Jude - Outline of Jude (Book Notes menu page)
The central theme of this epistle is a warning against the dangers and consequences of apostasy. Even in the apostolic era, many were already departing from the Faith. While, the apostates claimed to be Christians, they were demonstrating, by erroneous teaching and ungodly living, that they were following the spirit of antichrist (1Joh 2:18,19; 4:3). Departure from the faith can take many forms. Paul warned against those who proclaimed a legalistic gospel which undermined the Gospel of Grace (Gal 1:6-9). Peter warned of false teachers who promoted licentious living, in the name of liberty (2Peter ch. 2). Jude follows the emphasis of Peter, and appears to borrow some thoughts from him. Therefore, Jude's epistle is usually dated shortly after Peter's epistles (c. 66-69 AD).

As the outline attempts to show, Jude's epistle is arranged symmetrically. It is as though the infectious poison of apostasy has been encapsulated (as in a cyst), inside several protective layers. God's judgment currently contains, and eventually will completely eradicate, the corruption. Until then, the second protective layer consists of the countermeasures which believers are to employ against doctrinal error. The outer layer assures believers that regardless of the depth of apostasy, the Lord is guarding His own and will keep them in the Faith, until Christ returns.

Unlike the true Church which will escape God's wrath upon the world (1The 1:10; 4:16,17; Rev 3:10), the apostate church will enter into the Tribulation period (eg., Rev 2:22; 17:1-5). Thus, Jude's letter is a fitting introduction to the book of Revelation.

I. Expectation of Believers - v.1,2
Greetings to those Beloved and Kept in Christ.
1. Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
to them that are sanctified by God the Father,
and preserved in Jesus Christ, [and] called:
2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James...
There are three men named Judas, in scripture. Two were among Jesus' twelve disciples...
  • Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Him.
  • Judas the brother of James (Luk 6:13-16).
    Note that the word's 'the brother' are in italics, indicating that they are not in the original, but were supplied by the translators. Usually, when one person is "of " another, but the relationship is not defined, the implication is decendency. Therefore, many translations have "Judas the son of James" in Luke 6. In other listings of the twelve, he is called Lebbeus or Thaddeus (Mat 10:3; Mark 3:18).
  • Judas the half-brother of Jesus, and brother of James.
    Four half-brothers of Jesus (sons of Joseph and Mary) are identified in Mat 13:55 and Mark 6:3.
    It is generally agreed that this Jude authored this epistle.
During Jesus' earthly ministry, His half-brothers were not believers and considered Jesus to be crazy (Mark 3:21; Joh 7:5). This was foretold in Psa 69:7-11.
     But following His resurrection, His half-brothers were convinced and turned to Christ as their Savior (Acts 1:14). It is possible that Jesus' half-brother James became the primary leader of the church in Jerusalem (eg., Acts 15:13-f), and later wrote the epistle of James. However, in the opinion of most scholars, those positions of leadership were held by "James the son of Alpheaeus," who was one of the twelve disciples, and a cousin to Jesus (Mat 10:3). [See the introduction to the Book Notes on James ch.1, for more about the three men named James, in the NT.]
     Notice that neither James nor Jude referred to their physical relationship to Jesus, although they could have used it as leverage to gain prestige. Rather, they were brothers to each other, but 'servants' {ie., bondservants, slaves} of Christ (cp. v.1; Jam 1:1). The former fleshly relationship was no longer of any consequence. They looked in faith to Christ, dependent upon Him for righteousness and regeneration as children of God (2Cor 5:16,17).
...to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, [and] called...
The three Persons of the Godhead are involved in the three tenses of our salvation...
  • called {ie., invited by the hearing of the Gospel}.
    The 'called' are those who have not only 'heard,' but who also accepted the invitation, as the Holy Spirit convicted them of their need as sinners and of God's provision in Christ (eg., 1Cor 1:22-24; cp. 2The 2:13,14).
    This 'calling' is past tense, for those who have come to faith.
  • sanctified {GK=hagiazo, made holy} (Some MSS have 'beloved' {GK=agapemenois} by God the Father.)
    God loves His children, and His purpose is to transform them into the likeness of Christ.
    As God's children, we are already holy (sanctified, ie., set apart for Him). Yet, through His Word and by His Spirit, He is progressively sanctifying us (Joh 17:14-20). His work of sanctification will be completed when Christ returns for His own.
    'Sanctified and being sanctified' describes the present state of maturing believers.
  • preserved {GK=tetereo, kept, guarded} in {by, for} Jesus Christ (various translations use different prepositions).
    This word for 'kept' or 'keep' occurs three times in Jude (v.1,6,21). Another word (with similar meaning) is translated 'keep' in v.24. Christ, as our Shepherd, keeps His own in the face of danger (Joh 10:11,27-30).
    We are kept, to be presented to Him, at His future return for His own.
Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
God loves the whole world. But He hates sin. Therefore, it would be impossible for sinners to be at peace with God, if He had not extended mercy to us, in Christ who died for our sins (Joh 3:16; Isa 53:6).
     Jude is writing to believers, who are the called, beloved and preserved children of God. Although they are living in a hostile environment of apostasy, the Father is abundantly able to keep them (Joh 17:11,12,15). For, He richly supplies His children with...
II. Exhortation to Believers - v.3,4
Contend for the Faith, against Apostasy.
3. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation,
it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you]
that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
4 For there are certain men crept in unawares,
who were before of old ordained to this condemnation,
ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness,
and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
As Jude prepared to write, he eagerly anticipated dwelling on the riches of God's Grace which He has poured out upon those who trust in Christ. The subject is inexhaustible (eg., Eph 3:14-21).
     Concerning the salvation which God has provided in the Gospel of Christ, there is nothing 'common' (in the sense of mundane, or, to be taken for granted, Rom 1:16). However, because there is only one Way of salvation, all who are saved are united by their common {shared} faith in that one Way (Joh 14:6; Acts 4:12; Titus 1:4).
...it was needful {GK= ananke, of necessity, by constraint, under pressure} for me to write unto you...
The Holy Spirit constrained Jude to address a subject which could not be neglected, though it was far less pleasant.
...and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once {ie., once for all} delivered unto the saints.
The Holy Spirit redirected Jude's message in order to urgently 'exhort' {GK=paralambano, call alongside, call to aid} believers to engage in an epic battle, which they cannot afford to neglect. The intensity of the struggle is emphasized by the phrase "earnestly contend" {GK= epagonizomai, lit., agonize earnestly}.
Elsewhere, we are cautioned that as we 'strive' for the faith, we must avoid being 'contentious.' We are always to "speak the truth in love," lest the truth be lost in the noise of our poor attitude (1Cor 13:1; Eph 4:15; Php 1:27; 2Tim 2:24-26).
     The battle is in defense of "the Faith" (ie., the apostles' doctrine, Acts 2:42; 1Tim 4:1)...
  • ...which was "once for all" delivered (it is not subject to revision, 1Cor 15:3,4; 2Pet 3:2-4)...
  • ...to the saints (ie., those who are 'sanctified' through faith in this Gospel, v.1).
for there are certain men 'crept in unawares' {ie., settled in alongside stealthily; NASB reads: 'crept in unnoticed'}...
a. The Character of these men.
  • 'before of old ordained' {GK= prographo, lit., written before} to this condemnation {GK=krima, damnation, sentence}...
    They were following the path of past and future apostates recorded or foretold in scripture (eg., Isa 8:19-22; 2The 2:6-10).
    Their judgment was previously prescribed by scripture (eg., 2Pet 2:3; 3:7).
    In the following verses, Jude will cite several examples of apostasy and consequent judgment.
  • ungodly men {GK=asebes, irreverent, wicked}...
    While they profess to serve God, they live contrary to His purposes (eg., Acts 20:28-31; 2Cor 11:13-15).
b. The Work of these men.
  • turning the grace of God into lasciviousness {ie., licentiousness, wantonness, immorality}...
    In his letter to the Galatians, Paul dealt with 'false brethren unawares brought in' (cp. v.4), who promoted a different but equally dangerous error, which turned the grace of God into bondage to legalism. Their false gospel denied Christ's finished work, by requiring that I must also keep the Law in order to be saved (Acts 15:1,5; Gal 2:4). Paul argued that the believer had been crucified with Christ and raised to new Life with Him (Rom 6:1-10; Gal 2:20). Therefore, believers are free from the Law, which we could not keep, because Christ has fulfilled it for us. Paul was careful to warn against using this liberty as an excuse to live lawlessly (Gal 5:13). God's born again children ought to live according to the new nature which He has given them (eg., Gal 6:15; 1Joh 3:7-12).
         The men, of whom Jude speaks, profess to preach freedom in Christ. But in reality, they remain in bondage to fleshly lusts, because they were never set free from sin (2Pet 2:18-22).
  • denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ {lit., our only Master, God, and Lord-- Jesus Christ-- denying. [YLT]}
    By their false teaching and wayward living, they deny {ie., disown, disavow} the Person of Jesus Christ, as...
III. Excoriation of Apostates...
A. Past Apostates - Reserved for Judgment, v.5-7
5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this,
how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt,
afterward destroyed them that believed not.
6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation,
he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner,
giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh,
are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
...I will, therefore, put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this...
Apostasy often involves a subtle progressive departure from the truth of God's Word. In an environment of 'political correctness,' there is danger that God's people will begin to think like the world. Jude calls us back to the Bible, from which he reminds us of three historic examples of apostasy. Like the apostates of every age, these three groups disregarded the Lord, His Word and His power to hold them accountable.
Three historic examples of apostasy and God's judgment -
1. Israel (v.5) - 'Unbelief' caused Israel to turn back from following the Lord.
When the Lord delivered Israel out of bondage in Egypt, He promised that He would bring them into the Land which He had given to their forefathers (Ex 3:17; 6:8). But when they arrived at the border of the land, they refused to enter, because they did not believe that God would keep His Word. They feared that their children would be endangered by war with the occupants of the land. Therefore, the Lord judged them with 40 years wandering in the wilderness, until all of the unbelieving adults had died. Then, as He promised, He brought their children into the land (Num 14:22-37).
     'Unbelief' is not unique to that generation of Israelites. Their failure and fate provides a warning for God's people, in all ages (See 1Cor 10:5-12; Heb 3:16-19; 4:1,2). God's Word is sure and unbreakable. Those, who build upon it in faith, find rest. Those, who disregard it, will be broken by it (Mat 7:24-27; Jer 23:29).
2. Angels (v.6) - 'Rebellion' against God was the undoing of angels who followed Satan.
God created the angels, including Lucifer, and placed them in high positions of direct service to Him. This was their 'first estate' {GK= arche, principality}. Lucifer was not satisfied with his role and coveted the highest position, the place of God, for himself (Isa 14:13-15). Apparently, one third of the angels of heaven turned against God and aligned themselves with Satan, and were cast out of heaven, down to the earth (Rev 12:4). Satan and his angels (the demons) are no longer in the high place which God designed for them (their 'own habitation'). No longer the servants of their Creator, the fallen angels are the enemies of God and of His people. They have arranged their own hierarchy, as "principalities... powers... the rulers of the darkness of this world..." (Eph 6:12).
     Some scholars believe the phrase "left their own habitation" refers to angelic beings who co-habitated with human women (Gen 6:2,4). However, this is not required by the text. An explanation, which is more consistent with scripture, is that the godly line (of Seth) inter-married with the ungodly line (of Cain). (For more, see the Book Notes at Genesis 6:4.)
     While some of the fallen angels are imprisoned under the earth, to be temporarily released during the Tribulation period (2Pet 2:4, where 'hell' is 'hades'; Rev 9:1-4), others are active in the world of men today (eg., Mat 8:29). However, all are "reserved" {ie., kept} for judgment in "the great day" (ie., the Day of the Lord). Most likely, the fallen angels will suffer their final judgment, following Christ's Millennial Kingdom, at the time when Satan is cast into the Lake of Fire (Rev 20:10).
     Until then, they are "reserved in everlasting chains under darkness." Their sentence is irreversable. Their minds are irreversably darkened by the untruth which they preferred (cp. 1The 5:4-9; 2The 2:8-12).
3. Sodom and Gomorrha (v.7) - 'Sexual Perversion' resulted in severe judgment upon these cities.
When the Lord sent angels to confirm reports of the wickedness of these cities, the men of Sodom sought to 'know' the angels (ie., sexually). (See Gen 18:20-22; 19:1-13.) Some have suggested that the sin of Sodom was not 'sodomy' but rather a lack of hospitality. However, the Holy Spirit chose a very strong and explicit word to describe their sin. They were "giving themselves over to fornication" {GK= ekporneuo}. They lived for 'porn,' and specifically for sexual indulgence with "strange flesh" {lit., 'other flesh,' as opposed to the 'one flesh' in marriage as designed by God, Mat 19:4-6}. cp. Rom 1:26,27
  • Their judgment was right. The word 'vengeance' {GK= dike, justice} means 'that which is right.' cp. Gen 18:23-26
  • Their judgment was profound and eternal (Gen 19:24-28).
    Now under the Dead Sea, the region of those cities is uninhabitable. Yet, the fires of judgment still burn (Mark 9:43-49).
  • Their judgment was an example (2Pet 2:6).
III. Excoriation of Apostates...
B. Present Corruption - Ripe for Judgment, v.8-10
8. Likewise also these [filthy] dreamers
defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
9 Yet Michael the archangel,
when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses,
durst not bring against him a railing accusation,
but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not:
but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
Likwise also these... dreamers...
The word 'filthy' is not in the Greek text, and was supplied by the translators. As we have already seen, the minds of apostates are prone to impurity. However, the thought here is that they are 'dreaming' {GK=enupniazsomai, lit., as in sleep}. They are following their own wishful thinking, rather than reality. Their eyes are closed, their minds are darkened, because they have rejected the light of God's Word (cp. 1The 5:6,7).
The word 'likewise' {GK= homoios, 'in the same way'} indicates the similarity of present day apostates to those of past history.
  • ...defile {GK=miaino, pollute, contaminate} the flesh... -
    This corresponds with the immorality of Sodom (v.7). cp. Titus 1:15; 2Pet 2:10a; 3:3
  • ...despise {GK=atheteo, regard as of no value} dominion {GK= kuriotes, lordship}... -
    This corresponds with the rebellion of fallen angels (v.6).
    The Lord Jesus Christ is far above all other authorities. Eph 1:21; Col 1:16
    Men are responsible to submit to the authorities which God has appointed. Ex 22:28; 1The 4:8; Heb 13:17; 2Pet 2:10b (where GK=kuriotes is translated 'government')
  • ...speak evil of {GK= blasphemeo, defame, revile} dignities {GK=doxa, honor, glory, ie., those which command respect}... -
    This corresponds with the unbelief of Israel (v.5).
    Unbelief is 'presumptuous and self-willed' (2Pet 2:10c).
    Israel murmured against Moses, because he was leading them in God's way (Num 14:1-10; cp. 1Sam 8:7).
Yet, Michael the archangel... durst not bring against [the devil] a railing accusation...
The presumption of self-willed apostates is contrasted with the respectful caution of the far superior archangel. cp. 2Pet 2:11
     The cited incident is taken from Jewish tradition (the pseudographical book, 'The Assumption of Moses'), in which Michael was tasked with burying the body of Moses. When Satan laid claim to it, Michael did not dare bring 'railing {GK=blasphemia} accusation' against him {ie., he did not speak harshly in judgment}, but rather rested his case upon the authority of the Highest, "the Lord rebuke {GK= epitimao, lit., place [His] honor over} you." The Lord would put Satan in his place, for God's will would be accomplished in the matter.
     [Although Jude cites an extra-biblical source, it is in keeping with what scripture tells us regarding the body of Moses (Deu 34:5,6), and also regarding Michael's role relative to the unseen angelic conflict concerning God's purposes for Israel (cp. Dan 10:12-13,21; 12:1).]
But these speak evil of {GK=blasphemeo} those things which they know {ie., see, perceive} not:
but what they know {comprehend} naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt {ie., wither, destroy} themselves.
These unsaved religionists have not received the Spirit of Truth and cannot perceive the truth (Joh 14:17; 1Cor 2:12-14). Therefore, they ridicule and slander the Gospel of Christ, and those who believe and proclaim God's Word.
     Like the animals, they do have an understanding of the physical world. But lacking spiritual understanding and submission to God's purposes, they destroy themselves with the misuse of God's creation. 2Pet 2:12; cp. Rom 1:21,22; Php 3:18,19
     Following such a description, we need to remind ourselves that Jude is describing unbelievers who profess to be Christians, and who may even hold positions of leadership within the church (v.4).
III. Excoriation of Apostates...
C. Future Woe for the Ungodly - Realization of Judgment, v.11-16
11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain,
and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward,
and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
Woe unto them!...
This verse traces the downward progression of apostates, in contrast to the Lord's provision for believers...
...the way... Prov 16:25
     cp. the progression of the ungodly
     in Psa 1:1
...the way... Joh 14:6
     cp. the entrance to this way,
     in Mat 7:13,14
...the error......the truth...
...perished......the life...
...for they have gone in the way of Cain... (v.11)
Cain was a religious natural man, who worshipped according to his own will. He rejected the necessity of blood sacrifice for redemption from sin (Gen 4:1-8). Cain's brother, Abel, obtained righteousness by faith, through the blood of the lamb (Heb 11:4). Cain slew Abel because he hated the provision which God had made for the remission of sin (Lev 17:11; Heb 9:22). Sinners cannot approach God on the basis of their good works. Salvation rests entirely upon the work of Christ, who died in the sinner's place (Joh 1:29; 1Pet 1:18,19). He is the only way to the Father (Joh 14:6). But apostate teachers, preferring their own way of religion, attempt to explain away the cross of Christ.
...[for they]... ran greedily after the error {ie., delusion} of Balaam for reward...
Following Israel's exodus from Egypt, as they were nearing the crossing of the Jordan River, Balak the king of Moab, hired Balaam a heathen prophet from Mesopotamia, to curse Israel. Although the Lord appeared to Balaam in a vision and warned him against doing so, his love for money prevailed. Even after the Lord turned his intended curses into blessings, he sought a way around those blessings, by teaching Balak to corrupt the Israelites with loose women. (The account is in Numbers ch. 22 - 25, 31:16).
     The 'way' of Balaam was to profit financially from religion (2Pet 2:15,16). The 'doctrine' of Balaam was what he taught Balak to cause Israel to sin (Rev 2:14). The 'error' of Balaam (here in Jude) was that he assumed that God must curse Israel for their sin, because he was ignorant of the Lord's provision of the way of redemption, through the blood of atonement for sin. Although he knew the truth (for the Lord had told him clearly that He would bless His people), the false prophet persisted in his error, and did not align himself with God's Word.
     Likewise, for financial gain and/or popular approval, today's apostate teachers persist in their error. For while they know what the Bible says, they teach neither the necessity of deliverance from sin, nor the power of Christ to deliver (cf. 1Cor 6:9-11).
...and [they] perished in the gainsaying {GK=antilogia, lit., speaking against, contradiction, dispute} of Core.
During the exodus from Egypt, Korah led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron. The account is in Numbers ch. 16. Korah disputed God's appointment of His chosen leaders. He also disputed the exclusive nature of Aaron's priesthood (Num 16:3). When he and his 250 followers intruded into the priestly office, by burning incense before the Lord, the earth swallowed up Korah and his family, and fire from the Lord devoured the other rebels (Num 16:31-35).
     Like Korah, modern apostates seek places of leadership in the church, to which God has not called or appointed them. Like the false prophets of old, they act the part of His ministers, but they act and speak in contradiction to God's Word (eg., Jer 27:15). The judgment, of today's self-proclaimed spokesmen for God, is so certain that it is stated in the past tense. "Woe unto them!... they... perished..."
12 These are spots in your feasts of charity,
when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear:
clouds [they are] without water, carried about of winds;
trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame;
wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
Verses 12-13 highlight the dangers of apostates who are in places of leadership in the church.
...These are spots in your feasts of charity {ie., love feasts}, when they feast {ie., celebrate together} with you...
The word translated 'spots' {GK= spilas} means "hidden rocks, or reefs." Apparently, the KJV translators were influenced by the parallel passage (2Pet 2:13) which employs another word {GK=spiloi, meaning 'spots'}. [This explanation was adapted from WEVine.]
     'Hidden rocks' is very descriptive of the danger of spiritual shipwreck, which these false teachers pose to unsuspecting believers, with whom they share the Lord's Supper and other fellowship meals (eg., 1Cor 11:21-27).
...feeding {GK=pomaino, shepherding, tending} themselves without fear...
While they may occupy positions as pastors, they are false shepherds, who care for their own interests, rather than the needs of the sheep. The Lord is the true Shepherd of His sheep. Those whom he places as under-shepherds have great responsibility. They must be motivated by selfless love for the Lord and for His people (eg., Joh 21:15-17; 1Pet 5:2-4). Yet, these apostates fearlessly tend to themselves, while neglecting the sheep, and disregarding the wrath of the Chief Shepherd (eg., Eze 34:2-10).
...clouds... without water, carried about of winds...
These false teachers are full of empty promises. They are puffed up with their own wisdom and knowledge. Yet, there is no refreshment in what they have to offer (Prov 25:14). They are unstable, changing their teaching according to the shifting thoughts of worldly men (2Pet 2:17). In contrast, those who are anchored in God's Word are able to share the living water (Joh 7:38; Eph 4:14).
...trees 'whose fruit withereth' {GK=phthinoporinos, waning in late autumn} without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots...
These false religious leaders are like trees at the end of their season, leafless and fruitless. Their earthly lives are rapidly drawing to a close and they have produced nothing of lasting value. They are without spiritual fruit because they are without spiritual life, and will soon suffer the second death (Mat 15:13; Rev 2:11; 20:13-15). In contrast, those, who are rooted in the Lord and His Word, bring forth fruit unto life everlasting (Psa 1:2,3; Joh 15:4-6; Rom 6:22).
...raging waves {or, 'wild swellings'} of the sea, foaming out their own shame...
The apostates are agitated in their rebellion, as is the whole of unregenerate humanity. (The 'sea' is often used as a symbol of the mass of godless men. eg., Rev 13:1) Yet, their frenetic energy, unable to surmount the boundaries which God has set, only forces to the surface the evidence of their corruption (Isa 57:20,21; Jer 5:22,23; Php 3:19). In contrast, those, who submit to the Lord, rest in His peace (Psa 46:10; Mark 4:39).
...wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
Stars emit light, by which a mariner, on troubled seas, may find direction to a safe harbor (eg., Acts 27:20). But 'wandering' stars mislead those who look to them. (The word 'wandering' {GK=planetes} is related to GK=planos, 'deceiving, misleading, vagabond.') 'Wandering' also implies a sense of freedom. They think they are free of God's authority, but in reality, He has reserved {GK= tereo, kept, guarded} a place for them in eternal spiritual darkness, where they will forever be cut off from the One who is Light (cp. v.6; 2Pet 2:17; 2The 1:9). Likewise, their followers will discover that, through the false promise of freedom, they were led into bondage (2Pet 2:19). In contrast, those who look to the One in whom there is no shadow of turning, will have the light of life (Jam 1:17; Joh 8:12).
14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying,
Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
15. To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them
of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed,
and of all their hard [speeches] which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts;
and their mouth speaketh great swelling [words],
having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.
...Enoch... the seventh from Adam... (ie., the seventh generation descended from Adam)-
The brief account of Enoch's life is given in Gen 5:19-24. Enoch was a godly man who "walked with God." The Genesis account does not record anything that he said, except for the name which he gave his son, Methuselah, whose name means "when he dies it will come." This was a prophecy of the Lord's judgment of the world by the Flood, which Noah and his family survived in the ark. The fact, that Methuselah lived longer than any other man, is an indication that, even in His wrath, the Lord remembers mercy.
     The fifth chapter of Genesis is punctuated by the refrain "...and he died," with one exception. "Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him." Enoch was translated into the Lord's presence without passing through death. As the judgment of the Flood foreshadows the future Day of the Lord, so Enoch's translation foreshadows the Rapture of the Church, prior to the Day of the Lord (cp. Heb 11:5,6; 1The 1:6-10, note the closing line).
...Enoch... prophesied of these...
Enoch's prophecy, recorded in v.14,15, is not found elsewhere in the Bible. The apocryphal 'Book of Enoch' (at 1:9, in that book) contains a very similar prophecy, with several noticeable differences. Apparently, the Holy Spirit inspired Jude to adapt that passage. On the other hand, there may have been another source (now lost) which was the source for both books. In any case, the inclusion of Enoch's prophecy, here, does not provide endorsement for the remainder of the apocryphal book.
     Jude says Enoch prophesied "of these" (ie., of the ungodly apostate religionists of all ages, whom he has described in v.8-13, and whose judgment will be finalized in the Day of the Lord, which spans the period of the Tribulation and closes with the Great White Throne Judgment of Rev 20:11-15).
... Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands {GK=murias, ie., myriads, an innumerable host} of His saints...
Enoch proclaimed the earliest prophecy of the second coming of Christ, to the earth. Prior to that coming, He will come, "in the air," for the saints (1The 4:16,17). At the end of the Tribulation period, He will return, with the saints, to judge the world (1The 3:13; 5:1-10; Rev 19:11-16).
...to execute judgment {GK=krisis, condemnation, damnation} upon all...
'All' is very inclusive. By the time of Christ's coming in judgment, the apostasy will have filled the earth. Mankind will be serving the Antichrist, who will present himself as the world's Savior and God. (See Luk 18:8, ''shall he find 'the faith' upon the earth?''; 2The 2:3-12, where 'a falling away' {lit., 'the apostasy'} precedes 'the Day of the Lord.')
...and to convince all that are ungodly... of all... which they have ungodly committed, and of all... which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
In that Day, sinners will be convinced {ie., thoroughly convicted} of their ungodly {ie., impious, irrevent} words and actions by which they intentionally distanced themselves from the true and living God, who loved them and provided the Way of salvation, which they rejected. They will be eternally separated from His presence, with burning shame and regret. Rom 2:5; Mat 12:31-37; Mark 9:44
Verse 16 provides a review of the ungodly deeds and words, of which apostates are convicted...
...These are...
  • ...murmurers {ie., grumblers, complainers} - This is the sound of unbelief.
    cp. Israel in v.5; Psa 106:24-26; eg., Joh 6:41,61,66
  • ...complainers {ie., fault finders, who are discontent and blame others} - This is the noise of rebellion.
    cp. the fallen angels, v.6; eg., Mark 7:2 (where 'found fault' is the same word in verb form)
  • ...walking after their own lusts {ie., longings, desires} - This describes self-centered living.
    Specific things desired may or may not be forbidden by God.
    But these people, desiring to have their own way, reject God's will and way.
    eg., Sodom, v.7; Cain, v.11a
  • ...speaking great swelling words...- eg., Balaam, v.11b
    These are eloquent religious salesmen of worthless wares. 2Pet 2:17-19
  • ...having men's persons in admiration for advantage.- eg., Korah, v.11c
    These gather favor for themselves through flattery, in order to profit from their 'friends' and to press their own agenda.
IV. Exhortation to Believers -
Attend to the Faith...
A. Be mindful of prophetic warnings, v.17-19
17 But, beloved, remember ye the words
which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time,
who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
...But beloved...-
In great contrast to the apostates, who disregard God's Word, and are therefore, reserved unto eternal 'woe' at Christ's coming (v.11), believers are God's beloved children, called, sanctified and kept for Jesus Christ, because they believe God's Word (v.1-3).
...remember... the words... spoken before [by] the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ...
With few exceptions, the writers of the NT were apostles (Luke, James and Jude were not apostles). Together, the OT and NT comprise the written Word of God. It is God's Word which defines "the Faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (v.3). Some of this Word is prophetic of future things. Jude calls our attention to words 'spoken before' {GK= proereo, said beforehand, foretold), specifically...
...they told you there should be mockers in the last time {GK=eschatos chronos, final season},
who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
These are the apostates which Jude has been describing.
The apostles Paul and Peter wrote of them, prior to Jude's writing. eg., Acts 20:27-30; 1Tim 4:1,2; 2Tim 3:1-5,13; 4:1-4; 2Pet 2:1; 3:1-4
[Regarding 'the last time' and similar phrases in the NT, see the Book Notes at 1Tim 4:1.]
...these be they who...
  • separate {GK=apodiorizo, lit., mark off, ie., cause divisions}...- (In v.19, the Greek text does not include the word 'themselves.')
    Apostates cause divisions within the church as they reject sound doctrine and godly practice, to promote their 'modern' and 'liberal' agendas. cp. Prov 6:16-19; 18:1
         In this section (v.17-19), Jude reviews the characteristics of apostates, to enable God's children to identify and avoid them (cp. Rom 16:17,18).
  • sensual {GK=psuchikos, pertaining to the soul, soulish} -
    This word is translated 'natural,' in 1Cor 2:14, where the 'natural man' is contrasted with the 'spiritual' man who is taught by God's Spirit. The natural {soulish, fleshly} mind is not receptive to the things of God, because it is spiritually dead. Apostate church leaders, unable to appreciate the wisdom of God, and acting according to worldly wisdom, can only lead the church astray (cp. Jam 3:15, where this word is rendered 'sensual').
         Of course, leaders who are spiritually alive, through the new birth, can also revert to 'soulish' thinking. But unlike apostates, believers yield to the correction of the Word of God, which divides between the soul and spirit (Heb 4:12).
  • having not the Spirit.- Although the apostates are religious, they have not been regenerated by the Holy Spirit.
    Their 'carnal {fleshly} minds' cannot please God.
    They do not have the Spirit, because they have not truly trusted in Jesus Christ. Rom 8:5-9
IV. Exhortation to Believers -
Attend to the Faith...
B. Build yourselves in the Faith, v.20-23
20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith,
praying in the Holy Ghost,
21 Keep yourselves in the love of God,
looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:
23 And others save with fear, pulling [them] out of the fire;
hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
...But ye, beloved...
In contrast to the soulish apostates, who consider God's wisdom as foolishness, God's beloved children are taught by His Spirit.
What should believers do, in a time of apostasy?
The Holy Spirit, speaking through Jude, gives eight practical points in this epistle. The first has already been addressed...
  1. Earnestly contend for the Faith (v.3) -
    Believers must guard and defend the doctrinal truth (which was once for all delivered to the saints) against the ever present danger of corruption from false teaching and ungodly thinking (which flow from ungodly men who profess to be serving God).
    This has been Jude's emphasis in most of his letter. In the following points, the emphasis is upon laying a solid foundation of the truth, to strengthen believers against susceptibility to error, and/or, to enable those who have been infected by error to recover.
  2. ...building up yourselves on your most holy faith...-
    The phrase 'your most holy faith' does not refer to your best attempt at belief.
    "The Faith once delivered to the saints" is "most holy" because it was received from God.
    'The Faith' is the believer's foundation. The believer is to build his life and ministry upon the one foundation which God has provided. This word for 'building up' (or, 'building on') occurs four times in 1Cor 3:10-14. (Consider the implications of each of those occurrences.)
    How do you build yourself upon the Faith?
         By spending quality time in God's Word. In v.17, we were reminded of the importance of the apostle's words. See also 2Tim 2:15; 3:16,17 and 2Pet 1:19,20. The basis for the Faith is God's inerrant Word.
         To build up your garden, you need to till the soil, pull weeds, remove rocks, add water, etc. The Word of God is the good seed. But it will not take root in your heart or bring forth much fruit, if you allow it to be choked out by the cares of this world. We are responsible for the way we receive God's Word. (cp. Jesus' parable of the sower, Mat 13:3-9,18-23)
         Of course, pastors and teachers bear responsibility for building up the church, the body of Christ. But that responsibility is not theirs alone, it belongs to every member of the body (Eph 4:11-16). Jude's emphasis is that it is 'your' responsibility to build yourself upon the Word of God.
  3. ...praying in the Holy Ghost...
    A similar expression occurs, at the end of the list of the believer's armor, in Eph 6:18. All of the pieces of armor are defensive. But two pieces also have offensive functions, namely the Word of God and Prayer (Eph 6:17b,18). Note that the Word of God precedes prayer in the list, for before we can pray according to God's will, we need to hear from Him.
         Prayer, in the Spirit, is the privilege of God's children, for we have access to the Father through Christ (Rom 8:15). Yet, those who pray aright, recognize their utter dependency upon the Spirit (Rom 8:26,27).
         "Prayer is the Holy Spirit speaking in the believer, through Christ, to the Father." [from an unnamed missionary, as quoted by JVMcGee]
         Prayer includes adoration of the Lord (worship), and agony before Him, in pursuit of the fulfillment of His purposes, through the powerful working of His Word in the hearts of ourselves and those around us. eg., Rom 15:30 (where the GK word for 'strive together' is lit., 'agonize together'); 2The 3:1,2 (where Paul gives some prayer requests which are worth agonizing over).
         The disciples, observing that Jesus prayed in the Spirit, asked Him to teach them to pray. On one occasion, it is recorded that He prayed "in an agony" {ie., a struggle for victory} (Luk 22:44). To 'earnestly contend' {v.3, GK=epagonizomai} for the faith is to be engaged in a life and death struggle. It is through faith in Jesus Christ that we overcome. But having no sufficiency in ourselves, we dare not neglect to pray in the Spirit.
  4. ...Keep yourselves in the love of God...
    In this letter, Jude assures us that believers are 'beloved' (v.1-2,17,20) and 'kept' (v.1,24) by God. This raises a question: Since we are guarded by Him, who has all authority and power, how are we to 'keep ourselves'?
    Consider Joh 15:9,10. We continue {ie., remain} in His love, as we submit to His loving authority. We express our love for Him, by heeding and submitting to His Word (Joh 14:21).
    Illustration: The hand of a loving mother protects her child, when crossing a busy street, unless the child refuses to hold her hand. If the child darts ahead, he distances himself from the loving protection of his parent, though the parent's love for the child is constant.
    So, believers are admonished to stay under the protective umbrella of God's love, through submission to His Word. Joh 17:15-17
  5. ...looking for {ie., expectantly awaiting} the mercy {GK=eleos, compassion} of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.-
    The believer is to live in expectation of 'the blessed hope,' which is to "ever be with the Lord." The imminence of Christ's return, to take the church into His Presence at the Rapture, is motivation for purity of doctrine and life. 1The 4:16,17; Titus 2:11-14
         This expectation rests entirely upon the Lord's mercy, for we are undeserving of the gift of eternal life. Yet, that is our confident expectation, because we trust our Lord Jesus Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us.
  6. ...and of some have compassion {GK=eleeo, mercy}, making a difference...
    As the Lord has shown mercy to us, we are to show mercy to others.
    The phrase 'making a difference' is one word {GK=diakrino, thoroughly judge, discern}.
    • In v.9, it is translated 'contending.' Michael knew God's instructions, with which Satan disagreed. Michael deferred to the Lord, to settle the 'difference of position' on the matter at hand.
    • This word is translated 'waver' in Jam 1:5,6, where it refers to indecision and difficulty in discerning the wisdom of God, from differing options.
    To brothers who have become confused by false teaching, we are to show kindness, in helping them to discern the truth. Yet, we are dependent upon the Lord to make His Word clear to them. 2Tim 2:24-26
         Jesus gave us an example of compassion toward a doubter, when He extended His hand to sinking Simon (Mat 14:31)... and also, to you and me.
  7. ...and others save {GK=sozo, make whole, deliver from danger} with fear, pulling {ie., snatching} them out of the fire...
    Some are so given over to error and sin, that they are on the very brink of judgment.
    We are to reach out to them in fear, recognizing the vulnerability of our own fleshly nature (Gal 6:1).
    Fear, of my fleshly weakness, of my brother's desperate condition, and of my Father's unlimited power, ought to drive me to be 'praying in the Spirit' (v.20; 1Joh 5:16-18).
    The Lord is able to pluck seemingly hopeless cases from the fire. cp. Zech 3:1,2
  8. ...hating even the garment spotted {ie., defiled} by the flesh.-
    A garment is a covering for nakedness. The word used here for 'garment' {GK=chiton} refers to the undergarment, which is in contact with the body. There is reason to avoid association with clothing contaminated by another person's sinful behavior. However, in scripture, 'defiled garments' frequently are symbolic of spiritual defilement (eg., Rev 3:4,18). Jude's admonition is directed toward the believer who is seeking to help a sinner. It is the believer's own flesh that defiles whatever it touches... even his ministry in Christ's name.
         The 'flesh' {GK=sarx} is equivalent to the soulish nature {GK=psuchos, in v.19 rendered 'sensual'}. Whatever comes from the flesh is unclean, for the fleshly mind cannot please God. Christ has clothed us with His righteousness, but we still have a fleshly nature. We defile our covering, exposing our nakedness, when we attempt to do His work with our fleshly wisdom and ways. (Even freshly washed garments, upon a leper, are unclean, because of his condition.)
         Like Joshua the priest, the believer cannot serve God from the flesh (see Zech 3:3-7). If I am to be suitable for the Lord's service, He must strip me of my fleshly attempts to hide my sin. He must remove my iniquity and clothe me with His holiness. (The engraving upon the mitre read "Holiness to the LORD." Ex 28:36-38) Then, I must abandon my fleshly ways to walk in His ways.
         The Lord has done those things for believers, for He has seated us in the heavenlies with Christ (Eph 1:3). We must guard against 'leaving our first estate' for a soulish substitute. Whatever, proceeds from the soulish nature is detestable, for it is out of harmony with God. If we are to minister to others, as representatives of our Lord, it must be by His Holy Spirit.
V. Expectation of Believers - v.24,25
Praise to Him who is Able to Keep You.
24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling {ie., stumbling},
and to present [you] faultless
{ie., unblemished, Eph 5:27}
before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
(cp. 1Pet 4:13)
25 To the only wise God our Saviour,
(cp. Rom 16:27; 1Tim 1:17; Rom 11:33-36
[be] glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Despite the dangers of apostasy, the Lord is able {GK=dunamai, has the power},
not only to preserve His children, but also to prepare them for His present purposes, and for their future entrance into His Presence (Heb 13:20,21).
To... God our Saviour, be...
  • glory {GK=doxa} - ie., highest honor (He is worthy of Worship.)
  • majesty {GK=megalosune} - ie., greatness (He is the Highest, above all.)
  • dominion {GK=kratos, force, strength}- ie., complete power (His Purposes are sure.)
  • power {GK=exousia} - ie., authority (Before Him, every knee will bow.)
These characteristics pertain to Him before all time, and now, and in all ages to come. 1Chr 29:11; Rev 5:13,14

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