1 But just as there were false prophets among the people before, there will also be false teachers among you [Christians]. They will privately teach harmful doctrines that destroy people [spiritually], by even denying [that Jesus is] the Master, [and thereby] destroying themselves quickly. 2 And many people will follow their unrestrained, indecent conduct, which will result in the true way [of God] being spoken against. 3 And through greedy desires and deceptive words they will exploit you [for evil purposes]. But the judgment that they have had coming for a long time, will not delay, but will eventually awaken [i.e., arrive] to bring destruction upon them.
4 For if God did not spare sinning angels, but cast them in chains, into deep, dark dungeons to await judgment; 5 and if He did not spare the ancient world of Noah's day, when He brought a flood on those ungodly people (though Noah, a preacher of righteousness, and seven other people, were saved from it); 6 and if God also condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by reducing them to ashes, thereby condemning them to catastrophic destruction, and making them an example to other ungodly people in the future; 7 and if He rescued the righteous man Lot, who had become very disturbed by unrestrained wickedness [of the people there in Sodom]. 8 (For, being a righteous man living among them, Lot's righteous spirit was very disturbed every day by the wickedness he heard and saw), 9 then the Lord [surely] knows how to rescue godly people from trying situations, and to keep unrighteous people under [a sentence of] punishment [to be received] on the judgment day. 10 [This fate will come upon] those people especially who corrupt themselves with physical desires and despise being ruled by others. They are daring, self-willed, and are not afraid to speak against glorious beings [i.e., angels], 11 while [those] angels, who are greater in strength and power than they, refuse to speak against such authorities, in condemnation, before the Lord. 12 However, these people are like unreasonable, ignorant creatures of instinct, born as animals which are [to be] caught and destroyed. They speak out against things about which they are ignorant. In [the process of] destroying others, they will certainly be destroyed themselves. 13 They suffer wrong themselves for doing wrong to other people. They consider it [especially] pleasurable to carry on their drunken revellings, [even] during the daytime. They become blots and blemishes [i.e., like spoiled food] in your fellowship meal, as they revel in their deceitful behavior. 14 Their eyes are filled with sexual lust, and they are never satisfied when it comes to sinning. They entice unstable people and have hearts trained to be greedy [i.e., they continually desire the possessions of others]. [In this condition] they are under God's curse. 15 They strayed away [from God] by taking the wrong road like Balaam, the son of Bosor did, who loved the reward for doing wrong. 16 But Balaam was rebuked for his own wrongdoing by a speechless donkey, who spoke out in a man's voice and prevented the prophet from continuing his foolishness.
17 Such people are like springs that give no water and clouds driven by the winds. [Only] the blackest darkness awaits them. 18 [Although] their talk is big, what they say is worthless, and by [offering people] fleshly desires [i.e., sexual gratification], they lead people astray, who are barely escaping from the error of the world. 19 [Although] these people promise "liberty," they themselves are slaves to corrupting influences, for people are slaves to whatever controls them. 20 For if people who have escaped from the defiling practices of the world by coming to know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, become tangled up in them again, and are overcome by them, these people are worse off than before they were converted. 21 It would have been better for them if they had not known the right way [to God] than, after knowing it, to turn back from the sacred message that had been presented to them. 22 It has happened to them like the true proverb [says], "The dog [throws up, and then] goes back and eats its own vomit," and "The hog that was all cleaned up [goes back] to wallowing in the mud."