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Advent 2020: 2 Peter 2:10(b)-16

During the season of Advent, I am translating from Greek to English the weekday epistle readings out of the Daily Lectionary of the Book of Common Prayer.

Thursday, 17 December 2020 2 Peter 2:10(b)-16


The Text

10(b). Insolent, arrogant people who do not tremble when blaspheming glory. 

11. Whereas angels, being of greater power and strength, do not bring blasphemous judgment from the Lord,

12. by contrast, these people in their ignorance blaspheme, so that in their state of deterioration they will rot. They are as illogical animals, born in the wild and captured into decadence. 

13. Pain is payment for unrighteousness. They take pleasure in regarding the day as for indulgence. They are blots and blemishes celebrating their deception. All the while feasting with you.

14. They have eyes filled with adultery, are incessantly sinning, enticing unstable souls that have been trained in greediness. They are a curse on children.

15. Forsaking the straight path, they were misled. The followed after the path of Balaam of Bosor, who loved unrighteous wages.

16. But he had his own rebuke of wrongdoing by a dumb beast of burden who spoke as a man and so prevented the prophet’s poor judgment.


Commentary

This may be the shortest reading of the Advent cycle, with only six and a half verses. But man, are they loaded with all kinds of hot language. I translated this section in short, punchy jabs because Peter is all kinds of angry and the lines are tight. “arrogant people who do not tremble”, “captured into decadence”, “pain is payment”, “they are blots and blemishes”, “souls that have been trained in greediness” and so forth are linguistically delicious. Peter is doing his best Hemingway.

He begins with a contrast. Angels, though in many ways more knowledgable and stronger than humans, do not speak against spiritual forces at play but these false teachers do. This verse very much informs my predisposition to not speaking about angels and demons too much, and certainly not engaging in the kind of freewheeling gibberish I hear in many prayer lives about binding and rebuking and standing against. Peter seems to be affirming the sovereignty of God over all spiritual power, even evil. If I may be so bold, Peter is telling us to hold our tongue about things we do not understand.

Peter calls them dumb animals at the beginning, but then he says they are worse than dumb animals, because even Balaam’s donkey knew more than these people.

I chose the word ‘decadence’ in verse 12 because I think there is a word-picture link with decaying dead animals and the word decadence. Decadence feels right, but it is really putting one foot in he grave.

I rendered the ending of verse 14 as ‘they are a curse on children’ where as I think most English translations go with “they are accursed chidlren” or something like that. The more I looked at it and studied, though, I think my view is best.


Questions For Application

  1. Peter says blaspheme comes from arrogance and ignorance. How do these twin vices manifest themselves in your life?
  2. Not all pain is a mark of individual sin. However, it is true we often bring pain on ourselves with poor choices and poor judgment. As painful as it might be, can you name a current source of pain that is the direct result of your sinful choices or of not listening to the wisdom of others?
  3. Do you know the story of Balaam? If not, why not take the time to read up on this fascinating example who is referenced several times in the Bible?

UNFORTUNATE COOKIES

Today my beautiful wife, Mrs. Greenbean, accompanied me to lunch at one of our favorite local eateries.  The theme of the cuisine is Asian and I find their beef yakisoba noodles the best in town.  Mrs. Greenbean enjoys the shrimp fried rice.  When our meal was over, the wonderful server brought our tab along with two fortune cookies.

I, as always, gave mine to Mrs. Greenbean.  I hate fortune cookies.  It is the only cookie I do not like.  What is there to like about it?  Fortune cookies have the consistency of porcelain and the taste of Formica.  I bet they are even held together with asbestos.  I deplore them.

I find nothing fortunate about being given such a tasteless wafer that I, spontaneously today, told my wife that these were really “unfortunate cookies.”  Suddenly the thought occurred to me that I should make and sell by the large bundle “Unfortunate Cookies” which had messages of doom inside of them instead of the flighty optimism of fortune cookies.  I bet someone else has already thought of it, but just in case no one has I spent some time and a little gray matter working on what I might shove into my mass marketed “Unfortunate Cookies.”

  • Today, someone will think of you and swear under his/her breath.
  • Watch out, the IRS is aware of your presence.
  • It is likely that something in your home, car, or yard will break this week.
  • Your children are probably doing things they shouldn’t.
  • There is an unpleasant medical test in your future.
  • If you were better looking, you’d probably make more money.
  • Chances are the meal you just enjoyed was prepared by someone who doesn’t wash hands after using the potty.
  • Is your tetanus up to date?
  • While you were eating your boss checked your work area and examined your productivity.
  • Do you know a good lawyer?  You might need one soon.

It was a surprise to me how much fun and delight I had thinking of these ‘soft’ curses.  I felt like Balaam from the Old Testament.  I suppose if the “Unfortunate Cookie” business doesn’t work out, I might be able to carve out a niche as a gloomy greeting card writer?  One can only dream.