But there were also false prophets1 among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.2 They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord 3 who bought them4--bringing swift destruction on themselves.
Many will follow their shameful ways5 and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.
In their greed6 these teachers will exploit you7 with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned,8 but sent them to hell,a putting them into gloomy dungeonsb to be held for judgment;95
if he did not spare the ancient world10 when he brought the flood on its ungodly people,11 but protected Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven others;126
if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes,13 and made them an example14 of what is going to happen to the ungodly;157
and if he rescued Lot,16 a righteous man, who was distressed by the filthy lives of lawless men178
(for that righteous man,18 living among them day after day, was tormented in his righteous soul by the lawless deeds he saw and heard)--
if this is so, then the Lord knows how to rescue godly men from trials19 and to hold the unrighteous for the day of judgment,20 while continuing their punishment.c10
This is especially true of those who follow the corrupt desire21 of the sinful natured and despise authority. Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to slander celestial beings;2211
yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not bring slanderous accusations against such beings in the presence of the Lord.2312
But these men blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like brute beasts, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like beasts they too will perish.2413
They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight.25 They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you.e2614
With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce27 the unstable;28 they are experts in greed29--an accursed brood!3015
They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam31 son of Beor, who loved the wages of wickedness.
But he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey--a beast without speech--who spoke with a man's voice and restrained the prophet's madness.3217
These men are springs without water33 and mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them.3418
For they mouth empty, boastful words35 and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping36 from those who live in error.
They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity--for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him.3720
If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing38 our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ39 and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.4021
It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.4122
Of them the proverbs are true: "A dog returns to its vomit,"f42 and, "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud."