Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #330 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading 2nd Peter 2 today and our focus is on Did God Cast Evil Angels Into Hell? + The Dangers of False Teachers. Were the Sons of God in Genesis 6 Actually Angels That Had intimate relations With humans? We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in . Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Our primary focus is on something quite mysterious and perhaps a bit esoteric today, but first let’s discuss the over all important point of 2nd Peter 2. This is a stark and sobering chapter, and it opens with a very sobering warning about the certain infiltration of false teachers into the church:
There were indeed false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves. 2 Many will follow their depraved ways, and the way of truth will be maligned because of them. 3 They will exploit you in their greed with made-up stories. Their condemnation, pronounced long ago, is not idle, and their destruction does not sleep.
Yikes – be aware, church, says Peter – that false teachers will seek to assail the people of God in the same way that false prophets did in the Old Testament. They will masquerade as genuine, seeming to be followers of Jesus and talking about God, but will deny Jesus and deny His Word. The only way to recognize them will likely be by their fruit and by familiarity with God’s Word to know where the deviations and destructive heresies are being taught. Heresy, by the way, is a theological word that simply means different teaching/doctrine other than what the Bible teaches. Adding to the Word, as Joseph Smith did – twisting the Word, as many sects do today- this is what is being warned about. Christians should be on their guard against these destructive heresies and the false teachers who bring them, and should take solace in the comfort of vs. 9:
9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment,
2nd Peter 2, in discussing these false teachers, also brings us one of the more mysterious Bible passages there is:
4 For if God didn’t spare the angels who sinned but cast them into hell and delivered them in chains of utter darkness to be kept for judgment; 5 and if he didn’t spare the ancient world, but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others, when he brought the flood on the world of the ungodly….…9 then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, 2nd Peter 2:4-5+9
There is an almost parallel to this passage in the book of Jude, which reads:
5 Now I want to remind you, although you came to know all these things once and for all, that Jesus saved a people out of Egypt and later destroyed those who did not believe; 6 and the angels who did not keep their own position but abandoned their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains in deep darkness for the judgment on the great day. 7 Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns committed sexual immorality and perversions, and serve as an example by undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. Jude 5-7
Both passages are written in the context of discussing false teachers, and both passages indicate that the punishment of these false teachers is sure and certain, in light of the fact that God has already punished the angels who sinned and “did not keep their own position, but abandoned their proper dwelling.” These angels, God has cast into hell, according to the CSB translation of 2nd Peter 2, and according to both passages, they are chained up and kept in utter or deep darkness until the return of Jesus and the Judgment day.
These passages raise a ton of questions, right? Questions like: What event is this passage referring to? Which angels sinned? On that question, theologian Dr. Thomas Schreiner links the sin of the angels in Jude and 2nd Peter 2 with the Genesis 6 incident of the “Sons of God” and the daughters of men, and I agree with him. Of that, Dr. Schreiner writes:
Instead, we can be almost certain that Peter followed Jewish tradition at this point and referred to the sin angels committed with women in Gen 6:1–4 (1 Enoch 6–19, 21, 86–88; 106:13–17; Jub. 4:15, 22; 5:1; CD 2:17–19; 1QapGen 2:1; T. Reu. 5:6–7; T. Naph. 3:5; 2 Bar. 56:10–14; cf. Josephus, Ant. 1.73).28 …. The sin committed by angels [referred to in 2nd Peter 2 and Jude 5] was sexual intercourse with the daughters of men. Three reasons support the view that Peter thought of angels who committed sexual sin in Gen 6:1–4. First, such an interpretation, as the texts above indicate, was widespread in Jewish tradition. Peter’s readers would naturally have understood the account in terms of such a tradition unless Peter indicated clearly that he was departing from the common understanding of his day. Peter gave no indication, however, that he differed from the tradition. Second, nor would such an understanding be difficult for Peter’s readers. The Greeks also had the story of the Titans, which is similar in some respects to Gen 6:1–4 (Hesiod, Theogony [713–35]). Third, Jude almost certainly understood the story of Gen 6:1–4 to refer to angels who sinned, given that he was influenced by 1 Enoch, and the account is more prominent in 1 Enoch than any other work. It is quite unlikely that Peter veered off in another direction from Jude, for regardless of the question of literary dependence, it is obvious that Jude and 2 Peter both drew from common tradition in some form.
Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 336.
Were the angels actually sent to what we think of as hell? Here is theologian Thomas Schreiner on the question of angels and hell:
The NIV says that the angels were sent to “hell.” But Peter did not use the word gehenna here, the usual word for “hell,” but the Greek verbal participle tartarōsas, from which we get our word “Tartarus.” Tartarus in Greek literature refers to the underworld, and here we have another indication that Peter desired to communicate with his readers in terms of their own idiom. The word “hell” is misleading if it suggests final punishment since the verse makes clear that the climactic judgment still awaits the angels…the term Tartarus suggests that the angels are both confined and restrained because of their sin. The language of confinement could be interpreted literally, as if the angels are restricted to a physical locality. More likely the language is symbolic, conveying the idea that the angels who sinned are now restrained in some way because of their sin, that God has now limited their sphere of operation.34 The last phrase in the verse, “held for judgment,” conveys a similar idea. The future judgment of these angels is certain, and presently they are being kept by God for their punishment on the eschatological day. In the case of the angels, then, the punishment has two dimensions—the restriction imposed immediately as a result of their sin and the punishment they will receive on the day of the Lord’s return.
Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 336
So, a fascinating topic raised by Peter and a poignant warning for us to be aware of the infiltration of false teachers and their coming judgment. Let’s read our passage.
Addendum: In his New American Commentary Section on the Jude 6 passage, Dr. Schreiner goes into a great deal more detail about how the sin of angels in 2nd Peter 2 and the sin of angels in Jude 6 should be connected to Genesis 6:1-4 here are some more arguments he makes in that direction:
The second example of judgment involves the angels who sinned. We have already noted that Jewish tradition linked together the sin of angels in Gen 6:1–4, the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the punishment of the wilderness generation. We can be almost certain that Jude referred here to the sin of the angels in Gen 6:1–4.16 The sin the angels committed, according to the Jewish tradition, was sexual intercourse with the daughters of men. Apparently Jude also understood Gen 6:1–4 in the same way. Three reasons support such a conclusion. First, Jewish tradition consistently understood Gen 6:1–4 in this way (1 En. 6–19; 21; 86–88; 106:13–17; Jub. 4:15, 22; 5:1; CD 2:17–19; 1QapGen 2:1; T. Reu. 5:6–7; T. Naph. 3:5; 2 Bar. 56:10–14; cf. Josephus, Ant. 1.73). Second, we know from vv. 14–15 that Jude was influenced by 1 Enoch, and 1 Enoch goes into great detail about the sin and punishment of these angels. Jude almost certainly would need to explain that he departed from the customary Jewish view of Gen 6:1–4 if he disagreed with Jewish tradition. The brevity of the verse supports the idea that he concurred with Jewish tradition. Third, the text forges a parallel between the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah and the angels (“In a similar way,” v. 7; hōs and ton homoion tropon toutois). The implication is that sexual sin was prominent in both instances.17
Before providing more detail on Jewish tradition, it would be helpful to explain what Jude said in v. 6. He charged the angels with not keeping “their positions of authority.” The Greek word here is archēn, signifying the domain or rule or sphere of influence given to the angels. The angels abandoned “their own home” (to idion oikētērion) and transgressed proper bounds. The language is rather vague. What Jude meant, however, was that they left their proper sphere, came to the earth, became males, and had sexual relations with women. Jude used the language of retaliation here. Since the angels “did not keep” (mē tērēsantas) their proper sphere, God “has kept” (tetērēken) them “in darkness.” Abandoning what is right has consequences because God is still Lord of the world. These angels experience punishment even now in that they are “bound with everlasting chains.” We might think that literal chains are in view, but Hillyer rightly remarks: “We are not intended to imagine a literal dungeon in which fallen angels are fettered. Rather, Jude was vividly depicting the misery of their conditions. Free spirits and celestial powers, as once they were, are now shackled and impotent. Shining ones, once enjoying the marvelous light of God’s glorious presence, are now plunged in profound darkness.”18 Their current imprisonment, however, is not their final punishment. They are being preserved even now for the judgment on the day of the Lord. Now they are imprisoned, but they still await their final and definitive judgment on the last day.19 The main point is that those who transgress and sin will experience judgment. The angels did not escape unscathed when they violated what was fitting. Neither will the opponents sin with impunity, and hence Jude encouraged the church to resist their teaching.20
At this juncture I want to sketch in briefly the Jewish tradition, so that we sense how pervasive it was. In Testament of Naphtali 3:4–5 the angels of Gen 6:1–4 are designated as “Watchers,” and they are said to have “departed from nature’s order” and hence are cursed with the flood. According to T. Reu. 5:6–7 women charmed the Watchers with their beauty, so that the Watchers lusted after them. They transformed themselves into males and gave birth to giants (cf. 1QapGen 2:1). Jubilees also teaches that the Watchers sinned with the daughters of men by mingling with them sexually (Jub. 4:22). The angels of the Lord saw the beauty of the daughters, took them to be their wives, the offspring were giants, and because of such wickedness the Lord brought the flood (Jub. 5:1–11). The Damascus Document is quite brief in its rendition of the story. The Watchers fell because they did not keep God’s commands. The tradition of giants as offspring is preserved since their sons are said to be like cedar trees and their bodies are comparable to mountains (CD 2:17–19). God sent the flood as a result of such sin.
The tradition, as we said, is most extensive in 1 Enoch. The angels desired the daughters of men (6:1–2) and took them as wives, who in turn gave birth to giants (7:1–2; 9:7–9; 106:14–15, 17). As a result of their sin, God threatened to send a flood (10:2). The evil of the angels is quite clear when the author said they “fornicated” with women (10:11). Some of the language used bears remarkable parallels to Jude. The angel Raphael is ordered to “ ‘Bind Azaz’el hand and foot (and) throw him into the darkness!’ And he made a hole in the desert which was in Duda’el and cast him there; he threw on top of him rugged and sharp rocks. And he covered his face in order that he may not see light; and in order that he may be sent into the fire on the great day of judgment” (10:4–6).21 Jude also taught that the angels who sinned were bound in darkness and await the day of judgment. That those who sinned will experience a temporary judgment before the final judgment is clearly communicated in 1 Enoch 10:12–13: “Bind them for seventy generations underneath the rocks of the ground until the day of their judgment and of their consummation, until the eternal judgment is concluded. In those days they will lead them into the bottom of the fire—and in torment—in the prison (where) they will be locked up forever” (cf. 13:2).22 Similarly, the Watchers are told, “You will not be able to ascend into heaven unto all eternity, but you shall remain inside the earth, imprisoned all the days of eternity” (14:5; cf. 21:1–4, 10; 88:1, 3). The idea that the Watchers abandoned their proper sphere, emphasized in Jude, is communicated in 1 Enoch as well (along with a concise summary of the event): “For what reason have you abandoned the high, holy, and eternal heaven; and slept with women and defiled yourselves with the daughters of the people, taking wives, acting like the children of the earth, and begetting giant sons?” (15:3). Jude followed the tradition in pronouncing judgment on angels who violated their proper sphere.
We must be careful, however, to avoid saying that Jude necessarily agreed with everything found in 1 Enoch or Jewish tradition in general. His own reference to the tradition is terse and avoids the kind of speculation we find in 1 Enoch 6–8. Nor did Jude display any interest in the specific names of angels. A general appropriation of a tradition is not the same thing as accepting every detail of the tradition. We must remember that 1 Enoch is the most detailed account, and elsewhere in Jewish tradition the story is communicated with brevity. We must beware of reading more into Jude than is warranted. Still, I think it is clear that Jude believed angels had sexual relations with women and that God judged the angels for violating their ordained sphere.
The story is certainly bizarre to modern readers, stemming from Gen 6:1–4. Unfortunately, this passage is the subject of considerable debate, and no consensus has been realized about its meaning. Many interpreters are convinced that the “sons of god” were not angels but divine beings or humans.23 This is not the place to conduct an exegesis of this disputed text. I would only like to register my opinion that Jude interpreted Gen 6:1–4 correctly. In my judgment the “sons of god” (bene elohim) of Gen 6:1–4 are most plausibly identified as angels. The “sons of God” are clearly angels in Job (1:6; 2:1; 38:7). One of the Qumran manuscripts of Deut 32:8, following the Septuagint, also reads “sons of god” (bene elohim), which the Septuagint renders angelōn theou (“angels of God”). It is possible, of course, that Jude alluded to a traditional story without believing it was historical, but this is problematic since the judgment of Israel in the wilderness and Sodom and Gomorrah are considered to be historical events. We must beware of a rationalistic worldview that dismisses such strange events as impossible. The objection most raise is that angels are asexual (Matt 22:30). Actually, Matthew did not say angels do not have sexuality, but they neither marry nor are given in marriage. There is no evidence that angels reproduce or engage in sexual intercourse. But when angels come to earth, they often come as human beings; and presumably the human form is genuine, not a charade, so that the sexuality of angels when they appear on earth is genuine. Nor is it plausible that Jude derived the account from Hesiod’s account of the Titans in his Theogony (713–35), especially since it is clear that he was familiar with the book of 1 Enoch and Jewish tradition. It is instructive, however, that many cultures have the story of the sexual union of angels and human beings. I would suggest that such accounts are distortions of an event that once occurred, an event that is accurately recorded in Gen 6:1–4. Nevertheless, the presence of such a story in so many cultures functions as evidence of a historical event that occurred. Do sexual unions between angels and human beings still happen today? I think the point of the imprisonment of angels and the flood narrative is that God now hinders any such unions from taking place.
Thomas R. Schreiner, 1, 2 Peter, Jude, vol. 37, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2003), 447–451.
Dr. Schreiner’s commentary is quite highly recommended and can be purchased digitally on Logos.com at: https://www.logos.com/product/177651/the-new-american-commentary-series-nac
and individually at Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/New-American-Commentary-Peter-Jude/dp/0805401377/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=schreiner+jude+2nd+peter&qid=1637913092&sr=8-1
Bible Memory passage for the month of November: John 14:6 “Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Happy by Mike Leite https://soundcloud.com/mikeleite
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0
Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/al_ha