2 Peter 2:4 – For if God didn’t spare angels when they sinned, but cast them down to Tartarus, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved to judgment. — World English
The Greek word under consideration is transliterated by Wescott & Hort as *tartarwsas* (Strong’s #5020, more often transliterated as “tartaroo”), a verb that is rendered in the King James Version by five words, “cast them down to hell,” – thus including a verb, a personal pronoun, an adverb, a preposition and a noun. Evidently the translators were at a loss to know how to translate the word, but concluded they knew where the evil angels ought to be, and so they made bold to put them into “hell,” though it took six words to twist the idea into the shape they had pre-determined it must take. This one word is similarly translated in the World English Bible translation by five words: “cast them down to Tartarus”. Nevertheless, we do not find either the noun “hell” or the noun “tartarus” in the Greek. True, the noun form of the verb in Greek is Tartarus, but the word “Tartarus” itself is not found in this verse, or anywhere else in the Bible.
“Tartarus” is a noun, not a verb. The word “Tartarus,” in Greek mythology, is used to describe a subterranean place or region, allegedly the lowest realm of Hades, or perhaps even lower than Hades, where, it was claimed, that the immortal souls/spirits of the most vile people were supposed to go after death. The noun tartarus does not appear at all in the New Testament Greek, and verb tartaroo only appears once, so most scholars, having accepted a philosophy actually adapted the Grecian philosophy themselves, take the Grecian philosophy and adopt the meaning used by the heathens to apply to the word that Peter used, thus comining up with renderings such as: “cast down to hell”, “cast down to Tartarus” (making it appear as though Peter himself was adapting the Greek mythology to such a realm of conscious souls or spirits after death). Many become accustomed to thinking in terms of Tartarus, which in Greek mythology is a place. The word tartaroo, however, is a verb, and does not actually denote a place, but an action, that is, the process of being imprisoned, restrained, degraded, etc. The idea of casting down to sheol, hades, or Gehenna, has to be added to the Greek. The word is applied in 2 Peter 2:4, however, not to humans after death (as Greek mythology applies the word “Tartarus”), but to certain angels that sinned. Additionally Peter makes no mention of any fires in the condition into which these angels were cast.
“Tartaroo”, therefore, does not mean “Tartarus”, although some translations render this “thrown into Tartarus”. We should not think that Peter was not appealing to Greek mythology in using the verb tartaroo. The noun, however, is actually not present in the verb tartaroo, except that one would want to read such into the verb. In comparing spiritual revealment with spiritual revealment (1 Corinthians 2:13), we conclude that the apostle Peter uses the verb tartaroo to tell us that God imprisoned the angels that sinned (Genesis 6:2-4; 1 Peter 3:19,20), and he adds that they were delivered “into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment”; and since the apostle Jude (Jude 1:6,7) tells us that such imprisonment lasts until the judgment of the great day, and since these fallen angels are said to be the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2; 6:12, margin), are active among humans, e.g., in demonizing people, appearing in seances and other occult practices, we conclude that earth’s atmosphere is their prison (Matthew 8:28-32; 12:22-28). Without the mythology added the word apparently simply means degraded or imprisoned.
The fall of the angels who sinned was from honor and dignity, into dishonor and condemnation, and the thought is thus: “God spared not the angels who sinned, but degraded them, and delivered them into chains of darkness.”
These angels who sinned are described in Jude 1:6 as those that “Angels who didn’t keep their first domain, but deserted their own dwelling place.” Having incarnated themselves in bodies as men, they lived amongst men as though they were men, marrying the daughters of men, and producing a mongrel race of giants. (Genesis 6:1-3) As incarnate men, they were destroyed, and are not permitted to incarnate themselves as such today (else we would still see such going on). Their fleshly bodies thus were evidently destroyed in the flood of Noah’s day, but they themselves simply returned to the spirit world, however, under the restraints of which Peter and Jude speak of.
Many scholars say that the word “tartaroo” comes from the Greek word “Tartarus”, while others claim that the word Tartarus comes from the verb, tartaroo. At this point, it would be difficult to determine which is true. Nevertheless, it appears that many scholars have a vested interest in a desire for the word to mean Tartarus, since they have accepted much of the Heathen Grecian philosophy concerning inherent immortality.
At least one authority even goes so far as to claim that Tartarus is a “transliteration” of tartaroo. This simply is not true. In reality, it is an example of how Bible scholars can become so zealous for the heathen mythologies as to force the mythology into the Bible!
Once we realize that most of the works we have concerning the Greek is prepared by scholars who believe in the traditonal “Christian” adaptation of the Jewish adaptation of the Greek mythologies, we realize that they are inclined to give the meaning of Tartarus to the the verb tartaroo, and claim that Peter was referring to such a similar place as described in the Greek mythologies. And thus the groundwork for confusion is set, and even many who do not believe in the Grecian philosophies of the inherent immortality and the dead are really dead, insentient, have difficulties getting past what has been given to us by tradition.
At any rate, many will use the two words tartaroo and Tartarus interchangeably, or they will say that the Greek verb tartaroo “refers to Tartarus”. By doing this, the minds of many, however, are automatically associated with the Grecian heathen mythology, and the Jewish adaptation of that mythology, which was later adapted by the Christian apostasy*. In reality, Peter was not endorsing Greek heathen mythology, nor the Jewish adaptation thereof.
*Many who believe this kind of philosophy will deny that they believe in “Grecian” philosophies, and yet they will often describe their belief in basically the same terms of Grecian philosophy.
Others simply say that Tartarus is another word for their idea of a place of eternal suffering.
Some authors speak of these angels as “being held in Tartaroo”, as though it were a noun and a place. Nevertheless, while the word tartaroo itself, being a verb, denotes an act, not a place, the act of degrading, and especially imprisonment, implies a place into which one is degraded or imprisoned. The “place” of degradation or imprisoment, however, in this case, is not the Greek mythological Tartarus, nor the traditional idea of a hell with burning flames, but evidently is the atmosphere of the earth. — Ephesians 2:2.
Strictly speaking, Peter is not speaking about Tartarus (a place), but he is speaking about an action, the act of being degraded or imprisoned. The “place” itself has to be supplied by the context and/or other scriptures, as we have ascertained above.