“10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, 11 whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. 12 But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, 13 suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. 14 They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! 15 Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. 17 These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved.” (2 Peter 2:10-17: ESV)
The gateway to understanding this passage:
The last word(s) of verse 10 in the ESV are “glorious ones,” in the NASB are “angelic majesties,” in the KJV is “dignities,” and in the NIV are “celestial beings.” The Greek word used was doxa1for the most part meaning favorable thought or opinion. The context of this chapter is that of false teachers. These teachers are putting a negative spin on revealed doctrines and principles. The revealing had been by God through angels, prophets, Jesus, his apostles and others. The whole spectrum of these are being slandered or blasphemed by these false teachers.
Peter says that these false teachers are making pronouncements in areas they know nothing of. They are not authorities in these God revealed matters. They are in no position to re-write them, but without regard for their ignorance they plow on despising the authorities God has used to reveal these matters. They work from instinct and harm a whole cadre of others in the process.
Now let’s look at these verses more…
When one teaches others to sin punishment and judgment result. Those who teach that passion is a thing to revel in are in a special category of judgment. When one teaches sins of passion those passions have a way of growing. If one tastes a thing and is disgusted by it they won’t usually taste it again, but if one tastes a thing and finds it pleasurable they will go back for more. If a spiritual leader teaches defiling passions spinning them as legitimate and non-sinful that leader will heap up judgment upon themselves as they wreck the lives of those they teach.
Authority and obedience is the antithesis of rebellion. God has expressed the importance of obedience and submission in our lives. When a spiritual leader comes along and speaks against this they foster rebellion. Rebellion is an instinct like passions are. A spiritual leader to leads others into rebellion is one who will heap up judgment upon themselves.
These false teachers despise authority by the teachings they are giving. They are coming along behind Paul and Peter and are retooling, revising, re-teaching millennia of revealed religious principles. They set themselves up as the possessors of truth. They go much too far. They are bold, and they are arrogant. They do not so much as tremble as the make grand and false pronouncements heaping up against themselves judgment after judgment. They rack up guilt with a great velocity.
Even angels who intrinsically possess greater power and characteristics do not presume upon the things that God has said. In 1 Peter 1 verse 12 Peter spoke of angels longing to look into things that had been revealed to the apostles. Angels recognized their own limitations and held their tongues, kept their thoughts and ideas to themselves. They did not seek to spout off about things they knew nothing of. Importantly and in distinction to these false teachers the angels knew what they did not know and held their peace.
Peter makes an analogy that jostles more than jives with the 21st century. We reasonably seek to care for and protect animals and the environment. In that time the sparser and more rural population faced threats from animals. Those animals would threaten adults and children as well as livestock. As such they were more feared and viewed as items marked for destruction. Probably the old west in America could be considered to have some parallels.. It is that context in which Peter styles the false teachers. Those men contradict God on matters they do not understand. They make pronouncements that are not their’s to make. Their declarations are far afield spoken more from instinct than from rational thought. They pose a risk to adults and children. The risk faced is severe enough that Peter considers them as mainly fit for destruction.
The ungodly have to face God. They should be afraid of the one who will judge them. They have risen against God, their creator and savior. This rising has led to harm of others and they will experience retribution for the error of their ways.
What are their traits:
- Sensual pleasure from life in luxurious living.
- Eyes always extending their lusts in adultery
- Entice the unsteady
- Hearts trained in greed
- Forsaken the right way
- Like Balaam they are willing to do wrong for hire
- They enjoy the dividends of a wicked lifestyle
- Springs, promising water, but empty.