My sincerest apology is extended if any author has not been given proper credit where credit is due. I would not be so presumptuous as to lead anyone to think that there is anything original in these sermons. Indeed, all of my thinking and my writing are profoundly influenced by what I have read, what I have assimilated as I have heard many sermons and the contributions from and the conversations with my many friends over the years since I have been a student of God's Word.
It is my prayer that what has been written here will "prime the pump" as these sermons are read and as student ministers and Sunday school teachers prepare to preach and teach God's Word. If any benefits are derived from my feeble efforts, may Jehovah God and His blessed Son receive the honor and the glory.
Doubtless, the function of these general epistles was to round out the New Testament doctrine by adding to (supplementing) the Pauline exposition of Christianity. Since the Pauline epistles are viewed as presenting Christianity to the Gentiles, the general epistles may be said to appeal to the Jewish Christians. James is addressed "to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad?" I Peter addresses the sojourners dispersed throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. While the Apostle Paul may be thought of as the apostle of faith; James is the apostle of works; Peter is the apostle of hope; John is the apostle of love; Jude is the apostle of defense of the faith. Moreover, the writers were either within the inner circle of the Apostles (Peter and John) or were brothers of the Lord Jesus Christ (as in the case of James and Jude).
James very simply refers to himself as "a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ," rather
than a blood brother of Jesus and the son of Mary and Joseph (Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3;
Galatians 1:19). Jude refers to himself as "the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James;"
however, he, too, is believed to be a blood brother of Jesus and the son of Mary and Joseph
(Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3). Of course Peter refers to himself as, "an apostle of Jesus Christ,"
and there is enough internal evidence to prove that he is Simon Peter, son of Jonas, of the inner
circle of apostles. John makes no claim to being an apostle, in these epistles; however, again
internal evidence points to the fact that he was John, the son of Zebedee. Although Peter and
John were converts of Christ during His personal ministry, it is an accepted fact that James and
Jude were converted to Christianity following the death of our Lord Jesus Christ.
John W. Gregson
Allison, B. Gray, Now Unto Him, Jackson, Mississippi: C. and S. Printing Company, Inc., n.d
Arichea, Doneil C. and Howard A. Hatton, The Letter from Jude and II Letter of Peter, New York: United Bible Societies, 1993
Blair, J. Alien, Living Peacefully, Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux Brothers, 1959
Blanchard, John, Truth for Life, Hertfordshire, England: Evangelical Press, 1986
Brown, John, Parting Counsels, An Exposition of II Peter, Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1980
Bruce, F. F., The Epistles of John, Old Tappan, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1970
Bryan, Philip R., Short Studies in Jude, Jacksonville, Texas: The Challenge, April 1973
Carswell, E. R., The Acts of the Apostates, Chicago: Moody Monthly, May 1950
Clinard, Gordon, The Baptist House, July 13, 1969
Clowney, Edmund, The Message of First Peter, Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1988
Coder, S. Maxwell, Jude, The Acts of the Apostates, Chicago: Moody Press, 1958
Cramer, George H., First and Second Peter, Chicago: Moody Press, 1867
Criswell, W.A., Expository Sermons on the Epistle of James, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1975
Criswell, W.A., Expository Sermons on the Epistle of Peter, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1976
Davids, Peter, The Epistle of James, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982
Downey, Murray W., James - A Practical Faith, Chicago: Moody Press, 1972
Erdman, Charles, The General Epistles, Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1919
Fife, Harold W., Responsibility to Government, The Sunday School Times, May 9, 1964
Flippo, Roy B., The Advancer, Adult-Senior High Sunday School Lesson, Little Rock: Baptist Publishing House, July 3 through July 24, 1966
Fox, Glenn, Life According to James, Little Rock: Baptist Publishing House, 1984
Gingrich, Raymond E., Fellowship With the Word of Life, Winona Lake, III: BMH Books, 1977
Goppelt, Leonhard, A Commentary on I Peter, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdman's Publishing Company, 1993
Green, Oliver B., The Epistles of John, Greenville, S.C.: The Gospel Hour, Inc., 1966
Henderson, E. Harold, James: Faith That Works, Conway, Arkansas: Harvest Gleaner Hour, Inc., 1987
Henderson, E. Harold, James; Faith That Works, Texarkana, Texas: Baptist Publishing House, 1994
Hiebert, D. Edmond, The Epistle of James - Tests of a Living Faith, Chicago: Moody Press, 1979
Hiebert, D. Edmond, First Peter, Chicago: Moody Press, 1992
Hobbs, Herschel H., Baptist Beliefs, Baptist Standard, July 23 through October 8, 1975, March 4 through December 5, 1979
Hobbs, Herschel H., The Epistles of John, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1983
Hobbs, Herschel H., The Baptist Hour, February 2, 1969
House, Gary, Baptist Progress, Sunday School Lesson - June 1 through August 24, 1994
Hovey, Alvah, An American Commentary on the New Testament, Volume VI, Timothy to Peter, Philadelphia: American Baptist Publications Society, 1890
Hughes, R. Kent, Preaching the Word, James - Faith That Works, Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1991
Jackson, D. N., The Advancer, July 3 and August 7, 1966
Jones, Russell Bradley, Proclaiming the New Testament, The Epistles of James, John and Jude, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1961
King, Guy H., The Fellowship, An Expositional and Devotional Study of I John, Fort Washington, Pennsylvania: Christian Literature Crusade, 1954
Kistemaker, Simon J., New Testament Commentary - James and John, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1986
Kistemaker, Simon J., New Testament Commentary, Peter and Jude, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1987
Laurin, Ray L., Life At Its Best, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Dunham Publishing Company, 1946
Leaney, A. R. C., The Letters of Peter and Jude, New York: The University Press, 1967
Levy, David, M., Security in an Age of Apostasy, Israel My Glory, April/May 1987
Lloyd-Jones, D. M., Expository Sermons on II Peter, Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1983
Macarthur, John F., Jr., Beware the Pretenders, Wheaton, Illinois: Victor Books, 1983
Manton, Thomas, An Exposition on the Epistle of Jude, London: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1958
Moody, Dale, The Letters of John, Waco, Texas: Word Books Publishers, 1970
Mounce, Robert M., A Living Hope, Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1982
Nisbet, Alexander, An Exposition of I and II Peter, Carlisle, Pa.: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1982
Norvell, David and Duane Kingston, Golden Words, #2, Little Rock: Baptist Publishing House, 1984
Rees, Paul S., Triumphant in Trouble, Westwood, N.J.: Fleming H. Revel Company, 1962
Ross, Alexander, The Epistles of James and John, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1970
Sawtelle, Henry, Commentary on the Epistles of John, Philadelphia: The American Baptist Publication Society, 1888
Spence, H. D. M. and Joseph S. Exell, Editors, The Pulpit Commentary, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, Volumes XXI, XXII, 1950
Stevenson, Herbert S., James Speaks For Today, Westwood, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1966
Valentine, Foy, Where The Action Is, Studies in James, Waco, Texas: Word Books, 1969
Van Gorder, Paul R., Keep the Faith, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Radio Bible Class, n.d.
Vaughan, Curtis, I, II, III John, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970
Vine, W. E., The Epistles of John, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970
Westwood, Thomas C., The Epistles of Peter, Glendale, California: The Bible Treasury Hour, Inc., n.d.
Wolff, Richard, Contemporary Commentaries, General Epistles of James and Jude, Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, 1969
Yeager, Randolph 0., The Renaissance New Testament, Gretna, Louisiana: Pelican Publishing Company, Inc., Volumes XVI and XVII, 1985
Zodhiates, Spiros, The Behavior of Belief, An Exposition of James Based upon the Original Greek Text, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1959
No Authors Given, Eight Translations - New Testament - King James Version, The Living Bible, Phillips Modern English, Revised Standard Version, Today's English Version, New International Version, Jerusalem Bible, and New English Bible, Wheaton, Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1985
Author Unknown, Needful Writing, The Advancer, September 25, 1966>
Jude's brief message of twenty-five verses is the vestibule to the book of Revelation which unfolds God's apocalyptic judgments coming upon His creation. Jude has been rightly called "the preface to the Revelation." In this last epistle of the New Testament the writer relates the deeds and teachings of evil men who will be living on the earth at the end of the church age.
"When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?" Jesus asked" (Luke 18:8). The Apostle Paul supplies the answer in the affirmative, but he also indicates that in the end time there will be a "falling away" (II Thessalonians 2:3). He also says in I Timothy 4:1, "In the latter times some shall depart from the faith." In II Timothy 4:3 he says, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrines."
In fact, the main object and purpose of the Epistle of Jude is to exhort his readers to "earnestly contend for the faith." Jude brings the teachings of the entire Bible about apostasy to a tremendous climax. He takes his readers back prior to the dawn of human history to the fall of angels, then he speaks of the judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah, the dispute between Michael the archangel and Satan and judgment upon some who came out of Egypt along with the children of Israel. There is a tremendous sweep in subject matter and a wealth of revelation in this small Epistle of Jude.
Some commentators compare II Peter with Jude, and it is true that there is a literary relationship within the two epistles. Compared with II Peter, Jude uses simple constructions and figurative language such as clouds, wind, fruitless trees, waves and stars used to describe the state of ungodly people.
1. The Writer and His Subjects - 1, 2
The writer introduces himself and gives some of his qualifications and authority to write such an epistle when he pens these words, "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified (egapemenois) or loved by God the Father, and preserved (teteremenois) or kept in Jesus Christ, and called (kletois): mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied." Jude identifies himself as a "servant," or literally "a bond slave" of Jesus Christ. He could have said he was a half-brother to the Lord Jesus Christ, but he wanted to be known as "a bond-slave," of Jesus. A bond-slave is one who has no mind of his own, no will of his own and no way of his own. He gives us a good lesson here, unless we, too, put our blessed Lord first, making Him the absolute Lord of our lives, we will find little incentive to serve and little profit in our study of the entire Word of God.
In the latter part of verse one, the writer sets forth a triad of blessings upon his readers: (1) the believer is sanctified by God, the Father, or literally "beloved in God, the Father," (2) the believer is preserved in Jesus Christ, and (3) the believer is called.
This first blessing is our sanctification. We are sanctified, set apart or made holy when we are saved by God's grace. Jude uses the perfect tense here - meaning that our "preservation" has happened, is still happening, and it goes on happening. The second blessing is the fact that we are "preserved in Jesus Christ." We are "kept for Jesus Christ." Our eternal salvation does not depend upon our holiness, but upon God's moral perfection. This word "kept" or "continually kept" suggests a present possession as the result of a past action and the continuing result all the way to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ for His own. Then the believer is "called." To "call" means to summon a man to duty or to responsibility. We have been called, "out of darkness into his marvelous light" (I Peter 2:9), "called according to his purpose," (Romans 8:28), and "called not according to our works, but according to his purpose and grace," (II Timothy 1:9).
Furthermore, Jude greets his readers with "mercy, peace and love be multiplied." Mercy (eleos) is divine pity expressing itself in help for the needy. Peace (eirene) is that inner feeling which comes from a right relationship with God. Love (agape) is that bond uniting believers to the Lord and to one another, in these graces, we have the upward look in the word MERCY, the inward look in the word PEACE and the outward look in the word LOVE. When these graces are "multiplied," or literally "filled up to the brim and overflowing," the true child of God is able to cope with the great apostasy of the last days.
2. The Purpose of the Letter - 3, 4
In verse 3 Jude gives his reason or purpose for writing, "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." The "diligence" (spouden) mentioned here gives a strong purpose and desire to write encouragement to the saints of God, those who are possessors of a "common (koines) ordinary salvation." This salvation is common in that it is the property of all true believers. Then Jude says that it is needful to write. God has impressed upon him, literally "compressed" him to write this information. Pressure was brought to bear upon Jude; the epistle is not a mere human document but a message from the mind and heart of God. The reader is admonished to "earnestly contend for the faith." The word here is to "agonize" (epagonizesthai), contend or to stand up for a thing which is assaulted and which an adversary desires to take away. We are to strive like the athletes of the Greek games "agonized" to win the prize. How can we contend for the faith (that body of Bible doctrine, TRUTH, which makes up the whole of the truth of God); that which is believed by all Christians? We are contending when we declare the whole counsel of God from the pulpit and when we give an unflinching witness for our blessed Savior. The Sunday school teacher who is true to the Scriptures is contending for the faith as surely as the missionary who lives in the midst of paganism. So Jude would say, "agonize for the faith" - to surrender one vital point of Christian doctrine will start your church on a downward course!!
Verse 4 tells about an apostasy that will take place. "For there are certain men crept in unawares." These men "have sneaked in," says Goodspeed. The literal meaning of "crept in" (pareisedusan) is to dive, to sink, to go under; that is, to slip in stealthily, thievishly, or obliquely. Allison says, "they came in the side door" (p. 18). They are "serpent-like" worming their way in or wriggling in. Peter writes (II Peter 2:1), false teachers "secretly (privily) shall bring in destructive (damnable) heresies." These men were "of old ordained to his condemnation, ungodly men." Old Testament Scriptures speak of such; the word used by Jude means "that which was written aforehand." Later we shall see when the apostates were pointed out in Old Testament days.
These ungodly men turn "the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and deny the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." Lasciviousness (aselgeian) means pernicious, filthy and wanton ways. Their unrestrained vice and gross immorality point them out as enemies of God. They deny, disown, repudiate, and reject the grace of God. "We, then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain" (II Corinthians 6:1). Evidently it was common knowledge that there are some who receive the grace of God in vain; that is, these people hear the gospel but never truly accept it. They may have had a superficial belief; they may be like the hearers of Jesus' Parable of the Soils (Luke 8:13). They "receive the word with joy...who for a while believe, and in time of testing (temptation) fall away."
* * * * * * * * * *
Doubtless the Old Testament Scripture to which Jude refers is Numbers 14 where the children of Israel at Kadesh Barnea rebelled against the commands of God and suffered the consequences. They murmured against Moses and Aaron, "Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt!" So God permitted them to wander another thirty-eight years in the wilderness. All told, they wandered in the wilderness for forty years, one year for each day the spies spent spying out the land of Canaan. The children of Israel "could not enter (Canaan) because of their unbelief" (Hebrews 3:19).
The reader may think that Jude is rather severe in his condemnation of the false teachers. But as Yeager says, "False teachers, such as (Jude) describes, richly deserve all that he said, and more, all of which they are destined to receive. One of the ways that the "called ones" are "preserved" is the preaching, understanding and acceptance of the truth, which Jude defends" (Vol. XVII, p. 452).
Jesus gave an illustration of this fact in the Parable of the Tares (Matthew 13:24 - 30) and He explains the parable (13:38 - 40). "The tares are the children of the wicked one; the enemy that sowed them is the devil...the tares are gathered and burned in the fire." False believers have sought fellowship with the true believers, and they imperil the saints of God.
In the Parable of the Soils, Jesus says of the apostates, they "hear, receive the word with joy...which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away" (Luke 8:13). These individuals may receive "light," but they do not have "life." These apostates are ungodly, they pervert the grace of God, and they deny the only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. They may be professing Christians, but they are not possessors of eternal life.
Observe the downward, trend - first, the absence of any real reverence for God; second, a twisting of His blessed doctrine of grace into an excuse for sin; and, third, an open denial of the Son of God as Savior and Lord. When these sins are committed there is no redemption for the individual. "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate" (Titus 1:16). Departure from the truth of God is nothing new; in fact, it is as old as history itself. Jude proceeds to give familiar Old Testament examples of a falling away from God; the nation Israel, the angels who sinned, and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. Sacred and secular history alike bear witness to the truth of the well-known axiom "History repeats itself."
1. The Example of the Exodus - 5
In the introduction to these examples Jude would say, "Refresh your memories and prepare for your tasks as the true children of God." "The Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not." According to this verse of Scripture, one may be saved from his sins and then become guilty of unbelief, and be judged of God because of it. Israel lost her opportunity for life in the Promised Land, but it is not said that she lost her salvation. Some erroneously make the land of Canaan or the Promised Land a type of heaven. Actually the land of Canaan is typical of victorious living. If the Bible teaches us anything, it teaches us "the security of the believer;" that is, if a person is saved, he is saved for eternity. But it also teaches us that the saved can cheat themselves out of many blessing by failing to take God at His word.
If an Israelite trusted Jehovah God for salvation, he is in heaven today although he may have fallen physically in the wilderness. Without doubt the mixed multitude which came out of Egypt included many unbelievers, but no one would maintain that all who perished in the wilderness also perished eternally. If this were so, then Caleb and Joshua were the only true believers, since they alone of all who crossed the Red Sea above twenty years of age, who entered the land of promise. Jude and the Apostle Paul are not alone in warning of the possibility of the destruction of believers by the Lord if they are guilty of certain sins. "There is a sin unto death" (I John 5:16).
Deliverance from Egyptian bondage was more than physical, it was also spiritual. The killing of the Passover Lamb, and the sprinkling of the blood on the door-posts and lintels of the door was symbolic and prefigured the death of God's Lamb. Some trusted God for spiritual deliverance, some only trusted Him for physical deliverance. The punishment of the Israelites was physical death in the wilderness before their descendants entered into the Promised Land.
In I Corinthians 10 the writer reiterates the story of Israel in the wilderness. Chapter 10 and verse 5 says, "But with many of them God was not well pleased; for they were overthrown in the wilderness." The turning point in many a life of the Israelites was at Kadesh Barnea. God said to Moses (Numbers 14:11, 29, 30), "How long will this people provoke me? And how long will it be before they believe me, for all the signs which I have shown among them?...Your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness; and all who were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward, who have murmured against me, doubtless ye shall not come into the land." See also Psalm 78:22, 32; 106:7, 13, 21, 24.
The writer of Hebrews has much to say on this subject. He tells of how God was provoked by Israel's disobedience, " (Jehovah) swore in (His) wrath, they shall not enter into (God's) rest...So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 3:11, 19). Then the writer admonishes his readers, "Let us, therefore, fear lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it" (Hebrews 4:1).
In the days of the Apostle Paul, there was a man in the church at Corinth who was living in fornication and rebellion, so Paul wrote, "In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus" (I Corinthians 5:4, 5).
2. The Angels Who Fell - 6
Verse 6 speaks of "angels who kept not their first estate (archen) first in position, or first in dignity, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains (desmois) or bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." Apparently this was punishment because of pride or seeking to exalt themselves. So the scene changes from the world of men to the angelic realm.
Just when these events took place we are not told, but it is sufficient to say here, that this revelation of punishment overtaking the angels who sinned, is certainly given to emphasize the serious nature of apostasy. Angels have never been subjects of gospel address; that is, subject to being saved or lost according to their faith in God as are human beings. But God shows us the seriousness of their actions by hurling them down to a dark place of confinement, where they have remained for thousands of years. They are reserved in everlasting chains until the judgment day. Their doom is sealed, and at least a part of their judgment was executed speedily when apostasy came in. Their fall is final.
Jude writes that these angels are reserved for judgment and punishment. These angels, along with the unsaved, will be judged by the Lord Jesus Christ. "For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son" (John 5:22). Paul stated in his sermon on Mars' Hill that God "hath appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; concerning which he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead" (Acts 17:31).
Peter adds some information to the judgment of angels (II Peter 2:4, 9), in which he writes that God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment. Verse 9 says that "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished."
3. The Inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah - 7
The third example of apostasy is found in verse 7, "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication (ekporneusasai) or immorality, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." Jude indicates in this verse that apostasy leads to gross immorality; it ends in physical degradation. The prophet Ezekiel tells of the conditions existing in Sodom and Gomorrah when this gross immorality took place. These mentionable sins were: "pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness." Whenever men are proud of their own achievements, enjoy affluent living, and have a great deal of spare time, their sensual desires become uncontrolled and conditions become so abominable that God's judgment must fall.
One wonders if in this century in which we live we have witnessed such a renewed outbreak of sins and perversions that even worldly-wise leaders stand aghast. The headlines of any major newspaper tell us of crime and immorality in every city in America, and this should warn us to take a far more literal view of the book of Jude than has been common in past centuries.
In Romans 1 the apostle writes of men who once knew God and failing to glorify Him as God, they became vain in their reasoning, and their foolish hearts were darkened. When men did these things, God gave them up to uncleanness, vile affections and a reprobate mind. This was true of Sodom and Gomorrah. Could this not be true also in these last days of which Jude writes?
The inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah were physically destroyed by fire from God out of heaven, but they will suffer for their sins eternally in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone. They will be punished for their sins of fornication, but their cardinal sin was rejection of God and His Son as their personal Savior.
To hear the truth and then turn away is apostasy - a great sin in the sight of God. According to Jude, this sin seems to be greater than to live as did those cities of Sodom and Gomorrah which had to be destroyed by fire from heaven as an example for all who should afterward live upon the earth.
* * * * * * * * * *
God overthrew the cities of the plain as a specimen, an example that lives before us in history. Sodomites burned in unclean lust so God burned them with the fire of vengeance.
"A PHYSICAL destruction was sent upon the children of Israel because of their sin of lack of faith in God. A SPIRITUAL destruction was sent upon the angels who because of pride and lust rebelled against God. A PHYSICAL and SPIRITUAL destruction was sent upon the people of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their rebellion against God and their open immorality" (Allison, p. 38).
1. A Triad of Teachers - 8
Jude describes the apostates as filthy dreamers (enupniazomenoi), giving the impression that these individuals are asleep to the whole world of spiritual truth; they act like they are hypnotized or stupefied. The apostate defiles (miainousin) or pollutes the flesh, he despises dominions (kurioteta) or governments and he speaks evil of dignities. This first sin "defiling the flesh" characterized the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah. "To defile" means to dye with another color, to stain, to soil, to besmear. Those guilty of this sin may not only defile their flesh with other men but with animals also. The defiling of the flesh is one of the sins that accompanies the rejection of the truth. There is no power to overcome the human, fleshly nature except the power of God. God's power is available to those who know His truth and to those who abide in the faith. True faith in Christ is manifested in a walk which is not according to the flesh but after the Holy Spirit. True faith leads to good works which are fruits produced by the Spirit of God. A "turning away" from the truth of God's Word always produces evil results.
These evil works according to Galatians 5:19 - 21 are: "adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft (sorcery), hatred, variance (strife), emulations (jealousy), wrath, strife (factions), seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revelings and such like."
The second sin of which the apostates are guilty is the despising of dominion or authority. This sin is referred to in verse 4 when Jude writes of those who deny "the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." There are those who reject authority as did the angels which kept not their first estate (verse 6). Not only do these apostates despise the authority of Christ, but they despise any authority - be it religious or civil. This explains the fact that some so-called religious leaders are often found associated with subversive organizations in our country.
The third sin is speaking "evil of dignities," or the practice of speaking in judgment of someone in a place of authority; they rail at, or revile people. This sin was committed by the children of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness. They spoke against the authority of Moses as he led them on their wilderness journey. There is, today, a wide-spread criticism of God and also of men who are in places of authority and leadership. Not only is there the practice of speaking in judgment to the Prince of glory, an assault on His holy birth, His sinless life, His substitutionary death for man's sins, but there is an assault upon all that is good, upright and righteous. Men and institutions truly honoring and obeying God in this generation are attacked and accused of all manner of evil.
Huther is quoted as having said of these people, "They were living in the arbitrary fancies of their own perverted sense, which rendered them deaf to the truth and warning of the divine word" (Wolff, p. 81). Paul refers to such behavior in Ephesians 4:19, "Who, being past feeling, have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness." Also in I Timothy 4:2, he further writes, "Speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron."
Jude writes that the apostates sinned in like manner as Israel, the angels and the Sodomites. He uses another triplet or triad - (1) defiling the flesh, (2) despising dominions and (3) speaking evil of dignities.
2. Example of Michael - 9
The subject of railing judgment is important enough to merit further illustration which is given in this verse. Herein we have two mighty angels disputing over the body of one of God's prophets. Michael, an archangel, the one "who is like unto God," is confronted by Satan, "the adversary." Satan is the one who attempts always to deceive the people. It is Satan who always attempts to thwart God's purpose, and to ruin God's plans for the lives of men. He is the tempter and the accuser of the brethren. He is the one who always stands in opposition to God and all that is good.
We do not know exactly when this incident took place, but we can draw some conclusions for the "why" of the incident. Satan has always tried to defeat the worship of the true God. If Satan could have obtained the body of Moses, he would, no doubt, have preserved it for purposes of worship. The body could have been embalmed and carried into the land of Canaan and made an idol of worship. The devil has always been a counterfeiter. If he can get people to worship someone else or something besides God, he is pleased. People today worship at the tombs of Lenin and Stalin; they worship bits of wood, pieces of bone, rotten bits of clothing and almost anything. People worship many things other than the Lord God; the devil is in the business of substituting or counterfeiting.
Since Moses is reputed to have been the greatest prophet in Israel, it is logical to believe that Satan could have desired to substitute the worship Moses, the great prophet of God, for the worship of Jehovah God. Possibly this is the reason that only God Himself knows where Moses' grave is until this day. "So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And (God) buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor; but no man knoweth of his sepulcher unto this day" (Deuteronomy 34:5, 6).
A further lesson is gleaned from the act that even Michael did not argue with the devil but rather said, "The Lord rebuke (epitimesai) or charge thee." The example of Michael, the chief prince of God's hosts, should be taken as a terrible warning against evil speaking. Rather than for Michael to argue against Satan in his own power or to execute judgment against him, he called upon God to rebuke him. Attacking God's people, speaking or writing accusations against institutions which honor the Lord and are honored by Him are acts which bear the marks of a falling away from the teaching of the Bible rather than subjecting to It.
The judgment of God is according to truth; the judgment of men is not. Satan's power to deceive is nowhere more graphically demonstrated than when one man judges another. Michael, the archangel, dared not bring a railing accusation against the devil but rather permitted the responsibility of judgment to rest in the wisdom of Jehovah God. In these words Michael expressed his confidence in God, his zeal for God and his submissiveness to God.
3. Men Can Be Like Brute Beasts - 10
The apostate does not hesitate to speak out in condemnation concerning matters about which he does not know enough to make him a judge over others. Jude denounces these sins of the tongue. The apostates revile angels, they speak harsh things against God, and they are grumblers, loud-mouthed boasters and flatterers. What these apostates don't know they blaspheme, and what knowledge they have destroys them. They are like irrational beasts (zoa aloya) and perish like them. "Man that is in honor, and understandeth not, is like the beasts that perish" so says the Psalmist (Psalm 49:20). Also the apostates open their "mouth in blasphemy against God to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven" (Revelation 13:6).
The apostate is a fleshly man possessing no higher life than the flesh. He is "of the world and worldly," and while scorning true believers as "other worldly," he interests himself in the things of this present life. So the apostate is represented here in verse 10 as one who rails at the truth, he limits himself for this present life to a mere natural knowledge, and finally perishes eternally in his own corruption. For those who embark upon the course of apostasy there is a downward path of acceleration.
For those who are mouth-professors and not heart-possessors there is nothing ahead for them but trouble and heartache, heartbreak, difficulty, tribulation and distress.
"To know naturally is to know without counsel, human reason or the light of God's Spirit, and with the blind force of nature and bestial motion, only following natural appetite and outward senses" (Wolff, p. 93). Jude uses scathing irony here; what these false teachers don't know they blaspheme, and what they understand destroys them. Yeager states, "Animals are irrational, but self-conscious by instinct. But men, even though they are false teachers, are not without the power of reason as Romans 1:18 - 20 makes clear. But they were not using their minds, but were motivated only by what can be known by unaided sense perception" (Vol. XVII, p. 465).
1. A Triad of Old Testament Examples - 11
In verse 11 the writer mentions Cain, a tiller of the soil; Balaam, the false prophet; and Korah, a prince in Israel. Apostasy is not confined to one class of persons. It touches prophets, princes and people alike; apostates can be found in the pulpit, the palace, or the poorhouse. There is remarkable progress of thought in this verse.
Apostates first enter upon a wrong path (typified by the WAY of Cain); then they run riotously down that path (typical of Balaam); and finally they perish at its end (of which we find Korah a type). Apostasy moves at an ever-accelerating pace on the road which runs downhill. The apostate is one who will not have the Son of God to reign over him. He knowingly chooses the WAY of Cain for the way of Christ, the ERROR of Balaam for the truth of Christ, and the GAINSAYING of Korah for the life of Christ.
This passage in Jude could be translated literally, "in the way of Cain they went away, and in the wandering of Balaam for reward they rushed headlong, and in the rebellion of Korah they perished." "The way of Cain" is the way of sinners or the way of the ungodly. Cain lacked the reverential awe toward God that he should have possessed. He failed to bring the kind of offering which God required. Instead of bringing a blood sacrifice he brought the "fruit of the ground" which he had tilled with his own hands. Cain is the very type of a cynical, selfish person who desires to have his own way rather than respecting God's way. The writer of Hebrews writes, "And without the shedding of blood is no remission" (9:22). God's way has always been the "way of a blood sacrifice." Cain was a man of excessive self-assurance, which drove him to reject God's method of justification, and at length to a most fearful outburst of passion. Fronmuller states that Cain acted "upon mere natural instincts, on the selfish impulses of nature, in contempt of the warning of God in the conscience and in God's word" (Wolff, p. 95).
Balaam is the next example which is introduced by the writer. This man was a false prophet, greedy for gold, who went to God and asked Him if he could curse Israel (Numbers 22 - 24). Although God would not grant the request he approached God again with the same proposition, again he was denied. Finally he formulated a plan of deception which resulted in Israel's sin against Jehovah God and because of their sin God brought His wrath upon Israel, and Balaam received his money from the Moabites and the Midianites. Balaam got his money, but it cost him his life. Jude says that the apostates run "greedily after the error (plane) of Balaam for reward (misthon) or hire." The error of all apostates is the sacrificing of eternal riches for temporal gains. Balaam was heard to say, "Let me die the death of the righteous" (Numbers 23:10). One cannot live for the devil, and work for the devil, and then expect to die the death of the righteous. Balaam wanted to do what he knew to be very wicked, and contrary to the express command of God; he was a prophet for hire who defied angelic authority like the opponents of Jude 8" (Wolff, p. 97).
Core or Korah was a Levite, a prince of Israel, who rejected the leader whom God had appointed to stand between Himself and His people. He spoke evil of Moses and because of his sin, God opened up the earth, and it swallowed him alive. Korah spoke against (antilogia) or contradicted God's word; he spoke against God's leader and he perished in the pit.
So Jude gives us three examples of apostasy and its downward path toward destruction. Cain IGNORED GOD'S WORD, Balaam subtly OPPOSED GOD'S WORD which had been spoken, Korah appeared in OPEN REBELLION AGAINST GOD'S WORD. Thus these three examples show us the true colors of apostasy!
2. Examples from Nature - 12, 13
In these verses Jude draws five vivid and striking pictures of false teachers or apostates. These pictures are drawn from the natural world. Jude has now covered the whole of creation from angels to man to brute beasts. There yet remains the realm of nature. In two short verses his inspired word pictures bring before us the earth, the air, the trees, the sea and the starry heavens. Five natural phenomena provide vivid instructive pictures of the true nature of apostasy.
Jude refers to hidden rocks which tell us of unseen danger, waterless clouds which have false promise, trees without fruit which give forth a barren profession, raging waves which produce wasted effort, and wandering stars which are aimless in their courses. These five references suggest selfishness, helplessness, fruitlessness, shamefulness and the hopelessness of all apostates.
Verse 12 begins like this, "These are spots (spilades) or blemishes in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear." This word "spot" refers to a "reef" or "hidden rock" which destroys the ship that runs against it. Love feasts were attended by the early Christians in which they enjoyed fellowship with one another. The less-fortunate Christians were supplied a bountiful meal by the wealthier believers. All shared alike in a demonstration of love which bound together all members of the local church.
In the early church these blessings were enjoyed by all, until some began to come to these gatherings who thought only of themselves to the exclusion of the poor hungry members. Jude recognizes this selfishness as a manifestation of apostasy. Some began to feed themselves, enjoying their abundance while others about them suffered hunger; thus they revealed that they did not belong in the heavenly atmosphere of the saints. These individuals, furthermore, made these feasts into occasions of gluttony and self-gratification. The Apostle Paul refers to these facts in I Corinthians 11:17ff.
Verse 12 continues as the writer speaks of "clouds they are without water, carried about of winds." The clouds of which Jude writes are clouds that give promise of refreshing rain for the thirsty land, but they bring nothing but disappointment (Proverbs 25:14). Clouds without water are like professing Christians who not only deceive and disappoint those who thirst for the Water of life, but they also carry the threat of developing storm. They may be carried about by every "wind of doctrine" which may come along. They are unstable; they are not true Christians but are carried aside by the "prince of the power of the air."
The mere professors have never drunk of the Water of Life, nor can they point others to the Christ Who said, "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14). The apostate may promise help and blessing but is never able to provide the spiritual needs of a thirsty soul because he is a stranger to the true Water of Life (the Lord Jesus Christ); he is a stranger to the God of all Grace.
"Trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots." Literally, "trees, late autumn ones," The apostate is like the "late autumn tree," which bears no fruit, and therefore may be looked upon as dead and worthless. No amount of pruning and pampering can restore it, for the trouble is deep down in the roots. Our Lord said, "Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up" (Matthew 15:13). Jude says of these apostates - not only are they without fruit, but they are twice dead. Apostates are dead to the fruit of profession and dead to the root of possession. Their fruitlessness is a sign of death even though they may look alive. Paul says that the individual "that liveth in pleasure is dead while he liveth" (I Timothy 5:6). In God's sight these apostates are already uprooted and cast into the lake of fire. How different are they to the tree referred to in Psalm 1:3?
Further description is given of the apostate, "raging (agria) or wild waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame." They are like the sea beating with fierce, untamed, wild waves against its rocky barriers, thus symbolizing the restlessness and helplessness of those who deliberately reject God's truth. Isaiah, the prophet, declares, "But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked" (Isaiah 57:20, 21).
Throughout the history of Christianity there has come upon the church what seemed to be tidal waves of destructive power, but each successive onslaught has died in the presence of God's people, with them still standing and sending forth the light of the glorious gospel over the troubled sea of the world. Satan's furious action against God's people has been in vain. Although debris, refuse, dirt and scum of this world may litter the shoreline; God's truth and God's church stands steadfast!
Jude concludes his five word pictures by saying that the apostates are like, "wandering stars (planetai asteres), to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever." Our world is one of a family of planets revolving around the sun and controlled directly by the hand of the Creator God and indirectly by the solar system. Whenever a star wanders out of its orbit, it becomes a "shooting star" or a wandering star. Jude says the apostate falls away or wanders away, flashing brilliantly for a time, but the friction he encounters soon burn him to a cinder. Their profession is false and like a wandering star they are doomed to eternal darkness. "The blackness of darkness forever" is equivalent to everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord.
* * * * * * * * * *
So the writer has spoken of these deceivers as presenting themselves among the true Christians at the love feast; next they are carried away; then they are represented as fruitless, uprooted and dead. After death their shame is mentioned; then with outer darkness as their final destiny. How dreadful! How sure is God's judgement upon the deceiver!
Just where did Jude get the information about Enoch? Some say it came from an apocryphal book of Enoch. It is true that this book was not included in the canon of Scripture. But "we can be sure the Holy Spirit, who inspired Jude to write what he did, guided him in selecting accurate information, whatever its source" (Macarthur, p. 74).
1. The Person of Enoch - 14a
The writer now introduces his readers to an Old Testament character named Enoch. A man, of whom Moses wrote, "Enoch walked with God; and he was not; for God took him" (Genesis 5:24). Enoch was of the seventh generation from Adam. A striking and significant fact about Enoch is that he fathered a child named Methuselah. The name of the boy baby meant, "When he is dead, it (the flood of judgment) will be sent." As long as Methuselah lived God would withhold His hand of judgment; he was a reminder that one day God's judgment would fall. At the death of Enoch's son - the flood of judgment was imminent. His life was a reminder of the longsuffering of God, but also the promise that judgment was sure to come. Jude would have us know that apostates will be judged whether judgment is imminent or forthcoming at a later date.
Furthermore, not even the translation of Enoch turned men away from their sinfulness, so far as we know. Although the lives of godly men today point to the fact that Jesus is coming, men will not turn from their wicked ways. Today the Christian possesses the incentive to godly living as did Enoch. Time is short; the coming of the Lord is sure. The world is under doom from God.
What the writer seems to be trying to impress upon his readers is the fact that man must know that one day he must face the Righteous Judge, and man will give an accounting of his deeds whether they are good or bad.
2. The Prophecy of Enoch - 14b - 16
Jude speaks of Enoch as prophesying that, "the Lord cometh (elthen) or approacheth with ten thousands (muriasin) or a large number of his saints, to execute judgment." If it were not for the book of Jude we would know practically nothing about the preaching and evangelizing of the generations prior to the flood, except for the work of Noah.
There are at least four notable facts about verses 14 and 15. First, the coming of the Lord is SURE. Enoch prophesied, "Behold the Lord CAME." In giving this truth the Holy Spirit led the writer and the prophet to use the past tense, "CAME," rather than the present tense. The past tense is the historic tense of prophecy. In God's sight it has already taken place; it is a prophetic certainty. It will take place, however, in history. So the return of the Lord is certain. It is as certain as the fact that there is a God in heaven. Manton says, "(The Lord) shall as certainly come as if He were come already" (p. 290).
Secondly, we know that the Lord will be ACCOMPANIED BY A HOST. The Scripture says, "With ten thousand of his saints" or "with his holy myriads." The Apostle Paul writes in I Thessalonians 3:12, 13, "And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you; to the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ WITH ALL HIS SAINTS." These "holy myriads" seen by Enoch may be said to have included both holy angels and also the redeemed saints of God from all generations. The Old Testament prophet Daniel spoke of this event, "Thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; the judgment was set, and the books were opened" (7:10).
The third fact relates to the PURPOSE of the Lord's coming. He is coming "to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." At the Lord's first coming, He came as God's Sacrifice for sin; this time, He is coming in judgment upon those sinners who have rejected Him. Who will be judged? Enoch said simply "all," but parallel scriptures indicate that at this time "all the unsaved will be judged." At this juncture - the saved have already been judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
When Christ descends from heaven with all His saints, He will at this time judge the unsaved at the Great White Throne Judgment. Jude says that the Lord comes to convince all that are UNGODLY (asebeis from a, which is a negative + sebo which means devout, hence the undevout or ungodly). He repeats the word "ungodly" four times in this one verse. Jude reveals that God takes notice not only of works of ungodliness, but also the manner in which these works have been committed. There may be the suggestion here that ungodly deeds are sometimes wrought unknowingly; but the thought behind every deed is known to God. He knows when an ungodly deed is also ungodly committed. The Lord looks on the heart and always knows the desires and motives of the heart. The apostates have sinned not accidentally, but deliberately, sold themselves to sin, wallowed in it, and pleased themselves in their wickedness. The words of this verse are strikingly similar, although not word for word, from Enoch's book 1:9. Enoch used the present tense while Jude used the prophetic aorist.
Yeager translates verse 16 thus, "These men are grumblers, malcontents, who precede according to their evil desires and their mouths speak with impressive words; they curry favor with important people in order to gain an advantage" (Vol XVII, p. 476). He says further of these grumblers, "soured on life; caustic critics; their behavior is dictated by their lusts. They are arrogant and florid in speech - even bombastic. Most comtemptibly they are politicians - utterly insincere hypocrites, willing to say or do anything in order to gain a personal advantage, particularly if they are dealing with someone whom they regard as important and powerful" (Ibid).
Jude indicates that you can recognize an apostate in three ways. They murmur (goggustai), or grumble they complain and they walk after their own lusts. Those who murmur are dissatisfied with their lot in life and accuse God. Murmuring is not a sin of minor importance; it is one of the hallmarks of apostasy. A complainer (mempsimoiroi) or malcontents are the persons who find faults. While murmuring was directed against the Person of Christ and God; fault-finding was directed against Christ's followers.
The third way an apostate can be recognized is that HE WALKS AFTER HIS OWN PASSIONS. He is a loud-mouth boaster, and he flatters people in order to gain advantage. So here you have the apostates real character. He murmurs against Christ; he complains against Christ's followers and he walks after his own lusts. These individuals will encourage the use of swelling words or flattering words in the place of sound words. They will introduce policies which will make personal or ecclesiastical favor the criterion in the choice of leadership. Apostates pay no attention to God's WORD, they pay no attention to God's WILL, and they pay no attention to God's WAY! "Since the fall (of man), he is always quarreling with his Maker, either against His decrees, or His laws, or His providence" (Manton, p. 300).
3. Heed the Apostle's Message - 17 - 19
In verse 17 Jude refers to such passages as Acts 20:29, 30; II Peter 3:2; I Timothy 1:4 and II Timothy 3:1 - 9. What Jude is trying to impress upon his readers is that his teaching is in line with apostolic doctrine. "Remember...how that (the apostles) told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts."
Verse 18 speaks of a "mockers" (empaiktai) or scoffers, ones who hold up to scorn the teaching of the word of God; he makes a mockery of sin and ridicules those who believe the Bible. "Fools make a mock at sin" (Proverbs 14:9). In their flaunting the revelation of God, they demonstrate that they are numbered among the fools of whom Solomon wrote. The "last time" or "last days" of which Jude writes are those days between the first coming and the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The last days embrace the "gospel age."
Another striking word picture is painted in verse 18, "who should walk after their own ungodly lusts." The same men are spoken of in verse 10 as "brute beasts," led about as animals under the complete subjection of a master. Their master is Satan; they are in slavery to corruption and sin.
"These are they who separate (themselves), sensual (psuchikoi) or unspiritual, having not the Spirit." These men make separations; they cause divisions or breaches in the fellowship of the saints. They bring about divisions because of certain limits; these limits are those which God has set up in His Word for the control of human conduct. Splits, divisions and quarrels result within the ranks of Christendom because so many of the people know not the Lord Jesus Christ.
These individuals are "sensual," "animal-like," or "worldly." Furthermore, they have not the Holy Spirit. In other words, they are unsaved. "If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Romans 8:9). What applies to the child of God is the direct opposite of these apostates. A child of God is convicted of sin by the Spirit, sealed by the Spirit, indwelt by the Spirit, taught by the Spirit, and led by the Spirit. The apostate is a stranger to any of these characteristics. Solemn indeed are the words of this epistle as Jude admonishes the true believer to mark or observe the apostate! Unless he turns to Christ in child-like faith and believes, he is forever lost!
Most of Jude is given over to the ungodly people who are lacking in reverential awe toward God, those who are mouth-professors but not heart-possessors. But now Jude comes to talk specifically to God's people about what we are to do in these last days.
1. Further Exhortation - 20 - 23
Jude writes, "But ye, beloved, building up (epoikodomountes) yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." In verses 20 and 21, the writer declares how that the believer may be fortified against false teaching and how he may be provided with a strong phalanx for attack. First, he is admonished to build himself up on the most holy faith. The Apostle Paul put it this way, the Christian is "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself, being the chief cornerstone." Jude, however, has in mind, "building ourselves," that is; character building. "This metaphor suggests a patient industry, thoughtful method, graduated progress and upward aspirations" (Wolff, p. 126). Yeager suggests that the Christian is "to build upon; to place a superstructure on a foundation. Metaphorically (this word is used), of a Christian, having accepted Christ, who now goes on to build a life of ethical achievement; to grow in grace - I Corinthians 3:10, 10, 12, 14 with reference to the body of true believers built up as a building ( Christ) in a figure similar to that of a human body (I Corinthians 12:12; Romans 12:4) (Vol. XVI, p., 361).
The Apostle Peter writes concerning building in II Peter 1:5 - 7, "giving all diligence, add to you faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge; and to knowledge, temperance (self-control), add to self-control, patience; and to patience, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love (charity)." Jude's admonition must be understood quite literally. The saved bear the responsibility for self-development, for growth in Christian character and the cultivating of a Christian life that will glorify God in those things which we do. It is a lifelong task, and this can be accomplished only as we apply the teachings of the Scripture to our everyday lives.
The second admonition is "praying in the Holy Spirit." Available to every child of God is the communication of the individual with his God. Prayer that is voiced under the power and leadership of the Holy Spirit is pleasing to God; it is unselfish and motivated by love for the Lord and for others. The word used here for "prayer" (proseuchomenoi) refers to our regular communion with God in which we make known our petitions to Him. Prayer in the Spirit is prayer that issues from a heart indwelt, illuminated and controlled by the Holy Spirit of God.
A great, inspired commentary on prayer can be found in Romans 8:26, 27 in which the apostle wrote, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmity; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought; but the Spirit (Himself) maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God." James Moffet is quoted as saying, "Prayer is love in need appealing to love in power " (Allison, p. 61, 62).
A third admonition says, "keep or keeping (teresate) yourselves in the love of God." The writer does not say, "keep on loving God," but he directs us to enjoy God's love in all its reality. We are to keep ourselves in the conscious enjoyment of God's love. The Savior said, in John 15:9, "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you; continue ye in my love." Furthermore, he gives directions for our obedience to God by saying in verse 10, "If ye love my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love."
A fourth admonition here says, "looking for (prosechomenoi) or receiving the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." The Greek word "looking" is translated in other Scripture texts as "waiting" or an anticipation of a coming event such as Titus 2:13 which reads, "Looking for that blessed hope, and glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ." So, an atmosphere of eager anticipation seems at least implied in this verse. When the Lord Jesus Christ returns there will be mercy exercised to us but judgment upon the adversaries.
These two verses speak of an INWARD LOOK at the developing of Christian character; we are building. We continue with an OUTWARD LOOK at everything and everyone for whom we should intercede, and we are praying. We have the UPWARD LOOK at the One Who loves us and Who has made us His children. We are keeping ourselves in the love of God. Then we have the FORWARD LOOK to the return of the Lord. We are LOOKING, LONGING, and WAITING for His glorious appearance.
Now, just prior to the writer's benediction, he reveals to the saved their sacred duty to the unsaved. Verses 22, 23 read like this, "And of some have compassion (eleate) or pity, making a difference (diakrinomenous) or judging thoroughly; and others saved with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." Two groups of unsaved people claim our attention: (1) those who need tender compassion, because sincere doubts trouble them, and (2) those requiring a bold effort on our part that they might be snatched from the burning, and because they are deeply contaminated by the sins of this world.
The soul winner is to show great mercy to those whose minds are divided by doubt and uncertainty. These individuals need the loving compassion of a Christian witness when they are plagued to the point of desperation and become confused by various heresies and unorthodox teachings. Our responsibility is to carefully and patiently explain the truths of God's Word to them.
The second group are of such nature that it is required of the witness that he be bold in his admonition to them. Rather than pointing out God's love to them; they should be admonished to flee from God's wrath. A vehement effort is needed; they are to be seized or snatched as a "firebrand plucked out of the burning." In Genesis 19, we are told that Lot and his daughters were snatched as brands from the burning obstinate, but the Christian fears only the contagion of sin and not the sinners. We are to hate sin but we are to love the sinner!
3. The Security of the Believer - 24, 25
The last words of Jude in this epistle are an ascription of praise. He recognizes the fact, that the victory in this fight for the faith once for all delivered unto the saints, can be won only through our great Savior and Lord. Jude's benediction is one of the most lofty and grand to be found in the whole Bible. It ends with words of blessed assurance for the believers in Christ. The epistle began and ends with words of assurance for God's people who are living in dark days.
In all of Jude's writing, in all of the broad scope of truth concerning apostasy, there is nothing to suggest that a true child of God can become apostate. To the contrary, Jude simply echoes what the wise man said, "then shalt thou walk in thy way safely, and thy foot shall not stumble" (Proverbs 3:23). Furthermore, Isaiah said of those who "wait on the Lord...they shall run, and not be weary; and the shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31).
Jude writes in verse 24, "Now unto him that is able to keep (phulaxai) or save you from falling (aptaistous), and to present you faultless (amomous) or blameless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy." The words "now unto him" call upon the believer to turn his eyes away from the apostates to the infinite provision which is found in God Himself. The triune Godhead has a part in our salvation. Its source is in the gift of the Father, its provision is in the work of the Son, and its application is in the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Though the Christian may stumble, it is not because God has failed him. God is able and willing to keep us upright as we travel as pilgrims through this world of sin. God's Spirit is our Guide and God's Word is a Lamp unto our feet.
In God's Word there are at least three references to the ABILITY of God. "Now to him that is of POWER (Who is able) to establish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began." "Now unto him that is ABLE to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20). Jude says here, "Now unto him that is ABLE to keep you from falling." Our God has the ability to establish us for He is our Foundation, He has the ability to bless us abundantly for He is our Benefactor, and He has the ability to keep us from falling for He is our Sustainer.
God is not only able to keep us from falling. He is also able to make us stand blameless in the presence of His glory. Jude hurdles all the vicissitudes of life, all the grievous experiences that may befall a Christian in this life, and he says that God is able to set us "spotless " or "blameless" before the presence of our Savior. The amazing aspect of God's power and ability is that His grace not only changes our lives but makes us fit subjects for the life to come. This can bring much encouragement to the weary, foot-sore pilgrim for there is hope that beyond our next faltering steps may lie our eternal home beyond the skies. Now we walk step by step, as did Enoch and all at once Enoch was raptured to meet His Lord. There is always the possibility that the very next step a child of God may take is the step toward the throne of God in heaven. For when God our Savior picks us up from our walk upon the earth, He has the ability to set us in the presence of His glory without blemish or without reproach. Whenever the believer stands in the presence of God without reproach because of the person and work of Christ there will be a fullness of joy, and exultant, triumphant rejoicing.
The final verse says, "To the only wise God, our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen" Jude emphasizes for one last time the great truth denied by the apostates, the fact that God is Savior only for those who come to Him through Jesus Christ. "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5).
Human language cannot contain the fullness of the four words ascribing praise and worship to God in Jude's grand benediction - glory, majesty, dominion and power. GLORY speaks of the brightness and the manifested excellence of God. It is His divine radiance which cannot be endured by unregenerate man. MAJESTY refers to the incomparable, ineffable regal presence, the admirable highness and greatness of our God. DOMINION implies the strong rule of God throughout the whole of His universe. POWER is that irresistible divine authority and might exercised by our God. And yet - human words and wisdom are inadequate to try to ascribe to God the praise that is due unto Him. David's "Alleluia Chorus" from I Chronicles 29:11 is applicable here, "Thine, 0 Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty; for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, 0 Lord, and thou art exalted as head above all." Some day, and it may not be in the too far distant future, we will render to God the perfect worship and service He deserves.
Then Jude closes his inspired epistle by ascribing to God praise, "both now and ever. Amen." What a way to conclude a letter!! Jude is saying, "Verily, what I have written is true; these are faithful words."
In the words of the Doxology, we could very well join him in saying:
Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him, all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.