you

lying teachers, who will introduce divisions of

perdition, and they will deny him who bought them,

 the Lord, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.

2:1                         But.  “But . . . also:  in contrast to the prophets “moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21).  [20]
                               As we pass into the second chapter, we find the tone of this book changed from grave exhortation to stern warning and even severe denunciation.  Having set before the brethren the light to which they should take heed, the Apostle puts them on their guard against false lights that would lure them to destruction.  There had been pseudo-prophets among the people of Israel; and in like manner there would be pseudo-teachers in the Church.  The Lord Himself had said, “Beware of false prophets.” Paul gave warning that such should arise.  John and Jude describe them as already producing a baneful effect on Christian faith and life.  [19]        

there were false prophets also among the people.  i.e., the ancient Jews.  [13]

In 2 Peter 1:19 the true prophets are referred to.  Here the false prophets are spoken of in contrast.  By “the people” Israel is meant.  The term “false prophet” occurs several times in the Old Testament.  For example, see Jeremiah 6:13.  Christ foretells the rise of false prophets (Matthew 24:24).  [22]

These false prophets opposed the true prophets of God, who preached the God-given message, while the false prophets rejected the Word of the Lord and belittled it.  They spoke out of their own hearts and spoke vanities and lies (Ezekiel 13:2, 8). Their message was “peace” when there was no peace.  As a result the people of Israel did not believe the Lord and His Word; they rejected Him.  [23]

More detail on false prophets in Biblical history:  As regards the meaning of the words it is again an open question whether the Apostle refers to the remoter past of the history of Israel, to the false prophets of the days of Ahab (1 Kings 22:12), or Isaiah (Isaiah 9:15, 28:7), or Jeremiah (Jeremiah 14:14, 27:10), or Ezekiel (Ezekiel 13:3), or Zechariah (Zechariah 13:4), or to those who in his own time had deceived the “people” (the distinctive term for “Israel”) in Jerusalem.  The warnings against false prophets in our Lord’s discourses (Matthew 7:22, 24:24), and the like warnings in 1 John 4:1, make it probable that he had chiefly the latter class in view.  [38]

A precedent cited to discourage excess pessimism?  But, lest the prospect of these great evils should grieve the faithful too much, as suggesting a fear that God had forsaken His church, he observes, by way of preface, that such a thing was not unexampled; because that, together with many true prophets, there were also many false ones in God’s ancient church, which, however, God had not therefore forsaken, but continued to superintend and take care of it.  [47]

even as there shall be.  Note that Peter speaks of them as future and Jude (verse 4) as present.  [2]

 false teachers among you.  They are not from among the ancient enemies of Christ, [b]ut these false teachers are to arise up from among persons professing Christianity.  Those men are not heathen men, which want to establish heresy from without; but men calling themselves, like yourselves, Christians in name, and wish to praise up heresy within.  [25]

With this view of Christians as the antitype of the chosen people compare 1 Peter 2:9.   “False prophets” has both meanings—sham prophets and prophesying lies.  Justin Martyr, about A.D. 145 (Trypho, lxxxii.), has “Just as there were false prophets contemporaneous with your holy prophets” (he is addressing a Jew), “so are there now many false teachers amongst us.”  [46]

In the Greek compound noun (pseudo-didaskaloi) for “false teachers” we have another word peculiar to Peter.  The word was, perhaps, chosen as including in its range not only those who came with a direct claim to prophetic inspiration, but all who without authority should appear as teachers of a doctrine that was not true, and, as such, it would include the Judaizing teachers on the one side, the Gnosticizing teachers on the other.  Compare the distinction between “prophets” and “teachers” in Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:29.  [38]

As in the case of the “false prophet,” it is uncertain whether it has the sense of pretended teachers, or that of teachers of falsehood.  Both amount, however, to much the same.  Christ Himself foretells the rise of “false prophets” (Matthew 24:24), and Paul warned the elders of Ephesus of men who should arise within the Church “speaking perverse things to draw away disciples after them” (Acts 20:30).  [51]

Martin Luther:  This is a sufficient admonition, and it cannot fail where the true word of God is preached; that close upon it false teachers also should rise up.  The reason is this:  not every one lays hold on the word and believes thereon, follows it, and holds it fast; but the greater part, they do not believe, receive a false sense therefrom, whence they become false teachers.  Besides, God has bidden us that we should each determine what this or that one preaches and give account thereof; if we do not, then are we lost; wherefore it concerns every one’s own soul’s salvation to know what God’s word is, and what false doctrines are.  [21]

who privily [secretly, NKJV] shall bring in.  Into the church.  [15]

The metaphor is of spies or traitors introducing themselves into an enemy’s camp.  Compare Jude 4, crept in unawares.  [2]

The verb is that from which was formed the adjective which Paul uses for the “false brethren unawares brought in” (Galatians 2:4).  Are we justified in thinking that Peter speaks of the same class of Judaizing teachers, or that he uses the word as indicating that it was applicable to others also, who were, it might be, at the opposite extreme of error?  [38]

Doctrinal application:  Not at first openly and directly, but by the way, bringing in error by the side of the true doctrine (so the Greek):  Rome objects, Protestants cannot point out the exact date of the beginnings of the false doctrines superadded to the original truth; we answer, Peter foretells us it would be so, that the first introduction of them would be stealthy and unobserved (Jude 1:4).  [20]

The relationship of Peter’s prediction to the question of whether Jude or 2 Peter was written first:  Observe the future tense—a prophecy of what was still to come.  Note also the contrast between this verb here and the expression in Jude 4, “there are certainly men crept in privily” (a different Greek root, but compounded with the same preposition).  What Peter describes as future, Jude declares as present.  Peter foresaw what Jude saw with his own eyes.  This is explicit evidence that Jude wrote after Peter.  [50]

Damnable [destructive, NKJV].  The “damnable heresies” of the A.V. is an unhappy rendering of the original, which means “heresies of destruction,” that is, heresies which lead to destruction, or, as the R.V. gives it, “destructive heresies.”  [51]

The Greek word which is rendered “damnable,” is the same which in the close of the verse is rendered “destruction.”  It is so rendered also in Matthew 7:13; Romans 9:22; Philemon, verse 19; 2 Peter 3:16--in all of which places it refers to the future loss of the soul.  The same word also is rendered “perdition” in John 17:12; Philemon, verse 28; 1 Timothy 6:9; Hebrews 10:39; 2 Peter 3:7; Revelation 17:8, 11--in all which places it has the same reference.  [31]

heresies.  Either the heresies are the effect of denying the Lord, or the denying the Lord was the consequence of the heresies.  [15]

Heresy is a transcript of [a Greek term], the primary meaning of which is choice; so that a heresy is, strictly, the choice of an opinion contrary to that usually received; thence transferred to the body of those who profess such opinions, and therefore a sect.  So Revision, in margin, sects of perdition.  Commonly in this sense in the New Testament (Acts 5:17; 15:5; 28:22), though the Revision has an odd variety in its marginal renderings.  See Acts 24:14; 1 Corinthians 11:19; Galatians 5:20.  The rendering heretical doctrines seems to agree better with the context; false teachers bringing in sects is awkward.  [2]

The idea of “sect” or “party” is that which is conveyed by this word, rather than doctrinal errors; but it is evident that in this case the formation of the sect or party, as is the fact in most cases, would be founded on error of doctrine.  [31]

The rest of the chapter shows that these errors were not concerned with abstract dogma, but with practical Antinomian teaching, i.e. the contention that Christian teaching justified lax morality.  [45]

even denying the Lord that bought them.  As by their impure lives and their corruption of his teachings they actually disclaimed and renounced the Lord and Master who had died for them.  [7]

This must mean that they held doctrines which were in fact a denial of the Lord, or the tendency of which would be a denial of the Lord, for it cannot be supposed that, while they professed to be Christians, they would openly and avowedly deny him.  To “deny the Lord” may be either to deny His existence, his claims, or His attributes; it is to withhold from Him, in our belief and profession, anything which is essential to a proper conception of Him.  The particular thing, however, which is mentioned here as entering into that self-denial, is something connected with the fact that He had “bought” them.  It was such a denial of the Lord “as having bought them,” as to be in fact a renunciation of the uniqueness of the Christian religion.  [31]

even denying.  The phrase is remarkable as coming from one who himself denied his Master.  Would a forger have ventured to make Peter write thus?  [46]

[Denying] either in their words or their practices, either directly, or by consequence of their doctrines or actions.  [28]  

The “denial” referred to may refer either to a formal rejection of Christ as the Son of God, like that of 1 John 2:22-23, or to the practical denial of base and ungodly lives.  The former is, perhaps, more prominently in view, but both are probably included.  [38]

An application to how unbelief feeds on itself, denying ever more:  This is the way of destructive criticism.  One looks in vain among the many preachers and teachers who deny the virgin birth and with it the deity of Christ, for one who believes that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God.  All those who deny the Master who bought them began with criticism of the Bible, rejecting first the writings of Moses, casting doubt upon other books, and finally abandoning any kind of faith in the Bible as the Word of God.  Well is it called “the destructive criticism,” for it is in the end destructive of everything.  It is this which is poisoning everything in Christendom today and there is no denomination in which this leaven is not at work.  [23]

the Lord that bought them.  “Bought them” is added by way of emphasis.  The price paid was the precious blood of Christ.  (1 Peter 1:18-19)  [50]

and bring upon themselves.  It is no one else’s fault.  The only one that they can legitimately blame is themselves.  [rw]

swift.  Sudden destruction.  [22]

The adjective, which is peculiar to Peter in the New Testament (here and in 2 Peter 1:14), implies the swift unlooked-for manner of the destruction that was to be the end of the false teachers rather than the nearness of its approach.  The Apostle seems to contemplate either some sudden “visitation of God,” or possibly some quick exposure of their falsehood and baseness before men, ending in their utter confusion.  [38]

destruction.  That the apostatizing did this, the Scripture every where informs us, and the apostles frequently warn them of it.  Paul doth it throughout the Epistle to the Hebrews, elsewhere speaking of them as men “whose end is destruction ,” Philippians 3:19, on whom should come “swift destruction,” 1 Thessalonians 5:3; they being “appointed for wrath,” verse 9; James as of men “fattened for a day of slaughter,” 5:5, and that “suddenly to come upon them, their “Judge standing at the door,” verse 9.  Christ also threatens to them that held the doctrine of the Nicolatians, that he would “come against them swiftly, and fight against them with the sword of his mouth,” Revelation 2:16; i.e. He would destroy them, Revelation 19:15, 21.  Accordingly church history informs us, that they were extinct in a very little time.  [4]

As evidence for the possibility of the faithful becoming apostate and losing their salvation:  “The Lord” had “bought them” with his own blood; and yet they are miserably self-destroyed.  It indisputably follows, from this passage, that some for whom Christ died will finally perish.  Efforts are made to escape this inference; such, for instance, as Scott employs, who says, “It is not requisite to understand the apostle as declaring that the Lord Jesus Christ had died with an intention of redeeming these very persons.”  Most certainly not; yet [the apostle] does expressly declare that Christ did redeem them, and he would be a bold man who would venture to affirm that He redeemed them without intending it.  [39]


In depth:  Does “swift destruction” refer to physical destruction?  [4].  I find nothing of any such remarkable or swift destruction which befell the Gnostics, in church history; not one word that any of them perished at the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army, though doubtless their iniquities would find them out.  We rather read in the church history, that they were never persecuted by the heathen emperors; this being the observation of the fathers, that the Simonians, and the Menandrians, “were never persecuted by the heathens, their fury being only poured out upon the Christians.”  Nor could it probably be otherwise, seeing they made the doctrine of the cross no part of their religion; but held it lawful to deny the faith in times of persecution, to avoid suffering for it, and counting idolatry, in such cases, a thing indifferent; whence, saith Origen, “they were never persecuted at all.” 


                        In depth:  Varying ways taken by post-apostolic heresies to “deny the Lord that bought them” [50].  Wordsworth calls attention to the fact that all the Gnostic false teachers of the Apostolic and Post-Apostolic period taught heretical doctrines concerning the divinity, humanity, and atonement of Christ, though not all in the same way.  They agreed, however, in this, that they all “denied the Master that bought them.”
                        The followers of Simon Magus, who may be regarded as the precursors of the Sabellians, taught that the Three Persons of the Trinity were only three revelations of the same divine Person, and thus they denied their Lord.

                        The Docetae, by denying the reality of the human body of Jesus Christ, and asserting that He died only in appearance, denied the Master that bought them.

                        The Nicolaitans by their licentious practices, virtually denied the Incarnation of the Son of God.  (See Revelation 2:6, 15.)

                        The Ebonites, the predecessors of the Socinians and Unitarians, denied the divinity of Christ; while the Cerinthians of Asia separated Jesus from Christ, asserting that Christ descended from the Father upon the man Jesus, at his baptism, in the form of a dove, but that at the end of His ministry the Christ flew away from Jesus and did not suffer death, but that only the man Jesus suffered on the cross. 


                        In depth:  Who is the “Lord” being denied—God or Jesus?  The case for Jesus being under discussion ]31].  The Greek word is Δεσπότης Despotēs.  Many expositors have maintained that it refers to the Father, and that when it is said that He had “bought” them, it means in a general sense that He was the Author of the plan of redemption, and had caused them to be purchased or redeemed.  Michaelis supposes that the Gnostics are referred to as denying the Father by asserting that he was not the Creator of the universe, maintaining that it was created by an inferior being--Introduction to New Testament, iv. 360.  Whitby, Benson, Slade, and many others, maintain that this refers to the Father as having originated the plan by which men are redeemed; and the same opinion is held, of necessity, by those who deny the doctrine of general atonement.

                        The only arguments to show that it refers to God the Father would be, (1) that the word used here Δεσπότην Despotēn is not the usual term (κύριος kurios) by which the Lord Jesus is designated in the New Testament; and, (2) that the admission that it refers to the Lord Jesus would lead inevitably to the conclusion that some will perish for whom Christ died.

                        That it does, however, refer to the Lord Jesus, seems to me to be plain from the following considerations:

                        (1) It is the obvious interpretation; that which would be given by the great mass of Christians, and about which there could never have been any hesitancy if it had not been supposed that it would lead to the doctrine of general atonement.  As to the alleged fact that the word used is not that which is commonly applied to the Lord Jesus, that may be admitted to be true, but still the word here may be understood as applied to Him.  It properly means “a master” as opposed to a servant; then it is used as denoting supreme authority, and is thus applied to God, and may be in that sense to the Lord Jesus Christ, as head over all things, or as having supreme authority over the church. In Jude verse 4, it is rendered “Lord,” and is probably to be regarded as applied to the Lord Jesus. There is nothing in the proper signification of the word which would forbid this.

                        (2) The phrase is one that is properly applicable to the Lord Jesus as having “bought” us with his blood. The Greek word is ἀγοράζω agorazō--a word which means properly “to market, to buy, to purchase,” and then to redeem, or acquire for oneself by a price paid, or by a ransom.  In the following places it is also rendered “bought,” as applicable to the redeemed, as being bought or purchased by the Lord Jesus:  1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23, “Ye are bought with a price;” and in the following places it is rendered “redeemed,” Revelation 5:9; 14:3-4.

It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament.  It is true that in a large sense this word might be applied to the Father as having caused His people to be redeemed, or as being the Author of the plan of redemption; but it is also true that the word is more properly applicable to the Lord Jesus, and that, when used with reference to redemption, it is uniformly given to Him in the New Testament.

It is strictly and properly true only of the Son of God that he has “bought” us.  The Father indeed is represented as making the arrangement, as giving his Son to die, and as the great Source of all the blessings secured by redemption; but the “purchase” was actually made by the Son of God by His sacrifice on the cross.



2:2                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     And in their immoral ways they will have many eager disciples, through whom religion will be brought into disrepute.

WEB:              Many will follow their immoral ways, and as a result, the way of the truth will be maligned.

Young’s:         and many shall follow out their destructive ways, because of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of,

Conte (RC):    And many persons will follow their

indulgences; through such persons, the way of

truth will be blasphemed.


2:2                   And many.  Such folk will not only exist, but they will be extremely successful.  Hence defenders of the gospel are always needed, but to be such one must know the scriptures well and that, alas, requires an effort that many are unwilling to give it.  [rw]

                        Men never have so great a power and influence for evil, as when they introduce immoralities and sin under the cloak and defense of some perverted form of religious doctrine.  This is fanatical vice, the worst, most corrupting, and most dangerous form in which vice ever appears.  [34]

shall follow their pernicious [destructive, NKJV] ways [or:  “will follow their sensuality,” ESV, NASB].  A large number of manuscripts and versions read “lascivious” here-- ἀσελγείαις  aselgeiais, instead of “pernicious”-- ἀπωλείαις  apōleiais and it seems probable that this is the correct reading.  This will agree well with the account elsewhere given of these teachers, that their doctrines tended to licentiousness, 2 Peter 2:10, 14, 18-19.  It is a very remarkable circumstance, that those who have denied the essential doctrines of the gospel have been so frequently licentious in their own conduct, and have inculcated opinions which tended to licentiousness.  Many of the forms of religious error have somehow had a connection with this vice.  People who are corrupt at heart often seek to obtain the sanction of religion for their corruptions.  [31]

These false teachers confounded Christian liberty with unbridled license.  Wordsworth:  “Some of the Gnostics affirmed that they were perfect, and that as gold is not injured by mud, so, whatever they themselves do, they are not soiled, although they wallow in the mire of lust, and filth of uncleanliness.”  [50]

However, each case must be judged on its own; the accusation alone is not automatic proof of its validity:  The connection between false doctrine and licentiousness was often real, and is so still in some cases.  But it was often asserted and believed without foundation.  Impurity was the common charge to bring against those of a different creed, whether between heathen and Christian or between different divisions of Christians.  [46]

by reason of whom.  This refers specially to those who are led astray, but the false teachers are not excluded.  [50]  

the way of truth.  Equivalent to what we should call, in modern phrase, the “system” or the “religion” of Christ.  [38]

The gospel, so called, as being the doctrine of saving truth. It is called the way, Acts 9:2, 19:9, 22:4; the way of salvation, Acts 16:17; the way of God, Acts 18:26.  [28] 

shall be evil spoken of [blasphemed, NKJV].  (1) Because they were professors of religion, and religion would seem to be held responsible for their conduct; and, (2) because they were professed teachers of religion, and, by many, would be understood as expounding the true doctrines of the gospel.  [31]

For enemies of Christianity charge the Christian religion with the sins and deeds of false Christians—the common argument used by the ignorant and thoughtless against the Christian Church.  [50]

Irenaeus says, that Simon Magus taught that “they who believed in him were free to live as they pleased, and that men would be saved by his grace, and not according to their works; and that nothing is good by nature, but only by institution.  And therefore his votaries live in lasciviousness.”  The immoral conduct of these Christian professors inevitably caused Christianity to be evil spoken of.  Clemens Alexandrinus gives as a reason for his writing, the infamy brought upon the Christian name by the shameless lives of false teachers, and the necessity of disabusing the public mind.  [39]




2:3                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     Thirsting for riches, they will trade on you with their canting talk. From of old their judgement has been working itself out, and their destruction has not been slumbering.

WEB:              In covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words: whose sentence now from of old doesn't linger, and their destruction will not slumber.

Young’s:         and in covetousness, with moulded words, of you they shall make merchandise, whose judgment of old is not idle, and their destruction doth not slumber.

Conte (RC):    And in avarice, they will negotiate

about you with false words. Their judgment, in the

near future, is not delayed, and their perdition does

not sleep.


2:3                   And through covetousness.  The religious principle is the strongest that is implanted in the human bosom:  and men who can obtain a livelihood in no other way, or who are too unprincipled or too indolent to labor for an honest living, often turn public teachers of religion, and adopt the kind of doctrines that will be likely to give them the greatest power over the purses of others.  True religion, indeed, requires of its friends to devote all that they have to the service of God and to the promotion of His cause; but it is very easy to pervert this requirement, so that the teacher of error shall take advantage of it for his own aggrandizement.  [31]

                        It is remarkable how constantly the early heretics are accused of spreading their pernicious doctrines for the sake of gain:  thus Paul denounces their teaching as “perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, supposing that gain is godliness” (1 Timothy 6:5); and again, “teaching things which they ought not for filthy lucre’s sake” (Titus 1:2).  The same spirit is apparent in Simon Magus when he offered the apostles money that he might receive the power of imparting the Holy Ghost.  [41]

                        They were living in covetousness and governed by it.  The love of money is only one form of covetousness, for this latter includes also the lust of power and pleasure.  Covetousness is the greatest curse of the ministerial office.  “Impurity and covetousness may be said to divide between them nearly the whole domain of human selfishness and vice” (Lightfoot on Colossians 3:5).  [50]

shall they with feigned [deceptive, NKJV] words.  Greek:  formed, fashioned; then those which are formed for the occasion--feigned, false, deceitful.  The idea is the doctrines which they would defend were not maintained by solid and substantial arguments, but that they would make use of plausible reasoning made up for the occasion.  [31]

False professions of zeal and disinterestedness, and false claims to speak with inspired authority, “cunningly devised fables,” such as our author repudiates in 1:16.  [45] 

“With feigned words” possibly refers back to “cunningly devised fables” (2 Peter 1:16).  [46]

make merchandise of [exploit, NKJV] you.  By deceitful words as to Christian freedom, etc., they sought to delude others, and, in accordance with their covetous desires, to make gain of them; cf. verses 13, 14, and Jude 16.  [8]

That is, they would endeavor to make money out of them, and regard them only as fitted to promote that object.  [31]

The verb means literally to travel, especially as a merchant on business; and hence “to be a merchant,” “to trade,” and, with an accusative, “to deal in,” “make merchandise of.”  (Compare our commercial phrase, “to travel in” such and such goods.)  It may also mean simply “to gain,” or “gain over,” which would make good sense here; but our version is perhaps better.  The word occurs elsewhere only in James 4:13.  [46]

whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not.  It had been predicted in other days, of similar men, and it is no dead letter but soon will be executed upon them.  [7]

The idea seems to be, that justice had been long attentive to their movements, and was on its way to their destruction.  It was not a new thing--that is, there was no new principle involved in their destruction; but it was a principle which had always been in operation, and which would certainly be applicable to them, and of a long time justice had been impatient to do the work which it was accustomed to do.  [31]

and their damnation [destruction, NKJV] slumbereth not.  Is certainly and speedily coming. [14]

Divine retribution is here personified.  Destruction is not dozing, half-asleep, but is awake, and like a beast ready to devour its prey, ever watchful, waiting for the appointed hour.  [50]

This means that it was so certainly reserved for them that the time for punishment would surely overtake them, no matter how secure they seemed in their errors.  It is well rendered in the “Speaker’s Commentary:”  “Their judgment is not loitering, nor in their destruction nodding to sleep, but is sure to come.”  We have the same idiom as “lingereth not,” “slumbering not,” in the use of the English word “overtake.”  A man has committed a crime, judgment is aid to overtake him as if it set out after him as soon as he had committed the crime, and ran father than he could.  [41]  

Mr. Blackwell [sees here the implied figure of] an angel of judgment pursuing them, continually approaching nearer and nearer, and in the mean time keeping a watchful eye upon them, that he may at length discharge an unerring blow.  [17]



2:4                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     For God did not spare angels when they had sinned, but hurling them down to Tartarus consigned them to caves of darkness, keeping them in readiness for judgement.

WEB:              For if God didn't spare angels when they sinned, but cast them down to Tartarus, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;

Young’s:         For if God messengers who sinned did not spare, but with chains of thick gloom, having cast them down to Tartarus, did deliver them to judgment, having been reserved,

Conte (RC):    For God did not spare those Angels

who sinned, but instead delivered them, as if

dragged down by infernal ropes, into the torments

of the underworld, to be reserved unto judgment.


2:4                   For if God spared not the angels that sinned.  Neither their former rank, their dignity, nor their holiness, saved them from being thrust down to hell; and if God punished them so severely, then false teachers could not hope to escape.  The apostle, by the “angels” here, refers undoubtedly to a revolt in heaven--an event referred to in Jude, verse 6, and everywhere implied in the Scriptures.  When that occurred, however--why they revolted, or what was the number of the apostates--we have not the slightest information, and on these points conjecture would be useless.  In the supposition that it occurred, there is no improbability; for there is nothing more absurd in the belief that angels have revolted than that men have; and if there are evil angels, as there is no more reason to doubt than that there are evil men, it is morally certain that they must have fallen at some period from a state of holiness, for it cannot be believed that God made them wicked.  [31]

                        Speculation:  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.  [29]

                        The motivation of the angelic rebels.  Their crime is described by Jude as keeping not their first estate, and the context seems to imply that they were prompted to this by ambition.  They were not contented or thankful for the place which God had assigned to them, but desired to exalt themselves above it.  Thus Paul speaks of pride being the sin of Satan (1 Timothy 3:6); and what seems an allusion to Satan in Isaiah 14:12 appears to bear out the same.  [41]

                        Hints in pagan mythology of their fall; why they were punished harsher than Adam and Eve.  “The angels seem to have been placed originally in a state of trial.  Those who stood are called in Scripture, the holy angels. The sin of the angels is spoken of likewise, John 8:44, and Jude, 2 Peter 2:6, as a thing well known.  Perhaps it was handed down by tradition from Adam and Eve, for the memory of it seems to have been preserved among the heathens in the fable of the Titans warring against the gods.  What the sin of the angels was is not well known.  1:6, says, They kept not their first estate, or their own principality, as την εαυτων αρχην may be properly rendered, but left their proper habitation.  Hence their sin, by many, is thought to have been pride, and a discontent with their station.  See 1 Timothy 3:6.  But whatever it was, considering their high intellectual powers, they might easily have avoided it; and therefore God did not spare them, as he spared Adam and Eve, who, on account of the greatness of the temptation spread for them by the evil angels, and their own inexperience, were fit objects of mercy.”  [Unidentified source for the quotation.]  [47]

but cast them down.  This implies a change:  1.  Of the state of those sinning angels, that whereas before it was the highest among the creatures, now it is the lowest.  2.  Of their place, that whereas they were before the throne of God with the rest of the angels, they are now thrust down into a lower place, agreeable to their sin and misery. What place that is we find not expressed in Scripture, and therefore we are not to be over curious in our inquiries after it; but may rest satisfied, that they are excluded from the place of their primitive happiness, and are in a place where they are afflicted with the pain both of loss and sense.  [28]

 to hell.  The word in the Greek is Tartarus, not elsewhere used in the New Testament.  It is the word used by the Greeks for the abode of the wicked dead in the underworld.  [16]

It is strange to find Peter using this Pagan term, which represents the Greek hell, through treated here not as equivalent to Gehenna, but as the place of detention until the judgment.  [2]

The word here is one that properly refers to a place of punishment, since the whole argument relates to that, and since it cannot be pretended that the “angels that sinned” were removed to a place of happiness on account of their transgression.  It must also refer to punishment in some other world than this, for there is no evidence that this world is made a place of punishment for fallen angels.  [31]

Literally, Thrust down to Tartarus.  Only here is the word found in the New Testament.  In the Greek mythology, Tartarus is the lowest part of Hades.  Hesiod (Theog. 721) speaks of it as the place below the earth where the rebellious Titans are enchained and the souls of the wicked are confined; and Homer (Il. 8:14-16) describes it as a deep gulf within the earth, with iron gates and a brazen entrance.  Whatever be its real locality, Peter’s use of the word shows the remoteness from heaven to which the fallen angels were driven, and the hopeless wretchedness into which they were plunged.  [39]

Wherefore seeing the Greeks named the place where they supposed the Titans, the enemies of the gods, were confined, Tartarus, it was natural for Peter, when writing in the Greek language, concerning confining the evil angels in the place where they were shut up, to call it Tartarus, although his idea of Tartarus was different from that of the Greeks.  [47]

and delivered them into chains.  A cord or band, sometimes of metal.  Compare Septuagint, Proverbs 5:22; Wisdom of Solomon 17:2, 19.  The best texts, however, substitute pits or caverns.  [2]

This representation that the mass of fallen angels are confined in “Tartarus,” or in hell, is not inconsistent with the representations which elsewhere occur that their leader is permitted to roam the earth, and that even many of those spirits are allowed to tempt men.  It may be still true that the mass are confined within the limits of their dark abode; and it may even be true also that Satan and those who are permitted to roam the earth are under bondage, and are permitted to range only within certain bounds, and that they are so secured that they will be brought to trial at the last day.  [31]

of darkness.  Either to be bound, or held with darkness as with chains; or kept in chains under darkness, as Jude 1:6; where darkness may imply the misery and horror of their condition, and chains, their obduracy [= stubborn persistence] in their wickedness, their despair of deliverance, their expectation of future judgment, Hebrews 10:27, together with the providence and power of God, watching over and holding them in that condition, till final vengeance come upon them.  It is a metaphor taken from malefactors condemned, who are bound in chains, and kept in the dungeon till execution.  [28]

The MSS present two readings, one giving a word which literally means a “rope,” as in the LXX of Proverbs 5:22, and may, therefore, rightly be rendered “cords,” “bonds,” or “chains,” so agreeing with the thought of Wisdom 17:17 (“they were bound with a chain of darkness”) and Jude, 2 Peter 2:6, and the other a noun which has probably the meaning of “dens” or “caves.”  The latter is the best supported, having A, B, C and א in its favor.  The two words differ but by a single letter, (1) σειραῖς, and (2) σειροῖς, and as (2) was the less familiar of the two and (1) agreed better with the “everlasting chains” (or “bonds”) of Jude 2, Peter 2:6, the change was a natural one for transcribers to make.  [38]

to be reserved unto judgment.  The full execution and open manifestation thereof.  From this it follows that the angels who sinned are not at present suffering the punishment due to them for their crimes; but, like malefactors, they are kept in durance till the time come when they are to be punished with the wicked of mankind, whom they have seduced.  Whitby hath shown that this was the opinion of all the Christian writers for five centuries.  And it is agreeable to our Lord’s doctrine, who says, the fire into which wicked men are to be cast, is fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  [47]

Jude, verse 6, “to the judgment of the great day.”  They will then, with the revolted inhabitants of this world, be brought to trial for their crimes.  That the fallen angels will be punished after the judgment is apparent from Revelation 20:10.  The argument in this verse is, that if God punished the angels who revolted from Him, it is a fair inference that He will punish wicked people, though they were once professors of religion.  [31]



2:5                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     And He did not spare the ancient world, although He preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a deluge on the world of the ungodly.

WEB:              and didn't spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah with seven others, a preacher of righteousness, when he brought a flood on the world of the ungodly;

Young’s:         and the old world did not spare, but the eighth person, Noah, of righteousness a preacher, did keep, a flood on the world of the impious having brought,

Conte (RC):    And he did not spare the original

world, but he preserved the eighth one, Noah,

the herald of justice, bringing the flood upon the

world of the impious.


2:5                   And spared not the old world.  The world before the flood.  The argument here is, that he cut off that wicked race, and thus showed that he would punish the guilty.  By that awful act of sweeping away the inhabitants of a world, he showed that people could not sin with impunity, and that the incorrigibly wicked must perish.  [31]

                        The à fortiori argument is continued, and enters on the series of typical examples of judgments which Peter had heard from our Lord’s lips in Luke 17:26-29.  [38]

but saved Noah the eighth person.  Rather “Noah, with seven others,” i.e., his wife, three sons, and their wives.  [13]

Contrasted with the densely peopled “world of the ungodly.”  [20]

The meaning in this place then is, that eight persons, and eight only of that race, were saved; thus showing, that while the wicked would be punished, however numerous they might be, the righteous, however few, would be saved.  [31]

Interpreted in a mystical sense:  The suggestion that eight is here a mystical number (the sabbatical seven and one over) is quite gratuitous; as also that “eighth” may mean eighth from Enos, which would be utterly pointless, there being neither mention of Enos nor the faintest allusion to him.  [46]

Interpreted as the eighth preacher.  Bishop Pearson translates this clause, the eighth preacher of righteousness; supposing that Enoch (Genesis 5:24), from whom Noah was descended, was the first preacher of righteousness, and that all the intermediate persons were likewise preachers thereof, and that Christ preached by them all.  But of this there is no evidence; and it seems certain that Enoch could not be the first preacher of righteousness: Adam was, in a wonderful manner, fitted to perform that office in the first world, as Noah was in the second; and what excellent instructions both might give, is easy to be conceived!  [47]

Not the eighth preacher, as some say, but, according to a frequent idiom, Noah, and seven others.  [39]

The flood and history.  Peter accepts the historical truth of the Old Testament narrative.  [50]  Are we more perceptive and more accurate in determining such questions than an inspired apostle?  Alas there are many denominational preachers who regard the whole thing as a pious myth.  Doubtless, in their very warm home in eternity, they will be debating the “impossibility” of there being an eternal Hell as well.  After all the “best” scholars and theologians—as they define such terms—dismiss it as a mere religious construct.  A sad, very sad way to finally have to admit the truth.  [rw] 

a preacher of righteousness.  Not only was he himself righteous, but he had also preached righteousness to the world.  [26]

The description of Noah as “a preacher of righteousness” has no verbal counterpart in the language of the Old Testament, but it is obviously implied in the substance of the narrative.  [38]

Though nothing is directly said in Scripture respecting Noah’s preaching righteousness, we may reasonably infer that a righteous man inspired by God with true faith in Himself, and with a knowledge of the fast approaching vengeance, would not hold his peace, but would warn his generation to break off their sins by righteousness.  Josephus, however, preserves a tradition that “Noah being grieved at the things which were done by them, and being displeased at their counsels, urged them to change for the better their thoughts and actions; but seeing that they did not yield, but were mightily mastered by the pleasure of evil, fearing lest they should kill him, he departed from the land, and his sons and the women which they had married” (Antiquities I.iii.1).  [41]

bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly.  The world “reaped” as it had “sowed.”  Ignore God for long enough and intensely enough, He ultimately brings unpleasant and even deadly consequences.  [rw]


                        In depth:  Pagan development of the “preacher” imagery [2].  Literally, a herald.  The word herald is beautifully suggestive, at many points, of the office of a gospel minister.  In the Homeric age the herald partook of the character of an ambassador.  He summoned the assembly and kept order in it, and had charge of arrangements at sacrifices and festivals.  The office of the heralds was sacred, and their persons inviolable; hence they were employed to bear messages between enemies.

The symbol of their office was the herald’s staff, or caduceus, borne by Mercury, the herald god.  This was originally an olive branch with fillets, which were afterward formed into snakes, according to the legend that Mercury found two snakes fighting and separated them with his wand, from which circumstance they were used as an emblem of peace.  Plato (“Laws,” xii., 941) thus speaks of the fidelity entailed by the office: 

“If any herald or ambassador carry a false message to any other city, or bring back a false message from the city to which he is sent, or be proved to have brought back, whether from friends or enemies, in his capacity of herald or ambassador, what they have never said--let him be indicted for having offended, contrary to the law, in the sacred office and appointment of Hermes and Zeus, and let there be a penalty fixed which he shall suffer or pay if he be convicted.” 

In later times, their position as messengers between nations at war was emphasized. 



2:6                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     He reduced to ashes the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and condemned them to overthrow, making them an example to people who might in future be living godless lives.

WEB:              and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly;

Young’s:         and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah having turned to ashes, with an overthrow did condemn, an example to those about to be impious having set them;

Conte (RC):    And he reduced the cities of Sodom

and Gomorrah to ashes, condemning them to be

overthrown, setting them as an example to anyone

who might act impiously.


2:6                   And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes.  Punished them with utter destruction, both of their persons and habitations.  [47]

                        The brief description here is remarkable for its force and vividness.  The word “turning into ashes,” or, “burning to ashes” (which occurs only here), is itself a strong and graphic expression.  The retribution, too, is exhibited in all its righteous severity as a condemnation to an absolute overthrow.  [51]

condemned them with an overthrow [to destruction, NKJV].  By the fact of their being overthrown, He showed that they were to be condemned, or that He disapproved their conduct.  [31]

“Overthrow” (katastrophe) is almost a technical term in the LXX for the destruction of these cities.  The translation here should rather be “to an overthrown;” the cities were reduced to ashes, and condemned to perpetual ruin.  The phrase is omitted by some of the best manuscripts.  [45]

making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly.  That is, they were a demonstration that God disapproved of the crimes for which they were punished, and would disapprove of the same crimes in every age and in every land.  The punishment of one wicked man or people always becomes a warning to all others.  [31]

Peter does not see in the supernatural destruction of the cities of the plain an exception to the normal order of the Divine government.  It was rather a pattern instance of the judgment sure to fall, sooner or later, on all who were guilty of like sins.  It may be noted that that destruction had been used as an illustration by the older prophets (Isaiah 1:9-10; Ezekiel 16:48-56) as well as by our Lord.  [38]

                        Hofmann:  “God has made them, as the perfect tense shows, a lasting type of those who ever afterwards should live a godless life.”  The prophets (Amos, Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Zephaniah) as well as our Lord Himself (Luke 17:26-29) refer to the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as a warning to the ungodly.  [50]



2:7                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     But when righteous Lot was sore distressed by the gross misconduct of immoral men He rescued him.

WEB:              and delivered righteous Lot, who was very distressed by the lustful life of the wicked

Young’s:         and righteous Lot, worn down by the conduct in lasciviousness of the impious, He did rescue,

Conte (RC):    And he rescued a just man, Lot, who

was oppressed by the unjust and lewd behavior of

the wicked.


2:7                   And delivered just Lot.  Wisdom of Solomon 10:6-9 cites the example of Sodom and Gomorrah, and says of Lot, “While the ungodly were perishing, wisdom delivered a righteous man.”  [45]

vexed [oppressed, NKJV].  That is, he distressed his soul, it may be in mourning for them who mourned not for themselves; it surely was also because of their grievous insults to the holiness and love of God.  Thus David said in true charity, “It grieveth me when I see the transgressors, because they keep not Thy law.”  [42]  

with the filthy [depraved, NIV; sensual, ESV, NASB] conversation [conduct, NKJV].  Their behavior is not presented as anything short of the societal norm.  There may well have been times and occasions when things got even worse (just as there are in our own society), but the emphasis is on that it never really became anything “better than bad.”  We use the expression “from bad to worse;” in their world things never “improved” beyond the “bad.”  [rw]

of the wicked.  Athesmon:  literally “not submitting to law.”  In the New Testament only here and 3:17; in the latter passage of the false teachers.  [45]



2:8                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     [Omitted]

WEB:              (for that righteous man dwelling among them, was tormented in his righteous soul from day to day with seeing and hearing lawless deeds):

Young’s:         for in seeing and hearing, the righteous man, dwelling among them, day by day the righteous soul with unlawful works was harassing.

Conte (RC):    For in seeing and in hearing, he

was just, though he lived with those who, from

day to day, crucified the just soul with works of



2:8                   (For that righteous man.  Everything is done to present a telling picture of a righteous man thrown into godless society, and not suffering the edge of his righteous feeling to become blunted by lengthened familiarity with the coarse licentiousness of neighbors who mocked at the restraints of all law, human and Divine, but undergoing daily torment from sights and sounds which he was helpless to arrest.  [51]

This epithet, here thrice given to Lot, seems at first sight to be at variance with his willingness to remain, for the sake of worldly advantages, in the midst of such wickedness.  But “righteous” is a relative term; and in this case we must look at Lot both in comparison with the defective morality of the age and also with the licentiousness of those with whom he is here contrasted.  Moreover, in the midst of this corruption he preserves some of the brighter features of his purer nomad life, especially that “chivalrous hospitality” (Genesis 19:2-3, 8) to which the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews seems to point as a model:  “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Genesis 13:2).  Add to this the fact of God’s rescuing him and his family, especially in connection with the declaration that ten “righteous” people would have saved the whole city (Genesis 18:32), and his ready belief and obedience when told to leave all, and also the fact that Zoar was saved at his intercession (Genesis 19:21), and we must then admit that the epithet “righteous” as applied to Lot is by no means without warrant.  [46]

                        dwelling among them.  Dwelling, and therefore suffering continually, from day to day.  [2]

in seeing and hearing.  The point is that the soreness of his distress was due to the fact that, living among these wicked men, he had the protracted pain of seeing with his own eyes and hearing with his own ears day after day things against which his soul revolted.  [51]

Their wickedness was so open and shameless, that he not only heard the report of it, but saw them commit it, Isaiah 3:9.  [28]

Seeing their open acts of depravity, and hearing their vile conversation. The effect which this had on the mind of Lot is not mentioned in Genesis, but nothing is more probable than the statement here made by Peter.  Whether this statement was founded on tradition, or whether it is a suggestion of inspiration to the mind of Peter, cannot be determined.  The words rendered “seeing” and “hearing” may refer to the act of seeing, or to the object seen.  Wetstein and Robinson suppose that they refer here to the latter, and that the sense is, that he was troubled by what he saw and heard.  The meaning is not materially different.  Those who live among the wicked are compelled to see and hear much that pains their hearts, and it is well if they do not become indifferent to it, or contaminated by it.  [31]

vexed [tormented, NKJV] his righteous soul.  Grievously afflicted or wearied.  [28]

Literally, “tortured,” as in Mark 5:7, 6:48.  It would have seemed scarcely necessary to point out that the words refer to the pain suffered by a man of sensitive moral nature at the sight and report of flagrant evil (compare Ezekiel’s language (9:4) as to those “that sigh and that cry” for the abominations done in Jerusalem) had not some patristic interpreters of authority (Theophylact and Œcumenius) seen in them a description of the self-inflicted ascetic discipline by which Lot maintained his purity.  [38]

The use of this word [“vexed”] would seem to imply that there was something active on the part of Lot which produced this distress on account of their conduct.  He was not merely troubled as if his soul were passively acted on, but there were strong mental exercises of a positive kind, arising perhaps from anxious solicitude how he might prevent their evil conduct, or from painful reflections on the consequences of their deeds to themselves, or from earnest pleadings in their behalf before God, or from reproofs and warnings of the wicked.  At all events, the language is such as would seem to indicate that he was not a mere passive observer of their conduct.  [31]

from day to day.  That is, it was constant.  [31]

Not expressly stated in Genesis 19, but a natural conclusion from that narrative.  [45]

with their unlawful.  Revision, lawless.  Only here in New Testament with things.  In all other cases it is applied to persons.  [2]

deeds).  God has revealed through His “law” what is moral and what is immoral, what is ethical and what is unethical.  Be a violator of those publicly announced precepts revealed in the Bible and one has no one responsible for the consequences but oneself.  [rw]



2:9                                                       Translations

Weymouth:     Since all this is so, the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from temptation, and on the other hand how to keep the unrighteous under punishment in readiness for the Day of Judgement,

WEB:              the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptation and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment;

Young’s:         The Lord hath known to rescue pious ones out of temptation, and unrighteous ones to a day of judgment, being punished, to keep,

Conte (RC):    Thus, the Lord knows how to rescue

the pious from trials, and how to reserve the

iniquitous for torments on the day of judgment;


2:9                   The Lord knoweth.  Is well aware how to accomplish these goals of assisting the godly from escaping being overcome by their sin . . . and those who are proud of their moral evil to face  punitive justice.  Mercy requires the first; justice requires the second, that unrepented sin be punished.  Otherwise Divine law is mere empty words and has no power behind it.  [rw]  

                        The knowledge which is here in view is the Divine type of knowledge, which means both the perception of the way and the possession of the ability.  [51]

how to deliver the godly.  Such as Noah and Lot.  [50]

And has both the power and will to do it, as he has showed.  [39]

out of temptations.  Any state of trial into which they are brought, by which their faith and obedience are proved.  No exemption from temptation is promised; but we have the pledge of safety in it, and deliverance out of it.  [39]

Temptations here signify outward trials, but God [also] knoweth how to deliver his people out of more formidable trials, when their faith is assaulted and their virtue put to severe proof.  He does this by providing the way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13), enabling them to see it and enabling them to avail themselves of it.  [41]

Noah and Lot might be tempted by the example and solicitation of their neighbors, just as the Christians were by false teachers; but the context cites cases where righteous men were delivered from the troubles in which they were involved through their neighbors’ sins.  Perhaps, therefore, we should take peirasmos here, as in 1 Peter 1:6, in the sense of “trial.”  [45]

and to reserve the unjust [unrighteous, ESV, NASB].  Such as the fallen angels, the ungodly ancient world, the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the like.  [50] 

unto the day of judgment.  At the second coming of Christ.  See Matthew 10:15; 11:22, 24; 1 John 4:17.  Even between death and the judgment there is apparently a division between the righteous and the wicked.  [1]

The dramatic imagery of the Bible which pictures retribution under the form of a great court or public assize, has taken such literal hold of men’s minds that they almost lose sight of the principle of retribution itself in the imposing paraphernalia with which it is accompanied and surrounded.  [40]

to be punished.  That is, God many times does not punish the wicked in this life, he suffers them to run on in the ways of iniquity, with prosperity as to the enjoyment of a short and vain happiness in this world, but His judgments are most of all to be dreaded.  [12]  

Better, Under punishment, as the rich man in hades (Luke 16:23), and the fallen angels (2 Peter 2:4), in a penal state, and awaiting full and final punishment in the great day.  Such terms exclude the possibility of a second day of grace after death.  [39]

                        The present participle (Greek) indicates that their punishment has already begun, and in this condition they are kept unto the day of judgment, when punishment shall be more fully meted out to them according to the righteous judgment of God.  [50]

                        The internal logic of the verse in its context:  This sentence gives, in a somewhat free form, the conclusion which is expected for the series of conditional statements which began with 2 Peter 2:4.  It is as if the writer had said, “If it has always happened, as I have stated it to have happened in these several historical instances with which all are familiar, is it not plain that the Lord will act on the same principle with these false teachers?”  But while the previous context would lead us to look simply for a statement of the penal side of God’s righteousness, Peter introduces here the other side as well.  His notice of God’s righteous care for the godly, however, is only for the moment.  In the next verse he takes up only the punitive principle, and proceeds to make a pointed application of that to a particular class.  [51]


                        In depth:  The difference in emphasis between Peter and Jude—both stress that dangers face Christians in their society, but Peter stresses their escapability. [7].   The first four verses describe the doom, the conduct and the influence of these men, and so outline and summarize the whole chapter.  This chapter, it will be remembered, is closely paralleled by the Epistle of Jude.  The supposition is that one writer borrowed from the other or both from a common source. 

It should be noted, however, that when Jude gives examples of the certain punishment of the wicked he makes no mention of the deliverance of the righteous.  Peter, however, used three illustrations of certain doom, but in two of these he lays great stress upon the fact that  the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment unto the day of judgment.” 

Of these examples of punishment the first is that of the fallen angels; the nature of their sin is not mentioned, but it is elsewhere suggested as having been caused by pride.  The second is that of the world before the flood, the special feature of which was disobedience to God.  The third is that of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah; the guilt of these cities was that of moral impurity. 

Thus Peter pictures the certain punishment of the false teachers, but he also paints their character, and intimates their pride, rebellion, and sensuality.  He also intimates, however, that even though the righteous are few in number, as Noah and his family, or as Lot in lawless Sodom, God is certain to deliver those who trust and serve Him.  His words are designed to comfort and encourage believers in the darkest days of heresy and false teaching and impending judgments:  “The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation.”  [7]



2:10                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     and especially those who are abandoned to sensuality--craving, as they do, for polluted things, and scorning control. Fool-hardy and self-willed, they do not tremble when speaking evil of glorious beings;

WEB:              but chiefly those who walk after the flesh in the lust of defilement, and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries;

Young’s:         and chiefly those going behind the flesh in desire of uncleanness, and lordship despising; presumptuous, self-complacent, dignities they are not afraid to speak evil of,

Conte (RC):    even more so, those who walk after

the flesh in unclean desires, and who despise proper

authority. Boldly pleasing themselves, they do not

dread to introduce divisions by blaspheming;


2:10                 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh.  Corrupt nature; particularly in the lust of uncleanness.  [15]             

                        Less definite than Jude 1:7.  Here there is nothing about going away or astray, nor about the flesh being “other” than is allowed.  This is natural; Jude’s remark applying to the inhabitants of the cities of the plain in particular, this to sensual persons generally.  [46]                       

in the lust of uncleanness.  Or, “in polluted desire.”  [13]

Making lust their law.  [7]

Literally, in the lust of defilement, the genitive being either that of a characterizing attribute, or implying that those of whom the writer speaks had fallen to a depth of baseness in which they seemed to desire impurity for its own sake, apart even from the mere pleasure of indulged appetite.  (Compare Romans 1:28.)  In the parallel passage of Jude, we have the addition “going after strange flesh.”  The Apostle seems to have in view the darker forms of impurity which were common throughout the Roman Empire (Romans 1:24-28).  Paul uses the cognate verb in Titus 1:15.  [38]

                        and despise government [authority, NKJV].  Looking with contempt upon the power and majesty of the Lord.  [7]

                        More literally, “lordship,” or, perhaps better, “dominion.”  In Ephesians 1:21, Colossians 1:16 the word seems used of angelic authorities.  Here apparently, as in Jude, the abstract noun is used as including all forms of authority, just as Paul uses “power” in Romans 13:1-2.  [38]

                        Rather, Despise lordship.  Opinions widely vary as to the proper reference, whether to God, Christ, angels, or civil magistrates.  We think it is to Christ primarily, whom, as 2 Peter 2:1 informs us, the false teachers would deny, and then to all authority, human, angelic, and divine.  [39]

                        The construction here resembles that in 2 Peter 1:19:  “Do not tremble in (or, while) speaking evil of dignities,” like “ye do well in taking heed.”  These men deny the existence of, or irreverently speak slightingly of, those spiritual agencies by means of which God conducts the government of the world.  [46]

                        The wide range of these troublemakers’ evils:  Fronmueller:  “The first mark of these false teachers was the denial of Christ (2:1); the second covetousness (2:3); the third, unbridled sensuality (2:10); the last, arrogant despising of lordship.”  They despised not only the dominion of “the Master that bought them” (2:1), but every form of authority, human and divine, which would in any way exercise restraint.  We need not here interpret “dominion” as referring to angelic powers, as in Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16.  [50]  

Presumptuous are they.  Better, “Daring,” or perhaps, “Darers.”  [38]

Audacious, ready to venture upon any thing that may serve their purposes.  [47]

selfwilled.  Only here and Titus 17.  From [Greek words meaning] self, and to delight in.  Therefore a self-loving spirit.  [2]

they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities [dignitaries, NKJV].  Literally, glories.  Compare Jude 8.  Probably angelic powers:  note the reference to the angels immediately following, as in Jude 9 to Michael.  [2]

Nothing holds their respect—natural or supernatural.  The only criteria they have for behavior is what they want—and, of course, what they can get away with.  “Restraint” is the last word they want to hear for it would limit their range of behavior.  They have the “right” to do whatever they want to do and you have the “right” to keep your mouth shut and try to clean up the pieces after the disaster they’ve created.  [rw]


In depth:  Differing opinions of the identity of those being spoken against [51].    The difficulty is in determining the sin alluded to in the two phrases “despise lordship” and “speaking evil of dignities,” which reappear in almost the same terms in Jude verse 8.  Many interpreters, specially those of older date, have understood the offence to be that of contemptuous disregard of human authority, whether of that generally in all its forms, or of ecclesiastical rule, or of civil and political rule (Calvin, Erasmus, etc.), in particular.

Recent commentators, again, have for the most part taken other than human authorities to be intended.  Some, e.g., think that good angels are referred to in both the “lordship” and the “dignities;” others, that evil angels are denoted by both; others, that God or Christ is meant by the former, and either good angels (Ritschl) or evil angels (Wiesinger) by the latter.

In the only other N.T. occurrence of this term “lordship” or “dominion” (Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16), it is used of angels.  In Jude verse 8 (the only other instance of the word in such an application) the term “dignities” is put, along with the whole statement, in immediate connection with what is said of Michael. 

The present passage, too, leads at once to direct mention of angels.  These facts give probability to the view that by both terms angelic powers, in the character of God’s agents in the authoritative administration of earthly things, are intended.  All that is meant, however, may be a general mention of authority as such, and of the contempt of that, in all its forms, human, angelic, and Divine, as a characteristic mark of the class dealt with.  In Romans 13:1-2, we find the word “power” in an equally indefinite, though perhaps less extensive, sense.



2:11                                                     Translations

Weymouth:     while angels, though greater than they in might and power, do not bring any insulting accusation against such in the presence of the Lord.

WEB:              whereas angels, though greater in might and power, don't bring a railing judgment against them before the Lord.

Young’s:         whereas messengers, in strength and power being greater, do not bear against them before the Lord an evil speaking judgment;

Conte (RC):    whereas the Angels, who are greater

in strength and virtue, did not bring against them-

selves such a deplorable judgment.


2:11                 Whereas angels.  The words as they stand here leave it uncertain of what instance the Apostle speaks, but it is probable that he refers to the tradition mentioned by Jude ([verse] 9), or possibly to the words spoken by the Angel of the Lord to Satan as the accuser of Joshua the son of Josedech in Zechariah 3:2.  [38]

                        Or:  Whereas angels — When they appear before the Lord (Job 1:6; 2:1), to give an account of what they have seen and done in the earth.  [47]

which are greater in power and might.  This is taken in two ways—either “greater than these audacious, self-willed men,” which is the simpler and more natural explanation; or “greater than other angels,” as if it were a periphrasis for “archangels,” which is rather awkward language.  But either explanation makes good sense.  [46]

bring not railing [reviling, NKJV] accusation.  The phrase refers to the scornful condemnation which comes only from the presumptuousness of unreason and ignorance.  [1]

In the “railing” accusation, we have a distinct reference to the “reviling” or “speaking evil” of the previous verse.  [38]

This does not mean that loyal angel avoid all accusing and condemnation.  It means that they don’t turn it into an occasion for “ranting and raving.”  The fact that the behavior being censured is evil is sufficient in itself.  In short, the passage is talking about the manner of angelic condemnation rather than the fact of condemnation-- that, as God’s reporting agents and representatives, they have no ethical alternative but to condemn the evils they see.  

In contrast, on earth, many condemn all condemnation—except for that aimed at the evils they themselves promote and encourage.  But there is a profound difference between the criticism that is nothing but “letting off steam at what annoys us” (which, as Peter argues, not even angels do) and the criticism rooted in seeing evil being promoted and encouraged.  In contrast, those controlled by moral corruption or its endorsement feel that the only justified rebuke is for those who dare say, as the prophets of old, “that is still sin.”  And when that is what angels see, then that is what they report.  [rw]

against them before the Lord.  When good angels withstand “dignities,” i.e., evil angels, although the good angels are the more powerful, they do not abuse their opponents.  The moral is—How absurd and wicked it is for evil men to abuse good angels, or perhaps even the legitimate church authorities.  [45]


                        In depth:  Does Peter have the incident of Michael referred to in the book of Jude in mind?  The affirmative case [31].  It is not known precisely to what Peter alludes here, nor on what the statement here is based.  There can be little doubt, however, as Benson has remarked, that, from the strong resemblance between what Peter says and what Jude says (Jude, verses 9-10), there is allusion to the same thing, and probably both referred to some common tradition among the Jews respecting the contention of the archangel Michael with the devil about the body of Moses.  As the statement in Jude is the most full, it is proper to explain the passage before us by a reference to that; and we may suppose that, though Peter uses the plural term, and speaks of “angels,” yet that he really had the case of Michael in his eye, and meant to refer to that as an example of what the angels do.  Whatever may have been the origin of this tradition, no one can doubt that what is here said of the angels accords with probability, and no one can prove that it is not true.        


                        In depth:  Does Peter have the incident of Michael referred to in the book of Jude in mind?  Does he take his illustration from there?  The negative case [46].  This verse, if it refers to the same incident as Jude verse 9, seems at first sight to tell somewhat in favor of the priority of Jude; for then, only when compared with Jude verse 9, does it become intelligible.  The inference is that this is an abbreviation of Jude, rather than Jude an amplification of this.

                        But (1) such an inference is at best only probable.  The writer of this Epistle might possibly count on his readers at once understanding his allusion to a tradition that may have been well known, while Jude thought it best to point out the allusion more plainly.

(2) It is possible that the contest alluded to is not that between Satan and Michael about the body of Moses, but that between Satan and the angel of the Lord about Joshua the high priest (Zechariah 3:1-2).

(3) It is also possible that it does not refer to any contest with Satan at all, but merely to angels not denouncing these false teachers before God, but leaving them to His judgment.

If either (2) or (3) is correct, the argument for the priority of Jude falls to the ground.  If (1) is right, then the argument really favors the priority of 2 Peter; for if the author of 2 Peter had Jude before him (and this is maintained by those who contend for the priority of Jude), and wished to make use of Jude’s illustration, why should he so deface Jude’s statement of it as to make it almost unintelligible?  The reason suggested is altogether inadequate—that reverential feelings made him wish to avoid mentioning Michael’s name—a name that every Jew was perfectly familiar with in the Book of Daniel.








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