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Warnings Against False Teachers
Summary —False Prophets and False Teachers. The Judgment on the Fallen Angels. Judgment on the Antediluvians. The Perverseness of Wicked Men. The Example of Balaam, the Son of Bosor.
1–3. There arose false prophets among the people. In 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 Jer. 6:13. Christ foretells the rise of false prophets (Matt. 24:24). There shall be false teachers. Teachers of false doctrines. Paul often warns against such teachers. See Acts 20:30. Damnable heresies. “Destructive heresies” in the Revision. Party divisions caused by false teaching. A heresy is a schism, or that which tends to produce schism. Denying the Lord that bought them. This is the culmination of false teaching in the church and has been fulfilled by those professedly Christian teachers who reject the divinity of Christ and the atoning power of his blood. Swift destruction. Sudden destruction. 2. Many shall follow their pernicious ways. “Lascivious doings” in the Revision. Immoral life is the result of false doctrine, and thus a reproach is brought upon the truth. 3. And in covetousness. By their “feigned words,” crafty speeches, the false teachers shall use their followers as a source of gain.
4–11. For if God spared not the angels that sinned. In order to show that judgments on these wicked teachers are sure, Peter cites examples. Even angels when they sinned were subjected to punishment. But cast them down to hell. The sinning angels were cast out of heaven. The word rendered “hell” is not Gehenna, but Tartarus, a Greek term used for the place of future punishment. Delivered them into chains of darkness. “Pits” in the Revision; possibly dungeons of darkness gives the idea. Compare Jude 6. Both passages point to a time when angels sinned, fell, and thus became angels of darkness. 5. And spared not the old world. The case of the antediluvians furnishes the second example of God's swift justice. But preserved Noah with seven others. God did not then forget the righteous. A preacher of righteousness. By example as well as by word. See Gen. 7:1–7, and 1 Pet. 3:20. 6. Turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes. The third example of judgment on sin. See Gen. 19:29. 7. And delivered righteous Lot. The saving of the righteous is as marked as the punishment of the wicked. See Gen. 19:1, 7. Vexed, etc. See Gen. 19:5. 8. For that righteous man, etc. Lot, seeing and hearing the wickedness around him, was sore distressed. 9. The Lord knoweth, etc. These examples show that the Lord knows how to deliver the righteous from every species of trial, and to hold the wicked in reserve for judgment. 10. Chiefly. Those next named will receive the greater punishment. Who go after the flesh. Follow its dictates and live impure lives. Despise government. Refuse to submit to authority. Not afraid to speak evil of dignities. A characteristic of this class is their presumption and a want of reverence for what is high and holy. 11. Whereas angels. The angels, superior in might and power, do not show such presumption, or disrespect to any lofty power. Compare Jude 9. There is so striking a parallel between a part of this chapter and a part of Jude that it is thought that either Peter or Jude had the epistle of the other before him. Jude shows us that even Michael did not rail against Satan.
12–16. But these, as natural brute beasts. As if utterly irrational. The brute beasts were destined to the slaughter for man's uses. So these men blindly rush to destruction. Speak evil of the things that they understand not. How often the scoffer fulfills this description! 13. Shall receive the reward of unrighteousness. Their destruction is the legitimate reward of their own wrong doing. Count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Literally “in the day.” I believe that the idea is that, like dumb brutes forgetful of coming destruction, they take pleasure in carousal for a day, regardless of the morrow. Spots and blemishes. Marring the brightness and beauty of the church. Revelling in their love feasts (Revision). Converting even these into scenes of revel. 14. Having eyes full of adultery. Looking around with a lustful appetite. 15. Having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Bosor. See Numbers, chapter 31. Balaam sold himself out to an evil cause for the sake of gain. 16. But was rebuked. By the voice that was put into the mouth of the brute he rode.
17–19. These are springs without water. They promise much but disappoint. Mists driven by a storm. The thought is the same. These mists promise rain, but it fails to descend. For whom. For these apostates the “blackness of darkness is reserved.” 18. For. This shows how they promise great things and disappoint. They offer great swelling words, and entice those who are about to be delivered from error. 19. Promising liberty. Liberty from all restraint, complete freedom to serve their own wills, such liberty as those who rail against God's law are wont to offer. Servants of corruption. Those who offer liberty are themselves slaves, serving their own passions and lusts. He who is swayed by appetite or habit cannot be free.
20–22. For if, after they have escaped the pollution of the world. If one who has been converted is enticed back again into his sins, his state is worse than before. That this is possible is taught in many places. 21. For it had been better, etc. To other sins there is then added the sin of rejecting the way of righteousness after an experimental knowledge of it. 22. For it is happened. Their relapse is described in the proverbs. See Prov. 1:1; 26:11. Such a repulsive course can be compared only with the most disgusting habits of unclean animals.
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