The Apostate Angels of 2 Pet. 2:4 and Jude 6 -- By: David W. Jones

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 23:2 (Spring 2006)
Article: The Apostate Angels of 2 Pet. 2:4 and Jude 6
Author: David W. Jones


The Apostate Angels of 2 Pet. 2:4 and Jude 6

David W. Jones

Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary
Wake Forest, North Carolina 27587

In spite of their short length, the books of 2 Peter and Jude have historically generated a fair amount of controversy and discussion within the church. Indeed, some scholars have suggested that the letter of 2 Peter should be excluded from the canon in light of the fact that it was not included in the early canon of Marcion, the Muratorian Fragment, and was named among the antilegomena books of the Cheltenham canon. Even church fathers such as Origen, Jerome, Eusebius of Caesarea, and reformer John Calvin questioned the authenticity of 2 Peter. The canonicity of the Epistle of Jude, likewise, has been contested since it too was conspicuously left out of Marcion’s canon, the Cheltenham canon, and was included among the disputed books by Eusebius in his Historia ecclesiastica. Moreover, the Protestant giant Martin Luther put the Book of Jude at the end of his German translation of the New Testament, obviously a position of lesser importance.

Another reason why the canonicity of these two books has historically been challenged is that they refer to events and doctrines that are only scarcely mentioned elsewhere in Scripture, if at all. One of these such doctrines is the fall of the apostate angels, alluded to in 2 Pet. 2:4 and Jude 6. This brief article will investigate this event (1) by closely examining these two verses of Scripture in an exegetical manner, (2) by analyzing the similarities and differences between these two verses in regard to their syntax, vocabulary, and grammar, and (3) by attempting, in the conclusion of this work, to identify the event in question.

The Apostate Angels of 2 Pet. 2:4

The second chapter in the second letter of the apostle Simon Peter contains one of the most stinging descriptions of the certain destruction of the false teachers who had infected the first-century church. The fourth verse of this vivid chapter begins Peter’s contention that the Lord would indeed punish the “brute beasts” (2 Pet. 2:12).

Peter started his argument in 2 Pet. 2:4 with a first-class conditional sentence, “Εἰ γὰρ ὁ θεὸς [For if God]. .. .”1 The fact that Peter began with a first-class conditional sentence allows one to make two important observations. First, grammatically, 2 Pet....

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