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Bible Commentaries

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament
Jude 1

 

 

Verse 1

Jude 1:1. Judas. This name is of frequent occurrence in the New Testament, and is given in the shorter form, Jude, only here in the Authorised Version, perhaps to distinguish the writer from Iscariot; but the following clause is sufficiently distinctive; and it should be noted that the name is uniform in the Greek.

and brother of James. The Greek ‘and’ expresses a Greek affirmativeness not quite equal to ‘but the brother,’ though approaching it. If he were, as suggested in the Introduction, the brother of our Lord as well as of James, neither of whom speaks of his relation to Christ, the omission is probably owing to the fact that the human relation was temporary and entirely subordinate to the higher relation of spiritual fellowship (Matthew 12:49). As brother, moreover, he did not at first believe, and so the relation itself was at once humbling and honourable.

To them that are called. Not invited merely, but having accepted the invitation, and having therefore the ‘calling’ of sons. This is the uniform meaning in Scripture; not having the name, but the character (comp. ‘a man’s calling’).

beloved in God the Father (the true reading). Our affection for Christians springs from their relation to Christ and their likeness to Him, as our love for God’s children rests on the same grounds. This is the brotherly love of the Gospel as distinguished from the love of good-will. If ‘sanctified’ is adopted as the reading, then it may be noted as an unusual expression, Christians being said to be sanctified (feed from the guilt of sin, and made fit for God’s service) in Christ. The meaning of both expressions is, that in communion with Christ through faith they have been freed from the guilt of sin, and that their faith, working as it was by love, is the beginning of personal holiness (1 Corinthians 1:2).

kept. The nearly uniform rendering of this verb is ‘kept;’ and the keeping, it is important to notice, is the fulfilment of the intercessory prayer of our Lord (John 17). The safety of all who believe is the Father’s answer to the Son. God keeps us as we keep His word (Revelation 3:3, Greek). Nor is the writer’s play upon this expression throughcut his epistle without its meaning. ‘God keeps us for Jesus Christ;’ we ‘keep ourselves in the love of God’ (Jude 1:21). Evil angels are kept for judgment, because they ‘kept not their first estate’ (Jude 1:6). And a like play upon the word is found in 2 Peter.

for Jesus Christ is the meaning, not ‘in;’ for He created them, and redeemed them, and renewed them; they are therefore His own possession (His ‘peculiar people’), and as His, are kept for and finally presented to Him (cp. John 17:6; John 17:12).

The order of the words admits of another, though a less likely interpretation:—‘to those in God the Father, beloved, and kept for Jesus Christ, being called;’ but the parallelism of the thought is better preserved by the rendering given above.


Verse 2

Jude 1:2. Mercy unto you, and peace, and love. ‘Mercy’ is used in the salutation of the pastoral epistles only—except here. In Paul’s view, those who minister in holy things specially need it, as in Jude’s view do those whom he addresses. ‘Mercy’ is God’s feeling towards them; ‘peace’ is their condition as the result of it; ‘love’ is either their feeling Godward and manward as the effect of God’s grace (so it is in Ephesians 6:23), or it is God’s love to them that are called, in the manifold expressions of it (so it is in Jude 1:21, and in 2 Corinthians 13:14). This last view seems preferable; it is for the fulness of love he prays, as it is for abundance of mercy and peace.


Verse 3

Jude 1:3. Whilst I was giving, or using, all diligence; either inwardly in purpose, finishing one work and postponing another; or outwardly in actually writing what was not finished (de Wette). The latter is rather favoured by the tense of ‘write’ (which is present, not aorist); but the former is probably the correct view. Anyhow, it was his purpose to write on the great truths of the Gospel—the common property of all who believe.

I felt constrained to write and exhort you to fight for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. A richer evangelical epistle would have been more welcome to the writer; but, like Paul, he had to meet the needs of those for whom he ministered; hence his words are full of rebuke against the teachers who were leading them astray, and of loving warning to themselves. The word to fight, or strive earnestly, means to stand over and defend to the utmost, even to agony; ‘the faith,’ not quite the doctrines of Scripture, still less their belief of them, but the Gospel, as believed by Christian men. Once for all delivered points to the completeness and unchangeableness of the Gospel, and to the fact that no new revelation was to be expected. The doctrine of development subsequent to the apostles is not the doctrine of Scripture. We may gladly admit, as Boyle puts it, that ‘there are passages whose full meaning is reserved to resolve some yet unformed doubt, or to confound some error that hath not yet a name, or to throw fresh light on admitted truths.’ There is, in fact, no definable limit to our profounder insight into the Gospel; but additions to the Gospel itself Scripture disowns. Traditions post-apostolic are now entitled to no other deference than is due to their intrinsic reasonableness, or to their consistency with what is already revealed.


Verse 4

Jude 1:4. For there are certain men; unknown, insignificant men, or otherwise not worth describing; but when their true character was seen, it was plain that they belonged to a class long before described in many an Old Testament passage; notably in the prophecy of Enoch (Jude 1:14), probably in the punishment of the Israelites (Jude 1:5), of the rebel angels (Jude 1:6), and in letters of fire on the plain of Sodom and Gomorrha (Jude 1:7).

Crept in is probably sufficient; unawares is even less accurate, suggesting that there may have been neglect upon the part of the Church, whereas it is the stealthy movement of those who have entered that is rebuked. They came in by a side door; not that they crept in from without, being really no members of the Church; but only that they came in as members, and yet had in fact, as was now clear, sentiments and habits foreign to those of a Christian community, and ought never, therefore, to have entered it at all. (See the same phrases in 2 Peter 2:1, and Galatians 2:4.)

before of old ordained is peculiarly unhappy. There is no predestination in the words, but only Scripture prophecy, or public information. The word is used in the New Testament four times (or five if we retain the common text in Romans 15:4), and is rendered twice ‘written before.’ In Galatians 3:1 and here it probably means, from the custom of writing matters of general interest on tablets for public information.

have been evidently set forth, or written of as subject to this condemnation or judgment; ‘proscribed’ or ‘designated,’ other renderings, is too strong. Their character is further defined; they are ungodly men, with whom God’s holiness is no ground of reverence, nor His law their guide, who, having broken loose from His authority, show their ungodliness in all they do, and especially in two forms; they pervert or turn the grace of God, the proffered gift of God in the free forgiveness of sin, with all its helps to holiness and blessedness, into lasciviousness; just as liberty is turned into licentiousness (Galatians 5:13); just as of old the removal, one after another, of the plagues with which Pharaoh was visited ended in renewed hardness of heart and in repeated sin. The more gracious God is, the more wanton they become.

and they deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. The word ‘God’ goes out by preponderating authority. If it were retained, the description would imply that they denied both the Father and the Son. Even without ‘God’ it is a possible meaning (the only Master and the Lord Jesus Christ), as it is a possible meaning in Titus 2:13; but the more accurate and the more natural meaning of the Greek refers both terms to Christ; and on comparing the passage with 2 Peter 2:1, where these men are said to ‘deny the Master that bought them,’ the conclusion seems inevitable that both terms are to be applied to Christ, though everywhere in the New Testament, except here and in 2 Peter, the word ‘Master’ is applied to God the Father. Christ is here called their one absolute Lord and Owner, not in contrast with the other persons in the Godhead, but with foreign lords who once had dominion over them. They are called godless, indeed, chiefly because they pervert the grace that is in Christ, and deny the claims of Him who first created and then redeemed them.


Verses 5-7

Jude 1:5-7. In these verses we have examples of the judgment spoken of in Jude 1:4. It is only necessary, says the writer, that I should remind you of facts with which you are already familiar. You have been instructed in the Gospel; you have accepted what is a revelation of righteousness as well as of love; and you have once for all had the perception of all that is essential to salvation, whatever may be said by those false teachers who boast of their profounder knowledge and superior wisdom (gnosticism as it came to be called): how that the Lord having saved a people (an entire nation, His own) out of the land of Egypt, the next thing he did was to destroy them that believed not. These words may refer to the destruction mentioned in Numbers 25:1-9, or it may refer to their entire history which is, in brief, salvation and judgment, true of them at first, and true of them even to the close.

Jude 1:6. A second example is taken from angels, those who kept not their dominion, their rule (or principality, as in Romans 8:38, a form of the same word; or their original, ‘their first estate,’ a meaning less in accordance with Scripture usage). They were placed over material creation as rulers under God, but they left their proper office and abode, and set up a kingdom of their own (Colossians 1:13), and are therefore kept under darkness unto judgment of the great day. Who they were and how they sinned has been much questioned. The notion that they are ‘the sons of God’ mentioned in Genesis 6:4, and that they fell through fleshly desires, is affirmed in the Book of Enoch; and some have thought this explanation to be the meaning of the passage in Genesis. But it is very doubtful whether Jude quotes the Book of Enoch; and if he does, he certainly differs not unfrequently from its teaching. The passage in Genesis, moreover, refers rather to the intermarriage of the descendants of Seth and of Cain. Further, this interpretation is inconsistent with what is said by our Lord of the angelic nature, and it is, besides, an anticipation of the sin mentioned in the next verse. Probably, therefore, the verse points to a sin of another kind, and to an earlier time. Milton’s account is probably nearer the truth (cp. 1 Timothy 3:6).

Jude 1:7. A third example is taken from the Gentile cities of Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them, having given themselves over in like manner as the people of those cities did, or as these false teachers have done, and having gone after strange (different) flesh; practising shame, man with man, and even man with beast. How true this is of the tendency of some teaching may be seen in classic writers, and in such testimony as Irenaeus gives of the practices of the Nicolaitans (Jude 1:20).

they lie before the eyes of men (either in the region they once occupied or in their history) an example and a proof of eternal fire, still suffering as they do the punishment [of their sin]; or it may be taken, an example and a proof [of what I am affirming], suffering as they do the punishment of an eternal fire. The argument is either analogical or positive. As Sodom and Gomorrha suffered the punishment of a fire that consumed them utterly, so that they will never be restored, so the wicked will suffer as long as they are capable of suffering. This is analogical. Or, as Sodom and Gomorrha are really suffering the punishment of which the fiery overthrow of their cities was the symbol, so shall these men be punished. This is positive, and is favoured by all those passages in which death is used not as material death only, but as continued life—the cessation not of being but of well-being—the destruction which is not annihilation.


Verse 8

Jude 1:8. And yet these men (Jude 1:4) actually do the same things as the people of Sodom and the fallen angels.

in their dreamings they defile the flesh, that of others as well as their own; they live in the feelings of their own perverted sense, and they corrupt others as well as themselves (others sharing in their sin); and they set at nought lordship, ownership, dominion (the supremacy that belongs to one who is lord), and rail at dignities (Greek, glories—the splendour that belongs to those who are exalted). The statement may be general, or it may refer to Christ and to the authority of His kingdom. In favour of the former view is the fact noted by many moralists that licentiousness is closely connected with contempt for all authority: no other vice, indeed, so easily demoralizes the entire nature. The second view is more in harmony with the context. Some refer the ‘dignities’ here spoken of to evil angels, under whose power these teachers had fallen, and whom nevertheless they mocked as powerless, or even as imaginary beings, and they appeal in proof to the next verse. But the connection of the two verses is of another kind. We are not to rail at even Satan, nor at earthly princes or dignities, though they be his instruments: he and they are to be left in God’s hands.


Verse 9

Jude 1:9. They do against dignities what even the archangel would not do against Satan. Michael (‘who is like God’) was regarded as the guardian angel of the nation of Israel (Daniel 12:1; cp. Daniel 10:13; Daniel 10:21). In the New Testament he is mentioned only here and in Revelation 12:7. ‘Archangel’ is mentioned only here and in 1 Thessalonians 4:16.

about the body of Moses. The Jews had various traditions about the burial of Moses. According to Jonathan (on Deuteronomy 34:6), the grave of Moses was given to the special care of Michael; and to this tradition most commentators ascribe the introduction of the circumstance here. Others suppose that Christ Himself, in connection with the appearance of Moses at the Transfiguration, may have sanctioned the tradition. Nothing is said of it in the Book of Enoch. . . . Origen speaks of a book extant in his day (the Assumption or Removal of Moses) as the source whence Jude derived his account; but there is no evidence that the book was in existence when Jude wrote. The most probable explanation is that there was a Jewish tradition to which Jude appeals.

when contending he disputed shows that it was verbal altercation not unlike that recorded in the case of Job (chap. 1) and in Zechariah 3:1-3. The solution that God revealed these facts to Jude is of course possible, but it is not likely. That the facts should be previously known is of the very essence of the argument.


Verse 10

Jude 1:10. But these, who ‘defile the flesh,’ as they ‘rail at dignities’ (Jude 1:8), at whatever they know not—the whole range of invisible and heavenly things, and even the nobler sentiments of our nature—they rail; and whatever they know naturally as brute beasts (‘irrational animals’), their instincts and propensities, even these they abuse, for they surrender themselves to them, and in these destroy (or corrupt) themselves; and so they are worse than brutes. ‘As drunk as a beast’ is, in truth, a libel on the lower creation. Drunkenness and like abuses of natural appetite are sins of man only. The two verbs used in this verse, ‘know’ and ‘know,’ are different, but it is not easy to express the distinction between them. What they know not admits some knowledge, though it denies the accuracy and the completeness of it: what they know describes such knowledge as thought and use of faculty may give; though from the added word ‘naturally,’ it is clear that the knowledge is largely of a sensual kind.


Verse 11

Jude 1:11. Woe to them. This expression is often used by our Lord, but never elsewhere except in Jude and in Revelation. (Paul’s use, ‘Woe is me if I preach not the Gospel,’ is different.) The words may mean, ‘Woe is to them,’ a description of their miserable condition, present or future, uttered as a warning to others (Calvin); or even ‘Alas for them,’ expressive of pity (Newcome); or as generally expressive of pain and indignation, a censure and a threat: in any case the word speaks of evil and woe, whether uttered in the tone of compassion which bewails it (Matthew 23:15), or of the indignation that imprecates it (Matthew 11:21). Here the context favours the idea that it is neither pity nor imprecation, for their sin is strongly condemned, and they are said to have been punished; but a cry of horror on taking in at one glance the whole course of their ungodliness, and its final plunge into the dark abyss (as in Revelation 18:16; Revelation 18:19).

for in the way of Cain have they walked (so Jude 1:16; Jude 1:18). Like him have they lived, gratifying the passions and selfish instincts of their nature, in contempt of the warnings of God and His word. (Envy of others; murder, literal or figurative—destroying others by their teaching; godlessness, are all more or less inaccurate; it is the character of selfish immoral deceivers that is described.)

and in the error; generally a sinful moral fault—a vicious life, that leaves the way of truth (James 5:20; 2 Peter 2:18) ‘in the error,’ i.e in the direction (not by the seduction of Balaam’s reward—de Wette—nor into the sin of, but as in the previous clause, ‘in the way of’) of Balaam (of selfish avarice, gratified even in the sin and ruin of others).

have they run greedily (the verb means to pour one’s self out on, or to give one’s self up to a thing).

in the gainsaying (the rebellion. See note on Hebrews 12:3) of Koran; insurrection against the Lord under cover of right and freedom.

have they perished. The beginning, therefore, and the end of their way are illustrated in this threefold history. The general sins of these apostates have been variously defined, ‘envy, covetousness, pride; murder, seduction of others for the sake of gain, rebellion against Divine authority’—all have been used to describe their motives and sins. In all there is this quality predominant, that they knew God and His truth, and their knowledge was perverted by selfishness or covetousness or pride to results eminently immoral and disastrous.


Verse 12

Jude 1:12. Here follows a further description of these teachers as set forth in strong figures expressly and earnestly reiterated. These are they who are sunken rocks, seen indeed, but their true nature concealed, in your feasts of charity. The word for ‘rocks’ is found only here in the New Testament, though in common Greek writers it is not infrequent in the sense of rocks in or by the sea. The word in 2 Peter 2:13, which is like the word used here, means ‘spots.’ Probably a rock which appears like a spot, and gathers to itself the sea wrack and dirt, explains the connection between the two words. It disturbs the quiet harbour where it is found, and risks the vessels that are near.

when they feast with you, feeding themselves as they do without fear, and in contempt of the woe which is pronounced against such shepherds (Isaiah 56:11; cp. 1 Peter 5:2, the word for ‘feeding’ showing that this is the reference).

clouds without water, empty, useless, easily carried along therefore by the wind, ostentatious and deceptive wherever they go.

trees as they are in autumn, in ‘the sear and yellow leaf,’ with all their vigour gone,—not because they have borne fruit, for they are fruitless, and have ever been so; at their best they had ‘leaves only,’ and even those are decaying.

twice dead, fruitless all along, and now their leaf withereth, and they are rooted out; in the soil of the vineyard they have no place, and they are fit only to be thrown away, or to burn.


Verse 13

Jude 1:13. They are at once rocks and waves, wild waves of the sea, which ‘cannot rest,’ and throw up only ‘mire and dirt’ (Isaiah 57:20).

foaming out their own shame—their lusts ‘disgraceful.’

wandering stars (comets or meteors, not planets), which neither light the world nor guide the mariner, but after blazing awhile drift into ‘the blackness and darkness which is kept (‘in reserve’) for them, and into which they sink and sink ‘for ever.’ All that is mischievous, useless, disastrous in sea or land or sky becomes in turn the symbol of the character and the destiny of these bad men. . . . The ‘feasts of charity’ or of love (Agapae) spoken of in these verses are not strictly the Lord’s Supper, though it is probable that the observance of the Lord’s Supper was sometimes connected with them. The historical facts, the use of the pronoun ‘your feasts of love’ (Jude 1:12), and the customs spoken of in 1 Corinthians 11, all point to a wider meaning. They seem to have been social gatherings of Christians for promoting kindly feeling and helping the poor. Dr. Lightfoot notes (on 1 Corinthians 10:16) that the Jews had meetings of this kind at the close of their Sabbath, and found a sanction for them in Deuteronomy 12:5; Deuteronomy 12:7; Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 14:23-29. Pliny and Tertullian both speak of them, and distinguish them from the simple Eucharist, Pliny apparently (x. 97, 98), and Tertullian certainly. In the fourth century the Council of Carthage forbade the holding of them in the churches; and the transference of the Lord’s Supper from the evening to the morning originated in part in the abuses to which the blending of the two led.


Verse 14

Jude 1:14. Nor is this warning the warning of Jude only. And to these also (literally, with respect to these also) prophesied Enoch the seventh from Adam, i.e the seventh including Adam; a description added probably to mark his importance by the coincidence of the sacred number seven. To Adam was given the promise of the advent of our Lord as Helper and Saviour; to Enoch, the first promise of the advent of the same Lord as Judge. Jewish writers are ever noting the recurrence of this number. Moses was the seventh from Abraham, Phinehas from Jacob, etc.

The Lord cometh (Greek, came or as come; describing, as not unfrequently, an occurrence in the midst of which the prophet sees himself standing) with (surrounded by) ten thousands of his holy ones (literally His holy myriads, the ‘innumerable company’ of Hebrews 12:22; ‘saints’ restricts the meaning to saved men).


Verse 15

Jude 1:15. to execute judgment, i.e to pronounce the doom, and see that it is carried out. Then follows the description of these sinners. The characteristic of the antediluvians, as of those whom Jude addresses, is ungodliness: four times is this quality named, first and last and midst, in the description.

to convict (an intensive form of the English verb) in their consciences and before the world. The double meaning of the Greek word is only half represented by ‘convince,’ and only half by ‘convict;’ both meanings are in the word, though the second meaning is the predominant one here.

and of all the hard things—rough, coarse; used here in its ethical sense, and especially to describe arrogant blasphemy (1 Samuel 2:3; Malachi 3:13)—‘stout,’ the outcome of a hardened heart.

The prophecy here quoted is found almost literally in the Book of Enoch, which was formerly known only in fragments preserved in some of the Fathers, but has recently been discovered in an Ethiopian translation, and became known in Europe at the close of the last century. The book belongs probably to the beginning of the Christian era. Dorner ascribes it to the first century after Christ; Dilmann, who has published it, to the century before. It is really divisible into three parts,—the original book, which includes this prophecy and several other things, and two different sets of additions by later though still early writers. The book contains many absurdities (e.g. the women with whom the angels had intercourse brought forth giants six thousand feet high, who first devoured all the produce of the earth, and then began to devour men themselves); and it differs in several particulars from Jude’s statements. There is therefore no reason to suppose that Jude quotes it, though the prophecy of Enoch is found (with some important variations, however) in both. Every phrase in the prophecy has its parallel passage in the canonical Scriptures; and this fact may explain the facility and accuracy with which the tradition was transmitted. All, in fact, that is new in this prophecy is that he, Enoch, delivered it—a thing in itself highly probable. Of course the Holy Ghost might have revealed it immediately to Jude; but it may be said, as before, that this explanation is forbidden by the form and the very purpose of the quotation itself. The writer is appealing to what is already known in support of his argument


Verse 16

Jude 1:16. A further description is now given of these teachers by an enumeration of the qualities by which all may identify them. They are characterized by a chronic discontent with everything and everybody, with their own lot especially—the providence and ways of God, as we should call it; by intense self-indulgence, by proud and self-sufficient speech, and by gross flattery of the prosperous or great whenever anything is to be gained by it. Murmurers, complainers of their lot.

walking ever after their own lusts; and their month it speaks great swelling words, affirming their superiority to all restraints (their freedom, 2 Peter 2:18); while their reverence, such as they are capable of, is reserved for the possessors of wealth and influence (men’s persons, the outside quality, not their true character), and those who are able, and whom they hope to make willing, to help them; and all this in their teaching as well as in their lives. How different from the apostolic type is sufficiently plain (Philippians 4:11-12; 1 Timothy 6:8; Hebrews 13:5).


Verse 17

Jude 1:17. Nor has any new thing happened to you. All this was foreseen and foretold. You yourselves know it; you have only to ‘remember the words spoken before by the apostles’ (as in Acts 20:29-30; 1 Timothy 4:1, where the evils are foretold, as in nearly every Epistle they are set forth—the double meaning of ‘spoken before’). Most, indeed, of these passages are written, not spoken; but the writing is really the putting into permanent form of what in substance had been orally delivered. The language here used, ‘by the apostles,’ does not necessarily imply that the writer was not an apostle; but if he had been an apostle, it is more likely he would not have used it. Compare the expression in 2 Peter 3:2, ‘of us the apostles,’ or, as the Revised reading is, ‘through your apostles.’


Verse 18

Jude 1:18. how that they told you in the last time there shall be mockers; only here and in 2 Peter 3:3, where it is said that they show their quality in relation to the Second Coming of the Lord.

walking after the lusts of their ungodlinesses; each begetting the other; every lust rejecting the Divine that is opposed to it, and the rejection of what is Divine ending ever in aggravated immorality (see Romans 1:24; Romans 1:28-29). The expression here used is no doubt intended to call up the characteristic quality already described in Jude 1:15.


Verse 19

Jude 1:19. Again the deceivers reappear; described not now by historical parallels (Jude 1:11), not by figures of speech (Jude 1:12-13), not by prophetic announcements (Jude 1:14-15), not even as their own offensive talk has done (Jude 1:16), but as they are in their inner nature, and in the influence of that nature on Church life and on themselves.

These are they that are ever causing divisions (separations), and will end sooner or later in separating themselves or in ruining the Church. The verb is intensive and continuous. The word ‘themselves’ goes out, but the idea is still in the verb, though not so prominent as before. Separation is caused in Christian communities by three things: by heretical doctrine, by an unloving, selfish, exacting spirit, and by proud words and an ungodly life; and all three are characteristic of these teachers. So far, therefore, as they are tolerated, they tend to divide and break up the communities to which they belong. Everything they are and everything they have tends to disintegration, and the sooner the Church is rid of them the better. The specific illustrations of this truth in the history of the early sects, and even in the later, are very striking.

sensual: we have no English word that expresses the thought of the Greek. The word describes the man in whom the earthly natural life of the soul is supreme, the spiritual, with all its faculties, being subject; and the man himself is ever doing the ‘desires of the flesh and of the mind’ (Ephesians 2:3). ‘Sensual’ is too strong, and ‘natural’ and ‘animal’ too narrow. ‘Soul ( ψυχη), the underlying root of the adjective here used, is the man himself in his natural state. With the soul is connected man’s higher nature, the spirit, including the conscience and whatever remains there may be of diviner faculties. The body is the lower nature. He who gives himself up to the body is fleshly; he who by communion with God’s Spirit gives himself up to the nobler life, is spiritual. He who thinks only of his own interests, emotions, tastes, is the man whom this verse describes. It is the form of life that finds in itself and in its earthly likings and preferences its law; is sensual even when not fleshly, as were these teachers.

not having the Spirit. Their natural religious life, such as it is, is under the unbroken influence either of their flesh or of their lower earthly conceptions. They have neither the law nor the power of the really regenerate man. (Compare 1 Corinthians 2:14-15; Romans 8:9; 1 John 3:24; James 3:14-15.) Without the Spirit, therefore, means, conscience and affections and reason all subject and defiled, even when the flesh is not absolutely supreme.


Verse 20-21

Jude 1:20-21. But ye (strongly emphatic), beloved, as against those dividers of the Church who are pulling it down stone by stone, ever building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, awaiting the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. Every clause is antithetic and suggestive: the overthrow of the Church and of each of its members, and Divine edification;—grace turned into licentiousness, and holy character built on faith;—swelling words of self-sufficiency, no Spirit; and praying in the Spirit;—murmuring, complaining, and denying the Lord that bought them; and keeping yourselves in the love of God, and awaiting the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ;—for whom the blackness of darkness is kept for ever, and waiting for Christ’s mercy unto eternal life. Our safety depends on growth in the faith, on prayer in the Spirit, and, after all is done, on receiving the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ. Hereby we keep ourselves, and are kept, in the love which God bears to us, and in the love which we are to bear to Him. The love of God to us, however, is the true origin of all, though not to the exclusion of the Spirit and of Christ, who have each His own part in the great work of our redemption. ‘Looking for’ may mislead. ‘Looking for’ is the word found in 2 Peter 3:12-13, and in 1 Thessalonians 1:10, where it is translated ‘waiting for,’ and is applied to what after all may never come. The word here really means, especially in the present tense, ‘waiting to receive,’ and even ‘receiving’ itself (Hebrews 10:34; Hebrews 11:35). It occurs again in Titus 2:13, in the same sense as here, ‘expecting to receive.’


Verse 22-23

Jude 1:22-23. Of the false teachers the writer has spoken. Their condition is hopeless (Jude 1:12). But in the treatment of those who have been exposed to the influence of these ungodly men (Jude 1:4) great care is needed, and the treatment must vary with the character of each class. The classes are three. And on some have mercy (the reading ‘rebuke’ has not preponderating authority), being, as they are, in doubt; the common New Testament meaning of the word (Romans 4:20; James 1:6; Matthew 21:21). ‘Contending, as they do,’ is the meaning of the same word in this Epistle (Jude 1:9), but it is not appropriate here.

on others, whose condition may be gathered from the conduct that is to be observed toward them, who have almost yielded to seduction, not through doubt but through fellowship with these false teachers, and partly through their own corrupt taste, and who therefore are to be snatched out of the fire into which they are already entering. Sharp and vigorous interposition is our only hope for them; and if we succeed, their deliverance will be as of ‘brands plucked out of the burning’ (Amos 4:11; Zechariah 3:2).

on others have mercy (the word is always used in the sense of active compassion, not, therefore, as Luther interprets it, Feel for them; only, Turn aside in fear lest you yourselves share their ruin) with fear; a third class, and needing special caution. The disease of the first class, the doubters, is not specially infectious; the condition of the second class is not likely to tempt us—their punishment seems already begun, and we naturally shrink from it, thinking only, moreover, of their need of prompt deliverance; the third class call for watching, and kindly fellowship, which may itself prove dangerous; we are therefore exhorted to attend them with fear, hating even the garment spotted (i.e defiled, James 3:6) with the flesh. ‘The garment’ is the inner one worn next the person, and is itself soiled by the sin. It is therefore a fitting symbol of whatever, by means of external conduct, may make others sharers in the moral destruction we are seeking to avert. Our saving love for sinners must not be suffered to lessen our hatred of sin; and further, we must beware lest through the deceitfulness and the virulence of sin we ourselves, all unconsciously, catch the contagion. The mere contact of garment with garment, of things in themselves indifferent though belonging to the habits and the outward acts of the life, may do mischief. The well-meant attempts of one man to save another, end sometimes in the ruin of both.


Verse 24-25

Jude 1:24-25. Exhortations to keep themselves in the love of God are fitly followed by a doxology which reminds them that the power and grace are from Him who alone can keep them. Now to him that is able to guard you (not the same word as in Jude 1:21, but a strong military term) from stumbling (from every false step, James 2:10; 2 Peter 1:10, ‘shall never stumble’), and make you to stand without fault (Revelation 14:5, and like the Master Himself, ‘without spot,’ the same word, Hebrews 9:14) before the presence of his glory in exceeding joy (the condition in which you will be found when you stand there), to the only God our Saviour through Jesus Christ our Lord (these added words set forth God as Saviour through Jesus Christ, Titus 3:4-6), be (or is) glory, majesty (greatness), dominion and power (literally, ‘might and right,’ power and authority), before all time (‘as it was in the beginning’), and now (‘is now’) and for evermore (‘and ever shall be’). Amen (so let it be, or, so indeed it is). ‘Glory and dominion’ are common in the New Testament Doxologies; ‘majesty and right’ (lawful power) are found only here. ‘For evermore’ is required in the rendering of what is a strong expression of everlastingness. ‘For ever,’ ‘for evermore,’ and ‘for ever and evermore,’ represent three corresponding expressions in the Greek ( τὸν αἰῶνα, εις τοὺς αἰῶνας, or εις πάντας τοὺς αἰῶνας, and ςἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων). All are applied to God, to the blessedness of the righteous, and to the punishment of the wicked. As so applied, they do not materially differ in meaning; but it is important to mark the differences and the intensity of expression.

The whole of this Doxology, so rich and so consolatory, may be a prayer, ‘be’ glory, as its place at the end of the Epistle and the ‘Amen’ rather imply; or it may be the assertion of a fact, as in 1 Peter 4:11, where the ‘Amen’ also is used, and the verb ‘is’ (not ‘be’) is in the Greek; or we may combine the two meanings by making the Doxology an assertion of what really is, and the Amen a prayer: Be it in human hearts and throughout all creation as it is in truth! How solemn and instructive, that these ascriptions of glory to God are found in connection with judgment as well as with salvation, each, indeed, implying the other, and both illustrating the holiness and the love which we are to adore (Revelation 15:3; Revelation 16:5).

 


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Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Jude 1:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/jude-1.html. 1879-90.

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Sunday, May 26th, 2019
the <>Sixth Sunday after Easter
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