2 Peter 2:4-8

4. For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

4. Si enim Angelis qui peccaverant, Deus non perpercit, sed catenis caliginis in tartarum praecipitatos tradidit servandos in judicium;

5. And spared not the old world, but saved Noah, the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

5. Et prisco mundo non pepercit, sed octavum justitiae praeconem Noe servavit, diluvio in mundum impiorum inducto;

6. And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly;

6. Et civitates Sodomorum et Gomorrae in cinerem redactas, subversione damnavit, easque statuit exemplum iis qui impia acturi forent;

7. And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

7. Et justum Lot qui opprimebatur à nefariis per libidinosam conversationem eripuit;

8. (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

8. Nam oculis et auribus justus ille, quum habitaret inter ipsos quotidie animam justam iniquis illorum operibus excruciabat;


4. For if. We have stated how much it behoves us to know that the ungodly, who by their mischievous opinions corrupt the Church, cannot escape God's vengeance; and this he proves especially by three remarkable examples of God's judgment, -- that he spared not even angels, that he once destroyed the whole world by a deluge, that he reduced Sodom to ashes, and other neighboring cities. But Peter thought it sufficient to take as granted what ought to be never doubted by us, that is, that God is the judge of the whole world. It hence follows that the punishment he formerly inflicted on the ungodly and wicked, he will now also inflict on the like characters. For he can never be unlike himself, nor does he shew respect of persons, so as to forgive the same wickedness in one which he has punished in another; but he hates injustice and wrong equally, whenever it is found. 1

For we must always bear in mind that there is a difference between God and men; for men indeed judge unequally, but God keeps the same course in judging. For that he forgives sins, this is done because he blots them out through repentance and faith. He therefore does not otherwise reconcile himself to us than by justifying us; for until sin is taken away, there is always an occasion of discord between us and Him.

As to the angels. The argument is from the greater to the less; for they were far more excellent than we are, and yet their dignity did not preserve them from the hand of God; much less then can mortal men escape, when they follow them in their impiety. But as Peter mentions here but briefly the fall of angels, and as he has not named the time and the manner and other circumstances, it behoves us soberly to speak on the subject. Most men are curious and make no end of inquiries on these things; but since God in Scripture has only sparingly touched on them, and as it were by the way, he thus reminds us that we ought to be satisfied with this small knowledge. And indeed they who curiously inquire, do not regard edification, but seek to feed their souls with vain speculations. What is useful to us, God has made known, that is, that the devils were at first created, that they might serve and obey God, but that through their own fault they apostatized, because they would not submit to the authority of God; and that thus the wickedness found in them was accidental, and not from nature, so that it could not be ascribed to God.

All this Peter declares very clearly, when he says that angels fell, though superior to men; and Jude is still more express when he writes, that they kept not their first estate, or their pre-eminence. Let those who are not satisfied with these testimonies have recourse to the Sorbonian theology, which will teach them respecting angels to satiety, so as to precipitate them to hell together with the devils.

Chains of darkness. This metaphor intimates that they are held bound in darkness until the last day. And the comparison is taken from malefactors, who, after having been condemned, suffer half of their punishment by the severity of the prison, until they are drawn forth to their final doom. We may hence learn, not only what punishment the wicked suffer after death, but also what is the condition of the children of God: for they calmly acquiesce in the hope of sure and perfect blessedness, though they do not as yet enjoy it; as the former suffer dreadful agonies on account of the vengeance prepared for them.

5. The old world. The import of what he says is, that God, after having drowned the human race, formed again as it were a new world. This is also an argument from the greater to the less; for how can the wicked escape the deluge of divine wrath, since the whole world was once destroyed by it? For by saying that eight only were saved, he intimates that a multitude would not be a shield against God to protect the wicked; but that as many as sin shall be punished, be they few or many in number.

But it may be asked why he calls Noah the preacher of righteousness. Some understand that he was the preacher of the righteousness of God, inasmuch as Scripture commends God's righteousness, because he defends his own and restores them, when dead, to life. But I rather think that he is called the preacher of righteousness, because he labored to restore a degenerated world to a sound mind, and this not only by his teaching and godly exhortations, but also by his anxious toil in building the ark for the term of a hundred and twenty years. Now, the design of the Apostle is to set before our eyes God's wrath against the wicked, so as to encourage us at the same time to imitate the saints.2

6. The cities of Sodom. This was so memorable an example of Divine vengeance, that when the Scripture speaks of the universal destruction of the ungodly, it alludes commonly to this as the type. Hence Peter says, that these cities were made an example. This may, indeed, be truly said of others; but Peter points out something singular, because it was the chief and a lively image; yea, rather, because the Lord designed that his wrath against the ungodly should be made known to all ages; as when he redeemed his people from Egypt, he has set forth to us by that one favor the perpetual safety of his Church. Jude has also expressed the same thing, calling it the punishment of eternal fire.

8. In seeing and hearing. The common explanation is, that Lot was just in his eyes and ears, because all his senses abhorred the crimes of Sodom. However, another view may be taken of his seeing and hearing, so as to make this the meaning, that when the just man lived among the Sodomites, he tormented his soul by seeing and hearing; for we know that he was constrained to see and hear many things which greatly vexed his mind. The purport of what is said then is, that though the holy man was surrounded with every kind of monstrous wickedness, he yet never turned aside from his upright course.

But Peter expresses more than before, that is, that just Lot underwent voluntary sorrows; as it is right that all the godly should feel no small grief when they see the world rushing into every kind of evil, so the more necessary it is that they should groan for their own sins. And Peter expressly mentioned this, lest when impiety everywhere prevails, we should be captivated and inebriated by the allurements of vices, and perish together with others, but that we might prefer this grief, blessed by the Lord, to all the pleasures of the world.

1 The "if" at the beginning of the verse requires a corresponding clause. Some, as Piscator and Macknight, supply at the end of the seventh verse, "he will not spare thee," or, "will he spare thee?" But there is no need of this, the corresponding clause is in the ninth verse; and this is our version. The deliverance of the just is there first mentioned, as that of Lot was the subject of the previous verse, and then the reservation of the unjust for judgment, examples of which he had before given. This sort of arrangement is common in Scripture. -- Ed.

2 There is a difference of opinion as to the word "eighth:" some think that the sense is, that Noah was the eighth person who was saved at the deluge, being one of the eight who were preserved. Others render the words, "Noah, the eighth preacher of righteousness," calculating from Enos, in whose time as it is said, "men bean to call upon the name of the Lord." (Genesis 4:26.) Lightfoot and some others, have held the latter opinion, though the former has been more generally approved. -- Ed.