The Book of Jude

Jun 16th, 2009 | By | Category: Jude, Verse by Verse --Studies led by Br. Frank Shallieu (Click on Book name)

The Book of Jude

It seems providential that the Book of Jude is found next to the final book in the Bible, the Book of Revelation, which is one of the last books to be understood this side of the veil. The Epistles of John (not the Gospel), the Epistle of Jude, and the Revelation of John—all three of these last messages to the Church—each contain special prophetic warnings and admonitions with respect to the future. Moreover, each sequential message, as it is given, contains increasingly greater detail and thus ascends in importance. First, there is John’s allusion in his epistle to Antichrist and its identity; then comes Jude’s stern message; and finally the Apocalyptic scene of events of the Gospel Age provides an overview that helps us, in turn, to locate, identify, and further understand the climactic predictions of the age, particularly its conclusion.

Let us observe how strange it is that Jude’s epistle is sandwiched between the two messages of the same apostle John—between his epistles and his Apocalypse. Does not this placement of Jude suggest to us the possibility—nay, the probability—that these last three perhaps least-studied, least-understood books are to be considered as a  special triad or unit unto themselves, which in due process of time would assume greater import?

The Book of Jude seems to have been written especially for the end of the age. What is the evidence or proof for such a statement? Verses 14 and 15 of the epistle inform us that Enoch prophesied of conditions that would prevail in the last time or day, and this prophecy of Enoch was directed against a class that Jude himself repeatedly refers to in his epistle. This book provides a rather startling revelation of conditions that will exist not in the world but in the Church, and it is from this standpoint that we will consider the letter.

Since the Book of Jude is almost identical in language form and subject content with part of the Second Epistle of Peter, it is advisable to compare the two, not merely to demonstrate their remarkable similarity but also to supply additional information. Such information (1) assists in the clarification and interpretation of certain details in Jude, enabling us to better understand its true portent, and (2) highlights the importance of examining and heeding its warnings and expostulations. For convenience and to facilitate reference, a comparison of Jude and the Second Epistle of Peter appears at the end of this treatise.

Jude 1: Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

Jude 2: Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.

This letter is directed to the consecrated, the sanctified, those who are set apart; it is meant particularly for the spiritual class God is calling in this age. A more accurate paraphrase of verses 1 and 2 would be: “From Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, to those who are sanctified…. May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied unto you.”

Jude 3: Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

The Revised Standard Version more clearly states the thought: “Beloved, being very eager to write to you of our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” The King James Version, which does not use the word “our,” has “the common salvation.” This common salvation, however, is the common hope of the Church, not the restitution hope of the world.

Originally, Jude planned to write a message of exhortation to faithfulness, stating what the heavenly hope is and giving counsel along different lines—in other words, to give a general exhortation of advice concerning many things pertaining to the hope of the Church’s high calling. But Jude abandoned his original intention. Some translations read as if Jude had previously written such a letter. Whether he did or not we cannot be certain. In any event, he changed his mind or course, and became concerned not about just general problems but about a particular problem. He felt that the faithful brethren would find it necessary to contend for the faith “once for all delivered to the saints.”

Why would the Revised Standard Version and other translations call it “the faith … once for all delivered to the saints”? The reason is that it is an unchanging faith. Jude is not referring to dispensational truth in general but to a problem basic to all of God’s people that will be a particular problem at the end of the age. Verse 4 identifies what the problem will be.

Jude 4: For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

In many translations, the thought is expressed that these ungodly men forced or wormed their way in, implying the use of a little pressure and digging, but that does not seem to be the thought. (Note: This study is being presented more or less from our own bias or slant, for in the normal way of interpreting Jude, there are certain conflicts and many, many unresolved questions.) The Jerusalem Bible says, “Certain persons have infiltrated among you,” and this wording is more the thought. Pressure will not necessarily be involved, although it is possible some will pressure themselves in. While it is not definite whether all the individuals of this class enter the fellowship of the brethren with ominous, evil intent, the context clearly indicates that the entrance is unobtrusive and not initially discerned by the sanctified membership at large. The point is, HERE THEY ARE! Somehow they got into the Church, into our midst! And what is the problem? Jude forewarned the Church long ago that in the end of the age, a condition would develop where ungodly persons would come into their midst and pervert the grace of God into lasciviousness, and he showed that such individuals are marked for  destruction.

Here we call attention to 2 Peter 2:1,2, the parallel text to Jude 4. The text is indeed shocking because it indicates that in time, some of this ungodly element will be elevated to the role of teachers in the Church, bringing in with them undermining doctrines and practices that will lead to the downfall of many. “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who will subtly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their impious practices, by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of” (see translation on page 23).

These individuals who penetrate the Church in the latter day are described as “ungodly.” However, a better translation is “impious ones,” for they lack the quality of true reverence. They fail to pay due respect to the unequivocal authority of God, His Word, and Christ. In the final analysis, it is this fundamental fault in their character structure that opens the door to all manner of evil.

In what way will this class of ungodly or impious persons in the Church turn the grace of God into lasciviousness? They will presume on God’s mercy and forgiveness by not correcting the problems that exist. The Apostle Paul, in writing about the love and mercy of God in Romans chapters 5 and 6, said that God is merciful to the Christian, but then he added the following thought: Because of the grace of God, shall we “continue in sin, [so] that [the] grace [of God] may [thus] abound [in us]?” In other words, should we prove God’s mercy by presuming to sin? Paul says, “God forbid!” We must not presume on God’s mercy by sinning (Rom. 6:2). If Christians feel they have an all-loving and all-forgiving God, that belief or attitude can lead to various detrimental conclusions, among which is universal salvation.

The Apostle Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 5:1,2,6,7,9-11, as follows:  “It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you…. Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven…. I wrote unto you [previously] in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world…. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator [etc.] … with such a one, no, not to eat.

It is inconceivable to imagine that the brethren at Corinth were glorying in the conduct of the sinner in their midst—no, of course not! They were glorying in their own self-conceit and the magnanimity of their imagined love. Their spirit of forgiveness was so broad and generous that they could overlook this terrible deed and not only tolerate the sinner’s presence in their midst at meetings but also perhaps even offer him consolation and a sympathetic tear—without his having first publicly acknowledged and publicly apologized for his sin and requested forgiveness, accompanied with tears of remorse (as it were, in the spirit of sackcloth and ashes).

And to think that this forgiving attitude prevailed despite the fact that the serious misdeed constituted a sin against the cause of Christ, and hence brought disrepute on the truth!

The brethren at Corinth, instead of being more magnanimous in their concept of forgiveness than God, should have mourned, even though they themselves were not responsible for the immoral act. Then, to have also tolerated the continued presence of the individual in their midst was a condition the Apostle Paul found unthinkable.

His command to excommunicate the individual from the functions of the class was one step. However, not only was the sinner to be barred from spiritual fellowship, but the brethren were to shun association with him even in the world—yea, so much so as not to allow him literally to eat at a table with any of the brotherhood. In verse 11, the apostle was referring to a natural table, not a spiritual one. Moreover, anyone committing any of the sins listed in 1 Corinthians chapter 5 was to be treated thus whether or not he or she was Spirit-begotten. Specifically, the apostle’s commandment is “not to eat” with one committing such a deed if that one is “called” or so much as “named” a brother, whether or not he is or was truly such.

Also, it is significant that in the Law, it is written: “And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire” (Lev. 21:9). While Jesus never gave such a commandment to the Church, yet it is quite evident that in regard to the present antitypical priesthood, such a sinner should at least be dispossessed, disowned of the father, in order to shock the individual into a realization of the gravity of the sin—in the hope that eventually the person would confess and utterly abandon the sin in harmony with the Apostle Paul’s counsel of 2 Corinthians 2:1-11. In that counsel, he gave permission to the ecclesia to forgive the one previously excommunicated, not only because of that individual’s excessive or “overmuch sorrow” (verse 7) but also on account of the sufficiency of the punishment of disfellowship exacted, the latter (verse 6) being a necessary time factor towards inducing salvation.

Universal Salvationists believe that God can and will save all and that even Satan will be saved. There was a time, shortly after the First World War, when some in the truth went into this movement. Such a belief sounds good to the flesh because it allows an individual to have one foot in heaven and one foot on earth without any danger or fear. From that standpoint, there is the possibility that a Christian can presume upon God’s goodness by being disobedient and yet expect to be forgiven. The tenets of the Catholic faith, such as the institution of the Mass and the confessional, tend to influence wrong behavior. A standard joke in connection with that faith is that some come from the tavern on New Year’s Eve, go to confession, and return to the tavern. Therein they would be using God to their convenience for purposes of forgiveness without changing their ways.

The King James Version mentions denying both God and Jesus, but most versions couple the titles together in reference to Jesus; e.g., “deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” (RSV). How could one pervert the grace of God into lasciviousness, denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ? The thought is not that this class in the Church will deny Jesus is Christ and audibly renounce him. That would not make sense, because if such were the case, how would this class be in the Church? The Church would be shocked. This ungodly class will not openly defy or deny in the sense of audibly expressing auricular discontent with God; rather, they will not obey Christ. They will deny him in the sense of not taking heed to his counsel and Word.

It is one thing to describe our Lord as “Master,” meaning he is our example, but the word “Lord” is a stronger thought. We might think of one as being our example, but if one is our lord or king, more obedience is required. The Lord’s Word counsels certain instructions, and if we deny that counsel or do not heed it, we will then be denying the Master because it is his Word and it is God’s Word. Notice how verse 4 couples these two thoughts together. Perversion of the grace of God into lasciviousness is linked with denying Jesus as Master and Lord. We would not even know Jesus was Lord unless we had the biblical record of his life, preaching, and instruction for the Church. Therefore, so much that we do concerning the Master—our consecration and everything—comes from his Word because he does not speak to us with an audible voice. We learn about Jesus through his Word.

In the Church are the Little Flock, the Great Company, and the Second Death class (those who were once spiritual but who turned back and rejected and denied, as well as another element, a worldly element). The Book of Jude, among other things, describes this subdivision of the Second Death class as a worldly element amidst the fellowship, arising from within and also coming into the Church from without. As we proceed, we will try to substantiate this thought. In any event, this class ostensibly believe in Jesus and in God. They have a knowledge of God’s plan; of His goodness, mercy, and grace as regards the world; and of the robe of righteousness as regards the Church. However, they presume too much on this grace and, consequently, in effect are denying the Lord’s counsel.

Jude 5: I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

Three examples are given, and this is the first. The second and third examples follow.

Jude 6: And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

Jude 7: Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

In reminding us of these examples, Jude wanted to emphasize certain lessons concerning (1) the people coming out of Egypt, (2) the fallen angels, and (3) the conditions that existed in the days of Lot of Sodom and Gomorrha.

In discussing the people coming out of Egypt, Jude added, “afterward destroyed them that believed not.” What is the inference about this destruction in relation to the antitype or fulfillment? Does this verse imply Second Death to the class prefigured in this example? The Israelites who came out of Egypt in the type will be forgiven and come forth from the grave, but what they picture is another matter.

These three examples furnish some clues about the class Jude was describing. The only clue in verse 5 as to the reason for the destruction is that the people “believed not.

In other words, they would not believe the Lord; they did not exercise faith. In Sinai, there were numerous examples of lack of faith on the part of the Israelites, but the reaction of those who spied out the land is particularly apropos here. Only Joshua and Caleb believed God and exercised sufficient faith. Consequently, the entire first generation out of Egypt died in the wilderness except for these two faithful witnesses.

The nation did not enter the Promised Land right way because they lacked faith in the advice of Joshua and Caleb, who said, “Yes, the people of the land are big, but the Lord will give us the victory.” The other ten spies were fearful, and the Israelites chose to believe the majority report.

This first example, then, is one clue that the people did not obey God. God had said, “You do so-and-so, and I will do such-and-such for you,” but the people did not obey because they did not believe God. Therefore, failing to act because of not believing the Lord is equated with disobedience. The Apostle Paul drew a somewhat similar lesson to that of Jude regarding the experiences of the children of Israel in the wilderness at the time of the Exodus, and he described a similar fate (1 Cor. 10:1-12).

The example of the fallen angels brings up another point. What is the similarity between the illustration of the fallen angels and that of Egypt? Not much detail is given in verse 6 except to say they left their first estate. In Genesis, we learn that the fallen angels took wives of the daughters of men, thereby mixing angelic and human

natures contrary to the will of God. When these angels appeared to men in the first dispensation, it was not wrong for them to come down here to earth. When they came down, they were holy angels, but in their association with fallen mankind, many became contaminated and desired to live here rather than to obey God and just be His helpers, giving instruction to mankind. In a way, there is a similarity between the Lord’s professed people of the Gospel Age and (1) the fallen angels and (2) the children of Israel who came out of Egypt. Just as back there, the nominal Israelites who left Egypt became contaminated when they were in the wilderness by reverting to their old habits, so in the Gospel Age, the Lord’s nominal people, who profess to leave the world, become contaminated in the “wilderness.” A Christian is called out of the world, and the conflict is not to get back in it. Similarly, the holy angels became defiled through contact with man.

Consequently, they were imprisoned, and they are to be kept in this prison until the “judgment of the great day.” A time will come when they will be loosed, and their actions at that time will constitute a part of their judgment. Typically, however, their confinement to chains of darkness after leaving their first estate represents something quite different: the casting of the Second Death class into everlasting oblivion.

Another point. When the Israelites left Egypt, they were a mixed multitude, some being true and some being merely nominal proselytes. When the angels came down from heaven, they proved ultimately to be a mixed multitude, some of them retaining their purity and some sinning and being placed in chains of darkness.

Verse 7 likens Sodom and Gomorrha to the fallen angels (“even as Sodom and Gomorrha”). In other words, Jude was saying that the fallen angels became contaminated by fallen mankind and vice versa—humankind were also contaminated by the fallen angels who came into their midst. Part of the sin of the inhabitants of these two cities was similar to that of the angels who left their first estate. The fallen angels disobeyed just as those of Sodom and Gomorrha did by giving themselves over to fornication and going after “strange flesh.” The fallen

angels were enticed by the new flesh of humanity; they were enamored with the daughters of men, who were “fair” (Gen. 6:2). The Sodomites gave themselves over to another kind of strange flesh, namely, sexual perversion (Rom. 1:24; Lev. 18:23).

Sodom and Gomorrha were set forth for an example, suffering the punishment of age-lasting fire. We know they will be resurrected because of the statement in Ezekiel 16:53,55, but here they picture a class that will not have a resurrection.

The Israelites were destroyed in connection with coming out of Egypt. The angels were merely put in chains until the judgment of the great day (not a perpetual condition); however, if they keep not their first estate again—that is, if they materialize—the act will condemn them to everlasting destruction. The point is this:

Verse 7 is not discussing spiritual fornication. The Revised Standard Version says, “Sodom and Gomorrha … likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust.”

In other words, this class Jude is speaking about are likened to the disobedient children of Israel who came out of Egypt, to the angels who left their first estate, and to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha. Verse 8 links these three examples to this class.

We would like to make an observation about the terminology used in the end of verse 7. Since the Scriptures abundantly testify that death is the opposite or absence of life, many are troubled by the seemingly harsh contradictory phrase in the Authorized King James Version of the Bible “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” The first difficulty to be removed is that the thought of “suffering” as understood in today’s vocabulary is not the thought contained in the Greek text. Secondly, whether it is the fire or the vengeance that is everlasting creates no real problem. If eternal fire is the intended thought, it would have to be understood in harmony with the Greek word Gehenna, which is usually translated “hell” in the Bible and hence has a direct bearing on the subject. In Scripture, this word alludes to a valley adjoining the city of Jerusalem: the Valley of Gehenna or Hinnom. In ancient times, the garbage of the city was cast therein, and a fire burned continuously day and night in this disposal heap.

Although the fire was eternal, the daily waste matter thrown into the ravine was utterly consumed and not perpetuated in the fire. On the other hand, if the correct translation is that the vengeance is eternal, not the fire, then the emphasis would be that the judgment is one of utter extinction, final and irrevocable.

Jude 8: Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

Notice that the word “filthy” is supplied. The Jerusalem Bible reads: “Likewise also these in their delusions….” The thought is not that this class is dreaming or prophesying with pipe dreams but that in their delusions, they defile their bodies, disregard authority, and speak evil of dignities. The dignities are probably true Christians, although the Greek word just means “glories” or “glorious ones,” that is, the ones the Lord truly owns, the saints. In other words, the true saints are being maligned by this class. This class speaks evil of the true Christians.

What would constitute disregarding authority? When warned they are walking in an ungodly way, this class ignores the advice, which is scriptural advice. They disregard the counsel in God’s Word. For instance, those coming out of Egypt were given certain advice on what to do and what not to do, but they did not obey; they heard the Word, but the hearing was not mixed with fear (reverence and respect). No doubt when the fallen angels came down here, they were given specific instructions what to do and what not to do, but they chose to disobey; they, too, disregarded the Lord’s counsel or authority. They conveniently “forgot” what the Lord had said; they liked it here, so they remained. When Moses told the people to go up into the Promised Land and the Lord would give it to them, their refusal to obey manifested disregard for counsel and authority. The Israelites had promised to obey the Lord before the land was ever spied out; they had made a covenant with the Lord and then reneged on it by not obediently going into the land.

Sodom and Gomorrha gave themselves over to fornication. “Likewise also … [this class] defile the flesh.” Is this a reference to spiritual defilement, such as not believing in the Lord’s presence or such? No, this defilement pertains to consecration. A Christian should always do certain basic things; namely, he should live a life of consecration, holiness, and obedience to the Lord. Of course there are slips and falls, but the class Jude was describing disregards the Lord’s instructions along these lines. Being ungodly, they do not obey the requirements of the gospel, they do not respect authority, and they do not heed the Lord’s counsel. And they speak evil of the Lord’s true servants.

Jude 9: Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

This verse helps us grasp several facts. Michael contended with the Devil, he also disputed with the Devil, and he said, “The Lord rebuke thee.” There is even the possibility of a physical resistance because if Michael had not done anything, the Devil could have just taken the body of Moses. Michael disputed—he had an argument— about the body, and he did rebuke Satan. This verse helps us to know what it means to contend for the faith, yet without resorting to physical violence.

In the beginning of this epistle, Jude stated he would have liked to talk about other things in connection with the Church’s common salvation, but because something urgent had come up, he had to set aside the general counsel and warn the Church along more specific lines in regard to a great, grave, imminent danger. In order to do so, he set forth various examples. He called to remembrance what happened when the Israelites came out of Egypt, etc. Verse 9 is tied in with his logic and statement in verse 3 about contending for the faith (“it was needful for me to write unto, and exhort you … [to] earnestly contend for the faith which was once [for all]  delivered unto the saints”). Jude used Michael’s contending with the Devil as a practical lesson of how to apply the words of this counsel.

Now let us consider Jesus. Did he speak mildly with Satan? Did he reason along the lines of “Oh, you should not do that” or “It is not advisable to do that” or “Don’t you think it would be better if it were done this way?” No! Michael had to resist the Adversary, and he no doubt had to raise his voice in dispute. Surely Michael did not just calmly present his side of the question in a dispassionate voice, and neither did the Devil with his viewpoint. It is quite probable that there was actual excitement in connection with this dispute.

Moreover, verse 9 gives us insight into the character of Satan and how he thinks. The Adversary very much wanted the body of Moses to make it an object of veneration. Was there anything wrong with Moses? No, he was perhaps one of the most saintly men who ever lived on this earth next to Jesus. What was wrong was that the Adversary would have used him as a fetish or as an object of veneration and thus have taken the people’s minds away from what the prophets (God’s Word) had to say.

Even today a danger exists along this line. The Adversary would like us to get away from God’s Word, which is the very foundation of our faith. Any servant of the Lord is merely an index finger pointing to God’s Word, helping to clarify what it says. The Bible is the real authority. We have studied the Pastor’s writings and have as much respect for him as many others, but we speak bluntly here because the worship of man is a technique of the Devil.

The thing is, Jesus did contend, resist, and rebuke. Therefore, if someone contending for the faith does the same thing, we should not speak evil of that dignity by saying, “He did not show the Christian spirit. He was unkind, unmerciful, and unloving because he raised his voice.” We should not view things emotionally and then pronounce judgment. The cold, hard facts determine whether or not a party is disregarding the Lord’s Word.

However, it is one thing to rebuke and another thing to pronounce a railing judgment. A railing judgment is the assassination of one’s character. Two things are suggested: (1) It is the pronouncement of the destiny of a person, thereby damaging his character, and (2) the person’s character is damaged in a disparaging way. In a trial, a judge weighs all the facts before he pronounces a person guilty or innocent, and generally, this pronouncement is done with an unemotional voice. The judge merely says, “Guilty”; he does not bring railing judgment, but simply makes a decision in accordance with how he sees the facts. A railing judgment is a judgment accompanied with bad feeling. “The Lord rebuke thee” is simplicity itself—no flowery clauses, just a plain statement.

Jude 10: But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

The various translations bring out that in one matter, those of this class do not understand, but in another matter, they do understand. The problem is how to harmonize what is really being said in this verse, and this is difficult unless the class doing these things is identified. The New English Bible reads, “These men pour abuse upon things they do not understand.” What is not understood are spiritual things. This class have no true spiritual judgment; their judgment is poor in spiritual matters.

However, in contrast, to show that this class have natural minds and do natural thinking, the second part of this verse in the New English Bible is, “The things they do understand, [that is,] by instinct like brute beasts [‘as irrational animals’—RSV], prove [to be] their undoing [destruction].” In other words, this class can understand only the instincts of beasts or animals that have no reasoning ability. If animals are given meat, they recognize it as such and eat it. If they are beaten, they realize they are getting pain. Animals know certain things pertaining to the baser instincts—they know the hand that feeds them, they know when they are thirsty and hungry, etc.—but they have no rationality. Therefore, this class do understand as regards the flesh. They are wise in fleshly matters, but these matters are like those of the brute beast.

Consequently, they know only their own emotions, feelings, and baser instincts, and they do not understand the motivation of others who may be spiritually inclined. This thought harmonizes with a statement of the Apostle Paul, who said that the natural man cannot discern spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14).

This ungodly class are spoken of as an outside element. When the Israelites came out of Egypt, they were a mixed multitude. When the angels came down to planet Earth to minister to man, they were not of the human race but were an outside element that came in and defiled humankind. And it is obvious that the class pictured in the Sodom and Gomorrha example were far from the Lord. Verse 11 tells about this ungodly class.

Jude 11: Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.

There are also three examples here. It is interesting to see that Jude had sort of a mathematical mind—using, first, three examples of a company of individuals and now three examples of individuals. Notice that the phrasing starts with Cain, leads to Balaam, and ends with Core (Korah). It is a progression that leads to a climax. In regard to Core, the text says, “They … perished in the gainsaying.” The account does not say that those who walked in the way of Cain or ran greedily after the error of Balaam perished. (Such will perish, but that was not Jude’s point.) Jude used all three individuals as examples of this one class, and showed that the progression of Cain to Balaam to Core leads to a climax of destruction.

Now let’s go back. Jude reasoned somewhat like the Apostle Paul here. First, this class walk in the way of Cain (RSV). It is hard to get the exact thought from just the Common Version. The RSV says this class “abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error,” but the King James Version states they “ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward.” The progression is (1) walk, (2) run greedily, and then (3) are destroyed in the climax.

Let’s go back again. What would be the problem in walking in the way of Cain? Jealousy, for one thing. Also, Cain did not stop to consider the Lord’s way or the Lord’s counsel but, instead, proceeded in a headstrong manner. He used his own reasoning in regard to what the Lord would accept as a sacrifice, and hence he was not particular about giving an animal sacrifice. Although Cain did sacrifice to the Lord, the sacrifice was not as pleasing as Abel’s because the latter sacrificed in harmony with the instruction of God’s Word. Therefore, walking in the way of Cain would be walking in a headstrong manner, failing to use spiritual discernment, and being jealous. Cain failed to discern why the Lord was interested in animal sacrifice, why He was pleased with the blood of animals, which was taught even before the Law. Cain’s jealousy led to murder. First, Cain did not carefully consider God’s Word. Second, he became envious of the party who had heeded God’s Word. Third, he murdered that party.

The problem with Balaam was that gain was his real motive, although at first he pretended otherwise. An ambassador came on behalf of Balak and said the king wanted Balaam to come to him and curse the children of Israel. Even though Balaam replied that he wanted to know the Lord’s will, he was really interested in going to King Balak for the sake of gain. When Balaam did take the matter to the Lord, the Lord more or less let him interpret the counsel the way he wanted to in order to reveal the condition of Balaam’s heart. Despite the fact that certain obstacles arose, Balaam did not discern God’s providence in the matter. Even though when Balaam set out on the errand, the dumb ass saw an angel in the way and began to speak, Balaam nevertheless did go to the king. The Book of Numbers tells us later on that Balaam gave bad counsel. He said to the king, “I cannot mechanically curse God’s people, but if you really want to curse them, have them marry strange flesh. Get them to marry the daughters of Moab, and in that manner, you will alienate them from God.” Balaam’s counsel taught lasciviousness, and the reason for the bad counsel was greed for gain. Balaam went to the king because it was to his advantage. In Balaam’s case, the reward was money, but the reward does not necessarily have to be money.

Many in the nominal system have this problem of desiring reward in the form of titles, garments, honors, emoluments, high salaries, etc., and they are lax in diligently teaching the Word. This desire for reward extends into many avenues of life. Gainsaying is rebellion expressed in words. Korah was really rebelling against the

Lord—although his rebellion was ostensibly against Moses and the whole setup, including Aaron, the high priest. Korah challenged Moses’ leadership role. As a result, Aaron was proven to be the proper and only servant when his rod alone budded. In the Tabernacle arrangement, Aaron represents Jesus. The danger in the nominal system was that instead of Jesus being the Head, men such as patriarchs, fathers, and popes (i.e., “father of fathers”) intervened and took the place and prestige that belonged only to God and Jesus. Because others felt they were apostles, the teaching of apostolic succession developed in the nominal system. They felt they were of equal importance to the Twelve Apostles, and in cases where individuals were not considered of equal importance, then councils were. Because a council in the early Church evidently had the Lord’s favor, councils in succeeding centuries were concluded to be of equal value. Thus the nominal system tried to justify apostolic succession on either a collective basis or as individuals having great prominence, circumventing and recognizing someone other than the divinely appointed chief and Lord, the Master. The degree of culpability for the intrusion of this doctrine, practice, and usurpation by ungodly leaders will be based upon the degree of their knowledge and willful sinning against light, which only the Lord, the Righteous Judge, is able to discern. The presumption of equality to or superiority above the authority of Christ is a most serious matter indeed, and perhaps the degree of responsibility incurred is directly proportional to the highest level of their understanding and belief in Christ in former years, that is, prior to their later presumptive acts—and no matter how graciously and humbly(?) those acts were introduced.

The Book of Jude shows that rebellion starts with failure to take heed to what pleases the Lord in particulars. In Cain’s case, this led to jealousy and murder. With Balaam, the love for reward led to giving counsel that was injurious to God’s people. The third was Korah, who contested the authority of Aaron in being high priest and considered himself equal; he was swallowed up. Notice, the Bible does not mention that Cain was slain. And nothing is mentioned about Balaam’s bad counsel until later on (Num. 31:16). We would not know why Balaam was slain if Holy Writ had not indicated he had incurred the Lord’s disfavor. Ostensibly before the world, however, the reason for Balaam’s being slain would not be known. On the other hand, Korah died for his act almost immediately, and he died openly, the reason for his death being publicly exposed. A “mark” was put on Cain; the account is silent about Balaam until the day of his death, a later date, but Korah, the climax of this progression, perished. And the climax of this admonition in the Epistle of Jude is the destruction of this ungodly class.

Jude 12: These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

In this verse, the word “without” is an important clue in identifying and judging who this class will be. They feed without reverence (see Phillips’ Modern English translation), they are clouds without water, and being trees without fruit, they are twice dead and uprooted (i.e., without a future). The thought continues on into verse 13. Let us analyze these descriptions.

Here are a class who “are spots in your feasts of charity, … feeding themselves without fear.” The word “spots” is also translated “blemishes,” “reefs,” or (hidden) “rocks.” The word in the Greek means “reefs.” A reef can be either exposed or hidden in shallow water, the latter being more dangerous. Hence this class are like hidden rocks or obstacles. The majority of translations convey the thought that into the true Church will come a class who will carouse, do bawdy things, be gluttonous, drink wine, talk loudly, make ostentatious display, etc., thus constituting “blemishes.” However, this is not the thought. The text is discussing a love feast and thus pertains to the spiritual table. Like hidden rocks, this class will associate, feed, and participate in the charity feasts of the Church without reverence. This text is not discussing a rowdy element but an irreverent class who will make themselves known in love. Under superficial examination, they look all right, but they are dangerous. Just as a hidden reef is dangerous to a ship because it is not discernible, so this class undermine principles and thus can be dangerous to those not fully aware of what is going on. This epistle is directed to the sanctified; its purpose is to warn the truly consecrated, be they Little Flock or Great Company.

The parallel text to this first part of Jude 12, namely, 2 Peter 2:13, provides other information about the ungodly. They are described as “spots” and “stains” (mistranslated “blemishes”) in addition to being the hidden shoals of Jude. The “spots” depict the incurred responsibility and disfavor with which they, as individuals, are viewed from the divine standpoint. The “stains” refer to the pernicious leavening influence this ungodly class exercise upon the truly consecrated because of their close association.

This class are also described as clouds without water. What is a cloud without water? Normally, a cloud is made up of moisture; it is a condensation of water molecules.

Consequently, if triggered by certain circumstances, it will precipitate. The fact that the clouds in this text have no water indicates this class have no spirituality or real truth as far as God’s Word is concerned, and hence are without refreshment. This class are also likened to clouds carried about of winds, meaning they are not stable. When any wind of doctrine comes along, they lack stability and are wobbly, leaning first one way and then another. Like a cloud without water that goes whichever way the wind blows, they have a wishy-washy character; they do not know what they believe or why. As we find out later (verse 16), not all in this class necessarily have this characteristic, for there is another element in this class who do things for their own  advantagement.

This class are also referred to as autumnal barren trees. The thought put forth in the Revised Standard Version is that they are “fruitless trees in late autumn,” that is, when the season is long over. This slant is more or less how translators tacitly view the passage. However, it should be remembered that the Jewish harvest of grain was celebrated in May or June at the season of Pentecost, but that the harvest of trees and vines was celebrated at the Feast of Tabernacles (or Feast of Harvest), which was observed in their seventh month, in the fall or autumn, at the close or climax of the season. Therefore, the proper interpretation of this portion of Jude 12 should be that  this class are like “unfruitful [early] autumnal trees” or, as rendered in the New English Bible, “trees that in season bear no fruit.” For this reason—because these trees are barren—instead of pruning them in late fall or early spring to improve their fruitage for the next season, Jude considered them worthless and, therefore, “plucked up by the roots,” “twice dead,” and without any future hope.

Notice that in every instance, this class are headed for Second Death. Because the account gives such a strong message, many, after reading a few verses, become frightened and do not want to consider the Book of Jude further.

Jude 13: Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

Wild, raging waves indicate a restless state with no real direction (like clouds being carried about of winds). Casting up foam reminds us of surf, which washes up scum and debris onto the shore; then, when the wave recedes, it leaves the scum and debris behind. These “raging waves” (ungodly ones) cast up foam, thereby exposing their own shame.

There is another point too. Just as the clouds were without water and the trees without fruit, so the waves are without substance. Foam is like air. When waves are coming in, they look as if they have real substance. They appear to be raging, but when they break on the shore, they go no farther. They surge, foam, and bubble yet lack any true value. The cloud appears to contain water but is waterless. They are clouds, yes, but they have no water. They are trees, yes, but they have no fruit. They are raging waves, yes, but they have no substance—just foam and emptiness. When exposed, this emptiness consists of debris, air, foam, scum, etc., and not solid water.

To proceed with the prophecy, the stars of heaven are known as fixed stars around which other planetary bodies revolve. Strictly speaking, this picture is not wholly accurate, for the stars themselves revolve around a common, universal gravitational center, Pleiades, which is styled God’s throne. However, their movement is so

infinitesimally slow that to our eyes, they appear fixed, whereas we can more readily detect the movements of the planets. The entire heavenly host of stars and planets is under the control of the Pleiades.

Furthermore, the Bible reveals, contrary to the declarations of science, that of all the heavenly host, not one star faileth (Isa. 40:26). Therefore, the expression “wandering stars” is at first quite ambiguous. Why, then, does Holy Writ present such an enigma? Perhaps the purpose is to demonstrate the false pretensions and appearance of the ungodly (particularly the more prominent individuals) who assume the position and likeness of stable stars.

These so-called wandering stars are in reality without orbit, hence not underneath or submissive to God’s control. God has ordained that stars and planets move in fixed courses. Therefore, if they come out of their courses, they are, as it were, disobedient.

Actually, wandering stars (meteorites or shooting stars) are not really stars at all; they just appear to be such. They burn out as they streak across the sky, being brilliant for a  while and then going into the blackness of oblivion. Thus we have waterless clouds, fruitless trees, empty foaming surf, and orbitless stars.

Jude 14: And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

Jude 15: To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

Where did Jude get this information? Apparently, he received a special revelation that was a prophecy of Enoch. In a similar manner, the Apostle Paul named the two individuals who withstood Moses in connection with the plagues, and their names are not given in the Old Testament (2 Tim. 3:8). Therefore, we know that certain information was made available to the apostles, and by means of this information, interesting little details come through. It is pleasing to know that some understanding was given to Enoch when he “walked with God,” and of that information, we know nothing except this prophecy. Enoch’s walking with God was like having close fellowship with someone and disclosing many innermost thoughts to that person.

And the Lord did disclose to Enoch some of His purposes with regard to the future. This prophecy can be rendered two ways: (1) tens of thousands or (2) ten thousands.

Probably the more literalized second interpretation is more accurate, meaning several ten thousands. Ten ten thousands would be 100,000, and adding a few more gives us 144,000, the Church; i.e., the Lord comes with his holy ones. The interpretation given at a convention in July 1978 was that verse 14 pertains to the beginning of the Second Advent in 1874. But we counter: The Church was not with our Lord at that time. The sleeping saints were not even raised until 1878, and instead of coming with the Lord, they went to the Lord—a different direction. The saints are caught up to meet the Lord in the air. Verse 14 is talking about when the Lord comes with his saints, not when they go up to him. Therefore, this verse refers to the time after the glorification of the Church when The Christ will return to execute judgment. Did the holy ones come in 1874 to execute judgment? No, they were not even resurrected then. And this verse does not refer to the holy angels, for they are not granted such signal honor.

The way Enoch’s prophecy was introduced is significant: “Enoch … the seventh from Adam.” While the Old Testament states that Enoch was the seventh from Adam and he did make this prediction, Adam sometimes, in the favorable sense, represents our Lord, the Second Adam. As Adam was the father of the human race, so our resurrected Lord will ultimately be the age-lasting Father, prophesied in Isaiah 9:6, who is to bless the world in the Kingdom. Our Lord was raised in the beginning of the Gospel Age, and way down in the seventh generation or period of the Church will come this judgment—the seventh period from the Second Adam. Some translations actually state, “Enoch, seven generations from Adam, prophesied….” Here we have an allusion to the seven epochs of the Church. We are living in the seventh or last epoch, the Laodicean period, and Enoch’s prophecy pertains to the last time. When this seventh day has elapsed, Jesus will come with his saints.

Enoch can also represent the Church in the flesh who, because of “walking with God,” are given information concerning His plans and purposes. Just as the Lord disclosed to Enoch back there what He purposed to do in the future, so at this late date, in the seventh era of the Church, God discloses to His people, the Enoch class, His purposes with regard to the Epistle of Jude, which is a particularly pertinent prophecy dealing with the end of the age.

Jude 16: These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.

In the early stages, this condition is not readily discernible. As previously shown, the condition is progressive (this ungodly class walk, run, and finally perish), so that the dispensational fulfillment of this prophecy—the raging and foaming out of shame, etc.—will come later. This situation will grow steadily worse and worse and worse until finally it will be clearly discernible, but then it will be too late, for the Church will have passed beyond the veil. Only after the Church is off the scene will this condition become fully apparent to all the Great Company class. This spirit of  murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts, speaking great swelling words, and flattering for advantage—at first discernible by only the few—will become more openly manifest at that later time.

What will this class murmur and complain about or against? In the type, the Israelites complained against Moses, asking, “Hast thou led us out here in the wilderness to die?” In the antitype, the murmuring will be against the Lord: “Have you taken us in our consecration out here to die?” Therefore, this murmuring will not  necessarily be against brethren. The attitude of the Israelites in the type, which also has an antitype, was: “Before we followed the Lord, we had the leeks, onions, and garlic of Egypt. Now we have just bread and water.” The Israelites wanted to return to the Egyptian way of life. Hence this class look for the natural things.

This class will be constant murmurers and talk big. They will either pay men great respect or keep quiet, depending on what is to their advantage. The Revised Standard Version reads, “flattering people to gain advantage”; i.e., they will hypocritically pay men great respect by flattering them when it is to their advantage, but as soon as it is not to their advantage, they will change. The motivation is exposed here.

Jude 17: But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;

Jude 18: How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

Jude 19: These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

Jude indicates he is not the only one to write concerning the last time. When our Lord talked about the days of Noah in Matthew chapter 24, saying the people ate, drank, built houses, etc., he was not criticizing the people at the time of the Flood from the immoral standpoint. In that chapter, Jesus’ lesson was that the people “knew not until [the day] the flood came, and took them all away.” The people carried on their usual activities oblivious of the impending Flood. Thus Jesus looked back to Noah’s day and drew a lesson about the unawareness and the suddenness of the Flood.

When Peter spoke of the same condition, he took an opposite viewpoint (2 Peter chapter 3). Peter talked about the people’s attitude—how they scoffed and reviled Noah and did not realize an invisible canopy of water was about to cascade down upon them. Thus Peter used the people of that time not from the standpoint of building houses and carrying on normal activities, but from the standpoint of carrying on abnormally. He emphasized the abnormality of their behavior in that they criticized righteous Noah and found fault with him.

Jude used the same illustration of the Flood and the scoffers from still another standpoint. The Revised Standard Version reads, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” Jude’s statement was something like Peter’s except that it includes this other element in the Church. We know there are scoffers in the world, but here we learn there will be scoffers in the Church.

Who are these scoffers in the Church and whom do they represent? Verse 19 furnishes a clue: “These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.” The attitude of the nominal Church all down through the Gospel Age has been that those who separated themselves were in error. For instance, Papacy, the more numerous nominal mass, regarded as heretics those Protestants who left, even though the latter were in the right. In cases of division, the majority who remain frequently have been and are the ones in the wrong. The majority think the very fact that the minority separate themselves or withdraw from the professed believers constitutes an act of disobedience and manifests an improper spirit. They think those leaving are not guided of the Lord but are troublemakers, desiring their own following. This is generally the thinking in such a case. However, the Scriptures say neither the majority nor the minority is always right. One could leave and be in the wrong, or one could leave and be in the right. One could remain behind and be in the right, or one could remain behind and be in the wrong. We will give one illustration.

In the Catholic religion, “scriptural” arguments were used during the days of the Reformation against “schismatics,” nonconformists, etc. The Apostle John was quoted where he said, “They went out from us, but they were not of us” (1 John 2:19). What John meant was that the individuals were not really in harmony with God in the first place, and it was just a matter of time until they got out. Catholics used this Scripture as a proof that the ones who separated from the nominal mass were wrong, and by using just that statement alone, such would appear to be the case. However, the Scriptures show two sides to this question, and the facts have to be weighed in each case.

The Revised Standard Version is stated a little better. “It is these who set up divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.” All too frequently a creedal fence is set up with a certain standard not specifically taught in the Bible. Now a person has a right to his opinions, but he should not use them as a creed for discerning who are brethren and who are not brethren. Paul commented, “One says, ‘I am of Apollos’; another says, ‘I am of Paul’; but ye are carnal if ye manifest that spirit” (1 Cor. 3:3,4). Therefore, to be for one brother and against another is not a very favorable indication.

The comments presented thus far on the matter of divisions are merely intended as helpful observations, for the thrust of Jude’s remarks on this subject may be different from that presented elsewhere in the New Testament. Jude’s comments pertain to the ungodly class in the Church at the end of the Gospel Age, whereas other  Scriptures apply to the Church throughout the age.

The King James Version states, “These be they who separate themselves,” but the rendering should be, “These be they who make boundaries.” (The word “themselves” should be omitted.) The explanation is as follows. In the past, all down through the age, strenuous efforts have been made to apply a rigid sectarian bias as to where to draw the line between what distinguishes a true Christian from a heretic. Sectarian efforts continue to persist today, although another tactic is used; namely, several sects unite on a collective basis, having the doctrine of the Trinity, Immortality of the Soul, etc., as their touchstone for a basis of fellowship. As brethren, we are quite

knowledgeable along these lines as to wherein the danger lies, but could the danger with us be that “marking out boundaries” signifies a widening—rather than a restriction—of what constitutes the true circle of Christian fellowship to such an extent that this natural human element, who are not spiritually minded, not only will enter but ultimately will dominate the thinking and direction of the Truth movement? As Christians, we can neither widen nor restrict the boundary lines as they are set forth in God’s Word.

Jude 20: But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

Jude 21: Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

Jude 22: And of some have compassion, making a difference:

Jude 23: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

Jude 24: Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

Jude 25: To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

Verse 19 ends the warning. Verses 20 through 23 are a summation of lessons to be drawn from this experience that will come upon the Church, and Jude gives us some valuable information.

The benediction of the last two verses is completely self-explanatory, but verses 20-23 are in the nature of advice. Previously Jude advised the consecrated to contend for the faith once given to the saints. Now (in verse 20) he called that faith a “most holy faith” and said the saints are to pray “in the Holy Spirit.” The emphasis on “holy” is in contrast to the lust, lasciviousness, loose living, etc., of the consecrated life about which the entire epistle is talking.

Verse 21 says, “Keep yourselves in the love of God.” We can keep ourselves in the love of others in friendship, but to keep ourselves in the love of God is another matter. “He that loveth me will keep my commandments” (John 14:15,21). And we look for the “mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ [not for the mercy of fellow man] unto eternal life.”

Verse 22 is rendered better in the Jerusalem Bible: “When there are some who have doubts, reassure them.” When this situation comes to a climax, when conditions ripen at a later date, there will be a great deal of confusion in the Church, and people will not know what is happening in the Truth movement. At that time, many will become so discouraged and perplexed about what to do that they will wonder whether God is even recognizing them. They will ask, “Are we really of the faith? Why are things happening this way?” At that time, those who are strongest in faith and have more knowledge are to reassure those who are endeavoring to fulfill their vows. The concern of those who have the right disposition will be to strengthen one another in connection with the “most holy faith.”

The advice given in verse 23 as rendered in the Revised Standard Version is confusing. The first part of the verse speaks of some being saved “by snatching them out of the fire” and “on some have mercy with fear.” This indicates either (a) two methods of saving the same class or (b) separate and distinct methods of saving two classes. This erroneous interpretation of verse 23 is due to (1) the unwarranted duplication of the word “some” twice in the same verse, and (2) the juggling and transposition of phrases within the Greek text itself without proper justification.

Verse 23 might be paraphrased as follows: “There are others whom you must save with great caution, plucking them out of the fire, keeping your distance even from the outside clothing, which is contaminated with vice.” This reference clearly applies to the Great Company class, who will be saved if they respond. The hope is that through the destruction of the flesh, their spirit will be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus (1 Cor. 5:5). Verse 23 refers solely to those who need radical treatment in order to be delivered. It will be impossible to reason and chat with this class in an effort to help them; these will have to be plucked out. Stern admonition and advice in the nature of a warning will be required to extricate them from the “fire” and from ultimate destruction. However, such assistance and advice will cease after the Little Flock goes beyond the veil. The death and identity of the feet members will be made manifest in their betrayal by the “Judas class” and subsequent execution.

The King James Version translates verse 22, “Of some have compassion, making a difference”; that is, the translators considered the root Greek word diakrino, which basically signifies “to judge diversely,” to be equivalent to “making a difference.”

Translators have had great difficulty with verse 22 because (1) this word, as well as sometimes one other word, varies slightly in the Greek text in the various codices, and (2) while the translators have respect for the more ancient manuscripts, some feel convinced that a corruption in the text had already occurred and that later texts from other sources are more reliable. Be that as it may, when diakrino is employed in Scripture in a commendatory sense, as in this instance, it is usually translated “discern,” “discriminate,” “judge,” or “put a difference,” but when it is used in an uncomplimentary sense, it is in various places translated “doubt,”  waver,” or “stagger.”

When verse 22 is considered in conjunction with verse 23, the sense of the passage can be recognized with a greater degree of certainty to signify the following: Jude advised those Christians who are alert to his counsel and who are, therefore, in a position to understand the strange events occurring in the very midst of the

consecrated membership, that they have a responsibility to attempt to rescue as many as possible from this contaminated situation. While two methods are to be used to help the truly consecrated, be they eventually Little Flock or Great Company, those who are attempting to be of aid in this rescue mission must indeed be very careful not to fraternize with or foolishly enter the morass themselves. It would be dangerous to think that perhaps they could be of greater usefulness if they were closer to the situation. Such proximity would endanger their own salvation. If we understand this matter correctly, verses 22 and 23 apply essentially to consecrated brethren in the Church, and not to the ungodly class Jude was speaking about earlier.

The ones in verse 22 who have doubts and simply need reassuring and comfort are probably real saints because not all of the true saints are strong in the same sense. Christians of all types will be of the Little Flock. Some will have more knowledge, and some will have more ability along another line, but all will be true to the core,  hypothetically speaking. Therefore, just because a person needs comfort and reassurance does not mean he will be of the Great Company class. As the Body is one and there are differing capacities among the members, so some need to be shielded and comforted, but they are still members of that Body and, if faithful, will make their calling and election sure.

Two classes are described in verses 22 and 23. Verse 22 is talking about true Christians who are prone to discouragement. The second class (verse 23) are in a dangerous situation or straits from which they must be extricated with a stern warning. Just what their destiny will be we do not know. They may not heed the warning and thus go into the fire, or they may heed the warning but not with sufficient zeal to become members of the Little Flock; we cannot say with certainty where the individuals of this class will be. Inasmuch as the Scriptures show the Little Flock will have no spot or wrinkle, this last class will no doubt be of the Great Company—if they are rescued.

Dealing with them will be difficult and will necessitate great caution. More study is needed on this matter.

The King James Version is obscure on verses 22 and 23, and the Revised Standard Version erroneously brings out the thought of three different classes: “[1] Convince some, who doubt; [2] save some, by snatching them out of the fire; [3] on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” The point is, there are only two classes. The correct rendering of verses 22 and 23, as it appears in the translation of Jude at the end of this study, is as follows: “And reassure some who doubt; but others save with fear, snatching them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” The first class, those who merely need reassurance, are more apt to be the ones living in harmony with their covenant, but they will not understand what is happening and, therefore, will need information and encouragement. An alternate and more literal rendering of verse 22, meaning the same thing, is: “And some do you pity, the doubting ones [that is, those who want and are in need of further counsel and redirection].” The suggestion is that they will be brought to a successful conclusion—the Lord will make sure they are helped—and the ones who participate in that ministry will be proportionately blessed. However, the description of the other class, those who are pulled out of the fire, will be Great Company only.

Now what about the class this whole epistle was written about—the “blemishes,” “spots,” “hidden reefs,” etc.? This ungodly class are not being discussed in verses 20– 23 because they will not be saved. They are all marked for destruction. Let’s consider them again.

Here are a class who will go into Second Death, yet they are spoken of as being worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. They reason with basic instincts and are not spiritual.

Anyone who makes an open, honest, unreserved consecration to the Lord is begotten of the Holy Spirit. True, there are differing degrees and capacities of the Holy Spirit, but these individuals are Spirit-begotten. The ungodly class Jude was speaking about are in the Church for some time, but because they lack the Spirit of God, they are natural men. Moreover, eventually they will become very carnal. In other words, the individuals who comprise this ungodly class can be considered natural-minded or devoid of the Spirit from one of two standpoints: (1) Some never made a consecration and always were natural-minded yet infiltrated the true Church membership, exercising considerable influence upon its policies. (2) Others did consecrate; they made either (a) an honest and valid confession but allowed the “old man” or the natural mind to later gain the ascendancy over the new mind, or (b) an open but perfunctory vow with some reservations in their hearts. Although probably they themselves were aware of those reservations at the time, nevertheless, they are fully responsible to the Lord for their confession of consecration. The destiny of both classes (1) and (2) are also spoken of by the Apostle Paul (2 Thess. 2:10-12).

The next thing to consider is, how can anybody die in Second Death who is not begotten of the Holy Spirit? That is the big question with regard to this epistle, but such is the case. A person not begotten of the Spirit can die in Second Death. Consider Judas, for example. Judas had been with Jesus, and he died before Pentecost. Some question whether or not Judas died the Second Death, but we feel he did, even though he was not technically begotten of the Holy Spirit in the sense that later occurred.

Why would Judas be liable to Second Death? Jesus Christ by the grace of God tasted death for every man. He is the Light to enlighten every man who enters the world. And what is the “light” that is guaranteed to every individual born on this earth?

That he will come to the knowledge of the truth, but what truth? Coming to the knowledge of the truth does not refer to dispensational truth. The knowledge of the truth which the people in the world in the next age will come to is simply that Jesus is the Savior, that he really is the Savior. That is the knowledge guaranteed to all mankind—that Jesus tasted death for every man and that all will have an opportunity to make good and receive everlasting life. The world will not have all kinds of complicated doctrines. Rather, their instruction will be merely for obedience, and the obedience will be of the simplest kind: Do this, don’t do that, etc. The world will not be given numerous prophecies in the next age. They will not have to study the Book of Revelation, Tabernacle Shadows, etc.—that will not be their qualification. No, they will be judged for life or death on the basis of obedience, and the instruction will be very simple.

Billions of people have not even heard the name of Jesus. Some have heard the name of Jesus but have accepted another religion. Others have heard about Jesus but have not made a consecration. The point is this: If anyone comes to the knowledge of this basic truth—that Jesus is the Lord and Savior sent of God—and truly believes it, and then makes a consecration on that basis but remains as a natural man and is not led of the Spirit into a deeper understanding, that person is still liable, for he has made a contract with the Lord. For this reason, Jesus said to “sit down and count the cost” because once an individual has put his hand to the plow, there is no turning back (Luke 9:62; 14:26-33). Jesus did not say, “If I do not recognize you, you are not begotten of the Holy Spirit,” or “If you do not acquiesce and do the things I tell you and I see you are the wrong material, I will excuse you, and you can go back into the world.” What Jesus said was, “Do not consecrate at all unless you know what you are doing.” The implication is that if a person consecrates who does not know what he is doing, he is still liable and will be held accountable for the contract he made with the Lord to do His will. Be it carefully noted that the consecration vow is as simple and as legally binding as the marriage vow.

Thus this ungodly class will go into Second Death—not because they became spiritual in the sense of imbibing the truth, etc., but because they really believed Jesus was the Savior, made a contract of consecration with the Lord, and infiltrated the Church as part of the membership, as evidenced by their participation in love feasts and the elevation of some to the role of teachers in the Church (see the comment on Jude 4 and 2 Peter 2:1,2). The Book of Jude teaches that this class will multiply and multiply until it dominates the Church and others become contaminated. Not right now, because certain other things have to happen first, but later on this situation will become a real problem. When it does occur, it will cause great consternation. This condition will lead up to the individual stand of Christians in the future, at the very end of the age.

When this condition exists, what will the true Christian do? He will have to look for those who are spiritual, and those who are spiritual will become fewer and fewer in number until they find they have to stand alone in the faith. Jesus was referring to this future condition when he asked, “When I come, shall I find faith in the earth?” (Luke 18:8).

We do know that in regard to the John class, Christ beyond the veil must increase while the John the Baptist class this side of the veil must decrease. This numerical change will come, involving both the Great Company and also this other ungodly class. What, then, about the saintly few? They are in for very troubled waters in the future. Other events will have to take place before this general prevailing condition will occur, but the seeds of it are already here, and that is what Jude was warning about.

When this condition exists, it will be what Elijah was referring to when he said, “I, only I, am left” (1 Kings 19:14). The Lord answered back that 7,000 in Israel had not bowed the knee to Baal, but those “7,000” will be scattered and isolated—one here, one there. That is why, as that day approaches in the future, there will be a need for the stronger ones to encourage the others. The Holy Spirit helps Christians in calling things to remembrance. Sometimes in trials, we are burdened with various things and do not know what is going on at first, but later, as time goes by, the Holy Spirit brings to mind certain promises, admonitions, and encouragements that are helpful.

However, if we have never tried to obtain that information, we will have certain problems, for the Lord will not call to mind things we have never read, considered, heard, or given our hearts to know. On the other hand, if we have previously studied and considered a matter or subject, then later on the Lord will help us in time of need, and things we have forgotten will come to remembrance.

The Book of Jude has been neglected because it is frightening as well as distasteful to study, normally speaking. When we go to Jude, we usually jump to certain particular passages; we use three or four verses quite frequently. However, the study of the book as a whole is not a cheerful subject by any means, but it will become meaningful and profitable in the future. And, of course, at the present time, the Book of Jude serves as a forewarning.

Certain evidences quite prevalent even now will develop rapidly later on. The situation can be compared to a dike with a tiny hole. At first, it is only a little hole, and you can put your finger in the hole and perhaps stop the leakage of water or at least slow it down for a while; but it is just a matter of time until the flood occurs.

These other conditions will develop following the favorable worldwide general witness, which will result in those who become amenable to the truth coming into the Church in overwhelming numbers. This great influx will be accepted and permitted to go through the ritual, and many of the brethren will be so elated at what is happening that they will not realize they are letting down the standards.

Consequently, those who come into the Church will be jeopardized. To allow them to enter under wrong pretensions will be doing them a disservice.

The text “There shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts” also refers to individuals who are not spiritual, that is, to scoffers—scoffers of the world of mankind (2 Pet. 3:3). (Noah received similar opposition in his day from the world round about him, who derided his faith in the coming Flood.) However, Jude’s discussion of scoffers was from another standpoint. Just because Jude mentioned that the apostles spoke about scoffers in the world does not mean the very same scoffers would be in the Church. Rather, the thought is that those with a similar type of disposition would comprise a worldly element in the Church, who will go through the formality of entering the Church but be unregenerate and not change their ways. There will come an erosion in the Church where, first, a distinction is not made between the consecrated and the unconsecrated. The unconsecrated will be allowed certain privileges so that the band of demarcation will become less and less. Finally, since the unconsecrated were never instructed properly, when they take the step of consecration, they will not know what they are doing. The Lord never gives any individual much information prior to consecration, but as Brother Magnuson said, “God gives us a scroll and says, ‘Sign the bottom line. My will concerning you is printed on the scroll.’ We do not know what that will is—all we know is that when we sign the scroll, we have made a definite contract to do God’s will, whatever it may be.” We have the right heart condition; we know what doing God’s will has meant to us and how we overcame certain obstacles (although, of course, we will have some obstacles all our life), and we know we are spiritual. Since the natural man cannot

understand spiritual things, one of the best evidences a person is Spirit-begotten is that he understands spiritual things. A person may parrot certain statements—for example, about the three worlds—but that is not real understanding.

Be it noted that the scoffers in the Church will not be of the Great Company class because scoffing is an evil disposition. The Great Company may misrepresent and do some other things, but they are not malicious. At heart, they are consecrated and want to please the Lord; it is just that they have certain problems with their flesh and do not control it. Consequently, they will reap a less favorable destiny. Nevertheless, they must ultimately develop the proper character in order to get life. The ungodly class are another matter.

Not until the Church is gone will this condition be absolutely evident, for until that time we cannot make a distinction between the Little Flock and the Great Company.

What will happen is that the Little Flock will be taken out by persecution from the nominal system on the outside, leaving behind the Great Company and this other element. However, the Great Company class will be changed before the return of the Lord in the sense of executing judgment on all, for when the Lord comes, he will first deal with the Great Company class. Then he will deal with the world, and this ungodly element is of the world.

This condition will not just “happen.” A favorable message will be given that will divide the “waters” (peoples). The truth will become popular for a little while before Elijah’s change, so there will be a time when even the Little Flock will have a problem with this condition of ungodly, natural men coming into the Church.

However, they will not have the problem for as long a time as the Great Company because in connection with the smiting message given previously, the repercussions will be on those considered to be the ringleaders (2 Kings 2:8-11).

Two types of message will be given at the end of the age: first, a general witness work and popularity along one line, and then a separate smiting message. The truths we present now are not the smiting work. Thus two big messages will be given in the future. Many will participate in the general witness, but very few will participate in the smiting message. The ungodly class will already be in the Church before the change of the feet members takes place.

The question might be asked, How should we prepare for the smiting message? First of all, if we have the Volumes, we should make it our business to find out who the John the Baptist class is and why Elias must first come. Many in the Truth movement today do not even think or know about these points. A part of the truth message is that the Elijah class is to anticipate a second attack, but those who have never thought, meditated, or prayed about it cannot expect to be specially favored when that time comes. And many openly confess and take the attitude, “Oh, well, we will worry about that when it happens.” They are not at all interested in studying the subject.

Therefore, the preparation would be to familiarize ourselves with the Lord’s Word so that we will know what is coming and so that we will not be taken off guard. That would constitute our preparation for the smiting message rather than planning a formal program because at that time, God will put words in the mouths of His saints. The feet members will speak as the Lord gives them the Spirit (Matt. 10:19,20; Mark 13:11; Luke 12:11,12). Thus we are not to premeditate our actual words but should just search the Scriptures, making a generalized investigation of the entire subject as it pertains to this particular area of truth, and pray continually for enlightenment as it becomes due.

The Book of Jude has been a real puzzle because if it is read merely from the standpoint of three spiritual classes (Little Flock, Great Company, and Second Death), there are contradictions. It is interesting to note that Jude means “Judas.” Judas Iscariot, the traitor, was not Spirit-begotten and hence did not have a robe of

righteousness imputed to him; and Jude, the author of the epistle, the brother of James, wrote about a Second Death class who are not Spirit-begotten and, consequently, either previously removed or never had a robe of righteousness. That there exist these two categories of the class who suffer the fate of Second Death seems to find support in the Parable of the Marriage of the King’s Son, also called the Guest Chamber Parable (Matt. 22:2-14). Verses 11-13 state: “And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he [the king] saith unto him, Friend [compare Matthew 26:50], how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness [compare Jude 13].”

There is no clue in the parable as to whether this evil servant initially had a white robe that he subsequently discarded prior to or after entry into the Guest Chamber, or whether he never had a white robe in the first place. The very omission of information regarding this detail admits the possibility that the evil servant represents both of the following: (1) those who never had a white robe (that is, though they formalized a consecration from the standpoint of a contract, it was not sufficiently valid to be recognized by God in the sense of adoption to sonship, Spirit  begettal, and imputation of a white robe) and (2) those who at one time had been spiritual and thus had a white robe but later discarded it.

Epistle of Jude

Second Epistle of Peter

1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, to the called, those dear to God the Father and safely kept in Jesus Christ. 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who have obtained equally precious faith with us in the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ.
2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied unto you.

1:2 Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.

3 Beloved, [at first] making all haste to write to you concerning the common salvation, I [now] find it a necessity to write exhorting you to earnestly contend for the faith once having been delivered to the saints.

1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed….

4 For certain men have infiltrated [among you], those of old marked out for this judgment, impious ones [lacking reverence],turning the grace of God into lasciviousness, even denying our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ.

2:1,2 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who will subtly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them, bringing on themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their impious practices, by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.
5 Now I desire to remind you, though you once knew this, because:The Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt [once], the second time destroyed them that believed not.

1:12; Wherefore I will not be negligent
2:22 always to remind you of these things, though you know them, and are established in present truth…. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is returned to his vomit; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their habitation, he hath reserved in lasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. 2:4 … God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to Tartarus, and delivered them into chains of darkness to be kept unto judgment.

7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities round about them, which likewise gave themselves over to fornication, and went after strange flesh, are set forth as  an example, undergoing the fire of eternal vengeance. 2:6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live impiously.

8 In like manner indeed these deluded ones defile the flesh, disregard lordships and  blaspheme dignitaries. 2:10 … chiefly them that walk after the flesh in defiling lust, and despise lordship.  Presumptuous are they, self-willed; they are not afraid to blaspheme dignitaries.

9 Yet Michael, the archangel, when contending with the Devil about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a judgment of blasphemy, but said, The Lord rebuke thee!

2:11 Whereas angels, who are greater in power and might, bring not judgment of blasphemy against them before the Lord.

10 But these blaspheme what things they do not understand; but what things they, as  unreasoning animals by natural instinct do know, in these things they are corrupt.

2:12 But these, like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, made for capture and slaughter, blaspheme matters that they do not understand; and shall indeed perish in their own corruption.

11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and rushed after the error of Balaam for reward, and perish in the  contradiction of Korah.

2:14b- … Cursed children: which have
16 forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet.
12a These are hidden reefs in your love feasts,without [reverential] fear feasting together, feeding themselves.

2:13b, … Spots they are and stains, feasting
14a along with you, reveling in their  deceits; having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices.

12b, [These are] waterless clouds carried about

by winds; unfruitful autumnal trees, [therefore] uprooted, twice dead. Wild waves of the sea, foaming out their shame; wandering stars, for whom has been kept, unto the age [to come], the gloom of darkness.

2:17 … These are wells without water, mists being driven by storm, for whom has been kept the gloom of darkness.

13
14,

15

And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied concerning these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with myriads of his saints, eighth  to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the impious ones of all their impious deeds which they have impiously committed, and of all the harsh things which impious

sinners have spoken against him.

2:5 And [God] did not spare the ancient world but did protect Noah, the [among seven other persons], a herald of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of impious ones.

16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking words of folly, they allure through the speaketh great swelling words, flattering persons to their face to gain advantage.        2:18,3 For when they speak great swelling after their own lusts; and their mouth lusts of the flesh, through much lasciviousness, those who have scarcely fled away from those living in error…. And through covetousness with fabricated words shall they make merchandise of you: whose judgment of old now lingereth not, and their destruction slumbereth not.

17,

18

But, beloved, remember the words which…

were previously spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. How that they toldyou there should be scoffers in the last time,the impious ones walking after their own lusts.

3:1-4 Beloved, I now write unto you; in which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking in their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his presence? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.

19 These be they, marking out boundaries, natural-minded, having not the Spirit. 2:19-

21

While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. For if after they have

escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after they had known it, to turn back from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

20,

21

But, beloved, building up yourselves on

your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

3:17 You therefore, beloved, seeing you know these things beforehand, beware lest you also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness.

22,

23

And reassure some who doubt; but others save with fear, snatching them out of the fire, hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

2:7,8 And rescued righteous Lot, vexed with the licentious conduct of the lawless ones. (For that righteous man  dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, was tormented in his righteous soul day after day with their lawless deeds.)

24a Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling … 2:9 The Lord knoweth how to rescue the pious out of temptations, and to keep the unjust unto the day of judgment to be cut off.

24b … and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. 3:14 Therefore, beloved, seeing that you look for such things, be diligent that you may be found of him in peace, without spot and blameless.

25 To the only wise God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and throughout all ages. Amen.

3:18 But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen.

The above rendition of the Epistle of Jude and of the parallel portion of the Second Epistle of Peter is based on a diligent comparison of the several generally recognized and authentic English versions of the Greek New Testament available to the general public, such as the King James Version, the Living Bible, the Revised Standard Version, the New English Bible, Phillips’ Modern English, and the Jerusalem Bible.

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  1. […] Jud 1:6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.  (see verse by verse study on Jude) […]

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