2 Peter 2:4-5

2 Peter 2:4‑5  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 12
In the three opening verses the apostle pointed out in plain and pointed terms the very class of false teachers which is now poisoning the fountains of Christendom. It is itself a prophecy fulfilled to every believer of Christian intelligence. As in Israel the false prophets, so now the false teachers are a fact more manifest in our day than ever before. The very scattering, which ought not to be among true-hearted saints, but which is inevitable under personal or party pressure, makes the peculiar evil more apparently the work of the spirit of error. They may differ each from the rest doctrinally in other respects; but they all agree to let in skepticism as to scripture, which necessarily destroys divine authority for every article of faith, and therefore directly tends to dissolve the credit of its rule in anything. Now where is there a single denomination free from this malaria? And the worst is that it is no longer eccentric individuals winked at to avoid trouble and split, but the leading seniors and energetic juniors in the ministry who are more zealous for that deadly error, though nominally some may not deny Christ and the truth of His work.
In former days, as the rule when such unbelievers found themselves opposed through their speculations to the Articles of faith they had subscribed, or to their public profession on becoming religious guides, they withdrew from a position they could no longer hold with common integrity. But in our day we see how those who are false in doctrine are bold enough to set conscience at defiance, and cleave to their position and emoluments when they abandon the truth which they had solemnly pledged themselves to preach and teach. It is not therefore the Lord and the truth only which they betray; but they sacrifice plain honesty of principle for a place and a living which they value. This depravity too is severely exposed in the apostle's words, “through covetousness with well-turned words they will make merchandise of you.” Nor is it his rebuke only since he adds the retribution which must befall those who thus mock God: “for whom judgment of old is not idle, and their destruction slumbereth not.” The maledictions under the seal of the Fisherman may return on the guilty ill-wisher, but God will surely give effect to the words of the bondman and apostle of Jesus Christ His Son.
The apostle proceeds to give examples of divine judgment executed on angels as well as men.
“For if God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to lowest hell and gave them up to chains [or, pits1] of gloom reserved for judgment, and spared not an ancient world but preserved Noah an eighth (or, with seven others), a preacher of righteousness, having brought a flood upon a world of ungodly ones” (vers. 4, 5).
We must not confound this fall of angels with the original defection of the devil and his angels, which had a distinct character and a different treatment on God's part. What can be plainer than that the earlier defection was before man was created? For the devil their leader became man's tempter, as his own fault was being lifted up with self-importance and pride against God, and his aim was to lure our first parents into like independence and rebellion. In the case before us the direction of sin was toward man in a way contrary to the nature of angels or of mankind; and so abhorrent to God that He executed an exemplary dealing of His displeasure at the time of the deluge. This too continues through all the ages of man on the earth till final judgment come for wicked men and angels when the eternal state opens. The devil and his angels have quite another destiny; for they are allowed to tempt man, as their chief tempted even the Son of God when here incarnate, rising more and more during the season of divine long-suffering till the ruin of Christendom, as well as of the Jews, shall revive the Roman empire in the Beast, and the False Prophet of Judea, the Antichrist, to sit not only as Messiah but as God in the temple of God showing himself that he is God. Even at the end of Christ's thousand years' reign, Satan will be loosed once more to deceive man for a little space. All so far is in contrast with the sinning angels here.
But the comparison with Jude 66And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. (Jude 6), 7, renders another fact sufficiently clear; that the particular time and the special enormity of their sin point to what is described in Gen. 6:1-41And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, 2That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. 3And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. 4There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown. (Genesis 6:1‑4), which played a prominent part in the accumulated evil for which the deluge was sent to destroy the world which then was. One knows how repugnant to most minds is the natural sense of this episode, what violent efforts have been made by learned men to evade it, provoked by absurd rabbinical legends gloating in what is vile and strange, and availing themselves of our Savior's words in Matt. 22:3030For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven. (Matthew 22:30) on the very different truth of the resurrection state to deny its possibility. Besides, the word does not necessarily mean “wives” but “women,” though ordinarily so employed. However this be, we may all admire the holy wisdom of God in telling us briefly and even obscurely a tale on which man has so much to say, and so great a desire to fill up the details, if he could.
Next the apostle speaks of Noah with his family of seven preserved when God spared not the ancient world. For this is important in his account of God's government. If His hand brought a flood on a world of the ungodly, He took care to guard the safety of Noah's house for the sake of its faithful head. And he draws attention to the interesting fact that Noah was not only a righteous man but “a preacher of righteousness.” The hundred and twenty years of which Jehovah spoke was the space of the preparation of the ark and of Noah's preaching. It has nothing to do with the duration of human life, as some have fancied, but of divine patience before “the flood came and took all away.” To the same time refers the mention of Noah and his preaching also in 1 Peter 3:19, 2019By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; 20Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. (1 Peter 3:19‑20) where we are told of their spirits, disobedient as they were to the word of his testimony, and therefore in prison awaiting a judgment still more terrible than aught of a temporal nature, however vast and exceptional.
And so it is now. The day of the Lord, of which the Lord Himself warned, and calls His servants to warn, is at hand; and it will come when men say Peace and safety, while their hearts are filled with fear and foreboding of what is about to be on the inhabited earth. Assuredly the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with angels of His power taking vengeance on a guilty world disobedient to the gospel will even more terrify men in its sudden destruction.