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Wednesday, July 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Jude 1

Carroll's Interpretation of the English BibleCarroll's Biblical Interpretation

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Verses 1-25



Judges 1:1-25

In the introduction to this letter we have found the author to be, not an apostle, as we see from Judges 1:17 of the letter itself, but to be Jude, the brother of James, a younger half brother of our Lord. And from its general agreement in subject matter with 2 Peter 2, and its evident reference to the Gnostic philosophy of the Lycus Valley, the probable conclusion was reached that it was addressed to Christian Jews of Asia Minor. And as there is no evidence in the Bible or out of it that this Jude, or any of the younger children of Joseph and Mary ever left the Holy Land, it was concluded that the letter was written from Jerusalem, and that it was written before the downfall of that city. Jerusalem was taken by Titus in A.D. 70, and this book was written probably A.D. 68. Indeed, the author regards the book of Jude as the latest book of New Testament literature, except the writings of John – his three letters, his gospel and Revelation, which were all much later than other New Testament books.

The occasion and purpose of this letter, appear in Judges 1:3-4: "Beloved, while I was giving all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you, exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints, for there are certain men crept in privily, even they who were of old written of beforehand unto this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."

There are both the occasion and purpose of the letter. We distinguish between the occasion and the purpose in this way: Certain men, whose heresies come under two heads – their denial of Jesus Christ and their turning of the grace of God unto lasciviousness, occasioned the letter. The purpose of the letter is an earnest exhortation to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints.

We see from these two verses that Jude was already contemplating writing concerning the common salvation, but before he had put that general purpose into execution, the occasion arose that called upon him to write on a specific part of that common salvation.

Look at certain words in these verses: "The common salvation." Just exactly what does he mean by that? The thought is that the salvation of the gospel is not local, provincial, or divergent, but like its universal gospel applies alike to all its subjects everywhere, whether in Judea, or in the land of the dispersion, and brings them into a common brotherhood. Jude’s expression, "our common salvation," is in line with Paul’s expression, in his letter to Titus – "our common faith." Common salvation; – common faith. That is, faith which lays hold on salvation is as common as the salvation itself. Saving faith is the same in Judea, in Samaria, and in the uttermost parts of the earth. That is what is meant by common salvation and by common faith. He says that the purpose of his book is to urge that they shall contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints, which is strictly in line with the preceding thought about the common salvation. As to be saved means the same thing all over the world, and as faith which lays hold of that salvation is the same all over the world, so the faith, or the body of truth proclaimed by our Lord himself, and which was committed to his apostles as a deposit of truth, and which they in turn committed to the churches, is the same everywhere and always. It simply means that this body of doctrine so delivered, was all-sufficient for all time to come without addition or subtraction.

The question arises, where else in the New Testament is this idea of "the faith" as referring to the body or system of truth taught? In Paul’s letter to Timothy the same expression is used – "the faith" as standing opposed to Gnosticism, and like Paul, Jude puts over against the teaching of the Gnostics "the faith," the sacred deposit of truth. This faith, or the body of truth, he says, was delivered. It was not originated by man – it was delivered. Paul says, "I have delivered unto you that which I also received," and then he begins to give his summary. First, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures ; second, that he was buried; third, that he rose again the third day; fourth, that he was recognized as risen. And we find in Paul’s letters quite a number of the summaries of the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

In his Gospel, Luke refers to the same thought. He was anxious for Theophilus to know of "the certainty of the things which are commonly believed among us." One of the best books of modern times on this subject is Faith and The Faith, by T. T. Eaton. He distinguished rightly between faith as an act of the man taking hold of salvation, and THE faith, or body of truth that was delivered. Every preacher ought to carefully read Dr. Eaton’s little book. It is a fine discussion. What a great pity that all who claim to be Baptists in the United States do not read that little book.

I must call attention just here to the importance of this treble idea. Salvation is common; it is not different in England from what it is in France, nor in Egypt from what it is in Samaria, nor in any one part of the earth from what it is in any other part. In every part of the earth salvation is the same.

Second, the faith which takes hold of salvation, or the exercise of faith, is the same thing. A man does not become a Christian one way in Germany, and another way in France. Whenever and wherever a man is saved, there and then it is a common salvation, a common faith, "like precious faith."

So the things preached in order to salvation are the same. The things to be preached, without any addition, without any subtraction, in their fullness or sufficiency, are the same. Whenever a man claims that he has a new truth to preach, we may know it is false. The truth was delivered once and for all to the saints, and if I never make any other impression than the impression concerning the common salvation and the common faith that lays hold of salvation, the common system of truth that is preached in order to salvation, that is a big lesson. I am hoping and praying continually that there shall never go out from our Seminary any heretic on any one of these three points.

Here a question arises: Would this mean that no new light is to break out of God’s Word? It does not mean that at IB. That old Puritan who entered the emigrant ship in Holland to come to the United States, struck fire from the rock when he said: "Brethren, there is yet more light to break out of God’s Word." The light is there; it simply means that we have not yet seen all the light that is in there. It is not a new light, but it is newly discovered by the student. When I say, then, that a new truth is a falsehood, I do not mean that a new interpretation or perception of the truth is necessarily a falsehood. A thousand times since I began the study of the Bible new light has broken out of the gospel to me. We may let down our buckets into the well of salvation 10,000 times, and so may 10,000 people after we are gone, and yet every man may draw up fresh water from the inexhaustible springs of joy in the Word of God. But we do not want any more additions, nor to retire any part as obsolete.

We recur to the occasion of Jude’s letter. Those men in the Lycus Valley (it really came from one man, but it spread until it threatened the gospel of Jesus Christ more than any other error that has ever been preached in the world, and it is yet alive), commenced first by trying to account for the universe, and in accounting for the universe, they discounted Christ’s part in the universe. They took the position that God would not concern himself with such a thing as matter, and therefore he must shade himself down to eons, low enough to touch matter, that Jesus was one of the lowest emanations from God. This necessarily reflected upon Jesus Christ, as the Creator of the world, and hence all the later letters of the Bible bear on the person of Christ, and on the offices of Christ against this heresy.

They taught that sin resided in matter, that the soul or spirit could not sin, that the escape of the soul from the body at death, or the quickening of the soul in regeneration was the resurrection. There was no salvation for the body, and inasmuch as the body returned to nothingness when the soul was raised from it, therefore it was immaterial what you did in the body. Hence the turning of the grace of God into lasciviousness. It was a teaching of impurity, and the most beastly, brutish kind that the world has ever known.

The question arises: How could such men get into the church? And Jude answers: "Certain men crept in privily." They did not unmask themselves when they joined the church. They joined the church, but they were not converted men, and they kept secret their real belief. They were the worst of all hypocrites, and having crept in privily, as Jude says, they taught privily. The gospel is daylight work; we preach it on the housetops. These people who sneaked into the church, sneaked in their teaching. They would not dare come up before a public congregation and teach that lust, adultery, disregard of woman’s honor, and the sanctity of the family were harmless matters. They would not dare to teach that openly, but they would teach it privily.

The next thing in this heresy was its motive. Its motive was gain. Peter says they followed the way of Balaam, and Jude repeats that statement, "for the wages of unrighteousness." How could they make a gain out of such teachings? They could not do it publicly; men would not pay money for that sort of public instruction. They would go around to people privily and say, "Here, it is respectable for you to belong to the church; we do not want you to quit. But there is no need for you to attend its services. You may forsake the assemblies, but you should belong to a special inner class who know more than the uncultured masses. Let the plowmen and slaves, the common people, respect all these details, but advanced people do not need any such doctrine as that. Pay us so much, and we will initiate you secretly." So there would be separation of classes in the church, but not withdrawals – separations in the body of the church, one class distinguished from another class.

When Jude understood this he saw that the only remedy was to "contend earnestly for the faith, which was once for all delivered to the saints." "You must not let these people sidetrack you from the person and offices of our Lord Jesus Christ. You must not let them creep into your home; you must hold on to the truth of God." Like Peter, he cites three historical examples to show that no matter how secretly a man may work, God brings sure and condign punishment upon the wicked. Who teaches a heresy does a moral wrong. "I put you in remembrance that ye know these things, that the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not." He had saved that nation, and yet out of the great body of men able to bear arms, 600,000 that left Egypt, only two of them got to the Promised Land. Why? God destroyed those that believed not. They were willing enough to observe the ritual of religion, willing enough to offer the sacrifices, but were not willing to live the religion. They did not want God to rule in the heart, the imagination, in the life, and hence they were unbelievers, and every one of them died under the judgment of God. When the providence of God executes a half million men for violation of his law, the violation coming through their unbelieving, then these Gnostic teachers certainly may not expect to escape.

The next case that he cites-is this: "And the angels that kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation, he hath kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." Here Jude tells us of the fall of the angels and the question naturally comes up: How many falls of the angels have there been? Does this refer to the time when Satan, through pride, fell, and certain of the angels followed him, and are called his angels from that time, or his demons? Or has there been since that time two other falls of the angels besides that? There certainly would be a second fall if that variant Septuagint rendering is true, that angels cohabitating with women brought about the flood. That would be a second fall. Then if Nephelim means angels there was a third fall, after the flood. Is this true? Jude refers to only one fall of the angels. He says "they left their proper habitation, kept not their own principalities." In other words, there is an hierarchy among the angels. They had their place in heaven, each one or each class having its principality and powers. Certain angels did not keep their principality, but left their proper habitation and followed the devil in that great rebellion. That is every thing that Jude says about the angels. We would be curious to know how then some contend that Jude charges that Genesis 6:4 teaches the cohabitation of angels with women, as the occasion of their fall. We find the basis of their contention in verse 7: "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, having in like manner with these . . ." Look at that word, "these." There is our word – what is its antecedent? The radical higher critics say the antecedent is "angels" in the preceding verse, and they read it this way: "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about having in like manner with these angels given themselves over to fornication and gone after strange flesh." Toutois, that Greek pronoun, what is its antecedent? Many commentators think that the antecedent of "these" is the angels that kept not their first estate, and therefore that Jude teaches that the angels committed the same offense that is attributed to Sodom and Gomorrah. And they cite some manuscript of the Septuagint which translates "sons of God" in Genesis 6:1-4 by "angels."

In reply I give my discussion on this subject. There I raised the question: What caused the deluge? The discussion cites two evil theories of the cause of the deluge. The first evil theory answers that the Adamites, or the white race, were guilty of miscegenation with Negroes, the pre-Adamite race. In favor of that evil theory, there is a book circulating all over Texas. I knew personally the writer. But with that first theory we have nothing to do now. The second evil theory gives at) the cause of the deluge miscegenation between angels and women-. According to this theory the sons of God, angels, married the daughters of men because they were fair, and the scriptural arguments on which that theory rests are these: First, the angels in the Bible are often called the sons of God. Second, some manuscripts of the Septuagint have angels in the context of Genesis 6:4, and instead of reading "the sons of God took to themselves wives of the daughters of men because they were fair," read: "the angels of God, etc." Just here I call attention to the fact that the Septuagint was not made – the Genesis part of it – until about 200 years before Christ, long after the Old Testament revelations had ceased, and the Jews had come in contact with heathen nations where old legends were full of examples of cohabitation between men and goddesses, and gods and women, and that is where the idea originated – it came from the heathen.

Their second argument claims that Judges 1:6-7 of Jude show that the sin of the angels was giving themselves over to strange flesh. That the monstrous men, the Nephilim, of Genesis 6:4 were angels. The monstrous character of the offspring from this unnatural cohabitation is cited in support of the theory. See the latter clause of Genesis 6:4, and also a recent work of fiction, Man of Seraph. My reply to that, is as follows:

1. It is conceded that sometimes in the Scriptures angels are called the "sons of God," but never in Genesis.

2. The rendering, "angels," instead of "sons of God" in some Septuagint manuscripts is not a translation of the Hebrew, but an Alexandrian interpretation substituted for the original.

3. The whole argument in Jude is based upon the assumption that the pronoun, "these," in Judges 1:7 has for its antecedent the noun, "angels," in Judges 1:6, though a nearer antecedent may be found in Judges 1:7, namely, "Sodom and Gomorrah." With this nearer antecedent, Judges 1:7 would read: "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, with these," i.e., with Sodom and Gomorrah, not with the angels. Moreover, the offense in Judges 1:7 is not the offense in Genesis 6:2. The latter is marriage – legal marriage.

4. "Nephilim," or "giants," neither here nor in Numbers 13:33 means angels. This would be to have another offense of the angels after the flood.

5. The offspring of the ill-assorted marriage in Genesis 6:4 are not monsters in the sense of prodigies resulting from cross of species, but "mighty men," men of renown.

6. "Sons of God" means the Sethites, or Christians, men indeed by natural generation, but sons of God by regeneration. In Genesis 4:26, directly connected with this scripture, we have the origin of the name: "Then began men to be called by the name of the Lord." This designation of Christians is common in both Testaments. I cite particularly Psalms 82:6-7, where we have precisely the same contrast between the regenerate and the unregenerate as in the text here. "All of you are sons of the most high. Nevertheless, ye shall die like men."

7. The inviolable law of reproduction within the limits of species – "after their kind" – forbids unnatural interpretation of this second theory.

8. According to our Lord himself the angels are sexless, without human passion, neither marrying nor giving in marriage (Luke 20:35).

"Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities, about them, having in like manner with these," that is, Sodom and Gomorrah. There were three other cities – at least three of them are named in the Bible. Once when I took this position my critic said, "But you see, the gender of toutois does not agree with Sodom and Gomorrah. Angels are masculine – so is toutois. Sodom and Gomorrah are neuter. They cannot agree." My reply was toutois, dative plural of toutos, is either masculine or neuter. So the objection fails. Why should I run over a near-by antecedent, and hook it on to one in the preceding verse? I do not expect radical critics to accept my judgment on the antecedent of toutois, but I stand on it. In the case of two possible antecedents, both grammatically possible, I select the nearer one, which harmonizes all the Bible teaching, rather than the more distant one which contradicts the whole trend of Bible teaching. The scripture must be interpreted in harmony with itself where possible. That nearer and better antecedent does harmonize with all other scriptures. Moreover, Jude has already specified the sin of the fallen angels and has nothing more to say about them. Their sin was "they kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation." There is no hint of "cohabitation with women."

The Bible knows nothing of several falls of the angels, but only one. We must do one of two things: Either reject this theory which makes Jude teach the cohabitation of angels with women, or reject the inspiration of the book. Both cannot stand.

Jude’s third historical example is the doom of Sodom and Gomorrah, on account of unnatural sins. They are set forth as an example of eternal fire, that is, not eternal fire, but a shadow looking to or presaging eternal fire, as the valley of Tophet suggests, in a figure, eternal fire. Jesus says it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the judgment than for the cities which heard and rejected him, indicating that the punishment passed upon Sodom and Gomorrah was not the worst punishment man could receive.

In verse 8, "Yet in like manner these," we come to that pronoun again. What "these" is this? It is the teachers of evil in Judges 1:4 who turn the grace of God into lasciviousness. "These in their dreaming defile the flesh, and set at naught dominion, and rail at dignities." Three things – defile the flesh, set at naught government, rail at dignities.

We now come to another strange thing in Jude. It is alleged that Judges 1:9 teaches that Jude quotes from an apocryphal book called "The Assumption of Moses." One of the fathers held that Jude got this idea of the contention of Michael and the devil from "The Assumption of Moses." The book is not extant now – nobody living now has ever seen a copy of it, but there are some allusions in writers after apostolic days to such a book. These vague allusions accredit this apocryphal book as teaching that Moses did not die as other men die, or at least was not allowed to see corruption; that his body without corruption was taken up to heaven like Elijah’s body. That is the alleged assumption of Moses which is exactly what some Romanists teach about the virgin Mary. They teach that Mary never died, that she never saw corruption, and that her body was glorified and taken up into heaven. "The Assumption of Mary" means just that. It is one of their Romanist doctrines. But the Bible says nothing about either assumption except to flatly contradict both in its general teachings.

But "Michael, the Archangel," who was he? The name appears first in Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1 where he is called the prince or guardian angel of the Jewish nation. Archangel means chief or captain of the angels. The name reappears in the book of Revelation (Revelation 12:7-9), where as leader of the unfallen angels he wars with and conquers Satan and his angels. In a previous discussion I have called your attention to this distinction between Michael and Gabriel – whenever there is a fight on hand, Michael is sent; whenever it is a mission of mercy, Gabriel is sent. Michael is the fighter. He is the leader, the archangel, the chief angel.

Two questions naturally arise: What was the difficulty between Michael and the devil about the body of Moses, and how did Jude know about it? For there is no reference in the Old Testament to a fight between Michael and the devil about the body of Moses.

Taking the second question first, to wit: In the absence of Old Testament light, from what source came Jude’s information? A large class of commentators refuse to consider any source of information but some Jewish tradition. ’Hinc illae lachrymae: Hence their trouble in two directions:

1. Which one of the many Jewish traditions? For there are many prior to the late apocryphal book, called "The Assumption of Moses," some of them very silly, some beautiful in thought.

2. Where does this reliance on and endorsement of variant and uninspired tradition land Jude?

My answer is, Jude’s information came from inspiration – the same source from which many other New Testament references come, not given in Old Testament. For example, Paul’s giving the names, Jannes and Jambres, to the Egyptian priests who opposed Moses (2 Timothy 3:8). Does inspiration fall unless buttressed by tradition? Why should I assume the unnecessary burden of verifying Scripture by Jewish legend? One of the great offices of inspiration is to guide in the selection of material and to bring to remembrance. It is a characteristic of inspiration that it brings to mind unrecorded things of the past. Jesus speaks of unrecorded things; Stephen does the same. So does Paul. Why not Jude?

This leaves unanswered the other question, What the contention between Michael and the devil about the body of Moses? I don’t know. In the absence of scriptural light on it I cannot say. There was a contention we know, just what we may modestly suggest as possible or even probable, but may not affirm.

God himself, according to the record, buried Moses when he died and no man knoweth just where the place of burial. For some wise purpose, not disclosed, God kept that place of sepulture hidden from men. It possibly may have been his purpose to forestall Jewish pilgrimages to the place which might result in deifying Moses. There is a tendency to worship relics. These Jews did worship the brazen serpent until Hezekiah broke it to pieces saying Nehushtan, i.e., "It is only a piece of brass." Romanists today worship relics. Europe went crazy to rescue the empty tomb of Jesus. Knowing this superstitious trend in man, and desiring to minister to it, Satan may have attempted to locate the buried body of Moses and was successfully resisted by Michael, the guardian angel of the Jewish people.

Or, as Moses had sinned, and died, Satan who has the power of death, may have claimed the death-stricken body as his, which Michael resisted, because it was the body of a redeemed man, committed to him till God would raise and glorify it. He would put his brand on all the bodies of the saints except for the fact that "they sleep in Jesus" and are angel-guarded until the resurrection. I repeat: Moses sinned; Moses as a sinner died. The devil has the power of death. But because his people were partakers of flesh and blood Jesus partook of the same, that he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil. I have the picture in my mind this way that when Moses died the devil claimed the body – "that is mine; he is dead."

Wherever there is death, though we may not see him, and our friends may not see him, yet he, Satan, is there. He will be in the room when we die, and if we die out of Christ he will claim our body.

But when he went to claim the body of Moses, Michael met him: "You cannot touch the body of a son of God. That is in the keeping of the angels of God until it is raised from the dead." It is certainly a beautiful thought.

Or, yet again, by the body of Moses may be understood his institutions. So, after the downfall of the Jewish monarchy, Satan resisted the restoration and re-establishment of the hierarchy under Joshua, the high priest and Zerubbabel, but was rebuked of the Lord. This supposition has this merit: There is an Old Testament record of its containing the very words which Jude quotes: "The Lord rebuke thee." (See Zechariah 3:1-2).

Consider next Judges 1:11, the woe pronounced on a threefold sin. "Woe unto them I For they went in the way of Cain, and ran riotously in the error of Balaam for hire, and perished in the gainsayings of Korah." What the way of Cain, the error of Balaam, the gainsayings of Korah? These three sins are distinct in class, but all heinous. Cain’s way was to reject an expiatory gin offering. Willing enough was he to offer thank offerings, but not sin offerings. He denied the need of atonement. Thousands today walk in his way. Balaam’s error was to suggest to Balak a way by which Israel could be separated from God, for until separated they could not be cursed. He suggested that they be corrupted and so alienated from God, through the women of the idolaters. He knew this counsel was evil, but offered for hire the wages of unrighteousness. Thousands today go astray from the same motive. Korah’s gainsaying was rebellion against properly constituted authority. God himself had given Aaron and Moses their authority. Korah railed at them as no better than himself. This Lycus Valley heresy partook of all these sins: blasphemy, infidelity, impurity, anarchy, and covetousness.

Judges 1:12: "These are they that are hidden rocks in your love feasts" – agapae, that is the only place in the Bible where that word occurs. But in 2 Peter 2 we find feasts – not love feasts. Now a word on those love feasts, of which so much is written in ecclesiastical history. In Acts 2 it is evident there is a distinction between the Lord’s Supper and the ordinary meal of the Christians. The Lord’s Supper is in Acts 2:42, "breaking of bread" - "they ate their meat from house to house with gladness of heart,” the common meal Acts 2:46). In Acts 6 there is evidence of a common fund out of which the majority of the disciples at that big meeting were fed. That money was provided by the richer class; that is, they bought the provisions for the daily ministration. In the letter to Corinthians, there is evidence of a common meal at which some ate like gluttons and drank like drunkards. That is not the Lord’s Supper at all, but the fact remains that they confused these feasts with the Lord’s Supper. Peter says that they had these feasts. Jude alone gives the name – love feasts. The author dissents from the published views of Norman Fox. The Lord’s Supper was one thing – these feasts were charity feasts. And in those countries where many of the congregation were slaves and poor people, they were marvelous acts of charity – real love feasts, until perverted. The Methodists have experience meetings which they call "love feasts" – not food for the body, but food for the soul.

Jude says, "these heretics are hidden rocks in your love feasts." Any man who comes to a Christian love feast having eyes full of lust is a hidden rock in that love feast: "Shemherds that without fear feed themselves"; "clouds without water carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; wild waves of the sea foaming out their own shame." These vivid illustrations show that this man had rare descriptive powers.

The last thing that I call your attention to is in Judges 1:14: "And to these also Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying: Behold, the Lord came with ten thousand of his holy ones [that is past tense but prophetic future] to execute judgment upon all, and convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have ungodly wrought, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." This is claimed to be a direct quotation from the Apocryphal book of Enoch. What about that book?

About three years before the Revolutionary War the book of Enoch was found. It was translated into the Coptic language, and three years before I was born it was translated into English. I have a copy in English. So from 1773 to the present the modern world has had the book. There are references to such a book that extend back to the third century, but none of them go back as far as Jude goes, and there is no historical evidence as to when the book was written, but the statements in the book show to my mind as clear as a sunbeam that it was written after Jude was written. It was written by a Jew, and the Jew, whoever he was, was either a Christian, or was so imbued with the ideas of the Messiah and of the general judgment as taught in New Testament, that the Jews rejected the book and won’t claim it. In no Old Testament book is there such a vivid description of the general judgment. Its judgment ideas and Messiah ideas are borrowed from New Testament writers. One sentence only in the book of Enoch to some extent parallels Jude (Judges 1:14-15). The last clause of Judges 1:15 is not in the book of Enoch, to wit: "and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." The question is: Which quoted from the other? If indeed either quoted from the other. There is no historical evidence whatever that the author of the book of Enoch wrote before Jude. The development of late Jewish ideas on angels, on the judgment, on the Messiah found in the book of Enoch, all point to postapostolic times. There was much similar Jewish literature after the apostolic days.

The author believes that Jude was written before the book of Enoch. It is quite probable that whoever wrote the book of Enoch got his conception from Jude and not Jude from the other. Some say that this book was written at different times by different authors – that the first part of it was written about seventy years before Christ, and the latter part was written in the middle of the second century. While they bring no historical evidence, they base their idea upon their internal criticism. The author has little respect for the assumed power of higher critics to dissect a book, relegating its fragments to different authors and different ages. Their exploits on many Old Testament books and on 1 Corinthians do not incline him to accord them the infallibility they assume in partitioning books.

Before we concede that Jude quoted from that book let us wait until they prove when that book was written. Where then did Jude get his information that Enoch prophesied? He got it from the same source that informed Peter that Noah was a preacher and of Lot’s state of mind in regard to the iniquities of the Sodomites and informed Paul of the names of the Egyptian magicians – from inspiration.

The other matters in this letter are not difficult of interpretation.


1. What the occasion of the letter?

2. What its purpose?

3. Explain "common salvation."

4. Explain Paul’s "common faith."

5. Explain Jude’s "The faith once for all delivered to the saints."

6. Combine the three ideas and show their importance as related.

7. Cite other New Testament references to "the faith."

8. Who wrote a valuable book. Faith and The Faith?

9. What the teachings of the heretics against whom Jude writes?

10. What three historical examples showing that God punishes heresies and sins?

11. What the sin of the angels as given by Jude expressly?

12. Give the argument against "The sons of God" in Genesis 6:1-4, meaning angels.

13. When was the Septuagint translation made?

14. What the rendering of "sons of God" in Genesis 6:1-4 in some Septuagint manuscripts?

15. From whom did the later Jews get their idea of heavenly beings mating with human beings?

16. What the antecedent of the pronoun "these," Greek toutois, m Judges 1:7?

17. In what books of the Bible appears the name of Michael, and how do the Scriptures distinguish his mission from Gabriel’s?

18. What three possible explanations of the contention for the body of Moses, and which, if any, do you prefer?

19. Distinguish between the sins of Gain, Balaam, and Korah.

20. Distinguish between the Lord’s Supper and love feasts.

21. What do you know of the Apocryphal book of Enoch?

22. What one sentence of that book parallels Judges 1:14 and the first clause of Judges 1:15?

23. Is there any historical evidence of the date of the writing of this book?

24. Was there a considerable Jewish post-apostolic literature similar to this book?

25. What things in this book point to a post-apostolic date of composition?

26. Why is it probable that its author quoted from Jude?

Verse 2



Numbers 22-24; Numbers 31:8; Numbers 31:16; Deuteronomy 23:4-5; Joshua 13:22; Joshua 24:9-10; Micah 6:5; Nehemiah 13:2; Judges 1:2; 2 Peter 2:15; Revelation 2:14

These scriptures give you a clue to both Balaam’s history and character: Numbers 22-24; Numbers 31:8, and especially Numbers 31:16; Deuteronomy 23:4-5; Joshua 13:22; Joshua 24:9-10; Micah 6:5; Nehemiah 13:2; Judges 1:2; 2 Peter 2:15; and, most important of all, Revelation 2:14. Anybody who attempts to discuss Balaam ought to be familiar with every one of these scriptures.

Who was Balaam? He was a descendant of Abraham, as much as the Israelites were. He was a Midianite and his home was near where the kinsmen of Abraham, Nahor and Laban, lived. They possessed from the days of Abraham a very considerable knowledge of the true God. He was not only a descendant of Abraham and possessed the knowledge of the true God through traditions handed down, as in the case of Job and Melchizedek, but he was a prophet of Jehovah. That is confirmed over and over again. Unfortunately he was also a soothsayer and a diviner, adding that himself to his prophetic office for the purpose of making money. People always approach soothsayers with fees.

His knowledge of the movements of the children of Israel could easily have been obtained and the book of Exodus expressly tells that that knowledge was diffused over the whole country. Such a poem as Jacob’s dying blessing on his children would circulate all over the Semitic tribes, and such an administration as that of Joseph would become known over all the whole world, such displays of power as the miracles in Egypt, the deliverance at the Red Sea and the giving of the law right contiguous to the territory of Balaam’s nation make it possible for him to learn all these mighty particulars. It is a great mistake to say that God held communication only with the descendants of Abraham. We see how he influenced people in Job’s time and how he influenced Melchizedek, and there is one remarkable declaration made in one of the prophets that I have not time to discuss, though I expect to preach a sermon on it some day, in which God claims that he not only brought Israel out of Egypt but the Philistines out of Caphtor and all peoples from the places they occupied (Amos 9:7). We are apt to get a very narrow view of God’s government of the human race when we attempt to confine it to the Jews only.

Next, we want to consider the sin of Balaam. First, it was from start to finish a sin against knowledge. He had great knowledge of Jehovah. It was a sin against revelation and a very vile sin in that it proceeded from his greed for money, loving the wages of unrighteousness. His sin reached its climax after he had failed to move Jehovah by divinations, and it was clear that Jehovah was determined to bless these people, when for a price paid in his hand be vilely suggested a means by which the people could be turned from God and brought to punishment. That was about as iniquitous a thing as the purchase of the ballots in the late prohibition election in Waco, for the wages of unrighteousness. His counsel was (Numbers 31:16) to seduce the people of Israel by bringing the Moabitish and Midianite evil women to tempt and get them through their lusts to attend idolatrous feasts.

In getting at the character of this man, we have fortunately some exceedingly valuable sermon literature. The greatest preachers of modern times have preached on Balaam, and in the cross lights of their sermons every young preacher ought to inform himself thoroughly on Balaam. The most famous one for quite a while was Bishop Butler’s sermon. When I was a boy, everybody read that sermon, and, as I recall it, the object was to show the self-deception which persuaded Balaam in every case that the sin he committed could be brought within the rules of conscience and revelation, so that he could say something at every point to show that he stood right, while all the time he was going wrong.

Then the great sermon by Cardinal Newman: "The dark shadow cast over a noble course by standing always on the ladder of advancement and by the suspense of a worldly ambition never satisfied." He saw in Balaam one of the most remarkable men of the world, high up on the ladder and the way to the top perfectly open but shaded by the dark shadow of his sin. Then Dr. Arnold’s sermon on Balaam, as I recall, the substance being the strange combination of the purest form of religious belief with action immeasurably below it. Next the great sermon by Spurgeon with seven texts. He takes the words in the Bible, "I have sinned," and Balaam is one of the seven men he discusses. Spurgeon preached Balaam as a double-minded man. He could see the right and yet his lower nature turned him constantly away from it, a struggle between the lower and higher nature. These four men were the greatest preachers in the world since Paul. I may modestly call attention to my own sermon on Balaam; that Balaam was not a double-minded man; that from the beginning this man had but one real mind, and that was greed and power, and he simply used the religious light as a stalking horse. No rebuff could stop him long. God might say, "You shall not go," and he would say, "Lord, hear me again and let me go." He might start and an angel would meet him and he might hear the rebuke of the dumb brute but he would still seek a way to bring about evil. I never saw a man with a mind more single than Balaam.

I want you to read about him in Keble’s "Christian Year." Keble conceives of Balaam as standing on the top of a mountain that looked over all those countries he is going to prophesy about and used this language:

O for a sculptor’s hand,

That thou might’st take thy stand

Thy wild hair floating in the eastern breeze,

Thy tranc’d yet open gaze

Fix’d on the desert haze,

As one who deep in heaven some airy pageant aeea.

In outline dim and vast

Their fearful shadows cast

The giant forms of empires on their way

To ruin: one by one

They tower and they are gone,

Yet in the Prophet’s soul the dreams of avarice stay.

That is a grand conception. If he just had the marble image of a man of that kind, before whose eyes, from his lofty mountain pedestal were sweeping the pageants of mighty empires and yet in whose eyes always stayed the dreams of avarice. The following has been sculptured on a rock:

No sun or star so bright

In all the world of light

That they should draw to Heaven his downward eye:

He hears th’ Almighty’s word,

He sees the Angel’s sword,

Yet low upon the earth his heart and treasure lie.

That comes nearer giving a true picture of Balaam. That shows you a man so earth bound in his heart’s desire, looking at low things and grovelling that no sun or star could lift his eye toward heaven. Not even God Almighty’s word could make him look up, without coercion of the human will.

Now, you are to understand that the first two prophecies of Balaam came to him when he was trying to work divinations on God. In those two he obeys as mechanically as a hypnotized person obeys the will of the hypnotist. He simply speaks under the coercive power of God. In these first two prophecies God tells him what to say, as if a mightier hand than his had dipped the pen in ink and moved his hand to write those lines.

At the end of the second one when he saw no divination could possibly avail against those people, the other prophecies came from the fact that the Spirit of the Lord comes on him just like the Spirit came on Saul, the king of Israel, and he prophesied as a really inspired man. In the first prophecy he shows, first, a people that God has blessed and will not curse; second, he is made to say, "Let me die the death of the righteous and let my, last end – at death and judgment – be like his." That shows God’s revelation to that people. The second prophecy shows why that is so: "God is not a man that he should repent." "It is not worth while to work any divination. He has marked out the future of this nation." Second, why is it that he will not regard iniquity in Jacob? For the purpose he has in view he will not impute their trespasses to them. The prophecy stops with this thought, that when you look at what this people have done and will do, you are not to say, "What Moses did, nor Joshua did, nor David," but you are to say, "What God hath wrought!"

The first time I ever heard Dr. Burleson address young preachers, and I was not even a Christian myself, he took that for his text. He commenced by saying, "That is a great theme for a preacher. Evidently these Jews had not accomplished all those things. They were continually rebelling and wanting to go back, and yet you see them come out of Egypt, cross the Sea, come to Sinai, organized, fed, clothed, the sun kept off by day and darkness by night, marvellous victories accomplished and you are to say, ’What God hath wrought!’ "

When the spiritual power comes on him he begins to look beyond anything he has ever done yet, to messianic days. There are few prophecies in the Bible more far-reaching than this last prophecy of Balaam. When he says of the Messiah, "I shall see him but not now," it is a long way off. "My case is gone, but verily a star" – the symbol of the star and sceptre carried out the thought of the power of the Messiah. So much did that prophecy impress the world that those Wise Men who came right from Balaam’s country when Jesus was born, remember this prophecy: "We have seen his star in the east and have come to worship him."

He then looks all around and there are the nations before him from that mountain top, and he prophesies about Moab and Amalek and passes on beyond, approaching even to look to nations yet unborn. He looks to the Grecian Empire arising far away in the future, further than anybody but Daniel. He sees the ships of the Grecians coming and the destruction of Asshur and the destruction of Eber, his own people. Then we come to the antitypical references later.

If you want a comparison of this man, take Simon Magus who wanted to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit so as to make money. That is even better than Judas, though Judas comes in. Judas had knowledge, was inspired, worked miracles, and yet Judas never saw the true kingdom of God in the spirit of holiness, and because he could not bring about the kingdom of which he would be treasurer for fifteen dollars he sold the Lord Jesus Christ. Those are the principal thoughts I wanted to add.


1. Who was Balaam?

2. How did he obtain his knowledge of God?

3. What was the sin of Balaam?

4. What was the climax of his sin?

5. What five sermons on Balaam are referred to? Give the line of thought in each.

6. Give Keble’s conception of Balaam.

7. What was the testimony sculptured on a rock?

8. Now give your own estimate of the character of Balaam.

9. How do you account for the first two prophecies?

10. How do you account for the other two?

11. In the first prophecy what does he show, what is he made to say and what does that show?

12. Give a brief analysis of the second prophecy.

13. Of what does the third prophecy consist?

14. Give the items of the fourth prophecy.

15. How did his messianic prophecy impress the world?

16. When was this prophecy concerning Amalek fulfilled? Ana. In the days of Saul. (I Sam. 15).

17. Who was Asshur and what was his relation to the Kenites?

18. What reference here to the Grecians?

19. Who was Eber?

20. With what two New Testament characters may we compare?

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Jude 1". "Carroll's Interpretation of the English Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bhc/jude-1.html.
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