I) [Jude 1:1]:
"Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:"
II) [Jude 1:2]:
"Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance."
III) [Jude 1:3]:
"Dear friends, [fellow believers] although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints."
Notice that the faith, the doctrines of God's Word were once for all entrusted to the saints. Hence one may conclude that the canon of Scripture is closed for this age.
A) CONTEND, I.E., ARGUE DEFINED:
[Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, G & C Merriam Co., Springfield, Ma, 1980 states]:
"vi 1: to strive or vie in contest or rivalry or against difficulties. 2: to strive in debate: argue
vt: 1: maintain, assert 2: struggle for
"vi 1: to give reasons for or against something: reason 2: to contend or disagree in words: dispute vt 1: to give evidence of: indicate 2: to consider the pros and cons of: discuss 3: to prove or try to prove by giving reasons: maintain 4: to persuade by giving reasons: induce."
Notice that in every proper communication where there is a presentation of truths from the Bible there is necessarily an element of argumentation, i.e., contention; for one can hardly present truths from the Word of God without opposing someone's human viewpoint, whether expressed or not. Furthermore, not all believers agree on the doctrines of the faith. Some believers are so out of touch with God's Word that they are virtually unbelievers in what they think, say and do. Consequently they are to be contended with as if they were unbelievers. So there will often be disagreement about what the words of God's Word are saying which should not deter one from presenting truths from God's Word to the one who has opposed them. Otherwise, how would God's Word be accurately represented at all within the world or any local body of believers for that matter?
IV) [Jude 1:4]:
(v. 4) "For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
[The Expositors Bible Commentary, NIV, Vol 12, Zondervan Publishing, Grand Rapids, Michigan, Frank E Gaebelein, 1981, p. 388]:
"Jude goes on to explain the reasons why he was compelled to write. Ungodly men had 'secretly slipped in' (pareisedysan, 'crept in unawares') among the believers. Paul uses the related word pareisaktos of Judaizers who had 'infiltrated' Christian congregations to spy on their freedom in Christ Jesus (Gal 2:4). Concerning these men, the Greek says hoi palai progegrammenoi eis touto to krima, which KJV translates as 'who were before of old ordained to this condemnation,' while NIV has 'men whose condemnation was written about long ago.' The word prographw means to 'wrote before,' either in the same document or in a previous one. The reference could be to God's writing down from eternity the destiny (i.e., the reprobation or punishment) of the wicked. But it is more likely that it refers to previously written predictions about the doom of the apostates...
After stating the destiny of these men, Jude describes them as 'impious' or 'ungodly' (asebeis), a term often used of notorious sinners. This general word is made more specific by the two specific charges that follow. First, they 'change the grace of our God into a license for immorality.' Evidently their understanding of grace and perhaps of the forgiveness of sins led them to feel free to indulge in all forms of sexual depravity (aselgeian, cf. comments at 2 Peter 2:2). Second, they 'deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.' Exactly how they deny Jesus Christ, Jude does not say. Certainly they denied him by their immoral living that ran counter to His commands. Perhaps also they denied him in their teaching of a Christology that denied either His full humanity or His full deity. NIV's translation of ton monon despoten kai kyrion hEmOn IEsoun Christon ('Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord') is defensible because of the one article (ton) with two nouns and the use of despotes in 2 Peter 2:1 in reference to Christ. However, despotEn is commonly used of the Father (Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24; and LXX), and the word 'only' (monon) makes it more difficult to apply despotEn to Jesus. Thus the translation would be 'the only Sovereign [the Father] and our Lord Jesus Christ.' If this is adopted, then the error of the godless men was more likely a moral rather than a theological one (cf. Titus 1:16; 'They claim to know god, but by their actions they deny Him.").
V) [Jude 1:5]:
(v. 5) "Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe."
[Expositors, cont., p. 389]:
"As did Peter in 2 Peter 1:12, Jude states that his readers already know what he is about to say but that he will remind them of it. So he gives them three examples of the Lord's judgments: on the unbelievers at the time of the Exodus, on the fallen angels, and on Sodom and Gomorrah. In each instance the objects of judgment are notable rebels against the Lord. In v. 5 there is a difficult problem... However, NIV gives the sense.
The first example is that of Israel, who experienced the great display of God's grace in the Exodus, saw and heard His revelation at Sinai, and received His care in the wilderness; yet a number of them disbelieved and rebelled. Obviously this is not an instance of people being saved and then losing their salvation. Jude describes the rebels as 'those who did not believe' (tous mE pisteusantas). The Israelites were physically delivered from bondage, not by their faith as a nation, but by God's covenant love and mercy. The warning in this judgment is against unbelief and rebellion.
VI) [Jude 6]:
"And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home--these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day."
A) [Compare Gen 6:4]:
"The Nephilim were on the earth in those days - and also afterward - when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, man of renown"
From 'Babylon, the Eclipse of Eden', by Pastor Dan Hayden:
"...The term 'sons of God' is used of angelic beings (Job 1:6; 2:1) and, therefore, refers to fallen angels bearing children through demonically possessed women................
The offspring were obviously supra-normal, perhaps even superhuman (Gen. 6:4), demonstrating a disruption of normal genetic patterns. Also, there is an otherwise unexplainable phenomenon of a special group of evil spirits who committed a particularly heinous crime and are now 'reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day'
B) [2 Pet 2:4]:
"For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them into gloomy dungeons to be held for judgment."
hell = lit. "tartarOSas" = Tartarus, not hell but a holding compartment in the center of the Earth, "to be held for judgment".
This event is linked by Jude to other scriptural accounts (unbelief after the exodus, and Sodom and Gomorrah) for which he was calling Christians to 'remembrance' (Jude 5). If the 'angelic' account is a scriptural event to be remembered, as he seems to indicate, there is no reference in the Bible other than Genesis 6, which could fulfill this scenario. The claim that angels could not produce children through humans (based upon the statement that angels in Heaven do not marry, Mk 12:25 doesn't necessarily mean that the demons of earth cannot [or could not in the past] have sexual relations with women.......................
It is also interesting to note that Peter links the 'angelic' incident, referred to above, with the flood of Noah (2 Pet. 2:4-5), and John tells us that in the Day of the Lord, at the sixth-trumpet judgment when Babylon comes into final remembrance before the wrath of God (Rev. 16:19), four incarcerated demonic angels are set free from their prison in 'the great river, Euphrates' for the purpose of slaying 'the third part of men' (Rev. 9:14-15)
[Expositors, cont., p. 390]:
"The second example is of the fallen angels. The most likely reference here is to the angels ('sons of God,' cf. Gen 6:4; Job 1:6; 2:1) who came to earth and miingled with women. This interpretation is expounded in teh pseudepigraphical Book of Enoch (7; 9:8; 10:11; 12:4), from which Jude quotes in v. 14, and is common in the intertestamental literature and the early church fathers (e.g., Justin Apology 2:5). These angels 'did not keep their positions of authority' (tEn heautOn archEn). The use of the word archE for 'rule,' 'dominion,' or 'sphere' is uncommon but appears to be so intended here... The implication is that God assigned angels stipulated responsibilities (archE, 'dominion') and a set place (oikEtErion). But because of their rebellion, God has kept or reserved (tetErEken - perfect tense) these fallen angels in darkness and in eternal chains awaiting final judgment. Apparently some fallen angels are in bondage while others are unbound and active among mankind as demons."
VII) [Jude 7]:
"In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire."
[Expositors, cont., p. 390]:
"The third example of judgment is that of the cities of the plain, Sodom and Gomorrah. In v. 7 NIV is so concise that it slides over the significance of the pronoun 'these' (toutois). Kelly (p. 253) translates this verse thus: 'Just as Sodom and Gommorah and the surrounding cities, which practiced immorality in the same way as these and lusted after different flesh, stand out as an example, undergoing as they do a punishment of everlasting fire.' The key factors are 'these' (toutois - masculine, referring to 'angels' [v. 6], not cities [feminine], and the words 'different flesh' (sarkos heteras). Thus the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was seeking union with 'different flesh' in a way similar to what the 'sons of God' (angels?) did (Gen 6:2) when they mingled with 'the daughters of men' (humans).
Normally angels do not marry, nor do they have substantial bodies, though at times they have assumed bodies or appeared in a bodily form as divine messengers (Gen 19:1ff; Zech 1:9ff; 2:1ff; Matt 28:2ff; Mark 16:5; Luke 24:4ff; John 20:12ff; Acts 1:10f.). In Genesis 19 angelic messengers in the form of men visited Sodom; and the men of the city, motivated by their homosexuality and supposing the messengers to be men, desired them. So they' went after different flesh.' God destroyed the cities of the plain by raining fire and brimstone from heaven on the cities (Gen 19:24) - possibly the divine use of a natural catastrophe associated with the volcanic activity of the area."
VIII) [Jude 8]:
"In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings."
[Expositors, cont., p. 391]:
"Jude now links the examples of God's judgment (vv. 5-7) to the false teachers whom he calls 'dreamers' (enyphiazomenoi). Though this word might refer to pretensions of prophecy, it more likely refers to their carnal sin that leads them to live in a dream world. 'In the very same way' (homoiOs mentoi kai houtoi) points back to the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah (v. 7). The false teachers pollute 'their own bodies' (lit. 'flesh') in various forms of sexual excess, doubtless including homosexuality. Their rejection of authority (kyriotEta, 'lordship') implies that they repudiated Jesus as Lord (kyrios) over their lives.
The third sin of these false teachers is that they' slander celestial beings.' How and why, Jude does not say. Perhaps their materialstic and fleshly bent led them to deny all spiritual forces - good or evil."
IX) [Jude 9]:
"But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"
[Expositors, cont., p. 391]:
"The false teachers should have learned from the example of the archangel Michael. Oral tradition and apocryphal literature tell of a struggle over Moses' body. According to Clement of Alexandra (Adumbr. in Ep. Judae), Origen (De princ. 3.2.1), and Didymus of Alexandria (In Ep. canon brevis enarr.), Jude is quoting from the aporcryphal Assumption of Moses, only small portions of which have survived. Accordingly, the devil, it seems, claimed the right to the body because of Moses' sin of murder (Exod 2:12) or because he (the devil) considered himself the Lord of the earth. Michael is mentioned in Revelation 12:7 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16 refers to 'the voice of the archangel.' In Daniel 10:13, 21 and 12:1, Michael is a great prince or [mighty] angel for Israel. Yet in spite of Michael's power and dignity, he dared not bring a 'slanderous accusation' against the devil but referred the dispute to the sovereignty of God. So if he, a mighty archangel, had respect for celestial powers, Jude is saying, how much more should the mere human false teachers do so?"
X) [Jude 10]:
"Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals--these are the very things that destroy them."
[Expositors, cont., p. 391]:
" 'Yet these men' (houtoi de) connotes contempt. They, unlike Michael, presume to speak evil against what they know nothing about. They, unlike Michael, presume to speak evil against what they know nothing about. (Later, in v. 19, Jude explains that they do not have the Spirit.) These 'dreamers,' however, do have knowledge, but only on teh instinctual level of animal passion. So like the 'unreasoning animals (aloga zOa), they are destroyed (by God) through the things they practice."
XI) [Jude 1:11]:
"Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion."
[Expositors, cont., p. 392]:
"Again Jude turns to the OT - this time for another triad of examples. Because of their coming judgment, he pronounces 'woe' (ouai) on the false teachers as Jesus did on the scribes and Pharisees (Matt 23:13, 15-16, 23, 25, 27, 29).
1. The false teachers have 'taken [eporeutheEsan] the way of Cain.' The verb poreuomai connotes a moral or religious 'walk' (cf. TDNT, 6:575). Cain's way was the religion of his own works without faith (Heb 11:4) and led to the hatred and murder of his brother (1 John 3:12-13). Like Cain, these men belong to the evil one, manufacture religion, and kill the souls of men by error.
2. They have abandoned themselves to Balaam's error.
[Expositors, p. 281]:
"The false teachers resemble Balaam, the son of Beor (Bosor in most MSS), in that Balaam loved money and was willing to pursue it instead of obeying God (Num 22:5-24:25). Balaam also taught immorality (Num 31:16; Rev 2:14). So the false teachers have left the biblical way and have gone into Balaam's error - mercenary greed and sexual impurity. As Balaam went to curse the children of Israel for money (if he could) 'he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey - a beast without speech,' Actually, according to the account in Numbers 22:27-35, the rebuke is twofold: first from the donkey, then from the angel of the LORD. Ironically the dumb animal had more 'spiritual' perception than the prophet! The utterance (phthenxamenon, 'to utter a loud sound') restrained the prophet's 'insanity' (paraphronia - a hapax legomenon,' [occurring only here, through a related verb is found in 2 Cor 11:23])."
[Expositors, cont., p. 392]:
"Balaam was the prototype of all greedy religionists who lead God's people into false religion and immorality (cf. the events at Baal-Peor, Num 31:16-19). The combination of exechythEsan (passive from ekcheO, 'pour on,' here, 'abandoned themselves''; NIV, 'they have rushed') and planE ('error') indicates that the false teachers were wholly consumed by their love of money.
3. 'They have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion.' Numbers 16:1-35 tells of the drastic punishment inflicted on Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and 250 other rebels against Moses' authority. So, with a bold disregard of anachronism, Jude says of the false teachers, 'They have been destroyed [apOlonto, the aorist tense, i.e., completed action] in Korah's rebellion.' It is a striking way of saying that their doom is certain and settled."
XII) [Jude 1:12]:
"These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm--shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted--twice dead."
[BKC, p. 921]:
"As leaders these apostates were spiritually dead.
[i.e., they were never saved in the first place thus could not lose what they didnt have].
A tree in the autumn (the time of gathering fruit from fruit trees) without fruit appears (or is) dead, and a fruitless tree that is uprooted is dead forever - thus it is twice dead.
The dead condition of apostate leaders was indicated by two things;
(a) They did not bear spiritual fruit in others, and
(b) they were without spiritual roots themselves, and thus faced judgment. So the issue is not that they lost their salvation regained it and then lost it again. They never had it in the first place."
XIII) [Jude 1:12-13]:
(v. 12) "These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm--shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted--twice dead."
(v. 13) "They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever."
[Expositors, cont., p. 393]:
"12-13. Now, burning eloquence, Jude piles figure upon figure (six of them in all) to describe the errorists:
1. The false teachers are 'blemishes at your love feasts.' Translators are divided on which of the two usages of spilas... is preferable here. Some... render it 'rocks' or 'hidden rocks'; others render it 'spots' or 'blemishes.' In either case, the metaphor is a striking one. The rendering 'hidden rocks' connotes the danger of shipwreck of the faith; 'spots' or 'blemishes' parallels 2 Peter 2;13 and connotes defilement. The 'love feasts' were communal meals in which the early church ate together and observed the Lord's Supper. 'Eating with you' is too tame a translation of syneuOchoumenoi; with its connotation of sumptuous eating, it might better be translated 'feasting with you.' 'Without the slightest qualm' (aphobOs, lit. 'without fear') means that the false teachers do not recognize the terror of the LORD against those who mock His Son's death shown in the Supper (cf. 1 Cor 11:27-32; Heb 10:26-31).
2. Jude goes on to depict the false teachers as 'shepherds who feed only themselves' - a figure that points to all the biblical warnings against the false shepherds who care nothing for the flock (e.g., Ezek 34:8; John 10:12-13).
3. They are like clouds that promise rain but are 'blown along by the wind' and 'without rain' (anydroi,lit., 'waterless'). Thus the false teachers are wind, devoid of refreshment, promise, and performance.
4. They are, Jude says, like fruit treesinlate autumn, long past the harvest, bearing no fruit. Furthermore, they are trees not only fruitless but also uprooted - thus 'twice dead.'
5. Next is the metaphor of the restless sea (v. 13). For modern man, the sea is often a thing of beauty; to ancient man, less able to cope with the sea's fury, it was a terror. (Rev 21:1, with its promise of no more sea, reflects this attitude.) Isaiah (57:20) compares the wicked to the sea: 'The wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and mud.' The errorists are busy, restless, untamed. Their product is like the foam or scum at the seashore. 'foaming' (epaphrizO) is another of Jude's words that occur in the NT only in his book.
6. The final metaphor (asteres planEtai, 'wandering star') is astronomical. The ancients called the planets 'wandering stars' because of their movements. The reference here could be to meteors, shooting stars, comets, or planets; but planets is the most likely meaning. An unpredictable star would provide no guidance for navigation; so false teachers are useless and untrustworthy. Their doom is the eternal darkness that is reserved for them (cf. 2 Peter 2:4)."
XXIV) [Jude 24-25]:
(v. 24) "To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy
(v. 25) to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen."
[Dr. Robert Wilkin states]:
"God is able, according to Jude, to keep every believer from stumbling, that is, from experiencing major moral or doctrinal failure. A key interpretive question here is whether Jude was conveying an unconditional guarantee that God will keep all believers from stumbling, or whether he was referring to a conditional guarantee which requires a certain response by individual believers.
The idea that this is an unconditional guarantee appears to be biblically and practically absurd. One need only think of saints like David, Solomon, Peter, John Mark, and Demas who stumbled badly to reject such an idea. Yet many pastors and theologians nonetheless suggest that Jude 24 is an unconditional promise (see, for example, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, s.v. "Jude," p. 924; Lange's Commentary on Jude, pp. 33-34; The Tyndale NT Commentary on Second Peter and Jude, pp. 189-91).
How can anyone propose such an interpretation? It is because they understand Jude 24 to be a promise of perseverance and eternal security.
I believe that many commentators have missed the mark badly on this one. Jude 24 calls for, but does not guarantee, perseverance. And, it is not dealing with eternal security at all.
B) ABILITY IS NOT A GUARANTEE
God is [not] able to do anything which is not logically or morally impossible. (Examples of things God can't do include making a square circle, creating a stone too big for Him to lift, or doing anything evil.)
There are myriads of things which have happened which God could have stopped from happening. Take, for example, the fall of Adam and Eve. God could have created them without an ability to sin; yet He didn't. He could have kept the serpent from tempting them; but He didn't.
Consider three examples where the same expression God is able is used and where the possible result either never occurred or where it only occurred when a condition was met:
(1) John the Baptist said, "God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones" (Matt 3:9).
(2) The author of Hebrews wrote, "He is able to aid those who are tempted" (Heb 2:18); yet this aid is conditioned upon the one being tempted looking to Him in prayer with faith (Heb. 3:12-1.5; 4:11-16).
(3) Similarly, Jesus conditioned the healing of two blind men upon their answer to this question, "Do you believe that I am able to do this?" (Matt 9:28).
The fact that God is able to do something does not unconditionally guarantee that He will do it. It may be something He never intends to do or which He will only do for those who respond as He commands. As we shall now see, the latter is the case in Jude 24.
C) TO KEEP YOU FROM STUMBLING
The word stumble is a word which only occurs here in the NT. It refers to losing one's footing, stumbling, or falling. Clearly it is used figuratively here. While some suggest that only doctrinal slippage is meant (see the commentaries mentioned above), Jude was warning his readers about false teachers who were promoting both false doctrine and licentious living (cf. vv 15-18).
The context makes it clear that Jude is encouraging believers to look to the One who can keep them from being duped by false teachers. Note vv 20-23. To suggest that in v 24 Jude was unconditionally guaranteeing his readers that they wouldn't be duped is to destroy the whole point of the letter. It was Jude's fear that his readers would be duped by the false teachers that prompted him to write this letter (cf. vv 3-4).
D) TO PRESENT YOU FAULTLESS WITH EXCEEDING JOY
This expression is, I believe, why most Reformed commentators suggest that God guarantees freedom from stumbling. They see the word faultless and they conclude that eternal salvation must be in view. That is, however, a mistake. What is in view is the future judgment of believers, the Judgment Seat of Christ. That is the time when every believer will be presented by the Lord Jesus before the Father. Not all believers will be presented as "faultless." Nor will all believers have "exceeding joy" at the Bema. Only believers who lived faithful lives will have such an experience. Compare Matt 16:27; Mark 8:38; 1 Cor 3:10-15; 9:27; 2 Cor 5:10; 1 John 2:28.
The word faultless (amomos) means without spot or without blemish. It sometimes is used absolutely to refer to complete sinlessness, as when it refers to the Lord Jesus (cf. Heb 9:11; 1 Pet 1:19). However, it can also refer to an experience which is not sinless but which is yet pleasing to God since it reflects faithfulness to Him. For example, Rev 14:5 refers to the 144,000 Jewish evangelists of the Tribulation and says, "In their mouth was found no guile, for they are without fault [amomos] before the throne of God" (cf. Col 1:22 and 2 Pet 3:14). The same idea, though using a different Greek word (anenkletos), is found in the requirements for elders in the church. Elders are men who must be blameless in their experience (1 Tim 3:10; Titus 1:6-7).
Exceeding joy awaits believers who do not lose their footing. There will be a special measure of joy for such believers at the Judgment Seat of Christ and forever thereafter. God rewards faithfulness.
E) CONCLUSION: WE CAN'T BLAME GOD
At the Judgment Seat of Christ, no excuses will be valid. We won't be able to legitimately blame the devil, our parents, our spouses, our children, our genes, illness, fatigue, society, circumstances, or God Himself. Nothing can "make us" stumble from the path of righteousness. God is able to keep us from stumbling. If any of us walks away from God, we do so because we have failed to look to Him who is able to keep us from stumbling (cf. Rom 16:25; 2 Pet 3:14-18).
Victory is possible in the Christian life because God is ready, willing, and able to sustain us through the temptations and trials we face. The question is not whether He is able to keep us from stumbling. Rather, the question is, will we continue to look to Him in faith and obedience?"