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
2Pe_2:1
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
2Pe_2:2
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
2Pe_2:3
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
2Pe_2:12
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
2Pe_2:13
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
2Pe_2:14
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”
EVIDENCE: S
TRANSLATIONS: ASV NASV NIV NEBn TEV
RANK: C

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)
TRANSLATIONS: ASVn RSV NASVn NEBn

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”
EVIDENCE: B
TRANSLATIONS: NEB

NOTES: “·And convince some, who doubt; ·and some save, by snatching [them] out of the fire with fear”
EVIDENCE: C*
TRANSLATIONS: none

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)}
TRANSLATIONS: KJV

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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