We need wisdom at at time when the cultural environment around us - like back in Jude's time - is not conductive to that, when others are submitting to the lowest level of behavior.
[Peter Eddington] What do you think of when I mention the word “wisdom?” King Solomon? Perhaps the book of Proverbs? Is there anything from the New Testament that makes you think of wisdom? What could it be? Who is the most wise that you know of? In the New Testament, we come to the completion of the Bible with the writings of John and the book of Revelation. It was written near the end of the first century, about 90 A.D. The book of Jude was also written at about the same time, between 80 and 90 A.D. And I mention this for a reason. In the book of Revelation, we have seven churches singled out, and one of those is the church at Ephesus, which today, is in the country of modern Turkey.
I’m going to come back to the question of wisdom in the book of Jude again in a moment, but let’s first notice something in Revelations 2 about Ephesus. The church at Ephesus had a lot going for it, a lot of positive attributes, but it had begun to let down. So Jesus Christ has a message for the church at Ephesus. Revelation 2:4-5 Revelation 2:4-5 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love.
5 Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come to you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place, except you repent.
American King James Version×. Let’s just read those two verses, Revelation 2:4-5 Revelation 2:4-5 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against you, because you have left your first love. 5 Remember therefore from where you are fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come to you quickly, and will remove your candlestick out of his place, except you repent.
American King James Version×, “Nevertheless I have this against you, you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent.” And it’s a human tendency, isn’t it, to be really enthusiastic at certain stages in our life, but then, to get sloppy?
One of the problems we have is that the environment around us is not very conducive to the way of life prescribed in the Scriptures. The pressures of life can get the better of us, and in many ways, we may let down and compromise when we know we shouldn’t. You may recall the results of studies where a group of small children are all put in the same room, and eventually, they tend to behave like the least mature among them. If one acts up or does something silly, the others follow. It’s the same with teenagers out on the town for the night. One will do something unwise or a little crazy, and the rest eventually join in. The next thing you know, someone gets hurt or someone ends up in jail for the night.
It’s amazing how that happens. You put a group of children in the same room, and the less mature ones begin to misbehave and the others follow along. And guess what? Adults can do the same. And as with the church at Ephesus, it can be our tendency as Christians too, if we’re not careful. We can let down, we can fall. We have to be careful to continue on the straight and narrow path at a steady, consistent pace. We must not let ourselves let down, as the brethren did in Ephesus. And this Ephesian church is typical of the entire first age of the history of the New Testament church, or for that matter, the Old Testament church, too.
There’s this great enthusiastic beginning, “Yeah, let’s get out of Egypt.” Then, there’s the tendency to start to let down, to lose that first love. And so, we must not submit to the lowest course of behavior, to the lowest common denominator. Now, I mentioned the book of Jude, at the beginning, was written at about the same time as Revelation. And as Christ, through John, wrote to the congregation at Ephesus, Jude also shows this tendency to let down. It was there towards the end of the first century, and it’s written about in his book. So today, we’re going to look at the book of Jude and here’s why. Jude ends his book in a very interesting way. He speaks about God as being wise.
God has an amazing list of qualities and the Bible focuses on certain ones, and Jude focuses on God’s wisdom. And of course, you and I need wisdom at a time when the cultural environment around us, like back in Jude’s time, is not conducive to that, not conducive to godly wisdom. When others are submitting to the lowest level of behavior, we need wisdom in terms of how to live our lives, and wisdom is not something we may think about a lot. We might neglect that particular gift, throughout the gifts we need. And we might figure out the need for courage or faith, but we also need wisdom, and Jude reminds us of that at the very end of his book.
So the title of the sermon today is “The Epistle of Jude and God’s Wisdom.” So look at Jude 1:25 Jude 1:25To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
American King James Version×, if you would with me, Jude 1:25 Jude 1:25To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
American King James Version×. Because when I mentioned the word “wisdom,” you no doubt do think of King Solomon or the book of Proverbs. But notice the end of the book of Jude, “To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, now and forever. Amen.” God alone is wise. If you want to think of wisdom, of where wisdom even comes from, think of Solomon, yes, but first, think of God. And this afternoon, I’m going to cover two instances of God’s perception and wisdom, and it will wrap around the writings of Jude, as you will see. And the first of these two points, I have simply titled, “God, Enoch, and Wisdom.”
First, let’s go to the 11th chapter of Hebrews, Hebrews 11:5 Hebrews 11:5By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
American King James Version×. This, of course, is the chapter about having faith in God. And in Hebrews 11:5 Hebrews 11:5By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.
American King James Version×, we read this, “By faith…” He’s one of the people listed as having faith. “By faith Enoch was taken away so that he did not see death, ‘and was not found, because God had taken him’; for before he was taken he had this testimony, that he pleased God.” So Enoch was a faithful man. But think about what actually happened here. What God did here was extremely wise. God alone is wise, and Enoch was in trouble. And God’s messengers are often in trouble. We have examples of martyrdom, beatings, imprisonment. And evidently, Enoch would have been murdered. He would have been killed.
He would have seen death, and perhaps because of what he was preaching back then, the testimony it says that he was delivering, the testimony that he had because it says he had this testimony of God. Remember, this was the pre-flood world which got worse and worse, so God took Enoch to a place of protection. By faith, Enoch was taken away so that he did not see an impending death. He was not found, because God had taken him. Of course, he eventually died, but he didn’t die right then. He was kept alive a while longer. God protected him from a violent death. Let’s go back to Genesis 5 now and read about it there. Genesis 5.
Of course, Genesis 6 is when we start to see the world turning extremely corrupt and the order for an ark to be built, but just before that, in Genesis 5:21-24 Genesis 5:21-24 21 And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:
22 And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years, and begat sons and daughters:
23 And all the days of Enoch were three hundred sixty and five years:
24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
American King James Version×. Genesis 5:21 Genesis 5:21And Enoch lived sixty and five years, and begat Methuselah:
American King James Version×, “Enoch lived sixty-five years and begot Methuselah.” Oh, so Enoch was Methuselah’s dad. We’ve all heard of Methuselah, right? Wasn’t he the one that lived the longest or something? So Enoch was his dad. Verse 22, “After he begot Methuselah, Enoch walked with God three hundred years, and had sons and daughters.” So this was a faithful man. Verse 23, “So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” So it’s ambiguous here, isn’t it? What do you mean, “He was not and God took him?”
But the book of Hebrews clarifies it for us and tells us that evidently at some point, he was taken away from what appears to be a violent death. He was protected and later, of course, did eventually die. But it’s interesting that some of what he taught… some of what Enoch taught…was preserved, evidently by Noah and his family on the ark, maybe, and then afterwards, certain narratives were passed down over the years. There’s been some tradition and there is some record of what Enoch taught in a book written during the inter-testamental years, after Malachi but before Matthew. A book was written which was claimed to be by Enoch. And some of its contents seem to be valid, but other parts, not so much.
But in any case, over the centuries, some of Enoch’s teachings were preserved, and all this winds up in a book the Jews have kept for thousands of years, this book of Enoch. That doesn’t mean the book of Enoch, this inter-testamental book, is altogether valid, and it’s not canonical Scripture. But a part of it does seem to be valid and quoted here and put in the book of Jude. We’ll take a look at that a bit more in a moment. So that’s, beginning in here, the story of Enoch. God was very wise and pulled him out of danger and protected him. Now, another incident I wanted to talk about is in Deuteronomy. In a bit, you’ll see why I’m pulling out these two stories, and it’s that second point, “God, Moses, and Wisdom.” So we had “God, Enoch,” now, we’ve got “God, Moses, and Wisdom.” And we’re going to Deuteronomy 34.
At the end of the book of Deuteronomy, we have another very wise act where God chose as an example of wisdom. It’s the way Moses dies. Moses is a critically important figure, a type of Jesus Christ, and in Judaism, the greatest of their prophets. If I read to you verses 10 through 12, Deuteronomy 34:10 Deuteronomy 34:10And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like to Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,
American King James Version×, “But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, who the Lord knew face to face,” So yeah, he was the greatest of the prophets. Verse 11, “and all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all these servants, and in all his land, by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all of Israel.”
So he was considered the greatest prophet by the Jewish community in particular. But notice Deuteronomy 34:5 Deuteronomy 34:5So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.
American King James Version×. Go back to verse 5, “So Moses the servant of the Lord, died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day.” And then, verse 7, “Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished. And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab for thirty days.” So obviously, this wasn’t written by Moses, right? It was added later, probably by Joshua or someone else later on. But in any case, nobody knows where Moses was buried.
And this is very important, because who knows what would have happened if people had known where their greatest prophet was buried? Forget the golden calf, imagine if they had Moses’ body. It could easily have become a center of idolatrous activity to this day, a relic to worship. God, very wisely, did not want this to be. So he buried him in a place where nobody knew. Another act of wisdom. In both of these acts of wisdom, Enoch and Moses are referred to in the book of Jude. And remember that Jude mentions God at the end of the book as “the wise God.” As warned to the church at Ephesus, we also need to be wise at a time when we may let down, and we must maintain a consistent spiritual pace.
And the book of Jude talks of a time when the church, perhaps only six or seven decades old, had already lost its first love. It had problems of corruption which had begun to set in. Discipline was needed, warnings were needed. And so, now, I actually have a third point, “God, Jude and Wisdom.” So let’s go to the book of Jude because in many ways, this sermon is a bit of an exposition on Jude, a study about the book of Jude. Let’s look at the beginning, Jude 1:1 Jude 1:1Jude, 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:
American King James Version×, “Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and a brother of James, to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you.” So there’s the introduction.
But it appears Jude is speaking very modestly here. He’s not trying to pull rank. He doesn’t say, “Just so you know, I’m Jesus Christ’s brother. Just know, I’m the brother of James.” There is some scholarly division of opinion as to which Jude this is. But to most, it appears that he was one of the brothers of Jesus. If you compare that with Matthew 13:53-56 Matthew 13:53-56 53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed there.
54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, From where has this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brothers, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? From where then has this man all these things?
American King James Version×, you’ll come to see this, I believe. Let me read to you Matthew 13:53-56 Matthew 13:53-56 53 And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed there. 54 And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, From where has this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brothers, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? 56 And his sisters, are they not all with us? From where then has this man all these things?
American King James Version×. Matthew 13:53 Matthew 13:53And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these parables, he departed there.
American King James Version×says, “It came to pass, when Jesus had finished these parables, that He departed from there. And when He’d come to His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished and said, ‘Where did this Man get this wisdom and these mighty works?’”
So the rest of the population noticed that Jesus had a lot of wisdom. And in Matthew 13:55 Matthew 13:55Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brothers, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?
American King James Version×, they said, “Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Where then did this Man get all these things?” So they realized that it was some kind of supernatural help that Jesus had. But it’s interesting that those around Jesus noted that He was filled with wisdom. Right to Matthew 13:54 Matthew 13:54And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, From where has this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?
American King James Version×, Jesus was filled with wisdom. It was noticed, it was obvious. After all, as we know, He was God made man. There’s a similar account in Mark 6:3 Mark 6:3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
American King James Version×. Mark 6:3 Mark 6:3Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.
American King James Version×says, “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and the brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?”
So of course, Jude would have been a half-brother, because Jesus Christ was divinely begotten. James was a half-brother who became an apostle. And maybe when Jude calls himself the bondservant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, that he was speaking modestly. If the book of Jude is authored by the Jude who was the half-brother of Jesus Christ… which is what we teach… and the brother of James the apostle, then he certainly has quite a lineage and a level of authority here from which he speaks. Let’s go back to Jude 1:3 Jude 1:3Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write to you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write to you, and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.
American King James Version×. Jude 1:3 Jude 1:3Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write to you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write to you, and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints.
American King James Version×, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to,” and here it is, “contend earnestly for the faith which was once and for all delivered to the saints.”
So like the church at Ephesus was warned, here towards the end of the first century, we already have issues coming up, a love for the faith diminishing. Human nature is getting a hold. Like I said, it sounds a bit like the church at Ephesus. And then, notice Jude 1:4 Jude 1:4For 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.
American King James Version×, “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation.” Well, we were warned about them before. Jude says, “You were warned this could happen.” And of course, we understand that the prophets of the Old Testament gave many warnings, marked out for this condemnation long ago, “Ungodly men who turn the grace of our God into lewdness,” or the grace to do wrong, license to do wrong, “and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Jude is giving a strong warning against false ministers, false prophets and those who have an antichrist spirit. Near the end of the first century, heresy and heretics were starting to take a hold by turning the grace of our God into a license to do wrong. The apostle Paul addressed this in Romans 6 in the first two verses, Romans 6:1-2 Romans 6:1-2 1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
American King James Version×, where Paul says, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?” He said, “Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?” So Jude is warning that there were those who were turning the grace of God into a license to sin. “It doesn’t really what I do, because I can just repent and everything will be forgiven. I’ll be okay again. That doesn’t really matter too much if I sin a bit. I can just repent.”
But here, Jude is truly testing the church. Even today, there are people who call themselves Christian, but they don’t really believe in the pre-existing divinity of Jesus Christ. They deny the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lord. They don’t value Scripture in the same way we do. We must represent the church that Jesus Christ established and contend earnestly for the faith delivered to the saints, which is to us. We’re the saints now. It’s been delivered to us. Let me read to you Titus 1:16 Titus 1:16They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate.
American King James Version×, if you want to make a note of it. Titus 1:16 Titus 1:16They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and to every good work reprobate.
American King James Version×, “They profess to know God, but in works, they deny Him. By the way, they live, they’re really denying Christ, being abominable, disobedient and disqualified for every good work.” So Titus also wrote about those who deny Christ, deny God.
You could also make a note of 2 Timothy 3:5 2 Timothy 3:5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
American King James Version×. 2 Timothy 3:5 2 Timothy 3:5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
American King James Version×also says, “Having a form of godliness but denying its power. From such people, turn away!” So the people that looked good, but they… really, it was just a form of godliness. They just looked like they were doing the right thing, though denying the power of God. So here at the beginning, much of Jude appears negative. Scholars say Jude was warning of Gnosticism and referring to the Libertine branch of Gnosticism of the day. It was a very promiscuous ideology that was now challenging the church and so, he’s writing about these spiritual casualties because of the culture around them. The Gnosticism beliefs around them were influencing the church.
But there are three very positive takeaways from Jude. And I’d like you just to write these three positive takeaways down, just so that you have them in your notes. Firstly, Jude says, “Contend for the faith.” That’s right here in verse 3, “Contend for the faith.” And secondly, he says, “Build on that faith.” That’s the main second message of the book, to build on that faith. That’s in verse 20. And then, he says, “Look to God for that faith.” That’s kind of the third section, “Look to God for that faith.” That’s in verse 24 through 25. That’s kind of an overall outline: contend for the faith, build on that faith, look to God for that faith.
But now, let’s go to Jude 5, “But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” So you’ll recall, this is the end result of the Promised Land’s spies, with only Joshua and Caleb being faithful, requiring them to wander 40 years in the wilderness. And then, verse 6, “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.” So here in verse 6 is one of the places where we get the idea of the last great day on the Eighth Day of the Feast, the angels being “reserved… for judgment in that great day.”
If you want to make a note of it, you can read about these fallen angels in other parts of the Bible, like 2 Peter 2:4 2 Peter 2:4For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved to judgment;
American King James Version×. They’re going to be judged. 1 Corinthians 6:3 1 Corinthians 6:3Know you not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?
American King James Version×states, “Do you not know that we shall judge angels?” So there’s a judgment now on them, and there’s a certain restraint that they’re under, but they’ve also been given some leeway. The angelic realm and the demonic world is very real. They still have tremendous power and influence, which they’re going to totally lose later. Those angels who have sinned will lose that power and influence later. So God was willing to take the lives of Israelites who rebelled… this is what we read in verse 5… and He was willing to restrain these angels and He will judge them.
And now, Jude records some more of the early history of humanity. And he’s warning us, “Don’t be like these people,” and he’s warning the church of his day, “Don’t be like these people.” Jude 7, “as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and going after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” So verses 6 and 7 give a glimpse into the meaning of the Eighth Day of the Feast, the resurrection to judgment, not just for the angels who sinned, but also for ancient cities and peoples. And in those cities, a fire burned until there was nothing left to burn. The cities were totally consumed. Nobody put out that fire. It kept burning until it could burn no longer.
And as we read in the gospels, these ancient cities, though, will rise again in the day of judgment to know God, to repent and to be offered salvation. That’s one of the meanings of the Eighth Day of the Feast. And there are various types of sins listed here in Jude 1:7 Jude 1:7Even 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.
American King James Version×, but they’re all in the same category: of sin, of transgression of the law, rebelling against God. And now, Jude compares these people who had crept into the church to others in history, like Sodom and Gomorrah. The people around Jude were encouraging people to behave in an unseemingly, inappropriate manner, and they were undermining the standards of the church. And the matter had to be dealt with, so Jude writes with some authority here. And then, God ensured that this actually ended up in canonical Scripture for us to learn from.
Now, look at Jude 1:8 Jude 1:8Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
American King James Version×, “Likewise also these dreamers defile their flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.” Verse 9, “Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” So Jude gives this example that we read about earlier, the body of Moses. But it’s actually quite amazing what’s added here. The Old Testament doesn’t talk about the fact that the archangel Michael was right there, making sure that Moses will be buried where nobody would know. The devil wanted to use Moses’ body. Imagine if he had it today. Once again, it shows the wisdom of God in not allowing Moses’ body to be found.
This is how one deals with demonic forces, “The Lord rebuke you.” That’s all Michael had to say. Apparently, something needed to be said and so, he said it. But he didn’t wax eloquent, he just said, “The Lord rebuke you.” And think about this. When speaking about authority figures, dignitaries, it says. Don’t fall always to the negative. If we’re on the negative side, we have to be careful. I have to be careful myself. I guess we all do, particularly in America, because one good thing about this country is the democratic culture. But sometimes, it can be carried to the extreme. We do have to have a certain respect for the office, no matter what it is: the governor, the local mayor, the president, the senator, etc.
We may have our disagreements, but we still have to have respect for the office, is what Jude is saying here. Then, Jude 1:10 Jude 1:10But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
American King James Version×, “But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves.” Jude talks here about people mouthing off on things they don’t know anything about. I think I’ve seen a little bit of that on TV lately. It’s quite difficult, as you know… takes some effort… to go on and on about something of which you have no clue. Jude said that’s what they’re doing. There’s an old proverb that says, “Empty vases make the most noise.” Actually, I have it here. It’s from Plato.
Here’s what Plato said, “An empty vessel makes the loudest sound, so they that have the least wit are the greatest babblers.” And I think we see a lot of that in society today. “They that have the least wit are the greatest babblers.” So, “They speak about things they don’t know,” Jude says. “And then, things they ought to know about, they don’t even do,” is what he’s adding here. People ought to have a certain sense of ethics, of what’s right and what’s wrong, what’s appropriate, what’s inappropriate. Then, Jude 1:11 Jude 1:11Woe to 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.
American King James Version×. Jude says, “Woe to them! They’ve gone in the way of Cain,” well, that’s murder, “have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit,” so that’s illegal gain, “and perished in the rebellion of Korah.” That’s rebellion. So murder, illegal gain, and rebellion going on in the society around the church at the time, maybe even in the church.
And of course, we could cover in much detail any of these examples right here from verse 11. But let’s continue in Jude 1:12 Jude 1:12These 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 wither, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
American King James Version×, “These are spots in your love feasts.” So these are Feasts of God which show God’s love for mankind, right? “While they feast with you,” they’re attending the holy days “but serving only themselves.” So there is an element in the church that’s crept in that’s not good. And now, look at the rest of verse 12 and then, verse 13. Listen to this, “They are clouds without water, carried away by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” Those are rather powerful, eloquent words, very descriptive.
Jude says these people are really only serving themselves, nothing for the greater good, empty vessels, the greatest babblers but the least wit, if we quote Plato. And now, verse 14, here comes the quote most likely from the apocryphal book, Enoch. Jude 1:14 Jude 1:14And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints,
American King James Version×, “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam,” Methuselah’s dad, “prophesied about these men,” Oh, really? What did he say? He said, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all, who were ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” So even the pre-flood world preached about the ultimate conclusion of human history.
It’s amazing. “Judgement on all,” said Enoch. The return of our Savior and ultimately that the wicked will be punished. And it’s Enoch leading the charge, preaching this. No wonder God had to supernaturally remove him in order to preserve his life, to protect him from being murdered. A very wise move on God’s part, of course. But I find it amazing here, in Jude 1:14-15 Jude 1:14-15 14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints,
15 To execute judgment on 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.
American King James Version×, we get a glimpse into the preaching of the gospel long before the flood, long before Noah came on the scene, preaching of the return of a savior of judgment on those who sinned. So no doubt, a huge part of Enoch’s life was preaching the gospel message, preaching of a better Kingdom to come, preaching a message of repentance against sin.
But it’s just in three places, in Genesis, Hebrews, and Jude. This big work that he did is just mentioned in three little places, but it was so impactful of the time, God had to protect him. He was quite a witness in the day. And then, Jude 1:16 Jude 1:16These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaks great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.
American King James Version×, “These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; in their mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage.” So this was a classic example of being a respecter of persons. Jude is talking about people trying to ingratiate themselves. It’s nothing but flattery, is what he’s saying. We have to be careful if someone flatters us. We can understand when somebody is properly praising us for something well done, thanking us for something that we have accomplished. But then, there’s also flattery that you have to be very careful about.
What’s interesting about this verse… verse 16… is, it’s very similar to 2 Peter 2:18 2 Peter 2:18For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
American King James Version×. Jude was quite influenced by Peter, is what we’ve come to see. 2 Peter 2:18 2 Peter 2:18For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.
American King James Version×says, “For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness,” basically exactly what Jude is saying, “they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who’ve actually escaped from those who live in error.” So Jude was quite influenced by Peter. And then, Jude 1:17 Jude 1:17But, beloved, remember you the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
American King James Version×, “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” So no doubt, Jude is referring to Peter, here again, one of the apostles that had preached in the past, whom he paraphrased in verse 16.
It’s interesting that Jude did not try to claim the idea for himself. He’s speaking modestly. He’s speaking towards the end of the New Testament period when most of the apostles are dead, other than perhaps himself… if he’s an apostle… and John. Maybe just the two of them are the only ones left from the original team, John and Jude, by this time. But Jude does seem to have been a humble person, not trying to claim a lot of lineage or history or promotion for himself. Then, Jude verse 18, “Remember how they told you there will be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts.” So you may recall that Paul wrote something very similar to Timothy, and Peter wrote also about lustful persons.
So Jude is kind of bringing together here several thoughts from the apostles who had now died. And then, Jude 1:19 Jude 1:19These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
American King James Version×, “These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.” So he’s accusing some people in the church of not having the Holy Spirit. People like this cause trouble. He says they cause divisions, they cause splits, don’t have God’s Spirit. And often, this ends up with a thought, “I want to follow this person, I want to follow that person,” somebody says, “I want to be the boss,” someone else says, “No, I want to be the boss.” But what’s important, Jude is saying, is to preserve our core beliefs, the faith once delivered, to preserve our practices… biblical practices.
And then, work to get along in the Church, he says. Remember the faith once delivered and then get along. Otherwise, you’ll limit the power to care for the congregations and to really effectively preach the gospel. It causes a duplication of effort because he says in Jude 1:20 Jude 1:20But you, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
American King James Version×, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up 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.” So he says there are others out there who are causing division and don’t have the Spirit. But you need to have faith, the Holy Spirit, the love of God and mercy, the opposite of what others were trying to do to the Church at the time. We have to be merciful. We need God’s forgiveness, but like Jude said at the beginning of the book, He doesn’t forgive us so that we can continue to sin.
It’s not a license to sin, this grace that we’re given. If we sin and repent, we need to do better, Jude says. We overcome the sin, we don’t do it again. We’re not going to do that perfectly, but here, Jude is warning the Church, because it had let down in a serious way at the end of the first century. It’s warned about in the book of Revelation in several places as well. Jude reminds them to get back on track. And if necessary, certain ones needed to be put out of the community… or as we’d say today, to be disfellowshipped… till they had a different godly point of view. And obviously, Jude is saying the Church has the authority to do that, to exclude troublemakers.
Because notice verses 22 and 23. Jude 1:22 Jude 1:22And of some have compassion, making a difference:
American King James Version×, “On some have compassion,” you know, they’re trying to live a godly life. “On some have compassion, making a distinction,” you know, they’re not like everybody else. “But others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by their flesh.” So Jude’s saying some people, we can try to work with as best we can, help them get themselves back on track. But others have to move on, they can’t be part of the community any longer. Otherwise, they mess up the rest of the Church, he’s saying. Remember, the apostle Paul says elsewhere, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”
So Jude gives this warning towards the end of the New Testament Church period for the Church to maintain its beliefs and practices, to be faithful, to keep on going, and to remember that God is a God of love. But for that very reason, He doesn’t tolerate wickedness. He’s going to keep the Church spiritually clean and pure. Remember what God says about the Laodicean church? He says that “I’ve had to deal with you.” Once again, it’s at the end of the first century. “I’ve had to spew you out of my mouth.” But the good news is that even the Laodicean church is told that they can repent. I mean, it does repent, then you read in Revelation 3 that, “The Laodicean church gets to sit by the throne of God.” You can’t do better than that. The saints can repent and have that reward.
And now, Jude ends his epistle in a very profound way. Look at the final couple of verses, as we wrap this up and conclude. Jude 1:24 Jude 1:24Now to him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
American King James Version×, “Now to Him who’s able to keep you from stumbling,” that’s a capital “H,” referring to God who’s able to keep you from stumbling, “and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy.” So Jude’s saying through God, we’re able to be saved. God can see us through all our trials, through all of what we find around us, and the temptations we see in society. Jude says we want and we need to have that relationship with Him. We need to come to God for the help that we need in becoming righteous.
And then, Jude 1:25 Jude 1:25To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
American King James Version×, “To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.” Another way to translate this would be, “To God our Savior, to the only wise God.” Now, some translations don’t have “wise” in here. Does anybody have a translation on their lap that does not say, “who alone is wise?” Yeah, just a few. For example, the NIV, the ESV, the ASV, and some others simply say, “To the only God our Savior.” But the traditional Greek texts has it as, “To the wise God, the only wise God, and Savior.” It actually has it twice in the Greek. “Wise” is mentioned twice.
Yes, He is the only God. But for whatever reason, Jude emphasizes in this particular case not just that He’s the only great God, but Jude mentioned God’s wisdom. He says, “Who alone is wise.” Perhaps the reason is because wisdom is something we don’t tend to think about all the time. But wisdom is something we need, and God is the author of it and can provide it. Make a note of James 1:5 James 1:5If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraides not; and it shall be given him.
American King James Version×, a classic verse about wisdom. James 1:5 James 1:5If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that gives to all men liberally, and upbraides not; and it shall be given him.
American King James Version×, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” So he doesn’t say if you lack wisdom, ask Solomon. Ask God. That’s where the ultimate godly wisdom comes from, from where Solomon got his wisdom, of course.
And so, that’s something to pray for, actually, every day. “God, please give me wisdom this day.” He’s the one you have to ask for it. And as we’ve seen by a couple of examples here in the book when it came to Moses, when it came to Enoch, just two examples of God’s wisdom in how He dealt with society, with man, with people. Of course, it goes way beyond just those two examples that are in the book of Jude. James 3:13 James 3:13Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.
American King James Version×, “Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show by good conduct that his works are done in the meekness of wisdom.” Then, James 3:17 James 3:17But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
American King James Version×, “But the wisdom that is from above is pure, and peaceable, and gentle.” Once again, James… who is no doubt Jude’s brother, right… says, “The wisdom from above is what’s pure, peaceable, gentle and of good fruit.”
So I pray you have benefitted from this discussion of the book of Jude and God’s wisdom. We had “God, Enoch, and Wisdom,” we had, “God, Moses and Wisdom,” and “God, Jude and Wisdom.”