The Latter Epistles – Jude

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,
To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.  For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you.  They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.  And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.  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.
In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings.  But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”  Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them.
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.
These people 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.  They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”  These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.
But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold.  They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.”  These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy — to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!  Amen.

  • Jude 1:1-25

Noted Biblical Scholars, Teachers, and Preachers Comments

Jude 1 ‘Jude’: “Although Jude (Judas) was a common name in Palestine (at least eight are named in the NT), the author of Jude generally has been accepted as Jude, Christ’s half-brother.  He is to be differentiated from the apostle Judas, the son of James (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13). … Jude’s salutation being similar to James (cf. James 1:1); and … Jude’s not identifying himself as an apostle (v. 1), but rather distinguishing between himself and the apostles (v. 17).”

  • John MacArthur, John MacArthur Commentary (quoted Scripture without bold/italics)

Jude 3 ‘contend for the faith’: “The great business of the saints is to defend, if necessary with their lives, the faith once delivered to them.  We are put in trust with the gospel.  We are trustees of a divine deposit of invaluable truth, and we must be true to our trust at all costs.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes

Jude 6 ‘the grace of God’: “There are two ways to think about the grace of God:  One is to look at yourself and see how sinful you were and say, ‘God’s grace must be vast – it must be huge as space to forgive such a sinner as I am.’  That’s one way and that’s a good way – and probably that’s the most popular way.
“But there’s another way to think of the grace of God.  Think of it as the way God is – God being like God.  And when God shows grace to a sinner He isn’t being dramatic; He’s acting like God.  He’ll never act any other way but like God.  On the other hand, when that man whom justice has condemned turns his back on the grace of God in Christ and refuses to allow himself to be rescued, then the time comes when God must judge the man.  When God shows love to the human race He acts like Himself.  When God shows judgment to ‘the angels which kept not their first estate’ (Jude 6), He acts like Himself.”

  • A. W. Tozer, The Attributes of God I

Jude 6 ‘The angels’: “The angels – think of how high they stood in their first estate.  If sin could drag an angel from the skies, it may well pluck a minister from the pulpit, a deacon from the communion table, or a church member out of the midst of his brothers and sisters.  Perseverance in holiness is the sign of eternal salvation.  If we forsake the Lord and turn back to our former evil ways, it will be the evidence that we never really believed in Christ and that there was no true work of grace in our hearts.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes

Jude 8-13 ‘false teachers’: “Jude … explains how the false teachers slander the ‘celestial beings’ (angels), reject authority, and pollute their own bodies.
“First, they slander celestial beings.  Jude refers to an incident unrecorded in our Bible, It comes from a book called the Assumption of Moses, which was familiar to readers of the first century.  Many Christians … think Jude refers to a book that has been lost from our Bible.  But the book has not been lost; it still exists.  It simply is not part of the accepted canon of Scripture. …
“Jude’s point is this: Even so great a being as the archangel Michael would not address Satan directly but simply said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’  Jude’s argument is that if the great archangel respected the dignity of a fallen angel, then how dare human beings speak contemptuously of the principalities and the powers in high places?  Worldly people behave presumptuously when they sneer at the existence of angels or demons.
“Second. The false teachers reject authority. …(v. 11)
“Here Jude traces the way sin – especially the sin of rebellion – develops in a person’s life. … First, he speaks of ‘the way of Cain,’ which was selfishness. … Selfishness is the first step to rebellion.
“The second step was the ‘error of Balaam.’ … Balaam would do anything to gain money, even lead Israel into sin.  His sin is greed and leading others astray – that’s the error of Balaam.  When a teacher leads someone else to sin, the result is a multiplied judgment on the teacher.
“From the selfishness of Cain to the sin of Balaam – greed and leading others into sin – false teachers commit the sin of Korah, the sin of defiant rebellion.  In Numbers, we read how Korah and his followers rebelled and opposed Moses and Aaron in the wilderness … (Num. 16:1-3).
“Third, the false teachers defile the flesh.”

  • Ray C. Stedman, Adventuring through the Bible

Jude 17-23 ‘a call to persevere’: “Jude sums up his warning with an exhortation to be faithful.  He quotes the apostles (v. 17).  This quotation is not found verbatim anywhere in the New Testament or apocryphal literature and must have been preserved orally by believers, unless Jude is quoting the substance of 2 Peter 3:3.  ‘These are the men who divide you’ points to the false teachers whom he had described, and he refers again to their natural instincts (cf. v. 10) – those sensual, physical passions which motivate them.  They ‘do not have the Spirit,’ whose illuminating work is necessary for anyone to understand the things of God (1 Cor. 2:6-16).
“Several exhortations follow which sum up the remedy against the influences of false teaching.  First, believers must build themselves up in the faith (knowledge and application of the truth).  Second, they must ‘pray in the Holy Spirit,’ according to the will of God (Rom. 8:26-27).  Third, they are to keep themselves in God’s love, which means to maintain a devotional life and to be obedient to the truth.  God is ultimately responsible for this security (note v. 24), but believers participate in the process, which will continue until the Lord Jesus Christ beings them ultimately to eternal life.
“Those attracted to false teaching should be shown mercy.  Effort must be made to recover those taken in by false teaching (‘snatch’ them).  Concerning yet others just coming under the false teachers’ influence, Jude repeats the exhortation for mercy.  Though they are not fully taken in, that degree of influence must be hated.”

  • Walter A. Elwell, editor, Baker Commentary on the Bible

Jude 24 ‘doxology’: “The power to create a world, to divide the rocks, to shake the mountains or set them ablaze is inferior compared with the power that is able to keep us from stumbling.  God has been pleased to make us free agents and never deprives us of our free agency.  Yet, without the destruction of a quality necessary to our responsible personhood, God is nevertheless able to keep us from stumbling.  He could do this by shutting us up in a prison or by depriving us of the power to commit sins.  But he does not keep us in that way.  He leaves us with every faculty and propensity that we had before.  Yet, by some mysterious, omnipotent working of His Holy Spirit – which we can no more understand than we can the blowing of the wind – he keeps his people from stumbling.”

  • Charles H. Spurgeon, from his sermon notes

My Thoughts

I have been lamenting over the past few years regarding the lack of fire and brimstone sermons.  I should have just read Jude instead.  He may not mention fire or brimstone, but he does not pull any punches either.  One of the commentaries said that Jude sounded like the travelling preacher leading a tent revival.

But Jude follows the letters of John speaking, in part, about the same thing.  Satan has set up camp, already defeated but willing to go down swinging.  The problem is that Satan has set up camp inside the church itself.  We have so many divisions in the Christian church that people on the outside might think that none of us are true followers of the One who preached loving one another.  If you cannot agree on the simplest of things and decide to build another church across the street as a result, what does that tell the community that has no preference over the dividing bit of theology?

Most of what we argue over are trivial, but some is foundational.  Some of these church splits have come from false teachers leading people astray and with no other option, one side splits from the other.

But, let us start with the greeting, “mercy, peace, and love.”  In a way, the greeting is woven into the entire letter.  Jude asks that we show mercy, live in peace, and love one another, but not at the cost of false teaching gaining a foothold in the church.

After his greeting, he commends the believers, but warns them of false teachers in the same breath.  These false teachers lead the people in immorality and deny that Jesus is the only way to the Father.

That sounds like many liberal pastors that are in pulpits around the world.  They celebrate certain forms of immorality and preach various backdoor religions that avoid any belief in Jesus at all.  Why call yourself a Christian at that point?

Some commentaries suggest that homosexuality was the immorality that Jude was referring to, but that would limit Jude’s message.  He may have thought as such, but in stating immorality it expands the sin proposed by the false teachers beyond adultery and all its branches.  The Stedman book spoke of the first century church having potluck dinners and calling them “love feasts.”  For a God-fearing congregation, that is an appropriate name.  They show love for each other by sharing of what they have, and they enjoy the feast.  But, if that feast turned into inappropriate activity of any kind after the meal, then the idea of “love feast” turns into something far from the love that God would have us show each other.

The next paragraph Jude warns against following false teachers.  Those who had been brought out of slavery in Egypt that did not believe did not enter the Promised Land.  The angels that fall away are not spared.  And even entire city-kingdoms are destroyed, and with the discussion of Sodom and Gomorrah, Jude mentions again the immorality, and in this case, it is more obviously directed toward homosexuality as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah stood as a mob outside Lot’s door, wanting to have sex with the angels, thinking them to be handsome young men.  Yet, Jude leaves the sin more general.  In these three cases, there was a lack of faith, and a corollary in the two Biblical stories, that faith was rewarded.  The faithful entered the Promised Land and Lot and his daughters were spared from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.  Faith is the key.

The next paragraph starts with the three ‘techniques’ of the false teachers, as described in the Stedman quote above.  But then, the rest of the paragraph talks about how the archangel Michael says to Satan that the Lord rebukes him.  This is found in the Assumption of Moses.  A few verses later, Jude quotes The Book of Enoch.  As Stedman states, some Christians think these books are lost, but a good library and most seminary libraries would have a copy.  These books are ancient texts that simply were not selected as part of the canon of Scripture.  To Jude’s defense, his letter was written before the Biblical scholars met to decide what made the cut as part of the Old and New Testament and what did not.  The two books were well-known in the first century, and through Jude quoting them, these quotes can be well-known for us.  As quoted above in the Stedman quote, we mustn’t lose the point here.  If Michael would not directly disrespect Satan, who are we to not respect any heavenly being.  Yet, one of Satan’s best skills is to convince humans that the heavenly beings, including himself, do not exist, and that we are really in charge – yet, Satan pulls the strings in many cases.  I know people who reject God because they think that their ideas are wonderful, thus why listen to anyone else?  Yet, the ideas that they invent out of the blue are ideas that align perfectly with the secular progressive agenda.  They have not produced new thought.  At best, they gave it a coat of paint, giving the idea a different color.

The next paragraph speaks of rejecting authority: Cain, due to selfishness; Balaam, due to greed; Korah, due to rebelliousness (according to Stedman), but there is hubris there, thinking they could lead better than Moses and Aaron.

I recently had a discussion with a few people from our Sunday school class.  They wanted to know how we could reach those lost in the LGBTQ+ world.  The people were concerned because these people need to hear the Gospel.  Yet, my experience in dealing with those from that community (not all by any means) is that they are ‘loving’ within their community, but they will not accept what you say as ‘love’ unless you accept, celebrate, and condone their lifestyle.  As 1 John 1 would warn, they call something not a sin that is sin.  They take pride in doing so.  And they snub their nose at God’s promise to not bring a global flood again, daring him to try.  No wonder there are so many pastors who are seeing this as signs of the End Times.  Yet, I was a teen-ager at the height of the hippie movement of the 60s.  I thought the world could get no worse, but it has.  I think the world is depraved enough to get worse even now.  Someone 50 years from now might read this post and laugh at how I fuss over what it is like, and they are thinking how wonderful it was now compared to how bad it will be in 50 years, if the earth has 50 years left.  My point in this paragraph is that many churches are establishing an open welcoming of LGBTQ+ even though it means a total rejection of Biblical authority, one of the arrows in the false teacher’s quiver.

And that leads to the defiling of their bodies.  In stating defiling of one’s body, this could be sexual perversion, but it could be alcoholism or drug abuse.  It could be overeating and lack of exercise.  How far do you wish to go?

The next paragraph speaks of the love feasts that are mentioned above.  Notice that the false teachers eat their fill, but they did not provide a covered dish.  Thus, you get the epithets of a shepherd who only feeds himself (literal when it comes to the love feasts).  This is followed with descriptions of their message.  When in drought, we welcome a cloud, but a cloud without rain does us no good.  And when you are hungry in autumn, you look to the fruit tree.  No fruit.  As Jude says, dead twice: no fruit and leaves have fallen.  For the false teacher though: dead in the flesh and in the spirit.  As for the waves in the deep ocean, they only affect the fish and the boats in the area.  When a hurricane turns north and then east in the Atlantic and dies before reaching Europe, it is often called a “fish storm.”  Those no one minds, and only the meteorologists and a few sailors would even notice, unless you are a fish.  And as for the wandering stars, or planets, when they have moved from one place in the sky to another, where they were before is back to being dark.  Look to the North Star and that spot will always be a source of light.  Note the last metaphor.  The false teachers will pretend to be light, but when we reach for it, all we get is darkness, for the light has moved from our grasp.

The next paragraph contains the Enoch quote.  We should not fret over Enoch’s prophecy not being recorded in the canon of Scripture when the Apostle John states a similar thing in Revelation 19 when Jesus Christ returns.

The next paragraph has a few key words and phrases.  In the end times, there will be scoffers.  These scoffers will follow their own ungodly desires.  These scoffers will divide the believers.  They will follow their natural instincts, and they will not have the Spirit, thus not guided by the Spirit.

And the next paragraph gives the practical application to combat the false teachers and scoffers.  We grow in the faith by learning from God’s Word.  We spend time in prayer.  As false teaching increases, the prayer time should increase.  We arm ourselves with the knowledge of who the Holy Spirit is and who God is, so that we can find the lies in what the false teachers say.  But often, the false teachers prey upon the greed, selfishness, and hubris of those within our midst – those that are easily led astray.

But as some are led astray, how do we react to them?  With mercy.  We may be able to “snatch” some away from the false teaching, but for some, we may have to show love to them, hoping and praying that they return to the faith.

The letter ends with a Doxology, giving God the praise, glory, majesty, power, and authority through Jesus Christ.

Some Serendipitous Reflections

“1. What can make a church vulnerable to false teachers today: (a) Boredom? (b) Lust? (c) Attraction to personalities? (d) Enough good people deciding to do nothing?
“2. What ‘spiritual body building’ plan could help to keep you strong in God’s love (vv. 20-21)?
“3. What goes on daily at your work place, in your community, or even in your church, which would fall within the range of Jude’s indicting sermon?
“4. Someone has said, ‘All it takes for evil to prevail is for a few good men to do nothing.’  What is one thing you could do this week to help keep this truism from becoming a reality where you live and work?
“5. What has caused you to doubt your faith at times?  Who helped you then?  How?
“6. In light of the warnings in Jude, what hope do you find in verses 24-25?  How does that help as you struggle with evil?”

  • Lyman Coleman, et al, The NIV Serendipity Bible for Study Groups

If you like these Thursday morning Bible studies, but you think you missed a few, you can use this LINK. I have set up a page off the home page for links to these Thursday morning posts. I will continue to modify the page as I add more.

Soli Deo Gloria.  Only to God be the Glory.

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