Month: November 2012

Book of Hosea Chapter 1:1-2, 2: 2-5, 3: 1-5 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin
Hosea 1:1
This first verse shows the time in which Hosea prophesied. He names four kings of Judah, — Uzziah, Jotham, Ahab, Hezekiah. Uzziah, called also Azariah, reigned fifty-two years; but after having been smitten with leprosy, he did not associate with men, and abdicated his royal dignity. Jotham, his son, succeeded him. The years of Jotham were about sixteen, and about as many were those of king Ahab, the father of Hezekiah; and it was under king Hezekiah that Hosea died. If we now wish to ascertain how long he discharged his office of teaching, we must take notice of what sacred history says, — Uzziah began to reign in the twenty seventh year of Jeroboam, the son of Joash. By supposing that Hosea performed his duties as a teacher, excepting a few years during the reign of Jeroboam, that is, the sixteen years which passed from the beginning of Uzziah’s reign to the death of Jeroboam, he must have prophesied thirty-six years under the reign of Uzziah. There is, however, no doubt but that he began to execute his office some years before the end of Jeroboam’s reign.

Here, then, there appear to be at least forty years. Jotham succeeded his father, and reigned sixteen years; and though it be a probable conjecture, that the beginning of his reign is to be counted from the time he undertook the government, after his father, being smitten with leprosy, was ejected from the society of men, it is yet probable that the remaining time to the death of his father ought to come to our reckoning. When however, we take for granted a few years, it must be that Hosea had prophesied more than forty-five years before Ahab began to reign. Add now the sixteen years in which Ahab reigned and the number will amount to sixty-one. There remain the years in which he prophesied under the reign of Hezekiah. It cannot, then, be otherwise but that he had followed his office more than sixty years, and probably continued beyond the seventieth year.
It hence appears with how great and with how invincible courage and perseverance he was endued by the Holy Spirit. But when God employs our service for twenty or thirty years we think it very wearisome, especially when we have to contend with wicked men, and those who do not willingly undertake the yoke, but pertinaciously resist us; we then instantly desire to be set free, and wish to become like soldiers who have completed their time. When therefore, we see that this Prophet persevered for so long a time, let him be to us an example of patience so that we may not despond, though the Lord may not immediately free us from our burden.

Thus much of the four kings whom he names. He must indeed have prophesied (as I have just shown) for nearly forty years under the king Uzziah or Azariah, and then for some years under the king Ahab, (to omit now the reign of Jotham, which was concurrent with that of his father,) and he continued to the time of Hezekiah: but why has he particularly mentioned Jeroboam the son of Joash, since he could not have prophesied under him except for a short time? His son Zachariah succeeded him; there arose afterward the conspiracy of Shallum, who was soon destroyed; then the kingdom became involved in great confusion; and at length the Assyrian, by means of Shalmanazar, led away captive the ten tribes, which became dispersed among the Medes. As this was the case, why does the Prophet here mention only one king of Israel? This seems strange; for he continued his office of teaching to the end of his reign and to his death. But an answer may be easily given: He wished distinctly to express, that he began to teach while the state was entire; for, had he prophesied after the death of Jeroboam, he might have seemed to conjecture some great calamity from the then present view of things: thus it would not have been prophecy, or, at least, this credit would have been much less. “He now, forsooth! divines what is, evident to the eyes of all.” For Zachariah flourished but a short time; and the conspiracy alluded to before was a certain presage of an approaching destruction, and the kingdom became soon dissolved. Hence the Prophet testifies here in express words, that he had already threatened future vengeance to the people, even when the kingdom of Israel flourished in wealth and power, when Jeroboam was enjoying his triumphs, and when prosperity inebriated the whole land.

This, then, was the reason why the Prophet mentioned only this one king; for under him the kingdom of Israel became strong, and was fortified by many strongholds and a large army, and abounded also in great riches. Indeed, sacred history tells us, that God had by Jeroboam delivered the kingdom of Israel, though he himself was unworthy, and that he had recovered many cities and a very wide extent of country. As, then, he had increased the kingdom, as he had become formidable to all his neighbours, as he had collected great riches, and as the people lived in ease and luxury, what the Prophet declared seemed incredible. “Ye are not,” he said, “the people of the Lord; ye are adulterous children, ye are born of fornication.” Such a reproof certainly seemed not seasonable. Then he said, “The kingdom shall be taken from you, destruction is nigh to you.” “What, to us? and yet our king has now obtained so many victories, and has struck terror into other kings.” The kingdom of Judah, which was a rival, being then nearly broken down, there was no one who could have ventured to suspect such an event.

We now, then, perceive why the Prophet here says expressly that he had prophesied under Jeroboam. He indeed prophesied after his death, and followed his office even after the destruction of the kingdom of Israel, but he began to teach at a time when he was a sport to the ungodly, who exalted themselves against God, and boldly despised his threatening as long as he spared and bore with them; which is ever the case, as proved by the constant experience of all ages. We hence see more clearly with what power of the Spirit God had endued the Prophet, who dared to rise up against so powerful a king, and to reprove his wickedness, and also to summon his subjects to the same judgement. When, therefore, the Prophet conducted himself so boldly, at a time when the Israelites were not only sottish on account of their great success, but also wholly insane, it was certainly nothing short of a miracle; and this ought to avail much to establish his authority. We now then, see the design of the inscription contained in the first verse. It follows —

J. Lange
Hos_1:1. Superscription. It has been shown al ready in the Introduction (§ 1) that the chronological limits assigned in the title must be admitted to be essentially correct. Difficulties have been suggested to the minds of some from the circumstance that when the duration of Hosea’s ministry is given, it is, in the first line, placed in relation to the reigns of Judah, and that a king of Israel is mentioned only in the second line. To argue from this, however, that Hosea belonged to the kingdom of Judah, is inadmissible; for as we saw in the Introduction, all other evidence goes to prove that he was a resident of the Northern Kingdom.

But a further difficulty is felt. Only one king of Israel is named, whom Hosea long survived, and the succession of Judaic kings brings down the life of the prophet far beyond the time of that single monarch, Jeroboam II. Hence it is: alleged that the second part of the superscription does not agree with the first.
Keil seeks to solve this difficulty by assuming that the Prophet acknowledged only the legitimate rulers of the kingdom of Judah as the real kings of the people of God; and that he defined the limits of his ministry according to the real succession of that kingdom. He introduces along with the names of those kings, that of the Israelitish monarch, under whom he began his prophetic course, not only to indicate that occasion more definitely, but chiefly on account of the significant position occupied by Jeroboam in the kingdom of the Ten Tribes. He was the last king through whom God vouchsafed any aid to that state. The succeeding rulers scarcely deserved the title of king.

But this explanation, brought forward in order to defend the originality of the superscription, can scarcely be acquitted of the charge of arbitrariness. (The precedence assigned to the Judaic kings would be better explained on the hypothesis that Hosea, at a later period, took up his residence in Judah and there composed his book.) Ewald, who, to be sure, does not admit in its full extent the correctness of the chronological statements of the superscription, supposes that the allusion to the kings of Judah was added by a later hand (which also inserted Isa_1:1), while the remainder is the old original superscription, which, however, he thinks belonged at first only to chaps, 1, 2.

The question, whether the superscription in its present form is quite original, must be allowed to remain undecided.

[As serving however to defend the genuineness of the superscription, comp. with the view of Keil adduced above, the following full and forcible presentation of the probable design of the prophet in its insertion given by Hengstenberg in his Christology: “Hosea mentions, first and completely, the kings of the legitimate family. He then further adds the name of one of the rulers of the Kingdom of Israel, under whom his ministry began, because it was of importance to fix precisely the time of its commencement. Uzziah, the first of the series of the kings of Judah mentioned by him, survived Jeroboam nearly twenty-six years. Now, had the latter not been mentioned along with him, the thought might easily have suggested itself, that it was only in the latter period of Uzziah’s reign that the prophet entered upon his office; in which case all that he says about the overthrow of Jeroboam’s family, would have appeared to be a vaticinium post eventum, inasmuch as it took place very soon after Jeroboam’s death. The same applies to what is said by him regarding the total decay of the kingdom which was so flourishing under Jeroboam; for, from the moment of Jeroboam’s death, it hastened with rapid strides toward destruction. If, therefore, it was to be seen that future things lie open to God and his servants ‘before they spring forth’ (Isa_42:9), it was necessary that the commencement of the Prophet’s ministry should be the more accurately determined; and this is effected by the intimation that it took place within the period of the fourteen years during which Uzziah and Jeroboam reigned contemporaneously. That this is the main reason for mentioning Jeroboam’s name is seen from the relation of Hos_1:2 to Hos_1:1. The remark made in Hos_1:2, that Hosea received the subsequent revelation at the very beginning of his prophetic ministry, corresponds with the mention of Jeroboam’s name in Hos_1:1. But this is not all.… There was a considerable difference between him and the subsequent kings. Cocceius remarks very strikingly: ‘The other kings of Israel are not viewed as kings but as robbers.’ Jeroboam possessed a quasi legitimacy. The house of Jehu to which he belonged, had opposed the extreme of religious apostasy. It was to a certain degree recognized even by the Prophets. Jeroboam had obtained the throne not by usurpation but by birth. He was the last king by whom the Lord sent deliverance to the Ten Tribes; comp. 2Ki_14:27.”

The English commentators hold to the originality of the superscription, with the exception of Noyes, who speaks of it as “doubtful.” The arguments which establish it are mainly these: (1.) The very fact of its existence in its present form from the earliest known period. (2.) The analogy of other prophetic books as well as of many other portions of the Old Testament, the genuineness of whose superscriptions has never been successfully impugned either by German critics or their English followers. (3.) The improbability of any other hypothesis. Any “redactor” (Ewald and others) could have had no reason to insert such a peculiar title. Its anomalous character shows it to have been the work of the author himself. Any other would either have made no allusion to the kings of Israel, or would have given a complete list of the contemporary ones. There is a purpose manifest here which a collector would not have conceived, and which it was beyond his province to convey to the world by embodying it in an addition to his author’s writings. (4.) The exact correspondence between the character of the superscription, the contents of the book, and the position of the author, as partly shown above, and as might be further proved abundantly.

The superscription therefore is original, and original in its present form. As to the place of its composition there is no improbability in the opinion, mentioned by Schmoller above, that with the rest of the book it was composed in Judah. But this cannot explain, as he supposes, the anomalies of the superscription. It only increases the difficulties. Why was an Israelitish king mentioned at all? This question remains unanswered, while the old difficulty of the non-allusion to succeeding kings of Israel remains in all its force. The true solution must therefore be sought not in any local conditions of the Prophet, but in his necessary relations as a Prophet of God to the two kingdoms, as determined by their respective characters, and in his desire to assign definitely the limits of his ministry.—M.]

Pulpit Commentary
The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri. The prophets are divided into the former (rishonim, Zec_1:4) prophets and the later prophets. The writings of the former prophets comprise most of the historical hooks, for the Hebrew conception of a prophet was that of an individual inspired by God to instruct men for the present or inform them of the future, whether orally or by writing; the later were the prophets properly so called, while these, again, are subdivided into the greater, consisting of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and the lesser, or minor, including the remaining twelve. The designation “minor” does not imply any inferiority in importance of subject or value of contents, but has respect solely to the smallness of their size as compared with the larger discourses of the others. The twelve minor prophets were added to the canon before its completion as a single book, “lest,” says Kimchi, in his commentary on this verse, “a book of them should be lost because of its smallness, if each one of them should be kept separate by itself.” They were accordingly reckoned as one book—δώδεκα ἐν μονοβίβλῳ, as Eusebius expresses it. The name Hosea, like other Hebrew names, is significant, and denotes “deliverance,” or” salvation;” or, the abstract being put for the concrete, “deliverer,” or “savior.” It is radically the same name as Joshua, except that the prefix of the latter implies the name of Jehovah as the Author of such deliverance or salvation; while the Greek form of Joshua is Jesus, which in two passages of the Authorized Version stands for it. The form of the name in the original is closely connected with Hosanna (hoshia na),” save now,” which occurs in Psa_118:25. In the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.

The period of Hosea’s prophetic activity is one of the longest, if not the longest, on record. It continued during the reigns of the four kings of Judah above mentioned, and during that of Jeroboam II. King of Israel, which was in part coincident with that of Uzziah. Uzziah and Jeroboam reigned contemporaneously for twenty-six years. Somewhere during or rather before the end of that period Hosea commenced his ministry. Uzziah survived Jeroboam some twenty-six years, then Jotham and Ahaz in succession reigned each sixteen years. During all these fifty-eight years Hosea continued his ministerial labors. To these must be added a few years for the beginning of his prophetic career during the reign of Jeroboam, and some two or three years before its close in the reign of Hezekiah; for the destruction of Samaria, which took place in the fourth year of that king, the prophet looks forward to as still future. Thus for three score years and more—probably nearer three score years and ten, the ordinary period of human life—the prophet persevered in the discharge of his onerous duties.

It may seem strange that, though Hosea exercised his prophetic function in Israel, yet the time during which he did so is reckoned by the reigns of the kings of Judah. The single exception of Jeroboam II. is accounted for in a rabbinic tradition on the ground that he did not credit or act on the evil report which Amaziah the priest of Bethel preferred against the Prophet Amos, as we read (Amo_7:10), “Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam King of Israel, saying, Amos hath conspired against thee in the midst of the house of Israel; the land is not able to bear all his words” (see also Amo_7:11-13 of the same chapter). The real reason for the reckoning by the kings of Judah, and for the exceptional case of Jeroboam, was not that assigned by the rabbins; neither was it an indication, on the part of the prophet, of the legitimacy of the kingdom of Judah on the one hand, and evidence, on the other hand, of the performance of God’s promise to Jehu that his sons would sit upon the throne to the fourth generation, while Jeroboam, Jehu’s great-grandson, was the last king of that dynasty by whom God vouch-sated help to Israel, his son and successor Zechariah retaining possession of the kingdom only for the short space of six months. The true cause is rather to be sought in the regicides, usurpations, occasional anarchy, and generally unsettled state of the northern kingdom, inasmuch as such instability and uncertainty furnished no sure or satisfactory basis for chronological calculation. Thus we find that, on the death of Jeroboam II; there was an interregnum of some dozen years, during which, of course, a state of anarchy prevailed. At length Zechariah succeeded to the throne; he had reigned only six months when he was murdered by Shallum. Shallum’s reign only lasted a month, when he was put to death by Menahem. During his reign often years occurred the invasion of Pal. Menahem’s son, Pekachiah, had only reigned two years when he was murdered by Pekah, in whose reign Tiglath-pileser invaded the land. Hoshea slew Pekah. Next followed an interval of anarchy lasting eight years. Then, after Hoshea’s short reign of nine years, the kingdom was destroyed. Thus it was only in the southern kingdom that a sufficiently firm foundation for chronological reckoning was available, while under these circumstances Jeroboam’s reign was necessary to show the prophet’s connection with Israel, and also that the prediction of the fourth verse preceded the event foretold. The general heading of the whole book is contained in this verse and Divine authority is thus claimed for the whole, as the prophet to whom the word of the Lord came is only Jehovah’s spokesman.

Albert Barnes
Hosea 1:1
The word of the Lord, that came unto Hosea – Hosea, at the very beginning of his prophecy, declares that all this, which he delivered, came, not from his own mind but from God. As Paul says, “Paul an Apostle, not of men neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father.” He refers all to God, and claims all obedience to Him. That word came to him; it existed then before, in the mind of God. It was first God’s, then it became the prophet’s, receiving it from God. So it is said, “the word of God came to John” Luk_3:2.

Hosea – i. e., “Salvation, or, the Lord saveth.” The prophet bare the name of our Lord Jesus, whom he foretold and of whom he was a type. “Son of Beeri, i. e., my well or welling-forth.” God ordained that the name of his father too should signify truth. From God, as from the fountain of life, Hosea drew the living waters, which he poured out to the people. “With joy shall ye draw water out of the wells of salvation” Isa_12:3.

In the days of Uzziah … – Hosea, although a prophet of Israel, marks his prophecy by the names of the kings of Judah, because the kingdom of Judah was the kingdom of the theocracy, the line of David to which the promises of God were made. As Elisha, to whose office he succeeded, turned away from Jehoram 2Ki_3:13-14, saying, “get thee to the prophets of thy father, and to the prophets of thy mother,” and owned Jehoshaphat king of Judah only, so, in the title of his prophecy, Hosea at once expresses that the kingdom of Judah alone was legitimate. He adds the name of Jeroboam, partly as the last king of Israel whom, by virtue of His promise to Jehu, God helped; partly to show that God never left Israel unwarned. Jeroboam I was warned first by the prophet 1 Kings 13, who by his own untimely death, as well as in his prophecy, was a witness to the strictness of God’s judgments, and then by Ahijah 1 Kings 14; Baasha by Jehu, son of Hanani 1 Kings 16; Ahab, by Elijah and Micaiah son of Imla; Ahaziah by Elijah 2 Kings 1; Jehoram by Elisha who exercised his office until the days of Joash 2Ki_13:14.

So, in the days of Jeroboam II, God raised up Hosea, Amos and Jonah. “The kings and people of Israel then were without excuse, since God never ceased to send His prophets among them; in no reign did the voice of the prophets fail, warning of the coming wrath of God, until it came.” While Jeroboam was recovering to Israel a larger rule than it had ever had since it separated from Judah, annexing to it Damascus 2Ki_14:28 which had been lost to Judah even in the days of Solomon, and from which Israel had of late so greatly suffered, Hosea was sent to forewarn it of its destruction. God alone could utter “such a voice of thunder out of the midst of such a cloudless sky.” Jeroboam doubtless thought that his house would, through its own strength, survive the period which God had pledged to it. “But temporal prosperity is no proof either of stability or of the favor of God. Where the law of God is observed, there, even amid the pressure of outward calamity, is the assurance of ultimate prosperity. Where God is disobeyed, there is the pledge of coming destruction. The seasons when men feel most secure against future chastisement, are often the preludes of the most signal revolutions.”

John Calvin
Hosea 1:2
The Prophet shows here what charge was given him at the beginning, even to declare open war with the Israelites, and to be, as it were, very angry in the person of God, and to denounce destruction. He begins not with smooth things, nor does he gently exhort the people to repentance, nor adopt a circuitous course to soften the asperity of his doctrine. He shows that he had used nothing of this kind, but says, that he had been sent like heralds or messengers to proclaim war. The beginning, then, of what the Lord spake by Hosea was this, “This people are an adulterous race, all are born, as it were, of a harlot, the kingdom of Israel is the filthiest brothel; and I now repudiate and reject them, I no longer own them as my children.” This was no common vehemence. We hence see that the word beginning was not set down without reason, but advisedly, that we may know that the Prophet, as soon as he undertook the office of teaching, was vehement and severe, and, as it were, fulminated against the kingdom of Israel.

Now, if it be asked, why was God so greatly displeased? why did he not first recall the wretched men to himself, since the usual method seems to have been, that the Prophet tried, by a kind and paternal address, to restore those to a sound mind who had departed from the pure worship of God, — why, then, did not God adopt this ordinary course? But we hence gather that the diseases of the people were incurable. The Prophet, no doubt, intimates here distinctly, that he was sent by God, when the state of things was almost past recovery. We indeed know that God is not wont to deal so severely with men, but when he has tried all other remedies; and this may doubtless be easily learned from the records of Scripture. The ten tribes, immediately after their revolt from the family of David, having renounced the worship of God, embraced idolatry and ungodly superstitions.

‘The Lord has chosen mount Zion, where he has desired to be worshipped; this,’ he said ‘is my rest forever; here will I dwell, for I have chosen it,’ (Psa_132:13.)
And this prediction, we know, had not been once or ten times repeated, but a hundred times, that it might be more firmly fixed in the hearts of men. Since, then, they ought to have had this truth fully impressed on their hearts, that the Lord would have himself worshipped nowhere except on mount Zion, it was monstrous stupidity in them to erect a new temple and to make the calves. That the people, then, had so quickly fallen away from God was an instance of the most perverse madness. But, as I have said, they had reached the highest point of impiety. When God punished so great sins by Jehu, the people ought then to have returned to the pure worship of God, and there was some reformation in the land; but they ever reverted to their own nature, yea, the event proved that they only dissembled for a short time; so blinded they were by a diabolical perverseness, that they ever continued in their superstitions. It is not, then, to be wondered at, that the Lord made this beginning by Hosea, “Ye are all born of fornication, your kingdom is the filthiest brothel; ye are not my people, ye are not beloved.” Who, then, will not allow, that God, by fulminating in so dreadful a manner against this people, dealt justly with them, and for the best reason? The contumacy of the people was so indomitable that it could be overcome in no other way. We now understand why the Prophet used this expression, The beginning of speaking which God made

Then it follows, in Hosea. He had said in the first verse, The word of Jehovah which was to Hosea; he now says, נהושע,beusho, in Hosea; and he adds God spake and said to Hosea, repeating the preposition used in the first verse. The word of the Lord is said to have been to Hosea, not simply because God addressed the Prophet, but because he sent him forth with certain commissions, for in this sense is the word of God said to have been to the Prophets. God addresses his word also indiscriminately to others whomsoever he is pleased to teach by his word, but he speaks to and addresses his Prophets in a peculiar way, for he makes them the ministers and heralds of his word, and puts, as it were, into their mouth what they afterwards bring forth to the people. So Christ says, that the word of God came to kings, because he constitutes and appoints them to govern mankind. “If he calls them gods,” he says, “to whom the word of God came;” and that psalm, we know, was written with a special reference to kings. We now perceive what this sentence in the first verse contains. The word of God came to Hosea; for the Lord did not simply address the Prophet in a common way, but furnished him with instructions, that he might afterwards teach the people, as it were, in the person of God himself.

It is now added in the second verse, The beginning of speaking, such as the Lord made by Hosea. They who give this rendering, “with Hosea,” seem to explain the Prophet’s meaning frigidly. The letter ב, beth, I know, has this sense often in Scripture; but the Prophet, no doubt, in this place represents himself as the instrument of the Holy Spirit. God then spake in Hosea, or by Hosea, for he brought forth nothing from his own brain, but God spake by him; this is a form of speaking with which we shall often meet. On this, indeed, depends the whole authority of God’s servants that they give not themselves loose reins, but faithfully deliver, as it were, from hand to hand, what the Lord has commanded them, without adding any thing whatever of their own. God then spake in Hosea. It afterwards follows, The Lord said to Hosea. Now this, which is said the third time, or three times repeated, is nothing else than the commission in different forms. He first said in general, “The word of the Lord which was to Hosea;” now he says, The Lord spake thus, and he expresses distinctly what the word was which he referred to in the first verse.

Go, he says, take to thee a wife of wantonness, and the children of wantonness; and the reason is added, for by fornicating, or wantoning, has the land grown wanton. He doubtless speaks here of the vices which the Lord had long endured with inexpressible forbearance. By wantoning then has the land grown wanton, that it should not follow Jehovah.

Here interpreters labour much, because it seems very strange that the Prophet should take a harlot for a wife. Some say that this was an extraordinary case. Certainly such a license could not have been borne in a teacher. We see what Paul requires in a bishop, and no doubt the same was required formerly in the Prophets, that their families should be chaste and free from every stain and reproach. It would have then exposed the Prophet to the scorn of all, if he had entered a brothel and taken to himself a harlot; for he speaks not here of an unchaste woman only, but of a woman of wantonness, which means a common harlot, for a woman of wantonness is she called, who has long habituated herself to wantonness, who has exposed herself to all, to gratify the wish of all, who has prostituted herself, not once nor twice, nor to few men, but to all. That this was done by the Prophet seems very improbable. But some reply as I have said, that this ought not to be regarded as a common rule, for it was an extraordinary command of God. And yet it seems not consistent with reason, that the Lord should thus gratuitously render his Prophet contemptible; for how could he expect to be received on coming abroad before the public, after having brought on himself such a disgrace? If he had married a wife such as is here described, he ought to have concealed himself for life rather than to undertake the Prophetic office. Their opinion, therefore, is not probable, who think that the Prophet had taken such a wife as is here described.

Then another reason, utterly unresolvable, militates against them; for the Prophet is not only bidden to take a wife of wantonness, but also children of wantonness, begotten by whoredom. It is, therefore, the same as if he himself had committed whoredom. For if we say that he married a wife who had previously conducted herself with some indecency and want of chastity, (as Jerome at length argues in order to excuse the Prophet,) the excuse is frivolous, for he speaks not only of the wife, but also of the children, inasmuch as God would have the whole offspring to be adulterous, and this could not be the case in a lawful marriage. Hence almost all the Hebrews agree in this opinion, that the Prophet did not actually marry a wife, but that he was bidden to do this in a vision. And we shall see in the third chapter (Hos_3:1) almost the same thing described; and yet what is narrated there could not have been actually done, for the Prophet is bidden to marry a wife who had violated her conjugal fidelity, and after having bought her, to retain her at home for a time. This, we know, was not done. It then follows that this was a representation exhibited to the people.

Some object and say, that the whole passage, as given by the Prophet, cannot be understood as relating a vision. Why not? For the vision, they say, was given to him alone, and God had a regard to the whole people rather than to the Prophet. But it may be, and it is probable, that no vision was presented to the Prophet, but that God only ordered him to proclaim what had been given him in charge. When, therefore, the Prophet began to teach, he commenced somewhat in this way: “The Lord places me here as on a stage, to make known to you that I have married a wife, a wife habituated to adulteries and whoredoms, and that I have begotten children by her.” The whole people knew that he had done no such thing; but the Prophet spake thus in order to set before their eyes a vivid representation. Such then, was the vision, a figurative exhibition, not that the Prophet knew this by a vision, but the Lord had bidden him to relate this parable, (so to speak,) or this similitude, that the people might see, as in a living portraiture, their turpitude and perfidiousness. It is, in short, an exhibition, in which the thing itself is not only set forth in words, but is also placed, as it were, before their eyes in a visible form. The reason is added, for by wantoning has the land grown wanton
We now then see how the words of the Prophet ought to be understood; for he assumed a character, when going forth before the public, and in this character he said to the people, that God had bidden him to take a harlot for his wife, and to beget adulterous children by her. His ministry was not on this account made contemptible, for they all knew that he had ever lived virtuously and temperately; they all knew that his household was exempt from every reproach; but here he exhibited in his assumed character, as it were, a living image of the baseness of the people. This is the meaning, and I see nothing strained in this explanation; and we, at the same time, see the meaning of this clause, By wantoning has the land grown wanton. Hosea might have said this in one word, but he had to address the deaf, and we know how great and how stupid is the madness of those who delight themselves in their own superstitions, they cannot bear any reproof. The Prophet then would not have been attended to, unless he had exhibited, as in a mirror before their eyes, what he wished to be understood by them, as though he had said, “If none of you can so know himself as to own his public baseness, if ye are all so obstinate against God, at least know now by my assumed character, that you are all adulterous, and derive your origin from a filthy brothel, for God declares thus concerning you; and as you are not willing to receive such a declaration, it is now set before you in my assumed character.”

That it should not follow Jehovah, literally, From after Jehovah, מאחרי, meachri. We here see what is the spiritual chastity of God’s people, and what also is the signification of the word wantoning. Then the spiritual chastity of God’s people is to follow the Lord; and what else is this to follow, but to suffer ourselves to be ruled by his word, and willingly to obey him, to be ready and prepared for any work to which he may call us? When then the Lord goes before us with his instruction and shows the way, and we become teachable and obedient, and look up to him, and turn not aside, either to the right or to the left hand, but bring our whole life to the obedience of faith, — this is really to follow the Lord; and it is a most beautiful definition of the spiritual chastity of God’s people.

And we may also, from the opposite of this, learn what it is to grow wanton; we do so when we depart from the word of the Lord, when we give ear to false doctrines, when we abandon ourselves to superstitions; when we, in short, wander after our own devices, and keep not our thoughts under the authority of the word of the Lord. But as to the word wantoning, more will be said in chapter 2; but I only wished now briefly to touch on what the Prophet means when he chides the Israelites for having all become wanton. Now follows —

Keil and Delitzsch
Hosea 1:2
For the purpose of depicting before the eyes of the sinful people the judgment to which Israel has exposed itself through its apostasy from the Lord, Hosea is to marry a prostitute, and beget children by her, whose names are so appointed by Jehovah as to point out the evil fruits of the departure from God. Hos_1:2. “At first, when Jehovah spake to Hosea, Jehovah said to him, God, take thee a wife of whoredom, and children of whoredom; for whoring the land whoreth away from Jehovah.” The marriage which the prophet is commanded to contract, is to set forth the fact that the kingdom of Israel has fallen away from the Lord its God, and is sunken in idolatry. Hosea is to commence his prophetic labours by exhibiting this fact. תְּחִלַּת דִּבֶּר יי: literally, “at the commencement of ‘Jehovah spake,’” i.e., at the commencement of Jehovah’s speaking (dibber is not an infinitive, but a perfect, and techillath an accusative of time (Ges. §118, 2); and through the constructive the following clause is subordinated to techillath as a substantive idea: see Ges. §123, 3, Anm. 1; Ewald, §332, c.). דִּבֶּר with בְ, not to speak to a person, or through any one (בְ is not = אֶל), but to speak with (lit., in) a person, expressive of the inwardness or urgency of the speaking (cf. Num_12:6, Num_12:8; Hab_2:1; Zec_1:9, etc.). “Take to thyself:” i.e., marry (a wife). אֵשֶׁת זְנוּנִים is stronger than זוֹנָה. A woman of whoredom, is a woman whose business or means of livelihood consists in prostitution.

Along with the woman, Hosea is to take children of prostitution as well. The meaning of this is, of course, not that he is first of all to take the woman, and then beget children of prostitution by her, which would require that the two objects should be connected with קַח per zeugma, in the sense of “accipe uxorem et suscipe ex ea liberos” (Drus.), or “sume tibi uxorem forn. et fac tibi filios forn.” (Vulg.). The children begotten by the prophet from a married harlot-wife, could not be called yaldē zenūnı̄m, since they were not illegitimate children, but legitimate children of the prophet himself; nor is the assumption, that the three children born by the woman, according to Hos_1:3, Hos_1:6, Hos_1:8, were born in adultery, and that the prophet was not their father, in harmony with Hos_1:3, “he took Gomer, and she conceived and bare him a son.” Nor can this mode of escaping from the difficulty, which is quite at variance with the text, be vindicated by an appeal to the connection between the figure and the fact. For though this connection “necessarily requires that both the children and the mother should stand in the same relation of estrangement from the lawful husband and father,” as Hengstenberg argues; it neither requires that we should assume that the mother had been a chaste virgin before her marriage to the prophet, nor that the children whom she bare to her husband were begotten in adultery, and merely palmed off upon the prophet as his own. The marriage which the prophet was to contract, was simply intended to symbolize the relation already existing between Jehovah and Israel, and not the way in which it had come into existence. The “wife of whoredoms” does not represent the nation of Israel in its virgin state at the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, but the nation of the ten tribes in its relation to Jehovah at the time of the prophet himself, when the nation, considered as a whole, had become a wife of whoredom, and in its several members resembled children of whoredom. The reference to the children of whoredom, along with the wife of whoredom, indicates unquestionably à priori, that the divine command did not contemplate an actual and outward marriage, but simply a symbolical representation of the relation in which the idolatrous Israelites were then standing to the Lord their God. The explanatory clause, “for the land whoreth,” etc., clearly points to this. הָאָרֶץ, “the land,” for the population of the land (cf. Hos_4:1). זָנָה מֵאַחֲרֵי יי, to whore from Jehovah, i.e., to fall away from Him (see at Hos_4:12).

Albert Barnes
Hosea 1:2
The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea or in Hosea – God first revealed Himself and His mysteries to the prophet’s soul, by His secret inspiration, and then declared, through him, to others, what He had deposited in him. God enlightened him, and then others through the light in him.

And the Lord said unto Hosea – For this thing was to be done by Hosea alone, because God had commanded it, not by others of their own mind. To Isaiah God first revealed Himself, as sitting in the temple, adored by the Seraphim: to Ezekiel God first appeared, as enthroned above the cherubim in the holy of holies; to Jeremiah God announced that, ere yet he was born, He had sanctified him for this office: to Hosea He enjoined, as the beginning of his prophetic office, an act contrary to man’s natural feelings, yet one, by which he became an image of the Redeemer, uniting to Himself what was unholy, in order to make it holy.
Go take unto thee – Since Hosea prophesied some eighty years, he must now have been in early youth, holy, pure, as became a prophet of God. Being called thus early, he had doubtless been formed by God as a chosen instrument of His will, and had, like Samuel, from his first childhood, been trained in true piety and holiness. Yet he was to unite unto him, so long as she lived, one greatly defiled, in order to win her thereby to purity and holiness; herein, a little likeness of our Blessed Lord, who, in the Virgin’s womb, to save us, espoused our flesh, in us sinful, in Him all-holy, without motion to sin; and, further, espoused the Church, formed of us who, “whether Jews or Gentiles,” were all under sin, aliens from God and gone away from Him, “serving divers lusts and passions Eph_5:27, to make it a glorious Church, without spot or wrinkle.”

A wife of whoredoms – i. e., take as a wife, one who up to that time had again and again been guilty of that sin. So “men of bloods” Psa_5:6 are “men given up to bloodshedding;” and our Lord was “a Man of Sorrows Isa_53:3, not occasional only, but manifold and continual, throughout His whole life. She must, then, amid the manifold corruption of Israel, have been repeatedly guilty of that sin, perhaps as an idolatress, thinking of it to be in honor of their foul gods (see the Hos_4:13, note; Hos_4:14, note). She was not like those degraded ones, who cease to bear children; still she must have manifoldly sinned. So much the greater was the obedience of the prophet. Nor could any other woman so shadow forth the manifold defilements of the human race, whose nature our incarnate Lord vouchsafed to unite in His own person to the perfect holiness of the divine nature.

And children of whoredoms – For they shared the disgrace of their mother, although born in lawful marriage. The sins of parents descend also, in a mysterious way, on their children, Sin is contagious, and, unless the entail is cut off by grace, hereditary. The mother thus far portrays man’s revolts, before his union with God; the children, our forsaking of God, after we have been made His children. The forefathers of Israel, God tells them, “served other gods, on the other side of the flood” Jos_24:14, (i. e., in Ur of the Chaldees, from where God called Abraham) “and in Egypt.” It was out of such defilement, that God took her Eze_23:3, Eze_23:8, and He says, “Thou becamest Mine” Eze_16:8. whom He maketh His, He maketh pure; and of her, not such as she was in herself by nature, but as such as He made her, He says, “I remember thee, the kindness of thy youth, the love of thine espousals when thou wentest after Me, in the wilderness” Jer_2:2. But she soon fell away; and thenceforth there were among them (as there are now among Christians,) “the children of God, the children of the promise, and the children of whoredoms, or of the devil.”

For the land … – This is the reason why God commands Hosea to do this thing, in order to shadow out their foulness and God’s mercy. What no man would dare to do Jer_3:1, except at God’s bidding, God in a manner doth, restoring to union with Himself those who had gone away from Him. “The land,” i. e., Israel, and indirectly, Judah also, and, more widely yet, the whole earth.

Departing from – Literally, “from after the Lord.” Our whole life should be Phi_3:13, forgetting the things which are behind, to follow after Him, whom here we can never fully attain unto, God in His Infinite Perfection, yet so as, with our whole heart, “fully to follow after Him.” To depart from the Creator and to serve the creature, is adultery; as the Psalmist says, “Thou hast destroyed all them, that go a whoring from Thee” Psa_73:27. He who seeks anything out of God, turns from following Him, and takes to him something else as his god, is unfaithful, and spiritually an adulterer and idolater. For he is an adulterer, who becomes another’s than God’s.

John Calvin
Hosea 2:2
The Prophet seems in this verse to contradict himself; for he promised reconciliation, and now he speaks of a new repudiation. These things do not seem to agree well together that God should embrace, or be willing to embrace, again in his love those whom he had before rejected, — and that he should at the same time send a bill of divorce, and renounce the bond of marriage. But if we weigh the design of the Prophet, we shall see that the passage is very consistent, and that there is in the words no contrariety. He has indeed promised that at a future time God would be propitious to the Israelites: but as they had not yet repented, it was needful to deal again more severely with them, that they might return to their God really and thoroughly subdued. So we see that in Scripture, promises and threatening are mingled together, and rightly too. For were the Lord to spend a whole month in reproving sinners they may in that time fall away a hundred times. Hence God, after showing to men their sins adds some consolation and moderates severity, lest they should despond: he afterwards returns again to threatening, and does so from necessity; for though men may be terrified with the fear of punishment, they do not yet really repent. It is then necessary for them to be reproved not only once and again, but very often.

We now then perceive what the Prophet had in view: he had spoken of the people’s defection; afterwards he proved that the people had been justly rejected by the Lord; and then he promised the hope of pardon. But now seeing that they still continued obstinate in their vices, he reproves again those who had need of such chastisement. He, in a word, has in view their present state.

Almost all so expound this verse as if the Prophet addressed the faithful: and with greater refinement still do they expound, who say, that the Prophet addresses the faithful who had fallen away from the synagogue. They have and I have no doubt, been much deceived; for the Prophets on the contrary, shows here that God was justly punishing the Israelites, who were wont to excuse themselves in the same way as hypocrites are wont to do. When the Lord treated them otherwise than according to their wishes, they expostulated, and raised up contention — “What does this mean?” So do we find them introduced as thus speaking, by Isaiah. [Isa_58:1.] There, indeed, they fiercely contend with God, as if the Lord dealt with them unjustly, for they seemed not conscious of having done any evil. Hence the Prophet, seeing the Israelites so senseless in their sins, says, Contend, contend with your mother. He speaks here in the person of God: and God, as it has been stated, uses the similitude of a marriage. Let us now see what is the import of the words.

When a husband repudiates his wife, he fixes a mark of disgrace on the children born by that marriage: their mother has been divorced; then the children, on account of that divorce, are held in less esteem. When a husband repudiates his wife through waywardness, the children justly regard him with hatred. Why? “Because he loved not our mother as he ought to have done; he has not honoured the bond of marriage.” It is therefore usually the case, that the children’s affections are alienated from their father, when he treats their mother with too little humanity or with entire contempt. So the Israelites, when they saw themselves rejected, wished to throw the blame on God. For by the name, “mother”, are the people here called; it is transferred to the whole body of the people, or the race of Abraham. God had espoused that people to himself, and wished them to be like a wife to him. Since then God was a husband to the people, the Israelites were as sons born by that marriage. But when they were repudiated, the Israelites said, that God dealt cruelly with them, for he has cast them away for no fault. The Prophet now undertakes the defence of God’s cause, and speaks also in his person, Contend, contend, he says with your mother In a word, this passage agrees with what is said in the beginning of Isa_50:1, ‘Where is the bill of repudiation? Have I sold you to my creditors? But ye have been sold for your sins, and your mother has been repudiated for her iniquity.’

Husbands were wont to give a bill of divorce to their wives, that they themselves might see it: for it freed them from every reproach, inasmuch as the husband bore a testimony to his wife: “I dismiss her, not that she has been unfaithful, not that she has violated the bond of marriage; but because her beauty does not please me, or because her manners are not agreeable to me.” The law compelled the husband to give such a testimony as this. God now says by his Prophet, “Show me now the bill of repudiation: have I of my own accord cast away your mother? No, I have not done so. Ye cannot accuse me of cruelty, as though her beauty did not please me, and as though I had followed the common practice approved by you. I have not willingly rejected her, nor at my own pleasure, and I have not sold her to my creditors, as your fathers were sometimes wont to do, as to their children, when they were in debt.” In short, the Lord shows there that the Jews were to be blamed, that they were rejected together with their mother. So he says also in this place, Contend, contend with your mother; which means, “Your dispute is not with me:” and by the repetition he shows how inveterate was their perverseness, for they never ceased to glamour against God. We now see the real meaning of the Prophet.

In vain then do they philosophise, who say that the mother was to be condemned by her own children; because, when they shall be converted to their former faith, they ought then to condemn the synagogue. The Prophet meant no such thing; but, on the contrary, he brings this charge against the Israelites, that they had been repudiated for the flagitious conduct of their mother, and had ceased to be counted the children of God. For the comparison between husband and wife is here to be understood; and then the children are placed as it were in the middle. When the mother is dismissed, the children indignantly say that the father has been too inhuman if indeed he wilfully divorces his wife: but when a wife becomes unfaithful to her husband, or prostitutes herself to any shameful crime, the husband is then free from every blame; and there is no cause for the children to expostulate with him; for he ought thus to punish a shameless wife. God then shows that the Israelites were justly rejected, and that the blame of their rejection belonged to the whole race of Abraham; but that no blame could be imputed to him.

And for a reason it is added, Let her then take away her fornication from her face, and her adulteries from the midst of her breasts The Prophet, by saying, “Let her then take away her fornications”, (for the copulative ו, vau, ought to be regarded as an illative,) confirms what we have just now said; that is that God had stood to his pledged faith, but that the people had become perfidious; and that the cause of the divorce or separation was, that the Israelites persevered not, as they ought to have done, in the obedience of faith. Then God says, Let her take away her fornications. But the phrase, Let her take away from her face and from her breasts, seems singular; and what does it mean? because women commit fornication neither by the face nor by the breasts. It is evident the Prophet alludes to meretricious finery; for harlots, that they may entice men, sumptuously adorn themselves, and carefully paint their face and decorate their breasts. Wantonness then appears in the face as well as in the breasts. But interpreters do not touch on what the Prophet had in view. The Prophet, no doubt, sets forth here the shamelessness of the people; for they had now so hardened themselves in their contempt of God, in their ungodly superstitions, in all kinds of wickedness, that they were like harlots, who conceal not their baseness, but openly prostitute themselves, yea, and exhibit tokens of their shamelessness in their eyes as well as in every part of their bodies. We see then that the people are here accused of disgraceful impudence as they had grown so callous as to wish to be known to be such as they were. In the same way does Ezekiel set forth their reproachful conduct, ‘Spread has the harlot her feet, she called on all who passed by the way,’

We now then understand why the Prophet expressly said, Let her take away from her face her fornication, and from her breasts her adulteries: for he teaches that the vices of the people were not hidden, and that they did not now sin and cover their baseness as hypocrites do, but that they were so unrestrained in their contempt of God, that they were become like common harlots.

Here is a remarkable passage; for we first see that men in vain complain when the Lord seems to deal with them in severity; for they will ever find the fault to be in themselves and in their parents: yea, when they look on all impartially, they will confess that all throughout the whole community are included in one and the same guilt. Let us hence learn, whenever the lord may chastise us, to come home to ourselves, and to confess that he is justly severe towards us; yea, were we apparently cast away, we ought yet to confess, that it is through our own fault, and not through God’s immoderate severity. We also learn how frivolous is their pretext, who set up against God the authority of their fathers, as the Papists do: for they would, if they could, call or compel God to an account, because he forsakes them, and owns them not now as his Church. “What! has not God bound his faith to us? Is not the Church his spouse? Can he be unfaithful?” So say the Papists: but at the same time they consider not, that their mother has become utterly filthy through her many abominations; they consider not, that she has been repudiated, because the Lord could no longer bear her great wickedness. Let us then know, that it is in vain to bring against God the examples of men; for what is here said by the Prophet will ever stand true, that God has not given a bill of divorce to his Church; that is, that he has not of his own accord divorced her, as peevish and cruel husbands are wont to do, but that he has been constrained to do so, because he could no longer connive at so many abominations. It now follows —

Pulpit Commentary
Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not thy wife, neither am I her husband. In this second chapter the same cycle of events recurs as in the first, with this difference, that what is expressed by symbol in the one is simply narrated in the other. The cycle is the common one of sin: its usual consequences of suffering and sorrow; then succor and sympathy in case of repentance. The persons addressed in the verse before us are those individuals in Israel who had still retained their integrity, and who, notwithstanding surrounding defection and abounding ungodliness, had continued steadfast in their loyalty and love to the Lord. They might be few in number, widely scattered, perhaps unknown to each other, and of comparatively little note; yet they are here called on to raise their voice in solemn warning and earnest protest against the national defection and wickedness. “The congregation in its totality, or whole people taken conjointly, is compared to the mother, but individual members to the children, and the sense is that they are to plead with each other to bring them back to the way of goodness” (Kimchi). The nation as such, and in its impiety, is the mother; the pious persons still found in it are here required to testify for God both by exhortation and example. “The congregation of Israel is compared to an adulteress, and the children of the different generations to the children of whoredoms. Before them the prophet says, ‘Plead with your mother'” (Kimchi). Adultery per se is a virtual dissolution of the marriage-tie; idolatry is spiritual adultery; the close and tender relationship into which God has graciously condescended to take Israel is rendered null and void, and that through Israel’s own fault. God threatens the renunciation of it, unless perchance the pleading of the still faithful children might recall the erring mother to penitence and purity. A case the converse of this is that presented in Isa_1:1, where the mother’s divorce is attributed to the unfaithfulness of the children. “Where,” asks the Lord in that passage, “is the bill of your mother’s divorcement, whom I have put away?… for your transgressions is your mother put away.” Ki before the second clause is either recitative, introducing the words of pleading, or assigns a reason; the latter seems preferable. Let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts. The word mippaneyha is rather to be rendered “from her face” than “out of her sight.” The expression is to be taken literally, as the word “breasts” in the parallel clause proves. Thus Kimchi rightly explains it, saying, “Since he compares her to harlot, he attributes to her the ways of harlots; for the harlot’s way is to adorn her face with various kinds of colors, that she may appear fair in the eyes of her paramours.” But in addition to ornamenteth as earrings or nose-rings, and other ways of decking herself, as by painting, the expression may imply lascivious looks and wanton expressions of countenance; while the mention of breasts may indicate the making of them bare for the purpose of meretricious blandishments, or as indicating the place of the adulterer (comp. Eze_23:3 and So Eze_1:13). The Jewish commentators adopt the latter sense. Aben Ezra comments on the grammatical form of the words zenuncha and naaphupheha (the former by duplication of the second radical, and the latter by that of the third) as intensive; while Rashi and Kimchi refer to the pressure of the breasts. But others understand them figuratively, the countenance indicating boldness, and the breasts shamelessness. Thus Horace speaks of the brilliant beauty (nixor) and coquettishness (protervitas) of Glyeera.

Albert Barnes
Hosea 2:2
Plead with your mother, plead – The prophets close the threats of coming judgments with the dawn of after-hopes; and from hopes they go back to God’s judgments against sin, pouring in wine and oil into the wounds of sinners. The “mother” is the Church or nation; the “sons,” are its members, one by one. These, when turned to God, must plead with their mother, that she turn also. When involved in her judgments, they must plead with her, and not accuse God. God “had not forgotten to be gracious;” but she “kept not His love, and refused His friendship, and despised the purity of spiritual communion with Him, and would not travail with the fruit of His will.” : “The sons differ from the mother, as the inventor of evil from those who imitate it. For as, in good, the soul which, from the Spirit of God, conceiveth the word of truth, is the mother, and whoso profiteth by hearing the word of doctrine from her mouth, is the child, so, in evil, whatsoever soul inventeth evil is the mother, and whoso is deceived by her is the son. So in Israel, the adulterous mother was the synagogue, and the individuals deceived by her were the sons.”

“Ye who believe in Christ, and are both of Jews and Gentiles, say ye to the broken branches and to the former people which is cast off, “My people,” for it is your brother; and “Beloved,” for it is “your sister.” For when Rom_11:25-26 the fulness of the Gentiles shall have come in, then shall all Israel be saved. In like way we are bidden not to despair of heretics, but to incite them to repentance, and with brotherly love to long for their salvation” .

For she is not My wife – God speaketh of the spiritual union between Himself and His people whom He had chosen, under the terms of the closest human oneness, of husband and wife. She was no longer united to Him by faith and love, nor would He any longer own her. Plead therefore with her earnestly as orphans, who, for her sins, have lost the protection of their Father.

Let her therefore put away her whoredoms – So great is the tender mercy of God. He says, let her but put away her defilements, and she shall again be restored, as if she had never fallen; let her but put away all objects of attachment, which withdrew her from God, and God will again be All to her.

Adulteries, whoredores – God made the soul for Himself; He betrothed her to Himself through the gift of the Holy Spirit; He united her to Himself. All love, then, out of God, is to take another, instead of God. “whom have I in heaven but Thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire besides Thee.” “Adultery” is to become another’s than His, the Only Lord and Husband of the soul. Whoredom is to have many other objects of sinful love. Love is one, for One. The soul which has forsaken the One, is drawn here and there, has manifold objects of desire, which displace one another, because none satisfies. Hence, the prophet speaks of “fornications, adulteries;” because the soul, which will not rest in God, seeks to distract herself from her unrest and unsatisfiedness, by heaping to herself manifold lawless pleasures, out of, and contrary to the will of, God.
From before her – Literally “from her face.” The face is the seat of modesty, shame, or shamelessness. Hence, in Jeremiah God says to Judah, “Thou hadst a harlot’s forehead; thou refusedst to be ashamed” Jer_3:3; and “they were not at all ashamed, neither will they blush” Jer_6:15. The eyes, also, are the “windows” Jer_9:21, through which “death,” i. e., lawless desire, “enters into” the soul, and takes it captive.

From her breasts – These are exposed, adorned, degraded in disorderly love, which they are employed to allure. Beneath too lies the heart, the seat of the affections. It may mean then, that she should no more gaze with pleasure on the objects of her sin, nor allow her heart to dwell on tilings which she loved sinfully. Whence it is said of the love of Christ, which should keep the soul free from all unruly passions which might offend him Son_1:13, “My Well-beloved shall lie all night between my breasts Son_8:6, as a seal upon the heart” beneath.

John Calvin
Hosea 2:3
Though the Prophet in this verse severely threatens the Israelites, yet it appears from a full view of the whole passage, that he mitigates the sentence we have explained: for by declaring what sort of vengeance was suspended over them, except they timely repented, he shows that there was some hope of pardon remaining, which, as we shall see, he expresses afterwards more clearly.
He now begins by saying, Lest I strip her naked, and set her as on the day of her nativity This alone would have been dreadful; but we shall see in the passage, that God so denounces punishment, that he cuts not off altogether the hope of mercy: and at the same time he reminds them that the divorce, for which they were disposed to contend with God, was such, that God yet shows indulgence to the repudiated wife. For when a husband dismisses an adulteress, he strips her entirely, and rightly so: but God shows here, that though the Israelites had become wanton, and were like a shameless woman, he had yet so divorced them hitherto, that he had left them their dowry, their ornaments and marriage gifts. We then see that God had not used, as he might have done, his right; and hence he says, Lest I strip her naked; which means this, “I seem to you too rigid, because I have declared, that I am no longer a husband to your mother: and yet see how kindly I have spared her; for she remains as yet almost untouched: though she has lost the name of wife, I have not yet stripped her; she as yet lives in sufficient plenty. Whence is this but from my indulgence? for I did not wish to follow up my right, as husbands do. But except she learns to humble herself, I now gird up myself for the purpose of executing heavier punishments.” We now comprehend the whole import of the passage.

What the Prophet means by the day of nativity, we may readily learn from Eze_16:0; for Ezekiel there treats the same subject with our Prophet, but much more at large. He says that the Israelites were then born, when God delivered them from the tyranny of Egypt. This then was the nativity of the people. And yet it was a miserable sight, when they fled away with fear and trembling, when they were exposed to their enemies: and after they entered the wilderness, being without bread and water, their condition was very wretched. The Prophet says now, Lest I set her as on the day of her nativity, and set her as the desert. Some regard the letter כ caph to be understood, as if it were written, כבמדבר as in the desert; that is, I will set her as she was formerly in the desert; and this exposition is not unsuitable; for the day of nativity, the Prophet doubtless calls that time, when the people were brought out of Egypt: they immediately entered the desert, where there was the want of every thing. They might then have soon perished there, being consumed by famine and thirst, had not the Lord miraculously supported them. The sense then seems consistent by this rendering, Lest I set her as in the deserts and as in a dry land. But another exposition is more approved, Lest I set her like the desert and dry land

With regard to what the Prophet had in view, it was necessary to remind the Israelites here of what they were at their beginning. For whence was their contempt of God, whence was their obstinate pride, but that they were inebriated with their pleasures? For when there flowed an abundance of all good things, they thought of themselves, that they had come as it were from the clouds; for men commonly forget what they formerly were, when the Lord has made them rich. As then the benefits of God for the most part blind us, and make us to think ourselves to be as it were half-gods, the Prophet here sets before the children of Abraham what their condition was when the Lord redeemed them. “I have redeemed you,” he says, “from the greatest miseries and extreme degradation.” Sons of kings are born kings, and are brought up in the midst of pomps and pleasures; nay, before they are born, great pomps, we know, are prepared for them, which they enjoy from their mother’s womb. But when one is born of an ignoble and obscure mother, and begotten by a mean and poor father, and afterwards arises to a different condition, if he is proud of his splendour, and remembers not that he was once a plebeian and of no repute, this may be justly thrown in his face, “Who were you formerly? Why! do you not know that you were a cow-herd, or a mechanic, or one covered with filth? Fortune has smiled on you, or God has raised you to riches and honours; but you are so self-complacent as though your condition had ever been the same.”

This is the drift of what the Prophet says: I will set thy mother, he says, as she was at her first nativity. For who are you? A holy race, a chosen nation, a people sacred to me? Be it so: but free adoption has brought all this to you. Ye were exiles in Egypt, strangers in the land of Canaan, and were nothing better than other people. Besides, Pharaoh reduced you to a base servitude, ye were then the most abject of slaves. How magnificent, with regard to you, was your going forth! Did you not flee away tremblingly and in the night? And did you not afterwards live in a miraculous way for forty years in the desert, when I rained manna on you from the clouds? Since then your poverty and want has been so great, since there is nothing to make you to raise your crests, how is it that you show no more modesty? But if your present condition creates in you forgetfulness, I will set you as on the day of your nativity.” It now follows —

Pulpit Commentary
Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born. The Lord, by his servant the prophet, enforces the preceding exhortation by a stern denunciation, and the threat of further severities unless averted by repentance; as an injured husband withdraws from a faithless wife all the gifts and presents he had made for her adornment, leaving her poor and bare. Not only the removal of her garments by way of degradation and disgrace, but exposure in that position to insult and ignominy would ensue. In other words, the nation is threatened with deprivation of all the blessings previously lavished upon them—property, prosperity, population, and privileges; while dishonor of the deepest dye would aggravate the misery. The day of the nation’s birth denotes the weakness and wretchedness of their infant state. To this corresponded their servile, suffering condition during their bondage and oppression in Egypt. Rashi thus explains it; Kimchi says, “The figure of birth is the time they are slaves in Egypt;” so also Theodoret,—the latter calls the day of her birth the sojourn in Egypt. The Prophet Ezekiel (Eze_16:4) expands the idea, occasionally employing, as Rosenmüller remarks, the very words of Hosea. And make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and clay her with thirst. This part of the verse is susceptible of two explanations. The faithless female, under which character the northern kingdom is personified, may be compared to a wilderness, that is, according to Cyril, fruitless, parched, and productive only of thorns, thirsty and waterless. This comparison of a woman to a desert is wanting in suitability, and seems in some degree awkward in itself, beside being out of harmony with the closing clause; for to “slay with thirst,” however applicable to a person, cannot with any propriety be said of a place, whether desert or otherwise. No doubt the wilderness may stand for those dwelling in it. We prefer, therefore, the alternative rendering, “make her as in a wilderness, and set her as in a dry land.” Rashi aptly explains the threat to mean, “Lest I pronounce against them such a sentence as of old in this desert (Num_14:35), ‘In this wilderness they shall be consumed, and there they shall die.'” There is, moreover, a natural connection of ideas between a wilderness, a dry land, and thirst. The nation’s birth, represented by or compared to their sojourn in Egypt, naturally suggests the idea of their wandering in the wilderness after their exodus from that country; a wilderness, again, suggests what is an ordinary feature of such a district, namely, a dry land; while a region thus without water is suggestive as well as provocative of thirst. The former explanation, however, is given by Kimehi: “I will make thee like the wilderness which is open to every one, and in which, moreover, one finds no means of subsistence, nor anything that man needs; so I’ll withdraw my goodness from them, and they shall be surrendered as a prey to every one.”

Albert Barnes
Hosea 2:3
Lest I strip her naked – “There is an outward visible nakedness and an inward, which is invisible. The invisible nakedness is, when the soul within is bared of the glory and the grace of God.” The visible nakedness is the privation of God’s temporal and visible gifts, the goods of this world, or outward distinction. God’s inward gifts the sinful soul or nation despises, while those outward gifts she prizes. And therefore, when the soul parts with the inward ornaments of God’s grace, He strips her of the outward, His gifts of nature, of His providence and of His protection, if so be, through her outward misery and shame and poverty, she may come to feel that deeper misery and emptiness and disgrace within, which she had had no heart to feel. So, when our first parents lost the robe of innocence, “they knew that they were naked” Gen_3:7.

And set her – (Literally “I will fix her,” so that she shall have no power to free herself, but must remain as a gazing stock,) “as in the day that she was born,” i. e., helpless, defiled, uncleansed, uncared for, unformed, cast out and loathsome. Such she was in Egypt, which is in Holy Scripture spoken of, as her birthplace Eze_16:4; for there she first became a people; thence the God of her fathers called her to be His people. There she was naked of the grace and of the love of God, and of the wisdom of the law; indwelt by an evil spirit, as being an idolatress; without God; and under hard bondage, in works of mire and clay, to Pharaoh, the type of Satan, and her little ones a prey. For when a soul casts off the defense of heavenly grace, it is an easy prey to Satan.

And make her as a wilderness, and set her as a dry land, and slay her with thirst – The outward desolation, which God inflicts, is a picture of the inward. Drought and famine are among the four sore judgments, with which God threatened the land, and our Lord forewarned them, “Your house is left unto you desolate” Mat_23:38; and Isaiah says, “Whereas thou hast been forsaken and hated, so that no man went through thee” Isa_60:15. But the prophet does not say, make her a wilderness, but make “her as a wilderness.” The soul of the sinner is solitary and desolate, for it has not the presence of God; unfruitful, bearing briars and thorns only, for it is unbedewed by God’s grace, unwatered by the Fountain of living waters; athirst, “not with thirst for water, but of hearing the word of the Lord,” yet also, burning with desire, which the foul streams of this world’s pleasure never slake. In contrast with such thirst, Jesus says of the Holy Spirit which He would give to them that believe in Him, “Whosoever drinketh of the water, that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water, that I shall give him, shall be in him a well of water, springing up into everlasting life” Joh_4:14; Joh_7:38-39.

“But was not that certain, which God had said, ‘I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel?’ How then does God recall it, saying, ‘Let her put away her fornications, etc. lest I do to her this or that which I have spoken?’ This is not unlike to that, when sentence had been passed on Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel saying, ‘This is the decree of the Most High, which is come upon my Lord the king; they shall drive thee from men, and thy dwelling; the same Daniel says, Wherefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable unto thee, and redeem thy sins by righteousness, and thine iniquities by shewing mercy on the poor, if it may be a lengthening of thy tranquility’ Dan_4:24-25, Dan_4:27. What should we learn hereby, but that it hangs upon our own will, whether God suspend the judgment or no? For we ought not to impute our own evil to God, or impiously think that fate rules us. In other words, this or that evil comes, not because God foreknew or foreordained it; but, because this evil was to be, or would be done, therefore God both foreknew it, and prefixed His sentence upon it. Why then does God predetermine an irrevocable sentence? Because He foresaw incorrigible malice. Why, again, after pronouncing sentence, doth God counsel amendment? That we may know by experience, that they are incorrigible. Therefore, He waits for them, although they will not return, and with much patience invites them to repentance.” Individuals also repented, although the nation was incorrigible.

John Calvin
Hosea 2:4
The Lord now comes close to each individual, after having spoken in general of the whole people: and thus we see that to be true which I have said, that it was far from the mind of the Prophet to suppose, that God here teaches the faithful who had already repented, that they ought to condemn their own mother. The Prophet meant nothing of the kind; but, on the contrary, he wished to check the waywardness of the people, who ceased not to contend with God, as though he had been more severe than just towards their race. Now then he reproves each of them; your children, he says, I will not pity; for they are spurious children He had indeed said before that they had been born by adultery; but he afterwards received them into favour. This is true; but what I have said must be remembered that the Prophet as yet continues in his reproofs; for though he has mingled some consolation, he yet saw that their hearts were not as yet contrite and sufficiently humbled. We must bear in mind the difference between their present state and their future favour. God before promised that he would be propitious to apostates who had departed from him: but now he shows that it was not yet the ripe time, for they had not ceased to sin. Hence he says, I will not pity your children

Having spoken of the mother’s divorce, he now says that the children, born of adultery, were not his: and certainly what the Prophet promised before was not immediately fulfilled; for the people, we know, had been disowned, and when deprived of the land of Canaan, were rejected, as it were, by the Lord. The Babylonian exile was a kind of death: and then when they returned from exile, a small portion only returned, not the whole people; and they were tossed, we know, by many calamities until Christ our Redeemer appeared. Since then the Prophet included the whole of this time, it is no wonder that he says that the children were to be repudiated by the Lord, because they were born of adultery: for until they returned from captivity, and Christ was at length revealed, this repudiation, of which the Prophet speaks, ever continued Thy children, he says, I will not pity. At first sight it seems very dreadful, that God takes away the hope of mercy; but we ought to confine this sentence to that time during which it pleased God to cast away his people. As long, then, as that temporary casting away lasted, God’s favour was hid; and to this the Prophet now refers, I will not then pity her children, for they are born by adultery. At the same time, we must remember that this sentence specifically belonged to the reprobate, who boasted of being the children of Abraham, while they were profane and unholy, while they impiously perverted the whole worship of God, while they were wholly ungovernable. Then the Prophet justly pronounces such a severe judgement on obstinate men, who could be reformed by no admonitions.

Albert Barnes
Hosea 2:4
I will not have mercy upon her children – God visits the sins of the parents upon the children, until the entailed curse be cut off by repentance. God enforces His own word “lo-ruhamah, Unpitied,” by repeating it here, “lo-arahem,” “I will not pity.” Reproaches, which fall upon the mother, are ever felt with special keenness. Whence Saul called Jonathan 1Sa_20:30, “Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman.” Therefore, the more to arouse them, he says, “for they are the children of whoredoms,” evil children of an evil parent, as John the Immerser calls the hypocritical Jews, “ye generation of vipers” Mat_3:7. “This they were, from their very birth and swaddling-clothes, never touching any work of piety, nor cultivating any grace.” As of Christ, and of those who, in Him, are nourished up in deeds of righteousness, it is said, “I was cast upon Thee from the womb; Thou art my God from my mother’s belly;” so, contrariwise, of the ungodly it is said, “The wicked are estranged from the womb; they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.”

And as they who “live honestly, as in the day and in the light,” are called “children of the day and of the light,” so they who live a defiled life are called the “children of whoredores.” : “To call them ‘children of whoredoms’ is all one with saying, that they too are incorrigible or unchangeable. For of such, Wisdom, after saying, ‘executing Thy judgments upon them by little and little,’ added immediately (Wisd. 12:10, 11), ‘not being ignorant that thy were a naughty generation, and that their malice was bred in them, and that their cogitation would never be changed, for it was a cursed seed from the beginning.” All this is here expressed briefly by this word, “that they are the children of whoredoms,” meaning that their “malice” too was inbred, and that they, as much as the Ammorite and Hittite, were a “cursed seed.” Nor yet, in so speaking, did he blame the nature which God created, but he vehemently reproves the abuse of nature, that malice, which cleaves to nature but was no part of it, was by custom changed into nature.”

John Calvin
Hosea 2:5
He afterwards declares how the children became spurious; their mother, who conceived or bare them, has been wanton; with shameful acts has she defiled herself בוש bush, means, to be ashamed; but here the Prophet means not that the Israelites were touched with shame, for such a meaning would be inconsistent with the former sentence; but that they were like a shameless and infamous woman, touched with no shame for her baseness. Their mother, then, had been wanton, and she who bare them had become scandalous Here the Prophet strips the Israelites of their foolish confidence, who were wont to profess the name of God, while they were entirely alienated from him: for they had fallen away by their impiety from pure worship, they had rejected the law, yea, and every yoke. Since then they were wild beasts, it was extreme stupidity ever to set up for their shield the name of God, and ever to boast of the adoption of their father Abraham. But as the Jews were so perversely proud, the Prophet here answers them, “Your mother has been wanton, and with shameful acts has she defiled herself; I will not therefore count nor own you as my children, for ye were born by adultery.”

This passage confirms what I have shortly before explained, — that it is not enough that God should choose any people for himself, except the people themselves persevere in the obedience of faith; for this is the spiritual chastity which the Lord requires from all his people. But when is a wife, whom God has bound to himself by a sacred marriage, said to become wanton? When she falls away, as we shall more clearly see hereafter, from pure and sound faith. Then it follows that the marriage between God and men so long endures at they who have been adopted continue in pure faith, and apostasy in a manner frees God from us, so that he may justly repudiate us. Since such apostasy prevails under the Papacy, and has for many ages prevailed, how senseless they are in their boasting, while they would be thought to be the holy Catholic Church, and the elect people of God? For they are all born by wantonness, they are all spurious children. The incorruptible seed is the word of God; but what sort of doctrine have they? It is a spurious seed. Then as to God all the Papists are bastards. In vain then they boast themselves to be the children of God, and that they have the holy Mother Church, for they are born by filthy wantonness.

The Prophet pursues still the same subject: “She said, I will go after my lovers, the givers of my bread, of my waters, of my wool, and of my flax, and of my oil, and of my drink The Prophet here defines the whoredom of which he had spoken: this part is explanatory; the Prophet unfolds in several words what he had briefly touched when he said, your mother has been wanton. Now, if the Jews object and say, How has she become wanton? Because, “she said, I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my waters, etc. The Prophet here compares false gods to lovers, who seduce women from their conjugal fidelity; for he pursues the similitude which he had introduced. The Church, to whom God has pledged his faith, is represented as a wife; and as a woman does, when enticed by gifts, and as many women follow covetousness and become lascivious, that they may dress sumptuously, and live luxuriously, so the Prophet now points out this vice in the Israelitic Church, She said, I will go after my lovers Some understand by lovers either the Assyrians or the Egyptians; for when the Israelites formed connections with these heathen nations, they were drawn away, we know, from their God. But the Prophet inveighs especially against false and corrupt modes of worship, and all kinds of superstitions; for the pure worship of God, we know, is ever to have the first place, and that justly; for on this depend all the duties of life. I therefore doubt not, but that he includes all false gods, when he says, “I will go after my lovers”.

But by introducing the word, “said”, he amplifies the shamelessness of the people, who deliberately forsook their God, who was to them as a legitimate husband. It indeed happens sometimes that a man is thoughtlessly drawn aside by a mistake or folly, but he soon repents; for we see many of the unexperienced deceived for a short time: but the Prophet here shows that the Israelites premeditated their unfaithfulness, so that they wilfully departed from God. Hence she said; and we know that this said means so much; and it is to be referred, not to the outward word as pronounced, but to the inward purpose. She therefore said, that is, she made this resolution; as though he said, “Let no one make this frivolous excuse, that they were deceived, that they did it in their simplicity: ye are, he says, avowedly perfidious, ye have with a premeditated purpose sought this divorce.” He, however, ascribes this to their mother: for defection began at the root, when they were drawn away by Jeroboam into corrupt superstitions; and the promotion of this evil became as it were hereditary. He therefore intended to condemn here the whole community. Hence, “she said, I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my waters”. But I cannot finish today; I must therefore break off the sentence.

Pulpit Commentary
Nor their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath dons shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers. The charge of idolatry under the figure of harlotry, spiritual harlotry, is reiterated. “Mother” is repeated in and emphasized by the parallel words, “she that conceived them.” A somewhat similar form of expression is that in Psa_58:3, “The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.” To bosh, to be ashamed, belong the Hiphil forms, hebhish and hobhish (the latter formed from zabhish), properly “to put to shame,” but also “to practice shame or do shameful things.” The nature of her shameful conduct is more definitely and distinctly expressed in the clauses which follow; and consisted of several particulars. There is the persistent pursuit of her lovers; then the unblushing boldness with which she avows her determination to continue that course; and next come her expectations from them.

That give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink (margin, drinks). The original word here rendered “lovers” is the Piel participle, which may have either its usual intensive sense or its occasional causative sense in which it is taken by Rosenmüller, who has “a-mare me facientes,” equivalent to “wooers.” It matters little which way we understand it. The more important point is to determine who or what are here meant by lovers. Most commentators understand them to be those nations whose friendship Israel set such store by—the Assyrians and the Egyptians. Thus Grotius and Jerome,—the latter explains them of the Assyrians and Egyptians and other nations, with whose idols Israel committed fornication, and from which in distress they vainly hoped for help; so also Kimchi, in the following comment: “By ‘friends ‘ he implies the Assyrians and Egyptians joined in alliance to the Israelites, who delivered them from their enemies, so that they lived safely, in return for the gifts (tribute) which they (the Israelites) were in the habit of giving them. And as they lived in tranquility in virtue of the compact entered into with them, the prophet represents it as if they supplied them with all the necessaries of life. For with their help they tilled their land without fear and in safety traded from country to country.” Kimchi quotes at the same time his father’s (Joseph Kimchi) interpretation: “But my lord my father of blessed memory explained ‘after her lovers’ of the sun and moon and stars, which they worshipped; while their intention was that they gave them their food and their sufficiency, as they said, ‘But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine.'” This exposition of Joseph Kimchi is much nearer the truth than that of his son David; it is, however, too restricted. The “lovers” were the idols on which the people of the northern kingdom so dented, and on which they placed so much dependence. The blessings which they vainly expected from these idols are enumerated: they were—food and raiment and luxuries; the bread and water were the articles of food as it is written elsewhere. “Bread shall be given him; his waters shall be sure;” the wool and flax were the materials for clothing; while the oil and drinks were, the former for ornament, the latter for refresh-merit, and so included all luxuries; thus in Psa_23:5, “Thou anointest my head with oil;” and in Psa_102:9, “And mingled my drink [literally, ‘drinks,’ the same word, shigguyar] with weeping;” also in Psa_104:15 we read of “wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengthened man’s heart.”

Albert Barnes
Hosea 2:5
She that conceived them hath done shamefully, literally, hath made shameful – The silence as to “what” she “made shameful” is more emphatic than any words. She “made shameful” everything which she could “make shameful,” her acts, her children, and herself.

I will go after my lovers – (:iterally let me go, I would go). The Hebrew word “Meahabim” denotes intense passionate love; the plural form implies that they were sinful loves. Every word aggravates the shamelessness. Amid God’s chastisements, she encourages herself, “Come, let me go,” as people harden and embolden, and, as it were, lash themselves into further sin, lest they should shrink back, or stop short in it. “Let me go after.” She waits not, as it were, to be enticed, allured, seduced. She herself, uninvited, unbidden, unsought, contrary to the accustomed and natural feeling of woman, follows after those by whom she is not drawn, and refuses to follow God who would draw her (see Eze_16:31-34). The “lovers” are, whatever a man loves and courts, out of God. They were the idols and false gods, whom the Jews, like the pagan, took to themselves, besides God. But in truth they were devils. Devils she sought; the will of devils she followed; their pleasure she fulfilled, abandoning herself to sin, shamefully filled with all wickedness, and travailing with all manner of impurity. These she professed that she loved, and that they, not God, loved her. For whoever receives the gifts of God, except from God and in God’s way, receives them from devils. Whoso seeks what God forbids, seeks it from Satan, and holds that Satan, not God, loves him; since God refuses it, Satan encourages him to possess himself of it. Satan, then, is his lover.

That gave me my bread and my water – The sense of human weakness abides, even when divine love is gone. The whole history of man’s superstitions is an evidence of this, whether they have been the mere instincts of nature, or whether they have attached themselves to religion or irreligion, Jewish or Pagan or Muslim, or have been practiced by half-Christians. “She is conscious that she hath not these things by her own power, but is beholden to some other for them; but not remembering Him (as was commanded) who had “given her power to get wealth, and richly all things to enjoy,” she professes them to be the gifts of her lovers.” “Bread and water, wool and flax,” express the necessaries of life, food and clothing; “mine oil and my drink” (Hebrew, drinks), its luxuries. Oil includes also ointments, and so served both for health, food and medicine, for anointing the body, and for perfume. In perfumes and choice drinks, the rich people of Israel were guilty of great profusion; from where it is said, “He that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich” Pro_21:17. For such things alone, the things of the body, did Israel care. Ascribing them to her false gods, she loved these gods, and held that they loved her. In like way, the Jewish women shamelessly told Jeremiah, “we will certainly do whatsoever thing goes out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto her, as we have done, we and our fathers, our kings and our princes, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil. But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink-offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine” Jer_44:17-18.

John Calvin
Hosea 3:1
The substance of this chapter is, that it was God’s purpose to keep in firm hope the minds of the faithful during the exile, lest being overwhelmed with despair they should wholly faint. The Prophet had before spoken of God’s reconciliation with his people; and he magnificently extolled that favor when he said, ‘Ye shall be as in the valley of Achor, I will restore to you the abundance of all blessings; in a word, ye shall be in all respects happy.’ But, in the meantime, the daily misery of the people continued. God had indeed determined to remove them into Babylon. They might, therefore, have despaired under that calamity, as though every hope of deliverance were wholly taken from them. Hence the Prophet now shows that God would so restore the people to favor, as not immediately to blot out every remembrance of his wrath, but that his purpose was to continue for a time some measure of his severity.

We hence see that this prediction occupies a middle place between the denunciation the Prophet previously pronounced and the promise of pardon. It was a dreadful thing, that God should divorce his people and cast away the Israelites as spurious children: but a consolation was afterwards added. But lest the Israelites should think that God would immediately, as on the first day, be so propitious to them as to visit them with no chastisement, it was the Prophet’s design expressly to correct this mistake, as though he said, ‘God will indeed receive you again, but in the meantime a chastisement is prepared for you, which by its intenseness would break down your spirits were it not that this comfort will ease you, and that is, that God, though he punishes you for your sins, yet continues to provide for your salvation, and to be as it were your husband.’ We now perceive the intention of the Prophet. But I shall first run over the words, and then return to the subject

Jehovah said to me, Go yet and love a woman. There is no doubt but that God describes here the favor he promises to the Israelites in a type or vision: for they are too gross in their notions, who think that the Prophet married a woman who had been a harlot. It was then only a vision, as though God had set a picture before the eyes of the people, in which they might see their own conduct. And when he says, “yet”, he refers to the vision, mentioned in the first chapter. But he bids a woman to be loved before he took her to be the partner of his conjugal bed; which ought to be noticed: for God intends here to make a distinction between the people’s restoration and his hidden favor. God then before he restored the people from exile, loved them as it were in their widowhood. We now understand why the Prophet does not say, ‘Take to thee a wife,’ but, ‘love a woman.’ The meaning is this: God intimates, that though exile would be sad and bitter, yet the people, whom he treated with sharpness and severity, were still dear to him. Hence, Love a woman, who had been loved by a husband

The word רע, ro, is here to be taken for a husband, as it is in the second chapter of Jeremiah, [Jer_3:20 ] where it is said, ‘Perfidiously have the children of Israel dealt with me, as though a woman had departed from her husband, מרעה, meroe,’, or, ‘from her partner.’ And there is an aggravation of the crime implied in this word: for women, when they prostitute themselves, often complain that they have done so through too much severity, because they were not treated with sufficient kindness by their husbands; but when a husband behaves kindly towards his wife, and performs his duty as a husband, there is then less excuse for a wife, in case she fixes her affections on others. To increase then the sin of the people, this circumstance is stated that the woman had been loved by her friend or partner, and yet that this kindness of her husband had not preserved her mind in chastity.
He afterwards says, According to the love of Jehovah towards the children of Israel; that is, As God loved the people of Israel, who yet ceased not to look to other gods. This metaphor occurs often in Scripture, that is, when the verb פנה “panah”, which means in Hebrew, to look to, is used to express hope or desire: so that when men’s minds are intent on any thing, or their affections fixed on it, they are said to look to that. Since then the Israelites boiled with insane ardor for their superstitions, they are said to look to other gods.

It then follows, And they love flagons of grapes. The Prophet, I doubt not, compares this rage to drunkenness: and he mentions flagons of grapes rather than of wine, because idolaters are like drunkards, who sometimes so gorge themselves, that they have no longer a taste for wine; yea, the very smell of wine offends them, and produces nausea through excessive drinking; but they try new arts by which they may regain their fondness for wine. And such is the desire of novelty that prevails in the superstitious. At one time they go after this, at another time after that, and their minds are continually tossed to and fro, because they cannot acquiesce in the only true God. We now then perceive what this metaphor means, when the Prophet reproaches the Israelites, because they loved flagons of grapes.

I now return to what the Prophet, or rather God, had in view. God here comforts the hearts of the faithful, that they might surely conclude that they were loved, even when they were chastised. It was indeed necessary that this difference should have been well impressed on the Israelites, that they might in exile entertain hope and patiently bear God’s chastisement, and rise that this hope might mitigate the bitterness of sorrow. God therefore says that though he shows not himself as yet reconciled to them, but appears as yet severe, at the same time he is not without love. And hence we learn how useful this doctrine is, and how widely it opens; for it affords a consolation of which we all in common have need. When God humbles us by adversities, when he shows to us some tokens of severity or wrath, we cannot but instantly fail, were not this thought to occur to us, that God loves us, even when he is severe towards us, and that though he seems to cast us away, we are not yet altogether aliens, for he retains some affection even in the midst of his wrath; so that he is to us as a husband, though he admits us not immediately into conjugal honor, nor restores us to our former rank. We now then see how the doctrine is to be applied to ourselves.

We must at the same time notice the reproachful conduct of which I have spoken, — That though the woman was loved yet she could not be preserved in chastity, and that she was loved, though an adulteress. Here is pointed out the most shameful ingratitude of the people, and contrasted with it is God’s infinite mercy and goodness. It was the summit of wickedness in the people to forsake their God, when he had treated them with so much benignity and kindness. But wonderful was the patience of God, when he ceased not to love a people, whom he had found to be so perverse, that they could not be turned by any acts of kindness nor retained by any favors.

With regard to the flagons of grapes we may observe, that this strange disposition is ever dominant in the superstitious, and that is, that they wander here and there after their own devices, and have nothing fixed in them. Lest, then, such charms deceive us, let us learn to cleave firmly and constantly to the word of the Lord. Indeed the Papists of this day boast of their ancientness, when they would create an ill-will towards us; as though the religion we follow were new and lately invented: but we see how modern their superstitions are; for a passion for them bubbles up continually and they have nothing that remains constant: and no wonder, because the eternal truth of God is regarded by them as of no value. If, then, we desire to restrain this depraved lust, which the Prophet condemns in the Israelites, let us so adhere to the word of the Lord, that no novelty may captivate us and lead us astray. It now follows —

Pulpit Commentary
The general meaning of this verse is well given in the Chaldee Targum: “Go, utter a prophecy against the house of Israel, who are like a woman very dear to her husband, and who, though she is unfaithful to him, is nevertheless so greatly loved by him that he is unwilling to put her away. Such is the love of the Lord towards Israel; but they turn aside to the idols of the nations.” The word עוֹר is in contrast with ‘techillath, as the second part of Jehovah’s continued discourse. It is erroneously and, contrary to the accents, constructed with “said” by Kimchi and others (Ewald considers it admissible, Umbreit preferable). Kimchi’s comment on this verse is: “After the prophet finished his words of consolation, he returns to words of censure, turning to the men of his own time. And it is the custom of the prophets to intermingle reproofs with consolations in their discourses. But he says yet (again), because he had already commanded him to marry a wife of whoredoms, and now he speaks to him another parable.” This time he does not employ the ordinary and usual word “take,” but “love.” plainly implying that he had already married her, so that her unfaithfulness took place in wedlock; or rather indicating the object of the union. Beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress. Her friend or companion is

(1) her lawful husband, but contemporaneously and continuously with her husband’s love to her are her adulteries with others, as is implied by the participles.

(2) רֵע, being indefinite as not having article or suffix, is understood by some to be an acquaintance or lover, and preferred, as a milder term, to מְאַהֵב. The contrast was realized in Jehovah’s love for Israel, notwithstanding their spiritual adultery in worshipping other gods. According to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel who look (turn) to other gods. Two expressions in this clause recall, if they do not actually reflect, the words of two older Scriptures; thus in Deu_7:8 we read, “Because the Lord loved you;” and in Deu_31:18, “They are turned unto ether gods.”

(3) The LXX. has γυναῖκα ἀγαπῶσαν πονηρά, having probably read אֹהֶבֶת רַע. And love flagons of wine (margin, grapes). The term ashishe, according to Rashi and Aben Ezra, means “bowls,” that is, “bowls of wine” (literally, “of grapes”). They probably connected the word with the root shesh, six, a sextorius, and hence any other wine-vessel. The Septuagint, however, renders the word πέμματα μετὰ σταφίδος, “cakes with dried grapes.” This meaning is to be preferred, whether we derive the word from אִשַׁשׁ, to press together, or from אֵשׁ, fire; according to the former and correct derivation, the sense being cakes of grapes pressed together; according to the latter, cakes baked with fire. Gesenius differentiates the word from צִמּוּק, dried grapes, but not pressed together into a cake, and from דְּבֵלַה, figs pressed together into a cake. These raisin-cakes were regarded as luxuries and used as delicacies; hence a fondness for such indicated a proneness to sensual indulgence, and figuratively the sensuous service belonging to idol-worship.

Albert Barnes
Hosea 3:1

Go yet, love a woman, beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress – This woman is the same Gomer, whom the prophet had before been bidden to take, and whom, (it appears from this verse) had forsaken him, and was living in adultery with another man. The “friend” is the husband himself, the prophet. The word “friend” expresses, that the husband of Gomer treated her, not harshly, but mildly and tenderly so that her faithlessness was the more aggravated sin. “Friend or neighbor” too is the word chosen by our Lord to express His own love, the love of the good Samaritan, who, not being akin, became “neighbor to Him who fell among thieves,” and had mercy upon him. Gomer is called “a woman,” in order to describe the state of separation, in which she was living. Yet God bids the prophet to “love her,” i. e., show active love to her, not, as before, to “take” her, for she was already and still his with, although unfaithful. He is now bidden to buy her back, with the price and allowance of food, as of a worthless slave, and so to keep her apart, on coarse food, abstaining from her former sins, but without the privileges of marriage, yet with the hope of being, in the end, restored to be altogether his wife. This prophecy is a sequel to the former, and so relates to Israel, after the coming of Christ, in which the former prophecy ends.

According to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel – The prophet is directed to frame his life, so as to depict at once the ingratitude of Israel or the sinful soul, and the abiding, persevering, love of God. The woman, whom God commands him to love, he had loved before her fall; he was now to love her after her fall, and amid her fall, in order to rescue her from abiding in it. His love was to outlive her’s, that he might win her at last to him. Such, God says, “is the love of the Lord for Israel.” He loved her, before she fell, for the woman was “beloved of her friend, and yet an adulteress.” He loved her after she fell, and while persevering in her adultery. For God explains His command to the prophet still to love her, by the words, “according to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel, while they look to other gods, literally, and they are looking.” The words express a contemporary circumstance. God was loving them and looking upon them; and they, all the while, were looking to other gods.

Love flagons of wine – Literally, “of grapes,” or perhaps, more probably, “cakes of grapes,” i. e., dried raisins. Cakes were used in idolatry Jer_7:18; Jer_44:19. The “wine” would betoken the excess common in idolatry, and the bereavement of understanding: the cakes denote the sweetness and lusciousness, yet still the dryness, of any gratification out of God, which is preferred to Him. Israel despised and rejected the true Vine, Jesus Christ, the source of all the works of grace and righteousness, and “loved the dried cakes,” the observances of the law, which, apart from Him, were dry and worthless.

John Calvin
Hosea 3:2
These verses have been read together, for in these four the Prophet explains the vision presented to him. He says, first, that he had done what had been enjoined him by God; which was conveyed to him by a vision, or in a typical form, that by such an exhibition he might impress the minds of the people: I bought, he says, a wife for fifteen silverings, and for a corus of barley and half a corus; that is, for a corus and a half. He tells us in this verse that he had bought the wife whom he was to take for a small price. By the fifteen silverings and the corus and half of barley is set forth, I have no doubt, her abject and mean condition. Servants, we know, were valued at thirty shekels of silver when hurt by an ox, (Exo_21:32.) But the Prophet gives her for his wife fifteen silvering; which seemed a contemptible gift. But then the Lord shows, that though he would but scantily support his people in exile, they would still be dear to him, as when a husband loves his wife though he does not indulge her, when that would be inexpedient: overmuch indulgence, as it is well known, has indeed often corrupted those who have gone astray. When a husband immediately pardons an adulterous wife, and receives her with a smiling countenance, and fawningly humbles himself by laying aside his own right and authority, he acts foolishly, and by his levity ruins his wife: but when a husband forgives his wife, and yet strictly confines her within the range of duty, and restrains his own feelings, such a moderate course is very beneficial and shows no common prudence in the husband; who, though he is not cruel, is yet not carried away by foolish love. This, then is what the Prophet means, when he says, that he had given for his wife fifteen silverings and a corus and half of barley. Respectable women did not, indeed, live on barley. The Prophets then, gave to his wife, not wheat-flour, nor the fine flour of wheat, but black bread and coarse food; yea, he gave her barley as her allowance, and in a small quantity, that his wife might have but a scanty living. We now then understand the Prophet’s meaning.

Some elicit a contrary sense, that the Lord would splendidly and sumptuously support the wife who had been an adulteress; but this view by no means harmonizes with the Prophet’s design, as we have already seen. Besides, the words themselves lead us another way. Jerome, as his practice is, refines in allegorizing. He says, that the people were bought for fifteen silverings, because they came out of Egypt on the fifteenth day of the month; and then he says, that as the Hebrew homer contains thirty bushels, they were bought for a corus and half, which is forty-five bushels. because the law was promulgated forty-five days after. But these are puerile trifles. Let then the simple view which I have given be sufficient for us, — that God, though he favored her, not immediately with the honor of a wife and liberal support, yet ceased not to love her. Thus we see the minds of the faithful were sustained to bear patiently their calamities; for it is an untold consolation to know that God loves us. If a testimony respecting his love moderates not our sorrows, we are very ill-natured and ungrateful.

The Prophet then more clearly proves in these words, that God loved his people, though he seemed to be alienated from them. He might have wholly destroyed them: he yet supplied them with food in their exile. The people indeed lived in the greatest straits; and all delicacies were no doubt taken from them, and their fare was very sordid and very scanty: but the Prophet forbids them to measure God’s favor by the smallness of what was given them; for though God would not immediately receive into favor a wife who had been an adulteress, yet he wished her to continue his wife.

Keil and Delitzsch
Hosea 3:2

“And I acquired her for myself for fifteen pieces of silver, and a homer of barley, and a lethech of barley.” אֶכְּרֶהָ, with dagesh lene or dirimens (Ewald, §28, b), from kârâh, to dig, to procure by digging, then generally to acquire (see at Deu_2:6), or obtain by trading (Job_6:27; 40:30). Fifteen keseph are fifteen shekels of silver; the word shekel being frequently omitted in statements as to amount (compare Ges. §120, 4, Anm. 2). According to Eze_45:11, the homer contained ten baths or ephahs, and a lethech (ἡμίκορος, lxx) was a half homer. Consequently the prophet gave fifteen shekels of silver and fifteen ephahs of barley; and it is a very natural supposition, especially if we refer to 2Ki_7:1; 2Ki_16:18, that at that time an ephah of barley was worth a shekel, in which case the whole price would just amount to the sum for which, according to Exo_21:32, it was possible to purchase a slave, and was paid half in money and half in barley. The reason for the latter it is impossible to determine with certainty. The price generally, for which the prophet obtained the wife, was probably intended to indicate the servile condition out of which Jehovah purchased Israel to be His people; and the circumstance that the prophet gave no more for the wife than the amount at which a slave could be obtained, according to Ecc. 21:32 and Zec_11:12, and that this amount was not even paid in money, but half of it in barley – a kind of food so generally despised throughout antiquity (vile hordeum; see at Num_5:15) – was intended to depict still more strikingly the deeply depressed condition of the woman. The price paid, moreover, is not to be regarded as purchase money, for which the wife was obtained from her parents; for it cannot be shown that the custom of purchasing a bride from her parents had any existence among the Israelites (see my Bibl. Archäologie, ii. §109, 1). It was rather the marriage present (mōhar), which a bridegroom gave, not to the parents, but to the bride herself, as soon as her consent had been obtained. If, therefore, the woman was satisfied with fifteen shekels and fifteen ephahs of barley, she must have been in a state of very deep distress.

Albert Barnes
Hosea 3:2
So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver – The fifteen shekels were half the price of a common slave Exo_21:32, and so may denote her worthlessness. The homer and half-homer of barley, or forty-five bushels, are nearly the allowance of food for a slave among the Romans, four bushels a month. Barley was the offering of one accused of adultery, and, being the food of animals, betokens that she was “like horse and mule which have no understanding.” The Jews gave dowries for their wives; but she was the prophet’s wife already. It was then perhaps an allowance, whereby he bought her back from her evil freedom, not to live as his wife, but to be honestly maintained, until it should be fit, completely to restore her.

John Calvin
Hosea 3:3
Hence he adds, I said to her, For many days shalt thou tarry for me, and thou shalt not become wanton, and thou shalt not be for any man, that is, ‘Thou shalt remain a widow; for it is for this reason that I still retain thee, to find out whether thou wilt sincerely repent. I would not indeed be too easy towards thee, lest I should by indulgence corrupt thee: I shall see what thy conduct will be: you must in the meantime continue a widow.’ This, then was God’s small favor which remained for the people, even a sort of widowhood. God might, indeed, as we have said, have utterly destroyed his people: but he mitigated his wrath and only punished them with exile, and in the meantime, proved that he was not forgetful of his banished people. Though then he only bestowed some scanty allowance, he yet did not wholly deprive them of food, nor suffer them to perish through want. This treatment then in reality is set forth by this representation, that the Prophet had bidden his wife to remain single.

He says, And I also shall be for thee: why does he say, I also? A wife, already joined to her husband, has no right to pledge her faith to another. Then the Prophet shows that Israel was held bound by the Lord, that they might not seek another connection, for his faith was pledged to them. Hence he says, I also shall be for thee; that is, ‘I pledge my faith to thee, or, I subscribe myself as thy husband: but another time must be looked for; I yet defer my favor, and suspend it until thou givest proof of true repentance.’ “I also”, he says, “shall be for thee”; that is, ‘Thou shalt not be a widow in vain, if thou complainest that wrong is done to thee, because I forbid thee to marry any one else, I also bind myself in turn to thee.’ Now then is evident the mutual compact between God and his people, so that the people, though a state of widowhood be full of sorrows ought not yet to succumb to grief, but to keep themselves exclusively for God, till the time of their full and complete deliverance, because he says, that he will remain true to his pledge. “I will then be thine: though at present, I admit thee not into the honor of wives, I will not yet wholly repudiate thee.”

But how does this view harmonize with the first prediction, according to which God seems to have divorced his people? Their concurrence may be easily explained. The Prophet indeed said, that the body of the people would be alienated from God: but here he addresses the faithful only. Lest then the minds of those who were healable should despond, the Prophet sets before them this comfort which I have mentioned, — that though they were to continue, as it were, single, yet the Lord would remain, as it were, bound to them, so as not to adopt another people and reject them. But we shall presently see that this prediction regards in common the Gentiles as well as the Jews and Israelites.

Keil & Delitzsch
Hosea 3:3
“And I said to her, Many days wilt thou sit for me: and not act the harlot, and not belong to a man; and thus will I also towards thee.” Instead of granting the full conjugal fellowship of a wife to the woman whom he had acquired for himself, the prophet puts her into a state of detention, in which she was debarred from intercourse with any man. Sitting is equivalent to remaining quiet, and לִי indicates that this is for the husband’s sake, and that he imposes it upon her out of affection to her, to reform her and grain her up as a faithful wife. הָיָה לְאִישׁ, to be or become a man’s, signifies conjugal or sexual connection with him.

Commentators differ in opinion as to whether the prophet himself is included or not. In all probability he is not included, as his conduct towards the woman is simply indicated in the last clause. The distinction between זָנָה and הָיָה לְאִישׁ, is that the former signifies intercourse with different paramours, the latter conjugal intercourse; here adulterous intercourse with a single man. The last words, “and I also to thee” (towards thee), cannot have any other meaning, than that the prophet would act in the same way towards the wife as the wife towards every other man, i.e., would have no conjugal intercourse with her. The other explanations that have been given of these words, in which vegam is rendered “and yet,” or “and then,” are arbitrary. The parallel is not drawn between the prophet and the wife, but between the prophet and the other man; in other words, he does not promise that during the period of the wife’s detention he will not conclude a marriage with any other woman, but declares that he will have no more conjugal intercourse with her than any other man. This thought is required by the explanation of the figure in Hos_3:4. For, according to the former interpretation, the idea expressed would be this, that the Lord waited with patience and long-suffering for the reformation of His former nation, and would not plunge it into despair by adopting another nation in its place. But there is no hint whatever at any such though as this in Hos_3:4, Hos_3:5; and all that is expressed is, that He will not only cut off all intercourse on the part of His people with idols, but will also suspend, for a very long time, His own relation to Israel.

Pulpit Commentary
Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shall not be for another man. The prophet imposes certain restrictions of a very stringent character on his wife; he places her in a state of isolation; her past excesses and his purpose of effecting her reformation necessitate such measures, however strict and severe or even harsh they may appear. She is not to be admitted into full fellowship with her husband, nor is she to be allowed the possibility of intercourse with others. From friend, that is, husband and lovers, she is shut out; all sexual connection, whether illicit or legitimate, is peremptorily cut off. The clause, “thou shalt abide [or, ‘sit still’] for me,” denotes an attitude of waiting, not necessarily in sorrow, like the captive maiden who before marriage with her captor bewailed her parents for the period of a month, but in patient expectation of her husband’s fortune and favor, though in seclusion from him, as also exclusion of all others. During this long period of “many days” she is not only debarred the society of her lawful partner, but forbidden either to play the harlot with several or to attach herself to a single paramour. Jerome directs attention to the fact that the word “another” has no place in the original text; otherwise it would imply that she was prohibited from intercourse with any other than her husband, while the real meaning makes the prohibition absolute and inclusive even of conjugal connection with her husband. So will I also be for thee. The Hebrew expositors, Aben Ezra and Kimchi, repeat the negative flora the preceding clause and translate, “Nor shall I even come to you,” that is, for marital society. This is not necessary to bring out the true sense, which is that, as she was to be restrained from intercourse with any and every other man, so he himself also would abstain from intercourse with her. “And also I will be for [unto] thee [i.e. thy husband] to preserve conjugal fidelity to thee, but hold aloof from thee during thy detention.” Thus separated from both lovers and husband, Israel would for many a long day suspend her worship of idols, and be at the same time shut out from her covenant relation to Jehovah. Kimchi’s comment mounts to pretty much the same, as does also that of Aben Ezra. The explanation of the former is, “I said to her, After thou hast committed adultery against me, thy punishment shall be that thou shalt abide in widowhood of life many days; and the meaning of ‘for me’ is, thou shalt be called by my name and not by another man’s; thou shalt say, I am the wife of such a one, and thou shelf not play the harlot with others, and also thou shalt not be the wife of any other man than myself.” Aben Ezra makes mention of another interpretation of the verse, to the effect, “If ye shall return to me, I also will return to you.” With this the Chaldee Targum is in accord, which represents God as commanding the prophet to say, “O congregation of Israel, your sins have been the cause of your exile for many days; ye shall devote yourselves to my service, and not go astray nor worship idols, and I also will have compassion upon you.” Maurer considers the expression היאל־אי equivalent to היעִם אי, viz. remhabere cum muliere; but to this linguistic usage is opposed. Umbreit renders the phrase, “and I will only be for thee;” this, however, partakes more of the nature of a promise than of a punishment, and is not quite, therefore, in accord with the context. Ewald: “And yet I am kind to thee [i.e. love thee];” this is a rather trivial, as also ill-supported idea. Calvin’s exposition is pretty much the same as we have given, and is the following: “I also shall be for thee; that is, I pledge my faith to thee, or I subscribe myself as thy husband: but another time must be looked for; I yet defer my favor, and suspend it until thou givest proof of true repentance. I also shall be for thee; that is, thou shalt not be a widow in vain; if thou complainest that wrong is done to thee, because I forbid thee to marry any one else, I also bind myself in turn to thee.”

Albert Barnes
Hosea 3:3
Thou shalt abide for me many days – Literally, “thou shalt sit,” solitary and as a widow Deu_21:13, quiet and sequestered; not going after others, as heretofore, but waiting for him; Exo_24:14; Jer_3:2); and “that,” for an undefined, but long season, until he should come and take her to himself.

And thou shalt not be for another man – Literally, “and thou shalt not be to a man,” i. e., not even to thine own man or husband. She was to remain without following sin, yet without restoration to conjugal rights. Her husband would be her guardian; but as yet, no more. So will “I also be for thee or toward thee.” He does not say “to thee,” so as to belong to her, but “toward thee;” i. e., he would have regard, respect to her; he would watch over her, be kindly disposed toward her; he, his affections, interests, thoughts, would be directed “toward” her. The word toward expresses regard, yet distance also. Just so would God, in those times, withhold all special tokens of His favor, covenant, providence; yet would he secretly uphold and maintain them as a people, and withhold them from falling wholly from Him into the gulf of irreligion and infidelity.

John Calvin
Hosea 3:4
He afterwards adds, For many days shall the children of Israel abide He says, for many days, that they might prepare themselves for long endurance, and be not dispirited through weariness, though the Lord should not soon free them from their calamities. “Though then your exile should be long, still cherish,” he says, “strong hope in your hearts; for so long a trial must necessarily be made of your repentance; as you have very often pretended to return to the Lord, and soon after your hypocrisy was discovered; and then ye became hardened in your wilful obstinacy: it is therefore necessary that the Lord should subdue you by a long chastisement.” Hence he says, The children of Israel shall abide without a king and without a prince

But it may still be further asked, What is the number of the days of which the Prophet speaks, for the definite number is not stated here; and we know that the exile appointed for the Jews was seventy years? (Jer_29:10.) But the Prophet seems here to extend his prediction farther, even to the time of Christ. To this I answer, that here he refers simply to the seventy years; though, at the same time, we must remember that those who returned not from exile were supported by this promise, and hoped in the promised Mediator: but the Prophet goes not beyond that number, afterwards prefixed by Jeremiah. It is not to be wondered at, that the Prophet had not computed the years and days; for the time of the captivity, that is, of the last captivity, was not yet come. Shortly after, indeed, four tribes were led away, and then the ten, and the whole kingdom of Israel was destroyed: but the last ruin of the whole people was not yet so near. It was therefore not necessary to compute then the years; but he speaks of a long time indefinitely, and speaks of the children of Israel and says, They shall abide without a king and without a prince: and inasmuch as they placed their trust in their king, and thought themselves happy in having this one distinction, a powerful king, he says, They shall abide without a king, without a prince. He now explains their widowhood without similitudes: hence he says, They shall be without a king and a prince, that is, there shall be among them no kind of civil government; they shall be like a mutilated body without a head; and so it happened to them in their miserable dispersion.

And without a sacrifice, he says, and without a statue. The Hebrews take מצבה, metsabe, often in a bad sense, though it means generally a statue, as a monument over a grave is called מצבה, metsabe,: but the Prophet seems to speak here of idols, for he afterwards adds, תרפים “teraphim”; and teraphim were no doubt images, (Gen_31:19,) which the superstitious used while worshipping their fictitious gods, as we read in many places. The king of Babylon is said to have consulted the teraphim; and it is said that Rachel stole the teraphim, and shortly after Laban calls the teraphim his gods. But the Hebrews talk idly when they say that these images were made of a constellation, and that they afterwards uttered words: but all this has been invented, and we know what liberty they take in devising fables. The meaning is, that God would take away from the people of Israel all civil order, and then all sacred rites and ceremonies, that they might abide as a widow, and at the same time know, that they were not utterly rejected by God without hope of reconciliation.

It is asked, why “ephod” is mentioned; for the priesthood continued among the tribe of Judah, and the ephod, it is well known, was a part of the sacerdotal dress. To this I answer, that when Jeroboam introduced false worship, he employed this artifice — to make religion among the Israelites nearly like true religion in its outward form: for it seems to have been his purpose that it should vary as little as possible from the legitimate worship of God: hence he said, ‘It is grievous and troublesome to you to go up to Jerusalem; then let us worship God here,’  (1Kg_12:28.)

But he pretended to change nothing; he would not appear to be an apostate, departing from the only true God. What then? “God may be worshipped without trouble by us here; for I will build temples in several places, and also erect altars: what hinders that sacrifices should not be offered to God in many places?” There is therefore no doubt but that he made his altars according to the form of the true altar, and also added the ephod and various ceremonies, that the Israelites might think that they still continued in the true worship of God.

Pulpit Commentary
For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and teraphim. For a long series of years they were thus doomed to be without civil polity, or ecclesiastical privilege, or prophetic intimations. More particularly they were to remain without royal rule, or princely power, or priestly function, or prophetic instruction. As the prophet’s wife was neither to be, strictly speaking, her husband’s nor yet belong to another man; so Israel, as represented by her, was destined to be deprived of independent self-government and princely sovereignty; of Divine service, whether allowed as by sacrifice—the central part of Hebrew worship—or disallowed as by statue; of oracular responses, whether lawful as by the ephod or unlawful as by teraphim. There was thus an entire breaking up of Church and state as they had long existed; of all civil and ecclesiastical relations and privileges as they had been long enjoyed. Without a king of their own nationality to sit upon the throne, or a prince of their own race as heir apparent to the kingdom, or princes as the great officers of state; without offering by sacrifice to Jehovah, or statue by way of memorial to Baal; without means of ascertaining the will of Heaven in relation to the future by the Urim and Thummim of the high-priestly ephod, only the more than questionable means of soothsaying by the teraphim;—the children of Israel were to be left. And what attaches special importance to this remarkable passage is the undeniable tact that these predictions were uttered, not only before the dissolution of the monarchy and the cessation of sacrifices, but at a time when no human sagacity could foresee and no human power foretell the future abstention of the Hebrew race from idol-worship so long practiced, and from heathenish divination resorted to from such an early period of their history.

Rashi, in his comment, has the following: “I said to her, Many days shalt thou abide for me; thou shalt not go a-whoring after other gods; for if thou shalt play the harlot, thy sons shall remain many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice in the sanctuary in Judah, and without a statue of Baal in Samaria of the kings of Israel, and without an ephod with Urim and Thummim which declared to them secrets, and without teraphim; they are images that are made with the observation of one hour composed for the purpose, and which speak of themselves and declare secrets; and so Jonathan has translated, “Neither will there be an ephod nor one to give a response.'” Similarly Aben Ezra: “Without king, nor is there any objection from the Chasmoneans, for they were not of the children of Judah … without sacrifice to Jehovah nor statue to Baal, without ephod to Jehovah and without teraphim to the worshippers of idols, which Laban called his gods.” It is a matter of much consequence that some of the ablest of the Jewish expositors realize these predictions as applicable to their own case and the existing circumstances of their nation. Thus Kimchi, in commenting on this verse, says, “These are the days of the exile in which we are this day, and we have neither king nor prince of Israel, for we are in the power of the Gentiles, and in the power of their kings and princes … no sacrifice to God and no statue for worshippers of idols … and no ephod which shall declare future things by Urim and Thummim, and no teraphim for idolaters which declare the future according to the notion of those who believe in them; and thus we are this day in this exile, all the children of Israel;” he then cites the Targum of Jonathan in confirmation of his sentiments. For the ephod, comp. Exo_28:6-14, from which we learn that it was “a short cloak, covering shoulders and breast, wrought with colors and gold, formed of two halves connected by two shoulder-pieces, on each of which was an onyx engraved with six names of tribes, and held together round the waist by a girdle of the same material;” it was part of the high priest’s attire.

The teraphim—from the Arabic tarifa, to live comfortably, and turfator, a comfortable life, were the household gods and domestic oracles, like the Roman penates, and deriving the name from being thought the givers and guardians of a comfortable life, חֶרֶף. They were images in human form and stature, either graven of wood or stone (pesel), or molten out of precious metal (massekhah). The first mention of them is in Gen_31:19, and the name occurs fifteen times in the Old Testament. They appear to have been of Syrian or Chaldean origin. Aben Ezra says of them, “What appears to me most probable is that they had a human form and were made for the purpose of receiving supernal power, nor can I explain it further.” The two principal species of offerings were the זבח, or bloody sacrifice, and the מנחה, or unbloody oblation. The former comprehended those entirely burnt on the altar, עֹלָח rad. עלה, to ascend, from going up entirely in the altar-smoke; and חלב, or those of which only the fat was burnt. According to the object of the offerer, they were chattah, sin offering, pointing to expiation or pardon for something done demanding punishment; or asham, trespass offering, implying satisfaction and acceptance, or something undone demanding amends; and shelamim, peace offerings.

Albert Barnes
Hosea 3:4
For the children of Israel shall abide many days – The condition described is one in which there should be no civil polity, none of the special temple-service, nor yet the idolatry, which they had hitherto combined with it or substituted for it. “King and prince” include both higher and lower governors. Judah had “kings” before the captivity, and a sort of “prince” in her governors after it. Judah remained still a polity, although without the glory of her kings, until she rejected Christ. Israel ceased to have any civil government at all. “Sacrifice” was the center of worship before Christ. It was that part of their service, which, above all, foreshadowed His love, His atonement and sacrifice, and the reconciliation of God by His blood, whose merits it pleaded. “Images,” were, “contrariwise,” the center of idolatry, the visible form of the beings, whom they worshipped instead of God. The “ephod” was the holy garment which the high priest wore, with the names of the twelve tribes and the Urim and Thummim, over his heart, and by which he inquired of God. The “Teraphim” were idolatrous means of divination.

So then, “for many days,” a long, long period, “the children of Israel” should “abide,” in a manner waiting for God, as the wife waited for her husband, kept apart under His care, yet not acknowledged by Him; not following after idolatries, yet cut off from the sacrificial worship which He had appointed for forgiveness of sins, through faith in the Sacrifice yet to be offered, cut off also from the appointed means of consulting Him and knowing His will. Into this state the ten tribes were brought upon their captivity, and (those only excepted who joined the two tribes or have been converted to the Gospel,) they have ever since remained in it.’ Into that same condition the two tribes were brought, after that, by “killing the Son, they had filled up the measure of their father’s” sins; and the second temple, which His presence had hallowed, was destroyed by the Romans, in that condition they have ever since remained; free from idolatry, and in a state of waiting for God, yet looking in vain for a Messiah, since they had not and would not receive Him who came unto them; praying to God; yet without sacrifice for sin; not owned by God, yet kept distinct and apart by His providence, for a future yet to be revealed. “No one of their own nation has been able to gather them together or to become their king.”

Julian the Apostate attempted in vain to rebuild their temple, God interposing by miracles to hinder the effort which challenged His Omnipotence. David’s temporal kingdom has perished and his line is lost, because Shiloh, the peace-maker, is come. The typical priesthood ceased, in presence of the true “priest after the order of Melchisedek.” The line of Aaron is forgotten, unknown, and cannot be recovered. So hopelessly are their genealogies confused, that they themselves conceive it to be one of the offices of their Messiah to disentangle them. Sacrifice, the center of their religion, has ceased and become unlawful. Still their characteristic has been to wait. Their prayer as to the Christ has been, “may He soon be revealed.” Eighteen centuries have flowed by. “Their eyes have failed with looking” for God’s promise, from where it is not to be found. Nothing has changed this character, in the mass of the people.

Oppressed, released, favored; despised, or aggrandised; in East or West; hating Christians, loving to blaspheme Christ, forced (as they would remain Jews,) to explain away the prophecies which speak of Him, deprived of the sacrifices which, to their forefathers, spoke of Him and His atonement; still, as a mass, they blindly wait for Him, the true knowledge of whom, His offices, His priesthood, and His kingdom, they have laid aside. Anti God has been “toward them.” He has preserved them from mingling with idolaters or Muslims. Oppression has not extinguished them, favor has not bribed them. He has kept them from abandoning their mangled worship, or the Scriptures which they understand not, and whose true meaning they believe not; they have fed on the raisinhusks of a barren ritual and unspiritual legalism since the Holy Spirit they have grieved away. Yet they exist still, a monument to “us,” of God’s abiding wrath on sin, as Lot’s wife was to them, encrusted, stiff, lifeless, only that we know that “the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.”

True it is, that idolatry was not the immediate cause of the final punishment of the two, as it was of the ten tribes. But the words of the prophecy go beyond the first and immediate occasion of it. The sin, which God condemned by Hosea, was alienation from Himself. He loved them, and “They turned to other gods.” The outward idolatry was but a fruit and a symbol of the inward. The temptation to idolatry was not simply, nor chiefly, to have a visible symbol to worship, but the hope to obtain from the beings so symbolized, or from their worship, what God refused or forbade. It was a rejection of God, choosing His rival. “The adulteress soul is whoever, forsaking the Creator, loveth the creature.” The rejection of our Lord was moreover the crowning act of apostasy, which set the seal on all former rejection of God. And when the sinful soul or nation is punished at last, God punishes not only the last act, which draws down the stroke, but all the former accumulated sins, which culminated in it. So then they who “despised the Bridegroom, who came from heaven to seek the love of His own in faith, and, forsaking Him, gave themselves over to the Scribes and Pharisees who slew Him, that the inheritance, i. e., God’s people, “might be” theirs,” having the same principle of sin as the ten tribes, were included in their sentence.

John Calvin
Hosea 3:5
But it follows, Afterwards shall the children of Israel return and seek Jehovah their God, and David their king. Here the Prophet shows by the fruit of their chastisement, that the Israelites had no reason to murmur or clamour against God, as though he treated them with too much severity; for if he had stretched out his hand to them immediately, there would have been in them no repentance: but when thoroughly cleansed by long correction, they would then truly and sincerely confess their God. We then see that this comfort is set forth as arising from the fruit of chastisement, that the Israelites might patiently bear the temporary wrath of God. Afterwards, he says, they shall return; as though he said, “They are now led away headlong into their impiety, and they can by no means be restrained except by this long endurance of evils.”

They shall therefore return, and then will they seek Jehovah their God. The name of the only true God is set here in opposition, as before, to all Baalim. The Israelites, indeed, professed to worship God; but Baalim, we know, were at the same time in high esteem among them, who were so many gods, and had crept into the place of God, and extinguished his pure worship: hence the Prophet says not simply, They shall seek God, but they shall “seek Jehovah their God”. And there is here an implied reproof in the word אלהים “Elohehem”; for it intimates that they were drawn aside into ungodly superstitions, that they were without the true God, that no knowledge of him existed among them; though God had offered himself to them, yea, had familiarly held intercourse with them, and brought them up as it were in his bosom, as a father his own children. Hence the Prophet indirectly upbraids them for this great wickedness when he says, They shall seek their God. And who is this God? He is even Jehovah. They had hitherto formed for themselves vain gods: and though, he says, they had been deluded by their own devices, they shall now know the only true God, who from the beginning revealed himself to them even as their God. He afterwards adds a second clause respecting King David: but I cannot now finish the subject.

Pulpit Commentary
Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord theft God, and David their king. The note of time in the beginning of Hos_3:5 is explained by Rashi to signify “after the days of the Captivity;” and by Kimchi as follows: “This will take place at the end of the days, near the time of salvation, when the children of Israel shall return in repentance.” Though not comprehended in the symbolic representation that precedes, this statement is necessary to complete it. The future of Israel is the burden of this promise; the blessedness of that future is its brightness. It comprises three items—the reversal of their previous career, their loving return to the Lord their God, and their cordial reception of David their king. Contemporaneous with their sorrow for the sins of the past was their serious seeking of the Lord their God and submission to David their king. Their revolt from the Davidic dynasty in the days of Rehoboam was immediately followed by the idolatry of the calves which Jeroboam set up at Dan and Bethel. The reversal of this course is symptomatic of their complete recovery. The patriarch David was long dead and buried, and his sepulcher was in Palestine at the time when the prophet wrote; one, therefore, in the Davidic line, a descendant from, and dynastic representative of, the patriarch must be meant. That this was Messiah there can be no reasonable doubt; parallel passages in the other prophets prove this; for example: “I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them” (Eze_34:23, Eze_34:25; comp. also Eze_37:24). Again in Jeremiah (Jer_30:9) we read to the same purpose, “They shall serve the Lord their God, and David their king, whom I will raise up unto them.” We can by no means concur with those who refer this promise to Zerubbabel as a later occupant of the Davidic throne; and just as little with those who, like Wunsche, hold that the prophet has no particular period and no particular person in view, but presents the prospect of a happy and blissful future when Israel would return to the pure worship of Jehovah and enjoy his gracious protection, and when the national prosperity would equal or even far surpass that under the glorious reign of David himself. The best Jewish authorities are quoted in favor of the same; thus Rabbi Tanchum says, “He (the prophet) understands the son of David, occupying his place, from his lineage, walking in his way, by whom his name shall endure and his kingdom be preserved.” The Chaldee Targum translates in the same sense: “They shall seek the worship of Jehovah their God, and obey Messiah, the Son of David, their king.” So Aben Ezra says that “David their king is this Messiah, Like ‘My servant David shall be their prince forever’ (Eze_37:25).” The well-known idiom of one idea expressed by two verbs, so that the rendering of the clause would be “They shall again seek the Lord their God, and David their king,” if applied here, as undoubtedly it might, would weaken the sense, and so be unsuitable to the context. And shall fear (literally, come with trembling to) the Lord and his goodness in the latter days. The comment of Kimchi on the first part of this clause is as follows: “They shall tremble and be afraid of him when they return to him, and shall with repentance wait for the goodness of redemption on which they have trusted.” A somewhat different meaning is assigned to the words by Aben Ezra: “They shall return in haste, when the end (i.e. the time of redemption) comes to their own land with hasty course suddenly.” His goodness is taken by some in a concrete sense, as signifying the blessings which he bestows and the good gifts which he imparts; and by others in the abstract, as the Divine goodness or majesty, to which Israel resorts for the pardon of sin and the gracious acceptance of their petitions and answer of their prayers.

Albert Barnes
Hosea 3:5
Afterward shall the children of Israel return – Elsewhere it is said more fully, “return to the Lord.” It expresses more than “turning” or even conversion to God. It is not conversion only, but reversion too, a turning “back from” the unbelief and sins, for which they had left God, and a return to Him whom they had forsaken.

And shall seek the Lord – This word, “seek,” expresses in Hebrew, from its intensive form, a diligent search; as used with regard to God, it signifies a religious search. It is not such seeking as our Lord speaks of, “Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves and were filled” Joh_6:26, or, “many shall seek to enter in and shall not be able” Luk_13:24, but that earnest seeking, to which He has promised, “Seek and ye shall find.” Before, she had diligently sought her false gods. Now, in the end she shall as diligently seek God and His grace, as she had heretofore sought her idols and her sins.

And David their King – David himself, after the flesh, this could not be. For he had long since been gathered to his fathers; nor was he to return to this earth. “David” then must be “the Son of David,” the same, of whom God says, “I will set up One Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them, even My servant David, and He shall be their Shepherd, and I the Lord will be their God, and My servant David a Prince among them” Eze_34:23-24. The same was to be a “witness, leader, commander to the people Isa_55:4; He who was to be “raised up to David Jer_23:5-6, a righteous Branch,” and who was to “be called the Lord our Righteousness; David’s Lord” Psa_110:1, as well as “David’s Son.” Whence the older Jews, of every school, Talmudic, mystical, Biblical, grammatical, explained this prophecy, of Christ. Thus their received paraphrase is: “Afterward the children of Israel shall repent, or turn by repentance, and shall seek the service of the Lord their God, and shall obey Messiah the Son of David, their King” .

And shall fear the Lord – Literally, “shall fear toward the Lord and toward His goodness.” It is not then a servile fear, not even, as elsewhere, a fear, which makes them shrink back from His awful Majesty. It is a fear, the most opposed to this; a fear, whereby “they shall flee to Him for help, from all that is to be feared;” a reverent holy awe, which should even impel them to Him; a fear of losing Him, which should make them hasten to Him. : “They shall fear, and wonder exceedingly, astonied at the greatness of God’s dealing, or of their own joy.” Yet they should “hasten tremblingly,” as bearing in memory their past unfathfulness and ill deserts, and fearing to approach, but for the greater fear on turning away. Nor do they hasten with this reverent awe and awful joy to God only, but “to His Goodness also.” His Goodness draws them, and to it they betake themselves, away from all cause of fear, their sins, themselves, the Evil one. Yet even His Goodness is a source of awe. “His Goodness!” How much it contains. All whereby God is good in Himself, all whereby he is good to us. That whereby he is essentially good, or rather Goodness; that whereby He is good to us, as His creatures, its yet more as His sinfill, ungrateful, redeemed creatures, re-born to bear the Image of His Son. So then His Goodness overflows into beneficence, and condescension, and graciousness and mercy and forgiving love, and joy in imparting Himself, and complacence in the creatures which he has formed, and re-formed, redeemed and sanctified for His glory. Well may His creatures “tremble toward” it, with admiring wonder that all this can be made their’s!

This was to take place “in the latter days.” These words, which are adopted in the New Testament, where Apostles say, “in the last days, in these last days” Act_2:17; Heb_1:2, mean this, the last dispensation of God, in contrast with all which went before, the times of the Gospel . The prophecy has all along been fulfilled during this period to those, whether of the ten or of the two tribes, who have been converted to Christ, since God ended their temple-worship. It is fulfilled in every soul from among them, who now is “converted and lives.” There will be a more full fulfillment, of which Paul speaks, when the eyes of all Israel shall be opened to the deceivableness of the last antichrist; and Enoch and Elias, the two witnesses Rev_11:3, shall have come to prepare our Lord’s second Coming, and shall have keen slain, and, by God’s converting grace, “all Israel shall be saved” Rom_11:26.


Quote of the Day

“No man resolved to make the most of himself can spare time for personal contention. Yield larger things to which you can show no more than equal right; and yield lesser ones though clearly your own. Better give your path to a dog than be bitten by him in contesting for the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite.”

Abraham Lincoln

2 Peter Chapter 3: 3-14, 17-18 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin
2 Peter 3:3
3.Knowing this first. The participle knowing may be applied to the Apostle, and in this way, “I labor to stir you up for this reason, because I know what and how great is your impending danger from scoffers.” I however prefer this explanation, that the participle is used in place of a verb, as though he had said, “Know ye this especially.” For it was necessary that this should have been foretold, because they might have been shaken, had impious men attacked them suddenly with scoffs of this kind. He therefore wished them to know this, and to feel assured on the subject, that they might be prepared to oppose such men.

But he calls the attention of the faithful again to the doctrine which he touched upon in the second chapter. For by the last days is commonly meant the kingdom of Christ, or the days of his kingdom, according to what Paul says, “Upon whom the ends of the world are come.” (1Co_10:11.) The meaning is, that the more God offers himself by the gospel to the world, and the more he invites men to his kingdom, the more audacious on the other hand will ungodly men vomit forth the poison of their impiety.

He calls those scoffers, according to what is usual in Scripture, who seek to appear witty by shewing contempt to God, and by a blasphemous presumption. It is, moreover, the very extremity of evil, when men allow themselves to treat the awful name of God with scoffs. Thus, Psa_1:1 speaks of the seat of scoffers. So David, in Psa_119:51, complains that he was derided by the proud, because he attended to God’s law. So Isaiah, in Isa_28:14, having referred to them, describes their supine security and insensibility. Let us therefore bear in mind, that there is nothing to be feared more than a contest with scoffers. On this subject we said something while explaining the third chapter of the Epistle to the Galatians. As, however, the Holy Scripture has foretold that they would come, and has also given us a shield by which we may defend ourselves, there is no excuse why we should not boldly resist them whatever devices they may employ.

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 3:3
Knowing this first – As among the first and most important things to be attended to – as one of the predictions which demand your special regard. Jude Jud_1:18 says that the fact that there would be “mockers in the last time,” had been particularly foretold by thom. It is probable that Peter refers to the same thing, and we may suppose that this was so well understood by all the apostles that they made it a common subject of preaching.

That there shall come in the last days – In the last dispensation; in the period during which the affairs of the world shall be wound up. The apostle does not say that that was the last time in the sense that the world was about to come to an end; nor is it implied that the period called “the last day” might not be a very long period, longer in fact than either of the previous periods of the world. He says that during that period it had been predicted there would arise those whom he here calls “scoffers.” On the meaning of the phrase “in the last days,” as used in the Scriptures, see the Act_2:17 note; Heb_1:2 note; Isa_2:2 note.

Scoffers – In Jude Jud_1:18 the same Greek word is rendered “mockers.” The word means those who deride, reproach, ridicule. There is usually in the word the idea of contempt or malignity toward an object. Here the sense seems to be that they would treat with derision or contempt the predictions respecting the advent of the Saviour, and the end of the world. It would appear probable that there was a particular or definite class of men referred to; a class who would hold special opinions, and who would urge plausible objections against the fulfillment of the predictions respecting the end of the world, and the second coming of the Saviour – for those are the points to which Peter particularly refers. It scarcely required inspiration to foresee that there would be “scoffers” in the general sense of the term – for they have so abounded in every age, that no one would hazard much in saying that they would be found at any particular time; but the eye of the apostle is evidently on a particular class of people, the special form of whose reproaches would be the ridicule of the doctrines that the Lord Jesus would return; that there would be a day of judgment; that the world would be consumed by fire, etc. Tillotson explains this of the Carpocratians, a large sect of the Gnostics, who denied the resurrection of the dead, and the future judgment.

Walking after their own lusts – Living in the free indulgence of their sensual appetites. See the notes at 2Pe_2:10, 2Pe_2:12, 2Pe_2:14, 2Pe_2:18-19.

John Calvin
2 Peter 3:4
4.Where is the promise. It was a dangerous scoff when they insinuated a doubt as to the last resurrection; for when that is taken away, there is no gospel any longer, the power of Christ is brought to nothing, the whole of religion is gone. Then Satan aims directly at the throat of the Church, when he destroys faith in the coming of Christ. For why did Christ die and rise again, except that he may some time gather to himself the redeemed from death, and give them eternal life? All religion is wholly subverted, except faith in the resurrection remains firm and immovable. Hence, on this point Satan assails us most fiercely.

But let us notice what the scoff was. They set the regular course of nature, such as it seems to have been from the beginning, in opposition to the promise of God, as though these things were contrary, or did not harmonize together. Though the faith of the fathers, they said, was the same, yet no change has taken place since their death, and it is known that many ages have passed away. Hence they concluded that what was said of the destruction of the world was a fable; because they conjectured, that as it had lasted so long, it would be perpetual.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Pet3:4. Where is the promise of his coming?] The question indicates the comparatively late date of the Epistle. St James had spoken (probably a. d. 50) of the Judge as standing at the door; St Paul had written twice as if he expected to be living on the earth when the Judge should come (1Th_4:15; 1Co_15:51; 2Co_5:4), and yet He came not. Men began to think that the Coming was a delusion.

for since the fathers fell asleep] Ordinarily, the “fathers,” as in Rom_9:5, would carry our thoughts back to the great progenitors of Israel as a people. Here, however, the stress laid by the mockers on the death of the fathers as the starting-point of the frustrated expectation, seems to give the word another application, and we may see in the “fathers” the first generation of the disciples of Christ, those who had “fallen asleep” without seeing the Advent they had looked for (1Th_4:15); those who had reached the “end of their conversation” (Heb_13:7). The scoffers appealed to the continuity of the natural order of things. Seed-time and harvest, summer and winter, followed as they had done from the beginning of the creation. In the last phrase we may trace an echo of Mar_10:6, Mar_13:19. “You have told us,” they seem to have said, “of an affliction such as there has not been from the beginning of the creation, and lo! we find the world still goes on as of old, with no great catastrophe.” The answer to the sneer St Peter gives himself, but it may be noted that the question of the scoffers at least implies the early date of the writings in which the expectation of the Coming is prominent.

In the use of the verb to “fall asleep” for dying, we are reminded of our Lord’s words “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth” (Joh_11:11); of St Paul’s “many sleep” (1Co_11:30). So in Greek sculpture Death and Sleep appear as twin genii, and in Greek and Roman epitaphs nothing is more common than the record that the deceased “sleeps” below. Too often there is the addition, as of those who were without hope, “sleeps an eternal sleep.” In Christian language the idea of sleep is perpetuated in the term “cemetery” (κοιμητήριον = sleeping-place) as applied to the burial-place of the dead, but it is blended with that of an “awaking out of sleep” at the last day, and even with the thought, at first seemingly incompatible with it, that the soul is quickened into higher energies of life on its entrance into the unseen world.

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 3:4

And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? – That is, either, Where is the “fulfillment” of that promise; or, Where are the “indications” or “signs” that he will come? They evidently meant to imply that the promise had utterly failed; that there was not the slightest evidence that it would be accomplished; that they who had believed this were entirely deluded. It is possible that some of the early Christians, even in the time of the apostles, had undertaken to fix the time when these events would occur, as many have done since; and that as that time had passed by, they inferred that the prediction had utterly failed. But whether this were so or not, it was easy to allege that the predictions respecting the second coming of the “Saviour” seemed to imply that the end of the world was near, and that there were no indications that they would be fulfilled. The laws of nature were uniform, as they had always been, and the alleged promises had failed.

For since the fathers fell asleep – Since they “died” – death being often, in the Scriptures, as elsewhere, represented as sleep. Joh_11:11 note; 1Co_11:30 note. This reference to the “fathers,” by such scoffers, was probably designed to be ironical and contemptuous. Perhaps the meaning may be thus expressed: “Those old men, the prophets, indeed foretold this event. They were much concerned and troubled about it; and their predictions alarmed others, and filled their bosoms with dread. They looked out for the signs of the end of the world, and expected that that day was drawing near. But those good men have died. They lived to old age, and then died as others; and since they have departed, the affairs of the world have gone on very much as they did before. The earth is suffered to have rest, and the laws of nature operate in the same way that they always did.” It seems not improbable that the immediate reference in the word “fathers” is not to the prophets of former times, but to aged and pious men of the times of the apostles, who had dwelt much on this subject, and who had made it a subject of conversation and of preaching. Those old men, said the seeing objector, have died like others; and, notwithstanding their confident predictions, things now move on as they did from the beginning.

All things continue as they were, from the beginning of the creation – That is, the laws of nature are fixed and settled. The argument here – for it was doubtless designed to be an argument – is based on the stability of the laws of nature, and the uniformity of the course of events. Thus far, all these predictions had failed. Things continued to go on as they had always done. The sun rose and set; the tides ebbed and flowed; the seasons followed each other in the usual order; one generation succeeded another, as had always been the case; and there was every indication that those laws would continue to operate as they had always done. This argument for the stability of the earth, and against the prospect of the fulfillment of the predictions of the Bible, would have more force with many minds now than it had then, for 1,800 years (circa 1880’s) more have rolled away, and the laws of nature remain the same. Meantime, the expectations of those who have believed that the world was coming to an end have been disappointed; the time set for this by many interpreters of Scripture has passed by; men have looked out in vain for the coming of the Saviour, and sublunary affairs move on as they always have done. Still there are no indications of the coming of the Saviour; and perhaps it would be said that the farther men search, by the aid of science, into the laws of nature, the more they become impressed with their stability, and the more firmly they are convinced of the improbability that the world will be destroyed in the manner in which it is predicted in the Scriptures that it will be. The specious and plausible objection arising from this source, the apostle proposes to meet in the following verses.

John Calvin
2 Peter 3:5
5.For this they willingly are ignorant of. By one argument only he confutes the scoff of the ungodly, even by this, that the world once perished by a deluge of waters, when yet it consisted of waters. (Gen_1:2.) And as the history of this was well known, he says that they willingly, or of their own accord, erred. For they who infer the perpetuity of the world from its present state, designedly close their eyes, so as not to see so clear a judgment of God. The world no doubt had its origin from waters, for Moses calls the chaos from which the earth emerged, waters; and further, it was sustained by waters; it yet pleased the Lord to use waters for the purpose of destroying it. It hence appears that the power of nature is not sufficient to sustain and preserve the world, but that on the contrary it contains the very element of its own ruin, whenever it may please God to destroy it.

For it ought always to be borne in mind, that the world stands through no other power than that of God’s word, and that therefore inferior or secondary causes derive from him their power, and produce different effects as they are directed. Thus through water the world stood, but water could have done nothing of itself, but on the contrary obeyed God’s word as an inferior agent or element. As soon then as it pleased God to destroy the earth, the same water obeyed in becoming a ruinous inundation. We now see how egregiously they err, who stop at naked elements, as though there was perpetuity in them, and their nature were not changeable according to the bidding of God.

By these few words the petulance of those is abundantly refuted, who arm themselves with physical reasons to fight against God. For the history of the deluge is an abundantly sufficient witness that the whole order of nature is governed by the sole power of God. (Gen_7:17.)

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Pet 3:5. For this they willingly are ignorant of] More accurately, For this is hid from them by their own will. The English phrase “they ignore” exactly expresses the state of mind of which the Apostle speaks. The ignorance of the scoffers was self-chosen. They closed their eyes to the truth that the law of continuity on which they laid stress was not without exception. There had been a great catastrophe in the past. There might yet be a great catastrophe in the future.

that by the word of God the heavens were of old] The history of the creative work in Gen_1 furnishes the first example that the order of the universe was not one of unbroken continuity of evolution. In “the word of God” we may see a reference either (1) to the continually recurring formula “God said” in Gen_1:3, Gen_1:6, Gen_1:9, or (2) to the thought that it was by the Eternal Word that the work of Creation was accomplished, as in Joh_1:3; Heb_1:2; and we have no sufficient data for deciding between the two. Heb_11:3 (“the worlds were framed by the word of God”) is exactly parallel to St Peter’s language, and is open to the same diversity of interpretation. In any case the words are a protest against the old Epicurean view of a concourse of atoms, and its modern counterpart, the theory of a perpetual evolution.

and the earth standing out of the water and in the water] More accurately, and the earth formed out of water and by means of water. The words carry us back, as before, to the cosmogony of Gen_1. The earth was brought out of chaos into its present kosmos, by the water being gathered into one place and the dry land appearing (Gen_1:9). It was kept together by the separation of the waters above the firmament from those that were below the firmament (Gen_1:6). The Apostle speaks naturally from the standpoint of the physical science of his time and country, and we need not care to reconcile either his words or those of Gen_1 with the conclusions of modern meteorological science. The equivalent fact in the language of that science would be that the permanence of the existing order of the world is secured by the circulation of water, rising in evaporation, and falling in the form of rain, between the higher and lower regions of the atmosphere, and that there must have been a time when this circulation began to supervene on a previous state of things that depended on different conditions.

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 3:5
For this they willingly are ignorant of – Λαιθάνει γὰρ αὐτοὺς τοῦτο θέλοντας Laithanei gar autous touto thelontas. There is some considerable variety in the translation of this passage. In our common version the Greek word (θέλοντας thelontas) is rendered as if it were an adverb, or as if it referred to their “ignorance” in regard to the event; meaning, that while they might have known this fact, they took no pains to do it, or that they preferred to have its recollection far from their minds. So Beza and Luther render it. Others, however, take it as referring to what follows, meaning, “being so minded; being of that opinion; or affirming.” So Bloomfield, Robinson (Lexicon), Mede, Rosenmuller, etc. According to this interpretation the sense is, “They who thus will or think; that is, they who hold the opinion that all things will continue to remain as they were, are ignorant of this fact that things have not always thus remained; that there has been a destruction of the world once by water.”

The Greek seems rather to demand this interpretation; and then the sense of the passage will be, “It is concealed or hidden from those who hold this opinion, that the earth has been once destroyed.” It is implied, whichever interpretation is adopted, that the will was concerned in it; that they were influenced by that rather than by sober judgment and by reason; and whether the word refers to their “ignorance,” or to their “holding that opinion,” there was obstinacy and perverseness about it. The “will” has usually more to do in the denial and rejection of the doctrines of the Bible than the “understanding” has. The argument which the apostle appeals to in reply to this objection is a simple one. The adversaries of the doctrine affirmed that the laws of nature had always remained the same, and they affirmed that they always would. The apostle denies the fact which they assumed, in the sense in which they affirmed it, and maintains that those laws have not been so stable and uniform that the world has never been destroyed by an overwhelming visitation from God. It has been destroyed by a flood; it may be again by fire. There was the same improbability that the event would occur, so far as the argument from the stability of the laws of nature is concerned, in the one case that there is in the other, and consequently the objection is of no force.

That by the word of God – By the command of God. “He spoke, and it was done.” Compare Gen_1:6, Gen_1:9; Psa_33:9. The idea here is, that everything depends on his word or will. As the heavens and the earth were originally made by his command, so by the same command they can be destroyed.

The heavens were of old – The heavens were formerly made, Gen_1:1. The word “heaven” in the Scriptures sometimes refers to the atmosphere, sometimes to the starry worlds as they appear above us, and sometimes to the exalted place where God dwells. Here it is used, doubtless, in the popular signification, as denoting the heavens as they “appear,” embracing the sun, moon, and stars.

And the earth standing out of the water and in the water – Margin, “consisting.” Greek, συνεστῶσα sunestōsa. The Greek word, when used in an intransitive sense, means “to stand with,” or “together;” then tropically, “to place together,” to constitute, place, bring into existence – Robinson. The idea which our translators seem to have had is, that, in the formation of the earth, a part was out of the water, and a part under the water; and that the former, or the inhabited portion, became entirely submerged, and that thus the inhabitants perished. This was not, however, probably the idea of Peter. He doubtless has reference to the account given in Gen. 1: of the creation of the earth, in which water performed so important a part. The thought in his mind seems to have been, that “water” entered materially into the formation of the earth, and that in its very origin there existed the means by which it was destroyed afterward.

The word which is rendered “standing” should rather be rendered “consisting of,” or “constituted of;” and the meaning is, that the creation of the earth was the result of the divine agency acting on the mass of elements which in Genesis is called “waters,” Gen_1:2, Gen_1:6-7, Gen_1:9. There was at first a vast fluid, an immense unformed collection of materials, called “waters,” and from that the earth arose. The point of time, therefore, in which Peter looks at the earth here, is not when the mountains, and continents, and islands, seem to be standing partly out of the water and partly in the water, but when there was a vast mass of materials called “waters” from which the earth was formed. The phrase “out of the water” (ἐξ ὕδατος ex hudatos) refers to the origin of the earth. It was formed “from,” or out of, that mass. The phrase “in the water” (δἰ ὕδατος di’ hudatos) more properly means “through” or “by.” It does not mean that the earth stood in the water in the sense that it was partly submerged; but it means not only that the earth arose “from” that mass that is called “water” in Gen. 1, but that that mass called “water” was in fact the grand material out of which the earth was formed. It was “through” or “by means of” that vast mass of mingled elements that the earth was made as it was. Everything arose out of that chaotic mass; through that, or by means of that, all things were formed, and from the fact that the earth was thus formed out of the water, or that water entered so essentially into its formation, there existed causes which ultimately resulted in the deluge.

John Calvin
2 Peter 3:6
It seems, however, strange that he says that the world perished through the deluge, when he had before mentioned the heaven and the earth. To this I answer, that the heaven was then also submerged, that is, the region of the air, which stood open between the two waters. For the division or separation, mentioned by Moses, was then confounded. (Gen_1:6;) and the word heaven is often taken in this sense. if any wishes for more on this subject, let him read Augustine on the City of God. Lib. 20.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Pet 3:6. whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished] The “whereby” is not without its difficulties. Does it refer to the whole fact of creation described in the previous verse, or to the two regions in which the element of water was stored up? On the whole, the latter has most in its favour. In the deluge, as described in Gen_7:11, the “fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened,” and so the waters above and those below the firmament were both instruments in the work of judgment. The stress laid on the same fact here and in 1Pe_3:19, 1Pe_3:20 is, as far as it goes, an evidence in favour of identity of authorship. In the use of the word “perished,” or “was destroyed,” we have a proof, not to be passed over, as bearing indirectly upon other questions of dogmatic importance, that the word does not carry with it the sense of utter destruction or annihilation, but rather that of a change, or breaking up, of an existing order. It is obvious that this meaning is that which gives the true answer to those who inferred from the continuity of the order of nature that there could be no catastrophic change in the future.

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 3:6
Whereby – Δι ̓ ὧν Di’ hōn. Through which, or by means of which. The pronoun here is in the plural number, and there has been much difference of opinion as to what it refers. Some suppose that it refers to the heavens mentioned in the preceding verse, and to the fact that the windows of heaven were opened in the deluge (Doddridge), others that the Greek phrase is taken in the sense of (διὸ dio) “whence.” Wetstein supposes that it refers to the “heavens and the earth.” But the most obvious reference, though the plural number is used, and the word “water” in the antecedent is in the singular, is to “water.” The fact seems to be that the apostle had the “waters” mentioned in Genesis prominently in his eye, and meant to describe the effect produced “by” those waters. He has also twice, in the same sentence, referred to “water” – “out of the water and in the water.” It is evidently to these “waters” mentioned in Genesis, out of which the world was originally made, that he refers here. The world was formed from that fluid mass; by these waters which existed when the earth was made, and out of which it arose, it was destroyed. The antecedent to the word in the plural number is rather that which was in the mind of the writer, or that of which he was thinking, than the word which he had used.

The world that then was … – Including all its inhabitants. Rosenmuller supposes that the reference here is to some universal catastrophe which occurred before the deluge in the time of Noah, and indeed before the earth was fitted up in its present form, as described by Moses in Gen. 1. It is rendered more than probable, by the researches of geologists in modern times, that such changes have occurred; but there is no evidence that Pater was acquainted with them, and his purpose did not require that he should refer to them. All that his argument demanded was the fact that the world had been once destroyed, and that therefore there was no improbability in believing that it would be again. They who maintained that the prediction that the earth would be destroyed was improbable, affirmed that there were no signs of such an event; that the laws of nature were stable and uniform; and that as those laws had been so long and so uniformly unbroken, it was absurd to believe that such an event could occur. To meet this, all that was necessary was to show that, in a case where the same objections substantially might be urged, it had actually occurred that the world had been destroyed. There was, in itself considered, as much improbability in believing that the world could be destroyed by water as that it would be destroyed by fire, and consequently the objection had no real force. Notwithstanding the apparent stability of the laws of nature, the world had been once destroyed; and there is, therefore, no improbability that it may be again. On the objections which might have been plausibly urged against the flood, see the notes at Heb_11:7.

John Calvin
2 Peter 3:7
7.But the heavens and the earth which are now. He does not infer this as the consequence; for his purpose was no other than to dissipate the craftiness of scoffers respecting the perpetual state of nature, and we see many such at this day who being slightly embued with the rudiments of philosophy, only hunt after profane speculations, in order that they may pass themselves off as great philosophers.

But it now appears quite evident from what has been said, that there is nothing unreasonable in the declaration made by the Lord, that the heaven and the earth shall hereafter be consumed by fire, because the reason for the fire is the same as that for the water. For it was a common saying even among the ancients, that from these two chief elements all things have proceeded. But as he had to do with the ungodly, he speaks expressly of their destruction.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Pet 3:7. but the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word] Some of the better MSS. give by His word, but the received reading rests on sufficient authority.

are kept in store, reserved unto fire] Literally, are treasured up. The use of the word in reference to punishment has a parallel in Rom_2:5. In naming “fire” as the instrument of that “destruction” of the existing framework of the world, which is, like that by water, to be the starting-point of a new and purified order, the Apostle follows in the track of 2Th_1:8, and Dan_7:9-11. It may be noted, though not as pointing to the source from which the Apostle derived his belief, that this destruction of the world by fire entered into the physical teaching of the Stoics. It is not without interest to note that it was specially prominent in the teaching of Zeno of Tarsus, who succeeded Chrysippus as the leading teacher of the School (Euseb. Praep. Evang. xv. 18). It appears also, in a book probably familiar to the Apostle, the Book of Enoch, c. xc. 11.

against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men] The word for “perdition” is the same as that rendered “destruction” in chap. 2:1, and is identical in meaning with the verb “perished” in the preceding verse. We cannot accordingly infer from it that the “ungodly” will cease to exist, but only that there will be a great and penal change in their condition. An interesting parallel to the teaching of this passage, probably in great part derived from it, is found in an Oration of Melito of Sardis, translated from the Syriac by Dr Cureton in a. d. 1855. “There was a flood of water.… There will be a flood of fire, and the earth will be burnt up together with its mountains … and the just shall be delivered from its fury, as their fellows in the Ark were saved from the waters of the Deluge.”

Pulpit Commentary
But the heavens and the earth, which are now; rather, the heavens which are now, and the earth. The “now” does not refer, as some think, to any change wrought by the Flood, but distinguishes the present heavens and earth from the new heavens and new earth, which Christians are to look for (2Pe_3:13). By the same Word are kept in store, reserved unto fire. Several of the better manuscripts have “by his Word,” which, on the whole, seems to give the best meaning. The reading in the text may, indeed, be understood in a similar sense, “by the same Word of God;” otherwise it would mean that the original word of creation determined also the duration of the world and the means of its destruction.

The words rendered, “are kept in store,” are, literally, “have been treasured (τεθησαυρισμένοι εἰσίν)” (comp. Rom_2:5). It seems better to take the dative πυρί (“with fire,” or “for fire”) with this verb rather than with the following, as in the Authorized Version. If we take the first meaning of the dative, the sense will be that the world has been stored with fire, i.e., that it contains, stored up in its inner depths, the fire which is destined ultimately to destroy it. But the other view seems on the whole more probable; the heavens and the earth are stored up for fire or unto fire, i.e., with the purpose in the counsels of God of their ultimate destruction by fire. This is the clearest prophecy in Holy Scripture of the final conflagration of the universe; but comp. Isa_66:15; Dan_7:10; Mal_4:1; 2Th_1:8. Such a doctrine formed part of the physical theories of the Stoics; it is also found in the ‘Book of Enoch.’ Against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

The participle “reserved” (τηρούμενοι) is best taken with this clause: “Reserved against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 3:7
But the heavens and the earth which are now – As they now exist. There is no difficulty here respecting what is meant by the word “earth,” but it is not so easy to determine precisely how much is included in the word “heavens.” It cannot be supposed to mean “heaven” as the place where God dwells; nor is it necessary to suppose that Peter understood by the word all that would now be implied in it, as used by a modern astronomer. The word is doubtless employed in a popular signification, referring to the “heavens as they appear to the eye;” and the idea is, that the conflagration would not only destroy the earth, but would change the heavens as they now appear to us. If, in fact, the earth with its atmosphere should be subjected to an universal conflagration, all that is properly implied in what is here said by Peter would occur.

By the same word – Dependent solely on the will of God. He has only to give command, and all will be destroyed. The laws of nature have no stability independent of his will, and at his pleasure all things could be reduced to nothing, as easily as they were made. A single word, a breath of command, from one Being, a Being over whom we have no control, would spread universal desolation through the heavens and the earth. Notwithstanding the laws of nature, as they are called, and the precision, uniformity, and power with which they operate, the dependence of the universe on the Creator is as entire as though there were no such laws, and as though all were conducted by the mere will of the Most High, irrespective of such laws. In fact, those laws have no efficiency of their own, but are a mere statement of the way in which God produces the changes which occur, the methods by which He operates who “works all in all.” At any moment he could suspend them; that is, he could cease to act, or withdraw his efficiency, and the universe would cease to be.

Are kept in store – Greek, “Are treasured up.” The allusion in the Greek word is to anything that is treasured up, or reserved for future use. The apostle does not say that this is the only purpose for which the heavens and the earth are preserved, but that this is one object, or this is one aspect in which the subject may be viewed. They are like treasure reserved for future use.

Reserved unto fire – Reserved or kept to be burned up. See the notes at 2Pe_3:10. The first mode of destroying the world was by water, the next will be by fire. That the world would at some period be destroyed by fire was a common opinion among the ancient philosophers, especially the Greek Stoics. What was the foundation of that opinion, or whence it was derived, it is impossible now to determine; but it is remarkable that it should have accorded so entirely with the statements of the New Testament. The authorities in proof that this opinion was entertained may be seen in Wetstein, in loc. See Seneca, N. Q. iii. 28; Cic. N. D. ii. 46; Simplicius in Arist. de Coelo i. 9; Eusebius, P. xv. 18. It is quite remarkable that there have been among the pagan in ancient and modern times so many opinions that accord with the statements of revelation – opinions, many of them, which could not have been founded on any investigations of science among them, and which must, therefore, have been either the result of conjecture, or handed down by tradition. Whatever may have been their origin, the fact that such opinions prevailed and were believed, may be allowed to have some weight in showing that the statements in the Bible are not improbable.

Against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men – The world was destroyed by a flood on account of the wickedness of its inhabitants. It would seem from this passage that it will be destroyed by fire with reference to the same cause; at least, that its destruction by fire will involve the perdition of wicked men. It cannot be inferred from this passage that the world will be as wicked at the general conflagration as it was in the time of Noah; but the idea in the mind of Peter seems to have been, that in the destruction of the world by fire the perdition of the wicked will be involved, or will at that time occur. It also seems to be implied that the fire will accomplish an important agency in that destruction, as the water did on the old world. It is not said, in the passage before us, whether those to be destroyed will be living at that time, or will be raised up from the dead, nor have we any means of determining what was the idea of Peter on that point. All that the passage essentially teaches is, that the world is reserved now with reference to such a consummation by fire; that is, that there are elements kept in store that may be enkindled into an universal conflagration, and that such a conflagration will be attended with the destruction of the wicked.

John Calvin
2 Peter 3:8
8.But be not ignorant of this one thing. He now turns to speak to the godly; and he reminds them that when the coming of Christ is the subject, they were to raise upwards their eyes, for by so doing, they would not limit, by their unreasonable wishes, the time appointed by the Lord. For waiting seems very long on this account, because we have our eyes fixed on the shortness of the present life, and we also increase weariness by computing days, hours, and minutes. But when the eternity of God’s kingdom comes to our minds, many ages vanish away like so many moments.

This then is what the Apostle calls our attention to, so that we may know that the day of resurrection does not depend on the present flow of time, but on the hidden purpose of God, as though he had said, “Men wish to anticipate God for this reason, because they measure time according to the judgment of their own flesh; and they are by nature inclined to impatience, so that celerity is even delay to them: do ye then ascend in your minds to heaven, and thus time will be to you neither long nor short.”

Pulpit Commentary
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing; literally, let not this one thing escape you, as especially important. That one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. “With the Lord” means in his sight, in his estimate of things (comp. Psa_90:4, “A thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday”). … God is eternal: his thought is not, like ours, subject to the law of time; and even we can understand that one day, as the day of the Saviour’s death, may have far more of intense action compressed into it, and far more influence upon the spiritual destiny of mankind, than any period of a thousand years. This passage seems to be quoted by Justin Martyr, the ‘Epistle of Barnabas,’ Irenaeus, and Hippolytus; but they may be referring to Psa_90:1-17, though the quotations resemble the words of St. Peter more closely than those of the psalm.

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 3:8
But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years – This 2Pe_3:8-9 is the second consideration by which the apostle meets the objection of scoffers against the doctrine of the second coming of the Saviour. The objection was, that much time, and perhaps the time which had been supposed to be set for his coming, had passed away, and still all things remained as they were. The reply of the apostle is, that no argument could be drawn from this, for that which may seem to be a long time to us is a brief period with God. In the infinity of his own duration there is abundant time to accomplish his designs, and it can make no difference with him whether they are accomplished in one day or extended to one thousand years. Man has but a short time to live, and if he does not accomplish his purposes in a very brief period, he never will. But it is not so with God. He always lives; and we cannot therefore infer, because the execution of His purposes seems to be delayed, that they are abandoned. With Him who always lives it will be as easy to accomplish them at a far distant period as now. If it is His pleasure to accomplish them in a single day, He can do it; if He chooses that the execution shall be deferred to one thousand years, or that one thousand years shall be consumed in executing them, He has power to carry them onward through what seems, to us, to be so vast a duration. The wicked, therefore, cannot infer that they will escape because their punishment is delayed; nor should the righteous fear that the divine promises will fail because ages pass away before they are accomplished. The expression here used, that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, etc.,” is common in the Rabbinical writings. See Wetstein in loc. A similar thought occurs in Psa_90:4; “For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”

John Calvin
2 Peter 3:9
9.But the Lord is not slack, or, delays not. He checks extreme and unreasonable haste by another reason, that is, that the Lord defers his coming that he might invite all mankind to repentance. For our minds are always prurient, and a doubt often creeps in, why he does not come sooner. But when we hear that the Lord, in delaying, shews a concern for our salvation, and that he defers the time because he has a care for us, there is no reason why we should any longer complain of tardiness. He is tardy who allows an occasion to pass by through slothfulness: there is nothing like this in God, who in the best manner regulates time to promote our salvation. And as to the duration of the whole world, we must think exactly the same as of the life of every individual; for God by prolonging time to each, sustains him that he may repent. In the like manner he does not hasten the end of the world, in order to give to all time to repent.

This is a very necessary admonition, so that we may learn to employ time aright, as we shall otherwise suffer a just punishment for our idleness.

Not willing that any should perish. So wonderful is his love towards mankind, that he would have them all to be saved, and is of his own self prepared to bestow salvation on the lost. But the order is to be noticed, that God is ready to receive all to repentance, so that none may perish; for in these words the way and manner of obtaining salvation is pointed out. Every one of us, therefore, who is desirous of salvation, must learn to enter in by this way.

But it may be asked, If God wishes none to perish, why is it that so many do perish? To this my answer is, that no mention is here made of the hidden purpose of God, according to which the reprobate are doomed to their own ruin, but only of his will as made known to us in the gospel. For God there stretches forth his hand without a difference to all, but lays hold only of those, to lead them to himself, whom he has chosen before the foundation of the world.

But as the verb χωρὢσαι is often taken passively by the Greeks, no less suitable to this passage is the verb which I have put in the margin, that God would have all, who had been before wandering and scattered, to be gathered or come together to repentance.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Peter 3:9. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness …] We enter here on the third answer, and it rests on the purpose which was working through what men looked on as a delay in the fulfilment of the promise. That purpose was one of love and mercy. It was not slackness or tardiness, but “long-suffering.” We note, as an evidence of identity of authorship, the recurrence of the thought which we have found in 1Pe_3:20. The “long-suffering of God” which had shewn itself then, as in the history of Gen_6:3, in the delay of a hundred and twenty years between the first prophetic warning of the coming judgment and the actual deluge, was manifested now in the interval, longer than the first disciples had anticipated, between the first and the second comings of the Christ. We ask, as we read the words, whether the Apostle, as he wrote them, contemplated the period of well-nigh two thousand years which has passed since without the expected Advent; and we have no adequate data for answering that question. It may well have been that though the horizon was receding as he looked into the future, it was still not given to him “to know the times and the seasons” (Act_1:7), and that he still thought that the day of the Lord would come within much narrower limits, perhaps, even, in the lifetime of that generation. But the answer which he gives is the true answer to all doubts and questions such as then presented themselves, to reproductions of the like questions now. However long the interval, though it be for a period measured by millenniums, there is still the thought that this is but as a moment in the years of eternity, and that through that lengthened period, on earth or behind the veil, there is working the purpose of God, who doth not will that any should perish (comp. 1Ti_2:4; Eze_18:23), but that all should come to repentance. Here again the word “perish” does not mean simple annihilation, but the state which is the opposite of salvation.

R.B. Terry

2 Peter 3:9
TEXT: “but is patient toward plyou”
EVIDENCE: p72 B C P 048vid 81 945 1241 1739 1881 cop(north)

NOTES: “but is patient because of plyou”
EVIDENCE: S A Psi 33 614 630 2495 lat vg syr(ph,h) cop(south)

OTHER: “but is patient toward us”
EVIDENCE: K L 104 Byz Lect

COMMENTS: In later Greek the words “plyou” and “us” were pronounced alike. Probably the reading “us” is due to a mistake of the ear. The reading “because of” or “on account of” seems to have been a change by copyists to make the passage more meaningful.

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise – That is, it should not be inferred because His promise seems to be long delayed that therefore it will fail. When people, after a considerable lapse of time, fail to fulfil their engagements, we infer that it is because they have changed their plans, or because they have forgotten their promises, or because they have no ability to perform them, or because there is a lack of principle which makes them fail, regardless of their obligations. But no such inference can be drawn from the apparent delay of the fulfillment of the divine purposes. Whatever may be the reasons why they seem to be deferred, with God, we may be sure that it is from no such causes as these.

As some men count slackness – It is probable that the apostle here had his eye on some professing Christians who had become disheartened and impatient, and who, from the delay in regard to the coming of the Lord Jesus, and from the representations of those who denied the truth of the Christian religion, arguing from that delay that it was false, began to fear that his promised coming would indeed never occur. To such he says that it should not be inferred from his delay that he would not return, but that the delay should be regarded as an evidence of his desire that men should have space for repentance, and an opportunity to secure their salvation. See the notes at 2Pe_3:15.

But is long-suffering to us-ward – Toward us. The delay should be regarded as a proof of His forbearance, and of His desire that all human beings should be saved. Every sinner should consider the fact that he is not cut down in his sins, not as a proof that God will not punish the wicked, but as a demonstration that He is now forbearing, and is willing that he should have an ample opportunity to obtain eternal life. No one should infer that God will not execute His threats, unless he can look into the most distant parts of a coming eternity, and demonstrate that there is no suffering appointed for the sinner there; anyone who sins, and who is spared even for a moment, should regard the respite as only a proof that God is merciful and forbearing now.

Not willing that any should perish – That is, He does not desire it or wish it. His nature is benevolent, and He sincerely desires the eternal happiness of all, and His patience toward sinners “proves” that He is willing that they should be saved. If He were not willing, it would be easy for Him to cut them off, and exclude them from hope immediately. This passage, however, should not be adduced to prove:

(1) That sinners never will in fact perish; because:

(a) the passage does not refer to what God will do as the final Judge of mankind, but to what are His feelings and desires now toward men.

(b) One may have a sincere desire that others should not perish, and yet it may be that, in entire consistency with that, they will perish. A parent has a sincere wish that his children should not be punished, and yet he himself may be under a moral necessity to punish them. A lawgiver may have a sincere wish that no one should ever break the laws, or be punished, and yet he himself may build a prison, and construct a gallows, and cause the law to be executed in a most rigorous manner. A judge on the bench may have a sincere desire that no man should be executed, and that everyone arraigned before him should be found to be innocent, and yet even he, in entire accordance with that wish, and with a most benevolent heart, even with tears in his eyes, may pronounce the sentence of the law.

(c) It cannot be inferred that all that the heart of infinite benevolence would desire will be accomplished by his mere will. It is evidently as much in accordance with the benevolence of God that no one should be miserable in this world, as it is that no one should suffer in the next, since the difficulty is not in the question Where one shall suffer, but in the fact itself that any should suffer; and it is just as much in accordance with His nature that all should be happy here, as that they should be happy hereafter. And yet no man can maintain that the fact that God is benevolent proves that no one will suffer here. As little will that fact prove that none will suffer in the world to come.

(2) The passage should not be adduced to prove that God has no purpose, and has formed no plan, in regard to the destruction of the wicked; because:

(a) The word here used has reference rather to His disposition, or to His nature, than to any act or plan.

(b) There is a sense, as is admitted by all, in which He does will the destruction of the wicked – to wit, if they do not repent – that is, if they deserve it.

(c) Such an act is as inconsistent with His general benevolence as an eternal purpose in the matter, since His eternal purpose can only have been to do what He actually does; and if it be consistent with a sincere desire that sinners should be saved to do this, then it is consistent to determine beforehand to do it – for to determine beforehand to do what is in fact right, can only be a lovely trait in the character of anyone.

(3) The passage then proves:

(a) That God has a sincere desire that people should be saved;

(b) That any purpose in regard to the destruction of sinners is not founded on mere will, or is not arbitrary;

(c) That it would be agreeable to the nature of God, and to His arrangements in the plan of salvation, if all human beings should come to repentance, and accept the offers of mercy;

(d) That if any come to Him truly penitent, and desirous to be saved, they will not be cast off;

(e) That, since it is in accordance with His nature, that He should desire that all people may be saved, it may be presumed that He has made an arrangement by which it is possible that they should be; and,

(f) That, since this is His desire, it is proper for the ministers of religion to offer salvation to every human being. Compare Eze_33:11.

John Calvin
2 Peter 3:10
10.But the day of the Lord will come. This has been added, that the faithful might be always watching, and not promise to-morrow to themselves. For we all labor under two very different evils — too much haste, and slothfulness. We are seized with impatience for the day of Christ already expected; at the same time we securely regard it as afar off. As, then, the Apostle has before reproved an unreasonable ardor, so he now shakes off our sleepiness, so that we may attentively expect Christ at all times, lest we should become idle and negligent, as it is usually the case. For whence is it that flesh indulges itself except that there is no thought of the near coming of Christ?

What afterwards follows, respecting the burning of heaven and earth, requires no long explanation, if indeed we duly consider what is intended. For it was not his purpose to speak refinedly of fire and storm, and other things, but only that he might introduce an exhortation, which he immediately adds, even that we ought to strive after newness of life. For he thus reasons, that as heaven and earth are to be purged by fire, that they may correspond with the kingdom of Christ, hence the renovation of men is much more necessary. Mischievous, then, are those interpreters who consume much labor on refined speculations, since the Apostle applies his doctrine to godly exhortations.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Pet 3:10. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night …] The confidence of the Apostle that this will be the end of the history of the human race is not shaken by the seeming “slackness” in its approach. Either reproducing the thought which he had heard from his Master’s lips (Mat_24:43), or echoing the very words of St Paul (1Th_5:2), he declares that it will come, and will come suddenly, when men are not looking for it.

the heavens shall pass away with a great noise] The last four words answer to one Greek adverb, not found elsewhere, which implies the “whizzing” or “rushing” sound of an arrow hurtling through the air (Hom. Il. xvi. 361). The “heavens” (in the plural, after the common mode of speech both in the Old and New Testament) shall, in that great day, be the scene of a great convulsion. We have here obviously the same thought as in Mat_24:29, but the mind of the Apostle, now rising to the character of an apocalyptic seer, beholds in that convulsion not a work of destruction only, but one of renovation. Comp. a like picture of the end of the world’s history in Rev_20:11, Rev_21:1.

the elements shall melt with fervent heat] The word “elements” may possibly stand for what were so called in some of the physical theories of the time, the fire, air, earth, water, out of which all existing phenomena were believed to be evolved (comp. Wisd. 19:18). The word was, however, used a little later on for what we call the “heavenly bodies,” sun, moon, and stars (Justin Mart. Apol. ii. 4. 4), and that meaning, seeing that the “elements” are distinguished from the “earth,” and that one of the four elements is to be the instrument of destruction, is probably the meaning here.

the earth also and the works that are therein] The use of the word “works” suggests the thought that the Apostle had chiefly in view all that man had wrought out on the surface of the globe; his cities, palaces, monuments, or the like. The comprehensive term may, however, include “works” as the “deeds” of men, of which St Paul says that they shall all be tried by fire (1Co_3:13).

Pulpit Commentary
But the day of the Lord will come. The word ἥξει, will come, stands emphatically at the beginning of the clause; whatever the mockers may say, whatever may happen, come certainly will the day of the Lord. “The day of the Lord” meets us often in the prophets; it is usually associated with the thought of judgment (see Isa_2:12; Eze_13:5; Joe_1:15; Mal_3:2). In the New Testament it signifies the second advent of Christ (1Th_5:2; 1Co_1:8; Php_1:6; 2Th_2:2).

As a thief in the night. The best manuscripts omit here “in the night.” St. Peter is evidently echoing the Lord’s words in that great prophetic discourse on the Mount of Olives, which must have made such a deep impression upon the apostles. This illustration of the sudden coming of the thief is repeated not only by St. Peter here, but also by St. Paul (1Th_5:2), and twice by St. John (Rev_3:3 and Rev_16:15).

In the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise. The Greek for “with a great noise (ῥοιζηδόν)” occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, and is one of those remarkable poetic forms which are not unfrequent in this Epistle: the noun ῥοῖζος is used of the whizzing of arrows, of the rush of wings, of the sound of mighty winds or roaring waters. It may be understood here of the crash of a falling world or of the roar of the destroying flames. The word rendered “pass away” is that used by our Lord in the prophecy just referred to (Mat_24:35; also in Mat_5:18 and in Luk_16:17).

And the elements shall melt with fervent heat. It is uncertain whether by “the elements” (στοιχεῖα) St. Peter means the four elements (in the old and popular use of the word), or the great constituent parts of the universe, the heavenly bodies. Against the first view is the assertion that one of those elements is to be the agent of destruction. But the word rendered “melt” means “shall be dissolved” or “loosed;” and it may be, as Bishop Wordsworth says, that “St. Peter’s meaning seems to be that the στοιχεῖα, elements or rudiments, of which the universe is composed and compacted, will be loosed; that is, the framework of the world will be disorganized; and this is the sense of στοιχεῖα in the LXX. (Wis. 7:17; 19:17) and in Hippolytus, ‘Philos.,’ pages 219, 318. The dissolution is contrasted with the consistency described by the word συνεστῶσα in verse 5. The heavens are reserved for fire, and will pass away with a rushing noise, and, being set on fire, will be dissolved; the elements will be on fire and melt, and he reduced to a state of confusion; the earth and the works therein will be burnt up. There does not seem, therefore, to be any cause for abandoning the common meaning of στοιχεῖα, the elemental principles of which the universe is made.” On the other hand, the word στοιχεῖα is certainly used of the heavenly bodies by Justin Martyr (‘Apolog.,’ 2. c. 5, and ‘Dial. cum Tryphon,’ c. 23); and the heavenly bodies are constantly mentioned in the descriptions of the awful convulsions of the great day. The objection that the word does not bear this meaning elsewhere in Holy Scripture is of little weight, as this is the only place in which it has a physical sense. The literal translation of the clause is, “The elements, being scorched, shall be dissolved.” The word for “being scorched” (καυσούμενα) occurs in the New Testament only here and in verse 12; it is used by the Greek physicians of the burning heat of fever. The verb λυθήσεται means “shall be dissolved or loosened.”

The earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. By “the works that are therein” St. Peter seems to mean all the works both of God and of man, “opera naturae et artis” (Bengel). There is a very remarkable reading here (supported by the Sinaitic and Vatican and another uncial manuscript), εὑρεθήσεται, “shall be discovered,” instead of κατακαήσεται, “shall be burned up.” If we understand “the works that are therein” of man’s works and actions, this reading will give a good sense. Or the clause may be regarded as interrogative, “Shall the earth and the works that are therein be found?” But the reading, “shall be burned up” is well supported, and suits the context best.

R.B. Terry
2 Peter 3:10
TEXT: “the works that are in it will be found [out].”
EVIDENCE: S B K P 1175 1241 1739text 1881 syr(ph)

NOTES: “the works that are in it will be burned up.”
EVIDENCE: A 048 33 81 104 614 630 945 1739margin 2495 Byz Lect some lat later vg syr(h) cop(north)

NOTES: “the works that are in it will be found dissolved.”

NOTES: “the works that are in it will disappear.”

OTHER: “the works that are in it will not be found.”
EVIDENCE: cop(south)

OTHER: omit from “and the earth” to the end of the verse
EVIDENCE: Psi two lat earlier vg

COMMENTS: Probably the difficulty of understanding the meaning of the reading “be found” gave rise to the other readings. Copyists either added a word (“dissolved” or “not”) or changed it to “be burned up” or “disappear.”

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 3:10
But the day of the Lord – The day of the Lord Jesus. That is, the day in which he will be manifested. It is called his day, because he will then be the grand and prominent object as the Judge of all. Compare Luk_17:27.

Will come as a thief in the night – Unexpectedly; suddenly. See the notes at 1Th_5:2.

In the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise – That is, what seems to us to be the heavens. It cannot mean that the holy home where God dwells will pass away; nor do we need to suppose that this declaration extends to the starry worlds and systems as disclosed by modern astronomy. The word is doubtless used in a popular sense – that is, as things appear to us; and the fair interpretation of the passage would demand only such a change as would occur by the destruction of this world by fire. If a conflagration should take place, embracing the earth and its surrounding atmosphere, all the phenomena would occur which are here described; and, if this would be so, then this is all that can be proved to be meant by the passage. Such a destruction of the elements could not occur without “a great noise.”

And the elements shall melt with fervent heat – Greek: “the elements being burned, or burning, (καυσούμενα kausoumena,) shall be dissolved.” The idea is, that the cause of their being “dissolved” shall be fire; or that there will be a conflagration extending to what are here called the “elements,” that shall produce the effects here described by the word “dissolved.” There has been much difference of opinion in regard to the meaning of the word here rendered “elements,” (στοιχεῖα stoicheia.) The word occurs in the New Testament only in the following places: Gal_4:3, Gal_4:9; 2Pe_3:10, 2Pe_3:12, in which it is rendered “elements;” Col_2:8, Col_2:20, in which it is rendered “rudiments;” and in Heb_5:12, where it is rendered “principles.” For the general meaning of the word, see the notes at Gal_4:3. The word denotes the “rudiments” of anything; the minute parts or portions of which anything is composed, or which constitutes the simple portions out of which anything grows, or of which it is compounded.
Here it would properly denote the component parts of the material world; or those which enter into its composition, and of which it is made up. It is not to be supposed that the apostle used the term with the same exact signification with which a chemist would use it now, but in accordance with the popular use of the term in his day. In all ages, and in all languages, some such word, with more or less scientific accuracy, has been employed to denote the primary materials out of which others were formed, just as, in most languages, there have been characters or letters to denote the elementary sounds of which language is composed. In general, the ancients supposed that the elements out of which all things were formed were four in number – air, earth, fire, and water. Modern science has overturned this theory completely, and has shown that these, so far from being simple elements, are themselves compounds; but the tendency of modern science is still to show that the elements of all things are in fact few in number.

The word, as used here by Peter, would refer to the elements of things as then understood in a popular sense; it would now not be an improper word to be applied to the few elements of which all things are composed, as disclosed by modern chemistry. In either case, the use of the word would be correct. Whether applied to the one or the other, science has shown that all are capable of combustion. Water, in its component parts, is inflammable in a high degree; and even the diamond has been shown to be combustible. The idea contained in the word “dissolved,” is, properly, only the change which heat produces. Heat changes the forms of things; dissolves them into their elements; dissipates those which were solid by driving them off into gases, and produces new compounds, but it annihilates nothing. It could not be demonstrated from this phrase that the world would be annihilated by fire; it could be proved only that it will undergo important changes. So far as the action of fire is concerned, the form of the earth may pass away, and its aspect be changed; but unless the direct power which created it interposes to annihilate it, the matter which now composes it will still be in existence.

The earth also, and the works that are therein, shall be burned up – That is, whether they are the works of God or man – the whole vegetable and animal creation, and all the towers, the towns, the palaces, the productions of genius, the paintings, the statuary, the books, which man has made:

“The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
And all that it inherits, shall dissolve,
And, like the baseless fabric of a vision,
Leave not one wreck behind.”

The word rendered “burned up,” like the word just before used and rendered “fervent heat” – a word of the same origin, but here intensive – means that they will undergo such a change as fire will produce; not, necessarily, that the matter composing them will be annihilated. If the matter composing the earth is ever to be destroyed entirely, it must be by the immediate power of God, because only He who created can destroy. There is not the least evidence that a particle of matter originally made has been annihilated since the world began; and there are no fires so intense, no chemical powers so mighty, as to cause a particle of matter to cease wholly to exist. So far as the power of man is concerned, and so far as one portion of matter can prey on another, matter is as imperishable as mind, and neither can be destroyed unless God destroys it. Whether it is His purpose to annihilate any portion of the matter which He has made, does not appear from His Word; but it is clear that He intends that the universe shall undergo important changes. As to the possibility or probability of such a destruction by fire as is predicted here, no one can have any doubt who is acquainted with the disclosures of modern science in regard to the internal structure of the earth.

Even the ancient philosophers, from some cause, supposed that the earth would still be destroyed by fire (see my notes at 2Pe_3:7), and modern science has made it probable that the interior of the earth is a melted and intensely-heated mass of burning materials; that the habitable world is only a comparatively thin crust (shell) over those internal fires; that earthquakes are caused by the vapors engendered by that heated mass when water comes in contact with it; and that volcanoes are only openings and vent-holes through which those internal flames make their way to the surface. Whether these fires will everywhere make their way to the surface, and produce an universal conflagration, perhaps could not be determined by science, but no one can doubt that the simple command of God would be all that is necessary to pour those burning floods over the earth, just as He once caused the waters to roll over every mountain and through every valley.

As to the question whether it is probable that such a change will be produced by fire, bringing the present order of things to a close, it may be further remarked that there is reason to believe that such changes are in fact taking place in other worlds. “During the last two or three centuries, upwards of thirteen fixed stars have disappeared. One of them, situated in the northern hemisphere, presented a special brilliancy, and was so bright as to be seen by the naked eye at mid-day. It seemed to be on fire, appearing at first of a dazzling white, then of a reddish yellow, and lastly of an ashy pale color. LaPlace supposes that it was burned up, as it has never been seen since. The conflagration was visible about sixteen months.” The well-known astronomer, Von Littrow, in the section of his work on “New and Missing Stars” (entitled, Die Wunder der Himmels oder Gemeinfassliche Darstellung der Weltsystems, Stuttgart, 1843, Section 227), observes: “Great as may be the revolutions which take place on the surface of those fixed stars, which are subject to this alternation of light, what entirely different changes may those others have experienced, which in regions of the firmament where no star had ever been before, appeared to blaze up in clear flames, and then to disappear, perhaps forever.”

He then gives a brief history of those stars which have excited the particular attention of astronomers. “In the year 1572, on the 11th of November,” says he, “Tycho, on passing from his chemical laboratory to the observatory, through the court of his house, observed in the constellation Cassiopeia, at a place where before he had only seen very small stars, a new star of uncommon magnitude. It was so bright that it surpassed even Jupiter and Venus in splendor, and was visible even in the daytime. During the whole time in which it was visible, Tycho could observe no parallax or change of position. At the end of the year, however, it gradually diminished; and at length, in March 1574, sixteen months after its discovery, entirely disappeared, since which all traces of it have been lost. When it first appeared, its light was of a dazzling white color; in January 1573, two months after its reviving, it became yellowish; in a few months it assumed a reddish hue, like Mars or Aldebaran; and in the beginning of the year 1574, two or three months before its total disappearance, it glimmered only with a gray or lead-colored light, similar to that of Saturn.” See Bibliotheca Sacra, III., p. 181. If such things occur in other worlds, there is nothing improbable or absurd in the supposition that they may yet occur on the earth.

John Calvin
2 Peter 3:11
Heaven and earth, he says, shall pass away for our sakes; is it meet, then, for us to be engrossed with the things of earth, and not, on the contrary, to attend to a holy and godly life? The corruptions of heaven and earth will be purged by fire, while yet as the creatures of God they are pure; what then ought to be done by us who are full of so many pollutions? As to the word godlinesses (pietatibus ,) the plural number is used for the singular, except you take it as meaning the duties of godliness. Of the elements of the world I shall only say this one thing, that they are to be consumed, only that they may be renovated, their substance still remaining the same, as it may be easily gathered from Rom_8:21, and from other passages.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Pet 3:11. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved] Literally, Seeing therefore that all these things are being dissolved. The Greek participle is in the present tense, and is probably used to convey the thought that even now the fabric of the earth is on its way to the final dissolution. If with some of the better MSS. we read “shall thus be dissolved,” instead of “then,” the participle must be taken as more definitely future, being coupled, as in that case it must be, with the manner as well as the fact of the dissolution.

ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness] It should be noted, though it cannot well be expressed in English, that both the Greek nouns are in the plural, as expressing all the manifold forms in which holy living (see note on 1Pe_1:15) and “godliness” shew themselves. The verb for “be” is that which emphatically expresses a permanent and continuous state. The thought implied is that the belief in the transitoriness of all that seems most enduring upon earth should lead, as a necessary consequence, to a life resting on the eternal realities of truth and holiness.

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 3:11
Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved – Since this is an undoubted truth.

What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness – In holy conduct and piety. That is, this fact ought to be allowed to exert a deep and abiding influence on us, to induce us to lead holy lives. We should feel that there is nothing permanent on the earth that this is not our abiding home; and that our great interests are in another world. We should be serious, humble, and prayerful; and should make it our great object to be prepared for the solemn scenes through which we are soon to pass. An habitual contemplation of the truth, that all that we see is soon to pass away, would produce a most salutary effect on the mind. It would make us serious. It would repress ambition. It would lead us not to desire to accumulate what must so soon be destroyed. It would prompt us to lay up our treasures in heaven. It would cause us to ask with deep earnestness whether we are prepared for these amazing scenes, should they suddenly burst upon us.

John Calvin
2 Peter 3:12
12Looking for and hasting unto, or, waiting for by hastening; so I render the words, though they are two participles; for what we had before separately he gathers now into one sentence, that is, that we ought hastily to wait. Now this contrarious hope possesses no small elegance, like the proverb, “Hasten slowly,” (festina lente .) When he says, “Waiting for,” he refers to the endurance of hope; and he sets hastening in opposition to topor; and both are very apposite. For as quietness and waiting are the peculiarities of hope, so we must always take heed lest the security of the flesh should creep in; we ought, therefore, strenuously to labor in good works, and run quickly in the race of our calling. What he before called the day of Christ (as it is everywhere called in Scripture) he now calls the day of God, and that rightly, for Christ will then restore the kingdom to the Father, that God may be all in all.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Pet 3:12. looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God …] The English versions follow the Vulgate and Luther in this rendering. It is doubtful, however, whether the Greek verb for “hasten,” followed by an accusative without a preposition, can have this meaning, and its natural transitive force (as e.g. in the LXX. of Isa_16:5, and Herod. i. 38) would give the sense hastening the day. So taken, the thought of the Apostle is that the “day of God” is not immutably fixed by a Divine decree, but may be accelerated by the readiness of His people or of mankind at large. In proportion to that readiness there is less occasion, if we may so speak, for the “long-suffering of God,” to postpone the fulfilment of His promise.

wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved] More accurately, on account of which, viz. “the day of God,” the destruction of the present order being for the sake of that which is to usher in a new and better state. On the words that follow see note on ver. 10, which is almost verbally reproduced. Mic_1:4 may be referred to as presenting the same picture of destruction.

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 3:12
Looking for – Not knowing when this may occur, the mind should be in that state which constitutes “expectation;” that is, a belief that it will occur, and a condition of mind in which we would not be taken by surprise should it happen at any moment. See the notes at Tit_2:13.

And hasting unto the coming – Margin, as in Greek: ““hasting the coming.”” The Greek word rendered “hasting,” (σπεύδω speudō,) means to urge on, to hasten; and then to hasten after anything, to await with eager desire. This is evidently the sense here – Wetstein and Robinson. The state of mind which is indicated by the word is that when we are anxiously desirous that anything should occur, and when we would hasten or accelerate it if we could. The true Christian does not dread the coming of that day. He looks forward to it as the period of his redemption, and would welcome, at any time, the return of his Lord and Saviour. While he is willing to wait as long as it shall please God for the advent of His Redeemer, yet to Him the brightest prospect in the future is that hour when he shall come to take him to Himself.

The coming of the day of God – Called “the day of God,” because God will then be manifested in his power and glory.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Pet 3: 13. we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth] The promise of which the Apostle speaks is that of Isa_65:17, Isa_66:22, where we have the very words, “new heavens and a new earth,” the context there connecting it with the restoration of Israel to their own land and the renewed glory of Jerusalem. The same hope shews itself in the visions of the Apocalypse (Rev_21:1) as connected with the “new Jerusalem” coming down from God, and appears in a fuller and more expanded form in the Apocryphal Book of Enoch. “The former heaven shall pass away and a new heaven shall shew itself” (chap. xcii. 17). “The earth shall be cleansed from all corruption, from every crime, from all punishment” (c. x. 2-7).

wherein dwelleth righteousness] This again reproduces the thought of Isaiah (65:25) that “they shall not hurt (LXX. “act unrighteously”) nor destroy in all my holy mountain,” and St John’s account of the new Jerusalem that “there shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth” (Rev_21:27). It is implied in St Paul’s belief that “the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption” (Rom_8:21). Earth itself, purified and redeemed, is to be the scene of the blessedness of the saved, as it has been, through the long æons of its existence, of sin and wretchedness.

Pulpit Commentary
Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth; rather, but, according to his promise, we look for. The promise is that in Isa_65:17, “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth” (see also Isa_66:22 and Rev_21:1). St. John saw in vision the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah and St. Peter: “The first heaven and the first earth were passed away.” It may be that, as the water of the Deluge was the baptism of the ancient world into a new life, so the fire of the great day will be the means of purifying and refining the universe, transforming it into new heavens and a new earth, making all things new. Our Lord’s use of the word “regeneration,” in Mat_19:28, seems to favour this view. In the regeneration of the individual soul the personality remains, the thoughts, desires, affections, are changed; so, it may be, in the regeneration of the world the substance will remain, the fashion (σχῆμα) of the old world will pass away (1Co_7:31). But it is impossible to pronounce dogmatically whether the new heavens and earth will be a reproduction of the old in a far more glorious form, through the agency of the refining fire, or an absolutely new creation, as the words of Isaiah seem to imply. St. John, like St. Peter, speaks of a new earth, and tells us that that new earth will be the dwelling-place of the blessed. He saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven; the throne of God and of the Lamb (he tells us) shall be in it: “The tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them.” The holy city, Jerusalem, which is above, is in heaven now; the commonwealth of which the saints are citizens is in heaven (Php_3:20). But heaven will come down to earth; the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be there; there his servants shall serve him. The distinction between earth and heaven will be abolished; for where God is, there is heaven. Wherein dwelleth righteousness (comp. Isa_60:21, “Thy people shall be all righteous;” also Isaiah lay. 25; Rev_21:27; Rom_8:21).

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 3:13
Nevertheless we, according to his promise – The allusion here seems to be, beyond a doubt, to two passages in Isaiah, in which a promise of this kind is found. Isa_65:17; “for, behold, I create new heavens, and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind.” Isa_66:22; “for as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord,” etc. Compare Rev_21:1, where John says he had a vision of the new heaven and the new earth which was promised: “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away, and there was no more sea.” See the notes at Isa_65:17.

Look for new heavens and a new earth – It may not be easy to answer many of the questions which might be asked respecting the “new heaven and earth” here mentioned. One of those which are most naturally asked is, whether the apostle meant to say that this earth, after being purified by fire, would be suited again for the home of the redeemed; but this question it is impossible to answer with certainty. The following remarks may perhaps embrace all that is known, or that can be shown to be probable, on the meaning of the passage before us.

I. The “new heavens and the new earth” referred to will be such as will exist after the world shall have been destroyed by fire; that is, after the general judgment. There is not a word expressed, and not a hint given, of any “new heaven and earth” previous to this, in which the Saviour will reign personally over his saints, in such a renovated world, through a long millennial period. The order of events, as stated by Peter, is:

(a) That the heavens and earth which are now, are “kept in store, reserved unto fire “against the day of judgment,” and perdition of ungodly men,” 2Pe_3:7;

(b) That the day of the Lord will come suddenly and unexpectedly, 2Pe_3:10; that then the heavens and earth will pass away with a great noise, the elements will melt, and the earth with all its works be burned up, 2Pe_3:10; and,

(c) That after this 2Pe_3:13 we are to expect the “new heavens and new earth.”
Nothing is said of a personal reign of Christ; nothing of the resurrection of the saints to dwell with him on the earth; nothing of the world’s being fitted up for their home previous to the final judgment. If Peter had any knowledge of such events, and believed that they would occur, it is remarkable that he did not even allude to them here. The passage before us is one of the very few places in the New Testament where allusion is made to the manner in which the affairs of the world will be closed; and it cannot be explained why, if he looked for such a glorious personal reign of the Saviour, the subject should have been passed over in total silence.

II. The word “new,” applied to the heavens and the earth that are to succeed the present, might express one of the following three things – that is, either of these things would correspond with all that is fairly implied in that word:

(a) If a new world was literally created out of nothing after this world is destroyed; for that would be in the strictest sense “new.” That such an event is possible no one can doubt, though it is not revealed.

(b) If an inhabitant of the earth should dwell after death In any other of the worlds now existing, it would be to him a “new” abode, and everything would appear new. Let him, for instance, be removed to the planet “Saturn,” with its wonderful ring, and its seven moons, and the whole aspect of the heavens, and of the world on which he would then dwell, would be new to him. The same thing would occur if he were to dwell on any other of the heavenly bodies, or if he were to pass from world to world. See this illustrated at length in the works of Thomas Dick, LL. D. – “Celestial Scenery,” etc. Compare the notes at 1Pe_1:12.

(c) If the earth should be renovated, and suited for the home of man after the universal conflagration, it would then be a new abode.

III. This world, thus renovated, may be, from time to time, the temporary abode of the redeemed, after the final judgment. No one can prove that this may not be, though there is no evidence that it will be their permanent and eternal home or that even all the redeemed will at any one time find a home on this globe, for no one can suppose that the earth is spacious enough to furnish a dwelling-place for all the unnumbered millions that are to be saved. But that the earth may again be revisited from time to time by the redeemed; that in a purified and renovated form it may be one of the “many mansions” which are to be fitted up for them Joh_14:2, may not appear wholly improbable from the following suggestions:

(1) It seems to have been a law of the earth that in its progress it should be “prepared” at one period for the dwelling-place of a higher order of beings at another period. Thus, according to the disclosures of geology, it existed perhaps for countless ages before it was fitted to be an abode for man; and that it was occupied by the monsters of an inferior order of existence, who have now passed away to make room for a nobler race. Who can tell but the present order of thing may pass away to make place for the manifestations of a more exalted mode of being?

(2) There is no certain evidence that any world has been annihilated, though some have disappeared from human view. Indeed, as observed above, (see the notes at 2Pe_3:10) there is no proof that a single particle of matter ever has been annihilated, or ever will be. It may change its form, but it may still exist.

(3) It seems also to accord most with probability, that, though the earth may undergo important changes by flood or fire, it will not be annihilated. It seems difficult to suppose that, as a world, it will be wholly displaced from the system of which it is now a part, or that the system itself will disappear. The earth, as one of the worlds of God, has occupied too important a position in the history of the universe to make it to be easily believed that the place where the Son of God became incarnate and died, shall be utterly swept away It would, certainly, accord more with all the feelings which we can have on such a subject, to suppose that a world once so beautiful when it came from the hand of its Maker. should be restored to primitive loveliness; that a world which seems to have been made primarily (see the notes at 1Pe_1:12) with a view to illustrate the glory of God in redemption, should be preserved in some appropriate form to be the theater of the exhibition of the developement of that plan in far distant ages to come.

(4) To the redeemed, it would be most interesting again to visit the spot where the great work of their redemption was accomplished; where the Son of God became incarnate and made atonement for sin; and where there would be so many interesting recollections and associations, even after the purification by fire, connected with the infancy of their existence, and their preparation for eternity. Piety would at least “wish” that the world where Gethsemane and Calvary are should never be blotted out from the universe.

(5) However, if, after their resurrection and reception into heaven, the redeemed shall ever revisit a world so full of interesting recollections and associations, where they began their being, where their Redeemer lived and died, where they were renewed and sanctified, and where their bodies once rested in the grave, there is no reason to suppose that this will be their permanent and unchanging home. It may be mere speculation, but it seems to accord best with the goodness of God, and with the manner in which the universe is made, to suppose that every portion of it may be visited, and become successively the home of the redeemed; that they may pass from world to world, and survey the wonders and the works of God as they are displayed in different worlds. The universe, so vast, seems to have been suited for such a purpose, and nothing else that we can conceive of will be so adapted to give employment without weariness to the minds that God has made, in the interminable duration before them.

IV. The new heavens and earth will be “holy.” They will be the home of righteousness forever.

(a) This fact is clearly revealed in the verse before us; “wherein dwelleth righteousness.” It is also the correct statement of the Scriptures, Rev_21:27; 1Co_6:9-10; Heb_12:14.

(b) This will be in strong contrast with what has occurred on earth, The history of this world has been almost entirely a history of sin – of its nature, developements, results. There have been no perfectly holy beings on the earth, except the Saviour, and the angels who have occasionally visited it. There has been no perfectly holy place – city, village, hamlet; no perfectly holy community. But the future world, in strong contrast with this, will be perfectly pure, and will be a fair illustration of what religion in its perfect form will do.

(c) It is for this that the Christian desires to dwell in that world, and waits for the coming of his Saviour. It is not primarily that he may be happy, desirable as that is, but that he may be in a world where he himself will be perfectly pure, and where all around him will be pure; where every being that he meets shall be “holy as God is holy,” and every place on which his eye rests, or his foot treads, shall be uncontaminated by sin. To the eye of faith and hope, how blessed is the prospect of such a world!

John Calvin
2 Peter 3:14
14.Wherefore. He justly reasons from hope to its effect, or the practice of a godly life; for hope is living and efficacious; therefore it cannot be but that it will attract us to itself. He, then, who waits for new heavens, must begin with renewal as to himself, and diligently aspire after it; but they who cleave to their own filth, think nothing, it is certain, of God’s kingdom, and have no taste for anything but for this corrupt world.

But we must notice that he says, that we ought to be found blameless by Christ; for by these words he intimates, that while the world engages and engrosses the minds of others, we must cast our eyes on the Lord, and he shews at the same time what is real integrity, even that which is approved by his judgment, and not that which gains the Praise of men.

The word peace seems to be taken for a quiet state of conscience, founded on hope and patient waiting. For as so few turn their attention to the judgment of Christ, hence it is, that while they are carried headlong by their importunate lusts, they are at the same time in a state of disquietude. This peace, then, is the quietness of a peaceable soul, which acquiesces in the word of God.

It may be asked, how any one can be found blameless by Christ, when we all labor under so many deficiencies. But Peter here only points out the mark at which the faithful ought all to aim, though they cannot reach it, until having put off their flesh they become wholly united to Christ.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Pet 3:14. be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace …] The language, like that of ver. 8, is that of one who still lives in the expectation that he and those to whom he writes may yet survive to witness the coming of the Lord. The hour of death has not yet taken the place in the Apostle’s thoughts, as it has done since, of the day of that Coming. In the exhortation that men should be diligent (better, be earnest) to be found in peace at that day, we may trace an echo of our Lord’s words, “Blessed is that servant, whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing” (Mat_24:46). “Peace” is used in its widest Hebrew sense, as including every element of blessedness, peace with God, and therefore peace with man, the peace which Christ gives, not as the world gives (Joh_14:27), the peace which passes understanding (Php_4:7).

without spot, and blameless …] The words are nearly identical with those which describe the character of Christ as “a lamb without blemish and without spot” in 1Pe_1:19, and their re-appearance is a fresh link in the chain of evidence as to identity of authorship. They who expect the coming of Christ should be like Him in their lives. The first of the two words may be noticed as used also by St James (1:27).

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 3:14
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent – That is, in securing your salvation. The effect of such hopes and prospects should be to lead us to an earnest inquiry whether we are prepared to dwell in a holy world, and to make us diligent in performing the duties, and patient in bearing the trials of life. He who has such hopes set before him, should seek earnestly that he may be enabled truly to avail himself of them, and should make their attainment the great object of his life. He who is so soon to come to an end of all weary toil, should be willing to labor diligently and faithfully while life lasts. He who is so soon to be relieved from all temptation and trial, should he willing to bear a little longer the sorrows of the present world. What are all these compared with the glory that awaits us? Compare the 1Co_15:58 note; Rom_8:18 note, following; 2Co_4:16-18 notes.

That ye may be found of him in peace – Found by him when he returns in such a state as to secure your eternal peace.

Without spot, and blameless – See the notes at Eph_5:27. It should be an object of earnest effort with us to have the last stain of sin and pollution removed from our souls. A deep feeling that we are soon to stand in the presence of a holy God, our final Judge, cannot but have a happy influence in making us pure.

John Calvin
2 Peter 3:17
17.Ye, therefore, beloved. After having shewn to the faithful the dangers of which they were to beware, he now concludes by admonishing them to be wise. But he shews that there was need of being watchful, lest they should be overwhelmed. And, doubtless, the craft of our enemy, the many and various treacheries which he employs against us, the cavils of ungodly men, leave no place for security. Hence, vigilance must be exercised, lest the devices of Satan and of the wicked should succeed in circumventing us. It, however seems that we stand on slippery ground, and the certainty of our salvation is suspended, as it were, on a thread, since he declares to the faithful, that they ought to take heed lest they should fall from their own steadfastness.

What, then, will become of us, if we are exposed to the danger of falling? To this I answer, that this exhortation, and those like it, are by no means intended to shake the firmness of that faith which recumbs on God, but to correct the sloth of our flesh. If any one wishes to see more on this subject, let him read what has been said on the tenth chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians.

The meaning is this, that as long as we are in the flesh, our tardiness must be roused, and that this is fitly done by having our weakness, and the variety of dangers which surround us, placed before our eyes; but that the confidence which rests on God’s promises ought not to be thereby shaken.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Pet 3:17. beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked] Better, of the lawless ones, as in chap. 2:7. It is noticeable that while St Paul had used the word for being “led away” of Barnabas as being influenced by the Judaizing teachers at Antioch (Gal_2:13), St Peter here applies it to those who were persuaded by teachers at the opposite pole of error. Comp. note on chap. 2:1. The word for “error” is prominent in the Epistles to which St Peter has referred in the preceding verses (Eph_4:14; 1Th_2:3; 2Th_2:11).

fall from your own stedfastness] The “steadfastness” of the readers of the Epistle as contrasted with the unstable or unsteadfast of verse 16 is acknowledged; but they are warned that it requires care and watchfulness to preserve it. He does not assume any indefectible grace of perseverance. The tense of the verb in “lest ye fall” indicates that it would be a single and decisive act.

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 3:17
Seeing that ye know these things before – Being aware of this danger, and knowing that such results may follow. People should read the Bible with the feeling that it is possible that they may fall into error, and be deceived at last. This apprehension will do much to make them diligent, and candid, and prayerful, in studying the Word of God.

With the error of the wicked – Wicked men. Such as he had referred to in 2 Pet. 2, who became public teachers of religion.

Fall from your own steadfastness – Your firm adherence to the truth. The particular danger here referred to is not that of falling from grace, or from true religion, but from the firm and settled principles of religious truth into error.

John Calvin
2 Peter 3:18
18.But grow in grace. He also exhorts us to make progress; for it is the only way of persevering, to make continual advances, and not to stand still in the middle of our journey; as though he had said, that they only would be safe who labored to make progress daily.

The word grace, I take in a general sense, as meaning those spiritual gifts we obtain through Christ. But as we become partakers of these blessings according to the measure of our faith, knowledge is added to grace; as though he had said, that as faith increases, so would follow the increase of grace.

To him be glory. This is a remarkable passage to prove the divinity of Christ; for what is said cannot belong to any but to God alone. The adverb of the present time, now, is designed for this end, that we may not rob Christ of his glory, during our warfare in the world. He then adds,for ever, that we may now form some idea of his eternal kingdom, which will make known to us his full and perfect glory.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Peter 3:18. But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ] The final thought of the Epistle, like that with which it opened, is the growth of the Christian life. Here, as there (chap. 1:5), stress is laid on knowledge as an element of growth, partly as essential to completeness in the Christian life, partly also, perhaps, in reference to the “knowledge falsely so called” (1Ti_6:20) of which the false teachers boasted.

To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen] The word “glory” in the Greek has the article, which makes it include all the glory which men were wont, in their doxologies, to ascribe to God. The Apostle has learnt the full meaning of the words “that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father” (Joh_5:23). The effect of his teaching may be traced in the Churches to which the letter was mainly addressed, in Pliny’s account of the worship of Christians in the Asiatic provinces, as including “a hymn sung to Christ as to God” (Ep. ad Trajan. 96). The Greek phrase for “for ever” (literally, for the day of the æon, or eternity) is a peculiar one, and expresses the thought that “the day” of which the Apostle had spoken in verses 10 and 12 would be one which should last through the new æon that would then open, and to which no time-limits could be assigned.

The absence of any salutations, like those with which the First Epistle ended, is, perhaps, in part due to the wider and more encyclical character which marks the Second. The Apostle was content that his last words should be on the one hand an earnest entreaty that men should “grow” to completeness in their spiritual life, and, on the other, the ascription of an eternal glory to the Lord and Master whom he loved.

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 3:18
But grow in grace – Compare Col_1:10. Religion in general is often represented as “grace,” since every part of it is the result of grace, or of unmerited favor; and to “grow in grace” is to increase in that which constitutes true religion. Religion is as susceptible of cultivation and of growth as any other virtue of the soul. It is feeble in its beginnings, like the grain of mustard seed, or like the germ or blade of the plant, and it increases as it is cultivated. There is no piety in the world which is not the result of cultivation, and which cannot be measured by the degree of care and attention bestowed upon it. No one becomes eminently pious, any more than one becomes eminently learned or rich, who does not intend to; and ordinarily men in religion are what they design to be. They have about as much religion as they wish, and possess about the character which they intend to possess. When men reach extraordinary elevations in religion, like Baxter, Payson, and Edwards, they have gained only what they meant to gain; and the gay and worldly professors of religion who have little comfort and peace, have in fact the characters which they designed to have. If these things are so, then we may see the propriety of the injunction “to grow in grace;” and then too we may see the reason why so feeble attainments are made in piety by the great mass of those who profess religion.

And in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ – See the notes at Joh_17:3. Compare the notes at Col_1:10. To know the Lord Jesus Christ – to possess just views of his person, character, and work – is the sum and essence of the Christian religion; and with this injunction, therefore, the apostle appropriately closes this epistle. He who has a saving knowledge of Christ, has in tact all that is essential to his welfare in the life that is, and in that which is to come; he who has not this knowledge, though he may be distinguished in the learning of the schools, and may be profoundly skilled in the sciences, has in reality no knowledge that will avail him in the great matters pertaining to his eternal welfare.

To him be glory … – Compare the Rom_16:27 note; 2Ti_4:18 note. With the desire that honor and glory should be rendered to the Redeemer, all the aspirations of true Christians appropriately close. There is no wish more deeply cherished in their hearts than this; there is nothing that will enter more into their worship in heaven. Compare Rev_1:5-6; Rev_5:12-13.

Sumption’s Hundred Years War on Sale Now on Kindle

The books on the Hundred Years War, Jonathan Sumption’s uncompleted history of the long series of wars between England and France are perfect reading for medieval fans with stanima (large books!). No sooner had I discovered they were available for Amazon Kindle, than the first two volumes have gone on sale. Get them while they are marked down. You’ll be glad you did.

2 Peter 2 1-3, 12-14; Jude 16-25 Antique Commentary Quotes

John Calvin
2 Peter 2:1
1.But there were. As weak consciences are usually very grievously and dangerously shaken, when false teachers arise, who either corrupt or mutilate the doctrine of faith, it was necessary for the Apostle, while seeking to encourage the faithful to persevere, to remove out of the way an offense of this kind. He, moreover, comforted those to whom he was writing, and confirmed them by this argument, that God has always tried and proved his Church by such a temptation as this, in order that novelty might not disturb their hearts. “Not different,” he says, “will be the condition of the Church under the gospel, from what it was formerly under the law; false prophets disturbed the ancient Church; the same thing must also be expected by us.”

It was necessary expressly to shew this, because many imagined that the Church would enjoy tranquillity under the rein of Christ; for as the prophets had promised that at his coming there would be real peace, the highest degree of heavenly wisdom, and the full restoration of all things, they thought that the Church would be no more exposed to any contests. Let us then remember that the Spirit of God hath once for all declared, that the Church shall never be free from this intestine evil; and let this likeness be always borne in mind, that the trial of our faith is to be similar to that of the fathers, and for the same reason — that in this way it may be made evident, whether we really love God, as we find it written in Deu_13:3.

But it is not necessary here to refer to every example of this kind; it is enough, in short, to know that, like the fathers, we must contend against false doctrines, that our faith ought by no means to be shaken on account of discords and sects, because the truth of God shall remain unshaken notwithstanding the violent agitations by which Satan strives often to upset all things.

Observe also, that no one time in particular is mentioned by Peter, when he says there shall be false teachers, but that all ages are included; for he makes here a comparison between Christians and the ancient people. We ought, then, to apply this truth to our own time, lest, when we see false teachers rising up to oppose the truth of God, this trial should break us down. But the Spirit reminds us, in order that we may take the more heed; and to the same purpose is the whole description which follows.

He does not, indeed, paint each sect in its own colors, but particularly refers to profane men who manifested contempt towards God. The advice, indeed, is general, that we ought to beware of false teachers; but, at the same time, he selected one kind of such from whom the greater danger arose. What is said here will hereafter become more evident from the words of Jude, [Jud_1:4,] who treats exactly of the same subject.

Who privily shall bring in. By these words he points out the craftiness of Satan, and of all the ungodly who militate under his banner, that they would creep in by oblique turnings, as through burrows under ground. The more watchful, then, ought the godly to be, so that they may escape their hidden frauds: for however they may insinuate themselves, they cannot circumvent those who are carefully vigilant.

He calls them opinions of perdition, or destructive opinions, that every one, solicitous for his salvation, might dread such opinions as the most noxious pests. As to the wordopinions or heresies, it has not, without reason, been always deemed infamous and hateful by the children of God; for the bond of holy unity is the simple truth. As soon as we depart from that, nothing remains but dreadful discord.

Even denying the Lord that bought them. Though Christ may be denied in various ways, yet Peter, as I think, refers here to what is expressed by Jude, that is, when the grace of God is turned into lasciviousness; for Christ redeemed us, that he might have a people separated from all the pollutions of the world, and devoted to holiness and innocency. They, then, who throw off the bridle, and give themselves up to all kinds of licentiousness, are not unjustly said to deny Christ by whom they have been redeemed. Hence, that the doctrine of the gospel may remain whole and complete among us, let this be fixed in our minds, that we have been redeemed by Christ, that he may be the Lord of our life and of our death, and that our main object ought to be, to live to him and to die to him. He then says, that their swift destruction was at hand, lest others should be ensnared by them.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Pet 2:1. But there were false prophets also among the people] The section of the Epistle which now opens contains so many parallelisms with the Epistle of St Jude that we can scarcely avoid the conclusion that one was derived from the other, or both from a common source. For a discussion of the questions which thus present themselves see Introduction. As regards the meaning of the words it is again an open question whether the Apostle refers to the remoter past of the history of Israel, to the false prophets of the days of Ahab (1Ki_22:12), or Isaiah (9:15, 28:7), or Jeremiah (Jer_14:14, Jer_27:10), or Ezekiel (Eze_13:3), or Zechariah (Zec_13:4), or to those who in his own time had deceived the “people” (the distinctive term for “Israel”) in Jerusalem. The warnings against false prophets in our Lord’s discourses (Mat_7:22, Mat_24:24), and the like warnings in 1Jn_4:1, make it probable that he had chiefly the latter class in view. In the Greek compound noun (pseudo-didaskaloi) for “false teachers” we have another word peculiar to St Peter. The word was, perhaps, chosen as including in its range not only those who came with a direct claim to prophetic inspiration, but all who without authority should appear as teachers of a doctrine that was not true, and, as such, it would include the Judaizing teachers on the one side, the Gnosticizing teachers on the other. Comp. the distinction between “prophets” and “teachers” in Eph_4:11; 1Co_12:29.

who privily shall bring in] The verb is that from which was formed the adjective which St Paul uses for the “false brethren unawares brought in” (Gal_2:4). Are we justified in thinking that St Peter speaks of the same class of Judaizing teachers, or that he uses the word as indicating that it was applicable to others also, who were, it might be, at the opposite extreme of error?

damnable heresies] Literally, heresies of destruction. The word “heresy,” literally, “the choice of a party,” was used by later Greek writers for a philosophic sect or school like that of the Stoics or Epicureans, and hence, as in Act_5:17, Act_5:15:5, Act_5:24:5, Act_5:26:5, Act_5:28:22; 1Co_11:19, for a “sect” or “party” in the Church, and thence, again, for the principles characterizing such a sect, and so it passed to the ecclesiastical sense of “heresy.” The English adjective “damnable” hardly expresses the force of the Greek genitive, which indicates that the leading characteristic of the heresies of which the Apostle speaks was that they led men to “destruction” or “perdition.” Comp. the use of the same word in 1Ti_6:9. It may be noted that it is a word specially characteristic of this Epistle, in which it occurs six times; twice here, and in verses 2 and 3, and chap. 3:7, 16.

even denying the Lord that bought them] The word for Lord (despotes), literally, a master as contrasted with a slave (1Ti_6:1, 1Ti_6:2), is used of Christ here, in the hymn, which we may fairly connect with St Peter, in Act_4:24, in Rev_6:10, and, in conjunction with the more common word for Lord (Kyrios), in Jude ver. 4. Here the choice of the word was probably determined by the connexion with the idea of “buying,” as a master buys a slave. The use of that word presents a parallelism with the thought of 1Pe_1:18, and here, as there, we have to think of the “precious blood of Christ” as the price that had been paid. No words could better assert the truth that the redemption so wrought was universal in its range than these. The sin of the teachers of these “heresies of perdition” was that they would not accept the position of redeemed creatures which of right belonged to them. The “denial” referred to may refer either to a formal rejection of Christ as the Son of God, like that of 1Jn_2:22, 1Jn_2:23, or to the practical denial of base and ungodly lives. The former is, perhaps, more prominently in view, but both are probably included. We cannot read the words without recollecting that the writer had himself, in one memorable instance, denied his Lord (Mat_26:69-75). In his case, however, the denial came from a passing cowardice and was followed by an immediate repentance. That which he here condemns was more persistent and malignant in its nature, and was as yet unrepented of.

bring upon themselves swift destruction] The adjective, which is peculiar to St Peter in the New Testament (here and in chap. 1:14), implies the swift unlooked-for manner of the destruction that was to be the end of the false teachers rather than the nearness of its approach. The Apostle seems to contemplate either some sudden “visitation of God,” or possibly some quick exposure of their falsehood and baseness before men, ending in their utter confusion.

Pulpit Commentary
But there were false prophets also among the people; rather, as in the Revised Version, but there arose false prophets also among the people. The transition is simple and natural. Besides the true prophets mentioned in the last chapter, who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, there arose false prophets, men who wore “a rough garment to deceive” (Zec_13:4), and assumed without warrant the prophetic character. Such pretenders would commonly prophesy false things; but the word ψευδοπροφῆται seems principally to imply the absence of a Divine mission. By “the people” (λαός) is meant the people of Israel, as in Rom_15:11; Jud Rom_1:5, etc. It is plain from these words that St. Peter, at the end of the last chapter, was speaking of the prophets of the Old Testament.

Even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies. By the false teachers, again (the word ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι is peculiar to St. Peter), may be meant men whose teaching was false, or men who falsely claimed the teacher’s office. St. Peter describes them as such as (οἵτινες) shall bring in damnable heresies. The verb (παριεσάξουσιν) is found only here in the New Testament; the adjective derived from it is used by St. Paul in Gal_2:4, “false brethren unawares brought in.” It means “to bring in by the side of,” as if these false teachers brought in their errors by the side of the true doctrine; it implies also the secondary notion of secrecy. Compare St. Jude’s use of the verb παρεισέδυσαν, compounded with the same prepositions (Jud_1:4); and notice the difference of tenses—St. Jude using the past where St. Peter looks forward to the future; but St. Peter passes to the present tense in Jud_1:10, and maintains it for the rest of the chapter. We may, perhaps, infer that the false teaching referred to was already beginning to affect the Churches of Asia Minor; but the errors were not so much developed there, the’ false teachers had not gained so much influence as it seems they had in the Churches which St. Jude had principally in his thoughts. The literal translation of the words rendered “damnable heresies” is “heresies of destruction,” the last word being the same which occurs again at the end of the verse. These heresies destroy the soul; they bring ruin both to those who are led astray and to the false teachers themselves. The word for “heresy”(αἵρεσις), meaning originally “choice,” became the name for a party, sect, or school, as in Act_5:17, “the sect of the Sadducees;” Act_15:5,” the sect of the Pharisees;” Act_24:5 (in the mouth of Tertullus). “the sect of the Nazarenes;” then, by a natural transition, it came to be used of the opinions held by a sect. The notion of self-will, deliberate separation, led to its being employed generally in a bad sense (see especially Tit_3:10, “A man that is a heretic, (αἱρετικὸς)”).

Even denying the Lord that bought them; literally, as in the Revised Version, denying even the Master that bought them. The word for “Master” (δεσπότης) implies that the deniers stand to the Lord in the relation of slaves, bondservants. The Lord had bought them; they were not their own, but his, bought with a price, “not with corruptible things, as silver and gold, but with the precious blood of Christ” (1Pe_1:18; see also the parallel passage Jud 1Pe_1:4). These words plainly assert the universality of the Lord’s redemption. He “tasted death for every man” (Heb_2:9), even for those false teachers who denied him. The denial referred to may have been doctrinal or practical; most of the ancient forms of heresy involved some grave error as to the Person of Christ; and the germs of these errors appeared very early in the Church (see 1Jn_2:22, 1Jn_2:23), denying sometimes the Godhead of our Lord, sometimes the truth of his humanity. But St. Peter may mean the practical denial of Christ evinced in an ungodly and licentious life. The latter form of denial appears most prominent in this chapter; probably the apostle intended to warn his readers against both. It is touching to remember that he had himself denied the Lord, though indeed the price with which our souls were bought had not then been paid; but his denial was at once followed by a deep and true repentance. The Lord’s loving look recalled him to himself; his bitter tears proved the sincerity of his contrition.

And bring upon themselves swift destruction; literally, bringing. The participial construction unites the two clauses closely; the latter expresses the consequence of the former: they bring heresies of destruction into the Church, and by so doing bring upon themselves swift destruction. The word for “swift” (ταχινός) is used by no other New Testament writer. There is an apparent allusion to this verso in Justin Martyr (‘Cum Tryph.,’ 82), and the first clause of it is quoted in a homily ascribed to Hippolytus of Portus. Notice St. Peter’s habit of repetition, he repeats the word ἀπώλεια three times in Tit_3:1-3; δίκαιος three times in Tit_3:7, Tit_3:8; the verb προσδοκάω three times in 2Pe_3:12-14, etc.

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 2:1
But there were false prophets also among the people – In the previous chapter, 2Pe_2:19-21, Peter had appealed to the prophecies as containing unanswerable proofs of the truth of the Christian religion. He says, however, that he did not mean to say that all who claimed to be prophets were true messengers of God. There were many who pretended to be such, who only led the people astray. It is unnecessary to say, that such men have abounded in all ages where there have been true prophets.

Even as there shall be false teachers among you – The fact that false teachers would arise in the church is often adverted to in the New Testament. Compare Mat_24:5, Mat_24:24; Act_20:29-30.

Who privily – That is, in a secret manner, or under plausible arts and pretences. They would not at first make an open avowal of their doctrines, but would, in fact, while their teachings seemed to be in accordance with truth, covertly maintain opinions which would sap the very foundations of religion. The Greek word here used, and which is rendered “who privily shall bring in,” (παρεισάγω pareisagō,) means properly “to lead in by the side of others; to lead in along with others.” Nothing could better express the usual way in which error is introduced. It is “by the side,” or “along with,” other doctrines which are true; that is, while the mind is turned mainly to other subjects, and is off its guard, gently and silently to lay down some principle, which, being admitted, would lead to the error, or from which the error would follow as a natural consequence. Those who inculcate error rarely do it openly. If they would at once boldly “deny the Lord that bought them,” it would be easy to meet them, and the mass of professed Christians would be in no danger of embracing the error. But when principles are laid down which may lead to that; when doubts on remote points are suggested which may involve it; or when a long train of reasoning is pursued which may secretly tend to it; there is much more probability that the mind will be corrupted from the truth.

Damnable heresies – αἱρέσεις ἀπωλείας haireseis apōleias. “Heresies of destruction;” that is, heresies that will be followed by destruction. The Greek word which is rendered “damnable,” is the same which in the close of the verse is rendered “destruction.” It is so rendered also in Mat_7:13; Rom_9:22; Phi_3:19; 2Pe_3:16 – in all of which places it refers to the future loss of the soul The same word also is rendered “perdition” in Joh_17:12; Phi_1:28; 1Ti_6:9; Heb_10:39; 2Pe_3:7; Rev_17:8, Rev_17:11 – in all which places it has the same reference. On the meaning of the word rendered “heresies,” see the Act_24:14 note; 1Co_11:19 note. The idea of “sect” or “party” is that which is conveyed by this word, rather than doctrinal errors; but it is evident that in this case the formation of the sect or party, as is the fact in most cases, would be founded on error of doctrine.

The thing which these false teachers would attempt would be divisions, alienations, or parties, in the church, but these would be based on the erroneous doctrines which they would promulgate. What would be the particular doctrine in this case is immediately specified, to wit, that they “would deny the Lord that bought them.” The idea then is, that these false teachers would form sects or parties in the church, of a destructive or ruinous nature, founded on a denial of the Lord that bought them. Such a formation of sects would be ruinous to piety, to good morals, and to the soul. The authors of these sects, holding the views which they did, and influenced by the motives which they would be, and practicing the morals which they would practice, as growing out of their principles, would bring upon themselves swift and certain destruction. It is not possible now to determine to what particular class of errorists the apostle had reference here, but it is generally supposed that it was to some form of the Gnostic belief. There were many early sects of so-called “heretics” to whom what he here says would be applicable.

Even denying the Lord that bought them – This must mean that they held doctrines which were in fact a denial of the Lord, or the tendency of which would be a denial of the Lord, for it cannot be supposed that, while they professed to be Christians, they would openly and avowedly deny him. To “deny the Lord” may be either to deny his existence, his claims, or his attributes; it is to withhold from him, in our belief and profession, anything which is essential to a proper conception of him. The particular thing, however, which is mentioned here as entering into that self-denial, is something connected with the fact that he had ““bought”” them. It was such a denial of the Lord “as having bought them,” as to be in fact a renunciation of the uniqueness of the Christian religion. There has been much difference of opinion as to the meaning of the word “Lord” in this place – whether it refers to God the Father. or to the Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek word is Δεσπότης Despotēs. Many expositors have maintained that it refers to the Father, and that when it is said that he had “bought” them, it means in a general sense that he was the Author of the plan of redemption, and had causeD them to be purchased or redeemed. Michaelis supposes that the Gnostics are referred to as denying the Father by asserting that he was not the Creator of the universe, maintaining that it was created by an inferior being – Introduction to New Testament, iv. 360. Whitby, Benson, Slade, and many others, maintain that this refers to the Father as having originated the plan by which men are redeemed; and the same opinion is held, of necessity, by those who deny the doctrine of general atonement. The only arguments to show that it refers to God the Father would be,

(1) That the word used here Δεσπότην Despotēn is not the usual term (κύριος kurios) by which the Lord Jesus is designated in the New Testament; and,

(2) That the admission that it refers to the Lord Jesus would lead inevitably to the conclusion that some will perish for whom Christ died.

That it does, however, refer to the Lord Jesus, seems to me to be plain from the following considerations:

(1) It is the obvious interpretation; that which would be given by the great mass of Christians, and about which there could never have been any hesitancy if it had not been supposed that it would lead to the doctrine of general atonement. As to the alleged fact that the word used, Δεσπότης Despotēs, is not that which is commonly applied to the Lord Jesus, that may be admitted to be true, but still the word here may be understood as applied to him. It properly means “a master” as opposed to a servant; then it is used as denoting supreme authority, and is thus applied to God, and may be in that sense to the Lord Jesus Christ, as head over all things, or as having supreme authority over the church. It occurs in the New Testament only in the following places: 1Ti_6:1-2; Tit_2:9; 1Pe_2:18, where it is rendered “masters;” Luk_2:29; Act_4:24,; Rev_6:10, where it is rendered “Lord,” and is applied to God; and in Jud_1:4, and in the passage before us, in both which places it is rendered “Lord,” and is probably to be regarded as applied to the Lord Jesus. There is nothing in the proper signification of the word which would forbid this.

(2) The phrase is one that is properly applicable to the Lord Jesus as having “bought” us with his blood. The Greek word is ἀγοράζω agorazō – a word which means properly “to market, to buy, to purchase,” and then to redeem, or acquire for oneself by a price paid, or by a ransom. It is rendered “buy” or “bought” in the following places in the New Testament: Mat_13:44, Mat_13:46; Mat_14:15; Mat_21:12; Mat_25:9-10; Mat_27:7; Mar_6:36-37; Mar_11:15; Mar_15:46; Mar_16:1; Luk_9:13; Luk_14:18-19; Luk_17:28; Luk_19:45; Luk_22:36; Joh_4:8; Joh_6:5; Joh_13:29; 1Co_7:30; Rev_3:18; Rev_13:17; Rev_18:11 – in all which places it is applicable to ordinary transactions of “buying.” In the following places it is also rendered “bought,” as applicable to the redeemed, as being bought or purchased by the Lord Jesus: 1Co_6:20; 1Co_7:23, “Ye are ‘bought’ with a price;” and in the following places it is rendered “redeemed,” Rev_5:9; Rev_14:3-4. It does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It is true that in a large sense this word might be applied to the Father as having caused his people to be redeemed, or as being the Author of the plan of redemption; but it is also true that the word is more properly applicable to the Lord Jesus, and that, when used with reference to redemption, it is uniformly given to him in the New Testament. Compare the passages referred to above.

It is strictly and properly true only of the Son of God that he has “bought” us. The Father indeed is represented as making the arrangement, as giving his Son to die, and as the great Source of all the blessings secured by redemption; but the “purchase” was actually made by the Son of God by his sacrifice on the cross. Whatever there was of the nature of “a price” was paid by him; and whatever obligations may grow out of the fact that we are purchased or ransomed are due particularly to him; 2Co_5:15. These considerations seem to me to make it clear that Peter referred here to the Lord Jesus Christ, and that he meant to say that the false teachers mentioned held doctrines which were in fact a “denial” of that Saviour. He does not specify particularly what constituted such a denial; but it is plain that any doctrine which represented him, his person, or his work, as essentially different from what was the truth, would amount to such a denial.
If he were Divine, and that fact was denied, making him wholly a different being; if he actually made an expiatory sacrifice by his death, and that fact was denied, and he was held to be a mere religious teacher, changing essentially the character of the work which he came to perform; if he, in some proper sense, “bought” them with his blood, and that fact was denied in such a way that according to their views it was not strictly proper to speak of him as having bought them at all, which would be the case if he were a mere prophet or religious teacher, then it is clear that such a representation would be in fact a denial of his true nature and work. That some of these views entered into their denial of him is clear, for it was with reference to the fact that he had bought them, or redeemed them, that they denied him.

And bring upon themselves swift destruction – The destruction here referred to can be only that which will occur in the future world, for there can be no evidence that Peter meant to say that this would destroy their health, their property, or their lives. The Greek word (ἀπώλειαν apōleian) is the same which is used in the former part of the verse, in the phrase “damnable heresies.” See the notes. In regard, then, to this important passage, we may remark:

(1) That the apostle evidently believed that some would perish for whom Christ died.

(2) If this is so, then the same truth may be expressed by saying that he died for others besides those who will be saved that is, that the atonement was not confined merely to the elect. This one passage, therefore, demonstrates the doctrine of general atonement. This conclusion would be drawn from it by the great mass of readers, and it may be presumed, therefore, that this is the fair interpretation of the passage.

(See the supplementary 2Co_5:14 note; Heb_2:9 note for a general view of the question regarding the extent of the atonement. On this text Scott has well observed: “Doubtless Christ intended to redeem those, and those only, who he foresaw would eventually be saved by faith in him; yet his ransom was of infinite sufficiency, and people are continually addressed according to their profession.” Christ has indeed laid down such a price as that all the human family may claim and find salvation in him. An unhappy ambiguity of terms has made this controversy very much a war of words. When the author here says, “Christ died for others besides those who will be saved,” he does not use the words in the common sense of an actual design, on the part of Christ to save everyone. The reader will see, by consulting the notes above referred to, how much disputing might be saved by a careful definition of terms.)

(3) It follows that people may destroy themselves by a denial of the great and vital “doctrines” of religion. It cannot be a harmless thing, then, to hold erroneous opinions; nor can men be safe who deny the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. It is truth, not error, that saves the soul; and an erroneous opinion on any subject may be as dangerous to a man’s ultimate peace, happiness, and prosperity, as a wrong course of life. How many men have been ruined in their worldly prospects, their health, and their lives, by holding false sentiments on the subject of morals, or in regard to medical treatment! Who would regard it as a harmless thing if a son should deny in respect to his father that he was a man of truth, probity, and honesty, or should attribute to him a character which does not belong to him – a character just the reverse of truth? Can the same thing be innocent in regard to God our Saviour?

(4) People bring destruction “on themselves.” No one compels them to deny the Lord that bought them; no one forces them to embrace any dangerous error. If people perish, they perish by their own fault, for:

(a) Ample provision was made for their salvation as well as for others;

(b) They were freely invited to be saved;

(c) It was, in itself, just as easy for them to embrace the truth as it was for others; and,

(d) It was as easy to embrace the truth as to embrace error.

John Calvin
2 Peter 2:2
2.And many shall follow. It is, indeed, no slight offense to the weak, when they see that false doctrines are received by the common consent of the world, that a large number of men are led astray, so that few continue in true obedience to Christ. So, at this day, there is nothing that more violently disturbs pious minds than such a defection. For hardly one in ten of those who have once made a profession of Christ, retains the purity of faith to the end. Almost all turn aside into corruptions, and being deluded by the teachers of licentiousness, they become profane. Lest this should make our faith to falter, Peter comes to our help, and in due time foretells that this very thing would be, that is, that false teachers would draw many to perdition.

But there is a double reading even in the Greek copies; for some read, “lasciviousness,” and others, “perdition.” I have, however, followed what has been mostly approved.

By reason of whom the way of truth. This I consider to have been said for this reason, because as religion is adorned when men are taught to fear God, to maintain uprightness of life, a chaste and virtuous conduct, or when at least the mouth of the wicked is closed, that they do not speak evil of the gospel; so when the reins are let loose, and every kind of licentiousness is practiced, the name and the doctrine of Christ are exposed to the reproaches of the ungodly. Others give a different explanation — that these false teachers, like filthy dogs, barked at sound doctrine. But the words of Peter appear to me on the contrary to intimate, that these would give occasion to enemies insolently to assail the truth of God. Though then they would not themselves assail the Christian faith with calumnies, yet they would arm others with the means of reproaching it.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Pet 2:2. And many shall follow their pernicious ways] Better, their lasciviousnesses. The word is the same as in Mar_7:22, Rom_13:13, 1Pe_4:3, and elsewhere; and the English version loses the distinctive character of the sectarian teaching and conduct (analogous to what is noted in Jude, verses 4, 8, Rev_2:20) which called down the Apostle’s condemnation. The needless variation in the rendering of the English version hinders the reader from perceiving the identity with St Jude’s condemnation of those who “turn the grace of God into lasciviousness.”

the way of truth shall be evil spoken of] Better, reviled or blasphemed. Comp. Rom_2:24. In the use of the term “the way of truth” we have an interesting parallel with the frequent occurrence of that word in the Acts (18:26, 19:9, 23, 22:4, 24:22), as equivalent to what we should call, in modern phrase, the “system” or the “religion” of Christ. The scandals caused by the impurities of the false teachers brought discredit upon the whole system with which, in the judgment of the outside world, they were identified.

Pulpit Commentary
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; rather, as in the Revised Version, their lascivious doings; the reading represented by the Authorized Version has very little support (comp. Jud 2Pe_1:4, 2Pe_1:8). (For “shall follow” (ἐξακολουθήσουσιν), see note on 2Pe_1:16.) By reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. The heathen were accustomed to charge Christians with immorality; the conduct of these false teachers gave them occasion; they did not distinguish between these licentious heretics and true Christians. The expression, “way of truth,” occurs in the ‘Epistle of Barnabas,’ chapter 5. Christianity is called “the way” several times in the Acts (Act_9:2; Act_19:9, Act_19:23, etc.). It is the way of truth, because Christ, who is the Center of his religion, is the Way, the Truth, and the Life; because it is the way of life which is founded on the truth.

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 2:2
And many shall follow their pernicious ways – Margin: “lascivious.” A large number of manuscripts and versions read “lascivious” here – ἀσελγείαις aselgeiais – instead of “pernicious” – ἀπωλείαις apōleiais (see Wetstein), and this reading is adopted in the editions of the Greek Testament by Tittman, Griesbach, and Hahn, and it seems probable that this is the correct reading. This will agree well with the account elsewhere given of these teachers, that their doctrines tended to licentiousness, 2Pe_2:10, 2Pe_2:14, 2Pe_2:18-19. It is a very remarkable circumstance, that those who have denied the essential doctrines of the gospel have been so frequently licentious in their own conduct, and have inculcated opinions which tended to licentiousness. Many of the forms of religious error have somehow had a connection with this vice. People who are corrupt at heart often seek to obtain the sanction of religion for their corruptions.

By reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of –

(1) Because they were professors of religion, and religion would seem to be held responsible for their conduct; and,

(2) Because they were professed teachers of religion, and, by many, would be understood as expounding the true doctrines of the gospel.

John Calvin
2 Peter 2:3
3.With feigned words. Peter endeavors by all means to render the faithful displeased with ungodly teachers, that they might resist them more resolutely and more constantly. It is especially an odious thing that we should be exposed to sale like vile slaves. But he testifies that this is done, when any one seduces us from the redemption of Christ. He calls those feigned words which are artfully formed for the purpose of deceiving. Unless then one is so mad as to sell the salvation of his soul to false teachers, let him close up every avenue that may lead to their wicked inventions. For the same purpose as before he repeats again, that their destruction delayed not, that is, that he might frighten the good from their society. For since they were given up to a sudden destruction, every one who connected himself with them, must have perished with them.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Pet 2:3. through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you] Better, in or with covetousness. The adjective for “feigned” is not found elsewhere in the New Testament. This greed of gain, found in strange union with high-flown claims to a higher knowledge and holiness than that of others, seems to have been one of the chief features of the heresies of the Apostolic age. Comp. 1Ti_6:5; Tit_1:11. If they made proselytes it was only that they might get profit out of them.

whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not] Better, for whom judgment for a long time idleth not.

damnation] Better, destruction, as keeping up the continuity of thought with the preceding verses. The thought involves a half-personification of the two nouns. “Judgment” does not loiter on its way; “destruction” does not nod drowsily, like the foolish virgins of Mat_25:5. Both are eager, watchful, waiting for the appointed hour.

Pulpit Commnetary
And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you; rather, in covetousness. Covetousness was their besetting sin, the sphere in which they lived. St. Paul warned Titus against false teachers who taught “things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake” (Tit_1:11; see also 1Ti_6:6 and Jud 1Ti_1:16). Simon Magus, the first heresiarch, sought to trade in holy things; the like sin seems to have been characteristic of the false teachers of apostolic times. The word translated “feigned” (πλαστοῖς) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament; the words of these men were not the expression of their real thoughts and feelings; they were invented, craftily contrived to deceive men, and that for the sake of money. The last words of the clause will admit another sense: “shall gain you,” i.e., “shall gain you over to their party;” and this view derives some support from the use of the verb ἐμπορεύεσθαι in the Septuagint Version of Pro_3:14. But the verb is often used in classical writers in the sense of making a profit out of people or things, and this meaning seems most suitable here. The false teachers will work hard, as the Pharisees did, to make proselytes; but their real motive is, not the salvation of souls, but their own selfish gain.

Whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not; literally, for whom the sentence of a long time idleth not. The sentence of judgment is for them, for their condemnation; in the foreknowledge of God it has been pronounced long ago, and ever since it has been drawing near; it doth not tarry (comp. Jud Pro_1:4 and 1Pe_4:17). The word rendered “of a long time” (ἔκπαλαι) occurs only here and 2Pe_3:5. And their damnation slumbereth not; destruction: it is the word which has been used already twice in 2Pe_3:1. The verb means literally “to nod,” then “to slumber;” it is found elsewhere in the New Testament only in the parable of the virgins (Mat_25:5).

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 2:3
And through covetousness – This shows what one of the things was by which they were influenced – a thing which, like licentiousness, usually exerts a powerful influence over the teachers of error. The religious principle is the strongest that is implanted in the human bosom: and men who can obtain a livelihood in no other way, or who are too unprincipled or too indolent to labor for an honest living, often turn public teachers of religion, and adopt the kind of doctrines that will be likely to give them the greatest power over the purses of others. True religion, indeed, requires of its friends to devote all that they have to the service of God and to the promotion of his cause; but it is very easy to pervert this requirement, so that the teacher of error shall take advantage of it for his own aggrandizement.

Shall they with feigned words – Greek formed, fashioned; then those which are formed for the occasion – feigned, false, deceitful. The idea is, thug the doctrines which they would defend were not maintained by solid and substantial arguments, but that they would make use of plausible reasoning made up for the occasion.

Make merchandise of you – Treat you not as rational beings but as a bale of goods, or any other article of traffic. That is, they would endeavor to make money out of them, and regard them only as fitted to promote that object.

Whose judgment – Whose condemnation.

Now of a long time lingereth not – Greek, “of old; long since.” The idea seems to be, that justice had been long attentive to their movements, and was on its way to their destruction. It was not a new thing – that is, there was no new principle involved in their destruction; but it was a principle which had always been in operation, and which would certainly be applicable to them, and of a long time justice had been impatient to do the work which it was accustomed to do. What had occurred to the angels that sinned, 2Pe_2:4 to the old world, 2Pe_2:5 and to Sodom and Gomorrah, 2Pe_2:6 would occur to them; and the same justice which had overthrown them might be regarded as on its way to effect their destruction. Compare the notes at Isa_18:4.

And their damnation slumbereth not – Their condemnation, (Notes, 1Co_11:29) yet here referring to future punishment. “Mr. Blackwell observes, that this is a most beautiful figure, representing the vengeance that shall destroy such incorrigible sinners as an angel of judgment pursuing them on the wing, continually approaching nearer and nearer, and in the mean time keeping a watchful eye upon them, that he may at length discharge an unerring blow” – Doddridge. It is not uncommon to speak of “sleepless justice;” and the idea here is, that however justice may have seemed to slumber or to linger, it was not really so, but that it had on them an everwatchful eye, and was on its way to do that which was right in regard to them. A sinner should never forget that there is an eye of unslumbering vigilance always upon him, and that everything that he does is witnessed by one who will yet render exact justice to all men. No person, however careful to conceal his sins, or however bold in transgression, or however unconcerned he may seem to be, can hope that justice will always linger, or destruction always slumber.

John Calvin
2 Peter 2:12
12.But these. He proceeds with what he had begun to say respecting impious and wicked corrupters. And, first, he condemns their loose manners and the obscene wickedness of their whole life; and then he says that they were audacious and perverse, so that by their scurrilous garrulity they insinuated themselves into the favor of many.

He especially compares them to those brute animals, which seem to have come to existence to be ensnared, and to be driven to their own ruin by their own instinct; as though he had said, that being induced by no allurements, they of themselves hasten to throw themselves into the snares of Satan and of death. For what we render, naturally born, Peter has literally, “natural born.” But there is not much difference in the sense, whether one of the two has been by somebody else supplied, or by putting down both he meant more fully to express his meaning.

What he adds, speaking evil of the things that they understand not, refers to the pride and presumption he mentioned in the preceding verse. He then says that all excellency was insolently despised by them, because they were become wholly stupefied, so that they differed nothing from beasts. But the word I have rendered for destruction, and afterwards in corruption, is the same, φθορὰ; but it is variously taken: but when he says that they would perish in their own corruption, he shews that their corruptions would be ruinous or destructive.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Pet 2:12. But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed] Literally, as irrational merely natural animals born for capture and destruction. A different order of the words in some MSS. justifies the rendering born by their nature. The words express a strong indignation, at first sight scarcely reconcilable with the implied protest against a railing accusation. It must be remembered however that the whole context implies a depth of infamy and impurity for which no language could well be too strong in its scornful condemnation.

speak evil of the things that they understand not] Literally, speaking evil (or railing) in the things in which they are ignorant. The words point to the same form of railing as before. They present, as it were, the evil of which St Paul speaks (“intruding into those things which they have not seen,” Col_2:18) at its opposite pole. As, on the one hand, there was the danger of an undue reverence for angelic “dignities,” so, on the other, there was the peril of men acting irreverently, from the standpoint of an equally crass ignorance, and speaking of the mystery of spiritual evil, not with solemn awe, but with foolish talking and jesting.

and shall utterly perish in their own corruption] We cannot improve on the English rendering, but it fails to give the emphasis which is found in the Greek from the repetition of the same root both in the noun and the verb. Literally the clause runs, they shall be corrupted in and by their corruption, i.e. in St Paul’s words, of which these are in fact the echo, “they that sow to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption” (Gal_6:8).

Pulpit Commentary
But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed. The order of the words in the best manuscripts favours the translation of the Revised Version, But these, as creatures without reason, born mere animals to be taken and destroyed. The word rendered “mere animals” is literally “natural” (φυσικά); comp. Jud 2Pe_1:10, “what they know naturally (φυσικῶς) as brute beasts.”

Speak evil of the things that they understand not; literally, as in the Revised Version, railing in matters whereof they are ignorant. (For the construction, see Wirier, 3:66. 5, at the end.) The context and the parallel passage in St. Jude show that the δόξαι, the glories, are the things which the false teachers understand not and at which they rail. Good angels do not pronounce a railing judgment against angels that sinned. These men, knowing nothing of the angelic sphere of existence, rail at the elect and the fallen angels alike, lien should speak with awe of the sin of the angels; jesting on such subjects is unbecoming and dangerous.

And shall utterly perish in their own corruption. The best manuscripts read here καί φθαρήσονται “shall also be destroyed in their own corruption.” It seems better to take φθορά in the sense of “corruption” here, as in 2Pe_1:4, and to suppose that St. Peter is intentionally playing on the double sense of the noun and its cognate verb than, with Huther, to refer the pronoun αὐτῶν, “their own,” to the ἄλογα ζῶα, and to understand St. Peter as meaning that the false teachers, who act like irrational animals, shall be destroyed with the destruction of irrational animals.

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 2:12
But these, as natural brute beasts – These persons, who resemble so much irrational animals which are made to be taken and destroyed. The point of the comparison is, that they are like fierce and savage beasts that exercise no control over their appetites, and that seeM to be made only to be destroyed. These persons, by their fierce and ungovernable passions, appear to be made only for destruction, and rush blindly on to it. The word rendered “natural,” (which, however, is lacking in several manuscripts), means “as they are by nature,” following the bent of their natural appetites and passions. The idea is, that they exercised no more restraint over their passions than beasts do over their propensities. They were entirely under the dominion of their natural appetites, and did not allow their reason or conscience to exert any constraint. The word rendered “brute,” means without reason; irrational. Man has reason, and should allow it to control his passions; the brutes have no rational nature, and it is to be expected that they will act out their propensities without restraint. Man, as an animal, has many passions and appetites resembling those of the brute creation, but he is also endowed with a higher nature, which is designed to regulate and control his inferior propensities, and to keep them in subordination to the requirements of law. If a man sinks himself to the level of brutes, he must expect to be treated like brutes; and as wild and savage animals – lions, and panthers, and wolves, and bears – are regarded as dangerous, and as “made to be taken and destroyed,” so the same destiny must come upon men who make themselves like them.

Made to be taken and destroyed – They are not only useless to society, but destructive; and men feel that it is right to destroy them. We are not to suppose that this teaches that the only object which God had in view in making wild animals was that they might be destroyed; but that people so regard them.

Speak evil of the things that they understand not – Of objects whose worth and value they cannot appreciate. This is no uncommon thing among people, especially in regard to the works and ways of God.

And shall utterly perish in their own corruption – Their views will be the means of their ruin; and they render them fit for it, just as much as the fierce passions of the wild animals do.

John Calvin

2 Peter 2:13
13.Count it pleasure As though he had said, “They place their happiness in their present enjoyments.” We know that men excel brute animals in this, that they extend their thoughts much farther. It is, then, a base thing in man to be occupied only with present things. Here he reminds us that our minds ought to be freed from the gratifications of the flesh, except we wish to be reduced to the state of beasts.

The meaning of what follows is this, “These are filthy spots to you and your assembly; for while they feast with you, they at the same time luxuriate in their errors, and shew by their eyes and gestures their lascivious lusts and detestable incontinency.” Erasmus has rendered the words thus, “Feasting in their errors, they deride you.” But this is too forced. It may not unaptly be thus explained, “Feasting with you, they insolently deride you by their errors.” I, however, have given the version which seems the most probable, “luxuriating in their errors, feasting with you.” He calls the libidinous such as had eyes full of adultery, and who were incessantly led to sin without restraint, as it appears from what is afterwards said.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Pet 2:13. and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness …] The words, which stand in the Greek as one of a series of participial clauses, are, perhaps, better joined with the last clause of the preceding verse, They shall perish … receiving the reward.…

as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time] The latter words have been variously rendered;

(1) as in the English version,

(2) counting delicate living for a day (i.e. but for a little while, laying stress on the transitoriness of all such indulgence) as pleasure:

(1) seems, on the whole, preferable, all the more so as it supplies a point of contact at once with St Peter’s own language as to the shamelessness of revel “at the third hour of the day” (Act_2:15), and with St Paul’s contrast between the works of the day and those of night (Rom_13:13, Rom_13:14; 1Th_5:7). It has been urged against this that the Greek word for “riot” means rather the delicate and luxurious living (Luk_7:25) that might be practised both by day and night rather than actual riot, but it is obvious that luxury shews itself chiefly in banquets which belong to night, and to carry the same luxury into the morning meal might well be noted as indicating excess. In the Greek version by Symmachus a cognate noun is applied to the banqueters of Amo_6:7.

Spots they are and blemishes] The former word is found in Eph_5:27; the latter is not found elsewhere in the New Testament.

sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you] The MSS. both here and in the parallel passage of Jude (ver. 12) vary between ἀπάταις (= deceits) and ἀγάπαις (= feasts of love). The latter gives, on the whole, a preferable meaning, and, even if we adopt the former reading, we are compelled by the context to look on the love-feasts as the scene of the sin referred to. The Agapae were a kind of social club feast, at first, perhaps, connected in time and place with the Lord’s Supper, but afterwards first distinguished and then divided from it. They were a witness of the new brotherhood in which the conventional distinctions of society were suspended, and rich and poor met together. Their existence is recognised in early ecclesiastical writers, in the first century by Ignatius (ad Smyrn. c. 2), in the second by Tertullian (Apol. c. 39), and they survived for three or four hundred years, till the disorders connected with them led to their discontinuance. In 1Co_11:21 we have traces of such disorders at a very early period, and St Peter’s language here shews that they had found their way into the Asiatic Churches as well as into that of Corinth. The “false teachers” and their followers took their place in the company of the faithful, and instead of being content with their simple food, consisting probably of bread, fish, and vegetables (the fish are always prominent in the representations of the Agapae in the Catacombs of Rome), brought with them, it would seem, the materials for a more luxurious meal (comp. 1Co_11:21), and, as the context shews, abused the opportunities thus given them for wanton glances and impure dalliance. Taking the first reading (“deceits”), the Apostle lays stress on the fact that in doing so they were in fact practising a fraud on the Christian society into which they thus intruded themselves.

Pulpit Commentary
And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness. The two most ancient manuscripts read here, instead of κομιούμενοι ἀδικούμενοι. This reading is adopted by the Revised Version in the translation, “suffering wrong as the hire of wrongdoing.” But the other reading is well supported, and gives a better sense, “receiving, as they shall, the reward of unrighteousness.” Balaam loved the reward of unrighteousness in this world (2Pe_2:15); the false teachers shall receive its final reward in the world to come. Whichever reading is preferred, this clause is best taken with the preceding verse.

As they that count it pleasure to riot in the daytime; literally, counting the revel in daytime a pleasure. St. Peter has hitherto spoken of the insubordination and irreverence of the false teachers; he now goes on to condemn their sensuality. The words ἐν ἠμέρα cannot, with some ancient interpreters, be taken as equivalent to μαθ ̓ ἡμέραν, daily (Luk_16:19). Many commentators, as Huther and Alford, translate “delicate living for a day”—enjoyment which is temporal and short-lived. But when we compare 1Th_5:7, “They that are drunken are drunken in the night,” and St. Peter’s own words in Act_2:15, it seems more probable that the apostle means to describe these false teachers as worse than ordinary men of pleasure. They reserve the night for their feasting; these men spend the day in luxury. The word τρυφή means “luxurious or delicate living” rather than “riot.”

Spots they are and blemishes. (For σπίλοι, spots, St. Jude has σπιλάδες, sunken rocks.) The word for “blemishes” (μῶμοι) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. But comp. 1Pe_1:19, where the Lord Jesus is described as “a Lamb without blemish and without spot (ἀμώμου καὶ ἀσπίλου).” The Church should be like her Lord, “not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing” (Eph_5:27); but these men are spots and blemishes on her beauty.

Sporting themselves with their own deceivings; literally, reveling in their deceivings. The word for “reveling” (ἐντρυφῶντες) corresponds with τρυφή, used just above. The manuscripts vary between ἀπάταις, deceivings, and ἀγάπαις, loves, love-feasts. The former reading seems the best-supported here, and the latter in the parallel passage of St. Jude (Jud_1:12). It is possible that the paronomasia may be intentional (compare the σπίλοι of St. Peter and the σπιλάδες of St. Jude). St. Peter will not use the honourable name for the banquets which these men disgrace by their excesses. He calls them ἀπάτας, not ἀγάπας—deceits, not love-feasts. There is no love in the hearts of these men. Their love-feasts are hypocrisies, deceits; they try to deceive men, but they deceive not God.

While they feast with you. The Greek word συνευωχούμενοι occurs elsewhere only in Jud Jud_1:12. The false teachers joined in the love-feasts, but made them the occasion of self-indulgence. Compare the similar conduct of the Corinthians (1Co_11:20-22).

John Calvin
2 Peter 2:14
14.Beguiling, or baiting, unstable souls. By the metaphor of baiting he reminds the faithful to beware of their hidden and deceitful arts; for he compares their impostures to hooks which may catch the unwary to their destruction. By adding unstable souls he shews the reason for caution, that is, when we have not struck firm roots in faith and in the fear of the Lord: and he intimates at the same time, that they have no excuse who suffer themselves to be baited or lured by such flatteries; for this must have been ascribed to their levity. Let there be then a stability of faith, and we shall be safe from the artifices of the ungodly.

An heart they have exercised with covetous practices, or, with lusts. Erasmus renders the last word, “rapines.” The word is of a doubtful meaning. I prefer “lusts.” As he had before condemned incontinence in their eyes, so he now seems to refer to the vices latent in their hearts. It ought not, however, to be confined to covetousness. By calling them cursed or execrable children, he may be understood to mean, that they were so either actively or passively, that is, that they brought a curse with them wherever they went, or that they deserved a curse.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
2 Pet 2:14. having eyes full of adultery] The Greek gives literally the somewhat strange figure, having eyes full of an adulteress. The phrase is probably connected with a recollection of our Lord’s words as to the sin of looking on a woman, to lust after her, being equivalent to adultery (Mat_5:28). St John’s mention of the “woman Jezebel” in the Church of Thyatira (Rev_2:20-22) suggests the thought that there may have been some conspicuous woman of that type of character present to St Peter’s thoughts, who at once encouraged her followers to bring their dainties—even though they were things that had been sacrificed to idols,—to the Agapae of the Christian Church, and when they were there held them fascinated by her wanton beauty. The spell thus exercised is further described as causing a restlessness in evil. The eyes that were thus attracted could not “cease from sin.”

beguiling unstable souls] The Greek word for “beguiling” may be noted as one of those which St Peter had in common with St James. It means primarily to “take with a bait, or in a snare,” and in Jam_1:14 is rightly rendered “enticed.” The idea suggested is that the false teachers attended the Agapae as seducers of the innocence of others.

a heart they have exercised with covetous practices] Better, trained in covetousness. The words have an adequate meaning if we take “covetousness” in its ordinary sense. Greed of gain as well as wantonness characterised the false teachers. (See note on verse 3.) In not a few instances, however, there is so close a connexion between the Greek word and sins of impurity (comp. 1Th_4:6; 1Co_5:11; Eph_5:3, Eph_5:5) that it is not unreasonable to see that meaning here also. The idiomatic use of the English phrase “taking advantage” of a woman’s weakness, presents a like association of thought.

cursed children] Better, children of a curse. The Apostle falls back on the old Hebrew idiom of expressing character by the idea of sonship. So we have “children of obedience in 1Pe_1:14. “Children of disobedience” (Eph_2:2). The “son of perdition” (Joh_17:12).

Pulpit Commentary
Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; literally, of an adulteress. Compare our Lord’s words in the sermon on the mount (Mat_5:28), which may have been in St. Peter’s thoughts. For the second clause, comp. 1Pe_4:1, “He that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.”

Beguiling unstable souls; rather, enticing. The word δελεάζοντες, from δέλεαρ, a bait, belongs to the art of the fowler or fisherman, and would naturally occur to St. Peter’s mind. He uses it again in 1Pe_4:18 of this chapter (comp. also Jas_1:14). The word for “unstable” (ἀστηρίκτους) occurs only here and in 2Pe_3:16. It is a word of peculiar significance in the mouth of St. Peter, conscious, as he must have been, of his own want of stability in times past. He would remember also the charge once given to him, “When thou art converted, strengthen (στήριξον) thy brethren” (Luk_22:32).

An heart they have exercised with covetous practices; rather, trained in covetousness, according to the reading of the best manuscripts, πλεονεξίας. This is the third vice laid to the charge of the false teachers. They had practiced it so long that their very heart was trained in the habitual pursuit of gain by all unrighteous means. Cursed children; rather, children of curse. Like “the son of perdition,” “children of wrath,” “children of disobedience,” “son of Belial,” etc.

Albert Barnes
2 Peter 2:14

Having eyes full of adultery – Margin, as in the Greek, “an adulteress;” that is, gazing with desire after such persons. The word “full” is designed to denote that the corrupt passion referred to had wholly seized and occupied their minds. The eye was, as it were, full of this passion; it saw nothing else but some occasion for its indulgence; it expressed nothing else but the desire. The reference here is to the sacred festival mentioned in the previous verse; and the meaning is, that they celebrated that festival with licentious feelings, giving free indulgence to their corrupt desires by gazing on the females who were assembled with them. In the passion here referred to, the “eye” is usually the first offender, the inlet to corrupt desires, and the medium by which they are expressed. Compare the notes at Mat_5:28. The wanton glance is a principal occasion of exciting the sin; and there is much often in dress, and mien, and gesture, to charm the eye and to deepen the debasing passion.

And that cannot cease from sin – They cannot look on the females who may be present without sinning. Compare Mat_5:28. There are many men in whom the presence of the most virtuous woman only excites impure and corrupt desires. The expression here does not mean that they have no natural ability to cease from sin, or that they are impelled to it by any physical necessity, but only that they are so corrupt and unprincipled that they certainly will sin always.

Beguiling unstable souls – Those who are not strong in Christian principle, or who are naturally fluctuating and irresolute. The word rendered beguiling means to bait, to entrap, and would be applicable to the methods practiced in hunting. Here it means that it was one of their arts to place specious allurements before those who were known not to have settled principles or firmness, in order to allure them to sin. Compare 2Ti_3:6.

An heart they have exercised with covetous practices – Skilled in the arts which covetous men adopt in order to cheat others out of their property. A leading purpose which influenced these men was to obtain money. One of the most certain ways for dishonest men to do this is to make use of the religious principle; to corrupt and control the conscience; to make others believe that they are eminently holy, or that they are the special favorites of heaven; and when they can do this, they have the purses of others at command. For the religious principle is the most powerful of all principles; and he who can control that, can control all that a man possesses. The idea here is that these persons had made this their study, and had learned the ways in which men could be induced to part with their money under religious pretences. We should always be on our guard when professedly religious teachers propose to have much to do with money matters. While we should always be ready to aid every good cause, yet we should remember that unprincipled and indolent men often assume the mask of religion that they may practice their arts on the credulity of others, and that their real aim is to obtain their property, not to save their souls.

Cursed children – This is a Hebraism, meaning literally, “children of the curse,” that is, persons devoted to the curse, or who will certainly be destroyed.

John Calvin
Jude 1:16
16.These are murmurers. They who indulge their depraved lusts, are hard to please, and morose, so that they are never satisfied. Hence it is, that they always murmur and complain, however kindly good men may treat them. He condemns their proud language, because they haughtily made a boast of themselves; but at the same time he shews that they were mean in their disposition, for they were servilely submissive for the sake of gain. And, commonly, this sort of inconsistency is seen in unprincipled men of this kind. When there is no one to check their insolence, or when there is nothing that stands in their way, their pride is intolerable, so that they imperiously arrogate everything to themselves; but they meanly flatter those whom they fear, and from whom they expect some advantage. He takes persons as signifying eternal greatness and power.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
Jude 16. These are murmurers, complainers …] The first noun is not found elsewhere in the New Testament, but the use of cognate verbs and nouns in Mat_20:11; Luk_5:30; 1Co_10:10; Act_6:1 and elsewhere, suggests that it refers primarily to the temper of a rebellious murmuring against human authority; in this case, probably, against that of the apostles and other appointed rulers of the Church. The Greek word for “complainers” has a more specific meaning, and means strictly blamers of fate, or, in modern phrase, finding fault with Providence. They took, as it were, a pessimist view of their lot of life, perhaps of the order of the world generally. The same word is used by Philo (Vit. Mos. p. 109) to describe the temper of the Israelites in the wilderness, and appears in the Characters of Theophrastus (c. xvii.) as the type of the extremest form of general discontent, which complains even of the weather.

walking after their own lusts] This stands in connexion with the foregoing as cause and effect. The temper of self-indulgence, recognising not God’s will, but man’s desires, as the law of action, is precisely that which issues in weariness and despair. The Confessions of the Preacher present the two elements often in striking combination (Ecc_2:1-20).

their mouth speaketh great swelling words] For the latter words and what they imply, see notes on 2Pe_2:18.

having men’s persons in admiration] Literally, admiring persons. The phrase, which is a somewhat stronger form of the more familiar “accepting persons” (Jam_2:1; Gal_2:6; Mat_22:16) occurs in the LXX. of Gen_19:21; Lev_19:15. The temper characterised is that which fawns as in wondering admiration on the great, while all the time the flatterer is simply seeking what profit he can get out of him whom he flatters.

Albert Barnes
Jude 1:16
These are murmurers – The word here used does not elsewhere occur, though the word “murmur” is frequent, Mat_20:11; Luk_5:30; Joh_6:41, Joh_6:43, Joh_6:61; Joh_7:32; 1Co_10:10. Compare Joh_7:12; Act_6:1; Phi_2:14; 1Pe_4:9. The sense is that of repining or complaining under the allotments of Providence, or finding fault with God’s plans, and purposes, and doings.

Complainers – Literally, finding fault with one’s own lot (μεμψίμοιροι mempsimoiroi.) The word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament; the thing often occurs in this world. Nothing is more common than for men to complain of their lot; to think that it is hard; to compare theirs with that of others, and to blame God for not having made their circumstances different. The poor complain that they are not rich like others; the sick that they are not well; the enslaved that they are not free; the bereaved that they are deprived of friends; the ugly that they are not beautiful; those in humble life that their lot was not cast among the great and the frivolous. The virtue that is opposed to this is “contentment” – a virtue of inestimable value. See the notes at Phi_4:11.

Walking after their own lusts – Giving unlimited indulgence to their appetites and passions. See the notes at 2Pe_3:3.

And their mouth speaketh great swelling words – Notes at 2Pe_2:18.

Having men’s persons in admiration – Showing great respect to certain persons, particularly the rich and the great. The idea is, that they were not “just” in the esteem which they had for others, or that they did not appreciate them according to their real worth, but paid special attention to one class in order to promote their selfish ends.

Because of advantage – Because they hoped to derive some benefit to themselves.

John Calvin
Jude 1:17
17.But, beloved. To a most ancient prophecy he now adds the admonitions of the apostles, the memory of whom was recent. As to the verb μνήσθητε, it makes no great difference, whether you read it as declarative or as an exhortation; for the meaning remains the same, that being fortified by the prediction he quotes, they ought to be terrified.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
Jude 17. remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles …] The passage stands in close parallelism with 2Pe_3:2, but differs in speaking only of “apostles” and not of prophets, and apparently also in referring only or chiefly to the predictions of the apostles and not to their commandments. If we could assume that 2 Peter was the earlier of the two Epistles, we might see in St Jude’s language a reference to that of the Apostle. It will be noticed also that St Jude does not say, as St Peter does, “of us the apostles” (see, however, note on 2Pe_3:2), and so far leaves it uncertain whether he includes himself.

John Calvin
Jude 1:18
By the last time he means that in which the renewed condition of the Church received a fixed form till the end of the world; and it began at the first coming of Christ.

After the usual manner of Scripture, he calls them scoffers who, being inebriated with a profane and impious contempt of God, rush headlong into a brutal contempt of the Divine Being, so that no fear nor reverence keeps them any longer within the limits of duty: as no dread of a future judgment exists in their hearts, so no hope of eternal life. So at this day the world is full of Epicurean despisers of God, who having cast off every fear, madly scoff at the whole doctrine of true religion, regarding it as fabulous.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
Jude 18. there should be mockers in the last time …] The word for “mockers” is found in 2Pe_3:3, but the general character of those described agrees with the picture drawn in 1Ti_4:1; 2Ti_3:1. St Jude, it will be noted, does not dwell on the specific form of mockery, the taunts as to the delay in the second coming of the Lord, on which St Peter lays stress.

walk after their own ungodly lusts] Literally, after the lusts of their own impieties. The last word adds a special feature to the description already given, in nearly the same words, in verse 16.

Albert Barnes
Jude 1:17-18
But, beloved, remember ye … – There is a striking similarity between these two verses and 2Pe_3:1-3. It occurs in the same connection, following the description of the false and dangerous teachers against whom the apostle would guard them, and couched almost in the same words. See it explained in the notes at the similar passage in Peter. When Jude (Jud_1:17) entreats them to remember the words which were spoken by “the apostles,” it is not necessarily to be inferred that he was not himself an apostle, for he is speaking of what was past, and there might have been a special reason why he should refer to something that they would distinctly remember which had been spoken by the “other” apostles on this point. Or it might be that he meant also to include himself among them, and to speak of the apostles collectively, without particularly specifying himself.

Mockers – The word rendered “mockers” here is the same which in the parallel place in 2Pe_3:3 is rendered “scoffers.” Peter has stated more fully what was the particular subject on which they scoffed, and has shown that there was no occasion for it 2Pe_3:4, following.

John Calvin
Jude 1:19
19.These be they who separate themselves. Some Greek copies have the participle by itself, other copies add ἑαυτοὺς, “themselves;” but the meaning is nearly the same. He means that they separated from the Church, because they would not bear the yoke of discipline, as they who indulge the flesh dislike spiritual life. The word sensual, or animal, stands opposed to spiritual, or to the renovation of grace; and hence it means the vicious or corrupt, such as men are when not regenerated. For in that degenerated nature which we derive from Adam, there is nothing but what is gross and earthly; so that no part of us aspires to God, until we are renewed by his Spirit.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
Jude 19. These be they who separate themselves] Many of the better MSS. omit the reflexive pronoun. The verb is not found elsewhere in the New Testament, but a simpler form, with the same meaning, occurs in Lev_20:24. It was characteristic of the false teachers and mockers who are spoken of that they drew lines of demarcation, which Christ had not drawn, between themselves and others, or between different classes of believers, those, e.g., who had the higher gnosis, or exercised a wider freedom (2Pe_2:19), and those who were content to walk in “the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship” (Act_2:42). They lost sight of the unity of the Church of Christ and preferred the position of a sect or party; and, in so doing, united the exclusiveness of the Pharisees with the sensuous unbelief of the Sadducees.

sensual, having not the Spirit] The adjective is the same as that which describes the “natural man” of 1Co_2:14, and implies that the man lives in the full activity of his emotional and perceptive nature, without rising into the region of the reason and conscience which belong to his spiritual being. “Sensual,” or better perhaps, sensuous, is the nearest English equivalent, but, strictly speaking, it expresses the lower aspect of the character represented by the Greek term. The “sensuous” or psychical man is not necessarily “carnal” in the sense usually attached to that term, but the two words are closely connected with, and indeed overlap each other. The words seem specially directed against the boast of many of the Gnostic teachers, who, looking to St Paul’s words in 1Co_2:14, boasted that they alone were “spiritual” in that Apostle’s sense of the term, and that the members of the Church were, as the “natural” or “sensuous,” incapable of knowing the higher mysteries of God (Iren. i. 6. 2-4). St Jude retorts the charge, and says that they, who boast of their illumination, are in very deed destitute of every higher element of the religious life. The word for “Spirit” stands without the article in the Greek, and though this does not necessarily exclude the thought that the Spirit of God is spoken of, it is, perhaps, better to rest in the meaning that the false teachers were so absorbed in their lower, sensuous nature that they no longer possessed, in any real sense of the word, that element in man’s compound being, which is itself spiritual, and capable therefore of communion with the Divine Spirit.

John Calvin
Jude 1:20
20.But ye, beloved. He shews the manner in which they could overcome all the devices of Satan, that is, by having love connected with faith, and by standing on their guard as it were in their watch-tower, until the coming of Christ. But as he uses often and thickly his metaphors, so he has here a way of speaking peculiar to himself, which must be briefly noticed.

He bids them first to build themselves on faith; by which he means, that the foundation of faith ought to be retained, but that the first instruction is not sufficient, except they who have been already grounded on true faith, went on continually towards perfection. He calls their faith most holy, in order that they might wholly rely on it, and that, leaning on its firmness, they might never vacillate.

But since the whole perfection of man consists in faith, it may seem strange that he bids them to build upon it another building, as though faith were only a commencement to man. This difficulty is removed by the Apostle in the words which follow, when he adds, that men build on faith when love is added; except, perhaps, some one may prefer to take this meaning, that men build on faith, as far as they make proficiency in it, and doubtless the daily progress of faith is such, that itself rises up as a building. Thus the Apostle teaches us, that in order to increase in faith, we must be instant in prayer and maintain our calling by love.

Praying in the Holy Ghost. The way of persevering is, when we are endued with the power of God. Hence whenever the question is respecting the constancy of faith, we must flee to prayer. And as we commonly pray in a formal manner, he adds, In the Spirit; as though he had said, that such is our sloth, and that such is the coldness of our flesh, that no one can pray aright except he be roused by the Spirit of God; and that we are also so inclined to diffidence and trembling, that no one dares to call God his Father, except through the teaching of the same Spirit; for from him is solicitude, from him is ardor and vehemence, from him is alacrity, from him is confidence in obtaining what we ask; in short, from him are those unutterable groanings mentioned by Paul (Rom_8:26.) It is not, then, without reason that Jude teaches us, that no one can pray as he ought without having the Spirit as his guide.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
Jude 20. building up yourselves on your most holy faith …] Both the adjective, which is nowhere used of faith in its subjective sense, and St Jude’s use of the substantive in verse 3, lead us to take “faith” in the objective sense, as nearly identical with “creed,” which attaches to it in the later Epistles of the New Testament (1Ti_5:8 and perhaps 2Ti_4:7). The readers of the Epistle are exhorted to take that faith as a foundation, and to erect on it the superstructure of a pure and holy life.

praying in the Holy Ghost] The precise combination is not found elsewhere in the New Testament, but the fact which it expresses corresponds with St Paul’s language in Rom_8:26, and the almost identical phraseology of 1Co_14:15. What is meant is the ecstatic outpouring of prayer in which the words of the worshipper seem to come as from the Spirit who “helpeth our infirmities” and “maketh intercession for us,” it may be in articulate speech, it may be also as with “groanings that cannot be uttered” (Rom_8:26). Here again we may recognise a side-glance at the false teachers. Not those who deserted the Church’s faith for a life of impurity, but those who “built” on it a life of holiness, were capable of that height of devotion which is described as “praying in the Spirit.”

Albert Barnes
Jude 1:20
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith – Compare the notes at Jud_1:3. On the word “building,” see the 1Co_3:9-10 notes; Eph_2:20 note. It is said here that they were to “build up themselves;” that is, they were to act as moral and responsible agents in this, or were to put forth their own proper exertions to do it. Dependent, as we are, and as all persons with correct views will feel themselves to be, yet it is proper to endeavor to do the work of religion as if we had ample power of ourselves. See the notes at Phi_2:12. The phrase “most holy faith” here refers to the system of religion which was founded on faith; and the meaning is, that they should seek to establish themselves most firmly in the belief of the doctrines, and in the practice of the duties of that system of religion.
Praying in the Holy Ghost – See the notes at Eph_6:18.

John Calvin
Jude 1:21
21.Keep yourselves in the love of God. He has made love as it were the guardian and the ruler of our life; not that he might set it in opposition to the grace of God, but that it is the right course of our calling, when we make progress in love. But as many things entice us to apostasy, so that it is difficult to keep us faithful to God to the end, he calls the attention of the faithful to the last day. For the hope of that alone ought to sustain us, so that we may at no time despond; otherwise we must necessarily fail every moment.

But it ought to be noticed that he would not have us to hope for eternal life, except through the mercy of Christ: for he will in such a manner be our judge, as to have no other rule in judging us than that gratuitous benefit of redemption obtained by himself.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
Jude 21. keep yourselves in the love of God …] The words admit equally of being taken of our love for God, or God’s love for us, but the latter meaning is more in harmony with the general tenor of Scripture, and, in particular, with our Lord’s language (“continue ye in my love”) in Joh_15:9, and probably also St Paul’s (“the love of Christ constraineth us”) in 2Co_5:14.

looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ] The verb implies, as in Luk_2:25, Luk_2:38, Luk_2:23:51, that the “mercy” is thought of as in the future, and probably there is a special reference to the second coming of Christ as that which will manifest His mercy no less than His righteous judgment. There is no ground, however, for limiting it to this significance, and it may well include all acts of mercy to which men were looking forward in patient expectation, as in store for them during the remainder of their earthly pilgrimage.

The reference in this and the preceding verse (1) to the Holy Spirit, (2) to the Father, (3) to the Lord Jesus Christ, may be noted as shewing St Jude’s witness to the “faith once delivered to the saints.”

Albert Barnes
Jude 1:21
Keep yourselves in the love of God – Still adverting to their own agency. On the duty here enjoined, see the notes at Joh_15:9. The phrase “the love of God” may mean either God’s love to us, or our love to him. The latter appears, however, to be the sense here, because it is not a subject which could be enjoined, that we should keep up “God’s love to us.” That is a point over which we can have no control, except so far as it may be the result of our obedience; but we may be commanded to love him, and to “keep” ourselves in that love.

Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ – Particularly when he shall come to receive his people to himself. See the Tit_2:13 note; 2Pe_3:12 note; 2Ti_4:8 note.

John Calvin
Jude 1:22
22.And of some have compassion. He adds another exhortation, shewing how the faithful ought to act in reproving their brethren, in order to restore them to the Lord. He reminds them that such ought to be treated in different ways, every one according to his disposition: for to the meek and teachable we ought to use kindness; but others, who are hard and perverse, must be subdued by terror. This is the difference which he mentions.

The participle διακρινόμενοι, I know not why this is rendered in a passive sense by Erasmus. It may, indeed, be rendered in either way, but its active meaning is more suitable to the context. The meaning then is, that if we wish to consult the well-being of such as go astray, we must consider the character and disposition of every one; so that they who are meek and tractable may in a kind manner be restored to the right way, as being objects of pity; but if any be perverse, he is to be corrected with more severity. And as asperity is almost hateful, he excuses it on the ground of necessity; for otherwise, they who do not willingly follow good counsels, cannot he saved.

Moreover, he employs a striking metaphor. When there is a danger of fire, we hesitate not to snatch away violently whom we desire to save; for it would not be enough to beckon with the finger, or kindly to stretch forth the hand. So also the salvation of some ought to be cared for, because they will not come to God, except when rudely drawn. Very different is the old translation, which reading is however found in many of the Greek copies; the Vulgate is, “Rebuke the judged,” (Arguite dijudicatos .) But the first meaning is more suitable, and is, I think, according to the old and genuine reading. The word to save, is transferred to men, not that they are the authors, but the ministers of salvation.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
Jude 22. And of some have compassion, making a difference …] The MSS. present a strange variety of readings. Those of most authority give, Some rebuke (or convict, the same word as that used in Joh_16:8; Eph_5:11) when they debate with you (participle in the accusative case). The Received Text rests on the evidence of later MSS., but it may be questioned whether the participle (in this case in the nominative), which is in the middle voice, can have the meaning of “making a difference,” and even if we adopt that reading it would be better to render the word rebuke, as you debate with them, as with an implied reference to the same word as used in verse 9. Internal evidence, as far as it goes, agrees with the better MSS. There is more point in the contrast between the teachers who need a severe rebuke and those who may be saved with fear than in the two degrees of pity presented by the Received Text.

Albert Barnes
Jude 1:22
And of some have compassion – This cannot be intended to teach that they were not to have compassion for all people, or to regard the salvation of all with solicitude, but that they were to have special and unusual compassion for a certain class of persons, or were to approach them with feelings appropriate to their condition. The idea is, that the special feeling to be manifest toward a certain class of persons in seeking their salvation was tender affection and kindness. They were to approach them in the gentlest manner, appealing to them by such words as “love” would prompt. Others were to be approached in a different manner, indicated by the phrase, “save with fear.” The class here referred to, to whom “pity” (ἐλεάτε eleate) was to be shown, and in whose conversion and salvation tender compassion was to be employed, appear to have been the timid, the gentle, the unwary; those who had not yet fallen into dangerous errors, but who might be exposed to them; those, for there are such, who would be more likely to be influenced by kind words and a gentle manner than by denunciation. The direction then amounts to this, that while we are to seek to save all, we are to adapt ourselves wisely to the character and circumstances of those whom we seek to save. See the notes at 1Co_9:19-22.

Making a difference – Making a distinction between them, not in regard to your “desires” for their salvation, or your “efforts” to save them, but to the “manner” in which it is done. To be able to do this is one of the highest qualifications to be sought by one who endeavors to save souls, and is indispensable for a good minister of the gospel. The young, the tender, the delicate, the refined, need a different kind of treatment from the rough, the uncultivated, the hardened. This wisdom was shown by the Saviour in all his preaching; it was eminent in the preaching of Paul.

John Calvin
Jude 1:23
23.Hating even the garment. This passage, which otherwise would appear obscure, will have no difficulty in it, when the metaphor is rightly explained. He would have the faithful not only to beware of contact with vices, but that no contagion might reach them, he reminds them that everything that borders on vices and is near to them ought to be avoided: as, when we speak of lasciviousness, we say that all excitements to lusts ought to be removed. The passage will also become clearer, when the whole sentence is filled up, that is, that we should hate not only the flesh, but also the garment, which, by a contact with it, is infected. The particle καὶ even serves to give greater emphasis. He, then, does not allow evil be cherished by indulgence, so that he bids all preparations and all accessories, as they say, to be cut off.

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
Jude 23. and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire] Here again the MSS. present a striking variation, those of most authority giving “others save, snatching them out of the fire, and have compassion on others with fear.” If we adopt this reading we have two classes of offenders brought before us, those who are to be saved as from the fire, as on the very verge of destruction, and those who are for some reason or other objects of a more tender pity, though they do not come within the range of immediate action. That pity, however, the context shews, was not to be accompanied by any tolerance of the evils into which they had fallen. In “snatching out of the fire” we have probably a reminiscence of the “brand plucked out of the fire” of Zec_3:2.

hating even the garment spotted by the flesh] The “garment” is the inner tunic worn next to the flesh, and therefore thought of as contaminated by its impurity, and it serves accordingly as a symbol of all outer habits of life that are affected by the inner foulness of the soul that is in bondage to the flesh. As men would loathe the touch of a defiled garment, bearing the stains of a cancerous ulcer, so they were to hate whatever was analogous to it in conduct (comp. Isa_30:22). The allusion to Zec_3:2 in the previous clause makes it probable that here also there is a reference to the “filthy garments;” polluted, i.e., with some ceremonial uncleanness, in which the high-priest Joshua the son of Josedech first appears in the prophet’s vision. In the benediction of Rev_3:4 on those who “have not defiled their garments,” we have the same imagery.

R.B. Terry
Jude 1:22-23
TEXT: “·And on some have mercy, who doubt; ·and some save, by snatching [them] out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear”

NOTES: “·And convince some, who doubt; ·and some save, by snatching [them] out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear”
EVIDENCE: A 33 81 1241 1739 1881 most lat vg cop(north)

NOTES: “·And some, on whom plyou have mercy when they doubt, save by snatching [them] out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear”

NOTES: “·And convince some, who doubt; ·and some save, by snatching [them] out of the fire with fear”

NOTES: “·And on some have mercy, who doubt; ·and with fear save some, by snatching [them] out of the fire”
EVIDENCE: {C2} K L P {630 2495} Byz Lect {syr(h)}

OTHER: “·Some snatch out of the fire; ·and have mercy on those who doubt with fear”
EVIDENCE: p72 one lat syr(ph) cop(south)

OTHER: “·And on some have mercy, who doubt; ·and with fear some save, by snatching [them] out of the fire, and convince some with fear”
EVIDENCE: 104 (omit first “with fear”) 945

COMMENTS: The evidence listed above in braces has the words “with fear” at the end of the variation. The seven readings above involve three basic variations with several minor ones. The first is the verb used in the first clause. Some manuscripts read “have mercy on” while others read “convince” (which can also be translated “refute”). A few condense the reading by omitting the first phrase. There is only three letters’ difference in the spelling of the words translated “have mercy on” and “convince.” Since the word translated “doubt” can also be translated “quarrel,” as it is in verse 9, copyists who misunderstood the word in this sense would be tempted to change “have mercy on” to “refute.” The second basic variation is the omission of “and some” by one manuscript, making the three clauses into two. The omission was probably accidental. If the words were included, manuscript B would read like manuscript S. The third basic variation is the omission of the words “and on some have mercy,” making the three clauses into two. This seems to have been done by later copyists, perhaps to avoid the double use of “have mercy on.” A few copyists changed “have mercy on” to “convince” in this last clause for the same reason.

Albert Barnes
Jude 1:23
And others – Another class; those who were of such a character, or in such circumstances, that a more bold, earnest, and determined manner would be better adapted to them.

Save with fear – That is, by appeals adapted to produce fear. The idea seems to be that the arguments on which they relied were to be drawn from the dangers of the persons referred to, or from the dread of future wrath. It is undoubtedly true, that while there is a class of persons who can be won to embrace religion by mild and gentle persuasion, there is another class who can be aroused only by the terrors of the law. Every method is to be employed, in its proper place, that we “by all means may save some.”

Pulling them out of the fire – As you would snatch persons out of the fire; or as you would seize on a person that was walking into a volcano. Then, a man would not use the mild and gentle language of persuasion, but by word and gesture show that he was deeply in earnest.

Hating even the garment spotted by the flesh – The allusion here is not quite certain, though the idea which the apostle meant to convey is not difficult to be understood. By “the garment spotted by the flesh” there may be an allusion to a garment worn by one who had had the plague, or some offensive disease which might be communicated to others by touching even the clothing which they had worn. Or there may be an allusion to the ceremonial law of Moses, by which all those who came in contact with dead bodies were regarded as unclean, Lev_21:11; Num_6:6; Num_9:6; Num_19:11. Or there may be an allusion to the case mentioned in Lev_15:4, Lev_15:10, Lev_15:17; or perhaps to a case of leprosy. In all such instances, there would be the idea that the thing referred to by which the garment had been spotted was polluting, contagious, or loathsome, and that it was proper not even to touch such a garment, or to come in contact with it in any way. To something of this kind the apostle compares the sins of the persons here referred to. While the utmost effort was to be made to save them, they were in no way to partake of their sins; their conduct was to be regarded as loathsome and contagious; and those who attempted to save them were to take every precaution to preserve their own purity. There is much wisdom in this counsel. While we endeavor to save the “sinner,” we cannot too deeply loathe his “sins;” and in approaching some classes of sinners there is need of as much care to avoid being defiled by them, as there would be to escape the plague if we had any transaction with one who had it. Not a few have been deeply corrupted in their attempts to reform the polluted. There never could be, for example, too much circumspection and prayer for personal safety from pollution, in attempting to reform licentious and abandoned females.

John Calvin
Jude 1:24
24Now unto him that is able to keep you. He closes the Epistle with praise to God; by which he shews that our exhortations and labors can do nothing except through the power of God accompanying them.

Some copies have “them” instead of “you.” If we receive this reading, the sense will be, “It is, indeed, your duty to endeavor to save them; but it is God alone who can do this” However, the other reading is what I prefer; in which there is an allusion to the preceding verse; for after having exhorted the faithful to save what was perishing, that they might understand that all their efforts would be vain except God worked with them, he testifies that they could not be otherwise saved than through the power of God. In the latter clause there is indeed a different verb, φυλάξαι, which means to guard; so the allusion is to a remoter clause, when he said, Keep yourselves

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
Jude 24. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling] Better, able to keep you from stumbling. See note on the difference between “stumbling” and “falling,” on 2Pe_1:10. The form of the concluding doxology is determined naturally by the thoughts that have led up to it. The writer had been dwelling on the various ways in which men had stumbled and fallen. He now directs their thoughts to God as alone able to preserve them from a like disastrous issue.

to present you faultless before the presence of his glory] The adjective is a favourite one with St Paul (Eph_1:4, Eph_1:5:27; Php_2:15; Col_1:22) as describing the character of believers. In Heb_9:14 and 1Pe_1:19 it is used of the stainless purity of Christ. The “glory” spoken of is that which is to be manifested at the coming of Christ “in his own glory, and that of the Father, and of the Holy Angels” (Luk_9:26). Comp. also Tit_2:13.

with exceeding joy] Both adjective and substantive are expressed in Greek by the one word for “exulting joy” in Luk_1:14, Luk_1:44; Act_2:46.

Albert Barnes
Jude 1:24
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling – This ascription to one who was able to keep them from falling is made in view of the facts adverted to in the Epistle – the dangers of being led away by the arts and the example of these teachers of error. Compare Jud_1:3. On the ascription itself, compare the notes at Rom_16:25-27. The phrase “to keep from falling” means here to preserve from falling into sin, from yielding to temptation, and dishonoring their religion. The word used (ἀπταιστους aptaistous) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means properly, “not stumbling” as of a horse; then “without falling into sin, blameless.” It is God only who, amidst the temptations of the world, can keep us from falling; but, blessed be his name, he can do it, and if we trust in him he will.
And to present you faultless – The word here rendered “faultless” is the same which is rendered “unblamable” in Col_1:22. See the sentiment here expressed explained in the notes at that passage.

Before the presence of his glory – In his own glorious presence; before himself encompassed with glory in heaven. The saints are to be presented there as redeemed and sanctified, and as made worthy by grace to dwell there forever.

With exceeding joy – With the abounding joy that they are redeemed; that they are rescued from sorrow, sin, and death, and that heaven is to be their eternal home. Who now can form an adequate idea of the happiness of that hour?

Cambridge Bible Plumptre
Jude 25. to the only wise God our Saviour …] The form of the doxology in the Received Text presents a parallelism to that of 1Ti_1:17. The word “wise” is, however, omitted in many of the best MSS. In the use of the word “Saviour” as applied to God we have a parallelism with 1Ti_2:3. The Father, no less than the Son, was thought of by both writers as the Saviour and Preserver of all men. The MSS. that omit “wise” add, for the most part, “through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

be glory and majesty, dominion and power] The Greek has no verb, and the gap may be filled up either with the imperative of ascription or the indicative of assertion. The four words are brought together as expressing the aggregate of the Divine Omnipotence, the last word expressing the “power of authority,” as distinct from that of energy. The better MSS. insert after “power” the words “before all time” (literally, before the whole æon), so that the doxology includes the past eternity as well as the future. In the words “for ever” we have literally unto all the ages, or æons.

The Epistle ends with the “Amen” which was the natural close of a doxology, and, like the Second Epistle of St Peter, contains no special messages or salutations. The letter was strictly a catholic, or encyclical, Epistle.

Albert Barnes
Jude 1:25
To the only wise God – See the Rom_16:27 note; 1Ti_1:17 note.

Our Saviour – The word “Saviour” may be appropriately applied to God as such, because he is the great Author of salvation, though it is commonly applied to the Lord Jesus Christ. That it may have been designed that it should be applied here to the Lord Jesus no one can certainly deny, nor can it be demonstrated that it was; and in these circumstances, as all that is fairly implied in the language may be applied to God as such, it is most natural to give the phrase that interpretation.

Be glory and majesty – 1Ti_1:17 note; Rom_16:17 note.

Dominion and power … – See Mat_6:13. It is common in the Scriptures to ascribe power, dominion, and glory to God, expressing the feeling that all that is great and good belongs to him, and the desire of the heart that he may reign in heaven and on earth. Compare Rev_4:11; Rev_19:1. With the expression of such a desire it was not inappropriate that this Epistle should be closed – and it is not inappropriate that this volume should be closed with the utterance of the same wish. In all our affections and aspirations, may God be supreme; in all the sin and woe which prevail here below, may we look forward with strong desire to the time when his dominion shall be set up over all the earth; in all our own sins and sorrows, be it ours to look onward to the time when in a purer and happier world his reign may be set up over our own souls, and when we may cast every crown at his feet and say, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. – Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God,” Rev_4:11; Rev_19:1.

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