Peter began chapter two with the warning that just like false prophets arose in Israel, false teachers would arise in the church. Although he told us that the way of truth was going to be spoken evil of because of them, he also reassured us that these false teachers will be judged and destroyed.
Now, as we continue on with verse four, Peter is going to give us two examples of God's judgment being poured out upon those who - like the false teachers - were fleshly, greedy, sensual, and indulgent. He will also tell us that in each of these instances, He preserved the righteous.
The first example of God's judgment that Peter uses is that of the angels, who He did not spare...
2Pet. 2:4 ...when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment
Now, this passage causes controversy and questions: Most people automatically assume that the angels Peter is talking about are those who fell with Satan at his rebellion (Rev. 12:3-4). But none of the facts line up. For example,
- When did God cast Satan's angels into hell and commit them to pits of darkness? True, they have been thrown down to the earth, but they continue to have free reign on the earth (Eph. 6:11-12). They are even able to present themselves in heaven (Job 1:6).
- And how is their sin of rebellion a good example of those who are sensual and indulgent?
- And what about what Jude writes of these angels?
Jude 1:6-7 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.
Jude says that their sin was the same as that of Sodom and Gomorrah - indulging in gross immorality and going after strange flesh.
Though it is not a universal opinion (and tends to be a hugely controversial one), I am convinced that these angels Peter and Jude speak of are not those who fell with Satan, but are another group - a group we read about in Genesis 6.
Gen. 6:1-8 Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Then the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. The LORD said, "I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
The term "sons of God" is an Old Testament term for the angels (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Dan. 3:25). After the fall of Satan, but before the flood of Noah, some of the angels became attracted to strange flesh - to human flesh, the daughters of men. They abandoned their proper abode - leaving heaven for women they took, whomever they chose.
The angels went into the women, and the women bore children - the Nephilim, or "fallen ones." They were mighty, and they were giants (Num. 13:33).
We have done studies on this subject previously. Numbers 13-14, Jude 1:5-7, 1Samuel 17 all address this. But probably the most comprehensive study was done in our History and Future of the World #3. In that study, you can find out where the Nephilim went and why giants continued to be present on the earth after the flood.
But what happened to the angels who started this mess? God judged them: casting them into hell, putting them in eternal bonds and committing them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment on the great day.
Peter uses them - along with the entire ancient world - as an example of God's judgment.
But he also points out that Noah - a preacher of righteousness - was preserved. God will judge the wicked, but save the righteous.
Next, Peter uses the illustration of Sodom and Gomorrah, which is a very similar event. As a matter of fact, Jude said that the sin in each of the stories is nearly identical:
Jude 7 ...they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh...
The sin is both cases was gross immorality - going after strange flesh. And just like the righteous man named Noah lived in the days of the angels' sin, there was a righteous man named Lot living in the days of Sodom and Gomorrah.
The book of Genesis tells us that...
Gen. 13:13 ...the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the LORD.
Gen. 18:20 And the LORD said, "The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave.
And so the Lord sent two angels to Sodom. When Lot saw two men from out of town planning to spend the night in the town square, he begged them to stay at his house, because it was not safe.
Gen. 19:4-5 Before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, surrounded the house, both young and old, all the people from every quarter; and they called to Lot and said to him, "Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have relations with them."
When the men of Sodom refused to listen to reason,
Gen. 19:9 ...they pressed hard against Lot and came near to break the door.
The angels then...
Gen. 19:11 ...struck the men who were at the doorway of the house with blindness, both small and great, so that they wearied themselves trying to find the doorway.
At that point, the angels told Lot...
Gen. 19:13 ...we are about to destroy this place, because their outcry has become so great before the LORD that the LORD has sent us to destroy it."
The angels took them outside at said,
Gen. 19:17 ..."Escape for your life! Do not look behind you, and do not stay anywhere in the valley; escape to the mountains, or you will be swept away."
Gen. 19:24-25 Then the LORD rained on Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven, and He overthrew those cities, and all the valley, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and what grew on the ground.
Lot, like Noah, was spared. Those who practiced unrighteousness were struck down by God's judgment, but those who were righteous were saved.
And so, we have controversy from two sides today: Some find fault with the belief that angels had physical relations with women and produced offspring. Others take issue with the fact that the Bible says homosexual behavior is sinful and will be judged by God.
But this is Peter's entire point: God judges immoral sinners. The coming judgment of the false teachers is certain. And so instead of arguing against what is clearly taught in Scripture, may we be preachers and practicers of righteousness, insuring that we will be spared the wrath to come.