BUT THESE LIKE UNREASONING ANIMALS: houtoi de os aloga zoa:
(Ps 49:10; 92:6; 94:8; Jer 4:22; 5:4; 10:8,21; 12:3; Ezek 21:31; Jude
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de) marks the contrast of the false teachers to the angels.
Verse 12 marks the beginning of a long sentence to verse 16 launching
out into a long passage
of magnificent invective. Through it glows the fiery heat of flaming
W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster
from "a" = without + lógos
= word, reason) means literally without speech or reason and so irrational, brute (not
working by reason, characteristic of an animal in quality, action, or
or unendowed with reason (cf Jude 1:10).
In short they are not governed or acting according to reason because
they lack reasoning capacity!
teachers act like irrational natural beasts (Young's literal), unreasoning
brute beasts (Phillips) or unthinking
There are 3 uses
in the NT...
Acts 25:27 "For it seems
absurd to me in sending a prisoner, not to indicate also the charges
2 Peter 2:12 But these, like
unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and
killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction
of those creatures also be destroyed,
Jude 1:10 But these men revile
the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know
by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are
(zoon from zao
= to live, breathe -
zoe = life) is a living creature, the exact phrase that
reverberates through the unfolding of the book of the Revelation. Jude
also uses zoon figuratively in reference to the ungodly who have crept
in unnoticed and turn the grace of God into licentiousness (Jude 1:4)
Some of the
definitions of animal in the English dictionary present a
good picture of these false teachers...
a human being considered chiefly as
physical or nonrational; a brutish person; of or relating to the
physical needs or desires; carnal; sensual; a very cruel, violent, or
The English “animal” is the
equivalent, stressing the fact of life as the characteristic feature
There are 23 uses
of zoon in the NT -- Heb 13:11; 2Pe 2:12; Jude 1:10; Re 4:6
see discussion of 4 Living
Creatures in Revelation,
8; 5:6, 8, 11, 14; 6:1, 3, 5, 6, 7; 7:11; 14:3; 15:7; 19:4)
There are 14 uses
of zoon in the
-- Ge 1:21; Job 38:14; Ps. 68:10; 104:25; 145:16; Ezek 1:5, 13, 15, 19,
20, 22; 3:13; 10:15, 20; 47:9; Da 4:12; Hab 3:2
teachers act like instinct driven animals, guided not by
true intelligence (they cannot even think rightly) but by their irrational cravings and passions. Rather than following
reason and revelation, the false teachers are guided only
by their ignorance and their instinctual sinful passions that come from
their unredeemed totally depraved
are ultimate religious hypocrites who profess to have deep religious insights when in
reality their natural sense and cravings guide them rather than
spiritual truths (cp "form of godliness" 2Ti 3:5-note) .
Like wild (and even domesticated) animals, these spiritual masqueraders react only to present circumstances, without
giving thought to the consequences of their actions (cp the principle of
sowing wickedness -- Ga 6:7, 8, Job 4:8, Pr 22:8, Jer 12:13, Ho 8:7,
10:13, 2Pe 2:12,19 Rev 22:11, cp Jn 8:34, Pr 5:22, Je 2:19).
Sow a thought, and
you reap an act;
Sow an act, and you reap a habit;
Sow a habit, and you reap a character;
Sow a character, and you reap a destiny.
Men, under the power of
sin, are so far from observing divine revelation that they do not
exercise reason, nor act according to the direction thereof. They walk
by sight, and not by faith, and judge of things according to their
senses; as these represent things pleasant and agreeable, so they must
be approved and esteemed. Brute-creatures follow the instinct of their
sensitive appetite, and sinful man follows the inclination of
his carnal mind; these
refuse to employ the understanding and reason God has given them, and so
are ignorant of what they might and ought to know.
Strachan says of these false teachers that
Their chief characteristic is that
they are ‘alive,’ (Ed: But see Ep 2:1-note,
Ep 2:3-note) and have no sense of the moral issues of life.
Like animals, they exist to be taken and destroyed.
Sin will take you
further than you ever intended to stray.
It will keep you longer than you ever intended to stay.
And it will cost you more than you ever dreamed you would pay.
BORN AS CREATURES OF INSTINCT TO BE CAPTURED AND KILLED REVILING WHERE
THEY HAVE NO KNOWLEDGE: gegennemena (RPPNPN) phusika eis alosin kai
phthoran en ois agnoousin (3PPAI) blasphemountes (PAPMPN)
(1080) (gennao) is used chiefly of men begetting children and
here is used figuratively to identify these false teachers as the
product of nature alone and thus governed by their base appetites and
passions. Gennao is
perfect tense picturing their
continuing state after birth as "mere animals" (Thayer).
They were no better than animals. They lived and spoke from mere
instinct (i.e., from sinful human nature).
(phusikos) means natural or that which is produced by
belongs to nature or is governed by the natural instincts. Phusikos
describes that which in accord with the basic order of nature. It speaks
of the naturally regulated order of things and is used in the NT to
refer to that which should be "natural" or instinctive. It describes how
one should behave by nature (Ro 1:26, 27). Here in 1Peter 2:12, phusikos
refers to those who are like animals and thus are governed by natural
They followed their
natural desires. Like
animals in a jungle, their
only value was in being caught and destroyed. This harsh language from
Peter is an indication of how serious he considered these heresies to
Here are the only other NT uses of
Romans 1:26 (note)
For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their
women exchanged the
natural function for that which is unnatural,
Romans 1:27 (note)
and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural
function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another,
men with men committing indecent
acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.
Romans 5:12) and unalterable tendency of an
organism to make a complex and specific response to environmental
stimuli without involving reason. It describes behavior that is mediated
by reactions below the conscious level."
These false teachers act like irrational animals, slaves to their
natural instincts and without the restraint that good angels and
righteous men and women have. Animals have life, but the false
teachers live purely by instinct. They lack
the finer rational sensibilities that humans possess.
These men operate from
that emanates from the sin nature inherited from Adam. They are like predatory
animals which men deliberately snare in order to destroy them. They act
like wild beasts and so reap the same destiny.
Philosophers (e.g., Epictetus
and 2nd-century Stoic emperor Marcus Aurelius) characterized animals as
creatures ruled by instinct as opposed to
humans, who were ruled by reason, and considered
unreasoning humans “wild beasts.”
and killed - literally "for capture and destruction" or as Moffat
translates it "for capture and corruption."
Capture (alosis) means
a catching, a capture, as of catching of animals for food.
(phthora from phtheíro = to
destroy by means of corrupting) describes a state of ruin or
destruction with the implication of disintegration, decay or rotting
like organic matter.
J. Vernon McGee
adds a pithy comment:
These apostates are like wild
animals. We hear a great deal today about man descending from an animal,
but both the Old and New Testaments make it very clear that man is
capable of living lower than the animals. He’s not descended from
anything. He’s right down with them, if you please, and lives like an
animal. Peter will give an illustration of this a little later on in
this chapter. (McGee,
J V: Thru the Bible Commentary: Thomas Nelson
where they have no knowledge
“insulting those of whom they are ignorant”) (Phillips
scoff at things outside their own experience")
illustrates just how irrational they behave and it also lays the ground
for their coming destruction.
from bláx = sluggish, slow, stupid + phémē = rumor, fame)
OR MORE LIKELY (derived from bláptō = to hurt, injure, harm +
phémē from phēmí = to speak) means literally to speak to
harm and in general therefore means to bring into ill repute and so
to slander, to defame (to harm the reputation of by libel or
slander), speak evil of, to rail at (revile or scold in harsh,
insolent, or abusive language and rail stresses an unrestrained
berating), to speak calumny (noun form = a misrepresentation
intended to blacken another’s reputation = the act of uttering false
charges or misrepresentations maliciously calculated to damage another’s
reputation), to calumniate (verb form = to utter maliciously
false statements, charges, or imputations about - calumniate imputes
malice to the speaker and falsity to the assertions)
is used 34 times in the NT -- Mt 9:3; 26:65; 27:39; Mk 2:7; 3:28, 29;
15:29; Lk 12:10; 22:65; 23:39; Jn 10:36; Acts 13:45; 18:6; 19:37;
26:11; Ro 2:24-note;
Ro 14:16-note; 1Co 10:30; 1Ti 1:20; 6:1; Titus 2:5-note;
Titus 3:2-note; James 2:7; 1Pe 4:4-note; 2Pe 2:2-note,
2Pe 2:12-note; Jude 1:8, 10; Re 13:6-note;
translates blasphemeo as -- blaspheme(4), blasphemed(6),
blasphemers(1), blasphemes(3), blaspheming(4), dishonored(1),hurling
abuse(3), malign(2), maligned(1), revile(3), reviling(1), slandered(1),
slanderously reported(1), spoken against(1), spoken of as evil(m)(1),
There are 5 uses
of blasphemeo in the
2Ki. 19:4, 6, 22; Is 52:5; Da 3:29
Have no knowledge (50)
(agnoeo from a = not +
noéo = perceive, understand) means to be unaware of or to be
ignorant of. It also conveys the sense to refuse to think about or pay
attention to and so to ignore. For example in Romans 1 Paul says that
men knew of God’s Being through natural revelation (Ro 1:19, 20, 21- see
but did not know the purpose of His kindness.
They continuously (present
slander and rail against that which they are have
things of which they are continually (present
tense) ignorant. They have no more knowledge than the brute beasts would have.
They make a lot of noise about
things they know nothing about!
As someone has well said their self assurance or presumption
is matched only by their ignorance.
Their ignorance is never more
glaring than when they criticize the Bible. Because they are devoid of
divine life, they are utterly unable to understand the words, ways, and
works of God
(1Cor 2:14). Yet they pose as experts in the spiritual realm. A humble
believer can see more on his knees than they can see on their tiptoes.
This picture of their
spiritual ignorance parallels Paul's description of the false teachers
defrauding you of your
self-abasement and the
worship of the
stand on visions he has
cause by his
mind." (see note
Wycliffe Commentary adds that
the characteristic of modern
‘liberal’ critical teachers which amazes one most is their absolute
confidence in their own conclusions, based upon evidence however
trivial, and involving tremendously important departures from tenets
maintained for centuries by the historic church. (Pfeiffer,
C F: Wycliffe Bible Commentary. 1981. Moody
WILL IN THE DESTRUCTION OF THOSE CREATURES ALSO BE DESTROYED: en te
phthora auton kai phtharesontai (3PFPI): (19; 1:4; Pr 14:32; Jn
8:21; Gal 6:8)
Peter talked about the fact that the child of God has escaped the corruption of the world (2Peter
these have not escaped the corruption. In fact they will
be "Corrupted in their own corruption" an interesting play
on words. These spiritual charlatans are “corrupted by their own
corrupt living.” That is the irony of sinful living: its very
pleasures in the end become distasteful. Sensuality is self-destructive.
from phtheíro = to shrivel or wither, spoil , ruin,
deprave, corrupt , defile, to destroy by means of corrupting, to spoil as
does milk. Ethically phtheiro was the opposite of
sozo) refers to a
state of ruin or destruction with the picture of deterioration,
dissolution, disintegration, ruin, perishing, decay or rotting like organic matter
(breakdown of organic matter). Phthora was sometimes used of decaying
food, which turns from that which is beneficial to that which is
The basic idea of phthora is not a sudden destruction owing to
external violence, but a dissolution brought about by internal decay. It
describes decomposition which brings to mind the picture of loathsome
decaying matter replete with maggots and other macabre microbes!
Figuratively the idea is that of the horrible thought of the "rotting"
of one's morals which become more depraved with greater loss of
integrity as a result of "slow internal decay".
Phthora pictures a departure
from the original or from what is pure or correct and aptly depicts the
moral filth and pollution of the world without God! It is the very
opposite of "the divine nature."
that phthora is...
the result of the withdrawal of life
(which alone maintains the physical organism in effective being) is the
dissolution of the body; this process is called corruption, and is
attended by conditions repugnant to the senses of the living. This idea
of repulsiveness is extended to the moral sphere....Apoleia and phthora
signify not the destruction of being but of well-being, not an end of
the existence of a person or thing. (Vine,
W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
Phthora was used
in Greek to refer to destruction of a fetus and thus to a miscarriage or
abortion (Epistle of Barnabas 19:5), which was said to make the mother
unclean for 40 days. It was used in Greek to describe the ruination of a
person through an immoral act such as the seduction of a young woman.
In this passage Peter indicates this corruption is one of the effects of
false teachers upon themselves! (cp 2Ti 3:13 speaking of the effects of
deceiving being to be deceived! - see
is used 7 times in the
(Ex 18:18; Ps 103:4; Is 24:3; Da 3:25; 10:8; Jon 2:6; Mic 2:10). Here are some of the uses in the OT
Psalm 103:4 Who redeems your life
from the pit (pit in Hebrew = destruction, decay as in Ps
16:10 and in several context pictures a state of death, in some context
to Sheol - Job 33:24, Ezek 28:8) (LXX= phthora
= corruption!). Who crowns you with
lovingkindness and compassion
Isaiah 24:3 The earth will be
completely laid waste (LXX=
Greek literally reads corrupted [phtheiro] with corruption [phthora]!) and completely despoiled, for the LORD has spoken
Daniel 3:25 He answered and
said, "Look! I see four men loosed and walking about in the midst of the
fire without harm (LXX= phthora
= corruption!), and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the
Jonah 2:6 "I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its
bars was around me forever, But Thou hast brought up my life from the pit
(pit in Hebrew = destruction, decay as in Ps 16:10 and in several
context pictures a state of death, in some context to Sheol - Job 33:24,
Ezek 28:8) (LXX= phthora
= corruption!), O LORD my God.
Micah 2:10 "Arise and go, For this is no place of rest Because of the
uncleanness that brings on destruction, a painful destruction (LXX= phthora).
There are 8 uses of phthora in the
Romans 8:21 (note) that the creation itself also will be set free from its
slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the
children of God.
Comment: Corruption is here viewed as a evil power which effects all
of creation as a result of Adam's sin in Romans 5:12-note)
(Vine comments that phthora " is used in the New Testament either
of decay and death, in the physical sphere (as here and in 1Cor 15:42,
50; 2 Pet 2:12), or of moral degeneracy (as in Col.2:22-note; Gal 6:8). The
phrase “bondage of corruption” is taken by some in an objective sense,
as signifying bondage which produces corruption, by others subjectively,
as the bondage which consists in corruption. The latter seems to be the
Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E.
Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson
1 Corinthians 15:42 So also is
the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is
raised an imperishable body... 50
Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the
kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
(Here phthora describes that which is subject to corruption, perishing
or decay and stands opposite aphtharsia - that which is incorruptible or
Galatians 6:8 For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh
reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from
the Spirit reap eternal life.
Comment: No one would bother to
harvest a field of decaying matter. The deeds of the flesh are
always corruptive and can only make a person progressively worse. The
ultimate corruption is eternal death, the wages of sin. John Stott
writes that "Every time we allow our mind to harbor a grudge, nurse
a grievance, entertain an impure fancy, wallow in self-pity, we are
sowing to the flesh. Every time we linger in bad company whose insidious
influence we know we cannot resist, every time we lie in bed when we
ought to be up and praying, every time we read pornographic literature,
every time we take a risk that strains our self-control we are sowing,
sowing, sowing, to the flesh" --
The Message of Galatians. Inter-Varsity Press.
Colossians 2:22 (note)
(which all refer to things destined to
perish with the
using)-- in accordance with the commandments and teachings of men?
2 Peter 1:4 (note) For by these He has granted to us His precious and
magnificent promises, in order that by them you might become partakers
of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world
by lust. (Here phthora describes the total destruction of an
2 Peter 2:12 (note) But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of
instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no
knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be
destroyed. (Clearly phthora here is used in an ethical sense and refers
to moral decay.
2 Peter 2:19 (note)
promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of
corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.
(Here it refers to a general inward depravity)
to destroy (middle voice) and to destroy (passive voice). The idea is to
cause harm to something in a physical manner or in the outward
circumstances and thus to ruin, corrupt or spoil.
In moral or ethical sense phtheiro
means to cause deterioration of one's inner life (cp Ep 4:22 as caused
by the lusts of deceit, Re 19:2) or to cause ruin to something as
in 1Co 15:33 where the idea is that of being led astray. Phtheiro as in
the present passage can describe the sense of punish by destroying.
TDNT writes that...
Economic ruin may also be in view. In
curses the meaning may be “be damned” or more weakly “be off.” Another
sense is “to spoil” (e.g., milk). The loss of food or of animals may
sometimes be denoted.
G., Friedrich, G., & Bromiley, G. W. Theological Dictionary of the New
Vine says phtheiro
signifies “to destroy by means of
corrupting,” and so “bringing into a worse state”.
(a) with this significance it is used
of the effect of evil company upon the manners of believers, and so of
the effect of association with those who deny the truth and hold false
doctrine, 1Co 15:33 (this was a saying of the pagan poet Menander, which
became a well known proverb); in 2Co 7:2, of the effects of dishonorable
dealing by bringing people to want (a charge made against the apostle);
in 2Co 11:3, of the effects upon the minds (or thoughts) of believers by
“corrupting” them “from the simplicity and the purity that is toward
Christ”; in Ep 4:22 (note), intransitively, of the old nature in waxing
“corrupt,” “morally decaying, on the way to final ruin” (Moule), “after
the lusts of deceit”; in Re 19:2 (note), metaphorically, of the Babylonish
harlot, in “corrupting” the inhabitants of the earth by her false
(b) With the significance of
destroying, it is used of marring a local church by leading it away from
that condition of holiness of life and purity of doctrine in which it
should abide, 1Co 3:17 (kjv, “defile”), and of God’s retributive
destruction of the offender who is guilty of this sin (id.); of the
effects of the work of false and abominable teachers upon themselves,
2Pe 2:12 (some texts have kataphtheiro; kjv, “shall utterly perish”),
and Jude 1:10 (kjv, “corrupt themselves.” rv, marg., “are corrupted”).
W E: Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament
Words. 1996. Nelson)
Phtheiro is used 8 times in
the NT -
1 Corinthians 3:17 If any man
destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God
is holy, and that is what you are.
1 Corinthians 15:33 Do not be deceived: "Bad company corrupts good
2 Corinthians 7:2 Make room for us in your hearts; we wronged no one,
we corrupted no one, we took advantage of no one.
2 Corinthians 11:3 But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by
his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and
purity of devotion to Christ.
Ephesians 4:22 (note)
that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old
self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the
lusts of deceit,
2 Peter 2:12 (note)
But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be
captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the
destruction of those creatures also be destroyed,
Jude 1:10 But these men revile the things which they do not understand;
and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by
these things they are destroyed.
Revelation 19:2 (note)
because His judgments are true and righteous; for He has judged the
great harlot who was corrupting the earth with her immorality, and He
has avenged the blood of His bond-servants on her."
There are 17 uses of phtheiro
in the non-apocryphal
Ge 6:11; Ex 10:15; Lev 19:27; Deut 34:7; 1Chr 20:1; Job 15:32; Is 24:3,
4; 54:16; Je 13:9; Ezek 16:52; Da 2:44; 7:14; 8:24; 9:26; 11:17; Ho 9:9
Genesis 6:11 Now the earth
was corrupt (Lxx = phtheiro = morally corrupt) in the sight
of God, and the earth was filled with violence.
Hosea 9:9 (KJV) They
have deeply corrupted (Lxx = phtheiro = morally corrupt)
themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their
iniquity, he will visit their sins.
Jeremiah 13:9 "Thus says the
LORD, 'Just so will I destroy (Heb = shachath = destroy, mar, spoil; Lxx
= phtheiro) the pride of Judah and the great pride of Jerusalem.
Daniel 2:44 "And in the days
of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never
be destroyed (Aramaic = chabal = destroy; Lxx = phtheiro), and
that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put
an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. (cp Da
7:14 ...and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed [Lxx =
Daniel 9:26 "Then after the
sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the
people of the prince who is to come will destroy (Heb = shachath
= destroy; Lxx = phtheiro) the city and the sanctuary. And its end
will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations
Both the noun phthora and the verb
phtheiro have the double meaning of
corrupting and perishing. The implication here in Peter's epistle is that although these men
will certainly perish physically, there is a ruin or corruption that
awaits them which will be far worse than any mere physical destruction,
this second corruption most likely referring to eternal
WORM DOES NOT
DIE, AND THE
FIRE IS NOT
QUENCHED" (Mk 9:48)!
Such harsh words reveal the
seriousness of the false teachers’ sin. Those who teach have great
responsibility. Jesus had said,
stumble, it would be
better for him
if, with a
hung around his
neck, he had been
cast into the
Teachers who lead others astray will face great punishment. The false
teachers had set aside self-restraint in order to follow their passions. False teachers
cannot get beyond their own instincts and thus will be destroyed by the
folly of those passions. But following one’s
passions leads to self-destruction and to eternal punishment
Matthew Henry adds
These persons shall be utterly
destroyed in their own corruption. Their vices not only expose them to
the wrath of God in another world, but often bring them to misery and
ruin in this life; and surely such impudent offenders, who glory in
their shame, and to whom openness in sin is an improvement of the
pleasure of sinning, most justly deserve all the plagues of this life
and the pains of the next in the greatest extremity. Therefore whatever
they meet with is the just reward of their unrighteousness.
there is something self-destroying in
fleshly pleasure. To make such pleasure the be-all and the end-all of
life is a suicidal policy and in the end even the pleasure is lost. The
point Peter is making is this, and it is eternally valid—If a man
dedicates himself to those fleshly pleasures, in the end he so ruins
himself in bodily health and in spiritual and mental character that he
cannot even enjoy them. The glutton destroys his appetite, the drunkard
his health, the sensualist his body, the self-indulgent his character
and peace of mind and begins his experience of hell while still on
earth." Woe! (Barclay,
W: The Daily Study Bible Series, Rev. ed. Philadelphia: The Westminster
These “brute beasts” are destined for
destruction, a truth Peter mentioned often in 2 Peter 2:3, 4, 9, 12, 17,
20). As they seek to destroy the faith, they themselves shall be
destroyed. They will be “corrupted in their own corruption.” Their very
nature will drag them down into destruction, like the pig returning to
the mire and the dog to its vomit (2Pe 2:22-note). Unfortunately, before that event takes place, these
people can do a great deal of moral and spiritual damage." (see e.g.
effect of Balaam on sons of Israel @
(bolding and coloring added) (Wiersbe,
W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor