We are working our way through the little Epistle of Y'hudah. This book was written by the half brother of our Lord Yeshua. Jude is talking about apostates, those who forsake the faith, and in verse 4 he talks about the sin of these apostates and says that the Tanakh has written about the judgment of apostates. Then, keeping with his use of triads, Jude uses three past judgments of God on rebellion to act as severe warnings to anybody who would think about defecting from the Christian faith. Verse 5 talks about the judgment on apostate Israel, verse 6 on apostate angels, and verse 7 on apostate Gentiles.
In verse 5 we saw the judgment of God on the unfaithful Israelites. Think of all they saw: the ten plagues, pillar of cloud and fire, parting of the Red sea, destruction of Pharaoh and his army, and supernatural provision of water and food in the desert. And in spite of all of this, they would not believe God, and so they died in the wilderness.
Jude then moves on to apostate angels. Well if Israel fell in spite of all they knew and saw, think about what the angels fell from. We began last week to look at verse 6, and we talked about "angels." We saw that the term "angel" is derived from the Hebrew word malak and the Greek word angelos, which both mean: "messenger." The translators have translated it as "angel" when they see it as a divine messenger, and as "messenger" when they see it as a human messenger. The use of "malak or angelos" may or may not be referring to some sort of supernatural being; we must determine its meaning from the context. YLT doesn't use the word angel; it translates all uses of malak and angelos as "messenger."
As I said last week, there are some who see "malak and angelos" as always referring to human messengers and never to supernatural beings. To me they are naturalizing the Bible. I see half of the references of malak in the Tanakh as referring to supernatural beings, and I see most of the New Testament references to angelos as supernatural beings. I believe in angels, I believe they are supernatural beings that reside in heaven and are ministering spirits that are used to help the saints and judge the wicked.
In the Tanakh angels are depicted foremost as the servants of the Most High. In Orthodox Judaism they remain preeminently God's ministers. Jewish apocalyptic literature knows between four and nine echelons of angelic authorities. Four levels of hierarchy are found in 1 En. 40:2; T Levi 3:2-7; Jub. 1:27, 29; 2:1, 3; seven levels are stated in 1 En. 81:5; 90:21; T Levi 8:2; Tob 12:15; and nine are listed in the Testament of Adam.
In Jude's second example of apostasy and judgment, Jude mentions sinning messengers. Let's examine verse 6 and see if it helps us determine if these messengers are human or divine:
And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, Jude 1:6 NASB
In the parallel text in 2 Peter we see:
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 2 Peter 2:4 NASB
Peter here clearly tells us that not "keeping their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode" was sin. These angels sinned! So what exactly was their sin?
Jude tells us that they sinned in that they did "not keep their own domain"—
"Keep" is a translation of the Greek word tereo, which means: "to keep watch upon, to guard, to watch over protectively." This refers to watching or guarding something which belongs to you innately.
There is an interesting play on words used in this verse. Because the angels did not keep their proper place, Yahweh has kept them chained up in another place. The same verb "keep" is used in Jude 1:1 to describe believers' security of salvation; we are "kept for Yeshua the Christ."
They did not keep "their own domain"—domain here is the Greek word arche. Vincent's Word Studies says, "The word originally signifies beginning, and so frequently in New Testament, mostly in the Gospels, Acts, Hebrews, Catholic Epistles, and Apocalypse. From this comes a secondary meaning of sovereignty, dominion, magistracy, as being the beginning or first place of power. So mostly by Paul, as principalities (Romans 8:38); rule (1 Corinthians 15:24)."
The Jews regarded the angels as having dominion over earthly creatures; and the angels are often spoken of in the New Testament as arche: Speaking of Christ, Paul writes:
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
"Rule" here is arche. So arche would be appropriate to designate their power, which they forsook. Simply put, they didn't stay where they belonged.
Jude goes on to tell us about their sin by saying that they, "abandoned their proper abode"—Wuest on "proper abode" writes, "Proper is idion, which means: 'one's own private, personal, unique possession.' The verb 'abandoned' is aorist in tense which refers to a once for all act. This was apostasy with a vengeance. The word 'abode' is from the Greek word oiketerion, which means: 'habitation' This word is only used one other time in the New Testament":
For indeed in this house we groan, longing to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, 2 Corinthians 5:2 NASB
Here oiketerion is connected with heaven. Heaven was the abode of the angels.
The angels were created perfectly. They were created good. They were just and they were pure. All the angels were created as "ministering spirits" (Hebrews 1:14), and they all dwelt with God in Heaven. There was no sin in them as God created them. They had this as their first estate; that is, their habitation was in Heaven dwelling in the very presence of God. But they sinned, and they lost their first estate. They lost that habitation, that eternal blessed condition that they would have had with Yahweh had they not sinned.
Adam Clark states, "One thing is certain; the angels who fell must have been in a state of probation, capable of either standing or falling, as Adam was in paradise." That is a very common view, but what is the Scripture to support it?
So what is Jude talking about? What was the sin of these angels? Well, there are basically three views of this. The first view says that this is referring to one unique and special thing we don't know anything about. That view does not fit the context, verse 6 is following along the same lines as verse 5 where God had indicated that He would put them "in remembrance" of how He had saved Israel out of Egypt but later destroyed them. So whatever happened, it had to be something they knew, something that He was reminding them of. We have to assume, then, that it's very likely something that is in the Tanakh. Since the story of the defection of Israel in verse 5 and the story of the defection of Sodom and Gomorrah in verse 7 is in the Scripture, we can assume that story of the angel's sin is in the Scripture also. It was something they were familiar with. So whatever we're dealing with here, we're dealing with something that's in the Tanakh.
A second view is that we're dealing with the original fall of Satan and his angels:
The seventy returned with joy, saying, "Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name." And He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning. Luke 10:17-18 NASB
Another account of this may be:
Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. Revelation 12:3-4 NASB
What is the problem with this view? At the time of the writing, where were those angels Jude talked about? Jude says, "kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day." Peter says, "cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment." If this referred to the fall of Satan and his angels, then what is Paul talking about in Ephesians?:
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12 NASB
In Paul and Jude's day there was a spiritual battle going on with Satan and his demons. And Jude says, "He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day"—kept here is also tereo, and here it is in the perfect tense, which means: "at a point in time they were kept, and that continues to be their condition." Perfect tense describes the permanence of this keeping.
The word tereo is the same word used earlier in the verse of the angels "which kept not." It means: "to guard, to keep watch upon, to keep in custody." In other words, God Himself is "guarding and keeping in custody" these angels He threw into TARTARUS. It then says that they are: "in eternal bonds under darkness"—this literally says, "in everlasting imprisonment under the authority of darkness." We see similar language in 2 Peter 2:
For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 2 Peter 2:4 NASB
"Hell" here is the Greek word tartaroo. Tartaroo was prison of the ancient Greek deities, it was a place of extreme torment.
Jude says God has reserved them for the "judgment of the Great Day"—this refers to the final judgment called "The Great White Throne Judgment" in Revelation 20:
And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. Revelation 20:10-11 NASB
Satan and his demons are not "kept in eternal bonds under darkness" at the time of Jude's writing. So Jude can't be referring to the fall of Satan and his angels. It has to be a very special defection and rebellion among the angels that is recorded in the Tanakh. It had to be something that was so severe that God took the angels that did it and put them in chains; so whatever they did, they wouldn't do again.
The third view, which I believe is the correct view, is that Jude reflects an ancient Jewish and Christian understanding that identifies these fallen angels as the rebellious "sons of God" in Genesis 6:
Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. Genesis 6:1-2 NASB
Jude's nonchalant reference to these rebellious angels suggests that this was well accepted by his readers. Robert Newman has analyzed the history of interpretation of Genesis 6 to show that the supernatural interpretation of the sons of God as being heavenly angelic beings was virtually unanimous in the ancient world until the first century after Christ. ( Robert C. Newman, "The Ancient Exegesis of Genesis 6:2, 4," Grace Theological Journal 5,1  13-36.)
The term "sons of God," which is bene elohim in Hebrew, is only found six times in the Hebrew text: twice in Genesis 6 and three times in Job, and once in Deuteronomy 32:8. It is always used of divine beings, never humans.
"Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have understanding, Who set its measurements? Since you know. Or who stretched the line on it? "On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its cornerstone, When the morning stars sang together And all the sons of God shouted for joy? Job 38:4-7 NASB
Here "morning stars" and "sons of God" are names of divine council members or angels. Some folks see "sons of God" as humans, but how were humans at creation? If "sons of God" is a reference to humans, then you have to have humans rejoicing over creation. Somebody please explain that to me.
This phrase "sons of God" is bene elohim, and I believe that ALL uses of elohim in the Tanakh refer to spiritual beings. Elohim is ONLY used of those in the spirit world, so if they are called elohim, they are not of the physical realm, they are spirit beings. I believe that the key to understanding the text of Genesis 6 is a proper understanding of the term elohim.
So let's look at elohim; it is used 2606 times in the NASB. Elohim is the plural of El, which comes from a root word meaning: "might, strength, power." Elohim is plural, but it is what grammarians would call a morphological plural. Hebrew nouns that end in "im" are plural. But in most cases throughout the Tanakh the meaning is singular. We know this from Hebrew grammar. Elohim is like the English words "deer" or "sheep." How do you know if "deer" is singular or plural? You know by the grammar of the sentence in which it is used: "I shot a deer" would be singular. "I saw a bunch of deer" would be plural. In the very first use of elohim in Genesis 1:1 the verb bara identifies the subject of the verb as masculine singular.
Many people think that elohim as another name of Yahweh, but elohim is used in Scripture for many others beside Yahweh. But it is only used of those in the spirit world. Yahweh is called Elohim over 2,000 times as in Gen 1:1. We know that Yahweh is called Elohim, but He is not the only one.
Elohim is used of the gods of foreign nations:
because they have forsaken Me, and have worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of Moab, and Milcom the god of the sons of Ammon; and they have not walked in My ways, doing what is right in My sight and observing My statutes and My ordinances, as his father David did. 1 Kings 11:33 NASB
"Goddess and god" in this text are elohim. For those of you who think that Yahweh is the only God, look with me at:
Then God spoke all these words, saying, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before Me. Exodus 20:1-3 NASB
Verse two in the Hebrew is, "onokiy Yahweh eloheka." Yahweh is saying that He alone is Israel's elohim. Other nations had their elohim, but Yahweh was the elohim of Israel.
When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. Deuteronomy 32:8 ESV
Chapter 10 of Genesis, the table of nations, is the backdrop for Moses' statement here that Yahweh is responsible for the creation and placement of the nations. Mankind was divided into 70 nations at the Tower of Babel for the "sons of God." It is important to note that Israel is not listed in the index of the 70 nations found in Genesis 10. The nation of Israel did not yet exist at that time.
What happens at Babel is man's disobedience, which causes Yahweh to divide them up and give them to the lesser gods. They were to worship the lesser gods because Yahweh was done with them. Man continued to reject Yahweh and serve other gods, so Yahweh gave them up. What happens then in chapter 12? Yahweh calls Abraham and starts over with Israel as His people. Yahweh starts a new family. He has turned over the nations to the lesser gods, who, in fact, work for Him. They are all under His control, and He will some day call the nations back. But for now He is only Israel's God.
Back to the subject of how elohim is used in the Scriptures. The angelic watchers/divine counsel are called elohim:
God takes His stand in His own congregation; He judges in the midst of the rulers. Psalms 82:1 NASB
Here "God" and "rulers" are both elohim; this is speaking of the divine counsel, or the watcher:
I said, "You are gods, And all of you are sons of the Most High. Psalms 82:6 NASB
Here "gods" is elohim. Yahweh said, "You are gods." But notice the next verse:
"Nevertheless you will die like men And fall like any one of the princes." Psalms 82:7 NASB
If these elohim were men, why would Yahweh say, "You will die like men"? Yahweh is saying here that He will judge the disobedient watchers.
Elohim is also used of demons:
"They sacrificed to demons who were not God, To gods whom they have not known, New gods who came lately, Whom your fathers did not dread. Deuteronomy 32:17 NASB
Here "God" is elohim, and "gods" is elohim. So demons are also called elohim.
Here's one that may surprise you: Speaking of Samuel, the witch of Endor said:
The king said to her, "Do not be afraid; but what do you see?" And the woman said to Saul, "I see a divine being coming up out of the earth." 1 Samuel 28:13 NASB
"Divine being" here is elohim. All uses of "elohim" in the Tanakh refer to spiritual beings. Michael S. Heiser says, "Elohim is a place of residence term." Meaning that elohim is only used of those in the spirit world. For those of you who don't see the "sons of God" in Genesis 6 as spirit beings, you must prove from the Tanakh that "elohim" is used of men. Good luck! If you can't find a human use of elohim, then you must admit that the "sons of God" in Genesis 6 are spirit beings, angels, who descended and had sex with human women producing a hybrid half human half god being.
In attempting to find a human use of elohim, several people have brought up to me this verse in Exodus:
"Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him. Exodus 4:16 NASB
Here they say, "See, Moses is called elohim." Is he? Let's look at:
'I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. Deuteronomy 18:18 NASB
Biblically defined, a prophet is the mouth of God, he is someone who speaks for God:
Then the LORD said to Moses, "See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. Exodus 7:1 NASB
Aaron was to speak for Moses, who was as God to Pharaoh. Aaron was Moses' mouth, he spoke for Moses. So a prophet is someone who speaks for God. So Aaron was like a prophet, and Moses was like a god. If Moses is an elohim, then Aaron is a mouth.
Another verse that is used to question that elohim is used only to refer to those in the spirit world is:
"If a man gives his neighbor money or goods to keep for him and it is stolen from the man's house, if the thief is caught, he shall pay double. "If the thief is not caught, then the owner of the house shall appear before the judges, to determine whether he laid his hands on his neighbor's property. Exodus 22:7-8 NASB
Here the word "judges" is elohim. But the translators wrongly translated it "judges." How are human judges to determine if the man stole the money? The Faithlife Study Bible states:
The plural in this passage (and in 21:6) may indicate that "gods" refers to the human judges of Israel (chap. 18), but this is not supported by chap. 18 (where the judges are never referred to as elohim). All the uses of elohim in chap. 18 refer to the God of Israel. (Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Ex 22:8). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.)
The English Standard Version translates it as "God" and not judges.
"For every breach of trust, whether it is for ox, for donkey, for sheep, for clothing, or for any lost thing about which one says, 'This is it,' the case of both parties shall come before the judges; he whom the judges condemn shall pay double to his neighbor. Exodus 22:9 NASB
Again The Faithlife study Bible states:
The idea of God condemning the guilty party recalls other contexts where God's will was determined through casting lots (1 Sam 10:16-26; 14:42; Josh 7:14). Though the method of discerning God's will is not outlined here, God often makes His will known during a decision-making process. Since the scenario here is very similar to the one that follows (v. 10), God's will may have been determined by an oath taken in the name of Yahweh (on the presumption that God would reveal and condemn the one who took His name in vain). (Barry, J. D., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Mangum, D., & Whitehead, M. M. (2012). Faithlife Study Bible (Ex 22:9). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.)
"If a man gives his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep for him, and it dies or is hurt or is driven away while no one is looking, an oath before the LORD shall be made by the two of them that he has not laid hands on his neighbor's property; and its owner shall accept it, and he shall not make restitution. Exodus 22:10-11 NASB
So for them to take an oath was to come before Yahweh. So elohim is not used of humans unless they are in the spirit world. It is a place of residence locator.
From Peter's second letter, we learn that the sin of these angels was associated with the time of Noah, which leads us to chapter 6 of Genesis. Jude, himself, connects the sin of the rebellious angels to that of Sodom and Gomorrah, showing that it is a sexual sin:
just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. Jude 1:7 NASB
"These indulged in gross immorality"—does "these" refer to the cities Sodom and Gomorrah, or does it refer to the angels? If it goes back to the angels he is linking their sin to a sexual sin, and that is Genesis 6. Grammar tells us that it is the angels, due to gender and number agreement. Pronouns need to agree with gender number and case with their antecedent. The word "these" is from the Greek toutois, which is masculine plural, and "angels" is masculine plural, but "cities" is feminine and does not agree grammatically. So it is saying that these angels indulged in gross immorality.
Both Peter and Jude link the sin of those fallen angels with the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah, which is described as indulging in "gross immorality" by pursuing "strange flesh." The Greek words for "gross immorality" is ekporneuo and indicates a heightened form of sexual immorality, and the Greek words for "strange flesh" is heteros sarx, which indicates the pursuit of something different from one's natural flesh.
This reference to "strange flesh" in Jude cannot be a reference to homosexuality for several reasons. First, homosexuality is not the pursuit of hetero or different gender, it is the pursuit of homo or same gender. Secondly, homosexual behavior involves the same human male flesh, not different flesh as it would with angels. Thirdly, when the New Testament refers to the unnaturalness of homosexual acts it uses the Greek phrase, para physin, which means: "contrary to nature"(Romans 1:26). The Bible condemns homosexuality as sin, but the sin of Sodom that is referenced by Jude and Peter is not homosexuality, but interspecies sexuality between angels and humans. So the New Testament Commentary on Genesis 6:1-4 affirms the supernatural view of the sons of God as having sex with humans.
Similar to the way that angels appeared with Abraham and ate with him in his tent,
somehow the angelic realm has the capacity to take on the appearance of flesh and to interact with man in a physical way.
Jude doesn't say much about the angel's sin because he is just reminding them of what they already knew about this. He's assuming that these people already knew about the angels that apostatized, the angels that rebelled, the angels that defected. They had heard it before. How did they know? They knew Genesis 6, and they knew the Book of Enoch, the Book of the Watchers. Much commentary, ancient and modern, has linked the sins of the angels in Jude and 2 Peter with Gen 6:1-4 and the "sons of God."
Barclay, talking about angels, says, "The Jews had a very highly developed doctrine of angels, the servants of God. In particular the Jews believed that every nation had its presiding angel. In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Hebrew Scriptures, Deuteronomy 32:8 reads, "When the Most High divided the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God." That is to say, to each nation there was an angel. The Jews believed in a fall of the angels and much is said about this in the Book of Enoch, which is so often behind the thought of Jude. (Jude - Barclay's Daily Study Bible)
Thomas Schreiner, commenting on Jude 6, write: "We can be almost certain that Jude referred here to the sin of the angels in Gen 6:1-4. The sin the angels committed, according to the Jewish tradition, was sexual intercourse with the daughters of men. Apparently Jude also understood Gen 6:1-4 in the same way. Three reasons support such a conclusion. First, Jewish tradition consistently understood Gen 6:1-4 in this way (1 En. 6-19; 21; 86-88; 106:13-17; Jub. 4:15, 22; 5:1; CD 2:17-19; 1QapGen 2:1; T. Reu. 5:6-7; T. Naph. 3:5; 2 Bar. 56:10-14; cf.Josephus, Ant. 1.73). Second, we know from Jude 1:14-15 that Jude was influenced by 1 Enoch, and 1 Enoch goes into great detail about the sin and punishment of these angels. Jude almost certainly would need to explain that he departed from the customary Jewish view of Gen 6:1-4 if he disagreed with Jewish tradition. The brevity of the verse supports the idea that he concurred with Jewish tradition. Third, the text forges a parallel between the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah and the angels ("In a similar way," Jude 1:7; hos and ton homoion tropon toutois). The implication is that sexual sin was prominent in both instances. (The New American Commentary- 1, 2 Peter, Jude)
Jude draws freely from language and imagery of Enoch. The verbal parallels alone in verse 6 are obvious: "binding and darkness" (cf. 1 En. 10:4); "the great day" (cf. 1 En. 10:6); "abandoning the high heaven" (cf. 1 En. 12:4); reservation in "chains" (cf. 54:5).
And Kenneth Wuest writes, "Arche is used in the Book of Enoch 12:4 of the watchers (angels) who have abandoned the high heaven and the holy eternal place and defiled themselves with women."
The non-canonical book of 1 Enoch has much to say about these fallen watchers and their sin of cohabitation and their judgment:
1 Enoch 6:1: And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto 2 them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men 3 and beget us children.'
So in Jude 6 it says that angels are spirit beings who came to earth and mated with human women and produced a hybrid offspring which Yahweh destroyed in the flood. Yahweh judged those angels and locked them up until the judgment of AD 70 where He destroyed them.
When you think about the fall of Israel and the great privilege they had with Yahweh leading them, and then they turned from Him and were destroyed in the wilderness—what a great fall! But consider the angels, fellow-shipping around the throne of Yahweh, serving Him and His children, and then to fall from that. What an incredible fall! And remember, believer, these are examples of Yahweh's judgment on apostasy.
|Continue the Series|