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Bible Commentaries

Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books

Jude 1

Verses 1-2

Assurance for the Christian

The author calls himself Jude, or Judas, which literally means "renowned." He also says he is the brother of James, who is thought to be the one so outstanding in the church at Jerusalem ( Act_15:13 ; Gal_2:9 ). If so, he would also have been the brother of our Lord ( Gal_1:19 ). That would likewise make Jude Jesus' brother ( Mat_13:55 ; Mar_6:3 ). Like his brothers, Jude did not believe Jesus was the Son of God during Christ's personal ministry on earth ( Joh_7:1-9 ). However, Christ's resurrection seems to have convinced him since he is numbered as one of those in the upper room in Act_1:12-14 . It also appears Jude was married. His wife traveled with him on his journeys ( 1Co_9:5 ).

He calls himself "a servant of Jesus Christ." The word rendered "servant" literally means "slave," not as one forced to work, but one who willingly chooses to serve another. He is writing to the "called," which includes all the followers of Christ ( 1Th_2:12 ; 2Th_2:13-15 ). The called are said to be "sanctified by God the Father." That is, Christians were set apart by the gift of God's own Son on the cross of Calvary ( Joh_3:16-17 ; Rom_5:8 ; Rom_8:37-39 ). They are also said to be "preserved" in Jesus Christ ( Jud_1:1 ). In order to be so preserved, Jude urged them to keep themselves in the love of God (verse 21). Jude's desire for them was that God's love would be multiplied to them along with His mercy and peace. Woods said that mercy, peace and love are the three blessings needed most by readers of Jude from his day to the present ( Jud_1:2 ).

Verse 3

The Believer and the Faith

Jude showed the feeling of warmth he had in connection with those to whom the epistle was addressed when he called them "beloved." Apparently, he had already been planning to write an epistle on the "common salvation," but turned to the more urgent problem, that is dealt with in the writing, called to his attention. He had heard of false teachers and the spreading of their doctrines. He then wrote to prevent the addressees from being lead astray and to urge them to the defense of the gospel.

The word translated "contend earnestly" literally means "to wrestle" and indicates the type of strong defense that should be made for the gospel in the face of any foe. The word here translated "faith" is said by Vine to be "by metonymy, what is believed, the contents of belief, faith" (W. E. Vine, An Expository Dictionary of the New Testament Words ). That faith was delivered "once for all," which Vine says means, "of what is perpetual validity, not requiring repetition." All of that which Christians believe has been delivered for all time ( Jud_1:3 ).

Verse 4

Apostates Described

Jude explained that false teachers were the cause of his writing. Woods says the idea of "crept in unnoticed" is that of entering in by the side door, without revealing their motive of leading the saints astray. This description might be compared with Gal_2:4 ; 2Ti_3:6 and 2Pe_2:1-2 . These false teachers were the ones who were written of before, probably in the Old Testament. What was written concerning them is described as being "marked out for this condemnation" ( Jud_1:4 ).

The false teachers were likewise described as "ungodly men," which seems to indicate they were not pious or reverent. These were the same type of men that reaped their reward at the time of the flood and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah ( 2Pe_2:5-6 ). Being of such a nature, they turned the grace of God, which is salvation ( Eph_2:8-9 ), into a support of gross fleshly indulgence. Thayer says "licentiousness" is unbridled lust, excess and shamelessness. As Woods points out, there is similarity between these men and those in 2Pe_2:18-19 .

There is some question as to the meaning of the words "only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ." The A. S. V. puts "the only Master, and our Lord Jesus Christ" in a footnote as a possible rendering. Some think it refers to the Father and the Son. The title "Master" is applied to Christ in 2Pe_2:1 , and the characterizing word "only" is used more properly of God, as it is in verse 25 of this book. (See The Pulpit Commentary for a fuller discussion.)

Verses 5-7

Apostasy in Old Testament History

In verse 5, Jude submitted his first bit of evidence to prove evildoers will be condemned. He said he wanted to remind them, though, as the American Standard Version has it, they knew all things "once for all." When Jude says they "knew this," it seems he was telling them they knew all things pertinent to this problem and simply needed to have it called to their attention. Paul discussed the same events in 1Co_10:1-11 . The Hebrew writer, possibly also Paul, dealt with this in 3:16-18. Israel had been brought out of Egypt by the hand of God. They were a mighty nation. Yet, only two of those above the age of twenty were allowed to enter the promised land. The basic category of the sins that the people committed was that of unbelief. If God would punish all of the members of that chosen nation, save two, it is easily seen that the false teachers would reap their reward.

Angels who sinned were presented by Jude as the second bit of evidence that God will punish evildoers. Again, there is a similar reference in 2Pe_2:4 . These angels left their "offices" or "positions," which is the literal meaning of the word translated "proper domain." They were put in bonds from which they will never escape. They are being held in bondage until the day of judgment when they will be judged along with all evil men ( Jud_1:6 ; Mat_25:41 ).

The third piece of evidence comes from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Admah and Zeboim were cities near there which would have likewise been considered cities of the plain. The city of Zoar, which was in the area, was spared when Lot interceded for it so he might have a place of refuge. The whole story is told in Gen_19:1-38 ( Deu_29:23 ; Jer_20:16 ; Isa_13:19 ; Rom_9:29 ). Woods says the words "set forth" mean "to lie exposed" like a corpse laying out for burial. Further, the word "example" means to "exhibit" or "show." These cities, then, illustrate the vengeance the Lord takes on people of this kind. Their sins are similar to those listed in Rom_1:24-32 . It was truly a terrible sin and the punishment was equally terrible. Their punishment was so permanent that it is likened unto eternal fire. These examples leave little hope for false teachers ( Jud_1:7 ).

Verses 8-11

The Apostates in Jude's Day

In verse 8, Jude showed the false teachers had committed sins similar to those committed by those in the Old Testament examples he had previously given. They had committed sins of the flesh that were of the lowest nature. They showed no respect for authority and it did not bother them to say bad things against people in high positions.

"Michael the archangel," or "chief," or "captain" of the angels, is mentioned only in Jud_1:9 and Rev_12:7-9 in the New Testament. He is pictured as the protector of Israel against the world's pagan powers in Dan_10:13 ; Dan_10:21 ; Dan_12:1 . Jude said he was in a discussion over the body of Moses. While we know nothing more of this discussion, it can easily be seen Jude was making a point about this high angelic being and the fact that he would not even say an evil word against the devil. There is quite a contrast between this action and those of the false teachers.

Not only did the false teachers speak evil, they even spoke against things about which they did not know or understand. The only things they understood concerned the fulfillment of physical appetites. They did that to the point of their own destruction. They could only look forward to woe because they were like Cain. He followed his own desires instead of walking the path of obedient service ( Gen_4:7 ). Balaam simply did his works to gain monetary profit ( Num_22:5-7 ). Korah rebelled against Moses' and God's authority in the wilderness in his lusty hunger for power ( Num_16:1-35 ). These men are examples of the type of attitude the false teachers must have portrayed ( Jud_1:10-11 ).

Verses 12-13

Apostasy Illustrated from the Natural Realm

Like rocks hidden in the water, false teachers were unrecognized trouble ready to sink the unprepared Christian. They acted as if they were shepherds of the flock so they could feed themselves. In the dry climate of Palestine, their personalities were best represented as clouds that would seem to promise a much wanted rain but only leave the land dry and disappointed. They were like barren fruit trees in autumn. They should have had fruit but it was as if they had been plucked up by the roots. They were dead in the realm of fruit bearing and devoid of any life ( Jud_1:12 ).

The wave illustration was used in Isa_57:20 . It simply says the false teachers are like the foamy waves which promised much but carried nothing of real value. The star idea may refer to shooting comets or falling meteors leaving only darkness in their trail. Thus, the ultimate end of the false teachers was set forth ( Jud_1:13 ).

Verses 14-16

Apostasy in Old Testament Prophecy

Enoch was listed as one of the great men of faith ( Heb_11:5 ). Genesis says "God took him" ( Gen_5:21-24 ). It would appear he was translated to heaven much like Elijah ( 2Ki_2:1-12 ). Enoch did not have to experience death as other men do, but was taken up from the earth not to be found any longer. God testified that Enoch pleased Him. It is not surprising that this seventh person in man's genealogy was a prophet. By inspiration, Jude recorded one of his prophecies. It concerned the coming of the Lord with his angels ( Jud_1:14 ; Mat_25:31 ; 2Th_1:7 ).

The prophecy also spoke of the promised judgment ( Heb_9:27 ). The point being, the Lord will punish the ungodly for their sins, which were of an ungodly character. Woods suggests Jude adds detail to Enoch's prophecy. He described the ungodly people as those who rebelled against their lot in life and thought God was unfair. Their lives were lived only to fill their fleshly desires. They used words puffed up with sound but lacking meaning. They used favoritism so they might gain a few of this world's advantages ( Jud_1:15-16 ).

Verses 17-19

Apostasy Described

Jude pleaded with the faithful Christians to remember the teachings of the apostles. Jesus had said those men would relate all of His teachings and commandments (verse 17; Mat_28:18-20 ; Joh_16:12-15 ). The apostles had foretold the coming of men who would mock the truth. Jude saw them as men who would not be pious. Instead, Jude said they were only seeking to fulfill their own fleshly desires. They, according to Jude, made a joke out of Christ's teachings, especially concerning His second coming ( Jud_1:18 ; 2Pe_3:1-3 ).

The false teachers of whom Jude told were men who drew lines of separation. They caused Christians to be pitted against one another. Woods says the word here translated "sensual" is translated "natural" in 1Co_2:14 . Man is composed of three things -- body, soul and spirit ( 1Th_5:23 ). To pursue the natural would be to fulfill the soul's desires while rejecting the spirit. Thereby, one would be disallowing closeness to God. This is true because true worshippers of God must worship in spirit and in truth ( Jud_1:19 ; Joh_4:24 ).

Verses 20-23

The Believer and the Faith

In contrast to the ungodly, the faithful were to build upon their faith and pray in the power of the Holy Spirit ( Rom_8:26 ; Eph_6:18 ). The idea of building on the faith that already exists is used in other places and in other ways, such as Heb_6:1-20 . Jude's desire was that Christians might stay in contact with the rewards found in God's love for them. These rewards were theirs through obedience ( Joh_14:9-10 ; Joh_14:15 ; Joh_14:21 ; 1Jn_5:3 ; 2Jn_1:6 ). The mercy of Jesus for which Jude prayed is found in salvation ( Jud_1:20-21 ).

Clearly, the lost can be divided into two categories. There are those lost through being honestly mistaken and those intentionally lost. Jude urged Christians to be patient and loving with those honestly doubting the truth so they could be led to Christ. However, he warned them to exercise care with those in deeper trouble than the honest doubters. They would have to be snatched away from the very fires of hell. Of course, anyone trying to save them would have to beware lest, in pulling them out of trouble, they too should be spotted with the sins of the flesh ( Jud_1:22-23 ).

Verses 24-25

Assurance for the Christian

Jude closed his book with a prayer. It was directed to Jesus, our protector. He can keep one from stumbling, which will, in turn, keep him from falling. One who avoids falling would receive many blessings that would produce joy in his life. Jude called Jesus God, just as He is depicted in Joh_1:1 . Jesus' greatness and the attributes of it are said to have lasted from the time before the beginning and will stretch into eternity. So, Jude closed with a tremendous statement of his trust in Jesus and His wondrous powers ( Jud_1:24-25 ).

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Bibliographical Information
Hampton, Gary. "Commentary on Jude 1". "Hampton's Commentary on Selected Books". 2014.