The Gospel Observer

"Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations...teaching them to observe all that I commanded you, and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:19,20).
July 24, 2011


1) 2 Peter 2:4-11 (Tom Edwards)
2) News & Notes


2 Peter 2:4-11
by Tom Edwards

After making mention of the false teachers and those who would follow them (2 Pet. 2:1-3), Peter then adds more to the warning: "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties" (2 Pet. 2:4-10).  

These angels who were cast down are also mentioned in Jude 1:6: "And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day."  So we infer that if the Lord will not spare even the angels who sinned, neither will He spare us.  Paul used a similar analogy in Romans 11:20-22, but with Gentiles to Jews: "...Do not be conceited, but fear;  for if God did not spare the natural branches [the Jews], He will not spare you [the Gentiles], either.  Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off."  

Even Satan was not made to be the evil being that he is; but he, too, fell because of his transgression.  Consider, for instance, 1 Timothy 3:6: "and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil."  The KJV renders this as, "Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil."   Though this might sound to some as if the devil, who is the accuser of the brethren, is the one who would be condemning these new converts who would fall into pride as elders, the NASB  makes it clearer with the phrase "condemnation INCURRED by the devil."  For the word "incur" is the key, which means "to bring upon oneself."  So it is not the case of the devil doing the condemning of others; but, rather, the condemnation that the devil  has brought upon himself through the sin of his pride.  

Thinking more about these fallen angels, some have wrongly interpreted Genesis 6:1-4 to apply the "sons of God" to angels who had come to earth to marry "the daughters of men."  But they could not be angels because angels do not marry (cf. Matt. 22:30).   Rather, the phrase, "sons of God," represents the righteous.  Whereas the phrase, "daughters of men," represents the unrighteous.  (Many also take a specific view on this that the "sons of God" would be the righteous lineage of Seth, whereas "the daughters of men" would be the unrighteous descendants of Cain.)  So it is a case of the godly marrying the ungodly -- and isn't that the idea of the contrasting phrases, "of God" and "of men," respectively?  For we would naturally think of those who were "of God" to be godly, whereas those who are without that godliness can be said to be only "of men."  And though there is nothing wrong with a godly man marrying a beautiful woman (as these "daughters of men" were), if that external beauty is her only quality then that had been a vain choice.  For in speaking of the "excellent wife," in Proverbs 31:10-31, Solomon mentions various good virtues; but he also says that "beauty is vain" (v. 30).

The phrase "cast...into hell" (2 Pet. 2:4), which these fallen angels have been thrown into, is from the Greek verb "tartaroo."  It is not talking about the eternal hell (Gehenna); but, rather, "Tartarus" -- a temporary abode where all lost souls go at death, to await the Judgment Day.  It is seen in Luke 16:19-31, as that place of torment to which the rich man went, while Lazarus went to a great place of blessing (Paradise).  2 Peter 2:4 is the only place in all the NT where the Greek word "tartaroo" is used, and six of the versions I looked this up in  transliterate it as "Tartarus."  The fact that Tartarus will be experienced by those in it, who are awaiting the final judgment -- rather than the deceased being in a type of "soul-sleep," oblivious to all -- can also be seen in 2 Peter 2:9.  For this verse states that, "...the Lord knows how to...keep the unrighteous UNDER PUNISHMENT for the day of judgment."  Jude also makes mention of this, by saying that the fallen angels are "kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day" (Jude 1:6). 

Peter also points out that God "...did not spare the ancient world..." (2 Pet. 2:5).  This, of course, is referring to the world in Noah's day; and Noah is spoken of in the same verse as having been a "preacher of righteousness."  But not only was Noah a preacher of righteousness, he was also one who lived that kind of life.  For notice the three things said about him in Genesis 6:9 that each express his relationship with the Lord: "...Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God."

In the global flood of Noah's day, we are again made aware of how serious a matter sin is.  To think that just 8 souls were spared, while the rest of the world was utterly destroyed because of their iniquity, well illustrates God's attitude toward sin.   

Based on the genealogical records, and the fact that the flood did not come until Noah was 600 years old, the flood came 1,656 years after Adam had been created.  Noah was the tenth generation from Adam, but most of those antediluvians (in the genealogical record of Genesis 5) lived to be more than 900 years old.  So there was plenty of time for the world to become a very populated place.  But out of all those people, it was just "Noah...with seven others" who were spared.

Another example of God pouring out His wrath on the wicked is seen in 2 Peter 2:6: "and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter[.]"  The account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is in Genesis 19.  It was a place so wicked that only 4 people were initially saved from it; but when Lot's wife looked back in violation of God's word, then there were just 3 -- Lot and his 2 daughters -- that survived.  God would have spared these cities if there had been just 10 righteous people dwelling there; but, alas, there was not even that few.  

Notice the word "thereafter" in 2 Peter 2:6.  Though some people feel that we shouldn't even study the OT today because we are not under it, what do we conclude from that little word "thereafter"?  It indicates that the account of Sodom and Gomorrah should continue to serve as an example to the ungodly in all future ages to come.  In it, we see God's abhorrence toward sin -- and specifically homosexuality. And not only is the account of God's wrath toward Sodom and Gomorrah an example for anyone who would choose to live ungodly "thereafter" -- but also for those of us who are striving to live godly, as well, that we might be reminded of God's ways, the need for righteous living, and have the proper reverence for the Lord.  

So Peter gives these three examples to warn of God's judgments on the wicked: 1) the angels who sinned, 2) the world of Noah's day, and 3) Sodom and Gomorrah.  The Lord's wrath befell all of these.  

Though some people might feel that Lot must have not been a very godly man to live in such a terrible place, let us remind ourselves of what the Bible says about him.  He is called "righteous Lot" in 2 Peter 2:7, and the context states that he felt oppressed and tormented by the ungodly things his neighbors were involved in.  Lot, therefore, appears to have had the right attitude toward these sins.  

Though Lot was often vexed by the immoral conduct and wickedness of the world, his righteousness could help him look to the Lord for strength and deliverance.  As Peter states in 2 Peter 2:9, "...the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation...."  Similarly, Paul encouragingly declares, "No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it" (1 Cor. 10:13).  

We need to take this to heart.  God is there to help us, and Jesus wants us to ask for that help, as He taught His apostles in that model prayer in Matthew 6.  Notice the last words of that prayer in verse 13:  "And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen.]"

The Lord not only knows how "to rescue the godly from temptation," but also how "to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment" (2 Pet. 2:9).  Though sinful man can sometimes be pretty shrewd in this world and think that he is getting away with much, he is not hiding anything from God.  Eternal punishment will be unavoidable for the one who rejects the Lord Jesus Christ.  

This verse also refutes the misconception that many have today that hell is merely the suffering a person undergoes in this life.  For Peter shows that there is a Judgment Day coming, which leads to the great hereafter, whether in heaven or hell.  Actually, there is nothing in this world, no matter how terrible, that can even come close to the suffering of hell.  

After speaking of the Lord being able "to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,"  Peter then says in 2 Peter 2:10, "and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties."

Some have wrongly assumed that this means that the Lord will render greater punishment to these individuals; but there will not be different degrees of punishment in hell (as depicted in Dante's "Inferno").  Rather, as the Lord shows in Matthew 25:41-46, those who did not feed the hungry, nor give the thirsty drink, nor invite in the stranger, nor clothe the naked, nor visit the sick or the imprisoned, will receive the same punishment that the devil and his angels will -- the "eternal fire."

The idea that these ungodly people in 2 Peter 2:10 "despise government" (KJV) is rendered "despise authority" in the NASB.  It is not talking about corruption in government that these people oppose.  For they even "revile angelic majesties."  Rather, these ungodly souls are simply given over to rebellion and wickedness of various kinds.  The Greek word for "government" or "authority" in this verse is "kuriotes," which Thayer defines as "1) dominion, power, lordship.  2. in the NT: one who possesses dominion."  The same Greek word is also used in Jude 1:8 in referring to these who "reject authority...."

Some translations refer to these ungodly ones as being "bold" (2 Pet. 2:10); but as Bullinger points out, the Greek word is used only "in a bad sense" in the NT.  It is also rendered in some other Bible translations, in this verse, as "presumptuous," "reckless," "audacious," "darers," and "Fool-hardy."

They are also described as being "self-willed" (2 Pet. 2:10), from the Greek word "authades," which Thayer defines as "self-pleasing, self-willed, arrogant."  The only other place where we find this Greek word used in the NT is in Titus 1:7 where it speaks of one of the qualifications of the elder being that he is not "self-willed."  For if that be the case, it would obstruct from his being able to work together with the other elders.  The dictionary defines the English word "self-willed" as "stubborn or obstinate willfulness, as in pursuing one's own wishes or aims."

These wicked people Peter speaks of "do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties."  Jude also brings this out in Jude 1:9, "Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties."  How rebellious, disrespectful, and callous their hearts!  They can be so wrong -- and without any compunction.  

The KJV renders this phrase "angelic majesties" as "dignities" (2 Pet. 2:10).  The Greek word is "doxa," and the most common translation of it in the NASB is "glory" (more than 150 times).  Commentators seem to be divided over to whom these "dignities" are.  Some take the position that they are men in the higher authorities who should be respected; others, that it is referring to angels; and still others, that it could be referring to anyone who would be of an exalted rank.  In 2 Peter 2:11 mention is then made of angels "who are greater in might and power [but who] do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord," which appears as a contrast to what these ungodly revilers were doing.  This also tends to indicate that these "dignities" were angels.  Jude 1:8,9 also portrays these ungodly ones as those who "reject authority, and revile angelic majesties"; and goes on to say, "But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'"  Some Bible translations render "dignities" as "glorious beings in heaven" (CEV), "the glorious ones" (ESV, RSV), "the glorious beings above" (GNB), "the Lord's glory" (GW), "glorious beings" (ISV), "glories" (LITV),  and "celestial beings" (NIV).  But these revilers appear to be rebellious toward all authority -- whether earthly or heavenly.

So we have seen in 2 Peter 2:4-11that sin is a serious thing -- and the sinner who is not willing to turn to God will not go unpunished. But in spite of the corruption of the world, the Lord is able to help the one who wants to strive to live that righteous life, as Peter sets forth.  May that, therefore, be the desire of each of us.  For then, when life is over, we can enjoy a better world -- and forever -- where there is not even a trace of evil or wickedness!


News & Notes

For those of us who are Christians, let us continue praying for the following people:

Danny Holton, who has pancreatic cancer in the 4th stage. 

R.J. Evans, who will be undergoing radiation treatments for prostate cancer, which was recently diagnosed.  On a positive note, this was detected during its early stage and is also said to be a very slow developing kind.    

Jackie Evans (R.J.'s wife), who has been experiencing backpain for about the last 3 years.  Her neurosurgeon told her recently that to solve her problem her last two vertebrae will have to be fused.  She had an x-ray on her back and will also have an MRI August 11 so her doctor will have even more information before a final decision is made.  This type of surgery is painful and will require about a 3-day stay in the hospital.

Bill Barfield, who also has prostate cancer, is 85 and not doing very well physically.  

Bill Holt, who is now out of the hospital (after spending about 2.5 weeks there), but will probably need several more weeks to recuperate. 

Cheryl Crews, who continues to undergo various health problems.

Ed St. Clair, who has not been feeling well.

The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation

1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17;  John 20:30,31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3,4; Gal. 3:26,27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).

Park Forest

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evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (225) 667-4520
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