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Jude 1

Caton's Commentary on the Minor EpistlesCaton's Commentary

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Verse 1

Verse 1. Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ.

The author first gives his name, and then proceeds to give the means by which he may be identified. He first says, a servant of Jesus Christ. This expression can mean no more nor no less than the same means when used by Paul or John, viz.: an apostle of Jesus Christ. His omission to add the word "apostle" can not militate against this view, otherwise we must conclude that some of the epistles attrib-uted to Paul were written by others, particularly the letters to the Philippians, Thessalonians, Philemon and Hebrews, and those of John, viz.: the first, second and third epistles. The writer, however, proceeds to place his identity beyond cavil by adding, "the brother of James." On this point for further remarks, see introduction.


Set apart that is, by obedience to the gospel they are sanctified, or set apart to the service of God.

Preserved in Jesus Christ.

Remain free from vices, unspotted from worldly sins, by the observance of those precepts which are through or in Christ given to the world. Thus preserved and


The gospel was preached ; they heard, accepted and obeyed, and were thus called.

Verse 2

Verse 2. Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.

By God's mercy they were pardoned; the apostle desires a continuance of this pardoning mercy, and the other things relate to their lives here, and may be summed up by saying he wishes them an increase of happiness here, temporal and spiritual.

Verse 3

Verse 3. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you.

Just what the apostle meant by giving all diligence may be gathered from some things subsequently mentioned. I take it that he desires them to understand that it had been his intention to write them, possibly taking more leisure and bestowing more pains, but from some circumstances that then surrounded them, he was induced to write in haste.

Of the common salvation.

Not common as being of little importance, but common in the sense that it was for all Jew and Gentile for all people. Salvation is a deliverance from evil. In this instance it relates to a deliverance from the state of guilt and dominion of wrong-doing in this life, and includes the eter-nal deliverance in the world to come. All this is included in the gospel plan of salvation, and is offered to every son and daughter of the human race.

It was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you

The necessity for so writing and exhorting at this time is given in the succeeding verse.

That ye should earnestly contend.

Not to violence. This is not included in the exhortation. Earnestly contending may only include properly urging and maintaining in the face of opposition. The thought is, that when opposition arises you are not to observe silence, and say and do nothing for the gospel, but in earnestness and in all sincerity you are to contend as God requires at your hands, to show strenuously by your speech and by your godly walk that there is truth in the profession you make. What they were earnestly or strenuously to contend for is told us in the next clause.

For the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

A figure of speech is here used faith in the place of the whole scheme of human redemption. Paul so uses the term in his letter to the churches of Galatia. ( Gal_3:23-25 .) So here the doctrine and precepts of the gospel exhibiting God's love to the children of men, and the pro-visions made therein by him whereby we can become his children, all are included in the word of faith. For this they were to strenuously contend, and for this only, without additions, adulterations, or changes of any kind or character whatever. And they are not exhorted to contend for any-thing else this, simply this, no more, no less.

Once delivered.

The scenes of Pentecost being kept before the mind, none need to be led astray. There the full blaze of gospel light burst upon an astonished world. The faith was deliv-ered to the saints there and then. No full delivery was made until then; none other need be expected. What was then delivered will never have any additions. God has spoken, the sacrifice was once made. Many, after long and prayerful study of the Bible containing God's revelation to his crea-tures, have tried to formulate a brief exposition of the scheme of human redemption. To the careful and God-loving and God-fearing student of the blessed volume, it appears certain that God designed, by his revelation, to communicate to the children of men his existence, his authorship of the world, and all things therein contained his object in the creation of man to be for his glory and man's good ; the fall of man and the necessity for the adoption of a plan by which he might be reclaimed, and again come into a blessed union with his Creator; and after years of development the coming of the promised one, his sojourn on earth, his crucifixion, death, burial, resurrection and ascension to heaven after having made special provisions for the furtherance of God's will concerning man, and the establishment of his kingdom or church on earth, and the final proclamation of the terms upon which man can be brought again into the favor of his God, and how to live in this life, that in the world to come the enjoyment of a blessed immortality shall be his if this be the object of God in giving us the blessed book, it is but reasonable to suppose that from it we can gather in epitome a view of the whole scheme or plan. This, as suggested, many have done. Generally, it is said that the scheme is divided by infinite wisdom into two parts the part which the divine mind designed that God was to and has performed, and a part which the same divine mind requires man to perform, and upon man's compliance with what is exacted of him, what further God will do in that event. The conception is all from the divine mind, and superinduced by divine love and mercy, and, coming from that source, is perfect and not the subject of modification on the part of man, however exalted he may be in wisdom and intelligence. The sermon of Peter on Pentecost, when the kingdom of Christ on earth was set up, contains in outline the whole scheme. That the eye may aid the mind in grasping that outline, we say that a careful study of that sermon will show that the scheme of redemp-tion presents-

1. Facts.

2. Commandments.

3. Promises.

The facts contain in minute form what God has done to make our salvation possible ; things, of course, which we could not do for ourselves. These embrace a Savior, one that was with the Father and became incarnate his life, death, burial, resurrection, and therein the atonement for sin. The commandments embrace what man on his part must do to be good. These are

1. Faith in God's Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. Repentance for past sins, and therein a determination to do what is right carried out in a reformation of life.

3. A confession by the mouth of the faith of the heart.

4. Immersion into the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in obedience to Christ's command.

The promises embrace what God will do for those who obey, as follows:

1. Remission of past sins.

2. Gift of the Holy Spirit.

3. Heirship in God's family resulting, in case of con-tinued fidelity, to a home in blessedness after death.

Thus it is easily to be seen that these facts that are given to be believed, and the commandments which are given to be obeyed, and the promises which God has given to be enjoyed by the obedient, Present in miniature the whole scheme of human redemption. They present both the divine and the human side of the plan for man's recovery from sin. In short, this epitome tersely brings before our vision the faith once delivered to the saints, and for which we are exhorted by Jesus to earnestly contend. This is the revela-tion as it is made, and will not be again repeated. No adding to or taking from can for a moment be thought of or toler-ated. Just as delivered, so it is to be embraced and stren-uously contended for, if the Lord's approbation is sought.

Verse 4

Verse 4. For there are certain men crept in unawares.

The reason for the haste in writing and the urgency of the exhortation are here given. Unawares, or slyly, certain men, false teachers, had crept into the church. The word "unawares" implies that the character of these certain men that crept in was not known, otherwise they might have been rejected, kept out, or failed to obtain recognition as members of the body of Christ. The writer, in his description of these men while he denominates them as ungodly, which is a general description proceeds to lay two specific charges against them, and this is necessary that thereby the breth-ren may the more easily identify them and detect their ungodly approaches :

1. Turning the grace of God into lasciviousness.

2. Denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Now these which slyly crept into the church use the favor which God designed to bestow through this agency to its perversion. They insist that all manner of lewd practices are allowable to the sanctified in spirit; such practices are only of the flesh, and do not disturb their spiritual relations with the Master. These practices may be, and are, forbidden to those not of the one body, but to the sanctified it is different. These that slyly crept into the church further insist that Christ had not come in the flesh, because, say they, the flesh is sinful, necessarily, naturally, and without the possibility of change. Macknight seems to think that the denying relates to a denial in the face of persecution, and the denial being made to avoid the punish-ment under persecution inflicted. This view can not account reasonably for the apostle's haste in writing, and his anxiety to warn against this class of false teachers. That this can not be the correct view is further evident from some addi-tional characteristics given elsewhere in the epistle, some of which , we now proceed to enumerate:

1. They were of old ordained.

2. Their condemnation was fixed.

The coming of this class was foretold ; at the time of such foretelling, their condemnation was also asserted. As an inspired writer, Jude, further along, asserts that Enoch, before the flood, made known this class and the certainty of their punishment.

Verse 5

Verse 5. I will therefore put you in remembrance.

I call your attention to the fact, which you all know, while the Lord saved the Hebrews that is, brought them out of bondage, a great exhibition of his loving-kindness-yet even after this he destroyed them because of their unbelief. If this be God's dealings with men who refuse to obey, what think you will be the reward of those who per-vert the truth of God? Of the certainty of the punishment that awaits these false teachers, listen while I give you further illustrations of God's dealings with the wicked and disobedient.

Verse 6

Verse 6. And the angels which kept not their first estate.

Here, it is asserted as a fact, that heavenly messengers at some time in the past had sinned, deliberately left the habitation assigned them ; and, although higher in many respects than man, God visited punishment upon them. They were cast out, and by him are reserved, bound as strongly as chains can bind, and kept under darkness until that great day which God has fixed, when their final doom will overwhelm them.

Verse 7

Verse 7. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah.

Cited by a former writer, it is now urged again by Jude to show the certainty of the punishment that awaits the ungodly. But one single righteous man was found in these cities. Their wickedness was so exceedingly great and so utterly disgusting, naught but the swift destruction by fire could, in the wise judgment of God, adequately punish.

Verse 8

Verse 8. Likewise also these filthy dreamers.

Well may the apostle call these false teachers "filthy dreamers." Their thoughts, awake or asleep, are impure. Their punishment shall be as sure as that of the Sodomites whom they imitate.

Despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

These false teachers go further in their ungodly course. They set at naught and totally disregard all authority, and in their recklessness and temerity rail at and revile those placed in official positions, however closely such may observe the law they are called upon to administer.

Verse 9

Verse 9. Yet Michael the archangel.

That it may plainly appear why you should ignore the false teachers in their attempts to seduce you from the path marked out for your career as Christians, I call to your attention the conduct imposed by the Father of Lights upon one even as mighty as an archangel even Michael. He dare not bring a railing accusation against the arch-enemy of man, the devil. He was required to leave even a rebuke of this most vile of all beings to the Lord. In the archangel's contention with the devil over the body of Moses, he simply said, "The Lord rebuke thee." So you Christians can easily perceive that the course pursued by these false teachers is not from on high. Should you follow such guides, you would be led away from Christ and from his glorious reward surely in store for the faithful.

Verse 10

Verse 10. But these speak evil of those things.

While Michael would not bring a railing accusation even against the devil, these false teachers, pretending to have superior knowledge, speak ill of things concerning which they absolutely know nothing. And as to things pertaining to the flesh as the appetites and all animal desires, known naturally not only by men, but by brutes in these respects these false teachers act as though they possessed no more reason than the brute, for herein they debase themselves by their indulgence.

Verse 11

Verse 11. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain.

Woe only is their portion ; in destroying the souls of their brethren, their course is that of the murderer, as it is the same in effect as was the act of Cain, who killed his brother Abel. They that run in the course of error and sin as did Balaam, who sought the wages of wrong-doing, and pretending a superior knowledge and a spiritual illumination in opposition to the inspired teachings of the apostles of the Lamb, it is simple rebellion, and will meet with the same punishment meted out to Korah, who opposed the authority of God through Moses and Aaron. ( Num_16:3-13 .) Jude's comparison of these false teachers with Cain, Balaam, and Korah indicates clearly that he regards them as guilty of the three heinous crimes of murder, covetousness and rebellion.

Verse 12

Verse 12. These are spots in your feasts of charity.

The gathering of the saints together at stated times, the duty of Christians. When wicked men meet with you, their excesses are so great they are like black spots upon a clean white surface. They regard not the holy character of the feast, and the love for the Master in obedience to whose commandment it is observed, but as gluttons feed without reverence. They make pretensions to a holy life, yet by their acts and speech they demonstrate the contrary; in this respect they are like a cloud containing no water, and easily dispelled and driven away. They are like trees exhibiting an apparent prospect of much fruit, yet a fruit that never comes to maturity, but always withers and drops from the boughs ; withered autumnal fruit; they are twice dead; once they died in the Jewish faith, now they have died since the faith of the gospel has been proclaimed, and there is nothing left to them but to be plucked up by the roots. What a climax ! How striking in its description of false teachers. The final end of all such is to be rooted up as trees utterly barren, utterly worthless.

Verse 13

Verse 13. Raging waves of the sea.

Another view of these creatures is presented. When the sea is lashed into fury by the winds, her waves dash and boil into mountains of white foam. These false teachers are likened thereunto. They were turbulent and furious, attempted to place no restriction whatever upon their evil temper or tongue, or upon their lewd and dissolute actions, even when among disciples at their sacred feasts, and even here showed the filthiness of their own habits, and thus exhibited their own shame and disgrace. The evangelical prophet speaks of just such characters in the following lan-guage: "The wicked are like the troubled sea when it can not rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt" ( Isa_57:20 ).

Wandering stars.

Not fixed, unstable, unsettled, irregular. Blackness of darkness forever.

A fearful doom.

Lived where the light was shining in all its God-given splendor, and suddenly all shut out and midnight's dark pall settled over them for all eternity. What a fearful ending to contemplate.

Verse 14

Verse 14. Enoch also, the seventh from Adam.

We have here the announcement of Enoch as a prophet, not to be found elsewhere in the Bible. To make it plain, the party so named as a prophet is the Enoch seventh in line of descent from the first man, Adam. Why this particu-larity is observed will be seen by a simple inspection of the history of the race, as given in Genesis. "And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch: and he builded a city, and called the name of the city, after the name of his son, Enoch" ( Gen_4:17 ). Now it is evident that this is not the Enoch to whom Jude refers, because he is only the third in descent from Adam. In the fifth chapter of Genesis we have the genealogy traced, from which we read and gather the following information: Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch. Of this last, we have this further historic declaration: "And Enoch lived sixty and five years and begat Methuselah: and Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters ; and all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years: And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him" ( Gen_5:21-24 ). The recital is short, but contains much. God seems to have used Enoch as he did Noah in the proclamation of his word, his promises, and his threatenings ; and among the rest of his utterances, an inspired writer, the apostle Jude, tells us of a prophecy which he uttered.

Behold, the Lord cometh.

Here is one of the statements Enoch, inspired of God, told the people of his day. He warned them of a general judgment, when the Lord would come. He assured them that the Lord would come, accompanied by ten thousands of his saints ; or, as the Syriac has it, "with myriads of his saints."

Verse 15

Verse 15. To execute judgment upon all.

The object of the coming of the Lord is here given. To execute judgment is to pass sentence. This was to be upon all. I take it, the "all" here means the "all" upon whom a judgment of condemnation shall be rendered. While it is true all, in its full sense, will appear before God and be judged, all will not receive the same sentence, for all will not be condemned ; only the guilty will suffer punishment. See the succeeding clauses.

To convince all that are ungodly.

That is, convict. This, of course, follows a righteous investigation. No guilty will escape ; no innocent will suffer.

1. The ungodly will be convicted of all their ungodly deeds.

2. The ungodly will be convicted of all their false, profane, impious and blasphemous speeches made by them as ungodly sinners against Christ; sentence follows this conviction. The sentence is the righteous judgment of God and includes the punishment. It brings before our vision once more the Savior's declaration concerning the sheep and the goats at the last day. All these things Enoch, the seventh from Adam, brought to the attention of the people in his day. So affirms the apostle Jude.


Verse 16


Verse 16. These are murmurers, complainers.

To make the idea intended to be communicated in this verse stand out more prominently, I have given the Syriac translation. "These are they who murmur and complain of everything, while they walk according to their lusts, and their mouth speaketh shocking things, and they flatter people for the sake of gain." Now, it is plain that after Jude dismisses the prophecy of Enoch, he returns to the consid-eration of the false teachers, against whom he was warning the brethren, and this verse contains a further portraiture of the character of such. They were murmurers and com-plainers. They murmur at God, and they complain that their lot is not different. They walk in their own filthy and besotted way while so complainng, and at the same time are uttering pompous and self-laudatory speeches, claiming super-excellence of knowledge, and all the time are hypocritically praising and flattering people, with the hope of extorting from them worldly gain.

Verse 17

Verse 17. But, beloved, remember.

The utterances of these false teachers ignore, and this you will do, if you but remember, as I exhort you to do, the words spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is our Lord. He and he only has a right to rule and have dominion over us. He bought us with his own blood, and that we might receive the benefits of his offering, he chose his own witnesses. Now these, his chosen, have spoken, and they spoke as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance. They spoke the words of the Father, given by him to his Son, our Savior, and by the Son intrusted to his chosen witnesses. They made no mistake ; they spoke with infallible accuracy. Remember ye the words they spoke.

Verse 18

Verse 18. How they told you there should be mockers in the last time.

This is now what the inspired apostles had declared would occur. In the last time that is, about the time of the destruction of Jerusalem mockers should appear men professing superior light and knowledge, disregarding the teaching of the chosen witnesses of Christ, setting it at naught, ridiculing and scoffing at it as of human invention and not God-given ; and these mockers, although professing superior excellence, would conduct themselves after the low and beastly patterns set by the pagan idolaters.

Verse 19

Verse 19. These by they who separate themselves.

The class mentioned in preceding verse separate them-selves from those who walk as Christ's apostles instruct, because they claimed superior virtue. Claiming superior virtue, they opposed apostolic teaching, saying that the disciples were not walking according to the Spirit. While they thus talked, and thus separated themselves for that pretended reason, they were observing their own selfish and sensual appetites and passions, contrary to the teaching of the Spirit.

Verse 20

Verse 20. But ye, beloved, building up.

The apostle now turns to the brethren in earnest exhor-tation: You are built upon the foundation of Jesus Christ ; you are a part of his spiritual edifice, the temple he erected in the world. The faith you have is a most holy faith ; you believe Jesus Christ to be God's Son; you take him for your Prophet, Priest and King ; you acknowledge him to be your Savior, your guide. Now, you can build yourselves anew, day by day, by keeping up your connections and relations with your living head, by your prayers in the Spirit. This is not only your duty, but the blessed privilege of disciples of Christ who are God's children.

Verse 21

Verse 21. Keep yourselves in the love of God.

Constantly keeping before our minds what we owe as a duty to God for his wondrous mercy and love to us, we will do cheerfully, willingly and gladly what he requires of us, and thus we show our love to him and keep ourselves in his love by this course. While so doing, we are constantly keep-ing in mind that mercy which will eventuate in the greatest of all rewards eternal life, which was made possible of attainment by our blessed Master.

Verse 22

Verse 22. And on some have compassion.

While it is our duty to do all in our power to save sin-ners, the common version says that in our efforts a dif-ference is to be made. Here, I confess, for a time I was greatly puzzled, and am not certain that I have reached the correct solution, yet I believe that I now grasp the idea the Holy Spirit, by the pen of the apostle, would have me enter-tain. Before, however, presenting my views as to the mean-ing intended, I shall lay before the reader some of the versions at hand, after introducing the succeeding verse, so that the whole subject may be before the mind.

Verse 23

Verse 23. And others by fear.

The Syriac for the foregoing verses 22 and 23 reads as follows : "Verse 22. And some of them snatch ye from the fire. Verse 23. And when they repent, have compassion on them, with fear, hating even the tunic that is defiled by the flesh."

Macknight has the following translation: "Verse 22. And making a difference, have compassion indeed on some. Verse 23. But others save by fear, snatching them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh."

Rotherham reads thus: "Verse 22. And some, indeed, be convicting, such as dispute. Verse 23. But others, be saving out of fire, snatching [them], and on others have mercy in fear, hating even the garment spotted from the flesh."

The Latin Vulgate reads thus: "Verse 22. And some, indeed, reprove being judged. Verse 23. But others save, pulling them out of the fire. And on others have mercy in fear, hating also the spotted garment, which is carnal."

Tischendorf reads thus: "Verses 22-23. And of some, who waver, have compassion, and others save, pulling them out of the fire, and of others have compassion with fear."

Now, the similarity of all these versions is apparent. The word "difference" in the common version, in the days of King James, may have conveyed a different thought to that which it does at the present day. It is certain, I think, that the apostle simply presents a method of approach in attempting the conversion of sinners. He has in his mind different characters, all of which can not be successfully approached in the same way. These different classes may be arranged thus:

1. Some that waver, that are in doubt.

2. Some that are willfully corrupt.

3. Some that are ignorant and controlled by others.

The first class are entitled to compassion, and are to be treated gently. Instruction proper to an honest doubter, or one will-ing to know the truth, is the method of approach the apostle suggests in this case.

The second class are like the false teachers; to save such, if possible, is a 'Christian duty, and yet how to do so may be hard to determine. Stern rebuke and God's threatenings to the ungodly might possibly reach such, and if thereby they are saved, it would be snatching from the fire.

The third class are to be approached in the fear of God, with all mercy for their frailty, exhibiting the light of the gospel to dispel the gloom, so that the only pathway to happiness and to God may appear to their benighted vision. Tenderness for the one class, vigor for the second, and mercy for the third, mercifully showing them their danger.

This, I think, conveys the idea intended to be inculcated in these verses, and whether there be yet an idea that we have not discovered, so much as we now see is of great importance to the believer, exhibiting the duty we are under to our fellowmen in their downward course to ruin.

Verse 24

Verse 24. Now unto him that is able.

That is, unto God. To him is this doxology addressed. God only is capable of so guarding our footsteps that we neither stumble nor fall. The Christian life is, metaphor-ically, called walking, so that falling into sin would be to a Christian, metaphorically, stumbling, and stumbling is the word here used. God guards and preserves us in our Chris-tian walk, and so conducting ourselves here, we are pre-sented faultless in the presence of his glory glorious presence with joy to ourselves and the redeemed hosts.

Verse 25

Verse 25. To the only wise God our Savior.

He that guarded and guided us, even God, to him who is only wise that is, wise without deriving his wisdom from any other source than himself who conceived in his own infinite love the plan by which we are saved, and therefore our Savior be ascribed the glory of infinite perfection and majesty that is, honor throughout the entire universe, dominion and power, the right and authority to rule, both now and throughout eternity. Amen. Thus closes Jude's epistle, and while many grand and striking doxologies appear from the pen of the heroic Paul, it strikes me that nothing in the English language can be found that is equal to this one of Jude's in point of beauty, grandeur and sub-limity.

We have now done.

The effort is unpretentious, the production humble. We have written with only one view before us, and that was to learn the mind of the Spirit. This, with prayerful patience, we pursued for many weary days. And now, with the earnest prayer to the Father of all mercies, that it may be in his hands an instrument for good, we commend it to all honest and thoughtful readers.

Bibliographical Information
Caton, Nathan Thomas. "Commentary on Jude 1". Caton's Commentary on the Minor Epistles. 1916.