Scriptures

The Book Of Jude

Welcome To The Study Of The Letter Of Jude

Introduction

1. The book of Jude was written as a result of an emergency situation. False teachers had appeared seducing the saints. This called for immediate action on the part of the writer to offset this teaching. The result was this letter.

2. The author identifies himself simply as ‘Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James.’ Jude 1. We know very little about him. The ‘James’ to whom reference is made was probably the James that was so prominent in the Jerusalem church, the half-brother of Jesus. This would also mean Jude was a fleshly brother of Jesus also, Galatians 1:19 / Matthew 13:55.

3. The epistle is addressed ‘to them that are called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ’ Jude 1. Since no geographical details are given it is not possible to know to whom it was originally sent. It seems that the readers were of Jewish background since there are so many references to the Old Testament.

4. It is not possible to determine the exact date or place of writing. Tradition says it was written from Palestine. There is a very close similarity between Jude and 2 Peter. In verses 17 and 18 Jude appears to quote 2 Peter 3:3 which indicates he was familiar with Peter’s letter. Thus, we would assume Jude was written sometime after 2 Peter maybe around 65 A.D.

Summary

In verses 1-16, Jude identifies himself and quickly delves into the dilemma of false teachings. ‘For certain persons have crept in unnoticed’ Jude 4, heresy was obviously seeping into the region, disturbing the churches, and deceiving believers. He begins by illustrating similarities between false teachers and condemned individuals from the Old Testament citing Cain, Balaam, and Korah.

In verses 17-25, Jude urges Christians to ‘remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ’ Jude 17. He was referring to all of the apostles and disciples in the past, which had warned about false teachers and prophets that were coming to deceive. His advice is to focus on Jesus Christ and to watch out for each other so that no one is misled into error.

‘Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, to those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:’ Jude 1

Jude refers to himself as a servant and does not play on the fact he was a half-brother to Jesus. It is a general consensus of scholars that the ‘James’ to whom reference is made was probably the James that was so prominent in the Jerusalem church and also a fleshly brother to Jesus.

This would also mean Jude was a fleshly brother of Jesus also, Galatians 1:19. In Matthew 13:55 the brothers of Jesus are named, they were James, Joses, Simon and Judas. Judas is the same as Juda but as we know, despite being the brother of Jesus, he wasn’t a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ whom he here acknowledges as his Lord, John 7:2-5 / Acts 1:14.

Jude does not make a play on the fact he was a half-brother to Jesus. This indicates his humility. None of Jesus’ family believed Jesus during His earthly ministry. However, after His resurrection a great change takes place. Notice he doesn’t describe himself as an apostle which tells us he wasn’t an apostle but he does describe himself as a servant.

The word for ‘servant’ here is the word ‘doulos’ which means one ‘born into slavery,’ thus witnessing to the fact of Jude’s being ‘twice born,’ having experienced the new birth. Although the meaning of this word in the Greek is ‘slave,’ the translators have wisely rendered it ‘servant,’ because of the degrading associations connected with the other word.

Without a doubt, Jude valued the fact that Jesus was his half-brother and that he grew up in the same household as Jesus. But even more valuable to him was his new relationship with Jesus. To Jude, the blood of the cross that saved him was more important than the family blood in his veins that related him to Jesus.

Jude could say with Paul, ‘So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer’. 2 Corinthians 5:16.

They were loved by God the Father, some translations use the word ‘sanctified’ which means they were set apart, set apart from the world and set apart to God.

What an incredible thought that is to be loved by God, Romans 5:6-8. The word ‘called’ in the New Testament always has the sense of a call that is accepted and obeyed. Here we have a parallel to the Paul’s use of the words, ‘in Christ.’

One’s being either ‘in God’ or ‘in Christ’ being automatically equivalent to his being in the other, it is clear that here is another New Testament witness to the conception reaching back to the Lord himself of the ‘corporate body’ of God’s people.

The word ‘kept’ means to be ‘guarded’ and points toward Christ’s return. In other words, we are being guarded or protected until Jesus comes back. Jesus Christ is our guardian and our protector, John 10:28-29.

In the old TV programme Kung Fu, David Carradine spent a lot of time with his master and his master used to say to him, ‘snatch the pebble from my hand’ but he could never do it. Jesus says as Christians we have double protection, we’re in Jesus’ hands but we’re also in the Father’s hands, Romans 8:31-39.

‘Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.’ Jude 2

Jude seems to have a fondness of triads in his letter. ‘Mercy, peace and love’ which are similar to Paul’s ‘grace, mercy and peace.’ Notice how Jude uses three examples throughout his letter. In these first two verses, we have three names: Jude, Jesus Christ, and James. Then we have three forms of relation: servant, Lord, and brother. Then we have three blessings: mercy, peace, and love.

In Jude 1:5-10, we have three examples of apostasy: Israel of the Exodus, the rebel angels, and the citizens of Sodom and Gomorrah. Then we have a three-fold characterisation of the evil men as walking in the ways of Cain, Balaam, and Korah. But ‘mercy, peace and love’ or ‘grace, mercy and peace.’ 2 Timothy 1:2. These are three great attributes that only Christians have the privilege of enjoying.

And notice he wants us to have grace, peace and mercy in ‘abundance’ which means he wants us to experience even more of God’s grace, even more of God’s mercy and even more of God’s peace.

‘Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.’ Jude 3

The book of Jude was written as a result of an emergency situation. False teachers had appeared seducing the saints. Some news must have arrived that caused him to lay aside a letter he was already writing to them about ‘the salvation we share’ and now writes this letter. The news he had received called for immediate action on his part to offset this false teaching.

This has the meaning of the salvation which is offered to all people alike, upon the same conditions, from the same source, and entailing the same obligations. This salvation is not common in the sense of being ordinary, but the most precious treasure ever made available to the mankind today.

Notice he’s not writing with further instructions but compelled to write and urge them. He wanted to write one thing but God needed him to write about something else. Jude accepted the challenge even though we don’t know what led to the change of plans but it maybe because somethings are more important for that moment. Are preachers and teachers willing to do that today? Are they ready to change the lesson plan when something happens and needs to be addressed?

Notice he says, ‘dear friends’, now that’s interesting because the only other example of a New Testament book beginning with this particular word is 3 John 1:2. So what Jude is doing here is asserting his affection for them so that the rest of the letter which has strong language used, doesn’t offend them.

Jude states the purpose of the book was to exhort the brethren ‘to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.’ They were to strive, or literally wrestle for the truth. This denotes the extreme effort they were to put forth. This was to be of a persuasive nature and not the use of physical force.

Since the very beginning of the church there has always been hostility to the truth. Truth is vital and essential to the people of God. Jesus remarked, ‘You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free’. John 8:32.

Without truth men wander into all kinds of evil and sinful things.

Contend means that all Christians should vigorously fight for and defend the truth. Barclay pointed out that the Greek word used here ‘contains the root of our English word agony. The defence of the faith may well be a costly thing; but that defence is a duty which falls on every generation of the church’.

The ‘faith’ which they were to contend for represents the sum of all that the Christian is to believe and obey. It stands for the whole system of Christianity. Faith, a part, is put for the whole, because belief is basic to the system of Christianity. Without it no one would ever accept Christianity.

The faith here implies a recognised body of teaching such as we know emerged from Peter’s early sermons. It includes in the meaning all of the basic New Testament requirements of faith, repentance, confession, and baptism into Christ of all who would be saved initially, and the ethical, moral and religious obligations of Christians, including their faithful observance of the Lord’s Supper, along with the reception and cherishing of the earnest of the Holy Spirit, as necessarily manifested in their subsequent lives.

Faith means the faith which is believed, not the faith by which we believe. Because it is so basic and fundamental it is often used to stand for the whole in the Scriptures. This faith was ‘once for all delivered,’ that is delivered for all time. It is a permanent deposit and will never be superseded, amended, modified or added to. It is perfect, adequate, a complete inviolable deposit of truth.

The use of the Greek word ‘hapax’ carries the meaning of ‘once only and forever.’ The Gospel delivered to mankind was not, ‘here a little and there a little’ as in the Old Testament, but the full message in its entirety and completeness as delivered through Christ to the apostles. The word ‘hapax’ is the same as in such New Testament expressions as ‘appointed to man once to die,’ Hebrews 9:27. ‘Christ offered himself once,’ Hebrews 7:27 etc.

Modern day claims of additional revelations are false. The fact is that the faith has once for all been delivered and this leaves no room for additional revelations.

The question is, how could the book of Jude be a part of ‘the faith’ (meaning the body of New Testament teaching recognized as ‘the faith’) if the book of Jude states that the faith ‘was once and for all delivered to the saints’ (vs. 3)?

If Jude says ‘the faith’ was ‘delivered’ once and for all in the past, then how could his writing, being written after the fact, be part of ‘the faith’?

Along those same lines, how could Peter state that God ‘has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness’ 2 Peter 1:3, if Peter was writing material after that statement was made that pertained to ‘life and godliness’?

The simple answer lies in the fact that when something is recorded is not necessarily when it is ‘delivered.’ Throughout the first century, God inspired the apostles and various first century prophets to deliver ‘the faith’ to the early church. Much of that material, however, was preached long before it was written down.

For instance, God inspired Peter and the apostles to preach the Gospel on the day of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension into heaven. That sermon was not recorded, however, until about 30 years later by the inspired writer Luke. Since that is the case, we understand that the material had been delivered to the church long before it was preserved in written form by the Holy Spirit in the book of Acts.

This fact is evident in the books of 2 Peter and Jude, the two books under discussion. Both authors made a special point to insist that they were reminding their audiences of material that was already out there and available.

For instance, Peter stated, ‘I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth’ 2 Peter 1:12.

Later in the book he stated, ‘Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder)’ 2 Peter 3:1.

Jude made similar statements when he wrote, ‘But I want to remind you, though you once knew this’ v. 5. And when he stated, ‘remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.’

These authors insist that they are reminding their readers of material that the readers had access to before they read these letters.

When we stop to consider the situation, this would have to be the case. Jesus explained that the Holy Spirit would help the apostles know what to say when they stood before rulers Matthew 10:19. Yet we read of only a very few instances of such messages in Acts.

Certainly, it was the case that Matthew, Andrew, Thomas, and the other apostles preached inspired messages that we have no record of. In 1 Corinthians 14:31, we learn that certain people in the Corinthian church were prophets, but we do not have a record of their messages.

The point is this, throughout the first century, the Holy Spirit was delivering ‘all things’ John 14:26, guiding the inspired writers into ‘all truth’ John 16:13, and making known ‘the faith’ to the church in a number of ways.

When we see it preserved by an inspired writer, that does not mean it had not been previously delivered in one form or another to the church prior to that.

‘For certain individuals, whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.’ Jude 4

These evil persons were the reasons for Jude’s writing this letter. We don’t know how he got the information about them but we know that he did, possibly someone wrote to him or he had a visit from someone informing him what was happening.

The church needs to learn to gather the facts before making any decisions or judgments on anyone or any situation that arises. Too many times the church has got it wrong because they only gathered part of the facts and because of this many people have left the church or have been discredited.

But whoever these men Jude got told about were, we know that they were evil men and at that time they were ‘ungodly,’ which is a favourite word with Jude, he uses the word 5 times, Jude 4 / Jude 8 / twice in Jude 15 / Jude 18.

The Greek word ‘asebeia’ which means ungodly is found 4 times in Romans, 3 times in Timothy and Titus, 1 time in 1 Peter, 2 times in 2 Peter, and 6 times in Jude.

They had basically corrupted the concept of the grace of God so as to make it a cover for false teachers had slipped in undetected who made the situation dangerous because the saints were unaware of who they were and what they would attempt to do.

This severe denunciation reminds us of some of the denunciations of evil men by the Old Testament prophets and of Christ’s denunciations of the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees.

Notice how Jude describes how they work, their outcome, their practices and what they believe.

1. They entered secretly.

2. They were prophetically consigned to doom.

3. They are ungodly.

4. They deny Christ.

They would turn God’s grace into licentiousness and deny the Lord Jesus Christ. This no doubt refers to the same false teachers. ‘Gnostics’ that John dealt with in his letters. His mentioning lasciviousness would imply some were teaching the Gnostic doctrine which justified sexual debauchery. The apostle John deals with this doctrine extensively in his gospel and epistles. This doctrine was an abuse of Paul’s teaching regarding the grace of God.

Perhaps there had not been a long gap of time since Paul wrote Romans, Galatians and Ephesians where Paul devotes a considerable amount of space to God’s grace. Their teaching went so far as to deny the Lord, Jesus. The Gnostic doctrine denied that ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’. John 1:14.

Jude means that the Scriptures relating the doom of Sodom, the punishment of angels, etc., whose sins were the same as those of these wicked men, were to be understood as examples of the punishment God would inflict upon them.

‘Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.’ Jude 5-7

Here again is the Greek word, ‘hapax’, which tells us that the Christian knows the whole message once and for all, before they are even converted, in the sense of its basics. Jude powerfully presents these false teachers inevitable doom by giving three examples of divine vengeance upon evil-doers, the Israelites after leaving Egypt, angels who sinned, and Sodom and Gomorrah.

Jude powerfully presents their inevitable doom by giving three examples of divine vengeance upon evil-doers.

1. There was the doom of certain Israelites after they left Egypt because they did not believe.

Numbers 14 basically tells us that God delivered the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. They went out of Egypt and without unintended delays came to a place called Kadesh Barnea, on the threshold of the Promised Land. But at Kadesh Barnea, the people refused to trust God and go into the Promised Land of Canaan. Therefore, almost none of the adult generation who left Egypt entered into the Promised Land.

Think of what God did for the people of Israel in this situation, and then how they responded to Him. They experienced God’s miraculous deliverance at the Red Sea. They heard the very voice of God at Mount Sinai. They received His daily care and provision of manna in the wilderness. Yet they still lapsed into unbelief, and never entered into the place of blessing and rest God had for them.

Those who doubted and rejected God at Kadesh Barnea paid a bigger price than just not entering the Promised Land. They also received the judgment of God. Psalm 95:10-11 describes how the Lord reacted to them, ‘For forty years I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’

The point was that the goodness of God does not hinder Him from punishing the wicked under the new dispensation, any more than it hindered Him from punishing them under the old. In other words, the goodness of God will not hinder Him from punishing the wicked under the new dispensation, any more than it hindered Him from punishing them under the old.

The Israelites were destroyed for idolatry in worshipping the golden calf, their fornication with the Midianites, their murmuring and complaining, etc. but all of this is summed up as ‘they did not believe’.

2. Jude next brings up the angels who ‘did not keep their proper domain, but left their own habitation.’

This has nothing to do with Genesis 6:1ff as some people like to claim, Matthew 22:30 / Isaiah 14:12-14. These were probably the angels of Satan mentioned by the Saviour in Matthew 25:41 who clearly rebelled against God from the very fact of their belonging to the devil.

This assures us that the certain men causing trouble in the church will be judged, no matter what their spiritual status had been. These angels at one time stood in the immediate, glorious presence of God but now they are in everlasting chains.

If God judged the angels who sinned, He will judge these certain men. This also reminds us that we also must continue walking with Jesus. If the past spiritual experience of these angels didn’t guarantee their future spiritual state, then neither does ours. We must keep walking and be on guard, 1 Corinthians 10:12.

3. There was the destruction of Sodom and the punishment of angels served as examples of the punishment God would inflict upon false teachers, 2 Peter 2:4.

Sodom and Gomorrah were the wicked cities whose shameful sin is remembered to this day. Their story is found in Genesis 18 and 19. Lot the nephew of Abraham chose the well-watered plain just north of Sodom because it was very fertile. He pitched his tent toward Sodom and finally moved into the city itself. The result would be total disaster for Lot’s family.

Ezekiel 16:49 tells us of other sins of Sodom, ‘Now this was the sin of your sister Sodom: She and her daughters were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.’

Sexual depravity was not their only sin, but it was certainly among their sins, and Jude makes this plain. The sins described in Ezekiel 16:49 show that Sodom and Gomorrah were indeed prosperous, blessed areas. You don’t have fullness of food, and abundance of idleness if you don’t have material blessings. But despite their great blessing from God and material prosperity, they sinned and were judged.

The sin of Sodomy was shamefully present. Lot had to turn away a mob which sought to rape the visitors who were staying in his house. Their punishment was the complete destruction of the cities. Their destruction is the nearest thing what can be found in the world to describe the destruction which awaits those who in Jude’s time were teaching and practicing evil.

In Genesis 19, Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed with fire from heaven. But that wasn’t the end of their judgment by fire. Far worse than what happened in Genesis 19, they suffered the vengeance of eternal fire. This again assures us that the certain men causing trouble in the church will be judged, no matter how much they had been blessed in the past. Just as Sodom and Gomorrah were once wonderfully blessed but eventually suffered the vengeance of eternal fire, so will it be with these certain men.

The cities about them were Admah and Zeboim both of which are mentioned in Deuteronomy 29:23 ‘The whole land will be a burning waste of salt and sulphur—nothing planted, nothing sprouting, no vegetation growing on it. It will be like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, which the LORD overthrew in fierce anger.’

All four cities were destroyed because of fornication which was so rampant among them.

The expression, ‘great Day’ occurs in Revelation 6:17 ‘For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?’ and nowhere else in the New Testament. This is to be identified with John’s ‘last day’, John 6:39-40 / John 6:44-54 / John 11:24 and John 12:48.

Other New Testament expressions for that great final occasion are ‘that day,’ ‘the day of judgment,’ and ‘the day of the Lord.’ Jude is simply pointing out the reality of the eternal retribution of God on evil men.

‘In the very same way, on the strength of their dreams these ungodly people pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them.’ Jude 8–10

Their dreaming’s could refer to a number of things such as impure speculations, sensual thoughts and imaginations. In the days of Noah before the flood it said that every thought and imagination of the people were evil constantly before God.

Can you imagine people being so defiled it was impossible to have one good thought? Those spoken of by Jude were running a course like that of the cities of the plain.

Whatever the exact meaning, all of their activity was directed to a single objective, that of defilement, whether self-pollution, or the corruption of others, or both. All dominion belongs to God, as stated in the benediction; and the evil teachers rejected God’s authority. Their sins were threefold:

1. They pollute their own bodies,

2. They reject authority, and

3. They abuse celestial beings.

This could refer to both spiritual and civil authority. Certainly, their doctrine opposed the authority of heaven where Jesus is seated at the right hand of God ruling as King of kings and Lord of lords. They would also be opposing the authority of the apostles, prophets, and teachers who were all inspired by the Holy Spirit. Some think this rejection also included civil authorities.

Michael was an archangel which means he was above the other angels. This angelic being is mentioned by name in four passages of the Bible: Daniel 10:13 / Daniel 10:21 / Daniel 12:1 / Revelation 12:7 and here in Jude 9. Every time Michael appears, it is in the context of battle or readiness to fight. He is an archangel, which simply means a ‘leading angel.’

The last we read about the body of Moses is in Deuteronomy 34:5-6 ‘And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.’

At some point after the death of Moses Satan for some reason wanted the body of Moses. We do not know why he wanted his body. Maybe to appear to others in his body.

We know that in New Testament times demons often possessed human bodies bringing on them all kinds of torments and hurtful things. Some lived in tombs which may indicate they were in dead corpses. Their appearance in human bodies was not for any good purpose. In Moses case his spirit had separated from his body thus leaving only a corpse. Why he wanted his body we do not know but it was for some evil purpose no doubt.

The point that Jude is making is that one as high as Michael an archangel would not bring a railing judgement against Satan himself but instead said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.’ Zechariah 3:2 ‘The LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?’ from which this statement is taken.

Barclay says this about verse 9, ‘If the greatest of good angels refused to speak evil of the greatest of evil angels, even in circumstances like that, then surely no human being may speak evil of any angel.’

How vile and evil that even today men will speak against God using his name in a vain and disrespectful which is something that Michael would not do even with the devil. What he is saying here is that there was conflict between Michael and Satan over the body of Moses; it could have been a Jewish tradition, we simply don’t know, maybe Satan wanted to use the body for purposes like the worship of relics in succeeding ages.

More On This Dispute

I think that all Bible students will understand me when I say that I have come to appreciate that some questions are important because they relate to great spiritual truths on which our salvation depends, but there are others which, whilst being essentially unimportant, arouse our curiosity, mainly because they relate to events that are extraordinary or strange or mysterious.

It’s to the latter group that the question prompted by Jude 9 belongs, it reads as follows.

‘But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ Jude 9

Strange Picture!

Can you imagine a more unlikely trio than those brought together in this verse? Here we have mention of the archangel Michael, the Devil and Moses, the greatest leader in Israel’s history. What is more, we learn from Jude that the occasion was a confrontation between Michael and the devil concerning the body of Moses.

When did this remarkable event occur?

Well, obviously, it must have occurred sometime after the death of Moses which is reported in Deuteronomy 34. ‘And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is.’ Deuteronomy 34:5-6

In versions such as the A.V., the Revised Version, the Revised Standard Version, and certain other translations, Deuteronomy 34:6 reads as though God personally buried Moses, but the verse ceases to be a problem if we understand that an action performed at the command of a person, is sometimes described as having been performed by that person. God caused Moses to die and to be buried, therefore He ‘buried’ Moses.

In fact, later translations, such as the New Revised Standard Version, clarify the verse by giving us, ‘and he was buried in a valley’, without revealing who was responsible for the burial. But, of course, we’re tempted to speculate!

Was Moses buried by Joshua, his divinely appointed successor? Or was he, as a Jewish tradition claims, buried, by Michael the archangel himself?

The fact is that we don’t know, we’re not meant to know, nor is it important that we should know. ‘No man knows the place of his burial.’ Deuteronomy 34:6

The probable reason for keeping the location hidden is that, if it had become revealed, it may well have become a shrine and a place of pilgrimage for the Israelites.

Remember that the ‘serpent of bronze’, which Moses erected in the wilderness, Numbers 21:9-10, centuries later had actually become an object of worship, and which had to be destroyed by Nehemiah, the reformer, who scornfully described it exactly when he said I was ‘nehushtan’, ‘a piece of brass’, 2 Kings 18:4.

What is important is that we should understand that the death and burial of this great servant of God. was at God’s command, and the only truly sad aspect of the event is that, after a wearisome journey lasting for almost forty years, Moses died within sight of the Promised Land, not allowed to enter because of an act of disobedience, Numbers 20:8-12 / Numbers 27:12-14.

Why does Jude mention the dispute about the body of Moses? This is explained in Jude.

‘Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.’ Jude 3

Jude had intended to write a letter concerning basic Christian doctrine, but, as the result of information that had reached him, he felt it necessary, instead, to deal with problems created by false teachers who had succeeded in entering the fellowship by stealth, and who were undermining the faith of others.

He describes the character of these interlopers and exposes both their motives and methods in very vivid and uncompromising language. They are arrogant, rebellious, disrespectful and thoroughly ungodly people, whose conduct, he declares, stands in stark contrast with that of Michael the archangel in his confrontation with the devil.

Jude says that, out of respect for the position of honour once occupied by the now-fallen Satan, or to give him his original name, Lucifer, Isaiah 14:12, Michael refrained from pronouncing a reproachful judgment on him, but simply said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’ Jude 9.

The form of this reproach is significant, because the word ‘rebuke’ is a verb in the ‘optative mode’, that is, in the form used to express a wish, and, as used here, it means, ‘May the Lord rebuke you’! Michael leaves the passing of judgment on Satan to God Himself. This is a lesson we all may learn from Jude 6.

But, is there evidence that a dispute about the body of Moses actually occurred? The Bible itself doesn’t contain anything that corroborates the story. A single verse, here in Jude’s letter, is the only place in the Scriptures that mentions it. So, where did the story originate?

It’s found in one of the ‘apocryphal’ books, these are books that were written mainly during the Inter-Testamental Period, that is, in the four hundred years between the Old and New Testaments. This was the period during which prophetic witness was silent, and when, as a result, literature appeared claiming to be inspired, often under the name of some genuinely inspired and well-known servant of God.

This particular book is known as ‘The Assumption of Moses’, and, in common with all the other ‘apocryphal’ writings, it has never been regarded as inspired or authoritative by either Jews or Christians, and was never accepted as the Word of God, and never included in the ‘canon’ of either Old or New Testament Scriptures.

Indeed, the word ‘apocryphal’ itself, means ‘of questionable or doubtful authenticity’. The document was probably produced early in the Inter-Testamental Period by an unidentified Jewish writer. Among his other ‘revelations’ is the claim that, like Elijah, Moses was translated directly into heaven, and it’s this assertion that gives the book its name, ‘The Assumption of Moses’. The word ‘assumption’ in the title means ‘ascension’.

You perhaps already know that the ‘Church of Rome’ makes the same claim for Mary, the Lord’s mother and speaks of ‘The Assumption of Mary’. This doctrine states that, when she died, ‘her body was preserved from corruption and shortly afterword it was assumed.’ The Latin word, ‘assumere’ means ‘to take to’, in this case, to Heaven!

The odd thing is that, according to Catholic teaching, to believe that Mary was taken bodily to Heaven isn’t an article of faith, but it’s said to be ‘impious and blasphemous’ to deny it!

Of course, we know from Matthew 17:3, that more than 1500 years later, Moses appeared with Elijah when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain. The difference between the two, Moses and Elijah, is that the Scriptures tell us plainly that Moses ‘died and was buried’,
Deuteronomy 34:5-6, whilst Elijah, like Enoch before him, was ‘translated that he should not see death’, Genesis 5:24 / 2 Kings 2:11.

However, considering what we read in Hebrews 11:23-27, where Moses is honoured as a man of faith, if at the end of his life he had indeed been taken up into heaven, we might have expected such an important fact to have been mentioned in those verses.

Probably because Daniel 12:1 seems to suggest that the archangel Michael was appointed by God to be the ‘Guardian of Israel’, the writer of ‘The Assumption of Moses’, also states that Michael was also commissioned to bury the body of Moses, and to be the guardian of his grave.

But, the book declares that Satan opposed the burial of the patriarch, and claimed that the body belonged to him, on the grounds that he claims to be the ‘lord of matter’, to this Michael is said to have replied, ‘The Lord rebuke thee, for it was God’s Spirit who created the world and all mankind’.

A Familiar Story

There is no doubt that this piece of ‘primitive Jewish tradition’, as Dean Alford, the very highly respected theological scholar described it, was known to those to whom Jude sent his letter.

It ranks with other stories of a similar nature, such as the claim that, after predicting the Fall of Jerusalem and the Babylonian Captivity, the prophet Jeremiah took the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle and the Altar of Incense, and hid them in a cave on Mount Nebo, intending, after the ‘Return from the Babylonian captivity’, to retrieve and restore them.

Tradition said that, after the return from captivity, Jeremiah lived on in Jerusalem for another three hundred years, and that he even appeared to Judas Maccabees, another two centuries later, as ‘a man with grey hairs and exceeding glorious’.

It seems, then, that, in exposing those who were troubling the church with their false teaching, their denial of the Lord Jesus and their rejection or authority, Jude makes use of a story which, even though it lacks Scriptural endorsement, was familiar to his readers.

He used the story in order to encourage them to remember that the apostles of the Lord had warned that such men would arise, and, being aware of the danger, they should build themselves up in their faith, keeping themselves in the love of God, waiting for the eternal life that comes through the mercy of the Lord Jesus.

Whatever this verse means we mustn’t lose sight of the point Jude is making which is simply it isn’t about why Michael was disputed, but how he disputed with the devil. How strange it is that mortal, weak, ignorant, vile and sinful men would rail against heavenly beings, a thing which the archangel would not do, even though apparently having the right to have done so.

The people Jude speaks about in this verse were probably Gnostics who were speaking out against things they knew nothing about. Most Gnostics claimed to have a superior knowledge than the average person. They were totally blind to the truth. They had no reasoning about them.

The statement, ‘Fools rush in where angels fear to tread,’ well describes their true condition. Their doctrine opposed two fundamental truths.

First, that the Word (deity) became flesh and dwelt here on earth.

Second, their doctrine allowed and even justified all kinds of immoral living.

Such will be destroyed which can be understood as being both in the present and also in the future torment of hell itself. Men living sensual lives often bring diseases upon themselves which destroy their bodies. Such serves as a prophecy of their eternal ruin as well.

These false teachers defile the flesh like those of Sodom and Gomorrah and exhibited contempt for authority and did not hesitate to speak evil of men who occupied high places. They spoke of dignities in a fashion which even an archangel did not dare do when speaking to the devil. They spoke evil of things which they knew nothing about, which were entirely outside their sphere of knowledge.

Far from having any superior wisdom, these licentious Gnostics were totally blind to all of the highest knowledge and the things which they could not help knowing, such as their passions, they used only for the purpose of sinning. They too will be destroyed.

‘Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.’ Jude 11

Now remember we noted that Jude gave three examples of apostasy: 1. The ancient Israelites,

2. The rebel angels, and

3. The wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Jude 5-7.

Next, he told us that these licentious Gnostic were just as guilty as the ancient apostates, and he emphasised their sinful and ignorant behaviour by contrasting it with the restraint of the archangel Michael. Jude 8-9.

He then returned to the accusation of the wicked men in Jude 10; but here in Jude 11, he equates and compares their conduct with the wickedness of three of the worst Old Testament apostates: Cain, Balaam, and Korah. Jude assumed that his readers were thoroughly familiar with the Old Testament events associated with these three names.

But why choose these three examples? Possibly because these three examples might have been remembered because of the spectacular punishments they received. Cain was cursed of God; Balaam was found dead with God’s enemies fighting against Israel, and Korah was swallowed up by an earthquake that split open the earth, taking Korah and all of his company to their death.

The lesson is that a grievous punishment will be carried out to wicked men. Another reason for the selection of these three was also probably that of their sins being similar to the sins of the wicked Gnostics.

Like Cain, they were innovators with a fierce hatred of any who rejected their ideas. Like Balaam, they were greedy, covetous, and willing to do any dishonourable thing whatever for the sake of money. Like Korah, they rebelled against God’s appointed authorities, the sacred apostles, prophets and teachers of the new covenant, just as Korah had rebelled against Moses.

Still another possible purpose in using the example of Cain derived from the need to refute the Ophites, called also Cainites. We see that on 1 John 3:12, Cain was cited as an example of wickedness. 2 Peter 2:15, Balaam is similarly used as a bad example. Apparently, all three of these, Cain, Balaam, and Korah were considered to be especially notorious sinners, and frequently referred to as examples and warnings.

What will you be remembered for? A good example or a bad example?

Jude now compares the conduct of these Gnostics with the wickedness of three of the worst Old Testament apostates: Cain, Genesis 4:1-16, Balaam, Numbers 22-24, and Korah, Numbers 16. His Jewish readers would be well acquainted with these Old Testament characters. He may introduce them because of the punishments they received.

The Gnostic doctrine would eventually take on different variations and would become a thorn in the side of the church for many years. The divine retribution of God that came upon the cities of the plain very clearly shows how God feels about homosexuality. Many today try to justify it as something that some are born with and cannot help being this way. The truth is they have a choice. They can reject it or practice it.

Cain’s story is found in Genesis 4

Each of the sons of Adam and Eve brought an offering to the Lord. Cain, being a farmer brought an offering from his harvest. Abel, being a shepherd brought an offering from his flocks. God accepted Abel’s offering, but He rejected Cain’s sacrifice, Hebrews 11:4.

You can give to God whatever you have or whatever you are, but you must offer it in faith.

Genesis 4:5 says that after God rejected his sacrifice, Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. He became angry because he knew he was rejected by God. In a fit of anger Cain murdered Abel, and then he lied about it to God. 1 John 3:12 tells us that Cain murdered his brother because Abel’s works were righteous, by faith, while Cain’s own were wicked. Cain’s lack was not in works, but in faith.

Jude says that Cain typifies a way that the certain men follow in. It is the way of unbelief and empty religion, which leads to jealousy, persecution of the truly godly, and eventually to murderous anger.

Balaam’s story is in Numbers 22-25 and 31

During the time of the Exodus, Israel advanced to the land of Moab, after defeating the Amorites. When the Israelites came near, King Balak of Moab sought the help of a prophet named Balaam. The first delegation from King Balak arrived and God told Balaam to have nothing to do with them. God’s initial words to Balaam were, ‘Do not go with them. You must not put a curse on those people, because they are blessed’. Numbers 22:12.

After the first visit, another, more prestigious delegation came with great riches. Balaam wanted to go with them and God allowed him to go. Balaam lusted after the riches and prestige offered to him and God gave him over to his own sin. God warned Balaam to turn back when he was on the way to see Balak. Yet his heart was set on the rich reward King Balak promised and he continued on. Balaam even ignored a talking donkey, sent to warn him to turn back.

Balaam knew that he has done wrong. In Numbers 22:34, he said to God ‘I have sinned. I did not realize you were standing in the road to oppose me. Now if you are displeased, I will go back.’

But he didn’t turn back. He continued on, refusing to see that when God says no, we must take it as a no. Instead, God gave Balaam what his sinful heart desired. After meeting with King Balak of Moab, Balaam prophesied over Israel four times. But as he spoke forth God’s word, he didn’t curse Israel, instead he blessed her each time.

When he was unsuccessful in cursing Israel, Balaam advised Balak on how to bring Israel under a curse. Instead of trying to have a prophet curse Israel, he should lead her into fornication and idolatry and then God would curse a disobedient Israel.

Balak did just that, sending his young women into the camp of Israel to lead Israel into sexual immorality and idolatry. Because of the people’s sin, God did curse Israel, He brought a plague of judgment upon Israel that killed 24,000.

Therefore, Balaam was guilty of the greatest of sins: deliberately leading others into sin. Worse yet, he did it for money. Greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, the greedy error of Balaam was that he was willing to compromise everything for money. The certain men Jude warned about had the same heart.

Many Christians would never deny Jesus under persecution, but might deny Him if offered a large sum of money. There is not a single sin that corrupt man will not commit for the sake of money. Covetousness is such a dangerous sin that it killed Jesus, 30 pieces of silver helped put Jesus on the cross.

Korah’s story is found in Numbers 16

He was a prominent man in Israel, and one day came to Moses, saying, ‘You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?’ Numbers 16:3

Korah and his followers resented the authority God gave to Moses and Aaron. When Korah said this, Moses fell on his face, knowing God’s judgment would soon come. Moses then proposed a test: each group took censers, for burning incense, and came before the Lord.

The Lord Himself would choose which man He wanted to represent Him, Moses or Korah. When they both came before God, the Lord told Moses to step away. Then, the ground opened up and swallowed Korah and his followers. After that, fire came down from heaven and burned up all of his supporters. They all perished.

Korah was a Levite, but not of the priestly family of Aaron. As a Levite, he had had his own God-appointed sphere of ministry, yet he was not content with it. He wanted the ministry and the authority of Moses. Korah needed to learn this essential lesson, we should work hard to fulfil everything God has called us to be. At the same time, we should never try to be what God has not called us to be.

The rebellion of Korah was also a rejection of God’s appointed leaders, especially God’s appointed Mediator. When the certain men rejected authority, and spoke evil against dignitaries, they walked in the rebellion of Korah.

These three men came from quite different backgrounds, Cain was a farmer, Balaam was a prophet, and Korah was a leader in Israel. Apostasy is never confined to one group of people. As someone once said, ‘there are apostates in the pulpit, in the palace, and in the poorhouse.’

‘These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead.’ Jude 12

Jude says they are ‘hidden rocks’ in their social gatherings, not being detected. He’s using the metaphor of something which has sunk under the sea and can’t be seen but will sink the ship if they don’t know it’s there. They are selfish shepherds that feed only themselves.

Like everything else in his letter, Jude here drew this from the Old Testament example of ‘shepherds that feed themselves’, Ezekiel 34:2. Ezekiel called them ‘fat sheep’ who abuse the flock of God, fouling their food with refuse, in Ezekiel 34:20 etc.; as some would say today, ‘They were fat cats, living in luxury while impoverishing others.’

The ‘love feast’ or ‘Agape Feast’ mentioned here were the feasts they celebrated in the church along with the Lord’s Supper. 1 Corinthians 11:17-34. The early Christians often met for a common meal, something like a fellowship meal. When these certain men came, they were serving only themselves. They ate greedily at the love feasts while others went hungry. At the Agape Feast, everybody brought what they could, some a little, some a lot but they all shared it together.

For some slaves who were Christians it might have been the only decent meal they regularly ate. The selfishness of these certain men spoiled the fellowship. It always spoils fellowship when we come to church with a selfish ‘bless me’ attitude. Many who would never eat selfishly at a church meal still come to church concerned with serving only themselves.

They are like clouds which offer a promise of rain, but leave no rain. Note that this is a metaphor drawn from the arid area of Judaea, perfectly ordinary, and universally known. Clouds without water were a terrible disappointment to people who needed rain most of the time. A similar cloud metaphor having the meaning of instability. Now one may see such a cloud; then he doesn’t. That was the way it was with the false teachers.

He compares them to fruit trees which are dead and without any fruit. The autumn trees here were those which normally bore their fruit in the autumn. Fruit time was disappointment time for those who looked to barren trees. In a sense, an unfruitful, or barren tree, was ‘dead’, but, when it had already been grubbed up from the earth, it was ‘twice dead.’

Spiritually, these men were twice dead in having returned after baptism to the death of sin, Hebrews 6:4-7.

‘They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.’ Jude 13

Jude, like countless others, had visited a sea shore following a storm, finding the beach littered and polluted by every kind of filth and trash. They are much like a wild sea which leaves the beach littered with worthless refuse. Isaiah speaking of such wrote, ‘But the wicked are like the troubled sea, which it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt’. Isaiah 57:20

What better description, a polluted beach, of men who preached the Gnostic doctrine. Jude has in mind the ugly shoreline after a storm has washed up all sorts of driftwood, seaweed and debris.

Further-more, they are like wandering stars which could not be depended upon for direction and navigation. Jude may have had referred to meteorites, ‘shooting stars’ which blaze for a moment in the sky and then disappear into darkness.

He is speaking metaphorically about meteorites because trees cannot be ‘twice dead’, oceans do not foam up ‘shame’ and stars do not ‘wander.’ Those troubling the church were just like ‘shooting stars’ that will shine for a moment and then plunge into doom and darkness.

‘Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’ Jude 14-15

Jude mentions a prophecy of Enoch which he applied to these false teachers. This was that they would stand in judgment for their evil deeds. Enoch ‘walked with God’ and was taken by God, not tasting death, Genesis 5:21-24 / Hebrews 11:5-6.

His son was Methusselah whose names means, ‘when he dies it shall come’ referring to the flood. The coming with ‘thousands upon thousands of His saints,’ emphasizes the magnitude of the judgment. This phrase ‘to judge’ or ‘execute judgment’ occurs only here and in John 5:27 ‘And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man’ but significantly, in John it occurs upon the lips of Jesus Christ Himself.

This is a prophesy that is emphasized throughout the Bible that there will be a day of judgment when God will settle His accounts with the wicked deed of those ungodly men who have rejected Him. Also, they will be judged for the things they had spoken against Him. Anyone who speaks against God, against the Bible, against Christianity, against all truth and righteousness God will judge.

Think of someone arrested for a crime, with a date to appear in court but made absolutely no preparation for his appearance before the judge. That person would be a fool. We shouldn’t be so foolish, and instead take advantage of our court-appointed advocate, Jesus Christ as 1 John 2:1 reminds us.

‘These people are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.’ Jude 16

These people are described in six ways.

1. They are grumblers.

2. They are faultfinders.

3. Their sole guide is their evil desires.

4. They are noisy boasters.

5. They are flatterers.

6. All that they do is take advantage of people for their own benefit.

Jude noticed that their methods all revolved around words. On top of their questionable lives, they were essentially a people of deception, departing from the foundation of Jesus Christ, and the apostles and prophets. These are grumblers, complainers, these people were complainers.

It has rightly been observed that whenever a man gets out of touch with God, he is likely to begin complaining about something. Grumbling is to insult the God who gives us all things, it is to forget that whatever befalls us, nothing can separate us from His love, nor deprive us of that most priceless of all treasures, the Lord’s presence in our lives.

Spurgeon says, ‘You know the sort of people alluded to here, nothing ever satisfies them. They are discontented even with the Gospel. The bread of heaven must be cut into three pieces, and served on dirty napkins, or else they cannot eat it; and very soon their soul hates even this light bread. There is no way by which a Christian man can serve God so as to please them. They will pick holes in every preacher’s coat; and if the great High Priest himself were here, they would find fault with the colour of the stones of his breastplate.’

These flattering people, these certain men knew how to use smooth, flattering words to get an advantage over other people. They would say anything, good or bad to get an advantage. All of their murmuring, complaining and walking after their own lusts was directed toward gaining some personal benefit for themselves. How many today, can be described in the same way?

‘But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold.’ Jude 17

Jude recalls for them words which they had heard the apostles speak regarding trials that were certain to come upon them. Some think Jude is referring to 2 Peter 3:2 ‘I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Saviour through your apostles’ where almost the same thoughts are expressed. Jude would have been familiar with Peter’s epistle as all epistles were circulated among the churches.

He would be familiar with what Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 ‘For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.’

‘They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.’ These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.’ Jude 18-19

 Not only did Peter speak out about these people 2 Peter 3:3, but all the apostles did. Their statements can be found in Acts 20:29 ‘I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock.’ 1 Timothy 4:1 / 2 Timothy 4:1 / 1 John 4:3.

Obviously, they were acquainted with the apostles and would remember their warnings. Jude refers to the ‘last time.’ This has reference to the last age, the age of Christianity. The same kind of teaching Jude is speaking of still exists today as the prophesy applies to all who live in the Christian age. They cause divisions among the churches and ‘quenched’ or rejected the word of God.

Many people are committed to godlessness in their personal lives, they make light of all authority, they have foamed out their own shame, and speak blasphemously and contemptuously of heavenly persons, such as they, would naturally laugh at the idea of a judgment to come.

They make divisions, by dividing themselves from the true church, and by encouraging others to do so likewise. The rest of the verse means that, they live as brute beasts, guided simply by their lusts and passions, their Bible being the manifold devices and covetousness of their own hearts.

The Holy Spirit, long having been grieved, insulted, resisted, lusted against, and at last ‘quenched’ by themselves, such men were no longer capable of any goodness whatever. It never ceases to amaze me how Christians fall away and seem to become more evil than they were before they became Christians.

‘But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life’. Jude 20-21

In contrast to the wicked and ungodly they were to build themselves up by growing, becoming more mature in the faith, and keeping themselves in God’s love by obeying His will, John 15:9-10 ‘As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love’.

There’s a lot of talk about grace only saves, or faith only saves but man has a part to play in their salvation too. On Pentecost, Peter said in Acts 2:40, ‘Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.’

Paul wrote that people should ‘continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.’

These verses and many other, including ‘building yourselves up’ are all stressing the things people are commanded to do, with the implication, that if they refuse to comply with the instructions upon which God’s grace is to be appropriated, their failure to comply is the forfeit of grace.

The need on the part of humans to obey God’s teaching is in no manner incompatible with the conception that no man can earn salvation. Of course he cannot but neither can the wilfully disobedient enter heaven. When one thinks of it, what possible use could God have for any soul that refuses to do the things God commanded?

Prayer as a vital means of Christian growth and security is in sight here, including the promise of the Holy Spirit who helps us in prayer. Neglect of this vital duty may prove fatal to the believer. Many of our prayers are directed by our own needs, by our own intellects, or by our own wishes and desires.

But there is a higher level of prayer, likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us, Romans 8:26. The Holy Spirit may help us pray by giving us the right words to say when we pray.

Among those in error there were various classes. Each one must be dealt with differently. Some with severity, others patiently. The closing two verses call our attention to the One we must lean upon, depend upon, and trust in. He is able to keep us from stumbling if we trust Him, and obey Him.

Again, the human response factor is stressed, Jude 1:20, ‘keeping oneself in the love of God’ is the same thing as obeying God’s commandments. We know that God loves even the ungodly, as Romans 5:6 tells us. Therefore, Jude doesn’t mean, live in such a way to make yourself lovable to God. Instead, to keep yourselves in the love of God means to keep yourself in harmony with God’s ever-present love.

Jude commanded, or rather pleaded the faithful should do six things.

1. Work at your faith.

2. Give constant attention to prayer.

3. Receive, cultivate and cherish the indwelling Spirit.

4. Keep yourselves in God’s love through strict obedience to His will.

5. If you are frustrated or discouraged by failures look to Jesus.

6. Look to the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ who will save the last unworthy one of us if we give Him half a chance to do so!

Notice that this is preceded by ‘bring you to eternal life,’ indicating that in some vital aspects of it, we do not now have eternal life but this is not to deny John’s great promises regarding this because they may be fully understood as our actual possession of eternal life, in the sense of having the blessed promise of it, the assurance of it, and the vital, living hope of it.

‘Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear— hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.’ Jude 22-23

Now Jude has two kinds of people in mind here, the false teachers and those who follow them. We have those who are responsible for maintaining due order in the churches must use different methods toward those who persist in teaching rebellious and immoral doctrine and those who have been misled by false teachers.

There are some doubting souls who need your mercy, those are the people we need to snatch from the flames and save them and then there are others for whom your mercy must be mixed with fear, hate the very clothing that is corrupted by the flash.

‘Snatching them from the fire’ is an obvious metaphor, which basically means to rescue them, as you would someone from a burning building. We have to remember that there is a real danger for Christians who are trying to save others by showing mercy, there must be fear in attempting their rescue, why?

Because we too might end up getting burnt along with them whilst were trying to rescue them. Our snatching them from the fire shows them we’re not only concerned for our own spiritual welfare but theirs. It proves that we genuinely care about other Christians who are edging towards significant error.

‘To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Saviour be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.’ Jude 24-25

If Jude is known or noticed at all by the today’s church, it is because of these verses, which are quoted more than any other verse from his letter. In mountain climbing, the beginning hiker attaches himself to the expert so that if he loses his footing he won’t stumble and fall to his death. In the same manner, if we keep connected with God, we cannot fall. He keeps us safe.

If Christians obey the instructions of their Lord and walk in the light as He is in the light, they will not stumble and for those who walk with the Lord, the Lord indeed can and does guard us from stumbling. 1 John 1:7 ‘But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.’

‘Before His glorious presence’ refers to the ‘great Day’ of Jude 6, the judgment day, when all nations shall be assembled before the great throne of God.

The use of the words ‘without fault’ again is a metaphor from the Old Testament sacrificial system, Leviticus 1:3 / Colossians 1:28. And notice that Jude says ‘with great joy’, it carries with it the idea of being proud, be proud that God is redeeming you and His people, be proud that your God’s child, be proud that God is saving you and remember that God can’t save anyone unless they accept and obey His Son Jesus.

All of the glory belongs to God. Acts 17:29 ‘In him we live and move and have our being.’ All of the praise, all of the glory, all of the worship and adoration that human hearts are capable of are rightfully given only to God through Christ. Our blessed Saviour was, and is, and shall be for evermore. He is one with the Father, the eternal God who is ever and perpetually the ‘I AM’ of all time and eternity.

‘Amen’ means ‘So be it’ and it calls God to witness the words which are sealed by it. It’s the signal that any hymn or prayer concluded by it is held to be sacred in the eyes of God, and is a pledge of the sincerity and integrity of the petitioner.

When you think about Jude, it’s amazing that four little boys, all of whom were younger than Jesus, they all grew up in Nazareth in the same room with Jesus in the home of Joseph and Mary, and two of them, James and Jude, left the gift of two precious letters.

Think about that, they are two New Testament writers who lived with Jesus practically all of His life on earth. These two men didn’t believe in Jesus at first and like all other Jews, they believed that the Messiah would be a conquering hero who would rally the troops and chase the Romans out of Judea, they knew that Jesus was not that kind of person.

But, when they came to know His real purpose of redeeming people from sin, all they could do was fall down in His presence and hail Him as Lord and Saviour, leading them both also, ever afterwards, to write themselves ‘not as His brothers’ but as ‘Servants of the Lord Jesus Christ!’

The problems that Jude deals with in this brief letter are the same problems we must deal with today. This book as with all the letters are relevant today and are a challenge to every Christian living today. Human nature hasn’t changed therefore we face the same challenges.

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!"

Psalm 133:1

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