Jude

The Readings

Before we study the book or letter of Jude it is a good idea to read all 25 verses in different versions of the bible, so as to gain a fuller and more complete feel for the text.

 

NIV – the NIV will be the bible version used for the study.

 

Jude 1:1  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:

Jude 1:2  Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

Jude 1:3  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.

Jude 1:4  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.

Jude 1:5  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.

Jude 1:6  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.

Jude 1:7  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.

Jude 1:8  In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings.

Jude 1:9  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 1:10  Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals--these are the very things that destroy them.

Jude 1:11  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.

Jude 1:12  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.

Jude 1:13  They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

Jude 1:14  Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones

Jude 1:15  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 1:16  These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

Jude 1:17  But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold.

Jude 1:18  They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires."

Jude 1:19  These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

Jude 1:20  But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.

Jude 1:21  Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Jude 1:22  Be merciful to those who doubt;

Jude 1:23  snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear--hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

Jude 1:24  To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy--

Jude 1:25  to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

 

New American Standard Bible

1          Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:

2          May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.

3            Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

4          For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

5          Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.

6          And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.

7          Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example, in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

8          Yet in the same manner these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.

9          But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you."

10        But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.

11        Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.

12        These men are those who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;

13        wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

14        And about these also Enoch, {in} the seventh {generation} from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones,

15        to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."

16        These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their {own} lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of {gaining an} advantage.

17        But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,

18        that they were saying to you, "In the last time there shall be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts."

19        These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.

20        But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith; praying in the Holy Spirit;

21        keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

22        And have mercy on some, who are doubting;

23        save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

24        Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,

25        to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, {be} glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

(NAS)

 

 

Amplified Bible

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, and brother of James, (writes this letter) to those who are called (chosen), dearly loved by God the Father ([a] and separated, set apart), and kept for Jesus Christ:

 

May mercy, soul-peace and love be multiplied to you.

 

Beloved, my whole concern was to write to you in regard to our common salvation. (But) I found it necessary and was impelled to write you and urgently urgently appeal to and exhort (you) to contend for the faith which was once for all [b]handed down to the saints – the faith (which is that sum of Christian belief) which was delivered [c]verbally to the holy people of God.

 

For certain men have crept in stealthily – [d]gaining entrance secretly by a side (door). Their doom was predicted long ago, (impious, profane) ungodly persons who pervert the grace (the spiritual blessing and favour) of our God into lawlessness and wantonness and immorality, and disown and deny our sole Master and Lord, Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One.

 

Now I want to remind you, though you were fully informed once for all, that though the Lord (at one time) delivered a people out of Egypt, He subsequently destroyed those (of them) who did not believe – who (refused) to adhere to, trust in and rely upon Him.

 

And angels that did not keep (care for, guard and hold to) their own first place of power but abandoned their proper dwelling place, He has reserved in custody in eternal chains (bonds) under the thick gloom of darkness until the judgement and doom of the great day.

 

Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the adjacent towns; which likewise gave themselves over to impurity and indulged in unnatural vice and sensual perversity, are laid out (in plain sight) as an exhibit of perpetual punishment (to warn) of everlasting fire (the wicked are sentenced to suffer) [Gen 19].

 

Nevertheless in like manner these dreamers, also corrupt the body, scorn and reject authority and government, and revile and libel and scoff at (heavenly) glories (the glorious ones).

 

But when (even) the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, judicially argued (disputed) about the body of Moses, he dared not (presume to) bring an abusive condemnation against him, but (simply) said, The Lord rebuke you! [Zech. 3:2]

 

But these men revile (scoff and sneer at) anything they do not happen to be acquainted with and do not understand; and whatever they do understand physically, (that which they now by mere instinct) like irrational beasts, by these they corrupt themselves and are destroyed (perish).

 

Woe to them! For they have run riotously in the way of Cain, and have abandoned themselves for the sake of gain (it offers them) to the error of Balaam, and have perished in rebellion (like that) of Korah! [Gen. 4:3-8, Num. 22-24; 16]

 

These are (elements of danger) hidden reefs in your love feasts, where they boldly feast sumptuously – carousing together (in your midst) – without scruple providing for themselves (alone).

 

They are like clouds without water, swept along by the winds, trees without fruit at the late autumn gathering time, twice (doubly) dead, lifeless and plucked out by the roots;

 

Wild waves of the sea, flinging up the foam of their own shame and disgrace, wandering stars for whom the gloom of eternal darkness has been reserved forever.

 

It was of these people moreover that Enoch in the seventh (generation) from Adam prophesied when he said, Behold the Lord comes with Myriads of holy ones – ten thousand of His saints;

 

To execute judgement upon all the impious (unholy ones) of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed (in such an) ungodly (way), and of all the severe – abusive, soul-jarring – things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.

 

These are inveterate murmurers (grumblers), that complain (of their lot in life), going after their own desires – controlled by their passions; their talk is boastful and arrogant, (and they claim to) admire men’s persons and pay people flattering compliments to gain advantage.

 

But you must remember, beloved, the predictions which were made by the apostles (the special messengers) of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One.

 

They told you beforehand, In the last days (in the end time) there will be scoffers – who seek to gratify their own unholy desires- following their own ungodly passions.

 

It is these who are (agitators) setting up distinctions and causing divisions; merely sensual (creatures) – carnal, worldly-minded people – devoid of the (Holy) Spirit and destitute of any higher spiritual life.

 

But you beloved, build yourselves up (founded) on your most holy faith – make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher – praying in the Holy Spirit;

 

Guard and keep yourselves in the love of God; expect and patiently wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, (which will bring you) unto life eternal.

 

And (refute (so as to) convict some who dispute with you, and) on some have mercy who waver and doubt.

 

(Strive to) save others, snatching (them) out of (the) fire; on others take pity (but) with fear, loathing even the garments spotted by the flesh and polluted by their sensuality [Zech. 3:2-4]

 

Now to Him who is able to keep you without stumbling, or slipping, or falling and to present (you) unblemished (blameless and faultless) before the presence of His glory – with unspeakable, ecstatic delight – in triumphant joy and exultation.

 

To the one only God, our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory (splendour), majesty, might and dominion, and power and authority, before all time and now and forever – unto all ages of eternity Amen- so be it.

 

Paraphrase Versions

It must be remembered that the NIV is a ‘dynamic equivalent’, which translates a phrase. Whereas the New American Standard Bible is a literal translation that takes each word individually. The amplified Version gives not only a literal understanding but also attempts to clarify shades of meaning that may be concealed.

 

It is also important to read one of the paraphrase versions such as the Living Bible or the Message. These take a phrase and translate it into modern language using the idioms of today to enhance understanding.

 

However it must be said that the more effort taken by translators to bring understanding the greater risk of them producing a view or an opinion of what scripture says. Therefore, for serious study we should use each version appropriately and the writer will rely on the work of others, whose material will be listed in the bibliography, to discover what Jude was saying to the letters recipients and the influence that the letter should have in today’s church.

 

Introduction

I became fascinated by this short letter, described by Barclay as “The difficult and neglected letter”[a], when I read “Keep yourselves in God's love” in my daily bible reading. This sparked a number of questions and the investigation that is recorded here.

 

The letter has much to say to the modern church and addresses much of what we call ‘today’s culture’, human rights and liberty. It also gives guidance to what the role the church should play in the 21st century. These 25 verses are packed full of spiritual insights and principles. The letter revolves around two thoughts one of us keeping; the other is of us being kept. We see in the letter the responsibilities and rest we find in God through Christ Jesus.

 

The author

The author is “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James”

 

The authors name is translated as Jude in most versions of the bible, with only the revised version using the name Judas.  Jude is the English form of the name Judas (Ioudas), the Greek form of Judah, which literally means, ”to give thanks, laud, praise”[b]. The anglicanised version of the name was used to disassociate the writer from Judas Iscariot.

 

We should ask ourselves which James is the James spoken of in the verse? Only one James would be so recognised in the early church as not to need qualification and that is James the leader of the church in Jerusalem. He was the brother of Jesus as stated in Galatians by Paul

 

Gal 1:19 I saw none of the other apostles--only James, the Lord's brother.

 

This would mean that Jude was the youngest half-brother Jesus who was named by Matthew.

 

Mat 13:55  "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?

 

We can only wonder at the relationship between Jude and Jesus, as it was only after the resurrection that Jude believed.

 

(John 7:5) For even his own brothers did not believe in him.

 

(Acts 1:14) They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.        

 

The date

 There is much debate about the date attributed to the letter, the thought being somewhere between 60AD and 90AD.

 

As we look more closely we recognise that 2 Peter 2 is based on Jude and it makes more sense that 2 Peter incorporate Jude as a section than Jude quoting 2 Peter. If correct, and we know that Peter died around 65AD, then Jude must have been written around 65AD or earlier. It is also important to remember the story of Domitian the Roman Emperor had the grandsons of Jude brought before his accused of belonging to the royal house of David in AD81 -96. The Emperor then questioned them about the Christ and his Kingdom and when they explained it was a heavenly Kingdom, he dismissed the charges against them. This points to a date between 60 –65AD.

 

The origin and destination

There is no clue in the letter as to where it was written but some have suggested Egypt or Palestine as possibilities.

 

The address of the letter is so general – “To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ” – that it is possible the letter was intended to be circulated among the churches. Yet, Jude seems to know the special circumstance in the church, therefore it could be that Jude was an itinerant or that the church that was the intended recipient made a copy for circulation.

 

Purpose

The purpose of the letter was to warn the church against false teachers that had insidiously infiltrated the church, introducing new or different teachings.

 

William Barclay[c] gives an excellent insight into the heretics and their belief. For that reason the full text of that section of the book by Barclay is quoted below:

 

 

THE HERETICS

Who were the heretics whom Jude blasts, and what were their beliefs and what was their way of life? Jude never tells us. He was not a theologian but, as Moffatt says, "a plain, honest leader of the church." "He denounces rather than describes" the heresies he attacks. He does not seek to argue and to refute, for he writes as one "who knows when round indignation is more telling than argument.  But from the letter itself we can deduce three things about these heretics.

 

(i) They were antinomians. Antinomians have existed in every age of the church. They are people who pervert grace. Their position is that the law is dead and they are under grace. The prescriptions of the law may apply to other people, but they no longer apply to them. They can do absolutely what they like. Grace is supreme; it can forgive any sin; the more the sin, the more the opportunities for grace to abound (Romans 6). The body is of no importance; what matters is the inward heart of man. All things belong to Christ, and, therefore, all things are theirs. And so for them there is nothing forbidden.

So Jude's heretics turn the grace of God into an excuse for flagrant immorality (verse 4); they even practise shameless unnatural vices, as the people of Sodom did (verse 7). They defile the flesh and think it no sin (verse 8). They allow their brute instincts to rule their lives (verse 10). With their sensual ways, they are like to make shipwreck of the love feasts of the church (verse 12). It is by their own lusts that they direct their lives (verse 16).

 

MODERN EXAMPLES OF THE ANCIENT HERESY

It is a curious and tragic fact of history that the church has never been entirely free of this antinomianism; and it is natural that it has flourished most in the ages when the wonder of grace was being rediscovered.

It appeared in the Ranters of the seventeenth century. The Ranters were pantheists and antinomians. A pantheist believes that God is everything; literally all things are Christ's, and Christ is the end of the law. They talked of "Christ within them," and paid no heed to the church or its ministry, and belittled scripture. One of them called Bottomley wrote: "It is not safe to go to the Bible to see what others have spoken and written of the mind of God as to see what God speaks within me, and to follow the doctrine and leading of it in me." When George Fox rebuked them for their lewd practices, they answered, "We are God." This may sound very fine, I but, as John Wesley was to say, it most often resulted in "a gospel of the flesh." It was their argument that "swearing, adultery, drunkenness and theft are not sinful unless the person guilty of them apprehends them to be so." When Fox was

 a prisoner at Charing Cross they came to see him and mightily offended him by calling for drink and tobacco.

They swore terribly and when Fox rebuked them, justified themselves by saying that Scripture tells us that Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, the priests, and the angel all swore. To which Fox replied that he who was before Abraham commanded, "Swear not at all. " Richard Baxter said of them, "They conjoined a cursed doctrine of libertinism, which brought them to all abominable filthiness of life; they taught ...that God regardeth not the actions of the outward man, but of the heart; and that to the pure all things are pure

(even things forbidden) and so, as allowed by God, they spoke most hideous words of blasphemy, and many of them committed whoredoms commonly. ...The horrid villainies of this sect did speedily extinguish it." Doubtless many of the Ranters were insane; doubtless some of them were pernicious and deliberate sensualists; but doubtless, too, some of them were earnest but misguided men, who had misunderstood the meaning of grace and freedom from the law.

Later John Wesley was to have trouble with the antinomians. He talks of them preaching a gospel of flesh and blood. At Jenninghall he says "the antinomians had laboured hard in the Devil's service." At Birmingham he says that "the fierce, unclean, brutish, blasphemous antinomians" had utterly destroyed the spiritual life of the congregation. He tells of a certain Roger Ball who insinuated himself into the life of the congregation at Dublin. At first he seemed to be so spiritually minded a man that the congregation welcomed him as being pre-eminently suited for the service and ministry of the church. He showed himself in time to be "full of guile and of the most abominable errors, one of which was that a believer had a right to all women." He would not communicate, for under grace a man must "touch not, taste not, handle not." He would not preach and abandoned the church services because, he said, "The dear Lamb is the only preacher."

Wesley, deliberately to show the position of these antinomians, related in his Journal a conversation, which he had with one of them at Birmingham. It ran as follows. "Do you believe that you have nothing to do with the law of God?" "I have not; I am not under the law; I live by faith." "Have you, as living by faith, aright to everything in the world?" "I have. All is mine, since Christ is mine." "May you then take anything you will anywhere? Suppose out of a shop without the consent or knowledge of the owner?" "I may, if I want, for it is mine. Only I will not give offence." "Have you aright to all the women in the world?" "Yes, if they consent." "And is not that a sin?" "Yes, to him who thinks it is a sin; but not to those whose hearts are free."

Repeatedly Wesley had to meet these people, as George Fox had to meet them. John Bunyan, too, came up against the Ranters who claimed complete freedom from the moral law and looked with contempt on the ethics of the stricter Christian. "These would condemn me as legal and dark, pretending that they only had attained perfection that could do what they would and not sin." One of them, whom Bunyan knew, "gave himself up to all manner of filthiness, especially uncleanness...and would laugh at all exhortations to sobriety. When I laboured to rebuke his wickedness, he would laugh the more." ' Jude's heretics have existed in every Christian generation, and, even if they do not go all the way, there are still many who in their heart of hearts trade upon God's forgiveness .. and make his grace an excuse to sin.

 

THE DENIAL OF GOD AND OF JESUS CHRIST

(ii) Of the antinomianism and blatant immorality of the heretics whom Jude condemns there is no doubt. The other two faults with which he charges them are not so obvious in their meaning. He charges them with, as the Revised Standard Version has it, "denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ" (verse 4). The closing doxology is to "the only God," a phrase which occurs again in Romans 16: 27; 1 Timothy 1: 17; 1 Timothy 6: 15. The reiteration of the word only is significant. If Jude talks about our only Master and Lord and, about the only God, it is natural to assume that there must have been those who questioned the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and of God. Can we trace any such line of thought in the early church and, if so, does it fit in with any other evidence which hints within the letter itself may supply?

As so often in the New Testament, we are again in contact with that type of thought, which came to be known as Gnosticism. Its basic idea was that this was a dualistic universe, a universe with two eternal principles in it. From the beginning of time there had always been spirit and matter. Spirit was essentially good; matter was essentially evil. Out of this flawed matter the world was created. Now God is pure spirit and, therefore, could not possibly handle this essentially evil matter. How then was creation effected? God put out a series of aeons or emanations; each of these aeons was farther away from him. At the end of this long chain, remote from God, there was an aeon who was able to touch matter; and it was this aeon, this distant and secondary god, who actually created the world.

Nor was this all that was in Gnostic thought. As the aeons in the series grew more distant from God, they grew more ignorant of him; and also grew more hostile to him. The creating aeon, at the end of the series, was at once totally ignorant of and totally hostile to God.

Having got that length, the Gnostics took another step. They identified the true God with the God of the New Testament and they identified the secondary, ignorant and hostile god with the God of the Old Testament. As they saw it, the God of creation was a different being from the God of revelation and redemption. Christianity on the other hand believes in the only God, the one God of creation, providence and redemption.

This was the Gnostic explanation of sin. It was because creation was carried out, in the first place, from evil matter and, in the second place, by an ignorant god, that sin and suffering and all imperfection existed.

This Gnostic line of thought had one curious, but perfectly logical, result. If the God of the Old Testament was ignorant of and hostile to the true God, it must follow that the people whom that ignorant God hurt were in fact good people. Clearly the hostile God would be hostile to the people who were the true servants of the true God. The Gnostics, therefore, so to speak, turned the Old Testament upside down and regarded its heroes as villains and its villains as heroes. So there was a sect of these Gnostics called Ophites, because they worshipped the serpent of Eden; and there were those who regarded Cain and Korah and Balaam as great heroes. It is these very people whom Jude uses as tragic and terrible examples of sin.

So we may take it that the heretics whom Jude attacks are Gnostics who denied the oneness of God, who regarded the God of creation as different from the God of redemption, who saw in the Old Testament God an ignorant enemy of the true God and who, therefore, turned the Old Testament upside down to regard its sinners as servants of the true God and its saints as servants of the hostile God. ' Not only did these heretics deny the oneness of God, they also denied "our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ." That is to say, they denied the uniqueness of Jesus Christ. How does that fit in with the Gnostic ideas so far as they are known to us? We have seen that, according to Gnostic belief, God put out a series of aeons between himself and the world. The Gnostics regarded Jesus Christ as one of these aeons.  They did not regard him as our only Master and Lord; he was only one among the many who were links between God and man, although he might be the highest and the closest of all.

 There is still one other hint about these heretics in Jude, a hint that also fits in with what we know about the Gnostics. In verse 19 Jude describes them as "these who set up divisions." The heretics introduce some kind of class distinctions within the fellowship of the Church. What were these distinctions?

We have seen that between man and God there stretched an infinite series of aeons. The aim of man must be to achieve contact with God. To obtain this his soul must traverse this infinite series of links between God and man. The Gnostics held that to achieve this a very special and esoteric knowledge was required. So deep was this knowledge that only very few could attain to it. The Gnostics, therefore, divided men into two classes, the pneumatikoi and the psuchikoi. The pneuma was the spirit of man, that which made him kin to God; and the pneumatikoi were the spiritual people, the people whose spirits were so highly developed and intellectual that they were able to climb the long ladder and reach God. These pneumatikoi, the Gnostics claimed, were so spiritually and intellectually equipped that they could become as good as Jesus, Irenaeus says that some of them believed that the pneumatikoi could become better than Jesus and attain direct union with God.

On the other hand, the psuche was simply the principle of physical life. All things, which live, had psuche; it was something which man shared with the animal creation and even with growing plants. The psuchikoi were ordinary people; they had physical life but their pneuma was undeveloped and they were incapable of ever gaining the intellectual wisdom, which would enable them to climb the long road to God. The pneumatikoi were a very small and select minority; the psuchikoi were the vast majority of ordinary people.

It is clear to see that this kind of belief was inevitably productive of spiritual snobbery and pride. It introduced into the church the worst kind of class distinction,

So, then, the heretics whom Jude attacks were men who denied the oneness of God and split him into an ignorant creating God and a truly spiritual God; who denied the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and saw him as only one of the links between God and man; who erected class distinctions within the church and limited fellowship with God to the intellectual few.

THE DENIAL OF THE ANGELS

(iii) It is further implied that these heretics denied and insulted the angels. It is said they "reject authority, and revile the glorious ones" (verse 8). The words "authority" and "glorious ones" describe ranks in the Jewish hierarchy of angels. Verse 9 is a reference to a story in the Assumption of Moses. It is there told that Michael was given the task of burying the body of Moses. The devil tried to stop him and claim the body. Michael made no charge against the devil and said nothing against him. He said only, "The Lord rebuke you!" If Michael, the archangel, on such an occasion said nothing against the prince of evil angels, clearly no man can speak ill of the angels. The Jewish belief in angels was very elaborate. Every nation had its protecting angel. Every person, even every child, had its angel. All the forces of nature, the wind and the sea and the fire and all the others, were under the control of angels. It could even be said, "Every blade of grass has its angel." Clearly the heretics attacked the angels. It is likely that they said that the angels were the servants of the ignorant and hostile creator God and that a Christian must have nothing to do with them. We cannot quite be sure what lies behind this, but to all their other errors the heretics added the despising of the angels; and to Jude this seemed an evil thing.

 

 

 

It is interesting that modern culture is becoming progressively indifferent to the question of truth. Jude warns about mixing error and truth. Christian truth has never been more essential than in today’s world of relativism and syncretism, and it is as vital today that Christians  “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints”, than when the words were written.

 

Conclusion

The letter of Jude has always been accepted as part of the cannon of scripture and as to the authenticity, the New Unger's Bible Dictionary states,  “Hermas, Polycarp, Athenagoras, Theophilus of Antioch, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, and Eusebius give early attestation to the authority of the book. Jude is more strongly attested than 2 Peter. This is somewhat astonishing when one considers its lack of apostolic authorship, its shortness, its polemic character, and its alleged reference to apocryphal literature. Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Augustine, Jerome, and other church Fathers maintained that Jude actually made reference to the Apocrypha. For this reason many early Fathers rejected it as authentic. Verse 9 was thought to have been a quotation from the Assumption of Moses and verses 14-15 were supposed to be taken from the book of Enoch. It is possible that Jude quoted a passage from a known uncanonical book, not by way of endorsement, but because he used this particular statement as divinely given.”[d]

 

Therefore as a part of scripture the strongly attested letter of Jude is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

 

We have broken the 25 verses of the letter into 9 section and we will examine each section in turn before drawing upon our discoveries to ascertain the lessons that may be learnt by Christians and the church of today.

 

1            Salutation (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            Doxology (24-25)

 

 

 

Salutation (1-2)

Jude 1:1  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:

Jude 1:2  Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

 

Verse 1

The customary traditions of writing are observed in the salutation made by Jude. He states whom the letter is from, whom it is to and a greeting. The way Jude introduces himself says something of the man, about his character.

 

(i) The word servant is the Greek word ‘doulous’ meaning bondservant or slave. The discovery Bible describes ‘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” (Tench); the permanent surrender of personal rights in an attitude of total submission”[e]

 

He could have called Jesus his brother or at least half brother, made claim to some special relationship with the Saviour, but Jude in all humility sees himself having only one object and one distinction in life –to be at the disposal of Jesus for service in his cause. The greatest glory, which any Christian can attain, is to be of use to Christ. (Barclay [a])

 

(ii) The brother of James. Jude was the youngest of the brothers and James was the leader of the church in Jerusalem. One 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. Jude was fulfilled and satisfied in the role in life 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 Jesus. It comes from placing our trust in the one who is able to keep us and living in the love of God as part of our everyday experience.

Jude had the right sought of pride, he was proud of being Jesus’ servant, pride the wrong sought emerges at different times, for instance:

 

Imagine you do something that is significant and good and someone else gets the credit for your idea or your action. We would say well that’s not fair, but humility would say well it wasn’t really me anyway. Remember (1 Pet 5:6) that God will raise you up at the right time.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.”

 

Like wise Jude was a man whose motives were pure, sometimes people worship God because they think he will help them with this problem, give them recognition, even promote their ministry. I am afraid that there are people in the church today who have wrong motives; they seek to build their ministry and manipulate those around them to promote them and their ministry. One of the most worrying things someone can say to you is I am building MY ministry. John the Baptist said "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.'”

 

When attempting to manipulate others or trying to build ‘MY’ ministry in a sense we are trying to be God. Jude is an example of a man who let God be God in his life. Content to live the life that God had given him to live. Jude is a man who God lifted up at the right time and is worth listening to, even though he wrote this letter 2000 years ago, his letter is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.

 

Verse 1 also tells us something of what it means to be a Christian.

a)     A Christian is called by God

b)     A Christian is loved by God

c)      A Christian is kept by Christ

 

a)The Greek word for call is ‘Kalein’ and it has three interesting usages;

1/ It is the word for summoning a person to office, to duty, to responsibility. The Christian is summoned to office, duty and responsibility in his service for Christ.

2/ It is the word summoning a person to a feast or a 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.

3/ 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 judgement seat of Christ.

 

b) A Christian is loved by God, I will say it again, 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 honour not a burden. We are also called to judgement but this justice is tempered with love and mercy.

 

c) A Christian is kept by Christ. He is the one who promises to never leave us or forsake us; he is the one who intercedes for us. The Christian is never alone not orphaned or abandoned, but always carries Christ in his everyday life as his strong tower, as his shepherd and as his friend.

 

The new International Version has a footnote, stating that the word “by” from “kept by Christ” is not in the original text and that this could be read as either “kept by Christ” or “kept in Christ” or “kept for Christ”. Any one of these statements could be justified.

 

We are kept by Christ and Jude verses 24-25 gives a sense of this. We can also see this in John 17 

 

The King James Version says “and preserved in Jesus Christ.” This being preserved or kept in Christ engenders feelings of security and safety. The verse Colossians 3:3 sets forth the sense of the Christian being safe in Christ. The idea is that we are in Christ’s hand safe and secure and that Christ’s hand is hidden, surrounded by the hands of God the Father, and we are hidden with Christ in God.

 

We are kept for Christ to be presented in his glorious presence; we are kept by him for we are safe in him. (See verses Jude 24 & 25)

 

BEFORE we leave this opening passage, William Barclay asks us to think a little more about this calling of God with which we have been called and to see something of what it means.

 

Paul speaks about being called to be an apostle (Romans 1: 1; 1 Corinthians 1: 1).

Rom 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—

 

In Greek the word is apostolos; it comes from the verb apostellein, to send out, and an apostle is therefore, one who is sent out. That is to say, the Christian is the ambassador of Christ. He is sent out into the world to speak for Christ, to act for Christ, to live for Christ. By his life he commends, or fails to commend, Christ to others.

 

I wonder how this aligns with your definition or what you think an apostle is in today’s Christian world. Obviously there are different degrees and levels of service. I am sometimes concerned with what we have made it

 

(ii) Paul speaks about being called to be saints (Romans 1: 7; 1 Corinthians I: 2).

Rom 1:7  To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

The word for saint is hagios, which is also very commonly translated holy. Its root idea is difference. The Sabbath is holy because it is different from other days; God is supremely holy because he is different from men. The Bible (Greek biblos or book) is different from other books because it is the Holy Bible. To be called to be a saint is to be called to be different. The world has its own standards and its own scale of values. The difference for the Christian is that Christ is the only standard and loyalty to Christ the only value.

 

(iii) The Christian is called according to the purpose of God (Romans 8: 28).

Rom 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

 

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. We must decide as children of God whether we will be good sons or not. God has prepared a task and a purpose for all those he calls, contentment and satisfaction is working towards the goals that God has set for our lives.

 

 

It sets before a man a great hope (Ephesians 1: 18; 4: 4).

Eph 1:18 I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

 

We have a hope that is steadfast and certain for Christian hope is faith in the future tense. J.J. Bonar said, “Bless God that there is in us resurrection life, and that there awaits us a resurrection morn!”[g]

 

We have an inheritance, a glorious inheritance for one day we will be in heaven with Jesus our saviour; our Lord and our Master; our teacher and our friend; the anointed one of God; The one and only Son who is God and who loves us. We have a destiny and a destination. Our future is secure settled and glorious in Christ Jesus

 

Someone once said, “‘Hope’ is biblical shorthand for unconditional certainty”[g]

 

Verse 2

It is 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 towards us.

 

The New Unger's Bible Dictionary defines Mercy as:

(Heb. hesed, "kindness"; Gk. eleos, "compassion"). "Mercy is a form of love determined by the state or condition of its objects. Their state is one of suffering and need, while they may be unworthy or ill-deserving. Mercy is at once the disposition of love respecting such, and the kindly ministry of love for their relief" (Miley, Systematic Theology, 1:209-10). Mercy is a Christian grace and is very strongly urged toward all men (<Matt. 5:7; 23:23; James 3:17>; etc.). [d]

 

The Mercy that we receive from God can best be expressed as his kindness and compassion in action not only to save but also as his intervention in our everyday lives.

 

The New Unger's Bible Dictionary defines Peace as:  (Heb. shalom, "peace, health"; Gk. eirene, "unity, concord"). A term used in different senses in the Scriptures. (1) Frequently with reference to outward conditions of tranquility and thus of individuals, of communities, of churches, and of nations (e.g., <Num. 6:26; 1 Sam. 7:14; 1 Kin. 4:24; Acts 9:31>). (2) Christian unity (e.g., <Eph. 4:3; 1 Thes. 5:13>). (3) In its deepest application, spiritual peace through restored relations of harmony with God (e.g., <Isa. 9:6-7; 26:3; Luke 2:14; John 14:27; Acts 10:36; Rom. 1:7; 5:1; Gal. 5:22>; etc.). [d]

 

Peace then is that quiet confidence and boldness that allows us to face life’s adversities with fortitude and a security that breeds well being and joy.

 

Love; the Greek word used here is Agape, which William Barclay defines as:

“The real meaning of agape is unconquerable benevolence. If we regard a person with agape, it means that nothing that he can do will make us seek anything but his highest good. Though he injure us and insult us, we will never feel anything but kindness towards him. That quite clearly means that this Christian love is not an emotional thing. This agape is a thing, not only of the emotions, but also of the will. It is the ability to retain unconquerable good will to the unlovely and the unlovable, towards those who do not love us, and even towards those whom we do not like. Agape is that quality of mind and heart which compels a Christian never to feel any bitterness, never to feel any desire for revenge, but always to seek the highest good of every man no matter what he may be.” [f]

 

God’s love for us is revealed in Jesus Christ and is his generosity in bestowing his favour upon us and meeting all our needs.

 

Be yours in abundance or multiplied to you = that his mercy and his peace and his love be your everyday experience as a never-ending and all sufficient supply. The idea of fullness is at the root of the word used in the passage, but it is more than that it is an ever-increasing fullness.

 

God bestows upon us his mercy, his peace and his 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 (3-4)

Jude 1:3 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.

Jude 1:4 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.

 

 

In verse 3 two phrases 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 is 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 the writers’ heart in that he would rather talk about the positive things of life, but was willing to grasp the nettle. He felt he had to write 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 as though following ever fad and fashion of the day.

 

The church today can also be charged of following the latest craze or fad. 

 

Jude tells them to “contend for the faith”; to fight for the truth but here we have to recognise that this is only a small part of what Jude is implying. James Hastings defines the word as follows:

CONTEND. -Generally, contend with in the modern sense of fight with, as Isaiah 49:25, ‘I will contend with him that Contendeth with thee’; or 'argue with,' as Acts 11:2, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, saying.'

 

But in the latter sense contend is also found without' with,' as Isaiah 57:16, ‘I will not contend for ever’ (prob. =argue with, accuse, condemn); Job 13:8, ‘will ye contend for God?' (= argue with others for God, be an advocate for God), Amos 7:4 ‘the Lord God called to contend by fire' ( =argue, and so Micah 6:1 , ‘contend thou before the mountains, and let the hills hear thy voice '). In all these passages the Hebrew is: riyb (reeb)

 

In Jude 3, ye should earnestly c. for the faith’, (epagonizomai) the meaning passes out of strife or argument into the wider sphere of earnest endeavour; as with the simple agonizomai., in Luke 13:24 , Strive to enter in at the strait gate,' and Colossians 4:12 'labouring fervently for you in prayers' (RV ' always striving for you '), and as Bacon, Essays, 'Let a man contend, to excel any Competitors of his in Honour.' [h]

 

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 agonise for the faith”. This gives quite a different perspective as to 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 and erroneous doctrine through the teaching and expounding of sound doctrine. Even if this stance should lead to death for it is better to die than to deny the truth.

2)     The second is agonising in ones own lifestyle to be obedient to the truth. Contending for the faith through personal sacrifice and discipline. For Paul could say “(2 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 says that “certain men ………….. have secretly slipped in among you”. Or “crept in unnoticed”. Does this happen in today’s church that impious men who lack respect, undutiful and ungodly in their actions are accepted. In answer to the question think how many times people gossip about their leaders slandering them, argue and cause dissent, or people who cause division or seek after their own ambitions to the detriment of others. Ask your self, “do I live up to the standard that Paul sets out in Romans?”

 

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 everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.”

 

The men that Jude talked about took the grace of God and the freedom that this brings and turned it into licence to enable themselves to indulge in sin of many kinds. They also denied the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ many groups do this today.

           

            Children of God                   deny the deity of Christ

            Christian Science                 deny the deity of Christ

            Jehovah’s Witnesses            deny the deity of Christ

            Mormons                              deny the deity of Christ

 

In his book “a Concise Guide to Today’s Religions” Josh McDowell [i] 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 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. 

 

Historical warning (5-7)

Jude 1:5 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.

Jude 1:6 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.

Jude 1:7 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.

 

Jude makes clear that what he writes is not some new innovation but truths that the people have already heard and know but are not applying in their everyday life decisions.

 

Jude gives three warnings using the example of the Israelites, Fallen Angels and Sodom and Gomorrah. To understand the first two warnings we should appreciate that these men were not enemies of Christianity or the Church but believed them selves 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 A. Blum [ j ] 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 disbelieved 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" (taus me pisteusantas ). 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 latter.

 

As to the fallen Angels, William Barclay gives this insight

The Jews had a very highly developed doctrine of angels, the servants of God. In particular the Jews believed that every nation had its presiding angel. In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures, Deuteronomy 32: 8 reads, "When the Most High divided the nations, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God." That is to say, to each nation there was an angel.

The Jews believed in a fall of the angels and much is said about this in the Book of Enoch, which is so often behind the thought of Jude. In regard to this there were two lines of tradition.

 

(i) The first saw the fall of the angels as due to pride and rebelliousness. That legend gathered especially round the name of Lucifer, the light-bringer, the son of the morning. As the Authorized Version has it, Isaiah writes, "How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!" (Isaiah 14: 12). When the seventy 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. The angels rose against God and were cast out; and Lucifer was the leader of the rebellion.

 

(ii) The second stream of tradition finds its scriptural echo in Genesis 6: 1-4. In this line of thought the angels, attracted by the beauty of mortal women, left heaven to seduce them and so sinned.”[k]

 

In this warning the Judgement against Pride and Lust. These Fallen Angels who left their post and position disregarding their responsibility are either; “kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.” Or were cast out of heaven and were to roam the earth as demonic spirits.

 

Finally Sodom and Gomorrah, it would be good to remind ourselves of the story about the two cities from Genesis 19

 

(Genesis 19:1-13)  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. 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 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) in the same way as the Angels did.

 

This final warning is a judgement against sexual immorality, perversion, lust, greed and rebellion against God’s order. The consequence of these sins is eternal fire.

 

Jude is very clear in his warnings but to the readers of his letter who were being reminded of such things the judgements of history must have been compelling.

 

Let us list the again what the warnings were against: Unbelief; pride; lust; greed; sexual immorality; perversions; rebellion.

 

Corporate wickedness

It is interesting to note that although individuals sinned that the judgements were against groups of people, a nation and cities.

 

I wonder if you looked at your town or city, would you find unbelief or pride or lust or greed or sexual immorality or perversions or rebellion against God’s order. I guess you would, so why doesn’t God destroy your town or my town. I think Jesus gives us the answer when he said, “You are the salt of the earth.” You are a preservative of your community.

 

 

The False teachers (8-11)

Jude 1:8  In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings.

Jude 1:9  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 1:10  Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals--these are the very things that destroy them.

Jude 1:11  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.

 

In verse 8 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”). 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 (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, for leaders lead for and on behalf of Jesus himself and must give an account to their Master. 

 

They slander celestial beings is the charge brought here, to understand this we must look at the words ‘slander’ and ‘celestial beings’.

 

The word slander may be defined as: 1 Libel; malicious lies; calumny. 2.  Law Oral defamation.   Verb. To utter maliciously a false report concerning someone [ l ]

 

The words translated in the NIV “celestial beings” is defined by W. E. Vine as:

“ ‘doxa’  primarily denotes "an opinion, estimation, repute"; in the NT, always "good opinion, praise, honor, glory, an appearance commanding respect, magnificence, excellence, manifestation of glory"; hence, of angelic powers, in respect of their state as commanding recognition, "dignities," <2 Pet. 2:10; Jude 8>.” [ m ]

 

In this then these men were slandering angels; Jude contrasts their arrogance with the behaviour of the archangel Michael. Who when challenging Satan himself would not speak arrogantly, but used scripture.

 

(Zechariah 3:1-5)  “Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?" Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel. The angel said to those who were standing before him, "Take off his filthy clothes." Then he said to Joshua, "See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you." Then I said, "Put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the LORD stood by.”

 

These men belittle and criticise things that they do not understand, anything outside of their experience they discard as worthless and irrelevant. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians 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.

 

William Barclay says “The tragedy is that no man is born without a sense of spiritual things but can lose that sense until for him the spiritual things cease to exist. A man may lose any faculty, if he refuses to use it.”

 

Individual wickedness

We see here individuals who are chosen out as examples, again three, and Jude pronounces “Woe” over these men just as Jesus did to the Scribes and Pharisees (Matthew 23:13). This is a warning to the false teachers by taking from the Old Testament the three characters Cain, Korah and Balaam whom the Gnostic sect called Ophites regarded as great heroes. Jude uses them as tragic and terrible examples of sin.

 

Cain, the world’s first murderer, is seen by many Hebrew thinkers as a cynical, materialistic unbeliever who didn’t believe in God or in the moral order of the world and therefore did exactly as he liked.

 

Balaam is found in Numbers chapters 22, 23, and 24. He was the prototype of all greedy, money-orientated ministries and, as Balak tried to bribe him to curse the Israelites, it is clear it was only his fear of what God would do to him that stopped him striking a deal with Balak. In Numbers 25 we read that the Israelites were seduced into worshipping Baal at a place called Peor and that the Lord’s anger burnt against them. It is in Numbers 31:16 that we read it was Balaam who advised the Israelites at Peor.  “They 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 be a covetous false teacher that led others in sin.

 

 

(Revelation 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.”

 

 

 

Korah, 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 and to function as a priest and minister before the alter of God and incited others to follow him. Their argument or case was as follows:

1/ you are no better than anyone else;

2/ everyone in Israel has been chosen of the LORD;

3/ we don't need to obey you, I can do this.

 

It is amazing to see how Korah twisted the first two statements - both true - to reach the wrong conclusion with devastating effect (see the study on the Tabernacle). The altar was the place of sacrifice, and as Christians it is a place 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 men with defying the legitimate authority in the church, and of therefore preferring to go their own way rather than God’s. Barclay says “We should remember that if we take certain things which pride incites us to take the consequences can be disastrous”

 

These three men were unbelievers but there are Christians who demonstrate similar traits. Let us pause for a moment and think:

 

Cain didn’t believe in God’s order for the world and therefore did exactly as he liked 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 like.

 

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 and culture do not recognise the need or the benefits of living in submission, but rather promotes a humanistic, throwaway culture where the cry is hear “I have rights” and “I can do what I want”

(Romans 8:7; 10:3; 13:1; 13:5; 1 Corinthians 16:16; Ephesians 5:21; 5:22; 5:24 Colossians 2:20; 3:18; Hebrews 12:9; 13:17; James 4:7; 1 Peter 2:13; 2:18)

 

Humanism and human rights is not the panacea that will solve the present state human beings now find themselves in. I have included two quotes about humanism that sums up my thoughts.

 

“Christians need to recognise the solemn fact that humanism is not an ally in making the world a better place in which we live. It is the deadly enemy, for it is a religion without God and without hope in this world or the next” (L. Nelson Bell) [n]

 

“Humanism is not wrong in its cry for sociological healing, but humanism is not producing it” (Francis Schaeffer) [n]

 

Balaam was a covetous false teacher that led others in sin. There are Christians whose motives for worshipping God are wrong. They are tempted by money, status and position.  The mother of James and John is seen to be worshipping Jesus so that status and position is won for her sons.

 

Mat 20:20-21 Then the mother of Zebedee's sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favour of him. "What is it you want?" he asked. She said, "Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom." The KJV says in verse 20, ” Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.”

 

We have heard of men building their ministries, and making relationships that best serve themselves. They worship Jesus, why? Is it because of who Jesus is or is it to build their own ministry?

John the Baptist teaches us aright when he said “(John 3:27-30) To this John replied, "A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, 'I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.' The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom's voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.”

In answer to the question

John 3:26  They came to John and said to him, "Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan--the one you testified about--well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him."

 

Korah was a man who led his own family to death and 249 others through false doctrine. He wanted to function as a priest and did not recognise 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 often hear people say “God said” and although it is recognised that we all make mistakes, often what God says aligns more with the desires and wants of the speaker than with the will and purposes of God. In this area, for our own protection, we must take on board what John the Baptist said “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven”.

 

Jesus said in the parable of the talents

(Matthew 25:15)  “To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability.”

 

Paul put it this way as he lists examples of gifting in Romans 12:6  “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. ……, let him use it in proportion to his faith.

 

God has given each believer abilities, a sphere of grace, and a portion of faith. Each of us must move within the boundaries set in our ministries, which are the limitations of our abilities, the sphere of grace given us and in proportion to our faith. 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 the most dreadful of things.

 

 

Blemish in the church (12-13)

Jude 1:12 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.

Jude 1:13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

Again it is important to remember that Jude is speaking of unbelievers and gives an interesting insight into the nature of such men.

 

Jude says almost in amazement they eat with you without the slightest qualm. The Love Feast or Agape is a feast and the Lord’s Supper celebrated together. In this communal feast people bring what they can and share 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.

 

Was Jude’s amazement caused by the audacity of the false teachers or was it that the Love feast had become a place for libertines. William Barclay translates this first statement as: “These people are hidden rocks which threaten to wreck your Love Feast”. It is true that bad company affects the spirit.

 

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, blown along by the wind. They offer no refreshing for the soul to help a man on his life’s journey. In fact they treat people falsely.

No refreshing

 

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.

The term twice dead talks of Hell and what awaits these unbelieving false teachers.

Revelation 20:14  “The Lake of fire is the second death.”

 

4/ They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; They have no shame and can only distract a man on his life’s journey, because they themselves are lost.

No shame

 

They are wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. They offer no fix or direction for the soul of a man to help him on his life’s journey.

The blackest darkness talks of the separation in Hell and that awaits these unbelieving false teachers.

 

 

Enoch’s prophesy (14-16)

Jude 1:14  Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones

Jude 1:15  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 1:16  These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

 

 

Jude reminds his readers with a passage from the book of Enoch that judgement will come. Do not be concerned that Jude quotes from a non-canonical book; he does not describe the quotation as scripture but speaks to men in a language that they will understand.

 

He 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.

 

Edwin A. Blum in the expositors Bible commentary describes those at the sharp end of Jude’s attack as follows:

Verse 16 completes Jude's denunciation of the false teachers as "grumblers" (gon- gystai). In I Corinthians 10:10 the related verb gongyzo is used by Paul of the rebels in the wilderness (cf. LXX Exodus 16-17; Numbers 14-17; cf. also TNDT, 1:728-37). Jude also calls the false teachers "faultfinders" (mempsimoiroi ), a term that underlines their critical attitude and habitual complaining. (Both gongystai and mempsimoiroi occur only here in the NT.) "They follow their own evil desires" might be translated "they live by their passions. " "They boast about themselves" is literally "and their mouth speaks haughty [or bombastic] words," which reminds one of Antiochus Epiphanes (cf. Dan 7:8-11; 11:36). "Flatter others for their own advantage" reinforces Jude's stress on the venality of the false teachers. Here the literal sense of the Greek text ("honoring faces for the sake of advantage") is highly picturesque. [o]

 

 

This ends the denunciation of the false teachers and now Jude turns to those who believe calling them “dear friends” and encouraging them to remain strong in the faith.

 

Apostolic teaching (17-19)

Jude 1:17  But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold.

Jude 1:18  They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires."

Jude 1:19  These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

 

Jude tells the believers that what he is saying is not new if fact the apostles prophesied that this would happen. In fact, Paul in the synagogue at Pisidian Antioch explains:

 

“Acts 13:41  '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.'"

 

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 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-centredness.

 

Exhortation to believers (20-23)

Jude 1:20 But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.

Jude 1:21 Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Jude 1:22 Be merciful to those who doubt;

Jude 1:23 snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear--hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

 

 

Urges and 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 talking of the Faith says:

“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 worshippers, 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. (a) It is different from other faiths and from philosophies in that it is not man-made but God-given, not opinion but revelation, not guessing but certainty. (b) 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.”

 

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 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.

a] 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.

 

b] Praying in the Holy Spirit or praying in tongues.

 

Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:14-15 (NKJ) states:

“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 in 1 Corinthians 14:4  “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself”

 

The latter 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 its 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.

 

John 14:23 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.

John 14:24 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.

 

4. The faithful should be focussed 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 building, praying, keeping and looking are the four walls of the impregnable fortress for the believer, enabling him to withstand life’s adversities and the enemy’s tactics.

 

Now Jude turns to the work of the believer, 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 look at the mercy shown to us when we were lost God loved us and was merciful toward us. Through acts of love, through teaching, prayer and generosity of spirit these wavering doubters can become pillars of the faith.

 

2. Those who are near:

Near to sin or near to death, I feel Jude is thinking of those who can be snatch from the fire, maybe those who are close to salvation but unsaved. Through acts of love, through teaching, prayer and generosity of spirit these who are close might be saved.

 

Those who are other than the above:

These and the unsaved, 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 lifestyle. Jude says, “to others show mercy, mixed with fear--hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” This can be summed up in with the phrase “love the sinner but hate the sin”. Through acts of love, through teaching, prayer and generosity of spirit these who are far off may be drawn near.

 

Doxology (24-25)

Jude 1:24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy--

Jude 1:25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

 

William Barclay presents a very revealing insight into Jude’s last words and I have included them for you to feast upon in your personal studies of the word of God.

 

“JUDE comes to an end with a tremendous ascription 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. 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. He is the God whose grace no man has ever exhausted and on whom no claim can ever be too much. .

Here Jude offers his praise to the God who is able. .

(i) God is able to keep us from slipping. The word is aptaistos. It is used both of a sure-footed horse, which does not stumble, and of a man who does not fall into error. He will not let your foot be moved," or as the Scottish metrical version has it, "Thy foot he'll not let slide" (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. Even so, when we bind ourselves to God, he keeps us safe.

(ii) He can make us stand blameless in the presence of his glory. The word for blameless is amiimos. This is characteristically a sacrificial word; and it 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.

(iii) He can bring us into his presence exultant. Surely the natural way to think of entry into the presence of God is in fear and in 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.

We note one last thing. Usually we associate the word Saviour with Jesus Christ, but here Jude attaches it to God. He is not alone in this, for God is often called Saviour in the New Testament (Luke I: 47; I Timothy I: I; 2: 3; 4: 10; Titus I: 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 Saviour. 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. The love of God is at once the atmosphere and the goal of all his living.” [p]

 

 Conclusion

It is difficult to believe that 25 verses have become over 25 pages as I have ineptly tried to explain what was burning in Jude’s heart so strongly that caused him to write with such urgency.

 

Each turn of phrase reveals the passion Jude felt for the church and for his fellow Christians. There is so much for us to learn and apply to our lives and in the life of our churches, but just think if every member of a local church burnt with the passion and zeal shown by Jude, I wonder what city or town could resist.

 

We look at the lessons for the lives of individuals and for the life of the local church.

I am sure that we could all bring a different emphasis or take a different life lesson from the text as the Holy Spirit speaks to us and each could be as valid as the next. 

Lessons for life or Practical tips from Jude

As you have been through the study God would have revealed tips for you by the Holy Spirit that will enrich you life. Here are 3 areas that are important for all believers:

1/ Keep with your boundaries

The biggest danger to the spiritual life of the believer is to move outside of and beyond what God has for us. This can generally be seen in two ways:

a) Outside the church

God’s plan to save each generation has been the local church. The local church is the manifestation of God’s purpose and goal. While it is true to say that going to church does not make one a Christian, the Christian lifestyle is certainly endangered by non-attendance. It is also true to say that when gifting is not recognised and utilised within the church, there is often Para-church organisations that accept people on the basis of their gifting while ignoring their character. Most people genuinely want to be in what God is doing in today’s generation and local church is God’s plan, purpose and goal for every generation. A people called by and separated to God.

 

b) Beyond that which God has endowed us

God has given each of us abilities, a sphere of grace, and a portion of faith within which to operate and minister and we endanger others and ourselves when we go beyond what he has given us. It is easy to identify if someone has the ability to sing or play a musical instrument by the noise that is created, the lack of harmony. It is also clear when someone moves beyond the sphere of grace that God has given that person. We see with Korah that there was no recognition by God or the local leadership for him to function as a priest, and yet his ambition compelled him. God always proves and approves the ministries he has called and this is recognised by a godly local leadership. Moving beyond the portion of faith that God has given us is to minister in the flesh and not in the Spirit.

 

Rom 12:4 - 6 Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith.

 

2/ Be willing to contend for the faith as an individual.

Many people use this passage as a reason to vent their own grievances and to pass judgment on others. They are critical of others to the point of obsession, only their cronies and they are beyond criticism. Yet this destructive nature and these attacks on the body of Christ come from a misunderstanding of what Jude is expressing and a reduced revelation of God’s grace.

 

Rom 14:1-5 “Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters. One man's faith allows him to eat everything, but another man, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. Who are you to judge someone else's servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind.”

 

Jude asks us to earnestly agonise for the faith. Opposing false and erroneous doctrine through the teaching and expounding of sound doctrine. Even if this stance should lead to death for it is better to die than to deny the truth. He demands that we stand for truth by expounding the truth, not by criticising and slurring those with whom we disagree.

 

The secondly and more importantly is to agonise over ones own lifestyle and to be obedient to the truth. Contending for the faith through personal sacrifice and discipline. A friend asked for my advice he said that ‘The minister of his church did not understand this area of doctrine was in error and that he intended to go and see his minister and tell him he was wrong”

 

My question was “before you criticise your minister are you ready to die for this point of doctrine”? If yes, then go and see him but if you cannot resolve the matter to your mutual satisfaction then you must leave the church. If no, then should go and see your minister and ask him to explain this point of doctrine so that you may understand.

 

A quick test is to ask, “do I love those with whom I disagree with the love expressed in 1 Corinthians 13?” If no then it is time to agonise for the faith in your life through personal sacrifice and discipline.

 

3/ TRUST and OBEY. In the words of the of the Hymn writer ‘J. H. Sammis,

 

            Then in Fellowship sweet,

            We will sit at His feet,

            Or we’ll walk by His side in the way,

            What He say we will do,

            Where He sends we will go,

            Never fear, only trust and obey

 

            Trust and obey! For there’s no other way

            To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey

 

To trust and to be obedient are closely related. It is easier to obey someone we trust, especially in the important things of life. People may say, “Yes we trust and obey Jesus”, but the question has to be asked, how is this worked out.

 

 The question may be how can we trust and obey God, who we can’t see, when we struggle to trust and obey those that God has placed over us in the local church.

 

John gives an example of this principle:

1 John 4:16 - 21 And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.

 

Trusting is worked out in our relationships with people and obeying again is worked out in relationships within clear boundaries of responsibility and accountability.

 

My advice from Jude’s teaching for every believer is to be ever building, praying, keeping and looking.

 

What does this say to the church of today?

There are so many things that are implied by Jude in his letter, that they are too numerous to mention. I have listed three areas that should be investigated

 

1. Discernment

False teachers abounded in New Testament times and so they do today, I guess there have always been perpetrators of falsehoods, people who teach or say things for there own personal gain. It is important for the local church to have gained a level of skill or ability or gifting to discern what a thing is and from whence it comes.

 

Deuteronomy 32:28 They are a nation without sense, there is no discernment in them.

 

The ability or skill to discern whether something, some teaching or some call to action is valid or sound, whether it is morally, legally and spiritually acceptable within the responsibilities, principles and commands that God gives us, is vital for the well-being of the church. It is important, therefore, that when someone teaches or preaches or speaks or acts on behalf of the church or Christ that these things are weighed. 

 

Prov 3:21 My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment, do not let them out of your sight;

Prov 3:22 they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck.

Prov 3:23 Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble;

Prov 3:24 when you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

 

Proverbs says do not let sound judgement and discernment out of your sight. This is particularly important when a church is introduced to some new fad, fashion, model or way forward. The verses imply “Son (you) preserve…., which would suggest that these abilities or skills are lost with disuse.

 

Yet we must be careful in the application of such abilities, skills and gifting, for to do anything without love is to do nothing. A little saying I like is:

 

In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty and in all charity

 

Sometimes in areas of doctrine we should charitably refuse the teaching but allow the other person to be wrong. For it is always easy to destroy a thing than to build it.

 

2. Unity

When facing many foes as we do today it is better for the church as a whole to be facing a common foe. This can only come through unity, but unity is more than common agreement, Ananias and Sapphira agreed together but I am not sure it was the kind of togetherness (unity) that God blesses. Psalm 133 is often quoted when unity is mentioned and I will not divert from this tradition.

 

Psa 133:1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!

Psa 133:2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron's beard, down upon the collar of his robes.

Psa 133:3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.

 

C. H. Spurgeon in the Treasury of David writes, “ By the anointing, Aaron became consecrated, and officially qualified to act as a priest. By unity the Church as a whole, lives its life of consecration, and effectively ministers in the priesthood assigned it. The oil was diffusive; it rested not on Aaron’s head, but flowed down to the skirts of his garments. Unity will, in time, make its way from the few to the whole, especially from the leaders in a church to the rest of its members. Hence, it is a personal matter. Each should realise it, and by love and wise conduct diffuse it” [q]

 

As we look further at the psalm we recognise the role of the high priest and leadership in general reflected in the illustration. True unity is togetherness, agreement together under Godly leadership.

 

3. Love expressed in faith

Love is not a passive word, it is a verb a doing word full of passion and zeal. Therefore love needs and must be expressed before it can become love.

 

It is easy to love those who love and appreciate us, it is easy to get along with people who show acts of kindness and generosity toward us. Love it can be said has many layers:

 

  1. Love towards God expressed in acts of faithful obedience.
  2. Love towards those who are of the church expressed in faithful generosity and kindness
  3. Love towards those who are lost expressed in the faithful preaching of the gospel

 

To close any study of Jude we must use Jude’s own closing words:

 

To him who is able to keep you from falling 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.

 

 

References

[a] William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible, The Letters of John and Jude, St Andrews Press, Edinburgh, 1987, Page 157

 

[b] Charles F. Pfeiffer et al, Wycliffe Bible Encyclopaedia, Moody Press, Chicago, 1983, page 966.               

 

[c] William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible, The Letters of John and Jude, St Andrews Press, Edinburgh, 1987, Page 160f

 

[d] New Unger's Bible Dictionary originally published by Moody Press of Chicago, Illinois.  Copyright (C) 1988. (electronic version)

 

[e] Gary Hill, The Discovery Bible reference edition, Moody Press, Chicago, 1987, pages 542-543

 

[f] William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible; Galatians & Ephesians, St Andrews Press, Edinburgh, 1981, page 140.

 

[g] John Blanchard, Gathered Gold, Evangelical Press, Welwyn, 1985, page 152

 

[h] James Hastings, A Dictionary of the Bible, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1905, page 476

 

[i] Josh McDowell & Don Stewart, A Concise Guide to Today’s Religions, Scripture Press Foundation, Amersham-on-the-Hill, 1995, page 22

 

[ j ] Frank E. Gaebelein et al, The Expositors Bible Commentary Volume 12, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, 1981, page 389.

 

[k] William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible, The Letters of John and Jude, St Andrews Press, Edinburgh, 1987, page 183

 

[ l ] Charles P. Chasey, Words: The New Dictionary, Spring Books, London

 

[ m ] W. E. Vine, Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Thomas Nelson Publishers, electronic version, 1985.

 

[n] John Blanchard, Gathered Gold, Evangelical Press, Welwyn, 1985, page 153

 

[o] Frank E. Gaebelein et al, The Expositors Bible Commentary Volume 12, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, 1981, page 393.

 

[p] William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible, The Letters of John and Jude, St Andrews Press, Edinburgh, 1987, pages 206 & 207.

 

[q] C. H. Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Passmore and Alabaster, London, 1893

 

 

Bibliography

William Barclay, The Daily Study Bible, The Letters of John and Jude, St Andrews Press, Edinburgh, 1987

 

Frank E. Gaebelein et al, The Expositors Bible Commentary Volume 12, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, 1981

 

Josh McDowell & Don Stewart, A Concise Guide to Today’s Religions, Scripture Press Foundation, Amersham-on-the-Hill, 1995

 

James Hastings, A Dictionary of the Bible, T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1905

 

Gary Hill, The Discovery Bible reference edition, Moody Press, Chicago, 1987

 

Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Moody Press, Chicago, 1983

 

The Comparative Study Bible, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, 1986

 

F. Davidson, The New Bible Commentary, The Inter-Varsity Fellowship, London, 1955

 

The Student’s Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, Chas. J. Thynne & Jarvis, London

 

G. C. D. Howley et al, The Pickering Bible Commentary for Today, Pickering and Inglis, London 1980

 

Alfred Marshall, The NASB – NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, 1987