A Study of Jude
From Bad to “Badder”: How God will Address the Internal Corruption (Jude 5-16) – part two
“Error damns as well as vice; the one pistols, the other poisons.” ~ Thomas Watson, Puritan
Jude spends the next twelve verses addressing the false teachers. Utilizing various Old Testament and inter-testamental Jewish writings, Jude compares these ungodly individuals to those who sinned in the past. In so doing, our author highlights several important principles. As aptly noted by one commentator, “God’s judgments in the past and the prophetic testimony all bear witness to the coming and the doom of the heretics who have invaded the church” (Green, Jude and 2 Peter, 61).
This study will observe verses 11-16. We will not only examine the vital truths Jude seeks to convey to his readers, we will also discuss the use of Jude’s non-canonical traditions in relationship to the rest of Scripture.
II. From Bad to “Badder” (vv. 5-16)
A. The Diabolic Trio and the Problem of Sin (vv. 5-8)
- Generation of the Exodus (v. 5)
- Genesis and the Angels (v. 6)
- Gomorrah and Company (v. 7)
B. Michael the Archangel and the Problem of Slander (vv. 9-10)
C. The Second “Diabolic Trio” and the Problem of Sin (vv. 11-13)
v. 11 – Cain, Balaam, and Korah serve as “types”—an event which happened in the past and now manifests itself in the present.
“woe” – This term is used frequently in Scripture as part of a prophetic pronouncement of judgment on those who have forsaken God (Isa 5:1-30; Jer 22:13-17; Amos 6:1-3; Hab 2:6-20; Matt 23:13-26).
Jude assumes the readers are familiar with Jewish thought surrounding these three archetypal sinners of old. Observe the following:
Besides murder, Cain was guilty of “self-love” (Philo, Worse, 10.32), anger and rage (Wis. 10:3), and jealousy and greed (Josephus, Ant. .1.2.1).
Cain becomes a pattern of sin—a pattern seen in the false teachers.
Numbers 22-24; 31:16; Deuteronomy 23:3-6; Joshua 13:22; 24:9-10; Nehemiah 13:2
Balaam was seen as a false teacher (Philo, Moses, 1.54-55), a greedy person (Josephus, Ant. 4.6.6-9), and a seducer (Tg. Ps.-J on Num 24:14, 25).
Similar to Balaam, the false teachers seek personal gain and entice others to practice sexual immorality.
Numbers 16 (also, see Psalm 106:16-18)
Korah was noted for twisting the Law (Num. Rab. 18.3) and creating strife among God’s people (Tg. Neof. on Num 16:1-3).
Similar to Korah, the false teachers have distorted the message of the gospel and refused to submit to the Lord’s authority.
Notice that the chronological order of Cain, Korah, and Balaam is shifted, placing emphasis on Korah. “The reason for the switch becomes evident if we understand the importance of the Korah narrative . . . Their judgment was that only they, among all sinners, were swallowed by the earth, going straight to Sheol” (Green, Jude and 2 Peter, 87).
vv. 12-13 – Jude provides several metaphors to describe these false teachers:
- Hidden reefs. The false teachers are hidden reefs in the love feasts (v. 12a). In other words, the danger resides in that their rhetoric and actions are not immediately apparent. “Love feasts” were dinners held in conjunction with communion (see 1 Cor 11:17-34). These meals served as a time of fellowship and love.
- Self-serving shepherds. The false teachers are full of greed as they “shepherd only themselves”. This imagery recalls God’s judgment upon Israel’s leaders for failing to shepherd God’s flock (see Ezek 34:2, 8-10, 18-19).
- Waterless clouds. The false teachers are useless and influenced by false doctrine (Eph 4:14). Proverbs 25:14 declares, “Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of gifts he does not give.”
- Dead fruit trees. The false teachers are absolutely corrupt and useless as a fruitless and uprooted tree.
- Wild sea waves. The false teachers are untamable and uncontrollable. In so doing, these heretics flaunt their evil actions (i.e., “foam of their shame”).
- Wayward stars. The false teachers are unreliable to lead God’s people.
D. Enoch’s prophecy (vv. 14-16)
v. 14 – Quoting from a Jewish writing penned during the inter-testamental period (the time between the Old and New Testaments), Jude uses 1 Enoch to highlight sins of the heretics and their imminent judgement. As noted last week, “Jude clearly accepted it [1 Enoch 1:9] as in inspired, apparently historical, and true utterance, without necessarily placing approval on the entire content of the Book of Enoch” (Dunnett, “The Hermeneutics of Jude and 2 Peter,” JETS 31 , 289).
Enoch served as the “seventh” from Adam: Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, and Enoch—a notion explicitly mentioned in 1 Enoch. The reference to “seven” could suggest completion and perfection.
The uniqueness of the quote is that Jude inserts “Lord” for “God,” indicating Christ’s divine role in the future (see Rev 19:13, 15; 22:12).
v. 15 – Note the thoroughness of this coming judgment—no sinner is exempt, no action is overlooked, and no word will be forgotten.
v. 16 – As noted in the Old Testament, the Israelites were condemned because of their grumbling against the Lord (see Exod 16:7-9, 12; 17:3; Ps 105:25). Indeed, a lack of contentment plagues humanity. Hand-in-hand with complaining comes a critical spirit—an attitude that is quick to detect the weaknesses in others.
These false teachers also lack self-control. Ironically, their so-called “freedom” is actually an enslavement to their own passions (Titus 3:3).
“bombastic speeches” – This phrase is used to describe blasphemy and arrogance (see Schreiner, 1, 2, Peter, Jude, 474). Such rhetoric is self-serving and is laced with ulterior motives (i.e., “enchanting folks for their own gain”).
As men, we are called to be leaders in our home, in our community, and in our local churches. Unlike these false teachers, our lives need to reflect the following:
- A life marked by passion for Christ and His Word.
- A life willing to submit to God’s authority.
- A life that is transparent.
- A life that is marked by contentment.
- A life that is pure and holy.
- A life that points others to Christ.
“God loves adverbs better than nouns; not praying only but praying well; not doing good but doing it well.”
~ Thomas Brooks
For further thought . . .
Based upon our study this morning, I invite you to spend some additional time this week reflecting on the following:
Compare Paul’s list of qualifications for church leaders in 1 Timothy 3 with the description of the false teachers in Jude:
Qualifications of Church Leaders (1 Tim 3:1-13) Description of False Teachers (Jude)
Select one area that needs improvement in your own life? Identify one or two ways in which you can specifically address this area in this upcoming week.