2 Peter 2

The False Teachers’ Ungodly Lifestyle

But false prophets arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.
There will be false teachers among you. Peter uses the same verb, γίνομαι (ginomai), in 2 Pet 2:1 as he had used in 1:20 to describe the process of inspiration. He may well be contrasting, by way of a catchword, the two kinds of prophets.
These false teachers
Grk “who”; verse 1 is one sentence in Greek, the second half constituting a relative clause.
By the use of the future tense (will infiltrate), Peter is boldly prophesying the role that false teachers will have before these Gentile believers. It was necessary for him to establish both his own credentials and to anchor his audience’s faith in the written Word before he could get to this point, for these false teachers will question both.
infiltrate your midst
Grk “will bring in,” often with the connotation of secretiveness; “your midst” is implied.
with destructive heresies,
Or “destructive opinions,” “destructive viewpoints.” The genitive ἀπωλείας (apōleias) could be taken either attributively (“destructive”) or as a genitive of destination (“leading to destruction”). Although the preferable interpretation is a genitive of destination, especially because of the elaboration given at the end of the verse (“bringing swift destruction on themselves”), translating it attributively is less cumbersome in English. Either way, the net result is the same.
even to the point of
Grk “even.” The καί (kai) is ascensive, suggesting that the worst heresy is mentioned in the words that follow.
denying the Master who bought them. As a result, they will bring
Grk “bringing.” The present participle ἐπάγοντες (epagontes) indicates the result of the preceding clause.
swift destruction on themselves.
And many will follow their debauched lifestyles.
“Debauched lifestyles” is literally “licentiousnesses,” “sensualities,” “debaucheries.”
Because of these false teachers,
Grk “because of whom,” introducing a subordinate clause to the first part of the verse.
the way of truth will be slandered.
Or “blasphemed,” “reviled,” “treated with contempt.”
And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their
Grk “to whom,” introducing a subordinate relative clause.
condemnation pronounced long ago
Grk “the ancient judgment.”
is not sitting idly by;
Grk “is not idle.”
Greek has “and their.” As introducing a synonymous parallel, it is superfluous in English.
destruction is not asleep.

For if God did not spare the angels who sinned,
The participle ἁμαρτησάντων (hamartēsantōn) could either be attributive (“who sinned”) or adverbial (“when they sinned”). The relation to the judgment of the false teachers in v. 3 suggests that the objects of God’s judgment are not in question, but the time frame for the execution of justice is. If the participle is taken temporally, the point of comparison is not as acute. The objection that the illustrations following (the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah) are viewed temporally does not mitigate this translation, for in both instances only the time of executing judgment is in view. Further, in both instances the OT notes that God withheld punishment for a long time.
but threw them into hell
Grk “casting them into Tartarus” or “holding them captive in Tartarus.” This verb, ταρταρόω (tartaroō), occurs only here in the NT, but its meaning is clearly established in both Hellenistic and Jewish literature. “Tartarus [was] thought of by the Greeks as a subterranean place lower than Hades where divine punishment was meted out, and so regarded in Israelite apocalyptic as well” (BDAG 991 s.v.). Grammatically, it has been translated as an indicative because it is an attendant circumstance participle.
and locked them up
Grk “handed them over.”
in chains
The reading σειραῖς (seirais, “chains”) is found in Ƥ72 P Ψ 33 1739 Maj. vg sy, while σιροῖς (sirois [or σειροῖς, seirois], “pits”) is found in א A B C 81 pc. The evidence is thus fairly evenly divided. Internally, the reading adopted here (σειραῖς) is a rarer term, perhaps prompting some scribes to replace it with the more common word. However, this more common term is not a synonym and hence does not follow the normal pattern of scribes. As well, the use of the genitive ζόφου (zofou) in “chains of darkness” is a bit awkward (a rare genitive of place), perhaps prompting some scribes to change the imagery to “pits of darkness” (in which case ζόφου is an attributive genitive). A further point that complicates the issue is the relationship of 2 Peter to Jude. Jude’s parallel (v. 6) has δεσμοῖς (desmois, “chains”). Apart from the issue of whether 2 Peter used Jude or Jude used 2 Peter, this parallel suggests one of two possibilities: either (1) since these two books obviously have a literary relationship, σειραῖς is original, or (2) early scribes, recognizing that these two books shared their material, changed σειροῖς to σειραῖς to conform the wording, at least conceptually, to Jude 6. On balance, σειραῖς looks to be original because scribes were not prone to harmonize extensively between books other than the Gospels (although 2 Peter and Jude do display some of this harmonizing). Further, such harmonization is often, if not usually, verbally exact, but δεσμοῖς is not a variant here.
in utter darkness,
The genitive ζόφου (zofou) is taken as a genitive of place. See previous note for discussion.
to be kept until the judgment,
and if he did not spare the ancient world, but did protect Noah, a herald of righteousness, along with seven others,
“Along with seven others” is implied in the cryptic, “the eighth, Noah.” A more literal translation thus would be, “he did protect Noah [as] the eighth…”
when God
Grk “he”; the referent (God) has been repeated here for clarity, although this is somewhat redundant with the beginning of v. 4.
brought a flood on an ungodly world,
Grk “a world of the ungodly.”
and if he turned to ashes the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah when he condemned them to destruction,
Several important witnesses omit καταστροφῇ (katastrofē, “destruction”; such as Ƥ72* B C* 1241 1739 1881 pc), but this is probably best explained as an accidental omission due to homoioarcton (the word following is κατέκρινεν [katekrinen, “he condemned“]).
Or “ruin,” or “extinction.” The first part of this verse more literally reads “And [if] he condemned to annihilation the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, by turning them to ashes.”
The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is detailed in Gen 18:1619:29.
having appointed
The perfect participle τεθεικώς (tetheikōs) suggests an antecedent act. More idiomatically, the idea seems to be, “because he had already appointed them to serve as an example.”
them to serve as an example
“To serve as” is not in Greek but is implied in the object-complement construction.
to future generations of the ungodly,
Grk “an example of the things coming to the ungodly,” or perhaps “an example to the ungodly of coming [ages].”
and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man in anguish over the debauched lifestyle of lawless
Or “unprincipled.”
This verse more literally reads “And [if] he rescued righteous Lot, who was deeply distressed by the lifestyle of the lawless in [their] debauchery.”
(for while he lived among them day after day, that righteous man was tormented in his righteous soul
Grk “that righteous man tormented his righteous soul.”
by the lawless deeds he saw and heard
Grk “by lawless deeds, in seeing and hearing [them].”
– if so,
The Greek is one long conditional sentence, from v. 4 to v. 10a. 2 Pet 2:4–8 constitute the protasis; vv. 9 and 10a, the apodosis. In order to show this connection more clearly, a resumptive summary protasis - “if so,” or “if God did these things” - is needed in English translation.
then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from their trials,
Grk “from trial,” or possibly “from temptation” (though this second meaning for πειρασμός (peirasmos) does not fit the context in which Noah and Lot are seen as in the midst of trials, not temptation).
and to reserve the unrighteous for punishment
The adverbial participle κολαζομένους (kolazomenous) can refer either to contemporaneous time or subsequent time. At stake is the meaning of the following prepositional phrase (at the day of judgment or until the day of judgment). If the participle is contemporaneous, the idea is “to keep the ungodly in a state of punishment until the day of judgment.” If subsequent, the meaning is “to keep the ungodly to be punished at the day of judgment.” Many commentators/translations opt for the first view, assuming that the present participle cannot be used of subsequent time. However, the present participle is the normal one used for result, and is often used of purpose (cf., e.g., for present participles suggesting result, Mark 9:7; Luke 4:15; John 5:18; Eph 2:15; 2 Pet 2:1, mentioned above; for present participles indicating purpose, note Luke 10:25; John 12:33; Acts 3:26; 2 Pet 2:10 [as even most translations render it]). Further, the context supports this: 2:1–10 forms something of an inclusio, in which the final end of the false teachers is mentioned specifically in v. 1, then as a general principle in v. 9. The point of v. 3 - that the punishment of the false teachers is certain, even though the sentence has not yet been carried out, is underscored by a participle of purpose in v. 9.
at the day of judgment,
10 especially those who indulge their fleshly desires
Grk “those who go after the flesh in [its] lust.”
and who despise authority.

Brazen and insolent,
There is no “and” in Greek; it is supplied for the sake of English convention.
they are not afraid to insult
The translation takes βλασφημοῦντες (blasfēmountes) as an adverbial participle of purpose, as most translations do. However, it is also possible to see this temporally (thus, “they do not tremble when they blaspheme”).
the glorious ones,
Δόξας (doxas) almost certainly refers to angelic beings rather than mere human authorities, though it is difficult to tell whether good or bad angels are in view. Verse 11 seems to suggest that wicked angels is what the author intends.
11 yet even
Grk “whereas.”
angels, who are much more powerful,
Grk “who are greater in strength and power.” What is being compared, however, could either be the false teachers or “the glorious ones,” in which case “angels” would refer to good angels and “the glorious ones” to evil angels.
do not bring a slanderous
Or “insulting.” The word comes from the same root as the term found in v. 10 (“insult”), v. 12 (“insulting”), and v. 2 (“will be slandered”). The author is fond of building his case by the repetition of a word in a slightly different context so that the readers make the necessary connection. English usage cannot always convey this connection because a given word in one language cannot always be translated the same way in another.
judgment against them before the Lord.
‡ Some witnesses lack παρὰ κυρίῳ (para kuriō; so A Ψ 33 81 1505 1881 2464 al vg co), while others have the genitive παρὰ κυρίου (para kuriou; so Ƥ72 1241 al syph,h**). The majority of witnesses (including א B C P 1739 Maj.) read the dative παρὰ κυρίῳ. The genitive expression suggests that angels would not pronounce a judgment on “the glorious ones” from the Lord, while the dative indicates that angels would not pronounce a judgment on “the glorious ones” in the presence of the Lord. The parallel in Jude 9 speaks of a reviling judgment against the devil in which the prepositional phrase is entirely absent. At the same time, in that parallel Michael does say, “The Lord rebuke you.” (Hence, he is offering something of a judgment from the Lord.) The best options externally are the dative or the omission of the phrase, but a decision is difficult. Internally, the omission may possibly be a motivated reading in that it finds a parallel in Jude 9 (where no prepositional phrase is used). All things considered, the dative is to be preferred, though with much reservation.
12 But
2 Pet 2:12 through 16 constitute one cumbersome sentence in Greek. It is difficult to tell whether a hard break belongs in the middle of v. 13, as the translation has it, or whether the compounding of participles is meant in a loosely descriptive sort of way, without strong grammatical connection. Either way, the sentence rambles in a way that often betrays a great “vehemence of spirit” (A. T. Robertson, Grammar, 435). The author is obviously agitated at these false teachers who are to come.
these men,
The false teachers could conceivably be men or women, but in v. 14 they are said to have eyes “full of an adulteress.” This can only refer to men. Hence, both here and in v. 17 the false teachers are described as “men.”
like irrational animals – creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed
Grk “born for capture and destruction.”
– do not understand whom
Grk “with [reference to] whom.”
they are insulting, and consequently
There is no conjunction joining this last clause of v. 12 to the preceding (i.e., no “and consequently”). The argument builds asyndetically (a powerful rhetorical device in Greek), but cannot be naturally expressed in English as such.
in their destruction they will be destroyed,
This cryptic expression has been variously interpreted. (1) It could involve a simple cognate dative in which case the idea is “they will be utterly destroyed.” But the presence of αὐτῶν (autōn; their, of them) is problematic for this view. Other, more plausible views are: (2) the false teachers will be destroyed at the same time as the irrational beasts, or (3) in the same manner as these creatures (i.e., by being caught); or (4) the false teachers will be destroyed together with the evil angels whom they insult. Because of the difficulties of the text, it was thought best to leave it ambiguous, as the Greek has it.
13 suffering harm as the wages for their harmful ways.
There is a play on words in Greek, but this is difficult to express adequately in English. The verb ἀδικέω (adikeō) as a passive means “to suffer harm,” or “to suffer an injustice.” The noun ἀδικία (adikia) means “unrighteousness.” Since the Greek verb has a wider field of meaning than the English, to translate it as suffer an injustice is unwarranted, for it implicitly attributes evil to God. As R. Bauckham notes, “in English it is impossible to translate ἀδικούμενοι as a morally neutral term and ἀδικίας with a morally pejorative term, while retaining the play on words” (Jude, 2 Peter [WBC], 265).
By considering it a pleasure to carouse in broad daylight,
Grk “considering carousing in the daytime a pleasure.”
they are stains and blemishes, indulging
Or “carousing,” “reveling.” The participle ἐντρυφῶντες (entrufōntes) is a cognate to the noun τρυφή (trufē, “carousing”) used earlier in the verse.
in their deceitful pleasures when they feast together with you.
14 Their eyes,
Grk “having eyes.” See note on “men” at the beginning of v. 12.
full of adultery,
Grk “full of an adulteress.”
never stop sinning;
Grk “and unceasing from sin.” Some translate this “insatiable for sin,” but such a translation is based on a textual variant with inadequate support.
they entice
Grk “enticing.” See note on “men” at the beginning of v. 12.
unstable people.
“People” is literally “souls.” The term ψυχή (yucē) can refer to one’s soul, one’s life, or oneself.
They have trained their hearts for greed, these cursed children!
Grk “having hearts trained in greediness, children of cursing.” The participles continue the general description of the false teachers, without strong grammatical connection. The genitive κατάρας (kataras, “of cursing”) is taken attributively here.
15 By forsaking the right path they have gone astray, because they followed the way of Balaam son of Bosor,
Although many modern translations (e.g., NASB, TEV, NIV, CEV, NLT) read “Beor” here, this is due to harmonization with the OT rather than following a variant textual reading. The Greek text of NA27 reads “Bosor,” an otherwise unattested form of the name of Balaam’s father.
who loved the wages of unrighteousness,
“Wages of unrighteousness” in Greek is the same expression found in v. 13, “wages for harmful ways.” The repetition makes the link between the false teachers and Balaam more concrete.
16 yet was rebuked
Grk “but he had a rebuke.”
for his own transgression (a dumb donkey,
The Greek word ἄφωνος (afōnos) means “mute, silent” or “incapable of speech.” For reasons of English style the word “dumb” was used in the translation. Despite the potential for misunderstanding (since “dumb” can refer to a lack of intellectual capability) more dynamic glosses were judged to be inelegant.
speaking with a human voice,
Grk “a voice of a (man/person).”
restrained the prophet’s madness).
Balaam’s activities are detailed in Num 2224 (see also Num 31:8, 16).

17  These men
Although some translations have simply “these” or “these people,” since in v. 14 they are described as having eyes “full of an adulteress,” men are in view.
are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm, for whom the utter depths of darkness
Grk “utter darkness of darkness.” Verse 4 speaks of wicked angels presently in “chains of utter darkness,” while the final fate of the false teachers is a darker place still.
have been reserved.
18 For by speaking high-sounding but empty words
Grk “high-sounding words of futility.”
they are able to entice,
Grk “they entice.”
with fleshly desires and with debauchery,
Grk “with the lusts of the flesh, with debauchery.”
Grk “those.”
who have just escaped
Or “those who are barely escaping.”
from those who reside in error.
Or “deceit.”
19 Although these false teachers promise
Verse 19 is a subordinate clause in Greek. The masculine nominative participle “promising” (ἐπαγγελλόμενοι, epangellomenoi) refers back to the subject of vv. 17–18. At the same time, it functions subordinately to the following participle, ὑπάρχοντες (huparchontes, “while being”).
such people
Grk “them.”
freedom, they themselves are enslaved to
Grk “slaves of.” See the note on the word “slave” in 1:1.
Or “corruption,” “depravity.” Verse 19 constitutes a subordinate clause to v. 18 in Greek. The main verbal components of these two verses are: “uttering…they entice…promising…being (enslaved).” The main verb is (they) entice. The three participles are adverbial and seem to indicate an instrumental relation (by uttering), a concessive relation (although promising), and a temporal relation (while being [enslaved]). For the sake of English usage, in the translation of the text this is broken down into two sentences.
For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved.
Grk “for by what someone is overcome, to this he is enslaved.”
20 For if after they have escaped the filthy things
Grk “defilements”; “contaminations”; “pollutions.”
of the world through the rich knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ,
Through the rich knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The implication is not that these people necessarily knew the Lord (in the sense of being saved), but that they were in the circle of those who had embraced Christ as Lord and Savior.
Grk “(and/but) they.”
again get entangled in them and succumb to them,
Grk “they again, after becoming entangled in them, are overcome by them.”
their last state has become worse for them than their first.
21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, having known it, to turn back from the holy commandment that had been delivered to them. 22 They are illustrations of this true proverb:
Grk “the [statement] of the true proverb has happened to them.” The idiom in Greek cannot be translated easily in English.
A dog returns to its own vomit ,”
The quotation is a loose rendering of Prov 26:11. This proverb involves a participle that is translated like a finite verb (“returns”). In the LXX this line constitutes a subordinate and dependent clause. But since the line has been lifted from its original context, it has been translated as an independent statement.
and “A sow, after washing herself,
Or “after being washed.” The middle verb may be direct (“wash oneself”) or permissive (“allow oneself to be washed”).
wallows in the mire.”
The source of this quotation is uncertain. Heraclitus has often been mentioned as a possible source, but this is doubtful. Other options on the translation of the second line include a sow, having (once) bathed herself (in mud), (returns) to wallowing in the mire, or a sow that washes herself by wallowing in the mire (BDAG 181 s.v. βόρβορος). The advantage of this last translation is that no verbs need to be supplied for it to make sense. The disadvantage is that in this context it does not make any contribution to the argument. Since the source of the quotation is not known, there is some guesswork involved in the reconstruction. Most commentators prefer a translation similar to the one in the text above.

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