The book of Jude written by Jude the apostle, who was surnamed Thaddeus and Lebbeus, was son to Alpheus, and brother to James the less, Joses, and Simon. See Matthew 10:3, and collate with Luke 6 :16; Matthew 13:55.
In this book Jude mentions those persons who have “crept in unnoticed” – is this a warning just for his readers or is this relevant to the church today?
1 Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ:
2 Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jude refers to his readers as “Beloved” demonstrating a warm affection and love for his brothers and sisters in Christ. He has previously written to them on matters concerning their common salvation and he expresses the fact that he has been diligent in these this instruction. Yet even so he now finds it now of vital importance to “Exhort” them to “contend earnestly” for the faith which was “once for all” delivered to the saints. The Gospel was proclaimed and made known to them in its pure and perfect form, which need no additional elements. The exhortation to contend earnestly presupposes a threat to the faith of the saints. Jude proceeds to reveal the threat that the saints face.
4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jude tells them that certain men have crept in unnoticed; these men therefore had the appearance and obviously acted as if they were of the saints. Their actions were planned and they entered the church by stealth with ungodly intent. We are told that they will be condemned for their actions, that they are ungodly and that they use the means of grace as an excuse for “lewdness” and by doing so they deny the Lord. They obviously did not openly deny the Lord by word of mouth as this would have not enabled them to enter into the congregation but their actions in regard to “grace abuse” was in fact a denial of the Lord Jesus Christ.
5 But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.
6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;
7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
Jude wants to remind them of these things. To remind them that by joining themselves to the rebellion of these men there is a punishment that awaits.
Jude reminds them of the fact that God despite having saved a multitude out of Egypt eventually destroyed those who did not believe.
We read throughout the history of Israel’s journey in the wilderness and continued rebellion of a refusal to obey and come under divinely appointed authority, speaking evil of Moses and Aaron, both divinely appointed dignitaries.
He reminds them of the angels who rejected authority and did not keep their proper domain having rebelled and left their own place of abode and as a result are reserved in chains for judgement.
Jude also reminds them of those who rebelled against the natural order and engaged in sexual immorality, defiling the flesh and as a result suffered the punishment of eternal fire.
8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.
Jude tells us that in the same manner these men who are in the church also defile flesh, reject authority and speak evil of dignitaries.
Jude having given us such clear insight into these matters enables us to look at the issues of rebellion in more detail.
Rebellion – Defiling the Flesh: (Flesh)
A person who is rebellious will generally reveal rebellion in three areas, the flesh, the Spirit and the Heart or Soul.
Rebellion – Rejecting Spiritual Authority (Spirit)
Rebellion – Speaking evil of those in Authority (Heart)
Rebellion – Rejecting the natural order (flesh)
There will be those who enter a congregation to sow the seeds of rebellion and then there will be those who have become rebellious through contact and the influence of these workers of rebellion
Defiling the Flesh in Rebellion:
A person who is rebellious will struggle to bring the flesh under any form of authority and will struggle to control fleshly desire. They may be able to subdue the flesh at appropriate times but this will be with great effort. There will be a secret submission to the flesh and this will become evident especially in matters of sexual immorality.
Jude affirms that this rebellious action will be judged and judged severely as in the case of the people of Sodom.
Defiling the spirit in the rejection of spiritual authority
The rebellious defile their spirit in the rejection of authority, both earthly and spiritual authority. This rebellion consists in a desire to order their own lives rather than submitting themselves to the authorities that have been established by God. These authorities include earthly rulers and spiritual leaders especially within the body of Christ.
The rebellion against authority especially spiritual authority will attract an equally severe punishment as in the case of those angels that left their places of God given authority to establish an authority of their own.
Defiling the heart in speaking evil of those in authority
Jesus taught that the heart produces all manner of evil and it is from the heart that a man or woman speaks. The rebellious heart cannot help but speak evil of those in authority. This is evident in destructive rumours, misquoting the words of leaders and the destructive criticism of those who have been given responsibility for shepherding the flock.
Very often a conflicting “truth” or “way” will be presented in order to attract the sheep and discredit the ministry of others.
Once again Jude draws from Israel’s history and reminds them that despite being saved out of Egypt those who challenged the authority of Moses suffered the fate of destruction in the wilderness.
It is probable that these men who had entered the church by stealth had introduced ideas connected with the books that Jude quotes from “The Book or Enoch” and “The Assumption of Moses”.
In debates with Muslim’s we can very often quote the Quran to establish a point or either “truth” or “contradiction” and again we can use the opponent’s text to expose them and prove the falsehood of their position.
9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” 10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. Using the text of the “Book of Enoch” Jude makes mention of the fact that Michael the Archangel did not dare to bring “reviling accusations” against the devil but left the authority of rebuke with the Lord.
In contrast Jude tells his readers that these rebellious men speak evil of things of which they have no understanding, these are spiritual things and in contrast they corrupt themselves “like brute beasts” in the things they know naturally “in the flesh”. It is common for people to discredit or belittle the things that they do not understand in order to assert their knowledge for they feel it unnecessary to understand these “trivial” things.
11 Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, – offering of the flesh, destruction of brothers flesh
have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, – Balaam rejected the Lords authority and for profit attempted to assert his authority over Israel.
Numbers 22:5 – Balaam hired to curse Israel but prevented by the Lord. Yet later in Number 31:16 we see that Balaam uses other methods to come against Israel and with success.
and perished in the rebellion of Korah. – The rebellion of Korah was a rebellion that spoke evil of Moses and Aaron Numbers 16:1 it was a rebellion that demanded status and dominion
12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves.
These are spots or sunken reefs which implies that these men are a hidden danger to the brethren, they feast without “fear” having no regard for the welfare of others, in fact everything they do ultimately is in order to serve themselves.
They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.
Duet 32:2 indicates that the doctrine of God was considered as water, yet these individuals were assuming positions of influence and appeared to be those that might provide instruction but as far as Godly doctrine is concerned they were dry and barren. With no stability they were subject to be carried about by any new thing!
They fail too bear fruit and are truly dead with no root in the truth, their very actions result in an increasing of their shame, they are wandering stars have no authorative place other than the reserved blackness of darkness which they will suffer forever.
Stars are very often used for those who have positions of authority rather than a star in the literal sense.
14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15 to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly
deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
Jude quotes from “The Book of Enoch” and again this may have been as a result of its usage by those individuals who had infiltrated the congregation. The connection that Jude makes is very clear, that these people will be judged with great severity
16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.
The traits of rebellion are made manifest in – grumbling, complaining, walking according to their lusting flesh.
They very often have an ability to speak, flattering people in order to gain advantage.
17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
Jude mentions that these things were predicted by the apostles and especially Peter – see 2 Peter 2.
The main consequence of their being amongst the brethren is “division”
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Jude gives the believers a clear alternative – that they pray in the Holy Spirit, remain in the love of God, look for mercy in Christ.
22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction. 23 but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
In all regards the rebellious can be brought to repentance, for some this will be with compassion but for others it will mean stern and definite action to reprove and bring to repentance.
24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
25 To God our Saviour,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
The letter is concluded with a refocus on the Almighty One, on Christ who alone is to be the One who is “only” sought as a means on continuing in our walk of faith. It if He who will present us, yes usher us into the place of Glory. Amen