2Peter 2:15-19 Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.
‘Have forsaken the right way’ three great sins of Balaam are noted (Numbers 22:1-24:25): The way of Balaam (2:15). This was the love of the wages of unrighteousness and coveting the gifts of Balak (Num. 22:7, 17, 37; 24:11). The error of Balaam (Jude 1:11). This was accepting the wages of unrighteousness for his services in giving the secret of how to get God to curse Israel (Jude 1:11; Num. 31:8, 16). The doctrine of Balaam (Rev. 2:14). This was to teach Balak that if he would give his most beautiful women to the Israelite men and cause them to commit idolatry and adultery that God Himself would curse Israel (Num. 25:1-9; 21:8, 16).
‘Rebuked for his iniquity; the dumb donkey which spoke with a man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet’ we see from Numbers 22:22-35 the story of Balaam’s iniquity which can be summarized as follows: His disrespect for God’s word and integrity when he was forbidden to go and curse Israel (Num. 22:12-20) which he wanted to do because of his covetousness for reward (Num. 22:7, 17, 37; 24:11). We see his hypocrisy in trying to persuade God to let him go (Num. 22:19) and we see his seeming desire and attempt to curse Israel (Num. 22:14; Deut. 23:4-5; Jos. 24:10). Then there is his stubbornness about going in spite of God’s command (Num. 22:19-35) and his lack of desire to do God’s perfect will (Num. 22:12-22). We see his perverseness (Num. 22:32) and his refusal to wait until the men called for him, and arising early to go with the enemies of Israel (Num. 22:20). He tries to persuade God to cooperate with him, through repeated sacrifices, so he could get the reward (Num. 22:19; 23:1-3, 14-15; 24:1) and his tiresome willingness to use every means in seeking to get the reward like most false prophets/teachers today (Num. 22:8, 19; 24:1; 2Pet. 2:15-16; Jude 1:11; Rev. 2:14). God foresaw the backsliding of His prophet through covetousness, and how the destruction of many people would ultimately result from the doctrine of Balaam.
‘Wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever’ two symbols of false prophets/teachers: Wells without water and clouds without rain. In the desert it is distressing to find wells without water and clouds that dissipate without rain. So are false teachers who are as unprofitable as an empty well and as a dissipated cloud. We are warned in Matthew 7:15 to stay away from false prophets/teachers. There are seven ways false prophets are known: By their outward general conduct (Matt. 5:20; 6:1-24; 7:15; 23:1-33; 2Tim. 3:5); by inward their state (Matt. 5:22, 28; 7:15; 23:25-28; Mark 7:21-23); by the kind of fruit in works produced (Matt. 7:16-20; 23:1-24; 2Cor. 11:13-15; Php. 1:15-17; 3:3, 17-19); by the kind of fruit in doctrine taught (Matt. 7:16-20; 12:33-37; 15:1-9; 16:12; 23:1-33; 1Tim. 4:1-6; 6:3-5; 2Tim. 3:1-8; 4:1-4; 2Pet. 2:1-22); by professing to do, but not doing the will of God (Matt. 5:20; 7:21; 23:1-33); by satanic backing usually drawing huge crowds and popularity (Matt. 7:22; 24:24; Acts 8:9-13; 13:6-13; 16:16-24; 2Cor. 11:13-15; 2Thess. 2:8-12; Rev. 13:1-18; 16:13-16; 19:20); professing to come in the name of the Lord, but they use their own names to promote themselves and their ministries (John 5:43; 1Tim. 6:3-6).
‘For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh’ false teachers cannot give the water of life, but they can damn souls by the methods used in this verse (1Tim. 1:3-4; 4:7; 2Tim. 2:15-17; 4:3-4).
‘Wantonness’ [Greek: aselgeia] licentiousness and lustfulness. Lasciviousness is the promoting or partaking of that which tends to produce lewd emotions, anything tending to foster sexual sin and lust. That is why many worldly pleasures have to be avoided by Christians – so that lasciviousness may not be committed.
‘In error’ this error refers to the vile affections of the homosexual sins, as is clear here and in Romans 1:27.
‘While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption’ false teachers promise liberty from the condemnation of sinful lusts, but they themselves are not free.
‘For of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.’ This verse states clearly that whatever rule over us (overcome) we brought us in bondage, thus we will serve it (Rom. 6:15-23). That’s why it is important to forsake all (Matt. 10:37-39) so that you can serve the one and only true God that will never put you in bondage (Rom. 8:15-17).