2 Peter 2:22
(22) But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb.--More literally, There has happened to them what the true proverb says; "but" is of very doubtful authority. The word for "proverb" is the one used elsewhere only by St. John in his Gospel, and there translated once "parable" and thrice "proverb." "Parable," or "allegory," would have been best in all four cases (John 10:6, where see Note; John 16:25; John 16:29). The first proverb is found, Proverbs 26:11, and if that be the source of the quotation, we have here an independent translation of the Hebrew, for the LXX. gives an entirely different rendering, "dog" being the only word in common to the two Greek versions. The word for "vomit" here is possibly formed by the writer himself; that for "wallowing" is also a rare word. The LXX. adds, "and becomes abominable," which has no equivalent in the existing Hebrew text; and it has been suggested that these words may misrepresent the Hebrew original of the second proverb here. But it is quite possible that both proverbs come from popular tradition, and not from Scripture at all. If, however, the Book of Proverbs be the source of the quotation, it is worth while noting that no less than four times in as many chapters does St. Peter recall passages from the Proverbs in the First Epistle (1Peter 1:7; 1Peter 2:17; 1Peter 4:8; 1Peter 4:18). In the Greek neither proverb has a verb, as so often in such sayings--a dog that has returned to his own vomit; a washed sow to wallowing in the mire; just as we say "the dog in the manger," "a fool and his money."

The word for "mire," not a very common one, is used by Irenaeus of the Gnostic false teachers of his day, who taught that their fine spiritual natures could no more be hurt by sensuality than gold by mire. "For in the same way as gold when plunged in mire does not lay aside its beauty, but preserves its own nature, the mire having no power to injure the gold, so they say that they, no matter what kind of material actions they may be involved in, cannot suffer any harm, nor lose their spiritual essence." (chap. vi. 2). But it is not probable that Irenaeus knew our Epistle.

Verse 22. - But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb. The conjunction "but" is omitted in the best manuscripts. The literal translation is, "There hath happened unto them that of the true proverb (τὸ τῆς παροιμίας);" comp. Matthew 21:21, τὸ τῆς συκῆς. The dog is turned to his own vomit again. The construction is participial; literally, a dog having turned. See Wirier (3:45, 6, b), who says that in such proverbial expressions there is no reason for changing the participle into a finite verb: "They are spoken δεικτικῶς as it were, with reference to a case actually observed." St. Peter may be quoting Proverbs 26:11; but his words are very different from the Septuagint Version of that passage; perhaps it is more probable that the expression had become proverbial, and that the apostle is referring to a form of it in common use with his readers; like that which follows, which is not in the Book of Proverbs. And the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire; literally, the sow that had washed to her wallowing; or, according to some ancient manuscripts, "her wallowing-place." St. Peter compares the lives of the false teachers to the habits of those animals which were regarded as unclean, and were most despised by the Jews (compare our Lord's words in Matthew 7:6). The words ἐξέραμα, vomit; κυλισμός, wallowing; and βόρβορος, mire, are not found elsewhere in the New Testament.

2:17-22 The word of truth is the water of life, which refreshes the souls that receive it; but deceivers spread and promote error, and are set forth as empty, because there is no truth in them. As clouds hinder the light of the sun, so do these darken counsel by words wherein there is no truth. Seeing that these men increase darkness in this world, it is very just that the mist ofdarkness should be their portion in the next. In the midst of their talk of liberty, these men are the vilest slaves; their own lusts gain a complete victory over them, and they are actually in bondage. When men are entangled, they are easily overcome; therefore Christians should keep close to the word of God, and watch against all who seek to bewilder them. A state of apostacy is worse than a state of ignorance. To bring an evil report upon the good way of God, and a false charge against the way of truth, must expose to the heaviest condemnation. How dreadful is the state here described! Yet though such a case is deplorable, it is not utterly hopeless; the leper may be made clean, and even the dead may be raised. Is thy backsliding a grief to thee? Believe in the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved.But it is happened unto them, according to the true proverb,.... Which is true, both in fact and in the application of it, and which lies in the Scriptures of truth, at least the first part of it, Proverbs 26:11.

The dog is turned to his own vomit again, and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire; which expresses the filthy nature of sin, signified by vomit, mire, and dirt, than which nothing is more abominable and defiling; and also the just characters of these apostates, who are filly compared to dogs and swine and likewise their irreclaimable and irrecoverable state and condition, it being impossible they should be otherwise, unless their natures were changed and altered. In the Hebrew language, a "sow" is called from the root which signifies to "return", because that creature, as soon as it is out of the mire and dirt, and is washed from its filthiness, naturally returns to it again: so such apostates return to what they were before, to their former principles and practices: in this manner the Jews explain the proverb,

"Tobiah returns to Tobiah, as it is said, Proverbs 26:11; as a dog returneth to his vomit (r).''

(r) Vajikra Rabba, sect. 16. fol. 158. 4.

2 Peter 2:21
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