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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Jude 1

 

 

Verse 1-2

1:1-2. Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ — The highest glory which any, either man or angel, can aspire to. The word servant, under the old covenant, was adapted to the spirit of fear and bondage, which cleaved to that dispensation. But when the time appointed of the Father was come for the sending of his Son, to redeem them that were under the law, the word servant (used by the apostles concerning themselves and all the children of God) signified one that, having the Spirit of adoption, was made free by the Son of God. His being a servant is the fruit and perfection of his being a Son. And whenever the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in the New Jerusalem, then it will be indeed that his servants shall serve him, Revelation 22:3. And brother of James — So well known by his distinguished services in the cause of Christ and of his gospel. St. James was the more eminent, namely, James the Less, usually styled the brother of the Lord; and Jude, being his brother, might also have been called the brother of Christ, rather than the brother of James. But he avoided that designation in the inscription of a letter, which he wrote in the character of an apostle, to show, that whatever respect as a man he might deserve on account of his relation to Christ, he derived no authority from it as an apostle, nor indeed claimed any. To them that are sanctified by God the Father — Devoted to his service, set apart for him and made holy, through the influence of his grace; and preserved in Jesus Christ — In the faith and profession of Christ, and union with him, and by his power. In other words, brought into the fellowship of his religion, and guarded by his grace in the midst of a thousand snares, which might have tempted them to have made shipwreck of their faith. And called — By the preaching of the word, by the dispensations of divine providence, and by the drawings of divine grace; called to receive the whole gospel blessing in time and in eternity. These things are premised, lest any of them should be discouraged by the terrible things which are afterward mentioned. Mercy and peace, &c. — A holy and truly apostolical blessing, says Estius; observing, that from this, and the benedictions in the two epistles of Peter, we learn that the benedictions in Paul’s epistles are to be completed by adding the word multiplied.


Verse 3

1:3. When I gave all diligence — Or made all haste, as πασαν σπουδην ποιουμενος literally signifies, Jude being informed of the assiduity, and perhaps the success, with which the false teachers were spreading their pernicious errors, found it necessary to write this letter to the faithful without delay. To write to you of the common salvation — The salvation from the guilt and power of sin, into the favour and image of God here, and from all the consequences of sin into eternal felicity and glory hereafter; a salvation called common, because it belongs equally to all who believe; to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews; to men of all nations and conditions; designed for all, and enjoyed in part by all believers. For the same reason Paul terms the faith of the gospel, the common faith, (Titus i, 4,) because an opportunity of believing is afforded to all. Here the design of the epistle is expressed, the end of which exactly answers the beginning. It was needful for me to exhort you that ye should earnestly contend — Yet humbly, meekly, and lovingly, otherwise your contending will only hurt your cause, if not destroy your souls; for the faith — All the fundamental truths of the gospel. “In the circumstances in which the faithful were when Jude wrote this letter, an exhortation to hold fast and maintain the true doctrine of the gospel against the false teachers, was more necessary and profitable for the disciples, than explications of the particular doctrines of the gospel. By strenuously contending for the faith, the apostle did not mean contending for it with fire and sword, but their endeavouring, in the spirit of meekness and love, to establish the true doctrines of the gospel, by arguments drawn, not only from the Jewish Scriptures, but especially from the writings of the evangelists and apostles, which were all, or most of them, published when Jude wrote this letter. In the same manner they were strongly to oppose and confute the errors of the false teachers. The word επαγωνιζεσθαι properly signifies, to strive as in the Olympic games, that is, with their whole force.”

Once delivered to the saints — By απαξ, once, Macknight understands formerly, the word being used in that sense, 1:5. But Estius and Beza adopt the common translation, supposing the meaning of the clause to be, that the faith spoken of was delivered to the saints once for all, and is never to be changed; nothing is to be added to it, and nothing taken from it. By the saints Jude first means the holy apostles and prophets of Christ, (in which sense the word saints is used, Colossians 3:26, compared with Ephesians 3:5,) to whom the Lord Jesus delivered the doctrine of the gospel in all its parts, including the truths which men were to believe, and the precepts they were to perform, together with the promises of present and eternal salvation made to the believing and obedient, and the threatenings denounced against the unbelieving and disobedient. This doctrine the apostles and evangelists delivered to their hearers in their various discourses, and consigned it to writing for the instruction of future ages. “Hence it is evident that the faith for which Christians are to contend strenuously, is that alone which is contained in the writings of the evangelists, apostles, and Jewish prophets. Now as they have expressed the things which were revealed to them in words dictated by the Spirit, (1 Corinthians 2:13,) we are to contend, not only for the things contained in their writings, but also for that form of words in which they have expressed these things, lest by contending for forms invented and established by human authority, as better fitted to express the truth than the words of inspiration, we fall into error. See 2 Timothy 1:13. Jude’s exhortation ought in a particular manner to be attended to by the ministers of the gospel, whose duty more especially it is to preserve the people from error, both in opinion and practice.” — Macknight.


Verse 4

1:4. For there are certain men (see the margin) crept in unawares — Insinuating themselves into people’s affections by their plausible pretences, and leavening them by degrees with their errors. The ungodly teachers here described seem to have been the Nicolaitans, mentioned Revelation 2:6, whose doctrine Christ himself declared to be hateful to him. Perhaps the Gnostics and Carpocratians, the successors of the Nicolaitans, were also meant. The Nicolaitans are said to have maintained that marriage was a human invention, not binding on Christians; on which account they had women in common, and practised unnatural lusts, as is plain from Jude’s account of them. And they hardened themselves against the fear of punishment in a future state for these crimes, by extolling the goodness and mercy of God, which they thus perverted to lasciviousness. Who were of old ordained — Or rather, as the original expression, προγεγραμμενοι

εις τουτο το κριμα, literally signifies, written, or described, before to this condemnation — Even as early as Enoch, by whom it was foretold, that by their wilful sins they would incur this condemnation. “Jude means, that these wicked teachers had their punishment before written, that is, foretold, in what is written concerning the wicked Sodomites and rebellious Israelites, whose crimes were the same with theirs; and whose punishment was not only a proof of God’s resolution to punish sinners, but an example of the punishment which he would inflict on them. Others think that in the word προγεγραμμενοι, written before, there is an allusion to the ancient custom of writing laws on tables, which were hung up in public places, that the people might know the punishment annexed to the breaking of the laws. If this is the allusion, the apostle’s meaning will be, that the wicked teachers, of whom he is speaking, were, by the divine law, condemned to severe punishment from the beginning. Turning the grace of our God — Revealed in the gospel; into lasciviousness — Into an occasion of more abandoned wickedness, even to countenance their lewd and filthy practices. It seems these ungodly men interpreted the doctrine of justification by faith, in such a manner as to free believers from all obligation to obey the law of God, and taught that they might commit the worst actions without being liable to punishment, if they possessed faith; by which they meant the mere speculative belief and outward profession of the gospel. Denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ — See on 2 Peter 2:1. The original words, και τον μονον δεσποτην θεον και κυριον ημων ιησουν χριστον αρνουμενοι, “may be translated various ways, all equally literal: 1st, And denying the only Lord God, even our Lord Jesus Christ. According to this translation, one person only is spoken of here, namely, our Lord Jesus Christ, who is called the only Lord God. 2d, Denying both the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. According to this translation, two persons are distinctly spoken of, namely, the one Lord God, or God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ his Song of Solomon 3 d, And denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. This, which is the translation in our English Bible, and which, in sense, is not different from the second rendering, I have adopted,” says Macknight, “not only because, according to it, two persons are spoken of as denied, namely, the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ, but because it represents Jude’s sentiment as precisely the same with John’s 1st epist. 1 John 2:22, He is the antichrist who denieth the Father and the Son. By declaring that those ungodly teachers denied both the Father and the Son, the apostle showed to what a pitch of impiety they had proceeded.


Verse 5

1:5. I will therefore put you in remembrance, &c. — I will remind you of some examples of God’s judgments against such persons. Œcumenius observes, that “by proposing the following examples of the destruction of sinners from the Old Testament history, the apostle designed to show, that the God of the Old Testament is the same with the God of the New, in opposition to the Manicheans, who denied this; also to prove that the goodness of God will not hinder him from punishing the wicked under the new dispensation, any more than it hindered him from punishing them under the old.” In this passage Jude has mentioned two of the instances of the divine vengeance against atrocious sinners, which Peter took notice of, 2 Peter 2:4-5, (where see the notes,) and in place of the third instance, the destruction of the old world, he hath introduced the destruction of the rebellious Israelites in the wilderness. Though ye once knew this — Were informed of it, and received it as a truth; that the Lord, having saved the people out of Egypt — By a train of wonderful miracles; afterward destroyed them that believed not — That is, destroyed the far greater part of that very people, whom he had once saved in a very extraordinary manner. Let no one, therefore, presume upon past mercies, as if he were now out of danger. Jude does not mention the various sins committed by the Israelites in the wilderness, such as their worshipping the golden calf, refusing to go into Canaan, when commanded of God, their fornication with the Midianitish women, their frequent murmurings, &c., but he sums up the whole in their unbelief, because it was the source of all their sins.


Verse 6

1:6. And the angels which kept not their first estate — Or, as the clause may be rendered, their first dignity, or principality, (see on 2 Peter 2:4,) namely, the dignity or principality assigned them; but left their own habitation — Properly their own by the free gift of God. The apostle’s manner of speaking insinuates that they attempted to raise themselves to a higher station than that which God had allotted to them; consequently, that the sin for which they were and are to be punished, was pride and rebellion. He hath reserved — Delivered to be kept; in everlasting chains under darkness — O how unlike their own habitation! Everlasting chains is a metaphorical expression, which denotes a perpetual confinement, from which it is no more in their power to escape, than a man, who is strongly bound with iron chains, can break them. Unto the judgment of the great day — Elsewhere called the day of the Lord, and emphatically that day. In our Lord’s description of the general judgment, he tells us that the wicked are to depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels; which implies that these wicked spirits are to be punished with the wicked of mankind. Observe, reader, when these fallen angels came out of the hands of God, they were holy, (else God made that which was evil,) and being holy they were beloved of God, (else he hated the image of his own spotless purity.) But now he loves them no more, they are doomed to endless destruction; (for if he loved them still, he would love what is sinful;) and both his former love, and his present righteous and eternal displeasure, toward the same work of his own hands, are because be changeth not; because he invariably loveth righteousness, and hateth iniquity.


Verse 7-8

1:7-8. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha — See on 2 Peter 2:6-9; and the cities about them — These were Admah and Zeboim. The four are mentioned Deuteronomy 29:23; Zoar, the fifth city in the plain of Sodom, was spared, at the request of Lot, for a place of refuge to him and his family. In like manner τον ομοιον τουτοις τροπον, in a manner like to these; that is, either like to these wicked teachers, or like to the inhabitants of these wicked cities, Sodom and Gomorrah; giving themselves over to fornication — The word is applicable to any sort of uncleanness; and going after strange flesh — Giving themselves up to unnatural lusts; are set forth for an example — To other presumptuous sinners; suffering the vengeance of eternal fire — Having their lovely and fruitful country turned into a kind of hell upon earth. The meaning is, The vengeance which they suffered is an example, or type, of eternal fire. Likewise ομοιως μεν τοι, in like manner, indeed; these filthy dreamers — So our translators render the word ενυπνιαζομενοι, an epithet which the persons described undoubtedly deserved. The word, however, only signifies dreamers; or rather, persons cast into a deep sleep, namely, into a state of ignorance and insensibility, of negligence and sloth, with respect to spiritual and eternal things; sleeping and dreaming all their lives. Defile the flesh — Their own bodies, which ought to be sacred, together with their spirits, to the service of God. Despise dominion — Those that are invested with it by Christ, and made by him the overseers of his flock; or, he may mean that they despised their civil rulers; and speak evil of dignities — Of persons in the most honourable stations. The Jews, fancying it sinful to obey the heathen magistrates, despised both them and their office. The ungodly teachers, of whom Jude speaks, carried the matter still further; they reviled all magistrates whatever, as enemies to the natural liberty of mankind.


Verse 9

1:9. Yet Michael, &c. — It does not appear whether St. Jude learned this by any revelation, or from an ancient tradition. It suffices that these things were not only true, but acknowledged to be so by them to whom he wrote. Michael is mentioned Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1, as standing up in defence of Daniel’s people. “Because the book of Daniel is the first sacred writing in which proper names are given to particular angels, some have fancied that, during the Babylonish captivity, the Jews invented these names, or learned them from the Chaldeans. But this seems an unfounded conjecture. For the angel who appeared to Zacharias, (Luke 1:19,) called himself Gabriel, which shows that that name was not of Chaldean invention.” The archangel — This word occurs but once more in the sacred writings, namely, 1 Thessalonians 4:16. So that, whether there be one archangel only, or more, it is not possible for us to determine. Michael is called one of the chief princes, Daniel 10:13, and the great prince, Daniel 12:1; (on which passages see the notes.) And, because it is said, (Revelation 12:7,) that Michael and his angels fought against the dragon and his angels, Estius conjectures that Michael is the chief or prince of all the angels. But this argument is not conclusive. When contending with the devil, he disputed (at what time we know not) concerning the body of Moses — Beza, Estius, Tillotson, and other good writers, think this passage is illustrated by Deuteronomy 34:6, where it is said the Lord buried Moses in a valley, in the land of Moab, and that no one knew of his sepulchre. They suppose that, had the devil been able to discover to the Jews the place where Moses was interred, they would afterward have paid an idolatrous honour to his remains; and it would have gratified his malice exceedingly, to have made him an occasion of idolatry, after his death, who had been so great an enemy to it in his life. To prevent this, he thinks, Michael buried his body secretly. This proves, by the way, that good angels are sometimes concerned in limiting the power of the devils, which must, no doubt, be a great vexation to those malignant spirits. But Mr. Baxter suggests it as a doubt, whether it were about the dead body of Moses, or Moses exposed on the water, when an infant, that there was this contention. Baxter suggests also another interpretation, in his note on this verse. Because the apostle here seems to allude to Zechariah 3:1, where we read of Joshua the high-priest, (representing the Jewish people,) standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him; and the Lord, namely, by his angel, saying unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee: and inasmuch as the subject of that contention, between the angel and Satan, was the restoration of the Jewish Church and state, Baxter thinks that by the body of Moses here may be meant the Jewish constitution, civil and religious, which Moses had established. An interpretation which Macknight seems to countenance; “Michael is spoken of as one of the chief angels, who took care of the Israelites as a nation. He may therefore have been the angel of the Lord, before whom Joshua, the high-priest, is said, (Zechariah 3:1) to have stood, Satan being at his right hand to resist him, namely, in his design of restoring the Jewish Church and state, called by Jude, the body of Moses, just as the Christian Church is called by Paul, the body of Christ.” And this interpretation, however apparently improbable, receives some countenance from the consideration, that, among the Hebrews, the body of a thing is often used for the thing itself. Thus, Romans 7:24, the body of sin signifies sin itself. So the body of Moses may signify Moses himself, who is sometimes put in the New Testament for his law, as 2 Corinthians 3:15, When Moses is read, &c.; Acts 15:21, Moses hath in every city them that preach him.

Durst not bring against him a railing accusation — But so revered the divine presence as to speak with moderation and gentleness, even to that great enemy of God and men. Michael’s duty, says Archbishop Tillotson, “restrained him, and probably his discretion too. As he durst 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 have been 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, particularly those who call themselves divines, and especially in controversies about religion, ashamed and afraid of this manner of disputing.” But simply said — So great was his modesty! The Lord rebuke thee — I leave thee to the Judge of all. The argument of the apostle certainly does not lie in any regard shown by the angel to the devil, as a dignitary, and one who exercises dominion over subordinate evil spirits; for to be the leader of a band of such inexcusable rebels could entitle him to no respect; but it arises from the detestable character of the devil; as if the apostle had said, If the angel did not rail even against the devil, how much less ought we against men in authority, even supposing them in some things to behave amiss? To do it, therefore, when they behave well, must be a wickedness yet much more aggravated. — Doddridge.


Verse 10-11

1:10-11. But these — Without any shame; speak evil of those things which they know not — Namely, the things of God; of whose nature and excellence, truth and importance, they are entirely ignorant. See on 1 Corinthians 2:14. But what they know naturally as brute beasts — By instinct, as animals void of reason; in those things they corrupt themselves — They make them occasions of sin: or, they are corrupted by the gross and scandalous abuse of them, to the dishonour of God, and their own infamy and destruction. Thus the apostle signifies that, notwithstanding their high pretensions to knowledge, they had no knowledge even concerning the use of their own bodies, but what they derived from natural instinct as brute animals; and that, instead of using that knowledge rightly, they thereby destroyed both their souls and bodies. Thus, in this passage, he condemned the lascivious practices of the Nicolaitans, and of all the ungodly teachers, who defended the promiscuous use of women, and confuted the argument taken from natural appetite, by which they vindicated their common whoredoms. Wo unto them — Of all the apostles, Jude alone, and that in this single passage, denounces a wo. St. Peter, to the same effect, pronounces them cursed children. Macknight, who renders the clause, wo is to them, considers it as only a declaration of the misery which was to come on them: in which sense only the phrase is used by our Lord, Matthew 24:19; Wo unto them that are with child, &c., for certainly this was no wish of punishment, since to be with child, and to give suck in those days, was no crime. But it was a declaration of the misery which was coming on persons in that helpless condition. For they have gone in the way of Cain — The murderer; and ran greedily — Greek, εξεχυθησαν, have been poured out, like a torrent without banks; after the error of Balaam — The covetous false prophet, being strongly actuated, like him, by a passion for riches, and therefore drawing money from their disciples by allowing them to indulge their lusts without restraint. See on 2 Peter 2:15. And perished in the gainsaying of Core — Having opposed God’s messengers, as Korah did, like him and his company, vengeance will overtake them, as it did him. Here, as in many passages of Scripture, a thing is said to have happened which was only to happen. This manner of speaking was used to show the absolute certainty of the thing spoken of. The gainsaying, here mentioned, implies rebellion; for when princes and magistrates are contradicted, it is rebellion. By declaring that the ungodly teachers would perish in the rebellion of Korah, Jude insinuated that these men, by opposing the apostles of Christ, were guilty of a rebellion similar to that of Korah and his companions, who opposed Moses and Aaron, on pretence that they were no more commissioned by God, the one to be a prince, the other a priest, than the rest of the congregation, who, they said, were all holy, Numbers 16:3; Numbers 16:13. By comparing these false and wicked teachers to Cain, Balaam, and Korah, Jude has represented them as guilty of murder, covetousness, and ambition.


Verse 12

1:12. These — Ungodly teachers; are spots — Blemishes; in your feasts of charity — Or love-feasts, as αγαπαις is rendered by many interpreters. Commentators, however, are not agreed what sort of feasts they were. Some think they were those suppers which the first Christians ate previous to their eating the Lord’s supper, of which St. Paul is supposed to have spoken 1 Corinthians 11:21; but which, in consequence of the abuse of them by persons of a character like those here described, were soon laid aside. Others think Jude is speaking of the ancient love-suppers, which Tertullian hath described, (Apol., chap. 39,) and which do not seem to have been accompanied with the eucharist. These were continued in the church to the middle of the fourth century, when they were prohibited to be kept in the churches. Dr. Benson observes, “they were called love-feasts, or suppers, because the richer Christians brought in a variety of provisions to feed the poor, the fatherless, the widows, and strangers, and ate with them to show their love to them.” When they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear — Abandoning themselves to gluttony and excess, without any fear of God, or jealousy over themselves, and so bringing a great reproach on the gospel, and the religion of Christ. Clouds without water — Promising fertilizing showers of instruction and edification, but yielding none, or making a show of what they have not; see on 2 Peter 2:17; carried about of winds — Of temptation hither and thither, without any command of themselves, into various sorts of wickedness. Trees without fruit — The original expression, δενδρα φθινοπωρινα, is rendered by Macknight, withered autumnal trees; the latter word being derived from φθινοπωρον, which, according to Scapula, signifies, The decline of autumn drawing toward winter. Or, according to Phavorinus, it signifies a disease in trees which withers their fruit; a sense of the word which Beza has adopted in his translation. The translation of the Vulgate, arbores autumnales infructuoscæ, gives the same sense with that of Macknight, and suggests, he thinks, a beautiful idea. For, “in the eastern countries, the finest fruits being produced in autumn, by calling the corrupt teachers autumnal trees, Jude intimated the just expectation which was entertained of their being fruitful in good doctrine: but by adding ακαρπα, without fruit, he marked their uselessness, and the disappointment of their disciples.” Twice dead — First in the stock, and afterward in the graft; first by nature, and afterward by apostacy. Or dead under the Mosaic dispensation, (those ungodly teachers being mostly of the Jewish nation,) and though at first apparently quickened on their reception of the gospel, yet, through the abuse of its doctrines and privileges, dead and barren a second time: plucked up by the roots — As hopeless and irrecoverable. “There is a striking climax in this description of the false teachers: they were trees stripped of their leaves, and withering; they had no fruit, being barren that season: they were twice dead, having borne no fruit formerly: lastly, they were rooted out, as utterly barren.”


Verse 13

1:13. Raging waves of the sea — Unstable in their doctrine, and turbulent and furious in their tempers and manners, having no command of their irascible passions. Foaming out their own shame — By their wicked and outrageous behaviour, even among their disciples, showing their own filthiness to their great disgrace. The apostle seems here to have alluded to Isaiah 57:20, The wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. Wandering stars πλανηται, literally, planets, which shine for a time, but have no light in themselves. The Jews called their teachers stars, and Christian teachers are represented under the emblem of stars, Revelation 1:20; Revelation 2:1. And as the planets seem to have a very irregular motion, being sometimes stationary and sometimes retrograde, they are very proper emblems of persons unsettled in their principles, and irregular in their behaviour, such as these men were. To whom is reserved the blackness of darkness, &c. Who will soon be driven to an eternal distance from the great original of light and happiness, to which they shall never return. Thus the apostle illustrates their desperate wickedness, by comparisons drawn from the air, earth, sea and heavens.


Verse 14-15

1:14-15. And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam — Thus described to distinguish him from Enoch the son of Cain, (Genesis 4:17,) who was only the third from Adam; so early was the prophecy delivered, referred to 1:4 : prophesied of these — As well as of the antediluvian sinners. The first coming of Christ was revealed to Adam, his second and glorious coming to Enoch, who foretold the things which will conclude the last age of the world. St. Jude might know this either from some ancient book or tradition, or from immediate revelation. In whatever way he knew it, a precious fragment of antediluvian history is thus preserved to us by the special providence of God, who taught the Apostle Jude to distinguish between what was genuine and what was spurious in ancient story. “Though Moses has said nothing concerning Enoch’s prophesying, yet by telling us that he was a person of such piety, as to be translated to heaven in the body without dying, he hath warranted us to believe Jude’s account of him; namely, that God employed him, as he did Noah, in reforming the wicked of the age in which he lived, and that he inspired him to deliver the prophecy of which Jude speaks. Saying, Behold, (as if it were already done!) The Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints — Or holy ones, namely, angels, with legions of whom his descent for the purpose here mentioned will be attended; to execute judgment — Or to pass sentence, as ποιησαι κρισιν may be rendered; upon all — According to their respective works. Herein Enoch looked beyond the flood: and to convince — Or convict rather, as εξελεγξαι more properly signifies, by witnesses that cannot be confronted; all that are ungodly among them — Among those judged, and upon whom sentence is passed. Of all their ungodly deeds — Their wicked actions; which they have ungodly — Impiously; committed — Being destitute of the fear as well as love of God, and in defiance of his justice and wrath: and of all their hard — Their impious, atheistical, scoffing speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him — Namely, against Christ, as if he were an impostor, who was justly punished with an ignominious death; and against his people, representing them, although the excellent of the earth, of whom the world was not worthy, (Hebrews 11:38,) as the vilest of men.


Verse 16

1:16. These are murmurers — Against God and men, never contented with the allotments of Providence, or with the conduct of any about them; complainers ΄εμψιμοιροι, literally, complainers of their fate. Some think that the two expressions, murmurers and complainers, are synonymous terms to express the same thought with more strength and emphasis. If there be any difference in their signification, the former may imply their murmuring 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. Jude, in writing this, seems to have had his eye upon the murmurings and complainings of the Israelites in the wilderness, which were highly displeasing to God, 1 Corinthians 10:10. And writing, if not chiefly, yet at least in part, to such Christians as had been Jews, he might partly refer to the complaining temper prevalent among the Jews about this time, as Josephus testifies, in which the Judaizing Christians very much resemble them. Walking after their own lusts — Their own foolish and mischievous desires; the source this of their murmuring and complaining. For the plan of the divine government is in favour of piety and virtue: and vice cannot always prosper, or even hope to end well, in such a constitution of things; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words — In praise of themselves, as the only teachers who free men from the shackles of superstition. Or perhaps the apostle means that the false teachers spake in an insolent manner against the Roman magistrates for punishing them, and against the laws for prohibiting the vices in which they delighted. For they are said ( 1:8) to despise government, and to revile dignities. And this they might do on pretence of maintaining the cause of the people of God, against the tyranny and oppression of the Romans; having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage — Admiring and commending them only for what they can get.


Verse 17

1:17. But, beloved — To prevent you from giving heed to the vain speeches of these deceivers; remember the words which were spoken before — Or spoken prophetically; by the apostles — Who have preached the gospel to you in all its purity. He does not exempt himself from the number of apostles; for in the next verse he says, they told you, not us. The resemblance, as Doddridge justly observes, between this text and 1 Peter 3:2, is very remarkable. It is such as would incline one to think that Jude had the text in Peter before him, and omitted what had a peculiar reference to the former part of St. Peter’s epistle, and to which there was nothing in his own to answer. Though Jude only cites the words spoken by Peter in particular concerning the coming of scoffers in the last time, yet his exhortation being general, it comprehends the words spoken by the other apostles concerning the coming of false teachers, such as Paul’s, 1 Timothy 4:1-5; 2 Timothy 3:4. Nay, it comprehends the words spoken by Jude himself in the preceding part of this epistle.


Verse 19

1:19. These be they who separate themselves — Namely, from the communion of the church and from other Christians, under pretence of their greater illumination; sensual ψυχικοι, animal; not having the Spirit — Having a natural understanding and natural senses, but not the Spirit of God, either as the Spirit of truth or grace, and therefore addicted to the low gratifications of their animal life; otherwise they would not separate themselves from the Church of Christ. For that it is a sin, and a very heinous one, to separate from it, is out of all question. But then it should be observed, 1st, That by the Church of Christ is meant a body of living Christians, who are a habitation of God through the Spirit, Ephesians 2:20-21. And, 2d, That by separating is understood renouncing all religious intercourse with them, no longer joining with them in solemn prayer, or the other public offices of religion.


Verse 20-21

1:20-21. But ye, beloved — Not separating yourselves from your Christian brethren, but building up — Or edifying one another in knowledge and grace; on, or in, your most holy faith — The true Christian faith, having for its object all the doctrines, precepts, and promises of the gospel; a faith, than which none can be more holy in itself, or more conducive to the most refined and exalted holiness; praying in, or through, the Holy Ghost — By a principle of grace derived from him, and by his enlightening, quickening, sanctifying, and comforting influences, showing you what blessings you may and ought to pray for, inspiring you with sincere and fervent desires after those blessings, and enabling you to offer these desires to God in faith, with gratitude for the blessings which you have already received. And by these means, and through divine grace communicated therein, keep yourselves in the love of God — That is, in love to God, arising from a sense of his love to you; looking for the mercy, &c. — Continually possessing a confident expectation of that eternal life, which is purchased for you and conferred upon you through the mere mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Verse 22-23

1:22-23. And of some — Who are perverted by these seducers, erring only through infirmity, and in lesser points; have compassion — Treat with lenity, and endeavour to reclaim, in a mild and gentle way, by the winning method of persuasion; making a difference — Between them and others that are more guilty and stubborn. And others — Who sin presumptuously and openly; save with fear — Endeavour to rouse their fears, setting before them a future judgment and its awful consequences in all their terrors. And if they continue unmoved, use the censures of the church as the last remedy. Or, as some think, he may mean with a jealous fear for yourselves, lest you should be infected with the disease you endeavour to cure; pulling them out of the fire — Of temptation, sin, and divine wrath, into which they are fallen, or are just ready to fall. As if he had said, And if you desire that your efforts in either of these cases should be successful, you must take great care to preserve your own purity; and while you love the sinners, to retain the utmost abhorrence of their sins, and of every the least degree of approach to them; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh — Lest by the touch of it you yourselves should be polluted. This clause, which is a caution addressed to “those who snatch others out of the fire, implies that in doing them that compassionate office, they are to avoid all familiarity with them, even as they would avoid touching a garment spotted by the flesh of one who had died of the plague, lest they should be infected by their vicious conversation.”


Verse 24-25

1:24-25. Now unto him who alone is able to keep you from falling — Into any of these errors or sins, or from stumbling, as απταιστους literally signifies, rugged and dangerous as the ways of life are, and feeble as you know yourselves to be; and at length to present you faultless — Fully sanctified and conformed to the image of God’s Son; see on Colossians 1:22; before the presence of his glory — That is, in his own presence, when he shall be revealed in all his glory; with exceeding joy — With joy, great and unutterable. To the only wise God, now become our Saviour — That is, our Deliverer from the guilt and power of sin and its consequences, our Restorer to the enjoyment of the blessings lost by the fall, and our Preserver to eternal life. Or, as Macknight reads the clause, To the wise God alone. See on Romans 16:27. Be glory, &c. — That is, the glory of infinite perfection; and the majesty — Of empire absolutely universal; dominion — Or strength, as κρατος may be properly rendered, namely, to govern that empire; and power εξουσια, authority, or right to do whatever seemeth to himself good; both now and ever — εις παντας τους αιωνας, throughout all ages, or both now and throughout all eternity. “From the appellation here used, our Saviour, it is argued by some that this doxology is addressed to the Lord Jesus, whose proper title is our Saviour, and who is called God in other passages of Scripture, particularly Romans 9:5, where he is styled, God blessed for ever. Nevertheless, as in some passages of Scripture, particularly Luke 1:47; 1 Timothy 1:1; Titus 1:3, the Father is styled our Saviour, this argument is doubtful. They who contend that the doxology in this passage belongs to the Father, observe that the same doxology is unambiguously addressed to God the Father, Romans 16:27,” to which passage we have just referred the reader.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Jude 1:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/jude-1.html. 1857.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, October 18th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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