2 Peter 2:4-16 – References to Villains from the Past


2 Peter 2:4-16


In warnings that resemble Jude 6-7, the letter assures its audience that God is committed to judging those who disobey. At the same time, it also speaks about God remembering and preserving those who live righteously in contexts of unrighteousness.


In this letter concerned with countering the influence of destructive teachers, the author also acknowledges that false prophets and disobedient leaders have always caused trouble. Anyone who resists God or scoffs at promises of God’s judgment should not presume to be safe. Those who have turned against God in the past have experienced judgment, and their stories should instruct people in the present.

A reference to sinning angels probably refers to the notorious “sons of God” mentioned in Genesis 6:1-4 (see also the extrabiblical book 1 Enoch 6-19). They were angelic beings who cohabitated with human women. Also mentioned are the “ungodly” people who died during the flood of Noah’s time (Genesis 6:5-9:19), the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah during Lot’s time (Genesis 18:16-19:29), and Balaam the dishonest prophet (Numbers 22:1-40). The author considers all of them to have received the due consequences of their actions. At the same time, the passage also highlights Noah and Lot, making a case that “the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trial.” The audience of 2 Peter should emulate their righteousness in confidence that God is trustworthy and will take notice of those who obey God when surrounded by godlessness.