2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6
“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….” (2 Peter 2:4)
“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.” (Jude 1:6)
These particular texts may be a little obscure and their true interpretation a little difficult to establish clearly, even to myself, in the light of all the other passages considered on this subject. However, this one thing I know: any given text of Scripture must be interpreted according to the general tenor of the overall teachings of the Scriptures on that subject. If any interpretation of a Scripture crosses or contradicts other plain texts on that subject, one can rest assured that something is wrong with his interpretation on that Scripture. To conclude that these two Scriptures teach that celestial angels sinned and were cast down to hell, would be to contradict the general tenor of Scripture as evidenced by the discussion of this number of other passages on this subject. Therefore, even if we may not clearly understand this particular passage and may be able to fully explain just what it does mean for sure, we know that it does not mean that.
But I will close by inserting an excerpt from the writings of Charles E. Orr which seems to me to be a reasonable and true interpretation of these passages:
2 Peter 2:4-5 and Jude 1:6-7
This has reference to Adam and Eve. They were cast out of Eden, their first estate…. Notice that in the last two texts the writers are speaking of great wickedness or sin. Why should Peter start with sin in the eternal heaven and then go next to the wickedness in the days of Noah? Why should he overlook the sin in Eden which plunged the world into sin? We understand that Peter and Jude are talking about wickedness on the earth, and therefore start with the sin in the garden and not sin among holy angels in heaven. The Bible is not a record of what is done in heaven, but what is done in earth. It is said in John 8:44 that the devil “was a murderer from the beginning.” In John 1:1 we are told that God was “in the beginning.” The word beginning is used here of both God and the devil, and is so used because of our finite minds being unable to grasp the fullness of eternity; but this beginning reaches back into eternity beyond beginning.
Sin is a principle. Righteousness is a principle. We hold that no holy being could create or generate a sin principle any more than an unholy being could create a righteous principle. For holy angels to sin, a sin principle must have existed, and they received it in their nature by faith or in some manner. The devil and angels did not create sin, for God created all that has been created (Colossians 1:16). God did not create sin. He did not create goodness. Goodness is an uncreated and eternal principle. We hold that sin is an uncreated and eternal principle. If it be a created principle, then God created it, for He alone is Creator. A holy being could not create sin and retain his holiness; therefore God did not create sin. Devils could not create it; therefore sin is uncreated. God saw that His creation was good, but we do not understand that sin was His creation.
Jesus taught His disciples to say when praying, “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10) Now, if angels in heaven sinned, then God’s will was not done in heaven and Christ’s words would not mean much to us. If holy angels in heaven sinned one time, how can we know that they have not sinned many times? Why could they not sin some future time; and if they can sin, why could not we after we got to heaven? To our mind the only logical conclusion is that sin never entered heaven and never will. No holy being in heaven ever sinned or ever will. Why would God redeem sinning man at such a great cost, and not redeem sinning angels?
[Charles E. Orr]