2 Peter 2:12–22 (NKJV)
Peter continues his argument for the validity of God’s word above all else here by continuing to argue against false teachers and prophets. His arguments establish the danger of heresy and the over-arching authority of the word of God.
12 But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption, 13 and will receive the wages of unrighteousness, as those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, 14 having eyes full of adultery and that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children. 15 They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; 16 but he was rebuked for his iniquity: a dumb donkey speaking with a man’s voice restrained the madness of the prophet.2 Peter 2:12-17
17 These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
Peter characterizes the false prophets and teachers as “brute beasts,” worthy of entrapment and destruction. They speak evil things and will find their end in their own corruption. Payment for actions committed sinfully will be harsh. These arrogant sinners carouse about in broad daylight. Peter waxes poetic as he calls them “spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deception while they feast with you.” They flaunt their sinful acts and ideologies while they sit at the table at church functions and thumb their noses at spiritual and Biblical truths. They are constantly looking for chances to fulfill their desires and deceive weak souls who follow them in their sin. Their hearts are disloyal, coveting other’s things and positions, and they are simply accursed children, forsaking the right way. They claim to hear from God and, in His mercy, may actually continue in valid ministry for a while as they begin to stray. However, they cannot continue forever in a trajectory of sin and destruction without coming upon judgment and punishment. Just like their role model, Balaam of Peor, their mute servants rebuke them in an effort to subdue their madness. They are, as Peter so eloquently states, “wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” Don’t ally yourself with such false prophets, for they will drag you into their maelstrom of sin and drag you down to destruction.
18 For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. 19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. 20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”2 Peter 2:18-22
Peter continues to characterize these false prophets and teachers as “speaking great swelling word of emptiness.” They lure gullible souls into their traps by lust and lewdness. These are people who have escaped the sinful bondage of their souls, and yet are drawn back by smooth-sounding words and enticing rhetoric to the sinful ways of their past, wrapped up in shiny paper and a well-tied bow, thinking they are receiving a gift when–in fact–they are being given poison which will destroy their spiritual souls. These teachers promise liberty, but actually are slaves of corruption themselves. Peter diagnoses the end result of such apostasy and backsliding, saying that the latter end of the erring soul is worse for them than the beginning! He says that in some ways it would be better for them if they had never known the way of righteousness than–having known it–to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. They behave like animals, as Peter quotes from Proverbs 26, “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
Peter leaves no doubt as to the condition and plight of the backslider here. One who receives grace and forgiveness and willingly turns back to a non-Biblical lifestyle, even taking others along their spiritual journey of degradation, are destined for a worse end than those who never came to Christ. Believe in Christ, receive His grace, be saved, and then persevere until the end of the way, for that is the path to eternal life! Don’t let the mirage of a well without water cause you to drink something that cannot satisfy. Only the well of God can truly quench the thirsty soul.