2 Peter 2:2
And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
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(2) Many shall follow their pernicious ways.—“Pernicious ways” is a translation of the plural of the word just rendered “destruction.” (See fourth Note on 2Peter 2:1.) But here the reading is undoubtedly wrong. The margin has the right reading—lascivious ways (or better, wanton ways)—being the plural of the word translated “wantonness” in 2Peter 2:18. Wiclif has “lecheries;” Rheims “riotousnesses.”

The connexion between false doctrine and licentiousness was often real, and is so still in some cases—e.g., Mormonism. But it was often asserted and believed without foundation. Impurity was the common charge to bring against those of a different creed, whether between heathen and Christian or between different divisions of Christians.

By reason of whom.—The many who are led astray are meant, rather than the original seducers. (Comp. Romans 2:24.)

The way of truth.—(See Note on Acts 9:2.) “The way of truth” occurs in Clement of Alexandria (Cohort. ad Gentes, x.), the only near approach to anything in 2 Peter in all the writings of his that have come down to us. This is strong evidence that he did not know the Epistle, especially as references are frequent to 1 Peter, which is sometimes quoted thus: “Peter in his Epistle says” (Strom. iv. 20).

Shall be evil spoken of.—By the heathen, who will judge of the way of truth by the evil lives of the many who have really been seduced from it, though they profess still to follow it. In the homily commonly called the Second Epistle of Clement (13) there is a remarkable amplification of this statement. Our Epistle was probably known to the writer of the homily, who to a considerable extent preaches against similar evils.

2 Peter 2:2-3. And many shall follow their pernicious ways — Their destructive doctrines, and sinful practices. By reason of whom the way of truth — The doctrine of the gospel, and the genuine religion of Christ; shall be evil spoken of — By many others, who will blend all false and true Christians together, as if the errors and vices of those members who are corrupted were to be charged on those who are not infected with their disorders; or the vices of a few were to be imputed to all. And through covetousness — Having nothing in view but worldly gain; shall they — Namely, the false teachers here spoken of; with feigned words — Words formed to deceive, smooth and artful speeches, such as covetous merchants, or unfair traders, make use of to put off bad goods; make merchandise of you — Use you to gain by you. “In this single sentence,” says Macknight, “there is a clear prediction of the iniquitous practices of those great merchants of souls, the Romish clergy, who have rated all crimes, even the most atrocious, at a fixed price; so that if their doctrine be true, whoever pays the price may commit the crime without hazarding his salvation.” Whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not — Was long ago determined, and will be executed speedily. All sinners are adjudged to destruction; and God’s punishing some proves he will punish the rest; and their damnation slumbereth not — How fondly soever they may dream of escaping it. Thus, while the apostle asserts the justice of God, he declares his patience. He is slow to punish, that sinners may have time to repent. But if they continue impenitent, he will, without fail, punish them at last.2:1-9 Though the way of error is a hurtful way, many are always ready to walk therein. Let us take care we give no occasion to the enemy to blaspheme the holy name whereby we are called, or to speak evil of the way of salvation by Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. These seducers used feigned words, they deceived the hearts of their followers. Such are condemned already, and the wrath of God abides upon them. God's usual method of proceeding is shown by examples. Angels were cast down from all their glory and dignity, for their disobedience. If creatures sin, even in heaven, they must suffer in hell. Sin is the work of darkness, and darkness is the wages of sin. See how God dealt with the old world. The number of offenders no more procures favour, than their quality. If the sin be universal, the punishment shall likewise extend to all. If in a fruitful soil the people abound in sin, God can at once turn a fruitful land into barrenness, and a well-watered country into ashes. No plans or politics can keep off judgments from a sinful people. He who keeps fire and water from hurting his people, Isa 43:2, can make either destroy his enemies; they are never safe. When God sends destruction on the ungodly, he commands deliverance for the righteous. In bad company we cannot but get either guilt or grief. Let the sins of others be troubles to us. Yet it is possible for the children of the Lord, living among the most profane, to retain their integrity; there being more power in the grace of Christ, and his dwelling in them, than in the temptations of Satan, or the example of the wicked, with all their terrors or allurements. In our intentions and inclinations to commit sin, we meet with strange hinderances, if we mark them When we intend mischief, God sends many stops to hinder us, as if to say, Take heed what you do. His wisdom and power will surely effect the purposes of his love, and the engagements of his truth; while wicked men often escape suffering here, because they are kept to the day of judgment, to be punished with the devil and his angels.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, 2 Peter 2:10, 2 Peter 2:14, 2 Peter 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.

2. follow—out: so the Greek.

pernicious ways—The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read, "licentiousness" (Jude 4). False doctrine and immoral practice generally go together (2Pe 2:18, 19).

by reason of whom—"on account of whom," namely, the followers of the false teachers.

the way of truth shall be evil spoken of—"blasphemed" by those without, who shall lay on Christianity itself the blame of its professors' evil practice. Contrast 1Pe 2:12.

And many shall follow their pernicious ways; Greek, their destructions, i.e. those ways of error which are attended with destruction (the effect being put for the cause by a metonymy); and the sense is, that as these false teachers shall bring destruction upon themselves by their heresies; so others, running with them into the same errors, shall fall into the same destruction.

By reason of whom; or, by whom, viz. these false teachers, or their followers, or both.

The way of truth; the gospel, so called, as being the doctrine of saving truth. It is called the way, Acts 9:2 19:9 22:4; the way of salvation, Acts 16:17; the way of God, Acts 18:26.

Shall be evil spoken of; blasphemed, whether by false teachers themselves and their followers, or by others taking occasion by them: see Romans 2:24 1 Timothy 6:1 Titus 2:5. And many shall follow their pernicious ways,.... Their principles and their practices, which lead to destruction, The Complutensian edition, the Alexandrian copy, and six copies of Beza's, and others, read "their lasciviousnesses"; and so the Vulgate Latin version renders it, "their luxuries"; and all the Oriental versions seem to have read in like manner. The Syriac version renders it, "their impurity"; and the Arabic version, "their unchastities"; and the Ethiopic version, "their lust"; and which seems to have respect to the impure conversation of the followers of Simon Magus, the Nicolaitans, the Gnostics, Carpocratians, and others, who indulged themselves in all unnatural lusts and uncleanness; and generally, when men make shipwreck of faith, they also do of a good conscience, and become immoral in their conversations; and yet, as destructive as their principles, and as dishonourable and scandalous as their practices be, many were, and are their followers; so it was foretold by Christ, Matthew 24:11, and so it has been, Revelation 13:3. The road both of error and wickedness is a broad one, in which many walk; and a multitude is no proof of the truth of a church or of the principles of men, nor to be followed:

by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of; that is, either Christ, who is truth itself, and the true way to eternal life and happiness; or the Gospel, the word of truth, which holds forth Christ the truth, and points to him, and every other truth, and nothing but truth; or the Christian religion, which is the true way, in opposition to all sects and heresies; and is what should be blasphemed and spoken against, either by these men or their followers; for the phrase may be rendered, "by whom", as it is in the Vulgate Latin version, and the meaning be, that they should, in a blasphemous way, speak and write against Christ and his truths, reproach and revile them, and in a virulent manner oppose them, and trample them under foot: "or for the sake of them", as other versions read; and as we do; "by reason of them"; they should be the occasion, by their impure lives, of the name of Christ, and his doctrines, being blasphemed by profane and irreligious men; see Romans 2:24. The Alexandrian copy, and one of Stephens's, read "the glory of truth"; and so the Ethiopic version, "the glory of his truth".

{2} And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

(2) There shall not only be heresies, but also many followers of them.

2 Peter 2:2. καὶ πολλοὶ ἐξακολουθήσουσιν] The activity of these ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι would not be without result; cf. 2 Timothy 2:17. With ἐξακολ. cf. chap. 2 Peter 1:16.

αὐτῶν ταῖς ἀσελγείαις] i.e. their ἀσέλγειαι will serve as a rule to many, so that they give themselves up to them; cf. Judges 1:4. The connection of erroneous doctrine with sensual excesses is shown in 2 Peter 2:18-19.

διʼ οὓςβλασφημηθήσεται] διʼ οὕς, not: “by whom;” Vulg.: per quas; but: “on account of whom;” they (either the ψευδοδιδάσκαλοι, or those led astray by them, or both) by their ἀσέλγειαι give those who are not Christians occasion for βλασφημία against the ὁδὸς τῆς ἀληθείας; cf. 1 Timothy 6:1; Romans 2:24. ἡ ὁδὸς τῆς ἀληθείας (Barnab. c. v.: via veritatis), a designation of Christianity or of the Christian religion (cf. on the expression ὁδός, Acts 9:2; Acts 19:9; Acts 19:23; Acts 22:4; Acts 24:14; Acts 16:17; Acts 18:25), in so far as it is the form of life in harmony with divine truth (not leading to the truth).2 Peter 2:2. ἀσελγείαις. are “acts of lasciviousness”. ὁδὸς τῆς ἀληθείας. ἀληθεία contains the root-idea of “genuineness”. It combines the ideas of the knowledge of God and His purposes in Christ; and of the human obligation to right living that springs from it. “He that doeth truth cometh to the light.” The writer of 2 Peter is, as always, concerned to oppose a merely intellectual Gnosticism, which has its ultimate fruit in immorality. Cf. Psalm 119:29-30. βλασφημηθήσεται. The whole Church suffered in reputation because of these men. Cf. Romans 2:24, 1 Timothy 6:1.2. And many shall follow their pernicious ways] Better, their lasciviousnesses. The word is the same as in Mark 7:22, Romans 13:13, 1 Peter 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, 2 Peter 2:4; 2 Peter 2:8, Revelation 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. Romans 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 (Acts 18:26, Acts 19:9; Acts 19:23, Acts 22:4, Acts 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.2 Peter 2:2. Πολλοὶ, many) How sad!—ἀσελγείαις) Others read ἀπωλείαις;[5] but ἈΣΈΛΓΕΙΑΙ is read in Peter and other places in the plural, whereas ἈΠΏΛΕΙΑΙ is not: and wantonness is that bait which draws many to follow them; Judges 1:4. That following is succeeded at length by destruction: whereas wantonness, not perdition, so meets the gaze [at once], that men are led to speak evil of the way of truth: and this also is the crime, by which the punishment mentioned in 2 Peter 2:6 is incurred. In such a variation of readings it is easy to bring forward arguments for either of the two: but it is unnecessary to do so, since the decision ought to be made on the authority of manuscripts. See App. Crit., edit, ii., on this passage.—διʼ οὓς, on account of whom) It refers to of them.—ἡ ὁδὸς, the way) 2 Peter 2:15; 2 Peter 2:21. Genesis 24:48, דרך אמת, ἘΝ ὉΔῷ ἈΛΗΘΕΊΑς (Septuagint), in the way of truth.—βλασφημηθήσεται, shall be evil spoken of) by those who are without, and know not how to distinguish between true and false Christians.

[5] ABC Vulg. read ἀσελγείαις. Rec. Text has ἀπωλείαις, without any very old authority.—E.Verse 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. Jude 1:4, 8). (For "shall follow" (ἐξακολουθήσουσιν), see note on 2 Peter 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 (Acts 9:2; Acts 19:9, 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. Shall follow

See on 2 Peter 1:16.

Pernicious ways (ἀπωλείαις)

The true reading is ἀσελγείαις, lascivious doings. So Rev. See on 1 Peter 4:3. The use of the plural is rare. Compare Jde 1:4.

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