1There used to be false prophets among God’s people, just as there are now. And you will have some false teachers in your group. They will secretly teach things that are wrong—teachings that will cause people to be lost. They will even refuse to accept the Master, Jesus, who bought their freedom. And so they will quickly destroy themselves. 2Many will follow their evil ways and say evil things about the Way of truth. 3Those false teachers only want your money. So they will use you by telling you what is not true. But God has already judged them guilty. And they will not escape the One who will destroy them.
4When angels sinned, God did not let them go free without punishment. God sent them to hell and put them in caves# Some Greek copies read “chains.” of darkness. They are being held there to be judged. 5And God punished the evil people who lived long ago. He brought a flood to the world that was full of people who were against him. But God saved Noah and seven other people with him. Noah was a man who preached about being right with God. 6And God also punished the evil cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.# Two cities God destroyed because the people were so evil. He burned those cities until there was nothing left but ashes. He made those cities an example to show what will happen to those who are against God. 7But God saved Lot from those cities. Lot, a good man, was troubled because of the sinful behavior of evil people. 8(Lot was a good man, but he lived with evil people every day. His good heart was hurt by the evil things that he saw and heard.) 9And so the Lord knows how to save those who serve him. He will save them when troubles come. And the Lord will hold evil people and punish them, while waiting for the Judgment Day. 10That punishment is especially for those who live by doing the evil things their sinful selves want, and for those who hate the Lord’s authority.
These false teachers do anything they want and brag about it. They are not afraid to say bad things about the glorious angels. 11The angels are much stronger and more powerful than false teachers. But even the angels do not accuse them with insults before# Some Greek copies read “from.” the Lord. 12But these men say bad things about what they do not understand. They are like animals that act without thinking. These animals are born to be caught and killed. And, like wild animals, these false teachers will be destroyed. 13They have caused many people to suffer; so they themselves will suffer. That is their pay for what they have done. They take pleasure in doing evil things openly. So they are like dirty spots and stains among you. They bring shame to you in the meals that you eat together. 14Every time they look at a woman they want her. Their desire for sin is never satisfied. They lead weak people into the trap of sin. They have taught their hearts to be selfish. God will punish them. 15These false teachers left the right road and lost their way. They followed the way that Balaam went. Balaam was the son of Beor, who loved being paid for doing wrong. 16But a donkey told Balaam that he was sinning. And the donkey is an animal that cannot talk. But the donkey spoke with a man’s voice and stopped the prophet’s crazy thinking.
17Those false teachers are like rivers that have no water. They are like clouds blown by a storm. A place in the blackest darkness has been kept for them. 18They brag with words that mean nothing. By their evil desires they lead people into the trap of sin. They lead away people who are just beginning to escape from other people who live in error. 19They promise them freedom, but they themselves are not free. They are slaves of things that will be destroyed. For a person is a slave of anything that controls him. 20They were made free from the evil in the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But if they return to evil things and those things control them, then it is worse for them than it was before. 21Yes, it would be better for them to have never known the right way. That would be better than to know the right way and then to turn away from the holy teaching that was given to them. 22What they did is like this true saying: “A dog eats what it throws up.”# Quotation from Proverbs 26:11. And, “After a pig is washed, it goes back and rolls in the mud.”