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THE EPISTLE OF
JUDE

O  U  T  L  I  N  E


Jude vs. 2 Peter 2.  These two portions sound very similar, but there is a difference. Peter addresses the false teachers that were coming into the Christian profession, denying the Lordship of Christ, etc. Jude addresses the moral effect of this false teaching on the testimony; "turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness". The result of false teaching (2 Pet. 2) is evil practice (Jude).

Jude vs. Revelation. While Jude speaks of the corruption and apostasy of the Christian profession, Revelation foretells the Judgment that must follow.

The writer was either Judas the Lord's brother (Matthew 13:55) or Judas the apostle. Both had brothers named James. If it was Judas the apostle, he was paired with Judas Iscariot in public ministry, Luke 6:16, which showed that He knew what it meant to have apostasy within. Kelly believed strongly that it was the Lord’s brother. I tend to agree with Kelly for the following reason: by referring to himself as simply "the brother of James" without any other qualifier, Jude must have meant the most prominent James at the time, which would have been James the Just. See entries for the three Jameses and the three Judases.

Apostasy and Apathy. An apostate is one who professes to have a knowledge and faith in God and His testimony, and then turns their back on it. Such a person can never be saved (Hebrews 6:4-6). This does not mean that a person can lose their salvation, but that they never had saving faith to begin with. A great deal of confusion comes in if we don't understand what an apostate is, and what a backslider is. A backslider is one with real faith but who gets off the path and goes into sin. Their eternal destiny is secure, but their life may end up being a loss for Christ. Hebrews, 2 Peter, and Jude take up the subject of apostasy at length. What if I have real faith? Is there nothing in those scriptures for my heart and conscience? Of course. Along with actual apostasy is the spirit of apostasy, or apathy. We are warned that the same spirit and principle that actual apostates operate on can infect those who are true believers.


Introduction (vv.1-4)

Salutation: Writer and Recipient Introduced (vv.1-2)

Jude, bondman of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to the called ones beloved in God the Father and preserved in Jesus Christ: v.1 While he was the half-brother of our Lord, it is beautiful to see that Jude doesn't even identify himself with our Lord on a natural level. Instead, he humbly identifies himself as a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James. This is a catholic or "general" epistle, in that it is addressed universally to the "called ones". Believers are "called ones" in the sense that we have been separated from the world and its defilement to follow the Lord. We are "beloved in God the Father" in that we have been brought into relationship with God as our Father, and have a conscious sense that we are loved. We are also "preserved in Jesus Christ" in that our whole spirit, soul, and body are under the protection of the same one who laid down His life for us; we are preserved for time and for eternity.

2 Mercy to you, and peace, and love be multiplied. v.2 Three things that are available to believers seeking to walk for God in a dark day:
  1. Mercy
  2. Peace
  3. Love
These three treasure are not merely "added", but "multiplied" to us! There is a compounding nature to those gifts which spring from the heart of God.

Prefatory Comments: the Purpose of the Epistle (vv.3-4)

3 Beloved, using all diligence to write to you of our common salvation, I have been obliged to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. v.3 He had an intention to write a gospel like Matthew/Mark but was obliged to exhort that they should stand fast in the day of apostasy. We "earnestly contend" not by arguing or being contentious (2 Tim. 2:14; 23-26) but by walking in the truth (1 Tim. 4:16, Prov. 28:4) and "in meekness instructing those that oppose themselves" counting on God to do the work in the hearts of others. "The faith" - The body of Christian truth. How can contend for the faith if we don't know what it is? Jude doesn't elaborate on what "the faith" is; we must read the other New Testament writers to learn it first. "Once delivered" - not in the sense of once-upon-a-time, but once-for-all; no once an improve upon the truth. The word "salvation" includes all aspects of salvation. the truth alone wont keep you, it needs to be coupled with devotion and communion. But it would be wrong to say the truth wont keep you.

4a For certain men have got in unnoticed, they who of old were marked out beforehand to this sentence, ungodly personsv.4 The coming in of false teachers was the occasion for writing.
From the historical context we know that the evil doctrine was Gnosticism. This was the great evil system that Paul warned about and John wrote against. It was spread by those who had a great deal of exposure to Christianity, but were never real. As to these apostates, John says "they went out from us [apostles]" (1 John 2:19), but Jude says they "crept in". Some apostates leave the profession, others stay and try to corrupt it. Often, what was once rejected as evil by the Church later creeps back in! In 2 Peter we see their teaching, in Jude we see their actions. "Ordained" is a mistranslation... their character was "marked out" of old by the Holy Ghost in the Old Testament, see verses 5, 6, 7, 11. No one is ordained by God for condemnation. They "got in unnoticed" because their character (v.4b) isn't visible immediately. They put on a nice exterior for a while, but eventually a tree can be identified by its fruits as our Lord taught in Matt. 7:15-20.

4b turning the grace of our God into dissoluteness, and denying our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ. v.4b There are two leading features of the flesh brought out here; lust and lawlessness. You get these two features again in vv.8-10.
  1. Turning the grace of God into a license to satisfy the flesh. Teaching that as Christians we can do whatever we want. They use the grace of God against the holiness of God. This is still done today. We must ask ourselves about every doctrine we are presented with; what is its tendency?
  2. Refusing to recognize the authority of the Lord. Jude owns the absolute Authority and Lordship of Christ over the believer; but these ones denied it, as they despised every form of authority.

Warning Against Apostate Infiltrators (vv.5-23)

God's Judgment on Those who Fall From their God-given Place (vv.5-7)

vv.5-7 There is a moral progression in the next three verses. In v.5 we have the root principle of unbelief of the goodness in God's heart. Then, in v.6 that principle is carried forward into action, and we have disobedience to the God's commands. Finally, in v.7 we have unbridled lust. First the seed, then the shoots, and at last the full crop.

Case #1: The Unbelieving Israelites, who Fell in the Wilderness (v.5)

5 But I would put you in remembrance, you who once knew all things, that the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, in the second place destroyed those who had not believed. v.5 They "once knew these things" but they had become faint in their minds and needed reminding... and so do we. 

Case #2: The Disobedient Angels who Left their First Estate (v.6)

6 And angels who had not kept their own original state, but had abandoned their own dwelling, he keeps in eternal chains under gloomy darkness, to the judgment of the great day; v.6 not a reference to the fall of Satan and his angels because they are free to roam the Earth. This is likely those who fell in Genesis 6:1-5. They are in a special holding place - not Hades or the Lake of Fire – a place called "Tartarus", which means "the deepest pit", see II Peter 2:4 (possibly the same as Rev. 20:8).

Case #3: The Immoral Cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (v.7)

7 as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities around them, committing greedily fornication, in like manner with them, and going after other flesh, lie there as an example, undergoing the judgment of eternal fire. 

Two Chief Characteristics: Filthiness and Rebellion (vv.8-10)

Filthiness of the Flesh (v.8a)

8a Yet in like manner these dreamers also defile the flesh, 

Contempt for Authority, Contrast Michael (vv.8b-10)

8b and despise lordship, and speak railingly against dignities. 9 But Michael the archangel, when disputing with the devil he reasoned about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a railing judgment against him, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. v.9 he did not speak rebelliously or disrespectfully... he acted according to God's mind and thus could appeal to God's judgment. He knew that the time had not yet come for Satan to be cast out of heaven. In Revelation 12 we find that Michael is given that privilege. But here he refused to speak injuriously against one with higher authority from God, even though Satan was in a fallen condition. David also is another example of one who would not speak evil of his king even though Saul was was in a very bad state ().

10 But these, whatever things they know not, they speak railingly against; but what even, as the irrational animals, they understand by mere nature, in these things they corrupt themselves. 

Three Kinds of Ecclesiastical Evil (v.11)

11 Woe to them! because they have gone in the way of Cain, and given themselves up to the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. 
  1. The Way of Cain (self-will) wanted to approach God "my way". A bloodless gospel - a natural man's religion of Works.
  2. The Error of Balaam (self-interest) willing to sell his gift or office for money. A professional religion. Teaching error for reward.
  3. The Gainsaying of Cora (self-importance) throwing off God's order for man's Order. Party-making. Opposition to the individual priesthood of believer.

A Full Catalog of the Character of the Apostates (vv.12-16)

12 These are spots in your love-feasts, feasting together with you without fear, pasturing themselves; clouds without water, carried along by the winds; autumnal trees, without fruit, twice dead, rooted up; v.12 Sunken rocks with the sea over them - hard to detect and can do serious damage. Clouds without water - They carry the promise of refreshment but don't perform. Twice dead: (1) without Divine Life, (2) by apostasy.

13 raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shames; wandering stars, to whom has been reserved the gloom of darkness for eternity. v.13b While the lake of fire speaks of the Eternal Judgment of God, Blackness of Darkness gives the thought of all of this. Both are figurative... how could it be black if there was fire? Second death - absolute separation.

14 And Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied also as to these, saying, Behold, the Lord has come amidst his holy myriads, v.14 Seventh from Adam - seven is a completion in the ways of God. Enoch is a picture of the church, eventually Raptured "was not, for God took him". He spoke to the world about the Wrath to come. As Christians, our intelligent message is that the Lord is going to personally intervene in this world.   Compare the seventh from Adam in Seth's line with the seventh from Adam in Cain's line (Lamech).

15 to execute judgment against all; and to convict all the ungodly of them of all their works of ungodliness, which they have wrought ungodlily, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. Vv.14-15 we've seen the apostates' character - now their judgment. We are not to root out the tares (Matt. 13)... We might mix up the wheat (backslidden Christians) with the tares. It is his work, the harvest judgment will take place at the Appearing.

The Book of Enoch was written by an apostate who was trying to discount this verse.

16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their lusts; and their mouth speaks swelling words, admiring persons for the sake of profit. 

Recollection of the Apostles' Words about the Last Time (vv.17-19)

17 But *ye*, beloved, remember the words spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, v.17 "They" refers to the apostate infiltrators. "Ye" refers to the True Believers. It is significant that Every new testament writer warns of coming apostasy

18 that they said to you, that at the end of the time there should be mockers, walking after their own lusts of ungodlinesses. 19 These are they who set themselves apart, natural men, not having the Spirit. v.19 Leaders who are Guided by their senses, not by the Spirit. They elevate themselves to a position above the Brethren... but not even indwelt with the Spirit. Contrast Acts 20:28.

Practical Exhortations: The Christian's Occupation (vv.20-23)

20 But *ye*, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. vv.20-21 Six exhortations:
  1. Collective building ourselves up - establishing ourselves in the body of Christian truth, Through the word of God. The answer is not to be loose. This is the only place where "the truth" is called "most holy" - and it is in a dark day.
  2. Praying in the Holy Spirit - prayer that is in perfect Accord with the mind of God. Rom. 8:27.
  3. Keeping ourselves in the enjoyment of God's love - the maintenance of communion. E.g. Walking on the sunny side of the street.
  4. Looking for the Rapture - the rapture is a mercy because of the apostasy. Perhaps it includes Mercy along the way. "Eternal life" here is Looked at as a future possession, when We will be in our native environment (deep sea diver illustration).
22 And of some have compassion, making a difference, 23 but others save with fear, snatching them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. vv.22-23 the original manuscripts are very confusing here. Three possible categories of persons, not two. see William Kelly's notes.
  1. Having compassion for others. It Takes discernment. On Those who are just ignorant, have compassion. For Those who knowingly are carried away, have fear. Some are so entrenched in the evil that they are almost engulfed in flames. We are God's firemen as well as fishermen.
  2. Being guarded about personal holiness. we can be defiled even when rescuing others, see Num. 19:10.

Conclusion and Prayer (vv.24-25)

The Power that can Keep Us (v.24)

24 But to him that is able to keep you without stumbling, and to set you with exultation blameless before his glory, 

Benediction: a Doxology (v.25)

25 to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, might, and authority, from before the whole age, and now, and to all the ages. Amen. v.25 A doxology.