5 “and if he did not spare the ancient world, even though he saved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood on a world of the ungodly;” (2 Peter 2:5)
The ancient world, and its spiritual condition, to which the Apostle Peter refers is found in Genesis 6:1-8. The text describes the wickedness of humankind.
“When people began to multiply on the face of the ground, and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that they were fair; and they took wives for themselves of all that they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My spirit shall not abide in mortals forever, for they are flesh; their days shall be one hundred twenty years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days—and also afterward—when the sons of God went in to the daughters of humans, who bore children to them. These were the heroes that were of old, warriors of renown.”
5 “The Lord saw that the wickedness of humankind was great in the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their hearts was only evil continually. 6 And the Lord was sorry that he had made humankind on the earth, and it grieved him to his heart. 7 So the Lord said, “I will blot out from the earth the human beings I have created—people together with animals and creeping things and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the sight of the Lord.”
There are two major views as to who the “sons of God” were when referred to in Genesis 6:2. One option is that they were the descendants of Seth who cohabited with the daughters of Cain. Others suggest that they were kings wanting to build harems.
Dr. William Cook writes, “The oldest, and likely the most widely held, interpretation is that the “sons of God” are fallen angels (demons). This was the interpretation most favored in ancient Judaism and the early church (cf. 1 Pet. 3:19–20; 2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6). The phrase “sons of God” is clearly used elsewhere of angelic hosts in God’s heavenly court (cf. Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7). Moreover, the narrative seems to contrast “man” and “the daughters of man” with the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1–2.”
Peter, after citing the example of the angels who rebelled, he now references the same context but now places emphasis upon the ancient world and it’s evil. The word spare (φείδομαι; pheidomai) once again means to prevent trouble. The Lord did not prevent trouble to come upon the ancient world. This would be the pre-flood world.
However, God did rescue Noah. Genesis 6:9-18 says, “9 These are the descendants of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation; Noah walked with God. 10 And Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. 11 Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. 12 And God saw that the earth was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted its ways upon the earth. 13 And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence because of them; now I am going to destroy them along with the earth. 14 Make yourself an ark of cypress wood; make rooms in the ark, and cover it inside and out with pitch. 15 This is how you are to make it: the length of the ark three hundred cubits, its width fifty cubits, and its height thirty cubits. 16 Make a roof for the ark, and finish it to a cubit above; and put the door of the ark in its side; make it with lower, second, and third decks. 17 For my part, I am going to bring a flood of waters on the earth, to destroy from under heaven all flesh in which is the breath of life; everything that is on the earth shall die. 18 But I will establish my covenant with you; and you shall come into the ark, you, your sons, your wife, and your sons’ wives with you. “
Peter calls Noah a “herald of righteousness.” A herald (κῆρυξ; keryx) is a preacher of God’s Word.
Dr. John Walvoord writes, “Peter was greatly impressed by the significance of the Flood for he referred to it three times in his two epistles (1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5; 3:6). Noah … and seven others is the NIV‘s rendering of the Greek “Noah, the eighth person.” The others were his wife, his three sons (Shem, Ham, and Japheth), and their wives (Gen. 6:10, 18). Noah was a righteous man (Gen. 6:9), an obedient servant of God, and a shipbuilder (Gen. 6:13–22). Peter added that he was also a preacher (kēryka, “herald”) of righteousness, who spoke out against the vile corruption all around him.”
Dr. Walvoord continues by saying, “The primary focus of 2 Peter 2:5 is the unsparing hand of God on the antediluvian civilization, the ancient world with its ungodly people. Do false teachers today think they can escape God’s judgment because of their large numbers? Peter reminded them and those who are the targets of their delusions that God can judge evil even when it involves the entire human race (with the exception of only eight people). The word brought (epaxas, past part. from epagō, “to bring on”) suggests the suddenness of God’s judgment in the Flood. Peter used the same verb in verse 1 in speaking of heretics who are “bringing” destruction on themselves”
May the Lord’s warning to all the ungodly be sufficient. The only solution is repentance of sin and faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Soli deo Gloria!