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There are a number of interrelated questions I have arising from 2 Peter 2:10-11. Here are a pair of translations of the relevant verses (emphasis mine):

NIV: Bold and arrogant, they are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord.

ESV: Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord.

As we see, the NIV and ESV translate δόξας in 10b as "celestial beings" and "glorious ones" respectively. Who are these δόξας? Are they angelic beings? If so, why does Peter contrast them with angels calling those "greater in might and power"? If not, who are they?

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3 Answers

2 Pet 2 and Jude are very similar, both in structure, language, and themes. These two are parallel passages (cf. e.g. this site):

Jude 8-9: Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”

2 Pet 2:10b-11: Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord

In both contexts, "doxa" is translated "glorious ones" (ESV). Quoting an extract from Bauer's Lexicon, "4. a transcendent being deserving of honor, majestic being, by metonymy (cp. Diod. S. 15, 58, 1 of citizens who stood out from among all others in offices and honors) of angelic beings (s. Philo, Spec. Leg. 1, 45; PGM 1, 199) do/xai majestic (heavenly) beings Jd 8; 2 Pt 2:10 (s. also Ex 15:11 LXX; TestJud 25:2.)"

Basically, Bauer is saying that the word can refer to angels, but also to any glorified being, including humans.

But look at the verses in question as quoted above. Peter says that angels do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them (referring back to the glorious ones). The parallel passage in Jude says that Michael, an angel, did not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against Satan. Thus Satan in Jude is the same as "them" in 2Pet 11, which refers back to "the glorious ones". Satan, therefore, is one of "the glorious ones". But Satan cannot be alone in this group, as "glorious ones" in plural. Neither can this group include non-fallen angels, because these are "greater in might and power" than "glorious ones" (2Pet 2:11). It is natural, then, to group Satan with the fallen angels, and say that Satan and demons are the "glorious ones" referred here. Their "glory" may be that of strength, power, capabilities, created order, etc.

The final question is, "How might false teachers speak evil of or pronounce a blasphemous judgment against Satan?" Before I suggest an answer, note this: "Blaspheme" is the translation of "Blasphemeo" (Greek), meaning "speak evil of, slander". The word is used both of speaking evil against God (Mt 9:3) and against men (Tit 2:3, Rom 3:8).

Jude says that Michael did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment against Satan, but said, "the Lord rebuke you". This is in contrast to what false teachers do. I believe, therefore, that it is fair to assume that false teachers in this instance were saying of Satan/demons, "I rebuke you" or something similar. Having been in unbiblical churches a great portion of my life, I can confirm this. Technology and society may have changed, but false teaching as described in the Bible retains the same characteristics. It is not uncommon in certain churches to hear someone "binding Satan" or commanding Satan to do this or that. The same with demons. But when Michael the archangel did not take it upon himself to judge or command Satan, who are we to do so?

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As I understand the Greek plural noun ΔΟΞΑΣ (δόξας/doxas), it doesn't refer to a WHO, but to a WHAT. Have you ever sung the Doxology?

ΔΟΞΑΣ (δόξας) can also be translated to read dignity, glory, honor, praise, worship, and the like (see Strong's G1391). And in 2 Peter 2:10b-11, it refers to glorious heavenly beings thought to be angels; i.e.: "Whereas angels ... bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord" (KJV).

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This is an interesting answer, but do keep in mind that Strong's is a concordance, not a lexicon, and generally free tools that use Strong's rely on outdated lexical resources. Could you also reference what a more recent (and more reliable) lexicon says? –  Daи Sep 16 '13 at 15:28
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The entities "slandered" are Satan and his angelic hosts. Those who are "bold and arrogant" are believers with the knowledge that Satan and his hosts were defeated at the cross, and who took the teachings to inappropriate extremes. That is, Paul had developed these concepts of Satan's defeat in his writings, and later it was Peter (2 Pet 2:10-11) and Jude (Jude 1:8) who countermanded those who took the teachings of Paul to impious extremes and who had thus denigrated angelic powers.

That is, the Apostle Paul taught that Jesus Christ defeated and then plundered the power of Satan (Colossians 2:15), and at the same time he developed the idea in the epistle to the Ephesians (see below). We also see the same principle appear in the gospels, when Jesus Christ alluded to himself as the one who bound, and then plundered the possessions of "the strong man" (Matthew 12:28-30) -- and of course the strong man here is Satan.

The imagery of this plundering of Satan is best understood through the Exodus. That is, the Israelites plundered the gold of the Egyptians (Exodus 3:22), and then the power of the Egyptians was then subsequently destroyed at the Red Sea (Exodus 14:28). In the same way, Jesus, who is the second Moses (Acts 3:20-22), had plundered death (Sheol), with the result that he destroyed the power of death at the resurrection. Please click here for the schematic version of these events, and then click here to view the logical and more detailed version of the same events. Paul describes this spiritual plundering in Ephesians 4:7-13; that is, what power that was plundered from Satan was in turn given to believers in the form of spiritual gifts, which represent spiritual power. In other words, Satan's kingdom is now being assailed not by weapons of flesh by believers, but by spiritual power endowed by the Holy Spirit (Eph 6:10-12).

Now here is the rub.

Some evangelical believers who understand these truths (as discussed in the previous paragraphs) have chosen to proclaim these principles in the most disparaging terms for Satan and his hosts. That is, many evangelical Christians take these truths of the Scripture and then "rub it in the face" of Satan. (Some Bible teachers on television dressed in military fatigues have preached about "spiritual warfare" with the most denigrating references made to Satan and his hosts.) They will publicly disparage Satan with no regard to the fact that he possessed primacy among angelic hosts (Job 1:6) or that he currently is the "Ruler of this World" (John 12:31), who now roams his kingdom "like a lion" (compare Job 1:7 with 1 Peter 5:8).

Thus Satan and his hosts are "rulers, powers, and world forces" (please read Ephesians 6:12 in tandem with Daniel 10:13 and Daniel 10:20), and accordingly, while strategically defeated foes, no one should disparage them since in the divine order of creation even the humanity of Jesus Christ was "made a little lower" than angels (Hebrews 2:7). Even elect angels recognize this principle with Satan and his hosts. For example, when Michael struggled with Satan he made no disparaging comments to Satan, but instead invoked the Lord to rebuke him (Jude 1:9). Interestingly, in the Hebrew Bible, in the only instance of rebuke against Satan, it is the Lord who is rebuking (Zechariah 3:2). In other passages of the Hebrew Bible, God's angels struggled with the hosts of Satan, but no disparaging references or comments are ever made against these enemies of God (Daniel 10:13 and Daniel 10:20).

In summary, an imperfect analogy might help. Emperor Hirohito WAS DIRECTED to attend and sign the unconditional surrender of Japan on the USS Missouri on September 2, 1945. He wore a formal tuxedo, and therefore was not disrespected or disparaged publicly during the surrender despite the great atrocities and war crimes committed under his authority during WWII. This illustration is an imperfect analogy in many respects, but serves to provide the parallel.

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I apologize Joseph; I should have responded to your answer before now; you obviously put a lot of work into it. What you've given me is a good exposition of the passage, but unfortunately what I was after was help doing the raw exegesis, which is why I haven't upvoted it. Maybe my explanation helps; maybe not. But I wanted to explain so that it wasn't as if you were typing words into a vacuum. –  Soldarnal Sep 30 '13 at 3:39
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