New Defender's Study Bible Notes
2:1 false teachers. Even during the time that God’s holy prophets were transmitting the Old Testament Scriptures, Satan had sent false prophets among the people, to deceive and confuse them (e.g., Deuteronomy 18:20-22; 13:1-5). The same proved true in New Testament times, as false prophets arose to counteract the teachings of those with God’s true gift of prophecy (e.g., Matthew 7:15; Acts 13:6; II Corinthians 11:13). As the New Testament neared completion, this true gift of prophecy began to vanish away (I Corinthians 13:8), being superseded by the permanent gift of teaching God’s revealed Word (Romans 12:6-7; I Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11). But Satan continues to send false teachers (II Timothy 4:3; Titus 1:10,11) and even occasional false teachers who claim to be prophets (e.g., I John 4:1; Revelation 2:20; Mark 13:22). Peter here describes many of their teachings and attitudes, warning against them. This warning is very appropriate today, for false teaching in the name of Jesus is rampant today as never before, ranging from subtle heresies to flagrant denial of His divine/human nature.
2:1 damnable. The Greek word for “damnable” is apoleia. It is translated also as “destruction” (II Peter 2:1); “pernicious ways” (II Peter 2:2); “damnation” (II Peter 2:3); “perdition” (II Peter 3:7) and “destruction” (II Peter 3:16). Its basic meaning is “ruin.”
2:1 bought them. The Lord’s redemption price (I Corinthians 6:20), which He paid in His own blood, was sufficient to purchase salvation for all who are lost, even those who deny Him and His redemption. If they choose to remain enslaved to sin and Satan, however, He will allow them to bring upon themselves the ruin they deserve.
2:2 pernicious ways. Especially in the last days, many will follow such false teachers (see also II Timothy 4:3). Today false cults, liberal churches, occult movements, and false doctrines of every sort are proliferating rapidly all over the world, all speaking in the name of “Jesus” or “the Christ” (but never of “our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”).
2:2 evil spoken of. Literally, this means, “blaspheming the way of truth.” In this chapter, as well as other Scriptures, such false teachers are fully described. Some of their characteristics are as follows. They: (1) deny the doctrine of redemption by the blood of Christ (II Peter 2:1); (2) deny the lordship of Christ (II Peter 2:10—in this verse “government” is the same word as “lordship;” this denial is also evident in II Peter 2:1); (3) twist the Scriptures to their own beliefs (II Peter 1:19-21; 3:16); (4) bring in their false teachings subtly (II Peter 2:1—note “privily;” and II Peter 2:3—note “feigned” words, or literally “plastic” words); (5) speak evil or sarcastically of true Biblical doctrine (II Peter 2:2,12); (6) ridicule divinely approved “dignities”—that is “glories” (Greek doxa), possibly God’s holy angels and other representatives of His power (II Peter 2:10-11); (7) covet money and prestige (II Peter 2:3,14-15); (8) are eloquent crowd-pleasers (II Peter 2:18); (9) are deceitful (II Peter 2:13); (10) are lustful and seductive, promoting carnality (II Peter 2:10,14); (11) are thoroughgoing evolutionary uniformitarians (II Peter 3:4); and (12) deny Christ’s bodily second coming (II Peter 3:3-4).
2:4 angels that sinned. There are previous references in the Bible to the sin of Satan, but none to the “angels” that sinned, except in Genesis 6:1-4, where “the sons of God” took control of human women and their progeny. According to Jude 6, they “left their own habitation” in the heavens, seeking to corrupt all flesh on earth. For this crime, God “cast them down to hell” (Greek tartarus, the traditional prison of condemned angels, the lowest compartment of Hades), whence they will eventually be cast into “everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).
2:5 eighth person, a preacher. Following the sin of the angels, the Lord had also to judge the corrupt world of ungodly men and women, so hopelessly committed to wickedness that no hope of repentance remained. The patriarchal line from Adam had consisted of seven men who were the primary “preachers of righteousness” in their respective generations. These were, in order: Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, and Methuselah. Enoch is not included since he was translated into heaven while Jared was still serving in this capacity. Similarly, Lamech is not included, because he died before his father Methuselah. This left Noah to serve as the “eighth preacher of righteousness,” but none but his own family heeded his warnings of coming judgment, and the “world of the ungodly” died in the Flood.
2:5 the flood. “Flood” here is kataklusmos in the Greek. Occurring only four times, it is not the word used for any ordinary flood, but always in reference to the great Flood in the days of Noah (Genesis 6–9). The latter was unique, being worldwide and globally destructive, inundating the entire world (Greek kosmos) in its purging waters, and sparing only the four men and their wives in the ark. Lesser floods invariably are mentioned by a different Greek word.
2:6 overthrow. The “overthrow” of the unspeakably wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, with their “filthy conversation” (II Peter 2:7) and their rampant “sodomy” was not worldwide but regional, evidently involving a great earthquake and volcanic eruptions (Genesis 19). The Greek for “overthrow” is katastrophe, rather than kataklusmos, for the one was local, the other global. From these words, we obviously derive our words “catastrophe” and “catastrophism” on the one hand, and “cataclysm” on the other. There has been only one cataclysm so far in world history, but many catastrophes. See also notes on II Peter 3:3-10.
2:7 just Lot. Despite Lot’s compromises, God still considered him a “just,” or “righteous” man, justified through the faith which led him to go with Abraham to Canaan, probably also worshipping at Abraham’s altar (Genesis 12:8).
2:7 conversation. That is, “behavior.”
2:8 righteous man. Despite his unfortunate end, Lot is recognized by Peter as having been “just” (II Peter 2:7) and “righteous.” Even believers may become “castaways” (I Corinthians 9:27) in this life (even though they are still “just and “righteous” through faith in Christ and therefore will be in heaven in the future life) if they persist in a materialistic life style.
2:11 railing accusation. Compare Jude 9. These false teachers are quite ready to rail against angels and other dignities, but the holy angels do not reciprocate, for even wicked humans still were created in God’s image. Only Satan has the effrontery to do this (Revelation 12:10).
2:14 exercised. “Exercised” is the Greek gumnazo, whence we get our word “gymnasium.” The false teachers have practiced covetousness as intensely as an athlete exercises before a contest.
2:14 cursed children. This means, literally, “children of cursing,” evidently implying that, despite their religious facade, they remain under God’s curse of sin and death.
2:15 Balaam. Balaam could have been a true prophet of God, but became a false prophet because of covetousness. He actually “loved” (with an agape-type love!) money.
2:16 dumb ass speaking. Peter here confirms the historicity of the remarkable miracle when the ass spoke to Balaam with a human voice. For the story of Balaam, see Numbers 22–24, especially 22:28-33. Note also Joshua 13:22 for the sad end of Balaam the covetous prophet.
2:17 wells. This can better be read “springs.” Contrast John 4:14.
2:17 mist of darkness. Compare Jude 13. The false teachers are destined for the outer darkness of eternal hell.
2:18 great swelling words. “Vanity” here means “emptiness.” False teachers have the remarkable ability of clothing vapid thought in pseudo-intellectual verbiage.
2:18 clean escaped. “Clean escaped” should better read “just escaping.” The picture here is of people who have been given some information about God and His salvation and are interested in learning more, but they have not yet accepted Christ as Savior.
2:18 live in error. They have been associating with a crowd of people who literally “order their whole lives” around error—that is, willingly rejecting God and wanting nothing to do with living under His domain.
2:19 servants of corruption. These who are preaching freedom to these undecided inquirers are themselves slaves of corruption, in absolute bondage to sin.
2:20 latter end is worse. It is thus very dangerous to know how to be saved and to understand the complete situation mentally, and then deliberately to turn Christ down. This is the same situation as described in Hebrews 6:4-6 and 10:26-31.
2:21 known the way of righteousness. Knowledge is necessary, but knowledge alone is insufficient for salvation. One must not only know the basic facts about salvation, but must receive Christ as personal Savior in true repentance and faith.
2:22 proverb. Proverbs 26:11 is cited here in part.