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Jude 1:1. And brother of James,— He might also have called himself the brother of our Lord, for he was nearly related to the Lord Jesus Christ, according to the flesh; but though the evangelists have given them that title, yet neither Jude, nor his brother James, have ever taken it to themselves: perhaps they avoided it out of their great humility, or to intimate that, though they had known Christ after the flesh, or valued themselves for being related to him, yet now henceforth they knew him so no more, nor valued themselves so much upon that account, as in their being his faithful servants. Preserved in Jesus Christ, means, "preserved in that hour of temptation, when so many false teachers had corrupted the gospel, and such numbers of Christians had fallen from the purity of it." As they retained their integrity, they would be preserved from the judgments which were coming upon those who had fallen away; and they might depend upon it, that, if faithful unto death, they should in due time receive their reward.
Jude 1:3. Beloved, when I gave all diligence, &c.— This verse, about the sense of which commentators have strangely disagreed, maybe thus paraphrased: "Beloved, when I was studiously thoughtful about, and earnestly applied to the work of sending an epistle to you, concerning that spiritual salvation, which is common to you and me, and all true believers, whether Jews or Gentiles, and is proposed and recommended in the gospel to the acceptance of all sinners, to whom it is preached with this assurance, that whoever cometh to Christ, he will in no wise cast him out, (John 6:37.)—I saw this to be a point of such vast importance, and so vehemently struck at in this day of sad defection and of intriguing, as well as of violent methods to overthrow it, that I thought it necessary, under divine suggestion, to write to you about it, and stir you up by every consideration relating to your own safety and comfort and the glory of Christ and of God in him, to exert yourselves, in a humble dependance on divine grace, with the utmost vigour, even, as it were, to an agony of labour and concern (επαγωνιζεσθαι ), in maintaining, defending, and practising the pure and uncorrupted doctrine of faith in its full extent, with respect to the person, offices, grace, and government of the Lord Christ, which was once delivered by him to his holyapostles, and, by them to the church, consisting of believers that are holy in heart and life; and which was committed as a trust and treasure to them, that they might keep it faithfully, and transmit it to posterity, and not suffer it to be altered, or wrested out of their hands, by any means whatever. I say there is great need that I should write to you about this."
Jude 1:4. For there are certain men crept in, &c.— The creeping in unawares, in St. Jude, has a plain resemblance and reference to the privily bringing in mentioned by St. Peter, 2 Peter 2:1. Both the words in the original are formed upon the same sentiment, and are meant to describe the craft and subtle insinuation of the new false teachers. The turning the grace of God into lasciviousness in St. Jude, answers to the damnable heretics in St. Peter. Instead of ordained, the word,
προγεγραμμενοι rather signifies described, or set forth of old. Doddridge observes well upon this verse, that προγεγραμμενοι may well signifydescribed, or put upon record; that is, "whose character and condemnation may be considered as described in the punishment of other notorious sinners, who were a kind of representatives of them:" which interpretation, says he, I prefer to any other, as it tends to clear God of that heavy imputation which it must bring upon his moral attributes, to suppose that he appoints men to sin against him, and then condemns them for doing what they could not but do, and what they were, independent on their own freedom of choice, fated to: a doctrine so pregnant with gloom, and, as I should fear, with fatal consequences, that I think it part of the duty I owe to the word of God, to rescue it from the imputation of containing such a tenet. Dr. Benson very justly observes, that the word κριμα does not denote their sin, but the condemnation of them because of their sin; and that παλαι, of old, does not signify "from all eternity," but "from a former time, or a time long since past:" and I would propose it as a query, says he, whether they have not, in later ages, turned the grace of God into licentiousness, who have held that men are decreed unto salvation, absolutely and unconditionally, or without any regard to their virtue and piety; that God sees no sin in believers; that good works are in no sense necessary to salvation; that God loves men never the better because of their holiness, nor ever the worse because of their unholiness. I do not suppose that all who have professed these, and the like opinions, have held the consequences, or even perceived them; but the query is, Whether the opinions do not tend to licentiousness? The last clause of this verse affords a strong proof of the Divinity of our Saviour.
Jude 1:5. Though ye once knew this,— Though ye fully, or perfectly. See Jude 1:3. The Christians to whom St. Jude writes, had formerly been of the Jewish religion, and were therefore well acquainted with the Old Testament, from their hearing it read in the synagogue every Sabbath-day. It is intimated in the latter clause, that the grand corrupters of the gospel referred to, were guilty of unbelief or disobedience to God; in which if they persisted, all their Christian privileges would not prevent their destruction.
Jude 1:6. And the angels which kept not, &c.— St. Peter, 2nd Epistle, 2Pe 2:4 speaks of the angels that sinned; St. Jude gives it as an account of their sin, that they kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation. This account of the angels' sin is recorded only in this passage of sacred writ. The very same difference may be observed in setting forth the example of Sodom and Gomorrha; which is common to both epistles. St. Peter speaks only of their judgment, and of their being made an example to sinners: St. Jude adds an account of their crime, and, though the images and ideas are the same, yet the turn of expression is very different. Instead of their first estate (αρχην ), Dr. Heylin, after Cudworth, renders it their principality. Instead of their own habitation, some would understand the word οικητηριον in the same sense wherein it is used 2Co 5:2 for the vestment of glory wherewith the saints are clothed in the future state. Hence it was, very probably, that Dr. Cudworth was led to interpret it of the celestial body of the angels, which they changed when they fell, for an airy and obscure one. However, be this as it may, St. Jude might design to intimate, either that they left the peculiar Presence, which was their proper habitation; orthat they lost their glory with their innocence, as all of them did. OEcumenius says, "They left the honour of the angelic dignity." By this instance St. Jude designed to condemn the pride and apostacy of those false teachers and corrupt Christians.
Jude 1:7. And the cities about them in like manner, &c.— That is, "In like manner with their neighbours in Sodom and Gomorrha." Dr. Heylin gives the passage a very just turn: and the adjacent cities who were guilty of the same prostitution, in following unnatural lusts. The whole verse may be thus paraphrased: "Utter destruction shall certainly and suddenly come from the Lord upon all such: even as it did on the infamously wicked people of Sodom and Gomorrah, and of the neighbouring cities of Adma and Zeboim, in storms of fire and brimstone, rained down from heaven upon them for the flagitious crimes which they greedily committed. The perpetual desolation of that wicked people, and of their cities, the evident marks of which remain to this day, is exhibited in the sacred history, and in providence, to open view, as an example of God's tremendous vengeance, which carries a lively emblem of the everlasting destruction of all the wicked and ungodly in hell-fire."
Jude 1:8. Likewise also— Nevertheless these dreamers also, &c.] The connection is, "Though there are so many examples upon record of God's just displeasure against the wicked; nevertheless, these dreamers also, in like manner with the ancient inhabitants of Sodom, defile the flesh with their lewd practices, despise government, and rail against the persons who are exalted to power and dignity." Vicious persons are represented in scripture as being asleep, Romans 13:11. 1Co 15:34. 1Th 5:6 and here, as dreaming idle dreams; turning the grace of God into licentiousness, and promising themselves and their disciples security and lasting happiness in those courses which the gospel condemned. St. Jude had given three instances of God's inflicting punishment upon his rational creatures for their sin; namely, those of the Israelites, wicked angels, and Sodomites: the crimes were different; ingratitude and reproachful complaints against their supreme Governor, in the Israelites; pride in the fallen angels; and sensuality in the Sodomites. Here he seems to charge all those crimes upon these corrupt Christians; first, sensuality, then pride, and lastly, reproachful insults and reflections upon the higher powers. Instead of these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, Heylin has it, These men, indulging their filthy imaginations, pollute themselves.
Jude 1:9. Michael the archangel,— St. Peter, 2 Eph 2:11 in reproof of the presumptuous and self-willed, who speak evil of dignities, says, that angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord; but here St. Jude has given us the history to which this belongs. See on Jude 1:6. What the ground of the controversy between the devil and Michael was, may, in the opinion of Archbishop Tillotson and others, be explained by Deu 34:6 where it is said that God took particular care concerning the burying of Moses in a certain valley; and it is added, But no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day. Had the devil been able to discover to the Jews the place where Moses was interred, they would afterwards most probably have paid an idolatrous honour to his remains; and it would have gratified his malice to have made him an occasion of idolatry after his death, who had been so great an enemy to it during his life. To prevent this, Michael buried his body secretly; and this was the thing about which he contended with the devil. Some have supposed that the contention was not about the body of Moses after his death, but when it was exposed upon the water. Instead of durst not bring against him, the Greek might be rendered, did not allow himself to bring against him. There is no reason to think that Michael was afraid of the devil, when he himself was so much superior in power and dignity. "But his duty restrained himfromit,(saysArchbishopTillotson,)and probably his discretion too. As he would not offend God, in doing a thing so much beneath the dignity and perfection of his nature; so he could not but think that the devil would be too hard for him at railing; a thing, to which as the angels have no disposition, so I believe they have no talent, no faculty at it; the cool consideration whereof should make all men, especially those who call themselves divines, and more particularly in controversies about religion, ashamed and afraid of this manner of disputing."
Jude 1:10. But these speak evil, &c.— Whereas these men rail against things which they do not indeed understand; but what things they understand naturally, like animals destitute of reason, in these things they are corrupted. See 2 Peter 2:11-12; 2 Peter 2:22.
Jude 1:11. And ran greedily after the error— And have been poured out in the error; εξεχυθησαν : which seems to have much the same sense as the Latin word palari, to ramble, or keep no certain path; as liquor when poured out of a vessel, spreads itself, and keeps no direct course. And the proper sense of πλανη, error, is a wandering out of the right way. St. Jude speaks of their havingalready perished, which affords us a genuine trait of the prophetic spirit, speaking of things certainly future, as if they were past. There is a manifest gradation in the three members of this verse: first, the crime, and then the punishment. See Psalms 22:14. Instead of gainsaying, Doddridge reads contradiction; and others opposition.
Jude 1:12. These are spots in your feasts of charity,— The first writer who describes these love-feasts is Tertullian, in his Apologies, ch. 39. Having given an account of the public worship and discipline of the Christians, their great charity and holy lives, and having taken notice of some luxurious suppers among the Heathens, he adds, "The nature of our supper may be known by its name; it is called by a Greek word which signifies love; whatever we spend therein, we look upon it as so much gain, seeing we thereby refresh all our poor: nothing vile or immodest isthere admitted; we do not sit down before we have prayed to God; every one eats what is sufficient, and drinks with sobriety, as remembering that in the night he must engage in the adoration of God. They converse together, as they who know that the Lord heareth them. After washing their hands, and lighting candles, they sing divine songs, either taken out of the scriptures, or of their own composing, as every one is able. The feast is concluded with prayer." The reader will find more on this subject in Cave's or Fleury's account of the primitive Christians, or in Hallett's Notes, vol. 3: p. 235. Respecting the word σπιλαδες, spots, see Parkhurst and Wetstein. The meaning of the next clause, Feeding themselves without fear, which Heylin renders well, indulging their appetites without restraint, seems to be, that they fed themselves in a voluptuous manner, without the fear of God, or of any scandal or disgrace which they might bring upon the Christian name. In St. Peter it is εντρυφωντες, they lived luxuriously, 2 Ephesians 2:13. They indulged to excess both in eating and drinking, and so were spots and blemishes, or a scandal to the Christian name. Instead of whose fruit withereth, some render the Greek word by in the decline of autumn: the word φθινοπωρινον properly signifies, "the latter end of autumn," when it verges towards the winter. St. Jude therefore says, that those corrupt Christians were like trees in the decline of autumn, when they have shed their leaves, and are in a withering condition. Dr. Heylin renders it withered trees. Some fig-trees had fruits upon them when they had no leaves: but to shew that these differed from good trees, St. Jude adds, without fruit. Here is a remarkable gradation; first, they are trees in the decline of autumn, stripped of their leaves and withering; secondly, they are without fruit, as well as without leaves; successive summers and winters have passed over them, and they have been continually, growing more and more fit for fuel: thirdly, they are twice dead, or, they are spiritually dead a second time by making shipwreck of their faith: therefore, fourthly, they are plucked up by the roots, as hopeless and irrecoverable. See Parkhurst on the word φθινοπωρινος .
Jude 1:13. Raging waves of the sea,— The word Αγρια, raging or wild, is applied to such herbs or trees as grow up of themselves in the desarts or mountains, by way of opposition to those which are in gardens, or cultivated by the care and industry of man. So several animals are called αγρια, wild, to distinguish them from those which are tame, or manageable by man: and because wild fruits are more bitter and less mild; and wild animals commonly less gentle than others, hence the word, by a metaphor, is used for any thing that is intractable, fierce or raging; accordingly here, and Wis 14:1 the word is used for the intractable and enraged waves of a stormy sea; and the corrupt Christians are compared to those troubled unmanageable waves, to intimate their restless, turbulent temper and behaviour among their brethren. See Ephesians 4:14.—foaming out their own shame, that is, "as the raging waves of a tempestuous sea cast out foam, and mire, and dirt; so they, out of their wicked hearts, cast forth wicked words and actions, proclaiming aloud their vices, and glorying in those filthy deeds of darkness, of which they ought to have been ashamed." The apostle seems to have had his eye upon the words of Isaiah 57:20. See also Romans 6:21.Philippians 3:19; Philippians 3:19. He adds, Stars that are planets, or that wander. The Jews used to call those who took upon them to be teachers, by the name of stars; and the same word is applied to teachers in the Christian church, Revelation 1:20. But those false teachers were only planets or wandering stars. There are several interpretations of this phrase: some, by wandering stars, understand those vapours which run along the surface of the earth, called ignes fatui, or false and delusive lights: this would have well suited the delusive light of those false teachers, as it is described by Milton, in his Paradise Lost, b. 9: 50: 634, &c. But the grand objection to this interpretation is, that those delusive vapours are never called stars. Some understand by wandering stars, the comets; which may be so called, though that is not the most usual sense of the phrase; for by αστερες πλανηται, stars that are planets, the Greeks most commonly meant those five wandering stars which we call planets, (they knew of no more,) all which are dark bodies in themselves, and are perpetually in motion from place to place; in both which things they probably differ from the fixed stars: and the false teachers might be compared to them as they were dark in themselves, and as unsteady and wandering from truth and holiness. "As the planets (says Doddridge,) seem to have a very irregular motion, being sometimes stationary, and sometimes retrograde, they are proper emblems of persons so unsettled in their principles, and so irregular in their behaviour as these men were." See Cic. De Nat. Deor. lib. 2: 100: 20 and Parkhurst on the word Πλανητης .
Jude 1:14. And Enoch—the seventh from Adam, &c.— Enoch is called the seventh from Adam, to distinguish him from another of the same name, who was the son of Cain, Genesis 4:17. A remarkable fragment of antediluvian history is here preserved to us. Our translation has it, Enoch—prophesied of these. In the old English version it is, Enoch—prophesied before of such. Blackwell takes notice that the words may be translated, He prophesied against them; but the word προφετευω, with a dative case after it, signifies to prophesy to: so that the Syriac and others have well translated the words, but Enoch prophesied also unto these men. He prophesied immediately unto the men of his own age, who were abandoned to violence and lust; and foretold, that if they did not repent, God would bring on the flood, and overtake them with his righteous judgments, both temporal and eternal. But there was no occasion for confining the benefit of his prophesy to his own age. The και, even or also, here, is emphatical; he prophesied ALSO unto these Christians, so called, or said what they might improve to their own advantage, if they pleased. See Romans 15:4. Here we may see in what sense they were said to have been described beforehand, Jud 1:4 as persons who would fall under condemnation; for in the punishment of sinners of former times, they might have read their own doom.
Jude 1:15. To execute judgment, &c.— God will come to execute judgment upon all men, but he will punish none but the ungodly; and then every mouth shall be stopped, not by might, but by evidence and conviction. Enoch prophesied that God would come, and, with a flood, punish that impious race among whom he lived, as well as punish the impenitent with everlasting destruction. By a parity of reason, St. Jude intimates, that the wicked of his and of all ages may also expect to meet with the due reward of their deeds. This prophesy of Enoch is a remarkable testimony to a future state, given previous to the Mosaic oeconomy.
Jude 1:16. These are murmurers, complainers, &c.— Having in the former verse finished the prophesy of Enoch, St. Jude now goes on in other phrases to describe those corrupt Christians. Some think that the two words, murmurers and complainers are synonymous terms, to express the same thought with more strength and vehemence. If there be any differencein their signification, the former may imply theirmurmuring in general, the other the subject of their murmuring; they complained of their lot and condition in the world, and of the course of Providence. St. Jude, in writing to such Christians as had been Jews, seems to have had his eye upon the murmurings and complainings of that nation in former ages, which were highly displeasing to God. See 1 Corinthians 10:10. The complaining temper of the Jews about this time, appears abundantly from Josephus; and the Judaizing Christians very much resembled them. A sufficient reason for their murmuring is added in the next clause; since it is no wonder that they should murmur and complain, who walked after their own lusts; for the plan of divine government is in favour of holiness and virtue; and vice cannot always prosper, or even hope to end well, in such a constitution of things. But further, they were not content to be wicked themselves, they were zealous and active in making proselytes: one of the arts which they made use of for this purpose, was speaking in magnificent phrases, υπερογκα, which had no good meaning, if any meaning at all: however, it served to amuse unthinking people, and make them imagine, that those false teachers were let into the mysteries of the gospel, and were acquainted with the deep things of God. See 2 Peter 2:18. Further, they had persons in admiration, through the hope of gain: they soothed rich men in their prejudices, and flattered them in their vices, that they might make a prey of them; for they sought not them but theirs. See 2 Peter 3:14. 1 Timothy 6:5. Instead of swelling words, Dr. Doddridge reads extravagant things.
Jude 1:17. The words which were spoken before of the apostles, &c.— Many eminent writers believe that the apostles hada meeting upon the great case of the new false teachers, and that they gave jointly, by common consent and deliberation, precepts proper to the occasion, to be communicated to all churches. No single apostle would or could, in this case, call the common injunction his commandment; but would certainly call it, in the language of St. Peter, the commandment of the apostles of our Lord. St. Paul was an apostle, yet was it no disparagement to him to carry the decree of the council of Jerusalem to the churches of his plantation; and, in writing or speaking, he could not but have called it the decree of the apostles. The case might be the same here. We have some evidence to shew that this was the case. That there was a tradition at least in the church, is evident from the Apostolical Constitutions; in which there is mention made of a meeting of the apostles upon the very account of these false teachers, so particularly described by St. Peter and St. Jude. In Book 6: ch. 13 these false teachers are described to be such as fight against Christ and Moses, pretending at the same time to value both: and thus the false teachers, as described both in St. Peter's and St. Jude's Epistles, communicated with the church, while they corrupted its faith. They were spots in the church's feasts, Jude 1:12. They are ordered to be expelled in the Apostolical Constitutions, that the lambs might be preserved sound and without spot. They are represented in the Apostolical Constitutions as the false Christians, and false prophets foretold in the gospel, blaspheming God, and trampling his Son under foot; which agrees exactly with St. Jude's account, that they had been foretold of by the apostles,—that they denied the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ, Jud 1:4 and 2 Peter 2:1. At this meeting, it is said, instructions were given, to be communicated to all churches by their respective apostles and bishops. There were probably then many circular letters sent upon this occasion: the second Epistle of St. Peter, and St. Jude's Epistle, may have been of this sort; and being drawn up on the same occasion, and upon the same instructions, it is no wonder that they are so similar in their expressions. There are in the epistles themselves some marks which seem to confirm the foregoing account. The veryword commandment used by St. Peter, when he makes mention of the apostles' authority, points out some particular and distinguished precept: for he does not seem to refer to the general preaching or doctrines of the apostles; but to some special command, or form of doctrine, relating to the false teachers. But to come nearer our point, the agreement of the two epistles in the description of the false teachers,—it is to be observed, that both St. Peter and St. Jude profess to write as reminding their churches of things with which they had before been acquainted (Jud 1:5 and 2 Peter 3:2.). St. Jude says expressly, that the very subject of this letter had once already been known unto them; "I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this," &c. The Greek word used here, is the same we met with before, "the faith once delivered;" and the words, "though ye once knew this," are relative to the same matter; and it appears that the warning against the false teachers, and the prophetic description of them, were sent to the churches, together with the commandment. It appears likewise, that both St. Peter and St. Jude wrote their epistles after this commandment had been delivered to the several churches; for they write to them reminding them of what they had before received. This being the case, it is most probable that both St. Jude and St.Peter wrote from the common plan communicated to the churches, anddrew their description of the false teachers from the same source, but still under the infallible direction of the Holy Spirit of God.
Jude 1:18. After their own ungodly lusts.— Ungodly lusts may denote such a life of sensuality, as argues that a man has not the fear of God.
Jude 1:19. These be they who separate themselves, &c.— "These are the very men, of whom our blessed Lord and his apostles warned you; men that make factions and divisions in the church, alienating themselves from the true apostles, servants, disciples, and doctrines of Christ, and forming separate parties of their own sortment; whilethey are mere sensualists, governed by animal appetites, lusts, and passions, and are entirely destitute of the enlightening, purifying, and sanctifying gifts of the Holy Spirit."
Jude 1:20. But ye, beloved, &c.— The false teachers corrupted the faith, turned the grace of God into lasciviousness, and would have made parties, tearing in pieces the church of God. The Christians, therefore, both here and Jude 1:3; Jud 1:17 are exhorted to preserve one another through divine grace in that true, pure, unmixed faith, as it was taught them by the apostles of our Lord. Their faith was called most holy, as it did not lead to licentiousness, like the corrupt doctrine of the false teachers, but promoted the most holy tempers and conversation. See 2 Peter 2:21. The Christian faith, which makes Christ the All in All, is here considered as the foundation of a building, and they were to build up each other on that foundation, the architect style is often made use of in the New Testament. They were to pray in the Holy Ghost, and, by his influences vouchsafed in answer to their prayers, were to make swifter advances in the divine life. The false teachers were sensual, and had not the Spirit: most probably they had once had the Spirit, but by departing from the true faith, and falling into vice, they had quenched the Spirit, and it was withdrawn from them. But the true Christians, building up one another upon their most holy faith; that is, not having quenched the Spirit by departing from the truth, or falling into vice, were to assemble together frequently, and make use of their spiritual gifts.
Jude 1:21. Keep yourselves in the love of God,— The word 'Εαυτους is put for αλληλου, one another, both here and in Jude 1:20. See 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:13. The meaningand connection is, that bybuilding up one another upon their most holy faith, and praying by the aid or inspiration of the Spirit, they should preserve one another in a sincere love to God and goodness, and in that way they might expect the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
Jude 1:22. And of some have compassion, &c.— "Moreover, you are not to deal alike with all who are seduced by the false teachers; for some are weak, and easily imposed upon. Towards them you are to shew great lenity and tenderness; making a difference between them and others." There were two sorts of Christians led aside by the false teachers: the one through mere weakness and imprudence: they being meek and tractable, might easily be reclaimed; they therefore were to be treated with mildness and tenderness, and a difference was to be made between them, and the more vicious and stubborn, mentioned in the next verse; which see.
Jude 1:23. And others save with fear,— Those who were more deeply immersed in the errors of the false teachers, and more corrupted with their vices, were to be saved, or reformed by fear; especially if they were also stubborn and intractable. The Christians were to set before them the terrors of the Lord: to denounce against them the judgments of God, which were over their heads, just ready to fall upon them if they did not repent, and that speedily. They were to make this difference between them and the meek and tractable. Pulling, or snatching them out of the fire, is a proverbial expression made use of, Amos 4:11. Zec 3:2 and alluded to 1 Corinthians 3:15. Just as one would hastily take a brand out of the burning, or snatch one's most valuable treasure or dearest friend out of a house on fire; in like manner must notorious sinners be treated to prevent their perishing. Not that men are to punish the incorrigible by legal penalties, unless they disturb the peace of civil society; but they are to be threatened with the divine displeasure. This method of saving men denotes, first, That they were to be speedy in attempting to reform them, for fear of losing the opportunity. Secondly, They were to use some more rough and disagreeable methods, rather than suffer them to perish. Fear may be of service to deter men from vice, and make them look for pardon, and attend to holiness and piety. But, when the love of God is shed abroad in men's hearts by the Holy Ghost given unto them, they will act from the nobler principle of love to God and goodness. Some have taken pains to shew, that by the word garment, in the next clause, we are to understand the human body; which is often called a garment, or compared to a garment: others have given different interpretations of this passage; but whoever reads Leviticus, Leviticus 13-15; Isaiah 30:22; Isa 64:6 and considers that they were Jewish Christians to whom St. Jude primarily wrote, will easily discern, that this is a fine allusion to the garments which were polluted by touching the body of a person who is unclean. The meaning is, that the Jews of old were carefully to avoid every legal pollution, or ceremonial impurity, which rendered them odious to, and avoided by their neighbours; so Christians were most carefully to avoid every moral impurity (1 Thessalonians 5:22.Revelation 3:4; Revelation 3:4.). While they endeavoured under grace to save some by gentle methods, and others by fear, they were to take care, lest they themselves should be polluted by their bad example, or infected by coming near them. Hebrews 12:15.James 1:27; James 1:27. A physician who attempts to cure the plague, should take care, lest he himself be infected by the persons whom he endeavours to cure.
Jude 1:24-25. Now unto him, &c.— "Now, to conclude with a solemn doxology, which belongs, as to all the Persons in the adorable Godhead, so particularly to our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we have been speaking of under such characters as are peculiarly suitable to your encouragement and relief under all your present troubles (Jude 1:14-15; Jud 1:21); I would express it in the following lofty and endearing strain:—To Him who has almighty power originally in himself as God, and all office authority and qualifications as Mediator; and, having graciously undertaken, is as willing as he is able,to preserve all that perseveringly trust in him from apostacy, from stumbling, and from falling into and by the errors of the wicked; and, after their state of warfare is accomplished, to present them to himself, and to his Father, a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy, and without blemish (Ephesians 5:27.), and should stand with complete acceptance in his immediate presence, when he shall appear in all his glory, and they shall appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:4.), and with triumphant and extatic joy; and all the glorified saints and holy angels shall exceedingly rejoice to all eternity.—To this God our Saviour, who, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, is infinitely, originally, essentially and communicatively the only wise God: to him, as well as to those other adorable Persons, be ascribed, as is equally due, all the glory of his divine nature and attributes as God, and of all his love and grace, designs, undertakings, and performances, as likewise all the grandeur of heavenly Majesty as God-man Mediator, together with universal rule and government, might and authority, over all persons and things, in the kingdom of providence and of grace, now, henceforth, and for evermore. In this ascription of glory, may we and all the saints and angels join, as with one heart and voice! Amen." It seems to me, that the divine Person here most immediately intended, is our Lord Jesus Christ, who is principally spoken of all along in the preceding context, and is often styled, by way of eminence, The Saviour, and God our Saviour, as in Ephesians 5:23.Philippians 3:20; Philippians 3:20. Titus 2:13. 2Pe 1:1; 2Pe 1:21 and is here called the only wise God (Jude 1:25.), not to the exclusion of the Father and the Holy Spirit, but only of all idols. And as his presenting his saints faultless before the presence of his glory, manifestly relates to the time of his glorious appearing to judgment, for executinga dreadful sentence on the ungodly, and shewing mercy to his faithful saints unto eternal life; so this exactly agrees with the work which is peculiarly ascribed to him, as the Saviour of the body and Head of the church (Ephesians 5:23-27.). But I do not find that the presentation of the church at the last day is ever ascribed to God the Father. Mr. Jones, in his "Catholic Doctrine of a Trinity," chap. 1: art. 41 reasons on this text as follows: "That is, the only wise God who is able to present us before the presence of his glory; but Christ is to present us, as members of the church in glory, to himself (Ephesians 5:27.); therefore He is the only wise God, to whom also appertains the presence of glory; for that is no other than his own presence; himself. This is another express instance, that μονος Θεος, the only God, is not 'God in one person,' but the Unity of the Trinity: for, if you confine this phrase (with the Arians) to the single person of the Father, then of course you exclude the person of Christ; and then, it is manifest, you contradict the scripture: for, though it be affirmed in this place, that the only wise God is to present us before his own presence, yet the same is elsewhere expressed by Christ's presenting us to himself; which is no way to be accounted for, unless you believe Christ to be a partaker in the being, attributes, and offices of the one, undivided, only wise God, our Saviour:—and then there is no further difficulty."
Inferences.—Let those, who have the honour of being numbered among the disciples of Christ, stand at the remotest distance from the evils with which the unhappy creatures described in this epistle are branded by the apostle. And may divine grace preserve all his churches from such spots in their feasts of charity! May our horizon be secured from those dark and gloomy clouds without water; the plantations of God among us be free from the incumbrance and disgrace of those withered and fruitless trees, twice dead, and plucked up by the roots! How illustrious was the prophesy, with which Enoch, the seventh from Adam, was inspired; and how precious is that fragment of antediluvian history, which is here preserved, and which shall surely be accomplished in its season! The day is now much nearer, when the Lord will come with ten thousands of his saints: may the ungodly remember it, and suppress in time the speeches which will then assuredly be reproved, and repent of the deeds, which, if unrepented of, however forgotten now, will be brought into open view, and draw down upon their heads the destruction which at present seems to linger. That we may have confidence before him at his coming, let us remember the words of the apostle, and implore the influences of the divine Spirit, which sensualists, who walk after their own lusts, quench and stifle, and which they mock and deride. Let us, however, be concerned to edify ourselves in our most holy faith, and to pray in the Holy Ghost, under his influence, direction, and assistance. The security of the heart amid so many temptations, and its richest cordial in all its afflictions, is the love of God: but how soon does the celestial flame languish and die, if it be not constantly fed with new fuel! Let it then be our care in humble dependance upon divine grace, to keep ourselves in the love of God; which will be cherished in proportion to that degree of faith and hope, with which we look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life: for what can so powerfully excite our love to God as such a consideration?
If we do expect it, let us express our regard to the salvation of others, as well as to our own; and apply ourselves to those who seem to be in danger, with such different addresses of awe or tenderness, as their different circumstances and tempers may require. But some way or another let us exert ourselves to pluck them out of the fire, who are in danger of falling into it, and perishing for ever.
A care to preserve our own characters and conscience unspotted, will be necessary to our courage, and hope of success, in such efforts as these. Let us therefore be more frequently looking up to him who is able to keep us from falling, and to improve, as well as maintain, the work he has wrought in us, till we shall be presented blameless before the presence of his glory. Then shall our hearts know a joy beyond what earth can afford, beyond what heaven itself shall have given us in the separate state: then shall God also rejoice over us, and the joy of our compassionate Saviour be completed in the seeing the full accomplishment of the travail of his soul. To him who has so wisely formed the scheme, and will faithfully and perfectly accomplish it for every faithful soul, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and for ever. Amen.
REFLECTIONS.—1st, The apostle opens with,
1. An account of the sacred penman. Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, whose highest honour is to minister in the gospel; and brother of James, the son of Alpheus.
2. The persons to whom it is addressed. To them that are sanctified by God the Father, entirely devoted to his service through the influence of his grace; and preserved in Jesus Christ, brought into the fellowship of his religion, and guarded by his grace in the midst of a thousand snares; and called to the participation of those gospel privileges which Jesus hath purchased, and God the Father promised to bestow on the faithful followers of his Son. Note; Hope towards God, without holiness, is but delusion.
3. The apostolical benediction. Mercy unto you from a pardoning God, and peace flowing from a sense of his reconciliation, and love both to him and towards each other, be multiplied.
4. He exhorts them to hold fast the truth which they had received both in doctrine and practice. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, which all believers enjoy through our adored Redeemer and Saviour; it was become needful for me to write unto you, because of the multitude of deceivers, and exhort you, that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints, firmly holding fast the unadulterated doctrines of truth, and zealously maintaining them against all heretical opposers. Note; (1.) The salvation of the gospel is a common salvation for Jews and Gentiles, and sinners of every kind without exception. (2.) They who have received the truth, in the light and love of it, need be exhorted still to stand fast against all the wiles of deceivers. (3.) That faith which God, by his inspired servants, once delivered to his saints, for the use of his church to the latest ages, we must contend for, not with anger, or carnal weapons, but with holy zeal, tempered with meekness, and arguments drawn from the sacred treasury of the scriptures.
5. He describes the false teachers against whom they need be on their guard. For there are certain men crept in unawares, by craft and subtilty into the church and the ministry, who were before of old ordained or registered to this condemnation, by God's righteous sentence denounced against crimes like theirs, long before they appeared in the world; (see the Annotations;) ungodly men, whose spirit, temper, and conduct, are directly opposite to the divine will and word; turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, perverting the richest doctrines of grace to the vilest purposes of impurity, and abusing them to encourage men in all immorality with the hopes of impunity; denying the only Lord God, in works, if not in words; practical, if not speculative atheists; and rejecting also the gospel testimony concerning the person, character, and offices of our Lord Jesus Christ. Note; (1.) Deceivers were rife in every age; we need not wonder therefore if such ungodly men are found in our own, perverting the glorious grace of the gospel. (2.) They who are vile upon principle, and plead God's word to countenance their impurities, are of all men most desperately wicked. (3.) When ungodly men meet their appointed condemnation, they receive but the just reward of their deeds.
2nd, The apostle, to enforce his warnings, reminds them of the judgment which God formerly executed on such ungodly men. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, the perpetual memory of which needs to be preserved; and it is good to be often reminded of these things, that they may be present before our minds, and the impression of them more deep and lively.
Three awful instances of divine vengeance are enumerated, to warn and deter others from the like crimes. Remember,
1. How that the Lord having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed them that believed not, though he had done great things for them; and if he spared not these, let not the perverters of the gospel, whose crime is so much more aggravated, expect a less fearful doom. And remember also,
2. That the angels (though creatures of such superior excellence and dignity, according to original creation,) which kept not their first estate, who were not content with the station allotted them, but left their own habitation, affecting to be as the Most High, and were therefore hurled from those bright regions which were before their blest abode;—these he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness, like criminals fast bound in prison, and kept in custody, in spiritual darkness, misery, and black despair, unto the judgment of the great day, when sentence will finally be executed upon them, and their torment be as complete as eternal. And if God thus punished rebel angels, what severity shall not they meet with, who fight against the word of his truth, and the honour of his Son! Apostates in heaven or earth must perish together.
3. Another instance of God's wrath is produced. Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, Admah and Zeboim, in like manner abandoned to impurity, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, guilty of the most shocking acts of uncleanness, and the most unnatural crimes, are set forth for an example of God's tremendous wrath, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire; the liveliest image of what the damned must endure in the lake which burneth with tire and brimstone for ever and ever. Woe to those who are partakers of their sins! the same fearful vengeance awaits them.
3rdly, The apostle describes these seducers as guilty of the same crimes which had brought down wrath both on sinning angels and ungodly men.
1. Their impurities were great. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh; sleeping and waking, their minds are ever running after impure objects, dishonouring their bodies by their lewd practices, and drawing in others to gratify their lawless appetites.
2. They cast off all respect for lawful authority. They despise dominion, treating the civil government with insolence and contempt; and speak evil of dignities, reviling the persons of magistrates, and those who are high in office. Yet even Michael the archangel, eminent as his rank and station is, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, wicked as he was, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. And therefore if the devil himself, wicked as he is, was not rebuked with railing, much less ought any magistrates or rulers whom God hath ordained, to be treated with insolence and indignity. But these seducers speak evil of those things which they know not, ignorant of the excellence and importance of religion and of the scriptures, and of the usefulness of that ministry and magistracy against which they rail: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, governed merely by their sensitive appetites,—in those things they corrupt themselves, giving a loose to all their brutish passions, without fear or shame, till they bring upon themselves swift destruction. Note; When men live like beasts, they must expect to perish like devils.
3. They copied the vilest examples. Wo unto them! the most fearful vengeance hangs over them; for they have gone in the way of Cain, filled with his malignant spirit and envy, hatred, and murder toward the righteous, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, ambitious, proud, covetous, and, like that wicked prophet, insatiate after gain; and they have perished in the gainsaying of Core, like those rebels who rose up against Moses and Aaron, and ready with them to be swallowed up in the yawning pit of hell. Note; Companions with sinners must expect to share their plagues.
4. He describes these deluders under a variety of images. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear; whether in a way of civil intercourse, or religious communion, they let loose their luxurious appetites, without any fear of that judgment which awaits them: clouds they are without water, that seem to promise rain, but prove like noxious vapours, or noisome fogs, carried about with winds, variable, and tossed about with every blast of error; trees whose fruit withereth, deceiving our expectations and bringing nothing to maturity; without fruit, their specious appearances, like blasted fruit, drop off, and the hypocrite and apostate are detected; twice dead, by nature and grace, plucked up by the roots, and thus irrecoverably ruined; all hope respecting them is become desperate, and they are now only fit fuel for the flames; raging waves of the sea, turbulent, ungovernable, foaming out their own shame, belching forth their blasphemies against Christ, or their reproaches against his cause and people; wandering stars, resembling fiery meteors that kindle in the atmosphere, and, after a momentary blaze, are extinguished; or, like the comets, wandering wide from the system of truth and holiness; or, like opaque planets, being spiritually dark, possessing no real light in themselves; to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever, in that place where total despair completes the misery of the damned, whose worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched.
4thly, We have,
1. A prophesy of Enoch's, recorded, concerning these men. And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, in the line of descent, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints, in glorious majesty, swift to avenge the wrongs of his people, and the blasphemies against himself; to execute judgment upon all, who must stand at his bar, and receive from his lips their decisive sentence; and to convince all that are ungodly among them, by the vengeance he will inflict, of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, in defiance of his authority; and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. Note; (1.) There is a dreadful day of judgment at hand, when vengeance shall overtake the ungodly. (2.) However impious and stout-hearted sinners may now be, every impenitent heart in that day will tremble, and every hardened face gather blackness. (3.) Though mockers now make light of ridiculing the word, and the ways, and people of God, they will find a fearful reckoning for their hard speeches in the day of recompence.
2. A farther description of these wicked men. These are murmurers, against God and his providences; complainers, discontented with their condition in life; finding fault with the doctrines and dispensations of the Lord; walking after their own lusts, gratifying every vile and sensual appetite without restraint: and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, making a pretended ostentation of their knowledge and piety, while they are in the very depth of error, and in the gall of bitterness; having men's persons in admiration because of advantage; caressing and flattering those, however vile, who are rich, in order to make gain of them. Note; (1.) Discontent with our lot is, in God's sight, rebellion against his providence. (2.) Men-pleasers, and smooth-tongued flatterers of the great, have the sure brand upon them of ministers of Satan.
5thly, The apostle concludes,
1. With his kind admonitions. But, beloved, be deaf to the arts of these seducers, and remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, which now have received their fulfilment, and should confirm the doctrines which they taught: how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts; scoffing at the genuine religion of Jesus, that without restraint they may give a loose to every lawless passion. And these be they, of whom the apostle spake, who separate themselves; fomenting factions, and, from base and interested motives, forming new sects and parties, while they are utterly sensual, and slaves of worldly-mindedness and fleshly lusts; having not the Spirit, and strangers to his grace and influence. Note; (1.) The only way to be preserved from the wiles of deceivers, is to cleave to our Bibles. (2.) We must not be ashamed of mocking; remember who will mock last. See Proverbs 1:26.
2. With warm exhortations. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, on the glorious foundation of it, Jesus Christ, continue steadfast in your holy profession, seeking to establish each other in the truth: and, praying in the Holy Ghost, under his gracious teaching and influences, who helpeth our infirmities, keep yourselves in the love of God; use all appointed means to preserve and increase the heavenly fire, and to approve yourselves in all holy obedience and humble resignation; looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life, and that complete felicity, both in body and soul, for which, if you obtain it, you must own yourselves wholly indebted to the riches of his grace. And of some have compassion, making a difference between those who err wilfully, and those who are misled through weakness and the wiles of deceivers, whom with all kindness and tenderness labour to recover from the snare: and others save with fear; using that sharpness, severity, and terror with them, which their more dangerous case requires; pulling them, if possible, out of the fire, which is ready to consume them; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh; detesting all impure conversation, and testifying an unremitting displeasure against sin, and whatever would lead thereto; as the Jews were under the law obliged to shun every touch that communicated defilement, and to burn the garment that had the spot of leprosy, Note; (1.) Faith in lively exercise, is the great preservative from all delusion. (2.) Prayer must be our daily employment,—spiritual prayer, not the mere task of the lip and the knee, but the warm effusions of the heart, where the Holy Ghost abides. (3.) They who would keep themselves in the love of God, must carefully shun whatever they know must offend him. (4.) We should shew a holy jealousy over our brethren, tenderly desirous to snatch them from the dangers to which they are exposed; kindly warning them; and, where sharpness is needful, faithfully declaring those terrors of the Lord, which may rouse the lethargic conscience.
3. He closes with a solemn doxology. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, that blessed Jesus who alone can preserve you from all evil and apostacy through faith in him; and to present you faultless, perfect and without blame before the presence of his glory, in the great day of his appearing, with exceeding joy, when every tear shall be wiped from the eyes of his faithful people, and eternal triumphs fill their happy souls; to the only wise God our Saviour, in whom dwell all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. Note; The service of eternity will begin even here below; and every faithful soul will delight to proclaim the Saviour's praise.
*.* The Reader is referred to the different Authors mentioned often already.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Jude 1". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany