Thoughts for Preachers on 2 Peter, #3
More on 2 Peter, this time on one of the letter’s tricky verses. What on earth is the second half of 2.10 saying about the false teachers?! ‘Bold and wilful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones’ (ESV).
Problems, as commentators like to say, abound here. Who are these ‘glorious ones’, and how are they being blasphemed? Jude 8-9 speaks in similar terms but with more detail; if the two passages are talking about the same thing, then the beings whom the false teachers are speaking about are rebellious angels, and what they’re doing is arrogantly pronouncing their own judgment on them. (That would fit, speculatively, with their denial of the return of Christ as judge: if he’s not the judge, they’re free to take judgment on angels into their own hands.)
NIV points in this direction: ‘Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings’. This seems pretty likely, but to call such condemned beings ‘glorious ones’ as Peter does still seems odd.
What is the poor preacher to do, who can’t write a PhD on the problem before Sunday? Well, 2.10b is obviously an example of the false teachers’ despising of authority in 2.10a. What we do know clearly about these false teachers is that they despise the authority of the apostles who proclaim God’s promises about eternal salvation and eternal condemnation that are coming with the return of Christ. Whatever these false teachers are saying precisely about whatever glorious/celestial beings, it looks in the context like it’s part of the same attitude. And seeing that, the preacher can press on in confidence.