2 Peter 2:15 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

2 Peter 2:15, NIV: They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.

2 Peter 2:15, ESV: Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing,

2 Peter 2:15, KJV: 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;

2 Peter 2:15, NASB: abandoning the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the reward of unrighteousness;

2 Peter 2:15, NLT: They have wandered off the right road and followed the footsteps of Balaam son of Beor, who loved to earn money by doing wrong.

2 Peter 2:15, CSB: They have gone astray by abandoning the straight path and have followed the path of Balaam, the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of wickedness

What does 2 Peter 2:15 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Peter has been castigating the false teachers who will seek to seduce Christians away from the truth. Here, he writes that they have left the straight way or the right way. More specifically, they have left "the way" of Jesus. They may at one point have been on a parallel path with other Christians, traveling alongside the people of God. However, particularly in verse 14, Peter makes it clear that these false teachers were never true followers of Christ. Now they are on the path of Balaam son of Beor.

Balaam was a strange combination of prophet and fortune-teller through whom God spoke truth to Israel's enemies. In Numbers 22–24, Balaam refused to curse Israel even when commanded to by Balak, the king of Moab. Instead he delivered the blessing for Israel given to him by God and described how Israel would defeat Moab.

But later Balaam used his influence, and his knowledge of Israel and Israel's God, to counsel Israel's enemies to use immoral sexual seduction to compromise and weaken God's people. Moses called it the "Peor incident" (Numbers 31:15–16). By sleeping with the Moabite women, some of Israel's men brought God's judgment on the camp. Revelation 2:14 also recounts Balaam's betrayal of God's people to her enemies. Eventually Balaam was killed along with the five kings of Midian.

Peter now describes Balaam as loving the wages or gain that came from his wrongdoing. This is apparently a reference to the payments he received as a freelance, mercenary prophet. In this way, the false teachers in the early church were very much like Balaam. Both loved the personal gain they received from their wrongdoing, and both used sexual seduction to weaken God's people. Peter warned the people not to follow these false teachers headed for destruction.