When Angels Do Time

Michael S. Heiser

Most Bible study resources describe fallen angels as demons who joined Lucifer in his rebellion against God. But what if I told you that the only place in the New Testament that describes angels sinning does not call them demons, has no connection to Lucifer, and has them in jail? Welcome to the world of 2 Peter and Jude.

For … God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment (2 Pet 2:4 ESV).

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day (Jude 6 ESV). Second Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 are nearly identical in their description of angels doing time, but there are differences that help us figure out “what in the spiritual world is going on.”

Jude 6 defines what 2 Peter 2:4 means by the angelic sin. These sinning angels “left their proper dwelling.” Second Peter doesn’t say they were in cahoots with Satan, or that they did anything in Eden. It tells us they left their designated realm of existence and did something in another realm. But what did they do?

Both 2 Peter and Jude compare the sin of these angels with the Sodom and Gomorrah incident, where the sin involved sexual immorality (2 Pet 2:7; Jude 7). Second Peter also connects it to the time of Noah. There is only one sin involving a group of angelic beings in the entire Bible, and it coincides with Noah and is sexual in nature. That incident is Gen 6:1–4, where the “sons of God” leave heaven, their normal abode, and come to earth and father children (the nephilim giants) by human women.

Two features in these passages in 2 Peter and Jude point to Gen 6:1–4. First, “sons of God” is a specific phrase used elsewhere in the Old Testament of angelic beings. Second, both 2 Pet 2:4 and Jude 6 explicitly tell us that these angels are imprisoned in chains of gloomy darkness—in “hell” until judgment day.

While it is true that Gen 6:1–4 never tells us what happened to the sons of God who sinned, Jewish writings from between the testaments do. All Jewish writings that comment on Gen 6:1–4 agree that it was angelic beings who sinned and who were bound and thrown into the Netherworld.

Most English translations say the angels were thrown into “hell”—the most frequent translation of the Greek word “Hades.” However, 2 Peter has the angels chained in “Tartarus” (Τάρταρος). This is the name of the prison of the divine giants in the classical Greek story, Hesiod’s Theogony. Jewish writers also used this word for the dark, gloomy Netherworld.

While these passages are certainly strange, they telegraph that angelology and demonology are more complex than we might think. They are also the key to understanding Gen 6:1–4—and the New Testament doctrine of baptism.

For more resources on Jude, go to Logos.com/Jude

Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Faithlife Corporation. Originally published in print, Vol. 2 No. 4

It Has Been Granted to You

Rebecca Van Noord

“It has been granted to her that she be dressed in bright, clean fine linen” (Rev 19:8), announces a voice from heaven in John’s revelation. The voice describes the bride who waits in anticipation—representing the believers who wait in expectation of being reunited with Christ.

The text contrasts the fine linen of the bride with the purple and scarlet cloth of the harlot, Babylon, who represents all that oppose God’s reign (Rev 18:16). The harlot receives criticism for her infidelity: “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great.… For all the nations have drunk from the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality, and the kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich from the power of her sensuality” (Rev 18:2–3).

But the cry goes out in and among Babylon: “Come out from her, my people” (Rev 18:4). The bride, who is preparing herself for the wedding celebration of the Lamb (Rev 19:7), responds to the call to remain pure—to avoid the temptations of the age. She is given the opportunity to dress herself in bright, clean fine linen, representing “the righteous deeds of the saints” (Rev 19:8). These deeds do not earn the bride her righteous standing before the Lamb, but they speak of a life that is transformed.

In Revelation, John uses this imagery to entreat the early believers to live righteously while awaiting the hope promised them. Christ has won the victory for us—the final conquering of sin and evil is imminent. We are empowered to live for Him now, to prepare ourselves for the day when we will have our reward: His presence.

How does your expectation of Christ’s coming help you live for Him now?

This article was originally posted in Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan.

Shelf Life Book Review: The Ten Commandments

Stephen M. Vantassel

The Ten Commandments: Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church Westminster John Knox Press, 2009 (Interpretation Series)

Patrick D. Miller’s volume is essentially a biblical theology of the Ten Commandments in Exodus 20. He avoids getting sidetracked with nuanced debates by concentrating on the meaning of the commandments.

Miller reviews how other passages are informed by the commandments. Although most of the book concentrates on Old Testament examples, Miller also explains how the New Testament writers picked up on commandment themes. His discussion of how the commandments intersected with the person and work of Jesus Christ makes the work a worthwhile purchase by itself.

Miller does not draw concrete applications of the Ten Commandments. Nevertheless, anyone interested in the commandments should read this volume. It is enriching and challenging.

Walking While Wounded isn't Supposed to be Easy

John Saddington

It’s been nearly a year since my wife and I experienced the heartbreaking loss of an unborn child. I don’t pretend to know why it happened—only that it did.

A person in pain will do nearly anything for relief. I thought my spiritual understanding and the educational pedigree I was working on would be a source for answers—the relief I needed—but it wasn’t. At the time, I believed that sound biblical interpretation could explain nearly anything—even the death of an innocent child. I was wrong.

Although reading and studying the Bible didn’t bring relief from the pain, Bible study slowly re-introduced my wife and I to the suffering of our savior. Through loving our unborn child, we learned what it is like to love someone you have never seen—just like Christ loved us when He died for us. Through our suffering, we learned what it means to place our hope in things to come.

Christ’s love, how to handle suffering, and placing hope in things to come is the subject of 1 Peter.

The audience of Peter’s first letter desperately needed a pick-me-up. They were men and women in grief. They were experiencing life-shattering trials from persecution. Peter exhorts them to remember that their faith and hope were found in someone they had never even met:

Although you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy. (1 Pet 1:8 NRSV)

What the apostle says is both wise and strategic. Although he may have a general sense of what his readers are experiencing collectively, he can’t possibly know the intimate details of each person’s trials, struggles and hardships. Instead of addressing each individual’s problems, he provides a foundation for all believers—regardless of circumstance. His message is simple: “Our shared belief in the suffering of Christ can uniformly provide all that is necessary for each of you to move forward in faith. So don’t give up.”

Christ is our model, as 1 Pet 2:21 states:

For … you have been called [to suffering], because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.… When he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.… by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls. (1 Pet 2:21–25 NRSV)

Through the healing process, we also learned something that Peter hints at throughout his letter: Our Guardian uses brokenness to build relational bridges that would never have been created otherwise.

Within days of making the news of our loss public, my wife and I were inundated with emails, phone calls and text messages that can be summed up in two words: “Me too.” Some of our closest friends had even experienced a similar loss, but had never told us. The obvious and heartbreaking difference was that they, along with many others, suffered in silence.

We just wanted to move on, but apparently “moving on” can also mean serving others. Christ, our model, was asking us to live for Him by helping others, even when we felt like we had nothing to give. As Peter says,

Since … Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same intention … so as to live for the rest of your earthly life no longer by human desires but by the will of God. (1 Pet 4:1–2 NRSV)

Peter was right. Walking while wounded isn’t supposed to be easy, but Christ shows us how to suffer well and how to suffer with others. Rather than hide our wounds, we wear them publicly, declaring them to be of immense value. The God who suffered for all of us is ready and willing to walk with us in the darkest of times.

Article courtesy of Bible Study Magazine published by Faithlife Corporation . Originally published in print, Vol. 2 No. 4

Shelf Life Bonus Book Review: LOLcat Bible

A few weeks ago, Lexham Press Editor Elliot Ritzema received a review copy of LOLcat Bible. Among his many other projects at Lexham, Elliot is in charge of Bible Study Magazine’s Shelf Life book reviews. He chooses the books, contracts out the reviews, and sometimes reads and reviews books himself. The LOLcat Bible gave us all a good laugh when we saw it, so just for fun, we asked Elliot to review it here.

From ancient times, people have wanted to create pictures of their cats. The only difference between then and now was that in ancient Egypt you needed to have some sculpting skills to create a representation of your favorite feline rather than a smartphone.

Even though the impulse remains the same, cat pictures have changed in recent years. One example of this that gained popularity around 2006 is the LOLcat—a combination of the abbreviation for “laugh out loud” (LOL) and “cat.” LOLcats are humorous pictures of cats that use captions with a kind of broken English called LOLspeak. They were made famous through sites like Lolcats.com and I Can Has Cheezburger.

In 2007, Martin Grondin took LOLcats a step farther and started the Lolcat Bible Translation project, an attempt to paraphrase the entire Bible in LOLspeak (also called “kitty pidgin English”). In 2010 he published a thin volume he called the LOLcat Bible, which contained paraphrases of some popular biblical passages into LOLspeak. It is not a complete Bible version; the translation process is still ongoing via the website.

If you’re not used to LOLspeak, the LOLcat Bible can seem like it really is written in a different language. And people are given different names, as well: God is called Ceiling Cat, Jesus is called Happy Cat, the Holy Spirit is called Hovercat, and the devil is called Basement Cat. Here are the first two verses of Psalm 23 in the LOLcat Bible:

Ceiling Cat is mai shepherd. He gif me evrithing Iz need. He letz me sleeps in teh sunni spot an has liek nice watterz ovar thar.

Throughout, the LOLcat Bible includes cat pictures (of course) that are captioned with various verses in LOLspeak. The back of the book also includes the “Ceiling Cat Prayer” (a translation of the Lord’s Prayer) and “Proof of Ceiling Cat” (a translation of various classical arguments for God’s existence, such as Pascal’s Wager).

Needless to say, the LOLcat Bible is intended for entertainment and isn’t going to replace any actual translation of the Bible. It isn’t intended to teach doctrine; if you believed the Trinity was really three totally separate beings, for example, it would amount to tritheism. But if you love cats and are also familiar with the language and humor of internet memes, you will find this book a fun light entertainment.

You’ll find reviews of more scholarly Bible-related books in every issue of Bible Study Magazine, and right here on our blog.