Charges against the false teachers
Jude continues to explain in the letter to those who are called, beloved and kept of the errors and false teaching that has crept into the church unnoticed. In the precious passages he has used illustrations from the Old Testament to show the sin, shame, and end of these false teachers. Jude in such a short amount of time has exposed them of their errors. In today’s verses Jude continues to point to their faults, flaws and false teaching. He uses an example from the past and then specifically calls out the sins of the false teachers.
We start with a problem, that is Jude introduces this next section by saying, “Enoch the seventh from Adam, prophesied…” He then shares a quote. The problem is that there seems to be a disconnect. Jude refers to Enoch the seventh from Adam a real historical person and then quotes a portion of text from the first book of Enoch which is dated to be written in the intertestamental period. It appears that he quotes this as a portion of Scripture. Now, bear with me, because there are actually many problems that arise from this. We will have to work through them step by step.
The first, is that did Enoch write the book of Enoch. The simple answer is no. The book of Enoch is written between the book of Malachi and the book of Matthew. The book of Enoch is a pseudepigraphal book (meaning the author takes on another name of a person who is more famous). So why then does Jude speak of the seventh of Adam? Some have suggested Jude had no idea and assumed that the book of Enoch was written by Enoch. Now, they clearly have not read Jude. Enoch was not around before Moses, but Jude had referred to the story of the assumption of Moses in previous verses (vs 9). Another option is that Jude is using this number of seven in a more poetic manner, seven speaks of completeness. Now some have suggested that Enoch did prophesy this portion of the book of Enoch, and it had handed down though oral tradition, and the Pseudo Enoch recorded it. Moses lived after Abraham and was able to record all the events that we find in the book of Genesis. Now, we need to point out we are asking a question that Jude did not answer.
The second, is that here we find Jude quoting a portion of this book of Enoch. Does that mean that Jude thought this was a part of the Bible. Jude does use a word, “prophesied,” which is used to quote scripture (Matt 15:7, 1 Pet 1:10). But it is also used of men being filled with the Holy Spirit speaking truth (John 11:51, Acts 19:6). This does not mean everything they uttered is written down or does it mean everything they say is then the word of God. Jude quoting the first Enoch does make the whole book scriptural. Now this was an issue, some early church Fathers believed because Jude quoted from this book it must be canonical. While others said because Jude quoted first Enoch Jude was not canonical. No religious group believes the first book of Enoch as a part of their scriptures, Christians, Jews and even Roman catholic who have an addition fourteen books commonly called the apocrypha. We need to know that other times authors will quote from non-scriptural sources. Paul does this in Acts 17:28 and Titus 1:12. We then can conclude that 1 Enoch is not holy Scripture, but once it is quoted by Jude, then the portion in Jude is Holy Scripture. Now some have said that the False teachers would commonly quote from first Enoch, and Jude is showing them from their own book to disprove their teaching. You can do a lot more study in this and I would recommend the Commentary by Thomas Schreiner.
However, you can see how you could get sucked into the details of this introductory comment which Jude does not spend a large amount of time on but instead he focuses on what will eventually happen to these false teachers. We also need to note that these references can be found in other portions of the Bible. What does Jude want the church to know.
Jude reminds his readers that these false teachers who are working their way through the church to pervert the grace of God into sensuality, and deny Jesus as Lord and Master. As much as they seek to deny him as Lord and master does not make what they teach to be truth. He is the Lord and master and we are told that he is coming. This refences with bringing the 10,000 holy ones can be found in Deuteronomy 33:2, when Moses is blessing Israel and speaking how God had delivered the Israelites out of the house of Slavery and out of Egypt. Zechariah picks up on this and connected Deuteronomy 33 to the Last day when the Lord will come with all of his holy ones (Zech 14:5). Jude points out that although it seems like the wicked false teachers are prospering, there will be a day when the Lord returns. When he is called Lord of lords and King of kings. No amount of false teaching can alter the truth.
Jude makes it clear that Jesus is not only coming, but he is coming for a purpose. That purpose is to execute judgment and convict the ungodly. Jude has highlighted this throughout the letter that those who have rejected God, Rebelled against God and refused God’s order all perished. All have faced judgment. Jude’s point is that God is the same yesterday, today and forever. He does not change, and these false teachers will get what is coming for them. They are leading people astray and perverting the grace of God into licentiousness. There is a great difference between vs 14-15 and vs 24-25. In the first, Jesus is coming to judge, in the second Jesus is coming to present. Both are kept by Jesus but kept for different purposes.
Jude loves this word to describe the false teachers, they are ‘ungodly.’ Depending on your translation you can see this word about four times. They are those who have not treated God with reverence and awe. They have twisted his grace. They have denied his power. Jude mentions how they have done two things; their deeds done in an ungodly way, and how they have spoken against him. Again, he is writing this to the church, those who claim to be Christians. Called to live as godly men and women and yet they are ungodly. This is Paul’s point as he speaks to Timothy, “Teach and urge these things [cf 1 Tim 1:18 ff)]. If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness,” (1 Timothy 6:2–3)
Jude finishes this section of the false teachers spelling out their sins in more details. Who are these false teachers. Like in verse one he tells us who they are but not in specific details as we would like. Paul calls out false teachers by name (1 Tim 1:20). The ones who this written to are called, beloved and kept. However, the false teachers, these people, are listed by Jude as being;
First, he explains they are grumblers. Now this is interesting he started with this sin. We often do not see this as a serious sin. However, Jude when he thinks about these false teachers he beings that they are grumblers. This is where he started in verse five. He speaks of the sin of the people in the wilderness. Their sin was unbelief but the fruit of unbelief was that they grumbled against God. Throughout the passage found in Numbers 14, we are told that it is because of their grumbling that they will die in the wilderness (Cf Num 14:26-30). You could say two main things that kindle the anger of the Lord in the book of Numbers, that is grumbling and rejecting the authority of the men whom God had appointed. We often do not think of this as a large sin, however, it is this grumbling that is the cause of the wilderness wanderings and the death of those who did not trust God to deliver their enemies in the promise land. If we are called to worship God and this is our chief end and to enjoy him forever, then grumbling is to do the opposite. This is a challenge for all of of us as Paul tells us, “Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world,” (Phil 2:14–15).
They are not only grumbling but they are also malcontents, which I think is best translated, “fault-finders.” They are quick to point out the sin of others. This is exactly what one of the devices that Satan uses, he is the accuser of the brothers (Rev 12:10). As the pharisees are accused of being like their father Satan, they are liars (John 8:44). The false teachers like Satan that they are accusers. We will look at this passage in more detail in the coming weeks but we here of Satan as he stands waiting to accuse Joshua the high Priest in Zechariah chapter 3. The false teachers are teaching errors and they are the ones correcting the faults of others. This is one common method I have seen of those who are confronted with sinful actions, they are quit to point out your sin. There is no denying I am a sinner, but in that situation, they seek to point out your sin to validate or hide their sin.
Jude had explained earlier that the false teachers were following their dreams (Jude 8). We find out that they also are following their sinful desires. This is a rich comment based on the previous statement Jude made about them, they are there pointing out the errors and sins of others while they are following their own wicked hearts. These sinful desires are the same which Jude had referred to in verse seven speaking of the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. This is what Paul had said happened to those who did not glorify and honor God as God. He says in Romans 1:24, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts (desires) of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves.” We often think of Romans chapter one as speaking of those outside the covenant community, however we must be aware it is speaking of those who are unregenerate, which could include unbelievers in the church who falsely profess faith in Christ.
The fourth sin that describes the false teachers is that they are loudmouth boasters. I like the KJV translation, “They speaketh great swelling words.” Peter speaking of the same false teachers says, “For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error” (2 Peter 2:18). Their boasting is filled with folly, but Peter points out that they are leading the hearers into sensual passions. Again, we see the dangerous effects of the false teaching like we have noted before that the false teachers sin drags other people into sin. We must be cautious of who we let teach, not only because we value the word, but we value what people do with the word. We boast only in Christ and his word, the Truth. We trust in the Lord with all our heart, and we do not lean on our own understanding (Prv 3:5). On a side note, this is why it is very important not just about who is a pastor, but anyone who does any teaching, especially children. Jesus said, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:42).
Lastly, Jude points out the sin of partiality that is held by the false teachers. The NKJV and NASB translate this word “flattering people.” The actual Greek is more woodenly translated, “marveling to the face,” which comes from a Hebrew idiom of “lifting up the face.” This is actually used throughout the Old Testament but is particularly used not only to showing favoritism to one, but generally at the expense of another (Lev 19:15; Dt 10:17, 28:50, Job 13:10). Normally used in the context of injustice. That one person gives a bride and through that bride injustice is shown to the other party. We do not know the extent of what the particulars of this sin would have looked like, did they receive bribes. Did they show favoritism to a certain group of people (Gal 2:11). Did they use resources in the church intended for the widow and the orphan to fill their pockets or their friends? We are not told specifically. However, we see their sin is about their own personal gain. They use their position of authority to be able to gain more power, money, or influence. This is then in contrast to Jude, who could of said, was the half-brother of Jesus, but he calls himself the “servant of Jesus” (Jude 1).
Jude has not held back any punches. He has shown us the errors of these false teachers that have crept into the church. He has truly shown the dangers of this teaching that is unnoticed in the church. He has shown us the dangers of this as it led people astray. But he has also spoken of the effects of denying Jesus as master and Lord and perverting the grace of God. The end for all of these false teachers is destruction and judgement. A great warning for us to be alert and aware of the teaching we hear and allow in this church. Let us pray that if this type of false teaching were to ever creep into the church that it would not be unnoticed, but we would notice it and contend for the faith delivered to the saints.