Adam Clarke Commentary
The address and apostolical benediction, Judges 1:1, Judges 1:2. The reasons which induced Jude to write this epistle, to excite the Christians to contend for the true faith, and to beware of false teachers, lest, falling from their steadfastness, they should be destroyed after the example of backsliding Israel, the apostate angels, and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha, Judges 1:3-7. Of the false teachers, Judges 1:8. Of Michael disputing about the body of Moses, Judges 1:9. The false teachers particularly described: they are like brute beasts, going the way of Cain, run after the error of Balaam, and shall perish, as did Korah in his gainsaying, Judges 1:10, Judges 1:11. Are impure, unsteady, fierce, shameless, etc., 12, 13. How Enoch prophesied of such, Judges 1:14, Judges 1:15. They are farther described as murmurers and complainers, Judges 1:16. We should remember the cautions given unto us by the apostles who foretold of these men, Judges 1:17-19. We should build up ourselves on our most holy faith, Judges 1:20, Judges 1:21. How the Church of Christ should treat such, Judges 1:22, Judges 1:23. The apostle‘s farewell, and his doxology to God, Judges 1:24, Judges 1:25.
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ - Probably Jude the apostle, who was surnamed Thaddeus and Lebbeus, was son to Alpheus, and brother to James the less, Joses, and Simon. See Matthew 10:3, and collate with Luke 6:16; Matthew 13:55.
Brother of James - Supposed to be James the less, bishop of Jerusalem, mentioned here, because he was an eminent person in the Church. See the preface to St. James.
To them that are sanctified by God - Instead of ἡγιασμενοις , to the sanctified, AB, several others, both the Syriac, Erpen‘s Arabic, Coptic, Sahidic, Armenian, Ethiopic, and Vulgate, with several of the fathers, have ηγαπημενοις , to them that are beloved; and before εν τῳ Θεῳ , in God, some MSS., with the Syriac and Armenian, have εθνεσιν , to the Gentiles, in God the Father: but although the first is only a probable reading, this is much less so. St. Jude writes to all believers everywhere, and not to any particular Church; hence this epistle has been called a general epistle. Sanctified signifies here consecrated to God through faith in Christ.
Preserved in (or by) Jesus Christ - Signifies those who continued unshaken in the Christian faith; and implies also, that none can be preserved in the faith that do not continue in union with Christ, by whose grace alone they can be preserved and called. This should be read consecutively with the other epithets, and should be rather, in a translation, read first than last, to the saints in God the Father, called and preserved by Christ Jesus. Saints is the same as Christians; to become such they were called to believe in Christ by the preaching of the Gospel, and having believed, were preserved by the grace of Christ in the life and practice of piety.
Mercy unto you - For even the best have no merit, and must receive every blessing and grace in the way of mercy.
Peace - With God and your consciences, love both to God and man, be multiplied - be unboundedly increased.
When I gave all diligence - This phrase, πασαν σπουδην ποιουμενος , is a Grecism for being exceedingly intent upon a subject; taking it up seriously with determination to bring it to good effect. The meaning of the apostle seems to be this: “Beloved brethren, when I saw it necessary to write to you concerning the common salvation, my mind being deeply affected with the dangers to which the Church is exposed from the false teachers that are gone out into the world, I found it extremely necessary to write and exhort you to hold fast the truth which you had received, and strenuously to contend for that only faith which, by our Lord and his apostles, has been delivered to the Christians.”
The common salvation - The Christian religion, and the salvation which it brings. This is called common because it equally belongs to Jews and Gentiles; it is the saving grace of God which has appeared to every man, and equally offers to every human being that redemption which is provided for the whole world.
For there are certain men crept in unawares - Παρεισεδυσαν· They had got into the Church under specious pretences; and, when in, began to sow their bad seed.
Before of old ordained - Οἱ παλαι προγεγραμμενοι Such as were long ago proscribed, and condemned in the most public manner; this is the import of the word προγραφειν in this place, and there are many examples of this use of it in the Greek writers. See Kypke.
To this condemnation - To a similar punishment to that immediately about to be mentioned.
Turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness - Making the grace and mercy of God a covering for crimes; intimating that men might sin safely who believe the Gospel, because in that Gospel grace abounds. But perhaps the goodness of God is here meant, for I cannot see how they could believe the Gospel in any way who denied the Lord Jesus Christ; unless, which is likely, their denial refers to this, that while they acknowledged Jesus as the promised Messiah, they denied him to be the only Lord, Sovereign, and Ruler of the Church and of the world. There are many in the present day who hold the same opinion.
The only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ - Μονον Δεσποτην Θεον και Κυριον ἡμων Ιησουν Χριστον αρυουμενοι . These words may be translated, Denying the only sovereign God, even our Lord Jesus Christ. But Θεον God, is omitted by ABC, sixteen others, with Erpen‘s Arabic, the Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, and Vulgate, and by many of the fathers. It is very likely that it was originally inserted as a gloss, to ascertain to whom the title of τον μονον Δεσποτην , the only Sovereign, belonged; and thus make two persons where only one seems to be intended. The passage I believe belongs solely to Jesus Christ, and may be read thus: Denying the only sovereign Ruler, even our Lord Jesus Christ. The text is differently arranged in the Complutensian Polyglot, which contains the first edition of the Greek Testament: Και τον μονον Θεον και Δεσποτην, τον Κυριον ἡμων Ιησουν Χριστον αρνουμενοι· Denying the only God and Sovereign, our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a very remarkable position of the words, and doubtless existed in some of the MSS. from which these editors copied. The Simonians, Nicolaitans, and Gnostics, denied God to be the creator of the world; and Simon is said to have proclaimed himself as Father to the Samaritans, as Son to the Jews, and as the Holy Ghost to all other nations. All such most obviously denied both Father, Son, and Spirit.
I will therefore put you in remembrance - That is, how such persons were proscribed, and condemned to bear the punishment due to such crimes.
Though ye once knew this - The word ἁπαξ , here translated once, has greatly puzzled many interpreters. It has two meanings in the sacred writings, and indeed in the Greek writers also.
1.It signifies once, one time, as opposed to twice, or several times.
2.Altogether, entirely, perfectly, interpreted by Suidas αντι τον διολου, ὁλοσχερως· and of this meaning he produces a proof from Josephus; This appears to be the sense of the word in Hebrews 6:4: τους ἁπαξ φωτισθεντας· those who were Fully enlightened. Hebrews 10:2: ἁπαξ κεκαθαρμενους· Thoroughly cleansed. See also Hebrews 10:3. Psalm 62:11: ἁπαξ ελαλησεν ὁ Θεος . God spoke Fully, completely, on the subject. St. Jude is to be understood as saying, I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye are Thoroughly instructed in this.
Saved the people - Delivered them from the Egyptian bondage.
Afterward destroyed them - Because they neither believed his word, nor were obedient to his commands. This is the first example of what was mentioned Judges 1:4.
The angels which kept not their first estate - Την ἑαυτων αρχην Their own principality. The words may be understood of their having invaded the office or dignity of some others, or of their having by some means forfeited their own. This is spoken of those generally termed the fallen angels; but from what they fell, or from what cause or for what crime, we know not. It is generally thought to have been pride; but this is mere conjecture. One thing is certain; the angels who fell must have been in a state of probation, capable of either standing or falling, as Adam was in paradise. They did not continue faithful, though they knew the law on which they stood; they are therefore produced as the second example.
But left their own habitation - This seems to intimate that they had invaded the office and prerogatives of others, and attempted to seize on their place of residence and felicity.
He hath reserved in everlasting chains - That is, in a state of confinement from which they cannot escape.
Under darkness - Alluding probably to those dungeons or dark cells in prisons where the most flagitious culprits were confined.
The judgment of the great day, - The final judgment, when both angels and men shall receive their eternal doom. See on 2 Peter 2:4 (note). In Sohar Exod., fol. 8, c. 32: “Rabbi Isaac asked: Suppose God should punish any of his heavenly family, how would he act? R. Abba answered: He would send them into the flaming river, take away their dominion, and put others in their place.” Some suppose that the saints are to occupy the places from which these angels, by transgression, fell.
Even as Sodom and Gomorrha - What their sin and punishment were may be seen in Genesis 19, and the notes there. This is the third example to illustrate what is laid down Judges 1:4.
Are set forth for an example - Both of what God will do to such transgressors, and of the position laid down in Judges 1:4, viz., that God has in the most open and positive manner declared that such and such sinners shall meet with the punishment due to their crimes.
Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire - Subjected to such a punishment as an endless fire can inflict. Some apply this to the utter subversion of these cities, so that by the action of that fire which descended from heaven they were totally and eternally destroyed; for as to their being rebuilt, that is impossible, seeing the very ground on which they stood is burned up, and the whole plain is now the immense lake Asphaltites. See the notes on Genesis 19 (note).
Likewise also these filthy dreamers - He 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.
Despise dominion - Κυριοτητα δε αθετουσι· They set all government at nought - they will come under no restraints; they despise all law, and wish to live as they list.
Speak evil of dignities - Δοξας δε βλασφημουσιν· They blaspheme or speak injuriously of supreme authority. (See 2 Peter 2:10, 2 Peter 2:11.) They treat governors and government with contempt, and calumniate and misrepresent all Divine and civil institutions.
Yet Michael the archangel - Of this personage many things are spoken in the Jewish writings “Rabbi Judah Hakkodesh says: Wherever Michael is said to appear, the glory of the Divine Majesty is always to be understood.” Shemoth Rabba, sec. ii., fol. 104, 3. So that it seems as if they considered Michael in some sort as we do the Messiah manifested in the flesh.
Disputed about the body of Moses - What this means I cannot tell; or from what source St. Jude drew it, unless from some tradition among his countrymen. There is something very like it in Debarim Rabba, sec. ii., fol. 263, 1: “Samael, that wicked one, the prince of the satans, carefully kept the soul of Moses, saying: When the time comes in which Michael shall lament, I shall have my mouth filled with laughter. Michael said to him: Wretch, I weep, and thou laughest. Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy, because I have fallen; for I shall rise again: when I sit in darkness, the Lord is my light; Micah 7:8. By the words, because I have fallen, we must understand the death of Moses; by the words, I shall rise again, the government of Joshua, etc.” See the preface.
Durst not bring against him a railing accusation - It was a Jewish maxim, as may be seen in Synopsis Sohar, page 92, note 6: “It is not lawful for man to prefer ignominious reproaches, even against wicked spirits.” See Schoettgen.
Speak evil of those things which they know not - They do not understand the origin and utility of civil government; they revile that which ever protects their own persons and their property. This is true in most insurrections and seditions.
But what they know naturally - They are destitute of reflection; their minds are uncultivated; they follow mere natural instinct, and are slaves to their animal propensities.
As brute beasts - Ὡς τα αλογα ζωα· Like the irrational animals; but, in the indulgence of their animal propensities, they corrupt themselves, beyond the example of the brute beasts. A fearful description; and true of many in the present day.
They have gone in the way of Cain - They are haters of their brethren, and they that are such are murderers; and by their false doctrine they corrupt and destroy the souls of the people.
The error of Balaam - For the sake of gain they corrupt the word of God and refine away its meaning, and let it down so as to suit the passions of the profligate. This was literally true of the Nicolaitans, who taught most impure doctrines, and followed the most lascivious practices.
Gainsaying of Core - See the account of the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and their company, in Numbers 22. It appears that these persons opposed the authority of the apostles of our Lord, as Korah and his associates did that of Moses and Aaron; and St. Jude predicts them a similar punishment. In this verse he accuses them of murder, covetousness, and rebellion against the authority of God.
Spots in your feasts of charity - It appears that these persons, unholy and impure as they were, still continued to have outward fellowship with the Church! This is strange: but it is very likely that their power and influence in that place had swallowed up, or set aside, the power and authority of the real ministers of Christ; a very common case when worldly, time - serving men get into the Church.
Feeding themselves without fear - Eating, not to suffice nature, but to pamper appetite. It seems the provision was abundant, and they ate to gluttony and riot. It was this which brought the love feasts into disrepute in the Church, and was the means of their being at last wholly laid aside. This abuse is never likely to take place among the Methodists, as they only use bread and water; and of this the provision is not sufficient to afford the tenth part of a meal.
Clouds - without water - The doctrine of God is compared to the rain, Deuteronomy 32:2, and clouds are the instruments by which the rain is distilled upon the earth. In arid or parched countries the very appearance of a cloud is delightful, because it is a token of refreshing showers; but when sudden winds arise, and disperse these clouds, the hope of the husbandman and shepherd is cut off. These false teachers are represented as clouds; they have the form and office of the teachers 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. See the notes on 2 Peter 2:17.
Trees whose fruit withereth - Δενδρα φθινοπωρινα· Galled or diseased trees; for φθινοπωρον is, according to Phavorinus, νοσος φθινουσα οπωρας , a disease (in trees) which causes their fruit to wither; for although there are blossoms, and the fruit shapes or is set, the galls in the trees prevent the proper circulation of the sap, and therefore the fruit never comes to perfection. Hence the apostle immediately adds, without fruit; i.e. the fruit never comes to maturity. This metaphor expresses the same thing as the preceding. They have the appearance of ministers of the Gospel, but they have no fruit.
Twice dead - First, naturally and practically dead in sin, from which they had been revived by the preaching and grace of the Gospel. Secondly, dead by backsliding or apostasy from the true faith, by which they lost the grace they had before received; and now likely to continue in that death, because plucked up from the roots, their roots of faith and love being no longer fixed in Christ Jesus. Perhaps the aorist is taken here for the future: They Shall Be plucked up from the roots - God will exterminate them from the earth.
Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame - The same metaphor as in Isaiah 57:20: The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. These are like the sea in a storm, where the swells are like mountains; the breakers lash the shore, and sound like thunder; and the great deep, stirred up from its very bottom, rolls its muddy, putrid sediment, and deposits it upon the beach. Such were those proud and arrogant boasters, those headstrong, unruly, and ferocious men, who swept into their own vortex the souls of the simple, and left nothing behind them that was not indicative of their folly, their turbulence, and their impurity.
Wandering stars - Αστερες πλανηται· Not what we call planets; for although these differ from what are called the fixed stars, which never change their place, while the planets have their revolution round the sun; yet, properly speaking, there is no irregularity in their motions: for their appearance of advancing, stationary, and retrograde, are only in reference to an observer on the earth, viewing them in different parts of their orbits; for as to themselves, they ever continue a steady course through all their revolutions. But these are uncertain, anomalous meteors, ignes fatui, wills-o‘-the-wisp; dancing about in the darkness which themselves have formed, and leading simple souls astray, who have ceased to walk in the light, and have no other guides but those oscillating and devious meteors which, if you run after them, will flee before you, and if you run from them will follow you.
The blackness of darkness - They are such as are going headlong into that outer darkness where there is wailing, and weeping, and gnashing of teeth. The whole of this description appears to have been borrowed from 2 Peter 2, where the reader is requested to see the notes.
Enoch also, the seventh from Adam - He was the seventh patriarch, and is distinguished thus from Enoch, son of Cain, who was but the third from Adam; this appears plainly from the genealogy, 1 Chronicles 1:1: Adams Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalaleel, Jered, Henoch or Enoch, etc. Of the book of Enoch, from which this prophecy is thought to have been taken, much has been said; but as the work is apocryphal, and of no authority, I shall not burden my page with extracts. See the preface.
Ten thousand of his saints - This seems to be taken from Daniel 7:10.
To execute judgment - This was originally spoken to the antediluvians; and the coming of the Lord to destroy that world was the thing spoken of in this prophecy or declaration. But as God had threatened this, it required no direct inspiration to foretell it. To execute judgment, etc. This is a very strange verse as to its composition, and is loaded with various readings; the MSS. and versions being at little agreement among themselves on its phraseology. Αυτων , which we translate among them, is omitted by the best MSS. and versions, and is, in all probability, spurious. Many also omit ασεβειας after ργων , ungodly deeds. Many insert λογων , words or speeches, after σκληρων , hard; and this word our translators have supplied. And instead of ἁμαρτωλοι , sinners, the Sahidic has ανθρωποι , men. There are others of less note; but the frequent recurrence of All and Ungodly makes the construction of the sentence very harsh.
These are murmurers - Grudging and grumbling at all men, and at all things; complainers, μεμψιμοιροι , complainers of their fate or destiny - finding fault with God and all his providential dispensations, making and governing worlds in their own way; persons whom neither God nor man can please.
Walking after their own lusts - Taking their wild, disorderly, and impure passions for the rule of their conduct, and not the writings of the prophets and apostles.
Great swelling words - Ὑπερογκα . See the explanation of this term in 2 Peter 2:18.
Having men‘s persons in admiration - Time-servers and flatterers; persons who pretend to be astonished at the greatness, goodness, sagacity, learning, wisdom; etc., of rich and great men, hoping thereby to acquire money, influence, power, friends, and the like.
Because of advantage - Ωφελειας χαριν· For the sake of lucre. All the flatterers of the rich are of this kind; and especially those who profess to be ministers of the Gospel, and who, for the sake of a more advantageous settlement or living, will soothe the rich even in their sins. With such persons a rich man is every thing; and if he have but a grain of grace, his piety is extolled to the skies! I have known several ministers of this character, and wish them all to read the sixteenth verse of Jude.
Remember - the words - Instead of following those teachers and their corrupt doctrine, remember what Christ and his apostles have said; for they foretold the coming of such false teachers and impostors.
Mockers in the last time - See the notes on 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1 (note), etc.; and particularly 2 Peter 3:2, 2 Peter 3:3 (note), etc., to which Jude seems to refer.
Who separate themselves - From the true Church, which they leave from an affectation of superior wisdom.
Sensual - Ψυχικοι· Animal - living as brute beasts, guided simply by their own lusts and passions, their Bible being the manifold devices and covetousness of their own hearts; for they have not the Spirit - they are not spiritually minded; and have no Holy Ghost, no inspiration from God.
Building up yourselves - Having the most holy faith - the Gospel of our Lord Jesus, and the writings of his apostles, for your foundation; founding all your expectations on these, and seeking from the Christ who is their sum and substance; all the grace and glory ye need.
Praying in the Holy Ghost - Holding fast the Divine influence which ye have received, and under that influence making prayer and supplication to God. The prayer that is not sent up through the influence of the Holy Ghost is never likely to reach heaven.
Keep yourselves in the love of God - By building up yourselves on your most holy faith, and praying in the Holy Ghost; for without this we shall soon lose the love of God.
Looking for the mercy of our Lord - For although they were to build themselves up, and to pray in the Holy Ghost, and keep themselves in the love of God, yet this building, praying, and keeping, cannot merit heaven; for, after all their diligence, earnestness, self-denial, watching, obedience, etc., they must look for the Mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ, to bring them to Eternal Life.
And of some have compassion, making a difference - The general meaning of this exhortation is supposed to be, “Ye are not to deal alike with all those who have been seduced by false teachers; ye are to make a difference between those who have been led away by weakness and imprudence, and those who, in the pride and arrogance of their hearts, and their unwillingness to submit to wholesome discipline, have separated themselves from the Church, and become its inveterate enemies.”
And others save with fear - “Some of them snatch from the fire: but when they repent, have mercy upon them in fear.” - Syriac. “And some of them rebuke for their sins; and on others have mercy when they are convicted; and others save from the fire and deliver them.” - Erpen‘s Arabic. Mr. Wesley‘s note has probably hit the sense. “Meantime watch over others as well as yourselves; and give them such help as their various needs require. For instance,
1.Some that are wavering in judgment, staggered by others‘ or by their own evil reasoning, endeavor more deeply to convince of the truth as it is in Jesus.
2.Some snatch with a swift and strong hand out of the fire of sin and temptation.
3.On others show compassion, in a milder and gentler way; though still with a jealous fear, lest you yourselves be infected with the disease you endeavor to cure. See therefore that, while ye love the sinners, ye retain the utmost abhorrence of their sins, and of any, the least degree of or approach to them.”
Having even the garment spotted by the flesh - Fleeing from all appearance of evil. Dictum sumptum, ut apparet, a mulieribus sanguine menstruo pollutis, quarum vestes etiam pollutae censebantur: or there may be an allusion to a case of leprosy, for that infected the garments of the afflicted person, and these garments were capable of conveying the contagion to others.
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling - Who alone can preserve you from the contagion of sin, and preserve you from falling into any kind of error that might be prejudicial to the interests of your souls; and thus to present you faultless, or, as many others read, ασπιλους , without spot, alluding to the spotted garment mentioned above.
Before the presence of his glory - Where nothing can stand that does not resemble himself, with exceeding great joy, in finding yourselves eternally out of the reach of the possibility of falling, and for having now arrived at an eternity of happiness.
To the only wise God - Who alone can teach, who alone has declared the truth; that truth in which ye now stand. See on Romans 16:27 (note).
Our Savior - Who has by his blood washed us from our sins, and made us kings and priests unto God the Father.
Be glory - Be ascribed all light, excellence, and splendor.
Majesty - All power, authority, and pre-eminence.
Dominion - All rule and government in the world and in the Church, in earth and in heaven.
And power - All energy and operation to every thing that is wise, great, good, holy, and excellent.
Both now - In the present state of life and things.
And ever - Εις παντας τους αιωνας· To the end of all states, places, dispensations, and worlds; and to a state which knows no termination, being that Eternity in which this glory, majesty, dominion, and power ineffably and incomprehensibly dwell.
Amen - So let it be, so ought it to be, and so it shall be.
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