Chapter 74 - Who Are The Angels Chained In Darkness?
This epistle is the Second in a succession of at least two letters written to the same group by Peter. In chapter 3 of this letter, Peter tells the beloved that this is the second letter. He wants to remind them to live by the words of the holy prophets and by the commandments that were adhered to and taught by the Messiah and the Apostles. The writer, thought to be Peter, also wants to encourage the believers to greater grace and spiritual knowledge as they are established in the truth. Not missing the opportunity to describe false teachers, Peter writes to warn the believers against the unsavory variety of teacher.
Another key element of this letter is somewhat apocalyptic, as Peter tells of the dissolution of all things and what might be expected to precede that occurrence. Peter himself calls this letter an Epistle, which should be sufficient evidence to resist the tradition that calls this letter Scripture. Neither Peter, nor the recipients of his letter would have entertained the notion that Pete’s writings are Scripture. Certainly the audience at that time would not use the writings of Peter to develop doctrine so why has Christendom decided to do what was not ok to do in the first century?
When Did Men Decide Peter’s Writing Were Scripture?
In the 4th century, the Roman Catholic Church/government had a group of men vote on the writings they deemed worthy to be called Scripture according to their standard. The word “canon” simply means standard and is what the Catholic/Christian bible is known as today. In so canonizing certain apostolic writings, the Catholic leaders elected to call this letter from Peter “Scripture.” Let me remind you, the early church of the first and second centuries did not call any of the apostles’ letters “scripture.” If one uses this letter that was intended for a specific group of believers as a tool to define and build doctrine, he is in danger of being charged with adding to the Scriptures. By adding to the Scriptures, he will be in conflict with the command given in Deuteronomy 4 and 12, which warns against any additions or deletions to the Old Testament. Keeping that in mind, let’s move on to see how Peter uses culturally accepted thinking to make some of his points.
Did Peter Believe In A Greek Mythological Hell?
Peter incorporates some of the concepts seen in the Apocryphal book of Enoch. A writer might often employ concepts from other popular writings that would be familiar to his hearer. The purpose of this practice would be to provide a very clear picture and vivid image of the concept he is trying to communicate. Any good writer today tries to provide the reader with mental images by using descriptive content that is common to those he is writing to. Content taken from every day scenery, items, and occurrences. In the following verse, Peter uses the word tartoro to speak of the place where the angels have been placed in chains until the time of judgment. Tartaroo or Tartarus, is said to be the place where souls spend time receiving punishment from the God of the underworld after they die. This is according to Greek mythology and does have some parallels to the expanded notion of Sheol that was developed by the Jews. The purpose of the Greek underworld of the dead was so there was a place specifically reserved for the wicked that died and had not received a just punishment prior to the termination of their physical life. Peter’s hearers would understand a couple of things from this word and Peter would have used the term knowing full-well what his hearer would take from it. According to Hebraic thought, as is taught in the Scriptures, the dead went nowhere upon their death but they remained buried until they were resurrected in one of the two future resurrections. Yeshua and Peter both used only the Old Testament as documents that were good for doctrine. The Scriptures they used clearly taught a dead person does not have an immortal soul that ascends to heaven upon death. We see two examples of this thinking below. The first is when Peter himself talks about King David being dead and in his grave until this day and the second is when Yeshua encounters the sister of a dead and buried friend. In this latter episode, Yeshua is told by the sister that she knows Lazarus her brother is dead but will rise at the resurrection.
Acts 2:29 and 34
29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
34 for David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.
24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.
Are There Really Chains Around Angels Ankles?
If we understand Peter correctly when he states the “angels” have been placed in this Tartarus, then we ought to be curious to understand who these angels are. Are the angelos Peter speaks of some type of celestial servants of the Most High who have chosen to give up their home in heaven and take on themselves an eternal punishment, which began by being chained up for a few thousand years until the time was ready for them to be judged? Let’s consider that for a few moments as we explore the statements by Peter about angels that are chained. We addressed the bulk of this concept in our discussion on Jude where we see a similar reference to angels being chained.
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
If we look at this verse alone without trying to understand who Peter is speaking of in context, we might conclude that Peter is talking about real angelic beings. Creatures that were one-time inhabitants of the heavenly court with the Creator of the Universe. These supposed angels chose to disobey the Creator and rebel, which brought on swift ejection from the presence of the Almighty.
In Jude verse 6, we see a very similar statement made about the supposed fallen angels. This verse also has been thought to be referring to what became demonic spirits who are working for “satan” and includes the “evil one” himself.
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
These two verses seem to portray the same event. An event where evil angels rebelled against Yahweh in the heavens and were then cast down to some place of darkness where they were shackled in chains. Consider if these verses are speaking of literal angels who “fell”. Where are these angels now? According to popular lore, the earth is presently being overrun or at least partly run by radical and nefarious demonic beings who were at one time angels in heaven. How could this be if these bad angels were chained up? The verses above say the “angels” were chained up until some future judgment. Has the Day of Judgment arrived, you and I have escaped it, and now these wild henchmen of “satan” are roaming free harassing humanity? If this is the case then we are all in big trouble. However, it is clear that the Day of Judgment has not yet arrived, so according to Jude and Peter, if we are talking about real fallen angels, then they are still chained up. Being chained up as the words say; these demonic angels would therefore be completely powerless and unable to affect humanity in any way. Maybe we do not understand something and the chained angels have a few buddy angels who didn’t get caught, so they are not chained up and are unlocking their shackled friend angels in the moments when Yahweh is not minding the store so to speak. Or better still, to make this demonology idea fly, let’s say that there has been more angels rebel since the first group of fallen angels have been ejected from Heaven. Now, although the first group is still chained up like junkyard dogs, the revolving door of Heaven is still producing real angels who are receiving their proverbial pink slips and are also cast out of heaven regularly. The point is, if something is chained up by God and is reserved into chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day, then why and how could it possibly become unchained. These chained angels must still be there today. And because there are no indications of further rebellions or there is no creation of more demonic angels, these supposed supernatural beings that have been shackled should be still shackled. If that is the case, then they have no say in anything anywhere anytime. Chained demons can’t affect our world. But Christian teaching claims they do affect our world.
If on the contrary, these are not passages referring to the chaining of supernatural angels who have rebelled, then they must be referring to something else. Could a reference to “being chained in darkness until judgment” be referring to a person who is dead and having no conscious thought? Could this phrase refer to the person lying in the grave who will be awakened at the resurrection of the wicked dead where at that time they will be brought to the judgment? I think so. And Peter is idiomatically referring to those presently dead and awaiting judgment and possibly to those who have chosen to be rebellious and therefore are left to live, as if in chains, eventually to be judged for their sin. (You can find further discussion on the resurrection in the comments on Revelation 20 in Chapter 23 above, where the wicked dead are resurrected for a time and the writer speaks of this as a time when Satan is loosed.)
Have You Heard About The Two Judgments And Two Resurrections?
Daniel tells about two judgments, one for the righteous and one for the wicked and we see the mention of judgment for the wicked as it pertains to a resurrection frequently in the Apostolic Testimony as well;
And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
To be concise on this for now; when Peter wrote these statements, he had in mind there would eventually be a resurrection of the wicked. At which time they were to be judged for their choices and hastily destroyed. Based on a first century view of angelos, which is the Greek word for messenger, we can begin to understand further who it was that was chained until judgment.
Angels Are Men
According to Peter and Jude, something or someone is chained up until Judgment. And this something or someone did not pay heed to their first appointment to follow God. I think sufficient evidence exists to affirm that Peter is talking about a group awaiting the resurrection of the wicked. But why does he refer to them as angels? Let us consider what might be meant by “angels” in 2nd Peter and Jude.
As soon as we read the word “angel” most of us think of a celestial being who is presently living in heaven or once was living in heaven with God and has supernatural abilities to influence humanity. Many take this understanding of angels to the point where they believe that when the word is used in a context such as we see in 2nd Peter 2:4, it is a reference to bad or evil celestial beings. Does the word “angels” have to be referring to cosmic entities who have been exiled from heaven? The Greek word used here is angelosand it corresponds to the Hebrew word mawlawk. Both words may indeed refer to a supernatural entity that is in the service of the Creator but both words are also used to represent a human being. In fact, unless the context of the word affixes some additional term to express a heavenly being then the word in Hebrew and Greek most frequently refers to a human. In 2nd Peter, the context does not present the rigid expression of an actual celestial angel. On the contrary, if we look at the theme of Peter’s statement we see that he is stringing together a number of statements referring to men. He talks of men in the form of false prophets, then the angels that are men, then Noah and the 8 people who were saved from the flood; after that we hear about Lot, then mention is made of the godly people who are tempted and the unjust people who are reserved until the Day of Judgment. Look then, at the connection between the “angels” who are chained in darkness until judgment, the string of humans who are mentioned next, and then the explanatory statement as given in verse 10 of Chapter 2, which identifies who is reserved unto the Day of Judgment.
For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
10 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
Peter is telling of the fate of men from the past. The unjust who are reserved until the day of judgment are the angels who sinned five verses previous. They are Israelites and people in biblical history, who walked in disobedience and sinned. He is also alluding to the fate of any who choose to walk in disobedience and sin. There is no doubt that Peter is referring to human men who have disobeyed. Hopefully we are able to see past the use of the word “angels” and see that the word translated as angel, often is used of men in the “Old” and “New” testaments. The ISBE makes note of the varied usage of both the Hebrew and Greek words for “angel.”
Angels of the Seven Churches
It is evident from the contexts of the various Biblical passages in which the word “angel” appears, that the word does not always represent the same idea. In such passages as Dan_12:1 and Act_12:15 it would seem that the angel was generally regarded as a superhuman being whose duty it was to guard a nation or an individual, not unlike the jenei of the Arabs. However, in Mal_2:7 and Mal_3:1 (Hebrew) the word is clearly used to represent men. In the New Testament also, there are passages, such as Jam_2:25 (Greek), in which the word seems to be applied to men. The seven angels of the seven churches (Rev_1:20) received seven letters, figurative letters, and therefore it would seem that the seven angels are also figurative and may refer to the seven bishops who presided over the seven churches of Asia..
Looking at the connected statements regarding those who are chained until judgment, we are able to see the context shows who is chained. Peter is not referring to demonic angels, rather; Peter is talking about disobedient Israelites. Another clue to help identify the “angels” as humans can be seen in Jude. There we find reference to the people who speak evil of things that they do not know about. Jude refers to them as “wandering stars.” These “stars” could very well be the Israelites who were said to be multiplied as the stars in heaven. Along we that thought, one cannot deny they were certainly a wandering group.
And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude; because thou wouldest not obey the voice of the LORD thy God.
Jude refers to those Israelites who chose to abandon their first call and speak evil of many things they do not know about by a number of undesirable terms. These terms include;
- clouds without water,
- trees with withered fruit,
- twice dead,
- raging waves of the sea,
and his reference to them as
It is unlikely these terms are referring to a cosmic demon. Rather, we can determine they indicate Jude is talking about Israelites. In the cross-reference to Jude’s comments, Peter is speaking very strongly with very graphic metaphors about evil men for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. This blackest darkness is the death that will come to evil men and they will not enjoy the benefit of the resurrection.
If we look objectively at the verses in Jude as a whole, trying to see them without stopping at the separation in the paragraphs made by the 16th century numbering system that was applied to the entire Bible, we will see the flow of the text and how these “angels” are the Israelites which left Egypt.
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
The subject of Jude’s statement is the people who were saved out of Egypt but were destroyed because of unbelief. Jude then explains that these people are now dead and awaiting judgment. As in the letter from Peter, if Jude is referring to actual spirit-being angels who are chained up, then they should be restrained from their havoc causing activities. Seeing as how Jude and Peter are both referring to disobedient Israelites, the understanding of their whereabouts after their death is that they are lying dead awaiting the judgment that will occur when the resurrection of the wicked takes place. They then will be destroyed for all eternity… that destruction is metaphorically spoken of a “blackest darkness”.
Through careful study, we can find a connection to this concept in the Psalms. The connection Jude and Peter are making to the Psalms is apparent and indicates those who are “bound in chains” are still active. When one recognizes this connection it follows to ask the question; “How can one be bound in chains under darkness and still produce actions that affect others?” Seeing this concept used in Psalms 107, shows us that it is a borrowed concept by Peter and Jude. Many scholars will find that the statements made by Peter and Jude are taken from the book of Enoch. This enigmatic composition is the Hellenized apocalyptic document that has been given much credit for the development of angelology and demonology.
The apocalyptic mode of writing found in the book of Enoch was a popular style of writing in the centuries after the “Jews” were returned to Jerusalem from their Babylon/ Persian captivity. This style infused complex ideas supporting a metaphysical world into many things spoken of in the Hebrew Bible. Hebrew concepts that were not understood because the people of that period were divorced from the Hebraic mindset. Concepts that were originally Hebraic were infused with supernatural, superstitious, and supra-biblical interpretation. By supra-biblical interpretation is meant, the Gnostic mindset of understanding the Scriptures. This mindset was such that a supposed spiritual man or woman could interpret the meaning of text based on the experiences he had while he was part of the Greek Empire of the Hellenic period. The Catholic Encyclopedia says this about some of the writings pseudonymously penned under the name of Enoch.
Its body contains an account of the fall of the angelic "Watchers", their punishment, and the patriarch's intervention in their history. It is based upon Gen., vi, 2: "The sons of God seeing the daughters of men, that they were fair, took to themselves wives of all they chose." The narrative is intended to explain the origin of sin and evil in the world and in this connection lays very little stress on the disobedience of our First Parents. This portion is remarkable for the entire absence of a Messias.
The book of Enoch was only one of the writings in this period that articulated creative metaphysical explanations for difficult ancient concepts. As a writing founded on Hellenized scholarship, the authors of Enoch unabashedly attached Greek concepts to Scriptural stories and writings. The intention of his actions and others like him seemed to build a connection between popular Greek mythology and less popular but vastly more profound Scriptural writings. True the book of Enoch contains statements similar to the ones found in Jude and 2ND Peter. However, we do see the same concepts in very similar language in the books of Daniel and Psalms as being the best way to understand what the angels are. The book of Enoch was not considered valid or Scripturally accurate by Peter. Therefore, it is likely Peter and Jude made reference to the Psalms in their writings. The best cross-reference comparison between the wording in Jude, Peter, and Psalms is seen in the New International Version of the Bible.
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment;
And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.
Some sat in darkness and the deepest gloom, prisoners suffering in iron chains, for they had rebelled against the words of God and despised the counsel of the Most High. So he subjected them to bitter labor; they stumbled, and there was no one to help.
Psalms 107 talks about the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness but rebelled with disobedience. This Psalm lends great insight to understanding whom it is that is bound up in chains until judgment. Being bound in chains may therefore be a reference to the sin and disobedience that one participates in. A figurative understanding for one who is chained up can be applied to certain texts. The ISBE addresses this thought briefly;
As a figurative expression: ענק , ‛ānāḳ̌. The Psalmist likens pride to a chain about the neck (Psa_73:6), and in Prov it is stated that the young man who hears the instruction of his father and forsakes not the law of his mother shall find that they are chains about his neck (Rom_1:9). 
When both the Psalms and Jude indicate those who are “chained” are still conscious and active in varied ways, we might conclude that indeed to be bound in chains is to be given over to the depravity of one’s actions and to suffer the consequences from those actions. Paul had said to give the ones who were choosing sin, over to sin. We are seeing a similar concept in declaring a person or group as being “chained up.” Jude is referring to humans when he calls them “dreamers who defile flesh and speak evil” of the leaders Yahweh has appointed.
Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
We will discuss the letter of Jude more in a moment. But for now, we are able to see how the statements made in Jude are connected to what Peter has said, what the Psalmist has said, and therefore to the Israelites in the wilderness.
We also see Peter and Jude both make reference to angels who are reticent to make a railing accusation against the men who have rebelled. The simple answer to that statement is that an “angel” when being placed in the context with reference to Moses and the Israelites, is in fact a reference to a priest. We are being told that the priests who are imbued with more spiritual responsibility than the men who are defiling the flesh are wise. They are cautious not to say something that will be heard as a sneering judgment against the men or priests who are adverse to Yahweh and to his servants. Jude references the injunction for priests to not speak evil of priests as given in the Torah. And that is the very reason that not even a priest/angel made an accusation against another priest. We see the command here from Exodus.
Thou shalt not revile the gods, nor curse the ruler of thy people.
The “angels” who are priests, were remaining obedient to the Torah by not railing against other priests and leaders. Even though some of them were defilers of the flesh and such, those who were called “angels” stuck to the Torah principle of not reviling a priest or leader. According to the Targum of Jonathon and the ancient Jewish scholar Aben Ezra, the gods here are priests. Just as the term “gods” can refer to priests, so too can “angels” refer to priests. The Targum addresses the idea that priests are referred to as gods at times.
Targum of Jonathan interprets them of judges very rightly, agreeably to Psa_82:1 and so Aben Ezra says, "they are the judges and the priests, the sons of Levi, with whom the law is:
Are You In Heaven If You Go “Before The Lord”?
In this letter, our Hebrew teacher Peter, informs us he is talking about men by using a phrase familiar to the people that indicates Temple activity. “Before the Lord” is a term to identify activity which goes on in the temple environment.
Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.
Just as the angels of the seven Churches of Revelation are human men in leadership positions, so too are the temple servants, priests, and others operating in the Temple, referred to as “angels” at times. We see priests called “angels” in Malachi, who is himself said to be an “angel,” which is a messenger.
For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the law at his mouth: for he is the messenger(angel) of the LORD of hosts.
What we are hearing then from Peter, is that the Priests who are serving in the Temple with a right heart, in spirit and truth, are not even so brazen as to bring accusations against those who are speaking against the government and speaking evil against dignities. They who walk after the flesh are said to be presumptuous, self-willed and desire that which is unclean according to Peter. The use of the term “unclean” is another clue to show us Peter is referring to a Temple environment. As a Hebrew would understand it to mean, the term “unclean” held the meaning that a person or object was ceremonially unclean and could not participate in worship at the temple.
2Peter 2:10-11 But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. Presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.
Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord
I will try to encapsulate the message of Peter and Jude, when they are speaking of angels that sinned who are cast down to Hell, and chained up in everlasting darkness until judgment. They speak of humans who went against God and His appointed leaders. I will provide some summarized information on this concept in point form.
- The discussion is about humans not spirit beings
- The angels are the priests or leaders of Israel
- They rebelled against Yahweh and the Law given to Moses, wanting to be the big leaders themselves.
- For those who are presently dead the hell they are cast into is a state of physical death where they know nothing until Judgment day when they will be resurrected and judged.
- Being “bound in chains” means to be dead and awaiting judgment or to be lost in one’s sin and given over to the consequences of that sin.
- The blackness of darkness forever is eternal death.
- They who may be still alive are given over to their sin and may receive judgment for their evil through some means while on earth and then ultimate judgment when they die.
- 2nd Peter 2:4 cannot be understood without referencing Jude1:6 and Psalms 107:10
- If Jude and Peter are referring to celestial angels, then these evil angels should be rendered inoperative and powerless because both of them state the angels are bound in chains forever.
- A “first estate” is not speaking of a heavenly abode but of the first office or first position of religious duty. One of living within the bounds of Torah and leading Yahweh’s people in ways of righteousness.
- Peter is not referring to fallen angels because fallen angels do not exist, rather there does exist many human priests and leaders who did not keep their first estate and chose to do things in a human, flesh driven manner.
- Peter was referencing the book of Psalms not the heretical book of Enoch as many suggest. The book of Psalms is the foundation of Peter and Jude’s statements and directs us to realize that they are referring to men from the nation of Israel in these passages.
As we reach the end of this extraordinarily misinterpreted passage written by Peter, we learn there are no demonic angels that are chained to a post in some dark infernal pit. Rather, those who long ago rejected God’s truth are presently dead and will not have a conscious being until they are resurrected and judged. It is no longer required that reading of angels who did not keep their first estate and are now chained in darkness until judgment has to be distorted in meaning other than Peter intended it to mean. Angels are men and being “chained in darkness” is simply a metaphor for their being dead.
1. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, under the heading “Angels of the Seven Churches”
2. The first Bible in English to use both chapters and verses was the Geneva Bible published shortly afterwards in 1560.
3. The Holy Bible, New International Version. Pradis CD-ROM:.
4. The Holy Bible, New International Version. Pradis CD-ROM:.
5. The Holy Bible, New International Version. Pradis CD-ROM:.
6. International Standard Bible Encyclopedia , under entry on “Chains”
7. John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Dr. John Gill (1690-1771),comments on Exodus 22:9
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