2:19 Although these false teachers promise 1 such people 2 freedom, they themselves are enslaved to 3 immorality. 4 For whatever a person succumbs to, to that he is enslaved. 5 2:20 For if after they have escaped the filthy things 6 of the world through the rich knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, 7 they 8 again get entangled in them and succumb to them, 9 their last state has become worse for them than their first. 2:21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than, having known it, to turn back from the holy commandment that had been delivered to them. 2:22 They are illustrations of this true proverb: 10 “A dog returns to its own vomit,” 11 and “A sow, after washing herself, 12 wallows in the mire.” 13
1 tn Verse 19 is a subordinate clause in Greek. The masculine nominative participle “promising” (ἐπαγγελλόμενοι, epangellomenoi) refers back to the subject of vv. 17-18. At the same time, it functions subordinately to the following participle, ὑπάρχοντες (Juparconte", “while being”).
2 tn Grk “them.”
4 tn Or “corruption,” “depravity.” Verse 19 constitutes a subordinate clause to v. 18 in Greek. The main verbal components of these two verses are: “uttering…they entice…promising…being (enslaved).” The main verb is (they) entice. The three participles are adverbial and seem to indicate an instrumental relation (by uttering), a concessive relation (although promising), and a temporal relation (while being [enslaved]). For the sake of English usage, in the translation of the text this is broken down into two sentences.
5 tn Grk “for by what someone is overcome, to this he is enslaved.”
6 tn Grk “defilements”; “contaminations”; “pollutions.”
7 sn Through the rich knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The implication is not that these people necessarily knew the Lord (in the sense of being saved), but that they were in the circle of those who had embraced Christ as Lord and Savior.
8 tn Grk “(and/but) they.”
9 tn Grk “they again, after becoming entangled in them, are overcome by them.”
10 tn Grk “the [statement] of the true proverb has happened to them.” The idiom in Greek cannot be translated easily in English.
11 tn The quotation is a loose rendering of Prov 26:11. This proverb involves a participle that is translated like a finite verb (“returns”). In the LXX this line constitutes a subordinate and dependent clause. But since the line has been lifted from its original context, it has been translated as an independent statement.
12 tn Or “after being washed.” The middle verb may be direct (“wash oneself”) or permissive (“allow oneself to be washed”).
13 tn The source of this quotation is uncertain. Heraclitus has often been mentioned as a possible source, but this is doubtful. Other options on the translation of the second line include a sow, having (once) bathed herself (in mud), (returns) to wallowing in the mire, or a sow that washes herself by wallowing in the mire (BDAG 181 s.v. βόρβορος). The advantage of this last translation is that no verbs need to be supplied for it to make sense. The disadvantage is that in this context it does not make any contribution to the argument. Since the source of the quotation is not known, there is some guesswork involved in the reconstruction. Most commentators prefer a translation similar to the one in the text above.