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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Bible Commentary
Jude 1



Verse 3

Chapter 31


Jude 1:3

THE Greek of the opening sentence of this passage, in which St. Jude explains his reason for writing this Epistle, is ambiguous. The words "of our common salvation" ( πϵϱί τῆϛ ϰοινῆϛ ἡμῶν σωτηϱίας) may go either with what precedes or with what follows. But there is little doubt that both the Authorized and the Revised Versions are right in taking them with what precedes. The true connection is, not, "While I was giving all diligence to write unto you, I was constrained to write unto you of our common salvation," but, "While I was giving all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith." This Epistle can scarcely be called a letter "about our common salvation." The meaning is that St. Jude had intended to write such a letter, but the crisis created by the entrance of these ungodly men into the Church constrained him to write a letter of a different kind, viz., the one which lies before us. That he had already begun to write a letter "respecting our common salvation," and that we have here to lament the loss of another Epistle besides the lost Epistles of St. Paul and St. John, [1 Corinthians 5:9; 3 John 1:9] is neither stated nor implied. St. Jude had been thinking very earnestly about writing a more general and comprehensive Epistle, when he realized that the presence of a very serious evil required immediate action, and accordingly he writes at once to point out the existing peril, and to denounce those who are the authors of it. It is the duty of all Christians to be on their guard, and to be unflinching in their defense of the truth which has been committed to them to preserve and cherish.

"The faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints." This does not mean, which was delivered by God to the Apostles, but which was delivered by the Apostles to the Church. "The saints" here, as so often in the New Testament, [Acts 9:13; Acts 9:32; Acts 9:41; Acts_26:10; Romans 8:27; Romans 13:13; Romans 15:25-26; Romans 15:31; etc., etc.} means all Christians. If the whole nation of the Jews was a "holy people" ( λαος αγιος), "a peculiar treasure unto Jehovah from among all peoples," {Exodus 19:5] by reason of their special election by Him; [Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 14:2; Deuteronomy 14:21] if they were "saints of the Most High," [Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:22; Daniel 7:25] much more might this be said of Christians, who had inherited all the spiritual privileges of the Jews, and had received others in abundance, far exceeding any that the Jews had ever possessed. Christians also, in a still higher sense, were "an elect race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession". [1 Peter 2:9] The Christians of Corinth, Ephesus, and Colossae, in spite of the enormous evils which they practiced or sanctioned, or at least tolerated, are still called "saints." They are holy, not as being persons of holy life, but as being devoted to God. Of course such persons ought to be holy in conduct, but to call them "saints" does not assert that they are so. The name asserts the fact of being set apart by God for Himself, and implies what ought to be the result of such separation. "Thus the main idea of the term is consecration. But though it does not assert moral qualifications as a fact in the persons so designated, it implies them as a duty." To each individual Christian, therefore, the name is at once an honor, an exhortation, and a reproach. It tells of his high calling, it exhorts him to live up to it, and it reminds him of his grievous shortcomings.

"The faith once for all delivered unto the saints" ( τη απαξ παραδοθειση τοις αγιοις πιστει) both the adverb, "once for all," and the aorist participle, "delivered," are worthy of special notice. "The faith" does not mean any set formula of articles of belief, nor the internal reception of Christian doctrine, but the Substance of it; it is equivalent to what St. Paul and the Evangelists call "the Gospel," viz., that body of truth which brings salvation to the soul that receives it. This Faith, or this Gospel, has been once for all delivered to Christians. No other will be given, for there is no other. Whatever may be delivered by any one in future cannot be a Gospel at all. The one true Gospel is complete and final, and admits of no successors and no supplements. [Galatians 1:6-9]

"The faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints." Does, this exclude all possibility of a "development of Christian doctrine"? That depends upon what one means by "development." The expression has been interpreted to mean "that the increase and expansion of the Christian creed and ritual, and the variations which have attended the process in the case of individual writers and Churches, are the necessary attendants on any philosophy or polity which takes possession of the intellect and heart, and has had any wide or extended dominion; that from the nature of the human mind, time is necessary for the full comprehension and perfection of great ideas; and that the highest and most wonderful truths, though communicated to the world once for all by inspired teachers, could not be comprehended all at once by the recipients, but, as received and transmitted by minds not inspired and through media which were human, have required only the longer time and deeper thought for their full elucidation." If the ambiguous expression "and perfection" be omitted, one may readily allow that development of Christian doctrine in this sense has taken place. To say that time is needed for the full comprehension of the great truths which were communicated to the Church once for all by the Apostles is one thing; to say that time is needed for the perfection of those truths may or may not be quite another. And the manner in which the subject is treated in the famous Essay from which the passage just quoted is taken shows that what is meant by the "perfecting" of the truths is a very different thing from the full comprehension of their original contents; it means making additions to the original contents in order to remedy supposed deficiencies. In this sense it may be confidently asserted, and as loyal Christians we are bound to assert, that there is no such thing as development of Christian doctrine. If there be such a thing, then we cannot stop short with those developments which can in some measure be called Christian. The author himself reminds us that "no one has power over the issues of his principles; we cannot manage our argument, and have as much of it as we please and no more". If the faith once for all delivered to the saints was defective, and needed to be supplemented by subsequent additions, why may not Christianity itself be, as some have maintained, only a phase in the development of religion, which in process of time is to be superseded by something wholly unchristian? The transition is easily made from the position of the "Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine" to that of Channing, that "it makes me smile to hear immortality claimed for Catholicism or Protestantism, or for any past interpretations of Christianity; as if the human soul had exhausted itself in its infant efforts; as if the men of one or a few generations could bind the energy of human thought and affection forever"; and thence to the position of Strauss, who, in his latest and most dreary work, on "The Old and the New Faith," asks the question, "Are we still Christians?" and answers it emphatically in the negative. The chief doctrines of Christianity are to him childish or repulsive beliefs, which thoughtful men have long since left behind. We may still in some sense be religious; but Christianity has done its work, and is rightly being dismissed from the stage. This is the advanced thinking of which St. John writes in his Second Epistle: "Every one that goeth onward ( πας ο προαγων), and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God" (2 John 1:9). There is an advance which involves desertion of first principles; and such an advance is not progress, but apostasy.

But does the development of doctrine, in the sense contended for by the author of the celebrated Essay, mean making actual additions to the faith once for all delivered, as distinct from arriving at a better comprehension of the contents and logical consequences of the original deposit? This question must be answered in the affirmative, for various reasons. The whole purpose of the Essay, and the actual expressions used in it, require this meaning; and that this is the obvious meaning has been assumed by Roman Catholic as well as Protestant critics, and (so far as the present writer is aware) this interpretation has never been resented as illegitimate by the author. The whole argument is admittedly "a hypothesis to account for a difficulty," "an expedient to enable us to solve what has now become a necessary and an anxious problem", viz., the enormous difference between the sum total of Roman Catholic doctrines and those which can be found in the Christian documents of the first two or three centuries. The Essay is believed by its author to furnish "a solution of such a number of the reputed corruptions of Rome as might form a fair ground for trusting her where the investigation had not been pursued". And that the faith once for all delivered is regarded as in need of supplements and additions seems to be implied in such language as the following: "In whatever sense the need and its supply are a proof of design in the visible creation, in the same do the gaps, if the word may be used, which occur in the structure of the original creed of the Church, make it probable that those developments, which grow out of the truths which lie around them, were intended to complete it". It is the business of succeeding ages of the Church to "keep what was exact, and supply what was deficient".

The author of the "Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine" states in another of his works that when he was admitted to the Church of Rome he embraced volumes containing the writings of the Christian Fathers, crying out that now they were really his own. The action and exclamation were thoroughly inconsistent with the position maintained throughout the Essay, and since then adopted by numbers of Roman controversialists. He ought rather to have cleared his shelves of the works of the Fathers, and to have consigned them to the lumber-room with the remark, "Now I need never look at you any more." As Bishop Cornelius Mussus (Musso) said long ago, "For my part, to speak quite frankly, I would give more credence to a single Pope than to a thousand Augustines, Jeromes, and Gregorys" (In "Epist. ad Romans 14:1-23," p. 606, Venet., 1588, quoted in Hardwick’s edition of Archer Butler’s "Letters on Romanism," p. 394). It is the latest and most modern works on Roman theology, especially those which expound the utterances of the most recent Popes, that deserve to be studied, if the theory of the development be correct. According to that theory, the teaching of the primitive Church was certainly immature and defective, and possibly even erroneous. In order to find out what primitive writers meant, or ought to have meant, we must look to the latest developments. They are the criteria by which to test the teaching of the early Church; it is beginning at the wrong end to test the developments by Christian antiquity. In former times Romanists were at great pains to show that traces of their peculiar tenets could be found in the writers of the first few centuries; and not in a few cases the works of these primitive writers were interpolated, in order to make out a fair case. Criticism has exposed these forgeries, and it has been demonstrated that the early Christian teachers were ignorant of whole tracts of Roman doctrine and practice. Roman controversy has therefore entirely shifted its ground. It now freely admits that these things were unknown to Irenaeus, Cyprian, Chrysostom, Athanasius, and Augustine; but for the simple reason that, when they wrote, these things had not yet been revealed. The Church was still ignorant that the Blessed Virgin was conceived without sin, was taken bodily to heaven after her death, and ought to be invoked in prayer; it was still ignorant of the doctrine of purgatory, of indulgences, and of the necessity of being in communion with the Church of Rome. It will not do to say that Christ and His Apostles planted the germs of these things, and that for centuries the germs did not expand and fructify, and therefore remained unnoticed. For, first, how can there be a germ of a historical fact, such as the supposed removal of the Virgin’s body to heaven, which is most happily named an "assumption"? Secondly, now that the fruit has appeared, we ought to be able to trace it back to the germ which for so long was ignored. And, thirdly, if the germs were really deposited by Christ and His Apostles, they would have developed in a somewhat similar manner in all parts of Christendom. Different surroundings will account for some variety of development, but not for absolute difference in kind. The germ respecting communion with the Church of Rome, if there was one, developed in the East, where all germs were in the first instance planted, into the doctrine that no such communion was necessary. Therefore, from the Roman point of view, it is necessary to maintain that the development of Christian doctrine involves, not merely the better comprehension of the contents of doctrines, and the expansion of seeds and germs of truth, but the admission of actual supplements and additions, derived from new revelations of fresh items of truth. As the Jesuit Father Harper said, in his reply to Dr. Pusey’s "Eirenicon," "Christ grew in wisdom daily. So does the Church, not in mere appearance, but of truth. Her creed, therefore, can never shrink back to the dimensions of the past, but must ever enlarge with the onward future."

Hence the necessity for the doctrine of Infallibility. For Roman developments are not the only ones. The Eastern Churches have theirs; Protestant Churches have theirs; and outside these there are other developments, both non-Christian, and anti-Christian. Unless there is some authority which can say, "Our developments are Divinely inspired and necessary, while all others are superfluous or wrong," the doctrine of Development may be used with as much force against Rome as for her. Consequently we find the author of the Essay using the theory of Development as an argument for that of the Infallibility. "If the Christian doctrine, as originally taught, admits of true and important developments this is a strong antecedent argument in favor of a provision in the Dispensation for putting a seal of authority upon those developments…If certain large developments of it are true, they must surely be accredited as true." (pp. 117-19).

This is further proof that what is contemplated in this theory is not mere logical deductions from revealed truth; for logical deductions vindicate themselves by an appeal to the reason, and need no sanction from an infallible authority. Developments are indeed said to follow by way of "logical sequence," but this term is made to receive an enlarged meaning. "It will include any progress of the mind from one judgment to another, as, for instance, by way of moral fitness, which may not admit of analysis into premise and conclusion". Thus the "deification of St. Mary" is a "logical sequence" of our Lord’s Divinity. "The votaries of Mary do not exceed the true faith, unless the blasphemers of her Son came up to it. The Church of Rome is not idolatrous, unless Arianism is orthodoxy". The following criticism, therefore, does not seem to be unjust: "However the theory may be modified by the subsequent additional supposition of infallible guidance, it is quite evident that, considered in itself, its internal spirit and scope (especially as illustrated by its alleged Roman instances) are nothing short of this, that everything which certain good men in the Church, or men assumed to be such, can by reasoning or feeling collect from a revealed truth is, by the mere fact of its recognition [i.e., by the supposed infallible guide], admissible and authoritative." This is indeed a wide door to open for the reception of additions to the faith!

That St. Jude lays much stress on the fact that the sum total of the Gospel, and not merely the elementary portions of it, have been once for all committed to the Church, is shown, not only by the prominence which he gives to the thought here, but by his repetition of it a few lines later, when he begins the main portion of his Epistle: "I desire to put you in remembrance, though ye know all things once for all" (Jude 1:5). Any teaching of new doctrines is not only unnecessary, it is also utterly inadmissible. And every Christian has his responsibilities in this matter. He is to "contend earnestly" ( επαγωνιζεσθαι). with all the energy and watchfulness of an athlete in the arena, for the preservation of this sacred deposit, lest it be lost or corrupted. And the manner in which this earnest contest is to be maintained is not left doubtful; not with the sword, as Beza rightly remarks, nor with intemperate denunciation or indiscriminate severity, but with the mighty influence of a holy life, built upon the foundation of our "most holy faith" (Jude 1:20-23). It is in this way that lawful development of Christian doctrine is secured; not by additions to what was once for all delivered, but by a deeper and wider comprehension of its inexhaustible contents. "If any man willeth to do His will, he shall know of the doctrine."

Verse 4

Chapter 32


Jude 1:4

WE have here the occasion of the letter stated very plainly. St. Jude was meditating a letter on a more general subject, when the grave peril created by the anti-Christian behavior of the persons condemned in the text constrained him to write at once on this more urgent topic. An insidious invasion of the Christian Church has taken place by those who have no right to a place within it, and who endanger its peace and purity; and he dare not keep silence. The strong must be exhorted to withstand the evil; the weak must be rescued from it.

These invaders are in one respect like those who are condemned in the Epistle to the Galatians, in another respect very unlike them. They are "false brethren privily brought in, who came in privily"; [Galatians 2:4] but they have come in, not "to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage," but to "turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness." The troublers of the Galatian Church were endeavoring to contract Christian liberty, whereas these ungodly men were straining it to the uttermost. Both ended in destroying it. The one turned the "freedom with which Christ set us free" into an intolerable yoke of Jewish bondage; the other turned it into the polluting anarchy of heathen, or worse than heathen, license. How utterly alien these latter are from Christianity, or even from Judaism, is indicated by St. Jude’s pointed introduction of the pronoun "our" in two clauses in this verse: "turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." Jehovah is "our God," not theirs; they are "without God in the world." And Christ is "our only Master and Lord," but not theirs; they have denied and rejected Him, choosing to "walk after their own lusts" (Jude 1:16), rather than to "walk even as He walked". [1 John 2:6] They have repudiated His easy yoke, that they may follow their own bestial desires.

Who are these "ungodly men"? Clement of Alexandria ("Strom.," III 2. sub fin.) thinks that St. Jude is speaking prophetically of the abominable doctrines of the Gnostic teacher Carpocrates. Some modern writers adopt this view, with the omission of the word "prophetically," and thus obtain an argument against the genuineness of the Epistle. If the writer knew the teaching of Carpocrates, he cannot have been Jude the brother of James and the brother of the Lord. The date of Carpocrates is too uncertain to make this a perfectly conclusive argument, even if we admit the assumption that the writer of this Epistle is alluding to his teaching; for he is sometimes placed before Cerinthus, who was contemporary with St. John. But it may be allowed as probably correct that St. Jude was dead before Carpocrates was known as a teacher of Antinomian Gnosticism. There is, however, nothing whatever to show that it is to his teaching that St. Jude is alluding. He says nothing whatever about the teaching of these "ungodly men," who perhaps were not teachers at all; still less does he indicate that they belonged to those Gnostics who, from the Oriental doctrine of the absolutely evil character of matter and everything material, drew the practical conclusion that man’s material body may be made to undergo every kind of experience, no matter how shameless, in order that the soul may gain knowledge; that the soul is by enlightenment too pure, and the body by nature too impure, to be capable of pollution; that filth cannot be defiled, and that pure gold remains pure, however often it may be plunged in filthiness. No such doctrine is hinted at by St. Jude. Dorner, therefore, goes beyond what is written when he says that "the persons whom Jude opposes are not merely such as have practically swerved from the right way; they are also teachers of error" ("Doctrine of the Person of Christ," Intr., p. 72, Eng. Tr.: T. & T. Clark, 1861). It is more reasonable, with De Wette, Bruckner, Meyer, Kuhl, Reuss, Farrar, Salmon, and others to regard these "ungodly men" as just what St. Jude describes them, and no more; libertines who ought never to have been admitted into the Church at all; who maintained that Christians were free to live lives of gross sensuality; and who, when rebuked by the elders or other officers of the Church for their misconduct, not only refused to submit, but reviled those who were set over them.. They were "teachers of error," but by their bad example, not by systematic preaching. They "screened their immoral conduct by blasphemous assumptions," because they assumed that "having been called for freedom, "they might" use their freedom for an occasion to the flesh," [Galatians 5:13] not because they assumed that they ought to disobey the commandments of the Creator of the material universe. And for the same reason they may be called "libertines" on principle. When St. Jude says that they "denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ," he means that they denied Him by their lives. It is altogether unreasonable to read into this simple phrase, which is sufficiently explained by the context, a dogmatic denial of the Incarnation. That the germs of Antinomian Gnosticism are here indicated may be true enough; but they have not yet developed into a body of doctrine. Still less have those who are tainted by these germs developed into a heretical sect.

It is with the verse before us that the marked resemblance between the Epistle of St. Jude and the central portion of the Second Epistle of St. Peter begins; and it continues down to ver. 18 [Jude 1:18]. In this short letter of twenty-five verses, only the first three and last seven verses, i.e., about a third of the whole, have no intimate relations with 2 Peter. The last word has not yet been spoken upon this perplexing subject. The present writer confesses that he remains still uncertain as to the true relation between the two, and that he has inclined sometimes to the one, and sometimes to the other of the two rival hypotheses. Thus much of what he wrote on the subject more than ten years ago may be repeated now:-

"The similarity, both in substance and wording, is so great that only two alternatives are possible-either one has borrowed from the other, or both have borrowed from a common source. The second alternative is rarely, if ever, advocated; it does not explain the facts very satisfactorily, and critics are agreed in rejecting it. But here agreement ends. On the further question, as to which writer is prior, there is very great diversity of opinion. One thing, therefore, is certain, that whichever writer has borrowed, he is no ordinary borrower. He knows how to assimilate foreign material so as to make it thoroughly his own. He remains original, even while he appropriates the words and thoughts of another. He controls them, not they him. Were this not so there would be little doubt about the matter. In any ordinary case of appropriation, if both the original and copy are forthcoming, critics do not doubt long as to which is the original. It is-when the copy itself is a masterpiece, as in the case of Holbein’s Madonna, that criticism is baffled. Such would seem to be the case here; and the present writer is free to confess his own uncertainty."

Other persons are able to write with much more confidence. Dean Mansel says, "Some eminent modern critics have attempted, on the very precarious evidence of style, to assign the priority in time of writing to St. Jude; but there are two circumstances which appear to me to prove most conclusively that St. Jude’s Epistle was written after that of St. Peter, and with express reference to it. The first is, that the evils which St. Peter speaks of as partly future St. Jude describes as now present. The one says, ‘There shall be false teachers among you"; [2 Peter 2:1; the future tense being continued through, the two following verses} the other says, ‘There are certain men crept in unawares.’ "The other circumstance is still more to the point. St. Peter in his Second Epistle has the remarkable words, ‘Knowing this first, that in the last days mockers ( εμπαικται) shall come with mockery, walking after their own lusts’. {2 Peter 3:3] St. Jude has the same passage, repeated almost word for word, but expressly introduced as a citation of Apostolic language: ‘But ye, beloved, remember ye the words which have been spoken before by the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they said to you, In the last time there shall be mockers ( εμπαικται), walking after their own ungodly lusts’ (Jude 1:17-18). The use of the plural number ( των αποστολων) may be explained by supposing that the writer may also have intended to allude to passages similar in import, though differently expressed, in the writings of St. Paul (such as 1 Timothy 4:1-2; 2 Timothy 3:1), but the verbal coincidence can hardly be satisfactorily explained, unless we suppose that St. Jude had principally in his thoughts, and was actually citing, the language of St. Peter" ("The Gnostic Heresies of the First and Second Centuries," Murray, 1875, pp. 69, 70). Hengstenberg puts forward the same arguments, and considers the second to be decisive as to the priority of 2 Peter.

Not less confident is Archdeacon Farrar that exactly the opposite hypothesis is the right one. "After careful consideration and comparison of the two documents it seems to my own mind impossible to doubt [the italics are Dr. Farrar’s] that Jude was the earlier of the two writers"…

"I must confess my inability to see how any one who approaches the inquiry with no ready-made theories can fail to come to the conclusion that the priority in this instance belongs to St. Jude. It would have been impossible for such a burning and withering blast of defiance and invective as his brief letter to have been composed on principles of modification and addition. All the marks which indicate the reflective treatment of an existing document are to be seen in the Second Epistle of St. Peter. In every instance of variation we see the reasons which influenced the later writer…The notion that St. Jude endeavored to ‘improve upon’ St. Peter is, I say, a literary impossibility; and if in some instances the phrases of St. Jude seem more antithetical and striking, and his description clearer, I have sufficiently accounted for the inferiority-if it be inferiority-of St. Peter by the supposition that he was a man of more restrained temperament; that he wrote, under the influence of reminiscences and impressions; and that he was warning against forms of evil with which he had not come into so personal a contact" ("The Early Days of Christianity," Cassell & Co, 1882, 1. pp. 196-203). The main arguments in favor of the view that the Second Epistle of St. Peter was used by St. Jude, besides those stated by Dean Mansel, are the following:-

(1) If 2 Peter is genuine, it is more probable that St. Jude should borrow from St. Peter than that the chief of the Apostles should borrow from one who was not an Apostle at all. If 2 Peter is not genuine, it is improbable that the forger would borrow from a writing which from the first was regarded with suspicion, because it quoted apocryphal literature.

(2) St. Jude tells us (Jude 1:3) that he wrote under pressure to meet a grave emergency, and therefore he would be more likely to make large use of suitable material ready to his hand, than one who was under no such necessity.

The main arguments on the other side are these:-

(1) It is more probable that the chief portion of a short letter should be used again with a great deal of additional matter, than that one section only of a much longer letter should be used again with very little additional matter.

(2) It is more probable that the writer of 2 Peter should omit what seemed to be difficult or likely to give offence, than that St. Jude should insert such things; e. g., "clouds without water" [Jude 1:12] is a contradiction in terms, and therefore is naturally corrected to "wells without water"; [2 Peter 2:17] the particular way in which the angels fell, [Jude 1:6] the allusion to certain Levitical pollutions (Jude 1:23), and the citations from apocryphal books (Jude 1:9; Jude 1:14-15) are either entirely omitted by the writer of 2 Peter, or put in a way much less likely to seem offensive. [2 Peter 2:4; 2 Peter 2:11] And Jude 1:9 has been so toned down by the writer of 2 Peter that without St. Jude’s statement respecting Michael and the devil we should scarcely understand 2 Peter 2:11.

Besides these points there are two arguments which are used on both sides of the question:-

(1) There are certain elements in St. Jude’s Epistle of which the writer of 2 Peter would probably have made use, had he seen them, e. g., the ironical play upon the word "kept" in "the angels which kept not ( μησαντας) their own principality He hath kept ( τετηρηκεν) in everlasting bonds"; the telling antithesis in ver. 10 (Jude 1:10), that what these sinners do not know, and can not know, they abuse by gross irreverence; and what they know, and cannot help knowing, they abuse by gross licentiousness; and the metaphor of "wandering stars" (Jude 1:13), which would fit the false teachers, who lead others astray, in 2 Peter, much better than the ungodly men, who are not leaders at all, in Jude. As the writer of 2 Peter makes no use of these points, the inference is that he had never seen them. But, on the other hand, there are certain elements in 2 Peter of which St. Jude would probably have made use, had he seen them; e.g., the destruction of "the world of the ungodly" by the Flood; the "eyes full of an adulteress"; and the explanation of the "great swelling words" as "promising them liberty," which would exactly have suited St. Jude’s purpose in condemning those who turned liberty into license. As St. Jude makes no use of these points, the-inference is that he had not seen them.

(2) St. Jude, as will be shown presently, groups nearly everything in threes. It is scarcely an exaggeration to say that wherever he can make a threefold arrangement he does so. Is this artificial grouping a mark of originality or not? Some would urge that it is the writer who is using up another’s material who would be likely to add this fanciful arrangement, and that, therefore, St. Jude is the borrower. Others would urge that such triplets would be just the things to be overlooked or disregarded by the borrower, and that, therefore, St. Jude is the original. About the existence of the triplets in Jude, and their absence in 2 Peter, there can be no question, whatever view we may hold as to their significance. They begin in the very first verse of our Epistle, and continue to the last verse, although those at the close of the letter are lost in the Authorized Version, owing to the fact that the translators used a faulty Greek text.

It will be worth while to run through them.

(1) Judas, a servant.., and brother.

(2) To them that are called, beloved and kept.

(3) Mercy unto you and peace and love.

(4) Ungodly men, turning and denying.

(5) Israelites, angels, cities of the plain;

(6) Defile set at naught, and rail.

(7) Cain, Balaam, Korah.

(8) These are These are These are…

(9) They who make separations, sensual, having not the Spirit.

(10) Building up yourselves, praying looking for the mercy.

(11) On some have mercy; and some save; and on some have mercy with fear.

(12) Before all time, and now, and for evermore.

Before parting with this verse it will be well to put readers on their guard against a misinterpretation of the phrase, "They who were of old set forth unto this condemnation"; a misinterpretation all the more likely to be made by those who use the Authorized Version, which has, "Who were before of old ordained to this condemnation." The text is a favorite one with Calvinists; but when rightly translated and understood, it gives no support to extreme predestinarian theories. When literally rendered it runs, "Who have been of old written down beforehand for this sentence"; or possibly, "Who have been written up beforehand"; for the metaphor may be borrowed from the custom of posting up the names of those who had to appear before the court for trial. Be this as it may, "of old" ( παλαι) cannot refer to the eternal counsel and decree of Almighty God, but to something in human history, something remote from St. Jude’s own day, but in time, and not in eternity. Perhaps some of the warnings and denunciations in the prophets of the Old Testament or in the Book of Enoch are in his mind. "Condemnation" is a justifiable rendering of the Greek word ( κριμα) because it is manifest from the context that the sentence or judgment intended is one of condemnation, and not of acquittal; but this word when coupled with "ordained" is likely to be grievously misunderstood. "Ordained to condemnation" suggests with fatal facility "predestined to damnation"-a doctrine which has perhaps been a more fruitful cause of the rejection of Christianity than all the doctrines included in the creeds.

Probably in all ages of the Church there have been men such as St. Jude here describes-nominal members of the Church who are nothing but a scandal to it, and professing Christians whose life is one flagrant denial of Christ. Such persons certainly trouble Christendom now. By their luxury and licentiousness they set an evil example and create a pestilential moral atmosphere. They practice no self-control, and sneer at self-denial in others. They reject all Christian discipline, and mock at those who endeavor to maintain it: And sometimes they are not at once recognized in their true character. They are plausible and amusing, obviously not strict, but not obviously scandalous in their manner of life. It is then that such men become specially dangerous. Such may have been the case in the Churches which St. Jude has in mind. Therefore he strips off all this specious disguise, and describes these profligate scoffers according to their true characters. Moreover, we must remember that there were some, and perhaps many, who, like Simon Magus, [Acts 8:13] accepted baptism without any real appreciation of the meaning of Christianity, and who remained either Jews or heathen at heart, long after they had enrolled themselves as Christians. Where dangerous material of this kind abounded, it was necessary to put the faithful on their guard about the danger; and hence the strength and vehemence of St. Jude’s language. A sharp, clear statement of the evil was necessary to put the weak and the unwary on their guard against a peril to which they might easily succumb, before they were fully aware of its existence. We all of us need such warnings still, not merely to form a truer estimate of the nature and tendency of certain forms of evil, and thus keep on our guard against courting needless temptation, but also to preserve us from becoming in our own persons, through manifest self-indulgence and a carelessness of life, a snare and a stumbling-block to our brethren.

Verses 5-7

Chapter 33


Jude 1:5-7

WITH these three verses the main portion of the Epistle begins, the first three verses being introductory. These put before us three instances of Divine vengeance upon those who were guilty of grievous sin-the unbelieving Israelites in the wilderness, the impure angels, and the inhabitants of the cities of the plain; and in. the three verses which follow (Jude 1:8-10) St. Jude points out the similarity between the offences of these wicked persons and the offences of the libertines who were provoking God to execute similar vengeance upon them. It is quite possible that we have here the explanation of the words, "Who were of old set forth unto this condemnation" (Jude 1:4). The doom of these impious profligates has long since been written in the doom of those who sinned in a similar manner.

The Greek text of the opening verse exhibits a great variety of readings, and one may suspect with Westcott and Hort that there has been some primitive error, and that none of the existing readings are correct. Of the points in which they differ from one another three require notice:-

(1) In the words, "The Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt," the authorities vary between "the Lord" (with or without the article), "God," and "Jesus." This last is far the best attested (AB, the best cursives, the Vulgate, both Egyptian Versions, both Ethiopic, the margin of the Armenian, and several Fathers); but the internal evidence against it is immense. Nowhere else in Scripture is Jesus said to be the author of anything which took place before the Incarnation. Had St. Jude written "Christ," we might have compared "the rock was Christ". [1 Corinthians 10:4] But the general adoption of the reading "Jesus" shows how completely in Christian thought and language the Man Jesus had become identified with the Eternal Son. If "Lord" be correct ( κυριος, without the article), it should be understood as meaning Jehovah; and therefore "God," though not likely to be right as the reading, is right as an interpretation. In the Latin translation of the "Hypotyposeis" of Clement of Alexandria we have these two readings combined, Dominus Deus, and the Greek of Didymus has "Lord Jesus" combined. Possibly all three readings are insertions, and should be omitted, the true text being simply, "He who saved a people out of the land of Egypt."

(2) In the words, "though ye know all things once for all," some authorities, which were followed by the translators of 1611, have "this" for "all things," while one authority makes "all" to be masculine instead of neuter ( παντας for παντα). This last may be correct, for the final letter of the masculine might easily be lost (especially in front of οτι); and in that case the meaning would be, "though ye all know it," i.e., "know what I am going to point out." There is a similar confusion of reading in 1 John 2:20, where for "Ye know all things" ( οιδατε παντα) we should perhaps read "Ye all know" ( οιδατε παντες). But here the masculine has too little support to be adopted.

(3) The Sinaitie MS. transposes the "once" or "once for all" ( απαξ) from "know" to "saved," and makes it answer to the "afterwards," or "the second time" ( τοτερον) which follows. In this it is supported by the Armenian Version and a single cursive of the fourteenth century. If it were adopted the sentence would run thus: "Now I desire to put you in remembrance, though ye know all things, how that the Lord, having once saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed them that believed not." The correspondence between "once" and "afterwards"-"having a single time saved…the second time He destroyed"-is at first sight attractive; but it is precisely this superficial attractiveness which has caused the corruption of the text. A recent writer pleads for its adoption, but his reasons are not convincing. The external evidence against the proposed transposition is enormous; and there is no strong internal evidence against the best-attested text (as there is against the reading "Jesus") to turn the scale. "Though ye know all this once for all" makes excellent sense; and so also does "He who saved a people out of Egypt, the second time (viz., in the wilderness) destroyed them that believed not."

This collection of various readings out of which it is impossible to select the true text with anything like certainty, is worth remembering in considering the theory of verbal inspiration. If every word that St. Jude wrote was supernaturally dictated, why has not every word been supernaturally preserved? It is manifest that God has not, either miraculously or in any other way, secured that the exact words written by St. Jude should come down to us without alteration. The alterations are so ancient, so widely diffused, and so numerous, that we are unable to decide what St. Jude’s exact words were. We are not even certain that among the numerous variations we have got his exact words. This is not a common case. The usual problem, when various readings occur, is to select the right reading out of several that have been handed down to us, there being no reason to doubt that one of them is the original reading of the autograph. But there are a few passages, and this is one of them, where one may reasonably doubt whether the original reading has not been altogether lost. Acts 7:46; Acts 13:32; {comp. Hebrews 11:4; Romans 15:32; 1 Corinthians 12:2; Colossians 2:18; Colossians 2:23; Hebrews 4:2; Hebrews 10:1; 1 Timothy 6:7; 2 Timothy 1:13; 2 Peter 3:10; 2 Peter 3:12; Jude 1:22-23} This result might easily be produced through an error in the earliest copies made from the original document, or through a slip made by the amanuensis who wrote the original document. There are minds to which this supposition is very repugnant; and there are writers who assure us that in Biblical criticism "conjectural emendation must never be resorted to, even in passages of acknowledged difficulty," or that "conjectural criticism is entirely banished from the field." But if the whole of an Apostolic Epistle may have been lost, [1 Corinthians 5:9; 3 John 1:9] why may not a word or two of an extant Epistle have been lost? And is it quite natural that there should sometimes be a doubt as to which of the several existing readings is the original, and yet quite inconceivable that there should ever be a doubt as to whether any of them is original? In either case we are left in uncertainty as to the precise words which are inspired; and we are thus confronted with the perplexing result that the Almighty has specially guided a writer to use certain words and phrases to the exclusion of all others, and yet from very early times has, in not a few cases, allowed Christians to be in doubt as to what these exact words and phrases are. Have we any right to assume that there was this special Divine care to produce a particular wording, when it is quite manifest that there has not been special Divine care to preserve a particular wording?

The theory of verbal inspiration imports unnecessary and insuperable difficulties into the already sufficiently difficult problem as to the properties of inspired writings. It maintains that "the line can never rationally be drawn between the thoughts and words of Scripture"; which means that the only inspired Word of God is the original Hebrew and Greek wording which was used by the authors of the different books in the Bible. Consequently, all who cannot read these are cut off from the inspired Word; for the inspired thoughts are, according to this theory, inseparably bound up with the original form of words. But if it is the thought, and not the wording, that is inspired, then the inspired thought may be as adequately expressed in English or German as in Hebrew or Greek. It is the inspired thought, no matter in what language expressed, which comes home to the hearts and consciences of men, and convinces them that what is thus brought to them by a human instrument is indeed in its origin and in its power Divine. "Never man thus spake" was said, not of the choice language that was used, but of the meaning which the language conveyed.

In the passage before us there are several points which call for attention, most of which are independent of the differences of reading.

It may be doubted whether the participle ( ειδοτας) is rightly rendered "though ye know all things once for all." It makes good, and perhaps better sense to understand it in the equally possible signification of "because ye know all things once for all." Their being already in full possession of a knowledge of Old Testament history is the reason why St. Jude need do no more than remind them of one or two particulars which throw a terrible light upon the position of those whose conduct is being discussed. That "once" here does not mean "formerly," as the Authorized Version takes it, "though ye once knew this," is manifest to every one who knows the meaning of the participle and adverb here used ( ειδοτας απαξ). Nor is there much doubt that both here and in ver. 3 it does mean "once for all." This Greek adverb, like its Latin equivalent semel, is sometimes "used of what is so done as to be of perpetual validity and never need repetition." It is twice so used in the Epistle to the Hebrews: "For as touching those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift"; [Hebrews 6:4] i.e., once for all enlightened, so that no second enlightenment is possible. And again, "Because the worshippers, having been once cleansed, would have had no more conscience of sins". [Hebrews 10:2] So also in 1 Peter: "Because Christ also died for sins once". [1 Peter 3:18] The meaning is similar in both the passages here (Jude 1:3; Jude 1:5). The Gospel was once for all delivered by the Apostles to the Church; for there can be no second Gospel. And this Gospel Christians receive and know once for all.

Doubt has been raised as to the event or events to which St. Jude refers in the words "afterward destroyed them that believed not." Hofman Schott, and others, adopting the best-attested reading, "Jesus, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not," interpret the latter clause of the destruction of Jerusalem or of the overthrow of the Jewish nation. It is felt that this makes a very unnatural contrast with the deliverance of Israel from Pharaoh by the hand of Moses, and therefore, "saved a people out of the land of Egypt" has to be interpreted to mean "the redemption from the bondage-house of the Law and of sin wrought in Israel and for Israel by Christ’s act of salvation" (Schott, Erlangen, 1863, p. 225). This is very forced and improbable. Let us hold by Hooker’s "most infallible rule in expositions of sacred Scripture, that where a literal construction will stand, the farthest-from the letter is commonly the worst" ("Eccl. Pol.," 5. 59:2). The literal construction of "saved a people out of the land of Egypt" will certainly stand here, and the words must be understood of the passage of the Red Sea and all that accompanied that event. This is the clause of which the meaning is plain, and it must be the interpreter of the clause of which the meaning is less plain: to work backwards from the latter is singularly unreasonable. The "saving" being understood of the deliverance of the Israelites from the tyranny of Pharaoh, the "destroying" is most naturally understood of the overthrow of these same Israelites in the wilderness; not of any catastrophe, such as followed the matter of Korah [Numbers 16:49] or of Baal-peor (25), but of the gradual destruction, during the forty years of wandering, of the rebellious and unbelieving, "whose carcasses fell in the wilderness. And to whom sware He that they should not enter into His rest, but to them that were disobedient? And we see that they were not able to enter in because of up-belief". [Hebrews 3:17-19] It is quite unnecessary to add to this, with Fronmuller, the Babylonish captivity, as if "afterward" or "the second time" (toteron) referred to two destructions. It refers to two Divine acts-one of mercy, and a second of judgment.

"And angels which kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation, He hath kept in everlasting bonds." This is St. Jude’s second instance of God’s vengeance upon gross sin, and this and the next are common to both Epistles. For the destruction of the unbelieving Israelites 2 Peter has the Deluge. The Revised Version has several improvements here. It substitutes "principality" for "first estate," in harmony with other passages, where the same word occurs, [Romans 8:38; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 1:16; Colossians 2:10; Colossians 2:15] and inserts "own"-"their own principality"; thereby marking the difference between "own" and "proper" - "their proper habitation." Above all, it preserves St. Jude’s irony in the double use of the word "kept"; "angels which kept not their own principality He hath kept in everlasting bonds"; which is destroyed in the Authorized Version by the substitution of "reserved" for the second "kept." The alteration of "chains" into "bonds" is of less moment; but it is worth while marking the difference between two Greek words, both of which are frequent in the New Testament, and of which the former is always used in a literal sense, [Mark 5:3-4; Luke 8:29; Acts 12:6-7; etc.} and the other sometimes literally, {Luke 8:29; Acts 16:26; Acts 23:29; etc.} and sometimes metaphorically. {Mark 7:35; Luke 13:16; Philemon 1:13] It is the latter which is used here.

It may be regarded as certain that this passage does not refer to the original rebellion of the angels, and their fall from being heavenly powers to being spirits of evil and of darkness. Nor is it a direct reference to the Rabbinic interpretation of "the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all that they chose". [Genesis 6:2, where the best texts of the Septuagint have "angels of God" for "sons of God"} Much more probably it is a reference to a topic which is very prominent in the Book of Enoch, which, however, in this particular is based upon the common interpretation of the passage in Genesis. A discussion of this most interesting and perplexing writing is reserved for a later chapter. At present it suffices to say that the work is a composite one, written at different times and by different authors, and that the allusions to it here, and the quotation from it in vv. 14 and 15 {Jude 1:14-15], are from the first portion of the Book of Enoch (chapters 1-36.), which, together with the last portion (chapters 72-105.), may safely be considered as the original writing, and undoubtedly pre-Christian. Whether any of the book was composed in the Christian era is doubtful, and that any of it was written by a Christian is very doubtful indeed. Hofmann, Philippi, and Weisse have not succeeded in persuading many people that the whole work is of Christian origin. The portion of which St. Jude makes use may, with a good deal of probability, be assigned to the latter part of the second century before Christ. A sketch of the section respecting the sin of the angels will throw much light on the passage before us. A portion of it had long been known through two considerable extracts, which the Byzantine writer Georgius Syncellus (cir. A.D. 800) makes from it in his "Chronographia" (pp. 20-23 and 40-42, Dindorf’s ed., Bonn, 1829). The quotation in our Epistle and those made by Syncellus constituted all that was known of the Book of Enoch in Europe until 1773, when the English traveler Bruce brought home three MSS. of an Ethiopic version of the whole which was still extant in the Abyssinian Church.

The section about the sin of the angels and their punishment (7-36) begins very abruptly after a short introduction (1-6), in which Enoch blesses the righteous, and states that he received a revelation from the angels in heaven. "And it came to pass, when the sons of men had multiplied, that daughters were born to them, very beautiful. And the angels, the sons of heaven, desired them, and were led astray after them, and said to one another, Let us choose for ourselves wives of the daughters of the men of the earth." Two hundred of them then made a conspiracy, and went down to the earth, and begat an offspring of giants. They imparted a knowledge of sorcery and many baneful arts; and the corruption thus diffused, and the voracity and violence of their offspring, produced the evils which preceded the Deluge. Then the sinful angels are sentenced by the Almighty, and Enoch is commissioned to make the sentence known to them. "Then the Lord said to me, Enoch, scribe of righteousness, go tell the watchers of heaven, who have deserted the lofty sky, and their holy everlasting station, who have been polluted with women that on earth they shall never obtain peace and remission of sin." The fallen angels persuade Enoch to intercede for them; but his intercession is not heard, and he is told to repeat the sentence which has been pronounced upon them. The following particulars of their punishment are of interest. Azazel, {comp. Leviticus 16:26, R.V} one of the ringleaders, is to be bound hand and foot, thrown into a loft in the wilderness, and covered with darkness; there he is to remain, with his face covered, till the great day of judgment, when he is to be cast into the fire. The others, after they have seen their offspring kill one another in mutual slaughter, are to be bound for seventy generations underneath the earth, till the day of their judgment, when they shall be thrown into the lowest depths of the fire, and be shut up for ever (10:6-9, 15, 16). "Judgment has been passed upon you; your prayer shall not be granted you. From henceforth never shall you ascend to heaven. He hath said that on the earth He will bind you, as long as the world endures" (14:2). And Enoch is afterward shown their punishment in a vision. "These are those of the stars which have transgressed the commandment of the most high God, and are here bound, until the infinite number of the days of their crimes be completed. Why art thou alarmed and amazed at this terrific place, at the sight of this place of suffering? This is the prison of the angels; and here are they kept for ever" (21:3, 6).

It is specially worthy of remark that it is in these older portions of the Book of Enoch that we meet for the first time in Jewish literature with the distinct conception of a general judgment. The idea is very frequent, and is expressed in a great variety of ways. Thus, what St. Jude calls "the Judgment of the Great Day" ( κρισιν μεγαλης ημερας), a phrase which occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, is called in the Book of Enoch "the Great Day of Judgment" (10:9), "the Day of the Great Judgment" (93:8; 97:15; 104:3), "the Day of the Great Trouble" (99:5), "the Great Day" (16:2)"; the Great Judgment" (22:5), "the General Judgment" (22:9).

St. Jude of course need not have derived this idea from the Book of Enoch; but the fact that it is so very frequent there, especially in connection with the sin of the impure angels, may have influenced him in writing the passage before us. At any rate all these numerous de-fails will not leave us in much doubt as to the origin of St. Jude’s statement, "angels which kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation, He hath kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day." It comes either directly from the Book of Enoch, or from a source of which both the writer of the book and St. Jude make use.

It was "in like manner with these" angels that the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah sinned, going astray after unlawful and unnatural indulgences; and "in like manner with these "angels, they also" are set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire." The meaning is not quite clear, but apparently it is this, that the sinful angels are in prison awaiting the day of judgment, when they will be cast into the lake of fire; and that the destruction of the cities of the plain by fire, and their perpetual submersion, are an example of the eternal fire in which the angels will be submerged. Perhaps there is also the idea that under the Dead Sea volcanic fires are burning. It is quite possible to take "of eternal fire" after "example" instead of after "punishment"; and this rendering makes the statement more in accordance with the actual facts: "are set forth as an example of eternal fire, suffering punishment." But the two last words come in rather awkwardly at the end of the sentence, and most commentators decide against this construction. {comp. /RAPC 3 Maccabees 2:5}

The three cases exhibit, not a climax, but great diversity, as regards persons, sin, and punishment. We have both Jews and Gentiles, and between them beings superior to both. The Israelites by unbelief rejected their promised home, and perished slowly in the wilderness. The angels left their proper home, sinned grossly, and are in banishment and in prison, awaiting still worse punishment. The men of Sodom and Gomorrah sinned grossly in their home, and both they and it were suddenly, horribly, and irrevocably destroyed. This great diversity gives point to the moral. No matter who may be the sinners, or what the circumstances of the sin, outrageous offences, such as impurity and rebellion, are certain of Divine chastisement.

If fallen angels are evil spirits actively compassing the ruin of souls, how can fallen angels be "kept in everlasting bonds until the judgment of the great day"? More than one answer might be given to this question, but the reserve of Scripture on the subject seems to warn us from unprofitable speculation. Even without Scripture the reality of spiritual powers of evil may be inferred from their effects. Scripture seems to tell us that some of these powers are personal, and some not, that some are more free than others, and that all shall be defeated at last. That is enough for our comfort, warning, and assurance. It consoles us to know that much of the evil within us is no part of ourselves, but comes from without. It makes us wary to know that such powers are contending against us. It gives us confidence to know that even Satan and his hosts can be overcome by those who resist steadfast in the faith.

Verses 8-12

Chapter 34


Jude 1:8-12

ST. JUDE having given three terrible examples of the punishment of gross sin in Jews, Gentiles, and angels, proceeds to apply these instances to the libertines who in his own day, by their scandalous conduct as Christians, were provoking God to punish them in like manner; and the threefold description of their conduct here given seems to refer to the three instances just given, which are now taken in reverse order. Like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, these ungodly libertines "defile the flesh"; like the "angels which kept not their own principality," they "set at naught dominion"; and like the unbelieving and rebellions Israelites in the wilderness, they "rail at dignities." In all three particulars they show themselves as "dreamers" ( ενυπνιαζομενοι). They are like men who say and do monstrous things in their sleep. They are deadened to all sense of decency and duty, "dreaming, lying down, loving to slumber" (Isaiah 56:10, where the same word that we have here is used in the LXX). They are sunk in the torpor of sin. [Romans 13:11] The Revisers have done rightly in omitting the epithet "filthy" in adding the word "also," and in substituting "in their dreamings" for "dreamers." The participle represented by "in their dreamings" does not belong to "defile the flesh" exclusively, but to the other two clauses as well; so that "filthy" is not even correct as an interpretation: it is quite unjustifiable as a rendering. There is no reason for suspecting that certain Levitical pollutions are indicated. Seeing that "in their dreamings" they "set at naught dominion, and rail at dignities," dreaming must not be understood of actual sleep. Moreover, St. Jude does not say "defile their flesh," but "defile the flesh" ( σαρκα μιαινουσι), which includes more than their own bodies. He perhaps means that they pollute human nature, or even the whole animal world.

Like the men of Sodom, these profligates "defile the flesh." Like the angels who sold their birthright for base indulgences, they "set at naught dominion." But it is by no means easy to determine what this "dominion" or "lordship" ( κυριοτητα) signifies. Calvin and others interpret this and "dignities" or "glories" ( δοξας) of the civil power: "There is a contrast to be noticed, when he says that they defiled or polluted the flesh, that is, that they degraded what was less excellent, and that yet they despised as disgraceful what is deemed especially excellent among mankind. It appears from the second clause that they were seditious men, who sought anarchy, that, being loosed from the fear of the laws, they might sin more freely. But these two things are nearly always connected, that they who abandon themselves to iniquity do also wish to abolish all order. Though, indeed, their chief object is to be free from every yoke, it yet appears from the words of Jude that they were wont to speak insolently and reproachfully of magistrates, like the fanatics of the present day, who not only grumble because they are restrained by the authority of magistrates, but furiously declaim against all government, and say that the power of the sword is profane and opposed to godliness; in short, they superciliously reject from the Church of God all kings and all magistrates. ‘Dignities,’ or ‘glories,’ are orders or ranks eminent in power or honor" (Calvin’s "Commentaries on the Catholic Epistles," Eng. Tr., Edinburgh, 1855, p. 438). But if earthly rulers of any kind are meant by "dominion" and "dignities," it is more probable that St. Jude is thinking of ecclesiastical officers; in which case the meaning would be that these libertines set Church discipline at defiance, and reviled the presbyters or bishops who rebuked them for their evil conduct.

It is, however, more probable that at least "dominion," if not "dignities," refers to unseen and supernatural powers. We must look backwards to Jude 1:4, and forwards to Jude 1:10, for a key to the interpretation. These profligates "turn the grace of God into lasciviousness," and thus "defile the flesh"; and they "deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ," and thus "set at naught lordship." Again, "what they understand naturally, like the creatures without reason, in these things are they destroyed," i.e., they ruin themselves, body and soul, by their carnal indulgences; while "they rail at whatsoever things they know not," i.e., they speak with flippant irreverence respecting the invisible world, reviling angels, and perhaps mocking at Satan. We may, therefore, with some hesitation, but with a fair amount of reason, interpret "dominion," or "lordship," of Christ or of God, and "dignities," or "glories," of angels, remembering that either or both of these may include Christ’s ministers and messengers on earth. One of the ways in which these ungodly men denied Christ in their lives was by their contemptuous disregard of the teaching of His Apostles.

It is quite possible that in this particular also St. Jude is under the influence of the "Book of Enoch." In it we read, "Ye fulfill not the commandments of the Lord; but ye transgress and calumniate greatness" (6:4); and again, "All who utter with their mouths unbecoming language against God, and speak harsh things of His glory, here they shall be collected" (26:2); and again, "My eyes beheld all the sinners, who denied the Lord of glory" (41:1). And with this last expression should be compared, "The splendor of the Godhead shall illuminate them" (1:8). But of course it does not follow that because St. Jude partly reproduces the language of this writer, therefore he uses it with precisely the same meaning.

"But Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing judgment, but said, The Lord rebuke thee." The meaning of this illustration is obvious. The profane libertines allow themselves to speak of "dignities" in a way which even an archangel did not venture to adopt in rebuking Satan. It is a very strong argument afortiori. Consequently, the fact that it was an evil angel against whom Michael did not dare to rail by no means proves that it was evil angels against which the libertines did dare to rail. Rather the contrary may be inferred. They use language of good angels which Michael would not use of a bad one. That "dignities," or "glories," may include the fallen angels or evil spirits is perhaps possible; that it refers to them exclusively is very improbable. The word itself is against this; for "glories" is certainly a strange name to give to devils.

But a more interesting question lies before us as to the source from which St. Jude derived the story about Michael the archangel contending with the devil about the body of Moses. It is as unreasonable to suppose that he received a special revelation on the subject as to suppose that St. Paul received a special revelation respecting the names of the Egyptian magicians (see on 2 Timothy 3:8 in this volume). St. Jude refers to the incident as something quite familiar to his readers; and this could hardly have been the case if it had been specially revealed to himself. Lardner supposes that the reference is to Zechariah 2:1-2. But, excepting that the words, "The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan," occur there, the difference between the two incidents is immense. Neither Michael nor the body of Moses is mentioned in Zechariah. The cause of Satan’s hostility is the consecration of Joshua the high priest. And it is the Lord, and not the angel, who rebukes the Evil One. These differences are conclusive; they leave just the features which need explanation still unexplained. We may safely decide that St. Jude is not alluding to anything contained in the Bible. More probably he is referring to some well-known Jewish story respecting the death and burial of Moses-in other words, to apocryphal literature.

"So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in the valley in the land of "Moab over against Beth-peor: but no man knoweth of his sepulcher unto this day". [Deuteronomy 34:5-6] Those words excited the curiosity of the Jews; and as history told them nothing beyond the statement in Deuteronomy, they fell back upon imagination as a substitute, and the mysterious words of Scripture became a center round which a series of legends in process of time clustered. The "Targum of Jonathan" on the passage says that the grave of Moses was entrusted to the care of Michael the archangel. The "Midrash" on the same states that Sammael, chief of the evil spirits, was impatient for the death of Moses. "And he said, When will the longed-for moment come when Michael shall weep and I shall laugh? And at last the time came when Michael came to Sammael and said: Ah! cursed one! shall I weep while thou laughest? and he made answer in the words of Micah, [Micah 7:8] Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me." The "Midrash" also contains another legend, in which the sin of the impure angels is mentioned in connection with the death of Moses. The soul of Moses prays that it may not be taken from the body: "Lord of the world, the angels Asa and Asael lusted after daughters of men; but Moses, from the day that Thou appearedst unto him. in the bush, led a life of perpetual continence"; the plea being that from so pure a body the soul need not depart. Both Gabriel and Michael shrink from bringing the soul, and Sammael failed to obtain it. "And Moses prayed, Lord of the world, give not my soul over to the angel of death. And there came a voice from heaven, Fear not, Moses; I will provide for thy burial. And Moses stood up and sanctified himself as do the Seraphim, and "the Most High came down from heaven, and the three chief angels with Him. Michael prepared the bier, and Gabriel spread out the winding-sheet. And the Most High kissed him, and through that kiss took his soul to Himself" (Plumptre in loco). These legends bring us a little nearer to the illustration used by St. Jude, for they bring Michael and the evil spirit into connection with what is related respecting the death and burial of Moses. But the contest between Michael and Satan respecting the body is not there. Origen tells us that this comes from an apocryphal book called "The Assumption" or "The Ascension ( αναληψις or αναβασις) of Moses"; "In Genesis the serpent is described as having seduced Eve, regarding whom, in ‘The Assumption of Moses’ (a little treatise of which the Apostle Jude makes mention in his Epistle), the archangel Michael, when disputing with the devil regarding the body of Moses, says that the serpent, being inspired by the devil, was the cause of the transgression of Adam and Eve" ("De Princip.," III 2. sub init.). The book was fairly well known in the early Church. Clement of Alexandria quotes it ("Strom.," 6. 15. sub fin.); and in the Latin translation of the "Hypotyposeis" his note on Jude 1:9 is "Hic confirmat Assumptionem Moysis." Didymus of Alexandria says the same as Origen about St. Jude’s use of it, and censures those who made this an objection to the Epistle of Jude ("In Epist. Judge enarratio in Gallandi Biblioth. Patr.," VI 307). Evodius, Bishop of Uzala, one of Augustine’s early friends ("Confess.," IX 7:17; 12:31), in writing to him, speaks of it as the "Mysteries (Secreta) of Moses," and calls it a writing devoid of authority (Aug. "Ep.," 168. 6). It was known in the second half of the fifth century to Gelasius of Cyzicus, and in the second half of the eighth to Nicephorus of Constantinople, who, in his "Stichometria Sacrorum Librorum," tells us that it was about as long as the Apocalypse of St. John. But from that time we hear no more of it until 1861, when Ceriani published about a third of it from a palimpsest in the Ambrosian Library at Milan ("Monu-menta Sacra et Prof.," I 1. p. 55). This fragment contains the passage quoted by Gelasius, but most tantalizingly comes to an end before the death of Moses, so that we are still without the passage about the contest between Michael and the devil respecting his body. Nevertheless, we have no reason for doubting the statements of Origen and of Didymus that the book contained this incident, and that this is the source of the illustration used by St. Jude. Such evidence as we have confirms the statements, and there is no evidence on the other side. We know that there were legends connecting Michael and the Evil One with the death of Moses. We know that "The Assumption of Moses" contained similar material. Above all, we know that the incident mentioned by St. Jude is not in the canonical Scriptures, and therefore must have come from some apocryphal source, and that elsewhere in his Epistle St. Jude makes use of apocryphal literature. We are not, therefore, creating a difficulty by adopting the all but certain conclusion that this apocryphal work is the source from which St. Jude draws. Even if we reject this highly probable conclusion, the difficulty, such as it is, will still remain.

That "The Assumption of Moses" was written before our Epistle is almost universally admitted. Philippi is almost alone in thinking that its author was a Christian, and that he borrowed from St. Jude. Ewald, Dillmann, Drummond, Schurer, and Wiesler place it between B.C. 4 (the year of the war of Quintilius Varus, to which it almost certainly refers) and A.D. 6. Hilgenfeld, Merx, Fritzsche, and Lucius place it at different points between A.D. 44 and 70. But the earlier date is the more probable. The large fragment in Latin which we now possess was evidently made from a Greek document, and Hilgenfeld has attempted to restore the Greek from the Latin. But this Greek document may itself have been a translation from the Aramaic. In either case St. Jude would be able to read it.

That any true tradition on the subject should have been handed down orally through fifteen centuries, "without leaving the slightest trace in a single passage in the Old Testament," is utterly improbable. This hypothesis, and the still more violent supposition of a special revelation made to St. Jude, are devices prompted by a reverent spirit, but thoroughly uncritical and untenable, to avoid the unwelcome conclusion that an inspired writer has quoted legendary material. Have we any right to assume that inspiration raises a writer to the intellectual position of a critical historian, with power to discriminate between legend and fact? St. Jude probably believed the story about the dispute between Michael and Satan to be true; but even if he knew it to be a myth, he might nevertheless readily use it as an illustrative argument, seeing that it was so familiar to his readers. If an inspired writer were living now, would it be quite incredible that he should make use of Dante’s "Purgatory," or Shakespeare’s "King Lear"? Inspiration certainly does not preserve those who possess it from imperfect grammar, and we cannot be certain that it preserves them from other imperfections which have nothing to do with the truth that saves souls. Besides which, it may be merely our prejudices which lead us to regard the use of legendary material as an imperfection. Let us reverently examine the features which inspired writings actually present to us, not hastily determine beforehand what properties they ought to possess. We not unnaturally fancy that when the Holy Spirit inspires a person to write for the spiritual instruction of men throughout all ages, He also preserves him from making mistakes as to the authenticity of writings of which he makes use, or at least would preserve him from misleading others on such points; but it does not follow that this natural expectation of ours corresponds with the actual manner of the Spirit’s working. "We follow a very unsafe method if we begin by deciding in what way it seems to us most fitting that God should guide His Church, and then try to wrest facts into conformity with our preconceptions."

Verses 12-15

Chapter 35


Jude 1:12-15

ST. JUDE leaves off comparing the libertines with other sinners - Cain and the Sodomites, Balaam and the impure angels, Korah and the unbelieving Israelites - and begins an independent description of them. Nevertheless, there is reason for believing that he has Cain, Balaam, and Korah in his mind in framing this new account of them. The description falls into three parts, of which this is the first. Each of the three parts begins in the same way: "These are" ( ουτοι εισιν). And each is balanced by something said on the other side, which is introduced with a "But" ( δε). In the case before us the "But" introduces a warning given prophetically to these libertines by Enoch (Jude 1:14-15). In the second case St. Jude quotes a warning given prophetically to his readers by the Apostles (Jude 1:17-18). In the third he exhorts his readers himself (Jude 1:20-23). This threefold division has been rather generally ignored. It is quite obliterated in the Revised Version by the division of the paragraphs, and also by the substitution of an "And" for the first "But." And to these also Enoch prophesied. The Vulgate is right with autem in all three places, followed by Wiclif with "Forsothe" in all three places. Luther is not only right in his rendering of the conjunction with abet in all three places, but also in his division of the paragraphs. But since Wiclif all English versions have obscured this threefold description of the ungodly with the three corresponding warnings or exhortations.

"These are they who are hidden rocks in your love-feasts when they feast with you." The difference between this and the parallel passage in 2 Peter is of special interest here; for it looks as if whichever writer used the work of the other remembered the sound rather than the sense. We have here εν ταις αγαπαις . . . σπιλαδες; but in 2 Peter 2:13 σπιλοι . . . εν ταις απαταις (with αγαπαις as a various reading, probably taken from this passage). It is possible that there may be no difference of meaning between σπιλαδες and σπιλοι. The former, which is St. Jude’s word, almost invariably means "rocks," but in an Orphic poem of the fourth century means "spots." The latter, which is used in 2 Peter 2:13 and Ephesians 5:27, generally means "spots," but sometimes means "rocks." So that "spots" may be the right rendering in both Epistles, and "rocks" may be right in both. More probably, however, we should understand "spots" in 2 Peter, and "rocks" here. The Revised Version inserts "hidden" as an epithet-"hidden rocks in your love-feasts"-which is hardly justifiable, because the word seems to mean reefs over which the sea dashes, as distinct from rocks which are wholly covered (so in the "Anthologia Palatina," 2. 390; and in a fragment of Sophocles the word has the epithet "lofty," εφ υθηλαις σπιλαδεσσι, and "lofty hidden rocks" would be almost a contradiction in terms). Moreover, "hidden" does not seem to be right even as an interpretation; for these profligates were not at all hidden; they were utterly notorious and scandalous. They made no secret of their misconduct, but gloried in it and defended it. Yet this fact does not make the name "rocks," or "reefs," inappropriate. A reef may be a very dangerous thing, although it is always visible. It may be impossible to avoid going near it; and proximity to such things is always perilous. So also with these ungodly men: St. Jude’s readers could not wholly avoid them, either in society or in the public services of the Church, but their presence disturbed and polluted both. The whole purpose of the love-feasts was wrecked by these men. Like Cain, they turned the ordinances of religion into selfishness and sin.

We cannot doubt that when St. Jude wrote the eucharist was still part of the agape or love-feast, as when St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians (A.D. 57, 58). It was still "the Lord’s Supper," not merely in name, but in fact. [1 Corinthians 11:17-34, Acts 20:7-11] It is almost certain that when Ignatius wrote his Epistles (cir. A.D. 112) the eucharist was still united with the love-feast. He writes to the Church of Smyrna, "It is not lawful without the bishop either to baptize or to hold a love-feast" (8). This must refer to the two sacraments, the administration of which are the chief functions of the priestly office. Ignatius cannot have meant that a love-feast apart from the eucharist might not be held without the bishop. When Justin Martyr wrote his First Apology (cir. A.D. 140) it is evident that the two had been separated; his description of the eucharist (65-67), implies that no love-feast accompanied it (see Lightfoot, "‘St. Ignatius and St. Polycarp," I pp. 52, 387; II p. 312; Macmillan, 1885). We may regard it, therefore, as certain that even if this Epistle be placed late in the first century, St. Jude is here referring to a state of things very similar to that which St. Paul rebukes in the Church of. Corinth; the love-feast accompanied by the eucharist was profaned by the shameless indulgence of these libertines.

The love-feast symbolized the brotherhood of Christians. It was a simple meal, in which all met as equals, and the rich supplied the necessities of the poor. Anything like excess was peculiarly out of place, and it was the duty of the rich to see that the poorer members of the congregation were satisfied. But it would seem as if these profligates

(1) brought with them luxurious food, thus destroying the Christian simplicity of the meal; and

(2) brought this, not for the benefit of all, but for their own private enjoyment, thus destroying the idea of Christian brotherhood and equality.

There is nothing in the word used for "feasting with you" ( συνευωχουμενοι) which necessarily implies revelry or excess, but in this connection it implies censure. To turn the love-feast into a banquet was wrong, however innocent a banquet might be in itself. We might translate the word "when they feast together," instead of "when they feast with you"; and this would imply that at the love-feast they kept to themselves, and did not mix with their poorer brethren. This makes good sense; but if this translation is adopted, we must beware of interpreting it to mean that these libertines had become schismatics, and had set up a love-feast of their own. They could not be "rocks in your love-feasts" if they did not attend the love-feasts.

There are two other uncertainties in these opening clauses one of construction, and one of translation.

(1) Ought we to take "without fear" with what precedes, or with what follows-"when they feast with you without fear," or "that feed themselves without fear"? As in Jude 1:7, with regard to "of eternal fire," we are unable to decide with certainty. Both constructions make excellent sense, and nothing can be urged as being strongly in favor of either. English versions are divided. The Rhemish has "feasting together without fear." Purvey, the Authorized, and the Revised take "without fear" with "feeding themselves." Tyndale, Cranmer, and the Genevan aim at being as ambiguous as the Greek; they place "with out feare" between the two clauses with a comma on each side of it.

(2) Does "feeding themselves" mean that they fed themselves instead of feeding the flock? [Ezekiel 34:2; Ezekiel 34:8; Isaiah 56:11] If so, the Revisers give the right interpretation with "shepherds that without fear feed themselves"; but this is interpretation rather than translation. Or does it mean that they fed themselves, instead of waiting to be fed by the shepherds? If so, it is quite misleading to call them shepherds. As we have seen already, there is no reason for thinking that these profligates set up as teachers or pastors. We shall be safer if we render the Greek participle ( έαυτούς ποιμαίνοντες ) by a participle: "pasturing themselves," or "shepherding themselves." Luther, as Dr. Salmon points out, renders it semetipsos regentes, which shows that he understood it in the latter sense. Yet this second view does not imply anything schismatical in their conduct, but merely that they were selfish and disorderly. They kept their own good food, and consumed it among themselves at the love-feast, instead of throwing it into the common store, and allowing it to be distributed to all by the elders. With full recognition of the fact that there is much to be said for other views, the following rendering may be accepted as on the whole preferable: "These are they who are rocks in your love-feasts, feasting together without fear, pasturing their own selves."

In what follows St. Jude piles metaphor on metaphor and epithet on epithet, in the effort to express his indignation and abhorrence. But we cannot say that "no doubt also in the comparisons which he employs he has an eye to the original intention of the Love-feast." It is somewhat forced to say that the love-feast "was to have the blessing of the rain from heaven; it was meant to be a cause of much fruit in the whole Christian community." But assuming that "waterless clouds" and "fruitless trees" may be made to refer to the love-feasts, what are we to make of "wild waves" and "wandering stars" in that connection? It is better to regard the subject of the love-feasts as ended, and to take the similes which follow as quite independent. These men are ostentatious, but they do no good. It was perhaps expected that their admission to the Church would be a great gain to Christendom; but they are as disappointing as clouds that are carried past ( παραφερομεναι) by winds without giving any rain; and in the East that is one of the most grievous among common disappointments.

How the framers of the Authorized Version came to perpetrate such a contradiction in terms as "trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit," it is not easy to see. No earlier English version is guilty of it; nor the Vulgate (arbores autumnales, infructuosae); nor Beza, with whom Calvin agrees (arbores emarcidae infrugiferae); nor Luther (kahle unfruchtbare Baume). The Greek ( δενδρα φθινοπωρινα) means literally "autumn-withering trees"; i.e., just at the time when fruit is expected they wither and are without fruit. The parable of the barren fig-tree [Luke 13:6-9] is perhaps in St. Jude’s mind. The epithets form a natural climax-withering in autumn, fruitless, twice dead, rooted up. These profligates were twice dead, because they had returned after baptism to the death of sin: the end of such men is that they shall be rooted out at the last. [Psalms 30:1-12; Proverbs 2:1-22] When he calls them "wild waves of the sea, foaming out their own shames," St. Jude is perhaps thinking of the words of Isaiah: "The wicked are like the troubled sea; for it cannot rest, and its waters cast up mire and dirt". [Isaiah 57:20] But the wording of the Septuagint is utterly different from that which we have here; it is the thought that is similar.

What are we to understand by "wandering stars"? Not planets, nor comets, neither of which either seem to wander while one looks at them, or do wander, in St. Jude’s sense, as a matter of fact. Both have their orbits, to which they keep with such regularity that their movements can be accurately predicted; so that they are symbols rather of Christian lives than of the course of the ungodly. Much more probably St. Jude means "falling stars," or "shooting stars," which seem to leave their place in the heavens, where they are beautiful and useful, and to wander away into the darkness, to the confusion and dismay of those who observe them. Thus understood, the simile forms a natural transition to the prophecy of Enoch which follows. St. Jude’s thoughts have once more gone back to the fallen angels in the "Book of Enoch." Angels, like stars, have a path to keep, and those who keep it not are punished. "I saw the winds which cause the orb of the sun and of all the stars to set…I saw the path of the angels…I perceived a place which had neither the firmament of heaven above it, nor the solid ground underneath it; neither was there water above it, nor anything on wing; but the spot was desolate. And there I saw seven stars, like great blazing mountains, and like spirits entreating me. Then the angel [Enoch’s guide] said, This place, until the consummation of heaven and earth, will be the prison of the stars and the host of heaven. The stars which roll over fire are those which transgressed the commandment of God" (18:6, 7, 13-16). In another terrible place he sees stars bound together, and is told that these are "the stars which have transgressed," and that "this is the prison of the angels," in which "they are kept forever" (21:2, 3, 5, 6). These extracts make it highly probable that when St. Jude compares the ungodly to "wandering stars, for whom the blackness of darkness hath been reserved forever," he is thinking once more of the "angels which left their proper habitation," who are "kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day" (Jude 1:6). After this return to the ideas contained in the "Book of Enoch," the quotation of the prophecy comes quite naturally; and all the more so because, as Irenaeus indicates, Enoch forms a splendid contrast to the fallen angels: they lost their heavenly habitation by displeasing God, whereas he was taken up to heaven for pleasing Him. His words show that he was acquainted with the "Book of Enoch," and accepted it as trustworthy: "But Enoch also without circumcision, by pleasing God, although he was a man, discharged the office of ambassador to angels, and was translated, and is preserved even until now as a witness of the just judgment of God: while angels by transgression fell to earth for judgment; but a man by pleasing Him was translated for salvation" ("Haer.," IV 16:2). Having compared the profligates to the stars, or angels, who fell from heaven to earth, St. Jude passes on readily to quote the warning of one who was taken up from earth to heaven.

And the way in which the prophecy is introduced makes us still more clear as to the source from which St. Jude derived it: "Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied." Nowhere in the Old Testament, and nowhere else in the New, is Enoch said to be "the seventh from Adam." "But he is called the seventh" in the "Book of Enoch," where he is made to say, "I have been born the seventh in the first week" (92:4), although in order to make seven both Adam and Enoch have to be counted (37:1). The number seven is possibly symbolical, indicating perfecting. Thus Dr. Westcott takes Enoch to be "a type of perfected humanity" ("Dict. of the Bible"). Yet it is also possible that he is called "the seventh" in the "Book of Enoch," and consequently by St. Jude, in order to mark the extreme antiquity of the prophecy, or to distinguish him from other persons of the same name. [Genesis 25:4; Genesis 46:9]

But a careful comparison of the passage m question, as quoted by St. Jude, and as it stands in the translation of the "Book of Enoch," is the chief means of determining the source of the quotation. This, however, cannot be made satisfactorily until we can place the Greek, of which the Ethiopic version of the "Book of Enoch" is a translation, side by side with St. Jude’s Greek.



Behold, He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon them, and to destroy the ungodly and reprove all the carnal [or, and will destroy and convict the ungodly with all flesh], for everything which the sinners and the ungodly have done and committed against Him (chap.ii.).

Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have ungodly wrought, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him (Jude 1:14-15).

Behold, He cometh with ten thousands of Behold, the Lord came with ten His holy ones, to execute judgment upon thousands of His holy ones, to execute them, and to destroy the ungodly and judgment upon all, and to convict all reprove all the carnal [or, and will the ungodly of all their works of destroy and convict the ungodly with all ungodliness which they have ungodly flesh], for everything which the sinners wrought, and of all the hard things and the ungodly have done and which ungodly sinners have spoken committed against Him (chap. 2) against Him. [Jude 1:14-15]

It will be observed that there is nothing in the "Book of Enoch" to correspond with the saying about "the hard things which sinners have spoken against God." This in itself is almost conclusive against the hypothesis, which on other grounds is not very probable, that some later writer copied the prophecy as given by St. Jude, and inserted it into the "Book of Enoch." If so, why did he not copy it exactly? Why did he not only slightly vary the wording, but omit a rather important clause? The passage is very short, and a writer who was anxious to make St. Jude agree with the reputed prophecy would be likely to make the agreement exact. On the other hand, if St. Jude is quoting loosely from memory, or from a Greek or Aramaic original, of which the text varied somewhat from the Ethiopic translation which has come down to us, everything is explained. He would be tenacious of the clause about "hard things spoken against God," as a warning to those who "set at naught dominion and rail at dignities." It is of course possible that both the author of this book and St. Jude independently make use of a traditional saying attributed to Enoch. But seeing that the work was in existence when St. Jude wrote, was probably well known to his readers, and contains most of the passage which he quotes; and seeing that elsewhere in his Epistle he seems to refer to other parts of the book, far the more reasonable view is that he quotes directly from it. The case therefore is parallel to that of the reference to "The Assumption of Moses" in Jude 1:9. St. Jude probably believed the prophecy to be a genuine prophecy of Enoch, and the writing in which it occurs to be a genuine revelation respecting the visible and invisible world; but even if he knew its apocryphal character, its appositeness to the subject of which he is so full might easily lead him to quote it to persons who would he familiar with it. We have no right to prejudge the question of fitness, and say that inspiration would certainly preserve its instruments from wittingly or unwittingly making use of a fictitious apocalypse. Our business, as reverent and therefore honest students, is to ascertain whether this writer does derive some of his material from the document which, after the lapse of so many centuries, was given back to us about a hundred and twenty years ago. If on critical grounds we find ourselves compelled to believe that this document is the source from which St. Jude draws, then let us beware of setting our own preconceptions above the wisdom of God, who in this case, as in many more, has been pleased to employ an unexpected instrument, and has made a human fiction the means of proclaiming a Divine truth.

It remains to give some further account of the intensely interesting writing which St. Jude appears to have used. The Books of Daniel, Ezekiel, and Zechariah gave to the Jews a love of visions, revelations, and prophecies which at times was almost insatiable; and, when the gift of prophecy came to an end, the three centuries between Malachi and the Baptist, during which it seemed as if Jehovah had departed from His people, and "answered no more, neither by dreams nor by prophets," appeared dreary and intolerable. What had been written by Moses and the Prophets did not satisfy. Fresh revelations were desired; and the reality being absent, fiction attempted to stop the gap. Such writings as the "Book of Enoch," "Assumption of Moses," "Testament of Moses," "Eldad and Medad," "Apocalypse of Elijah," etc., etc., were the result. This desire for prophecies and revelations passed over from Judaism into the Christian Church, and was quickened rather than satisfied by the Revelation of St. John. During the first two centuries of the Christian era such literature continued to be produced by Jews and Christians alike; and specimens of it still survive in the "Apocalypse of Baruch" and the "Fourth Book of Ezra" on the Jewish side, and the "Shepherd of Hermas" on the Christian; the "Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs" being apparently a Jewish original with Christian interpolations. But in most cases only the titles survive, and where the revelation or prophecy is attributed to an Old Testament character we are unable to decide whether the fiction was of Jewish or of Christian origin.

It is strange that such a writing as the "Book of Enoch" should have been allowed to disappear entirely from the West after the fourth century, and from the East after the eighth. The quotations in the "Chronographia" of Georgius Syncellus, some portions of which are not found in the recovered Ethiopic Version, are the last traces that we have of it until early in the seventeenth century, when it was rumored that it was extant in Abyssinia, and late in the eighteenth, when it was found there. The revelations which it professes to make respecting judgment, heaven, and hell might have been expected to make it a special favorite with Christians from the fourth to the tenth century, during which period one of the commonest topics of speculation was the end of the world. Moreover, there was the passage in Jude, with the notices in Barnabas, Irenaeus, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Jerome, and others, to keep the book from being forgotten. But it was generally believed that the end of the world would be heralded by two great signs-the downfall of Rome. and the coming of Antichrist. About these the "Book of Enoch" contains no hint, and the absence of such material may have caused it to pass out of knowledge. Englishmen have the honor of giving it back to Europe. James Bruce brought the Ethiopic translation from Abyssinia in 1773, and Archbishop Laurence published an English translation of it in 1821, and an Ethiopic text in 1838. Since then the scholars who have edited it or commented on it have been almost exclusively Germans.

It is generally acknowledged that the book is a composite one. Probably the original writer incorporated older materials, and his work has probably been interpolated by later hands. Whether any of these supposed interpolations are Christian is still debated; and the question scarcely admits of a decided answer. On the one hand, there are expressions which would come much more naturally from a Christian than from a Jew; on the other, it is difficult to see why a Christian should insert anything at all, if he did not insert what might teach others Christian truth. Messianic passages abound; and in them the Messiah is called, again and again, "the Son of man" and "the Elect One"; twice He is called "the Anointed" (47:11; 51:4), twice "the Righteous One" (38:2; 52:6; where Laurence translates otherwise); once He is "the Son of the offspring of the mother of the living," i.e., Son of the son of Eve (61:10); and once the Lord speaks of Him as "My Son" (104:2). This Messiah is the Judge of men and angels, by the appointment of Jehovah. "In those days will the earth give back that which has been entrusted to it, and Sheol will give back that which has been entrusted to it, which it has received, and destruction (Abaddon) will give back what it owes…And in those days will the Elect One sit upon His throne, and all secrets of wisdom will come forth from the thoughts of His mouth; for the Lord of spirits hath given it to Him, and hath glorified Him" (1:10, 3). "Then the Lord of spirits made to sit upon the throne of His glory the Elect One, who will judge all the works of the holy" (60:10, 11; 68:39). But this Messiah is not much more than a highly exalted angel. He is not the Word; he is not God. That this Son of man has already lived upon the earth is not indicated. Of the name Jesus, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, or the Ascension, there is not a trace. There is no hint of baptism, or of the eucharist, or of the doctrine of the Trinity. In a word, everything distinctly Christian is absent, even from that section (37-71.) which makes the nearest approaches to Christian language, and which is probably a later insertion. It is difficult to see what object a Christian could have in writing just this and no more. The fact that so many of the angels have Hebrew names favors the view that the original was in Hebrew or Aramaic, of which the Greek, from which the Ethiopic version is taken, was only a translation. If so, this also is in favor of Jewish, rather than of Christian origin.

Those who can should read the whole book in Laurence’s translation, or still better in Dillmann’s. But the more accurately translated portions given in Westcott and in Stanton will give some idea of the whole. The latter have been used in this chapter. The book is manifestly the work of a man of the most earnest convictions, one who believes in God, and fears Him, and is appalled at the practical infidelity anti utter godlessness which he finds around him. On two things he is ever insisting:

(1) that God’s rule extends everywhere, over angels and men, no less than over winds and stars;

(2) that this rule is a moral one, for He abundantly rewards righteousness, and fearfully punishes sin. Nothing, therefore, could well be more m harmony with the spirit and purpose of St. Jude, and it ought not to perplex us that he makes use of such a book.

But in any case it may reassure us to remember that, in spite of its being quoted in Scripture, the Church has never been allowed to admit it as Scripture. The mind of Christendom has never wavered as to the real character of the "Book of Enoch." It is one of the many eccentricities of Tertullian that he upholds its authority; but his special pleading has misled no one else ("De Cultu Fern.," I 3.). Justin Martyr apparently knew it ("Apol.," II 5.), but there is nothing to show that he accepted it as a genuine revelation. Origen ("Contra Cels.," 5. 54.: comp. "In Numer. Homil.," 28:2; "In Joannem," tom. 6., cap. 25.: De la Rue, 2. 384; 4:142) distinctly marks it as uncanonical and of doubtful value; Augustine ("De Civ. Dei," XV 23. 4) and Jerome ("De Vir. Illustr.," 4.) reject it as apocryphal; and soon after their time it seems to have disappeared from Western Christendom. As already stated, it is uncertain whether St. Jude was mistaken as to the true nature of the book: it is quite certain that the Church has been preserved from being so.

Verses 16-18

Chapter 36


Jude 1:16-18.

THESE words form the second part of the threefold description of the libertines; and just as the first part was balanced by a prophetic warning quoted from the "Book of Enoch," so this part is balanced by a quotation of the prophetic warning given by the Apostles, to the effect that persons like these ungodly men would certainly arise. This second division more clearly corresponds to the case of Balaam mentioned in Jude 1:11 than the first division of the description corresponds to the case of Cain. This will appear when we come to examine the details.

"These are murmurers." For the second time St. Jude points to the intruders who are disturbing the Church, and shows his readers another group of characteristics by which these dangerous persons, who disgrace the name of Christian, may be known. This second group hangs on closely to what immediately precedes. It seems to have been suggested by the last words of the prophecy quoted from Enoch, "the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him." The way m which the libertines spoke hard things against God was by murmuring against His decrees and complaining of the dispensations of His Providence. This is the exact meaning of the word which is rendered "complainers" ( μεμψιμοιροι) and which occurs nowhere else in the New Testament; "finding fault with their lot," i.e., discontented with the condition of life which God had assigned to them, and not only blaming Him for this, but for the moral restrictions which He had imposed upon them and upon all mankind. Men who "walk after their lusts," and shape their course in accordance with these ( κατα ταας αυτων πορευομενοι), cannot be contented, for the means of gratifying the lusts are not always present, and the lusts themselves are insatiable: even when gratification is possible, it is only temporary; the unruly desires are certain to revive and clamour once. more for satisfaction. This was notably the ease with Balaam, whose grasping cupidity chafed against the restraints which prevented it from being gratified. As Bishop Butler says of him, "He wanted to do what he knew to be very wicked, and contrary to the express command of God; he had inward checks and restraints, which he could not entirely get over; he therefore casts about for ways to reconcile this wickedness with his duty" ("Sermon," 7). From a somewhat different point of view J. H. Newman says much the same thing of him: Balaam "would have given the world to have got rid of his duties; and the question was, how to do so without violence" ("Plain Sermons," Rivingtons, 1868, vol. 4. p. 28). Isaac Williams, who has a sermon on the same subject, puts the matter in yet an other way. Balaam "knew what was holy and good, and it may be that he loved it also, but he loved riches more: his knowledge was with God; his will was with Satan He wished to proceed together with God and Mammon-God on his lips, and Mammon in his heart" ("The Characters of the Old Testament," Rivingtons, 1869, pp. 128, 130). The way in which the libertines seem to have set about the impossible task of getting rid of their duties and reconciling the service of God with the service of Satan appears to have been that of roundly declaring that Christian liberty included freedom to gratify one’s desires: if it did not do so, it was an empty delusion. In this way they "turned the grace of God into lasciviousness" (Jude 1:4), and "their mouth spoke great swelling words." In the parallel passage in 2 Peter an explanation of this kind is given of the "great swelling words." By means of them these evil men "enticed others in the lusts of the flesh by lasciviousness promising them liberty". [2 Peter 2:18-19] According to them, it was the magnificent privilege of Christians to be freed from righteousness and become the slaves of sin. Irenaeus attributes doctrine of this kind to Simon Magus and his followers, who, "as being free, live as they please; for men are saved through His grace, and not through their own righteous acts. For righteous actions are not such in the nature of things, but accidentally" ("Haer.," I 23. 3).

"Showing respect of persons for the sake of advantage." This, again, is exactly what Balaam did. He had regard to Balak and the princes whom he sent as ambassadors; and he did this because he hoped to gain the large reward which they were told to promise him if he would but exercise his prophetic power in solemnly cursing Israel. In like manner these blatant profligates, who were loud in their complaints against the treatment which they received from Providence, and equally loud in protesting that the Gospel allowed them and others the license which they desired, nevertheless became mean flatterers and parasites when there was any chance of getting anything from persons of wealth and distinction. This apparently incongruous combination of arrogant self-assertion with groveling sycophancy is common enough in men without principle, as Calvin remarks. "When there is no one to check their insolence, or when there is nothing which stands in their way, their pride is intolerable, so that they imperiously arrogate everything to themselves; but they meanly flatter those whom they fear, and from whom they expect some advantage." While they refuse submission where it is due, they give it where it is not due. They rebelliously reject the plain commands of God, and yet servilely cringe to the humors and caprices of their fellow-men.

"But ye, beloved, remember ye the words which have been spoken before by the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ." The Revisers have done well to restore the "ye"-"But ye, beloved"-which was in all English versions previous to that of 1611, just as in Jude 1:20. In both cases the pronoun is emphatic, and places the persons addressed in marked contrast to the ungodly men against whom they are being warned. "Whatever they may do, do not you be deceived by their arrogant language and timeserving conduct, for these are the scoffing sensualists against whom you have already been warned beforehand by the Apostles. Their behavior is amazing, but it ought not to take you by surprise." St. Jude evidently takes for granted that the Apostolic warning which he quotes is well known to his readers. Such an appeal to the authority of the Apostles would certainly be more natural in one who was himself not an Apostle, but it must not be regarded as quite decisive, as if St. Jude had written "how that they said to us." Other reasons, however, support the impression which this passage conveys, that the writer is not an Apostle. On the other hand, there is nothing in these words to warrant the conclusion that the writer regards the Apostles as persons who lived long ago, or who gave this warning long ago. All that is implied is that before these ungodly men "crept in privily" into the Church, Apostles had foretold that such persons would arise. "In the last time" is not St. Jude’s expression, but theirs; and by it the Apostles certainly did not mean an age remote from their own: the "last time" had already begun when they wrote. {see on 2 Timothy 3:1-2, in "The Pastoral Epistles," and comp. 1 John 2:18; Hebrews 1:2; 1 Peter 1:20}

"How that they said to you" may mean "how that they used to say to you" ( ελεγον υμιν) and may refer to oral teaching; but we cannot be at all certain of this. Still less can we be certain that, if written warnings are included or specially meant, the reference is to 2 Peter 3:3 : "knowing this first, that in the last days mockers shall come with mockery, walking after their own lusts." Both passages may have a common source, or that in 2 Peter may be modeled upon this one. The word for "mockers" is the same in both ( εμπαικται), and it is a very unusual word, not used by profane writers, nor anywhere else in the New Testament; in the Septuagint it occurs only once, [Isaiah 3:4] and there apparently in the sense of "childish persons." The Authorized Version unfortunately obscures this close connection between the wording of 2 Peter 3:3, and that of this passage, by having "scoffers" in the one, and "mockers" in the other. The particular in which the two passages really differ must not pass without notice. St. Jude writes, "walking after their own ungodly lusts," or more literally, "their own lusts of ungodlinesses," ( των ασεβειων). Most probably the genitive here is descriptive, as in James 1:24 and James 2:4; and therefore the substitution of the adjective "ungodly" for it in the English versions is justifiable. But it is possible that "lusts of ungodlinesses" means that they lusted after impieties, and therefore the rendering given in the margin of the Revised Version should not be left unheeded. Wiclif, Purvey, and the Rhemish here differ from other English versions, being made from later texts of the Vulgate, which read, "secundum desideria sua ambulantes in impietatibus" or "in impierate," whereas the better text has "impietatum." However we translate the genitive case, we may regard the word as an echo of the prophecy quoted from the "Book of Enoch," in which "ungodly" or "ungodliness" occurs with persistent iteration (Jude 1:15).

The fact that this expression ( των ασεβειων) occurs here, but not in the parallel verse in 2 Peter, is an indication of a much more important difference between the two passages. In spite of the great similarity of wording, the meaning is very different. The mockers in each case mock at totally different things. In 2 Peter we are expressly told that they scoffed at the belief that Christ was coming to judge the world. "What has become of the promise of His coming? Everything goes on just as it has done for generations." There is not a hint of any such notion here; on the contrary, it is implied that these libertines mocked at God’s dealings with themselves, and at the belief that the Gospel did not give them full liberty to gratify their sensual desires. They were among those of whom it is written that "fools make a mock at sin". [Proverbs 14:9] By scoffing at things sacred, and ridiculing the notion that there is any harm in licentiousness, or anything estimable in holiness, they created a moral atmosphere in which men sinned with a light heart, because sin was made to look as if it were a matter of no moment, a thing to be indulged in without anxiety or remorse. It would be more reasonable and less reprehensible to make a mock at carnage or pestilence, and teach men to go with a light heart into a desolating war or plague-stricken neighborhood. In such cases experience of the manifest horrors would soon cure the light-heartedness. But the horrible nature of sin is not so manifest, and with regard to that experience teaches its lesson more slowly. It is like a poisoning of the blood rather than a wound in the flesh, and may have done incalculable mischief before any serious pain is felt, or any grave alarm excited. Hence it is quite easy for many to "walk after their own ungodly lusts," and at the same time "mock at sin" and its consequences. And then the converse of the proverb becomes true, and "sin mocks at the fools" that mocked at it-a meaning which the Hebrew may very well have. In the margin of the Revised Version we read, "Guilt mocketh at the foolish." As Delilah mocked at Samson, so does sin mock at those who have been taken captive by it. There is no folly equal to the foolhardiness of those who make light, either to themselves or to others, of the deadly character of any form of sin. They thereby save the tempter all trouble, and do his work themselves. "His own iniquities shall take the wicked, and he shall be holden with the cords of his sin. He shall die for lack of instruction; and in the greatness of his folly he shall go astray," [Proverbs 5:22-23]

Verses 19-23

Chapter 37


Jude 1:19-23.

FOR the third and last time St. Jude points his finger at the ungodly intruders who are working such mischief in the Church, and gives another triplet of characteristics by which they may be recognized.

"These are they who make separations." This is the first point; like Korah and his company, these men are separatists ( οι αποδιοριζοντες) They do not actually make a schism from the Church, for they frequent the love-feasts and profess membership; but they create a faction within it. Even in the public services of the Church they keep aloof from the poorer members of the congregation. At the love-feasts they feed themselves on the good things which they bring with them, instead of handing them over to the ministers to be distributed among all. And in society they care only for persons of rank and wealth, out of whom they hope to gain something. Worst of all, they claim to be specially enlightened members of the Church, having a more comprehensive knowledge of the nature of Christian liberty, while they are turning the fundamental principles of Christian life upside down. Hence, although they are not actual schismatics, who have gone out of the Church and set up a communion of their own, their tendencies are in that direction. They are, in short, much the same kind of people as those against whom St. Paul warns his readers in the Epistle to the Romans: "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which are causing the divisions and occasions of stumbling, contrary to the doctrine which ye learned: and turn away from them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Christ, but their own belly; and by their smooth and fair speech they beguile the hearts of the innocent" (Romans 16:17-18). And again in the Epistle to the Philippians: "For many walk of whom I told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ, whose end is perdition, whose god is the belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things". [Philippians 3:18-19] A parallel to nearly every clause in these two descriptions might be found in the account of the libertines given by St. Jude. Indeed, the words in which Bishop Lightfoot sums up St. Paul’s description might be adopted verbatim as a summary of the description in our Epistle: "They are described as creating divisions and offenses, as holding plausible language, as professing to be wise beyond others, and yet not innocent in their wisdom." They are "Antinomians, who refuse to conform to the Cross, and live a life of self-indulgence." "The unfettered liberty of which they boast, thus perverted, becomes their deepest degradation" ("Philippians," Notes on 3:18, 19).

Hooker, in his sermons on this passage, although he adopts the translation of Tyndale, continued by Cranmer and the Genevan Version, "These are makers of sects," yet in his exposition follows the corrupt reading which misled the translators of 1611, "These be they who separate themselves" ( οι αποδιοριζοντες εαυτους), "themselves" being absent from almost all the ancient MSS. and versions. He Says, "St. Jude, to express the manner of their departure which by apostasy fell away from the faith of Christ, saith, ‘They separated themselves’ noting thereby that it was not constraint of others which forced them to depart; it was not infirmity and weakness in themselves, it was not fear of persecution to come upon them, whereat their hearts did fail; it was not grief of torments, whereof they had tasted, and were not able any longer to endure them. No, they voluntarily did separate themselves, with a fully settled and altogether determined purpose never to name the Lord Jesus any more, nor to have any fellowship with His saints, but to bend all their counsel and all their strength to raze out their memorial from amongst them" ("Serm.," 5:11). Here there is a double error in the quotation from St. Jude, and therefore considerable error in the exposition of his meaning. St. Jude does not say that these libertines "separated," but that they are "those who are separating," i.e., are habitually making separations or differences. He uses the present participle, not the aorist or perfect. And, as already noticed, he says nothing about separating themselves. So far from implying that they had "a settled and determined purpose never to name the Lord Jesus any more, nor to have any fellowship with His saints," he shows that these men had crept into the Church, and evidently intended to remain there attending the love-feasts and polluting them while they put forward the "freedom wherewith Christ had made them free" as a plea for their own licentiousness; thus "turning the grace of God into lasciviousness," and by their conduct denying the Christ in whom they professed to believe. Thus, though they did not formally leave the Church as heretics, schismatics, or apostates, yet they had the heretical and schismatical temper, and were apostates in their manner of life. As Hooker says elsewhere, "Many things exclude from the kingdom of God, although from the Church they separate not" ("Eccl. Pol.," V 68:6). These men had left the way of salvation to "walk after their own lusts," but they had not separated from the Church, into which they had surreptitiously obtained admission.

"Sensual" ( ψυχικος). This word has been already discussed in a previous chapter, in the exposition of the passage where it occurs in the Epistle of St. James 3:15. "Sensual" persons are those who live in the world of sense, and are ruled by human feeling and human reason. They stand not very much above the carnal, and with them are opposed to the spiritual. In the triplet, carnalis, animalis, spiritalis, the second term is far more closely allied with the first than the third. It is possible that the libertines, in their travesty of the freedom conferred by the Gospel, made a special claim to be "spiritual" persons, who were above the restraints of the moral law. They may have held that to their exalted natures the things of sense were morally indifferent, and might be indulged in without fear of loss or contamination; while they scoffed at those Christians who were on their guard against such things, and called such Christians psychical or sensuous, because they were careful about the things of sense. St. Jude tells them that it is they who are sensuous, and not spiritual at all.

"Not having the Spirit." The Revisers maintain this rendering, which does not appear in English versions until the influence of Beza and the Genevan Version made itself felt. Calvin seems to adopt it; but Luther certainly does not ("die da keinen Geist haben"). It must be supposed that the arguments in favor of it are very strong, seeing that the alternative translation is not allowed a place in the margin of either Authorized or Revised Version, nor is recommended by the American Committee. Nevertheless, the points in its favor are well worth considering. This alternative translation is, "Having no spirit" (Tyndale, Cranmer), i.e., no spiritual nature. "Not having spirit" is Wiclif’s rendering. This agrees very welt with the context. St. Jude has just stigmatized the libertines as "sensuous," or "psychical." Of the three elements in man’s nature, body, soul, and spirit, they are ruled by the two lower, while the third, which ought to be supreme, is persistently ignored. They had allowed the spiritual part of their being to become so bemired with self-indulgence and self-sufficiency, to be so much under the dominion of human emotion and reason, that it was utterly inoperative and practically non-existent. Their power of spiritual insight into things heavenly, of laying hold of the invisible world, and of entering into communion with God, was gone. The Holy Spirit was not only absent, but His seat was overturned and destroyed. The facts that "spirit" has neither article nor epithet in the Greek, and that the negative is subjective, and not objective ( πνευμα μη εχοντες), are in favor of man’s spirit being meant, and this clause being an explanation of what precedes. These men are sensuous because they have lost all spiritual power. It must not, however, be understood that the absence of article and epithet is any barrier to the rendering, "Having not the Spirit." Philippians if. I is proof of that. {comp. Ephesians 2:22; Colossians 1:8} Nevertheless, such cases are comparatively rare. The usual expression for the Third Person of the Holy Trinity is either "the Spirit," or "Holy Spirit," or "the Holy Spirit," or "the Spirit of God," or "of the Lord," or "of Jesus Christ," or "of truth," or "of life," etc. Therefore, when we find "spirit" without either article, epithet, or distinguishing genitive, the probabilities are that the spirit of man, and not the Spirit of God, is intended.

It will be observed that the three independent descriptions of the libertines, beginning with the words, "These are," become shorter as they go on. The first is two long verses (Jude 1:12-13); the second is one long verse (Jude 1:16); the third is one very short verse. It is as if the writer were disgusted with the unpalatable subject which necessity had compelled him to take in hand (Jude 1:3), and were hurrying through it to the more pleasing duty of exhorting those faithful Christians for whose sake he has undertaken this, painful task.

"But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto ετερναλ λιφε." As in ver. 17. [Jude 1:17], the "But ye, beloved" ( υμεις δε) makes an emphatic contrast between those whom St. Jude addresses and the sensuous and unspiritual men of whom he has been speaking. He exhorts his readers to endeavor to keep themselves in favor with God by cultivating faith, prayer, and hope; and in this exhortation the main purpose of the letter, as set forth in Jude 1:3, is fulfilled. The triplet of participles ( εποικοδομουντες- προσευχομενοι- προσδεχομενοι) must not be lost sight of although the fact that the main verb ( τηρησατε) comes in the middle of them, instead of at the end, somewhat obscures the triple construction.

The expression "building up" ( εποικοδομειν) is in the New Testament never used of actual building, but always in the metaphorical sense of believers being united together so as to form a temple. In this temple Christ is sometimes regarded as the foundation, [1 Corinthians 3:11] sometimes as that which binds the structure together. [Ephesians 2:20; Colossians 2:7] The notion of building up comes from the preposition ( επι) one stone being placed upon another, so that upward progress is made. "The faith" here is probably the foundation on which the structure is to rest; but it would be possible to translate "with your most holy faith," instead of "on your most holy faith"; and in that case the dative would, as Colossians 2:7, express the cement rather than the foundation. In any case "the faith" is not the internal grace or virtue of faith, but, as both the participle and the adjective show, "the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints" (Jude 1:3). It is "your faith," because it has been thus delivered to you; and it is "most holy," in marked contrast to the vile and shifty doctrines which the libertines profess and uphold.

"Praying in the Holy Ghost." This is the best arrangement of the words, although the Greek allows us to take "in the Holy Ghost" with the previous clause, a rather clumsy division of the words, which is sanctioned by Luther, Beza, and the Rhemish Version: "building yourselves upon our (sic) most holy faith, in the Holy Ghost, praying." The expression "praying in the Holy Ghost" occurs nowhere else; but that is no reason why St. Jude should not have used it here. It means that we are to pray in the power and wisdom of the Spirit. In order that we may pray, and pray aright, He must move our hearts and direct our petitions.

"Keep yourselves in the love of God." Not our love of God is meant, but His love of us. This is rendered probable both by what immediately follows-for "the love of God" should have a meaning similar to that of "the mercy of Jesus Christ"-and also by the opening address, "beloved in God", which St. Jude perhaps has in his mind; for the whole of the verse before us is closely connected with the first verse of the Epistle. God’s love is the region in which all Christians should strive to abide, and it is by faith and prayer that this abode is secured. To be conscious of being beloved by God is one of the greatest protections that the believer can possess.

"Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life." That mercy which He will show to all faithful Christians when He returns as Judge at the last day. We may compare "looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God". [2 Peter 3:12] Both in this life and in eternity it is mercy that we need and crave. The Psalms are full of this thought, as a reference to the numerous passages m which the word mercy occurs will reveal: see especially Psalms 130:1-8. And in connection with this the concise statement respecting the relations of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity to believers must not be overlooked. By prayer in the power of the Holy Spirit we are kept in the love of the Father through the mercy of the Son. "Unto eternal life." It is not a matter of much moment whether we take these words with "keep yourselves," or with "looking," or with "mercy." The first seems to be the best arrangement, "keep yourselves unto eternal life"; but in any ease, the eternal life is reached through the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ. With a similar thought the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews [Hebrews 9:28] writes of Christ’s Second Advent as an advent "unto salvation" ( εις σωτηριαν). The Divine purpose of both Advents is mercy, and not judgment; but seeing that both Advents are met by some who refuse to believe and repent, judgment is inevitable.

"And on some have mercy, who are in doubt; and some save, snatching out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear." In hardly any other passage, perhaps, does the Revised Version differ in so many particulars from the Authorized. The main changes are the result of changes in the Greek text, which here is in so corrupt a state that the original cannot be restored with certainty. The readings adopted by the Revisers have the advantage of giving us another triple division, which St. Jude is very likely to have made. This triple division is preserved in the Vulgate, and therefore in Wiclif and the Rhemish Version. Our other translators, with Luther and Beza, not finding it in the inferior Greek MSS. which they used, of course do not give it. With one possible exception, the text adopted by the Revisers seems to be the best that can be framed with our present evidence. It is doubtful whether we ought not to substitute "convict" ( ελεγχετε) for the first "have mercy" ( ελεατε). This reading has very powerful support (AC, the best cursives, Vulgate, Memphitic, Armenian, and Ethiopic), and is adopted by many critics. But it may possibly be an early correction of a still earlier corruption, and not a restoration of the original reading. This is one of those passages about which we must be content to remain in doubt as to what the author actually wrote.

In any case the writer is giving directions as to how to deal with two or three different classes of persons, who are in danger of being seduced by the libertines; and possibly the libertines themselves are included. We will assume that three classes are named. In the first we are confronted with an uncertainty of translation. The participle rendered "who are in doubt" ( διακρινομενους) may also mean "while they contend" with you. Which meaning we prefer will depend partly upon the reading which we adopt for the imperative which governs the accusative. "On some have mercy, when they are in doubt," makes very harmonious sense; for earnest doubters, who are unable to make up their minds for or against the truth are to be treated with great tenderness. Again, "And some convict, when they contend with you," makes very harmonious sense; for it is those who are disposed to be contentious that need to be refuted and convinced of their error it is in favor of the latter version of the command that the verbs rendered "convict" and "contend" occur, and in the same sense, in the earlier part of the Epistle (Jude 1:9; Jude 1:15). In either case that which is doubted or contended about is "the faith once for all delivered unto the saints," on which believers are to "build themselves up."

The second class are such as can still be rescued, but by strong measures. No hint, however, is given as to their characteristics; we are merely told that there are some who require to be taken with decision, and perhaps even with violence, out of their perilous surroundings, in order that they may be saved from destruction. We may perhaps think of those who, without being in doubt or inclined to dispute about the faith, are being carried away into licentiousness by intercourse with the libertines. The fire out of which they are to be snatched is not the penal fire of the judgment to come, but the state of perdition in which they are now living. We seem to have here, as in Jude 1:9, a reminiscence of Zechariah 3:1, where we read, "‘Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire?" In Amos 4:11 we have the same figure, and the context there agrees with the suggestion just made as to the kind of person indicated by St. Jude: "I have overthrown some among you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and ye were as a brand plucked out of the burning." There are some who need to be rescued in the way that the angels rescued Lot, with urgency and constraint; [Genesis 19:16-17] and it is specially in reference to temptations such as Lot had gone into that such urgency is needed.

The third class is one which must be treated with great circumspection: "and on some have mercy with fear; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh." This does not mean, as Luther supposes, that we must "let them severely alone, and have nothing to do with them," but that in dealing with evil so insidious and so infectious, we must take care that we are not contaminated ourselves. It is quite possible to approach evil with good intentions, and then, through want of proper humility and caution, end in finding it fatally attractive. We must carefully preserve abhorrence for all that is associated with pollution. In the defiled garment {comp. James 3:6, where the same word is used} St. Jude appears once more to have Zechariah 3:1-3 in his mind; but the Greek of the LXX is there quite different ( ιματια ρυπαρα, instead of εσπιλωμενον χιτωνα). The garment here mentioned is the chiton, or shirt, which came in contact with the body, and would itself be rendered unclean if the body were unclean. It therefore serves well as a symbol for that which has become perilous through being closely connected with evil. But while the evil and that which had been contaminated by it are to be hated, compassion is to be shown to those who have fallen victims to it. To be shown, not merely felt, as is manifest from the word which St. Jude uses ( ελεαν, not οικτειρειν). The passages in which this verb or its more common form ( ελεειν) elsewhere occurs in the New Testament prove that it means "to have mercy on, to succor and bring help to," and not merely "to feel pity for" without doing anything to relieve the person pitied. [Matthew 9:27; Matthew 15:22; Matthew 17:15; Matthew 18:33; Matthew 20:30; Mark 10:47; Luke 16:24; Luke 17:13; Luke 18:38; Philippians 2:27] It is specially used of God’s showing mercy to those who do not deserve it, [Romans 9:15-16; Romans 9:18; Romans 11:32; 2 Corinthians 4:1; 1 Timothy 1:13; 1 Timothy 1:16; 1 Peter 2:10] and therefore fitly expresses the sympathy which ought to be manifested by the faithful towards the fallen. But in some cases this sympathy must be manifested in fear. It is by acting in the spirit of godly fear that love of the sinner can be combined with hatred of the sin. Without it sympathy with the sinner is too likely to turn into sympathy with the sin. To put it otherwise: All our efforts for the reformation of others must be begun and continued with self-reformation; and therefore St. Jude insists on the necessity for spiritual progress and prayer, before advising as-to the treatment of the fallen. It is while we are earnestly detesting and contending against a particular sin in ourselves that we can most safely and effectually deal with that sin in others.

Finally it must be noted as specially remarkable that St. Jude, after all the strong language which he has used in describing the wickedness of those who are corrupting the Christian community, does not, in this advice as to the different methods which are to be used in dealing with those who are going or have gone astray, recommend denunciation. Not that denunciation is always wrong; in some cases it may be necessary. But denunciation by itself commonly does more harm than good; while other methods, which must be added in order to make denunciation effectual, are quite as efficacious when no denunciation has been employed. It is quite possible to manifest one’s abhorrence of "the garment spotted with the flesh," without public or private abuse of those who are the authors of the defilement.

Verse 24-25

Chapter 38


Jude 1:24-25

FROM his severe and somber warnings and exhortations St. Jude turns in joyous and exulting confidence to Him who alone can make them effectual. He has spoken with sternness and horror of great wickedness which has been manifested both in the past and in the present, and of God’s terrible judgments upon it. He has exhorted his readers to beware of it, and not to let their abhorrence of it grow less when they are engaged in the merciful work of rescuing others from it. Now, in conclusion, he offers a fervent tribute of praise to Him who is a God of love as well as of justice, and who is as able and ready to protect those who cling to Him and serve Him as to punish those who murmur and rebel against Him.

The doxologies at the end of the Epistle to the Romans and at the beginning of the First Epistle to Timothy should be compared with this one. The former is nearest to it in form; and it is from the doxology in Romans that the epithet "wise," which the Authorized Version wrongly inserts both here and in 1 Timothy 1:17, probably comes. Doxologies, modeled on those in the New Testament, became elastic in some respects, and stereotyped in others. The formula "to the only wise God" was a common one, and hence scribes inserted the epithet perhaps almost mechanically, in places where it was not found in the original. It is quite possible that St. Jude knew the Epistle to the Romans, and his doxology, especially in its opening words, may be a conscious or unconscious imitation of it; for the Epistle to the Romans was written some years before the earliest date that can with any probability be assigned to this Epistle.

"To guard you from stumbling"; which in two respects is more than "to keep you from falling" Firstly, a guard preserves the idea of protection against perils, both manifest, and secret, more decidedly than "keep"; and secondly, one may have many stumbles without any falls, and therefore to be preserved from even stumbling implies a larger measure of care on the part of the protector. But even "to guard you from stumbling" does not quite do justice to the Greek ( φυλαξαι υμας απταιστους), nor is it easy to do so. "Guard you so that you are exempt from stumbling and never trip or make false step" is the full meaning of the expression. The verb which is here negatived is used by St. James: [James 2:10] "Whosoever" shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble ( πταιση) in one point, he is become guilty of all. The Vulgate lets go the metaphor of stumbling, and translates simply "to preserve you without sin" (conservare sine peccato). That which is impossible with men is possible with God, and the Divine grace can protect Christians against their own frailty. Christ says of His sheep that they shall assuredly never perish, and that no one, whether powers of evil or human seducers, can snatch them out of His hand. [John 10:28] Their wills are free, and they may will to leave Him; but if they determine to abide with Him they will be safe.

"And to set you before the presence of His glory without blemish." This is the blessed result of His protecting them from stumbling. The revised translation, "without blemish" ( αμωμους), at first sight looks like a needless and vexatious change from the "faultless" of the Authorized Version, and a clumsy one, because it gives two English words for one Greek word. But the change is a real improvement, for the Greek word is a sacrificial term, which "faultless" is not. It is frequently used of victims, which must be "without blemish," in order to be suitable for offerings. It is not common in Classical Greek, but frequent in the LXX [Leviticus 1:3; Leviticus 1:10; Leviticus 22:21-24; Numbers 6:14; Numbers 19:2] In 1 Maccabees 4:42 it is used of the priests, and so also in Philo ("De Merc. Met." 1.; "De Agric.," 29.: see Lightfoot on μωμοσκοπηθεν: Clem. Rom 41). In the New Testament it is used sometimes of the sinlessness of Christ, [Hebrews 9:14; 1 Peter 1:19] sometimes of the ideal perfection of Christians. [Ephesians 1:4; Ephesians 5:27; Philippians 2:15] In the Epistle to the Colossians St. Paul has almost the same idea as St. Jude "to present you holy and without blemish and unreprovable before Him"; [Colossians 1:22] and again in the First Epistle to the Thessalonians-"to the end He may stablish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His Saints". [1 Thessalonians 3:13] "Before the presence of His glory" refers to the glory of God which shall be revealed at the last day.

"In exceeding joy" is a further consequence from the second point, as the second from the first. To be protected against stumbling leads to being presented without blemish before the judgment-seat, and this is an occasion of intense delight. As St. Peter puts it, "Inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings, rejoice; that at the revelation of His glory also ye may rejoice with exceeding joy". [1 Peter 4:13]

"To the only God our Savior." St. Paul, like St. Jude, speaks of God the Father as our Savior. He is "an Apostle of Christ Jesus according to the commandment of God our Savior," [1 Timothy 1:1] and he says that intercession and thanksgiving for others" is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior". [1 Timothy 2:3] Still more fully he says that "God our Savior saved us through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 3:4-6 : comp. Titus 1:3; Titus 2:10). The work of the Son is the work of the Father; and so in the Old Testament we have Jehovah spoken of as the Savior and Redeemer of His people. [Psalms 106:21; Isaiah 41:15; Isaiah 41:21; Isaiah 49:26; Isaiah 60:16] And this is the meaning of the clause which textual criticism has restored to us in this passage. God is our Savior "through Jesus Christ our Lord." Some take these words with what follows. "To the only God be glory, majesty, dominion, and power, through Jesus Christ our Lord"; which makes excellent sense, and is in harmony with the doxology in 1 Peter 4:11, "that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ." It is no strong objection to this to urge that in that case St. Jude would have reversed the order of the clauses ( δοξα μεγαλωσυνη κρατος καια διαου ημων). In the doxology at the end of the Epistle to the Romans (which St. Jude may have in his mind) "through Jesus Christ" precedes "be the glory," and yet cannot easily be taken with anything else (omitting ω as a probable corruption). The combination "glory and dominion" occurs in other doxologies [Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:13] majesty and power do not occur in any. "Majesty" in the New-Testament is found in Hebrews 1:3 and Hebrews 8:1 only; but it occurs in the LXX and in Clement of Rome (16:1). The doxology in 1 Chronicles 29:11 is specially worthy of notice. The word seems to have been used almost exclusively of the majesty of God, and the four words together sum up the Divine glory and omnipotence. It is a little remarkable that in this case St. Jude abandons his favorite triplets, and gives four attributes rather than three. But he returns in a still more remarkable way to his favorite arrangement in the concluding words.

"Before all time, and now, and for evermore." Thus, in a very comprehensive phrase, eternity is described. Throughout all time, and throughout the ages which precede and follow it, these attributes belong to God. Evil men in their dreamings may "set at naught dominion and rail at glories," and their mouth may "speak great swelling words" about their own superior knowledge and greater liberty, and may mock and scoff at those who will not follow them in "walking after their own ungodly lusts." Nevertheless, ages before they were born, and ages after they shall have vanished from the world which they are troubling by their presence, glory, majesty, dominion, and power belong to Him who saves us, and would save even them, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

They belong to Him. This seems to be the meaning rather than that they are ascribed to Him. No verb is given in the Greek; neither "is," as in 1 Peter 4:11 ( εστιξατοτος), nor "be" ( εστω), which in most doxologies may be understood. "To Him be glory before all time" is scarcely sense, for our wishes cannot influence the past. "To Him belongs glory before all time" is the statement of a simple fact.

It is those who know their own frailty and liability to sin; who know the manifold temptations which surround them, and the terrible attractiveness which many of them can present; who know from past experience what frequent and grievous falls are possible; that can best understand the statement of fact which this doxology contains, and the significance of it. He who can guard such creatures as we are from stumbling, in such a world as this, must be the only God; must be He who was, and is, and is to come; must possess throughout all time and all eternity the highest powers and glories which the heart of man can conceive. The wonders of the material universe impress us in our more solemn moments with feelings of awe, and reverence, and love for Him who is the Author of them all. How much more should the wonders of the kingdom of heaven do so. Out of sinful man to make a saint is more than to make a world out of nothing; and to keep sinful men from stumbling is more than to keep the stars in their courses. There is a free and rebellious will to be won and retained in the one case, whereas there is nothing but absolute and unresisting obedience in the other. The difference is that which is so beautifully expressed in the 103d and 104th Psalms. In the latter of these two exquisite songs of praise and thanksgiving Jehovah is praised as the Creator and Regulator of the world, in the former as the Pardoner and Preserver of His Servants. In the one case blessing and praise is offered to the Lord-

"Who laid the foundations of the earth,

That it should not be moved forever.

Thou coveredst it with the deep as with a vesture;

The waters stood above the mountains.

They went up by the mountains,

They went down by the valleys,

"Unto the place which Thou hadst founded for them.

Thou hast set a bound that they may not pass over;

That they turn not again to cover the earth.

O Lord, how manifold are Thy works

In wisdom hast Thou made them all;

The earth is full of Thy riches.

Let the glory of the Lord endure forever;

Let the Lord rejoice in His works:

Who looketh on the earth, and it trembleth;

He toucheth the mountains, and they smoke."

Psalms 104:5-6; Psalms 104:8-9; Psalms 104:34; Psalms 104:31-32

But in the other song the Lord is praised, not so much in relation to the glorious universe which He creates and controls, but in relation to the spirits of men, whom He restores, and of angels, whom He retains, to willing obedience and service.

"Bless the Lord, O my Soul,

And forget not all His benefits;

Who forgiveth all thine iniquities;

Who healeth all thy diseases;

Who redeemeth thy life from destruction;

Who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies.

He hath not dealt with us after our sins,

Nor rewarded us after our iniquities.

For as the heaven is high above the earth,

So great is His mercy toward them that fear Him.

As far as the east is from the west,

So far hath He removed our transgressions from us.

Bless the Lord, ye angels of His;

Ye mighty in strength, that fulfill His word,

Hearkening unto the voice of His word,

Bless the Lord, all ye His hosts;

Ye ministers of His, that do His pleasure."

Psalms 103:2-4; Psalms 103:10-12; Psalms 103:20-21

It is quite in harmony with such a strain as this that the joyous doxology with which St. Jude’s stern letter suddenly ends is written. Its clauses lend themselves to that parallelism which distinguishes Hebrew poetry, and they have not only the spirit, but the form, of a concluding strophe of praise.

"Now unto Him that is able to guard you from stumbling,

And to set you before the presence of His glory without blemish in exceeding joy,

To the only God our Savior,

Through Jesus Christ our Lord,

Glory, majesty, dominion and power,

Before all time, and now, and forevermore. Amen."


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Jude 1:4". "Expositor's Bible Commentary".

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, June 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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