The Epistle of Jude (2)
Jude now comes back to the sinful opponents who might be misleading those
to whom he is writing:
'Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed
for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion.
These 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 for ever' (verses
These people are likened to three outstanding opponents of God. (1)
Cain, the first great criminal of the world's history who murdered his brother.
(2) Balaam, the man who was willing to do anything for money, although he first
of all paid lip service to the commands of God. (3) Korah, whose gainsaying
consisted of speaking against Moses as God's representative, and seeking to start
a revolution against him. These three rushed, as it were, to carry out their
opposition to God. The word in the Greek translated 'ran greedily' in the A.V.,
means to 'pour out in streams', and is a vigorous metaphor for excessive
indulgence on their part in what they intended to do in their sinning.
Jude's words point to the fact that the judgment of God had already
descended on some of them (verse 11). In the early centuries believers met for
fellowship, meditation and praise and shared a meal together, but the enemies had
wormed themselves in here. The words 'spots' in the A.V. is more likely to be
hidden 'rocks', as covered by water and therefore dangerous in the extreme. They
were like clouds without rain and therefore of no good to soil. There was no
stability in them, they were blown about, as Ephesians 4:14, by 'every wind of
doctrine', with the consequence they were useless like fruitless trees, which
were not only dead but uprooted as well, 'twice dead' (verse 12). They were like
raging waves of the sea, bent on destruction, or like wandering stars, useless
'Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See,
the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of His 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."O (verses 14,15 N.I.V.).
Why is Enoch called the seventh from Adam? It is to distinguish him from
another Enoch, a son of Cain who was 'of that wicked one', Satan, (1yJohn 3:12).
The true Enoch prophesied about these evil men by showing how God dealt in
judgment and punishment of such men in early history. A number of translations
put the coming of the Lord mentioned here, in the future, but the Greek verb is
in the past tense (elthen), and this should be noted -- 'The Lord came with
myriads of His holy ones'. We give some of the translations which recognise
'Lo, the Lord hath come with His holy myriads', J.B.Rotherham.
'Behold! the Lord hath come with tens of thousands of His holy
'See! the Lord has come with His hosts of holy ones around Him',
Twentieth Century New Testament.
'Behold, the Lord has come with His myriads of holy ones', The
'Behold, the Lord came with His holy myriads', Revised Standard
This, therefore, must refer to a coming of the Lord with His angels in
judgment at a time before Enoch's day, and probably refers to Satan's rebellion
and the angels who fell with him. Enoch quotes it as a warning to the ungodly of
his day and to all the ungodly generations to come, which includes the ungodly
that Jude is dealing with. The quotation is from the apocryphal Book of Enoch,
but, as we have before pointed out, we must not assume that every statement in
such books must be erroneous. Jude treats it as truth, and we can do the same.
Thus we see how Jude in this vivid language portrays the gnostic heretics
and deceivers of his day, and writes this as a warning to his Christian friends.
He sums up by saying:
'These men are grumblers and fault-finders; they follow their own
evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own
advantage' (verse 16 N.I.V.).
In no sense could these people be a help to the believers to whom Jude
was writing. The only wise thing to do was to avoid them completely. The
apostles of the Lord Jesus had warned them of mockers who simply do what pleases
them and suits their ungodly ideas:
'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' (verses 17-19 N.I.V.).
Peter had warned them of the same thing in 2yPeter 3:3.
Note the triplet, (1) their ungodly desires; (2) they cause division
among believers; and (3) they do not have the Spirit. Thus they cause schisms.
The N.I.V. is better than the A.V. here. They do not separate themselves so much
as they split the people of God. This, of course, Satan is a master at
achieving, as can be seen by looking at the state of the Christian world.
These false teachers claimed to have a monopoly of the Holy Spirit's
enlightenment, but verse 19 declares that they have not the Spirit at all. The
verses that follow give another group of three:
'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' (verses 20,21
(1) Build yourselves up; (2) pray in the Holy spirit; and (3) keep
yourselves in the love of God. 'Building up' speaks of spiritual growth and
going on to full growth or maturity. Note the number of times the apostle Paul
stresses edifying or building up. This is a very important part of a believer's
experience. Too many, alas, fail to grow spiritually after salvation. They stay
in a state of spiritual babyhood and become a liability instead of being an asset
to the Lord. They need to heed the warning of 1yCorinthians 3:1-3 and Hebrews
There is only one true foundation and that is the Lord Jesus Christ and
His redemptive work (1yCor. 3:10,11). But as their context teaches, upon this
foundation the believer builds, and it is absolutely necessary for him to put
good materials upon this perfect foundation. 1yCorinthians 3:12-15 shows what
these are and also the certainty of the testing of the building by the Lord Jesus
by the fire of His holiness. This can only consume the poor materials (like
wood, hay and stubble), but the good materials are likened to gold, silver and
precious stones (verse 12). These stand the test of fire and the believer
receives the approval and a reward from the Lord. All the service likened to
wood, hay and stubble is rejected by Him and destroyed. What a sad end to a
lifetime of service to the Lord! Even though salvation is not affected (verse
15), the shame of such loss will be great.
There is not nearly enough teaching on this essential and important
subject among evangelicals today. God is certainly a God of grace, but He has
entrusted His truth to us in addition to saving us, and finally we must all give
account to Him as reliable and unreliable servants. This is extra to our
salvation by grace which we dare not neglect if we want to be well-pleasing to
The phrase 'pray in the Holy Spirit' is unique in the New Testament. It
means prayer that is energized and controlled by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is
closely linked with our praying. He helps us in a remarkable way as Romans
8:26,27 tells us:
'In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not
know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with
groans that words cannot express.
And He Who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit,
because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will'
How important then this intercession must be for us and our prayer life!
No wonder Jude exhorts his friends to 'pray in the Holy Spirit'! He also reminds
them that although they are kept by Christ (verse 1), yet they must abide in that
loving protection. Here we have both sides of God's truth, human responsibility
and divine sovereignty. Philippians 2:12,13 is another example of it. Abiding
in His surpassing love results in consciously waiting for His appearing and the
revelation of His great mercy which leads to everlasting life.
Jude's last thoughts are expressed in his beautiful doxology, one that
has been the hope and strength of the children of God all through this
dispensation of grace:
'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 Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our
Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore! Amen' (verses 24,25).
After all his warnings which have been severe, Jude ends in joyous
confidence to Him Who alone can make them effectual. With His almighty power He
could guard and strengthen each child of His so that they would not stumble, and
finally be presented before the glorious presence of the Saviour with abounding
joy. This reminds us that the apostle Paul wrote a similar thing in Colossians
1:21,22, 'And you ... hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to
present you holy and unblameable and unreprovable in His sight'. Here, in Jude's
epistle, his believing friends will be presented 'faultless before the presence
of His glory with exceeding joy' (A.V.).
The One Who alone can make this possible is 'the only God and Saviour'.
The seeker for truth should turn to The Epistle to Titus and note its references
to our God and Saviour. We give them here:
God our Saviour 1:3
The Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour 1:4
God our Saviour 2:10
Our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ 2:13
God our Saviour 3:4
Jesus Christ our Saviour 3:6
Now there cannot be two Saviours Who are called God. Isaiah 43:11 says, 'I, even
I, am the Lord (Jehovah), and beside Me there is no saviour'. Therefore there is
only one God and one Saviour, and He is the Lord Jesus Christ. 'This is the true
God, and eternal life' (1 John 5:20).
To Him 'be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our
Lord, before all ages, now and for evermore! Amen.' (Jude 25).