Pastor David B. Curtis

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The Creepers

Jude 4

Delivered 06/14/15

We are continuing our verse-by-verse study of the book of Y'hudah. It is a very important book, warning the Church to battle for the truth in a world of apostasy and spiritual defection.

After admonishing his readers to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints," Jude, by the direction of the Holy Spirit, tells his readers who is attacking the faith and against whom they should take their stand:

For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Yeshua the Christ. Jude 1:4 NASB

"For"—is gar, a strategic term of explanation, telling us that the author is explaining what he previously stated. Jude begins to explain why the saints should "contend earnestly for the faith." It is because false teachers have crept into the Church. No wonder Jude's writing plans were interrupted. He had sat down to write a general treatise about our common salvation, but as he received word that the Church was being infiltrated by false teachers who had crept unnoticed, he begins to write a letter of urgent warning.

Verse four is actually an introductory verse on apostasy. The next three verses give us illustrations of three different aspects of apostasy. One commentator writes, "And they were apostates that Jude is talking about—a man who thinks he's saved, but is not saved!" Is he right? Is an apostate someone who thinks they're saved but aren't?

Before we look at verse 4, I think we need to understand the meaning of apostasy. Most commentators say that this book is about apostasy, and so we should have an understanding of what that means. The English word "apostasy" comes from the Greek word apostasia. It is used only twice in the New Testament:

Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 2 Thessalonians 2:3 NASB

Here the word "apostasy" is from the Greek word apostasia, which means: "defection from truth." Its only other use in the New Testament is in:

and they have been told about you, that you are teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs. Acts 21:21 NASB

The word "forsake" here is also apostasia. They were falsely being taught that Paul was teaching Jews to apostatize from Moses, meaning: "to defect from the truth taught by Moses." Lexham Theological Wordbook says of apostasia: "Refers to rebelling or abandoning a former authority." So apostasy is: "a falling away, a withdrawal or a defection."

Are these apostates that Jude writes about believers who have fallen away, or are they unbelievers? Well they must be unbelievers because Jude says:

These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. Jude 1:19 NASB

They are "devoid" of the Spirit. If they don't have the Spirit, they are not Christians:

However, you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. Romans 8:9 NASB

So it seems like these men that Jude talks about are not Christians, but notice what Peter says:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Peter 2:1 NASB

This is a parallel passage to Jude 4, and Peter says, "...even denying the Master who bought them." The word "bought" here is agorazo, which means, "to go to market, that is, (by implication) to purchase; specifically to redeem." This word is used in:

For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Corinthians 6:20 NASB

Here "bought" is also agorazo. It is also used in:

And they sang a new song, saying, "Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. Revelation 5:9 NASB

Here "purchased" is agorazo. Can it be said that an unbeliever is purchased by the blood of Christ? We see it used again in:

These are the ones who have not been defiled with women, for they have kept themselves chaste. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These have been purchased from among men as first fruits to God and to the Lamb. Revelation 14:4 NASB

Again "purchased" here is agorazo. Back to Peter:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Peter 2:1 NASB

Peter says that these false teachers have been "bought" by the Lord Yeshua the Christ. So they must be believers. Unless Peter is an Arminian and believes that Christ died for everyone. Which he isn't:

Peter, an apostle of Yeshua the Christ, To those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Yeshua the Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure. 1 Peter 1:1-2 NASB

Peter can't be a Calvinist because Calvin had not been born yet. But Peter did believe that Yahweh sovereignly chose those He would save.

So which is it? Are the apostates that Jude writes to unbelievers or believers? It could be either; maybe some of them are believers and some of them are unbelievers. Some would immediately say, Can a believer commit apostasy? Remember apostasy is: "a falling away, a withdrawal or a defection." Can a believer do that? Well let's look at:

Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Yeshua, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; Hebrews 3:1 NASB

"Holy" here is hagios and brethren is adelphos. Would you say this verse is referring to Christians? Now drop down to verse 12:

Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. Hebrews 3:12 NASB

The word "brethren" is adelphos. Who is this warning to? One writer says, "This is not a reference to Christians, it refers to racial brothers, unbelieving Jews." Contextually, this is ridiculous, remember 3:1? "Holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling."

"... that falls away from the living God"—the words "falls away" is the Greek word aphistemi, which means: "to remove, fall away." Can a believer fall away from the living God? Yes! This is not talking about losing eternal life, you can't lose eternal life —it's eternal. It is talking about losing fellowship, discipleship, a close intimate relationship with God. This is where we get the word "apostasy." Apostasy is a believer turning away from the truth.

Could an unbeliever fall away from the living God? Not today, but in the transition period a Jew who refused to believe in Yeshua would be departing from Yahweh, the living God. It is not that they didn't have faith in Yahweh, but they did not yet believe in Yeshua, and to deny the Son is to not have the Father:

Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:23 NASB

Alright, let's look at our text:

For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Yeshua Christ. Jude 1:4 NASB

We could ask the question, "Who are these creepers, and where have they crept in?" We could ask all kinds of questions regarding what is in view here. What exactly is God talking about?

"For certain persons have crept in unnoticed..."—they are called "certain persons" because we don't know specifically who they were. The phrase "crept in unnoticed" is a single word in Greek. The Greek word here is, pareisduno; it is only used here in the New Testament. It's one of those words that doesn't appear anywhere else.

Pareisduno is from "para" (beside), "eis" (among), and "duno" (to settle in). It means: "to settle in alongside quietly, without drawing attention." We see a similar descriptive verb in the parallel passage in 2 Peter:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Peter 2:1 NASB

"Secretly introduce"—is the Greek pareisago. It also is only used here in New Testament. The kindred adjective occurs in Galatians 2:4: "false brethren secretly brought in" (pareisaktos) which relates to someone joining a group with false motives or false pretenses. These creepers secretly creep their way into the Church! The metaphor is of spies or traitors introducing themselves into an enemy's camp.

Pareisduno is used outside the Bible in secular Greek to describe the cunning cleverness of a lawyer who sneaks into the minds of the jury or the judge to corrupt their clear thinking. Barclay on "crept in unaware" writes, "The Greek (pareisduno) is a very expressive word. It is used of the spacious and seductive words of a clever pleader seeping gradually into the minds of a judge and jury; it is used of an outlaw slipping secretly back into the country from which he has been expelled; it is used of the slow and subtle entry of innovations into the life of state, which in the end undermine and break down the ancestral laws. It always indicates a stealthy insinuation of something evil into a society or situation." (Jude 1 - William Barclay's Daily Study Bible)

In Jude's day, itinerant preaching was very common. Itinerant preachers were men who moved about the countryside preaching from town to town. They earned their living from love offerings. And they never settled in any place for long. This pattern made it easy for false teachers to enter a church and teach, since the culture accepted strangers as having virtually equal authority as resident teachers. Maybe these "certain persons" arrived as itinerant preachers and then stayed. But they also could have been members of the church's leadership who had apostatized.

Jude tells us that these "certain persons" are, "those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation"this translation makes us think about predestination. The KJV puts it, "Who were before of old ordained to this condemnation." Predestination was what God did in order to save a people for Himself before the foundation of the world. Before He even created the world, He predestinated and ordained a people for Himself—the elect of God (Ephesians 1:4-5). But this text has nothing to do with predestination. Youngs LT helps us some:

for there did come in unobserved certain men, long ago having been written beforehand to this judgment, impious, the grace of our God perverting to lasciviousness, and our only Master, God, and Lord—Yeshua the Christ—denying, Jude 1:4 YLT

The words "before ordained" or "marked out" come from the Greek prographo, meaning: "to write previously or to write before hand." This same word is used in:

For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4 NASB

Here "was written in earlier times" is prographo. It is used in Galatians 3:1: "Yeshua the Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified?" Here "publicly portrayed" is prographo. And in Ephesians 3:3 Paul says, "...as I wrote before in brief." Here "wrote before" is prographo. In these uses of prographo there is evidently no idea implied of "ordaining, or pre-ordaining," in the sense in which those words are now commonly understood.

Jude is referring to previous writers of Scripture. Isaiah wrote about the damnation of apostates (Isaiah 8, Isaiah 9, Isaiah 47). Jeremiah wrote about the damnation of apostates (Jeremiah 5:13 and 14, verses 30 and 31). Zephaniah 3:1 to 8—the prophets spoke of this judgment.

The days of punishment have come, The days of retribution have come; Let Israel know this! The prophet is a fool, The inspired man is demented, Because of the grossness of your iniquity, And because your hostility is so great. Hosea 9:7 NASB

Wuest feels that "marked out" means: "reference is to the prophecy of Enoch with regard to these false teachers" (Jude 1:14).

It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, Jude 1:14 NASB

Enoch wrote about their coming judgment.

"Marked out"—is in the perfect tense meaning: "it was done in the past and its effects continue to the present." Jude is saying that the Word concerning their destiny was made in the past and still is in full authority and in effect right now. Their doom has been predicted from long ago, from Enoch's time on to Jude and Peter who also wrote about it.

The words "long beforehand" actually means: "former days." The words "to this condemnation" come from the Greek prepositional phrase meaning: "concerning this judgment," or "concerning this condemnation." Condemnation—is the Greek word krima, which is simply the word for judgment. Jude is referring to the judgment of God on apostates.

Jude calls them "Ungodly persons"—this is one word in the Greek; it is asebes. Asebes pertains to violating norms for a proper relation to deity, and in short means: "irreverent (lacking proper respect of God) or impious." In simple terms it is choosing to live as if God did not exist and without regard for Him. Asebes means: "wicked or sinful." This word is used five times in this Epistle; once in verse four, and four times in verse fifteen. This word seems to be technically used for unbelievers:

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Romans 5:6 NASB

"Christ died for the ungodly"—the term is "ungodly," a strong pejorative term as Paul used it. Christ died "for" the ungodly, the word "for" is from the Greek word huper, meaning: "He died in behalf of, instead of, for the sake of the ungodly." Here is the doctrine of substitution—Christ dying on behalf of others. Back in 4:5 Paul said that God "justifies the ungodly."

These "ungodly men" are in the Church, then and now. The teachers in the seminaries that say they're Christian. The teachers in the colleges that say they're Christian. But if you have an ungodly person, a person void of the Spirit of God, all you have is the flesh. It doesn't surprise me at all that thousands and thousands of Catholic priests far more than have even been indicated are conducting themselves in the way they're conducting themselves in such horrific acts of immorality. It doesn't surprise me. They're classic illustrations of people who are utterly and absolutely without God, trying to carry on a deception as if they truly represent God.

Notice what it is that these ungodly men do, "Who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness"—the word "turn" is taken from the Greek word metatithemi; from meta meaning: "change of place or condition"; and tithemi meaning: "to put or place. It, literally meaning: "to put in another place," as used in Hebrews:

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. Hebrews 11:5 NASB

Here the passive sense means: "to be taken or transferred. In the figurative sense metatithemi means: "to effect a change in state or condition and so to alter something, as when the priesthood is changed" (Hebrews 7:12). So they take the grace of God and put in another place.

Licentiousness is the Greek word aselgeia, which originally referred to any excess or lack of restraint, but came to convey the idea of shameless excess and the absence of restraint, especially with sexual excess. Aselgeia was used almost exclusively of especially lewd sexual immorality. It refers to the kind of sexual debauchery and abandonment that characterizes much of modern society and that is often flaunted almost as a badge of distinction! Aselgeia refers to uninhibited sexual indulgence without shame and without concern for what others think or how they may be affected.

What were these certain persons teaching about grace that was changing its place or condition? Historically, I think we have two options: Judiazers or antinomians.

Remember I said that the phrase "crept in unnoticed" is the Greek word pareisduno. It means: "to settle in alongside quietly, without drawing attention." Keeping in mind those who have "crept in unnoticed," look at:

But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Yeshua, in order to bring us into bondage. Galatians 2:3-4 NASB

Those who tried to get Titus circumcised were called "false brethren" by Paul, because they were unwilling to accept Titus as a true brother. They would allow him to be included in the Christian family only if he became a Jew. The basis of unity in the church for them was race rather than grace. Therefore, the Apostle Paul is saying that since they were really leading others into a works-grace type of Gospel, they were giving evidence that they were false brethren.

The Greek word for "spy out" means: "to inspect, view closely," or "in order to spy out and plot against." Rather than upholding the liberty we have in Christ Yeshua to be accepted before God on the basis of God's grace, they required adherence to Jewish customs as the basis of acceptance. They wanted to bring them into bondage. That bondage would be a return to being under the Torah.

These "certain persons" were teaching, "Yes, we are Christians. We are saved by God's grace. Our sins have been placed upon the Lord Yeshua the Christ, but still we have to be circumcised. God said in the book of Genesis of the man-child who was not circumcised that his soul would be cut off (Genesis 17:14)." They would take this and link circumcision as a necessity to salvation. "You must be circumcised," they would say.

This is just like today when many pastors are indicating that the people must do something in order to become saved. "Well, you have to be baptized, or you have to keep the Law." Some say that it is baptism or obedience that brings salvation.

In Acts chapter 15, we get a little more information about these Judaizers, these Jews, who were creeping in unnoticed. This relates to the "certain men crept in unawares" that we read about in Jude 4.

Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." Acts 15:1 NASB

They began to teach confusion and to say, "You have to be circumcised in order to become saved." They did not understand the grace of God. They did not truly understand salvation. God does not save by the works of man. A man can do nothing, no work of any kind, to become justified in the sight of God. God saves according to the work that Christ did on the Cross. Salvation is a free gift.

Notice what Paul tells the believers:

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 NASB

"Keep standing firm"—is from the Greek word steko. It is a military term, which has the idea of being at point in a war, to be stabilized. It was used of a soldier who would not budge from his post. Paul is saying that you should stand your ground in the midst of battle, hold your position while under attack.

Paul is not telling the Galatians to stand fast in holiness, we would expect that. Or to stand fast in righteousness, which we also would expect. But he tells them to stand fast in freedom or liberty. It is liberty that they are to guard and defend. That may seem strange to us, because the Church today seems to think that Christians have too much liberty. Believers, we are to fight for our freedom, we are to defend our liberty in Christ!

You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. Galatians 5:4 NASB

"You have fallen from grace"—what exactly does this mean? Before we can understand that, we need to ask a few questions. Would we agree that this book is addressed to Christians (Galatians 1:6,9; 5:1)? Paul said to them, "if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed." They had received the Gospel, and they were to "keep standing firm" in it.

Does this text clearly say that some of the readers have "fallen from the grace," and that some of them were on the verge of doing so (5:2)? Yes, that is indisputable.

The word "grace," as used in the New Testament, expresses two related meanings: First, it is "Free and unmerited favor shown to guilty sinners who deserve only judgment." Second, it is "God's power that enables us to deal with life's circumstances." The second meaning is encompassed in the first, because God's enabling power is part of His unmerited favor. So, part of God's unmerited favor is the enabling power He gives us. There is a distinction, but they are related.

When we seek God's approval through our own efforts, when we think we must do something to earn God's favor, this is pride. And pride causes us to fall from grace. To seek to be justified or approved of God by our works is the height of pride. And God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. We must understand that pride stands in direct opposition to grace.

Falling from grace means that a believer who reverts to "human effort to earn God's favor" has fallen from a present experience of grace. While our position in the grace of God is secure, our experience of His grace is not.

The word translated you have fallen (ekpipto) means: "to fall (as in withered flowers that fall to the ground)." In this context, it is used figuratively and refers to the loss of one's grip on grace as a principle to live by.

So these false teachers may have been Judiazers trying to turn grace into works. Now you may be saying, "How could they be Judiazers when the text says they were, "Turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness." That sounds more antinomian than legalistic. Well look at:

Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, Galatians 5:19 NASB

Here "sensuality" is the same Greek word translated: "lasciviousness." Paul uses the word "flesh" to mean: "something that is totally human, with no special grace attached." So the flesh is what you do in your own power, in your own strength, what you can do yourself, which is legalism. Legalism is anything that I think I can do in order to make myself more righteous before God. It is human achievement; it's a form of self-righteousness.

Now let me ask you something, "Do legalists have a problem with immorality?" Yes, they do because they are counting on human strength to live for God, and therefore, they fail. How many legalistic preacher have been caught in the sin that they preach against?

These men in Jude are turning the grace of our God into a work of the flesh. God always contrasts grace with works. These men are perverting the grace of God and changing it into a works Gospel. They are changing the Gospel of the Bible into something that is presenting man with a choice or with an option to do some work in order to get right with God.

So these men may have been Judiazers destroying grace with works. Or they may have been antinomian, those who taught the church that they could glorify Christ through their sin. They dismissed the need to observe moral laws of any kind, which is called, "antinomianism."

Today we see people who name the name of Christ, churches and church leaders, who are sinning openly, and encouraging sin in others. These men teach and try to make an argument for why their sin wasn't actually sin.

How many leaders within the Church today would tell you that God wants you to be happy, and therefore, if your spouse makes you unhappy, then it's perfectly alright to divorce for that reason? How many leaders within the Church are now saying that homosexuality is not a sin if it is practiced in a loving, monogamous relationship? And how many are seeking to redefine marriage? They are turning grace into a license to sin.

The church of Ephesus was on guard against false teachers:

'I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; Revelation 2:2 NASB

And we can be sure they also tested the words of those who called themselves apostles against the Tanakh and the teaching of the apostles, similar to what the the Bereans did.

Jude says these false teachers also, "Deny our only Master and Lord, Yeshua the Christ"—the word "deny" means: "to deny, to disown, to renounce, to refuse, to contradict." Deny is from the Greek arneomai, which literally means:" "to say no, to say one does not know about or is in any way related to some person or some thing." The present tense depicts their denial as habitual: They were repeatedly denying, repudiating or disowning Yeshua by words and by deeds. They are like those men Paul describes in:

They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed. Titus 1:16 NASB

They profess (present tense) to know God, but by their deeds they deny (present tense) Him.

Who are they "denying?" Who are they "refusing?" Who are they "contradicting?" "The only master and Lord Yeshua the Christ"—the word for "master" is from the Greek word despotes, meaning: "one who possesses undisputed ownership and absolute, unrestricted authority." So that the Greeks refused the title to any but the gods. The despotes was one who has legal control and authority over persons, such as slaves. This word is used here because the problem in apostasy is the rejection of authority, and despotes refers to one in supreme authority.

The word "Lord" is from the Greek word kurios, meaning: "Lord, sovereign, or deity." The words "Yeshua Christ" refers to the God-Man. Yeshua is His human name and refers to His humanity. Christ is the name of His office or appointment. It means: "the chosen One," and refers to His deity. Yeshua the Christ is undiminished deity and true humanity in one person forever. Jude put this in here because some did not accept the concept of the God-Man.

This last part of Jude's fourth verse is a direct quote of 2Peter 2:1-2:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 2 Peter 2:1-2 NASB

Notice Peter also mentios: "...who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master..."—prepared to receive judgment, following their sensuality.

There is more than one way in which a man can deny Yeshua the Christ. He can deny Him by his life and conduct. He can deny Him by developing false ideas about Him. Many today who claim to be Christian deny the deity of Yeshua.

In his book, A Concise Guide to Today's Religions, Josh McDowell says, "No matter what the particular beliefs of any cult may be, the one common denominator they all possess is a denial of the biblical teaching on the deity of Jesus Christ."

So again Jude gives us a triad, he lists reasons in this verse as to why these creepers are deserving of judgment—they are ungodly, they are licentious, and they deny our only Master and Lord Yeshua the Christ.

Believers, there are creepers today just as there were in Jude's day. We must contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all handed down to the saints. The only thing that will protect us from their false teaching is a good understanding of the Word of God. And the only way we will have a good understanding of God's Word is if we spend time in it. We need to be people of the Book.

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