Notes on 2 Peter 2:4-10
by Jonathan Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
2 Peter 2:4 KJV For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast (them) down to hell, and delivered (them) into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
Peter now introduces a list of three items which God did not spare. The first item refers to angels that sinned. Comparing Scripture with Scripture, one such reference is to Lucifer himself who rebelled against God, spoken of in Isaiah 14. Lucifer and Satan are different names for the same person, who, among other things, walks about here and there in the earth (Job 1 and 1 Peter 5:8), and accuses believers of just about anything. Job was not sinless but Satan argued that God was showing favoritism towards Job.
That other fallen angels are not in Hell, nor are in chains of darkness, is clear. These are the evil spirits or demons. The Lord Jesus Christ cast out any number of demons, from one in a boy (Matthew 17:14-18) to a “legion” in the wild man of Gadara (Mark 5:9).
The New Testament does not speak much of evil spirits but the writers knew such existed. Jesus Himself stated that, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven (Luke 10:18).” We do not know where Peter would have learned about other angels being cast down to Hell, but John gives a much clearer picture in Revelation 9:13-15. There are four angels chained (apparently—how could they be loosed if not chained or at least restrained in some way?) in the River Euphrates waiting for a specific hour, day, month, and year to kill one-third of the people alive in that day.
5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth (person), a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;
This is the second item which God did not spare, namely the earth, which before He had declared was “very good (Genesis 1:31” but now was now utterly corrupted. Jesus mentioned the “days of Noe sic” twice, in Matt. 24:37 and Luke 17:26 as a sign of His coming. Genesis 6-9 records the story of man’s depravity, thinking only of evil continually; Noah’s ministry, the deliverance of him and his family from the Flood by being sealed in the Ark, and the promises of God to restore the earth and never to destroy the earth again by means of water or another universal flood.
6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned (them) with an overthrow, making (them) an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:
Note the progression: God started by punishing the angels who sinned, then He condemned His own creation, the Earth. Here he is rendering judgment—condemning—the “twin cities” of Sodom and Gomorrah. The people of those cities should have known better: Abram had come to their rescue after a group of foreign kings plundered the cities, and carried away captives, including Lot, Abram’s nephew. Abram led a group to recover Lot and with God’s help recovered everything lost. The king of Sodom offered all the material goods to Abram but he said no, he wouldn’t even take a thread or a shoe string (Genesis 14:22-24, paraphrased).
But they clearly did not worship the LORD, the God of Abram, and continued on their wicked way. Genesis 19 begins the story of Sodom’s last moments. God sent a pair of angels to escort Lot and his family out of Sodom because the destruction couldn’t take place while Lot was there. Soon after Lot was away from Sodom and Gomorrah, God rained fire and brimstone onto the places (Gen 19:24).
8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed (his) righteous soul from day to day with (their) unlawful deeds;)
Lot may or may not have known what he was getting into when he left Abram, his uncle, and moved towards Sodom. He didn’t move into the city at first (see Genesis 13:12) but later, perhaps after Abram and his own trained soldiers rescued him and most, if not all, of what the raiders had taken from Sodom (Genesis 14). Later Lot was basically promoted to sit in Sodom’s gate (Genesis 19:1), meaning he was now living in the city. There is no record in Genesis that he was vexed with the unlawful deeds of Sodom but the Holy Spirit revealed this to Peter when he wrote these words.
Sadly, his “vexing” seems to have vanished, or at least diminished, when the angels came to escort Lot and as many as would listen out of Sodom. His sons-in-law thought he was jesting when he warned them to leave, because the LORD was about to destroy the city. He himself lingered, so much so that the angels dragged him out of the city, and eventually lost everything except his two daughters. This whole, sad, chapter of his life is found in Genesis 19.
9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
In contrast to Lot, who seems to have given in to many temptations, consider some of the following: Joseph, surely tempted by Potiphar’s wife to do evil; and later, to render punishment to his brothers for what they had done to him years before he became the second most powerful man in Egypt; David, who resisted many temptations (twice, to kill Saul, for example: see 1 Samuel 24 and 26); Gideon, who refused Israel’s offer to become king (Judges 8:22-23); and Moses, who left all the riches of Egypt (Hebrews 11:24-26). Many more resisted temptations and either did, or will, receive a reward for remaining faithful. James had written that the ones who endure temptations would receive the crown of life (James 1:12).
In contrast to the reward for enduring temptations, Peter speaks of the punishment awaiting the unjust. Their punishment may not be seen or executed here in this life but if these people do not repent of their sins, they will face the Great White Throne and be judged according to their deeds (see Revelation 20). No need to face that kind of everlasting punishment—just repent and accept God’s gift of salvation!
10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous (are they), selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
Peter continues the description of the unjust in this verse. He singles out two classes, namely those who walk after the flesh (the old nature) “in the lust (desires) of uncleanness”—one can only imagine how far those desires might have gone—and those who despise government. This could mean despising the government of the time (who really wants to be subject to a foreign power?), or any form of government (I should be allowed to do my own thing, anywhere and at any time I want to); or even despising the rule of God, preferring, perhaps, to follow the so-called liberty promised by the devil, Peter had mentioned how the unbelievers thought it strange that believers didn’t “run with” the unsaved any longer (1 Peter 4:3-4).
Even worse, Peter says, these people are presumptuous and self-willed, which is probably the next step after despising government, but adds to it that they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities. This is in contrast to the commands for believers to show respect to those in authority (Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2:13-17, e.g.). Even Jesus Himself respected the Roman authority by making the distinction between rendering to Caesar what was Caesar’s and to God what was God’s. He also paid the temple tax (tribute, per Matthew 17:24), when it seems He had no money in His immediate possession, after Peter caught a fish with a coin in its mouth (Matthew 17:24-27).
Scripture quotations taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV).