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The writer of this epistle describes himself by his name, Jude; by his spiritual condition, “a servant of Christ”; and by his natural relation, “a brother of James”; and inscribes it to persons chosen of God, secured in Christ, and called by grace, ( Jude 1:1), whom he salutes, and wishes a multiplication of mercy, peace, and love unto, ( Jude 1:2), and then points at the subject matter of his epistle, “the common salvation”; and his view in writing it, which was to exhort them to contend earnestly for, the Gospel; which exhortation was necessary, since some reprobate and wicked men, abusers of the grace of God, and blasphemers of the person of Christ, had got in among them, ( Jude 1:3,4), and in order to deter them from following their pernicious ways, he lays before them various instances of divine vengeance on sinners; as the Israelites, whom God delivered out of Egypt, and yet destroyed them for their unbelief; the angels, who not content with their first estate, forsook their habitation, and are reserved in chains of darkness to the day of judgment; and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha, and the adjacent cities, who for their uncleanness suffer the vengeance of eternal fire, as an example to others, ( Jude 1:5-7), in like manner, the apostle observes, these false teachers, who were filthy dreamers, defiled themselves with such sins, and also despised and spoke evil of civil magistrates, ( Jude 1:8), which sin of theirs is aggravated by Michael the archangel not railing at the devil, in a contention with him about the body of Moses, but gently reproving him; by speaking evil of what they were ignorant of, and by their brutish sensuality, in corrupting: themselves in things they had natural knowledge of, ( Jude 1:9,10), and both their sin and punishment are exemplified in the cases of Cain, Balaam, and Korah; being guilty of hatred of the brethren, of covetousness, and of contradiction, ( Jude 1:11), and by various metaphors are set forth their intemperance, hypocrisy, instability, unfruitfulness, pride, wrath, and lust, for whom the blackest darkness is reserved for ever, ( Jude 1:12,13), the certainty of which is proved from an ancient prophecy of Enoch, concerning the coming of Christ to judgment, when vengeance will be taken on those men for their ungodly deeds and hard speeches, ( Jude 1:14,15), who are further described by their murmurs and complaints; by their pride, respect of persons, and covetousness; by their scoffs, and walking after their own lusts, as had been foretold by the apostles of Christ; by separating themselves from the saints, and by their sensuality, and not having the Spirit of God, ( Jude 1:17-19), and the apostle having thus at large described these false teachers, by reason of whom the saints were in danger, directs them to the use of means by which they might be secured from them; such as building themselves up in their most holy faith, praying in the holy Ghost, keeping themselves in the love of God, and looking for the mercy of Christ unto eternal life, ( Jude 1:20,21), and he teaches them not only to be concerned for themselves, but for others also, who were in danger from these deceivers; to deal with some in a tender and compassionate way, with others more roughly, expressing an hatred to a filthy conversation, ( Jude 1:22,23), and then the epistle is concluded with a doxology, or an ascription of glory to the only wise God our Saviour, who is able to keep his people from falling into such pernicious principles and practices, and to present them faultless before his glorious presence with exceeding joy, ( Jude 1:24,25).
Ver. 1. Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ , etc.] The author of this epistle is the same who is elsewhere called Judas, ( Luke 6:16 John 14:22), who was one of the twelve apostles of Christ, whose name was also Lebbaeus, and whose surname was Thaddaeus, ( Matthew 10:3), the name is the same with Judah, ( Genesis 29:35 49:8), which comes from a word that signifies “to praise” or “confess”; and in the Rabbinical dialect is called adwy , “Juda” f5 , as here. He styles himself “the servant of Jesus Christ”; (see Gill on “ Romans 1:1”); though this is a title common to all believers, yet here, and in some other places, it is peculiar to an apostle, or minister of the Gospel; and therefore is used not merely in humility, and to acknowledge obedience to Christ, but as a title of dignity and honour: and the apostle goes on to describe himself by his natural relation, and brother of James ; not the son of Zebedee, but of Alphaeus, ( Matthew 10:2,3); and this he mentions partly to distinguish himself from others of that name, as Judas Iscariot, and Judas called Barsabas; and partly for the sake of honour and credit, James being a very great man, a man of great note and esteem, and who seemed to be a pillar in the church, and was called the brother of our Lord, ( Galatians 2:9 1:19); an account of the persons to whom this epistle is inscribed next follows, to them that are sanctified by God the Father ; which is to be understood not of internal sanctification, which is usually ascribed to the Spirit of God, but of the act of eternal election, which is peculiar to God the Father; in which sense Christ is said to be sanctified by the Father, and men ordained and appointed to an office, and vessels are set apart the owner's use; ( John 10:36) ( Jeremiah 1:5 2 Timothy 2:21); the language is taken from the ceremonial law, by which persons and things were sanctified, or set apart for sacred use and service; (see Exodus 13:2,12 Leviticus 27:14,16); and so the elect of God are by God the Father sanctified and set apart in the act of election, which is expressed by this word; partly because of its separating nature, men being by it separated from the rest of the world, to the use and service of God, and for his glory, so that they are a distinct and peculiar people; and partly because such are chosen through sanctification of the Spirit, and unto holiness both in this world and that which is to come; so that the doctrine of election is no licentious doctrine; for though holiness is not the cause of it, yet is a means fixed in it, and is certain by it, and an evidence of it; the Alexandrian copy, and some others, and the Vulgate Latin and Syriac versions, read, “to them that are loved by God the Father”: election is the fruit and effect of love; those that are sanctified or set apart by the Father in election, are loved by him. The Ethiopic version renders it quite otherwise, “to them that love God the Father”; which flows from the Father's love to them: and preserved in Jesus Christ ; those who are sanctified, or set apart by God the Father in election, are in Christ, for they are chosen in him; they have a place in his heart, and they are put into his hands, and are in him, and united to him as members to an head, and were represented by him in the covenant of grace; and being in him, they are preserved by him, and that before they are called, as well as after; wherefore this character is put before that of being called, though the Syriac version puts that in the first place: there is a secret preservation of them in Christ before calling, from condemnation and the second death; they were not preserved from falling in Adam, with the rest of mankind, nor from the corruption of human nature, nor from actual sins and transgressions; yet, notwithstanding these, were so preserved that the law could not execute the sentence of condemnation on them, nor sin damn them, nor Satan, who led them captive, hale them to prison; and after calling, they are preserved not from indwelling sin, nor from the temptations of Satan, nor from doubts and fears and unbelief, nor from slips and falls into sin; but from the tyranny and dominion of sin, from being devoured by Satan, and from a total and final falling away; they are preserved in the love of God, and of Christ; in the covenant of grace; in a state of justification and adoption; and in the paths of truth, faith, and holiness; and are preserved safe to the heavenly kingdom and glory: their other character follows, [and] called ; not merely externally by the ministry of the word, but internally by the Spirit and grace of God; so that this is to be understood of a special and effectual call, whereby souls are called out of darkness into light, and from bondage to liberty; and from a dependence on themselves to the grace and righteousness of Christ; and from society with the men of the world to fellowship with him; and to eternal glory, so as to have faith and hope concerning it.
Ver. 2. Mercy unto you, and peace and love be multiplied .] In this salutation the apostle wishes for a multiplication of “mercy”, from God the Father, by whom these persons were sanctified: mercy is a perfection in God; and shows itself in a special manner towards the elect, in the covenant of grace, in the provision of Christ as a Saviour, in the mission of him into this world, in redemption by him, in the forgiveness of sin, in regeneration, and in their whole salvation; and the multiplication of it intends an enlarged view and fresh application of it, which they sometimes stand in need of, as under desertions, when they want the sense and manifestation of it to them; and under temptations and afflictions, when they need sympathy and compassion; and when they fall into sin they stand in need of the fresh discoveries and application of pardoning mercy to them. Moreover, herein is wished for a multiplication of “peace” from Christ, in whom these chosen ones were preserved; and may design a fresh and enlarged view of peace being made for them by his blood, and an increase of conscience peace in their own hearts, as the effect of it; and may include peace, and an abundance of it, among themselves, as well as all prosperity, both external, internal, and eternal: likewise in the salutation, “love”, and a multiplication of it is wished for from the Spirit of God, by whom they were called; and may be understood of the love with which God loved them; and which may be said to be multiplied, when it is gradually shed abroad in their hearts by the Spirit, and they are by degrees led into it more and more, and the acts of it are drawn out and set before them one after another, and fresh manifestations of it are made unto them; as in afflictive providences, after the hidings of God's face, and under temptations: and it may design the love with which they love God, which may be increased and made to abound more and more.
Ver. 3. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you , etc.] The apostle calls the persons he writes unto “beloved”; as they were of God, and by him and other saints; and he signifies his diligence in writing to them: and the subject of his writing was, of the common salvation ; which designs either the Gospel, sometimes called salvation, in opposition to the law, which is a ministration of condemnation; and because it is a declaration of salvation, and a means of it; and may be said to be “common”, because preached to all, Jews and Gentiles: or Jesus Christ the Saviour himself, who is also sometimes called “salvation”, because he was called and appointed to it, and undertook it, and is become the author of it; and may be said to be a “common” Saviour, not of all men, but of all his people; of his whole body, the church, and every member of it, and of all sorts of men, in all nations: or else that spiritual and eternal salvation wrought out by him, which is common, not to all men, for all are not saved with it, but to all the elect of God, and true believers in Christ; the love of God is common to them all alike; the choice of them to eternal salvation is the same; the covenant of grace, the blessings and promises of it, are equally shared by them; and they are bought with the same price of Christ's blood, and are justified by the same righteousness, and are regenerated, sanctified, and called by the same grace, and shall possess the same glory: there is but one way of salvation, and that is not confined to any nation, family, community, or sect among men. The Alexandrian copy and two of Beza's, and the Syriac version, read, “our common salvation”; and two other of Beza's copies and the Vulgate Latin version read, “your common salvation”; the sense is the same: it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you], that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints ; by the “faith” is meant the doctrine of faith, in which sense it is used whenever faith is said to be preached, obeyed, departed, or erred from, or denied, or made shipwreck of, or when exhortations are made to stand fast, and continue in it, or to strive and contend for it, as here; and which is sometimes called the word of faith, the faith of the Gospel, the mystery of faith, or most holy faith, the common faith, and, as here, faith only; and designs the whole scheme of evangelical truths to be believed; such as the doctrine of the Trinity, the deity and sonship of Christ, the divinity and personality of the Spirit; what regards the state and condition of man by nature, as the doctrines of the imputation of Adam's sin to his posterity, the corruption of nature, and the impotence of men to that which is good; what concerns the acts of grace in the Father, Son, and Spirit, towards, and upon the sons of men; as the doctrines of everlasting love, eternal election, the covenant of grace, particular redemption, justification by the imputed righteousness of Christ, pardon and reconciliation by his blood, regeneration and sanctification by the grace of the Spirit, final perseverance, the resurrection of the dead, and the future glory of the saints with Christ. This is said to be “delivered to the saints”: it was delivered by God the Father to Christ as Mediator, and by him to his apostles, who may more especially be meant by “the saints”, or holy men; who were chosen to be holy, and to whom Christ was made sanctification, and who were sanctified by the Spirit of God; and this faith, being a most holy faith, is fit for holy men, and only proper to be delivered to them, and preached by them; and by them it was delivered to the churches, both by word and writing; and this delivery of it supposes that it is not an invention of men, that it is of God, and a gift of his, and given in trust in order to be kept, held forth, and held fast; and it was but “once” delivered, in opposition to the sundry times and divers manners in which the mind of God was formerly made known; and designs the uniformity, perfection, and continuance of the doctrine of faith; there is no alteration to be made in it, or addition to it; no new revelations are to be expected, it has been delivered all at once: and therefore should be “earnestly contended for”; for could it be lost, another could not be had; and the whole of it is to be contended for; not only the fundamentals, but the lesser matters of faith; and not things essential only, but also what are circumstantial to faith and religion; every truth, ordinance, and duty, and particularly the purity of faith, and its consistency: and this contention includes a care and solicitude for it, to have it, own it, and hold it fast, and adorn it; and for the preservation of it, and for the spread of it, and that it might be transmitted to posterity: and it denotes a conflict, a combat, or a fighting for it, a striving even to an agony: the persons to be contended with on account of it, are such who deny, or depreciate any of the Persons in the Godhead, the assertors of the purity and power of human nature, and the deniers of sovereign, efficacious, and persevering grace: the persons who are to contend with them are all the saints in general, to whom it is delivered; which they may do by bearing an experimental testimony to it, by praying for the continuance and success of it, by standing fast in one spirit in it, and by dying for it; and particularly the ministers of the Gospel, by preaching it boldly, openly, fully, and faithfully, by disputing for it, and writing in the defence of it, and by laying down their lives, when called for: the manner in which this is to be done, is “earnestly”, heartily, in good earnest, and without deceit, zealously, and constantly.
Ver. 4. For there are certain men crept in unawares , etc.] These words contain a reason why the doctrine of faith should be contended for, because of false teachers, who are described as being then upon the spot; the Apostles Peter and Paul had foretold that they would come, but Jude here speaks of them as in being; wherefore present rigour and vigilance were necessary to be used: their names are not mentioned, nor their number, only that there were “certain”, or “some men”; which is done to stir up the saints to self-examination, whether they were in the faith; to diligence, in finding out these men; to vigour, in opposing them; and to care, to nip error and heresy in the bud: and they are said to have “crept in unawares”: either into private houses, as was the custom of those men; or into the churches, and become members of them being the tares the enemy sows among the wheat; or into the ministry, assuming that office to themselves, without being called and sent of God; and so into the public assemblies of the saints, spreading their poisonous doctrines among them; and also into their affections, until discovered; and so the Ethiopic version reads here, “because ungodly men have entered into your hearts”; and all this was at an unawares, privily, secretly, without any thought about them, or suspicion of them: who were before of old ordained to this condemnation ; or judgment; meaning either judicial blindness of heart, they were given up to, in embracing and spreading errors and heresies; so that these are not casual things, but fall under the ordination and decree of God, which does not make God the author of them, nor excuse the men that hold them; and they are ordained and ordered for many valuable ends; on the part of God, to show his power and wisdom; and on the part of truth, that it might be tried and appear the brighter, and to manifest his people and their graces: or else punishment is designed, even everlasting condemnation, to which some are preordained of God; for this act of preordination respects persons, and not mere actions and events; and is not a naked prescience, but a real decree, and which is sure, certain, and irrevocable; is God's act, and springs from his sovereignty, is agreeably to his justice and holiness; nor is it contrary to his goodness, and is for his glory: the date of this act is “of old”; or as the Syriac version renders it, ayrwç Nm , “from the beginning”; that is, from eternity; (see 2 Thessalonians 2:13 Proverbs 8:22); for reprobation is of the same date with election; if the one is from eternity, the other must be so too, since there cannot be one without the other: if some were chosen before the foundation of the world, others must be left or passed by as early; and if some were appointed unto salvation from the beginning, others must be foreordained to condemnation from the beginning also; for these words cannot be understood of any prophecy of old, in which it was forewritten, or prophesied of these men, that they should be condemned for their ungodliness; not in ( Matthew 24:1-51), in which no such persons are described as here, nor any mention made of their punishment or condemnation; nor in ( 2 Peter 2:1-3); for then the apostle would never have said that they were “of old”, a long while ago, before written, or prophesied of, since according to the common calculation, that epistle of Peter's, and this of Jude's, were written in the same year; nor in the prophecy of Enoch, ( Jude 1:14); for Enoch's prophecy was not written, as we know of; and therefore these men could not be said to be before written in it; besides, that prophecy is spoken of as something distinct from these persons being before written, to condemnation; and after all, was a prophecy referred to, the sense would be the same, since such a prophecy concerning them must be founded upon an antecedent ordination and appointment of God; the word here used does not intend their being forewritten in any book of the Scriptures, but in the book of God's eternal purposes and decrees; and the justice of such a preordination appears by the following characters of them, ungodly men : all men are by nature ungodly, some are notoriously so, and false teachers are generally such; here it signifies such who are destitute of the fear of God, and of all internal devotion, and powerful godliness; and who did not worship God externally, according to his institutions and appointments, and much less sincerely, and in a spiritual manner; and who even separated themselves from the true worshippers of God, and gave themselves up to sensuality, and therefore their condemnation was just: turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness ; not the love and favour of God, as in his own heart, or as shed abroad in the hearts of others; for that can never, be turned to such a purpose, it always working in a contrary way; nor the principle of grace wrought in the soul, which being of a spiritual nature, lusteth against the flesh, and cannot be turned into it; more likely the goodness of God in his providential dispensations, which is despised by some, and abused by others; but rather the doctrine of grace, which though lasciviousness is not in its nature, nor has it any natural tendency to it, yet wicked men turn or transfer it from its original nature, design, and use, to a foreign one: and they may be said to turn it into lasciviousness, either by asserting it to be a licentious doctrine, when it is not; or by treating it in a wanton and ludicrous manner, scoffing at it, and lampooning it; or by making the doctrine of grace universal, extending it equally alike to all mankind, and thereby harden and encourage men in sin. And denying the only Lord God ; God the Father, who is the only sovereign Lord, both in providence and grace; and the only God, not to the exclusion of the Son and Spirit, but in opposition to nominal and fictitious deities, or Heathen gods; and he was denied by these men, if not in words, yet in works: the word “God” is left out in the Alexandrian copy, and in the Vulgate Latin version. And our Lord Jesus Christ ; as his deity, or sonship, or humanity, or that he was the Messiah, or the alone Saviour, or his sacrifice, satisfaction, and righteousness; with respect to either of which he may be said to be denied doctrinally, as he is also practically, when men do not walk worthy of their profession of him; and both might be true of these men, and therefore their condemnation was righteous. The copulative “and” is omitted in the Syriac version, which seems to make this clause explanative of the former.
Ver. 5. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once know this , etc.] The Alexandrian copy, and some others, and the Vulgate Latin version, read, “knew all things”; but rather it is to be restrained by the following instance of, God's vengeance on unbelievers; which with others is produced, to vindicate the divine conduct in the condemnation of the above persons, and to show that that is certain, and may be expected, since God has always dealt thus with such persons; and this they knew by reading of the Scriptures; at least they had known it once, though it might now be forgotten by them; and they had known it once for all; they had been perfectly acquainted with it; which is said, lest the apostle should be thought to write to persons ignorant, and rude in knowledge, and to show that he wrote nothing new and unheard of, and so should have the more weight and influence upon them; and he thought fit to remind them of it, though they had known it: it is one part of the work of the ministers of the word to put people in mind of what they have known; which is necessary, because of the inattentiveness of hearers, their forgetfulness, and loss of knowledge, and the weakness of some capacities to take in, and retain things; and if the judgment is not more informed hereby, yet the affections may be afresh raised, and grace be drawn out into exercise, and the mind be established and confirmed. The instance follows, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt ; that is, the people of Israel, who were the chosen people of God, a special people, above all others, and had peculiar privileges; these the Lord brought out of the land of Egypt, with an high hand, and a mighty arm, and saved them out of their bondage, and delivered out of their oppressions and afflictions: the Alexandrian copy, and some others, the Vulgate Latin, and Ethiopic versions, instead of “the Lord”, read “Jesus”: and yet, though they were a special people, and notwithstanding this wonderful deliverance, and great salvation, he afterward destroyed them that believed not ; their carcasses fell in the wilderness by one judgment or another upon them; so that of all that came out of Egypt, but two entered into the land of Canaan: this shows the evil nature of unbelief; and that God will not suffer sin to go unobserved in any; no outward privileges and profession will screen any from divine vengeance; God sometimes makes severe examples of mere nominal professors; nor must false teachers, deniers of Christ, and perverters of his Gospel, expect to go free: moreover, it may be observed, that God may do great things for persons, and yet after all destroy them; great riches and honours may be conferred on some, great natural gifts on others; some may seem as if they had the grace of God, and were brought out of spiritual Egypt, and enjoy great mercies and favours, and have many deliverances wrought for them, and yet at last perish.
Ver. 6. And the angels which kept not their first estate , etc.] Or “principality”; that holy, honourable, and happy condition, in which they were created; for they were created in perfect holiness and righteousness, stood in the relation of sons to God, and were, for the lustre of their nature, comparable to the morning stars; they were among the thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers; were a superior rank of creatures to men, and who beheld the face, and enjoyed the presence of God; but this estate they kept not, for being mutable creatures, one of them first sinning, the rest were drawn into it by him, and so were not what they were before, nor in the same estate, or place: but left their own habitation ; by attempting to rise higher; or by quitting their station and posts of honour, being unwilling to be subject to God, and especially to the Son of God, who was to assume human nature, and in it be above them, which they could not bear; and by gathering together in a body, in another place, with Satan at the head of them; though this may be considered as a part of their punishment, and they may be said to do what they were forced to; for they were drove out of their native habitation, heaven; they were turned out of it, and cast down to hell; (see 2 Peter 2:4). And this their habitation, which they left, or fell from, or they were cast out of, is by the Jews frequently called the place of their holiness, or their holy place f6 . He hath reserved in everlasting chains, under darkness ; by these “everlasting chains” may be meant the power and providence of God over them, which always abide upon them; or their sins, and the guilt of them upon their consciences, under which they are continually held; or the decrees and purposes of God concerning their final punishment and destruction, which are immutable and irreversible, and from which there is no freeing themselves:, the phrase, under darkness, may refer to the chains, as in ( 2 Peter 2:4); where they are called “chains of darkness”; either because the power, providence, and purposes of God are invisible; so the Syriac version reads, “in unknown chains”; or because horror and black despair are the effects of sin, and its guilt, with which their consciences are continually filled: or it may denote the place and state where they are, either in the darkness of the air, or in the dark parts of the earth, or in hell, where is utter darkness, even blackness of darkness; or that they are under the power of sin, which is darkness, and without the light of God's countenance, or any spiritual knowledge, or comfort: and they are “reserved” in these chains, and under this darkness; or “in prison”, as the Arabic version renders it; which denotes the custody of them, and their continuance in it, in which they are kept by Jesus Christ, who can bind and loose Satan at his pleasure; and it shows that they are not as yet in full torment, but are like malefactors that are kept in prison, until the assize comes: so these are laid in chains, and kept in custody unto the judgment of the great day ; that is, the future and last “judgment” of men and devils, which is certain, and will be universal, and executed with the strictest justice: this is called “a day”, which is fixed by God, though unknown to men and angels; and because of the evidence and quick dispatch of things, the matters judged will be as clear as the day, and finished at once; and a great one, for the Judge will appear in great glory; great things will be done, the dead will be raised, and all nations will be gathered together, and the process will be with great solemnity; the thrones will be set, the books opened, the several sentences pronounced, and, all punctually executed; the judgment of the great day is the same the Jews call abr anyd µwy , “the day of the great judgment” f7 . This account shows the imprisoned state of the devils, that they are not their own lords, and cannot do as they would; they are under restraints, and in chains, and not to be feared; which must be a great mortification to their proud and malicious spirits: and since this is the case of fallen angels, what severity may be expected from God against the opposers of the truths of the Gospel?
Ver. 7. Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them , etc.] Admah and Zeboiim, for Zoar was spared. This is a third instance of God's vengeance on sinners; and which, like that of the Israelites, and of the angels, was after great favours had been enjoyed: these places were delightfully situated, and very fruitful, as the garden of God; they were under a form of government, had kings over them, and had lately had a very great deliverance from the kings that carried them captive, being rescued by Abraham; they had a righteous Lot among them, who was a reprover in the gate, and Abraham made intercession for them with God.
But they in like manner giving themselves over to fornication ; not as the angels, who are not capable of sinning in such a manner; though the Jews make this to be a sin of theirs, and so interpret ( Genesis 6:2,4) f8 , but rather the Israelites, among whom this sin prevailed, ( 1 Corinthians 10:8); though it seems best of all to refer it to the false teachers that turned the grace of God into lasciviousness, and were very criminal this way; and then the sense is, that in like manner as they, the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, gave themselves over to the sin of fornication; wherefore these men might expect the same judgments that fell upon them, since their sin was alike; which sin is a work of the flesh, contrary to the law of God, is against the body, and attended with many evils; exposes to judgment here and hereafter, and unfits for the communion of the saints, and for the kingdom of heaven: and going after strange flesh ; or “other flesh”; meaning not other women besides their own wives, but men; and designs that detestable and unnatural sin, which, from these people, is called sodomy to this day; and which is an exceeding great sin, contrary to the light of nature and law of God, dishonourable to human nature, and scandalous to a nation and people, and commonly prevails where idolatry and infidelity do, as among the Papists and Mahometans; and arose from idleness and fulness of bread in Sodom, and was committed in the sight of God, with great impudence: their punishment follows, are set forth for an example ; being destroyed by fire from heaven, and their cities turned into a sulphurous lake, which continues to this day, as a monument of God's vengeance, and an example to all such who commit the same sins, and who may expect the same equitable punishment; and to all who live ungodly lives, though they may not be guilty of the same crimes; and to all that slight and reject the Gospel revelation, with whom it will be more intolerable than for Sodom and Gomorrah; and to antichrist, who bears the same name, and spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt; and particularly to all false teachers, who besides their strange doctrines, go after strange flesh: suffering the vengeance of eternal fire ; which may be understood of that fire, with which those cities, and the inhabitants of it, were consumed; which, Philo the Jew says, burnt till his time, and must be burning when Jude wrote this epistle. The effects of which still continues, the land being now brimstone, salt, and burning; and is an emblem and representation of hell fire, between which there is a great likeness; as in the matter of them, both being fire; in the efficient cause of them, both from the Lord; and in the instruments thereof, the angels, who, as then, will hereafter be employed in the delivery of the righteous, and in the burning of the wicked; and in the circumstance attending both, suddenly, at an unawares, when not thought of, and expected; and in the nature of them, being a destruction total, irreparable, and everlasting: and this agrees with the sentiments of the Jews, who say f10 , that “the men of Sodom have no part or portion in the world to come, and shall not see the world to come.”
And says R. Isaac, “Sodom is judged µnhygd anydb , “with the judgment of hell” f11 .”
Ver. 8. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh , etc.] Which may be literally understood, either of the Jewish doctors, who pretended to be interpreters of dreams, as R. Akiba, R. Lazar, and others f12 ; or of the false teachers in the apostle's time, and of their filthy dreams, and nocturnal pollutions in them; which sense the Arabic and Ethiopic versions confirm; the former rendering the words thus, “so these retiring in the time of sleep, defile their own flesh”; and the latter thus, “and likewise these, who in their own sleep, pollute their own flesh”; as also of their pretensions to divine assistance and intelligence by dreams; and likewise may be figuratively understood of them; for false doctrines are dreams, and the teachers of them dreamers, ( Jeremiah 23:25,27,28,32), as are all those doctrines of men that oppose the trinity of persons in the Godhead; that contradict the deity and sonship of Christ; that depreciate any of his offices; that lessen the glory of the person and grace of the Spirit; that cry up the purity, power, and righteousness of human nature, and are contrary to the free grace of God. These arise from the darkness of the understanding, and a spirit of slumber upon them; are the fictions of their own brain, and of their roving imagination; are illusory and deceitful, and are in themselves vanities, and like dreams pass away. And the dreamers of these dreams may be said to “defile the flesh”; since they appear to follow and walk after the dictates of corrupt nature; and because by their unclean practices, mentioned in the preceding verse, they defile the flesh, that is, the body: all sin is of a defiling nature, and all men are defiled with it; but these were notoriously so; and often so it is, that unclean practices follow upon erroneous principles. Despise dominion ; either the government of the world by God, denying or speaking evil of his providence; the Ethiopic version renders it, “they deny their own God”, either his being, or rather his providence; or the dominion and kingly power of Christ, to which they cared not to be subject; or rather civil magistracy, which they despised, as supposing it to be inconsistent with their Christian liberty, and rejected it as being a restraint on their lusts; choosing rather anarchy and confusion, that they might do as they pleased, though magistracy is God's ordinance, and magistrates are God's representatives: and speak evil of dignities ; or “glories”; the Arabic version reads, “the God of glory”: this is to be understood either of angels, those glorious creatures, called thrones, dominions, etc. or ecclesiastical governors, who are set in the first and highest place in the church, and are the glory of the churches; or else civil magistrates, as before, who are the higher powers, and sit in high places of honour and grandeur. False teachers are injurious to themselves, disturbers of churches, and pernicious to civil government.
Ver. 9. Yet Michael the archangel , etc.] By whom is meant, not a created angel, but an eternal one, the Lord Jesus Christ; as appears from his name Michael, which signifies, “who is as God”: and who is as God, or like unto him, but the Son of God, who is equal with God? and from his character as the archangel, or Prince of angels, for Christ is the head of all principality and power; and from what is elsewhere said of Michael, as that he is the great Prince, and on the side of the people of God, and to have angels under him, and at his command, ( Daniel 10:21 <271201> 12:1 Revelation 12:7). So Philo the Jew calls the most ancient Word, firstborn of God, the archangel; Uriel is called the archangel in this passage from the Apocrypha: “And unto these things Uriel the archangel gave them answer, and said, Even when the number of seeds is filled in you: for he hath weighed the world in the balance.” (2 Esdras 4:36) when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses ; which some understand literally of the fleshly and natural body of Moses, buried by the Lord himself, partly out of respect to him; and partly, as some think, lest the Israelites should be tempted to an idolatrous worship of him; but rather it was to show that the law of Moses was to be abolished and buried by Christ, never to rise more: and they think that this dispute was either about the burying of his body, or the taking of it up again; Satan on the one hand insisting upon the taking of it up, in order to induce the Israelites to worship him, and Michael, on the other hand, opposing it, to prevent this idolatry; but then the difficulty is, where Jude should have this account, since the Scriptures are silent about it. Some have thought that he took it out of an apocryphal book, called “the Ascension of Moses”, as Origen f14 , which is not likely; others, that he had it by tradition, by which means the Apostle Paul came by the names of the Egyptian magicians Jannes and Jambres; and some passages are referred to in some of their writings f15 , as having some traces of this dispute; but in them the discourse is not concerning the body, but the soul of Moses; not concerning burying or taking up of his body, when buried, but concerning the taking away of his soul, when he was alive; which none of the angels caring to undertake, at length Samael, the chief of devils, did, but without success, wherefore God took it away with a kiss himself: besides, the apostle produces this history as a thing well known; nor is it reasonable to suppose that such an altercation should be between Michael, and the devil, on such an account; or that it was in order to draw Israel into idolatry on the one hand, and on the other hand to prevent it; since never was the custom of the Israelites to worship their progenitors or heroes; nor did they seem so well disposed to Moses in his lifetime; nor was there any necessity of taking up his body, were they inclined to give him honour and worship; yea, the sight of his dead body would rather have prevented than have encouraged it: but this is to be understood figuratively; and reference is had to the history in ( Zechariah 3:1,2); as appears from the latter part of this verse: some think the priesthood of Christ is intended, which was the end, the sum and substance, of the law of Moses; and seeing that Joshua, the high priest, was a type of Christ, and the angel of the Lord contended with Satan about him, he might be said to dispute with him about the body of Moses; but this sense makes a type of a type, and Christ to contend about himself; besides, this should rather be called the body of Christ than of Moses, others think that the temple of the Jews is meant about the rebuilding of which the contention is thought to be; and which may be called the body of Moses, as the church is called the body of Christ; though it should be observed, that the temple is never so called, and that not the place where the church meets, but the church itself, is called the body of Christ: but it is best of all to understand it of the law of Moses, which is sometimes called Moses himself, ( John 5:45 Acts 15:21 21:21 2 Corinthians 3:15); and so the body of Moses, or the body of his laws, the system of them; just as we call a system of laws, and of divinity, such an one's body of laws, and such an one's body of divinity: and this agrees with the language of the Jews, who say f16 , of statutes, service, purification, etc. that they are hrwth ypwg , “the bodies of the law”; and so of Misnic treatises, as those which concern the offerings of turtle doves, and the purification of menstruous women, that they are ypwg , “the bodies” of the traditions f17 , that is, the sum and substance of them: so the decalogue is said to be “the body of the Shema”, or “Hear, O Israel”, ( Deuteronomy 6:4), so Clemens of Alexandria says, that there are some who consider the body of the Scriptures, the words and names, as if they were, to swma tou mwsewv , “the body of Moses” f20 . Now the law of Moses was restored in the time of Joshua the high priest, by Ezra and Nehemiah. Joshua breaks some of these laws, and is charged by Satan as guilty, who contended and insisted upon it that he should suffer for it; so that this dispute or contention might be said to be about the body of Moses, that is, the body of Moses's law, which Joshua had broken; in which dispute Michael, or the angel of the Lord, even the Lord Jesus Christ himself, durst not bring against him a railing accusation ; that is, not that he was afraid of the devil, but though he could have given harder words, or severer language, and which the other deserved, yet he chose not to do it, he would not do it; in which sense the word “durst”, or “dare”, is used in ( Romans 5:7); but said, the Lord rebuke thee ; for thy malice and insolence; (see Zechariah 3:2); and this mild and gentle way of using even the devil himself agrees with Christ's conduct towards him, when tempted by him in the wilderness, and when in his agony with him in the garden, and amidst all his reproaches and sufferings on the cross. And now the argument is from the greater to the lesser, that if Christ, the Prince of angels, did not choose to give a railing word to the devil, who is so much inferior to him, and when there was so much reason and occasion for it; then how great is the insolence of these men, that speak evil of civil and ecclesiastical rulers, without any just cause at all?
Ver. 10. But these speak evil of those things which they know not , etc.] Which may more particularly refer to dignities, ( Jude 1:8); either angels, who are little known, and not at all, but by revelation, and yet were blasphemed, or evil spoken of by these men; either by ascribing too much to them, as the creation of the world; or by saying such things of them, as were below, and unworthy of them, as their congress with women, etc. or civil magistrates; these men were ignorant of the nature, use, and end, of magistracy and civil government, and so treated it with contempt; or the ministers of the Gospel, whose usefulness was not known, at least not acknowledged by them, and so became the object of their scorn and reproach: or it may refer more generally to the Scriptures, which false teachers are ignorant of, and yet speak evil of; either by denying them to be the Word of God, or by putting false glosses on them; and so to the several parts of the Scriptures, as to the law, the nature, use, and end of which they are not acquainted with; and therefore blaspheme it, by not walking according to it, or by denying it to be of God, and to be good, or by making the observance of it necessary to justification and salvation; and also to the Gospel, the doctrines and ordinances of it, which they speak evil of, despise and reject, not knowing the nature, value, and design of them: but what they know naturally as brute beasts : man originally had a large share of natural knowledge, and there is in man still, notwithstanding the fall, by which his knowledge is impaired, a natural knowledge of God, and of things natural, civil, and moral; and there is a sensitive knowledge in man, which he has in common with the brutes, and which is here meant: and such was the brutish sensuality of these men, that in those things they corrupt themselves ; and act as brute beasts without shame and fear; yea, worse than brute beasts, as in the acts of unnatural lust, mentioned in ( Jude 1:7); whereby they corrupt both their souls and bodies, and so shall be destroyed, and perish in their corruption.
Ver. 11. Woe unto them , etc.] This may be considered as a commiseration of their case, or as a denunciation of deserved punishment, or as a prediction of what would befall them. The Arabic version prefaces these words with an address to the saints, “O my beloved”: that what was about to be said might be attended to, as a caution and instruction to them. For they have gone in the way of Cain ; which was a way of envy, for Cain envied the acceptance of his brother's gift, and that notice which the Lord took of him; so these men envied the gifts bestowed on Christ's faithful ministers, and the success that attended their labours, and the honour that was put upon them by Christ, and that was given them by the churches; which shows, that they were destitute of grace, and particularly of the grace of charity, or love, which envies not, and that they were in an unregenerate estate, and upon the brink of ruin and destruction. Moreover, the way of Cain was a way of hatred, and murder of his brother, which his envy led him to; so these men hated the brethren, persecuted them unto death, as well as were guilty of the murder of the souls of men, by their false doctrine: to which may be added, as another of Cain's ways, in consequence of the former, absence from the presence of God, or the place of his worship; so these men separated themselves, and went out from the churches, forsook the assembling together with them, and so might expect Cain's punishment, to be driven from the face of God; yea, to be bid go as cursed into everlasting burnings: and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward ; Balaam's error, which he himself was guilty of, was covetousness, or an immoderate love of money, ( 2 Peter 2:15); which, as it is the root of all evil, is the bane of religion, and the source of heresy, and what the false teachers were greatly addicted to; and where it prevails, it is insatiable, and not to be checked and stopped, as in these men; and is a damnable sin, and excludes from the kingdom of heaven, as well as is dishonorable to religion; hence such particular notice is taken of it, lest it be found in a minister of the word: this character exactly agrees with the followers of Simon Magus.
The error which Balaam led others into, was both idolatry and adultery, ( Revelation 2:14), which these false teachers were both guilty of themselves, and taught others, and indulged them therein; and which both teachers and people ran greedily after. Balaam is one of the four private persons, who, according to the Jews, shall have no part or portion in the world to come f21 . And perished in the gainsaying of Core : the same with Korah, ( Numbers 16:1). The Septuagint there call him Core, and so does Philo the Jew f22 , as the apostle does here, and by Josephus he is called f23 “Cores”: now the gainsaying or contradiction of these men was like Korah's; as his was against Moses, the ruler of the people, so theirs was against magistracy, ( Jude 1:8); which was gainsaying God's own ordinance, and a contradiction of that which is for the good of men; the ground of which contradiction was love of liberty, and their own lusts; and, generally speaking, men perish in their factions and rebellions against good and lawful magistrates: also, as Korah gainsayed Aaron, the priest of the Lord, so these men contradicted and opposed the ministers of Christ, whom they would have thrust out in order to put in themselves, and whose persons they reviled, and contradicted their doctrines, which to do is of dangerous consequence; and they might be said to perish in his gainsaying, as a type and example of their destruction, which would be swift and sudden, as his was; and to denote the certainty of it. So the Jews say of Korah and his company, that they shall never ascend, or rise up and stand in judgment, and that they shall have no part or portion in the world to come f25 .
Ver. 12. These are spots in your feasts of charity , etc.] Or “love”. The Jews speak atwnmyhmd hytdwes , “of a feast of faith” f26 . These here seem to be the Agapae, or love feasts, of the primitive Christians; the design of which was to maintain and promote brotherly love, from whence they took their name; and to refresh the poor saints, that they might have a full and comfortable meal now and then: their manner of keeping them was this; they began and ended them with prayer and singing; and they observed them with great temperance and frugality; and they were attended with much joy and gladness, and simplicity of heart: but were quickly abused, by judaizing Christians, as observing them in imitation of the passover; and by intemperance in eating and drinking; and by excluding the poor, for whose benefit they were chiefly designed; and by setting up separate meetings for them, and by admitting unfit persons unto them; such as here are said to be spots in them, blemishes, which brought great reproach and scandal upon them, being persons of infamous characters and conversations. The allusion is either to spots in garments, or in faces, or in sacrifices; or to a sort of earth that defiles; or else to rocks and hollow stones on shores, lakes, and rivers, which collect filth and slime; all which serve to expose and point out the persons designed. The Alexandrian copy and some others read, “these are in their own deceivings, spots”, apataiv , instead of agapaiv , as in ( 2 Peter 2:13); when they feast with you ; which shows that they were among them, continued members with them, and partook with them in their solemn feasts, and were admitted to communion; and carries in it a kind of reproof to the saints, that they suffered such persons among them, and allowed them such privilege, intimacy, and familiarity with them: feeding themselves without fear ; these were like the shepherds of Israel, who fed themselves, and not the flock, and were very impious and impudent, open and bare faced in their iniquities, neither fearing God nor regarding man. Clouds [they are], without water ; they are compared to clouds for their number, being many false prophets and antichrists that were come out into the world; and for their sudden rise, having at once, and at an unawares, crept into the churches; and for the general darkness they spread over the churches, making it, by their doctrines and practices, to be a dark and cloudy day, a day of darkness, and gloominess, a day of clouds, and of thick darkness, a day of trouble, rebuke, and blasphemy; and for the storms, factions, rents, and divisions they made; as also for their situation and height, soaring aloft, and being vainly puffed up in their fleshly mind; as well as for their sudden destruction, disappearing at once. And to clouds “without water”, because destitute of the true grace of God, and of true evangelical doctrine; which, like rain, is from above, from heaven; and which, like that, refreshes, softens, and fructifies. Now these false teachers looked like clouds, that promised rain, boasted of Gospel light and knowledge, but were destitute of it, wherefore their ministry was uncomfortable and unprofitable. Carried about of winds ; either of false doctrines, or of their own lusts and passions, or of Satan's temptations: trees whose fruit withereth : or “trees in autumn”; either like to them, which put forth at that season of the year, and so come to nothing; or like to trees which are bare of leaves as well as fruit, it being the time when the leaves fall from the trees; and so may be expressive of these persons casting off the leaves of an outward profession, of their going out from the churches, separating from them, and forsaking the assembling together with them, when what fruit of holiness, and good works, they seemed to have, came to nothing; and so were without fruit , either of Gospel doctrine, or of Gospel holiness and righteousness; nor did they make any true converts, but what they made were like the Pharisees, as bad, or worse than themselves; and from their unfruitfulness in all respects, it appeared that they were not in Christ the true vine, and were not sent forth by him, nor with his Gospel, and that they were destitute of the Spirit of God. Twice dead ; that is, entirely, thoroughly, and really dead in trespasses and sins, notwithstanding their pretensions to religion and godliness; or the sense may be, that they were not only liable to a corporeal death, common to them with all mankind, but also to an eternal one, or to the death both of soul and body in hell. Homer calls those diyaneiv , “twice dead”, that go to hell alive: or rather the sense is this, that they were dead in sin by nature, as all men are, and again having made a profession of religion, were now become dead to that profession; and so were twice dead, once as they were born, and a second time as they had apostatized: plucked up by the roots ; either by separating themselves from the churches, where they had been externally planted; or by the act of the church in cutting them off, and casting them out; or by the judgment of God upon them.
Ver. 13. Raging waves of the sea , etc.] False teachers are so called, for their, swelling pride and vanity; which, as it is what prevails in human nature, is a governing vice in such persons, for knowledge without grace puffs up; and this shows that they had not received the doctrine of grace in truth, for that humbles; as also for their arrogance, boasting, and ostentation; and for their noisiness, their restless, uneasy, and turbulent spirits, for their furious and wrathful dispositions; as well as for their levity and inconstancy, and for their turpitude and filthiness: foaming out their own shame : wrathful words, frothy and obscene language, and filthy doctrines; and which expresses the issue of their noisy and blustering ministry, which ends in uncleanness, shame, emptiness, and ruin. Wandering stars ; they are called “stars”, because they have the appearance of such, and blaze for a while, in seeming light, zeal, and warmth, and in fame and reputation; and “wandering” ones, not comparable to the planets, which go their regular course, but to fiery exhalations, gliding and running stars; because they wander about from house to house, as well as from one nation to another, and being never settled in their principles, nor at a point in religion; and wander also after their own carnal lusts, and cause others to wander likewise, and at last become falling stars; not from real grace and sanctified knowledge, which they never had; but from truth to error, and from a seemingly holy life and conversation, to a vicious one; and from a profession of religion, to open profaneness; and whose fall is irrecoverable, as that of stars: to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever ; or the blackest darkness, even utter darkness; which phrase not only expresses the dreadful nature of their punishment, their most miserable and uncomfortable condition; but also the certainty of it, it is “reserved” for them among the treasures of divine wrath and vengeance, by the righteous appointment of God, according to the just demerit of their sins; and likewise the duration of it, it will be for ever; there will never be any light or comfort, but a continual everlasting black despair, a worm that dieth not, a fire that will not be quenched, the smoke and blackness of which will ascend for ever and ever; hell is meant by it, which the Jews represent as a place of darkness: the Egyptian darkness, they say, came from the darkness of hell, and in hell the wicked will be covered with darkness; the darkness which was upon the face of the deep, at the creation, they interpret of hell f28 .
Ver. 14. And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam , etc.] This was Enoch the son of Jared; his name signifies one “instructed”, or “trained up”; as he doubtless was by his father, in the true religion, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord; and was one that had much communion with God; he walked with him, and was translated by him, body and soul, to heaven, and did not see death; ( Genesis 5:18,22,24); he is said to be “the seventh from Adam”; not the seventh man from him that was born into the world, for there were no doubt thousands born before him; but he was, as the Jews express it f29 , yeybç rwd , “the seventh generation” from him; and they have an observation f30 , that all sevenths are always beloved by God; the seventh in lands, and the seventh in generations; Adam, Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, as it is written, ( Genesis 5:24); and this is said partly to distinguish him from others of the same name, and particularly from Enoch the son of Cain, the third: from Adam in his line, as this was the seventh from Adam in the line of Seth; and partly to observe the antiquity of the following prophecy of his: for it is said, he prophesied of these ; of these false teachers, and such as they; what would be their sad state and condition at the second coming of Christ to judgment: that he had a spirit of prophecy is evident from the name he gave to his son Methuselah, which signifies, “when he dies is the emission”, or the sending out of the waters of the flood, which came to pass the very year he did die. The Arabic writers call him Edris the prophet; and the Jews say f32 , that he was in a higher degree than Moses or Elias; they also call him Metatron, the great scribe, a name which they sometimes give to the angel that went before the children of Israel in the wilderness, and which seems to belong to the Messiah: that Enoch wrote a prophecy, and left it behind him in writing, does not appear from hence, or elsewhere; the Jews, in some of their writings, do cite and make mention of the book of Enoch; and there is a fragment now which bears his name, but is a spurious piece, and has nothing like this prophecy in it; wherefore Jude took this not from a book called the “Apocalypse of Enoch”, but from tradition; this prophecy being handed down from age to age; and was in full credit with the Jews, and therefore the apostle very appropriately produces it; or rather he had it by divine inspiration, and is as follows: saying, behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousand of his saints ; by the “Lord” is meant the Lord Jesus Christ, who is ordained the Judge of quick and dead, and for which he is richly qualified, being omniscient and omnipotent, and faithful and righteous, and who will certainly come again to judge the world in righteousness; for not of his first coming, which was not to judge and condemn, but to seek and save, but of his second coming at the last day is this to be understood; and this is expressed in the present tense, “cometh”, in the manner of the prophets, who speak of things future as if they already were, as Isaiah does of the incarnation, sufferings, and death of Christ, and to awaken the attention of persons to it, as if it was near at hand, as also to signify the certainty of it: and when he comes, he will be attended “with ten thousand of his saints”: meaning either the souls of glorified saints, even all of them, ( 1 Thessalonians 3:13), which will come with Christ, and meet the living ones, and be reunited to their own bodies, which will then be raised; or else the holy angels, as in ( Deuteronomy 33:2); and so some copies and the Arabic version read; which will be both for the showing forth of his glory and majesty, and for service in gathering his elect together, as well as for terror to the wicked; and a “behold” is prefixed to all this, to denote the certainty of Christ's coming, and the importance and wonderfulness of it: the ends of his coming follow.
Ver. 15. To execute judgment upon all , etc.] Quick and dead, small and great, high and low, rich and poor, good and bad, righteous and wicked, sheep and goats; to pass the definitive sentence on each, that of absolution, life, and happiness, on his own people, and that of condemnation, death, and misery, on the wicked; which will be done in the most strict and righteous manner: and to convince all that are ungodly among them ; those who are without God, the fear of him love to him, or faith in him; who have lived without the worship of him, or in a false worship; and particularly false teachers are here meant, the same as in ( Jude 1:4); who will then be convicted in their own consciences, by that clear evidence, and full light, in which things will be set: of all their ungodly deeds ; both against law and Gospel: which they have ungodly committed ; which they lived in the commission of, and continually practised in a vile manner, publicly, and in defiance of heaven, and with seared consciences: and of all their hard [speeches], which ungodly sinners have spoken against him ; either “against” God, as the Vulgate Latin version reads, against his being, his perfections, his providence, his purposes, his word, and worship; or rather against Jesus Christ the Lord, who will come to judge them, against his person and offices, his blood, righteousness, and sacrifice; his ministers and people, his truths and ordinances.
Ver. 16. These are murmurers , etc.] That is, at others; secretly, inwardly, in a muttering way, grunting out their murmurs like swine; to which, for their filthiness and apostasy, false teachers may be filly compared: and their murmurs might be both against God and men; against God, against the being of God, denying, or at least wishing there was no God, and uneasy because there is one; against the perfections of God, particularly his sovereignty over all, his special goodness to some, his wisdom, justice, truth, and faithfulness; against his purposes and decrees, both with respect to things temporal, spiritual, and eternal; against the providence of God and his government of the world, and the unequal distribution of things in it; and especially against the doctrines of free grace, and the ordinances of the Gospel: and not only are they murmurers against God, and all divine things and persons, but also against men; particularly against civil magistrates, who restrain them, and are a terror to them; and against the ministers of the Gospel, whose gifts and usefulness they envy; and indeed against all men, their neighbours, and what they enjoy, and at everything that goes besides themselves: it follows, complainers ; some join the above character and this together, and read, as the Vulgate Latin version, “complaining murmurers”; others, as the Syriac version, place not only a comma, but a copulative between them; and as the former may design secret and inward murmuring, this may intend outward complaining in words; not of their own sins and corruptions, nor of the sins of others, with any concern for the honour of religion; or of the decay of powerful godliness in themselves or others; or of the failure of the Gospel, and the decrease of the interest of Christ; but either of God, that he has not made them equal to others in the good things of life, as the Arabic version renders it, “complaining of their own lots”; or that he lays so much affliction upon them more than on others; or of men, that their salaries are not sufficient, and that they are not enough respected according to their merit; and indeed, as the Syriac version reads, “they complain of everything”, and are never satisfied and easy: walking after their own lusts ; which are carnal and worldly, (see Gill on “ 2 Peter 3:3”); and their mouth speaketh great swelling [words] ; both against God and men; and this may point at their boast of knowledge, their great ostentation of learning, their vain and empty doctrines, their high flights, their rhetorical style, and bombast language: having men's persons in admiration because of advantage ; crying up men of their own stamp for the advantage of the party; and giving flattering titles to men of wealth and riches, for the sake of their money: so the Ethiopic version, “they studied to please persons, to make gain of them”; they were respecters of persons; so the phrase is used by the Septuagint in ( Deuteronomy 10:17 28:50), and in ( Job 22:8) ( Job 32:22 34:19), and in ( Proverbs 18:5) and in ( Isaiah 9:15).
Ver. 17. But, beloved , etc.] Or “my beloved”, as the Syriac and Arabic versions read; or “our brethren”, as the Ethiopic version; the apostle addresses the saints in this manner, to distinguish them from the false teachers, and to show that he had a different opinion of them from them; and that be would have them beware of them, and not be surprised at them, since it was no other than what was foretold; and also to engage their attention and regard to the following exhortation: remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ ; these words mean not the doctrines of the apostles in general, but particularly the prophecies delivered out by them, as by the Apostles Paul and Peter, concerning the false teachers that should arise; and these being spoken of before, and by apostles, even by the apostles, of our Lord Jesus Christ, were worthy of regard, and deserved to be remembered; a remembrance of which is a preservative from error, and a relief in the worst of times, whether of persecution, or heresy. This does not suppose that Jude was not an apostle, only that there were other apostles besides him; and that these, some of them at least, had prophesied of these men, and that he had lived to see their predictions verified; nor does he exclude himself from being one of them; yea, the Ethiopic version reads, “which we the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ have formerly declared unto you”; (see 2 Peter 3:2).
Ver. 19. These be they who separate themselves , etc.] Not from sinners openly profane; such a separation is commendable, being according to the will and word of God, to the mind and practice of Christ, and which tends to the good of men, and to the glory of God; but from the saints and people of God; it is possible that a child of God may for a time leave the fellowship of the saints, but an entire and total forsaking of them, and of assembling with them, looks with an ill aspect; nor did they separate themselves from superstition and will worship, and every false way of worship, which would have been right, but from the pure worship, ordinances, and discipline of God's house, by a perversion of them, and as being above them, or unwilling to be under any notice and government; not from errors and heresies, and persons that held them, with these they herded; but from the pure doctrines of the Gospel, and ministers of the word, and made divisions and separations among the churches, for worldly ends, and through pride and affectation of vain glory, as if they were more knowing, more holy, and more spiritual than other men: when they were sensual ; such as gave themselves up to sensual lusts and pleasures; and at best were but natural men, who had only natural and rational abilities, but without spiritual and experimental knowledge: hence it follows, having not the Spirit ; though they might have some external gifts of the Spirit; or he himself dwelling in them as a spirit of conviction and illumination, as a spirit of regeneration and sanctification, as a spirit of faith and comfort, as a spirit of adoption, and as the earnest and pledge of the heavenly glory; they were not under his influence, nor did they feel the operations of his grace, nor had they communion with him: hence they appeared to be none of Christ's, nor could they claim interest in him, and were without life, and so could not persevere.
Ver. 20. But ye, beloved , etc.] (See Gill on “ Jude 1:17”); building up yourselves on your most holy faith ; some copies, and the Complutensian edition, read, “our most holy faith”; meaning the doctrine of faith in all its branches, which is holy, a most holy doctrine; which displays the holiness of God, and is a means of beginning and increasing internal holiness in the saints, and of encouraging and exciting them to external holiness of life and conversation: this phrase, açydq atwnmyhm , “holy faith”, is in use with the Jews f34 : and it becomes the saints to build up one another upon this; the doctrine of faith, is a foundation to build upon, particularly what regards the person, offices, and grace of Christ, and is itself of an edifying nature; and they should not content themselves with their present knowledge of it, but seek for an improvement in it; and though they were passive when first built on Christ and his doctrines, and though ministers are greatly instruments in building of them up more and more; yet they are capable of building up themselves, and one another, by attending on the ministry of the word, and by private conversation, with each other, and particularly by praying in the Holy Ghost ; which is a special means of increase and establishment in the doctrine of faith; the Holy Ghost is the author and enditer of prayer, and an assister in it; without him saints cannot call God their Father, nor pray with faith and fervency, or with freedom and liberty.
Ver. 21. Keep yourselves in the love of God , etc.] By which may be meant either the grace and favour of God, that love with which God loves his people; and then the exhortation to the saints to keep themselves in it is, to set it always before them, to keep it constantly in view, to exercise faith on it, firmly believing their interest in it; as also to meditate on it, give themselves up wholly to the contemplation of it, and employ their thoughts constantly about it, which is the foundation of all grace here, and glory hereafter; or to preserve themselves by it, for so the words may be rendered, “preserve yourselves by the love of God”; against Satan's temptations, the snares of the world, and the lusts of the flesh; whenever Satan solicits to sin, and any snare is laid to draw into it, and the flesh attempts to be predominant, saints should betake themselves to the love of God, as to a strong hold and preservative against sin, and reason as Joseph did, ( Genesis 39:9), for the love of God, and continuance in it, do not depend on anything that can be done by men; nor is there any danger of real believers falling from it, or losing it, since it is unchangeable, and is from everlasting to everlasting; or else by the love of God we are to understand that love with which his people love him and of which he is the object, ( Luke 11:42); and then the meaning of the exhortation is, that though this grace of love cannot be lost, yet, inasmuch as the fervor of it may be abated, and the people of God grow cold and indifferent in their expressions of it, it becomes them to make use of all proper means to maintain and increase it in themselves and others; such as are mentioned in the context, as conversing together in an edifying way about the doctrines of the Gospel, and praying either separately or together, under the influences of the Holy Spirit, and looking forward for the grace and mercy of Christ unto everlasting life; all which, with many other, things, by the blessing of God, may serve to maintain and revive the grace of love, and blow it up into a flame: though perhaps this phrase may chiefly design that love, peace, and concord, which ought to subsist among saints as brethren, and which they should be careful to preserve; and may be called the love of God, just as the same thing is styled the peace of God, ( Colossians 3:15), because it is what God requires, what he calls unto, which is of him, and is taught by him in regeneration, and what his, love engages to, and without which there is no true love to him; and he takes, love shown to his people as if shown to himself; and this sense is favored by the context, both by the words in the preceding verse, and in the following ones: looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life . The mercy of Christ may be considered either as past, which was shown in eternity, in his covenant transactions with his Father, in engaging in the cause of his people, in espousing them to himself, and in the care of their persons, grace, and glory; and in time, in assuming their nature, in his tender concern for the bodies and souls of men, in bearing the sins and sorrows of his people, in the redemption of them, and in their regeneration and calling; and there is the present mercy of Christ, in interceding for his people, in sympathizing with them under all their afflictions, in succouring them under all their temptations, in suiting himself, as the great Shepherd, to all the circumstances of his flock; and there is the future mercy of Christ, which will be shown at death, in the grave, and at the resurrection, at the day of judgment, and in the merciful sentence he will pronounce on his people; and this seems to be designed here; the consequent of which, or what is annexed to it, and in which it issues, is eternal life; which is not owing to the works of men, but to the grace of God, and mercy of Christ; eternal life is in him, and is given through him, and to his mercy should men look for it. Christ himself is to be looked for, who will certainly come a second time; and eternal life is to be looked for by him; and this is only to be expected through his grace and mercy; and this is to be looked for by faith, in the love of it, with delight and pleasure, and cheerfulness, with eagerness, and yet with patience.
Ver. 22. And of some have compassion , etc.] That is, of such who have gone astray, being drawn aside; who are simple and ignorant, and out of the way; who sin through infirmity, and the force of temptation; and who are tractable and open to conviction, and whose mistakes are in lesser matters of religion; as also such who are convicted and wounded in their consciences for their sins and mistakes: and to these compassion is to be shown, by praying with them, and for them, with ardency and affection; instructing them in meekness; giving friendly and brotherly reproofs to them; expressing on all occasions a tender concern for their good; doing them all the good that can be done, both for their souls and bodies: and good reason there is why compassion should be shown them, because God is a God of compassion; Christ is a merciful high priest; a contrary spirit is grieving to the Holy Ghost; saints should consider what they themselves were, and what they now are, and that compassion has been shown to them, and they may want it again. The Alexandrian copy, and some others, and the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions, read, “reprove”. Making a difference ; between one and another; using some more tenderly, others more severely, as the nature and circumstances of their case appear to be. The Syriac version renders the whole, “when they repent, have compassion on them”.
Ver. 23. And others save with fear , etc.] Meaning false teachers, who lead others into errors, and such as give themselves over unto sin, whether teachers or hearers, and who are obstinate and irreclaimable; even such as these, means should be used to save, if possible, by sharp admonitions and severe language; by denouncing the awful judgments of God, which threaten them; by inflicting on them church censures in a terrible manner; by declaring the terrors of the Lord, and of hell, and of everlasting damnation: pulling [them] out of the fire ; of their soul destroying doctrines, and of their filthy and unnatural lusts, and as it were out of the fire of hell, of which they are in great danger: hating even the garment spotted, by the flesh ; by which may be meant the conversation of those men, even their filthy conversation, which is to be hated, though their persons are not; but all ways and means should be used to save them; and this is one way, by showing a dislike unto, and a resentment at their wicked way of living, excluding them from church communion for it, and shunning all conversation with them. The allusion is not to garments defiled by profluvious persons, or menstruous women, as some think, but to garments spotted with nocturnal pollutions, or through unnatural lusts, which these persons were addicted to f35 . It was reckoned very dishonourable for religious persons, in the time of divine service, or on a sabbath day, to have on a garment spotted with any thing; if a priest's garments were spotted, and he performed service in them, that service was not right f36 ; and if a disciple of a wise man had any grease on his garments (on a sabbath day), he was guilty of death f37 .
Ver. 24. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling , etc.] The people of God are liable to falling into temptation, into sin, into errors and mistakes, from an exercise of grace, or from a degree of steadfastness in Gospel truths, and even into a final and total apostasy, were it not for divine power; and they are not able to keep themselves. Adam, in his state of innocence, could not keep himself from falling; nor could the angels, many of whom fell, and the rest are preserved by the grace of God; wherefore, much less can imperfect sinful men keep themselves, they want both skill and power to do it; nor can any, short of Christ, keep them, and it is his work and office to preserve them; they were given to him with this view, and he undertook to do it; and sensible sinners commit themselves to him, as being appointed for that purpose; and this is a work Christ has been, and is, employed in, and he is every way qualified for it: he is “able” to do it, for he is the mighty God, the Creator and upholder of all things; and as Mediator, he has all power in heaven and in earth; instances of persons kept by him prove it; and there is such evidence of it, that believers may be, and are persuaded of it: and he is as willing as he is able; it is his Father's will he should keep them, and in that he delights; and as he has undertook to keep them, he is accountable for them; besides, he has an interest in them, and the greatest love and affection for them; to which may be added, that the glory of the Father, Son, and Spirit, in man's salvation, depends on the keeping of them: and what he keeps them from is, from falling by temptations, not from being tempted by Satan, but from sinking under his temptations, and from being devoured by him; and from falling by sin, not from the being or commission of sin, but from the dominion of it, and from the falling into it, so as to perish by it; and from falling into damnable heresies; and from the true grace of God, and into final impenitence, unbelief, and total apostasy. Instead of “you”, the Alexandrian copy reads “us”, and some copies “them”: and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy ; to himself, in this present state of things, as washed in his blood, and justified by his righteousness, and hereafter in the millennium state, and in the ultimate glory; and also to his Father, and this he died to do, and in some sense did it at his death, even in the body of his flesh, through death, and now as the representative of his people in heaven; and will at the last day, when he will deliver them up complete and perfect; all which is in consequence of his suretyship engagements: and this presentation is made “before the presence of his glory”; either before the glorious presence of Christ, or Christ himself, who is glorious, and will appear in glory, in his own, and in his Father's, and in his holy angels; or else before the glorious presence of God the Father, and who is glory itself: and the condition in which the saints are, and will be presented, is “faultless”; though they have sinned in Adam, and were so wretchedly guilty and filthy in their nature state, so prone to backslidings, and guilty of so many after conversion, and though a body of sin and death is carried by them to the grave; yet they will at last be presented by Christ in perfect holiness, in complete righteousness, and in the shining robes of immortality and, glory. The manner in which they will be presented is “with exceeding joy”; in themselves, for what they shall be delivered from, from sin and sorrow, and every enemy, and for the glory and happiness they shall then enjoy; and also in the ministers of the Gospel, who will then bring their sheaves with joy, and then will their converts be their joy and crown of rejoicing; and likewise this presentation will be with the joy of angels, for if they rejoice at the conversion of men, much more at their glorification; and even with the joy of Father, Son, and Spirit.
Ver. 25. To the only wise God our Saviour , etc.] By whom is meant, not the Trinity of Persons in general, nor the Father in particular; but the Lord Jesus Christ, who is truly God, though not to the exclusion of the Father and Spirit; and is the wisdom of God, and the author of all wisdom, natural and spiritual; and is the only Saviour of his people; and to him may be, as is ascribed, the glory of his deity, and divine sonship, of his mediatorial works, and of salvation: and majesty : which belongs to him as God, and which he has in his human nature, being crowned with glory, and honour, and enthroned and set down at the right hand of God: dominion ; both natural, the kingdom of nature and providence belonging to him, and mediatorial, which is above all, reaches far and wide, and will last for ever: and power ; in making and upholding all things; in redeeming his people; in protecting and defending them, and in destroying his and their enemies; in raising the dead, and judging the world. Though the Alexandrian copy, and some others, and the Vulgate Latin version, read, “to the only God our Saviour, by Jesus Christ our Lord”, and leave out the word “wise”; and so they are to be understood of God the Father; but the Ethiopic version reads, “this is the only God our Saviour Jesus Christ, to whom”, etc. And all this is to be attributed to him, both now, and ever ; in the present life, and to all eternity. Amen : which is an assent unto it, that so it should be; and a wish that so it may be; and an expression of faith, and strong asseveration, that so it shall be.