|Not Giving Heed to Jewish Fables (5)
Enoch in Peter and Jude (Part 2)
(Bible Study - January 2001) In Novembers article (Tidings, 11/2000), the source evidence was presented that, firstly, Peter and Jude faced the problem of false teachers spreading myths, and secondly that the "angels that sinned" described by Peter and Jude are specifically rooted in the Book of Enoch and its associated traditions.
In this article, it is intended to show, thirdly, that the way in which Peter and Jude address the false teachers is to convict them out of their own mouths. This is the same approach we applied in previous articles to the Abraham in the Underworld, and Jannes and Jambres stories (Tidings, 7/2000; 9/2000). Again the objective is not just to prove that these "wrested scripture" passages are drawn from uninspired material (rather than the Old Testament), but also to show that the treatment of these myths in scripture is negative.
Peter and Jude - an immediate
reply to the Enochites
We already saw how Peter precedes his mention of angels that sinned (II Pet. 2:4) with "exploit you with stories that they have made up" (2:3 NIV). This is a perfect lead in to an argument of logical fallacy: "If God did not spare angels when they sinned...if this is so then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials and hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment" (II Pet. 2:4,9 NIV).
Peters argument was picked up by Bro. Ron Abel: "Why bother to chain these angels if, as one Jehovahs Witnesses publication contends, they can still exercise dangerous power over men and women?" (Wrested Scriptures p. 180, 1c)
This was the best answer to the "angels that sinned" myth in Peters time, and it is still the best answer today. If the "angels marrying" part of the Book of Enoch is true, then why not the part about the angels having been chained in Tartarus by the archangel Raphael? If they are chained in Tartarus, then, as Peter says in 2:9, they arent a threat to anyone are they?
Of course people are very imaginative and will find ways around Peters argument. Jehovahs Witnesses will usually assert that there "must have been" other falls, and other angels ("the ones that got away"). The response to Peters point was more sophisticated in his day: it was then said that, True, the Book of Enoch has the angels in chains, but the immortal spirits of their giant offspring survived the flood to become the demons of New Testament times. But neither of these "explanations" is an answer to Peters fundamental point which is -- even if Enoch is true, the book itself shows that God knows how to deliver the godly from temptation, thus He is not subjecting the godly to such a trial (2:9). This is one of the clearest verses against angelic, or diabolic, temptation in the New Testament.
It is interesting that Jude, despite following Peter almost word for word in this section, chooses to omit Peters comment on "stories they have made up." Instead, Jude inserts a new example, the destruction of many of the children of Israel in Sinai (Jude 5). Perhaps Jude wanted to include a specifically historical example for the benefit of those under the influence of the false teachers, or perhaps he was echoing I Corinthians 10:5. Either way the lesson which Jude supplies, which the examples of Sodom and the flood do not, is how even the elect may also be punished if they go astray.
Blaspheming against celestial beings
Dominion and glories
Elsewhere in the New Testament, "dominion" is always associated with heavenly "principalities and powers" (Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16). "Dignities" literally means glories. Like "dominion," it is a rare term and is used in this sense only by Peter and Jude in the New Testament. In I Peter 1:11, Peter uses the plural form in regard to the future glories of Christ. In the Greek Old Testament, the word describes the glory surrounding God: "Who is like unto thee among the gods O Lord? Who is like unto thee, glorified in holiness, marvellous in glories (plural), doing wonders?" (Exo. 15:11).
It is also used in this sense in other first-century Jewish literature: Philo, On the Special Laws 1.45 writes, "Moses said .. I am not able to bear the visible appearance of your form but I ask you that I may behold the glories (plural) that are around you." In Test Judah 25:2 we read, "And the Lord blessed Levi; the Angel of the Presence blessed me; the powers of glories (plural) blessed Simeon, the heaven blessed Reuben; the earth blessed Issachar "
That "dominion" and "glories" mean more than just human dignitaries is confirmed by Peters next verse: "Whereas angels, which are greater in might and power (i.e. greater than the false teachers) bring not railing (i.e. "slanderous") accusations against them" (i.e. against the glories) (II Pet. 2:11).
Slandering celestial beings
The impact of what Peter and Jude are saying is clearer in the NIV: "This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire of the sinful nature and despise authority. Bold and arrogant these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord" (II Pet. 2:10-11 NIV). And Jude 8 reads: "In the very same way these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings."
If the allegations (specifically of angels having sex with women) were "slanderous accusations," then it can hardly be used as proof that the accusations were true. If the "slander" consisted of allegations that angels rebelled, descended to earth and fathered demons, then Peter and Judes evidence must be taken to mean that no such thing happened, and that it is not acceptable to believe or teach such things in the church.
It would be possible to go on in detail but the above arguments -- the immediate context before and after the "angels that sinned" passages should be enough to prove our objective in this series -- that the reference to the Jewish fable is negative.
Parallels of II Peter and Jude
Footnote. Other New Testament passages relevant to the "angels
that sinned," which need to be underlined in any discussion of the subject,
include Mark12:24-25; Luke 20:35-36; Heb. 1:14. All these verses can only be written with
an eye to the same popular Jewish myths, or there was no need to state the obvious.
Perhaps the most relevant is the "angels, and authorities and powers being made
subject to him" (I Peter 3:22). This may well be Peters first answer to the