Monday, 3 February 2020
…whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, do not bring a reviling accusation against them before the Lord. 2 Peter 2:11
Peter just spoke of “dignitaries,” noting that those who walk according to the flesh and who despise authority “are not afraid to speak evil” of them. As noted, the word translated as “dignitaries,” literally means “glories.”
Without being dogmatic over the intent of Peter’s wording, he may have been referring to natural authorities, or he may have used the word to describe heavenly beings – angels, Christ, or God. There is a contempt for any authority, most likely that which exists in the spiritual realm. Hence, such people will use the name of Christ or the name of God in a reviling manner without batting an eye.
The book of Jude closely follows this chapter of 2 Peter, and there he uses the same word, speaking in just that manner –
“Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. 9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” Jude 1:8, 9
Thus, it is a clue that this is also probably what is on Peter’s mind here. With that thought in mind, Peter now says, “whereas angels.” This is in contrast to those people. Angels are a completely different category than men. As he says, they are “greater in power and might.”
There are two possibilities concerning these words. Peter is either referring to the angels being greater in power and might than the false teachers, or he is contrasting the angels to the archangels, who would then next be mentioned.
The first option initially seems more likely based on the contrast being made, but the second option would then set the proper tone for the conduct of the angels before those “dignitaries” to which they were subordinate. In this, it would show an even greater distinction between the false teachers and the object of their evil speaking.
Either way, man is mortal, he ages, he lives within the sphere of the material world, his power and strength are limited, and so on. And yet, despite this lowly state, such arrogant people are willing to speak against these “dignitaries,” or “glories.” As Peter next notes, even angels “do not bring a reviling accusation against them,” meaning these “dignitaries.”
And this type of accusation is noted by Peter as being “before the Lord.” That is expanded on in the quote from Jude mentioned above – “The Lord rebuke you!” Jude places his words in the context of Michael and Satan. However, a comparable thought is found in Zechariah 3 –
“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’” Zechariah 3:1, 2
In the end, the thought Peter is presenting is that of a complete contrast between these earthly, fallen men who speak evil against authorities, while even those who possess much greater power and rank would not do so. Thus, it shows the high level of arrogance and folly exhibited by these people.
Life application: In revealing the utter contempt of these people for the holiness of God, their actions demonstrate that their judgment is more than deserved. They use their tongues to destroy the line of authority God has ordained. They do this despite being mere mortals who have no true power or authority over anything, including the moment of their demise. In this, their words condemn rather than justify them.
The Bible lays out certain precepts. For example, elders and deacons are to be the husband of but one wife. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons, chose to disobey this. Likewise, the Bible condemns any sex not within the bounds of marriage between a man and a woman. Despite this, leaders in denominations and churches actively engage in illicit sexual behavior – daring God and reviling the boundaries of authority that He has given. Such examples are what Peter notes as worthy of destruction.
Be careful who you follow and why. Know your Bible and know your God!
Lord God, it is You who are to be obeyed. Below You, there is a line of authority which You have established for Your sovereign purposes. May we endeavor to obey the rulers and authorities appointed over us, and may our tongues be careful to not revile them – even when we disagree with the direction they choose. Rather, remind us to pray for them. Amen.