Book of Jude
1. Salutation (verses 1-2)
2. The Letter’s Purpose (3-4
3. Historical Warning (5-7)
4. The False Teachers (8-11)
5. A Blemish in the Church (12-13)
6. Enoch’s Prophesy (14-16)
7. Apostolic Teaching (17-19)
8. Exhortation to Believers (20-23)
9. Benediction/Blessing (24-25)
In searching for study material on the book of Jude, I was amazed at how much could be gleaned from this little book. It has been described as the “difficult and neglected letter,” and I now believe that this is certainly true. It has a lot to say to the modern church; and addresses much of what we call “today’s culture,” human rights, and liberty. It also gives guidance as to what role the church should play today. These 25 verses are packed full of spiritual insights and principles; in fact, so much so, that this will be a rather extensive study. We will start with................
THE SALUTATION - Verses 1 & 2
First, I thought it would be interesting to look up a little about Jude. Jude is the English form of the name Judas (loudas), the Greek form of Judah, which literally means “to give thanks, or praise”. The English version of the name is used in most versions of the Bible to disassociate Jude from Judas Iscariot. Most theologians agree that Jude was a half-brother to Jesus, as he was spoken of in Matt. 13:55: “Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t his mothers name Mary, and aren’t his brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas?”
Verse 1: “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, to those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:”
The first verse starts out: “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James”.... It is thought that Jude was probably being humble because he did not believe that his own half-brother, Jesus, was the Messiah during His earthly days (nor did his other brothers - John 7:5). - Yet later, he may have been among Jesus’ brothers who had preaching ministries (I Cor. 9:5). The way Jude introduces himself as a “servant of Jesus Christ” says something about the way he relates himself to Jesus. The word “servant” is the Greek word “doulous”, meaning bond-servant or slave. The Discovery Bible defines “doulous” as: “to completely and absolutely assign all personal rights over to the authority and will of another person; to be in a permanent relation of servitude to another, his (the slave’s) will altogether swallowed up in the will of another”. He could have called Jesus his brother, or at least half-brother, making claim to some special relationship with the Savior; but Jude, in all humility, sees himself having only one objective and one distinction in life - to be at the disposal of Jesus for service in His cause. Then, he calls himself the “brother of James”. Jude was the youngest of the brothers and James was the leader of the church in Jerusalem. We can assume that James counted on his brothers for help and support, and it seems that Jude was content to be a behind-the-scenes worker. He was fulfilled and satisfied in the role that God had planned for him; and like Andrew, not resentful of his brother’s success or position. This kind of contentment comes from knowing who you are in Christ, and from placing your trust in the One who is able to keep you. Jude had the right kind of pride - he was proud of being Jesus’ servant.
The Book of Jude is basically written to Christians whose ranks had been infiltrated by false teachers who were peddling a message that promoted immorality, theological error, destructive pride, and divisiveness. - In other words, they were heretics - people who perverted the message of grace. Their position was that “the law is dead and they are under grace”; but they took it to the extreme. They believed that they could do anything they wanted to - that “Grace is supreme; it can forgive any sin; the more the sin, the more opportunities for grace to abound” (see Romans 6:1-2, where Paul speaks out against this). So for them, nothing was forbidden. - They turned the grace of God into an excuse for flagrant immorality - see Jude verse 4. (Does this sound anything like some of the churches of today?)
Notice in reading Jude 1, the word “sanctified” means “set apart” or “kept”. In other words, it means “to all believers”. Jude realized that every believer is a potential backslider, and that any of us could fall away from the Lord; so he admonished all of us to watch ourselves and to help others, lest we fall away from God. - Remember the great men in the Bible who fell away - at least for a season: There was Peter, who denied the Lord; David, who went into sin; Solomon, who turned to pagan religions; Samson, who had a weakness for immoral women, etc.
Verse 1 also tells us something of what it means to be a Christian:
1. A Christian is called by God. The Greek word for “call” is “Kalein”, and it has three interesting definitions:
a. It is the word for summoning a person to office, to duty, to responsibility. The Christian is summoned to these things in his service for Christ.
b. It is also the word summoning a person to a feast or festival. It is the word of invitation to some happy event. The Christian is summoned to a joyful feast at the end of time as the guest of God.
c. And, the word is used of a person being summoned to a court so that he may stand before the judge and give an explanation. Likewise, the Christian is called to stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
Let’s think for a minute about what it means to be “called by God”. We are called to be apostles (Rom. 1:1 - Paul). The Greek word is apostolos - meaning one who is sent out. The Christian is the ambassador of Christ - sent out into the world to speak, act, and live for Christ.
We are also called to be saints (Rom. 1:7; I Cor. 1:2). The word for saint is hagios, commonly translated “holy”, the root meaning being “different”. To be called to be a saint is to be called to be different, i.e., different from the world; with holy values.
The Christian is called according to the purpose of God (Rom. 8:28). God has a plan and purpose for every person who accepts Christ. No Christian can say “I can’t do anything”; because God uses our weakness to display His power. God has prepared a task and a purpose for all those He calls. Contentment and satisfaction is working toward the goals that God has set for our lives.
2. A Christian is loved by God. This fact indicates the nature of God’s call to mankind. We are called to be loved and to love. We are called to a task; but that task is a privilege and honor - not a burden. We are also called to judgment; but this justice is tempered with love and mercy.
3. A Christian is kept by Christ. He is the One who promises to never leave us nor forsake us; He is the one who intercedes for us. The Christian is never alone; but always carries Christ in their everyday life as their strong tower, their shepherd, and their friend. Let’s skip to Jude verses 24-25 for a minute. - We are kept by Christ to be presented in His glorious presence, so we are safe in Him. This being “kept” or “preserved” in Christ produces feelings of security and safety. The word “preserved” in verse 1, is exactly as one would think. - The Christian is preserved just like the preserves a lady makes. She prepares the fruit, makes the preserves, fills a jar, and seals it. The contents are kept just as they were placed in the jar; they will stay “preserved” until the jar is opened. The Lord likens Christians to this. We are “preserved” in Christ until the day of “opening” - when He comes again and we rise to meet Him in the air.
Verse 2: “Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.”
In verse 2 it’s important to note that Jude does not use the word “grace” in his greeting, which is used as part of the greeting in practically all of the New Testament letters. The word may have been deliberately left out, as the false teachers had corrupted the use of the word. The words he uses, “Mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance”, is in fact an insight into God’s grace toward us. God bestows upon us His mercy, peace, and love in ever-increasing fullness to enable us to be more like Jesus - not to selfishly enjoy His grace; but to share mercy, peace, and love with all mankind.
THE LETTER’S PURPOSE - Verses 3 & 4
Verse 3: “Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” This is the key verse of the book.
Two phrases in verse 3 seem to leap from the page - first, Jude’s intention - “I was very eager to write”; and second, “I felt I had to write”. He wanted to write about the salvation they had in common. It’s interesting that although God speaks to us and deals with us as individuals, we have a common salvation. We know ourselves that it is pleasant, exciting, and satisfying to discuss the salvation we share; and we gain a glimpse of Jude’s heart in that he would rather talk about the positive things in life; but was also willing to “go against the grain” to warn the church and to put them on their guard against those who would turn Christianity from a relationship into a religion - introducing new innovations, following every fad and fashion of the day. - And the Church today can also be guilty of the same.
Jude tells them to “contend for the faith” (to fight for the truth); but here we have to recognize that this is only a small part of what Jude is implying. It means we are to hold on to our profession of faith, hold on to our testimony, our usefulness, our working for God. In other words, we are to work diligently at this thing, staying in the will of God and being useful to Him. Some of the definitions James Hastings gives of the word contend are as follows:
“‘Contend’ within the modern sense of ‘fight with’, as in Isaiah 49:25 - ‘I will contend with him that contendeth with thee’; or ‘argue with’, as in Acts 11:2, “they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying......’
In the latter sense of the above definition, contend is also found without the word ‘with’, as in Job 13:8–‘will ye contend for God?’ (argue with others for God; be an advocate for God).
In Jude 3: Ye should earnestly contend for the faith’ - the meaning changes from ‘strife or argument’ to ‘earnestly endeavor’, as in Luke 13:24 - Strive to enter in at the straight gate’; and Colossians 4:12 - ‘laboring fervently for you in prayers’ (‘always striving for you’).”
The Greek word for “contend” is the root of our word “agony”; therefore, our verse could read, “I felt I had to write and urge you to earnestly agonize for the faith”. This gives us a different perspective of what Jude meant. - There are two thoughts here.
1. The thought of standing for the truth, knowing scripture and teaching others the truth of the gospel. Opposing false doctrine through the teaching of sound doctrine, even if doing this should lead to death, for it is better to die than to deny the truth.
2. The second thought is agonizing in one’s own lifestyle to be obedient to the truth. - Contending for the faith through personal sacrifice and discipline. As Paul said in II Tim. 4:6-7: “For I am already being poured out like a drink offering, and the time has come for my departure. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
Verse 4: “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.”
Verse 4 says that “certain men.......have secretly slipped in among you” - or, crept in unnoticed. Does this happen in today’s church, where irreverent men, ungodly, and lacking respect, are accepted? Just think about how some people gossip about their leaders - slandering them, arguing and causing dissent - or people who cause divisions or seek after their own ambitions to the detriment of others. False teachers slyly work their way into the hearts of God’s people, God’s churches, God’s schools, etc. We must be vigilant against them - it is a daily process. We as Christians must especially watch ourselves that we don’t fall away from the will and the blessings of God. Let’s ask ourselves - Do I live up to the standard that Paul sets up in Romans 12:9-18?: “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal; but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”
The men that Jude was talking about took the grace of God and the freedom that this brings, and turned it into license to enable themselves to indulge in sins of many kinds. They also denied the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ - as do so many of the religious groups today - i.e. Muslims, Buddhists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc.
In Josh McDowell’s book “A Concise Guide to Today’s Religions”, he says - “No matter what the particular beliefs of any cult may be, the one common denominator they all possess is a denial of the biblical teaching on the deity of Jesus Christ.” These cults most often have men who are strong leaders, and who have a powerful and arrogant belief in themselves. Jude says that such men were infiltrating the church for their own ends. He makes it very clear that what he is writing is not some new innovation; but truths that the people have already heard and know, and are not applying in their everyday life decisions.
HISTORICAL WARNING - VERSES 5-7
Verse 5: “Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered His people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.”
The Israelites who marched from Egypt to the Promised Land refused to go in - they fell away. For 40 years they suffered; and those over 20 years old never saw the Promised Land. How tragic this was! All they had to do was trust and believe God. This is a warning to us.
Verse 6: “And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home - these He has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.”
Think of the angels in Heaven, under Lucifer, who fell. Pride came, they rebelled against God, and they were cast out of Heaven - never again to regain their place of usefulness. Here we have another warning to the Christian.
As to the fallen angels - the Jews believed in this; and much is said about it in the Book of Enoch (in the Maccabees), which is so often behind the thought of Jude.
In regard to this, there were two lines of tradition (or belief):
1. The first saw the fall of the angels as due to pride and rebelliousness. That legend gathered especially around the name of Lucifer, the light-bringer, the son of the morning. As the Authorized KJV has it, Isaiah writes in 14:12: “How art thou fallen from Heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” (When the seventy disciples returned from their mission and told Jesus of their successes, he warned them against pride - “I saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven” [Luke 10:18]). The idea was that there was civil war in Heaven. Lucifer and a third of the angels led a rebellion against God - and they were cast out of Heaven (read Rev. 12:3-4 & 7-9 [Satan: dragon, serpent]).
2. The second stream of tradition finds its scriptural parallel in Genesis 6:1-4. In this line of thought the angels, attracted by the beauty of mortal women, left Heaven to seduce them (or did so after they were kicked out of Heaven) and so sinned.” It was believed that when they became fallen angels, they lost their transcendental (spiritual realm) qualities, and became endowed with terrestrial (or earthly) bodies, so that a union with the “daughters of men” became possible. The offspring of these alliances between the fallen angels and the Cainite (tribe of Cain) women were the giants.
NOTE: I have discovered much conflict concerning the 2nd version which the Jews supposedly believed regarding the fallen angels. For example, Chuck Smith, a well-known and respected pastor & teacher of the word, agrees with this thought that the angels (“sons of God”) co-mingled with the daughters of men - and their offspring were giants. But the footnote in the KJV Study Bible on this particular scripture in Genesis 6:2 says: “‘Sons of God’ refers to the godly line of Seth, who intermarried with the ‘daughters of men’, the ungodly line of Cain. The result of these spiritually mixed marriages brought the judgment of God upon the primeval world. While the term ‘sons of God’ refers to angels in some passages (see Job 1:6 below*), this is certainly not the case here. Jesus clearly taught that angels do not ‘marry or give in marriage’ - as in Matt. 22:30 it says: ‘For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels of God in Heaven’.”
*Job 1:6: “Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan came also among them.” (“Sons of God” in this verse definitely refers to angelic beings - presumably the fallen angels, since they came with Satan.)
I checked a number of sources regarding the fallen angels, and kept getting two different versions - although the majority leaned toward the belief that the giants were the result of fallen angels co-mingling with earthly women. The Bible mentions that the Anakim (meaning giants) were of the tribe of Anak (son of the Canaanite Arba, founder of the city later known as Hebron). Giants like the Anakim were also known as Nephilim - thought to be super-human offspring of the “sons of God and the daughters of men” mentioned in Genesis 6:4. There were also many other names given to these "giants"
(presumably from different tribes). My own personal opinion is that it’s very possible that the fallen angels did co-mingle with earthly women, producing giants; because you’ve probably all heard stories of people who say they’ve seen angels, describing them as “huge”, or “gigantic”, or “very tall”. SO, I leave the interpretation up to you!
Regardless, these fallen angels left their post and position, disregarding their responsibilities. The warning in this judgment is against pride and lust.
Verse 7: “In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”
Sodom and Gomorrah were two cities into which came terrible sin. Their sin was so great that God destroyed them. There are no cities of Sodom and Gomorrah today. Both are buried beneath the waters of the Dead Sea. Here again is a warning to us - specifically against immorality.
Genesis 19:1-13 says: “The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. ‘My lords’, he said, ‘please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.’ ‘No’, they answered, ‘we will spend the night in the square.’ But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom - both young and old - surrounded the house. They called to Lot, ‘Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.’ Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, ‘No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. (Hard to believe that Lot would offer his own daughters, even though it was apparent he was trying to protect the angels. - And doesn’t this also give you a sense of the low regard for women in those days?) But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.’ ‘Get out of our way,’ they replied. And they said, ‘This fellow came here as an alien, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.’ They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door. But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door. The two men said to Lot, ‘Do you have anyone else here - sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people (Sodom & Gomorrah) is so great that He has sent us to destroy it’.”
Jude says that the men of these cities were guilty of sexual immorality and perversion (literally: lust after different flesh). This final warning is a judgment against sexual immorality, perversion, lust, greed, and rebellion against God’s order. The consequence of these sins is eternal damnation.
Here we see that Jude gives three warnings using the example of the Israelites, the fallen angels, and Sodom & Gomorrah. To understand the first two warnings, we should appreciate that these men that Jude was speaking of were not enemies of Christianity or the Church; but believed themselves to be the advanced thinkers of the generation - a spiritual elite that were above everyone else. - Men who had no use for words such as submission, accountability, and responsibility.
Edwin Blum writes: “The first example is that of Israel, who experienced the great display of God’s grace in The Exodus, saw and heard His revelation at Sinai, and received His care in the wilderness; yet a number of them did not believe and rebelled. Obviously this is not an instance of people being saved and then losing their salvation. Jude describes the rebels as “those who did not believe”. The Israelites were physically delivered from bondage - not by their faith as a nation - but by God’s covenant love and mercy. The warning in this judgment is against unbelief and rebellion.” Jude clearly sets a dividing line between the saved and the unsaved, and the ultimate destiny of the unsaved.
Let’s review again what all the warnings were against: Unbelief - Pride - Lust - Greed - Sexual Immorality - Perversions - Rebellion.
It’s interesting to note that although individuals sinned, the judgments were against groups of people, a nation, and cities. I wonder if we looked at our own town or city - would we find unbelief, or pride, or lust, or greed, or sexual immorality, or perversions, or rebellion against God’s order? I’m sure we would.- So why doesn’t God destroy your town or my town? I think Jesus gave us the answer when He said, “You are the salt of the earth.” - You are a preservative of your community. (Remember how we talked about being “preserved in Christ” in the first two verses of Jude?)
THE FALSE TEACHERS - VERSES 8-11
Verse 8: “In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority, and slander celestial beings.”
Jude calls these false teachers “Dreamers”. It could be that this refers to pretensions of prophecy; but is more likely to refer to their carnal way of life that causes them to live in a dream world - living out every lustful craving and compulsion to gratify the moment. The consequence is that they pollute their own bodies (literally, “flesh”). (Peter also speaks of these false teachers in II Peter chapter 2.) What Jude is saying is that when people give way to their passions of immorality in the name of experiment or exploration, they are actually damaging themselves. It starts in a small way, as in the case of pornography; but gradually becomes more and more extreme. In a sense Jude is saying if you start to pollute a river, it isn’t long before the life of the river starts to die off. They reject authority, which implies that they reject the Lordship of Jesus Christ in their life. - A rebellion that causes them to ignore and dispute with those that God has placed over them. The writer of Hebrews puts it this way in Hebrews 13:17: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you.” The rejection of godly authority in the church is a rejection of the Lordship of Christ; because leaders lead for and on behalf of Jesus Himself, and must give an account to their Master. As to the charge of “They slander celestial beings”, we need to look at the meanings of the words “slander” and “celestial beings”. The word “slander” may be defined as: Libel; malicious lies; defamation; to maliciously utter a false report concerning someone. The words “celestial beings” are translated by W.E. Vine as: “good opinion, praise, honor, glory, an appearance commanding respect, magnificence, excellence, manifestation of glory”. Therefore, these men were slandering angels.
Verse 9: “But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him; but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’”
Jude contrasts their arrogance with the behavior of the archangel Michael, who, when challenging Satan himself would not speak arrogantly, but used scripture.
Verse 10: “Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, these are the very things that destroy them.”
These men belittle and criticize things that they do not understand. - Anything outside of their experience they discard as worthless and irrelevant. Paul wrote in I Cor. 2:14: “The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Therefore, they follow their animal instincts and find satisfaction only in gratifying the flesh.
Verse 11: “Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.”
We see here three individuals who are chosen as examples, and Jude pronounces “Woe” over these men just as Jesus did to the Scribes and Pharisees (read Matt. 23:13). This is a warning to the false teachers by taking from the Old Testament the three characters: Cain, Balaam, and Korah. Jude uses them as tragic and terrible examples of sin.
Cain, the world’s first murderer (of his brother Abel), is seen by many Hebrew thinkers as a cynical, materialistic man who didn’t believe in God or in the moral order of the world; and therefore did exactly as he pleased. I personally think Cain believed in God (after all, his parents were Adam & Eve) - he was simply disobedient, and he paid the price for it. (Another viewpoint - Dr. Jack Hyles calls Cain “a religious man who was not born again”.)
Balaam (a non-Israelite prophet whose home was Pethor, near the Euphrates River in northern Mesopotamia) is found in Numbers chapters 22, 23, & 24. He was the prototype (typical example) of all greedy, money-orientated ministries (and we have many of these types today). So as Balak (King of Moab) tried to bribe him to curse the Israelites, it is clear it was only his fear of what God would do to him (Balaam) that stopped him from striking a deal with Balak. (Remember how God got Balaam’s attention by allowing his donkey to speak out to him; and then he was allowed to see and speak with the angel the donkey had seen?) In Num. 25 we find that the Israelites were seduced into worshiping Baal at a place called Peor, and that the Lord’s anger burned against them. In Numbers 31:16 we read it was Balaam who advised the Israelites at Peor: “They (Midianites/Moabites) were the ones who followed Balaam’s advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the LORD in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the Lord’s people.” Balaam is considered to have been a covetous false teacher who led others into sin. (Rev. 2:14: “Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: You have people there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin by eating food sacrificed to idols and by committing sexual immorality.”) There are many Christians yet today whose motives for worshiping God are wrong - they are tempted by money, status, and position. Like Balaam, they get in with the wrong crowd, and get out of God’s will.
Korah (or “Core”), of the tribe of Levi, whose story is found in Numbers 16:1-35, rebelled against the guidance of Moses when the sons of Aaron and the tribe of Levi were made the priests of the nation. He wanted to act as a priest and minister before the altar of God, and incited others to follow him. They argued these three points: (1) You (Moses & Aaron) are no better than anyone else; (2) Everyone in Israel has been chosen of the LORD; (3) We don’t need to obey you (Moses & Aaron), I (Korah) can do this. It’s amazing to see how Korah twisted the first two statements - both true - to reach the wrong conclusion, with a devastating effect. Because of Korah’s rebellion against Moses, God caused the earth to open up and swallow all the people who followed Korah; also a fire came down from the Lord and consumed the 250 would-be priests who offered incense illegally (Numbers 16:30-35). The altar was the place of sacrifice; and as Christians it is a place for us to put to death wrong attitudes, wrong motives, and wrong thoughts - a sacrificing of personal ambitions and desires - just as Christ gave himself as a sacrifice on the cross for each of us.
So Jude was charging these three men with defying the legitimate authority in the church, and of therefore preferring to go their own way rather than God’s. They were unbelievers; but there are Christians who demonstrate similar traits, i.e.: Cain evidently didn’t believe in God’s order for the world, and therefore did exactly as he pleased, not considering the consequences. Often people don’t understand or experience the Lordship of Jesus Christ in their everyday life. They say, “I am under grace, not under the law, so I can do whatever I please.” The word “submit” occurs 15 times in the letters to the churches. - This is an indication of the importance for us today. However, our society does not recognize the benefits or the need of living in submission; but rather promotes a humanistic, throwaway culture where the cry is: “I have rights”, and “I can do what I want”. (See Rom. 8:7 & 10:3 & 13:1&5; I Cor.16:16; Eph. 5:21,22,&24; Col. 2:20 & 3:18; Heb. 12:9 & 13:17; James 4:7; I Peter 2:13&18.)
Korah led many people to their deaths through false doctrine. He wanted to function as a priest, and did not recognize the delegated authority of Moses. There are Christians today who are ambitious to do and be what they want to - not what God is calling them to. We have heard of men building their ministries, and making relationships that best serve them. They worship Jesus, but why? Is it because of who Jesus is, or is it to build up their own ministry? We often hear people say “God said”; and although it is recognized that we all make mistakes, often what “God says” aligns more with the desires of the speaker than with the will and purposes of God. In this area, for our own protection, we must remember what John the Baptist said (in John 3:27): “A man can receive only what is given him from Heaven.”
God has given each believer abilities, and a portion of grace & faith. Each of us must move within the boundaries set in our ministries - which are according to the limitations of our abilities, and the portion of our grace and faith. We all have a God-given ministry (or ministries) - that’s our purpose on this earth as Christians. When we move beyond the boundaries of what is given us from Heaven, we reap the consequences. - Yet to bury our God-given talents is being disobedient to our Lord. - So we must define and remember our boundaries.
NOTE: In this section where it refers to “these men” or “they”, it’s usually referring to....“the men whose condemnation was written about long ago; the godless men who changed the grace of our God into a license for immorality, and denied Jesus Christ our Lord” - as we read about in Jude verse 4.
A BLEMISH IN THE CHURCH - VERSES 12-13
Verse 12: “These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm - shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted - twice dead.”
Verse 13: “They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.”
Remember, Jude is speaking to unbelievers - and he gives an interesting insight into the nature of such men:
Jude says, almost in amazement: “These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm”. The Love (or Agape) Feast was a fellowship meal that was commonly followed with the Lord’s Supper (Communion). In this communal feast, people brought what they could, and all shared from a common table - illustrating that all were cared for. This meal may have been the only time many Christians who were slaves had a proper meal. The celebration often included prayer, eating, religious conversation, washing of hands, lighting of lamps, and singing. (Note that Paul also gave the Church at Corinth a stinging rebuke regarding their Love Feasts in
I Cor. 11:17-22.) Eventually so many problems accompanied these feasts, that at the Council of Carthage (A.D. 397) they were strictly forbidden - which gives the impression that the Churches didn’t change their ways, in spite of Paul’s strong warning.
Was Jude’s amazement caused by the audacity of the false teachers, or was it that the Love Feasts had become a place for libertines? - (Meaning a person who behaves without moral principles - especially in sexual matters.) William Barclay says: “These people are hidden rocks which threaten to wreck your Love Feasts”. (I think we all know it’s true that keeping bad company can affect our own spirit - especially so if that were the only kind of company we kept. We would gradually be dragged down to their level. Yes, we must make an effort to minister to unbelievers; but if they want no part of it, and are just trying to drag us down with them - then we need to “shake the dust off our feet” [Matt. 10:14], and have no part with them; as they would be, in a manner of speaking, “falsely teaching” us sinful habits.)
This is how Jude describes them:
1. They are “shepherds who feed only themselves”. They offer no food for the soul to help a man on his life’s journey. They look only to their needs -worse than that, they follow their own desires.
2. “They are clouds without rain (they make a lot of empty promises), blown along by the wind” (unstable, with no true spiritual life). They offer no refreshing for the soul to help a man on his life’s journey. In fact, they treat people deceitfully.
3. They are “autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted - twice dead”. They offer no fruit to give a man a sense of success and purpose on his life’s journey. I looked up several commentaries and translations of this term “twice dead”, because it intrigued me. One commentary that I came across said: “The term ‘twice dead’ talks of Hell and what awaits these unbelieving false teachers - as is spoken of in Rev. 20:14, where it says the lake of fire is the second death.” Another commentary of “twice dead” simply says: “Doubly dead; therefore no hope of fruit.” Or, as the Literal Translation Bible words it: “...fruitless autumn trees, having died twice, having been plucked up by the roots.”
4. They are “wild waves of the sea (boisterous, noisy, completely out of control), foaming up their shame”. They have no shame and can only distract a man on his life’s journey, because they themselves are lost.
5. They are “wandering stars (shooting stars - or stars not fixed in their places; but shooting like meteors, and then going out.), for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever”. They offer no direction for the soul of a man to help him on his life’s journey. The “blackest darkness” talks of the separation in Hell that awaits these unbelieving false teachers. False teachers can expect the worst of punishments in a future world (Hell); for everyone who misrepresents (i.e., wrong teachings), would lead others into wrong paths so that he may have opportunity to make gain or prey of them (use them, or exploit them). The judgment for people who love darkness and hate the light, is banishment to total darkness for eternity. Read Matthew 22:13. If you read all of Chapter 22, you’ll see it’s speaking of the parable of the marriage feast. In Verse 11, when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man who did not have on a wedding garment. The man had disregarded the propriety of the king’s provision, since such garments were normally supplied by the host (Jewish tradition). The reference appears to be to the “robe of righteousness”, which we must receive from the Lord in order to attend the “Marriage Feast of the Lamb”. Casting the improperly-clad guest into outer darkness symbolizes the eternal judgment of the lost. Let’s look at Matthew 25:30.- The “unprofitable servant” was also cast into outer darkness, indicating that he was not a true disciple of the Lord.
Have you noticed a theme here in the above five descriptions? - “They” (the false teachers, or unbelievers) offer no help, only hindrances, “for a man on his life’s journey”. Jude seems to be stressing the importance of what a man does while on his life’s journey on earth, along with the importance of having the proper guidance.
These false teachers were deceptive and dangerous, because they blended in at every Christian event. Their motives were selfish. They were superficial, and made a lot of empty promises. They were unstable, with no true spiritual life. In other words, they were completely out of control, and had lost any sense of shame. Does this not also sound like some of the so-called “Christian” preachers, teachers, and leaders of today?
Every Christian needs to be “wise as a serpent and gentle as a dove”. We must be always on the alert for these false teachers, that they may not deceive us into believing false doctrines. - We are to search the scriptures just as the Bereans did (read Acts 17:11), in order to make sure everything that is said lines up with The Word.
ENOCH’S PROPHESY - VERSES 14-16
Verse 14: “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones”
Verse 15: “to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against Him’.”
Jude reminds his readers in verses 14 & 15 that Enoch had prophesied judgment would come. It’s interesting to note here that it is believed that the “holy ones” (or saints) could be the angels (Zech. 14:5); the raptured church; or all the inhabitants of the heavenly Jerusalem - angels, the Church, and spirits of Old Testament & Tribulation saints. These are referred to as armies in Rev. 19:14 (read). Now, this quote was taken directly from the Book of Enoch in chapter 1, verse 9; which is believed to have been written around the second and/or first centuries before Christ. Most theologians believe that Enoch could not possibly have written the Book of Enoch, because it contains information that was only known, or in existence, AFTER the flood; and Enoch was raptured 700 years before the flood. EVEN SO, Enoch was a prophet; so God could have shown him all these things.- And Enoch’s prophecy could have been preserved by tradition (passed down through the generations). But there are so many false statements in the Book of Enoch itself which a true prophet of God would not have written, that this leads me to believe the book was not written by Enoch, and that’s why it was not included in the canon of Scripture. Whoever did write the Book of Enoch could have included the phrase written in Jude verses 14 & 15 through knowing about it from preservation by preceding generations.
In summation of verses 14 & 15, we find the oldest prophecy uttered by a prophet of Christ’s “coming to judge” (second coming) - prophesied by Enoch before the Great Flood of Noah’s day. Notice the word “ungodly” is repeated four times. It attests to the fact that the will and desires of these evil men and seducers were their only rule and law. They were angry at everything that happened; and never really pleased with their own state and condition. And, worst of all, they murmured against God.
Let’s look at a little background here on Enoch: His father was Jared. He was a member of “the generations of Adam” (Gen. 5:1), the incredibly long-lived group that extended from Adam to Noah. Jude verse 14 specifically mentions that Enoch was the seventh from Adam. - This was a significant number to the Jews, as there was sacredness in the number seven. At the age of 65 Enoch became the father of Methuselah (who was the grandfather of Noah), whom we know to be the oldest man mentioned in the Bible at 969 years (Gen. 5:27). Now, we know that Enoch was a very Godly man who “walked with God” (read Gen. 5:21-24); and he was taken directly to Heaven at 365 years of age (a relatively short life-span for those days), because his faith was pleasing to God (read Heb. 11:5).
Jude Verse 16: “These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.”
Jude then goes on to describe the false teachers once again:
- They are grumblers and faultfinders;
- They follow their own evil desires;
- They boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. So these men were like many of the typical politicians of today, weren’t they?
Jude completes his denunciation of the false teachers as “grumblers” (gongystai). In I Corinthians 10:10, the related verb gongyzo is used by Paul of the rebels in the wilderness (speaking of the Israelites when they were wandering around in the desert for 40 years). Jude also calls the false teachers “faultfinders” (mempsimoiroi), a term that underlines their critical attitude and habitual complaining. (It’s interesting to note that these specific words gongystai and mempsimoiroi occur only in this Book of Jude in the New Testament.) “They follow their own evil desires”, might also be translated “they live by their passions”. “They boast about themselves” or, literally, “their mouth speaks haughty words”. “They flatter others for their own advantage” (or for their own self-interest), reinforces Jude’s stress on the corruptness of the false teachers. Here the literal interpretation of the Greek text - “honoring faces for the sake of advantage” - gives us an expressive picture of what Jude was saying.
APOSTOLIC TEACHING - Verses 17-19
Verse 17: “But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold.”
Verse 18: “They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires’.”
Verse 19: “These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.”
Jude tells the believers in verses 17 & 18 that what he is saying is not new; that, in fact, the apostles prophesied this would happen. He calls them to remember that they had been forewarned, so they should not stumble in their faith.
Jude says in verse 18 that the apostles foretold there would be scoffers in the last times. - Read I Timothy 4:1-2. - To “depart” means to “apostatize”. Apostasy is the deliberate and permanent rejection of Christianity after a previous profession of faith in it. “Having their conscience seared with a hot iron” - that is, branded in their conscience. The moral life of these hypocrites is scarred by sin as they carry around the awareness of their guilt, yet continue preaching to others. Now read II Timothy 3:1-8. In verse 5, “a form of godliness” speaks of mere religion without power or spiritual life. In verse 7, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth”, is not condemning intense study; but some esoteric (meaning ‘understood by only a small number of people with specialized knowledge’) quest for truth apart from God’s Word. Jude goes on to say in verse 19 that these are the men you were warned about. - They had separated themselves from God. They were sensual - living on animal-like instincts, rather than living a spiritual life. Sensual men separate from Christ and His Church, and join themselves to the Devil, the world, and the flesh, by their ungodly and sinful practices. Sensual men do not have the spirit of holiness; therefore do not belong to Christ (Read Rom. 8:9). Sensualists are the worst separatists; they are those who divide, or split up the Church.)
Paul, in the synagogue at Antioch, Pisidia, explains in Acts 13:40-41: “Take care that what the prophets have said does not happen to you: ‘Look, you scoffers, wonder and perish, for I am going to do something in your days that you would never believe, even if someone told you’.” (As spoken of in Hab. 1:5.)
There are always men who do not grasp or see or touch or build things spiritual; they follow their instincts, common practice, and the traditions of the society in which they live. This is equally true for today as it was in New Testament times. The Bible gives us spiritual principles, but many Christians look for a different order in their lives and their attitudes. Principles such as forgiveness, giving, sowing in righteousness, and brotherly love - are displaced by revenge, selfishness, sowing to the sinful nature, and self-centeredness.
We must not become discouraged, nor think it strange; but comfort ourselves with this - that in the midst of all this confusion, Christ will maintain His Church and make good His promise that - “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matt. 16:18) The more we (the Church) are persecuted, the stronger hold we should take and keep on our Lord Jesus Christ; being forewarned, we should be fore-armed. Under trials and tribulations, we should stand firm and “not be soon shaken in mind.” (II Thess. 2:2)
EXHORTATION TO BELIEVERS - Verses 20-23
Verse 20: “But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.”
Verse 21: “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”
In verses 20&21, Jude urges, encourages, and insists that the believers look after themselves in the things of the spirit in the following four ways:
1. The faithful should be building themselves up in the faith. - The Christian builds his life on the foundation of the faith. This means that our faith is not a personal opinion or something manufactured by an individual; this faith was handed down to the Church, and from the Church to the individual. The message that Christ brought is preserved and transmitted within His Church.
William Barclay says of faith: “That faith is a most holy faith. Again and again we have seen the meaning of this word holy. Its root meaning is different. That which is holy is different from other things - as the priest is different from other worshipers, the Temple different from other buildings, the Sabbath different from other days, and God supremely different from men. Our faith is different in two ways: (1) It is different from other faiths and philosophies in that it is not man-made, but God-given; not opinion, but revelation; not guessing, but certainty. (2) It is different in that it has the power to make those who believe it different. It is not only a mind-changer, but also a life-changer; not only an intellectual belief, but also a moral dynamic (or efficient incentive).”
The grace of faith is most holy - as it works by love, purifies the heart, and overcomes the world. A believing expectation of eternal life will arm us against the snares of sin; and a lively faith in this blessed hope will help us to deny our lusts.
The way to build upon the foundation that has been laid is through relationships in the local church, and by praying in the spirit:
2. The faithful should be praying. - The sense of what Jude is saying here is that our prayers should be in the Holy Spirit. This has two distinct and acceptable meanings: (1) Praying in line with the will of God as directed by the Holy Spirit. - Eph. 6:18: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.” (2) Praying in the Holy Spirit (i.e. praying in tongues). - Paul states in I Cor. 14:14-15: “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.” And also in I Cor. 14:4 Paul says: “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.” This particular scripture suggests that we build ourselves up in our most holy faith by speaking in tongues.
3. The faithful should keep themselves in God’s love. - God’s love is a covenant relationship with it’s own terms of communion. In one sense we are never out of God’s love, our position or standing with Him not changing; but our relationship with Him alters because of our attitudes and sin. Jesus explains how we may keep ourselves in the love of God in John 14:23-24: “Jesus replied, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me will not obey My teaching. These words you hear are not My own; they belong to the Father who sent Me’.” We also keep ourselves in the love of God by looking for the return of Jesus Christ. - Things are put in perspective when we keep His return in our minds.
4. The faithful should be focused on the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. - This not only keeps the Christian humble; but also fills him with hope - a hope that is steadfast and certain, enabling him to endure all kinds of hardship, knowing the reward that awaits him.
The four verbs - build, pray, keep, and wait (look for) are the four walls of the impregnable fortress for the believer - enabling him to withstand life’s adversities and the enemy’s tactics.
Verse 22: “Be merciful to those who doubt;”
Verse 23: “snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”
Now Jude turns to the work of the believer in verses 22 & 23, which is being a witness by our life, our lifestyle, and our words. He makes three distinctions in those who should be helped:
1. Those who doubt: These are believers who have lost their way, who are wavering in their belief and understanding. We must remember the mercy shown to us when we were lost. - God still loved us and was merciful toward us. Through acts of love, teaching, prayer, and generosity of spirit, these wavering doubters can become pillars of the faith.
2. Those who need to be snatched from the fire: Those who are possibly close to salvation, but unsaved. The same for these - acts of love, teaching, prayer, and generosity of spirit, so that they who are “close” might be saved. Some people will come to God because they fear going to hell; but it’s far better to draw people to God through love than fear, so we should emphasize His love when we witness to unbelievers.
3. Those who are other than the above: Those whose eyes have been blinded and whose hearts have been hardened. We must still mix with such people; but not be party to their lifestyles. Jude says...“to others show mercy, mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” This can be summed up with the phrase, “Love the sinner, but hate the sin.” Again, through acts of love, teaching, prayer, and generosity of spirit, those who are far off may be drawn near.
BENEDICTION/BLESSING - Verses 24-25
Verse 24: “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy”
William Barclay presents a very revealing insight into Jude’s last words:
“Jude comes to an end with a tremendous attribution of praise. Three times in the New Testament praise is given to the God who is able. In Romans 16:25, Paul gives praise to the God who is able to strengthen us. Read that. (The KJV uses the words “him who is of power to stablish”. The NIV says “him who is able to establish”. The definitions of “stablish” in the Strong’s Concordance are: strengthen; establish; stand firm; be resolute.) God is the one person who can give us a foundation for life which nothing and no one can ever shake. In Ephesians 3:20, Paul gives praise to the God who is able to do far more than we can ever ask or even dream of. Let’s read that. He is the God whose grace no man has ever exhausted and on whom no claim can ever be too much.”
Jude offers in verse 24 his praise to the God who is able:
1. God is able to keep us from slipping. The Greek word is aptaistos. It is used of a sure-footed horse, who does not stumble; and of a man who does not fall into error. “He will not let your foot slip....” (Psalm 121:3). To walk with God is to walk in safety, even on the most dangerous and the most slippery path. In mountaineering, climbers are roped together so that even if the inexperienced climber should slip, the skilled mountaineer can take his weight and save him. In the same manner, when we bind ourselves to God, He keeps us safe. - Jesus Christ keeps us from falling when we stay in the love of God.
2. He can make us stand blameless in the presence of His glory. The Greek word for blameless is amomos. This is characteristically a sacrificial word that is commonly and technically used of an animal which is without spot or blemish, and is therefore fit to be offered to God. The amazing thing is that when we submit ourselves to God, His grace can make our lives nothing less than a sacrifice fit to offer to Him. Then Christ can present us to God faultless, as pure and holy as He is - “with great joy”.
3. He can bring us into His presence exultant (happy, proud, elated). Surely the natural way to think of entry into the presence of God is in fear and shame. But by the work of Jesus Christ and in the grace of God, we know that we can go to God with joy, and with all fear banished. Through Jesus Christ, God the stern Judge, has become known to us as God the loving Father.
Verse 25: “to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power, and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”
Usually we associate the word Savior with Jesus Christ, but in this verse, Jude attaches it to God. He is not alone in this; for God is often called Savior in the New Testament (See Luke 1:47; I Timothy 1:1, 2:3, 4:10; Titus 1:3, 2:10, 3:4).
So we end with the great and comforting certainty that at the back of everything there is a God whose name is Savior - Our Savior “through Jesus Christ”. The Christian has the joyous certainty that in this world he lives in the love of God, and that in the next world he goes to that love.
It’s hard to believe that 25 verses in this little book have dealt with so much; but I believe we have uncovered the passion that Jude felt for the Church and his fellow Christians. There is so much for us to apply to our lives and in the life of our church. Just think - if every member of your church burned with the passion and zeal shown by Jude - what do you suppose would happen in your city? - In your county, your state, your country?
There are four facts emphasized in this book: (1) We know the Lord’s coming is sure, (2) We know who will accompany the Lord, (3) We know the purpose of His coming, and (4) We know the result of the Lord’s coming.
Why do you think Jude wrote this letter? His brother James’ epistle deals with good works as an evidence of saving faith; while, in contrast, Jude’s letter deals with evil works as evidence of apostasy. I believe the Book of Jude was written as a counter-balance to the Book of James - to show that we must “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude verse 3) at all times, because there are “tares among the wheat” (Matthew 13:25) (false brethren who have stolen into the Church). This letter was written for the Church, not only for that day, but for us today - for the end times.