Speaking of Evil of Angels

29 Mar
False Teachers

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Some interpret 2Peter 2:11 as though Peter were speaking of angelic beings. However, if one understood Peter referring to angelic beings, of what good would that serve? If an angel was slandered, what has that to do with the Gospel? It seems to me such an understanding is high sounding, but it has little value, as it pertains to how one should walk with Christ in this world. As I’ve said elsewhere, the Greek word anggelos (G32) can refer to either an angelic being or a human messenger. It can even refer to a physical annoyance (2Corinthians 12:7) that serves to recall something in the past or remind us of something that would come later. To simply say 2Peter 2:11 refers to angelic beings, I believe goes beyond the context of Peter’s epistle.

Rather, Peter has in mind those brethren who hold legitimate offices in the church, but apostles and perhaps evangelists were of particular interest (2Peter 2:11). Interpreting angelic beings offers no edification in the text. However, if Peter or Paul were slandered by the false teachers (cf. 2Peter 3:15-16), it would be clearly understood that the Gospel was under attack. How is it possible, if someone slandered an angelic being, that this sort of thing would affect the Gospel in any manner?

Not once did Jesus or any of the apostles name anyone in authority at Jerusalem who may have had a hand in persecution. Acts 9 shows Saul going to the high priest for writs of extradition to take with him to use in Damascus, but that is recorded to show the legitimacy of Saul’s work. The high priest, Ananias (Annas) is mentioned in Acts 23:2, but that is to show who headed up a legitimate party of the Jews taking action against Paul in Felix’s court. Nevertheless, not once was the sect of the Sadducees, to which the high priests belonged, nor were any of the high priest specifically denigrated by any of the Apostles. As for Jesus, he even told his followers to be subject to the authority of the scribes and Pharisees who were at that time in positions of authority (Matthew 23:2-3). Not even the men from James who caused the trouble in Antioch, Cilicia and Galatia were mentioned by name. Public denigration of authorities was simply not the way of the Gospel writers, even though those who occupy positions of authority in Jesus’ government are greater in power and authority than any human government (2Peter 2:11).

In Exodus 22:28 it is specifically stated in the Law that the people were not to revile the gods (meaning God, himself, or it could mean human judges), nor was it permitted to speak maliciously of the ruler of the land. The word translated God is usually in the plural in the Old Testament, but it is also translated into gods when idolatry is the thought. Context is the rule of interpretation. However, in Exodus 22:28 it is difficult to understand whether the command is specifically not to blaspheme God, or if the sense is one shouldn’t revile the judges of the people.

It should be noted that Psalm 82 refers to the judges of the people as gods. The Psalm shows us that the poor were oppressed (Psalm 82:3-4). Their oppressors (Psalm 82:2) were the gods who didn’t judge justly, because they took bribes from the wicked to rule against the poor. These judges acted similarly to the leaders before the Flood, whom God cast into darkness (mental darkness), so they wouldn’t see their coming judgment (2Peter 2:4; cf. Psalm 82:5). The gods of Psalm 82 were cast into darkness, so they wouldn’t understand that the foundations of the earth (the nation of the Jews) were moved out of place because of their own wicked judgments against the poor. God’s judgment upon those evil men, which they couldn’t see coming due to the darkness that fills their minds, was the coming of God to destroy their nation through a war with Babylon.

Similarly, Peter likens what occurred in Jewish history to what Jesus would do shortly in the 1st century AD—i.e. the God who inherits all the kingdoms of the world (Psalm 82:8), meaning the promised Messiah inherits those kingdom (Psalm 2). The New Testament shows Jesus coming to judge the Jews (Matthew 24:29-30; 26:63), which he did in 70 AD by using Rome to destroy both the nation of the Jews and their Temple. Peter compares the false teachers in 2Peter 2:12 to beasts, who by nature have no reasonable faculties, that were created to be trapped and destroyed. In other words, just as the beasts we eat or capture to use in our trades are unaware of their fate, so these unreasonable false teachers are in darkness (2Peter 2:4) and unaware of the fate awaiting them for their evil deeds.

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Posted by on March 29, 2017 in Epistles of Peter


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