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Bible Commentaries

Contending for the Faith

Jude 1

Introduction

Since historians say the ancients treated this epistle with the highest of respect, there is no reason for the true believer not to regard it as the genuine work of an inspired writer. It contains powerful words of warning and admonition.

The author calls himself Jude, the brother of James and a servant of Jesus Christ. Whether he was an apostle cannot be ascertained for sure since he did not call himself an apostle and since it cannot be proved which Jude he was. Neither can the exact date of the writing be determined for certain. Speculation places the time of writing between A.D. 64 and A.D. 90.

The book seems to be written to all Christians, but it is possible it is directed only to converted Jews. Some of the arguments referring to their sacred books and writings seem designed to persuade Jewish Christians that they should contend for the faith. The design of this epistle is to warn Christians against the false teachers who had crept in among them and advocated in a sly manner insubordination and licentiousness. Jude reminds them how God had punished rebellious Jews of the past, disobedient angels, and the sinful living in Sodom and Gomorrah. He compares the false teachers to Balaam and Core, to clouds without water, and to raging waves. After pointing out how Enoch foretold of the wickedness of these false teachers, Jude then consoles the believers and exhorts them to persevere in faith and love. The epistle is remarkable for its straight forwardness and forceful style of teaching.

Verse 1

Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James: The name Jude appears as Judas in the Greek. The James mentioned here is the James of Jerusalem who was an overseer of the church there.

Jude identifies himself as a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James rather than as a brother of the Lord and an apostle. His not saying that he was a brother of the Lord gives more emphasis to his spiritual than to his natural relationship with Jesus. People generally prefer emphasizing their earthly relatives rather than their spiritual ties. For example, in Matthew 13:55 the people said, "Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?"

A "servant" is "a slave, bondman, man of servile condition;...those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men" (Thayer 158-1-1401).

to them that are sanctified by God the father: The term "sanctified" means to be set apart, that is, those who obey the gospel are sanctified or set apart to the service of God. They are dedicated to God through their faith in Christ.

preserved in Jesus Christ: The word "preserved" means properly "to guard; to keep in, that is, cause one to persevere or stand firm in a thing" (Thayer 622-1-5083). Those who remain in union with Christ will continue to be unshaken in their faith.

and called: People are "called" to Christ when the gospel is preached. They hear, accept its terms of salvation, and obey. As Paul taught in 2 Thessalonians 2:14, "Whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ." Since the beginning of the Christian age, people have been called by the gospel, God’s power to save.

Verse 2

Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.

Mercy unto you: They had been pardoned by God’s mercy, and Jude desires that this mercy might continue. We need God’s mercy not only at the day of judgment, but all through this present life until death.

peace: Jesus died upon the cross that man might be at peace with God; and, now at the right hand of God, He continues to intercede for us that the peace might continue (see Romans 8:34). He wishes them an increased happiness in this life both temporal and spiritual.

We are to work to have peace and live in such a way as to have peace. We should emphasize to each other that we can have peace with God, Christ, and our brethren and with ourselves.

love, be multiplied: "Multiplied" implies that they already have mercy, peace, and love but due to the trials they are now under, they need them to be increased.

Verse 3

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

Beloved: "Beloved" are the divinely loved ones. God’s beloved ones.

when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation: "Diligence" is "haste, earnestness. To give all diligence, interest one’s self most earnestly" (Thayer 585-2-4710). Because of some false teachings, Jude felt the need to write sooner than he had intended. Salvation is called "common" because it is for all, whether they be Jew, Gentile, bond, free, male, or female. Christ, who died and shed his blood, is no respecter of persons.

it was needful for me to write unto you: In view of some possible present dangers to their faith, he found it necessary to write to them. Jude obviously thought the dangers were serious enough to write sooner than he had planned.

exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith: "Exhort" is to entreat, beseech, admonish, invoke. "Earnestly contend" is a vigorous, intense, determined struggle to uphold the truth and expose false teachers and false doctrines. Jude entreats them to contend earnestly for the faith, the pure gospel without innovations of man. Philippians 1:27 teaches that we are to strive together for the faith of the gospel. Regardless of the enemy’s tactics, we are to put forth extreme efforts to uphold truth. Of course, this striving does not include physical force.

The term "faith" here has reference to the gospel that man is to believe and obey. In Acts 6:7, a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith. In Galatians 1:23, Paul is said to have preached the faith he once destroyed. In Ephesians 4:5, Paul firmly teaches there is one faith.

When we earnestly contend for the faith we will not be popular in this life. Jesus says in Matthew 10:22, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." In John 8:31-32, Jesus says, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." The word teaches us how to be saved; how to keep ourselves saved; how to live the Christian life; how to worship God in Spirit and in truth, etc.

which was once delivered unto the saints: God "delivered" or gave to His people the gospel to be used, taken care of, and managed. It was delivered "once," and no other faith will be given.

Verse 4

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

For there are certain men crept in unawares: "Crept" means "to enter secretly, slip in stealthily; to steal in" (Thayer 487-2-3921). These men, who taught under the pretense of inspiration, concealed their true motive of trying to deceive the saints. They were working in an underhanded way. This is the reason the saints should earnestly contend for the faith. "Rev., privily. The verb form of unawares means to get in by side, to slip in by a side door" (Vincent 712) (see 2 Peter 2:1).

who were before of old ordained to this condemnation: The word "ordained" means "of old set forth or designated beforehand (in the Scriptures of the old Testament and the prophecies of Enoch) unto this condemnation" (Thayer 538-1-4270). The Divine Law from the beginning condemns all who violate it.

The word "condemnation" refers to judgment, in the sense of the condemnation of wrong. What is pointed out in verses 5-7, 15, shows that the condemnation here refers to the wrath of God that shall come upon the ungodly in the future world. It is the decision that one passes on the faults of others. Some cases are referred to in the following verses.

ungodly men: "Ungodly" means "destitute of reverential awe toward God, contemning God, impious" (Thayer 79-2-765). In their character they were without piety or reverence toward anything religious.

turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness: "Turning" means "to change, to pervert the grace of God to license, that is, seek from the grace of God an argument in defense of licentiousness" (Thayer 406-2-3346). Being this type of person, they did not hesitate to change the grace of God into lasciviousness.

"Lasciviousness" means "unbridled lusts, excess,...wantonness..." (Thayer 79-2-766). The word refers to whatever is contrary to chastity. They abused the doctrine of grace so they could indulge in corrupt and carnal desires. In Romans 6:1-2, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?" They taught, as some in our modern times, that the grace of God overlooked these sinful tendencies.

denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ: "Denying" refers to "those who by cherishing and disseminating pernicious opinions and immorality are adjudged to have apostatized from God and Christ" (Thayer 74-2-720). When man teaches and practices such as was taught by these ungodly men, it is a denial of Jesus Christ the Lord, both in doctrine and life.

Verse 5

I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

I will therefore put you in remembrance: Jude is reminding Christians of how God sends judgment on those who are disobedient though ye once knew this--though you are fully aware of this, I will call it to your attention. They knew that while they were under the law of Moses that the obedient were rewarded and the disobedient were punished.

though ye once knew this: They had been fully informed.

having saved the people out of the land of Egypt: The Israelites had been delivered from Egyptian bondage (Exodus 18:10).

afterward destroyed them that believed not: Because of their unbelief, they were destroyed. They did not have the principles of righteousness in their hearts or in their lives. God has not changed and will deal with us in the same way in the judgment day. None will escape.

Verse 6

And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

And the angels which kept not their first estate: The expression "first estate" refers to the angels’ own habitation. They must have been in a state where they could either stand or fall, as was the case with Adam and Eve. They knew their law but did not continue faithful to it.

but left their own habitation: These angels, who had a special place assigned to them, had at sometime in the past sinned. They had deliberately left this habitation.

he hath reserved in everlasting chains: There is no way the angels could escape this place since they had been bound with chains. These wicked angels are kept in bonds under darkness until the judgment day.

unto the judgment of the great day: This is the final day when fallen angels and wicked men shall receive their eternal reward. In Matthew 25:41, Jesus says, "Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:" 2 Corinthians 5:10 teaches that all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ.

Verse 7

Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them: The condemnation that came upon these cities are examples for us.

Their sin and punishment are given in Genesis 19. Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 6:18, "Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body."

giving themselves over to fornication: The people were greatly addicted to fornication and unlawful lusts.

going after strange flesh: The expression "strange flesh" means committing sins of the flesh not only with women not their wives or nationality but committing them in unnatural ways (see Romans 1:27). The people were greatly addicted to fornication and unlawful lusts.

are set forth for an example: Vincent says "are set forth" means "literally, to lie exposed. Used of meats on the table ready for the guests; of a corpse laid out for burial; of a question under discussion. Thus the corruption and punishment of the cities of the plain are laid out in plain sight" (Vincent 714).

The word "example" means they are set forth as a warning that God will not allow sin to go unpunished.

suffering the vengeance of eternal fire: "Suffering" expresses the idea of undergoing punishment. "Vengeance" is "execution of the sentence, punishment" (Thayer 151-2-1349). The destruction of the cities is a symbol of the everlasting punishment of all the ungodly. The fire that destroyed the cities was not eternal but was characteristic of those who will suffer eternal fire. It stands as a symbol of the punishment of the ungodly.

In Hebrews 13:4, the writer says, "Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." Also in 1 Corinthians 7:2, "Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband."

Verse 8

Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

Likewise: "Likewise" means they continue in sin in the same manner or the same way as Sodom, even though they have these examples.

filthy dreamers: "Filthy dreamers" is a "metaphor to be beguiled with sensual images and carried away to an impious course of conduct" (Thayer 219-2-1797). "He (Jude) means to say that these false teachers and their followers were as unbelieving and disobedient as the Israelites in the wilderness, as rebellious against the authority of God as the fallen angels, and as impure and unholy as the sodomites; and that consequently they must expect similar punishment" (Clarke, Vol. VI 952).

defile the flesh despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities: The word "defile" means "to defile, pollute, sully, contaminate, soil, in a physical and moral sense, (of licentiousness), Judges 1:8" (Thayer 414-1-3392). The ungodly men despise dominion in that they do not want any restraints; they want to live as they want to live, and they despise all law. They would speak evil of those in rule and authority whether divine or civil.

The word "dignities" means "splendor, brightness, dignity, preeminence, magnificence, excellence" (Wuest, Jude 245).

The ungodly do not want to be restrained in their life. They want to fulfill the desires of the flesh. As a result any law that restrains them they speak evil against it.

Verse 9

Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

Yet Michael the archangel: Michael, the archangel, is spoken of in Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:16; and Revelation 12:7. The "archangel" is "chief of the angels or one of the princes and leaders of the angels" (Thayer 76-1-743). It refers to the one who is first in rank.

when contending with the devil: "Contending" means "to separate one’s self in a hostile spirit, to oppose, strive with, dispute, contend: with dat. of pers. Judges 1:9" (Thayer 138-2-1252). Michael contended with words.

he disputed about the body of Moses: The word "disputed" means "to converse, discourse with one, argue, discuss: drawing arguments from the scriptures" (Thayer 139-1-1256). The idea suggests contending with words, although the nature of the controversy is unknown.

durst not: This expression means that Michael did not attempt to bring anything against the devil. Since the devil had fallen from a high estate, Michael left this sentencing to God.

railing accusation: The word "railing" carries the meaning "univ. slander, detraction, speech injurious to another’s good name (Thayer 102-2-988). Michael did not rail at the devil out of respect to God. The passage in 2 Peter 2:11 records, "Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord."

the Lord rebuke thee: This expression implies that the Lord will properly restrain and control Satan.

Verse 10

But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

The filthy dreamers speak evil of that spiritual world they have no true conception of and actually know nothing about. These people had no mental perception and knowledge about invisible things. They are slaves to their animal desires because they follow their natural instinct. They have not educated their minds where they can know and understand. Their knowledge was confined to the natural instincts of the body, such as sensual pleasure, passion, and impulses of their fleshly desires.

The term "brute beasts" is saying they were as animals without intelligence. They were "destitute of reason, brute animals" (Thayer 29-1-249). (See 2 Peter 2:12.) Sinful desires became the rule of their lives, and the flesh the means of their satisfaction. They claimed to have great knowledge, but actually they were as low or lower than brute beasts.

Verse 11

Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.

Woe unto them: This phrase is "an interjection of grief or of denunciation" (Thayer 461-2-3759). It is not a wish but a declaration of the punishment that would come upon them.

for they have gone in the way of Cain: "Gone" is "to imitate one, to follow his ways" (Thayer 531-1-4198). The Scofield Bible speaks of Cain as a type of religious, natural man who believes in God and religion; but follows after his own will, rejecting redemption by blood (Wuest, Jude 248). These evil doers are of the same mind that Cain was in that they are disobedient and have hate in their heart, leading them to murder and eternal ruin. (See Genesis 4:1-8.)

ran greedily: The expression "ran greedily" refers to "those who give themselves up to a thing, rush headlong into it, led astray by the hire of Balaam (that is, by the same love of reward as Balaam) they gave themselves up. sc. to wickedness" (Thayer 201-2-1632). They relaxed all restraint and ran after that which satisfied their fleshly appetites.

after the error of Balaam: The word "error" means "a wandering, a straying about, whereby one led astray from the right way, roams hither and thither. In the New Testament metaphor mental straying" that is, error, wrong opinion relative to morals or religion (Thayer 514-2-4106). Balaam went wrong because he allowed himself to desire gain, thus losing communion with God. In the same way, the false teachers opened up the door to every kind of indulgence because of their greedy desire. They wanted the temporal rewards as Balaam did, consequently losing their souls.

and perished in the gainsaying of Core: "Gainsaying" means contradiction, rebellion, to speak against. Core opposed Moses and Aaron and was punished for it. (See Numbers 16:1-32.) Jude predicts that those to whom this letter is written will receive the same fate as Core if they oppose the apostles and their teachings. The teachings of the apostles came from God and must be accepted as His doctrine and truths.

Verse 12

These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you: The American Standard Version reads, "These are they who are hidden rocks in your love-feasts when they feast with you...." These wicked ones are described as hidden rocks in the love feasts in which the saints participated. They were just like rocks that cannot be seen in the waters; the ship could hit them and be wrecked. These were very dangerous as they were gathered in the love feasts of believers because their motives could not be seen. Love feasts, not to be confused with the Lord’s Supper, were meals common to the apostolic age at which the saints met for social and charitable reasons. (See 1 Corinthians 11:20-22.)

feeding themselves without fear: This expression means that the false teachers had no conscience about fellowshipping with believers and putting on a front as Christians. Instead of tending to the flock, they were trying to further their own schemes and lusts. Ezekiel 34:2 says, "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks?"

Adam Clarke observes,

These false teachers are represented as clouds; they have the form and office of righteousness and from such appearances pure doctrine may be naturally expected: but these are clouds without water--they distil no refreshing showers, because they have none; they are carried away and about by their passions, as those light fleecy clouds are carried by the winds (Clarke 954).

These false teachers who have no spiritual food for the saints are like barren fruit trees in the fall: they have no fruit. They are twice dead in that they are barren and have no chance of reviving. It is like a real death. The only thing left is for them to be plucked up by the roots. The apostates have gone so far that they are hopelessly dead spiritually.

Verse 13

Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

Raging waves of the sea: Isaiah 57:20 says, "But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt." They are compared to the wild and restless waves of the sea: loud, boisterous, headstrong, and unruly in their lives. They were always trying to stir up the true saints.

foaming out their own shame: The word "foaming" means "to cast out as foam, foam out; that is, impelled by their restless passions, they unblushingly exhibit, in word and deed, their base and abandoned spirit" (Thayer 229-1-1890). What they offer is like the foam of the ocean waves; it is useless and of no benefit, like the rubbish left after waters settle down.

wandering stars: Vincent says in his commentary about wandering stars: "Possibly referring to comets, which shine a while and then pass into darkness" (Vincent 718).

to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever: The apostates, leading the simple and unsuspecting into darkness, are wandering false teachers upon whom no dependence can be placed. To these are reserved the "blackness of darkness," the place where there is weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth. These will pass into eternal darkness just as the wandering stars go into darkness.

Verse 14

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam: The generations are given in Genesis 5 --Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch. This Enoch is said to have been the seventh from Adam so as not to confuse him with Enoch, the son of Cain (Genesis 4:17). Not too much is said in the scriptures about Enoch, but Hebrews 11:5 says, "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God." It is not known for certain whether this Enoch wrote, but we do know that he was a man of faith and God was pleased with him. The meaning is that the prophecy Enoch gave was such that it could be applied to the type of characters Jude is writing about. And since Jude was writing by inspiration, how he received it is not of great importance.

Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints: The Lord’s coming and the judgment day have always been kept before man. He would come with ten thousands of his saints or with myriads of saints. Matthew 25:31 says, "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory."

Verse 15

To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

To execute judgment: "To execute judgment" refers to God’s justice. The Lord shall come to judge all the dwellers upon the earth, good or bad.

upon all: Justice is to be brought to all who do wrong. None will escape the judgment or go unpunished (Matthew 25:31-46).

to convince: This phrase means "to convict fully, that is to punish: convince" (Strong 29-1827). Another scholar says it means "to prove to be in the wrong, convict, by punishing" (Thayer 222-1-1827).

ungodly: This word refers to their state of being destitute of reverential awe towards God. Thayer defines it as "want of reverence towards God, impiety, ungodliness: Pl. ungodly thoughts and deeds; works of ungodliness; their desires to do ungodly deeds" (Thayer 79-2-763). The American Standard Version reads: "To execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have ungodly wrought, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."

hard speeches: This expression means "hard, harsh, rough, stiff, of men metaph. harsh, stern, hard; to speak hard and bitter things against one" (Thayer 579-1-4642).

Ungodliness is the key to the writer’s thought. MacKnight makes a worthy comment. "As Christ is to judge the world, he is the person against whom the ungodly are here said to have spoken hard things; consequently, these hard things consisted in their denying Jesus to be the Son of God; in their calling him a magician, a sorcerer, and an imposter; and their affirming that he was justly punished with death" (MacKnight 695).

Verse 16

These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.

The American Standard Version reads: "These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their lusts (and their mouth speaketh great swelling words), showing respect of persons for the sake of advantage."

murmurers: "Murmurers" are those who complain because they are discontented. This word does not refer to a loud, outspoken dissatisfaction but to an undertone kind of muttering. Since they do not like God’s ways for them to live and conduct themselves, they complain of their lot, continually finding fault with God’s ways. They are persons that neither God nor man can please. Albert Barnes comments:

Nothing is more common than for men to complain of their lot; to think that it is hard; to compare theirs with others, and to blame God for not having made their circumstances different. The poor complain that they are not rich like others; the sick that they are not well; the enslaved that they are not free; the bereaved that they are deprived of friends; the ugly that they are not beautiful; those in humble life that their lot was not cast among the great (1519).

walking: The word "walking" refers to a plan or course for one’s life.

lusts: The word "lust" in a bad sense is craving, longing, desiring what is forbidden. Their lives were not regulated by the teachings of Christ but by their own fleshly desires.

speaketh: These murmurers and complainers also spoke evil of earthly rulers (see verse 8).

swelling: The word "swelling" means "overswollen; metaph. immoderate, extravagant: expressive of arrogance" (Thayer 641-1-5246). These men no doubt promised great things and deceived the people by their smooth speeches. They pretended to have a high degree of knowledge and illumination.

having men’s persons: This phrase is translated showing respect of person in the American Standard Version.

admiration: This word means "to admire, pay regard to, one’s external appearance, i.e. to be influenced by partiality" (Thayer 284-1-2296). These corrupt people show great respect to some persons, especially the rich and great. They do this hoping to gain money, influence, power, and friends.

advantage: The word "advantage" means usefulness, benefit, or profit. The false teachers show respect of persons for their own welfare and benefit. To them, a rich man is everything. As a result of their deceitfulness, the blackness of darkness is reserved for them (see verse 13), and they have their reward in this present life. The Christian suffers here in this life but will have his reward in the life hereafter.

Verse 17

But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;

beloved: This reference is to the saints who are beloved ones of God. Beloved carries the idea of esteemed, dear, or favorite in contrast to the evil ones described above.

remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: The apostles made several references to the coming of those who would make every attempt to corrupt the flock. For example, notice the following passages:

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock (Acts 20:29).

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1).

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world (1 John 4:1).

The apostles spoke of this kind of problem in the church throughout their teachings. The fact that Jude does not include himself here could lend support to the premise that this Jude was not an apostle. This verse reminds us that it is the word of God that sustains us and not the teachings and practices of the false teachers.

Verse 18

How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

Mockers would ridicule and make fun of Christians for their beliefs and practices. Peter refers to them as scoffers in 2 Peter 3:3. These men would make light of the teachings of the apostles who were chosen witnesses of Christ. They would conduct themselves after the low and beastly patterns set by the pagan idolaters. Note that Jude said they would walk after their "own" ungodly lusts. Man can only blame himself for his ungodly deeds and ungodly life.

Verse 19

These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

The American Standard Version renders this passage: "These are they who make separations, sensual, having not the Spirit."

These be they who separate themselves: They cause divisions in the church by setting one part against another. They instigate parties and factions because they want their own following and will do whatever it takes to get it.

sensual: This word "sensual" is translated from the same Greek word as "natural" in 1 Corinthians 2:14 : "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." They are living an animal life rather than a spiritual life.

having not the Spirit: These men are not spiritually minded, even though they claim to have greater knowledge and enlightenment than the apostles. In pointing out that their boasting was without foundation, Jude compares them to characters of the Old Testament who rebelled against God and received punishment.

Verse 20

But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

Those who are building up are opposite to those who are separating themselves and dividing the church. Thayer says the following on the word building:

In the New Testament only in the fig. which likens a company of Christian believers to an edifice or temple; to build upon, build up; viz. to finish the structure of which the foundation has already been laid, that is, in plain language, to give constant increase in Christian knowledge and in a life conformed thereto; Judges 1:20, where the sense is, resting on your most holy faith as a foundation, make progress, rise like an edifice higher and higher (246-2-2026).

When one prays in the Holy Ghost (Spirit), he prays with the aid of the Spirit. In Romans 8:26, Paul says, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." The natural man who has not the Spirit cannot pray to God properly in the right attitude because he is not obeying God and keeping his word. John 9:31 reads, "Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth."

Verse 21

Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Keep yourselves in the love of God: The word "keep" is defined "to attend to carefully, take care of; to keep in, that is, cause one to persevere or stand firm in a thing" (Thayer 622-1-5083). Christians can keep themselves in the love of God by obeying the words in verse 21: building themselves up in the faith and praying. By continued obedience and prayer, we keep ourselves in the love of God. Jesus himself admonishes, "As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love" (John 15:9-10). This scripture clearly points out that man is to do something to abide in God’s love. John 14:15 says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments." Thus one keeps himself in the love of God by keeping His commandments. The word "yourselves" shows that each individual is responsible for keeping himself in the love of God.

looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life: The word "looking" means expecting or waiting for. We look for God’s mercy because of the hope given to us in His word. The word "mercy" is "kindness or good will towards the miserable and afflicted, joined with a desire to relieve them...the mercy of Christ, whereby at his return to judgment he will bless true Christians with eternal life" (Thayer 203-2-1656).

Redemption of man was provided for by God’s mercy by which man looks for eternal life, his possession in the world to come. There were no works that man did to earn his redemption, but there are things that man must do in order to have eternal life. The Bible instructs us to do the works God has given us to do, being doers of the word and not hearers only. Because he had done the works God gave him to do, the apostle Paul looked forward to the coming of the Lord (2 Timothy 2:1-8).

Verse 22

And of some have compassion, making a difference:

The American Standard Version renders this passage: "And on some have mercy, who are in doubt."

And of some have compassion: To have "compassion" is to have mercy, spare, or console.

making a difference: There is a difference between brethren overtaken in a fault (Galatians 6:1) and those described in Hebrews 6:4-6 as having a heart hardened by sin. Those overtaken in a fault are led away because of weakness and imprudence. On the other hand, there are those who, because of the pride and arrogance in their hearts and their unwillingness to submit themselves to discipline, have separated themselves from the church. We are to have compassion on all; but the young, the tender, the delicate, the refined need to be dealt with differently than the rough, unkind, and hard hearted. We are to be guided by the attitude of each person as we approach him, realizing some have fallen not because of corruption of heart but because of the lack of understanding, ignorance, and weakness.

Verse 23

And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

And other save with fear: By mild and gentle persuasion some can be persuaded to obey God, but others sometimes require the terrors of the law to arouse them. Paul very aptly points this out in 1 Corinthians 9:19-22. The word "fear" is defined as "fear, dread, terror; with anxious heed lest ye be defiled by the wickedness of those whom ye are rescuing" (Thayer 656-2-5401). We are to be sure that we do not partake of the uncleanness of the hardened ones. These have gone a long way from truth, and we are to pull them from the eternal punishment that awaits them if they do not come back. They are not to think too lightly of their sins.

pulling them out of the fire: On "pulling them out of the fire," Thayer says, "to snatch out or away; proverbial, to rescue from the danger of destruction" (Thayer 74-2-726).

hating even the garment spotted by the flesh: This expression means defiled by the flesh. The Bible instructs Christians to shun the very appearance of evil. In our efforts to restore people, we are to be very careful they do not influence us instead of our influencing them. The allusion here could possibly be from the Law of Moses where by touching the garment of those who had some offensive disease, the disease could be transmitted to them. Regardless of the reference, the meaning is that we are not to be taken in or influenced by sin or the sinful.

Verse 24

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling: Those whom God is able to keep from falling are the ones described in verses 20-21--those who build themselves up in the most holy faith, pray in the Holy Spirit, and keep themselves in the love of God. Those who continue in this teaching will never fall. This passage is not teaching that a child of God cannot so sin as to be lost; but it does teach that if we do our part, God is able to keep us from falling. 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 teaches, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." God provides the way--we must accept it. He opens the door--we must go through it.

and to present you faultless: The word "faultless" means "without blemish, free from fault, as a victim without spot or blemish; Ethically, without blemish, faultless, unblamable" (Thayer 33-2-299). These people have lived in such way as to meet God’s approval. The same word is translated unblamable in Colossians 1:22.

before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy: The "exceeding joy" comes because the Christian will be out of the realm of where he could fall and will be in the eternity where he will never be tried or tempted with sin and possibly fall. Revelation 14:13 provides words of comfort for every faithful Christian: "And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them." Revelation 21:4 further teaches, "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away." These blessings will cause exceeding joy!

Verse 25

To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

To the only wise God our Saviour: God is wise in that in Him there is no darkness or ignorance. He knows all--absolutely nothing escapes Him.

be glory and majesty: "Be glory" means to attribute all excellence, light, and splendor to him. His majesty includes all power, authority, and preeminence.

dominion and power: "Dominion" means he has all rule and authority in heaven and earth, controlling all things in the world and in the church. "The power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed" (Thayer 225-1-1849). This description of God is all true now and will be forever. "Amen" means so let it be, so ought it to be, and so it shall be.

Present-Day Application

At the time this epistle was written, there was a great need for the warnings given. False teachers and ungodly men were endeavoring to lead the saints from the true way, a situation that has been true from the beginning of the church to this present day. They were exhorted to contend earnestly for the faith that was once delivered to the saints. Examples are given of different instances where God’s people left Him for their own lusts and greed. These false teachers are called ungodly, murmurers, faultfinders, hypocrites, liars, deceivers, and sensualists.

As we look about us today, we see money-mad men preying on unsuspecting souls for money in the name of religion and using it for their own lusts. Denominations have risen through men who, because of their pride, will not earnestly contend for the faith. God’s people must stand up for the faith at all costs.

In our time we are faced daily with the world and its temptations, immorality, drugs, alcohol, riches, materialism, foul language, unlawful marriages, and unlawful divorces. We are warned to shun all evil and are assured that if we contend earnestly for the faith and keep ourselves in the love of God we can have eternal life.

In modern times many would try to make us believe that God knows man’s fleshly weaknesses and desires and will through his mercy overlook these sins. God forbid that we ever think we can overlook and violate God’s commands and be saved in the final day. The warnings given are too plain to believe we will go unpunished when we sin. Jesus says heaven and earth will pass away but my words will never pass away.

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Contending for the Faith reproduced by permission of Contending for the Faith Publications, 4216 Abigale Drive, Yukon, OK 73099. All other rights reserved.
Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on Jude 1". "Contending for the Faith". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/jude-1.html. 1993-2022.