2 Peter 2:20

20 For if, after they have 1escaped the defilements of the world by 2the knowledge of the 3Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again 4entangled in them and are overcome, 5the last state has become worse for them than the first.

2 Peter 2:20 Meaning and Commentary

2 Peter 2:20

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world,
&c.] The sins of it, the governing vices of it, which the men of the world are addicted to, and immersed in; for the whole world lies in wickedness, and which are of a defiling nature: the phrase is Rabbinical; it is said F17,

``he that studies not in the law in this world, but is defiled (amle ypwnjb) , "with the pollutions of the world", what is written of him? and they took him, and cast him without:''

these, men may escape, abstain from, and outwardly reform, with respect unto, and yet be destitute of the grace of God; so that this can be no instance of the final and total apostasy of real saints; for the house may be swept and garnished with an external reformation; persons may be outwardly righteous before men, have a form of godliness and a name to live, and yet be dead in trespasses and sins; all which they may have

through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
The Vulgate Latin, and all the Oriental versions, read, our Lord, and the latter leave out, "and Saviour"; by which "knowledge" is meant, not a spiritual experimental knowledge of Christ, for that is eternal life, the beginning, pledge, and earnest of it; but a notional knowledge of Christ, or a profession of knowledge of him, for it may be rendered "acknowledgment"; or rather the Gospel of Christ, which, being only notionally received, may have such an effect on men, as outwardly to reform their lives, at least in some instances, and for a while, in whose hearts it has no place. Now if, after all this knowledge and reformation,

they are again entangled therein;
in the pollutions of the world, in worldly lusts, which are as gins, pits and snares:

and overcome;
by them, so as to be laden with them, and led away, and entirely governed and influenced by them:

the latter end,
or state,

is worse with them than the beginning;
see ( Matthew 12:45 ) . Their beginning, or first estate, was that in which they were born, a state of darkness, ignorance, and sin, and in which they were brought up, and was either the state of Judaism, or of Gentilism; their next estate was an outward deliverance and escape from the error of the one, or of the other, and an embracing and professing the truth of the Christian religion, joined with a becoming external conversation; and this their last estate was an apostasy from the truth of the Gospel they had professed, a reception of error and heresy, and a relapse into sin and immorality, which made their case worse than it was at first; for, generally, such persons are more extravagant in sinning; are like raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; and are seldom, or ever, recovered; and by their light, knowledge, and profession, their punishment will be more aggravated, and become intolerable.


F17 Zohar in Gen. fol. 104. 3. Vid. Bechinot Olam, p. 178.

2 Peter 2:20 In-Context

18 For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error,
19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.
20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.
21 For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them.
22 It has happened to them according to the true proverb, "A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT," and, "A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire."

Cross References 5

  • 1. 2 Peter 2:18
  • 2. 2 Peter 1:2
  • 3. 2 Peter 1:11; 2 Peter 3:18
  • 4. 2 Timothy 2:4
  • 5. Matthew 12:45; Luke 11:26
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