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The Sin and Doom of Godless Men January 8, 2014

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
Tags: , , , ,

Here are my thoughts on Jude 3-16.

Summary: Jude begins by conveying agape to his readers (who are with him in Christ); he is concerned for their spiritual welfare and wants to help their faith. In this letter, though, he must focus on the fact that the school of Simon, the Gnostics, and other heretics are trying to cut them off from the truth; thus, they must contend earnestly for the sound teaching that is to be absorbed and believed for salvation. This teaching has been given to them – as members of the church – so that they might keep it. Now these heretics, who crept in unawares into the church, were condemned by God from all eternity since they:

  • do not worship God
  • use the Gospel to justify their indulgence in luxury and the impurities of lust
  • openly renounce and secretly attack Jesus Christ, who is their only ruler and mediator.

Jude then states that his readers have certainly and irrecoverably received the following truths:

  • God delivered His special people from Egypt – yet He later destroyed those among them who neglected and refused Him
  • some angels had a high and dignified nature – yet they rebelled against God; thus, He will condemn them in the sight of the whole world and sentence them to eternal misery and torment
  • the people of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim had a vehement addiction to unclean practices and practiced sodomy; thus, He placed them under everlasting judgment, and their experience instructs the world to keep His law.

Likewise, these heretics, who have been bewitched and enchanted:

  • pollute themselves with libidinous practices
  • display utter enmity toward civil policy and government
  • curse the officers of the church.

Jude contrasts their behavior with that of Michael – the leader of the blessed angels – who had an altercation in words with the devil regarding the knowledge of Moses’ place of burial. In particular, Michael did not blasphemously judge the devil in this case – he referred the matter to God’s cognizance. Yet these heretics reproach all spiritual things; they understand other things by natural inclination – which draw down punishment on them.

Jude then denounces these heretics, since they:

  • follow Cain’s example by attacking those who disagree with them
  • follow Balaam’s example by perverting the truth
  • follow Korah’s example by opposing magistrates and the ministry of Christ; thus, they would perish as Korah perished.

Jude also states that these heretics can infect others by their example. In particular, they feast liberally with the rest of the church – at the church’s expense. They eat without respect for the fellowship that should exist between saints. They do not produce positive ideas that will help people in their understanding. Their lives are not characterized by holiness, and their apostasy is incurable; thus, they are very dead. They fill every place with their trouble and strife, revealing their abominable opinions and practices. They pretend to have a great deal of knowledge – yet they are swallowed up by the horrors of eternal darkness.

Now Jude states that Enoch, who is in the seventh generation after Adam, served God by asserting the following fact regarding these heretics: Jesus Christ will come to judge the world with the highest possible number of angels and saints. He will judge the wicked and present damning evidence of their:

  • malicious opposition to His servants
  • abusive language against Him

and so they will be found guilty and condemned. Jude concludes by asserting that these heretics:

  • mutter angrily
  • complain about what God has given them
  • walk after their evil desires
  • use unsavory gibberish to present their own opinions
  • try to win over people to join them.

Thoughts: In verse 7, Jude notes that the Lord destroyed Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim for practicing sodomy. Manton offers some insights on this point:

1. Note the quality of the place. There were many good cities, of which Sodom was the principal one, in the plain of Jordan. It was full of people and had plentiful supplies of corn, wine, oil, and all earthly goods…2. Note those cities’ earlier deliverance. Four kings went to war against them and captured them and carried them off before they were rescued by Abraham (Genesis 14:15-16).

Manton quotes from Genesis 13:10 to support his assertion that these four towns had access to abundant resources before their destruction. How did the inhabitants of these towns become enslaved to the most horrible vices? Perhaps their prosperity caused them to become arrogant, and they assumed that they had earned their wealth. Also, did they begin practicing sodomy before Abraham rescued them from their captors? In any case, evidently they did not remember the Lord’s abundant blessings. Indeed, the Bible records numerous instances of God punishing those who did not remember the Lord’s abundant blessings. Ah, if only humans could be more mindful of God on a daily basis…

In verse 9, Jude notes that the archangel Michael did not blasphemously judge the devil when the devil was trying to determine the site of Moses’ place of burial. Manton offers some insights on this point:

We read that the body of Moses was secretly buried by the Lord. “He [the Lord] buried him [Moses] in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is” (Deuteronomy 34:6). Concerning the circumstances surrounding this, Jude might have received this information by divine revelation, which is here made Scripture. It was quite normal for those who wrote the Scripture to add circumstances that were not mentioned in the passage where the story was first recorded.

When I initially read this passage, I was under the impression that Jude was unique among the New Testament writers in terms of his application of extra-biblical accounts. I then remembered that Paul had referred to Jannes and Jambres in 2 Timothy 3:1-9. The fact that Jude later refers to an extra-biblical prophecy by Enoch in verse 14 makes me wonder, though, if Jude was more inclined than Paul to include extra-biblical references in his letters. Did Jude write other letters that are no longer extant, and if so, were those letters characterized by an unusually large number of extra-biblical references? In any case, this account – whether or not it is historically accurate – makes a powerful point: it is not the prerogative of believers to judge the devil, as that is best left to God Himself.

In verses 12 and 13, Jude states that the heretics are very dead, since their lives do not produce fruit. Manton offers some thoughts on this point:

Our Savior directs us to scrutinize people: “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?” (Matthew 7:16)…This also means that your lives must be lived according to God’s laws or you will bring shame on God…This implies that they do not bring any honor to God, nor good to others, and are not wise for the benefit of their own souls. To be barren and unfruitful while professing to follow Christ is a sign of great hypocrisy.

Jude and Manton raise some tough points here that believers must consider. I often wonder if I am truly advancing the kingdom of God; are my words and deeds truly bringing glory to God? Sometimes I feel that my life is a mixture of 1) moments where I get the sense that I am honoring God and 2) moments where I know that I am falling short of His holiness. Have my efforts (e.g. in terms of Christian ministry) brought “good to others,” helping them to progress in holiness? Will the lyrics of the song Thank You by Ray Boltz apply to me? Perhaps this passage should spur me toward exhibiting a greater degree of holiness in my life; since it sets a high bar, I can only improve by aiming for it.



1. Love One Another | Ringing In - February 20, 2014

[…] a negative example for his readers in terms of dealing with others. This reminds me that Jude also cites Cain as a negative example for his readers in his letter; also, the author of the letter to the […]

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