Bad folks hurting your church
Hello1 From: Jude, a worker for Jesus Christ and a brother of James.
To: Everyone who accepted God’s invitation, is loved by God the Father, and is being kept safe for Jesus Christ’s return. 2 I hope you experience God’s mercy, peace, and love. More and more every day.
Sex-crazy people at church3 Dear friends, you and I are saved. So, I was planning to write you about that. Instead, I need to urge you to keep working hard for the faith, and for the message that was delivered to all God’s people–once and for all. 4 Some people snuck into your church. These are bad people, condemned long before their time. They take God’s kindness and misrepresent it. They treat it as a license to behave immorally and to reject our only true leader and Lord, Jesus Christ. 5 I want to remind you of something you already know, to reinforce it. After the Lord saved his people by freeing them from slavery in Egypt, he killed people who rejected him. 6 He punished angels, too. I’m talking about the angels who didn’t stay where they were put. Now they’re locked in darkness with chains that won’t break. They’re waiting for Judgment Day. 7 God made an example of the neighboring towns of Sodom and Gomorrah. They did what the angels had done: indulge in sexual immorality. But they added unnatural sex, too. For that, they got a taste of the coming eternal fire. 8 People who have slipped into your group say they take their orders from dreams they have. They reject those in authority. They behave in filthy ways. They even badmouth celestial beings. 9 Don’t forget the story of Michael the archangel and the devil getting into an argument over who was going to take the body of Moses. Michael didn’t badmouth the devil and accuse him of saying disrespectful things about God. Instead, he simply said, “I’ll let the Lord punish you for that.” 10 These people in your church trash-talk any idea too sophisticated for them to understand. What they do understand are animal instincts. No reasoning skills necessary. What they do with those instincts will destroy them. 11 There’s tragedy ahead for those people. They follow Cain’s example. They make the same mistake Balaam did because of his greed. Like Korah, they rebel against God and will suffer deadly consequences. 12 These human wrecks sit among you when it’s time to eat. There’s nothing reverent about them. They are entirely selfish. Getting something helpful from them would be like getting water from an empty cloud as it blows away in the wind. These people are like fruitless fruit trees in autumn. Worse, they’re dead and uprooted. 13 They’re wild waves in an angry sea. They spew their shame like foam. They wander in the darkness like a star in the night. An eternity of darkness waits for them. 14 Enoch spoke out against these people. He lived during the seventh generation of humans. Adam was his great-times-four grandfather. Enoch said, “Look, people. Here comes the Lord with more angels than you can count. 15 It’s Judgment Day for everyone. Godless souls who behaved in godless ways are going to get a taste of God’s judgment—for this and for speaking out against him.” 16 These people who are slipping into your church are constant complainers and finger-pointing blamers. They go wherever lust takes them. They’ll brag themselves up. But they’ll brag up others if it pays.
Get spiritually stronger17 You’ve got to remember, dear friends, what the apostles of our leader Jesus Christ said. 18 Remember they said, “When we reach the Last Age, our critics will become obsessed by their worst desires.” 19 They were talking about the people causing divisions among you—people who are thoroughly secular. There’s nothing spiritual about them. 20 Dear friends, strengthen yourselves in your devotion to God and pray through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 21 Stay in love with God as you wait for our leader Jesus Christ to show you the mercy he promised: eternal life. 22 Some among you are getting shaky in the faith. Show them what mercy looks like. 23 As for others already walking on the path to destruction, pull them out of there. Save them from the fire. Show them what mercy looks like. But be careful. Hate their sins like you’d hate filthy clothes taken from a stinking, filthy body.
God’s got your back24 God can keep you from falling. He can make sure you stand tall before him one day, happy and with no one to blame you about anything. 25 He’s the only God. He saved us because of what Jesus Christ our leader did for us. All the praise we can muster, all the power we can imagine, all the authority we can conceive belong to God. Always has. Always will. And that’s the truth.
The last two phrases are vague and debated. More literally: “loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.” The implication, some scholars say, is that believers are being kept safe until they meet Jesus and are then kept safe with him forever.
Many scholars say Jude is referring to a story in the Jewish book of 1 Enoch, the oldest version of a story about angels called Watchers. They became Peeping Toms who fell in lust with some gorgeous human women. They abandoned their posts, went to earth, and partied. Their kids grew to become giants who tore things up on earth. Genesis seems to refer to a version of this story, adding that it was the last straw for God. “I’m sick of this. I’m going to wipe humans off the face of my good Earth. I’m going to destroy all the people and every animal that crawls, walks, or flies because I am sorry I made them” (Genesis 6:7).
History lost this story. It remains undiscovered outside the book of Jude. Origin (AD 184-253) was the first Christian scholar on record to suggest this story was a missing part of the Assumption of Moses, a first-century Jewish book that claims to report secret prophecies of Moses.
Cain murdered his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8).
Balaam was a pagan prophet who shows up in Numbers 22-23. King Balak of Moab, in what is now the country of Jordan, hired him to put a hex on Moses and the approaching Israelites, to keep them out of his kingdom. They wanted to pass through peacefully, on their way to their promised homeland in what is now Israel and Palestinian Territories. Women of Moab later lured the Israelite men into idol rituals involving sex sins (Numbers 25). Moses blamed it on Balaam’s invitation to worship the god Baal Peor (Numbers 31:16).
Korah challenged the right Moses had to lead the Jews. The ground opened up and swallowed him and many of his followers. Some 250 other followers were burned in a fire the Bible says was sent by God (Numbers 16:31-33).
This quote comes from the Jewish book of Enoch 1:9.
Jude says every one of God’s people is “loved by God the Father, and is being kept safe for Jesus Christ’s return” (1:1). By the time Jude wrote this, Christians were getting persecuted and killed by Jews and Romans alike. How do you think Jude’s readers took this part of Jude’s greeting?
Jude repeats a frequent theme in 1, 2 Peter: watch out for frauds in church. Like Peter, he says these bad people were “condemned long before their time” (1:4). Peter put it this way: “Condemnation and destruction have been wide awake since ancient times, waiting for them” (2 Peter 2:3). Both might sound like God has predetermined everything, and that he condemned the frauds even before they were born. How do you react to that?
Some might wonder if Jude copied from Peter or the other way around. That’s because Jude, again like Peter, warns that God punishes sinful people. Like Peter, he also illustrates his point by saying God “punished angels” (1:6; see 2 Peter 2:4), “Sodom and Gomorrah” (1:7, see 2 Peter 2:5). How do you react to the similarities?
Why do you think Jude, like Peter, listed scenes from the Bible and Jewish traditions about God punishing sinners (1:5-7)?
Jude cites a story from outside the Bible when he refers to “Michael the archangel and the devil getting into an argument over who was going to take the body of Moses” (1:9). Would you consider that as evidence that Jews had a Bible larger than they do now?
Jude compares the frauds in church to a murderer (Cain, 1:11), an idol worshiper who worked sex into his worship rituals (Balaam), and a troublemaker who divides a congregation (Korah). He adds more negative descriptions in the verses that follow. Which one do you think is most engaging?
LIFE APPLICATION. Which of the following fake Christians in 1:16 are more likely to show up in churches today?
- constant complainers.
- finger-pointing blamers.
- They go wherever lust takes them.
- They’ll brag themselves up.
- They’ll brag up others if it pays.
LIFE APPLICATION. Jude said, “Some among you are getting shaky in the faith. Show them what mercy looks like” (1:22). What does mercy look like when it comes to help people spiritually weak or weakening?
LIFE APPLICATION BENEDICTION. Consider ending your study of Jude by saying out loud Jude’s final words: “All the praise we can muster, all the power we can imagine, all the authority we can conceive belong to God. Always has. Always will. And that’s the truth(1:25).”