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For if God did not spare the angels who sinned,[a] but threw them into hell[b] and locked them up[c] in chains[d] in utter darkness,[e] to be kept until the judgment, and if he did not spare the ancient world, but did protect Noah, a herald of righteousness, along with seven others,[f] when God[g] brought a flood on an ungodly world,[h] and if he turned to ashes the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah when he condemned them to destruction,[i] having appointed[j] them to serve as an example[k] to future generations of the ungodly,[l] and if he rescued Lot, a righteous man in anguish over the debauched lifestyle of lawless[m] men,[n] (for while he lived among them day after day, that righteous man was tormented in his righteous soul[o] by the lawless deeds he saw and heard[p]) —if so,[q] then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from their trials,[r] and to reserve the unrighteous for punishment[s] at the day of judgment, 10 especially those who indulge their fleshly desires[t] and who despise authority.

Brazen and insolent,[u] they are not afraid to insult[v] the glorious ones,[w]

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  1. 2 Peter 2:4 tn The participle ἁμαρτησάντων (hamartēsantōn) could either be attributive (“who sinned”) or adverbial (“when they sinned”). The relation to the judgment of the false teachers in v. 3 suggests that the objects of God’s judgment are not in question, but the time frame for the execution of justice is. If the participle is taken temporally, the point of comparison is not as acute. The objection that the illustrations following (the flood, Sodom and Gomorrah) are viewed temporally does not mitigate this translation, for in both instances only the time of executing judgment is in view. Further, in both instances the OT notes that God withheld punishment for a long time.
  2. 2 Peter 2:4 tn Grk “casting them into Tartarus” or “holding them captive in Tartarus.” This verb, ταρταρόω (tartaroō), occurs only here in the NT, but its meaning is clearly established in both Hellenistic and Jewish literature. “Tartarus [was] thought of by the Greeks as a subterranean place lower than Hades where divine punishment was meted out, and so regarded in Israelite apocalyptic as well” (BDAG 991 s.v.). Grammatically, it has been translated as an indicative because it is an attendant circumstance participle.
  3. 2 Peter 2:4 tn Grk “handed them over.”
  4. 2 Peter 2:4 tc The reading σειραῖς (seirais, “chains”) is found in P72 P Ψ 33 1739 M vg sy, while σιροῖς (sirois [or σειροῖς, seirois], “pits”) is found in א A B C 81. The evidence is thus fairly evenly divided. Internally, the reading adopted here (σειραῖς) is a rarer term, perhaps prompting some scribes to replace it with the more common word. However, this more common term is not a synonym and hence does not follow the normal pattern of scribes. As well, the use of the genitive ζόφου (zophou) in “chains of darkness” is a bit awkward (a rare genitive of place), perhaps prompting some scribes to change the imagery to “pits of darkness” (in which case ζόφου is an attributive genitive). A further point that complicates the issue is the relationship of 2 Peter to Jude. Jude’s parallel (v. 6) has δεσμοῖς (desmois, “chains”). Apart from the issue of whether 2 Peter used Jude or Jude used 2 Peter, this parallel suggests one of two possibilities: either (1) since these two books obviously have a literary relationship, σειραῖς is autographic, or (2) early scribes, recognizing that these two books shared their material, changed σειροῖς to σειραῖς to conform the wording, at least conceptually, to Jude 6. On balance, σειραῖς looks to be original because scribes were not prone to harmonize extensively between books other than the Gospels (although 2 Peter and Jude do display some of this harmonizing). Further, such harmonization is often, if not usually, verbally exact, but δεσμοῖς is not a variant here.
  5. 2 Peter 2:4 tn The genitive ζόφου (zophou) is taken as a genitive of place. See previous note for discussion.
  6. 2 Peter 2:5 tn “Along with seven others” is implied in the cryptic, “the eighth, Noah.” A more literal translation thus would be, “he did protect Noah [as] the eighth…”
  7. 2 Peter 2:5 tn Grk “he”; the referent (God) has been repeated here for clarity, although this is somewhat redundant with the beginning of v. 4.
  8. 2 Peter 2:5 tn Grk “a world of the ungodly.”
  9. 2 Peter 2:6 tc Several significant witnesses omit καταστροφῇ (katastrophē, “destruction”; such as P72* B C* 442 1175 1241 1243 1739 1881 bo), but this is probably best explained as an accidental omission due to homoioarcton (the word following is κατέκρινεν [katekrinen, “he condemned”]).tn Or “ruin,” or “extinction.” The first part of this verse more literally reads “And [if] he condemned to annihilation the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, by turning them to ashes.”sn The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is detailed in Gen 18:1619:29.
  10. 2 Peter 2:6 tn The perfect participle τεθεικώς (tetheikōs) suggests an antecedent act. More idiomatically, the idea seems to be, “because he had already appointed them to serve as an example.”
  11. 2 Peter 2:6 tn “To serve as” is not in Greek but is implied in the object-complement construction.
  12. 2 Peter 2:6 tn Grk “an example of the things coming to the ungodly,” or perhaps “an example to the ungodly of coming [ages].”
  13. 2 Peter 2:7 tn Or “unprincipled.”
  14. 2 Peter 2:7 tn This verse more literally reads “And [if] he rescued righteous Lot, who was deeply distressed by the lifestyle of the lawless in [their] debauchery.”
  15. 2 Peter 2:8 tn Grk “that righteous man tormented his righteous soul.”
  16. 2 Peter 2:8 tn Grk “by lawless deeds, in seeing and hearing [them].”
  17. 2 Peter 2:9 tn The Greek is one long conditional sentence, from v. 4 to v. 10a. 2 Pet 2:4-8 constitute the protasis; vv. 9 and 10a, the apodosis. In order to show this connection more clearly, a resumptive summary protasis—“if so,” or “if God did these things”—is needed in English translation.
  18. 2 Peter 2:9 tn Grk “from trial,” or possibly “from temptation” (though this second meaning for πειρασμός (peirasmos) does not fit the context in which Noah and Lot are seen as in the midst of trials, not temptation).
  19. 2 Peter 2:9 tn The adverbial participle κολαζομένους (kolazomenous) can refer either to contemporaneous time or subsequent time. At stake is the meaning of the following prepositional phrase (at the day of judgment or until the day of judgment). If the participle is contemporaneous, the idea is “to keep the ungodly in a state of punishment until the day of judgment.” If subsequent, the meaning is “to keep the ungodly to be punished at the day of judgment.” Many commentators/translations opt for the first view, assuming that the present participle cannot be used of subsequent time. However, the present participle is the normal one used for result, and is often used of purpose (cf., e.g., for present participles suggesting result, Mark 9:7; Luke 4:15; John 5:18; Eph 2:15; 2 Pet 2:1, mentioned above; for present participles indicating purpose, note Luke 10:25; John 12:33; Acts 3:26; 2 Pet 2:10 [as even most translations render it]). Further, the context supports this: 2:1-10 forms something of an inclusio, in which the final end of the false teachers is mentioned specifically in v. 1, then as a general principle in v. 9. The point of v. 3—that the punishment of the false teachers is certain, even though the sentence has not yet been carried out, is underscored by a participle of purpose in v. 9.
  20. 2 Peter 2:10 tn Grk “those who go after the flesh in [its] lust.”
  21. 2 Peter 2:10 tn There is no “and” in Greek; it is supplied for the sake of English convention.
  22. 2 Peter 2:10 tn The translation takes βλασφημοῦντες (blasphēmountes) as an adverbial participle of purpose, as most translations do. However, it is also possible to see this temporally (thus, “they do not tremble when they blaspheme”).
  23. 2 Peter 2:10 tn Δόξας (doxas) almost certainly refers to angelic beings rather than mere human authorities, though it is difficult to tell whether good or bad angels are in view. Verse 11 seems to suggest that wicked angels is what the author intends.