Jude

Updated: Dec 23, 2021

Imagine if you will that you’re taking your guy/gal out to a fine, high-class restaurant. You order and after waiting the food finally arrives at your table; must to your dismay the portion seems rather small and overpriced. However, upon taking your first bit you realize that though this meal is a bit on the small side it is indeed quite delicious and high in nutritional value. This is a picture of Jude; small but sweet to the soul, encouraging to the mind, and edifying to the body. Let’s start by asking the obvious question in verse 1:


 

  • Who is Jude? Or have you ever heard a lesson/sermon on Jude’s letter?


1:1

“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:”


Jude, perhaps named Judah or Judas (both common names at the time) was the half-brother of Christ (for his lineage is of Joseph and Mary directly; he is not divine as His brother is) and is believed to have been martyred in 65 AD. Beyond this and his short introduction in verse 1, not much is currently known about him (at least I didn’t find much on him).


So let’s sit and meditate on his introduction and profit from it as much as we can. First, note how he does not identify himself as the brother of Jesus but of James (the author of the Epistle of James) and only a “servant” (or “bondslave” as some translates render it). He identifies himself first by his subjection to Christ; not his potential status as his half-brother.

  • With that said, what does it mean to be a “servant”, or “slave” to Christ?

  • Simply it means to serve or be in full subjection to Christ. What the Master says to do it is executed by the servant.


Continuing with this train of thought, consider that most of the Apostles think of themselves this way; particularly Paul in his opening greeting says the same thing (Philippians 1:1, Titus 1:1, Philemon 1:1, James 1:1). The Apostles thought of themselves as slaves to Christ, but did not think of our religion as slavery; indeed, Paul himself thought of our religion as the only true freedom (Galatians 5:1).


Follow in their footsteps, when you think of yourself, think of yourself as a slave to Christ-owned, loved, protected, and provided for by Him and therefore quickly obedient to Him in all His commands. Just as the Apostle claimed his relation to Christ not through heritage but holiness, so we too take this same claim as our own and we say with Jude, “I, a servant of Christ”.


Now let us consider Jude’s second identification, “brother of James”. Not only do we have the same claim on Christ as Jude did but also on each other. We claim Christ and His Church as our own. We claim Christ as our King and the Church our kinsman. As the hymn goes, “I am His and He is mine” so is it true of the Church “I am theirs and they are mine”. And if we are servants of Christ then certainly we are also servants of one another; as one might serve his/her own family. Rather than ask the generic application question of “How can you best serve your church?” (Though a true and proper question to ask) Let us instead ask this,

  1. *Do you think of your (local) church as your kin? And is this reflected in your thoughts, affections, prayers, and deeds to them?

  2. Do you think of The Church (universal) as your kin? And does your inner life reflect this reality?

  3. Do you think of them as sweetly as your own family? Does your love stir for them when you see/think of them? Are you in prayer for them? Do you serve them when the need arises?


Christ does this, and much more, for us. So we should do the same for each other. Continuing in the text we move from Jude’s identification to our own in the rest of verse 1.

  • Who do you think Jude is writing to?

Jude, similar to James, was a general letter to the Church throughout the minor Asia region; thus there are no specific greetings or benedictions in this letter as we might see in Romans or the Corinthians. That said, we know exactly to whom he is writing-us. Moreover, the Church universal. Let’s define the terms of our three-fold identity in Jude.


First, notice the particular broadness of the three-fold identity “to those”. Particular in that it is to a certain people, the Church, not the world at large. And broad in the sense of the location and sanctification. For Jude speaks of the Church universally here; including the big and small Christians, the most and the least holy, the most sorrowful and the most joyful, the strongest and the feeble. For all of these are “called”; as are you. When this word is used it is used in reference to salvation. That is, God called or invited, you to Himself and, through His Spirit, you accepted this call. Notice the verb tense, past, and passive. For what did we do to save, or call ourselves? What grandeur in us compelled God to call us? Nothing, we were passive in our salvation; for salvation belongs to the Lord (Ephesians 2:5, 8-9, Psalms 3:8). And the pattern of past and passive continues with “beloved”. Notice the source, “in God the Father”. For we have nothing outside of Him. Through His love of us in eternity past we know the present reality of His love. But again this raises the question:

  • What good or lovely, thing is there to love in us?

  • Nothing for we are full of sin and hatred against God to the core.

This is all the more reason why we are loved. For one could translate this verse as “prized in God”. We, in Christ, are the objects of His affections. The same passion, purity, and potency of His love for His Son is the same love He feels for us. There is nothing in us to earn God’s love; it was given freely in Christ and therefore it can not be taken away through any action of our own.


Next, we see that we are “kept (or preserved, guarded) for Jesus Christ”. “Kept” or the present tense thereof is used multiple times throughout this letter in verses 6, 21, 24. We will discuss this more as we move along with but for now see what it means to be “kept”, why we are kept, and by whom?

  1. What does it mean to be “kept” (v. 1)?

The context of verse 1 is clearly speaking in regards to salvation. Thus, to be kept is to be preserved, or guarded till glorification.


2. Why are we “kept”?

We are kept because of the present, abiding, awesome love of God. For this is why Jude says that we are “beloved” of God immediately before this.


3. Who keeps us?

One could answer “the Trinity” and while this is true Jude seems to emphasize the Father in this verse; thus I’m inclined to teach that the Father keeps us for the Son’s sake; for this is an answer to Christ’s prayer in John 17:6, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept” (John 17:6, cc. John 14:23, 17:11, 12).

Thus, to sum up, thus far, Jude is a servant to Christ freely loving those called, loved, and kept by the Father for Christ’s sake. Now onto verse 2.


1:2

“May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.”


Here we have an ever-increasing wellspring of support for the Christian life. Jude wants us to not only possess mercy, peace, and love but that they increase all the more in our lives. Consider each of these individually:


  • How would you define “mercy”?

Mercy: is the flashpoint of our faith; for once we were held guiltless before the Father but He showed us mercy in withholding wrath from us. Without mercy in the past, we would not be Christians today. And this mercy multiples to us in the present in that the Father continues to withhold wrath from us on account of Christ’s sacrifice on our behalf.

  • How would you define “peace”?

Peace: Once we hated God and waged war against Him and His Holy law. Most Earthly peace treaties are made when one side has won and the other can fight no more, or when both sides have exhausted their supplies and are unable to continue warring with one another. Not so with God’s peace. For it was not made with man. But with His own Son; it is His blood in which this Heavenly peace treaty was signed. This peace was not obtained, or accomplished, by us. It therefore can not be lost by us either. It is an ever-increasing, eternal peace with God. God laid all wrath upon His Son, and there is none left to gift to the rest of His adopted sons/daughters. (Romans 5:1, 15:13). The external, objective sacrifice of Christ leads to our internal, subjective peace with God.


  • And lastly, how would you define “love”?

Love: The supreme means and motivation of our redemption. It was the love of God that sent Christ to save us; it was the love of God that compelled Christ to obey the Father in all things-including His death- it was by the love of God that we also rose with Christ and are forever united with Him. It was and always will be an eternal love that was for us long before we were ever for Him. This love will be multiplied to us as we explore the depths and detail of Christ’s death as well as eternal as we get to experience this love unhindered by the stain of sin upon our every part. Thus, let mercy, peace, and love increase to us now as we explore these matters further in this letter.


 

1:3-4

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”


See the tenderness of Jude’s address to his kin “beloved”.

  • When you think of your kin are your thoughts, affections towards them sweet, lovely? Would you be happy to share your mediations of them with them to their faces? Or would you blush if your thoughts of them were spoken out loud?

  • *Or more narrowly, do you love the person you’re seating next to right now? And if so, why?

God sees fit to love your kin eternally (in spite of their faults, mistakes, errors, past and present sins). You should too.


Also, see the tension in this verse; Jude was very eager to write to them about his selected subject matter, but he knew that they needed something different. Jude surrendered his eager, good, and godly desire for the sake of the saint’s needs. Eagerness vs. needs.


Jude’s desire was good but overridden for love’s sake. Perhaps, you are like Jude-eager to do many things for God- but indeed we must always first and foremost do what is needed as love demands; not what we always want. Do what is needed before doing what is wanted. That is clinging to Christ and destroying/defending against false doctrine. Or, being zealous for zero as Paul expounded to us in Galatians.

Consider the sacrifice made here:

  • What singular book of the NT exemplifies “our common salvation”?

  • Paul’s letter to the Romans. Jude, in doing that which was necessary for defending the faith, sacrificed ‘2 Romans’. Romans is the richest most profound book of the canon and to think we could have had two treasure houses of our “common salvation” is simply an incredible thought. God only knows what masterpiece Jude had in store for us in his ‘2 Romans’ but all the same, we have a short, but full, letter of encouragement.

In all this, there is an encouragement for us. In the same way, we are judged and condemned for our evil/sinful thoughts, affections, words, and deeds so we are also rewarded for our good/godly thoughts, affections, words, deeds, and prayers. For, “your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6, cc. Mathew 13:1-9, 18-23, 25:21, Luke 6:20-26). We are rewarded for our godly desires. In what exact way I am unsure. But the word says it is, therefore, to be believed upon. All the more reason to cultivate godliness within as well as without so that we might receive all the more greater a reward of grace in our last days.


Now, all this said, back to verse 4;

  • How can we identify false teachers?

  • By their fruits and teachings. Their false doctrine will not lead to a more godly life, a more moral one perhaps, but not godly. It will be full of selfishness and little or no truth. And no resting, trusting in, the finished work of Christ on our behalf. That is, it will be “works-based” salvation.

Moreover, Jude helps identify them for us. For they “crept in unnoticed” they were “long ago designated for this condemnation”, they are “ungodly people” and they “pervert the grace of God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord” (verse 4).

  • Reverse what Jude teaches us here, how are we to be true/proper teachers?

  • We are to be open, honest, and known before the local church (as well as the ruling Elders, or Pastors).

  • We were long along designated for this glory/salvation; for Paul writes, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Ephesians 2:10).

  • We are to be godly people. That is like God, in representing Him.

  • We are to exalt or proclaim, the grace of God for godliness among the church.


Not only is this true of teachers, but also true for proper Christians more broadly. We are all, to be honest, known to our church, godly and designed for glory, and proclaim the grace of God for godliness not fleshly desires.


Note that Jude uses the word “contend”.

  • What do you guys think this means? How are we to contend for the faith?

  • To fight for or possibly to guard. The word used here would have also been used to describe wrestlers (or Dennis) in their matches. We are to be aggressive, intentional, zealous for the faith when facing off against false teachers. Put no punches on those who would pervert the grace of our God. However, unlike the wrestlers of Paul’s day, we are not to fight alone but rather rely on the local church that God has given us when we run up against questions we can not answer or even openly admitting that we “lost” a fight or might have doubts. For sanctification is a community project.


1:5-16

“Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error and perished in Korah's rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs] at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.”


1:5

One of the leaders of this community project is obviously the elder, preacher, and teacher. In regards to the teacher, it is not so much “new ideas/topics” that need to be taught, for we do not need to re-invite the wheel, but rather continual religious reminders are required for the redeemed to grow. Our Lord reckons us as sheep in many of His illustrations, and sheep are rather stupid/forgetful. It is the duty of the teacher to be the reminder to the forgetful faithful of Father; as Jude here shows us.


One more note before we move back to the discussion, notice Jude says “fully knew”. He does not so much mean that these Christians were scholarly in the faith in that they knew all things intellectually, or exhaustively, but rather that they ‘grasped this knowledge with all their being/might’. We do not need to be scholars, for this is not commanded of us, however, we are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind…” While we are not called to be big brains we are called to have big hearts that make use of all their faculties; including the brain.

  • On engaging the mind, let us learn from the mistakes of these early Christians, how we are to remember the great truths/doctrines of the Bible?

  1. Listen to the reminders when we feel ourselves growing in forgetfulness. Listen to the word privately, listen to the word publicly from the preachers/teachers.

  2. Learn the reminders. That is live them out. Love your neighbor is a wonderful command, but how are *you* at your current address to apply it? “Love the Lord your God” is another glorious one but how are you loving Him now, and wherein your life/heart/mind are you not delighting in Him?

  3. Love the reminders. It is much more difficult to lose/forget things that you love. Realize the truthfulness of the commands, the sweetness of them, and the tenderness of the Father’s loving hand toward you through them.

Continuing on in the verse, let’s deal with the most obvious:

  • Who saved the Israelites in their Exodus from Egypt?

According to Jude, Jesus. For those of you familiar with the Exodus story where is Jesus mentioned in it? By His own name, nowhere. However, where the scripture teaches us about God, His attributes, and actions then it is also teaching us of the Son as well. For the Son and the Holy Spirit are God equal with the Father; for they are the same in substance, equal in power and glory; though distinguished by their personal properties/actions (WLC Q9, 11). Each having their role in our salvation, it was planned by the Father, purchased by the Son, and applied by the Spirit. Given that Christ is a part of the Triune God-head Jude attributes the salvation (saving) of the Israelites from the Egyptians to Christ; and not only the saving but also the condemning of the unbelievers (the Egyptians).


It is always paramount to remember that we must have our theology fit the Bible; not the other way around. Jesus is not weak, but meek. Christ saves, and on the last day, fully saves and finally condemns.

  • And what does He condemn the Egyptians for?

Unbelief. As we are saved by our belief in Him so will others be condemned for their unbelief in Him. There is a two-fold encouragement to us in this: 1) The Israelites were saved through their belief in God; not the strength or might of their faith; I would imagine a great many of them were terrified walked through the Red Sea but not even their fear prevented their salvation. It is likewise for us, we are saved not by our strong grip, or lack thereof, upon the Savior but His hold on us. And the second encouragement is: Jesus is just; the wicked will not continue to slit God or His people forever; their rebellion will finally, definitely, and decisively end whence death will reign upon them forever [you’re welcome Jacob].


1:6

Not only the unbelieving people did He judge but also the Angels who left their proper position of power/authority.

  • That said, what is their proper position of authority?

Theirs is similar to ours. It is the worship of the thrice-holy God (Isaiah 6). The End (purpose) of Angels is the same as ours: to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. The end (temporal judgment) of the fallen Angels is the same as the heathen; condemnation in gloomy darkness.


My commentary suggests that Jude is referring to the “sons of God” in Genesis 6:1-4 and how they left their position of authority to take the “daughters of men” as wives. I respectfully dissent from this option for I do not see in the Scripture that Angels are capable of sexual intercourse (Matthew 22:30). The details of their rebellion are somewhat vague however we do know that they were created to worship and that they left/failed to do this and therefore are condemned for it; this is what will matter in regards to our study today.

Note, that they did not keep their proper position and therefore God kept them in their condemnation until the judgment of the great day.

  • What application might be drawn from this for us?

That we are to stay in our proper positions, whatever they may be. God will not be mocked; He will not allow a teacher or preacher to honor Him with his lips but yet have his heart, or body, or resources (time, money, etc.) to be far from Him. The excuse, “but Lord, I was your preacher, your teacher, your Christian” will not fly on our judgment. Wholly hypocrites will have their proper position in Hell. But Holy hypocrites will receive mercy/grace and have their proper, gracious, position in Heaven. Our position will not shield us on our judgment day but only propitiate Savior Christ. Christ is our banner, our shield in all of life.

  • And finally, for verse 6, this odd phrase is “gloomy darkness”. Consider the rest of the canon, how is Hell described elsewhere in the Bible?

-Everlasting destruction in 2 Thess. 1:9

-Blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth in Matthew 13:50.

-Fiery lake of burning sulfur...second death in Revelation 21:8.

-And here, eternal chains under gloomy darkness and punishment in eternal fire (Jude 6-7).

Now may look at this describe and wonder how is Hell both a place of fire and darkness. I wouldn’t try to completely reconcile these images other than saying that a bonfire is a similar image; that is it is both dark and fiery so I don’t see a contradiction here (as some scholars have tried to state). However, what I do see is the reality, or truth, of Hell. Not every doctrine we hold needs to be our favorite/preferred. But every doctrine we hold must be held in our hearts and must motivate us to proper living.


And Hell is certainly one of those doctrines; though it is not held fearfully, but joyously. Let me explain, often, in my own life, when I feel my life or worship is growing cold I have found it of great profit to meditate on all that I have been saved from; the wrath of God, my own sinful flesh, consequences from the state should I have led a gross life, ungodly hatred/anger, and in, obviously Hell. Hell is not so much a doctrine to make the Christian fear (lose of salvation) but rejoice in the grandeur of our common salvation. And from that joy, we gain great motive/fuel for our worship and service to God and His Church. Do not fear Hell, but rejoice in the reality of God’s grace saving you from it.


Notice one more thing in verse 6, “unnatural desire”. These cities were not only judged for their actions but also their desires. Be wary, on guard, of your desires for they pour forth much beauty and ugliness. Out of the desire to serve Jacob teaches, out of desire (eagerness) to teach Jude wrote this letter, out of the desire to sin these cities were judged. “Be killing sin or it will be killing you” (John Owen). Kill the ungodly desires in you before they kill you; for it is much easier to stay on the path of righteousness than it is to find your way back on it (I speak from experience).


Continuing to verse 8 Jude relates the rebellion of these evil angels and cities to the false teachers in his day that were threatening his readers to fall from the faith.

  • Jude states that these false teachers do 4 things; what are they?

Rely on their dreams,

Defile the flesh,

Reject authority

And blaspheme the glorious ones.

  • Conversely, how are we to live in light of this passage?

Rely, not on dreams, but on the word.

Deny the flesh

Accept, and be under, the authority of pastors/elders/teachers

And respect, but not worship, the glorious ones (angels).

Or, to sum up, they did not love and therefore obey the Lord God; we should.


Moreover, in their rejection of God’s word they turned to tradition, as my commentary puts it “Jude illustrates the folly of the false teachers in their arrogant slander by drawing on Jewish tradition. The “archangel Michael” is the chief angel over Israel (Dan. 10:21), who leads the spiritual battle against her enemies. Jewish literature records a number of traditions concerning him, including the incident in which he was “contending with the devil”...Deuteronomy 34:1-12 records the death of Moses but says nothing of the incident described here. According to Jewish tradition, the Devil argued with Michael over Moses’ body, claiming that since Moses was a murderer, his body belonged to him. In response, Michael “did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment”; in other words, he did not presumptuously assume the authority of his own but merely invoked the Lord’s authority when he states, “the Lord rebuke you”...Jude claims that Michael declared these words to the Devil instead of stating a charge of blasphemy against him. The point is not that such a charge was untrue, but rather that Michael did not presume the authority to make it.” (ESV Commentary pg. 513).


Here, in the tradition, Michael did not pull rank but stayed in his position of authority; thus further supporting Jude’s point in verse 6.


There is an application that we can pull from this that many of you have heard before. At one point in his exile, Martin Luther was contending with the Devil who was accusing his conscience, and in rebuke, Luther replied to his accusations, “Get away from me Satan! For I have been baptized.” When the Devil accuses us we should remember that it is the Lord Christ who has saved, laid claim, to us; no amount of Satanic accusations can change this.

Also, take encouragement from this tradition for it has since been lost to us. This story is from a scroll called the assumption of Moses; no Jew ever considered this canon and Jude uses it as merely an illustration but we can take encouragement in that God has given us all that we need for godliness; the scripture is complete, preserved, and infallible. We’ll discuss this later in more depth when we reach verse 14.

Move to verse 10. Notice Jude’s language here, “they do not understand” and “understand instinctively”.

  • Which is it; do they understand or not?

Both. They do not understand the “common salvation...once for all delivered to the saints” but they do intrinsically understand all that is within them; their own sinful hearts and out of that natural self-knowledge springs forth their rebellion. They know themselves but not God.

  • Where does this self-knowledge lead?

Destruction. This is similar to Adam in the Garden wishing to gain greater knowledge of himself and the world around him than what God intended and decreed. And thus, he too was lead, through deception, into destruction. The destruction that Jude speaks of here is most likely the earthly consequences of sin; though the eternal consequences would be included here as well.

  • This said, what are the earthly consequences of sin for us?

Not destruction but deadening. After every sin, we do not stop being Christians but rather our hearts are hardened, our minds are poisoned, our bodies (usually in some manner) are damaged. We do not lose God in our sinning but we do lose our sense thereof, and joy therein, and this is the tragedy of sin for the Chrsitian. For the Joy of the Lord is our strength. Sin weakness us. It makes us more beast/animal-like than human.


1:11

They walked, abandoned themselves, and perished in the ungainful rebellion.

I’m afraid we won’t quite have the time to dive into all these examples Jude lists here because I want to try and make sure that y’all are out on time. [Though I do hope to double-back on this verse on the blog and dig more deeply into these examples later. If you want to look at them on your own you can find these stories in Genesis 4, Korah Numbers 16, and Balaam in Numbers 22]. So for now, we can just summarize and say this: In the way of Cain, we see death, in the error of Balaam failure in rebellion against God, and in the rebellion of Korah, we see the just judgment of God.

  • Question: why?

Because they rejected the authority that was put before them by God. In thinking themselves more powerful, wise they attempted to subvert God’s authority. As these false teachers of Jude’s day were attempting to do as well. Our own rebellion is likewise; futile, ungainful, and destructive. To be in subjection to the Savior is sweet, satisfying, and saving, sin is bitter, short, deadly, and damning.


1:12-13

“Hidden reefs, that feast with you without fear”

  • Do you guys know what this “love feast” is?

It is a feast of the early church that typically ended with taking the Lord’s supper. Paul deals with a similar issue of the Corinthian church in 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. These false teachers used this love feast as a lust feast; to satisfy their own flesh with gluttony and greed; satisfying themselves with no concern with the needs of their brother. In this way, while they might appear to be sincerely partaking of the feast their false, ungodly motives lay just belong the surface. Thus, Jude calls them “hidden reefs” where others might run aground.

Now it is uncommon in our day to have “love feasts” we do most certainly take communion with the Lord’s people.

  • Thus, how are we to take communion?

Communion is the Gospel being presented, as the elements are explained, and that they point to the incarnation, death, resurrection, and coming of Christ. Paul tells us that this Gospel presentation with the Saints is not to be taken lightly but seriously, for, “Whoever therefore eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 11:27); that is in a ritualistic, uncaring, or unrepentant manner.


We need not be perfect to partake of the body, for it is medicine and strength to sin-sick souls, but we must be wary of our own sin, hearts, and minds to eat in a worthy manner lest we find a “hidden reef” (insincere heart) within us and cause our brothers harm or sin. For this is why Jude rebukes them eating “without fear”; they do not believe in, and thus don’t fear, the judgment of God for taking the saints and their communion lightly.

The second descriptive imagery that Jude uses for the false teachers is “shepherds feeding themselves”.

  • Who is Jude referring to here?

The term “shepherd” is used throughout the canon to describe spiritual leaders, prophets, and pastors alike. While the Christ is referred to as the “good shepherd” who “[laid] down His life for the sheep”; He appointed pastors as undershepherds to care for God’s people under His authority (1 Peter 5:1-5). Thus, he is referring to them.

  • How do Pastors care for their flock?

The Pastor is a shepherd; meaning that they protect and provide (or feed) for the sheep. They do this primarily in preaching; both against unorthodox/false doctrine and for the edification of the people of God. All other duties they may have are secondary and subservient to this singular goal. Lest we fall into the same trap of this church let us discuss this: how do we determine that the shepherd is protecting/providing for his flock?

We can determine this by asking:

Does he preach the truth?

Does he preach against lies or sin and its consequences (eternal and temporal)?

Does he preach the word and the word only?

Does he preach the majesty of God

Does he preach the redemption of the Redeemer?

Does he preach the saving and sanctifying power of the Spirit?

Does he preach the grace of the Gospel?

If the answer is yes, then (generally with rare expectations) your preacher is a true, godly preacher. All this as well as their fruits.


It is rather uncommon for a false teacher/preacher to publicly claim that they are false teachers. We should remain vigilant against should teachers; particularly, and most importantly with our own local churches.


The next descriptor is “waterless clouds”. Strange phrase.

  • What do clouds signify to us?

At minimum, rain. And rain means life or growth; and moreover in the OT, it represented God’s presence with His people (Exodus 13:21-22). These false teachers have the appearance of life, or godliness, but lack it in true substance.


While, I’m covering just about every major doctrine let’s go ahead and add another one to the list (because, why not?) in this question:

  • How can we know that our faith is true/real?

Not by its strength, or its great works, but mainly by the giver of the faith is “once for all delivered to the saints” (verse 3). For Christ states the reason why some will be cast out is that “I never knew you” (Matthew 7:23). For the Spirit bears witness with our’s that we are the children of God (Romans 8:16). Our assurance of faith is based on the atonement of Christ; not ourselves. All of our salvation is of grace (WLC Q80).


How might you encourage a brother/sister who is lacking in assurance? What scriptures or doctrine would you give them to build up their assurance? (Discuss if we can have assurance if necessary).


“Waterless clouds, swept along by the winds”

  • What other passage that we have studied does this remind you of?

James 1:6, “But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” These false teachers have no substance to give to the people of God and are thus, blown aimlessly by personal desires and doctrinal confusion. Assurance in our salvation/confidence in God aids and anchors us in order to not be tossed about by every desire or poor doctrine.

“Fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted”...

  • How does the Lord teach us to recognize false teachers? “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:15-16). Jude uses and applies this teaching here. In “late autumn” trees will still bear fruit but these false teachers do not. “Twice dead, uprooted” could refer to the second death (Rev. 21:8) or merely emphasize the “uprootedness” of these teachers.


“Wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame”

Strange phrase that I couldn’t make heads or tails of so here’s what my commentary says, “The expression “wild waves” portrays the uncontrolled immoral behavior of the false teachers...just as the waves dredge filth from the bottom of the sea and toss it to the surface, so the ungodliness of the false teachers overflows into public view” (ESV Commentary pg. 516).


“Wandering stars”

Useless for navigation, and often lead to wrong or pearls destinations. Their end of “gloom of utter darkness” is quite fitting for those who led others astray. Also an illusion to verse 6; because Angels are also referred to as “stars” elsewhere in scripture (Rev. 12:4) thus paralleling the fallen Angels with the false teachers once more.

1:14

  • What is Jude referencing here? And does it present any problems for us?

Jude does not quote scripture but the Book of Enoch; a book written by the Hebrews sometime in the time of silence (400-100 BC). It was not even included in any of the Hebrew canons. The exact author of Enoch is unknown but the writer seems to have wanted to expound upon several OT points including, angels, demons, and the millennial reign of the Messiah. By 400 BC the Hebrew canon was completed and closed by God; though many others attempted to add their own thoughts/ideas to the canon; for this is where we get the Apocrypha/Deuterocanonical books (Judith, Tobit, Bel and the Dragon, etc).


Though these books were fairly well known to the Hebrew audience, in a similar manner to Pilgram’s Progress or Lord of the Rings is for us today. Though these books are not canon and there may be truth in them their author is not God, nor are they all that clear in their meaning/interpretation, and are historically/theologically inaccurate and are thus not included in the Protestant canon (though some Catholics and Orthodox do include them in their canons; but they possess a very low view of the Scriptures from the start).

  • All that said, what is the Protestant view of the Scripture and why do we hold to it?

Scripture is the only infallible (unable to commit error), inerrant (no errors within it), and is clear for all that we need for salvation (for this is what the scriptures teach), and that their authority God from which they gain their authority in our lives. (Westminster Confession of Faith Chapter 1-10, WSC Q2-3). All of this is summarized in the term “sola scriptura”, Scripture alone.


And Jude knew that the Book of Enoch was not canonical when he wrote this because he does not reference “Enoch” as scripture refers to him (Genesis 6, Hebrews 11:5) but rather “Enoch the seventh from Adam” thus distinguishing from Enoch; moreover, Jude would have darn well known that the Book of Enoch was not canon and would have known that his audience (most likely a converted Hebrew community) knows this as well.

This naturally leads us to ask; if the Book of Enoch is not scriptural/canonical then why quote it?

  1. In a similar manner that God uses our own unique voices so God authoritatively uses the Apostles’ voices and minds as well. As Jude demonstrates his knowledge of OT and NT as well as Apocrypha literature (an impressive knowledge in any age).

  2. Scripture is diverse in its content but singular in its teaching (who God is and how we are to live in light of that). The Apostles were not copiers but original writers; though they all wrote on different exact issues each writes God-ward.

  3. All truth is God’s truth. Jude merely uses a piece of truth he knew to support his argument against falsehood for his people. Jude was not afraid of any truth; nor should we. Moreover, when we encounter truth we should ask ourselves: How does this truth lead me and my church closer to God?

Now, onto the content of verses 14-15

  • For what reason does the Lord return in verse 15?

-To execute judgment on all (a universal judgment)

-And to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness (a convicting/convincing of sinners of their sin).

  • Thinking of the last days, and judgment, do you look for to the Return of Christ? Or are you more fearful, scared perhaps?

Look forward to it; do not be afraid of His return nor His judgment for your deeds.

At the Return, we will be

-Received by God the Father

-Reunited with the Church Triumphant and

-Rewarded for our good deeds.


Now the exact details of the return I hope to get into more next week, Lord willing, but for now we’ll just focus on Jude.

  • Notice also, what they are judged for in verse 15?

  • They are judged for what they did and spoke. Thus we should be careful to live in light of God and all that He is and has done and is doing for us and will do for us as well as our speech in regards to Him; for it should not be light, careless but weighty and lovely.


1:16

Jude here describes the false and ungodly teachers in multiple ways.

  • What here is the root of their actions?

  • The “sinful desires” lead them to be, “grumblers” discontent with God, “malcontents” discontent with life, their mouths speak pridefully, marveling at others to take advantage of them for their own ends.


  • Is it wrong to want to gain an advantage in our lives or situations?


No. Far from it. We should seek to gain an advantage not through boasting of ourselves or flattery of the other person but through sincere, good, honest work and words in life and the workplace.


Having sufficiently dealt with and described the false teachers of his time (whom I would guess are some sort of proto-gnostics) Jude now moves to speak to the believer directly in calling them to persevere in the faith. Having just described the false teacher and their sinful desires we should ask in prayer for God to reveal these desires in us so that we might root them out in faith and truth and thus not be lead, or lead others astray.


 

1:17-23

“But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”


1:17

“But you...beloved”

Here we see the hard pivot of Jude from preaching against falsehood to the truth for the believer. Notice that he calls them, and us, “beloved” referring back to verse 1; always think well of your kin even when they are in sin or error.

  • Why does Jude refer to the people of God this way? Especially right here.


Jude first and foremost reminds us that we are loved and therefore we obey the commands/law of God. Love then law, saved then service, never the other way around. Our fruit lies in the root of God’s love. For this is the sweetest, truest kind of fruit.

  • What does Jude command of us?


“Remember...the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

  • And how many predictions does he tell us to remember?

One. Strange that “predictions” should be plural; as well as “they” when he merely quotes Peter. Perhaps Jude is merely using an example of many or it could also be translated as “words of the apostles”; in which the plural would make much more sense. Or he is making the point that all the Apostles spoke the same message-the Return of Christ.

  • Given the advent of technology do we still have to memorize/remember the words of the apostles?

Yes. Indeed all the more so. For David wrote, “I have hidden (memorized) your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.” (Psalm 119:11). Remembering scripture helps us to forget sin and its limited sweetness/fun. Memorizing Scripture helps us to be mesmerized with the Savior. Moreover, should you be particularly concerned with the last days, for whatever reason, Scripture memorization will be all the more profitable for you now and then for strength and endurance.


  • One more quick note on this verse; who were the Apostles?

“The Apostles were the authoritative witnesses to the life and teaching of Christ, commissioned by Christ Himself to pass along (teach) the good news in the writings of the NT.” (ESV Commentary pg. 519). They have passed and the Apostles are no more and the canon is closed; all we have is all we need for our salvation.


1:18

  • First, who is Jude quoting? And second, are we in the last days?


Jude is quoting Peter’s second letter, of which there are many parallels to throughout this letter that I simply didn’t have the time in study to properly cover; however, I will quickly pull this application from this fact: Unity in the Church universal, not uniformity. Though Jude and 2 Peter have many similarities, most likely writing to counter similar (if not the same false teachers) they are not uniform in their writing/language. They say similar teachings in very similar ways. They were/are brothers bound by truth.

And secondly, yes we are in the “last/final days” for all of prophecy has been fulfilled except the everlasting earthly rule of Christ the King. For this is the final event in history.

  • Speaking of, when is the return of Christ?


  • “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36). We don’t know when.

However, perhaps you’ve heard of something called the “now but not yet” theology where Christ reigns and subdues all enemies under His feet and later will finally and fully do so. I would like to build on this theology with the “tomorrow but later” concept in answer to the question ‘when is the return of Christ?’ we could say “tomorrow but later”.


And what I mean is this, though we do not the exact time of His return we should live in the conscious awareness that He is returning (“tomorrow”) and endure this life and all its struggles with the mentally that He is yet still a long way off; (for He still has many more of His Elect to collect). And I mention this for you guys in particular because the desire within non-denominational churches seems to be to always want to “go back to the early church/be like the early church” in this statement you are rather bold to assume that you are not still the early church. If He is to make His people like the “sands of the sea, and stars of the sky” even if this language is poetic and not literal, we still have a long way to go. Our faith should be taught and endured by my generations to come. All this to say, think in the short term “the Return is tomorrow” in regards to growing in personal holiness and “later” in regards to endurance and doctrine.


1:19

  • What is the number #1 way to promote or build Church unity according to this verse?

Be full of the Spirit (the opposite of “void of the Spirit” and “worldly”).

  • And how are we to be full of the Spirit?


To be full of the Spirit is to be in full obedience, or submission to, the word. He indwells in all Christians but some are more obedient than others, before doing with their hands they ask, does the Spirit approve of this action? Before going they ask “does the Spirit approve this path I am now?” Their thoughts and affections and actions are ultimately God-ward not worldly/selfish. If you want unity in the Church, kill sin in you.


1:20-21

  • How are we to build ourselves up in the most holy faith?

Jude lists 3 ways:

-Praying in the Holy Spirit

-Keep yourselves in the love of God

-Waiting (hoping/looking forward to) the mercy of our Lord


  • Let’s take these one at a time; how are we to “pray in the Spirit”?


We build up, edify, the Church in the Apostolic, Catholic faith through prayer in the Spirit; meaning to pray in accord with the Spirit; or in agreement with the word. It is common for Christians to ask for earthly blessings (as we are commanded to do) but ignores the heavenly blessings. Prayer is the storehouse of God by which we ask for all that we need for life and godliness. Ask for both and ask for many great, grand things of Him.

  • Second, how are we to “keep yourselves in the love of God”?

One could interpret this verse in two ways; that is God’s love for us or our love for God. I will comment on both for both are true statements. First, we are to keep our own personal love for God IE whatever stirs up for love for God (assuming it is biblical) then do it and do it often; whether that be service, singing, prayer, meditation, etc. do whatever it is that ignites your love for God. And second, we are not to leave the love of God; IE we are to remain obedient for this is how we are kept in the love of God. The love fuels us for service and keeps us for salvation.


And finally, we look forward to the mercy. For we have already received mercy in the death of Christ on our behalf for us and we hope for the mercy to be fully realized in our new bodies in the eternal kingdom of God. As mentioned in Part one, mercy is the flashpoint of our faith. For we have already received mercy in the death of Christ on our behalf for us and we hope for the mercy to be fully realized in our new bodies in the eternal kingdom of God.

Let’s look at this more closely in a brief study on Salvation Proper: Present joy, future glory. (This study will not include Salvation Past, but only Present and Future and will be developed more fully later).


Regeneration

Let’s start this mini-study with this:

What happened to you (your mind, will, heart) when you were saved?


(The first thing that happened to you) when you were saved you were brought to new, eternal life by the Holy Spirit; or to put it this way you were born again (John 3:3). As Paul puts it, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ” (Eph. 2:4-5).


“Remembering that regeneration is the beginning of the Christian life is important for our sanctification. The new life that comes when the Holy Spirit transforms our hearts does not eradicate sin’s presence from our lives. Even regenerate people still have a great capacity for evil after their hearts have been redirected towards the Savior. The power of sin to compel us to do evil is broken, but our ability to sin remains (Rom. 7:4–25). Therefore, we must do all that we can to put to death the lusts of the flesh. If we remember that regeneration is only the beginning of our walk, we will be less surprised at our struggles with temptation and more vigilant in mortifying the flesh.” (Ligioner) In our regeneration, we are forever changed and united with Christ through faith; the second part of our mini-study.


Faith and Repentance

You guys should know exactly what I’m going to ask here; what is faith/can you define it?

Faith is the utter reliance on Christ, His person, and work, for salvation; not ourselves or our works. But faith also has a twin brother Repentance. Let’s turn to Luke 18:9-14 and see these brothers working together.

He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”


In verse 14 why does Christ say that the tax collector was justified, made right with God by God?

For he relied on the mercy of God, not himself. With faith, he grabs hold of the mercy of God, with repentance (sorrowful turning from sin) he turns from himself/his sin/his works to rely utterly on God’s mercy. Through faith and repentance are two different theological topics they are twin brothers that are never separated (if ever) for long. Here, the second man sees the sinfulness of sin, where that sin resides (in himself), the holiness of God and His merciful mercy to sinners. Thinking of family relations; not only are we born again walking with these twins but, in the Spirit’s regeneration, we are also brought into God’s family. We are adopted as Paul states in Romans 8:14-16.


Adoption

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God”


The Christian life is becoming what we are in Christ. Our merits and mortification of the flesh do not merit our eternal life. Here, we are taught that eternal life is already our’s. And having given us the Spirit we are now told to walk in accord with it. In Him the Father loves us perfectly here and now and we will never be cast out. He is not waiting for us to be perfect, or fully sanctified. This gives us rest, and confidence in who we are in Christ as well as assurance in our salvation and Savior (for He is never to cast out one that comes to Him), and from this, we have our hunger for holiness or to be like God.


Sanctification

What is the relationship between our faith and works?


Our faith produces good works as it grows in the grace of God (2 Peter 3:18). For this is part of what being like-Christ means. A putting off of sin, though not perfectly, and putting on godliness and good works based on the merciful salvation that we have been given. Not to “pay it back”; for then salvation would not be of grace. Gratitude for gracious mercy is the motive for Christian living. Though we will one day fully and finally put off sin and put on Christ forever. This leads us to glorification.


Glorification

Turn to the classic Romans 8:30 for our discussion here.

“And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”

This is the mercy that Jude is wanting us to eagerly wait for.


What does it mean to be “glorified”?


Paul here speaks of our eternal state where we will no longer have the ability to sin but perfectly, and completely love the mercy of God forever. It would be one thing for God to merely save us; for this would be mercy, but to gracious give us all of this is indeed a great mercy worth waiting fully for. The mercy of God is our eternal life.


Let’s go back to Jude and further discuss how we are to exercise mercy to others.

1:22-23

  • Why are we to show mercy on those who doubt?

Because God is merciful. Jude is calling us to godliness; to show God in our affectionate actions to the believers.

  • How is this practically to be done though?

  • Listen to their doubts/concerns and gently but firmly address them with the word. Sanctification is a slow process; take your time when dealing with the cares/concerns of your brothers.

  • Let us not wait to put this into practice. What, if any, doubts do you have about the faith? And how might we mercifully minister to you tonight?

1:23

Zero in on the word “snatch”.

  • When you snatch something what are you doing?

It is quick and decisive action. Likewise, when we feel the desire to evangelize we should be quick and decisive in it. When calling back a brother we should be all the more decisive in our actions. For there are mine; and I am there’s. They are my hand and I am there’s (for the Church is described as a “body”). And I have no desire to move through life without my hand or foot.

  • What “fire” is Jude referring to in the phrase “the fire”? Most likely, the fire of Sodom in verse 7. In a similar manner that Abraham pleaded, or snatched, Lot’s family out of Sodom through prayer so should we. We should pray and act on their behalf in accord with the mercy of God.


“Mercy mixed with fear”.

Previously we covered the recipients of mercy now Jude moves to the manner by which mercy is to be shown.

  • But why “fear”?

Paul answers, “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.” (Gal. 6:1). Or to use Jude’s language we should fear falling out of the love of God in snatching a saint from fire. For the same sinful heart of the “snatched” brother is the same one in you; be wary of falling with him in sin.


“Hating even the garment stained by the flesh”

We are to hate sin and all its consequences. It is destructive and ugly. The believer is to be clothed in Christ and His righteousness; we should hate all that stains, or impedes our Christian living.


My commentary summarizes our teaching thus far with this, “Because we are prone to forget what God has done for us, we must constantly expose ourselves to God’s Word. Regularly reading it, hearing it preached and taught, memorizing it, and discussing it with others are just some of the ways we can immerse ourselves in Scripture. By building ourselves up in this way and praying in the Holy Spirit, we keep ourselves in God’s love as we await His mercy on the last day. Because our hope is set on Christ’s mercy towards us, we are able to show mercy to those caught in sin and deception while keeping ourselves from the sin that has ensnared them. All of this requires intentional effort and active participation in the body of Christ.” (ESV Commentary 521).


 

1:24-25

“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”


The closing of Jude is a wonderful doxology showing God’s awesome authority and power to preserve believers until He presents them blameless before in on the last day. Our doctrine is incomplete without duty, and our duty is incomplete without doxology.

  • Why is God worthy of praise according to Jude?

For He is able to keep us from stumbling; a great comfort in a world full of falsehood and fallenness (sin). We live this Christian life not so much in fear of sin but rather in the confidence of God’s guarding/protecting us from it (Heb. 12:1-2).

Moreover, He also presents us blameless with great joy. One day, we will stand before God as blameless as Christ; while we spiritually see Him now we will physically see Him in all His glory later. This is indeed a “great joy”.


1:25

Jude emphasizes several attributes of God. Let’s take them one at a time.

  • “The only God” means what?

God is one in essence, but 3 in persons. He is the only God there is. He is unique; like none other. His singularity leads to our singing (praise).

  • “Our Savior” whose savior?

Mine, yours, the Church’s.

  • And saved from what?

The wrath of God, sin, punishment. To be saved is alone enough to warrant praise but to be saved with many others is quite a delightful thing indeed.


“Through Jesus Christ our Lord”

See the means by which we are saved. Here is somewhat of a mini-gospel in Jude. As all our praise should, in some measure, include the Gospel. When we feel our hearts cold, or still in worship consider all that Christ has done to save you;

His pre-incarnate state planning your salvation with the Father,

His birth in becoming like us so that we could become like Him,

His life-perfect, sinless, full of God and joy,

His death-perfect and sinless as well, full of God’s justice and wrath so that we would receive grace and mercy,

His resurrection-the promise of our own resurrection at the last day; a living Savior,

His ascension- interceding for us even now to keep and aid us in our Christian life.

To this Savior be the glory!

  • What is “glory”?

Full, bright, splendorous honor.

  • “Majesty”?

The highest royal beauty or honor

  • “Dominion”?

Power, or exclusive sovereignty

  • “Authority”?

Power, ability to act or save. He had all of this in eternity past, He has it now and forevermore. To summarize, Jude teaches us to contend for the faith by holding to true doctrine/truth so that we might know and live in the love of God forever.


How would you summarize Jude?


Let our lives be forever captivated by our glorious, merciful Savior. Amen.



 

BBT Discussion Questions:

1) Have you ever studied Jude? What particular point in the letter, or study, did you find the most encouraging?


2) How can you yourself show mercy to others in your church/small group? And how can we show mercy to you right now?


3) Is there any particular part of this letter or lesson that you would like to explore more? Or was anything confusing/unclear to you that you would like me to try and clarify?


4) Prayer requests?


Do start thinking about what topics/texts you all would like to cover for next year. Feel free to send me whatever ideas/interests you may have whenever!



 


Resources:

What does Sola Scriptura mean?

Will Christians who have been forgiven answer for their sins in judgment?

How Believers Will Be Judged


One in Essence, Three in Person: The Mystery of the Trinity with R.C. Sproul


What Is the Doctrine of the Trinity?


The History of Trinitarian Theology


Why We Believe - The Trinity


The Forgotten Trinity


The Doctrine of the Trinity


Theocast: Mercy for Those Who Doubt




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