PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS*
|Salutation||Greeting to the Called||Salutation||Introduction||Address|
|vv. 1-2||v. 1a||vv. 1-2||vv. 1-2||vv. 1-2|
|Judgment on False Teachers||Contend for the Faith||Occasion of the Letter||False Teachers||The Reason for this Letter|
|vv. 3-4||vv. 3-4||vv. 3-4||vv. 3-4||vv. 3-4|
|Old and New Apostates||False Teachers||The False Teachers: The Certainty of Punishment|
|vv. 5-7||vv. 5-11||vv. 5-7||vv. 5-7||vv. 5-7|
|Their Violent Language|
|vv. 8-13||vv. 8-13||vv. 8-13||vv. 8-10|
|Their Vicious Behavior|
|Apostates Depraved and Doomed||vv. 11-16|
|vv. 14-16||Apostates Predicted||vv. 14-16||vv. 14-15|
|vv. 16-19||v. 16|
|Warnings and Exhortations||Exhortations||Warnings and Instructions||A Warning|
|vv. 17-23||vv. 17-23||vv. 17-21||vv. 17-19|
|Maintain Your Life with God||The Duties of Love|
|vv. 20-23||vv. 20-23|
|Benediction||Glory to God||Prayer of Praise||Doxology|
|vv. 24-25||vv. 24-25||vv. 24-25||vv. 24-25||vv. 24-25|
* Although they are not inspired, paragraph divisions are the key to understanding and following the original author's intent. Each modern translation has divided and summarized the paragraphs. Every paragraph has one central topic, truth, or thought. Each version encapsulates that topic in its own distinct way. As you read the text, ask yourself which translation fits your understanding of the subject and verse divisions.
In every chapter we must read the Bible first and try to identify its subjects (paragraphs), then compare our understanding with the modern versions. Only when we understand the original author's intent by following his logic and presentation can we truly understand the Bible. Only the original author is inspired—readers have no right to change or modify the message. Bible readers do have the responsibility of applying the inspired truth to their day and their lives.
Note that all technical terms and abbreviations are explained fully in the following documents: Brief Definitions of Greek Grammatical Structure, Textual Criticism, and Glossary.
READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired but it is the key to following the original author's intent which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: v. 1a
1Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
v. 1 "Jude" In Hebrew this is Judah and in Greek it is Judas. Jesus' half-brother by this name is mentioned in Matt. 13:55 and Mark 6:3. From the information we have, all of His brothers and sisters were unbelievers until after the Resurrection (cf. John 7:5).
▣ "a bond servant" This may have been used as (1) a sign of humility (cf. Rom. 1:1) or (2) an OT honorific title, "servant of God," used of Moses, Joshua, and David as well as of the Messiah in Isa. 52:13-53:12. Clement of Alexandria asserts the first usage as the reason Jude, like James, did not call himself "brother of the Lord." The second usage may follow Paul's use of the phrase (cf. Rom. 1:1; Gal. 1:10; Phil. 1:1).
It is also interesting to note that although the phrase "a bond-servant (or slave) of Jesus Christ" sounds like Paul in English; it is more like James 1:1. Paul always put the noun first, followed by the genitive phrase, but not so Jude and James.
▣ "Jesus" This is Joshua in Hebrew and is the name designated by Gabriel to Mary. It means "YHWH saves" (cf. Matt. 1:21).
▣ "Christ" This is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew term Messiah, which means "anointed one" (i.e., for a specific task or appointed by God).
▣ "and brother of" It is unusual in the ancient near-east and Greco-Roman world to designate oneself "brother of"; usually it is "son of." It is possible that both James and Jude were uncomfortable with the exalted title "brother of the Lord." Others in the church may have used this designation for them (cf. Matt. 13:55; John 7:3-10; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 9:5; and Gal. 1:19).
▣ "James" This is the Hebrew Jacob. He was another half-brother of Jesus who became the leader of the Jerusalem Church (cf. Acts 15) and wrote the canonical book of James.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: vv. 1b-2
1bTo those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: 2May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.
▣ "who are the called" The term "called" (klētos, a dative plural) is placed last in the Greek sentence for emphasis. According to United Bible Societies' new, semantical domains lexicon (vol. 1. pp. 424-425), this term (and its related forms) was used of an urgent call to a particular task.
1. the office of apostle (cf. Rom. 1:1)
2. the life of a believer (cf. Rom. 1:6-7; Eph. 4:1)
3. the call to preach the gospel (cf. Acts 16:10)
4. in Jude the urgent call both to salvation and to live godly lives in faith, hope, and purity.
This theological emphasis on God's call (cf. John 6:44,65) is also found in 1 Pet. 1:1 ("chosen") and often in Paul's writings. Salvation is not simply a human choice; it is also a response to an initiation from God's Spirit. This is why it is so important that human beings respond immediately to the "still, small voice" of God's leadership in their lives, whether initial salvation or effective ministry or repentance. Humans are always the responders.
▣ "beloved" This is a perfect passive participle (as is "kept"). The King James Version has "sanctified" and follows the uncial manuscripts K, L, and P and the later Textus Receptus. Many textual scholars assume this follows the wording of 1 Cor. 1:2. The grammatical forms of "beloved" (ēgapēmenois) and "sanctified" (ēgiasmenois) are very similar in Greek. There is overwhelming manuscript evidence against the King James translation as can be seen in manuscripts P72, א, A, and B, which have "beloved." The UBS4 gives "beloved" and "A" rating (certain). God the Father used this title of Jesus in Psalm 2; Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11; and Eph. 1:6. It is now used for believers (cf. vv. 3,17,20; 1 Pet. 2:11; 4:12; 2 Pet. 3:1,8,14,17).
▣ "God the Father" YHWH's relationship to Israel was often expressed in family metaphors: (1) as husband; (2) as kinsman redeemer; or (3) as father/mother (parental). These metaphors allow fallen mankind to comprehend an eternal, non-corporeal, holy God. They express the intimacy and intensity of YHWH's love for covenant Israel and the Church. They are not intended to express any temporal significance (i.e., first the Father then later the Son) nor any sense of sexual generation. The virgin birth was not a sexual experience for God or Mary.
Jesus' use of Abba for YHWH opens the opportunity for all humans who turn to God in faith and repentance to experience the family love of the Trinity (cf. John 17).
Our hope as believers is in the unchanging, loving character of God our Father. He is our hope, our assurance, our peace, and our life (cf. Eph. 1:3-14; 1 Pet. 1:2).
▣ "and kept" This could mean "guarded" or "preserved." Believers have been and continue to be guarded by God (cf. 1 Pet. 1:4-5; 1 John 5:18). This is the emphasis of the closing prayer in vv. 24-25. Paul often used the terms "called" and "beloved" in his greetings, but never the term "kept!"
The term "kept" is parallel to the perfect passive participle "beloved." Believers have been and continue to be loved and kept. What a powerful promise in a book like Jude where so many are falling away! God's keeping power is emphasized in this book in two covenantal ways: (1) it is "of God" (cf. John 17:11; 1 Pet. 1:4-5) and (2) it must be responded to by repentant, believing humans (cf. vv. 3,20-21). It is both a passive experience (given and maintained by the Spirit, cf. Phil. 1:6; 2:13) and an active experience (diligent effort on the part of the individual believer and family of faith, cf. Phil. 2:12).
The United Bible Societies' A Handbook on the Letter from Jude and the Second Letter from Peter by Daniel Arichea and Howard Hatton, makes an interesting comment about these three designations: "called," "loved," and "kept":
"It should be noted that these three expressions are influenced by and perhaps derived from the passages in Isaiah known as the Servant Songs, where Israel is described in the same manner, that is, called, loved, and kept by God (for "called," see Isa. 41:9; 42:6; 48:12; for "loved," see 42:1; 43:4; for "kept," see 42:6; 49:8)" (p.7).
NASB, NJB"for Jesus Christ"
(footnote)"in Jesus Christ"
(footnote)"by Jesus Christ"
TEV"of Jesus Christ"
This is an instrumental construction. There seems to be a parallel between believers "beloved by the Father" and "kept by/for/in the Son." Within the dative (five case) form three other options are possible: (1) "kept for Jesus" (cf. Col. 1:16); (2) "kept in Jesus"; or (3) "kept by Jesus."
v. 2 "may mercy, peace, and love" Jude uses many triads. Paul's usual triad is grace, peace, and love (cf. 1 Tim. 1:2). This is a powerful prayer. It is a summary of the whole book.
▣ "be multiplied to you" This is a rare aorist passive optative. It denotes a wish or prayer. It is also singular, directed to each believer. It expresses Jude's prayer for his readers. The passive denotes that it is Father/Son/Spirit who produce the mercy, peace, and love.
This very same rare verb form appears in 1 Pet. 1:2 and 2 Pet. 1:2, but with "grace" and "peace."
Verses 1-2 form a typical but Christianized standard opening to a letter. Jude appears to be a combination of a sermon and a letter. There is no characteristic greeting at the conclusion. These one page (one papyrus sheet) letters were common in the Greco-Roman world as the means of regular communication. Hundreds have been found in the papyri from Egypt, but only three are found in the NT (II, 3 John and Jude).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: vv. 3-4
3Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
v. 3 "Beloved" Jude uses this phrase several times (cf. vv. 1,3,17,20). He emulated God's love and he truly cared for his readers. There are several possible origins of the term.
1. Old Testament
a. used of Israel (cf. Deut. 33:12, who rebelled)
b. used of Solomon (cf. Neh. 13:26, who rebelled)
c. used of believers (cf. Ps. 60:5; 108:6, who need to be delivered)
2. New Testament
a. common title in 2 Pet. (cf. 3:1,8,14,15,17)
b. common title in I and 2 John (which also deals with heresy, cf. 3:2, 21; 4:1, 2, 11; 2 John 3, 5, 11)
c. sometimes used by James (Jude's brother, cf. 1:16,19; 2:5)
NASB"while I was making every effort to write you"
NKJV"while I was very diligent to write to you"
NRSV"while I was eagerly preparing to write to you"
TEV"while I was doing my best to write to you"
NJB"at a time when I was eagerly looking forward to writing to you"
The term spoudē means eagerness or zeal. It is used in 2 Peter twice: 1:5 and 3:12. Jude felt an urgency to write about one subject, but the Spirit and the circumstances mandated another topic.
▣ "our common salvation" One wonders what this phrase would have meant to Jude's readers. It is similar to "a faith of the same kind as yours" in 2 Pet. 1:2. 2 Peter 2 and Jude obviously have some literary connection.
Was the commonality in (1) the person of Christ, (2) the gospel about Christ, (3) the way of receiving Christ, or (4) living for Christ?
We may wish the NT writers had given us more information, but the truth is, we have all the information we need ("faith once and for all given to the saints" vv. 3,20). The issue is whether we will respond to what has been given (revelation).
▣ "I felt the necessity to write" This shows the Spirit's leadership in writing (cf. 2 Pet. 1:21). Notice that the infinitive "to write" appears twice in v. 3. The first is present tense. Jude was in the process of writing about the common salvation, but something happened (an event, a message, an intensification of evil, etc.) and he had to write (aorist tense), which refers to the book of Jude.
▣ "contend earnestly" This is a present middle (deponent) infinitive. This is an athletic term (this intensified form is found only here) from which we get the English word "agony" (cf. 1 Tim. 6:12). Believers are to have the ability to articulate their faith before and for others (cf. 1 Pet. 3:15). In this context it means "to aggressively continue to defend the faith against false teachers."
▣ "the faith" This term is used here in the sense of the body of Christian truth (cf. v. 20; Acts 6:7; 13:8; 14:22; Gal. 1:23; 3:23;6:10; Phil. 1:27). It is surprising that Jude mentions this body of Christian truth but then discusses the lifestyle of the false teachers, not their doctrine. Obviously Christianity is both truths about Christ and emulation of the life of Christ. The false teachers of the NT period often tried to separate truth (orthodoxy) from life (orthopraxy). Christianity is not only what we affirm, but how we live out these affirmations.
The term faith (pistis) has several usages in the Bible.
1. in the OT it denotes "faithfulness"
2. in the NT (by context)
a. an initial believing/trusting response to the gospel (i.e., Acts 14:27; 20:21)
b. godly, daily Christlike living (i.e., Eph. 1:15)
c. the doctrines emerging from the preaching/teachings of Jesus and the Apostles (usually with the definite article, i.e., Acts 6:7; 14:22; 16:5; 1 Tim. 4:6)
▣ "which was once for all handed down to the saints" This is an aorist passive participle. The Greek term "handed down" (paradidōmi) meant a passed-on tradition (cf. 2 Pet. 2:21; 1 Cor. 11:2; 2 Thess. 2:15; 3:6). It is used in the sense of "entrusted." Believers are stewards of the gospel (cf. 1 Tim. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:14; 1 Pet. 4:10) and will give an account (cf. 2 Cor. 5:10) of how they passed on the faith.
"Saints" always appears in the plural in the NT except once in Phil. 4:21, but even there it is in a corporate context. To be saved is to be part of a family! We are holy because of our relationship with Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:32). This is our positional standing in justification (cf. Romans 4). Hopefully our position will progress into lifestyle Christlikeness (cf. Eph. 4:1; 5:2; and 1 John 1:7).
v. 4 "For certain persons have crept in unnoticed" False teachers usually come from within the group (cf. 1 John 2:18-19). This refers to the false teachers who used cunning schemes (cf. vv. 8,10, 11-12,16,18-19) in order to manipulate the people of God. Other false teachers are mentioned in the NT in Matt. 7:15-23; 2 Cor. 11:13-15; Gal. 2:4; Eph. 4:14; Col. 2:8-23; 2 Tim. 3:1ff and of course, 2 Peter 2. See Special Topic at v. 12.
▣ "those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation" This is a perfect passive participle. A similar concept is found in 2 Pet. 2:3. This may be (1) an allusion to the non-canonical book of I Enoch (cf. v. 14) or (2) an example of Jude's following OT examples. False teachers have crept in unnoticed throughout history and the tragedy continues (cf. Eph. 4:14).
See Special Topic at v. 12.
▣ "ungodly persons" This is the term "godly" (eusebēs, cf. 2 Pet. 2:9 or eusebeia, cf. 2 Pet. 1:3,6,7; 3:11) with an alpha privitive (asebēs, cf. 2 Pet. 2:5; 3:7; Jude 4,15 or asebeō, cf. 2 Pet. 2:6; Jude 15). This is a key term in Jude (used six times) and 2 Pet. 2. It is also a common designation of rebellion in I Enoch. These teachers are doctrinally false, which led to moral ungodliness. "By their fruit you shall know them" (cf. Matthew 7, 13).
This term (metatithēmi), in this context, implies to change something (in the gospel) by substituting something else (here, from Greek philosophy). It denotes an intentional change or alteration.
Normally the word means to remove or to transfer (i.e., Heb. 7:12; 11:5).
▣ "the grace of our God into licentiousness" Antinomians/Libertines use God's grace as a license for the flesh (cf. Rom. 6:1-23; 14:16; 1 Pet. 2:16; 2 Pet. 2:19), particularly sexual exploitation.
The term "grace" can be understood in two ways. First, as the character of God who loves and receives fallen mankind solely on the basis of His provisions and promises. It has been defined as the undeserved and unmerited love, acceptance, and forgiveness of God. Its synonym would be mercy. Second, it may be another way of referring to the Christian faith, like "the faith once and for all given to the saints."
Whichever is true, these false teachers are exploiting the loving, forgiving character of God for their own selfish purposes, which is the essence of sin—independence from God. These are wolves in sheep's clothing (cf. Matt. 7:15). The tragedy is that God's people often do not recognize them and even yield themselves to them.
▣ "deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ" This is the present middle (deponent) participle meaning "they continue to deny." Literally, it means "renounce," which may refer to renouncing Christ by their lifestyle (cf. 1 Tim. 5:8; 2 Tim. 3:5; Titus 1:16).
This separation of profession from lifestyle was characteristic of the first-century false teachers. Later Gnosticism (see Special Topic below) asserted that one is saved by secret knowledge of the angelic spheres (aeons) between a high holy god and physical creation. Salvation was an intellectual concern and did not affect one's lifestyle. Jude and James respond harshly to this disjunction between faith and life (following Jesus' teachings in Matthew 5-7).
There is a Greek manuscript variant in v. 4. The NKJV has "deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ." The oldest and most reliable Greek texts (P72,78, א, A, B, and C) do not have "God." One article seems to identify one person who is (1) master, (2) Lord, and (3) Jesus Christ.
▣ "Master" Literally this is "despot." This term is also used of Jesus in 2 Pet. 2:1. If Jesus is master of our lives, we cannot be (cf. Luke 6:46).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: vv. 5-7
5Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. 6And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 7just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.
v. 5 "Now I desire to remind you" We need to be reminded over and over again of the truths of God, even the basics (cf. v. 17; 2 Pet. 1:12-13). Verses 5-7 form one sentence in Greek.
NASB"though you know all things once for all"
NKJV"though you once knew this"
NRSV"though you are fully informed"
TEV"for even though you know this"
NJB"though you have already learnt it once for all"
There is a question among English translations as to which word the adverb "once" (hapax) should relate
1. to "knowing" or
2. to "saving"?
Does the verse teach that the readers are fully informed or that the Israelites of the exodus were fully informed? The first option is explained in two ways: (1) Jude is using a Greek idiomatic phrase or (2) Jude is referring to the work of the Spirit in leading believers into truth (cf. John 14:26; 16:13; 1 John 2:20,27). The second option has in its favor (1) the use of "subsequently" (or "in the second place" ) and (2) the manuscript variations of later scribes who moved "once" in the hoti clause.
It seems to me that option two (cf. UBS4, NRSV, and TEV) fits the context best, but not the best and oldest manuscript tradition. This may be an allusion to the "New Covenant" of Jer. 31:31-34.
▣ "Lord" Because of the fact that NT authors regularly relate Jesus with YHWH, the OT covenant title for Deity, there occasionally occurs an ambiguity as to which person of the Trinity is being addressed. This has caused Greek manuscript variations in both v. 4 and v. 5. Some Greek texts add "God" after "master" in v. 4 (cf. NKJV). This term (despotēn) normally refers to the Father in the NT, but in 2 Pet. 1:1 it refers to Christ.
This same ambiguity affects v. 5. There is a wide variety of variations in the Greek manuscripts:
1. "God Christ" in P72
2. "Lord" in א
3. "Jesus" in A, C
4. "the Lord" in C*
5. "the God" in the Vulgate
The best solution is that "Lord" is referring to YHWH's activity in the Exodus, although some theologians believe that "the angel of the Lord," who led Israel, could have been the pre-incarnate Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 10:4).
▣ "saving a people" This use of the term "save" (sōzō) refers to physical deliverance (its OT sense, cf. v.5; James 5:15), not spiritual salvation (its NT sense, cf. v. 23). The Israelites were "called" and "chosen" to be God's people.
▣ "subsequently destroyed those who did not believe" This obviously refers to some historical account from the OT books of Exodus and Numbers (the exodus and wilderness wandering period). Hebrews 3-4 uses this same period as an example of apostasy. The problem is to which event it refers.
1. the first rebellious attempt to enter the Promised Land
2. another period of rebellion
3. Korah's rebellion
4. Ba'al worship at Shittim
Does this term "destroyed" imply (1) physical death or (2) eternal death? If physical death, then it refers to those who refused to believe the two faithful spies, Joshua and Caleb, the generation of fighting men (20 to 50 years of age) who left Egypt but balked at entering the Promised Land and died in the wilderness (cf. Num. 14). If eternal death, then it probably refers to those who died on the border of the Promised Land, on the plains of Moab at Shittim, where some of the Israeli people participated in fertility worship with the women of Moab. It seems that all three of Jude's OT examples involve sexual sins (cf. 2 Pet. 2:2,13-14,18). The context fits option #1 best.
v. 6 "angels" Jude adds "angels" to his lists of those who initially worshiped and later rebelled against YHWH and were thus destroyed or judged. But which "angels?" Some information is given to describe this particular group of angels.
1. they did not keep their own domain
2. they abandoned their proper abode
3. they will be kept in eternal bonds under darkness for judgment day
4. "sinned" (2 Pet. 2:4)
5. "committed them into Tartarus" (2 Pet. 2:4)
6. "committed them to pits of darkness reserved for judgment" (2 Pet. 2:4)
Which angels in the OT rebelled and sinned?
1. angels as powers behind pagan worship
2. the lesser angelic beings, called by specific demonic names in the OT. Examples: Lilith (cf. Isa. 34:14), Azazel (cf. Lev. 16:8), and goat demons (cf. Lev. 17:7).
3. the "sons of God" in Genesis 6 (often discussed in intertestamental apocalyptic writings, I Enoch 86-88; 106; II Enoch 7,18; II Baruch 56; Jubilees 5)
4. angels mentioned in an example from a Jewish apocalyptic inter-testamental writing (because of Jude's use of other books of this kind in vv. 9 and 14)
NASB"who did not keep their own domain"
NKJV"who did not keep their proper domain"
NRSV"who did not keep their own position"
TEV"who did not stay within the limits of their proper authority"
NJB"who did not keep to the authority they had"
There is a play on the tense of the verb "keep" in v. 6. The angels did not keep their place (aorist active participle) so God has kept them in a place of imprisonment until judgment day (perfect active indicative). Those angels who violated God's will faced both temporal and eschatological judgment, just as the rebels of Israel during the wilderness wandering period and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah.
NASB"but abandoned their proper abode"
NKJV"but left their own habitation"
NRSV"but left their proper dwelling"
TEV"but abandoned their own dwelling place"
NJB"but left their appointed sphere"
These angels left (aorist active participle) their heavenly domain and went to another (earth). This fits the angelic interpretation of Gen. 6:1-4 very well. This act was a willful rejection of God's will and authority.
▣ "in eternal bonds" This is literally "chains." Chains are used on angels in I Enoch and Satan is bound with a "great chain" in Rev. 20:1-2. The term "eternal" may mean "powerful," "adequate," "sure," not literally eternal, because these angels are only held until judgment day, when other means of incarceration shall be used (cf. Rev. 20:10,14-15). The point is, some are imprisoned now, so as to control their evil activities.
▣ "under darkness" The term Tartarus (not used in Jude, but present in the 2 Pet. 2:4 parallel) was used in Greek mythology for the holding place of the Titans, the half divine, half human giants. This fits the angelic interpretation of Gen. 6. I Enoch describes the new abode of these rebellious angels (cf. I Enoch 10:5,12) as eternal darkness. How different from heavenly brilliance (glory). The rabbis divided Sheol into "Paradise" (for the righteous) and Tartarus (for the wicked). The term "abyss" (cf. Luke 8:31, Rev. 9:1; 11:7; 20:3) is synonymous with the metaphors of darkness used in verse 13b.
▣ "the great day" This is another way of referring to Judgment Day (cf. Matt. 25:31-46; Rev. 20:11-15), the day when God will hold all conscious creation responsible for the gift of life (cf. Phil. 2:10-11; Isa. 45:23; Rom. 14:10-12).
v. 7 "Sodom and Gomorrah" This is the third OT example of rebellion that involved sexual activities outside of God's revealed plan of marriage
1. the Canaanite fertility worship at Shittim (cf. Numbers 25)
2. the attempt by angels to mix the orders of creation (cf. Gen. 6:1-4; 2 Pet. 2:4)
3. the homosexual activity of Sodom and Gomorrah toward angels (cf. Gen. 19; 2 Pet. 2:6)
▣ "and the cities around them" These cities are listed by name in Deut. 29:23.
▣ "same way" This is an ACCUSATIVE which relates grammatically to the angels (cf. v. 6), not "the neighboring towns." It has been speculated that Jude used these OT illustrations because as angels took women in Gen. 6, so here men tried to take angels (cf. Gen. 18:22; 19:1). If so, this would be another example of the attempt to mix the orders of creation. However, to me it seems that the inhabitants of Sodom did not know these were angels and thought them to be men (cf. Gen. 18:22).
▣ "gross immorality and went after strange flesh" This is in reference to "different kind of (heteros) flesh." This may relate to (1) the angels and women according to Josephus in Antiquities of the Jews 1.3.1 or (2) the homosexuality (cf. Rom. 1:26-27) so prevalent in the area of Sodom.
▣ "are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire" Jude uses these OT examples as a clear warning to his readers. Beware of sexual exploitation by anyone.
The NT speaks clearly of eternal punishment (cf. Matt. 18:8; 25:41,46; II Thess. 1:9; Heb. 6:2; Rev. 19:20; 20:11,14-15; 21:28; and also I Enoch 54:1). This subject is difficult to discuss because the Bible does not give much information about heaven or hell. It affirms their reality, but does not reveal specific information, usually describing them in metaphorical language. Jesus uses the "valley of the sons of Hinnom," which was just south of Jerusalem and was used by the Israelis under Manasseh for the worship of Molech, the Canaanite fire god who required child sacrifice. The Jews, out of shame and regret for their own participation in these fertility rites, turned this locality into the garbage dump for Jerusalem. Jesus' metaphors of fire, smoke, and worms came from this place, Gehenna.
This place of torment was not created for mankind, but rebellious angels (cf. Matt. 25:41). Evil at all levels will be removed and segregated from God's creation. Hell is the Bible's way of describing this permanent divide.
Before I leave this topic let me express the pain with which I approach this subject. This is the only suffering in the Bible that is not redemptive. This is not the will of God for anyone. It is a result of willful, continuous rebellion, both angelic and human. It is an open, bleeding sore in the heart of God that will never heal! God's willingness to allow free will among His creatures results in some painful, eternal losses.
The Jerome Biblical Commentary, vol. II, p. 379 mentions that Jude's description of the punishment of these angels is very similar to I Enoch 10:4-6,11,13; 12:4; 15:3; 19:1. This seems to confirm Jude's familiarity with this inter-biblical Jewish apocalyptic work.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: vv. 8-13
8Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. 9But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" 10But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. 11Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.
v. 8 "Yet in the same way" The false teachers of Jude's day had similarities to the rebellious ones of old. The exact nature of the similarity is not specified.
▣ "these" This is Jude's way of referring to the false teachers who had invaded the church (cf. vv. 8,10,12,14,16,19).
▣ "also by dreaming" This term is used of OT false prophets (cf. Deut. 13:1-5; Jer. 23:25-32), those who claimed special revelations from God (cf. Col. 2:18).
▣ "defile the flesh" This is the metaphorical use of the term "stain." There was obviously an amoral aspect to their teachings and/or lifestyles (cf. Titus 1:15). All of these OT examples involved some type of sexual sin (cf. 2 Tim. 3:1ff; 2 Pet. 2).
▣ "reject authority and revile angelic majesties" There are three characteristics of "these":
1. "defile the flesh"
2. "reject authority" (NASB, NKJV, NRSV)
"despise God's authority" (TEV)
"disregard Authority" (NJB)
3. "revile angelic majesty" (NASB)
"speak evil of dignitaries" (NKJV)
"slander the glorious ones" (NRSV)
"insult the glorious beings above" (TEV)
"abuse the Glories as well" (NJB)
It is obvious the first has to do with sexual sins, but what of the second and third? The second designation, "reject authority," has been interpreted at least two ways:
1. the Greek term for "authority" is kuriotēta, which is related to the term "Lord" (kurios), therefore some link this rejection (although the verbals are different) to the denial of Jesus in v. 4 (or God the Father)
2. the Greek term for "authority" is kuriotēta, which is related to kuriotēs, used in 2 Pet. 2:10 (cf. Eph. 1:21; Col. 1:16) to refer to angels
This context seems to be referring to angels, so #2 fits best.
The third designation uses an OT term "glory" (kabod), which was used of God (cf. vv. 24,25; 2 Pet. 1:3,17; 3:18) and all things connected to God, especially in heaven or the life to come. In this instance Jude is picking up on the inter-biblical expansion of this OT concept to refer to angelic beings, beings of power and authority.
This might even refer to the rejection of the OT Law because the Jews believed that angels served as mediators for YHWH giving the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai (cf. Acts 7:35).
This point of the context is the out-of-bounds lifestyle of "these" false teachers in the area of morality and authority.
v. 9 "Michael" His Hebrew name means "who is like God" (cf. Dan. 10:13; 21; 12:1). He is Israel's guardian angel. In the Septuagint text of Deut. 32:8 all nations have an angel. In I Enoch 20 Michael is listed as one of the seven archangels. In the DSS Michael is the angel of light opposed to Belial (Satan), the angel of darkness (NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 452).
▣ "archangel" This term is only used in the NT here and in 1 Thess. 4:16. In the OT it refers to a national angel (cf. Dan. 10:13,21; 12:1). There are apparently many levels of angelic authority (cf. Rom. 8:38-39; Eph. 4:21; Col. 1:16), but they are never discussed in detail or defined in the Scriptures. Be careful of curiosity, ambiguous texts, and modern novels.
▣ "when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses" This relates to Moses' death and burial on Mt. Nebo (cf. Deut. 34:6). The issue (according to Jewish tradition, not Scripture) involves Moses' body, which Satan claimed because he had sinned by killing the Egyptian (cf. Exod. 2:12). Apparently Michael had been sent by YHWH to retrieve the physical remains of Moses, but was hindered by an angelic majesty (Satan, cf Job 1-2). This seems to parallel 2 Pet. 2:11.
▣ "The Lord rebuke you!" This is the same phrase used by the angel of the Lord to Satan in Zech. 3:2. It could also be a quote from The Assumption of Moses, a Pharisaical book, probably written in the first century. We only know of it from a later Latin fragment and quotes from Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Didymus (also note Deut. Rabbah 10:11). It is used to show the Archangel Michael's respect for Satan's position (with the sons of God, Job 2, and at the right hand of the angel of the Lord in Zech. 3:1), which was so different from "these" false teachers' comments about the angelic authorities. The term "Lord" refers to YHWH, while elsewhere in Jude it refers to Jesus.
v. 10 This is a difficult verse to understand. It is paralleled by 2 Pet. 2:12. Verse 10 is a contrast to how Michael handled angelic authority in v. 9.
1. what they do not know, they rail at (or blaspheme)
2. what they know, they know like irrational animals
3. what they know, will destroy (or corrupt) them
Their animal-like instincts for sex, sin, and rebellion (cf. 2 Pet. 2:12-14) will eventually destroy them (cf. Phil. 3:19). What irony, that this so-called special knowledge is the very thing that causes their demise (i.e., "the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil," cf. Genesis 3).
v. 11 This verse is another illustration of Jude's use of threes (Cain, Balaam, Korah). It is structured in an OT prophetic pattern of a funeral dirge (cf. Isa. 3:9,11; 6:5; Habakkuk 2) or curse oath (cf. Deut. 27:15-26). Jesus uses "woe" often in the Gospels (esp. Luke). Their destruction is sure! They allowed their own jealousy, greed, sensuality, and lust for power to destroy them (and their teachings destroyed others, cf. James 3:1).
F. F. Bruce, Answers to Questions, p. 134, tells us that Christian tradition (i.e., Epiphanius) used all three of these examples given as relating to certain Gnostic groups who used these very OT people as role models.
▣ "have gone" The verb poreuomai is used metaphorically several times in this book (and 2 Peter), referring to godless living.
1. v. 11, "they went in the way of Cain"
2. v. 16, "following after. . ."
3. v. 18, "following after. . ."
4. 2 Pet. 2:10, "indulge" (lit. "go after")
5. 2 Pet. 3:3, "following after. . ."
▣ "Cain" The account of Cain's jealousy of Abel and his murder are recorded in Genesis 4. The rabbis use Cain as an example of a cynical, materialistic unbeliever in the Jerusalem Targum on Gen. 4:7 and Pirke Aboth 5:19. Philo used Cain as an example of self-centeredness (Post. C. 38, 233).
▣ "Balaam" The record of Balaam, a prophet of YHWH, is found in Num. 22-25; 31:8,16. Balaam is an example of a worldly-minded prophet who led Israel into fertility worship as these false teachers exploited believers to improper sexual activity (cf. 2 Pet. 2:15).
▣ "Korah" Korah's sin was rebellion against God's appointed authority, Aaron and Moses (cf. Num. 16:1-35).
vv. 12-13 Jude characterizes "these" false teachers as
1. hidden reefs (unseen dangers)
2. clouds without water (promise, but no fulfillment)
3. trees without fruit (promise, but no fulfillment)
4. wild waves (chaos and its debris)
5. wandering stars (metaphor of error and sin)
Numbers 2-5 may reflect I Enoch 2:1-5:4, which describes the orderly working of God's creation. Jude uses examples of created order that do not fulfill the expected assignment.
NJB"a dangerous hazard"
The Greek term spilas has two distinct meanings (Arndt, Gingrich, Danker, 2 ed., p. 762).
1. an older one from Greek literature of "hidden reefs" (i.e., unseen, unexpected danger)
2. a later sense of "blemishes," "stains," or "spots" (cf. Eph. 5:27; James 3:6; 2 Pet. 2:13; Jude 23).
Option #1 fits the context best. The NASB and NRSV footnotes have "hidden reefs," but the word was also used in the NT of "spots" (cf. 2 Pet. 2:13).
▣ "love feasts" This was the common communal meal of the early church (cf. 1 Cor. 11:17-22). 2 Pet. 2:13-14 reveals the sexual lust practiced by these false teachers even at the Lord's Supper and communal meal.
▣ "caring for themselves" This means "shepherding themselves" (cf. Ezek. 34:2,8-10), driven by passion, not by reason or love for God. This is the essence of sin—independence from God and His love and will for all mankind. God's love is corporate, for the whole. Fallen mankind's love is individual; "what's in it for me?" It is self-directed, self-seeking, self-centered.
▣ "clouds without water. . .autumn trees without fruit" These are metaphors that focus on the promise of something, but without fulfillment—no water, no food! The false teachers made many empty claims (cf. 2 Pet. 2:17).
▣ "doubly dead" This may be (1) a metaphor of apparent physical life, but in reality, a dead spiritual life; (2) a reference to the second death of Rev. 20:14; or (3) both unfruitful and uprooted, thereby doubly dead.
▣ "uprooted" The TEV and NJB combined the last two descriptions as relating to the trees. The NJB has "like autumn trees, barren and uprooted and so twice dead."
v. 13 "casting up their own shame like foam" This seems to refer to debris left on the shore after a storm (cf. Isa. 57:20). Its exact metaphorical meaning in this context is uncertain (cf. Phil. 3:19).
▣ "wandering stars" This refers to meteors or planets which had no regular orbit like the constellations and, therefore, came to be metaphors for waywardness or lostness. In I Enoch this metaphor relates to seven fallen angels (cf. I Enoch 18-21).
▣ "black darkness" The last descriptive clause of v. 13 may reflect v. 6 (cf. 2 Pet. 2:17b), which refers to eternal judgment as "black darkness" (cf. I Enoch 10:4-5; 63:6; Jesus also uses darkness in Matt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30).
▣ "has been reserved forever" Here again Jude uses one of his favorite words, "kept" (cf. tēreō in vv. 1,6,13,21 and phulassō in v. 24). It is a perfect passive indicative. The tense and mood imply that God kept them imprisoned in darkness in the past and they remain imprisoned (cf. 2 Pet. 2:17).
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: vv. 14-16
14And it was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." 16These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.
v. 14 "Enoch" Enoch was the person in the genealogical list of Gen. 5 who walked with YHWH. Everyone lived and died, but Enoch was transported to be with God. He became an example of hope and fellowship/intimacy with God. Sometime before the first century a Jewish apocalyptic book entitled I Enoch (part of the pseudepigrapha) was written and became a very influential book among Jews and Christians. The Hebrew original has been lost. All modern readers have is a much later (a.d. 600) copy from Ethiopia which has been edited by Christians. When one reads this long Ethiopian copy it becomes obvious why it was so popular: it speculates on many events that occurred in the OT (such as the flood) as well as future events (heaven, hell).
Jude, like most first century Jewish people, was familiar with the pseudographic apocalyptic writing. His using it as an illustration does not mean he thought it was inspired. But his use of "prophesied" does tend to give the book a credibility. This very issue is the reason that Jude had such a hard time being included in the canon of the NT.
Paul quotes Jewish Midrash, unnamed Jewish inter-biblical sources and Greek poets, but this does not imply a belief that they were inspired. Jude could have used "prophesied" in a non-technical sense.
The phrase "the seventh" was used of Enoch's lineage from Adam in I Enoch 60:8; 93:3. Jude was familiar with this inter-biblical book.
▣ "prophesied" Jude may have accepted I Enoch as true.
vv. 14-15 These verses are a quote from I Enoch 1:9 (or Ethiopian Enoch), of which only fragments were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls. There is a play on the term "godless" (asebeia). It was used in I Enoch to refer to the punishment of the angels in Gen. 6 (cf. vv. 15,16). The direct quote from The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha vol. 1, edited by James H. Charlesworth of I Enoch 1:9 is
"Behold, he will arrive with ten million of the holy ones in order to execute judgment upon all. He will destroy the wicked ones and censure all flesh on account of everything that they have done, that which the sinners and the wicked ones committed against him" (pp. 13-14 ).
There is a fluidity in Jude between the OT examples and the NT "these" false teachers. This context seems to apply to the contemporary heretics using I Enoch's terminology "the seventh from Adam" (cf. I Enoch 60:8; 93:3). Because I Enoch viewed Gen. 6 as involving angels and human women does not mean that it is true. The Bible is ambiguous and unspecific at many points, but the central truth of the context is clear. Our problem as modern readers is that we want very specific and detailed information about subjects and issues which revelation chooses not to clarify. These subjects are interesting, but not necessary for salvation and godly living.
▣ "with many thousands of His holy ones" This refers to the countless angelic servants that surround YHWH (cf. Deut. 33:2; Dan. 7:10). In this quote from I Enoch "Lord" must refer to YHWH. In the NT Jesus is often predicted as returning on the clouds of heaven with many angels (cf. Matt. 16:27; 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 2 Thess. 1:7).
▣ "have spoken against Him" One wonders if this phrase from I Enoch, which relates to blasphemy against YHWH, relates somehow to v. 8, "reject authority." Some English translations (NASB, NKJV, New Berkley Version) capitalize this pronoun, implying a reference to God. It is possible that "grumblers" in v. 16 relates to the Israelite's words toward YHWH and His chosen leadership (Moses and Aaron) during the wilderness wandering period.
v. 15 "ungodly" The word is repeated four times in v. 15. See note at Jude v. 4.
v. 16 "grumblers" This term is used of Israel in the Septuagint to describe the wilderness wandering period (Exod. 15:24; 17:3; Num. 14:29). This is possibly an allusion to I Enoch 5:5.
Jude characterizes "these" false teachers, as he did in vv. 12-13.
2. finding fault
3. following their own lusts (cf. 2 Pet. 2:2,14,18; 3:3)
4. speaking arrogantly (cf. 2 Pet. 2:10,18)
5. using flattery to seek personal gain (sexual, monetary, or power, cf. 2 Pet. 2:3).
These characteristics are not unique to OT or NT times, but are the result of the fall (cf. Genesis 3) with its focus on independence and personal freedom/rights/power. When these characteristics appear in the leadership of churches the continuing influence of the Adamic nature and the demonic evil becomes clear.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: vv. 17-23
17But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18that they were saying to you, "In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts." 19These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. 20But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. 22And have mercy on some, who are doubting; 23save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.
v. 17 "But you, beloved" This is a strong logical contrast.
▣ "ought to remember" This is an aorist passive (deponent) imperative. Believers are called on to remember the spiritual truths given to them by the spoken word (cf. 2 Pet. 3:2 – OT Prophets, Jesus, and Apostles) as well as the later canonized written word (possibly some parts of the NT were circulating at this time).
▣ "by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ" This relates to the preaching and writing ministry of the select group of disciples called "Apostles." This verse implies that Jude is addressing second generation believers. Some readers may have heard the Apostles speak, but now that option is not possible. This period of transition from the "spoken gospel" to the "written gospel" was a time of great flux and confusion. Many people claimed to know and speak for God. Jude, like Jesus in Matt. 7, directs believers to evaluate leaders by their words and lifestyles.
v. 18 "that they were saying" This is an imperfect active indicative which refers to recurrent action in past time. Exactly where an Apostle said this is uncertain, but 2 Pet. 3:3 is similar, as are Acts 20:29; 1 Tim. 4:1ff; 2 Tim. 3:10-13; 4:3. It may be an idiom for apostolic truth (i.e., the faith once for all given to the saints).
▣ "'In the last time'" This is parallel to 2 Pet. 3:3 "in the last days." Jude and Peter (as most NT authors) thought they were living in the last days. The delayed second coming surprised everyone (cf. 2 Pet. 3:4). The characterization of the last days in vv. 18-19 are true of every age of fallen human history. Life apart from God is an orgy of self!
The Jews saw history as divided into two distinct periods: a current evil and rebellious period and a coming new age of righteousness, inaugurated by the powerful coming of God's Anointed One (Messiah). From NT revelation this two-fold time frame has been modified. There is an unexpected overlapping of these two ages. Jesus of Nazareth has inaugurated the Kingdom of God, but it will not be fully consummated until His glorious return. This overlapping period has been described as the "already, but not yet" experience of the church.
vv. 18-19 "there will be. . ." Jude again describes "these" end-time false teachers:
1. mockers (by word and deed, cf. 2 Pet. 3:3)
2. divisive (i.e., causing divisions or making distinctions)
4. devoid of the Spirit
Why do so many follow this kind of person? If the goal of life is to serve self, then this existential "me first" approach makes sense. But, what if there is a God who will demand a personal accounting of the gift of life? The gospel frees believers from the tyranny of self (cf. Romans 6) and enables them to freely serve the one true God.
v. 19 "devoid of the Spirit" There are several theories as to the meaning of this phrase but the best seems to be that they live on the level of instinct and mere animal appetite (cf. v. 10).
v. 20 "But you" There is a contrast (cf. v. 17) between "the beloved" true believers and "these" false teachers (very similar to Heb. 6:9). Jude gives true believers a list of expectations (cf. vv. 20-23):
1. build yourselves up on your most holy faith
2. pray in the Holy Spirit
3. keep yourselves in the love of God
4. wait anxiously for eternal life
5. have mercy on doubters
6. snatch doubters from the fire
7. watch out from being polluted by those you help
▣ "building yourselves up" This is a present active participle used in the sense of an imperative. This is one of a series of participles used as imperatives in the close of this letter. They represent the believers' covenant responsibilities. Notice the contrast between
1. the keeping power of God in the introduction (v. 1) and the doxology (vv. 24-25) and
2. these calls to personal action (cf. vv. 20-23)
Believers live/serve as if it all depended on them but rest knowing that it all depends on Him. This same comparison is found in Ezek. 18:31 versus 36:26 (cf. Acts 20:32; Phil. 2:12-13).
The metaphor of the Christian faith as a building is common in the writings both of Paul (cf. Acts 20:32; 1 Cor. 3:10,12,14,17; Eph. 2:20-22; Col. 2:7) and Peter (cf. 1 Pet. 2:5). This metaphor is stated in several ways.
1. the believer as a building (or part of the building) or temple
2. the admonition to build ourselves up
3. the concept of a good foundation to build on
▣ "on your most holy faith" This grammatical form can mean
1. "on your most holy faith" (cf. NASB, NKJV, NRSV, TEV, NJB)
2. "by means of your most holy faith" (cf. New Century Version)
3. "in your most holy faith" (cf. NEB, NAB, NIV)
The Greek term "faith" (pistis) is translated into English by three terms: "faith," "believe," or "trust." Faith is used in three senses in the NT.
1. as personal acceptance of Jesus as the Christ of God
2. as faithfully living for Him
3. as a body of truths about Him (cf. v. 3; Gal. 1:23; 3:23-25).
Mature Christianity involves all three senses.
vv. 20-21 Notice that the Triune God is mentioned: Spirit (v. 20); God (v. 21); Lord Jesus Christ (v. 21). The term "trinity" is not a biblical term, but the concept surely is—"one divine essence" (monotheism) but three personal and eternal manifestations. If Jesus is divine and the Spirit is personal, then "monotheistic" means one divine essence but three personal manifestations—Father, Son and Spirit (cf. Matt. 3:16-17; 28:19; John 14:26; Acts 2:32-33,38-39; Rom. 1:4-5; 5:1,5; 8:1-4,8-10; I Cor. 12:4-6; 2 Cor. 1:21-22; 13:14; Gal. 4:4-6; Eph. 1:3-14,17; 2:18; 4:4-6; 2 Thess. 2:13; Titus 3:4-6; 1 Pet. 1:2; Jude 20-21).
v. 20 "praying in the Holy Spirit" This is another present middle (deponent) participle used in the sense of an imperative. What does it mean to pray in the Holy Spirit?
1. the Spirit prays for the believer (cf. Rom. 8:26-27)
2. the believer prays in the power/presence of the Spirit (cf. Eph. 6:18)
3. the believer prays in the gift of tongues (cf. 1 Cor. 12:10; 14:14, but notice in 1 Cor. 12:29-30, a series of questions which expect a "no" answer shows that the gift of tongues is not for every believer)
4. since there is no article with "Spirit," the Greek form is exactly like John 4:23, where Jesus describes true worship to the Samaritan woman as worshiping "in Spirit and Truth" (cf. Phil. 3:3).
In the midst of a series of commands (participles with imperatival force) for believers to fight the good fight, there is an acknowledgment of the necessity of the Spirit's power bringing the needed theological balance between the sovereign God and required covenantal response. See SPECIAL TOPIC: INTERCESSORY PRAYER at James 5:16.
v. 21 "keep yourselves in the love of God" This is the main verb of the context (this was a favorite concept for Jude [cf. vv. 1,6,13,21]), and another aorist active imperative. How does one keep oneself in the love of God? The aorist active imperative speaks of an urgent act. Salvation is described in the NT as
1. a past completed act (aorist indicative)
2. a state of being (perfect tense)
3. an ongoing process (present tense)
4. a future consummation (future tense).
Evangelicals have been guilty of over-emphasizing the initial act (which is surely necessary), but depreciating the process by neglecting to discuss the paradox of a free gift in Jesus versus a continuing life of faith and service. God has chosen to deal with humans through covenant. There are benefits and requirements. We love the benefits and neglect the requirements. True faith is a faith that perseveres. God's love initially draws us (cf. John 6:44,65) and sustains us, but we must co-operate with Him in covenantal response at every stage (cf. Phil. 2:12-13; 1 Pet. 1:5-11). The Bible sets the ideal of mature, Christlike Christianity and we are forever trying to minimize the mandated responses.
NASB"waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life"
NKJV"looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life"
NRSV"look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life"
TEV"as you wait for our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy to give you eternal life"
NJB"wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to give you eternal life"
This is another present middle (deponent) participle. It is similar to 2 Pet. 3:14. An eager expectation of the Second Coming is a characteristic of believers (cf. Rom. 8:19-25; 1 Cor. 1:7; Titus 2:13). Believers are not "fully" saved until they have their new resurrected bodies (cf. 1 John 3:2). This refers to the ultimate salvation at the Second Coming. One could describe these stages as: justification (salvation as a free gift in the finished work of Jesus Christ); sanctification (salvation demonstrated by Christlike living— not sinlessness, but surely sinning less); and glorification (salvation from the penalty, power, and even presence of sin at the consummation of the new age).
The expression "eternal life" is a NT metaphor of the new age, the kingdom of God, heaven, or face-to-face fellowship with God forever. It is very common in John's writings, but it also occurs in the other Gospels and in Paul's writings. Notice that eternal life is connected not only with the reception of the gospel, but also with the consummation of the new age at the return of Jesus Christ. So it is both present and future, like the kingdom!
▣ "mercy" Jude's unique introduction used "mercy." There is a play on this term in vv. 21 and 22. Mercy experienced (cf. v. 21) issues in mercy given (cf. vv. 22-23; Matt. 6:14-15; 18:35).
v. 22 "on some" This seems to speak of three groups of church folks who were deceived by the false teachers (ASV, NASB, TEV, NJB, NIV following the ancient Greek manuscripts א and A). Jude is fond of threes (cf. vv. 2,4,8,11).
1. some doubters
2. some followers of the false teachers
3. some false teachers
Other translations see two groups (cf. KJV, NEB, and Williams following the Greek manuscripts P72, B, C, K, L). In Answers to Questions, F. F. Bruce says:
"I think that most probably two classes are envisaged; those who are responsible for maintaining due order in the churches must use different methods towards those who persist in inculcating subversive and immoral doctrine and those who have been misled by false teachers" (p. 135).
There is also another ancient Greek manuscript variation. The MSS א, B and C2 have the present active imperative plural of "mercy," while MSS A and C*, have the present active imperative of "convince" or "refute" (cf. RSV).
▣ "who are doubting" It is possible because of P72 (also Greek text used by Clement and Jerome) to see the Greek participle translated "doubting" (NASB); "wavering" (NRSV, NJB), as really meaning "making distinctions" or "causing divisions." P72 leaves out the verb "have mercy on" and relates the term "divisions" to a way to further characterize "some" (i.e., heretics). See The Cambridge History of the Bible, vol. 1, p. 336.
This probably refers to those in the church who are being influenced by the false teachers. They are beginning to loosen their grip on "Apostolic truth," "the most holy faith," "the faith once and for all given to the saints." Believers must be proactive, not just reactive in the reclamation and restoration of weak brothers and sisters. This is an admonition not to accept false teachers or teachings, but to show the priority of compassionate love and mercy to wavering covenant partners (cf. Gal. 6:1) by restoring them to godly living and true belief.
The possible structural parallel is 2 Pet. 2:20-21. If so, the consequences of continual rebellion are catastrophic!
v. 23 "save others, snatching them out of the fire" This could be (1) the fire of God's temporal judgment or (2) the fire of God's eschatological judgment. This may be an OT allusion to Amos 4:11 or Zech. 3:1-5.
One's denominational tradition often determines which judgment option is chosen. If Zech. 3:1-5 is the background which seems to be the case because of
1. the term "snatch"
2. the metaphorical use of "soiled garments" as sin, then the allusion points toward the lives of the High Priest, Joshua the companion and helper of Zerubbabel (i.e., 538 b.c.), who is obviously a faithful believer (and even a metaphor for the Messiah in Zechariah 4).
However, the obvious thrust of the entire book is those who were once faithful to God have rebelled and have been judged. This is a frightful warning.
▣ "on some have mercy with fear" This means "fearing contamination" (cf. 2 Cor. 7:1; Gal. 6:1).
▣ "garment" This refers to an inner garment worn in the first century. These clothing metaphors are often used of lifestyle characteristics in the Bible (cf. Zech. 3:1-5; Isa. 61:10; Job 29:14; Ps. 109:29; Eph. 4:22,24,25; Col. 3:9,10). The false teachers' converts' lives were "soiled."
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: vv. 24-25
24Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
vv. 24-25 This is one of the most beautiful prayers in the entire NT. What a stark contrast between these words of secure and confident faith and the arrogance and immorality of the false teachers.
v. 24 "to Him who is able" This is a present middle (deponent) participle. God the Father continues to be able to perform His will in an evil world. This is a wonderful title for God.
1. "Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ" (Rom. 16:25)
2. "Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us" (Eph. 3:20)
3. "Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling" (Jude 24)
▣ "to keep you from stumbling" This metaphor of sure-footed horses is used to describe God's care for faithful believers in Ps. 121:3 (also cf. Ps. 17:5; 66:9; 94:17-18) and stable believers in 2 Pet. 1:10. The book of Jude is characterized by those who have stumbled, but God is able to stabilize true believers.
▣ "to make you stand" We are "guarded by God" so as to stand firm in faith (cf. Eph. 6:11,13,14; Rom. 5:2; 1 Cor. 15:1).
▣ "in the presence of His glory" "Glory" is an OT term for brightness. God's presence is described as a glorious shining. Sinful mankind cannot approach this glorious light of purity and holiness. But now in Christ, believers have been transformed by God's grace, Christ's work, and the Spirit's empowerment to approach and maintain fellowship with the Holy One of Israel. See Special Topic at James 2:1.
▣ "blameless" This is an OT sacrificial term used of an animal without blemishes, acceptable for an offering on the altar of sacrifice. This phrase is used of (1) Christ's blamelessness in 1 Pet. 1:19; (2) believers' blamelessness (cf. Eph. 1:4; Phil. 2:15; Col. 1:22), which is only available in the finished sacrificial work of Christ (cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; Col. 1:22) and (3) the glorified church in Eph. 5:20-27.
▣ "with great joy" In this eschatological setting, sorrow, suffering, sin, and temptation are no more. It has always been God's will that His special creation (mankind) approach Him with joy and thanksgiving (cf. Psalm 100). Mankind's fear is a terrible sign of the reality of rebellion.
v. 25 "to the only God" This is a reference to monotheism (cf. Deut. 6:4-5). It is grammatically parallel to (the dative) "to Him who is able" of v. 24. We must hold to the OT affirmation of the oneness of God but add the NT emphasis on the Deity of Jesus and the personality of the Spirit. We affirm one divine essence but three eternal personal manifestations.
▣ "our Savior" This is also used of God the Father (cf. Luke 1:47; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2:3, 4:10; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4). It is an example of a title used both for the Father and the Son. Notice the usage in Titus:
1. "God our Savior" (Titus 1:3)
"Christ Jesus our Savior" (Titus 1:4)
2. "God our Savior" (Titus 2:10)
"our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13)
3. "God our Savior" (Titus 3:4)
"Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:6)
▣ "through Jesus Christ our Lord" He is the only channel of God's grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness to fallen mankind (cf. John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 Tim. 2:5). He is God the Father's agent of creation, salvation, and judgment. Every blessing and provision comes through Him (cf. Col. 1:15-22).
It is interesting that 2 Pet. 3:18 closes in an affirmation of "glory" and eternality to Christ, while Jude closes with an affirmation to God the Father.
▣ "glory" This is the splendor (Hebrew kabod) of the holiness of the one true God. This brightness attaches to everything in His presence (cf. 1 Pet. 4:11). See note at James 2:1.
▣ "majesty" The root term is "great." It is a periphrasis for God (cf. Heb. 3:1; 8:1). A related term is used of Christ in 2 Pet. 1:16.
Paul and Peter use this term to describe God's power unto the ages (cf. Rom. 16:25-27; Eph. 3:20; 1 Tim. 1:17; 1 Pet. 4:11; 5:11). It describes God's strength to accomplish His purposes (cf. Acts 19:20; Eph. 1:19).
▣ "authority" This is the Greek term exousia, which means (1) freedom to act; (2) ability to act; (3) right (legal) to act; and therefore, (4) absolute power to act. It is used of God and in a derived sense of angels and human rulers.
This series of powerful terms describes the God who is able (versus the angels and false teachers who are not able) to deliver His promises.
▣ "now" God is still able and ready to provide every need through Christ to Jude's readers.
▣ "forever" God's character and promises are sure and trustworthy unto all the ages (cf. Ps. 102:25-27 [Heb. 1:1-11]; Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8; James 1:17).
This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.
1. What did Jude want to write about?
2. Who is he writing against?
3. What is Jude's relation to 2 Peter 2?
4. List the two characteristics of the false teachers mentioned in v. 4.
5. Why does Jude talk about angels so much?
6. What were "love feasts" and how are they related to the Lord's Supper?
7. Who were the mockers? What were they ridiculing?
8. Were these mockers Christians?
9. How do Christians keep themselves in God's love?
10. List the groups mentioned in vv. 22-23 to whom we are to witness.
11. Does God keep us or do we keep ourselves?
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