Last week we began our two-week study in the Epistle of Jude. This is a short letter (25 verses) written to Christians. It was written from a Jewish point of view, so we conclude that it is written to either solely Jewish Christians or a mixture of Jewish and Gentile Christians who also had an understanding of Jewish traditions. It was written around the mid-60’s A.D. by a person named Jude and was most likely the brother of Jesus.
The purpose in writing this letter was to issue a response and a call to the recipients of this gathering of believers to contend for the faith as false teachers had infiltrated this group.
So far, in our short study in Jude we have touched on the two main points of this letter.
First, Jude urges his readers to contend or fight for the faith (do not tolerate false teaching in the body of Christ fight for the truth) and second, to stand strong for the Apostolic teachings of Jesus Christ (The Gospel - His life, death, resurrection, eternal life, sovereignty etc.)
Motivations of an Apostate
Vs 8: These false teachers had similar, if not the same qualities, as those previously mentioned (wolves in sheep’s clothing). These individuals, however, relied on their dreams to be their guide and claiming them to be from God. The word for dreams is interpreted as a filthy dreamer. This is one who is fascinated with sensual images thus leading to a sinful course of behavior. They were using their dreams and interpretations as ways to…
These false teachers spoke haughtily against God and they did not know the power they were dealing with. In their self-centered living they probably unbeknownst to them thought themselves to be higher than God. Jude says this kind of arrogance is foolishness.
Vs 9: Even the Archangel Michael was not so arrogant as to speak an evil word about one who would have been a contemporary or equal to him. Michael probably could have engaged in a battle with Satan as the two are equal, but instead he does not even hesitate to give the battle over to the Lord. So, instead of engaging in battle with Satan, Michael admonishes this battle to Jesus.
Scholars generally agree that this story was taken from an apocryphal (something that was made up or fictional but circulated as true) book titled The Assumption of Moses. According to this story there was a battle between Satan and Lucifer over the body of Moses after his death. We have no more information about this conflict, but we do know that when Moses died, the Lord buried him, and no one knew where the sepulcher was located (Deut. 34:5–6). This was purposeful on God’s part because there would have been no doubt that people would have made a shrine out of his sepulcher thus tempting them to fall into idolatry; so, God kept the information to Himself. Perhaps Lucifer was privy to this information and tried to claim Moses’ body for himself. Inasmuch as Satan does have a certain amount of authority in the realm of death, he may have felt he had a right to interfere. It is unsure why Jude chose to use this apocryphal writing to make his point, but he does.
Vs 10: Jude continues to write that these false teachers “blaspheme anything they do not understand” (i.e., God, Jesus, salvation, angels etc.) and this is their ultimate destruction. Their understanding is deprived of reasoning and they think based upon their animal lusts, instincts and pleasures, which is their nature.
Vs 11: “Woe to them” Jude does not have hostility and anger towards the false teachers; instead, he has pity on them because he knows they walk according to their own self gratification, greed, ambition and arrogance. They do not have the Spirit of the Living God in them. Everything they do is for their own personal gain. They will do or say whatever they want without moral regard or ethics in order to get what they want. Jude equates them to Balaam (Numbers 22) a prophet who takes money from the Moabite king Balak in exchange for placing a curse on the Israelites (Balaam’s own people). He also associates them to Korah who tries to usurp Moses’ authority in the desert, and he tried to start up a revolt against him and Aaron (Numbers 16).
Vs 12 - 13: Like Balaam and Korah these false teachers are “dangerous reefs”, which is a metaphor of men who damage others morally and secretly because of their conduct. They are dangerous individuals who can cause harm without others knowing it. At their love feasts (which would include the Lord’s Supper) they would only seek to watch out for themselves. They had no regard for the others present. They would go and indulge in gluttony and self-gratification with no regard to the fellowship of the saints.
These false teachers are like…
Vs 14 - 15: This section speaks of the Second Coming or Second Advent of Jesus Christ. Jude quotes from the Jewish text Enoch 1:9. It speaks of a time when the Lord executes judgment. The ungodly will be convicted of their blasphemous deeds they have committed, and they will be held accountable for the words they spoke. Those facing conviction or judgment include…
a.Grumblers – Those who complain against God.
b.Malcontent – Those who are not content with their place where God has placed them.
c.Those following after their lustful desires.
Vs 17: “But you, dear friends, remember…” Jude brings the topic of this letter back to the believers. He spent the past eleven verses reminding the readers about the consequences of sin. He tells them, “remember what was predicted by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” We know he is talking to believers now because he calls them “dear friends”. The word “remember” means to be reminded, bring recollection or be mindful of. This is an active thing. The believers are told to make a conscious mental effort to forget all the false teaching they have received and remember the predictions and promises of God.
What are the predictions and promises Jude is speaking of?
Vs 18 - 19: The first promise is that Jesus will come again. We are told in the last days there will be men and women who will try and infiltrate the church with heresy. (Acts 20:29-30, I Timothy 4:1 - 4) and this will be a sign that the end is near. Many people use this verse to suggest that the second coming of Christ is at hand because it speaks of godless scoffers, those who cause division, and immorality as being prominent in the world and we certainly are living in this kind of climate in the world today.
I am not necessarily a prophecy buff. Personally, I believe that godless scoffers, divisive people and and immorality have been running rampant for centuries. So, I cannot say with any authority that the ungodly state of the world right now is sure proof that the return of Christ is at hand. I can, however, say with authority that we are closer to the return of Christ today than we were yesterday or even in 65 AD. I believe the Bible teaches that the return of Jesus is imminent (it is looming, and it could happen at any time and any moment) but we do not know the day or the hour that is why Jesus gave us some sound advice in regard to his Second Coming (Matthew 24:36 – 44). We are indeed living in the last days. When Christ died, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven was the beginning of the end of days. The return of Christ is something believers long for and anticipate, but for the scoffer, immoral and unrepentant it is a fearful and looming event that will come about.
We must be reminded … We are in the last days so we must be on guard, ready and openly sharing the Promise that is in Christ.
The second is the promise of life everlasting to those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The Bible explicitly declares the Promise of God through Jesus Christ. We are reminded in John 3:16 that Jesus Christ willingly gave His life on the cross. Contrary to what many of us have learned, Jesus was not murdered by the Jews or the Romans. He willingly laid down his life for humanity. Sure, the Jews and Romans were the ones who beat him, degraded him, mocked him and put the nails in His hands and feet, yet the Bible tells us Jesus GAVE UP his Spirit. He was the one who told death that he was ready… not vice versa. He gave up his life so that “whoever” (by the calling and quickening of the Holy Spirit) believes (puts their faith and trust) in him shall have eternal life. Eternal life… This is the gift and the promise. I don’t think that the promise ends there. The promise goes beyond getting saved and inheriting eternal life. Jesus says in John 10:10, “A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.” This means our salvation is not only a future event, but it includes life here on earth. Abundance means excellent or superior. In Jesus Christ we have excellence, we have an extraordinary life, we have much more than what the rest of the world has. We have a superior life here on earth with the promise of an even better eternity in Christ. We have an abundant life because Jesus willingly gave his life for humanity and was raised from the dead for our justification (Romans 4:23 – 25). This superior life comes at a cost, one we are never able to repay… fortunately we do not need to repay it we need to receive it.
Vs 20: According to the Believers Commentary our goal “is to stay close to the Lord and live in unbroken fellowship with Him.” We are called to Persevere! This means that no matter what life throws at us we need to stay near to Jesus and stay the course in fellowship with him. How do we persevere?
Vs 24 - 25
Jude concludes his letter with exuberant praise for the Lord, who alone could keep the readers from being deceived. Victory over apostasy is found in Jesus Christ who is able to keep us from stumbling, and it is in him that we are presented blameless to the Father.
This well-known benediction contains a wealth of spiritual truth for the believer to receive. If we want to keep our feet on the ground spiritually, walk straight, and not stumble, then we must yield ourselves fully to the Savior. He alone is able to guard us, but we must “keep ourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21). There is only one God and He has acted redemptively by sending his Son Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Jesus is our mediator he is our bridge that has made a way for humanity to have access to the Father. Because God has provided a way for us since ALL glory, majesty, dominion and authority belongs to Him from eternity past, to present, to eternity future. This morning may conclude as we magnify and glorify our God and King together? May we proclaim His kindness to all humanity and live an abundant life in Him and in expectation of what is to come.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Jud 8). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Jud 20). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1997). The Nelson study Bible : New King James Version. Includes index. (Jud 24). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Jud 24). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
Jeff has been in ministry for well over two decades. He currently serves as Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Baptist Southside Campus in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). Both are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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