Jude
1-3 Sender, Recipients, Purpose of the Letter 4-9 Examples of Apostasy and God’s Judgment 10-16 Characteristics of Ungodliness 17-25 Exhortations and Encouragements
Sender, Recipients, Purpose of the Letter

1Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: 2May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you. 3Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

V11Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:. Jude presents himself as “a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James”. At the explanation of the letter of James we saw that James is a brother of the Lord Jesus (Jam 1:11James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad: Greetings.; Gal 1:1919But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.). Besides a James we also come across a Jude among the brothers of the Lord after the flesh (Mt 13:5555Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?). It is obvious that he is the author of this letter.

Just like James, Jude does not call himself ‘a brother’ of Jesus Christ, but joyfully calls himself ‘a bond-servant’. He neither speaks about ‘Jesus’, but about ‘Jesus Christ’. Every familiarity is missing, although he and James were raised together with the Lord in the same parental home. That undoubtedly has got to do with the fact that they have learnt to know Him as the Resurrected (1Cor 15:77then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;). It is more important to be spiritually related to Him and to show that by listening to His Word than to be with Him in a natural family relationship (Lk 11:27-2827While Jesus was saying these things, one of the women in the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You and the breasts at which You nursed.”28But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and observe it.”).

As it already has been noticed, in his letter Jude address all believers without distinction. He calls them “those who are the called”. He has the interest of all believers in mind, all who belong to the worldwide church. At the same time the letter is also very personal, for a calling is a personal matter of every believer. Those who are called – and therefore by grace you too are included – he presents directly at the beginning of his letter in a twofold regard: first to “God the Father” and then to “Jesus Christ”. The regard to God the Father is related with love and the regard to Jesus Christ with preservation.

What Jude does here lies in the same line as what the Lord Jesus does in His prayer to His Father when He asks Him to keep those who are His own (Jn 17:1111I am no longer in the world; and [yet] they themselves are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep them in Your name, [the name] which You have given Me, that they may be one even as We [are].). What Jude is saying and what the Lord Jesus has prayed is, with a view to the content of the letter, very encouraging. You may know that you are an object of Divine love, no matter how much evil has penetrated Christianity. You may know that you will be preserved till the end by Jesus Christ, while the penetrated evil will be judged by Him. What an encouragement! That gives security and power to your faith that is being tested severely in the time of apostasy wherein you live.

V22May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.. After addressing his readers Jude has a threefold wish to his readers, “mercy and peace and love”. In addition he also wishes that it may be “multiplied”. We always find in the greeting of the letters of Paul ‘grace and peace’ as a wish. Only in the two letters to Timothy he adds the wish of ‘mercy’. That shows that ‘mercy’ is especially meant for individuals, which emphasizes the personal character of the letter of Jude.

The combination of the three wishes that Jude speaks out here, only occurs with him:
1. He begins with “mercy”. In this word you find the aspect of need and compassion. Jude knows that the believers especially need that, with a view to the time that he will describe right away.
2. Also “peace” is important in such a time. All evil that has entered into the church abundantly, may be a reason to get filled with dissatisfaction. When everything seems to be hopeless and there seems to be no way out, dissatisfaction can easily creep in.
3. Finally “love” is needed. How evil the times may be, the believer may always be aware of the love of God.

Jude mentions these things in general terms. Of course he wishes them to you because of God. At the same time it is the intention that these characteristics will also be expressions that are coming out of you to others in a time of decay. After all, you have the new life, you are born of God and you have His nature. When the apostasy will be manifested more and more clearly, then it is more urgently desirable that these expressions of God’s care are to be found toward one another among the believers. And Jude does not only wish that they will increase, but that they will be in abundance by multiplication, meaning that they may increase more and more.

V33Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.. Jude calls his readers “beloved” and in this way he participates with God the Father of Whom he has said that He loves the ones that He owns (verse 11Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:). He has the same feelings for them as God the Father has. It is important to see your brothers and sisters the way God the Father sees them and to feel for them what He feels for them.

Jude tells that he was intended to write them a letter. He indeed carries out that intention. He also tells them about what he wanted to write to them, but that something has changed. He would have loved to share with them what he and they possess in common in the salvation that they have received (cf. 2Pet 1:11Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have received a faith of the same kind as ours, by the righteousness of our God and Savior, Jesus Christ:). However, the wish to write about the “common salvation” had been replaced by a burden that God’s Spirit has placed in his heart. He has been obedient to that and has acknowledged the necessity to write an exhortation instead of about enjoyable truths.

He tells about this change in his plan, because this makes you feel the seriousness of the content of his letter even more. It shows that sometimes plans need to be changed and that instead of enjoying the truths of faith these truths of faith are to contend for.

The faith – this refers to the truth of faith and not so much to your personal faith – is extremely precious. It is everything that you know of God in Christ, just as you have it in the inspired, infallible, authoritative and complete Word of God. Therefore it also has to be maintained and defended as such. Everything that comes from God will always be attacked and must therefore be defended. You are to hold on to it that only to the apostles it has been given to determine the touch stones of the faith in the inspired scriptures.

To explain and teach the faith is not the task of all, but of the gifts who are given by the Lord Jesus (Eph 4:1111And He gave some [as] apostles, and some [as] prophets, and some [as] evangelists, and some [as] pastors and teachers,). But it is certainly the task of each believer, therefore also of you, to defend the faith and to contend for it. That is not a matter of only a few. It is after all the faith which was “once for all handed down to the saints”, which includes all saints and not only a small group of privileged people. The result is that all saints are to defend it. The expression ‘saints’ also emphasizes the contrast with the ungodliness of the ungodly men about whom Jude writes in the following verses.

What you are to be defending is the faith that ‘once for all’ was delivered. Therefore it is not about a new discovered faith or a faith that is developing and to which new things are continually being added to. It was once for all and fully manifested by God. Men are not to contribute anything to it, although they are the instruments through which it has been passed on. There will be no more new revelations. Once it was noted like this: If it is new, it cannot be true and if it is true, it is not new.

Now read Jude 1:1-31Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:2May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.3Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. again.

Reflection: Which encouragements do you find in these verses?


Examples of Apostasy and God’s Judgment

4For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. 5Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe. 6And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 7just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. 8Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties. 9But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”

V44For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.. Jude is now going to explain and support his appeal to contend. In case you may already have considerations whether you will or will not participate in the fight for which he appeals you to, you will get convinced of the necessity of your effort by his explanation. In an impressive way he portrays the situation of the confessing Christianity just as it already developed itself in those days. That development has not stopped since then, but it got worse more and more. That means that the necessity to contend has only been increasing more and more.

For “certain persons”, which means men with a certain character, “have crept in”, very secretly, with a deception, through a side door (cf. Gal 2:44But [it was] because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.). Those people are no believers. They are emphatically called “ungodly persons” by Jude. They are men “who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation”. That does not mean that their names are written, but it means that men who do such things will be struck by this judgment. The judgment was announced by Enoch already many centuries ago, even before the flood. Then God already made known what He was going to do with these ungodly men at the end of the time (verses 14-1514[It was] also about these men [that] Enoch, [in] the seventh [generation] from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones,15to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”).

There are men, including earnest children of God, who from what Jude is saying here, conclude that God has predestined men to be perished. But this conclusion is not in line with the doctrine of the Scripture. God does not predestine anyone to be perished forever. The predetermined condemnation regards people who have prepared themselves for the destruction (Rom 9:2222What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?; 2Pet 2:33and in [their] greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.). It is to be compared with the fine that I get when I for instance park my car somewhere without buying a ticket, which may result in the payment of a fine. When I park my car on that spot without buying a ticket, I am condemned to get a fine. The condemnation is ready for everyone who commits this violation, but there is only mention of registering names when the violation had been committed.

Jude is not cautious with his exposure of these people. He does not make gradual steps to come to that point, but he criticizes them directly. He does that to directly make their character clear and in that way open the eyes of the gullible people in the church for these corrupt persons. Such people present themselves as Christians and have sweet talks, as you will see later. Jude is quite clear. They are “ungodly men”, who destroy the faith. They have two main characteristics. The first characteristic is that they misuse grace by using it as a cover for fulfilling their own lusts. The second characteristic is that they reject the authority of the Lord Jesus.

That they are ‘ungodly’ (the word ‘ungodly’ appears seven times in this letter), means that they are without any respect and fear for God. That attitude is expressed in the two mentioned characteristics. They dare to misuse grace in order to justify their lawlessness (see and compare Titus 2 (Tit 2:1212instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,) where grace teaches the opposite). They abuse the Christian freedom to lead a life “in licentiousness”. They lack every sense of what is appropriate. They also “deny” and despise the absolute and Divine authority of the Lord Jesus.

Therefore you can recognize these persons, who “crept in unnoticed”, by their way of life. It is absolutely out of the question that they could be born again. They live just like man has lived apart from God since the fall. They follow the lusts of the flesh to which they give in into lewdness and live their life in pride just as they want to. They also totally do not take into consideration the authority of the absolute Ruler, “our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ”. You especially notice that by the way they deal with God’s Word. They do not have any respect for it, they do not bow to it, it does not impress them in any way.

V55Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.. From that same Word that is being denied by them Jude wants to remind you of three cases from the beginning of the Old Testament. In these three cases the apostasy he speaks about and God’s judgment over it are clearly shown.

You are being addressed as someone who “knows all things once for all”. That is true to each believer, also for you, no matter how long you have been converted. For you have the “anointing of the Holy One” and you “know all things” (1Jn 2:2020But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.). After a course of time the awareness of it may sink away. Then it is good to be reminded of it.

The first case is that of the people of Israel when they were delivered from Egypt. God had delivered the people and promised them the land of Canaan. This promise also included that He was going to help them to take the land into possession. But when the people listened to the evil rumor that the ten spies spread about the promised land, they went into rebellion against the Lord and did not believe Him. They flatly refused to take that land into possession (Num 13-14; 1Cor 10:5-105Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.6Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.7Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.”8Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.9Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.10Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.) and in that way they showed their unbelief. They marginalized God.

After God had dealt with them by grace by delivering them from Egypt, He dealt “subsequently” with them on the ground of their unbelief. The result was that all died who were twenty years old and older when they left Egypt, except for Joshua and Caleb (Num 14:29-30,3529your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me.30Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun.35I, the LORD, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they will die.’”; Heb 3:16-1916For who provoked [Him] when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt [led] by Moses?17And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?18And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient?19[So] we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.).

V66And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day,. The second example of rebellion and apostasy is that of angels who had sinned horribly. They did not keep “their own domain”, which means their original or lofty status, “but abandoned their proper abode”, which God had given them. It seems that this case is to be found in Genesis 6 (Gen 6:1-71Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them,2that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose.3Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”4The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore [children] to them. Those were the mighty men who [were] of old, men of renown.5Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.6The LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.7The LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.”). There is mention of “God’s sons” of whom we know from Job 1:66Now thee was a day when the sons of God came to pesent themselves befoe the LORD, and Satan also came among them.; 2:11Again there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them to present himself before the LORD. that these are angels. These sons have adapted a human form and took wives out of men.

This evil is that bad that God has withheld them from any freedom of movement. He now already has reserved them with “eternal bonds”, those are chains which they will carry forever, and has locked them up in “darkness” already, so that they will never see the light again. They are “kept” there till the definite judgment over them will be carried out.

V77just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.. The third example is directly connected to the previous one, which you can derive from the word “just as” with which verse 77just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. begins. What had happened in “Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them” is of the same corruptness like what the angels did, though even worse. It causes the apostasy to reach a pinnacle. It is about the most outrageous shamelessness, a shamelessness which is directed against all that is natural, given by God. This particular perversion is that of the homosexual relationship of men who “in their desire toward one another” commit “indecent acts” (Rom 1:26b-2726For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,27and in the same way also the men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error.). They have left their own nature. That is rebellion and apostasy. That is ‘sexual immorality’ and going after “strange flesh”, which means that it is completely against the natural order of God.

The non-committed liberal life style, promoted by liberals and the pressure to fully accept a homosexual life style as a ‘normal’ life style, are compared with the practices of ‘Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them’. What God has done with those cities shows His judgment over homosexual practice. This should be a warning to everyone who lives like that or who accepts that as normal and who probably even fights for general acceptance. The “punishment of eternal fire” shows that there is no end to God’s judgment over that. All apostates will be struck by this judgment.

In the three examples you do not find a chronological, but a spiritual order. The apostates will
1. just like the Israelites who did not believe, die the physical death,
2. then just like the angels who did not keep their proper domain, be reserved under darkness for the judgment before the great white throne and
3. finally, just like Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around it, be thrown in the eternal fire.

V88Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.. After these examples of apostasy and God’s judgment over it, Jude returns to his theme of the apostates of his time. The whole thinking of those people is unclean. They are “dreaming”, they live in a fantasy world with filthy fantasies. They ultimately find the fulfillment of their dreams in disgusting sexual sins, just like the men of Sodom. They live in rebellion against God and reject every form of authority ordained by Him. They also speak blaspheming language about everything that God has ascribed a certain honor to, a certain glory in which something of Him is to be seen.

V99But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”. These people have the brutality to say things that even “Michael the archangel” did not dare to say “when he disputed with the devil”, when he “argued about the body of Moses”. Jude tells about this event which is nowhere to be found in the Bible. He received this information through God’s Spirit. We know that God has buried Moses in a valley in the land of Moab and that nobody knows about his grave (Deu 34:66And He buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day.). It is not unlikely that the devil was looking for the place where Moses was buried, with the intention to let it be known by the people in order to cause them to make it a place of pilgrimage, which is a place of idolatry, for the people. Michael resisted against him on that.

In the future Michael will appear to be stronger than the devil, for he will throw him out of heaven (Rev 12:7-97And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels waging war with the dragon. The dragon and his angels waged war,8and they were not strong enough, and there was no longer a place found for them in heaven.9And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.). Michael knows his time to act against the devil and therefore he does not grab ahead about that. That’s why he does not dare to put a “railing judgment” into his mouth towards this prince of angels in the kingdom of darkness. The archangel leaves the judgment over blasphemy by the devil, to the Lord. Look also at the attitude of David towards Saul for a moment when Saul was already rejected by God. As long as Saul is ruling David adopts a submissive attitude (1Sam 24; 26).

There is a danger that we may want to exercise power over those who are doing the work of the devil. Therefore it is necessary that we bear in mind what is written in the Scripture: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom 12:1919Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath [of God], for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.). We may also learn from the attitude of Michael that we should not mock the devil and think that we can make him ridiculous by giving him all kinds of contemptible names, as it happens sometimes.

Now read Jude 1:4-94For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.5Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.6And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day,7just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.8Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.9But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” again.

Reflection: How can you recognize people who have crept in unnoticed?


Characteristics of Ungodliness

10But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed. 11Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever. 14[It was] also about these men [that] Enoch, [in] the seventh [generation] from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” 16These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their [own] lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of [gaining an] advantage.

V1010But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.. Again Jude uses that contemptuous “these”. In contrast to Michael these apostates audaciously and recklessly “revile the things which they do not understand”. That is arrogance and pride all over. Naturally they have a knowledge which is also present with “unreasonable animals”. This knowledge regards to the natural instincts, needs which they do have, like eating and drinking and sexuality. Animals act after their nature, their instinct. They cannot think, for they have no mind. These people act in the same way like animals do. But just because they are supposed to be able to think of what they do, while they contrarily still act like animals in fulfilling their lusts, they abase themselves and destroy themselves in their way of acting. With the lack of the mind of animals they indulge in sexual satisfaction.

V1111Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.. The “woe” is spoken out over them, which is the only time that we find it spoken out in the letters. It is the language of the book of the final judgments, the book of Revelation. On the basis of some old testament ungodly men Jude describes the way that leads to this ‘woe’.

They have “gone the way of Cain”. They are like Cain and his way, that is the way of a religion that does not come from God’s righteousness, but from their own righteousness. Cain was the first who went this way and this way is still extremely popular. He believed in God, but he thought of honoring God in his own way, with his own ‘good works’ (Gen 4:3-83So it came about in the course of time that Cain brought an offering to the LORD of the fruit of the ground.4Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering;5but for Cain and for his offering He had no regard. So Cain became very angry and his countenance fell.6Then the LORD said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen?7If you do well, will not [your countenance] be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.”8Cain told Abel his brother. And it came about when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.). God had to be satisfied with that. He did not think for a moment of coming with a bloody sacrifice. God Himself showed that after the fall (Gen 3:2121The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them.) which was understood by Abel (Gen 4:44Abel, on his part also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of their fat portions. And the LORD had regard for Abel and for his offering;). This attitude of Cain, serving God with good works, an attitude which is normal with Gentiles, has crept in into Christianity and has been followed up by countless people.

The next step is “the error of Balaam” (Num 22:77So the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian departed with the [fees for] divination in their hand; and they came to Balaam and repeated Balak’s words to him.; 31:1616Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the LORD.). That implies their self-enrichment in the service of God. Balaam called himself a prophet of God, but he was greedy and wanted to trade his prophetic gift for money, which implied that he was willing to curse God’s people for money.

Like Balaam today’s false teachers are also good in using the tongue and speak for money what the people want to hear. They manipulate the truth for the sake of money. In that way they turn the house of God into a commercial market. To make merchandise out of the good that comes from God occurs frequently in Christianity, especially in the roman-catholic church where all the so-called blessings from birth to death cost money. Even the situation after death becomes a source of profit, for people are enabled to shorten their time by the fabrication of ‘purgatory’ with a duration that is dependent on the amount that is being paid.

The third and last step in the apostasy is the unmitigated rebellion against God, such as to be seen “in the rebellion of Korah” (Num 16:19-3519Thus Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the doorway of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation.20Then the LORD spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying,21“Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them instantly.”22But they fell on their faces and said, “O God, God of the spirits of all flesh, when one man sins, will You be angry with the entire congregation?”23Then the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,24“Speak to the congregation, saying, ‘Get back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram.’”25Then Moses arose and went to Dathan and Abiram, with the elders of Israel following him,26and he spoke to the congregation, saying, “Depart now from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing that belongs to them, or you will be swept away in all their sin.”27So they got back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out [and] stood at the doorway of their tents, along with their wives and their sons and their little ones.28Moses said, “By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing.29If these men die the death of all men or if they suffer the fate of all men, [then] the LORD has not sent me.30But if the LORD brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the LORD.”31As he finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open;32and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with [their] possessions.33So they and all that belonged to them went down alive to Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly.34All Israel who [were] around them fled at their outcry, for they said, “The earth may swallow us up!”35Fire also came forth from the LORD and consumed the two hundred and fifty men who were offering the incense.). Korah rejected God’s election of the priesthood and in that way His authority. He wanted to have the function of priest himself and wanted to take the place of mediator, through which he could exercise control over God’s people. We see that also in the roman-catholicism all over. God’s judgment was executed over him and his companions. They descended in the realm of death alive.

All these three persons have in common that they arrogated something to themselves which they were not. In Cain we see a false worshipper, in Balaam a false prophet and in Korah a false priest. The apostasy of each of them had to do with religion. Also here the rank order is not chronological but spiritual: Cain went, Balaam ran greedily and Korah perished. It is a frame of a spiritual downturn and the end of the people who are concerned.

V1212These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;. It is as if Jude is tiring himself out in looking for examples in order to make clear to you what kind of people these apostates are. In order to present the character and destiny of those apostates more clearly, he uses some examples from nature in verses 12-1312These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;13wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever..

The first example is that of “reefs”. The word ‘reefs’ is derived from the word ‘cliffs’, which are rocks below the sea level, that may cause boats to sink when the helmsman does not watch carefully. He calls the apostates “reefs in your love feasts”. ‘Love feasts’ are the fellowship meals that the first Christians connected to the Lord’s Supper (1Cor 11:2020Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper,).

With these apostates, however, there is nothing to be found of Christian love and fellowship. During the love feasts they only think of themselves. They “feast”, without any fear to be found improper or greedy. They are feeding themselves shamelessly and in that way are the evident opposite of the Lord Who is seeking the well-being of the sheep. In Ezekiel 34, a chapter that deals with false shepherds, the ‘woe’ is spoken out over them (Eze 34:22“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock?).

These people probably have, while enjoying all the goodies, spoken out all their edifying thoughts with nice talks. They have given a swirling show, but it seemed to be nothing more than the sparkling of soap bubbles. It promised to be a refreshment like clouds are expected to be producing water (the next example from nature), but they are “clouds without water”. They form a great contrast to Moses who as his desire regarding to his words, speaks out the following to God’s people: “Let my teaching drop as the rain, my speech distill as the dew” (Deu 32:22“Let my teaching drop as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
As the droplets on the fresh grass
And as the showers on the herb.
; cf. Isa 55:1010“Fo as the ain and the snow come down fom heaven, And do not etun thee without wateing the eath And making it bea and spout, And funishing seed to the sowe and bead to the eate;).

There is no handhold in what they say, for they are “carried along by winds”. They behave themselves inconsistently and constantly come with other ideas, which do not make sense. They leave only disenchantment and hopelessness behind. What a difference with what Paul wishes to the believers: ”As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all [aspects]” (Eph 4:14-1514As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;15but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all [aspects] into Him who is the head, [even] Christ,; Heb 13:99Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.)!

They are like “autumn trees without fruit”, meaning trees out of which the life has gone and therefore are not expected to be producing fruit. They are “doubly dead”. In the first place they are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:11And you were dead in your trespasses and sins,) and in the second place they are dead in their confession, for therein all life lacks.

They are dead from the root, there is in no way connection with life, which also cannot possibly flow, for they have been cut off from the root. They have been “uprooted”. In this way the promised fruit will never come, just like the promised water from the clouds will never come. Such trees are to be cut down (Lk 13:99and if it bears fruit next year, [fine]; but if not, cut it down.’”). These people are like trees which have been pulled up by the roots, which means that they have been taken away from the place of which they confessed to have taken in. The only thing that is left for trees that have been pulled up by the root is the fire.

V1313wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.. The following example that Jude uses is that of the sea. He compares these people with “wild waves of the sea”. There is a complete uncontrollability with them like with a raging sea (cf. Isa 57:2020But the wicked ae like the tossing sea, Fo it cannot be quiet, And its wates toss up efuse and mud.). If you have ever seen a sea in the storm, you must also have seen white foamed waves, caused by the wind. Those white foam is blown to the beach by the wind. The foam goes in all directions and finally there is nothing left of it.

This is what happens to these people and their doctrines. Despite the noise that they cause, they show nothing more than their own shameless deeds which are visible on the top of the waves and which are being blown to the beach. The white foam seems to refer to cleanness, but it is the whiteness of the whitewashed tombs (Mt 23:2727“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.). There is nothing left of it, they leave nothing behind that has any value.

In their whole performance they still want to give the impression that you can take their life as an example in order to determine your direction, but they are “wandering stars”. They will end up where they live and that is in “the black darkness” and that will last “forever”. They will never more be able to deceive anyone there and they will also never be able to enjoy anything.

V1414[It was] also about these men [that] Enoch, [in] the seventh [generation] from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones,. In the earliest days already there has been prophesies about these men, that they will be condemned. As a proof of that Jude quotes Enoch. In order not to confuse this Enoch with the other, the man with the same name who is a descendant of Cain (Gen 4:17-1817Cain had relations with his wife and she conceived, and gave birth to Enoch; and he built a city, and called the name of the city Enoch, after the name of his son.18Now to Enoch was born Irad, and Irad became the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael became the father of Methushael, and Methushael became the father of Lamech.), it is said of him that he is the “seventh [generation] from Adam”. He “prophesied” about the coming of the Lord Jesus to bring judgment over the ungodly apostates.

This prophesy of Enoch is only to be found in this letter. In the Old Testament we do not find it. God’s Spirit has also revealed this to Jude (the same that is written in verse 99But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”). Enoch prophesied in his days about the coming of Christ for judgment, whereby He will be accompanied by “many thousands of His holy ones”, which include all the redeemed of all times. This judgment has had a fulfillment in advance in the flood.

It is a nice thought that Enoch himself was taken away by God before the flood, without seeing death (Heb 11:55By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; and he was not found because God took him up; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God.). In that way he is a picture of the church that will also be taken up into heaven before the judgments hit the earth. The believers will not come into judgment (Jn 5:2424“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.).

V1515to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”. The judgment will be executed over all unbelievers. Christ will judge all works as well as all words of the ungodly sinners. Do you see how the Holy Spirit emphasizes the nature of ungodliness? The people are ungodly, just like their deeds and ways and their harsh words which they “have spoken against Him”. Therefore every soul that has committed that sin will be personally punished by Him. Because judgment does not directly follow after the deed, it may seem that God forgets to punish and man keeps on doing evil (Ecc 8:1111Because the sentence against an evil deed is not executed quickly, therefore the hearts of the sons of men among them are given fully to do evil.). But the day will come to pay the bill.

V1616These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their [own] lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of [gaining an] advantage.. Their ungodly words have been uttered in grumbling language. They are dissatisfied, they always want more or differently, they complain about their destiny. They always blame God. Why does He allow the wars and miseries to happen? If He is that almighty, why does not He change the world?

Those are people who are “following after their [own] lusts”. They always seek to fulfill their passions. They speak “arrogantly”, using sensationalizing language, words that are haughtily and hypocritically spoken out. They crawl for people who are above them and they flatter them purely out of selfishness, in order to benefit personally. Meanwhile they follow their own hidden agenda, for they do not care about others. Only the ‘I’ is important.

Now read Jude 1:10-1610But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.11Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.12These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;13wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.14[It was] also about these men [that] Enoch, [in] the seventh [generation] from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones,15to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”16These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their [own] lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of [gaining an] advantage. again.

Reflection: Which examples of ungodliness does Jude present in these verses?


Exhortations and Encouragements

17But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. 20But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life. 22And have mercy on some, who are doubting; 23save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. 24Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, [be] glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

V17. Jude has extensively described the characteristics of the apostate ungodly men. With the words “but you” he again addresses the believers. Just like he did in verse 33Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints., he again addresses them with “beloved”. He tells them that they should not have to be surprised that there are such people, like he previously described, among them. They only have to remember what the apostles of “our Lord Jesus Christ” have said. If they only take that to heart they will be kept from being involved with these people or allow themselves to be influenced by their mockeries and ungodly lusts.

You see that Jude refers to the inspired Scriptures, in which it is written what the apostles have said. Back to the Scripture and not to human writings, how fundamental biblical they may be. In Acts 20 you find warnings from the mouth of Paul concerning the act of people for whom Jude warns here (Acts 20:29-3029I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;30and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.). Peter and John also write about such people (2Pet 2:11But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves.; 3:33Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with [their] mocking, following after their own lusts,; 1Jn 2:18-1918Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour.19They went out from us, but they were not [really] of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but [they went out], so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.).

V18. Their warning words come down to that “in the last time there will be mockers”. That time began when the Lord Jesus came to earth and was rejected and it will last until His return. This whole time is characterized – not by a submission of the world to the gospel, but – by the act of mockers who do whatever they like to and who do not take God into account at all. Their whole life is dominated by the fulfillment of “their own ungodly lusts”.

V19. The people whom Jude is talking about are incorrigible. Because they have no part in what the believers have in common, they form their own group in the midst of the church. They separate themselves like the Pharisees and form a group in the church in order to carry out their evil works there. They feel themselves superior to others who in their eyes are narrow-minded and petty and therefore look down on them with disdain.

They are “worldly-minded”, which means that they are guided by their soul, their feelings and not like God intended them to be, by their mind in relation to Him. They have no new life, but they are and remain to be sensual people who live according to their lusts. Each trace of life from God is missing. They are not born again and therefore are people who are “devoid of the Spirit”. Whatever they may claim regarding their being Christians, their condition is not possibly the work of God’s Spirit.

Here we find the end of the verses that deal with apostasy and apostates wherein there is not one glimmer of hope of improvement. The judgment will break loose over them in full force at the return of the Lord Jesus with all His own.

V20. From verse 20 Jude passes on a number of encouragements. In verses 20-23 he does that in the form of exhortations and in verses 24-25 in the form of a praise. The exhortations are seven in total of which four refer to you personally and three to your relation towards others.

The exhortations are again introduced with the words “but you, beloved”. It again marks the contrast to the category of the people of the previous verses. Then we have the exhortations:

1. V20a. You should not only contend for the faith (verse 33Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.), you also need to be building yourself up on your “most holy faith”. That’s something you need to take care of yourself. You do that by being busy with God’s Word, in order to learn to know the truth of faith better. The truth of faith is the foundation that you lean on with your heart and soul. The sound teaching that is being taken in by your heart is necessary for your spiritual well-being. It is a matter of your heart.

2. V20b. Beside the necessity of the building up in the faith, there is also the necessity of the prayer “in (and not ‘to’!) the Holy Spirit”. This is not possible for those who do not have the Spirit. But it is also not always the way of praying of every believer. A believer may pray in a formal way, after a standard model, or by praying a prayer in which the ‘I’ is centered (Jam 4:33You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend [it] on your pleasures.). There is no power in such prayers. A prayer “in the Holy Spirit” is a prayer in the power of the Holy Spirit, in which He together with the spirit of the believer asks God what matters to God’s work and is to the glory of the Lord Jesus.

3. V21a. To the building up of yourself on your most holy faith and the prayer in the Holy Spirit, you should also add keeping yourself “in the love of God”. Herein lies the command to keep yourself aware of God’s love. The love of God is the atmosphere wherein you find yourself. It is your responsibility to be aware of it. It is living in the conscious security that nothing can separate you from God (Rom 8:3939nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.).

It is like the shining of the sun. The sun always shines, but something can possibly come between you and the sun, which causes you not to be standing in the sun anymore and not to feel the warmth of it. When sin and unbelief are with you, they will cause you to shut yourself off from the beams of God’s love for you. His love is surely there, but you are not able to enjoy it at that moment. You have shut yourself off from it. Not only sins cause that effect. You can also be focused on the difficulties in your life in such a way that you forget about God’s love. The point is that you do not allow that something comes between you and God’s love for you.

4. V21b. As the fourth and final exhortation with regard to yourself, Jude says that you should be looking for “the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life”. This is about the second coming of Christ. His first coming was also an expression of God’s mercy (Lk 1:72,7872To show mercy toward our fathers,
And to remember His holy covenant,
78Because of the tender mercy of our God,
With which the Sunrise from on high will visit us,
). Now that He in the last of times is about to come for the second time, your attention is drawn to that. When He comes the apostates will be no more able to do evil. He will then take you away from the circumstances of misery to be with Him and enjoy the eternal life with Him to its fullness.

V22. Now three exhortations follow with regard to others. If you take the four previous exhortations to heart you will be longing to help others who may have got caught up in the trap of the people who secretly have crept in or in one way or another have been influenced by them.

However, the versions of these verses are somewhat diverse. In case you have several versions at your disposal, you will have to compare them. In my explanation I use the version that seems most convincing to me.

1. The first category regards the doubters. They must be ‘corrected’ (which seems to be a better translation than ‘have mercy on’), because they make their doubts turn into issues of discussions. You should help them to step out of the doubts and discussions by convincing them of the firm foundation of God’s truth.

2. V23a. “Others” have already been more influenced by the people who crept in unnoticed. You see that they go the wrong way, the way to the fire. Think about the evolution theory, a poison that is being taken in by countless innocent youngsters, due to nice sounding so-called scientific arguments. That also includes Bible critics. Not only is correction in its place here, but these ‘others’ are to be saved with power from these people. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is necessary to save them from their erring way (Jam 5:16b-2016Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.17Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.18Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.19My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back,20let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.).

3. V23b. The third group has gone the furthest. In case you have a task towards them, you must do that “with fear”, which refers to yourself, that you may not be dragged by them. You need to watch out carefully not to be involved yourself with their uncleanness in one way or another, even not with that of its appearance (represented by “the garment polluted by the flesh”). In your efforts to help them you run the risk of getting into temptation by participating in their sinful way of living instead of keeping distance.

Every connection with the sinful life is to be taken away, even if it is about things that are not sinful in themselves. You may think for instance of things that another person has gained in a sinful way, through which he made his life pleasant. In this way I once received a device for my computer as a sign of gratitude for my help from a person who wanted to cleanse himself from sin. After a while it appeared that he had bought that device with borrowed money. He had piled up a huge debt at several instances in order to afford himself a luxury life style. He gave that device to me without ulterior motives, but it was a ‘garment defiled by the flesh’. He did not have that feeling when he gave it to me. I gave that device back to him and said that he had to sell it himself in order to diminish his debt.

V24. When you become thoroughly aware of what Jude has said, a feeling of powerlessness may overwhelm you. How great is it that he concludes his letter with focusing your eyes on Him “who is able to keep you from stumbling”. He not only keeps you from stumbling on the way, but it is His aim that you will be “in the presence of His glory blameless” and that “with great joy”. That aim will be accomplished and the joy will in no way be disturbed.

V25. God keeps us from harm and makes us perfect, because He is “God our Savior”. He is that “through Jesus Christ”, just like He does everything through His Son. Jesus Christ is also “our Lord”. He has all power. If you consider that and become thoroughly aware of that, you will glorify Him for that. In this dangerous time there is yet always a reason to glorify God, or maybe just because of the particular circumstances. You will want to ascribe Him everything that Jude mentions here:
1. “glory”, which is all excellence that is visible of Him,
2. “majesty”, which is His dignity and splendor beyond everything,
3. “dominion”, which is His omnipotence, all the means that He has, everything that is at His disposal to carry out His plans and
4. “authority”, which is His personal right and inner capability to do that.

This all is being ascribed to Him “before all time” and also through the ages, both “now” and “forever” by all His own.

You and I heartily agree to that and say together with Jude “amen”, so it is and not otherwise.

Now read Jude 1:17-25 again.

Reflection: Which exhortations and encouragements do you find in this section?