Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. Jude 1:3 NASB
Jude is appealing to believers to contend for the faith against apostasy. And we must realize that apostasy has always been present. It was present in heaven in the very throne room of God when some of the watchers apostatized. It was present in the Garden of Eden, Yahweh's dwelling place when Adam and Eve apostatized. It was present in Israel after God's greatest deliverance. Why would we expect the Church would somehow escape such defection?
In verse 4 Jude says, "For certain people have crept in unnoticed"—these "certain people" are the apostates, and they have crept into the church. These apostates are identified in verse 8,10 and 12 as "these men." In verse 11, he refers to them as "They." And then verses 14 and 16 he calls them, "These." And then we have an abrupt change in verse 17, "But you...":
But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Yeshua the Christ, Jude 1:17 NASB
"But" is a conjunction of contrast. In contrast to apostates, "you!" Jude uses this term of contrast as he "changes direction," shifting the focus from the denunciation of the apostates to loving exhortations to Yahweh's beloved saints.
The word "beloved" is the Greek word agapetos. It is used sixty times in the New Testament—the first nine times by God to Christ, His beloved Son:
Then a cloud formed, overshadowing them, and a voice came out of the cloud, "This is My beloved Son, listen to Him!" Mark 9:7 NASB
The other 51 uses are ONLY of believers. When we believe in Yeshua the Christ, we enter into union with Him:
to the praise of the glory of His grace, in which He did make us accepted in the beloved, Ephesians 1:6 YLT
The term "beloved" was originally applied to Yeshua, and now it is applied to all believers in Yeshua because we are all in Him, and we share everything that He possesses, even the love of Yahweh the Father.
"Ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Yeshua the Christ"—the word "remember" is the first of five verbal imperatives that Jude gives in verses 17-23. These imperatives are to challenge his readers to contend earnestly for the faith.
The word "remember" is from the Greek word mimnesko, which means: "to bring to mind or think of again." It means: "to keep in mind for attention or consideration." Most of the New Testament uses convey this sense of recalling information from memory. One of the best ways to recall to mind truth is to continually be reading the Bible.
Jude has dealt with admonitions from the Tanakh; the passages that have to do with Israel, with Cain, with Balaam, with Korah. And he has also dealt with the admonition that is contained in one of the books with which most of us are not very familiar, the pseudepigraphal text of 1 Enoch from which he has quoted, but now he turns to remind his readers of the apostolic warnings.
Rather than listen to the grumbling, complaining, and arrogant speech of the false teachers, Jude asks the church to remember the words of the apostles.
The word "apostles" is the Greek word apostolos, meaning: "one sent, a messenger, an agent, an apostle." This is a technical word in the New Testament and does not refer to just anyone who is sent. This word was used with reference to the 12 apostles whom God used to lay the foundation for the Church Age. There are no apostles today. The New Testament definition of an apostle of the Lord Yeshua was one who had seen the risen Messiah (Acts 1:21-22, 1Cor. 9:1) and was appointed by Him to carry the Gospel of faith in every community to which His master led him. He was Christ's ambassador and spoke with His authority.
The apostles repeatedly warned of false teachers infiltrating the church and opposing the Gospel. They were following their master Yeshua who Himself warned of apostates:
"Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Matthew 7:15 NASB
"Beware is from the Greek prosecho, which is in the present imperative, meaning: "it is a command to never let one's guard down," implying the Church is continually at risk of these apostates creeping in.
Sheep's clothing is not talking about a wolf with a sheepskin over him so he looks like a sheep. We have this image from the cartoons. When the shepherd watched the flocks on the hillside, his garment was a sheepskin, worn with the skin outside and the fleece inside. This sheepskin mantle became the uniform of the prophets, just as the Greek philosophers had worn the philosopher's robe. It was by that mantle that the prophet could be distinguished from other men. But sometimes that clothing was worn by those who had no right to wear it. There were those who wore the prophet's clothing that were not prophets of God, they were false prophets.
The apostles continually warned the believers against apostasy. Paul warned the Ephesian elders:
"Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. "I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. "Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears. Acts 20:28-31 NASB
"From among your own selves men will arise"—it is an "inside job" just as Jude says, "crept in unnoticed." "Speaking" is present tense, continually speaking! "Perverse" is diastrepho, meaning: "corrupted, distorted, crooked things." "To draw away" is apospao, meaning: "lure away, attract away" the disciples after them. This is the same language that Jude uses.
1 Thessalonians warns about those who come with flattering speech on a pretext of truth. And in 2 Thessalonians we are warned that there is coming a mystery of lawlessness which is already at work.
But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 1 Timothy 4:1 NASB
To "fall away" here means: "to apostatize."
O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you, avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called "knowledge"— which some have professed and thus gone astray from the faith. Grace be with you. 1 Timothy 6:20-21 NASB
Peter also warned of false teachers:
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
Jude is saying that all the apostles have been telling them this, it should be to them or us no surprise. They are to remember what the apostles had spoken.
Before we leave this verse, I want you to see something here. If you can remember back to verse 1 of Jude:
Jude, a bond-servant of Yeshua the Christ, and brother of James, To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Yeshua the Christ: Jude 1:1 NASB
There are several men named Jude or Judas or Judah in the New Testament. Two of them are apostles. There is Judas Iscariot and Judas not Iscariot. In Luke 6, in a list of the apostles, it says:
Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor. Luke 6:16 NASB
The KJV has "brother" instead of "son." This caused some to conclude that the Jude who wrote this Epistle was the Apostle Jude or Judas. The problem is that Jude is not including himself in this statement:
But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Yeshua the Christ, Jude 1:17 NASB
With that statement, he is not included in the apostles. Notice what Peter says:
to be mindful of the sayings said before by the holy prophets, and of the command of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour, 2 Peter 3:2 YLT
Here we have very similar language to the verse in Jude, yet Peter makes a point of including himself in this statement about the apostles—he is one of the apostles, but Jude is not. So this helps support my conclusion from verse 1 that the Jude who wrote this Epistle is the half-brother of our Lord Yeshua.
that they were saying to you, "In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts." Jude 1:18 NASB
"That they were saying to you"—is an imperfect tense verb, meaning: "many of them, the apostles, on many occasions were saying."
"In the last time there will be mockers"—mockers is from the Greek empaiktes, which describes those who make fun of another. They scorn and scoff. They treat with contempt and ridicule things of vital importance. Jude uses the word "mocker." Peter also uses the word "mocker" in:
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 2 Peter 3:3 NASB
The Greek word for "mocker" is only in those two verses in the New Testament, a clear indication here that Jude is quoting Peter. Since Peter is an apostle and Jude is not, that's one of the reasons some conclude that Peter wrote his second Epistle before Jude. Jude is quoting this from Peter, calling him an apostle.
What are these apostates mocking? Look at the next verse in Peter:
and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." 2 Peter 3:4 NASB
Peter makes it clear that these individuals ridicule and treat with contempt the Bible's repeated promise of Yeshua's Second Coming, asking, "Where is the promise of His coming?" The root verb empaizo (to mock), is used 13 times in the New Testament, and 11 of them refer to the mocking of our Lord Yeshua. It is, therefore, little surprise that if evil men mocked Him at His First Coming, they would mock His prophetic promise of His Second Coming.
Think with me, Jude wrote this Epistle around A.D. 67. The reason these mockers were saying, "Where is the promise of His Coming?" is because they knew that Christ had predicted His Second Coming in their generation:
"Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Matthew 24:34 NASB
In Jude's day "that generation" was fast coming to a close, and the Second Coming had still not happened. Their generation was about over, and that caused them to mock Christ's prophecy that He would return in that first century generation.
Do you think it strange that people in Jude's day, around A.D. 67, were mockingly saying, "Where is the promise of His Coming"? Yet, two thousand years later most all Christians are saying, He is coming SOON! If they mocked in A.D. 67, they certainly have reason to mock today if Christ has not returned.
Jude says, "In the last time there will be mockers"—the words "last time" here are eschatos chronos. The word eschatos means: "farthest, final (of place or time), ends of, last, latter end." And chronos from which we get, "chronological time; time on a clock or calendar." Using these same words, eschatos chronos, Peter, speaking of Christ, says:
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
So Christ appeared in the "last times," the writer of Hebrews confirms this:
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. Hebrews 1:1-2 NASB
So Jude is speaking about the "last days." Referring to the "last time" leads us into a very technical phrase. In the "last time" is a very specific expression referring to the period from Messiah's First Coming, till His Second. The last days began when God spoke through His Son, the last days began when His Son came. Most Christians will agree on that. Most Christians agree that the "last days" end at the return of Christ. And since they believe Christ has not yet returned, they think we are still living in the "last days." But the Bible is clear that we are not.
In order to understand the term "last days," let's look at how the phrase was originally used in the Hebrew Scriptures. The Bible's first use of the phrase "last days" is found in Genesis 49.
The "law of first-mention" is the principle in the interpretation of Scripture, which states that the first mention or occurrence of a subject in Scripture establishes an unchangeable pattern, with that subject remaining unchanged in the mind of God throughout Scripture.
Then Ya`akov called for his sons and said, "Gather yourselves together, and I will tell you what will happen to you in the acharit-hayamim. Genesis 49:1 CJB
The "acharit- hayamim" is the Hebrew for the "last days." Consider carefully to whom the phrase "last days" is primarily addressed. Jacob is talking to his sons (the twelve tribes of Israel), and he pronounces the general evil that would come upon them. So, clearly, Israel is the subject of the "last days," and the "last days" concern Israel. This is critical to understand the "last days." The Church Age has no "last days," the Church has no eschatology, the Church has an everlasting covenant that never ends. The "last days" are Israel's "last days":
'Though Balak were to give me his house full of silver and gold, I could not do anything contrary to the command of the LORD, either good or bad, of my own accord. What the LORD speaks, that I will speak'? 14 "And now behold, I am going to my people; come, and I will advise you what this people will do to your people in the days to come." Numbers 24:13-14 NASB
The CJB has here "acharit -hayamim." The KJV says, "in the latter days." And YLT says, "in the latter end of the days." Here again the vision is concerning the Jews. It was concerning what would happen to Israel in the "last days."
Moses confirms that the "last days" of national Israel would be characterized by devastation and their ultimate scattering:
"For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands." Deuteronomy 31:29 NASB
Moses says, "...evil will befall you in the latter days..." Moses was leading the company of Israel. There is no reference to Gentiles being the subject of these latter days:
"Now I have come to give you an understanding of what will happen to your people in the latter days, for the vision pertains to the days yet future." Daniel 10:14 NASB
The phrase "your people" is referring to Israel. Israel's people are Daniel's people. The time of this writing is about 536 B.C. He says that the vision of what will happen to Israel in the latter days is a long way off, "...the vision pertains to the days yet future." So, in Daniel's time, the "last days" were a long way off:
"It will come about after this That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; And your sons and daughters will prophesy, Your old men will dream dreams, Your young men will see visions. Joel 2:28 NASB
Peter quotes this at Pentecost:
But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: "Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words. "For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 'AND IT SHALL BE IN THE LAST DAYS,' God says, 'THAT I WILL POUR FORTH OF MY SPIRIT ON ALL MANKIND; AND YOUR SONS AND YOUR DAUGHTERS SHALL PROPHESY, AND YOUR YOUNG MEN SHALL SEE VISIONS, AND YOUR OLD MEN SHALL DREAM DREAMS; Acts 2:14-17 NASB
Let me ask you a couple of questions here, "Who is Peter talking to?" The answer is: men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem. "When did Peter say this?" He said this in the first century.
Peter explicitly says, "This is what was spoken of through the Prophet Joel." He then explains that what this multitude of Jews was experiencing was the fulfillment of the prophecy in Joel. Peter is telling this multitude that they (first century Jews) were in the "last days." Beyond this, he goes on to describe what would take place during these "last days":
'THE SUN WILL BE TURNED INTO DARKNESS AND THE MOON INTO BLOOD, BEFORE THE GREAT AND GLORIOUS DAY OF THE LORD SHALL COME. Acts 2:20 NASB
Notice how this corresponds to what Yeshua said in:
"But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Matthew 24:29 NASB
Yeshua spoke these words in answer to the disciples' question as to when the end of the age would come. Their question was, "When will the end be?" Yeshua tells them quite clearly that the end would come in "This generation."
So, the age that was to end was the Jewish age. It would end with the destruction of the Jewish Temple and the city Jerusalem. It was not the "last days" of planet earth or the "end" of the world; he is talking about the "last days" or "end" of the age of Judaism, the Old Covenant Age. The disciples knew that the fall of the Temple and the destruction of the city meant the end of the Old Covenant Age and the inauguration of a New Age.
The writer of Hebrews said in around AD 65, around the same time as Peter wrote:
FOR YET IN A VERY LITTLE WHILE, HE WHO IS COMING WILL COME, AND WILL NOT DELAY. Hebrews 10:37 NASB
"For yet a little while"—the Greek is very expressive and emphatic. The author used a word which signifies "a little while," and then for further emphasis added a particle meaning: "very," and this he still further intensified by repeating it; thus literally rendered, this clause reads: "For yet a very, very little while, and He that shall come will come."
The idea which the author wishes to convey is evidently that the time of their deliverance from their trials was not far remote. The reference is undoubtedly to the Second Coming of Christ. If this is a reference to the Second Coming of Christ, and if he has not yet come as most of the Church believes, then what did this mean to the people to whom it was written? Nothing! Nothing at all!
What does it mean to us? Can we understand, "For yet a very, very little while, and He that shall come will come" to mean over 2,000 years? If the Lord did not return in the first century, this would have meant nothing to the Hebrews. To tell you the truth, it would have been deceptive to them.
God inspired the author of Hebrews to write at around A.D. 65 to the first century saints, "For yet a very, very little while, and He that shall come will com." How could he have made it clearer that the Second Coming of Christ would happen SOON to them?
Most Christians would say that the Lord has not yet returned, making the writer of Hebrews a false prophet. But the problem is that it wasn't just the writer of Hebrews who said that Yeshua was to return in the first century, Yeshua Himself taught this:
"For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. "Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom." Matthew 16:27-28 NASB
The word "come" is the Greek word mello, which literally means: "Is about to come." The word is used primarily to indicate the nearness of an event, and means: "to be; about to be." Some have tried to water this word down to simply mean: "a certainty," but this is a mistake. The original Greek connotation was more than fact-related; it was a sense of time proximity.
Yeshua is speaking to His disciples and says that some of them would still be alive when He returned in the Second Coming. Was Yeshua wrong? If He was, then according to Deuteronomy, He was a false prophet. If Yeshua was a false prophet, then we are all dead in our sins and on our way to a Christless eternity. If God does not keep the WHEN part of His promises, He has not kept His promise! The inspiration of the Scriptures demands complete fulfillment of every aspect of God's promises. But if Yeshua is Lord, then what He said was true—He returned in the Second Coming before all of His disciples had died.
If you believe the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant Word of the Living God, then this passage gives a clear either/or when determining its fulfillment. Either Christ has fulfilled this passage, and His Coming has occurred, or else some of that initial audience is still alive. There is no escaping this in the language used. Anybody familiar with logic knows that when an "if statement" is encountered, it indicates a split passageway in which one, and only one, of the results can be followed. In this case— if Christ has not come, then some of the audience must still be alive physically. And conversely—if the entire audience has physically died, then Christ has to have fulfilled this verse and come in glory! If Christ was true to His word, there is no other alternative here! There can be no splitting of the pieces and parts of the fulfillment. It is all or nothing.
Okay, back to Jude. At the end of verse 18 he writes, "Following after their own ungodly lusts"—this same exact phrase appears in 2 Peter 3:3 and Jude 1:16, and it explains why the apostates deny God's truth: They do not want God to tell them how to live. The word "ungodly" is a translation from the Greek word asebeia, meaning: "ungodliness, unspiritual, wickedness." The word "lusts" is epithumia, which is a neutral term denoting the presence of strong desires or impulses, longings or passionate craving directed toward an object (whether it is good or evil is determined by the context). Most New Testament uses of epithumia are like this use in Jude and describe strong desires which are perverted and unrestrained.
These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. Jude 1:19 NASB
"These are the ones who cause divisions"—one more time Jude says, "these" referring to the apostates. The verb "divisions" here is apodiorizo, which means: "to disjoin, to separate." Apostates always cause divisions in the Church because there will always be a division between truth and error. What does the Bible say about those who cause division in the Church?:
Now I urge you, brethren, keep your eye on those who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned, and turn away from them. For such men are slaves, not of our Lord Christ but of their own appetites; and by their smooth and flattering speech they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting. Romans 16:17-18 NASB
"Who cause dissensions and hindrances contrary to the teaching which you learned"—the word "dissensions" is from the Greek dichostasia, which means: "divisions." This word is also used in Galatians 5:20 as one of the deeds of the flesh. Paul is saying take note of those who divide God's people. So it is clear from this command that Paul is concerned about unity. He wants to promote unity. Watch out for those who cause divisions.
Let me just say here that one of the greatest challenges in the quest for unity is deciding what belongs in the essential body of doctrine. What exactly is it that we divide over, and what do we agree to disagree on? For me some of the issues to divide over are: salvation by faith alone, the deity of Yeshua, the inspiration of Scripture, and the depravity of man would be on the top of my list.
"Worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit"—worldly-minded is probably not the best translation of psuchikos. The Greek word is psuchikos, means: "soulish or natural." This refers to an individual who is only interested in the things of this life and not interested in the things of God or His Spirit. To the Greeks it was the idea of they were physical, everything was about the psuche.
This word psuchikos is only used five times in the New Testament. Paul uses it three times in 1 Corinthians:
But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 1 Corinthians 2:14 NASB
Natural here is psuchikos. "Natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God"—the Gospel. The natural man is the man without the spirit of God. In biblical usage this adjective relates to the life of the natural world and whatever belongs to it, in contrast to the supernatural world. The truths of Scripture cannot be understood properly and fully without the teaching ministry of the Holy Spirit. These individuals are natural, merely natural. They have natural life, but they do not have spiritual life. And to further define it, Jude states, "They are devoid of the Spirit." They do not have the Spirit. That's the test of a Christian, incidentally. Paul the apostle said:
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
If a person doesn't have the Spirit, they are not a Christian. And this is how Jude defines psuchikos; he says, "devoid of the Spirit." So these apostates that Jude is talking about are not believers, they are devoid of the Spirit.
Believers, we do well to heed the words of Jude and to always be earnestly contending for the faith because there will always be those apostates who seek to lead us away from the once for all delivered to the saint's faith.
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