(last edited 11/17/16)
Jude/Judas was the Lord's half-brother. Drawing heavily on the Old Testament, this letter appears to be written to Jewish believers. There are some similarities to Peter's epistles; it's not clear which was written first. Although it is an epistle (a letter), it is not about individuals or a local church, but more like a sermon. Many commentaries say this book is about apostasy and apostates, but those terms are not found in the Bible here or anyway and are not clearly defined, so will not be used in this discussion.
1-2 Jude (Judas) was the half-brother of Jesus, and the brother of James, who is also Jesus' half-brother and the leader of the large and influential founding church in Jerusalem. Did Jesus' family believe in Him before the resurrection? But they did afterwards. Do either claim to be His brothers, or even mention it, in their writing? Why might that be? So both men speak to us of humility, yet do either point out their humility in this matter?
Jude likes to speak in three's. The KJV describes the recipients as those who are sanctified, preserved and called; the NASB says those who are the called, beloved, and kept. Called: does the Bible say we become Christians by inviting Jesus into our heart, or by receiving Him? Who did the inviting? This terminology may have come from Rev. 3:20 where Jesus knocks at a door; this is not the door of anyone's heart, but of a what? A church which He is not part of. This is not a salvation verse, but flannelgraphs use this image for children, leading to poor theology.
Believers are also described as beloved by God--why are we so loved? What does it mean that we are "kept"? Can we be lost? Paul's letters open with "grace and peace"; Jude's formula of three is a definite plus, but he tops his addition with multiplication. How is this like Eph. 3:20?
3 Apparently he started out to write about one thing that was one his mind, but what happened? God redirected him! Have you ever had something like that happen? We all have! God kind of changes this around, and we need to recognize and follow His leading when this happens. Perhaps he felt the need to introduce his topic as something God specifically led him to write them about, because the subject matter is actually rather negative, and maybe he hoped this would help them accept it.
What is our "common salvation" that he started out to discuss? But where did he end up instead? Does "contend earnestly" sound easy and fun? Is the Christian life about being easy or fun, as many churches present it today? The word "contend" referred to an athlete's agonizing, to an adversary, to a strenuous struggle, to conflict. Can you picture his readers going "hmmm..." and thinking, "oh dear..."? Many of us hate to "rock the boat" and are by nature non-confrontational; if God needs us to stand up to things, does the indwelling Holy Spirit give us the ability to do what we need to do?
What do we need to contend for? What is the key phrase? What clue does this give us about what's going on in the early church? Is this still a problem? So it's not a new problem. Why has this been going on in the church throughout its history? What does this tell us about Satan? Why does he not just limit the contending to the pastors and leaders? What is the difference between "the faith" and "my faith"? Who are the saints? Believers--the church. Is God continuing to speak through apostles and prophets? Jude wrote in the time of the apostles; were they continuing to get doctrinal messages from God? No, this had already ceased.
4 Who does he begin talking about? "Certain persons" (NASB). He will discuss them (note "they/them/these men" in the following verses; then he will contrast them with true believers. Is Jude talking about believing teachers that start slipping from the truth? What does it mean to creep in unnoticed? What kind of people might do this? Why? If they don't believe the gospel, why not go start their own kind of church--why sneak in and try to change things? If they're not godly, if they deny Jesus Christ, why are they even interested in churches and Christians? Why claim to be a Christian while denying Christ? Is Satan's agenda to start a false church teaching Satanism? No, it is to damage and destroy the true church.
Apparently the Gnostics in that day believed that the spirit was good, and should be cultivated, but that the material was evil, so you should give vent to your fleshly desires. What do they do with the teaching of grace? They weren't noticed by those in the church, but were they able to sneak by without God noticing them? Their condemnation was already a done deal. Does this say they were predestined for condemnation--that they had no choice? No; the Bible never teaches that. If you were predestined not to believe, could a righteous Judge condemn you for failing to believe? No, it would be His fault, not yours. "Marked out" can also be translated "written about long ago." This was all prophesied. Jude will go on to give evidence for why they are condemned, drawing on Old Testament examples that his readers are familiar with.
5-7 What key phrase from 3 does Jude repeat for emphasis? Again he speaks in three's--three examples he will discuss.
In Heb. 3:7-4:10 we talked about those who believed enough to leave Egypt (leaving the world behind) but because of unbelief they did not enter into God's rest--the Promised Land--and wandered in the wilderness until their death. They picture believers who struggle with unbelief and never experience God's rest in their lives. We see the Old Testament Sabbath fulfilled in the New Testament rest from works--a rest available to all believers, but not realized by all. What was their judgment? Jude says God destroyed them; did He zap them, or allow them to do what they chose?
What kind of angels does he talk about, 6? In a few more verses, he is going to contrast two kinds of angels. Where did we recently read of this situation? I Pet. 3:19-20 and II Pet. 2:4. Does this speak of the fallen angels--those who defected to Satan? Are all the fallen angels in chains, awaiting the judgment day? What is "their proper abode" and how did they not keep it? As Peter did, Jude seems to speak of Gen. 6:1-4; Peter's and Jude's teachings lend weight to the interpretation that "sons of God" speaks of some of the wicked angels. (If it does not, then it must mean something else; what else could it mean, that is supported by Scripture?) These angels defied God's plan for angelic beings. What is their judgment?
What is his third example, 7? They acted similarly to who? The angels just mentioned? What was similar about their actions? Unnatural sexual activity. What is their judgment?
8 "These." Just like these three examples, the men in 4 do what three things? Dreamers--do they make up their own reality, their own spiritual reality? Do they accept or reject God's authority? Who in the church was the representative of God's authority at that time? Compare III John 9.
Does moral failure/compromise often precede doctrinal compromise and deviation? Think of the many pastors who have compromised on homosexuality; first, they have friends or family who are homosexual, then they find it too costly to hold the line against them, so instead they eventually find their theology changing. Why are they unable to hold firm to God's revealed Word when faced with opposition?/
9 Who is spoken of here? How is he contrasted with the angels in 6? Here is a tidbit about Moses that we do not find in the Old Testament, but the Author (the Holy Spirit) reveals it to us in the New Testament. This is found in Jewish tradition, regarding Moses' death, Deut. 34:6. What is Jude's point? God's highest ranking angel dares not rebuke the highest ranking wicked angel, actually the highest of God's creation; he is not presumptuous, is not evil-speaking, leaves him to God. He submitted to God's authority in the situation. "Yet": in comparison, these men speak evil of spiritual authority. Should we confront Satan directly or argue with him or speak boldly to him? The disciples and later the apostles were given authority to cast out demons, but we do not read of those in the early church doing this or being told to, or in any way to even speak to Satan or his demons.
Michael is one of two named angels; who is the other? Gabriel. The Bible does not speak of more than one archangel. Michael is mentioned in Dan. 10:13,21,12:1, and Rev. 12:7, always in the context of battle. Angels are often referred to as the heavenly "host" or the host of heaven, meaning a mass of people, especially organized for war. Angels are not presented as soft, fluffy and comforting; rather, their first words are often, "Fear not" because they are fearful.
10 "These/they." They are so ignorant, they don't even understand what it is they are speaking evil of. What does I Cor. 2:12-16 say about two kinds of knowledge? What do these men have in common with animals?
The Bible speaks of "brute beasts" (KJV), "unreasoning animals" (NASB). Today we hear much about animal rights, and how having an animal is just like adopting a child, and is for life. Animals do have the breath of life; are they made in the image of God? But if you don't believe in God or in the creation account, and instead believe in evolution, might you see animals as morally equivalent to humans?
11 "Them/they." What do these false teachers have in common with the three mentioned here? What was each of their sin, and how did they respond to God's authority? Cain, Gen. 4:1-17. Do you really need to come to God by faith, by obedience, by blood sacrifice? Can't you make up your own way and come to God on your own terms? Does violence solve problems? So who was Cain really about? Self.
Balaam, Num. 22-24. He was a prophet, but a false prophet, yet appeared somewhat legitimate. What did Balaam desire? Material gain? Was he willing to sacrifice obedience to God to get it? How did he later counsel the pagans to use sexual immorality to bring God's anger on His people? 25:1-3, 31:15-16. Who was Balaam really about? Self.
Korah, Num. 16:1-35. What was his issue, 1-3? How did Moses try to talk sense to them, 8-10? What further charge did they bring against him, 13-14? What did Moses assure them in 28? What is his charge against them in 30? So what basically were Korah and his friends guilty of? They rebelled against God, and who else? God's established authority. Who were these false teachers rebelling against? God, and the apostles. Pride, greed, unbelief, sex, violence, arrogance. They argued with God; "my way" is better than God's way.
12 "These...men." Jude likens these false teachers to hidden reefs; what could that imply? They are especially a hidden danger in the love feast, which was the communal meal accompanying the Lord's Supper, which is for believers. Has their description so far sounded like true believers or false deceivers? So they are deceptive enough to pass for believers in order to participate in communion. Why might they want to do that?
Clouds are often a promise of what? What might water speak of, John 4:14, 7:38? The winds carry them erratically. Do false teachers bring something other than the water of life? But might they make it sound as if they are? They have no fruit--are they saved? They are spiritually dead. Twice dead: if you are born once, you die how many times? But if you are born twice, you die how many times? What time or event is referred to by "plucked up by the roots"? The final judgment--eternal death.
13 How are they like wild waves? Like wandering stars? Should a star give light? Wild, fierce, erratic, roving, unpredictable. If there has been any question about whether Jude is speaking of true believers or not, what clarifies that here?
14-15 "These men." There were two Old Testament men named Enoch: Cain named his son Enoch, and Jared had a son named Enoch, who was the father of who? Gen. 5:21. What important event happened to Enoch? Gen. 5:24. There are three New Testament references to him: in the genealogy of Luke 3:37 (Mary's line), Heb. 11:5, and this. He was a prophet.
Why is the extra-biblical book called The Book of Enoch not in the Bible? Its accuracy is questionable; it is not inspired by God. Although it is written as if Enoch himself is saying it, there are questions about when it was actually written, and whether or not it was actually written by Enoch. It may contain some correct information about Enoch that had been passed down. Some believe that here in 14-15, Jude quotes from it, but that cannot be proven. It is just as possible that The Book of Enoch quotes from Jude, or that both had access to information about Enoch. Some think that if Jude quoted from that book, then the Bible upholds it as a credible source. This is not necessarily so; if you are familiar with the Bible, you will easily recognize that this book is not on the level of the Bible, and contains errors. Paul also quoted from some non-biblical sources. This quote provides no doctrinally new information, but confirms that man knew from the beginning that God would judge evil. It speaks of those who knowingly reject God. It might be considered the earliest prophecy of Christ's second coming.
16-21 "These." Now follow two comparisons of this type. In 16-18, are these qualities of those who have placed themselves under the Lord's mighty hand? Is everyone who commits any of these sins necessarily an unbeliever and deceiver? Deceivers are deceptive, and so is sin. 17, "but you." We need to do what? Which implies we might what? They did not have the complete written Word; do we still have trouble remembering? Why? The church's teachings came through who? Does he tell them to keep listening for more messages from anyone else, later on? The apostles already spoke; there are to be no more apostles. 18, when are we to see these things developing in the church?
19, "these." In 19, can believers be guilty of these also? Not the last one--that one describes a non-christian. 20, "but you." 20-21, how does Jude contrast true believers? The Christian faith does not change or get added to, but what does grow and get built up? Does God do this for us, or do we need to do something? Phil. 2:12-13.
Charismatics teach that "praying in the Holy Spirit" means speaking in tongues, but compare Rom. 8:8-14, Eph. 5:18-19, Col. 3:16. Eph. 6:18 also speaks of praying in the Spirit; if this means praying in tongues, why does Paul then go on to specify in 18-19 what to be praying for? If you pray in tongues, you don't know what you are saying, and you supposedly are doing it because you don't know how to pray in a particular situation. Does Rom. 8:26 teach praying in tongues? No, it says He intercedes for us; are His groanings in the form of words of any sort? Can they even be uttered? So this can't be speaking of audible words in an unknown language. His interceding brings our prayers into alignment with what, 27? Praying, singing, walking in the Spirit means not doing those things in the what? The flesh. So we can choose to be controlled by the what or the what? What might praying in the flesh look like? In the Spirit?
Can we do anything to make ourselves more lovable to God? Keep: hold fast to. Might this be similar to what we just said about walking in the flesh or the Spirit? Do all Christians choose to walk in the light of God's love, and in love toward our brethren? What should our eyes be on? This world, me? The New Testament never counsels us to be looking toward or preparing for the day of wrath--the tribulation. Rather, we are looking for what, 21? Christ, i.e., the rapture. Do we deserve God's mercy? No, that's why it's mercy--He is kind and compassionate, because of His nature, not because of us. How do we see the role of the Trinity in 20-21?
22-23 And because God gives us mercy, which we don't deserve, what should we give others? Here Jude mentions three groups of people influenced by deception. Some Christians are just confused; should we say, "oh well, not my problem?" or should we condemn them? Others who are more deeply involved in false teaching need a stronger approach. Perhaps they lack the fear of God, not seeing anything wrong with what they are dabbling in. They might not want to change their minds; we might need to be quite firm in our approach. Why should we try, and not just mind our own business? They are in danger, as from fire. What do we need to be careful of when getting involved like this? Becoming contaminated ourselves? Being too sympathetic, open-minded, too soft and accepting? Why not just mind our own business? How do 22-23 tied the message of Jude back to 3? This teaching is difficult for many; why is this little book not a popular source of sermon material?
24-25 "To Him." After all the talk about "them" and "you," who does he focus on in closing? Jude ends with a prayer, a closing benediction to his message. Who is able to protect us? Does God know all the dangers and pitfalls of the Christian life? Does "fall" mean that Christians can lose their salvation? It speaks of stumbling. Does this say God will keep us from ever stumbling? Are we able to remain faultless in this life? How and when we will be faultless? Doing this for us will give Him joy! What does 25 say about the Trinity? Is his closing similar to the Lord's Prayer? If we truly believe everything this says about God, how will this affect our doubts and anxieties? If God is like this, dare we compromise with false teaching?
Copyright 2016 Jan Young
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