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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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In this section of 2 Peter, sinful angels are being both compared and contrasted with 'false teachers', who are really the subject of the passage.

The NET Bible notes that:

Δόξας (doxas) almost certainly refers to angelic beings rather than mere human authorities, though it is difficult to tell whether good or bad angels are in view. Verse 11 seems to suggest that wicked angels is what the author intends.

However I don't find this quite satisfying: if angels in general are in view, why not use the word 'angels' as Peter does in the next verse. Rather I think the term must refer to angelic authorities (both good and evil).

This fits better with the general points that these 'false teachers are 'ignorant' of these matters, and foolishly 'bold'. They do not take care to restrain their minds and tongues when passing judgement on matters far above them. In this respect they are even worse than the sinful angels. This follows the pattern of sensuality and lack of restraint they show in all other matters.

It also does not create a contradiction with Jude:

9But 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.” 10But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. ESV

Peter's focus is primarily on sinful angels restraining themselves from pronouncing judgement on angelic authorities, and Jude is speaking of a good angel doing the same even when such judgement is merited, but the principle is the same: their greater knowledge results in more humble and less rash/foolish action.

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How is "angels in general" different from "angelic authorities (both good and evil)"? You make a contrast statement saying you believe the first is not in view, but the latter is; when in my mind, those are the exact same group, i.e. "angels in general" are both the good and evil angels. Are you referring to the "authorities" over angels themselves (i.e. Satan, Michael)? – ScottS Apr 29 '14 at 11:29
Yes, though in more general terms. Detail about 'heavenly' hierarchies is light in scripture, but they do seem to exist. So there are spiritual 'offices' of authority both for evil and for good, wouldn't you agree? – Jack Douglas Apr 29 '14 at 12:31
I agree with heavenly hierarchies, and in one sense all the "angels in general" are "authorities" it seems. So I was trying to verify you were distinguishing the authorities over the authorities in the angelic realm. That, however, seems to be a distinction that is not well founded on the textual evidence itself--why them and not all angels here? – ScottS Apr 30 '14 at 21:23
My reasoning is that "angels... against [angels]" doesn't sit right: if that's what Peter meant, I think he would have said "...they do not tremble as they blaspheme the angels, whereas they, though greater in might and power, do not..." – Jack Douglas May 1 '14 at 6:52
Okay, that at least helps me see the logic of what you are saying. Of course, I still see the "glories" as not referring to such beings at all, but I better understand your logic in the context of how you are trying to interpret it. – ScottS May 1 '14 at 13:03

Not Personalities, but God's Glorious Gifts

Of δόξας (doxas) v.10

The Greek of 2 Pet 2:10

μάλιστα δὲ τοὺς ὀπίσω σαρκὸς ἐν ἐπιθυμίᾳ μιασμοῦ πορευομένους, καὶ κυριότητος καταφρονοῦντας. Τολμηταί, αὐθάδεις, δόξας οὐ τρέμουσιν βλασφημοῦντες

The part in question is the second clause where the accusative noun δόξας is the direct object of what is being "blasphemed" by the ones so doing (βλασφημοῦντες).

It has been noted that the translations are all over the place on the word δόξας. The KJV/NKJV remain rather neutral with "dignities" and "dignitaries" respectively, NASB/NIV translate it as a reference to "angelic majesties" and "celestial beings" respectively that shows their bent toward it referring to angelic beings, while the ESV gives "glorious ones," which is again rather neutral.

An issue I have with nearly all the translations' interpretations is that they personalize the concept, meaning they treat the word as a appellation (a name) referencing some "beings." The exception here is the KJV (which seems to handle it best, but still not perfect) that keeps it unpersonalized ("dignities"). By personalizing, the other translations take a word that is normally used to express a concept--glory--and attempt to make it a personal reference.

Now such a "personalizing" appellative use of an abstract concept is not outside the realm of language. However, if a personal reference were intended, what would typically have been used was a substantival participle of the verb δοξάζω (doxazo), which is the most common way in Greek to make an appellation to personalize abstract concepts. Had that been in the masculine gender, passive form (in Greek) it might mean "the ones who are gloried" or "the ones who have glory."

Instead, here we have the noun form used to refer to the concept of glory, but in the plural, so "glories." So of what "glories" does Peter speak, to which the false prophets are slanderously condemning? That is answered by looking at the rest of Peter's two epistles.

The concept of glory in Peter's epistles is quite inclusive. First, the believer's genuine faith is a cause of "glory" in 1 Pet 1:7 (interesting, in light of that genuine faith being what is attacked by the false teachers).

More significant is the same exact word being found in 1 Pet 1:11, where the plural "glories" refers to those things that would follow from the "sufferings of Christ." In 1 Pet 1:10 is mentioned the "grace" that comes from that, but the word appears to be a plural that is inclusive of everything that hinged upon Christ's sacrifice. So this would include in part Christ's own glory (1 Pet 1:21), the Father's own glory (1 Pet 4:11), which is a glory in which believers partake through the Spirit (1 Pet 4:14, note this verse also pairs blasphemy against this glory; and 5:1), to which believers are called (1 Pet 5:10), for which believers ought to give God glory (1 Pet 5:11).

This same call "to glory" of 1 Peter is picked up at the start of 2 Peter in 1:3, and the glory of Christ is mentioned again in 2 Peter 1:17.

So the "glories" are those things to which "the way of truth" itself points (that way of truth, as v.2 notes, is being blasphemed by the false prophets). That is, by being false prophets, they are slandering the truth of God, which truth includes the glories to come by that truth, the glories believers are called to. In bringing "destructive heresies" and "denying the Master who bought them," (2 Pet 2:1), the false teachers lead others to follow them in blaspheming "the way of truth" itself (v.2). They evidence that they are greedy and covetous (v.3) for things of this world (v.11, 15), not for the glories mentioned in God's way of truth based on Christ's sacrifice.

The "them" not being evil spoken of by angels of v.11

The "them" (αὐτῶν, auton) of 2 Pet 2:11, since it is plural, can be a masculine or feminine pronoun. So while it may refer back to the "glories" of v.10 (which is a feminine noun), the reference may also be back to the last masculine reference, the "unjust" of v.9, who are continued to be referenced at the start of v.10 ("them that walk..." NKJV; πορευομένους, poreuomenous).

Verse 11 is stating that the good angels themselves do not even judge the ungodly, who are speaking evil of God's ways (the "glories")--even as Michael refused to rebuke Satan (Jude 9). Yet the false teachers are so bold as to "make merchandise of you [i.e. believers]" (v.3, NKJV) by their speaking "evil of the things that they understand not" (v.12), which is again referring back to the "glories" expounded in the way of truth.

The Jude 8 Parallel

As is common, Jude 8 is seen to have a parallel idea to 2 Pet 2:10 (I note Jude 9 briefly in the paragraph above as well), as the same word δόξας is found there. While Jude is not as explicit as Peter in seeing what the "glories" is referring to, it is still present within the context of Jude.

Jude carries many of the same themes as Peter in what Christ's work has done and how believers relate to it. Believers are "called, sanctified ... and preserved" (NKJV, v.1; cf. 1 Pet 5:10, 2 Pet 1:3; all English quotes here are from NKJV), having a "common salvation" (v.3; note how this is essentially a summary of the glories that come from the "sufferings of Christ" as 1 Pet 1:11 noted), emphasizing "faith" (v.3, 20; cf. 1 Pet 1:7) and "grace" (v.4; cf. 1 Pet 1:10), to ultimately experience God's glory (v.24-25).

The speech of those in Jude is specifically against "the grace of our God" and a denial of "our Lord Jesus Christ" (v.4). They speak "harsh things ... against Him [the coming Lord, v.14]" (v.15). They are "mockers" (v.18) of God's ways and seek "sensual" things (v.19). So the explicit notations in Jude of what/who the "ungodly" are directing their speech against is the same thing that Peter was noting, God and God's way, "the way of truth" as Peter put it, which is the way that expounds the "glories" to come for both God and those who believe.

Thus in Jude 8, the parallel is the same as in Peter. In v.9 a good angel ("Michael") refuses to rebuke one who deserves rebuke ("the devil"), which is the parallel thought of good angels not rebuking the ungodly false teachers in 2 Pet 2:11, yet these ungodly in Jude blaspheme God and His "glories" He has planned for Himself and His believers.

The Parallel Contrast

So the parallel contrast in both 2 Peter and Jude is this:

Good angels (who are greater than men as noted here in 2 Pet 2:11) do not bring accusation against the actions of those who deserve it—the ungodly (whether false teachers or Satan)

Ungodly/False Teachers (of men, who are lesser than angels; cf. Heb 2:6-7) do bring accusation against the actions/plans/faith of those who do not deserve it—the godly (whether believers or God)


So in both Peter's work and the parallel passage in Jude, the "glories" are best seen as those things that are explicitly mentioned as such by Peter, and those things explicitly stated as being spoken against both in Peter and Jude. Those things are the "glories" God has planned for Himself, His Son, and those believing Him, all based on Christ's work on the cross.

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On δόξας: ...translations take a word that is normally used to express a concept--glory--and attempt to make it a personal reference. And succeed in the attempt! ;) I'm sure you know BDAG, p. 258, gives examples from Diodorus Siculus and Philo parallel to the "personal" use ("transcendent being ... by metonymy") of δόξα. Your suggested "norm", the ptc. of δοξάζω, typically means "one who gives honour", e.g. LXX Lam 1:8; Ecclus 3:4, 6; John 8:54. – Davïd Apr 29 '14 at 22:40
@Davïd - The Philo reference (1:45) δόξαν δὲ σὴν εἶναι νομίζω τὰς περὶ σὲ δορυφορούσας δυνάμεις appears to me as descriptive of a transcendent being (not a "personal" use), and the Diodorus τῶν ταῖς ἐξουσίαις καὶ δόξαις ὑπερεχόντων descriptive of "the ones above" (also not a "personal" use). If a participle, it would likely have been passive to carry the meaning, "ones who are honored" or "have honor." – ScottS Apr 30 '14 at 21:13
@Davïd - however, for me, it was Peter's use of the term otherwise in his writings that really convinced me that it was not meant to be personal in this location either. Especially since it fits in with his argument of what the false teachers were doing. – ScottS Apr 30 '14 at 21:14
Hmm. Maybe we're talking slightly at cross purposes: "descriptive of a transcendent being" is the "personal" use, no? The clue is in the term "being", imo. In none of these cases (and I would include 2 Peter) is the reference to something non-sentient, as in your "way of truth". ¶ Also consider βλασφημέω: ~42x in LXX+NT, of which 22 refer to "person" (incl. "name"); ~13 no obj. (4 of these might be "personal": I'm being "strict"); leaves 5x "impersonal" Ro 14:16; 1 Tim 6:1; Tit 2:5; 1 Pet 2:2; Jude 10(?) (discounting 2 cases in question). This also inclines our VV to "personal". – Davïd Apr 30 '14 at 23:41
@Davïd: I do need to clarify. When I say "personal" here I am not implying the term cannot be used to describe a person/being. Indeed, the other uses by Peter are in essence describing glories in relation to God and/or believers. Rather, I am referring to it being used directly as an appellation of a person/being (a "name for"), hence the idea of trying to make the word by itself mean "glorious ones" or "celestial beings." The uses in Philo and Diodorus are not that. I will edit my answer to clarify. – ScottS May 1 '14 at 0:13

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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I won't -1 your answer, as you certainly have put thought into it, but I have to respectfully disagree with your equating "rebuking/binding demons" to "railing accusations". Jesus rebukes demons in Matt. 17:18, Mk. 1:25, 9:25, Luke 4:35, Luke 9:42. If He is our "2nd Adam", and He commanded His disciples to do so (Matt. 10:8), then it is our duty to do the same. This of course is different from "railing accusation" of the passage-we are not to engage in that. – Tau May 1 '14 at 1:26

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? – Dan Sep 16 '13 at 15:28
This it similar to the reasoning here – Jack Douglas Apr 28 '14 at 3:58

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
What Soldarnal said; in addition, I consider Colossians 1:16 to be part of this "nexus", or at least find it contributing to the same trajectory of thought as that articulated here. – Davïd Apr 28 '14 at 6:53

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