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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Jude 1



Verse 3

3. Beloved—Thus far the address; now commences the opening of the subject. Note 3 John 1:1-2.

Gave all diligence—Rather, making to myself all earnestness. The earnestness was awakened by alarm at the inroads of the errorists.

Common salvation—The gospel salvation, which was common to the whole Christian republic, and so threatened by a common danger.

It was needful—Literally, I had a necessity; a necessity to do what, without a necessity, he would not advise, namely, to contend. There are blessed times for peace, but now comes the pressure of contest.

Earnestly contend—A term borrowed from the palestric contests, yet also used of real battles. This spiritual contest, now at hand, required not merely quiet Christian life, but a bold maintenance of Christian truth and morals, a refutation and rebuke of error and sin, and an extrusion of the heretical transgressors from the Church of God.

The faith—The system of doctrines and morals.

Once—That is, once for all; excluding all additions, diminutions, and modifications; and especially such perversions as now threatened to mislead and destroy the Church.

Saints—All true Christians, especially the sanctified of Judges 1:1.

Verse 4

4. For—Reason for this burst of alarm.

Certain men—Not, apparently, as yet a solid body, but a large number of individual leaders scattered throughout the Church of Jude’s section.

Crept in unawares—Whose demoralizing teachings had circulated from the time of Simon Magus among the population outside of the Church. Their dogmas had streaked obscurely through the general atmosphere. But now, lo! their propagators have disclosed themselves in various quarters in the very bosom of the Church itself.

Ordained—Fore-written or pre-described; that is, in the predictions of the apostles Paul and Peter, and in the evil types of the Old Testament, Cain, Balaam, and Korah, Judges 1:11. Thus the ancient Greek commentator, Theophylact, pertinently says: “He calls them fore-written because Peter and Paul had said concerning them that in the last times such deceivers” should come. The Greek word is sometimes used in the classics to signify the publicly, placarding the threatened death of a doomed individual. In this manner Sylla, the Roman consul, publicly advertised the names of persons whom he intended to execute. So the prophecies quoted by Jude were an advertisement that all those persons whose characters suited the prophetic descriptions were by those same prophecies advertised for death.

This condemnation—The condemnation described in this epistle. Alford remarks, “It may be observed that the ultra-predestinarians, Beza and Calvin, find, as we might expect, strong defence for their views in their interpretation here. Beza, indeed, gathers from this place that ‘this eternal decree of God comprehends not only the event, but especially the persons themselves.’”

Into lasciviousness—Making Christianity subservient to sexual lusts. This trait identifies them with the Nicolaitans.

Lord—Greek δεσποτης, despotes, whence our word despot.

God—This word is rejected by the best critics as a spurious reading. It then becomes a question whether God or Christ is here designated. The word despotes designates God in Revelation 6:10, and Acts 4:24; Luke 2:29. But in the parallel passage in 2 Peter 2:1, it designates Christ. By the usually received doctrine of the Greek article the rendering would be denying our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ. This seems the more probable sense, as the heretics did not so much reject the true God as the true Christ.

Verse 5

5. Put you in remembrance—Parallel to 2 Peter 3:1, “I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance.”

Once—For all knew, by their early knowledge of the Jewish Scriptures. The well-known truths had long slumbered in their memories, but must now be aroused to meet the crisis of their fulfilment. Jude now gives a triad of similar cases of guilt, followed by condign punishment, recorded in the Old Testament scriptures. FIRST EXAMPLE.—The Israelite people.

The Lord—Here we are surprised by the fact disclosed to us by modern scholarship, that the true reading is doubtless not Lord, but Jesus. Somewhat similarly we have the unexpected Christ in 1 Corinthians 10:2-4, and Hebrews 10:28-31. Yet Jesus here is the more surprising as it is the more purely human name of the Lord than Christ. Some would read Joshua, of which Jesus is the Greek form, as in Hebrews 4:8; but Joshua did not save and then destroy the people. We have, therefore, the conclusion that to Jude, the maternal brother of Jesus, Jesus was Jehovah.

Destroyed them—For sins, and especially lusts. From the Phenicians or Canaanites came the rites of Ashtoreth, in which courtezans were the priestesses, houses of license were the temples, obscene images were the idols, and debauchery was the worship. Against this fulness of iniquity the religion of Jehovah was arrayed, and when Israel apostatized thereto Jehovah destroyed him.

Believed not—Adhered not to the pure worship of Jehovah, but yielded to the seductions of idolatrous lust.

Verse 6

6. SECOND EXAMPLE.—The fallen angels.

Which kept not their first estate—The fall of Satan is implied in the words ascribed to our Saviour, John 8:44, that Satan “abode not in the truth,” and it is symbolically predicted by him in Luke 10:18, (where see note.) It seems shadowed also in Revelation 9:1; Revelation 12:3-17. And these carry us back by analogy to Isaiah 14:12 :

“How art thou fallen from heaven,

O Lucifer, son of the morning!

How art thou cut down to the ground

Which didst weaken the nations!”

Here the downfall of the king of Babylon is described as the falling of Lucifer, (light-bearer,) or the morning star, in colourings so similar, that if we suppose the writer acquainted with the history of the fall of Satan it would seem to be borrowed from that event. And so Byron addressed Napoleon in similar allusive terms:—

“Since he miscalled the Morning Star,

Nor god nor man hath fallen so far.”

But nowhere in Scripture is this fall so distinctly described as here. The wars of the Titans against the gods, and their being cast down by Jupiter to Tartarus, furnished by Greek mythology, seems to be the Gentile side of the history. Their first estate was their primitive angelic dignity in the regions of celestial light.

Left their own habitation—Abandoned their princely residences, their divinely assigned sphere, in undutiful rebellion.

Hath reserved—Instead of annihilating them.

In everlasting chains—Not literally metallic chains, but limitations fixed upon them by divine power, excluding from the regions of glory, and fastening them in the regions of lower shade. See notes on Ephesians 4:10.

Darkness—Murkiness, deepening in descending density. They are under this darkness because it overlies them, and though it excludes them not from the atmosphere of this earth, so but that they may roam among men, they are bound down to this lower stratum. As they left their own residence in light, God has assigned them another residence in darkness.

The judgment of the great day— The Greek is without the definite article: unto judgment of great day; perhaps because the day became more definite after man became subjected to that same day of judgment; just as the final gehenna was “prepared for the devil and his angels,” Matthew 25:41; where see note. And so the demons of Matthew 8:24, feared that Jesus had come to torment them before the time.

Verse 7

7. THIRD EXAMPLE.—Sodom and Gomorrah.

Even as—Rather, how that, to correspond with how that in Judges 1:5, and depend on put you in remembrance.

Like manner—Alford and many earlier commentators refer like to the angels of the previous verse, and make the likeness consist in following strange flesh, so that Jude is held to sustain the ancient legend, that the angels contaminated themselves with females of the human race. But unquestionably the like refers to the certain men of Judges 1:4. To this in like manner corresponds the likewise of next verse, containing the reference to the same men.

Strange flesh—Literally, other flesh; other than the “natural use” of Romans 1:27, implying the crime which has received its name from Sodom.

Are set forth—Literally, lie forth; lie before our eyes, both on the face of the record and on the earth’s surface.

Example—Literally, a showing of eternal fire, suffering punishment. The fires of ages on these plains are an illustration of eternal fire; as if the bituminous fires of the Dead Sea were a visible counterpart of the invisible fires of gehenna. The “slime-pits” of “the valley of Siddim” are recorded by successive writers as burning for centuries. In Deuteronomy 29:23, they are described as “brimstone, and salt, and burning.” Zephaniah 2:9, describes them as “the breeding of nettles, and salt-pits, and a perpetual desolation.” And in the Apocrypha, the Book of Wisdom says, that “even to this day the waste land that smoketh is a testimony.” Even so near Jude’s time Philo says, “The memorials of that terrible destruction yet remain; and ruins are shown in Syria mixed with ashes, smoke, sulphur, and slight flames still occasionally playing about, as in the remains of a conflagration. Josephus says, that in his own time “the remains of a fire, sent down from God, are yet visible.” Jude, as we understand him, views the material of a perpetual fire as a visible image of the fires of eternal retribution.

Verse 8

8. Dreamers—So called for the visionary speculations out of which their profligate and fantastic systems were formed. These visions produced vices of the three following classes.

Defile the flesh—Yielding themselves, under a pseudo-religious sanction, to gluttony, debauchery, and unnatural lust.

Despise—Literally, abolish, make nothing of, dominion, lordship, authority, human or divine, civil or ecclesiastical.

Speak evil of—Literally, blaspheme.

Dignities—Literally, glories. The sensualist’s brutal eyes degrade every noble thing they look upon. Every thing glorious they would bring down to their own level. And especially when they would sanctify a flagitious practice with a demoralized theory, all high and low are reversed and subverted. Legitimate lordship they repudiate, and all glories and sanctities of earth and heaven they flaunt and blaspheme with terms and phrases borrowed from their own obscene vocabulary.

Verse 9

9. Michael—Whence Jude quotes this instance is not clearly known. Origen says, it is a passage quoted from the book entitled “Ascension of Moses;” but the passage as specified by him is not the same with this of Jude. The old Greek commentator OEcumenius says, “It is said that Michael, the archangel, heaped on dust at his burial, but the devil, not agreeing to it, brought a charge against him of the killing of the Egyptian, and as on that account not worthy an honourable burial.” This the commentator derived from a source not at present known. Alford quotes a Greek passage from the Catena to the following effect: “When Michael brought Moses into the mount where our Lord was transfigured, then the devil said that God had perjured himself, in bringing him where he had sworn he should never come,” namely, into the Land of Promise. Dr. Gardiner has a plausible conjecture, which is in some degree sustained by this reference to the transfiguration. In that scene Moses appears in his resurrection body, and according to Deuteronomy 34:5-6, the place of his tomb was never known. Moses, then, like the transfigured Elijah, was really not buried, but corporeally translated; and the real contest which took place between Michael and Satan was whether Moses was worthy, instead of a burial, of a translation. It may then have been a judicial contest, as in a case of canonization; in which Satan was the prosecutor, and Michael the advocate, of Moses; and the issue was, whether Moses should have a grave or an ascension. The transfiguration, where Moses appears with glorified body, shows that Michael was victorious.

Michael is a name which does not appear in Scripture until after the captivity, namely, in Daniel 12:1, where he stands as the champion and guardian-angel of Israel See note, Matthew 1:20. The word archangel appears but once elsewhere in Scripture, 1 Thessalonians 4:16, “The Lord himself shall descend… with the voice of the (rather, an) archangel.” The pre-eminence of certain angels is implied in the apocryphal book of Tobit, where Raphael specifies himself as “one of the seven holy angels which present the prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the Holy One.” As champion of the Church Michael is here, as in the Apocalypse, at issue with Satan, the “archangel ruined,” who is mentioned by Jesus as “the devil” with “his angels.”

Durst not—Had not the daring. Huther says, “From reverence for the original glory of the devil;” Fronmuller retorts, “Better, from profound dread of the majesty of God.” Both seem to be correct; for it was probably a judicial scene before God. As in Job, Satan appears in his official state as prosecutor, and a forensic courtesy before that tribunal of God himself is due even to that bad dignity, as well as to the divine Judge.

A railing accusation—An “abusing of the plaintiff’s attorney” is said to be the final resort of the other party’s pettifogger when the facts are hard upon his client. It was not Satan who was on trial, but Moses; and, therefore, Michael need not make irrelevant allusion to the opposing counsels unfortunate antecedents.

Rebuke thee—As he did Satan in the previous case of Job, acquitting the accused and non-suiting the accuser. Similar are the words of the angel to Satan in Zechariah 3:1-3, where the arch accuser is prosecuting God’s high-priest. Whether the document which Jude quotes was history or prose-poem, the archangel’s language repeated the words of Zechariah’s angel. Nor does the historical character of the document make important difference, for the modern pulpit could as properly elucidate a moral principle from Milton as from Macaulay. When it is said that “Jude quoted an apochryphal document,” it must be remembered that apochryphal means here simply the uninspired literature of the Hebrew Church. And if the book quoted was an imaginative production, its author wrote more wisely and more worthily of quotation than Milton, who makes even the angels retort “scorn for scorn.” Whether we hold the Satanic scene in Job to be history or poetry, it is equally suitable for instruction.

But are we to treat Satan with courtesy? We reply, that there is a deep moral wisdom in the maxim, “Give even the devil his due.” Respect is due to dignity, to position, to any excellence even in the worst character. And courtesy is due to the worst who is in the performance of a dignified office. And this, nevertheless, does not silence the voice of moral rebuke. When the dignitary puts off his dignity and becomes a buffoon, a criminal, a culprit, there is a suitable treatment for him as a buffoon, a criminal, a culprit. Dignified courts know how to treat a criminal with due respect and self-respect. When moral severity arraigns the guilty, in the true spirit either of reforming or of condemning for the warning of others, or for the public good, the plainest words of human language may be sometimes justifiably used. Of this truth, this very fragment of Jude’s is a rare example. And when Jesus arraigned Satan, (John 8:44,) truth and righteousness took precedence of courtesy. Preachers of the present day need not be afraid of this passage. It is a noble text in behalf of courtesy and moral rectitude in our forensic and judicial chambers, in our legislative and congressional halls, in our editorial columns. While just arraignments of official corruption are all-important and must never be effeminated, our courts are at the present day degraded by discourtesy, our senators bandy epithets suggestive of “honourable satisfaction,” and our newspapers run riot in partisan detraction. Said the Irish orator, Grattan, “The gentleman cannot be severe without being unparliamentary; I will show him how to be severe and parliamentary too.” At the present day a great public problem is how to state unflinching truth without extenuating, or setting down aught in malice.

Verse 10

10. And now comes a most cutting antithesis. Of the dignities and glories above them they know not, and such they hold in contempt; but the sensual animalities below them they do, like brutes, naturally understand, and with those they are in deep sympathy.

These—The finger of apostolic rebuke pointing at them. They know not—In their animality they ignore the pure God above them, the glories of the heavenly world, the moral governmental order on earth, which faintly copies the government of God. These they appreciate not, and deny their existence, or mention them only with ridicule.

What they know—From the fleshly impulses within.

As brute beasts—Just as animals understand the dictates of their sexual and sensual nature.

Corrupt themselves—Sinking both their intellectual and bodily systems into debasement, disease, and death, temporal and eternal.

Verse 11

11. The three types united in these men are Cain, Balaam, and Korah. The character, career, and final destiny of the three may be thus presented:

Cain—godlessness, fraternal murder, life under divine curse;

Balaam— licentiousness, bribetaking, slaughter in battle;

Korah—ambition, schismatic sedition, sudden consignment to lower hades.

Woe unto them—The menace of their final destiny is, like Cain, to be God-cursed; like Balaam, fated to slaughter; like Korah, bound for hades. The three verbs are in climax. Ran greedily, is, literally, they were poured out in that direction, like a stream or torrent. The climax then is, they went, they were poured, they perished. They imitated Cain in taking a mad career; like Balaam, they rushed headlong into licentious infamy for gain; like Korah, they rebelled against all holy authority and went down to the depths of death.

The comparison to Cain here, as in 1 John 3:12-15, does not affirm that these men were addicted to assassination, but indicates that murderous hatred of the brethren which John typifies in these same characters by the character of Cain. In regard to Balaam, consult our note on Revelation 2:14. The contradiction of Korah, expressed in Judges 1:8 by despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities, expresses the churchly turbulence and sedition of these men. Fraternal hate, mercenary licentiousness, and rebellion against the Christian body and government, are mainly the crimes charged.

Verse 12

12. In the next two verses St. Jude ranges through nature, through earth, sea, and sky, for images of reprobation for the sensualistic heretics. Rocks, clouds, trees, waves, and stars are collected in expressive disorder of succession, to image their disorderly existence.

Spots—Rather, rocks; that is, concealed peaks or breakers on which ships are liable to wreck. The calm, sweet sea, under whose surface these treacherous wreckers were lurking, were the feasts of charity, the agapae or love-feasts of the primitive Church. These were banquets after the Lord’s supper, intended to promote social fraternity in the Church, and to provide a charitable meal for the indigent, who were invited to partake. Wesley’s institution of love-feast was a revival of only the first of these purposes. Strange to say, these social and charitable meals could be kept pure neither from gluttony nor licentiousness, and for that reason were abandoned by the Church and prohibited by her authorities. We hope it is a proof of modern improved morality that no such facts, at our Sabbath-school excursions, picnics, and other Christian socialities, have given pain to the Church.

Feast… fear—Perhaps a better rendering would be: Carousing with you without fear, providing for themselves. Even at a sacred feast they had no fear to indulge in excess and license. And by their seductions they were as rocks under surface, dangerous to the unsuspecting mariners.

Clouds—Which in a dry region are a sweet promise of a falling shower; and these for awhile seemed rich with refreshing spirituality and benefaction to the Church. But, alas! they were waterless, with no reviving or fertilizing store in their bosom, and soon they are seen to be the image of fickleness and worthlessness, being the sport of the varying winds.

Trees—Once fruitful, but now autumnal and stripped of fruit. The phrase, whose fruit withereth, simply signifies autumnal, and so bare of fruit and leaves.

Twice dead—De Wette understands doubly-dead to be simply intensive, utterly dead. Alford and others, dead, first, in autumnal fruitlessness, their annual fruit-bearing energy being expended; and, secondly, dead by the subsequent extinction of all vitality. This describes, we may admit, doubly dead trees, but shows not the correspondent double death in the men typified by the trees. On the other hand, Stier and Wordsworth find the twice dead solely in the men, namely, in their original death by unregeneracy, and a second death after conversion by apostasy. This must find its correspondence in the trees in their original fruitlessness previous to the bearing, and a cessation of bearing by the cessation of life. We doubt whether a return to De Wette’s interpretation is not best.

Plucked up by the roots—A single word, uprooted; or, as the Greek, more expressively, out-rooted. By the Greek aorist all these verbs contemplate the operations from the standpoint of time after their completion. See note, Romans 8:5; Romans 5:13. It is as if at the consummation of the whole ruin our apostle’s pen describes things as past.

Plucked up—Rent from the Church, and, their probation being closed, virtually or really, wrenched from life; no longer cumberers of the ground. Their future and final fate predicted as a past fact.

Verse 13

13. Raging wavesSavage, as if alive, full of furious purpose and power.

Their own shame—The plural shames. The image, like that of Isaiah, “casting up mire and dirt;” the shames being their own brutal dogmas and feelings flung forth in shameless words.

Wandering stars—Unknown to modern astronomy, but too well known in both ancient and modern moral experience. They are neither comets nor shooting stars; but ocularly meteors, conceptually, stars swinging from their positions, drifting from their orbits, and lawlessly wandering in space. These errorists, probably, once had position and orbits, but are veering farther and farther from the light.

Blackness of darkness—An intenser expression in the English than the original. Substitute in place of blackness, murkiness, gloom. But Gardiner remarks, that the former of these two terms “is a Homeric word for the darkness of the infernal regions, and is even put for the world itself of future woe.” As the meteoric star conceptually loses itself in distant and hopeless darkness, so these living wanderers will drift into a returnless destiny of ruin.

Verse 14

14. Prophesied—This word stands, in the Greek, with its particle but, the first word of the sentence; the place of emphasis. The emphasis implies that not only were these characters typified by the above-named very ancient examples, but they were prophesied of by a most ancient holy seer. Also, in the English, seems by its position to mean that Enoch, in addition to others, so prophesied; whereas it really means, that prophecy was by him added to the above types. Read, But prophesied, also, in regard to these, the seventh one from Adam, Enoch.

Seventh—Including both Adam and Enoch, there were seven persons in line. There is a week, usually of days; also sometimes, a week of things; and here, a week of persons, with holy Enoch, for its holy sabbath. “The number seven was esteemed, in the ancient world, as an important signature pointing to the sacred and mystery. The fact that after sin and death had freely exerted their unhappy power during the first six generations, in the seventh generation mankind appeared in the person of one man in a state of high completeness and blessed freedom from death, has a kind of prophetico-symbolical significance, and intimates that mankind in general, after having fully completed its course and fought its battle under the oppression of sin and death, through six long world-periods, shall appear in the seventh world-period in a state of high completeness, in a more divine life and more blessed freedom from death. The seventh world-period is the kingdom of God on earth. To Adam, the first, was revealed and promised the appearance and advent of the Lord, as a Helper and Saviour; to Enoch, the seventh from Adam, was revealed the last advent of the same Lord, Helper, and Saviour as a Judge and Avenger, and he was the first prophet who spoke and taught this among men.”—Wordsworth.

Of these—The wickedness of these men placed them within the comprehension of Enoch’s prophecy. They put themselves into the class of characters for all whom the predictions were truly intended. Through long ages the prediction extended so as to reach them; and even to reach all such impenitent transgressors, from Enoch to the present day and to the second coming of Christ.

Verse 15

15. To execute judgment—The office of judge, rather than executioner, is here described, which is performed upon all.

To convince—To expose and convict of their sin, stripping away every excuse, and exhibiting their naked guilt.

Deeds… speeches—The external sins alone are here mentioned as exhibitions of character.

Ungodly committed—As an English adverb we should here have ungodlily.

Hard—Hostile, unsubmissive, impenitent.

Sinners… against him—The Greek order of words is more emphatic: which they spoke against him, sinners, impious. It is supposed by some that Jude here quotes an apocryphal Book of Enoch, of which Dr.

Mombert says:— “The above mentioned apocryphal Book of Enoch was formerly known only by fragments and notices of the early Fathers, but has recently been discovered in an AEthiopic translation, and translated from the AEthiopic into German. It became known in Europe about the close of the last century. Winner, Dorner, and others, ascribe its authorship to a Jew of the first century of the Christian era; Ewald places its date at the end of the second century before Christ. A new edition and translation of this book was published by D. Dillman in 1853, who pronounces it to have been written about B.C. 110. The book consists, according to the careful investigation of the last-named scholar, of three parts: 1. The proper and original Book of Enoch, which constitutes the greatest part of this apocryphal work. 2. Of historical additions for the elucidation of several doctrines and ideas from the pen of another author, who wrote nothing afterwards. 3. Of so-called Noachian additions, connected with other interpolations made by a third author, belonging at least to the end of the first century B.C.… Considering that the variations between the epistle and the Book of Enoch are not inconsiderable, and that the Book of Enoch is not expressly cited, there is still room to doubt whether Jude knew that book.

But the tradition of Enoch’s prophecy he must at all events have known, and considered true as to its kernel.” A late German writer, Volcmar, maintains that the book was written in the time of Hadrian, the beginning of the second century, and his argument Alford approves. In America, Stuart maintains the post-christian character of the book; and Dr. Gardiner, in a very able excursus, maintains more conclusively the same ground, denying that Jude quoted the book. Our own conclusion is, that it contains words and phrases used in a manner not found in any other pre-christian book, and the book can hardly be accepted as pre-christian. Alford says, “That the particulars related in Second Peter and in our epistle of the fallen angels, are found also in the Book of Enoch, is no proof that the writers of these epistles took them from that book. Three other solutions are possible: 1. That the apocryphal writer took them from our epistle; 2. That their source in each case was ancient tradition; 3. That the Book of Enoch itself consists of separate portions written at different times.”

Verse 16

16. The utterers of these hard speeches, as such, are now more fully described. They are, namely, the seditious Korahs of the Church.

Murmurers—Croakers against the apostolic doctrines and institutions.

Complainers—Literally, fate-blamers; malcontents who rebel against their own rank and condition in the order of things and the organization of the Church.

Lusts—Impulses of the natural man, whether sexual, ambitious, or belligerent.

Great swelling words—The utterances of arrogance, and of assumption to being much greater and higher personages than they truly are.

Having… admiration—Admiring, flattering men to their faces, for whom they, perhaps, have no real respect.

Because of advantage—For the sake of profit. Their admiration is a hypocrisy, for the purpose of gaining position, power, or compensation, through the influence of their beguiled victims.

Verse 17

17. But, beloved—Turning, as it were, his face towards the purer part of the Church. Later prophets than Enoch have described these men, and with a more specific designation of their time and place.

Remember ye the words—This phrase naturally suggests spoken words; spoken by apostles whom they had, many of them, personally heard.

Spoken before— Forespoken; uttered long before their fulfilment, and so predictive. They were forespoken to the Ephesian Church by its founder-apostle, Paul, in his memorable address to the Ephesian elders. Acts 20:28-31. Also, 2 Timothy 3:1-5; and 2 Thessalonians 2:1-10. And 2 Thessalonians 2:5, says the apostasy was topic of oral apostolic discourse.

Verse 18

18. Mockers… walk after their own… lusts—Same Greek words as in 2 Peter 3:3; where see note: yet speaking here of a different set of mockers or scoffers.

In the last time—Using nearly the same words of the same verse in Peter, yet referring to a different time.

Verse 19

19. These… separate themselves—First demoralizing and disgracing the Church by bringing the imputation of their own vices upon it, and then distracting and dividing it by a secession, which, however, relieves it. The same sort of seceders as in 1 John 2:18-19.

Sensual—Same word as is rendered “natural” in 1 Corinthians 15:44, and for which we coined the word soulical, as an exact equivalent. The word is plainly antithetical to spirit, as part of the trinality or three-foldness of the human constitution.

Having not the Spirit—These men are merely soulical: spirit having not. They had body and animal soul, but they had lost their highest nature, spirit. This does not literally mean that a part of their human constitution had been annihilated, but nullified; reduced to nullity; just as we severely say that a man is conscienceless when his conscience seems dead.

Verse 20

20. As to yourselves, there must be a building up, instead of a tearing down, as the errorists are doing. And the four elements of this self-building are, faith, which must be your own act; prayer, which must be impregnate with the Holy Ghost, the spirit of man and the Spirit of God cooperating, love of God, the element in which you keep yourselves; and mercy, resulting in the sublime and divine ultimate eternal life.

Verses 20-24

20-24. A two-fold passage; first telling the beloved how to preserve themselves, 20, 21; and second, how they must endeavor to save others— even these sensualists.

Verse 22

22. The sinners to be rescued, if possible, are two classes: a some and an others; but Tischendorf makes three classes, including a third, who are others still.

Of some have compassion—The reading followed by our translators may be rendered, some treat with pity, making a discrimination, that is, according to the peculiarity of each case, using severity or tenderness as the transgressor needs. But the reading preferred by scholars at the present day would be: some who are making a dissension you must refute; including the idea of detection and exposure.

Verse 23

23. Others—A second class.

Save—The Greek present signifies the effort to save, but does not, as the aorist would, imply a sure saving result, or the absolute power to accomplish a success.

Pulling them out of the fire—As if they were in terrible danger of being scorched and burnt by the errorists, yet could, perhaps, be rescued with a desperate pull.

With fear—Belongs to third class. Read: Others still, compassionate with fear… hating, etc. This third class we can only pity, with a mingled feeling of fear and abhorrence of their shame-bespotted characters.

The sin and danger of the three classes increase in climax. First, there is the set in the Church inclined to be schismatic, who must be rebuked and brought to order. Second, the class tending towards the vice of the sensualists, who are to be rescued with an energetic pull from their fatal course. Third, the nearly hopeless apostate, whom we can little else than pity, and from whose contaminated natures we are obliged to shrink.

Garment spotted by the flesh—A fearful emblem of depravity. Their tunic or under-garment is foul with the spots of their debauchery. Revelation 3:4.

Verse 24

24. Closing doxology.

Now—Literally, but. The now impresses the reader as announcing the close of the train of thought and the starting of a liturgical conclusion, which is here applicable, but not the true thought of the word. The purpose is to contrast the perseverance and blamelessness of the beloved with the secession and impurity of the errorists. This doxology is in the spirit and style of Romans 16:25.

Keep you—Assuming it to be your purpose to be kept. For you many copies have them; and then it is a sort of closing prayer of the writer, apart, for them, his readers, his beloved brethren. But Tischendorf has you, which is far more natural.

From falling—Into the corruptions and apostasies of these separatists.

Faultless—Unstained from the spots of Judges 1:23.

Before… his gloryPresence of, might here be omitted, and his glory is almost a name for the divine Being. But the antithesis between keep and present suggests that the keeping is to be during our probation, and the presenting faultless is to be before the judgment throne.

Exceeding joy—Literally, a leaping for joy; an exultant jubilation over an accomplished work.

Verse 25

25. Wise is to be omitted as being really inserted by copyists from the parallel passage in Romans 16:27. The fourfold creational ascription of glory and majesty belonging to the divine person, and dominion and power his characteristics as divine ruler.

Now—The best reading supplies before this now the clause before all aeon or age. The meaning then would be, that the ascription to God is before the world’s ages begun, during earthly time, and through the endless ages to come. We have, then, the threefold phases of complete eternity, past, present, and future.


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Jude 1:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.

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Sunday, November 29th, 2020
the First Week of Advent
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