THE GENERAL EPISTLE OF JUDE Commentary by A. R. Faussett
Author.–He calls himself in the address “the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James.” See Introduction to the Epistle of James, in proof of James the apostle, and James the Lord’s brother, the bishop of Jerusalem, being one and the same person. Ga 1:19 alone seems to me to prove this. Similarly, Jude the brother of our Lord, and Jude the apostle, seem to be one and the same. Jerome [Against Helvidius], rightly maintains that by the Lord’s brethren are meant his cousins, children of Mary and Cleophas (the same as Alphæus). From 1Co 9:5 (as “brethren of the Lord” stands between “other apostles” and “Cephas”), it seems natural to think that the brethren of the Lord are distinguished from the apostles only because all his brethren were not apostles, but only James and Jude. Jude’s reason for calling himself “brother of James,” was that James, as bishop of Jerusalem, was better known than himself. Had he been, in the strict sense, brother of our Lord, he probably would have so entitled himself. His omission of mention of his apostleship is no proof that he was not an apostle; for so also James omits it in his heading; and Paul, in his Epistles to the Philippians, Thessalonians, and Philemon, omits it. Had the writer been a counterfeiter of the apostle Jude, he would doubtless have called himself an “apostle.” He was called also Lebbæus and Thaddeus, probably to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot, the traitor. Lebbæus, from Hebrew “leeb,” “heart,” means courageous. Thaddeus is the same as Theudas, from Hebrew “thad,” the “breast.” Luke and John, writing later than Matthew, when there would be no confusion between him and Judas Iscariot, give his name Judas. The only circumstance relating to him recorded in the Gospels occurs in Joh 14:22, “Judas saith unto Him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” Jerome [Commentary on Matthew] says that he was sent to Edessa, to Abgarus, king of Osroene, or Edessa, and that he preached in Syria, Arabia, Mesopotamia, and Persia, in which last country he suffered martyrdom. The story is told on Eusebius’ authority, that Abgarus, on his sickbed, having heard of Jesus’ power to heal, sent to beg Him to come and cure him, to which the Lord replied, praising his faith, that though he had not seen the Saviour, he yet believed; adding, “As for what thou hast written, that I should come to thee, it is necessary that all those things for which I was sent should be fulfilled by Me in this place, and that having filled them I should be received up to Him that sent Me. When, therefore, I shall be received into heaven, I will send unto thee some one of My disciples who shall both heal thy distemper and give life to thee and those with thee.” Thomas is accordingly said to have been inspired to send Thaddeus for the cure and baptism of Abgarus. The letters are said to have been shown Thaddeus among the archives of Edessa. It is possible such a message was verbally sent, and the substance of it registered in writing afterwards (compare 2Ki 5:1-27; and Mt 15:22). Hegesippus (in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 3.20]) states that when Domitian inquired after David’s posterity, some grandsons of Jude, called the Lord’s brother, were brought into his presence. Being asked as to their possessions, they said that they had thirty-nine acres of the value of nine thousand denarii, out of which they paid him taxes, and lived by the labor of their hands, a proof of which they gave by showing the hardness of their hands. Being interrogated as to Christ and His kingdom, they replied that it was not of this world, but heavenly; and that it would be manifested at the end of the world, when He would come in glory to judge the living and the dead.
Authenticity.–Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 3.25], reckons it among the Antilegomena or controverted Scriptures, “though recognized by the majority.” The reference to the contest of Michael, the archangel, with the devil, for the body of Moses, not mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament, but found in the apocryphal “Book of Enoch,” probably raised doubts as to its authenticity, as Jerome [On Illustrious Men, 4] says. Moreover, its not being addressed to one particular Church, or individual, caused it not to be so immediately recognized as canonical. A counterfeiter would have avoided using what did not occur in the Old Testament, and which might be regarded as apocryphal.
As to the book of Enoch, if quoted by Jude, his quotation of a passage from it gives an inspired sanction only to the truth of that passage, not to the whole book; just as Paul, by inspiration, sanctions particular sentiments from Aratus, Epimenides, and Menander, but not all their writings. I think, rather as there is some slight variation between Jude’s statement and that of the book of Enoch, that Jude, though probably not ignorant of the book of Enoch, stamps with inspired sanction the current tradition of the Jews as to Enoch’s prophecies; just as Paul mentions the names of the Egyptian magicians, “Jannes and Jambres” (2Ti 3:8), not mentioned in the Old Testament. At all events, the prophecy ascribed to Enoch by Jude was really his, being sanctioned as such by this inspired writer. So also the narration as to the archangel Michael’s dispute with Satan concerning the body of Moses, is by Jude’s inspired authority (Jude 9) declared true. The book of Enoch is quoted by Justin Martyr, Irenæus, Clement of Alexandria, &c. Bruce, the Abyssinian traveller, brought home three copies of it in Ethiopic, from Alexandria, of which Archbishop Lawrence, in 1821, gave an English translation. The Ethiopic was a version from the Greek, and the Greek doubtless a version from the Hebrew, as the names of the angels in it show. The Apostolic Constitutions, Origen [Against Celsus], Jerome, and Augustine, pronounce it not canonical. Yet it is in the main edifying, vindicating God’s government of the world, natural and spiritual, and contradicting none of the Scripture statements. The name Jesus never occurs, though “Son of man,” so often given to Messiah in the Gospels, is frequent, and terms are used expressive of His dignity, character, and acts, exceeding the views of Messiah in any other Jewish book. The writer seems to have been a Jew who had become thoroughly imbued with the sacred writings of Daniel. And, though many coincidences occur between its sentiments and the New Testament, the Messianic portions are not distinct enough to prove that the writer knew the New Testament. Rather, he seems to have immediately preceded Christ’s coming, about the time of Herod the Great, and so gives us a most interesting view of believing Jews’ opinions before the advent of our Lord. The Trinity is recognized (Enoch 60:13,14). Messiah is “the elect One” existing from eternity (Enoch 48:2,3,5); “All kings shall fall down before Him, and worship and fix their hopes on this Son of man” (Enoch 61:10-13). He is the object of worship (Enoch 48:3,4); He is the supreme Judge (Enoch 60:10,11; 68:38,39). There shall be a future state of retribution (Enoch 93:8,9; 94:2,4; 95; 96; 99; 103); The eternity of future punishment (Enoch 103:5). Volkmar, in Alford, thinks the book was written at the time of the sedition of Barchochebas (A.D. 132), by a follower of Rabbi Akiba, the upholder of that impostor. This would make the book Antichristian in its origin. If this date be correct, doubtless it copied some things from Jude, giving them the Jewish, not the Christian, coloring.
Eusebius [Demonstration of the Gospel, 3.5] remarks, it accords with John’s humility that in Second and Third John he calls himself “the elder.” For the same reason James and Jude call themselves “servants of Jesus Christ.” Clement of Alexandria [Adumbrations, in Epistle of Jude, p. 1007] says, “Jude, through reverential awe, did not call himself brother, but servant, of Jesus Christ, and brother of James.”
Tertullian [On the Apparel of Women, 3] cites the Epistle as that of the apostle James. Clement of Alexandria in Miscellanies [3.2.11] quotes Jude 8, 17 as Scripture, in The Instructor [3.8.44], Jude 5. The Muratori fragment asserts its canonicity [Routh, Sacred Fragments, 1.306]. Origen [Commentary on Matthew 13:55] says, “Jude wrote an Epistle of few lines, but one filled full of the strong words of heavenly grace.” Also, in his Commentary on Matthew 22:23, Origen quotes Jude 6; and on Matthew 18:10, he quotes Jude 1. He calls the writer “Jude the apostle,” in the Latin remains of his works (compare Davidson, Introduction to the New Testament, vol. 3, p. 498). Jerome [On Illustrious Men, 4] reckons it among the Scriptures. Though the oldest manuscripts of the Peschito omit it, Ephrem the Syrian recognizes it. Wordsworth reasons for its genuineness thus: Jude, we know, died before John, that is, before the beginning of the second century. Now Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 3.32] tells us that James was succeeded in the bishopric of Jerusalem by Symeon his brother; and also that Symeon sat in that see till A.D. 107, when as a martyr he was crucified in his hundred twentieth year. We find that the Epistle to Jude was known in the East and West in the second century; it was therefore circulated in Symeon’s lifetime. It never would have received currency such as it had, nor would Symeon have permitted a letter bearing the name of an apostle, his own brother Jude, brother of his own apostolical predecessor, James, to have been circulated, if it were not really Jude’s.
To whom addressed.–The references to Old Testament history, Jude 5, 7, and to Jewish tradition, Jude 14, &c., make it likely that Jewish Christians are the readers to whom Jude mainly (though including also all Christians, Jude 1) writes, just as the kindred Epistle, Second Peter, is addressed primarily to the same class; compare Introduction to First Peter and Introduction to Second Peter. The persons stigmatized in it were not merely libertines (as Alford thinks), though no doubt that was one of their prominent characteristics, but heretics in doctrine, “denying the only Lord God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Hence he urges believers “earnestly to contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). Insubordination, self-seeking, and licentiousness, the fruit of Antinomian teachings, were the evils against which Jude warns his readers; reminding them that, to build themselves in their most holy faith, and to pray in the Holy Ghost, are the only effectual safeguards. The same evils, along with mocking skepticism, shall characterize the last days before the final judgment, even as in the days when Enoch warned the ungodly of the coming flood. As Peter was in Babylon in writing 1Pe 5:13, and probably also in writing Second Peter (compare Introduction to First Peter and Introduction to Second Peter), Jude addressed his Epistle primarily to the Jewish Christians in and about Mesopotamian Babylon (a place of great resort to the Jews in that day), or else to the Christian Jews dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1Pe 1:1), the persons addressed by Peter. For Jude is expressly said to have preached in Mesopotamia [Jerome, Commentary on Matthew], and his Epistle, consisting of only twenty-five verses, contains in them no less than eleven passages from Second Peter (see my Introduction to Second Peter for the list). Probably in Jude 4 he witnesses to the fulfilment of Peter’s prophecy, “There are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained (rather as Greek, “forewritten,” that is, announced beforehand by the apostle Peter’s written prophecy) to this condemnation, ungodly men denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Compare 2Pe 2:1, “There shall be false teachers among you who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” Also Jude 17, 18 plainly refers to the very words of 2Pe 3:3, “Remember the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus; how they told you there should be mockers in the last time who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.” This proves, in opposition to Alford, that Jude’s Epistle is later than Peter’s (whose inspiration he thus confirms, just as Peter confirms Paul’s, 2Pe 3:15, 16), not vice versa.
Time and place of writing.–Alford thinks, that, considering Jude was writing to Jews and citing signal instances of divine vengeance, it is very unlikely he would have omitted to allude to the destruction of Jerusalem if he had written after that event which uprooted the Jewish polity and people. He conjectures from the tone and references that the writer lived in Palestine. But as to the former, negative evidence is doubtful; for neither does John allude in his Epistles, written after the destruction of Jerusalem, to that event. Mill fixes on A.D. 90, after the death of all the apostles save John. I incline to think from Jude 17, 18 that some time had elapsed since the Second Epistle of Peter (written probably about A.D. 68 or 69) when Jude wrote, and, therefore, that the Epistle of Jude was written after the destruction of Jerusalem.
Jude 1-25. Address: Greeting: His Object in Writing: Warning against Seducers in Doctrine and Practice from God’s Vengenance on Apostates, Israel, the Fallen Angels, Sodom and Gomorrah. Description of These Bad Men, in Contrast to Michael: Like Cain, Balaam, and Core: Enoch’s Prophecy as to Them: The Apostles’ Forewarning: Concluding Exhortation as to Preserving Their Own Faith, and Trying to Save Others: Doxology.
1. servant of Jesus Christ–as His minister and apostle.
brother of James–who was more widely known as bishop of Jerusalem and “brother of the Lord” (that is, either cousin, or stepbrother, being son of Joseph by a former marriage; for ancient traditions universally agree that Mary, Jesus’ mother, continued perpetually a virgin). Jude therefore calls himself modestly “brother of James.” See my Introduction.
to them … sanctified by God the Father–The oldest manuscripts and versions, Origen, Lucifer, and others read, “beloved” for sanctified. If English Version be read, compare Col 1:12; 1Pe 1:2. The Greek is not “by,” but “in.” God the Father’s love is the element IN which they are “beloved.” Thus the conclusion, Jude 21, corresponds, “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” Compare “beloved of the Lord” 2Th 2:13.
preserved in Jesus Christ–“kept.” Translate not “in,” but as Greek, “FOR Jesus Christ.” “Kept continually (so the Greek perfect participle means) by God the Father for Jesus Christ,” against the day of His coming. Jude, beforehand, mentions the source and guarantee for the final accomplishment of believers’ salvation; lest they should be disheartened by the dreadful evils which he proceeds to announce [Bengel].
and called–predicated of “them that are beloved in God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: who are called.” God’s effectual calling in the exercise of His divine prerogative, guarantees their eternal safety.
2. Mercy–in a time of wretchedness. Therefore mercy stands first; the mercy of Christ (Jude 21).
peace–in the Holy Ghost (Jude 20).
love–of God (Jude 21). The three answer to the divine Trinity.
be multiplied–in you and towards you.
3. Design of the Epistle (compare Jude 20, 21).
all diligence–(2Pe 1:5). As the minister is to give all diligence to admonish, so the people should, in accordance with his admonition, give all diligence to have all Christian graces, and to make their calling sure.
the common salvation–wrought by Christ. Compare Note, see on 2Pe 1:1, “obtained LIKE precious faith,” This community of faith, and of the object of faith, salvation, forms the ground of mutual exhortation by appeals to common hopes and fears.
it was needful for me–rather, “I felt it necessary to write (now at once; so the Greek aorist means; the present infinitive ‘to write,’ which precedes, expresses merely the general fact of writing) exhorting you.” The reason why he felt it necessary “to write with exhortation,” he states, Jude 4, “For there are certain men crept in,” &c. Having intended to write generally of “the common salvation,” he found it necessary from the existing evils in the Church, to write specially that they should contend for the faith against those evils.
earnestly contend–Compare Php 1:27, “striving together for the faith of the Gospel.”
once, &c.–Greek, “once for all delivered.” No other faith or revelation is to supersede it. A strong argument for resisting heretical innovators (Jude 4). Believers, like Nehemiah’s workmen (Ne 4:17), with one hand “build themselves up in their most holy faith”; with the other they” contend earnestly for the faith” against its foes.
the saints–all Christians, holy (that is, consecrated to God) by their calling, and in God’s design.
4. certain men–implying disparagement.
crept in unawares–stealthily and unlawfully. See on 2Pe 2:1, “privily shall bring in damnable heresies.”
before … ordained–Greek, “forewritten,” namely, in Peter’s prophecy Jude 17, 18; and in Paul’s before that, 1Ti 4:1; 2Ti 3:1; and by implication in the judgments which overtook the apostate angels. The disobedient Israelites, Sodom and Gomorrah, Balaam and Core, and which are written “for an example” (Jude 7, and Jude 5, 6, 11). God’s eternal character as the Punisher of sin, as set forth in Scripture “of old,” is the ground on which such apostate characters are ordained to condemnation. Scripture is the reflection of God’s book of life in which believers are “written among the living.” “Forewritten” is applied also in Ro 15:4 to the things written in Scripture. Scripture itself reflects God’s character from everlasting, which is the ground of His decrees from everlasting. Bengel explains it as an abbreviated phrase for, “They were of old foretold by Enoch (Jude 14, who did not write his prophecies), and afterwards marked out by the written word.”
to this condemnation–Jude graphically puts their judgment as it were present before the eyes, “THIS.” Enoch’s prophecy comprises the “ungodly men” of the last days before Christ’s coming to judgment, as well as their forerunners, the “ungodly men” before the flood, the type of the last judgment (Mt 24:37-39; 2Pe 3:3-7). The disposition and the doom of both correspond.
the grace of our God–A phrase for the Gospel especially sweet to believers who appropriate God in Christ as “our God,” and so rendering the more odious the vile perversity of those who turn the Gospel state of grace and liberty into a ground of licentiousness, as if their exemption from the law gave them a license to sin.
denying the only Lord–The oldest manuscripts, versions, and Fathers omit “God,” which follows in English Version. Translate as the Greek, “the only Master”; here used of Jesus Christ, who is at once Master and “Lord” (a different Greek word). See on 2Pe 2:1. By virtue of Christ’s perfect oneness with the Father, He, as well as the Father, is termed “the ONLY” God and “Master.” Greek, “Master,” implies God’s absolute ownership to dispose of His creatures as He likes.
5. (Heb 3:16; 4:13.)
therefore–Other oldest manuscripts and Vulgate read, “But”; in contrast to the ungodly Jude 4.
though ye once–rather, “once for all.” Translate, “I wish to remind you, as knowing ALL (namely, that I am referring to; so the oldest manuscripts, versions, and Fathers) once for all.” As already they know all the facts once for all, he needs only to “remind” them.
the Lord–The oldest manuscripts and versions read, “Jesus.” So “Christ” is said to have accompanied the Israelites in the wilderness; so perfectly is Jesus one with the God of the Israelite theocracy.
saved–brought safely, and into a state of safety and salvation.
afterward–Greek, “secondly”; in the next instance “destroyed them that believed not,” as contrasted with His in the first instance having saved them.
6. (2Pe 2:4.)
kept not their first estate–Vulgate translates, “their own principality,” which the fact of angels being elsewhere called “principalities,” favors: “their own” implies that, instead of being content with the dignity once for all assigned to them under the Son of God, they aspired higher. Alford thinks the narrative in Ge 6:2 is alluded to, not the fall of the devil and his angels, as he thinks “giving themselves over to fornication” (Jude 7) proves; compare Greek, “in like manner to these,” namely, to the angels (Jude 6). It seems to me more natural to take “sons of God” (Ge 6:2) of the Sethites, than of angels, who, as “spirits,” do not seem capable of carnal connection. The parallel, 2Pe 2:4, plainly refers to the fall of the apostate angels. And “in like manner to these,” Jude 7, refers to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, “the cities about them” sinning “in like manner” as “they” did [Estius and Calvin]. Even if Greek “these,” Jude 7, refer to the angels, the sense of “in like manner as these” will be, not that the angels carnally fornicated with the daughters of men, but that their ambition, whereby their affections went away from God and they fell, is in God’s view a sin of like kind spiritually as Sodom’s going away from God’s order of nature after strange flesh; the sin of the apostate angels after their kind is analogous to that of the human Sodomites after their kind. Compare the somewhat similar spiritual connection of whoremongers and covetousness. The apocryphal book of Enoch interprets Ge 6:2 as Alford. But though Jude accords with it in some particulars, it does not follow that he accords with it in all. The Hebrews name the fallen angels Aza and Azael.
left–on their own accord.
their own–Greek, “their proper.”
habitation–heaven, all bright and glorious, as opposed to the “darkness” to which they now are doomed. Their ambitious designs seem to have had a peculiar connection with this earth, of which Satan before his fall may have been God’s vicegerent, whence arises his subsequent connection with it as first the Tempter, then “the prince of this world.”
reserved–As the Greek is the same, and there is an evident reference to their having “kept not their first estate,” translate, “He hath kept.” Probably what is meant is, He hath kept them in His purpose; that is their sure doom; moreover, as yet, Satan and his demons roam at large on the earth. An earnest of their doom is their having been cast out of heaven, being already restricted to “the darkness of this present world,” the “air” that surrounds the earth, their peculiar element now. They lurk in places of gloom and death, looking forward with agonizing fear to their final torment in the bottomless pit. He means not literal chains and darkness, but figurative in this present world where, with restricted powers and liberties, shut out from heaven, they, like condemned prisoners, await their doom.
7. Even as–Alford translates, “I wish to remind you (Jude 5) that.”
Sodom, &c.–(2Pe 2:6).
giving themselves over to fornication–following fornication extraordinarily, that is, out of the order of nature. On “in like manner to them” (Greek), compare Note, see on Jude 6. Compare on spiritual fornication, “go a whoring from thee,” Ps 73:27.
going after strange flesh–departing from the course of nature, and going after that which is unnatural. In later times the most enlightened heathen nations indulged in the sin of Sodom without compunction or shame.
are set forth–before our eyes.
suffering–undergoing to this present time; alluding to the marks of volcanic fire about the Dead Sea.
the vengeance–Greek, “righteous retribution.”
eternal fire–The lasting marks of the fire that consumed the cities irreparably, is a type of the eternal fire to which the inhabitants have been consigned. Bengel translates as the Greek will admit, “Suffering (the) punishment (which they endure) as an example or sample of eternal fire (namely, that which shall consume the wicked).” Eze 16:53-55 shows that Sodom’s punishment, as a nation, is not eternal. Compare also 2Pe 2:6.
8. also–rather, “In like manner nevertheless” (notwithstanding these warning examples) [Alford].
these … dreamers–The Greek has not “filthy” of English Version. The clause, “these men dreaming” (that is, in their dreams), belongs to all the verbs, “defile,” “despise,” and “speak evil.” All sinners are spiritually asleep, and their carnal activity is as it were a dream (1Th 5:6, 7). Their speaking evil of dignities is because they are dreaming, and know not what they are speaking evil of (Jude 10). “As a man dreaming seems to himself to be seeing and nearing many things, so the natural man’s lusts are agitated by joy, distress, fear, and the other passions. But he is a stranger to self-command. Hence, though he bring into play all the powers of reason, he cannot conceive the true liberty which the sons of light, who are awake and in the daylight; enjoy” [Bengel].
defile the flesh–(Jude 7).
dignities–literally, “glories.” Earthly and heavenly dignities.
9. Michael, the archangel–Nowhere in Scripture is the plural used, “archangels”; but only ONE, “archangel.” The only other passage in the New Testament where it occurs, is 1Th 4:16, where Christ is distinguished from the archangel, with whose voice He shall descend to raise the dead; they therefore err who confound Christ with Michael. The name means, Who is like God? In Da 10:13 he is called “One (‘the first,’ Margin) of the chief princes.” He is the champion angel of Israel. In Re 12:7 the conflict between Michael and Satan is again alluded to.
about the body of Moses–his literal body. Satan, as having the power of death, opposed the raising of it again, on the ground of Moses’ sin at Meribah, and his murder of the Egyptian. That Moses’ body was raised, appears from his presence with Elijah and Jesus (who were in the body) at the Transfiguration: the sample and earnest of the coming resurrection kingdom, to be ushered in by Michael’s standing up for God’s people. Thus in each dispensation a sample and pledge of the future resurrection was given: Enoch in the patriarchal dispensation, Moses in the Levitical, Elijah in the prophetical. It is noteworthy that the same rebuke is recorded here as was used by the Angel of the Lord, or Jehovah the Second Person, in pleading for Joshua, the representative of the Jewish Church, against Satan, in Zec 3:2; whence some have thought that also here “the body of Moses” means the Jewish Church accused by Satan, before God, for its filthiness, on which ground he demands that divine justice should take its course against Israel, but is rebuked by the Lord who has “chosen Jerusalem”: thus, as “the body of Christ” is the Christian Church, so “the body of Moses” is the Jewish Church. But the literal body is evidently here meant (though, secondarily, the Jewish Church is typified by Moses’ body, as it was there represented by Joshua the high priest); and Michael, whose connection seems to be so close with Jehovah-Messiah on the one hand, and with Israel on the other, naturally uses the same language as his Lord. As Satan (adversary in court) or the devil (accuser) accuses alike the Church collectively and “the brethren” individually, so Christ pleads for us as our Advocate. Israel’s, and all believers’ full justification, and the accuser’s being rebuked finally, is yet future. Josephus [Antiquities,4.8], states that God hid Moses’ body, lest, if it had been exposed to view, it would have been made an idol of. Jude, in this account, either adopts it from the apocryphal “assumption of Moses” (as Origen [Concerning Principalities, 3.2] thinks), or else from the ancient tradition on which that work was founded. Jude, as inspired, could distinguish how much of the tradition was true, how much false. We have no such means of distinguishing, and therefore can be sure of no tradition, save that which is in the written word.
durst not–from reverence for Satan’s former dignity (Jude 8).
railing accusation–Greek, “judgment of blasphemy,” or evil-speaking. Peter said, Angels do not, in order to avenge themselves, rail at dignities, though ungodly, when they have to contend with them: Jude says that the archangel Michael himself did not rail even at the time when he fought with the devil, the prince of evil spirits–not from fear of him, but from reverence of God, whose delegated power in this world Satan once had, and even in some degree still has. From the word “disputed,” or debated in controversy, it is plain it was a judicial contest.
10. (2Pe 2:12.)
those things which–Greek, “all things whatsoever they understand not,” namely, the things of the spiritual world.
but what … naturally–Connect thus, “Whatever (so the Greek) things naturally (by natural, blind instinct), as the unreasoning (so the Greek) animals, they know,” &c. The Greek for the former “know” implies deeper knowledge; the latter “know,” the mere perception of the “animal senses and faculties.”
11. Woe–See on 2Pe 2:14, “cursed children.”
Cain–the murderer: the root of whose sin was hatred and envy of the godly, as it is the sin of these seducers.
ran greedily–literally, “have been poured forth” like a torrent that has burst its banks. Reckless of what it costs, the loss of God’s favor and heaven, on they rush after gain like Balaam.
perished in the gainsaying of Core–(compare Note, see on Jude 12). When we read of Korah perishing by gainsaying, we read virtually also of these perishing in like manner through the same: for the same seed bears the same harvest.
12. spots–So 2Pe 2:13, Greek, “spiloi”; but here the Greek is spilades, which elsewhere, in secular writers, means rocks, namely, on which the Christian love-feasts were in danger of being shipwrecked. The oldest manuscript prefixes the article emphatically, “THE rocks.” The reference to “clouds … winds … waves of the sea,” accords with this image of rocks. Vulgate seems to have been misled by the similar sounding word to translate, as English Version, “spots”; compare however, Jude 23, which favors English Version, if the Greek will bear it. Two oldest manuscripts, by the transcriber’s effort to make Jude say the same as Peter, read here “deceivings” for “love-feasts,” but the weightiest manuscript and authorities support English Version reading. The love-feast accompanied the Lord’s Supper (1Co 11:17-34, end). Korah the Levite, not satisfied with his ministry, aspired to the sacrificing priesthood also: so ministers in the Lord’s Supper have sought to make it a sacrifice, and themselves the sacrificing priests, usurping the function of our only Christian sacerdotal Priest, Christ Jesus. Let them beware of Korah’s doom!
feeding themselves–Greek, “pasturing (tending) themselves.” What they look to is the pampering of themselves, not the feeding of the flock.
without fear–Join these words not as English Version, but with “feast.” Sacred feasts especially ought to be celebrated with fear. Feasting is not faulty in itself [Bengel], but it needs to be accompanied with fear of forgetting God, as Job in the case of his sons’ feasts.
clouds–from which one would expect refreshing rains. 2Pe 2:17, “wells without water.” Professors without practice.
carried about–The oldest manuscripts have “carried aside,” that is, out of the right course (compare Eph 4:14).
trees whose fruit withereth–rather, “trees of the late (or waning) autumn,” namely, when there are no longer leaves or fruits on the trees [Bengel].
without fruit–having no good fruit of knowledge and practice; sometimes used of what is positively bad.
twice dead–First when they cast their leaves in autumn, and seem during winter dead, but revive again in spring; secondly, when they are “plucked up by the roots.” So these apostates, once dead in unbelief, and then by profession and baptism raised from the death of sin to the life of righteousness, but now having become dead again by apostasy, and so hopelessly dead. There is a climax. Not only without leaves, like trees in late autumn, but without fruit: not only so, but dead twice; and to crown all, “plucked up by the roots.”
13. Raging–wild. Jude has in mind Isa 57:20.
shame–plural in Greek, “shames” (compare Php 3:19).
wandering stars–instead of moving on in a regular orbit, as lights to the world, bursting forth on the world like erratic comets, or rather, meteors of fire, with a strange glare, and then doomed to fall back again into the blackness of gloom.
14. See Introduction on the source whence Jude derived this prophecy of Enoch. The Holy Spirit, by Jude, has sealed the truth of this much of the matter contained in the book of Enoch, though probably that book, as well as Jude, derived it from tradition (compare Note, see on Jude 9). There are reasons given by some for thinking the book of Enoch copied from Jude rather than vice versa. It is striking how, from the first, prophecy hastened towards its consummation. The earliest prophecies of the Redeemer dwell on His second coming in glory, rather than His first coming in lowliness (compare Ge 3:15 with Ro 16:20). Enoch, in his translation without death, illustrated that truth which he all his life preached to the unbelieving world, the certainty of the Lord’s coming, and the resurrection of the dead, as the only effectual antidote to their skepticism and self-wise confidence in nature’s permanence.
And Enoch–Greek, “Moreover, also Enoch,” &c.
seventh from Adam–Seven is the sacred number. In Enoch, freedom from death and the sacred number are combined: for every seventh object is most highly valued. Jude thus shows the antiquity of the prophecies. Compare Note, see on Jude 4, “of old.” There were only five fathers between Enoch and Adam. The seventh from Adam prophesied the things which shall close the seventh age of the world [Bengel].
of these–in relation to these. The reference of his prophecies was not to the antediluvians alone, but to all the ungodly (Jude 15). His prophecy applied primarily indeed to the flood, but ultimately to the final judgment.
cometh–literally, “came.” Prophecy regards the future as certain as if it were past.
saints–Holy angels (compare De 33:2; Da 7:10; Zec 14:5; Mt 25:31; Heb 12:22).
15. This verse and the beginning of Enoch’s prophecy is composed in Hebrew poetic parallelism, the oldest specimen extant. Some think Lamech’s speech, which is also in poetic parallelism, was composed in mockery of Enoch’s prophecy: as Enoch foretold Jehovah’s coming to judgment, so Lamech presumes on impunity in polygamy and murder (just as Cain the murderer seemed to escape with impunity).
hard speeches–such as are noticed in Jude 8, 10, 16; Mal 3:13, 14; contrast Ro 16:17.
ungodly sinners–not merely sinners, but proud despisers of God: impious.
against him–They who speak against God’s children are regarded by God as speaking against Himself.
16. murmurers–in secret: muttering murmurs against God’s ordinances and ministers in Church and state. Compare Jude 8, “speak evil of dignities”; Jude 15, “hard speeches”; against the Lord.
complainers–never satisfied with their lot (Nu 11:1; compare the penalty, De 28:47, 48).
walking after their own lusts–(Jude 18). The secret of their murmuring and complaining is the restless insatiability of their desires.
great swelling words–(2Pe 2:18).
men’s persons–their mere outward appearance and rank.
because of advantage–for the sake of what they may gain from them. While they talk great swelling words, they are really mean and fawning towards those of wealth and rank.
17. But; beloved … ye–in contrast to those reprobates, Jude 20, again.
remember–implying that his readers had been contemporaries of the apostles. For Peter uses the very same formula in reminding the contemporaries of himself and the other apostles.
spoken before–spoken already before now.
the apostles–Peter (see on 2Pe 3:2, 3), and Paul before Peter (Ac 20:29; 1Ti 4:1; 2Ti 3:1). Jude does not exclude himself from the number of the apostles here, for in Jude 18, immediately after, he says, “they told You,” not us (rather as Greek, “used to tell you” implying that Jude’s readers were contemporaries of the apostles, who used to tell them).
18. mockers–In the parallel, 2Pe 3:3, the same Greek is translated, “scoffers.” The word is found nowhere else in the New Testament. How Alford can deny that 2Pe 3:2, 3 is referred to (at least in part), I cannot imagine, seeing that Jude quotes the very words of Peter as the words which the apostles used to speak to his (Jude’s) readers.
walk after their own ungodly lusts–literally, “after (according to) their own lusts of ungodliness.”
19. These be they–showing that their characters are such as Peter and Paul had foretold.
separate themselves–from Church communion in its vital, spiritual reality: for outwardly they took part in Church ordinances (Jude 12). Some oldest manuscripts omit “themselves”: then understand it, “separate,” cast out members of the Church by excommunication (Isa 65:5; 66:5; Lu 6:22; Joh 9:34; compare “casteth them out of the Church;” 3Jo 10). Many, however, understand “themselves,” which indeed is read in some of the oldest manuscripts as English Version has it. Arrogant setting up of themselves, as having greater sanctity and a wisdom and peculiar doctrine, distinct from others, is implied.
sensual–literally, “animal-souled”: as opposed to the spiritual, or “having the Spirit.” It is translated, “the natural man,” 1Co 2:14. In the threefold division of man’s being, body, soul, and spirit, the due state in God’s design is, that “the spirit,” which is the recipient of the Holy Spirit uniting man to God, should be first, and should rule the soul, which stands intermediate between the body and spirit: but in the animal, or natural man, the spirit is sunk into subserviency to the animal soul, which is earthly in its motives and aims. The “carnal” sink somewhat lower, for in these the flesh, the lowest element and corrupt side of man’s bodily nature, reigns paramount.
having not the Spirit–In the animal and natural man the spirit, his higher part, which ought to be the receiver of the Holy Spirit, is not so; and therefore, his spirit not being in its normal state, he is said not to have the spirit (compare Joh 3:5, 6). In the completion of redemption the parts of redeemed man shall be placed in their due relation: whereas in the ungodly, the soul severed from the spirit shall have for ever animal life without union to God and heaven–a living death.
20. Resuming Jude 17.
building up yourselves–the opposite to the “separate themselves” (Jude 19): as “in the Holy Ghost” is opposed to “having not the Spirit.”
on–as on a foundation. Building on THE FAITH is equivalent to building on Christ, the object of faith.
praying in the Holy Ghost–(Ro 8:26; Eph 6:18). The Holy Spirit teaches what we are to pray for, and how. None can pray aright save by being in the Spirit, that is, in the element of His influence. Chrysostom states that, among the charisms bestowed at the beginning of the New Testament dispensation, was the gift of prayer, bestowed on someone who prayed in the name of the rest, and taught others to pray. Moreover, their prayers so conceived and often used, were received and preserved among Christians, and out of them forms of prayer were framed. Such is the origin of liturgies [Hammond].
21. In Jude 20, 21, Jude combines the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: and faith, hope, and love.
Keep yourselves–not in your own strength, but “in the love of God,” that is, God’s love to you and all His believing children, the only guarantee for their being kept safe. Man’s need of watching is implied; at the same time he cannot keep himself, unless God in His love keep him.
looking for–in hope.
the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ–to be fully manifested at His coming. Mercy is usually attributed to the Father: here to the Son; so entirely one are they.
22, 23. None but those who “keep themselves” are likely to “save” others.
have compassion–So one oldest manuscript reads. But two oldest manuscripts, Vulgate, &c., read, “convict”; “reprove to their conviction”; “confute, so as to convince.”
making a difference–The oldest manuscripts and versions read the accusative for the nominative, “when separating themselves” [Wahl], referring to Jude 19; or “when contending with you,” as the Greek is translated, Jude 9.
23. save with fear–The oldest manuscripts do not read “with fear” in this position: but after “snatching them out of the fire” (with which, compare Am 4:11; 1Co 3:15; Zec 3:2, said of a most narrow escape), they add the following words, forming a THIRD class, “and others compassionate with (IN) fear.” Three kinds of patients require three kinds of medical treatment. Ministers and Christians are said to “save” those whom they are made the instruments of saving; the Greek for “save” is present, therefore meaning “try to save.” Jude already (Jude 9) had reference to the same passage (Zec 3:1-3). The three classes are: (1) those who contend with you (accusative case in oldest manuscripts), whom you should convict; (2) those who are as brands already in the fire, of which hell-fire is the consummation: these you should try to save by snatching them out; (3) those who are objects of compassion, whom accordingly you should compassionate (and help if occasion should offer), but at the same time not let pity degenerate into connivance at their error. Your compassion is to be accompanied “with fear” of being at all defiled by them.
hating–Even hatred has its legitimate field of exercise. Sin is the only thing which God hates: so ought we.
even the garment–a proverbial phrase: avoiding the most remote contact with sin, and hating that which borders on it. As garments of the apostles wrought miracles of good in healing, so the very garment of sinners metaphorically, that is, anything brought into contact with their pollution, is to be avoided. Compare as to lepers and other persons defiled, Le 13:52-57; 15:4-17: the garments were held polluted; and anyone touching them was excluded, until purified, from religious and civil communion with the sanctified people of Israel. Christians who received at baptism the white garment in token of purity, are not to defile it by any approach to what is defiled.
24, 25. Concluding doxology.
you–Alford, on inferior authority, reads, “them.” You is in contradistinction to those ungodly men mentioned above.
keep … from falling–rather, “guard … (so as to be) without falling,” or stumbling.
before the presence of his glory–that is, before Himself, when He shall be revealed in glory.
with exceeding joy–literally, “with exultation” as of those who leap for joy.
25. To the only … God our Saviour–The oldest manuscripts add, “through Jesus Christ our Lord.” The transcribers, fancying that “Saviour” applied to Christ alone, omitted the words. The sense is, To the only God (the Father) who is our Saviour through (that is, by the mediation of) Jesus Christ our Lord.
power–authority: legitimate power. The oldest manuscripts and Vulgate, after “power,” have “before all the age,” that is, before all time as to the past: “and now,” as to the present; “and to all the ages,” that is, for ever, as to the time to come.