2 Kefa Jewish New Testament and comment David H. Stern
1. But among the people there were also false prophets, just as there will be false teachers among you. Under false pretenses they will introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and thus bring on themselves swift destruction.
But among the people there were also false prophets. Kefa continues the parallel begun in 1:20 between the time when he was writing and the time of the Prophets.
2. Many will follow their debaucheries; and because of them, the true Way will be maligned.
3. In their greed they will exploit you with fabricated stories. Their punishment, decreed long ago, is not idle; their destruction is not asleep!
Fabricated stories. See 1:16.
4. For God did not spare the angels who sinned; on the contrary, he put them in gloomy dungeons lower than Sh’ol to be held for judgment.
The angels who sinned are the b'nei-ha'elohim ("sons of God" or "sons of angels"; Genesis 6:2), also called nefilim ("fallen ones"; Genesis 6:4), who fell from heaven, which was "their proper sphere" (Yd 6), and "came in to the daughters of men" (Genesis 6:2,4). But now they are "imprisoned spirits" (1 Ke 3:19&N), whom God has put... in gloomy dungeons lower than Sh'ol to be held for judgment, "in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for the Judgment of the Great Day" (Yd 6). In these descriptions Kefa and Y'hudah are not using their imagination, but drawing on elaborations of the Genesis narrative which can be found in earlier Jewish writings, such as 1 Enoch, written in the first century B.C.E.:
"...the Watchers called and said to me, 'Enoch, scribe of righteousness, go, declare to the Watchers of heaven who have left the high heaven, the holy eternal place, and have defiled themselves with women, and have done as the children of people do, and have taken for themselves wives: "You have caused great defi lement on the earth. You will have neither peace nor forgiveness of sin...."' Enoch went and said [to the leader of the rebellious Watchers]:'' Aza'zel, you will have no peace. A severe judgment has gone forth against you: they will put you in bonds.'
".. .the Lord said to Rafa'el, 'Bind' Aza'zel hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: make a pit in the desert in Duda'el, throw him in it, hurl rough jagged rocks on him, cover him with darkness, let him dwell there for ever, and cover his face so that he won't be able to see light. On the day of the great judgment he will be cast into the fire."'(1 Enoch 12:4-13:1, 10:4-6)
5. And he did not spare the ancient world; on the contrary, he preserved Noach, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, and brought the Flood upon a world of ungodly people.
6. And he condemned the cities of S’dom and ‘Amora, reducing them to ashes and ruin, as a warning to those in the future who would live ungodly lives;
7. but he rescued Lot, a righteous man who was distressed by the debauchery of those unprincipled people;
8. for the wicked deeds which that righteous man saw and heard, as he lived among them, tormented his righteous heart day after day.
Compare Yd 5-7, also 1 Ke 3:19-20.
9. So the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and how to hold the wicked until the Day of Judgment while continuing to punish them,
On the Flood see Genesis 6-9; on S'dom, 'Amora and Lot, see Genesis 19, and compare Yd 7. In urging his hearers to be alert and ready for the Day of Judgment. Yeshua too used the cautionary examples of the Flood (Mt 24:37-39), Sodom and Gomorrah (Mt 10:15, 11:23-24; Lk 10:12), and both together (Lk 17:26-30). Kefa makes further use of the example of the Flood at 3:3-7 below; 1 Ke 3:20 and MJ 11:7 also mention it. None of these passages requires the reader to take a stand on whether the Flood is historical or legendary.
10. especially those who follow their old natures in lust for filth and who despise authority. Presumptuous and self-willed, these false teachers do not tremble at insulting angelic beings;
11. whereas angels, though stronger and more powerful, do not bring before the Lord an insulting charge against them.
12. But these people, acting without thinking, like animals without reason, born to be captured and destroyed, insult things about which they have no knowledge. When they are destroyed, their destruction will be total —
13. they will be paid back harm as wages for the harm they are doing. Their idea of pleasure is carousing in broad daylight; they are spots and defects reveling in their deceptions as they share meals with you —
See Yd 8-10 and Yd 9N.
14. for they have eyes always on the lookout for a woman who will commit adultery, eyes that never stop sinning; and they have a heart that has exercised itself in greed; so that they seduce unstable people. What a cursed brood!
15. These people have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Bil‘am Ben-B‘or, who loved the wages of doing harm
16. but was rebuked for his sin — a dumb beast of burden spoke out with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s insanity!
16 Bil'am Ben-B'or (Balaam, son of Beor) was bribed by Balak, the king of Moab, to "curse Jacob and denounce Israel" (Numbers 22:6, 23:7) when they were on their way to the Promised Land; but Bil 'am was rebuked for his sin when God spoke through his donkey (Numbers 22:22ff.). Bil'am then spoke a blessing on Israel which included the Messianic promise of the "star out of Jacob" (Numbers 24:17; see above, 1:19N). According to the Mishna,
"The characteristics of the talmidim of Bil'am the wicked are an evil eye [i.e., stinginess or greed; see Mt 6:22-23&N], a haughty spirit and a proud soul.... [They] inherit Gey-Hinnom and descend to the pit of destruction." (Avot5:19) For more on Bil'am see Rv 2:14N.
17. Waterless springs they are, mists driven by a gust of wind; for them has been reserved the blackest darkness.
Compare Yd 12-13. Waterless springs promise good but are in fact useless. They falsely raise our hopes and then deliver nothing. Compare Jeremiah 2:13: "For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and they have hewed for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water."
18. Mouthing grandiosities of nothingness, they play on the desires of the old nature, in order to seduce with debaucheries people who have just begun to escape from those whose way of life is wrong.
19. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for a person is slave to whatever has defeated him.
20. Indeed, if they have once escaped the pollutions of the world through knowing our Lord and Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah, and then have again become entangled and defeated by them, their latter condition has become worse than their former.
Their latter condition has become worse than their former. Compare Mt 12:43-45, MJ 6:4-8.
21. It would have been better for them not to have known the Way of righteousness than, fully knowing, to turn from the holy command delivered to them.
See Rv I:3N and references there.
22. What has happened to them accords with the true proverb, "A dog returns to its own vomit" (Proverbs 26:11). Yes, “The pig washed itself, only to wallow in the mud!”
"The pig washed itself, only to wallow in the mud!" This must be a proverb familiar to Kefa's readers. Compare the Jewish expression, "to enter the mikveh while [still] touching the corpse." Though the ritual bath can cleanse ceremonial impurity, immersion is ineffective if one continues holding onto the source of the defilement.
This chapter is the first century's picture of the "sleaze factor" at work. Then, just as now, immoral and greedy persons misled God's people by assuming the role of teachers and had a devastating effect on the morale and reputation of the Messianic Community. Compare Yd 4-16.
- chapter 1
- chapter 2
- chapter 3