Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
1. Who was Jude? There are two persons of the name represented as relatives of James. There is Jude the apostle, brother or son of James the martyr (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13), who is also called Lebbaeus; and there is this Jude, the brother of James - that is James the Just, the brother of the Lord (Galatians 1:19), president of the council at Jerusalem (Acts 15:13). The author of this Epistle was, therefore, a younger brother of our Lord and a younger son of Joseph and Mary. He was not an apostle, else he would probably have called himself so. He did not believe in our Lord during his ministry (John 7:5), but became a convert after the Resurrection (Acts 1:14).
2. His official position. He was "a servant of Jesus Christ," not merely in the larger sense in which all saints are so, but in the special sense of his official relation to the Church as an evangelist.
(1) It is an honour to be in the service of such a Master.
(2) Our service ought to he
(a) to him alone (Matthew 6:24);
(b) and to be a diligent, cheerful, and constant service.
(3) Those who would lead others to serve Christ must themselves set the example.
3. His relationship to James. Jude mentions this fact:
(1) Partly that he may distinguish himself from others like Judas the apostle and Judas Iscariot.
(2) Partly to substantiate his claim to a hearing from his relationship to one more celebrated and better known in the Church; James was at once "the Lord's brother," "a pillar in the Church" (Galatians 2:9), and a saintly character.
(3) Partly as implying an agreement in doctrine between James and himself.
(4) Had Jude been an apostle, he would hardly have mentioned this relationship, inasmuch as he could have asserted a much stronger claim.
(5) It may be asked - Why did he not rather mention his relationship to Christ himself?
(a) He may have been led by religious feeling, like James himself in his Epistle, to omit all reference to this matter.
(b) The ascension of Christ had altered the character of this earthly relationship.
(c) Such a course would have been inconsistent with the spirit and teaching of our Lord himself, who taught that those who did his will were more nearly allied to him than earthly kin (Luke 11:27, 28).
II. THE PERSONS TO WHOM THE EPISTLE WAS ADDRESSED. "To them that are called, beloved in God the Father, and preserved for Jesus Christ." Here, again, we have a triple order of ideas. He addresses true saints of God.
1. They were called. This is the familiar Pauline description of the saints. They are called
(1) out of darkness into God's marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
(2) The calling is "according to his purpose" (Romans 8:28).
(3) Not according to works (2 Timothy 1:9).
(4) It is a high calling,
(5) a holy calling; and. therefore saints ought to live suitably thereto.
2. They were beloved in God the Father. This is a unique expression in the New Testament. The tense of the participle implies the love as a continuously existing fact. The Father is the Source of all love-experiences, the sphere in which love is displayed; for God is love.
3. They were preserved for Jesus Christ.
(1) Their preservation does not depend upon their own holiness or effort.
(2) It depends on God's purpose, on his calling, on his grace, lie is able to "keep them from failing" (verse 24). Christ shall "confirm them to the end" (1 Corinthians 1:8); no one shall pluck them out of his hand (John 10:29); their seed abideth in them (1 John 3:9); the fear of the Lord in their hearts shall keep them from departing from him (Jeremiah 32:40); they are "kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation" (1 Peter 1:5).
(3) They are preserved
(a) from the curse of the Law (Galatians 3:13);
(b) from the evil of the world (John 17:15);
(c) from falling (verse 24);
(d) from the touch of the evil one (1 John 5:18).
(4) They are preserved for the day of Christ's coming. That signifies their steadfast perseverance till death. The Apostle Paul placed his stuff, as an immortal deposit, in Christ's hands, with the full persuasion that it would be safely kept "till that day" (2 Timothy 1:12). The saints are kept for the glory of Immanuel in his everlasting kingdom.
III. THE SALUTATION. "Mercy unto you and peace and love be multiplied." Another triplet.
1. Mercy is from the Father. It is his distinguishing attribute. "His mercy endureth for ever." There is forgiving mercy, providing mercy, restrain-inn mercy, restoring mercy, crowning mercy. He has "bowels of mercy." He "delights to show mercy."
2. Peace is through the Son.
(2) He gives peace (John 14:27).
(3) He preached peace (Ephesians 2:17). Therefore great shall be the peace of God's children.
4. Jude prays that these graces may be multiplied.
(1) This implies that saints are till death incomplete in their graces. There never will come a time in which this prayer may not be offered for saints in the flesh.
(2) This prayer has an eye to the glory of God as well as to the comfort and peace of believers.
(3) The Lord is always willing to impart his best gifts.
(4) He has abundance of grace for all his children, and for all the exigencies of their life. - T.C.
I. THE SPIRITUAL ESTIMATE OF THE WORK OF SALVATION. Natural men pass it by with indifference; and, if they regard it, object to its claims, its doctrines, and its pursuits. Jude, James, and those who were "called," knew that it was the highest and most precious gift of God. It was his Divine idea; "for of him are all things." It was the result of a marvelous preparation, and was accomplished by the holy sacrifice of our Lord on "the accursed tree." It is applied by the eternal Spirit, and secures forgiveness, imparts power to appropriate good from all agencies, objects, and conditions; and prepares for eternal glory. It saves from the waste of our life, our labour, own influence, and property; and makes the future one of gracious recompense and unfailing reward. Many things in the world engage the affections and tax the energies of mankind, among which are to be found the allurements of pleasure, the attractions of power, and the possession of gold; but these, when viewed in the clear and heavenly light of Divine instruction, appear as the light dust of the balance, and unworthy of our highest love and our most ardent pursuit. Whatever difference may be found in place of abode, and diversity of forms of worship, an exalted estimate of the gospel is the broad and universal mark of the Church of Christ. As believers understand the worth of the "faith once delivered to the saints," they are required to watch over its purity, and by their steady profession of obedience to the Saviour, by the fervour of their prayers, and by their seasonable advocacy of the gospel, are to contend for its preservation from mutilation and injury.
II. THE UNIVERSAL ASPECT AND FINAL CHARACTER OF THE GOSPEL JUSTIFY ENDEAVOUR TO PRESERVE IT UNIMPAIRED. This inspired writer was a Jew, and all the apostles of Christ were of the stock of Abraham, and had been trained up in a system of local sacrifice and national privilege. This state of things made many of their countrymen narrow and exclusive, and disposed to look upon other nations with the spirit of dislike and even of contempt. When our Lord came he foretold the extension of grace to the Gentiles, and said, "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." His followers received his Spirit, and found that, "where the Spirit of the Lord was there was liberty." "The middle wall of partition was thrown down," and now by one Spirit Jew and Gentile have "access to the Father." It was the "common salvation," and, with all its Divine blessings and extraordinary privileges, offered to men of every clime and tongue, that they might be fellow-heirs with believers who, according to the flesh, descended from Abraham, the father of the faithful It was a system of grace which was the last and abiding revelation of the will of God for the salvation of mankind. There had been vast and long-continued processes of gradual discovery to patriarchs, prophets, and psalmists; foreshadowings in the ceremonial law, and typical service of the temple; continuous and far-reaching movements of providence; and all these were designed to prepare the way of the Lord, and herald his approach, who is "the End of the Law for righteousness." Previous institutions were to give way and be shaken, that those things which "cannot be shaken may remain." The kingdom of Christ cannot be moved; and the truths which concern it are given once for all. None can add to them or take from them without being guilty of presumption and unfaithfulness. They are committed to the saints, who are bound by loyalty to Christ their King; and by a desire to promote the good of others to guard the sacred and invaluable deposit.
II. THE GRAVE AND URGENT REASONS FOR SPIRITUAL VIGILANCE AND COURAGE, Jude does not allude to any persecution outside the Church which demanded steadfastness and decision; but he points to those adversaries who with policy and cunning climbed up some other way, and were dangerous because their corruption of Christian doctrine and of personal conduct proved them to be enemies of the cross of Christ. They proved the truth of Cowper's lines -
"Errors in life breed errors in the brain,
(1) Writer. "Judas, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James." The first design
I. HIS CONCERN FOR THEIR WELFARE. "Beloved, while I was giving all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you."
1. It was a, ready, prompt, entire diligence, because there was danger in delay, and the constraint of love was upon him.
2. It is right that ministers should be diligent about the most important concerns, the interests of truth and the welfare of the flock.
3. Jude showed his concern for the saints by committing his thoughts to writing.
(1) Writing gave them permanence. Words pass away, but writing remains. "This shall be written for the generation to come."
(2) Writing secured a wider circle of hearers. Every age of the Church, as well as the first, has been benefited by this brief letter of Jude.
(3) It is a great sin to undervalue the written Word of God.
II. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SUBJECT OF HIS WRITING. "Our common salvation."
1. The nature of this salvation.
(1) It is the deliverance of man from the guilt and power of sin and the complete redemption of his soul and body in the day of judgment.
(2) It begins in the present life.
(3) God has given us his Word to show the way of salvation.
2. It is the common salvation of all sailors. "Our common salvation."
(1) Christ, the Saviour, is common to all the saints.
(2) There is but one common way to heaven. There is but "one faith."
(3) The blessings of salvation are common to all believers, Jew and Gentile.
(4) It is a salvation of which the early Christians had an experimental knowledge; it is "our common salvation."
III. THE NECESSITY FOR HIS WRITING. "I was constrained to write unto yon." This arose:
1. From the evil doctrines of the antinomians.
2. From their subtle arts.
3. From the too great readiness of the saints to be deceived.
4. The exposure of seducers is a necessary part of the ministry.
IV. THE NATURE OF THE EXHORTATION JUDE ADDRESSED TO THE SAINTS. "Exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints." Christians must suffer the word of exhortation, which is an excellent help to religious steadfastness.
1. The matter to be contended for.
(1) It is the doctrine of faith, or the truth which is to be received in order to our salvation. It is called "faith" because it is the instrument used by the Holy Spirit to work faith.
(2) It is the faith "delivered" by God, not discovered by man. The natural man can no more perceive than he can discover the things which are of God (1 Corinthians 2:24).
(3) It is the faith delivered "once for all." No other faith will ever be given. No new doctrines are to be added to the circle of faith, though the truth may be cast in new forms, and shaped according to the intellectual and spiritual exigencies of each age. Therefore
(a) it is a great sin to despise the faith delivered to us;
(b) we ought to be thankful for it;
(c) we ought to receive and obey it in the love of it;
(d) we ought to guard it against heretical perversions.
(4) It is a sacred deposit placed in the hands of trustees - delivered to the saints. Not to holy prophets and apostles merely, but to all saints, even in ages destitute of prophets and apostles.
(a) It is a solemn trust, involving great responsibilities.
(b) The saints are to keep the faith for their own salvation and comfort.
(c) They are to keep it for generations to come.
(d) How much is the world indebted to the saints!
(e) The trustees of the faith ought to have holy hands and holy hearts.
2. The duty of the saints to contend for the faith. This duty implies
(1) the importance of this faith, for it is the best things that Satan is most anxious to destroy;
(2) the presence of adversaries seeking to corrupt or destroy it;
(3) the need of Divine strength for contending for it with effect;
(4) the various ways in which the saints are to contend for it -
(a) by refuting and convincing gainsayers,
(b) by praying for its success,
(c) by confessing it boldly before men,
(d) by mutual exhortation,
(e) by holy example,
(f) by suffering for the truth. - T.C.
I. THE ENTRANCE OF WICKED ERRORISTS INTO THE CHURCH. "For there are certain men crept in privily, even they who were of old set forth unto this condemnation."
1. These men are not named, either because Jude did not care to give them the celebrity their vanity might have desired, or because their names were already known to the saints.
2. It is not possible for man to guard the Church against the entrance of such men. Even apostles themselves could not keep the Church pure.
3. The entrance of errorists is usually effected by hypocritical arts. They are "false apostles," "deceitful workers," "deceiving the hearts of the simple," "drawing many disciples after them," "false teachers privily bringing in damnable hercules." They usually conceal their real opinions; they mix wholesome truth with destructive errors; and they preach doctrines palatable to the corrupt nature of man. They usually effect an air of novelty or originality in their teaching. The best Christians may therefore be sometimes mistaken in such seducers.
4. The presence of such men in the Church does not destroy the being of the Church.
5. Their destructive influence and the retribution that awaits them were predicted beforehand. For "they were of old set forth unto this condemnation." Not in the prophecies by Peter and Paul, but in the Old Testament; for the phrase, "of old," refers to something in history. The condemnation is that illustrated by the examples recorded in the following verses.
6. It is needful that Christians should be on the watch against the entrance and the influence of wicked errorists.
II. THE CHARACTER OF THESE MEN. "Ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."
1. They were godless men.
(1) They denied to God the honour due to him. They lived without relation to God. They were practically "without God in the world." "In their works they denied him." "They called not upon the Lord."
(2) They gave to the world, to sin, to folly, the allegiance that was due to God. They "served the creature more than the Creator."
(3) They sought to honour God in a wrong manner. They worshipped not according to his Word; and their service was selfish, or partial, or inconstant, or profane.
(4) Ungodliness leads to all wicked practices.
2. They perverted the doctrines of grace. "Turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness;" arguing, as Trapp says, from mercy to liberty, which is the devil's logic.
(1) The true design of the grace of God. It is that "denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we may live soberly, righteously, godly, in this world," As the free gift of God, our election and our calling being both of grace, we are bound to see that we receive it not in vain (2 Corinthians 6:1).
(2) The perversion of this grace is effected
(b) by rejecting the Law as a rule of life;
(c) by abusing their liberty to the offence of weak consciences.
(3) The heinousness of, such conduct.
(a) It implies the sin of hypocrisy.
(b) It is a profound dishonour to God and his doctrine.
(c) It argues a boundless ingratitude.
(d) It is almost the most hopeless of all sins against God.
3. They denied Jesus Christ. Wearing the livery of Christ, they were all the while vassals of the devil.
(1) Christ is the only Lord and Master of believers. This Lordship is based upon the idea of property. We are the Lord's, whether living or dead (Romans 14:9).
(a) He gives laws to his servants.
(b) He binds them lovingly to obedience.
(c) He rewards them according to their service.
(d) He has power both to give and to take away.
(e) There is no escape for his enemies.
We may, therefore, infer:
(a) How serious an error it is to deny Christ's Deity!
(b) How foolish to trust in any other Saviour!
(1) How blessed are believers in possessing such a Lord!
(2) These errorists denied this Lord.
(a) Doctrinally; - perhaps, like the Gnostics, they denied his true Deity and his true humanity.
(α) by opposing his gospel;
(β) by apostasy from his truth;
(c) by a wicked and lewd life. These men, by rejecting Christ's authority as well as his salvation, "forsook their own mercy." - T.C.
I. THE NECESSITY OF REMINDING SAINTS OF FAMILIAR SCRIPTURE FACTS. "Now I desire to put you in remembrance, though ye know all things once for all, how that the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed them that believed not."
1. Every private Christian ought to be well acquainted with the Scriptures. Jude concedes that those he addressed were so. The Bible is a book for the people as well as for ministers. Knowledge is highly commendable in a Christian (Romans 15:14), as well as goodness.
2. The best of people need to have their pure minds stirred up by way of remembrance; for memory is too often "like the sieve which holds the bran and lets the flour go."
II. THE SAINTS REMINDED OF A FAMOUS DELIVERANCE. "I removed his shoulder from the burden, and his hands were delivered from the pots" (Psalm 81:6).
1. No difficulties could hinder Israel's deliverance from Egypt.
2. Israel went down to Egypt a family, and emerged out of it a nation.
3. This nation curried the destinies of the world in its bosom.
III. THE SAINTS REMINDED OF A GREAT DESTRUCTION. The Lord dealt first in mercy, then afterward in judgment.
1. Destruction overtook the Israelites from plague, fire, serpents, earthquake, sword. The wilderness was strewn besides with the carcasses of all except those of twenty years old and under, who alone were privileged to enter the land of Canaan.
2. This destruction was a disappointment of high hopes as well as a fall from a high position of privilege.
3. Yet it was but partial. The stock of Israel was spared. And the doom was long deferred, so as to give more than a generation of time for repentance.
4. The Lord's judgment in this case proves that punishment cannot be averted by privileges abused.
IV. THE SAINTS REMINDED OF THE CAUSE OF THIS DESTRUCTION. It was unbelief. "They could not enter in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 4:6).
1. Difficulties soon discover the untrustful heart.
2. Unbelievers forsake their own mercies, and are their own worst enemies.
3. There is no folly like unbelief. "Blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
4. The end of unbelief is utter and absolute destructions. - T.C.
I. IT INVITES US TO CONSIDER THE SHAMEFUL MISUSE OF KNOWLEDGE AND SPEECH. These men who crept into the Church appear to have revealed the corruption of their nature during the hours of sleep - since they were the same wicked offenders as when they were full of activity during the day, and their nature, like the "troubled sea, cast forth mire and dirt." With this sad feature of their life there was connected the spirit of contempt for magistracy and the powers that were "ordained of God." To condemn this spirit of scorn and derision a fact is introduced which shows the spirit of reverence which obtains in heaven. Michael the archangel, one of the most lofty and noble among the "principalities and powers," is brought to oppose and turn aside the accusations of Satan, who is a fallen and lying spirit, and is eager, agreeably to the vision of Zechariah (Zechariah 3:2) to urge the destruction of Israel, whose plight is represented by the high priest clothed in filthy garments. The Jews restored from captivity are like a half-consumed brand or branch; and Satan, as a murderer, desires the annihilation of the tribes of Israel. He is rebuked with calm dignity, when Michael might have overpowered him with terrific and well-deserved upbraidings. The evil users of their speech and knowledge are condemned because they presumptuously venture to speak scornfully of Divine things, which, as "natural men," they cannot understand; and whereas the light and instincts of nature should guide to certain lines of conduct, even there they grossly abuse and pervert their faculties and powers to dishonourable indulgence. These facts show the deplorable activity of sin, and should awaken the prayer for that preservation from the evil of the world, which is impressively suggested in the intercessory petitions offered by our Lord just before his sufferings and death.
II. THE FEARFUL PORTRAIT WHICH JUDE PRESENTS OF THESE TRANSGRESSORS AND THEIR FINAL CONDEMNATION BY THE LORD JESUS AT HIS APPEARING. They are described as murmurers and complainers against the methods of providence - the rulers of countries and the claims of the gospel. They have men's persons in admiration; as Tertulius complimented Felix, who was a cruel governor, to prejudice his mind against Paul (Acts 24:2, 3), by means of "great swelling words." These offenders followed Cain in his unacceptable worship, in which there was no sacrifice of a victim, no contrition of spirit, and no prayer for mercy. They imitated the temper of Balaam, who for gain would have injured the tribes of Israel; and in the way of ambition rose up, as Korah and his company, against the solemn appointments of the Aaronic family to serve at the altar. In the agape, or love-feast, they act as rocks at sea, upon which the ship is driven and wrecked. They are shepherds who feed themselves without restraint; clouds that promise rain, and yet distil no moisture on the thirsty soil; trees which bear no fruit; and wandering stars which guide no traveler; and hasten to deserved and eternal darkness. The ancient 'Book of Enoch' foretells their certain and inevitable doom. The Son of God - who in his own character, and in the treatment of his people, who are members of his mystical body, has endured reproach, accusation, and calumny - will come to be glorified in his saints, and take vengeance upon them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel, of which he is the Center and the Glory. In view of the vast corruption of these men, and the fearful prospects which await them, the allusion to believers being "preserved in Christ Jesus" acquires a power and depth of meaning which could scarcely fail to awaken the ardours of gratitude to him who had kept them in times of fiery temptation. - J.S.B.
I. THE EXISTENCE OF EVIL ANGELS. It is expressly asserted in Scripture. There is no greater moral difficulty in understanding the existence of such beings than in understanding the existence of evil men. They are spoken of as "angels that sinned" (2 Peter 2:4), as devils "who enter into men" (Luke 8:30), as beings to be judged by the saints (1 Corinthians 6:3).
II. THEIR REVOLT AND DEFECTION FROM GOD. "And angels which kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation." They are represented in the parallel passage in Peter as simply "the angels that sinned; ' and the devil is spoken of as not "abiding in the truth," and pride is assigned apparently as the cause of his fall (1 Timothy 3:6). "It is hard to be high and not high-minded." But the allusion here is rather to the angels rejecting their high dignity of position in subjection to God, and departing from their habitations in heaven, as the consequence of the alienation caused by pride.
1. Their revolt was a dishonour to God.
(1) They slighted the place of his glory.
(2) They were the highest order of his creatures, and might have found their happiness in obedient service.
2. An evil nature cannot endure either the joys or the holiness of heaven.
3. It is a sin for the highest being to exempt himself from service.
4. The angels have a habitation in heaven.
III. THE PUNISHMENT OF THE EVIL ANGELS. "He hath kept in everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgment of the great day."
1. There is a present punishment. They are "kept in everlasting bonds under darkness."
(1) There are the bonds of. God's power. "The strong man is bound by a stronger than he." "The old dragon was bound for a thousand years."
(2) There are the bonds of sin, as if to account for the dread consistency of him "who sinneth from the beginning" (1 John 3:8).
(3) There are the bonds of a guilty conscience, which cause the devils to tremble as they believe (James 2:19).
(4) Yet restraint or torment cannot reform the evil angels.
(5) The devils cannot hurt us unless we get within the compass of their chains. Calvin says, "Wherever they go they drag with them their own chains, and remain involved in darkness."
(6) The darkness under which they are held points to their miserable condition, as signified by their separation from the presence of God, brought about as it was by their own act, and utterly irrevocable.
2. There is a future punishment. "Unto the judgment of the great day."
(1) The Lord will judge the angels in that day with the saints as his assessors (1 Corinthians 6:3).
(2) The devil wilt be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone.
(3) There will be no further seduction of the wicked, and no further hurt to the elect. - T.C.
I. THE CAUSE OF THEIR PUNISHMENT. "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, having in like manner with these given themselves over to fornication, and gone after strange flesh."
1. God often assigns the most fertile places to the greatest sinners. Sodom is compared to "the garden of the Lord."
2. Prosperity often becomes an occasion for much wickedness and impiety.
3. The inhabitants of these cities of the plain were guilty of fornication and unnatural crimes.
(1) These were personal sins of a heinous character. They were sins against both soul and body. No whoremonger shall enter the kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 6:9), and fornication is a sin "against the body itself" (1 Corinthians 6:18).
(2) They were social sins. They affect the family and society.
(3) They were sacrilegious sins. The body, which is a temple of the Holy Ghost, allows its members to become those of a harlot (1 Corinthians 6:15).
(4) They were sins not to be named among saints (Ephesians 5:3).
4. The causes of these sins were
(1) fullness of bread (Ezekiel 16:49), and
II. THE SEVERITY OF THEIR PUNISHMENT. "Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."
1. There may be allusion to the rain of fire that destroyed the cities, and to the volcanic nature of the soil which underlies their present site.
2. But that destruction is only a type of the worse destruction that overtook the guilty inhabitants.
(2) Yet the rejection of the gospel is a worse sin than that of the Sodomites. It will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for Capernaum and Bethsaida (Matthew 10:15).
III. THESE SODOMITES WERE PUNISHED AS AN EXAMPLE.
1. God shows thus his hatred of sin.
2. His desire to prevent our ruin.
3. The inexcusableness of those who sin in the face of such examples.
4. We need under the gospel the restraints of fear as well as the allurements of love.
5. The same sins recur in every age, and therefore need to be very pointedly condemned.
6. The sins of the Sodomites are more heinous if committed in this dispensation of light and privilege.
7. Let us be thankful to God for such warnings against sin. - T.C.
I. GROSS LICENTIOUSNESS. "They defile the flesh." Thus they resemble the Sodomites. The early Gnosticism had an antinomian as well as an ascetic side.
1. Sins of unchastity inflict deep dishonour on the body. They defile that body which ought to be a temple of the Holy Ghost.
2. They lead men, into destructive error. "The lusts make the affections to be judges; and where affection sways, judgment decays." The errorists of primitive times were men "of corrupt minds," teaching "things they ought not for filthy lucre's sake, serving their own belly." Solomon says, "Evil men understand not judgment."
II. THEY ARE HOSTILE TO THE DIVINE LORDSHIP. "They set at naught dominion." Like the fallen angels. The dominion here spoken of is not human magistracy, but the Lordship of God Almighty. They deny the Lord Jesus; They will not have this Man to reign over them. This evil temper springs:
1. From pride.
2. From self-sufficiency.
3. From hatred of God.
4. From anger at all Divine restraint in their evil actions.
III. THEY REVILE THE ANGELIC HIERARCHY. "They rail at dignities." Like the murmurers in the wilderness. They rail at celestial lordships.
1. Great is the excess of an unsanctified tongue.
2. Fools rail at powers of whom they know nothing.
3. It is a great sin to put dishonour on celestial beings whom God has so highly honoured.
IV. THE FOUNTAIN FROM WHICH THESE SINS ISSUE. "In their dreamings." This threefold manifestation of an evil mind has its origin in the self-delusion of sinners. Their dreaming implies:
1. That they live in an unreal world, and have no true conception of the serious nature of sin.
2. That they are unconscious of the damager that threatens their immortal souls.
3. That they are insensible to all the warnings of coming judgment.
4. Dreaming is dangerous, for, like the hypocrite, the sinner shall fly away as a dream (Job 20:8). - T.C.
I. THE ARCHANGEL MICHAEL - WHO WAS HE?
1. He appears as "one of the chief princes" who stood up for God's people against the Persians (Daniel 10:13).
2. He appears as fighting. "Michael and his angels" against the devil and his angels (Revelation 12:7).
3. He is probably the archangel whose voice is to be heard at the period of our Lord's descent to judgment. (1 Thessalonians 4:16.)
4. He is probably at the head of the good angels, as the devil is represented as at the head of the evil angels.
5. High as he is in rank, he is most active in dutiful service to God.
II. THE STRIFE BETWEEN MICHAEL AND THE DEVIL. "But Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing judgment."
1. The incident here referred to occurred necessarily after Moses' death.
2. The dispute did not arise, as some think, from the effort of type devil to prevent the concealment of the body of Moses, whom God buried that no man might know the place of his sepulture. The reason usually assigned for the secrecy of the burial is that the Israelites might have worshipped the body of their great lawgiver. But there is no evidence that the Israelites ever at any time showed a disposition to worship dead men's bones. Their inclination was rather to worship the powers of nature.
3. An ingenious and plausible explanation has been given of this strife in this wise.
(1) We know that Moses and Elias appeared together at the Transfiguration (Luke 9:29-33). They are called "two men." Elias was certainly in the body - a glorified body, no doubt. Does not the similarity of statement imply that Moses was likewise in the body?
(2) This would imply that Moses was raised up after his burial, but before he saw corruption, and was taken to heaven like Elijah and Enoch. God buried him, and the archangel watched over him that he should not see corruption. But why should the devil interfere with the archangel's watch? Is it that the devil has "the power of death" (Hebrews 2:14)? Is it that he has an interest in the corruption of our bodies, as the completion of that physical death which enters into the wages of sin? The contest may have arisen from the effort of Michael, on the one side, to secure the body of Moses from corruption till the moment when he, with his angels, would carry it into heaven, and from the effort of the devil, on the other side, to inflict the last stigma of death upon the great Israelite. This explanation seems more plausible than any other that has been suggested of this mysterious conflict between the heads of the principalities of the spirit-world. The conflict suggests that:
(a) Sin and holiness must necessarily come into conflict wherever they encounter each other.
(b) Michael overcomes the devil. "He that is for us is far greater than all they that be against us."
III. THE DEPORTMENT OF MICHAEL IN THIS STRIFE WITH THE DEVIL. "He durst not bring against him a railing judgment, but said, The Lord rebuke thee."
1. It would have been inconsistent with angelical perfection to rail against the devil.
2. There is no cowardice in Michael not daring to sin.
3. What is wrong for angels cannot be right for men to do.
4. Michael left the decision of the strife absolutely in God's hands.
5. ]PGBR> God's power restrains that of the devil.
6. The thought that we have a God into whose hands we may commit our cause ought to make us patient, forbearing, and forgiving. - T.C.
I. THE LESSON OF IGNORANT DEPRECIATION. "But these rail at whatsoever things they know not." These were unseen spiritual powers whom they treat with mocking irreverence.
1. The ignorance in question is that conceited and contented ignorance of which the psalmist speaks. "They know not nor will understand, but walk on in darkness." They are "willingly ignorant" (Romans 1:28). None are so ready to speak as the ignorant. Or, it is ignorance of things not possible for man to know in his present life, and is therefore excusable.
2. The sinfulness of railing at such things.
(1) It is great folly, for it is railing at what is the result of man's infirmity or his limited powers. "He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is a folly and a shame to him" (Proverbs 18:13).
(2) It is great presumption.
3. It is great wickedness; for it is to impute evil where none may exist. It is to rejoice in the evil which may only exist in our own thoughts. How great is the sin of railing at things which are worthy! We see how corrupt affections blind the judgment.
4. We ought to reprove known evil, and to praise what we know to be good.
II. THE LESSON OF THE RUIN WROUGHT BY SENSUAL KNOWLEDGE. "And what they understand naturally, like the creatures without reason, in these things they corrupt themselves."
1. The range and scope of natural knowledge. Jude refers here to the familiar objects of sense as equally obvious to both man and beast.
(1) These evil persons, like the irrational animals, readily discover the means of gratifying their desires.
(2) They receive all their blessings, like the beasts, without thought or thanks to the Giver.
(3) They cannot improve them spiritually any more than the beasts which only live to eat.
(4) They use them to excess, wallowing like swine in the mire of mere sensual enjoyments.
(5) They are impatient of restraint in proportion to the full enjoyment of natural bounties.
2. The corruption that springs out of mere things of sense.
(1) These evil men, by their abuse of natural blessings, bring disease upon themselves.
(2) They corrupt their moral nature. "Wine and women take away the heart" (Hosea 4:11). Outward enjoyments make no man excel in beauty of character.
(3) They are corrupted eternally. "Satan lies in ambush behind our lawful enjoyments." "They who sow to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption" (Galatians 6:8). - T.C.
I. A DENUNCIATION OF JUDGMENT. "Woe unto them!"
1. Wickedness has its end in woes. The end of it is "death."
2. The most fearful woes are those which are spiritual in their nature. No outward calamity is so terrible as the wrath of God, no worldly misfortune so great as a seared conscience.
3. The woe does not come without warning. God foretells the ruin that it may be averted, as in the notable case of the Ninevites.
4. Ministers ought to exhibit the terrors of the Law as well as the sweet promises of the gospel.
II. THE GROUNDS OF THIS DENUNCIATION OF JUDGMENT. There is a threefold variety in godless transgression.
1. There is an outrage against the laws of nature. "For they went in the way of Cain."
(1) That was a way of hypocrisy. Cain offered a sacrifice, but in a faithless spirit.
(2) It was a way of envy. "The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy." In the case of Cain it was "the inlet to murder." Who is able to stand before envy? It is its own punishment.
(3) It was a way of selfishness and hatred. Hatred led to the murder of Abel, and selfishness was stamped upon the interrogative answer to God's question: "Am I my brother's keeper?"
(4) It was a way of violence and cruelty. "He who cared not how he served God regarded not how he used his brother. Cain begins with sacrifice and ends with murder." Those who plead for most liberty are apt to be most selfish and cruel.
2. There is a religious opposition to God from interested motives. "And ran riotously in the error of Balaam for hire."
(1) Their guide - Balsam.
(b) The devil uses the ablest instruments to serve his ends.
(c) God often endows wicked persons with high gifts. Great, accordingly, is their responsibility.
(2) The error of Balsam.
(a) This does not refer to his being deceived in the expectation of reward for his wicked work.
(b) It refers rather to his deviation from God's will and commandment in the whole history of his relations with Balak. "His way was perverse before the Lord." He made the Israelites to err from the way of righteousness by teaching Balak to cast a stumbling-block before them - to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication (Revelation 2:14).
(c) It was a deviation in doctrine that led to a deviation from holiness. Thus false teachers are usually evil-workers (Philippians 3:2). Their "minds are defiled, they are reprobate to every good work." "Truth reforms as well as informs."
(3) The motive of Balaam's conduct. "For hire."
(a) There was profanity in such conduct. Covetousness is idolatry; but it is something like blasphemy in a religious guide. The guide to heaven ought to be above the base love of lucre.
(b) There was hypocrisy in such conduct. There was an apparent concern for God's honour and the good of man; but under all was the eager lust for reward.
(4) The impetuous and eager pace of seducers. "They ran riotously."
(a) They are not checked by God's judgments.
(b) The desire for gain hurries men forward to many an act of wickedness and sin. He that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent" (Proverbs 28:20).
(c) Sinners pursuing a downward course know not where they may stop.
(d) There is a Divine hand to punish the greatest sinners.
(e) How sad that the saints of God should not run as eagerly in the way of God as sinners in the way of wickedness and folly! They ought, surely, to "press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God."
3. There is a contempt for sacred ordinances which brings its own retribution. "And perished in the gainsaying of Korah."
(1) The history of Korah. He was a Levite of the tribe of Levi, and cousin-german of Moses. He was, therefore, employed in an honourable department of the ecclesiastical service - " to wait upon the sons of Aaron in the service of the house of the Lord."
(2) His insurrection. "The gainsaying of Korah." He opposed the exclusive privileges of Moses and Aaron, saying that they "took too much upon them," and he claimed the privileges of the priesthood for himself and others. "And seek ye the priesthood also?" says Moses. The conduct of Korah finds its counterpart in the seducers of Jude's day, who despised ecclesiastical ordinances, and set at naught the order of the Church. Their conduct showed
(a) contempt for Divine order and appointment;
(b) discontent with their existing privileges;
(c) envy at the rulers of the Church;
(d) ingratitude to God for his privileges.
(3) His punishment. "Perished in the gainsaying of Korah." The facts of Korah's destruction are familiar to all. They suggest:
(a) That seducers ordinarily involve others in their own destruction. So it was with Korah. Two hundred and fifty - "famous in the congregation, and men of renown" - were drawn into the conspiracy. "He would neither be alone in woe nor in wickedness."
(b) God opposes those who oppose his ordinances. "An evil man seeketh only rebellion, therefore a cruel messenger shall be sent against him" (Proverbs 24:22).
(c) We are bound to accept thankfully the privileges which God has provided for us. - T.C.
I. THEIR SELFISH AND SINFUL PERVERSION OF THE CHURCH'S FELLOWSHIP. "These are they who are hidden rocks in your love-feasts when they feast with you, shepherds that without fear feed themselves."
1. They, like sunken rocks, wrecked those who unsuspectingly approached them.
(1) Their profession of religion was so belied by their immoral ways, that men, taking them to be Christians, abhorred the true gospel and turned away from it to their destruction.
(2) Their evil example led others into unchristian courses to their eternal ruin.
2. They mingled, without fear or misgiving, in the loving fellowships of the Church.
(1) The love-feasts were connected with the Lord's Supper, which is itself, indeed, a love-feast. They were designed to maintain brotherly love, and especially to refresh the poor saints. They always began and ended with prayer. They were no places for self-indulgence or gluttony.
(2) These godless persons attended the love-feasts, with no fear of the Divine displeasure, with no reverence for the holy society into which they intruded themselves.
(a) It is not possible in this world entirely to separate the godly from the ungodly. It is impossible for ministers to read the hearts of men so surely as to keep a sharp line of distinction between believers and unbelievers. Yet the discipline of the Church ought to enforce a conformity to the terms of their profession.
(b) These seducers were unfit guests at a feast designed to commemorate the unity of the body of Christ and the brotherhood of all believers. "Who shall abide in thy tabernacle?"
3. They feasted themselves luxuriously, regardless of the poor. Their conduct reminds one of the shepherds of Israel. "Woe be to the shepherds of Israel, that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flock?" (Ezekiel 34:2).
(1) They feasted immoderately. "Their hearts were oppressed with surfeiting." Like the Israelites in their idolatry, "they sat down to eat and to drink" (Exodus 32:6).
(2) They wronged the poor, whom they suffered to fast while they were feasting.
II. THEIR EMPTINESS AND INSTABILITY. "Clouds without water, carried along by winds."
1. Instead of being like clouds dropping refreshing rain upon the earth, they, as rainless clouds, while promising much, were profitless and disappointing to the hopes of the Church. They could not give what they had not, but they professed to have something to give. Their deluded followers "spent their money for that which was not bread, and their labour for that which satisfied not." When people are athirst for God - " the heart punting for the water-brooks" - it is hard to find no water at hand to satisfy the soul. Yet the Lord says, "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it." It is a great sin to profess a goodness to which we are utterly opposed, because
(1) it profanes God's Name;
(2) it grieves the hearts of true saints;
(3) it hardens the wicked;
(4) it is utterly unprofitable to the empty professors themselves.
2. They were as unstable as clouds whirled every way by the wind.
(1) They were unstable in doctrine, carried about by every intellectual caprice, like those who halt between two opinions, and are not settled in the truths of religion. They were not "grounded and settled" because they were off the true Foundation (verse 20).
(2) They were unstable in their affections, now fervent, now cold, "framing to themselves such a moderation as will just serve the scantling of the times."
(3) They were unstable in their practical conduct. At one time they were ascetic in their ideas; then self-indulgent, loose, evil. With all their changes they begin in the flesh and end in the flesh.
(4) Christians ought to be warned against unsteadfastness. They ought to continue in the things which they have learned (2 Timothy 3:14), and not to be "tossed to and fro with every wind of doctrine" (Ephesians 4:14).
III. THEIR UTTER UNFRUITFULNESS. "Autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots." Saints arc fruit-bearing trees of righteousness (Isaiah 61:3). Where is an evident climax in this picture of the godless seducers. First, they are like autumn trees, which ought to be full of fruit, yet they are without fruit, like the barren fig tree; then they are utterly dead - dead in appearance and dead in reality; then they are like uprooted trees concerning which there can be no more hope of fruit. There is a logical as well as rhetorical fitness in the picture.
1. There was no fruit because there was no life in the tree. These godless persons were spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:2).
2. This death implies ignorance, darkness, alienation from God.
3. The torn-up roots imply not only that there is no hope of growth, but that the world sees the secret rottenness that was at the root of such trees. They will never again be taken for fruit-bearers. "From them who had not, even that which they seemed to have is taken away" (Luke 8:18).
4. The picture before us is a solemn warning to believers.
(2) They must bring forth fruit at every season, even in old age (Psalm 92:12).
(3) Believers, therefore, ought to plant themselves by the rivers of water (Psalm 1:3).
(4) They ought to guard against apostasy. "Be not high-minded, but fear."
(5) They ought, therefore, to pray for the dews of God's blessing. He alone can give the increase.
IV. THEIR SHAMELESS AND TURBULENT TEMPER. "Wild waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame."
1. There was a restless agitation in their life. They were "like the troubled sea, whose waters cast up mire and dirt" (Isaiah 57:20). "There is no peace, saith my God, to the wicked." Their consciences were unquiet; they were fretful and arrogant; they troubled the peace of those Churches into which they crept, by their hard speeches, their obscene talking, their blasphemous suggestions.
2. As the wild waves lash themselves into foam, these seducers throw forth upon the world all the shamefulness that was buried in their wicked hearts. "Boldly belching out their abominable opinions and their detestable doctrines;" but, above all, giving a free outlet to all licentiousness. Evil things come forth from "the evil treasure of the heart."
3. It is the lot of the Church to live in the midst of these "raging waves" of wickedness and folly.
4. The Church is most districted by enemies within her communion.
5. The enemies of God proclaim their own shame, and bring confusion upon themselves.
6. The saints ought ever to pray that the peace of God may dwell in their hearts.
V. MISLEADING GUIDES AND THEIR FUTURE DESTINY. "Wandering stars, for whom the blackness of darkness hath been reserved for ever."
1. These seducers were like stars, conspicuous by their position and their exploits. They were false lights to mislead the people into error and destruction.
2. They were wandering stars,
(1) because they kept no certain course;
(2) because they blazed brightly for a moment, then went out in darkness.
3. They threw down no light upon the world lying in darkness and the region of death.
4. It is a fearful thing to seduce others from the way of truth. "They which lead thee cause thee to err" (Isaiah 3:12).
5. God shows great forbearance even to seducers. He "endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction" (Romans 9:22).
6. Divine judgments are often in kind. The seducers who loved darkness rather than light will be plunged into still deeper darkness - "into the very blackness of darkness for ever."
7. Let believers be warned to seek the light - to walk in the light, to walk decently as in the day. - T.C.
I. THE PROPHET. "And to these also Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied."
1. He was a preeminently holy man, who was translated to heaven without dying.
2. His descent is here mentioned,
(1) partly to indicate the antiquity of his prophecy, as going back to the first days of man on earth;
(2) partly to distinguish him from Enoch the son of Cain;
(3) partly also to show the zeal of Enoch against wickedness in those early times. He was the seventh from Adam, reckoning by generations.
II. HIS PROPHECY. It is the coming of Christ to judgment. "Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones." We have here the historic tense of prophecy.
1. The Lord comes from heaven. "The Lord himself shall descend from heaven" to judge the world.
2. It will be in the end of the world, in a day utterly unknown to man or angel.
3. He will be accompanied by ten thousands of his saints, who will sit with him as assessors (1 Corinthians 6:3). "The saints shall appear with him in glory." They are called his saints, because they are so by redemption and by service.
4. This second advent is to execute judgment and convict the ungodly.
(1) The last judgment is to be regarded as a matter of the greatest certainty.
(2) It is foolish to expect an escape from judgment through secrecy.
(3) Words will be judged as well as deeds. "All the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him." Sinners reproach, mock, and condemn the just. The piety of the just does not exempt them from severe aspersions. Christ regards the words spoken against his disciples as spoken against himself.
(4) The judgment will take account of the manner or motive of transgression. "Works of ungodliness which they have ungodly wrought."
(a) The wicked devise mischief (Proverbs 6:14).
(b) They delight and take pleasure in it (Proverbs 10:30).
(c) They persist in transgression in the teeth of all warnings.
(d) Their sin does not spring from mere infirmity like the sin of the righteous.
(5) The true interest as well as the highest wisdom of the sinner is to make a friend of the Lord against the day of judgment. - T.C.
I. THEY WERE LOUD IN THE EXPRESSION OF THEIR DISCONTENT, "These are murmurers, complainers." It was natural they should be so if they "walked after their own lusts," because these lusts were insatiable, and the means of their gratification were not always accessible.
1. The habit of murmuring argues unbelief and distrust in the Lord. When men can say, "The Lord is my Portion," they will be likely to add, "The lines are fallen to me in pleasant places." (Psalm 16:5, 6). No fullness of earthly blessing can still the complaints of an unbelieving heart. The lesson of contentment is not to be learnt in the school of great prosperity.
2. It argues unthankfulness. The humble believer, as he receives his blessings, says, "I am less than the least of thy mercies."
3. It argues a high estimate of the murmurer's worth. "He counts God a hard master and himself a good servant." He seems to say, too, that if he had the ordering of human destiny, he could dispose it to better account.
4. The lesson for murmurers is that their habit
(1) cannot relieve or benefit them,
(2) but rather fills their life with still deeper anxiety and unrest.
5. The lesson for believers is
(1) to cultivate a contented mind (1 Timothy 6:8);
(2) to seek for submissiveness of heart;
(3) to be thankful that their lot is better than that of many others in the world.
II. THEY WERE SINFULLY SELF-INDULGENT. "Walking after their lusts."
2. They are
(1) deceitful (Ephesians 4:22);
(2) entangling (2 Timothy 3:6);
(4) disquieting (2 Peter 2:11).
3. The course of the wicked is usually very persistent.
4. The servitude of the sinner to lust is miserable in its end. "The wages of sin is death."
III. THEY WERE GIVEN TO VAIN AND BOASTFUL EXAGGERATION. "And their month speaketh great swelling words." Either of themselves or others. The beast in the Apocalypse had a "mouth speaking great things" (Revelation 13:5).
1. None are so ready to boast of themselves as those possessing the least merit.
2. It is a folly to boast of ourselves. The Apostle Paul "became a fool in glorying" (2 Corinthians 12:11). "Let another man's lips praise thee, and not thine own." Our worth should commend us, not our words.
3. We should not allow swelling words to seduce us from the truth. There are those "who with feigned words make merchandise of you" (2 Peter 2:3), who "by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Revelation 16:18).
IV. THEY WERE PARASITES AND FLATTERERS. "Showing respect of persons for the sake of advantage."
1. It is right to show respect to persons worthy of honour, but wrong to show respect to persons of evil character. It is wrong to "glory in men," but above all to "think of men above what is meet," and to be puffed up for one against another. We are not to have "the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ with respect of persons" (James 2:1) - "when wickedness in robes is magnified, and holiness in rags is contemned." The Lord says, "Thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty" (Leviticus 19:15).
2. It is peculiarly base to act in this matter with a view to our personal advantage.
(1) It is sinful and hypocritical to flatter the wicked because they are great or powerful.
(2) We must learn to know the true glory of man, which is "the hidden man of the heart." - T.C.
I. CONFIRMATION OF HIS STATEMENTS BY THE AUTHORITY OF APOSTLES.
1. It is evident that Jude's Epistle was written subsequent, perhaps long subsequent, to the Epistles of Peter and Paul, to which he refers. These sensual seducers had time to develop their corruptions and their audacity of position.
2. Jude recognizes the Divine authority and inspiration of these earlier writings of Scripture.
3. He throws back the saints upon the recollection of Scripture as their only authoritative guide. There is no evidence that he refers here to any oral traditions.
4. Jude believes in the fact of prophetic illumination.
5. It is the duty of ministers to warn their people against a approaching evils.
6. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.
II. THE SUBSTANCE OF THE PROPHETIC WARNING. "In the last time there shall be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts." Note here the predicted appearance of wicked mockers.
1. They arise in "the last time." That is, in the period lying between the first and the second advents of Christ. They appear even under the purest dispensation of grace. The wicked are most wicked when grace is most abundant.
2. They are as wicked as they are scornful. Mockery is, indeed, a note of advanced corruption. Their mockeries are directed both against God and man. These mockers were probably those referred to by Peter as asking, "Where is the promise of his coming?'
(1) Mockery is essentially a profane act. It argues contempt of God's being as well as his attributes.
(2) It argues unbelief. It implies that God's threatenings are a fable.
(3) It is a barrier against the reception of good. "Rebuke a scorner, and he will hate thee"
(4) It is a from of persecution (Galatians 4:29).
(5) Great is the Divine forbearance with mockers.
(6) God will punish the mockers. He "scorneth the scorners" (Proverbs 3:34); and will "mock at their calamities" in the day of their judgment.
III. THE CONDUCT OF BELIEVERS IN THE PRESENCE OF MOCKERS.
1. We must bear mockings with patience, like our Lord, who "endured the cross, despising the shame" (Hebrews 12:2).
2. We must not render scoff for scoff, at the risk of hardening scoffers.
3. We must not allow scoffers to deter us from following the Lord fully. - T.C.
2 Timothy 3:1-6). These offenders would "mock" sacred things and sacred persons; and in the spirit of scorn would exclude themselves from saving knowledge, and repeat the experience of Herod, before whom the Son of God would work no miracle and utter no word; no, not even of reproof. The life of these men would be impure, their spirit factious and schismatic; and they would prove that they were in their natural state - for "that which is born of the flesh is flesh" - and were therefore deprived of the life-giving and purifying presence of the Divine Spirit. These believers were to observe the inspired predictions of the apostles; and then mark how the prophecy corresponded with the facts. If they remembered these things they would find their memory a means of grace, and, instead of being shaken in mind, they might from these sad examples draw reasons for firmer faith and more steady profession of the gospel. Here we have SPECIAL DUTIES AND PRIVILEGES OF BELIEVERS ASSOCIATED WITH THE OFFICES AND GRACE OF THE HOLY TRINITY. They are first encouraged to pursue the work of building up their spiritual life and character, which assumes that a foundation has been laid by faith in Christ; and that the fabric is to be carried up, by the addition of similar materials, to visibility and permanence. To realize this blessing there must be prayer in association with the help of the Divine Spirit, who will unfold the work of new covenant blessings, and prompt the suppliant to seek the "fruits of the Spirit" in all their variety and inexpressible value. Christians are then exhorted to keep themselves in the circle of the Father's love, that they may realize all the benefits of adoption, and maintain a becoming confidence in the aim of all his discipline which is to prepare them for eternal life. However diversified his methods may be, his purpose is unchangeable and gracious; obedience to his will is the way to rest in his love, and to be in the way of his gracious manifestations to his children. All these counsels are concluded by an exhortation to look for eternal life through Christ. His mercy begins this spiritual life - and the same mercy is seen in patience with our slowness - the revival and strengthening of spiritual convictions, and supplies of Divine grace. The Lord Jesus often directed the minds of his disciples to the future life, in which would be found the consummation of his purposes in the peace, security, joy, and perfection of his followers. The completeness of these counsels is worth our observation. The greatness of the work of edification leads to prayer in the Spirit. Prayer in the Spirit will conduce to growing impressions of the Father's love; and all will tend to promote anticipation and desire of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. - J.S.B.
I. THEY WERE SEPARATISTS. "These are they who make separations." Perhaps as "spiritual" persons, who regard things of sense as so indifferent that they may be enjoyed without risk to the soul.
1. Church divisions are usually grounded on separations from the Church's doctrine. Those who bring in "damnable heresies" "draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:30).
2. Separations may be justified by the Church's departure from the truth. This is the justification of Protestantism in withdrawing from the Church of Rome in the sixteenth century.
3. Separations, originated by scoffing sensualists,
(1) have their origin in unbelief and pride;
(2) engender hatred;
(3) and end in the destruction of immortal souls.
II. THEY WERE SENSUAL. "Sensual."
1. Sensuality, or the idea of an enlarged liberty in sinful enjoyment, is often the motive of separations.
2. Corrupt affections blind the judgment and harden the conscience. Burns says that sensuality "hardens a' within." It turns Christianity into epicurism.
III. THEY ARE WITHOUT THE HOLY SPIRIT. "Having not the Spirit."
1. Sanctity and sensuality cannot dwell together.
2. Those who want the Spirit are easily carried away into sensual sin. Therefore David prayed, "Take not thy Holy Spirit from me" (Psalm 51:11).
3. Saints ought to seek the Spirit of holiness, love, meekness, and truth. "Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh" (Galatians 5:16). - T.C.
I. WORKING UPON THE FOUNDATION OF FAITH IS THE ONLY MEANS OF OUR SPIRITUAL SELF-PRESERVATION. "But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God."
1. The foundation. "Your most holy faith." This is faith objective, not subjective; the doctrine of faith rather than the grace of faith. It is true that Christ is our only Foundation, but he is so as revealed to faith, and he can only become so through faith. We build upon Christ by building upon his Word. We receive him as he is offered in the gospel.
(2) It is "your most holy faith," because
(a) every word of God is pure;
(b) the covenant is holy;
(c) it works holiness in the heart and life (John 15.).
2. The building up upon this foundation.
(1) The saints are to build themselves up. This is addressed, not to sinners, but to saints who have been already placed upon the foundation. The counsel is the same as that of Philippians 2:12, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." Jude writes to those who already possess the Spirit, through whom they already enjoy that inward and habitual grace which is to be used by believers according to their need and upon a sense of their deep responsibility. Yet believers are still in a true sense "God's workmanship" (Ephesians 2:10); and it is "the Lord who builds the house" (Psalm 127:1).
(2) The building implies a various and skilful use of the materials necessary to that end. Faith, love, hope, patience, watchfulness, knowledge, are to be the gold, silver, precious stones, built upon this broad foundation. We are to grow in grace, and grow up in Christ in all things, adding to faith all the virtues (2 Peter 1:5-7) and all the graces of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22, 23).
II. TRUE PRAYER THE ONLY MEANS OF BUILDING OURSELVES UP. "Praying in the Holy Spirit."
1. There is no prayer without the Spirit. (Romans 8:26.) The Spirit suggests the matter of prayer; without him "we know not what to pray for." He instructs us to ask for things according to God's will. The Spirit suggests the true manner of prayer.
(1) It must be "in sincerity and truth."
(2) In fervour: "With groanings."
(3) In faith: "Nothing wavering."
(4) In holiness; for the Spirit of supplication is always a Spirit of grace.
(5) In love; for we are to lift holy hands without wrath, and the Spirit makes us at peace with ourselves.
2. Without prayer a man shows himself to be destitute of the Spirit.
3. What a resource have the saints in the building up of their spiritual life!
III. THE SELF-PRESERVING END TOWARD WHICH ALL THIS SPIRITUAL EFFORT IS DIRECTED. "Keep yourselves in the love of God."
1. This is not our love to God, but God's love to us, in which we dwell as in a region of safety - "as in a watch-tower," says Calvin; for it is parallel to the saying of our Lord, "Abide ye in my love" (John 15:9). "How great," says Jenkyn, "how fall, a good is God!" In him is all fullness of grace, of joy, of safety, springing out of his infinite love. "He that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him" (1 John 4:16).
2. Our preservation in the midst of heresy and impiety depends on our dwelling in God's love.
3. We cannot keep ourselves in God's love without having our own love deeply stirred. This breastplate of love will be a preservative against seduction (1 Thessalonians 5:8).
4. We ought continually to pray that the love of God may be shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost. (Romans 5:5.)
5. Saints ought ever to know and believe that love. (1 John 4:16.)
IV. THE EXPECTATION THAT IS LINKED TO THIS GUARDIANSHIP WITHIN THE SPHERE OF GOD'S LOVE. "Looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life."
1. The object of this expectation.
(1) It is Christ's mercy, because:
(a) He procured it by his merit.
(b) He applied it to us by his Spirit.
(c) He holds out its crowning blessings in the future day of judgment: "Come, ye blessed of my Father." There is "a crown of righteousness in that day." He is "to present us faultless before the presence of glory" (verse 24).
(d) There is no mercy apart from Christ.
2. The expectation itself. This implies
(1) a confident belief in the reality of this mercy;
(2) warm desire for it;
(3) patient waiting for it (Hebrews 6:12);
(5) the love of his " appearance " (2 Timothy 4:8).
3. The final issue of the expected mercy. "Eternal life." This is the true life of man. In its final glory it implies the function of God's presence. Augustine says, "Heaven is a low thing without God." Our happiness finds its end in everlasting communion with God.
4. The effects which this expectation ought to exercise upon us. It ought
(1) to preserve us against error and sin;
(2) to quicken our zeal;
(3) to make us faithful in the discharge of all duty;
(4) to make us patient in the endurance of trial. - T.C.
I. THE LEAST HOPELESS CLASS - THE UNSTABLE AND DISPUTATIOUS. "And on some have mercy, who contend with you." We are to be compassionate towards errorists of this class.
1. Compassion becomes a Christian; for he ought to have the very bowels of Christ himself.
2. It is not to be denied to errorists of a certain class. They are entangled with doubts. Their very disputations imply that they are restless in mind. We are to restore the fallen in a spirit of meekness. "We live not among the perfect, but such as are subject to many slips." We have frequent need ourselves of God's pity and help.
3. Wisdom is needed in dealing with the fallen. Some will be won by love who will be repelled by severity. The persons in this first class may have fallen through infirmity, ignorance, or blinded zeal.
II. ANOTHER CLASS TO BE TREATED WITH A HOLY SEVERITY, "And some save, snatching them out of the fire."
1. This class is obdurate, presumptuous, and without shame. They have not known the bitterness of sin, and they are in great hazard.
2. The saints can, in a sense, save transgressors. "How knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife?" (1 Corinthians 7:16); "Thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Timothy 4:16; see also James 5:20). Believers can rebuke sinners, plead with them, pray for them, and win them back to the gospel.
3. A holy severity is often needed in dealing with transgressors. "Knowing the terrors of the Lord, we persuade men" (2 Corinthians 5:10). Sinners must be plucked violently from the fire. Our severity ought to have a saving motive: "Severity to sin being mercy to the soul;" "and a godly heart," as Jenkyn says, "would not have one threat the less in the Bible."
4. The wicked are fearless in sin, and regardless of its dread consequences. Yet
(1) those who are in the fire may be plucked out.
(2) The merriment of a sinner is madness. The fire of judgment is burning under his feet, and he knows it not.
III. THE MOST HOPELESS AND CORRUPT CLASS. Those to be saved by appeals to their fear. "And on some have mercy with fear; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh."
1. Such sinners need to be confronted with the terrors of the Law. A holy rigour is needful for corrupt and proud transgressors. None but fools hate reproof.
2. The saints ought, in dealing with them, to watch lest they should receive contamination.
(1) Sinners are very defiling in all the accessories of their life.
(2) Even the saints run risks of defilement.
(3) They must seek to avoid even the appearance of evil. They should pray to be "kept from the evil." They must seek to purge themselves from the vessels of dishonour (2 Timothy 2:21). - T.C.
I. THE PERSON TO WHOM PRAISE IS ASCRIBED. "Now unto him that is able to guard you from stumbling, and to set you before the presence of his glory without blemish in exceeding joy, to the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord."
1. It is God our Saviour presented under a double aspect.
(1) As he who alone can keep us from stumbling or falling. The allusion is appropriate to an Epistle so full of warnings and denunciations and exhortations, and which began with an address to saints as those "preserved for Christ Jesus." We stand by faith, and we can only stand strong "in the Lord, and in the power of his might." "He that hath begun a good work in us will perform it till the day of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:6).
(2) As he who will present us in final glory.
(a) "Without blemish;" for the Church will then be "without spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing."
(b) "In exceeding joy," where there is fullness of joy; for he "who is self-sufficient, all-sufficient, must needs be soul-sufficient."
2. The final glory comes through Jesus Christ. The salvation, in its beginning, progress, and end, is the Lord's.
II. THE PRAISE ASCRIBED TO GOD. "Be glory, majesty, dominion, and power, before all time, and now, and for evermore. Amen." These men who despised dominion, and spoke evil of dignities, are told that all dominion and glory belonged to God ages before they were born, as they do still in the ages of time, and will do for ever through eternity, Mark the threefold phrase for "eternity," as if to carry the threefold idea of everything out to the very end. - T.C.
I. THE WISDOM OF SOLICITING THE COOPERATION OF DIVINE POWER TO ESTABLISH AND PRESERVE CHRISTIAN WORK. It is instructive to observe the pains and care with which inspired apostles marshaled their arguments when they wrote to the Churches. It is impossible not to admire the fervour and urgency with which they exhort believers to avoid inconstancy, worldliness, and evil associations; and at the same time, they wisely introduce promises, encouragements, and cheering prospects to prompt them to make their "calling and election sure." They then supplicate grace to give effect to their work, and to fulfill the desire of their hearts. The seed which is sown needs the rain and sunshine of heaven to make it prosper, that he who has sown in tears may come back "with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him." This truth is illustrated by a very cheering passage which describes the happy experience of Paul and Apollos, in which we find the zeal and power of the apostle of the Gentiles, and the learning and eloquence of Apollos, applied to the work of the ministry, and the happy success with which the Divine blessing crowned their labours; for said Paul, "I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase" (1 Corinthians 3:6).
II. THE HAPPINESS OF CONCLUDING OUR WORK WITH GRATITUDE TO THE SOURCE OF ALL GOOD. Jude reached the close of the Epistle with the conviction that the Divine love seen in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit should awaken feelings of fervent thanksgiving. The Father is the Fountain of salvation; the Son, the Medium of grace to us, and the Way of our approach to God; the Holy Spirit enables us to realize and enjoy the blessings of the covenant of grace. It is right to ascribe to God the "glory," which is the manifestation of his excellence in the past, the present, and wondrous future; "majesty," which consists in royal state; "dominion," which is supreme over all things and beings; "power," whereby he can realize the counsels of his own will, and his right to our eternal adoration and service. Such is the close of the Epistle, and such should be the close of our life-work. In this way David ended his career, and said, "Thine, O Lord, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O Lord, and thou art exalted as Head above all. Now therefore, our God, we thank thee, and praise thy glorious Name" (1 Chronicles 29:11-13). Amen. - J.S.B.