AUTHOR AND TITLE

As its title implies, the book was written by Jude, brother of James and Jesus (cf. Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3, where Gk. “Judas” is the same as “Jude” in Jude 1). There is little debate regarding the authenticity of the letter because of the strength of internal evidence (e.g., v. 1). Some have claimed that an anonymous author wrote this using Jude’s name, but it is unlikely that any imposter would choose the name of such an insignificant figure for his writing. Also, such a pseudonymous work would have been rejected by the church (see Introduction to 1 Timothy: Author and Title), and Jude has been accepted as canonical from earliest times.

DATE

Since Jude addresses a situation similar to that addressed by 2 Peter and exhibits a literary relationship (probably as a source) to 2 Peter, the two letters are commonly dated in fairly close proximity. (SeeIntroduction to 2 Peter: Author and Title.) Therefore, while external evidence is sparse, Jude is best dated in the mid-60s a.d.

THEME

The church must contend for the one true faith once for all delivered to the saints (v. 3), and people of faith must persevere to the end by resisting the false teachers and following the truth.

PURPOSE, OCCASION, AND BACKGROUND

Jude warns against following those who have surreptitiously gained entry to the church and are perverting the one true faith with false teaching. Indeed, the letter warns against allowing the false teachers to continue to have influence. Jude calls the church to defend the truth aggressively against this infiltration. While the false teachers of Jude were profoundly libertine (morally unrestrained), it would be anachronistic to argue that they were Gnostic (an early heretical sect, or group of sects, influential from the 2nd century a.d. onward).

Jude accomplishes his purpose by interpreting the OT analogically, using the same principles of interpretation found in 2 Peter (and elsewhere in the NT). He also draws on Jewish apocalyptic traditions (he refers to 1 Enoch and the Testament of Moses) in building his case. Thus, as literature, Jude has a distinctively Jewish flavor.

Given the apparent Jewish perspective of the letter itself, the audience of Jude is frequently identified as Jewish, or as a mixture of Jewish and Gentile readers where the Gentiles are familiar with Jewish traditions. However, any identification of the audience is largely conjecture.

HISTORY OF SALVATION SUMMARY

Since Christ has accomplished salvation, believers are to hold fast to him and reject false ways. (For an explanation of the “History of Salvation,” see the Overview of the Bible.)

LITERARY FEATURES

The format is that of the NT epistle, with its loose divisions of salutation, body, and closing. But the central unit of the letter (vv. 5–16) falls decisively into the genre of a judgment oracle: it has an object of attack, a many-sided vehicle in which the attack is embodied, a discernible harsh tone, and an implied standard by which the attack is being conducted (“the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints,”v. 3). The description of the apostates (vv. 8–16) uses the portrait technique in which, as one learns more and more about the apostates, one finally has a picture of their character and actions. The concentrated use of images and allusions (e.g., to Sodom and Gomorrah and the archangel Michael) lends a poetic quality to the letter.

The writer displays horror over the spectacle of apostasy and the false teachers who induce it. The only NT passage that surpasses Jude in these traits is Jesus’ denunciation of the religious leaders in Matthew 23. But the letter begins with the usual soothing notes of NT epistles, and in the last two verses it modulates into one of the most moving benedictions in the NT.

TIMELINE

Timeline

KEY THEMES

1. Christians need to defend the doctrines of the faith.3
2. False teachers may be identified by their immoral character.4, 8, 10, 12–13, 16, 18–19
3. God will judge false teachers.4, 5–7, 11, 14–15
4. Saints must persevere to be saved.17–23
5. As God grants mercy to those who are called, they must show mercy to others.2, 21–23
6. God grants grace that ensures that his own will persevere.1–2, 24–25

OUTLINE

  1. Initial Greeting (vv. 1–2)
  2. Jude’s Appeal: Contend for the Faith (vv. 3–4)
  3. The urgency of the defense (v. 3)
  4. Description of the false teachers and their teaching (v. 4)
  5. Immoral Character and Consequent Judgment of the False Teachers (vv. 5–16)
  6. Judgment reserved for the false teachers (vv. 5–7)
  7. The analogy of Egypt (v. 5)
  8. The analogy of the rebellious angels (v. 6)
  9. The analogy of Sodom and Gomorrah (v. 7)
  10. Nature of the false teachers (vv. 8–13)
  11. The false teachers are blasphemers (vv. 8–10)
  12. The false teachers are motivated by greed (v. 11)
  13. The false teachers exemplify depravity with impunity (vv. 12–13)
  14. Judgment on the false teachers revisited (vv. 14–16)
  15. Description of the judgment (vv. 14–15)
  16. Further reasons for judgment (v. 16)
  17. Concluding Exhortations (vv. 17–25)
  18. On the apostolic warnings (vv. 17–19)
  19. On the antidote to the false teachers (vv. 20–21)
  20. On showing mercy (vv. 22–23)
  21. Doxology of great joy (vv. 24–25)

THE GENERAL EPISTLE OF JUDE

CHAPTER 1

1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.

3 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.

4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.

12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

15 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.

16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.

17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;

18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:

23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.


ANGLES

We have seen in the second chapter of Genesis the happy estate of the man and woman in paradise. We learn in the third chapter about the fall of man and his expulsion from that garden. No more fundamental subject can be considered by a Bible student, and we are not going to leave it until you are thoroughly grounded in the significance of the fall of man. But we are not prepared to commence the study of the fall until we consider somewhat the origin, nature, office, and history of another very distinct class of created beings called angels, through one of whom man was seduced to sin against God. So you see that the subject of this chapter is the creation of the angels, their relation to God and to man and the use of the serpent as an instrument in the temptation. Many Bible words of general signification take on by special usage a particular and official meaning; for example, the words, “apostle,” “deacon,” “church,” or “angel.” Primarily “apostle” means one sent. In this original meaning one sent by another is an apostle. Jesus was an apostle; so was Barnabas. But by special use the term is restricted to the highest office in the earthly church, and confined to the twelve apostles and to Paul. So “deacon” means primarily a servant. In this original sense any one who serves is a deacon. Jesus was a deacon. But by usage the term is restricted to a particular office in the apostolic church. The Greek New Testament term rendered “church” means primarily an official assembly called out for the transaction of secular business, but later designates a particular congregation of Christians. In like manner “angel” primarily means a messenger of any kind. Any one bearing a message from another is in this original sense an angel. Many passages in the Old Testament use the phrase, “angel of Jehovah,” to designate a preliminary manifestation of the Son of God before his incarnation. In this original sense the pastors of the seven churches in Asia are called the angels of the churches. Yet this general term “angel” by abundant usage, designates a special class of created beings, neither human nor divine — above the one, below the other — appointed unto a distinctive office. These constitute the hosts of the heavens.
When, then, were they created? There was but one creative period, and that period is set forth in the first chapter of Genesis and in the second chapter down to the third verse. In that time were finished not only the heavens and the earth, but “all the hosts of them” (Ge 2:1). Now the hosts of the earth are the created beings that inhabit the earth. The hosts of the heavens are the angels. The order in which the earth’s hosts — that is, the animals of sea, air, and land, culminating in man — were brought into being, has been set forth in previous chapters. But a consideration of the origin of “the hosts of the heavens” has been deferred until their contact with man brings them prominently into the earth history.
In the Ps 148 all the creation, including the angelic hosts, are invoked to praise Jehovah, their Creator:

  • Praise ye him, all his angels:
  • Praise ye him, all his hosts…
  • For be commanded, and they were created.

Here the creation of the angels is associated in time with the rest of creation. Even more particularly in this association set forth and attributed to Jesus Christ in Col 1:16: “In him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him and unto him.” It is true that the Son of God, by his incarnation, was subsequently made a little lower than the angels whom he created (Heb 2:7), but after his resurrection and ascension he was again exalted above them: “Who is on the right hand of God, having gone into heaven; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” (2Pe 3:18).
The hosts of heaven met Jacob at a later day (Ge 32:1) and are an innumerable company. “The Lord came from the myriads of holy ones” (De 33:2). “The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands upon thousands” (Ps 68:17). “Thousands of thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him” (Da 7:10). “Innumerable hosts of angels” (Heb 12:22). “I heard the voice of many angels) … and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand and thousands of thousands” (Re 5:11).
The creation of the angels preceded that of the universe matter, and of course, that of man. In other words, the first creation was when the angels were made. We know this to be the case, because in the Ps 104:4-5, these angels were employed in bringing the chaotic earth matter into order. From the passage, Job 38:7, we are told that the sons of God watched it, had participated in it, and when it was completed shouted for Joy over the world when it was created. They rejoiced over the beautiful consummation.
By nature the angels were incorporeal, i.e., pure spirit (Ps 104:4; Heb 1:14; Eph 6:12), and sexless (Mt 22:30), and immortal (Lu 20:36), possessed of superhuman and yet finite wisdom and power (2Sa 14:20; 2Pe 2:11; Mt 24:36; 1Pe 1:12; Eph 3:10). Angels are not a family, but a company. They are without ancestry or posterity. Each stands or falls in his own individuality. As they could not fall through a progenitor, nor become corrupt through hereditary law, they cannot, when fallen, become subjects of redemption through a second federal head (Heb 2:16). Of angels, therefore, we may say: They are created and therefore finite beings; by origin they are called the sons of God (Job 1:6; 2:7); by nature they are spirits (Ps 104:4) ; by character they are called “holy ones” or “saints” (Job 5:1; Ps 89:5-7; Da 8:13; Jude 14). Later we shall find them ministrators of the law (Ga 3:19), heralds of the gospel (Lu 2:9-13), and servants of Christ’s people (Heb 1:14).
ORIGIN OF SIN
Now we come to the origin of sin. From the most. ancient times the origin of evil has baffled the inquisition of proud human philosophy. The Bible account of it is both simple and satisfactory. It originated with the angels. These angels were created free, moral agents, under law, on probation, with power to determinate choice, hence liable to fall. The greater number of them stood the test. In 1Ti 5:21, those who stood the test are called the elect angels. But many fell from their state of innocence. See 2Pe 2:4, and Jude 6: “The angels which kept not their first estate.” The leader and chief among them was Satan, who “stood not in the truth” (Joh 8:44), falling through pride (1Ti 3:6). He was first called Lucifer, which means “son of the morning.” He loses that name and takes the name Satan. This chief of the fallen angels has many Bible names. As expressive of his primacy and supremacy over other evil spirits he is called Beelzebub. As indicative of his hostility to man he is called Satan, which means adversary. As descriptive of his methods of malignity against man his name is devil. In this word is the idea of one who sets at variance. Those whom he seeks to set at variance are God and man. When he approaches man he slanders God; when he approaches God he accuses man. Hence, in his work of variance he is both an accuser and a slanderer. When he approaches Eve he slanders God. When he approaches God he accuses Job. In view of the result of his work he is called Apollyon, the destroyer. He is never a constructionist, but eminently a destructionist. He does not build; he demolishes. Because of the form he assumed in the temptation of man, he is called the Serpent, the Dragon. Very sinuous, tortuous, slimy, and subtle are his ways. On account of his rage and predatory character he is compared to a roaring lion. He is called the tempter because he incites to evil. He is called the receiver because he tempts by lies. That he may deceive he comes as an angel of light, and that he may trap the unwary he sets cunning traps as a fowler who ensnares birds. But all the time he is a liar and a murderer, and the father of lies and murders. He is the father of all false religions. He uses the lusts of the flesh, the pride of life, and the course of the world in turning men away from God. He first blinds, then binds and then stupefies, and so he keeps his goods in peace. He is an awful and hideous reality, apart from God the most stupendous factor in the universe. He is limited in power and in the time allotted him to work his evil deeds. Now, as I stated, the angels, like man, were on probation. The best statement of that case that I have ever seen is in Milton’s Paradise Lost, fifth book, commencing at the 520th line:
Raphael said to Adam: Son of heaven and earth, Attend: that thou art happy, owe to God; That thou continuest such, owe to thyself, That is, to thy obedience; therein stand. This was that caution given thee; be advised. God made thee perfect, not immutable; And good he made thee; but to persevere He left it in thy power; ordained thy will By nature free, not over-ruled by fate Inextricable, or strict necessity: Our voluntary service he requires, Not our necessitated; such with Him Finds no acceptance, nor can find; for how Can hearts, not free, be tried whether they serve Willing or not, who will but what they must By destiny, and can no other choose? Myself, and all the angelic host, that stand In sight of God, enthroned, our happy state Hold, as you yours, while our obedience holds; On other surety none: freely we serve, Because we freely love, as in our will To love or not; in this we stand or fall.
Now comes a much more serious question. What was the occasion that led the devil to sin? God did not make a devil; he created him a good angel, but created him free to act, to stand or fall. Now, the devil sinned, and we find his sin to be pride or ambition, but we have not yet found the occasion for that sin. If you are familiar with Paradise Lost you will see that Milton says the occasion was this: That God introduced his Son to the angels, and announced that from that time he was to be king of the angels and that they were to serve him. Milton bases his statement on the passage in the first chapter of Hebrews, “When he bringeth his only Begotten into the world again he said, Let all the angels of God worship him.” Now, Milton makes that take place before there was any universe. A fair interpretation of that scripture is that when Jesus died and rose again — that was bringing his Begotten into the world again — God said, “Let all the angels worship him.” That is the true explanation, that they were to worship not the Son of God in original divinity, but the Son of God in raised humanity. So Milton was mistaken about the occasion. Jesus Christ made the angels, all of them. He made the one that became the devil, and I don’t suppose that the devil’s pride or ambition would ever have led him to rebel against the one who created him through any desire to succeed him. The question is, What was the occasion that excited the pride of the devil? Now, the Bible does not say, but I am going to give you my own opinion, and you can take it as an opinion. My opinion is that, in one of those meetings in heaven like that described in Job at which all the angels at stated times come up into the presence of God, he announced to them that he was going to create this world and make man in his image and likeness, and that this man through obedience, — if he observed the commandments of God and should eat of the tree of life, — would become immortal and be lifted up above the angels, and that it should be the office of the angels to serve this man. Now I think there is where the devil protested. He was willing enough for God to be over him, but he was unwilling for a creature, made originally lower. than himself, to have a destiny that would one day put any being above him. Every saved soul will be far above any angel. That is my opinion. If I had time I believe I could show you inferentially, of course not specifically, for I would then have to give you scriptures.
Now, in the second book of Paradise Lost Milton tracks the Bible out much more clearly about how sin originated. When the devil, after being cast out of heaven, is leaving hell to go back to find on earth this people that were to be created below him and one day were to be above him, he meets at the gate of hell Sin and Death, both horrible. And Just as he and Death are about to fight, Sin intervenes. Sin is a beautiful woman from the waist up, and a snake from the waist down. She says to Satan: “Death is thy son. I am Death’s mother. I am not only Death’s mother, but I am thy daughter. Don’t you remember that time in heaven when your pride was excited, that fearful pain came in your head and it was opened and out I leaped full grown like a beautiful woman? And every angel said, ‘Sin, Sin, Sin.’ But, looking at my beauty, they became enamoured of me, and especially thou, and thy espousal to Sin produced the progeny, Death, and Death’s espousal to Sin produced the progeny of the hellhounds of remorse.” That is Milton’s idea, powerfully set forth, marvelous. That coincides with what we were discussing in the New Testament about sin. There is first enticement, then desire, then will, then sin) and sin when it is full grown bringeth forth death. That part of Milton’s work is true.
We are now compelled by the facts of the Bible story about to be considered to take some note of a great mystery. And that is the power of spirit over matter and over less powerful organisms of life. “Unquestionably, when permitted, Satan can stir up a cyclone, or electric storm that leaves death in its path (Job 1:16-19); or incite to robbery and murder (Job 1:15-17 and 1Jo 3:12). He can hypnotize inferior animals (Mt 8:30-32), and make them obey his will. He can, by consent of the subject, take possession of man’s mind and make it his servant. Hence, the demoniacal possessions of the New Testament. One of the clearest revelations of Scripture is the immediate influence of spirit over matter and the immediate impact of spirit on spirit. We could not otherwise understand Ge 1:2; 2:7; Ps 104:30; 1Pe 1:21; Joh 3:3; Lu 1:55; Joh 8:27; Ac 5:3, and many other passages. The formation of the earth, the communication of man’s soul, the incarnation of our Lord, the quickening of regeneration, the resurrection, inspiration, demoniacal possession, the preparation of dying infants for heaven, the stampeding of cattle, panics in armies, mesmerism, hypnotism and a thousand other mysteries find their only explanation in the doctrine of immediate impact of spirit on matter or on another spirit.
The account of Genesis speaks of the serpent, the instrument, only. But fairly interpreted it implies what is elsewhere so forcibly taught, that the serpent was merely the instrument of a mighty spiritual power in the temptation of Eve. That grandest of all epics, Paradise Lost, reveals throughout a profound study of the whole Bible. It thus sets forth a possible method of the entrance of Satan into the serpent:
So saying, through each thicket dank and dry, Like a black mist low creeping, he held on His midnight search, where soonest he might find The serpent: him, fast sleeping soon he found In labyrinth of many a round self-rolled, His head the midst, well stored with subtle wiles: Not yet in horrid shade or dismal den,
Nor nocent yet; but, on the grassy herb, Fearless unfeared he slept: in at his mouth The devil entered; and his brutal sense, In heart and head, possessing, soon inspired With act intelligential; but his sleep Disturbed not, waiting close the approach of morn.
Just as the devil can take possession of a man and make him demoniac, so the devil took possession of the serpent. The use of the serpent as a means, and the most suitable means, arises out of his power and his cunning. I will quote what Richard Owen says about the serpent: “He outclimbs the monkey, outswims the fish, outleaps the zebra, outwrestles the athlete, and crushes the tiger.” In Ruskin’s “Queen of the Air” we find: “There are myriads lower than the serpent, and more loathsome in the scale of being … but it is the strength of the base element that is so dreadful in the serpent; it is the very omnipotence of the earth… It is a divine hieroglyph of the demoniac power of the earth, of the entirely earthly nature. As the bird is the clothed power of the air, so this is the clothed power of the dust; as the bird is the symbol of the spirit of life, so this is the grasp and sting of death.”
You will notice that after the curse was pronounced upon him, because of what he had done, the serpent was condemned to crawl, evidently implying that he had not crawled before. In two or three books of the Bible we have an account of fiery, flying serpents, and beyond all question the particular serpent that tempted Eve was a flying serpent. That only shows that his power was greater then than it has been since. He was condemned to crawl and clipped off his wings. Nataerialists will tell you that there were serpents with wings, and all tradition represents the dragon with wings. So that the Bible, nature and tradition agree in the representation that the serpent employed for the temptation of Eve was winged so that he had power in the air as well as power on the land. After the curse was pronounced upon him he must crawl and pick his food up from the ground as I have seen them do. I have seen a rattlesnake swallow a mule-eared rabbit. He licks him all over and covers him with saliva, rolls him over in the sand and then swallows him whole with the dust that is on him. That is how the serpent eats dust.
SUMMARY
We have seen the creation of the angels. We have seen that a part of these angels kept not their first estate. We have seen the sin which they committed, pride, and we have seen that Satan is the chief of the fallen spirits that were cast out. We have seen why he came to earth, to slander God and accuse man, to make them sin, to keep them from attraining to the position that they would be above him and bring them to the position that they would be under him. But, “Know ye not,” says Paul, “that the saints shall Judge angels?”
By: B.H. Carol

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