Download This  Study For Free!


Please feel free to Download this study.


JUDE

WHAT TO DO WHEN THE CHURCH GETS OFF-TRACK:
CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH!

by LARRY CORY

 

A SUMMARY OF THE MESSAGE OF
JUDE

 

Introduction: the solid roots of our faith (1,2)

1. The man Jude is solidly rooted in the faith (1a)

2. Those Jude writes to are solidly rooted in the faith (1b)

The need to struggle for the faith (3)

The false teachers-enemies of the faith (4-16)

1. Their deceptive tactics (4a)

2. Their perverse goal (4b)

3. Their certain condemnation (5-7)

4. Their ungodly evil (8-16)

Our struggle against the enemies of the faith (17-25)

1. The reason for our struggle (17-19)

2. Our source of strength during the struggle (20-21)

3. Our strategy in the struggle (22-23)

4. Our stronghold in the struggle (the closing doxology) (24-25)

 

INTRODUCTORY INFORMATION ABOUT THE BOOK OF JUDE

1. The author: He names himself in the first verse as Jude the brother of James.  Conservative scholars believe that he was the brother of the very James who was also the brother of Jesus, and who was also one of the most prominent leaders in the early church.  This would mean that the Jude who wrote the book of Jude was also one of the brothers of Jesus.  Here is some of the evidence that supports the argument that the author of the book of Jude was the Jude who was a brother of James and a brother of Jesus: (1) He was not the Apostle Judas (See Luke 6:16), for in verse seventeen he speaks of the Apostles and does not include himself as being one of them.  (2) In the time of the early church, people would refer to themselves as a son of someone, rather than as a brother of someone.  It seems likely that for him to refer to himself as being the brother of James, it would have been necessary for him to be the brother of a James who was well-known to his readers like the James who was the brother of Jesus and a leader of the church at Jerusalem.  See James 1:1, Galatians 1:19, 2:9, I Corinthians 5:7  (3) Jesus did have brothers by the names of James and Judas.  See Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55  (4) The early Christian leader, Clement of Alexandria believed that the writer of Jude was Jude the brother of Jesus.  (5) Also, it is more likely that the book of Jude was written by a Jude who was within the inner circle of the early church, than that it was written by some obscure Jude.  Jude the brother of Jesus and the brother of James both were in that inner circle.  Jude being in this inner circle would help explain why his book was accepted as part of God's Word by the first church and by the church of the first few centuries.

2. The book:  We know little about the book of Jude apart from what is found within the book itself.  From the book we can conclude that Jude wrote the book to a group of Christians who had become his friends (3,18,20) and who were being threatened by false teachers (3,4,12,16,19).  But, it is not primarily important to us today who he wrote the letter to.  For we can be certain that it is a letter that was written for the church of all time.  It was written to provide us with guidance on how to contend and battle for sound doctrine against those who would replace it with error!

If you were waiting in line at your local supermarket and someone came in all excited and said they had found gold just a short distance outside of town, what would probably happen in that store?  I will allow you to answer that question in your own imagination.  I asked that question in a class some time ago, and one fellow answered that it would not be long before the valley that we lived in would be a deeper valley.  You have entered into a study I call "Digging for Gold."  There is gold in the Bible.  For those who are searching to understand God and His ways, the Bible is filled with spiritual gold.   In Proverbs 2:4, Solomon says, "if you look for it [understanding and insight] as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God."  Then in Proverbs 3:14, Solomon says that this insight and understanding "is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold."

    It is obvious that most people do not realize the value of the gold in the Bible, for we do not see people get as excited about spiritual gold as they get about physical gold.  What would happen if someone came into that same supermarket and yelled that there is gold in the Bible?  There is gold in the Bible and the gold is infinitely more valuable than the gold of this world.  To find this gold, like finding gold ore, we also need to dig for it.

    You are beginning a "Digging for Gold" Bible study.  It was not designed to be easy.  As my wife often says, it is not for those who want to be "spoon fed."  You will need to do some real thinking.  But unlike digging for gold ore, God Himself promises you that your work will always be rewarded with insight about His ways and a knowledge of Him that will make your efforts well worth it.

    You will be asked, after reading a portion of the Bible, to make your best attempt to answer some "Thought Questions."  Then, you will be asked to look over the notes that I have made after my own digging for gold in that part of the Bible.  I had an advantage over you, for I have benefited from the digging for gold that was made by God's servants whom I have come to admire.  These servants of God have expertise in one or more of the following areas: they are experts in the original languages, in historical knowledge, in knowledge about a particular book, in the spiritual walk, in an overall knowledge of the Bible, and in their ability to practically apply the Bible to our lives.  You will find that I will, at times, quote from these servants of God when I believe that what they have to say is said so well that I want you to benefit from their exact words.  Though I have benefited from the thoughts and insights of many people, what I have written are my own personal conclusions.  I hope that you will do just as I have done.  I hope that you will benefit from what is contained in the "Digging for Gold" studies.  But I also hope that you will come to your own conclusions about what God wants you to learn from His book.  I urge you to work hard in the digging and may you also enjoy the GOLD!

Read the book of Jude on your own.  As you read, look for your answers to the following "Thought Questions:"  (If you have a Study Bible, you may also want to look at the notes in this Bible)

1. What is the overall theme of the book?

 

 

2. Who is the author of the book?

 

 

Who was the book written to?

 

 

When was the book written?

 

 

Why was the book written?

 

Now, please read the INTRODUCTION TO THE DIGGING FOR GOLD SERIES, and then read my "SUMMARY OF THE MESSAGE OF JUDE," my "Introductory Information about the Book of Jude," and the introductory paragraphs to the book of Jude."  Then, you will be ready to go on to the next "thought questions."

 

THE MESSAGE OF JUDE

There are many things that we need to contend for or hold on to.  If we do not contend for our lawns and gardens, the weeds will take over.  If we do not contend for law and order, crime and disorder will take over.  Also, we as Christians need to contend for the faith, so that all types of error will not take over the church.  Sadly, errors, like weeds, are constantly taking root in the church.  If we do nothing, error will take over the church in the same way as weeds take over our lawns.

Error has been working its way into the church ever since Jesus began the church.  Jesus dealt with the errors of the Pharisees.  Many of Paul's letters were written to head off serious doctrinal errors which were beginning to take root in the apostolic church.  The theme of the book of Jude is found in verse three:  "I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints."

Roman Catholicism with all of its unbiblical practices is one example of what can take place when the weeds of false doctrine are allowed to take root and grow within the church.  We also need to contend for the faith against the many false teachers and false teachings that threaten the church today.  To do nothing is to invite and allow false teaching to enter the church unchallenged.  Jude did not allow false teaching to enter the church of his time without a battle.  Nor should we allow false teaching to have its way in the church which we watch over.

When a boat begins to drift away from a pier, the best solution is for someone who is still on the pier to throw a rope to those in the boat, so that the person on the pier can pull the boat back to the pier.  When a church begins to drift away from the truth, we need someone who is still standing firmly on the church's historic and apostolic pier to throw us a rope, so he can pull us back to our ancient and Biblical mooring.  Jude, in the very first two verses, describes the church's pier.  Or, to use another metaphor, he describes his roots in the faith and their roots in the faith,  These roots are the basis for all Christian growth and stability in the faith.  As he begins to challenge the false teachers, he can do so with confidence, for he and they are firm and confident in his and their relationship with God.

 

INTRODUCTION: THE SOLID ROOTS OF OUR FAITH (1-2)

1. The man Jude is solidly rooted in the faith. (1a)

"Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James."

Thought Question: Since Jude is the brother of James who wrote the book of James, he has an unusual relationship with Jesus Christ.  What is it?  Why do you think that he does not mention his unusual relationship with Jesus Christ in the introduction of this letter?

 

 

Jude describes himself as a "servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James."  As we will see, Jude was firmly rooted in the faith.

a. A servant of Jesus Christ

He could have told those he was writing to that he was a brother of Jesus Christ.  If he had called himself the brother of Jesus Christ, he would not have been lying, for he was the Lord's half-brother---the son of Mary who was the mother of Jesus.  But, instead, he calls himself the servant of Jesus Christ.  True faith in Jesus Christ always results in service to Jesus Christ.  Jude had at first not even believed that his half-brother was the Son of God.  "For even his own brothers did not believe in him."  (John 7:5)  See also Mark 3:21  But, later, Jude believed that Jesus was the Son of God and he became a servant of the One he at first did not believe in.

b. A brother of James

Today, the brother of a famous person often loses his individual identity, and comes to be thought of as "the brother of ________."  Jude apparently did not resent that his well-known brother James was outshining him.  Instead, he uses this title to show those he was writing to, that James his brother and he were solidly rooted in the church and were part of those who had originally been receivers of the Gospel message and the teachings of the faith.  He was rooted in "the faith," as he says in verse three, "that was once for all entrusted to the saints."  Would we not also feel secure if the one who was teaching us about the faith was one of  the half-brothers of Jesus Christ?

2. The recipients of Jude's letter are also rooted in the faith. (1b)

"To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ."

Thought Question:  How would Jude's description of the Christians of his day help you if you received a letter from a prominent Christian and he described you like Jude described them?  Read Jude's words as if it were addressed to you.

 

 

Not only was Jude well rooted in the faith, so the readers of his letter were also solidly rooted in the faith.  For as Jude states, they were "called," "loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ."  So, when they are attacked by false teachers, they can be confident that they will not be swept away, for God is holding on to them.

a. They are "called."

We sometimes say that we believe that a particular person has been called by God.  Some of us have had the anxious experience when we were a child of standing in front of two team captains who were choosing their teams for a baseball game, basketball game, or another game.  The captains looked over the group and then chose or called one person to be on his or her team.  Finally, one of them looked at you and said, "I'll take him" or "I'll take her."  At that point, you were called to be on that team.  Every Christian has been looked at by God and has been called to be a member of His team.  Notice that it is not you and I climbing up to God, but God calling us up to be with Him!  We who are Christians can be confident that we will not be torn away from God, for it is He who has called us.  He wants us to be part of His family.  We are called!

b. They are "loved by God the Father."

In John 17:23, Jesus prays these words to the Father about the church:  "May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."  How much are we loved by God the Father?  He loves us as much as He loves His Son!  This is not an insecure place that we who are Christians find ourselves in.  We are loved by God.  These early Christians who received Jude's letter were secure in God's love.

c. They are "kept by Jesus Christ."

Notice in verse 21, that they were to keep themselves in God's love.  We can be kept by God, yet we are to keep ourselves in God's love.  Now, which one is it, are we kept by Jesus Christ or are we to keep ourselves in God's love?  Throughout the Bible we find apparent contradictions.  God does it, yet we are to do it.  "Work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose."  We are kept by God, yet we are to work at keeping ourselves in God's love.  But, it is because we are kept by God that we are able to keep ourselves in God's love.  God loves us, yet we are to seek to experience a life of enjoying and trusting in His love. 

3. The basis for Christian growth and stability in the faith (2)

"Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance."

Thought Question:  What does it mean to you to have what is contained in each of these three words---mercy, peace, and love---in abundance?  Thoughtfully consider each word.

 

 

We who are Christians all have one thing in common; we have received mercy, peace, and love from God.  We were separated from God, but now through the mercy and love of God, we have peace with God.  Jude desires that his readers will experience God's "mercy, peace, and love in abundance"!  But, there were those within the church of Jude's time (and those with the church of our time) who were seeking to alter the message of the Bible about God's mercy, love, and peace.  Let's look at what it means to have each of these blessings from God in abundance.

a. Mercy in abundance

We have received mercy when we do not get the punishment or consequences we deserve.  We receive mercy in abundance when we continue to receive mercy no matter how great our sin or how often we sin.  We need mercy in abundance!

b. Peace in abundance

When do we feel at peace?  We only feel truly at peace when we know we are accepted by God and cared for by God.  Also, we can only be secure in this peace when we are certain that we have His acceptance and care even though we do not in any way deserve it.

c. Love in abundance

Finally, Jude desires that they will experience God's love in abundance.  When are we the most secure?  We are most secure when we know that we are loved.  And there is only one love that gives us total security.  That is God's love.  Jude desires that they will experience God's mercy, peace, and love in abundance.

THE NEED TO STRUGGLE FOR THE FAITH (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."

Thought Question #1:  What is "the faith" that we are to contend for?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why are the words "once for all entrusted to the saints" important to each of us today?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  Why do we need to "contend" for "the faith"?

 

 

Jude says the following to these Christians he is writing to:  "Dear friends, although I was eager to write to you about the salvation we share. . . "Both, Jude and his readers are well rooted in the very same faith.  So, next, he tells them why he needed to write the letter:  "I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints."  Jude could not sit back and do nothing when the faith that was entrusted to him and other Christians was being threatened.  What does Jude mean by "the faith"?  It is more than just the act of believing in God; it is what we are putting our faith in.

There is a difference between faith and "the faith."  "The faith" is Christian doctrine about God-for example, our Christian belief that He is three Persons, yet One God ( false faith: a belief in doctrines that state that there are many gods or that god is impersonal like Mother Nature)"The faith" is Christian doctrine about Jesus Christ-our Christian beliefs that He is God (false faith: a belief that Jesus was just a great man); that Jesus was born of a virgin (false faith: that He is a myth); that He died for our sins (false faith: that He died a martyr's death to give us a good example); and that He rose from the dead (false faith: that He swooned and was revived).  "The faith" is Christian doctrine about how we become Christians and receive eternal life by faith as a gift (false faith: that we earn salvation by obeying the Ten Commandments).

When any of the false teachings that have been mentioned that change the Gospel and change what the Bible teaches begin to enter the church, can we sit back and do nothing?  Jude could not!  "I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith."  This is why we must struggle for the faith.  We should not be willing to bear any changes that false teachers bring in to alter the Gospel message and the truths that God has given to us once for all, for he has entrusted them to us for our safe keeping.  We are those who are responsible to watch over and protect the most precious possession of man: God's message about who He is and how we can know Him forever.  See Acts 14:22, 16:5; I Corinthians 16:13; and I Timothy 3:9, 5:8 for other examples of a use of the term "the faith."

Let us look at the words: "once for all."  A question that is often asked or thought is, "How can I know which church is right?"  There are so many different churches with so many different beliefs.  There is a party game called "Gossip" which is an excellent way to illustrate how we can find the truth.  When this game is played at a party someone writes down on a piece of paper a detailed description of some event in his or her life.  Then he or she whispers it to a person next to him or her.  That person whispers it to the person next to him or her.  That person whispers it to the next person, and so on, from person to person around a circle of people in a room.  You can discover by asking various persons in the circle that there have now become many variations, and often humorous variations, of what was originally transmitted to the first person in the circle.  How can someone find out which version is right?  That person can go back to what was written on the piece of paper.  How can we know which church is right?  We can go back to the faith that was "once for all" given to the church and is written in the Bible.

It was the faith that was "entrusted to the saints."  Philosophy is what we are able to discover and come up with on our own.  "The faith" is "entrusted" to us.  We are not the creator of the faith, but God has given it to us and "entrusted" us with it.

Next, what is meant by "contending for the faith"?  The Greek word that is translated "contend" is the word from which we get our word "agonize."  In Jude's time it was used to describe a strenuous struggle to defeat an opponent in an athletic event such as wrestling.  When we contend or agonize to protect the faith from error, we are willing to go through whatever is necessary to protect the faith from being perverted and changed.  Because of the vital importance to us that the truth about God and His salvation be preserved from error, we are willing to agonize or voluntarily expose ourselves to a difficult and painful struggle.  The struggle that took place to defend the Alamo against great odds and a continuous attack is a good picture of what is involved in contending for the faith.  Only, what we are struggling to defend is infinitely more important than defending the Alamo!

THE ENEMIES OF THE FAITH (4-7)
"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 God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.  Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.  And the angels who did not keep the positions of authority but abandoned their own home---these he kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.  In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion.  They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire."

Thought Question #1:  Write down what you learn about the enemies of "the faith" today from reading these verses.

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Who do you believe are the angels in verse 6 who "did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home"?

 

 

Thought Question #3:  What do you believe is Jude's main point in these verses?

 

 

Because there will always be those who are the enemies of the faith who desire to alter, replace, and remove the faith, we will always need to contend or agonize to protect the faith.  In these verses, Jude describes our enemies.

1. Their deceptive tactics (4a)

Our enemies are often not obvious to us, for they disguise themselves as Christians, pastors, evangelists, and Christian servants.  Jude says they have "secretly slipped in among you."  When Russia conquered Romania, some church members were shocked to see the pastor of their church wearing the uniform of a Russian soldier.  They quickly learned that the Russian communists had secretly slipped into their church and posed as pastors.

During the time of the Viet Nam war, at least one communist infiltrated into an American church.  The pastor at a Baptist church near San Jose State College slowly changed that church until the office of the Black Panthers and other similar groups had moved into their basement.  False teachers have slipped into today's churches also.  They say all the right words, and yet they are false teachers and enemies of the faith!  (In II Timothy 3:6, Paul talks of those who worm their way into the homes of weak-willed women.)

Listen to Peter's words in II Peter 2:1:  "But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.  They will secretly introduce destructive heresies even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them---bringing swift destruction on themselves.  See also Galatians 2:4,5; the parable of the wheat and tares in Matthew 13:24-30; and I Timothy 4:1  There are those who sit next to us in our churches, and those who represent Jesus Christ on television and radio who are not Christians, but enemies of the faith.

And so, the tactics of the enemies are to secretly slip in among us.  We, therefore, need to not just be looking for obvious error, but we also need to be looking for error and false teachers who seem to be one of us, but who are actually committed to leading the church away from God and not to God.

2. Their perverse goal (4b)

Perversion occurs when something beautiful is twisted and distorted until it becomes something ugly.  This is the goal of false teachers and all false teachers.  They take some truth in the Bible and twist it into something ugly.

a. Their perverse character-they are "godless"

What is in the hearts of these enemies of the faith?  What is in the hearts of those today who slip into our churches and lead people away from the faith?  The answer to both questions is that they are "godless."  Though they appear to be very religious, they actually have little or no fear of God or reverence for God.  Though they sit next to us in our churches, wear robes, preach to us,  and even speak to us from our radios and televisions, in their hearts they do not really love God.  They are using the church.  Listen to II Peter 2:3:  "In their greed, these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up."  If someone wants to make a lot of money, all they need to do is make up a miracle story of some sort and seek to raise money for some type of ministry.  Then, promise a special blessing from God for all who contribute to their cause.  The money, then, will be used by them to live a lavish lifestyle, to purchase a lavish house and expensive cars.  All the luxuries are then justified as being blessings from God.

b. Their perverse morality-they "change the grace of our God into a

license for immorality"
They twist God's forgiveness and grace into a license to sin.  They will come up with ingenious justifications for doing what is wrong.  The leader of the "Children of God", now called "The Family", was able to justify a life of unbridled sex for himself and his followers.   Jesus spoke in Matthew 7:15-23 that false prophets will be known by their fruits.  In our society, it is often the non-Christian world who exposes the false prophet.  Reporters investigate these supposed men or women of God and uncover adultery, lies, self-indulgence, and an extravagant life-style.  They have turned God's message of forgiveness for sin into a life-style of unrestrained greed and immorality.  They become so hardened and blinded that they have come to the place where they are able to believe that there will be no consequences for their many sins. 

One of the perversions of the grace of God today is the teachings that God wants you wealthy.  False teachers encourage their followers to seek after wealth, while in the end it is only these false teachers who become wealthy as they suck money from their followers.

The grace of God should not lead to a license to sin, but to a life of seeking after godliness.  Listen to Titus 2:11-13:  "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.  It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age."

c. Their perverse theology

They "deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord."  There are false teachers today who deny Jesus Christ as the one and only "Sovereign and Lord."  The Jehovah Witnesses deny Jesus Christ by teaching that He is the Archangel Michael.  Others teach that He is not the Creator, but that He was merely one of those who was created. Still others teach that He was a great medium, a great man, a great prophet, or anything other than Who He is.  See I John 2:22-23; Titus 1:16

 

3. Their certain condemnation (5-7)

In verse 4, Jude began by saying these words:  "For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago."  Listen to these words written by David in Psalm 37 (long before the book of Jude):  "The wicked draw the sword and bend the bow to bring down the poor and needy to slay those whose ways are upright.  But, their swords will pierce their own hearts."  (Psalm 37:14-15)  God revealed in the Old Testament and in many places that those who choose godlessness, deceitful teaching and stealing, even if they do it in the garb of religion, will be condemned by God for their evil.  Here in these verses, we find Jude's description from the Old Testament of how God always judges the wicked.

a. The judgment of unbelieving Israel in the wilderness (5)

Though Israel was rescued by God from Egypt through the ten plagues, particularly through the Passover, only two men (Joshua and Caleb) entered the Promised Land.  The rest were destroyed or died in the wilderness.  In the books of Exodus and Numbers, we read of Israel grumbling against God and Moses, of them wanting to return to Egypt, and of them turning back to idolatry when they chose to worship the golden calf rather than to worship God.  Israel is a picture of the false teachers that Jude is writing against in his book.  These types of false teachers begin in the church, but somewhere along the way they fall away from the faith (apostates are those who fall away from the faith).  The fate of these apostate false teachers will be exactly the same as those of Israel who followed Moses out in the wilderness, but did not actually believe in God.  As Israel was "destroyed" in the wilderness, so they also will be destroyed in God's judgment.

Did those in Israel who died in the wilderness also end up in God's eternal place of punishment?  In the book of Hebrews, we find these words in chapter three verse fourteen:  "We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first."  True faith will persevere until the end.  Israel did not persevere in their faith until the end.  It is most likely, though, that Israel in the wilderness is most of all a physical picture that God has used to teach us the difference between those who believe and persevere and those who do not persevere (those who fall away from the faith).  For even Moses did not enter the Promised Land.  We know that Moses did not go to God's place of eternal punishment, for he was with Jesus on the Mount of transfiguration.

b. The judgment of fallen angels (6)

Now, Jude talks about a subject that is very difficult for us to understand.  "And the angels who did not keep their position of authority but abandoned their own home---these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day."  Who were these angels and when did they choose to abandon their own home?  There are at least three possible answers to this question:  (1) Some would suggest that the only place where we learn about these angels and their sin is right here in Jude.  So, all we know about these angels is found in this verse in Jude.  An argument against this viewpoint is that the examples that Jude chooses in verses five and seven are both from the Old Testament.  Would he choose Old Testament examples in the two verses that surround this verse, but choose an example with no Old Testament background for the verse in the middle?

(2) Others believe that this verse describes the fall of Satan and the other angels who fell with him.  In Revelation 12:4, John tells of a time when the tail of the dragon (Satan) "swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth."  The stars are believed by some scholars to represent angels who were drawn away from God by Satan, and who fell with him.  But, the major problem with interpreting this verse as referring to Satan's fall and the fall of his angels is that neither Satan nor his angels are bound with chains at this time.  In fact, they are very active in our world right now.

(3) The final possibility for interpreting this verse that is offered is that the angels who fell are described in Genesis 6:1-4.  Verse four in this section of verses say the following:  "The Nephilim were on the earth in those days---and also afterward---when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them."  S. Maxwell Coder gives the following arguments that this final interpretation is the correct explanation for the identity of these angels who left their home:  "1. At the time this epistle was written, it was commonly believed by the people of Israel that Genesis 6 described a sin committed by angels who left their own proper habitation to live on earth with the daughters of men.  Wrote Josephus, the great historian and a contemporary of Jude:  'Many angels accompanied with women, and begat sons that proved unjust' (Antiquities 1:3:1)  Whiston comments in a footnote to this passage in his translation of Josephus:  'This notion that the fallen angels were, in some sense, the fathers of the old giants was the common opinion of antiquity.'  2. The common Bible of the days in which Jude and Josephus wrote was the Septuagint, a Greek translation of the original Hebrew.  Where our version reads 'sons of God' in Genesis 6:2,4, the Septuagint reads 'angels of God.' . . . It cannot be denied that the Hebrew expression rendered 'sons of God' in our Bibles is used exclusively of angels elsewhere in the Old Testament.  It appears in Job 1:6 and 2:1, where angels are obviously in view.  The Septuagint renders it 'angels of God' in these two places also.  3. The early church understood that Jude 6 refers to Genesis 6."  "Taken from JUDE THE ACTS OF THE APOSTATES by S. Maxwell Coder.  Copyright 1958 by Moody Press."  Coder adds that there is no other Old Testament account of angels sinning that fits Jude's description in this verse.  He also observes that Jesus' statement that angels do not marry refers to angels of God and not to fallen angels, who are rebels and have chosen to do things contrary to God's plans.  See Matthew 22:30

But, we must get back to Jude's purpose in describing these angels (whoever they may have been).  These angels deliberately chose to leave their God-appointed home and chose to do that which was evil and perverted.  God did not ignore their evil---they are now found in place of punishment.  In what appears to be a parallel verse in II Peter 2:4, Peter has this to say:  "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell [the Greek word is "Tartarus"], putting them in gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment."  What is Jude's point?  Just as the angels who sinned were judged, so these false teachers who have left God and His ways to pervert His grace into sinful indulgence will also not escape God's judgment.  The people of Israel did not escape God's judgment; the angels who sinned did not escape God's judgment; nor will these false teachers and the false teachers of today escape God's judgment.

c. The judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah (7)

Next, Jude says that Sodom and Gomorrah "gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion" and also were punished by God.  Jude tells us that their judgment by fire is a picture of the fire of eternal punishment that all who reject God will experience.  The fire that engulfed Sodom and the other cities is thought to have been burning oil, salt, and sulfur.  The fire and brimstone that horribly engulfed these ungodly cities is like the fire of judgment that will one day engulf all those who choose sin over God.  Particularly, it is descriptive of God's judgment on false teachers who pervert God's Word!

5. Their ungodly evil (8-19)

a. They are foolishly defiant. (8-10)

"In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings  But even the Archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare bring an accusation against him but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'  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."

Thought Question #1:  What do these verses tell you about the false teachers of Jude's time?  Do they apply to any false teachers of our time? (How?)

 

 

Thought Question #2:  Why do you think that Michael and Satan disputed over the body of Moses?

 

 

These verses are not easily understood.  It is difficult to know what specifically Jude is referring to in these three verses.  He says, first of all, that these false teachers are "dreamers who pollute their own bodies."  He would seem to be describing those whose sexual and physical sins have put them into a dream world.  Sin and disobedience to God creates a darkness of heart and mind that causes men and women to lose touch with reality.  Think of some of the obvious false teachers in our country.  Did they not reach a state of living in a dream world?  Some even lost touch with reality to such a degree that a form of insanity took over in their lives.  Jim Jones and the mass suicide of him and his followers in South America is an example of this type of insanity.  David Koresh and their stockpiling of weapons is another example of the madness that occurs when someone leaves the teaching of the Word of God and drifts into a fantasy world.

Here, Jude says that these apostates of his time polluted or defiled their own flesh.  It is typical of false teachers to come to a place where they believe that they no longer need to submit to anyone's rules about sex.  It is not unusual for these leaders to have sexual relations with a number of their followers.

Those who lead people away from God are in a dream state.  Dreamers are those who are living in a dream world of their own making.  They have lost touch with reality.  Philosophers who have led our world away from God's truth as revealed in the Bible have characteristically not been trying to seek to discover the world the way it is, but rather they have sought to create a world the way that they wanted it to be.  They have been dreamers and have chosen to live in a dream world rather than to be awakened to the reality that we have been created and that we are accountable to our Creator.  In Romans one, Paul says that it is obvious that we were created, but mankind has preferred lies to the truth.  See Romans 1:18-25

Then, Jude says that they "reject authority."  They change the teachings of the Bible until it is no longer God's word.  They change it until it is "their" word.  They are, then, no longer under the Bible's authority or under anyone's authority.  They have become the authority, and it is not long before they begin to determine what their followers can do or cannot do.  As was mentioned earlier, the leader of the cult the "Children of God," now called "The Family," decided that his followers could use sexual relations as a means of drawing people into his movement.  They called it "flirty fishing."  He became the authority for what is right and wrong rather than the Bible being his authority.

Is it not also characteristic of many cultic type groups, that they become anti-authority?  Certainly you can think of examples of false teaching that has led its followers to be opposed to the United States' government.  Paul taught that we are to submit to every authority over us.  See Romans 13:1-7  Yet, these false Christian groups are often rebellious toward authority.

Finally, Jude says that they "slander celestial beings."  As has been mentioned, perverting God's truth leads to a form of insanity.  One of the results of this insanity for the false teachers of Jude's time was that they came to feel that they were superior to the angelic world.  This blindness to the truth had clouded their minds to the point where they could, for example, make fun of Satan's angels.  We see this type of arrogance in some of today's popular preachers who become so cocky that they will rail away at Satan in a flippant and inappropriate way.  They are blind to the fact that they are talking about angels who are powerful beyond what we can even imagine.  If Satan did appear to them, they would be completely terrified.  As Jude says, even the Archangel Michael was careful in what he said to Satan.  Even He did not rebuke Satan, but said, "The Lord rebuke you."  But, these false teachers do not hesitate to make slanderous accusations against those on earth and those in heaven. 

In these verses Jude talks about a dispute between the Archangel Michael and Satan over the body of Moses.  There is no description of this account in the Bible.  There are other examples, though, of a Bible writer describing something or some event that is not described in the Bible.  In II Timothy 3:8, Paul gives the names of two of the magicians who tried to duplicate Moses' miracles as described in the early chapters of Exodus.  But, the book of Exodus does not give their names.  In Acts 20:35, Paul quotes words of Jesus that are not found in any of the Gospels.  So, there is a pattern for inspired writers to give us information about Bible accounts that go beyond what was given in the Bible accounts themselves.

Though there is no mention of this account in the Old Testament, we can come to some conclusions from what is written in the Old Testament about the Archangel Michael, the Devil, and the body of Moses.  In Daniel 10:21 and 12:1, we learn that the Archangel Michael is God's appointed angel to watch over Israel.  Also, in Revelation 12:7-9 we read about a future battle that will take place between the Devil and his angels and Michael and his angels.  Why would the Devil want the body of Moses?  What if the body of the Apostle Paul were found today?  What would happen?  Certainly, there is a very high likelihood that it would not be long before there would be pilgrimages to his burial place.  Is it hard for us to imagine people going there to worship and to seek healing?  People would begin to say that they are closer to God there.  What would happen if the Ark of the Covenant were found?  Again, it would soon be worshiped and idolized. 

What would happen if the people of Israel found the body of Moses?  Certainly, also, it would not be long before it would be worshiped.  See II Kings 18:4  A likely explanation for the dispute between the Archangel Michael and the Devil over the body of Moses is that Michael did not want Israel worshiping Moses' body; whereas Satan was eager to turn Israel's love for Moses into a form of idolatry.  A battle was fought and Michael won.  "And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in Moab, as the Lord has said.  He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is."  (Deuteronomy 34:5,6)  But, in this battle Michael was, nevertheless, respectful of Satan's position as an angel of God.  See also Zechariah 3:2

Jude concludes this section with these words:  "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."  "Speak abusively" comes from the Greek word from which we get our English word "blasphemy."  Michael understood who Satan is and was respectful.  False teachers do not understand about Satan, and as a result they do not hesitate to be flippant and disrespectful.

What we have here is a description of the corrupt state of mind of these false teachers who had left the Word of God.  All they do understand is what unreasoning animals understand.  Instead of them having superior knowledge as they arrogantly proclaim, they have actually spiraled downward until their real understanding is no higher than that of the animals.  And it is their animal drives that eventually controlled them, corrupted them, and led them to their destruction!  II Peter 2:12 is a parallel verse.  See also Ephesians 4:22

Coder gives us additional insight from the Greek word for "understand" (or "knowing") that appears in verse ten:  "Two different words for knowing appear in verse 10.  The first "oida," refers to deeper knowledge and the second, "epistao," refers to peception by animal senses and facilities."  "Taken from JUDE THE ACTS OF THE APOSTATES by S. Maxwell Coder.  Copyright 1958 by Moody Press."  False teachers do not understand the things of God, they only understand what unreasoning animals understand.

b. They are like the apostates in the Old Testament. (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."

Thought Question:  If you were asked on a game show, what would you say is "the way of Cain," "Balaam's error," and "Korah's rebellion"?

 

 

There are certain people in the Bible who have a bad name: Judas and Herod, for example.  When these two names are mentioned, we do not need to say much more for everyone who has some familiarity with the Bible knows what type of people they were.  We would not want someone to say that we were like them.  And we would not like someone to say that we will receive the same judgment that Judas and Herod received.  Woe to anyone who will receive the same punishment that these two men have received!  Jude mentions three names that these false teachers that he was describing were like.  The three names Jude gives are not as familiar to us as Judas and Herod, so it will be necessary to explain a little about each one.

What were these false teachers like?  They were like Cain, Balaam, and Korah. What are the false teachers of today like?  They are also like these three men.  What was going to be the judgment of these false teachers of Jude's time?  Their judgment was going to be like the judgment of Cain, Balaam, and Korah.  They were going to be judged as harshly as these three men were judged.  How will false teachers who are like these three men and the false teachers of Jude's time be judged?  They also will be judged as these false teachers of the past were judged!

(1) "They have taken the way of Cain."

What was the "way of Cain"?  Consider what the Bible tells us about him.  First of all, what do we learn from Genesis four about Cain?  We learn from this chapter that Cain became angry when God favored his brother Abel's offering and not his.  In anger, then, he attacked and killed his brother.  He was the first murderer.  When God asked him where Abel was, he said, "Am I my brother's keeper?"  In I John 3:12, we are told why Cain murdered Abel:  "And why did he murder him?  Because his own actions were evil and his brother's were righteous."  Those who are evil always hate those whose goodness and righteousness makes their evil and ugliness, by contrast, look like the blackness that it is.

What, though, is "the way of Cain"?  Cain rejected God's plan of salvation through the sacrifice of a lamb.  He resented Abel for offering it.  He resented God for accepting Abel's offering.  False teachers offer another way of salvation, and they resent Christians who have come to God through God's grace and mercy, rather than through the way of works that they teach.  The Pharisees of Jesus' time were like Cain.  They resented Jesus and His disciples who would not submit to their rules and their way of working one's self into a relationship with God.  They had also chosen "the way of Cain."

Thought Question:  Who has chosen "the way of Cain" today? (individuals, groups)

 

 

(2) "They have rushed for profit into Balaam's error"

Balaam was a pagan sorcerer.  He was similar to our fortune tellers.  He was like the fortune tellers, in particular, who lead a séance.  See Number 24:1  He was hired by King Balak of Moab to curse Israel.  But when God made it clear to Balaam that he would not allow him to curse Israel, but instead he would need to bless Israel; Balaam offered another way that King Balak could go about getting Israel cursed.  Balaam suggested to King Balak that Israel could be drawn away from God and into God's cursing by using the Moabite and Midianite women to seduce them into sexual immorality.  See Numbers 25, 31:8,16  (Balak a Moabite, united with the Midianites in a war against Israel.  See Numbers 22:4,7)  The false teachers of Jude's time and of our time were and are also greedy men like Balaam who are always seeking a way to lead people away from God.

Thought Question:  Who has chosen "Balaam's error" today? (individuals, groups)

 

 

Those who are like Balaam today are those who seek to seduce Christians away from God, while making a fortune for themselves.  There are many today that operate on the fringes of Christianity, who make a fortune drawing people into mystical experiences, immorality, and false teaching.  Teachers like Jim Jones, many television teachers, the founder of the Children of God, and others are these types of teachers.  To read about Balaam, see Numbers 22-25.

(3) "They have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion." 

Korah, as much as anyone in the Bible, is a symbol and a picture of rebellion.  Moses describes Korah's rebellion in Numbers 16.  His rebellion was against Moses' leadership.  God's response to Korah was to open the earth and swallow him alive.  False teachers are like Korah.  They are also in rebellion against God and His spokesmen, and they are also heading toward a horrible judgment from God like Korah and his followers experienced.  Those who are false teachers often start out by resenting someone in or something about the true church.  In their anger and rebellion, they decide to rewrite God's book their way.  So, they start their own religion.

Thought Question:   Who has chosen "Korah's rebellion" today? (individuals, groups)

 

 

Most cults were started by those who are like Korah.  They teach something that is different than what the Bible teaches.  They are rejected by Christians; they resent it, and they start their own religion based on their teachings. 

Let's summarize:  False teachers are like Cain in that they reject the Gospel and resent those who teach it.  They are like Balaam in that they are greedy and seduce people from God through sexual and other fleshly inducements.  They are like Korah and are rebellious; and their rebelliousness will lead to a horrible and severe judgment from God.

c. They are like what is worst in nature. (12-13)

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

Thought Question:  From these verses, make a list of what false teachers are like.

 

 

Five word pictures from nature describe these apostates. 

(1) Word Picture #1:  Hidden reefs or "blemishes at your love feasts"

(12a)
In Jude's time, the Lord's Supper was actually a meal which included the observance of the Lord's Supper.  It was meant to be a time of close fellowship and unity.  But, hidden in their fellowship were those who were like hidden reefs or hidden stones.  They were not interested in this meal for Christian oneness and love, but they were there just for themselves.  They "feed only themselves."  Paul, in I Corinthians 11:20-22 confronts the very same selfish attitude at love feasts.  At the church at Corinth, instead of the rich providing for the poor so that all in love and mutual sharing would have an abundance, the rich ate richly and the poor at poorly.

So, in the midst of the love feasts that Jude was referring to there were the loveless, self-indulgent apostates.  In our churches today this is also true.  There are those in our fellowship who are not with us to further God's purposes, but there are those in our church fellowships who have their own self-serving personal agendas. 

(The New International Version translates what normally has been translated "hidden reefs" or "hidden rocks" as "blemishes."  The Greek word is similar to the Greek word that is translated "blemishes" in II Peter 2:13.  Since the verse in II Peter appears to be describing the very same thing as Jude, "blemishes" is a possible translation.)

 

(2) Word picture #2:  "shepherds who feed only themselves" (12b)

They are those who talk as if their primary purpose is to care for the people in the church.  But, their real purpose is to do what will benefit them the most.  Today, television evangelists have been exposed who were misleading their viewers to get them to send money to them.  And so, people sacrificed to give them money, so that they could live in luxury.  They were shepherds who were feeding only themselves.  See Ezekiel 34:2,7-10; Isaiah 56:11; John 10:12,13

  (3) Word picture #3:  "Clouds without water" (12c)

In Luke 12:54, Jesus said, "When you see a cloud running in the west, immediately you say, 'It's going to rain, and it does.' "  But, these false teachers are like clouds that end up not raining at all.  They promise that they will be the source of all kinds of blessings from heaven for those who follow them.  They may offer you miracles, health, prosperity. Or they may offer you deeper truths.  But, those who are mesmerized and hang on their every word will someday discover that there are no heavenly rainfalls, no miracles, and no deeper truths.  They are like clouds that produce no rain at all.

They are "blown along by the wind."  Their lives have no direction, and certainly they do not follow God's narrow path.  False teachers take those who follow them in many, many different directions.  All of their wandering paths lead away from the doctrines and truths taught in the Bible.  See also Proverbs 25:14

The word for "wind" is the same word that is used for spirit-pneuma.  These false teachers being blown by the wind or the spirit could mean that they are blown by demonic spirits.  False teaching is called a doctrine of demons in I Timothy 4:1.

(4) Word picture #4:  "Autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted--twice

dead" (12d)
Jesus said that you will know the false prophet by his fruit (Matthew 7:15-23).  Jude says here that these false teachers could be recognized because they have no fruit.  Israel was meant to be a tree that would bear much fruit from God for the world.  Jesus uses a barren tree to symbolize that instead of Israel being fruitful, she was fruitlessSee Mark 11:12-24  The false teachers that Jude speaks about in his book are like trees in autumn that should be fruitful and ready for harvest, but instead are dead.  The trees Jude describes are not only trees that have no fruit, but they are also trees that have been uprooted.  They are "twice dead."  These false teachers are not only fruitless; they are not rooted in God at all.  In other words, they are not fruitless Christians, but they are also not even Christians at all. 

The false teachers cannot bear fruit because they are not rooted in God.  As Jesus said, "Every plant that my heavenly Father has not planted will be pulled up by the roots."  See also Proverbs 2:22; Psalm 1; Jeremiah 17:7,8

(5) Word picture #5:  "They are wild waves of the sea foaming up their

shame." (13a)
This picture from nature is a little more difficult to interpret than the others.  How are wild waves a picture of these false teachers?  Instead of calm waters or even normal waves, Jude pictures here what the ocean or sea is like when there is a storm.  Most of us have seen these types of wild waves.  Inside the waves are all kinds of debris churned up by the storm.  These false teachers are like wild waves.  They are restless, agitated, never satisfied.  And they are always churning up ugly debris.  False teachers who have ugly motives and little or no ethics are going to do ugly things to accomplish their goals.  There will be purposeful deception, lies, distortions of the truth, larceny, sexual immorality, greed, and all kinds of other types of ugliness that will be churned up continually by these wild-wave false teachers.

Jude undoubtedly took this picture from Isaiah 57:20-21:  "But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud.  There is no peace, says my God, for the wicked."

(6) Word picture #5:  "Wandering stars, for whom the blackest

darkness has been reserved forever" (13b)
The "wandering stars" here probably refers to shooting stars or comets which light up the sky for a moment and then disappear into darkness.  Jim Jones, a modern-day false teacher was like one of these shooting stars.  For a short time he flashed on the scene and gained a following, but after the mass suicide in Jonestown, he is now gone forever into utter darkness.  The "blackest darkness" which has been "reserved  forever" is a picture  of God's eternal judgment of the wicked.  Listen to Jesus' words in Matthew 8:12:  "But the subjects of the kingdom (unbelieving Israel) will be thrown outside, into the darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."  Those who have professed to be God's teachers, but who are actually false teachers, will one day be separated from God forever.

After Jude's description of these false teachers would you desire to follow them?  But, there are also false teachers like those of Jude's time who are in our world today.  And everything that was true of Jude's false teachers is true of our false teachers today.  Should we not also speak out against them and warn those in today's world and church not to follow them?!

d. They are heading towards certain judgment. (14-15)

"Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men:  'See the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of holy ones 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.'" 

Thought Question:  How do these verses help you as you consider all of the false teaching that is so successful in leading people away from the truth?

 

 

This quote is found in the book of Enoch which is clearly not God's Word.  Listen to what Coder has to say about the book of Enoch:  "The book of Enoch is a patchwork of writings by various unknown persons at various unknown times.  It contains fanciful and legendary material, some of it quite ridiculous."  "Taken from JUDE THE ACTS OF THE APOSTATES by S. Maxwell Coder.  Copyright by 1958 by Moody Press."  A possible explanation for Jude quoting this prophecy of Enoch is that Jude knew about these prophetic words of Enoch from another source other than the non-inspired book of Enoch.  One more possibility is that, though much of this book of Enoch was legendary, this part of the book of Enoch that Jude quoted was not legendary, but was the actual words of the ancient Enoch.

Let's look now at the words in these two verses:  "Enoch, the seventh from Adam."  By our modern-day count, Enoch is the sixth name recorded after Adam (Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalel, Jared, Enoch; See Genesis 5:1-18).  But, the Jewish people included the first in the list.  Jude, then, would have also included Adam in his list.  So, if you count Adam, Enoch does become "the seventh from Adam."

Because Jude emphasizes that Enoch was "the seventh from Adam" and because seven was the number of perfection to the Jews of biblical times, we are safe in saying that Enoch was a significant person in God's plan.  Also, his son Methusaleh, whose name when translated means "when he is dead, it will be sent," was prophetic of the coming judgment of God through a Flood.  For when Methuselah died, the Flood of judgment was sent by God!  Also, Methusaleh's age of 969 years shows us how long God patiently and graciously waited before judging the world.

"prophesied about these men"  Jude is saying that Enoch who lived thousands of years before Jude's time, predicted God's judgment on the ungodly at the end of time.

"See the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones."  In Daniel 4:13-17 a "holy one" was an angel.  And inII Thessalonians 1:7, Paul says that Jesus will be revealed in the last days "with his powerful angels."  So, the thousands and thousands referred to here could be angels.  But, "holy ones," or "saints," is also a name for Christians or believers.  If the "holy ones" refer to Christians, then we will be there when the ungodly false teachers will be judged.  The following are verses that say that the angels and believers will be with Jesus Christ at His coming:  Angels-Deuteronomy 33:2; Zechariah 14:5; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Matthew 25:31.  Believers-the many verses in the New Testament that call Christians holy ones (I Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 5:3; Hebrews 10:10; 13:12; I Peter 2:5,9); Colossians 3:4; II Thessalonians 1:10  It could be that when Jude says "holy ones," he was including both angels and glorified saints which would mean that both glorified believers and the angels of God will be with Jesus when He returns to judge the world.

The world last saw Jesus being placed in a tomb.  They have heard about His resurrection, but they refuse to believe that it is any more than a fable.   No matter what they believe, though, when He returns they will see Him in all His glory.  They will see Him as King of all, surrounded by His glorious subjects, and they will soon learn that He has come to judge them!  They will quickly learn that they have not gotten by with anything!

"To judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him."  Ungodly teachers, with smooth words are able to justify their evil.  But, when Jesus returns in great glory and power, they will be convicted of all of their sins.  Jesus will show immediately, conclusively, and powerfully that they are accountable for all they have done!

e. They are dividers of the church (16)

"These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage."

Thought Question:  Jude gives us some warning signs in this verse to help us recognize those who may become false teachers and those who are already false teachers; what are these warning signs?

 

 

These are Jude's last words about the false teachers who were threatening the church of his time.  These words also describe false teachers of all time.  "These men are grumblers and faultfinders."  Grumbling and faultfinding often is characteristic of those who are not satisfied with God and His ways.  Satan and his angels were not satisfied with the position in Heaven that God had given to them, so they left their place in God's presence to do things their way, for their glory.  See Isaiah 14:12-15 

Grumbling and faultfinding can lead to false teaching.  Grumbling is really grumbling about God and His ways of doing things.  We may be concerned about someone or some part of the church and be seeking to make an appropriate correction and be doing it without grumbling.  Grumbling always includes a "poor me" in it.  See also Psalm 106:24-26; I Corinthians 10:10   We should be concerned when we hear people in our churches grumbling, because they may be those who will subtly or not so subtly begin to change what is taught in the Bible and replace it with something that is man-centered that better suits them.  When you hear grumbling in the church, beware!  This is one of the first steps away from God.

"they follow their own evil desires"  Another sign that someone is moving away from God is that they are controlled by their desires rather than by God.  The world draws us away from God through appealing to our desires.  As Jude said in verse 4, these men change God's grace "into a license for immorality."  They are not content with God, so they seek happiness in the world's way.

Next, we need to be concerned when we see the members of our church being controlled primarily by their desire to be recognized and esteemed rather than by God's Word and by His Spirit.  "they boast about themselves"  False teachers typically boast that they have a greater knowledge of God's truth than others.  They boast that God is blessing them more than other men.  Remember, when Jude's false teachers slandered "celestial beings," they were even boasting that they were superior to angels.

"flatter others for their own advantage"  These false teachers use flattery as a tool to get what they want from others.  Today, we would call this "manipulation."  They were selfish and deceptive manipulators.

So, we need to be concerned when we hear boasting and flattery being used by someone.  For, they are often seeking to manipulate themselves into a place of power and influence in the church.  When we look at a history of the Roman Catholic Church we find that this type of manipulating and maneuvering went on to gain places of power and riches.  But, it does not just happen in the Catholic Church.  Men and women with impure motives have wormed their way into places of leadership, influence, and wealth throughout what is called the church.

f. They were predicted by the Apostles. (17-19)

"But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold.  They said to you, 'in the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.  These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.'"

Thought Question:  What do we learn in these verses about those who have divided the church through the centuries and those who divide the church today?

 

 

These verses are a transition between the two main sections in the book of Jude.  In verse 5-16, Jude exposes the sinfulness of the apostates and reveals their sure doom.  In these verses, Jude begins to encourage his readers by reminding them that the apostles predicted that there would be these types of false teachers in the church.  In the final verses of Jude, he instructs his readers on how to stand against false teachers.

The Apostles predicted that there would be divisive people in the church.  There were many warnings that false teachers and divisive persons would come into the church.  In Acts 20:29-30, Paul gives this warning to the elders of Ephesus:  "I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.  Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them."  See also I Timothy 4:1-5; II Timothy 3:1-5; and II Peter 2:1-3.  Jude says these men are "scoffers who will follow their ungodly desires."  Scoffers are those who belittle what is important to someone.  An example of those who scoff is found in II Peter 3:3,4:  "First of all you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.  They will say, 'Where is this 'coming' he promised?  Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.' " 

These words remind us of the liberal church person who scoffs at the miraculous in the Bible.  We are also reminded of the non-Christian who calls the Christian a Holy Joe and scoffs at him for not having any fun like he or she is having.  These false teachers were like these scoffers, but had deceived themselves into thinking that they were the spiritual ones.  But, as Jude points out, the very opposite was true.  For the false teachers were ungodly and without God's Spirit, and the ones they were scoffing at were the ones who had God's Spirit in them. 

"who follow mere natural instincts" is a translation of the word "psychikoi" or soulish.  These false teachers may have felt that they were free to indulge their fleshly desires in any way they chose.  This view was a part of some false teaching at that time.  But, they were not free.  As Jude states, they were not controlling their bodies, their bodies were controlling them.  See also I Corinthians 2:14

He says that they did "not have the Spirit."  We can conclude, then, that they were not Christians.  For Paul said in Romans 8:9: "If any does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ."  The Spirit of Christ and the Holy Spirit are used interchangeably in the New Testament.  Compare Romans 8:9 with 8:10-11

These false teachers were dividers of the church.  They believed they were superior to others, as the Pharisees of Jesus' time felt they were superior to the rest of the Jewish people.  Pharisees mean "separated ones."  These false teachers, in the same way as the Pharisees, saw themselves as being the "elite" and as being spiritually superior to others in the church.

Many complain about all the divisions in the church.  Here we find the reason for all the divisions.  Men separate themselves from the church and force divisions.  As Paul says in I Corinthians 11:19:  "No doubt there have to be divisions among you to show which of you have God's approval."  What has very often happened throughout church history is one of the following:  (1) someone causes a division in the church by leaving the truth, leaving the church, and forming some form of cult.  (2) The church itself has drifted from the truth, and eventually the true Christians have found it necessary to separate themselves from the apostate church and form another denomination or association of churches.  Jude describes here the type of false teachers that have divided the church throughout the centuries.  See III John 9-10 for a description of a man named Diotrephes who was one of these type of men who divide the church.

HOW ARE WE TO BATTLE THE APOSTATES (20-25)
1. Fortify yourselves in your relationship with God. (20-21)

"But you dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit.  Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life."

Thought Question:  What do these verses tell us about how we can respond to the attack of false teachers?

 

 

The church was being attacked in Jude's time and it is being attacked in our day.  How are we to respond to this attack?  When there was a threat of attack by Japan's submarines, our country fortified our coastland.  So, we as Christians need to fortify ourselves against the threat of attack by false teachers.  How do we do this?  Someone has said that we cannot get to know God without getting to know His Word, the Bible. The early church "devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching." (Acts 2:42)   Paul told the elders at Ephesus:  "Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up."  (Acts 20:3)  How do we build ourselves up in the faith?  We fortify ourselves in the faith by building ourselves up in God's Word.

Peter said the following in I Peter 2:2: "Like newborn babies, crave pure spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow up in your salvation."  Growing up in your salvation is another way of saying, "build yourselves up in your most holy faith."  Because II Peter 2 is in many ways a parallel passage to the book of Jude, the instructions in II Peter 1:3-11 about growing in the Christian life through diligent effort is very likely an expanded explanation of Jude's words, "build yourselves up in your most holy faith." 

Jude uses the present tense of the Greek word that is translated "build yourselves up" which indicates that we are to continually build ourselves up.  God has provided the foundation, and we are to build on what God has given us.  He has given us the Holy Spirit, His Word, forgiveness, and a relationship with Him.  Now we are to build on it as Paul says in I Corinthians 3:10-15, not with wood and hay but with gold and silver.  We fortify ourselves against false teachers by thoroughly knowing God's Word and by seeking to develop strong Christian character.

Next, Jude tells us that we are to "pray in the Holy Spirit."  Paul tells us in Ephesians 6:18, in the context of spiritual warfare that we are to "pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests."  Praying in the Holy Spirit may refer to our praying for wisdom, or it can involve our requests that we be rescued from our enemies, or it may refer to our prayers for others that they might be rescued from evil.  All of these prayers are prayers in the Holy Spirit that protect us from false teaching.

Then, Jude tells us we are to keep ourselves "in God's love."  What most keeps us strong?  It is when we know that we are loved by God.  The prodigal son of Luke 15 wandered away from his father's love.  So, we can become weakened by wandering away from our Father's love.  When we get weak and fearful, we are not keeping ourselves in the love of God.  Just before Jesus was going to leave His disciples, He said to them:  "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.  Now remain in my love."  We keep strong against attack by continually remembering that we are loved with an everlasting love.

Finally, we are to "wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring ..(us).. to eternal life."  As Christians we are to continually live in a state of hope.  And not the type of hope that says, "I sure hope everything turns out okay."  No, our hope is a certainty.  Why is it a certainty?  It is because we are not putting our hope in our efforts, but in the mercy of "our Lord Jesus Christ."  We hope for what we do not deserve.  We do not deserve eternal life, but Jesus' blood made it available to us.  We have eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ, but it is only in the future that we will have the full experience of eternal life.  For, when we see Jesus Christ we will be like Him.  See I John 3;2; Philippians 3:20  See also Titus 2:13

And, so, we can fortify ourselves against false teachers by growing strong in God's Word, prayer, God's love, and in hope.  That is the fortress that God provides for us that will enable us to resist the attacks of the false teachers.

2. Reach out and help those who are losing the battle. (22-23)

"Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear---hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh."

Thought Question:  According to these verses, how can we reach out to those who have been influenced by false teachers?  What do we need to be careful about?

 

 

Before we can reach out to others, we need to feel that our own needs for a secure relationship with God are being met.  If we are worried about our relationship with God, our finances, and crises in our lives, we will use all our mind's focus and all our emotional energies on these concerns.  But, if we are building ourselves up in the faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, and keeping ourselves in God's love, then we will be ready to focus our minds and our energies on others.  Jude presents, in a unique way, how we should reach out to those who are really struggling and losing in the battle against false teaching:

a. To the doubting, be merciful (22) (those who are nearly in danger).

In the church there will be those who will begin to be susceptible to false teaching.  There are those today within our modern churches who are being persuaded by today's false teachers.  Possibly, they have been visited by Mormons or by Jehovah Witnesses.  Or they may be hearing a false teacher on television.  There are always some who are beginning to doubt the traditional biblical views and who have become susceptible to false teaching.  What is to be our attitude toward them?  It would be easy to get down on them, and wonder how they can be so naïve and gullible.  But, this is not the attitude that we are to have toward those who doubt.  As Jude presents here, we are to be merciful.  They do not need our judgmental spirit, but they need our compassion.  It is compassion and understanding which is most likely to draw them back to the truth.

b. Those heading toward judgment-snatch them out of the fire. (23a)

(those who are already in danger)
If our mate, children, or other family members were in a burning building, what would we do?  Of course, we would take strong action to do all that we could to snatch them out of the fire. There are those who are already involved in false teaching.  Only the strong action of someone will rescue them.

Lot and his family are a picture of what Jude describes here.  For in Genesis 19:15-24, they were snatched out of Sodom and Gomorrah just before God's fiery judgment came down on these two cities.

In Mark 9:44-49 Jesus uses strong words to warn those in danger of damnation in hell:  "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.  It is better for you to enter life maimed then with two hands to go to hell, where the fire never goes out.…" (Matthew 5:22) See also Amos 4:11; Zechariah 3:1-2

c. To the polluted-be merciful, but careful (23b) (those who present a danger

to us)
There are those who are so involved in false teaching and/or in immorality that it is difficult to ever reach out to them without also becoming contaminated by their sin.  Some time ago there was a man who was called the Pastor of Bourbon Street (Bourbon Street is a street in New Orleans).  He boldly talked about going into a tavern on Bourbon Street with his Bible in hand and shocking the patrons when he plopped down his Bible right next to them on the bar. I had not heard about him for some time, but in recent years I heard that he had become an alcoholic.  He was fearless in circumstances where he should have had great fear.  For in that setting it is easy to become contaminated by the sin of those that you are seeking to reach.  The fear that Jude talks about could be a cautiousness and concern that we may be tempted and give in to sin.  But, he could also be talking about a fear of God.  Most likely, he is talking about a fear that we might sin and a fear of God.
See I Peter 1:17 and II Corinthians 7:1

This fear (of whichever type) will lead us to "hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh."  What do these words mean?  It means that we should do the very opposite of allowing ourselves to be enticed and seduced by sinful temptations, instead we should come to the place where we loath that which is ungodly. 

There is a parallel between these two verses and Zechariah 3:1-5.  It is possible that Jude was using the symbolism that Zechariah used in Zechariah three when he wrote these two verses in his letter.  In this chapter, the High Priest is described as wearing filthy clothes, symbolizing the sin of Israel.  Also, Jude may be referring to leprosy and how the clothing of a leper becomes contaminated by the rotting flesh.  In short, Jude is saying that we are to be like a doctor who is seeking to heal someone who has a very contagious disease.  The doctor hopes to heal the person without also becoming sick.  We need to seek to help those who are actively involved in sin, without getting pulled into the same gutter we are seeking to pull them out of.

3. Look to God to hold on to you (24-25) (closing doxology).

"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."

Thought Question #1:  Why do you think Jude chose to close his letter with these words?

 

 

Thought Question #2:  How are Jude's words an encouragement to you?

 

 

We may feel that we are warriors battling for God. We may believe that it is all on our shoulders to resist false teaching and temptation. But, we are battling in God's war, armed and protected by Him:  "To Him who is able to keep us from falling, He can make us stand before them guiltless and with great joy."  God can not only keep us from falling, He can make us to stand before Him guiltless and with great joy.  Can we make it with all the temptations and attacks that we face every day?  Yes, we can make it, and we can persevere right to the very end of our days on this earth.  The reason we can make it is because God is able to keep us from failing or falling into sin.  Though some will and do fall into sin and false teaching, we never need to fall away from God.  For God is "able to keep us from falling."  As the Psalmist says:  "If the Lord delights in a man's ways, he makes his steps firm; though he stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand."  (Psalm 37:23-24)  Not only will God keep us from falling, but He will keep and protect us right up to the very end of our journey.  Where does our journey end?  It ends when we are in God's presence.

What will we be like when we see Jesus Christ face to face?  These words in Jude are too good to be true.  We will be without fault.  We will not be dressed in our own filthy rags, but in the pure robes that God will provide.

And it will be a time of great joy!  "After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.  They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice:  'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.'"  (Revelation 7:9-10)  See also Ephesians 5:26-27; John 17:24; and Revelation 19:1-9

Jude closes his letter with praise to the God who is able to keep us from falling:  "to the only God our Savior."  False teachers have and will continue to change and alter these true words about God into something that is quite different or at least subtly different.  The Mormons teach that there is not just one God, but many gods.  Some have believed that God is not concerned about other matters or that He is fierce, angry, and not loving.  But, the Bible from one cover to the other cover describes Him as our Savior.  "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son." (John 3:16)  "The Lord is my shepherd."  (Psalm 23:1)  We know the only God, and He is our Saviour!

"be glory, majesty, power and authority"  We will benefit from S. Maxwell Coder's  description of these four words: "Glory is the brightness, the manifold excellence of God.  It is a divine radiance which shines (Luke 2:9); which blinds (Acts 22:11); which cannot be endured by the unglorified human race, and which therefore is protected by the smoke of the divine Presence (Rev. 15:8).  Majesty, a word found only here and in Hebrews 1:3 and 8:1, refers to the incomparable, ineffable regal presence of the Ruler of the universe.  It suggests the omniscience of God upon His throne.  Dominion may be said to contemplate the infinite extent of the strong rule of God throughout His universe.  He upholdeth "all things by the word of his power"  (Heb.:3); "his kingdom ruleth over all" (Ps. 103:19).  Dominion suggests the omnipresence of the glorious Majesty on high. Power is the irresistible divine authority and might exercised by our God.  It suggests His omnipotence."  "Taken from JUDE THE ACTS OF THE APOSTATES by S. Maxwell Coder.  Copyright 1958 by Moody Press." 

"through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forever more! Amen." See also I Chronicles 29:11  The false teachers were denying Jesus Christ (see verse 4).  Jude does not deny Him, "for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12)  False teachers, again, are always busy seeking to change Jesus Christ into a form that they are comfortable with: He is an angel, a great leader, a great teacher, a wonderful martyr, a spiritual man, a great medium, and many more.  But, to the Christian, He is the Son of God who died for me.

And Jude closes with "before all ages, now and forever more! Amen." What Jude is talking about was not just true in his time.  The perverted views of false teachers were not just present in Jude's time.  For the message of Jude is just as true today and just as needed.  And Jude's conclusion will be true forevermore!  Jude is a small book in the Bible, but the truths found within it are not small!  For its truths are eternal.

 

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. ®   NIV ®   Copyright ©  1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission.  All Rights reserved.

Other Digging For Gold Studies

The Battle For The Sunshine Psalms Vol I
The Battle For The Sunshine Psalms Vol II
How To Live A Full Life In An Empty World Ecclesiastes 1-6
How To Live A Full Life In An Empty World Ecclesiastes 6-12
God Is Ruler Of The Times Of The Gentiles Daniel 1-6
God Is Ruler Of The Times Of The Gentiles Daniel 7-12
When God Seems Far Away Habakkuk
The Good News About Israel's King Matthew 1-7
The Good News About Israel's King Matthew 8-14
The Good News About Israel's King Matthew 15-22
The Good News About Israel's King Matthew 23-28
The Good News About The Son Of Man Luke 1-6
The Good News About The Son Of Man Luke 7-12
The Good News About The Son Of Man Luke 13-18
The Word Became Flesh! John 1-6
The Word Became Flesh! John 7-12
The Word Became Flesh! John 13-17
The Word Became Flesh! John 18-21
Christianity In The Courtroom Romans 1-4
Christianity In The Courtroom Romans 5-8
Christianity In The Courtroom Romans 9-11
Christianity In The Courtroom Romans 12-16
The Battle For The Sunshine I Corinthians 1-6
The Battle For The Sunshine I Corinthians 7-11
The Battle For The Sunshine I Corinthians 12-16
Paul's Life And Ministry: Triumph Through Weakness II Corinthians 1-7
Paul's Life And Ministry: Triumph Through Weakness II Corinthians 8-13
Rediscovering The Joy Of The Gospel Galatians
Seeing The Church From God's Perspective - Seeing The Riches Of God's Grace! Ephesians 1-3
Seeing The Church From God's Perspective - Seeing The Riches Of God's Grace! Ephesians 4-6
How To Be A Joyful And United Church Philippians
Pursuing Our Fulness In Christ Colossians
A Message To New Christians I Thessalonians
A Second Message To New Christians - A Wider Focus On The Christian Life II Thessalonians
God's Plan For Order In The Church I Timothy
How To Finish Strong In The Lord II Timothy
Doing What Is Good Titus
How To Motivate Others To Do What God Wants Them To Do Philemon
We Should Always Move Forward In Our Faith Hebrews 1-9
We Should Always Move Forward In Our Faith Hebrews 10-13
From Double-Minded To Single-Minded Christianity James
How To Live In Tough Times With An Eternal Perspective I Peter
How To Have Wholesome Christian Thinking II Peter
The Glorious Circle That Is Eternal Life I John
How Our Joy Can Be Complete &
Two Good Examples And One Bad Example
II & III John
What To Do When The Church Gets Off-Track: Contending For The Faith! Jude
The Unveiling Of The Glorified Jesus Christ And The End Of The Age Revelation 1-5
The Unveiling Of The Glorified Jesus Christ And The End Of The Age Revelation 6-11
The Unveiling Of The Glorified Jesus Christ And The End Of The Age Revelation 12-16
The Unveiling Of The Glorified Jesus Christ And The End Of The Age Revelation 17-22