Pastor David B. Curtis

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Waiting for Eternal Life

Jude 21b-23

Delivered 11/01/15

We are studying the little book of Jude that deals with the subject of apostasy. Apostasy is a turning away from the faith. Jude deals with apostates down through verse 16, and then in verse 17 we see a shift, instead of "these men" it is:

But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Yeshua the Christ, that they were saying to you, "In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts." Jude 1:17-18 NASB

Jude says you must remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles, who said the apostates would come. We have to expect that there will be false teachers who attach themselves to Christian institutions, Christian ministries, Christian schools, colleges, seminaries, Christian denominations, and from within reek havoc and cause division.

Then in verse 20, again addressing believers, Jude tells us how to avoid apostasy and stay strong in the faith:

But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, Jude 1:20 NASB

"Building yourselves up on your most holy faith," simply means: "being edified, built up, by the Word." "Our most holy faith" is that sound doctrine, that truth revealed in Scripture. Build yourself up on that, grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Yeshua the Christ.

And secondly, he says, "praying in the Holy Spirit." That means: "communing constantly with the Spirit of God, going before God in the power and the will of the Spirit to demonstrate your dependence on God and to cry out and to call out for His protection, His grace, His insight, His power."

keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Yeshua the Christ to eternal life. Jude 1:21 NASB

We saw in our study last week that keeping yourselves in the love of God is done by walking in obedience to the Law of Christ, which is the law of love.

In Jude 1:20-21 there are three verbal participles (building, praying, waiting) and most commentators feel these modify the command, "to keep." In other words, Jude instructs them in three ways they are to keep themselves in the love of God—by building themselves up on their most holy faith (growing in sound doctrine) and by praying in the Holy Spirit (persevering in prayer) and waiting for the Lord's appearing. I believe that they all apply to us except of the waiting for the Lord's Second Coming.

Jude tells his first century audience that they are to be, "Waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Yeshua the Christ to eternal life"—most all commentators apply this exhortation to believers today. They say that "we" are to be waiting anxiously. But have you ever heard a sermon by anyone saying that we are to be waiting for eternal life?

"Waiting anxiously"—this is the Greek verb prosdechomai, which means: "to wait with great expectancy." Prosdechomai is used of things future, in the sense of expecting and at the same time accepting. Earnestly expecting is the idea. Prosdechomai is used of the Jews who were looking for the promised Messiah at the time of His first coming:

And there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon; and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel; and the Holy Spirit was upon him. Luke 2:25 NASB

"Looking" here is prosdechomai. The present tense pictures this as one's habitual practice! Literally living your whole life eager for the Lord to come.

"The mercy of our Lord Yeshua the Christ"—he is talking about the Second Coming of Christ here, and he calls it "mercy." Mercy is usually used of Yahweh, and here it is used of Christ who is Yahweh.

Yahweh is a merciful God; He is generous and compassionate and merciful. The fact that we can even talk about any kind of salvation plan at all shows that God is merciful. But the mercy that he is talking about here is mercy that comes in the future at the Coming of the Lord Yeshua the Christ when the divine promises reach their culmination in the Lord's return.

It is Yahweh's mercy, "to eternal life"—they are waiting anxiously for this eternal life, which means it was future to them.

One commentator writes, "It means this: 'looking earnestly, earnestly expecting the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.' Don't let any cold, calculated theologian or preacher throw cold water on the embers of the fire of looking for the Lord Jesus. Looking for Him! Waking every day and thinking, 'Perhaps today, Lord?'" So for thousands of years believers have waited and are still waiting.

Another commentator explains this by saying, "God's mercy will also be found in the completion of His salvation towards us when we receive our new resurrected body." So he sees the receiving of eternal life as getting a "new resurrected body."

Another commentator writes, "It is very important to note that Jude is speaking to believers here. Therefore, he is not referring to salvation when he uses the words 'eternal life.' Eternal life is given to every believer as of the moment of salvation. So when Jude uses the words 'eternal life' here in vs 21 he is referring to special blessings and rewards set aside for those believers who 'kept themselves in the love of God.'"

Another commentator writes, "Through faith in Jesus Christ believers already possess eternal life (Jn 3:14-16, 36; 1Jn 5:11-12), but 'unto eternal life' looks to the final manifestation of that life, consummating in final and complete conformity to the image of our Lord (1John 3:2; Ro 8:29)."

Well which is it? Did these first century believers have eternal life or were they waiting for it? When does the Bible say eternal life came?:

but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. Mark 10:30 NASB

I want you to notice the last phrase in this verse: "And in the age to come, eternal life" Luke uses these same words:

who shall not receive many times as much at this time and in the age to come, eternal life." Luke 18:30 NASB

What does Yeshua mean when He says they will receive "eternal life" in the age to come? Commenting on "and in the age to come eternal life" Swete says, "The age which is to follow the Parousia." So is he saying that no one has eternal life until the Second Coming of Christ? Sounds like it.

Commenting on "and in the age to come eternal life" Wuest Word Studies says, "The authorities are silent on all this, and the present writer confesses that he is at a loss to suggest an interpretation. The best he can do is offer the usage of the Greek words in question."

As is obvious, this phrase is troubling to many. To understand what Yeshua is saying we need to understand that all through the New Testament we see two ages in contrast: "This age," and the "age to come." We see it in:

but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. Mark 10:30 NASB

We see this same contrast in:

"And whoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age, or in the age to come. Matthew 12:32 NASB

The word "come" at the end of the verse is the Greek word mello, which means: "about to be." We could translate this: "the age about to come." About to come for who? For us? No, for the original audience, which was those in the first century:

far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come. Ephesians 1:21 NASB

Here again, we see the two ages. So, the New Testament speaks of two ages, "this age," and "the age to come." The understanding of these two ages and when they changed is fundamental to interpreting the Bible and understanding when eternal life is received.

The New Testament writers lived in the age that they called "this age." To the New Testament writers, "the age to come" was future, but it was very near because "this age," the age they lived in, was about to end.

Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 1 Corinthians 2:6-8 NASB

Who are these rulers? Most would say they are the Jewish rulers. And that is possible, but I think this is a reference to the watchers, the spiritual rulers, the anti Yahweh forces. In a Greek translation of Daniel, a text many scholars consider even older than the Septuagint currently in use, the prince of Persia and Israel's prince, Michael, are both described with the Greek word archon. That is the term Paul uses here for "rulers."

Paul says that had "the rulers of this age" known what God's plan of redemption was—that the messiah must die to accomplish salvation—they "would not have crucified the Lord of glory." They would not have crucified Him because they wanted to thwart the plan of redemption.

The wisdom and rulers of "this age" were coming to nothing, because the age was passing away. He is speaking of the spiritual archon, which were about to be judged at the end of the Old Covenant system. These rulers would shortly have no realm in which to rule, because "this age" was about to end.

Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. 1 Corinthians 10:11 NASB

Paul said very plainly that the end of the ages was coming upon them, the first century saints. "This age," along with its wisdom and rulers, was about to end.

For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you 1 Peter 1:20 NASB

Yeshua came during the "last times" of the "this age," that was the Old Covenant age, the Jewish age. He came to rescue us from the "present evil age":

who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, Galatians 1:4 NASB

That "evil age" came to an end with the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. So, the New Testament writers lived in what the Bible calls "this present evil age." "This age" of the Bible is the age of the Old Covenant that was about to pass away in the first century. It should be clear to you that "this age" is not the Christian age in which we live. In the first century, the age of the Old Covenant was fading away and would end completely when theTtemple was destroyed in A.D. 70.

When He said, "A new covenant," He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear. Hebrews 8:13 NASB

The book of Hebrews was written at around A.D.64-67. At this time, the Old Covenant was still in effect, but it was ready to pass away. It passed away in A.D. 70 in the destruction of Jerusalem. The "this age" of the Bible is now ancient history.

but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life. Mark 10:30 NASB

If eternal life was a condition of the "age to come," then does this mean that the New Testament saints who lived in "this age" did not yet have eternal life? Or we could ask the question this way: When did believers receive eternal life? To answer that question, we must know what "eternal life" is. But first we need to understand that prior to Yeshua's messianic work, man did not go to Heaven. When men died they went to a holding place of the dead and waited for the atoning work of Christ and the resurrection from the dead. In the Tanakh, the Hebrew word for where they were prior to the resurrection is Sheol. In the New Testament, the Greek word is Hades.

To understand eternal life, we need to understand death, and to do that, we need to go back to the book of beginnings, Genesis. In the book of Genesis, we see what death is:

Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; 17 but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die." Genesis 2:15-17 NASB

God warned Adam, regarding the fruit from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, "The day that you eat of it, you shall surely die." Adam disobeyed God and ate of the tree. Did Adam die that day? Not physically! Adam lived at least 800 years beyond the day he ate the fruit. But, God said he would die the day he ate, and we know that God cannot lie. Adam did not die physically that day, but he did die spiritually. He died spiritually the moment he disobeyed. Spiritual death is separation from God:

Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short That it cannot save; Neither is His ear so dull That it cannot hear. 2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear. Isaiah 59:1-2 NASB

Because of his sin, man was separated from God. He was dead in trespasses and sins. The focus of God's plan of redemption is to restore through Yeshua what man had lost in Adam:

For since by a man came death, (spiritual death) by a man also came the resurrection of the dead (eternal life). 1 Corinthians 15:21 NASB

Because of Adam's sin, we are all born dead, separated from God. But through Yeshua came the resurrection from the dead. Yeshua came to redeem man from death, to resurrect man back into the presence of God, to give him eternal life. The Bible is God's Book about His plan to restore the spiritual union of His creation. Resurrection is not about bringing physical bodies out of the graves, it is about restoring man into the presence of God.

To be taken out of Sheol and brought into the presence of the Lord is what the Bible calls "the resurrection," which is eternal life. This resurrection that brings eternal life happened at the end of the Old Covenant Age:

Martha said to Him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day." John 11:24 NASB

This was the "last day" of "this age," "the age to come" has no last days. So, the resurrection was to happen at the end of the Old Covenant Age when the Temple was destroyed, just as Daniel said it would:

"And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2 NASB

When was Daniel told that this resurrection would happen?:

And I heard the man dressed in linen, who was above the waters of the river, as he raised his right hand and his left toward heaven, and swore by Him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time; and as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed. Daniel 12:7 NASB

Daniel was told, "as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people [which was the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70] all these events [including the resurrection] will be completed."

So, the resurrection was to happen at the end of the Jewish Age, the Old Covenant Age. We know that this happened in A.D. 70 with the destruction of the Jewish Temple. To be resurrected was to be given "eternal life" and to be in the presence of God.

We must understand that those saints who lived in the transition time did not have salvation, justification, or eternal life in its consummated form. Salvation was not a completed event in the lives of the first century believers, it was their hope, they looked forward to its soon arrival:

And this do, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12 The night is almost gone, and the day is at hand. Let us therefore lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Romans 13:11-12 NASB

He equates their salvation with the "day" which was at hand, referring to the Day of the Lord. The completion of redemptive history was at hand, and with it would come salvation.

Peter also states that their salvation was not yet complete:

who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 1 Peter 1:5 NASB

Salvation was ready to be revealed, when? In the last time, which would happen at the resurrection of the dead at the end of the age. So, the resurrection was to happen at the end of the Jewish Age, the Old Covenant Age. We know that this happened in A.D. 70 with the destruction of the Jewish Temple. To be resurrected was to be given eternal life and to be in the presence of God.

To those saints living prior to the end of the age "eternal life" was not a present possession, but a hope:

that being justified by His grace we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. Titus 3:7 NASB

They had the hope of eternal life, but they did not have it as a present possession. Eternal life was something that was to come to them at the Second Coming, in the "age to come."

We must understand that those saints who lived in the transition time did not have salvation, justification, or eternal life in its consummated form. This is why Jude says his readers are to be, "waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Yeshua the Christ to eternal life". It was not until the "age to come" that the saints received eternal life. Since we live in what the Bible calls the "age to come," we have eternal life at the moment we trust Christ for it. So Jude's instruction to be waiting for the Lord's Coming does not apply to us, but we are to be building ourselves up in the faith and be constantly in prayer depending upon Yahweh for all we do. As we do these we will keep ourselves in the love of God.

Now in verses 22-23 Jude tells us how to deal with those who are getting caught up in apostasy. What does Yahweh say ought to be our reaction to apostasy and those that follow it? Should we be like Elijah and call down fire from God, from heaven, to devour them? No, we are to show mercy.

Commenting on verses 22-23 S.L. Johnson writes, "The next two verses probably are as difficult textually, that is to ascertain the true text as any place in the New Testament. The difference in the various versions, and all of them differ and fundamentally it's because texture critics are just like you and me. They differ among themselves, even evangelical textural critics. And they are not sure how, in the great mass of manuscript material, to be sure of the precise text at this point, but as I say, it has no doctrinal significance that I know of."

The King James Version, and the New King James Version, have two categories of people in verses 22-23. But the great deal of other versions, and other manuscripts, deal with three groups, not two.

So I see three "spiritually deficient" groups identified in Jude 22-23, he talks about "some...others...some." these three groups seem to describe a progressively greater degree of involvement with the apostates.

And have mercy on some, who are doubting; Jude 1:22 NASB

The"and" (kai) lays these duties upon the same people who are building themselves up on their most holy faith.

We are to, "Have mercy on some"—the word mercy here is eleeo, and means:

"to feel sympathy with the misery of another, and it is sympathy which manifests itself in action, not in words." Eleeo describes the general sense of one who has compassion on one in need. It indicates being moved to pity and compassion by tragedy and includes the fear that this could happen to me. Have mercy is a present imperative, a command calling for the mercy to be carried out habitually, daily, as their lifestyle.

As Christians we have received mercy, so we should, of all people, be willing to "have mercy" on others who are in need. So who are we to show mercy to? The NASB says, "doubters," but if you look at verse 9 it says, "But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil" the word "disputed" is the same Greek word as in our text. It is the word diakrino. So Michael didn't "doubt" with the devil,he "disputed" with him. They argued over the body of Moses. Notice how Luke uses this word in Acts:

And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him, Acts 11:2 NASB

"Took issue" here is the word diakrino. This is the same sense, they argued with them.

The Complete Jewish Bible translated it "disputing":

Rebuke some who are disputing; Jude 1:22 CJB

Instead of saying, "have mercy on some" they translated it "rebuke some." As Johnson said, these verses are difficult. So this verse could be saying, "Rebuke the disputers." There seems to be a vast difference between showing mercy and rebuking, but wouldn't it be mercy to rebuke someone who was falling into apostasy?

If we see that someone is falling into apostasy we are to "rebuke" them, don't bury it over, don't forget about it; and in the spirit of the age of tolerance in which we live say, 'Live and let live.' But it literally means: "Convict them while you dispute with them"——they can only be rebuked, and we ought to pray that God will change them.

Let me just say here that you can only rebuke an argumentative disputer if you know the Word of God. That is why Jude tells us, "build yourselves up in your most holy faith."

There are people in the Church that are being confused by the false teachers that are there, that are being confused by the heresies and the error and the false doctrine that's being taught. We must point out when wrong is wrong, and it may cause controversy, but it is necessary to be faithful to God.

The meaning favored by most modern translations (NAS, ESV, NIV, et al) is that these were individuals who were doubting. But it seems strange to me that Jude would use the same word in two different ways.

How did Paul deal with those who were going into apostasy? In Galatians chapter 1 he says to them:

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; Galatians 1:6 NASB

This sounds like a rebuke, he is in effect saying, "I can't believe how fast you've defected."

However we take verse 22, it is clear that we are to reach out to those caught up in apostasy. Whether they are doubting or disputing we are to try to correct them with the truth. Jude goes on to deal with two more groups:

save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. Jude 1:23 NASB

The second group is, "save others, snatching them out of the fire"They are seriously endangered, they are in the fire, and we have to go actively and snatch them out of the fire! The word "save" is the present active imperative of the Greek verb sozo, meaning: "to deliver." This refers to delivering them from their apostasy. We are to do

whatever we can to save them from the penalty they will suffer for experiencing a shipwrecked faith.

"Snatching them out of the fire"—this phrase is a translation of the present active participle of the verb harpazo, meaning: "to seize quickly, to take away by force, to snatch away quickly." This refers to "snatching them away" from the fire before they get burned. The fire refers to divine judgment or discipline, depending if the individual is a believer in Yeshua or not.

This imagery comes from the Tanakh, Yahweh snatching Israel out of the flames of destruction:

"I overthrew you, as God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, And you were like a firebrand snatched from a blaze; Yet you have not returned to Me," declares the LORD. Amos 4:11 NASB

Yahweh in effect says this to Israel "You would have been consumed long ago, but I snatched you out of the fire." We see this same idea in Zechariah chapter 3:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, Satan! Indeed, the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?" Zechariah 3:1-2 NASB

Here Joshua has been plucked as a brand from Babylon, which is burning down with the judgement of God's fire, but this man, this believer in God, has been plucked out.

This is the same idea that we see in James:

My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins. James 5:19-20 NASB

We are to snatch them from the destruction that sin brings.

In the end of verse 23, we have group three, "and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh"—this group has moved so far from "the faith" that they are even dangerous to the faithful. This group needs to be approached with great caution, with fear.

The word "polluted" here is spiloo, which means: "stained, defiled, contaminated or soiled," and is found only here and in James 3:6. The perfect tense describes the lasting effect of the pollution on the garment. The garment is permanently stained or defiled by sin. By "the garment spotted by the flesh" there may be an allusion to a garment worn by one who had had the plague, or some offensive disease which might be communicated to others by touching even the clothing which they had worn.

Jude is advising extreme caution here as Paul does in:

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Galatians 6:1 NASB

The strong believers are to try to help, but they are to use caution.

Believers, falling into any of these three groups can be prevented in we would be building ourselves up on the most holy faith and praying in the Spirit. As we do these things we will keep ourselves in the love of God.

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