Comments On The Epistle Of Jude
This last of the epistles shows sadly the last state of the public testimony of the church on earth; not one of dignity or victory, but of corruption, defeat, apostasy. It cuts out by the roots all glorying in many but ends with all eternal glory and majesty and honor given to God our Savior. So the dark back ground of the church's failure serves to allow the greater bright-ness of God's own glory to shine forth In magnificent splendor. Though it may be at our expense, He will be glorified.
Jude is "bondsman of Jesus Christ," one totally in the possession of his Master: for though he is an apostle, he does not write as such. not with authority, but as a subject one, a moral lesson for us all In this immoral day. He is also "brother of James," evidently the son of Alphaeus (Luke 6:l5,16). He is named for the tribe of Judah, and is evidently typical of the mercy that guilty tribe will receive from the coming Messiah; in contrast to the false apostle Judas, who is a type of Judah's cold rejection of their Messiah through motives of greed. (Compare Judah in Gen.37:26-28.) James is the same name as Jacob, and the link with Jude here reminds us of God's counsels of grace triumphing over the failure and weakness of His servant. for Jacob was the "supplanter." Judah and Jacob will be reconciled when they bow to their true Messiah, as is beautifully seen in Judah's confession to Joseph (Gen.44:18-34).
His epistle is general, for he writes to those "beloved in God the Father," that is, all believers, beloved no matter how great the ruin; "preserved by Jesus Christ," for no other power is comparable for this; and called, being the positive subjects of God's counsels of grace.
He wishes them mercy first, not grace. as when writing to assemblies, for the saints here are not looked at as "in Christ," but in circumstances of serious need. Peace and love accompany this, to make a threefold provision with which to meet the adversity. And God being the sources these things may be multiplied.
Now he tells us he had been diligently purposing to write in regard to our common salvation. a precious, positive theme. But God had purposed a different line of truth for him, not so pleas-ant, not so popular; and Jude therefore writes what is needful, not what he had desired. His object is to stir us up to earnestly contend for the faith, that is, the full, revealed truth of Christianity-, which had been once for all given as a trust to the saints of God. We are called upon to maintain it in its original purity. We must not give up such a trust, no matter how greatly on every hand men may corrupt this precious. vital revelation from God.
Indeed because of such corruptions we should be the more zealous in standing for the truth. Men had crept into Christian circles underhandedly, the willing tools of Satan, ungodly men, lacking any conscience toward God; and deliberately turning the grace of God Into lasciviousness, that is, assuming that grace is a permissive toleration of every kind of evil. This is loath-some doctrine, for grace teaches us to deny ungodliness and worldly lusts, to live soberly, righteously and godly in this world (Titus 2:11,12). In this evil, however, they deny the only Master, He who has supreme authority and the Lord Jesus Christ, the true Revealer and revelation of the living God. This is not merely error, but a haughty rebellion against the authority of God.
Would It stand? No! History teaches us: if we have once known history, let us not forget its lessons. Consider verse 5.
Vs.5 to 10
Though Israel was brought out of Egypt, this was no proof that all were believers. Later on, because of unbelief. many were destroyed. A mere outward connection with God's testimony gives no security. They had witnessed God's power and grace, yet were themselves destroyed. Various occasions of this are seen in the book of Numbers, simple for the reader to find. Let one be sure he is truly born again rather than in such a condition.
Fallen angels are another example of those enjoying a position of favor, yet leaving their first estate. There is no suggestion that these had eternal life, but they had a position of dignity from which they fell, leaving their own habitation that is, the place in which God had put them, which is of course rebellion. In this case there is no possible salvation for them. These are "reserved in everlasting chains under darkness" in view of God's judgment in the great day to come. Whether this refers to only a certain number of such fallen angels, or whether it is a moral description of them all, that is, confined and in darkness, even though at the same time engaged in evil work under the direction of Satan, it may be difficult to say. For we know that Satan even now leads many unclean spirits in wicked practices, though indeed they "tremble" in expectation of judgment. In this sense it seems possible that they are in chains and under darkness, for they have absolutely no hope.
Sodom and Gomorrah and nearby cities are a third example of this apostasy, stressing, not their previous blessing, but the corrupt condition into which they sank. It was a well watered, prosperous land (Gen.13:10), but sank to the degradation of fornication and sexual perversion which called down the awesome judgment of the fire of God, called eternal fire. for there was no recovery for them.
These ungodly men today are of the same character, having turned deliberately from the truth they have knowing and have be-come "dreamers," not honestly facing true facts, but indulging In foolish fantasy. First, they defile the flesh, that is, moral corruption, though with a religious veneer; secondly, despising d dominion, which is a haughty contempt for proper authority and thirdly, speaking evil of dignities, railing against those in any high position.
As to this last, even Michael the archangel is a sobering example for us. Though himself in a high position, he would not dare to rail against Satan, who is a dignity also. We must show him serious respect, for he is a dignity. Not that he is any authority so far as believers are concerned and they must not obey him. But they must not ridicule or dare to show contempt toward him.
But Satan had evidently raised the question with Michael as to the body of Moses, and there was a. disputation about this. It may be he wanted to find the location of Moses' grave (for God had buried him), in order to make an Idolatrous shrine of wor-ship. But Michael's words, "the Lord rebuke thee", are both faithful and respectful, properly restrained.
Yet men, in no such place of dignity, will speak evil of things of which they are ignorant. This is gross arrogance. Of spiritual things they are ignorant, yet contemptuous. And as to ev-en natural things with which they are acquainted, they perceive these, not as a human ought to, but with no more wisdom than at beast, then corrupt themselves, as a beast does not. For a beast acts according to instinct, with no moral corruption involved: it is man who is immoral.Vs.11 to 16
In verse 11 a woe is pronounced against those men who had crept into the place of Christian profession, but being corrupted spiritual misleaders. This woe is on account of three progressive stages of evil, first, their going in the way of Cain, that of proud self-righteousness; secondly, their greedily following the error of Balaam for reward, and closely following this pride and greed is their perishing in the gainsaying of Core (Korah of Numbers 16), this being bold rebellion, and the perishing solemnly prophetic of what is inevitable.
Such men are spots In love-feasts, such as boldly advocate ecumenical unity and love among professing Christians, but are a blot on the whole effort. Today their number is great. But it is their own selfish appetites they are feeding, with no sober fear of God's discerning judgment. Clouds, with great promise of blessing, but empty of true refreshment; carried about of winds, shifting in any direction that circumstances and their own inclinations lead them. Autumn trees without fruit, that is, destitute of fruit at a time when they ought to have produced. Twice dead, first in nature, which is true of all unbelievers, but secondly, in regard to their spiritual pretense, having had the advantage of being linked with the testimony God, in which there is life, but revolting from it into the dead state of apostasy. Plucked up by the roots is no doubt prophetic, as is Mat.15,13.
Raging waves of the sea expresses Gentile lawlessness, "foaming" with noise and show, but only declaring their own shame, for foam is almost entirely air. Finally, they are as meteors, flashing brilliantly, but momentarily across the sky, only to be extinguished in darkness, but called here "the black-ness of darkness forever, "How tragic is the folly that glories in the show and of a few moments of popularity, when the end is so inexpressibly dreadful:
Now a prophecy of Enoch, never before recorded, is told us. Through the centuries God waited to have Jude quote it. And lest there be any question, he was the seventh generation from Adam, he who was taken to heaven without dying (Gen.5:22-24). He prophesied of the coming of the Lord in solemn judgment, with myriads of His holy ones. But, It may be objected, thousands of years have passed since that day: why has the Lord not come? The answer is simple: God is not so impatient as ungodly men are. They grasp what they can as quickly as they can, and lose it all. Truth can afford to patiently wait the time of its perfect vindication. Yet, there is no shadow of doubt that Enoch is perfectly right. All Scripture bears witness of this, as have angels, prophets, apostle, the Lord Jesus Himself, and God the Farther. This coming is of course at the end of the tribulation, the Lord manifested in power and glory, which will be at least seven years after He comes for His saints.
He will execute judgment, bringing solemn conviction to all the ungodly. This word "ungodly" is used four times in verse 15, first in regard to men's characters secondly, their conduct; thirdly, their motives; and fourth. their words. In all of these things they choose to refuse the recognition of Gods and yet they make a pretense of religion. What stark terror it will be for them when their hypocrisy is unmasked! -These are murmurs, complainers, characterized by what they are again, having no concern for positive good, motivated by selfish lusts, their words puffed out as a balloon, and exalting men when this will work to their own advantage.
Vs.17 to End
Jude's exposure of Christendom's corruption is by no means that we should gloat over it, or be discouraged by it, rather this dark background should only serve to bring out more clearly and beautifully the pure, positive, unchanging , truth of the word of God. He is reminding us of God's foundation, and that God was conversant from the beginning with all that would transpire today. As "beloved" we are to remember the words spoken by apostles, as regards such mockers arising in the last time, caring for nothing but their own ungodly lusts. Such "separate themselves," In haughty contempt of the truth. proud of their independent self -sufficiency. "Sensual" is soul-led, their own appetites, and feelings governing them. Having not the Spirit, they know nothing of His power, as to believers.
In the beloved saints of God all is to be in contrast to these things. Rather than destroying, we are to build up ourselves on our most holy faith. This is building on the original on the original foundation- gradual, steady work. Prayer is to accompany this diligence, a childlike dependence upon the God of all grace.
"Keep yourselves In the love of God." This is a trustful realization that God's love is in constant exercise over us, caring in perfection for every detail of our history. And linked with this is the ardent expectation of being with the Lord, which is spoken of as "the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life," for it will be mercy indeed to leave this present scene of sorrow, and enter that sphere where all is redolent with eternal life.
Our attitude toward others too is to be a serious exercise. No doubt some, lacking understanding, are unwittingly influenced in wrong ways, not willfully as their cruel leaders; and we must seek their deliverance compassionately. Others require more urgent faithful treatment, specially if they tend to be self-satisfied and lax. They need pressed upon them the fearfulness of God's judgment, and their requiring pulling out of the fire. Their garment (their habitual practice) has been too contaminated by the flesh: we are to hate this, while showing love for the person.
The closing doxology is precious, and consistent with the message of this book. All glory is to be God's; but the same eternal God is able to keep the saint from stumbling, as so many do because of self-confidence. He is their only Resource; sufficient in this way for the present; and as to the future, He Will present every believer without blemish before the presence of His glory. Wonderful power and grace, so high above the vanities of religious pretension And it will be "with exceeding joy," that Is, "His joy will exceed. ours will certainly be unspeakable and full of glory," but His will exceed ours. Precious contemplation!
He is the only God our Savior: there is actually no other, whether Ignorant ones or not. He is the Savior from everything that is contrary to His will. He only is worthy of glory, majesty, dominion and power. This of course is the eternal God manifested in the blessed person of the Lord Jesus Christ. The last expression is translated a little more fully in the New Translation (J.N.D.) "before the whole course of time, and now, and to all ages. That is, past, present, and future. He fills all things, yet in marvelous grace we are "filled full in Him!" If there has been much that is somber and negative In this epistle, yet the closing stands out in magnificent contest to this; the victory belongs to our God through our Lord Jesus Christ.