Jude: Defend the Faith, Warn the Church – Bible Study

Introduction, historical background on the early Christian church at the time (68-69 A.D.), and what compelled Jude to write this letter? The following is a partial TRANSCRIPT to the video below:

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons; 1 TIMOTHY 4:1

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men; to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.  COLOSSIANS 2:8

I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!  GALATIANS 1: 6-8

False teachers are nothing new. Early Christian church leaders warned about them and today’s church is filled with them. People accept their unbiblical ideas because on the surface, they sound good. For those lacking a solid biblical foundation it is easy to have your ears tickled and fall into deception, but few understand that this underlying spiritual war against the Truth.

Fast forward to 2018. Now in leadership positions, deceivers have crept in and slithered through American denominations and evangelical churches infecting countless victims. Some are subtle in their approach while others are blatantly heretical, denying the deity of Jesus Christ, promoting ambiguity and compromise under the guise of love and tolerance, touting homosexuality, mysticism, social justice, globalism, and universalism.

Some of today’s false teachers are under the umbrella of the emergent church which generally falls under the cult of Liberalism. This man-pleasing movement prefers to conform to this world and rejects the inerrancy of Scripture. They revel in the idea we are in a postmodern or post-Christian society, and often have a form of godliness but they deny the power of God and the Holy Spirit. 

Charles Spurgeon once said,

“Discernment is not a matter of simply telling the difference between what is right and wrong. It is knowing the difference between right and almost right.”

If you are a disciple, a follower of Christ and lover of the Truth, we must not only learn to discern the times in which we live but also warn others within the church who are headed for the proverbial cliff. Thankfully, Jude gave us a detailed letter and an example to follow as to how to recognize and expose false teachers and apostates who come against the Lord Jesus Christ and the eternal truths of Scripture.

“Apostasy” simply means a departure from the true, biblical faith in Christ.

Historical Context and Introduction to Book of Jude

     The book of Jude (“Judah” in Hebrew) was written just thirty-five years or so after Jesus Christ ascended to Heaven. Most interestingly, Jude was not only one of four half-brothers of the Lord Jesus, but also a brand new convert to the faith. He was not one of the Apostles that lived and walked with Jesus, yet Jude called for discernment and chose to write about false teachers and the need to defend true, apostolic, biblical doctrines.

Peter warned in advance about the coming of false teachers, while Jude wrote about their presence within the early church. In writing to several of the churches, Paul also wrote about deceptions such as Gnosticism, legalism, and worldly philosophy.

Matthew 13:55 lists the half-brothers of Jesus as “James and Joseph and Simon and Judas (“Jude” in Greek).” The Apostle John tells us none of Jesus’ brothers believed in Him – until after the resurrection. We don’t know much more about Joseph and Simon, but Jude begins his letter by referring to himself as a servant of Christ and “brother of James.”

     We know that James not only wrote the letter bearing his name, but he was the leader of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), a pillar in the church! This established some credibility for Jude right up front.

What could have caused these men to go from skeptics to bold disciples of Jesus Christ, and eventually martyrs for the faith? Like countless thousands of Christians, who would be willing to die for a lie? But Paul gives us the answer which may also be a key to the conversion of Jude as well. In 1 Corinthians 15:7, we know that Jesus appeared to James!

The book of Jude was included in the Canon (A.D. 170) due to his being related to Jesus and the fact Jude was an eye-witness of the resurrected Christ, as well as the inspired content of the letter. Clement of Rome (A.D. 96) also supported Jude as authentic.

     It is believed by the time Jude wrote this epistle that all of the other apostles except John had already been martyred. Christianity was under severe political attack from Rome as well as infiltration by apostates. The true church has always been attacked from without and from within!

Jude also alludes to nine different illustrations from the Old Testament. He describes the character and degenerate, wicked personal lives of the deceivers, and points out that their teachings are – just like modern times – clever, subtle, and enticing but you can recognize them by their fake spiritual fronts.

Traits of an Apostate (according to Jude)

Ungodly, morally perverted, deny Christ (Jude 1:4); defile the flesh, rebellious, ignorant (v. 8); dreamers, self-destructive (v. 10); grumblers, fault-finders, self-seeking, arrogant, flatterers (v. 16); mockers (v. 18); divisive, worldly minded, without the Holy Spirit (1:19).

Several years before Jude wrote this letter, the Apostle Paul spoke with the elders in Ephesus:

“For I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole purpose of God. 28 Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. 31 Therefore be on the alert; ACTS 20:27-31

*Apologies for inconsistent camera quality, and not having Scriptures in video.

Click to Read the book of Jude 1:1-25  NASB

*NOTES from the Matthew Henry Commentary from Zondervan, John MacArthur Study Bible, Eerdman’s Bible Dictionary, and other resources; additional commentary by author, David Fiorazo.

Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you. Jude 1:1-2 

Vs 1. Notice right from the start, Jude refers to himself humbly as a bond-servant, meaning he submitted to the Lordship of Christ, but remember that prior to the crucifixion and resurrection he denied Jesus as Messiah.

He is writing to believers, “the called,” beloved, and “kept for Jesus Christ; who answered His call so this doesn’t refer to an invitation but to an accepted salvation, to those who have a relationship with Christ.

“Beloved” by God – He loves all mankind, but there is an unconditional love toward His children, those who believe and are now set apart from the world because of their status in the kingdom.

“Kept” – God the Father sustains and then completes our salvation.

He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it.) God preserves the believer and secures us for eternal life. Philippians 1:6

Vs 3. While Jude was preparing to or had intended to write about the blessing of their common salvation in Christ, (some suggest he had written a previous letter), he was compelled to send this appeal to fight for the truth of the gospel. Since false teachers were already infecting the early church, Jude decided to confront the problem immediately.

“Contend earnestly” for the faith – notice the urgency to not only stand against apostates but strongly, firmly, defend the faith. In order to contend for the gospel of salvation, revealed truth from God, it is imperative to know sound doctrine, be discerning – able to determine truth from error, and willing to confront false teaching.

“once for all handed down” to the saints – God has shown the way of salvation through Jesus Christ, and His revelation is final; the truth has been delivered and cannot be edited.

I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this bookRevelation 22:18-19

It is our privilege and responsibility not only to study the Word, but to preach the Word and fight to preserve it.

Vs 4. “certain persons have crept in unnoticed” – sounds like the church in America today. This carries the idea of infiltration and note this happened just decades after the resurrection. False teachers often pretend to be one of us, blending in outwardly while inwardly they are not even saved.

Their intentions are to confuse or discourage Christians about doctrine and to lead people astray. These men were ungodly, they perverted grace, and denied Christ. You can probably think of a few popular leaders today who fit this profile. This is a cancer in the church where believers who may have started out sincere now mock the spirit of grace.

“Licentiousness” means unrestrained vice or gross immorality; how dangerous it is to think we have a license to sin because God is a loving, forgiving God.

“Master and Lord, Jesus Christ” – Jude opens his letter declaring his allegiance to the Master and calls himself a bond-servant; here he emphasizes Jesus is “our only,” meaning true believers’ one and only, whereas apostates deny Christ as sovereign Lord.

Apostates, false teachers, and false religions pervert what Scripture declares is true about the Lord Jesus Christ.

Vs 5. “saving people…destroyed those who did not believe” – is not only historical but prophetic about the end times. God miraculously delivered the nation of Israel from the bondage of Egypt, but they doubted His promise to bring them to the Promised Land. They eventually abandoned the faith and rebelled, and grumbled against God. That generation died in the wilderness.

Vs 6. “judgment… great day” – refers to the final judgment (as a great day, but not for unbelievers!)

Vs 7. Sodom and Gomorrah…(to illustrate God’s judgment, the destruction of these two cities is used over 20 times in Scripture.

Eternal fire – a fire that can never be quenched (aka “hell fire”)

Vs 9. Michael the archangel (chief angel of God) watches over Israel, leader of the holy angels (also mentioned in Daniel 10 re: spiritual warfare).  Note: the devil, aka Satan = accuser or slanderer

Railing judgment – it is interesting that the leader of God’s holy angels, Michael did not rebuke the devil directly, but said “The Lord rebuke you.” Believers are to call on God’s sovereign power to intervene in the midst of satanic attack or spiritual warfare.

Vs 11. Rebellion of Korah – Korah, being a Levite, had duties in the tabernacle of God, but he rebelled against the authority of Aaron’s priesthood; he and 250 Jewish leaders rejected God’s anointed leadership of Moses and Aaron and as a result, came under divine judgment.

Jude 1:12-13 These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own [n]shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

Vs 12. Clouds without water – apostates bring hope of rain, but fail, bringing dryness; these men are like empty clouds promising spiritual life, but bring death. Trees without fruit – false teachers claim to produce but deliver emptiness.

Vs 13. Wandering stars – apostates claim theirs is the way to spiritual knowledge and maturity but lack true direction; (could mean ‘shooting stars’ that flash quickly through the sky and fade away into nothing.

Vs 14. Many thousands of His holy ones – Not necessarily a prophecy from a book of Enoch, but a reference to the known tradition about the return of Christ and future judgment. (holy ones may refer to either angels or believers) Believers will have a role in the coming kingdom of Christ but angels are executioners of Gods judgment.

Vs 16. Grumblers, finding fault, speak arrogantly, flattering people – those who murmur, vent their disapproval of God’s ways; their words may sound attractive but have little or no spiritual or eternal value, lacking substance, they tell people what they want to hear – not what they need to hear = truth in context from Scripture.

Jude 1:17-21 But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” 19 These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

‘Remember words spoken by the apostles’ – warnings about false teachers. By the Holy Spirit, the apostles wanted to protect the next generation of believers so as to be prepared – not surprised by apostates.

Vs 18. Last time – refers to these days, from the time of the first appearance of Jesus the Messiah until He returns;

Mockers – deny God’s existence or His future judgment; ‘scoffers,’ use ridicule and want to mock the return of Christ in order to justify their sinful, ungodly living.

There are many similarities between Jude and 2 Peter, some speculate Jude quoted or paraphrased Peter.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master…bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them, the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 2 PETER 2:1-3

This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come …following after their own lusts; 2 PETER 3:1-3

JUDE 1:19. Cause divisions; worldly minded, devoid of the Spirit – they stir up debates and cause divisions (but accuse others of being divisive!) they may not even be saved; to not have (devoid) the Spirit is to not have spiritual life at all! But they arrogantly claim to have the answers and lead many astray.

Vs. 20. – “But you…” Building yourselves up – since Christ is the cornerstone of our faith we have a sure foundation to build on. Divine truth has been given through the apostles, prophets so we can strengthen our foundation by the word of God. (This includes a call to pray in the will and power of the Holy Spirit.)

Vs 21. Keep yourselves in God’s love; waiting expectantly – a call to remain in obedience to God (Jesus said if we love Him we’ll keep His commandments), and waiting anxiously refers to eager anticipation of Christ’s return to usher in the reality and final outcome of our faith: eternal life.

Vs 23. Save others; have mercy with fear – those who have bought into false teachings or following apostates need immediate attention and rescue. On some – believers are warned not to be influenced (polluted) by their sinful lifestyles during interactions with them.

Vs 24 & 25. Jude’s closing doxology returned to the theme of salvation which he hoped to write about (as stated in the first few verses), encourages believers regarding Christ’s protection from apostasy and ultimate deliverance, and reinforces the doctrines of the deity of Christ, His permanence, authority, and sovereignty. Jesus is Lord!

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TAKEAWAYS

First, remember who Jude is and how dramatic his conversion must have been – not to have believed his half-brother was the Messiah until after Jesus was raised from the dead!

Though Jude intended to write about the salvation believers in Christ share, the purpose in writing this was to warn Christians about ungodly, false teachers; they deny the truth and pervert the grace of God. The theme of the letter is to “contend for the faith.”

Jude reminds us about how God saved the Jews out of Egypt but later destroyed those who refused to believe. This should be a warning to modern day heretics and those who purposefully deceive others. One trait of an apostate is they mock or revile things they don’t understand, such as the mystery of the incarnation, the inerrancy of Scripture, and other deep spiritual truths. Jude refers to them as “unreasoning animals” and says “Woe to them!”

Some unique descriptors are used: clouds without water, trees without fruit, and wandering stars “for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.” Not just darkness; BLACK darkness, and don’t ignore “forever.” Jude profiles these men as worldly-minded mockers who cause divisions.

Apostates follow after their own lusts, flatter people for selfish gain, and speak arrogantly. Jude referred to an ancient teaching or tradition about the Lord coming to execute judgment and convict the ungodly when he mentioned Enoch.

Jude contrasts them with the godly by saying, “But you” – two times in the final verses. In closing, Jude issues a clarion call to defend and proclaim the true, biblical, historical doctrines, remember the words of the apostles, to build themselves up in the faith, to maintain the love of God, and look expectantly for the return of Christ.

The wonderful, closing benediction of Jude (24-25):

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

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FURTHER STUDY

Genesis 3:1-4; Mark 10:6-8, Mark 13; Acts 20:30;

Luke 13:22-24; Luke 17:2, Romans 12:2, Rom. 13:11, Hebrews 13:8

Galatians 5:7-9, Revelation 3:11, 20; Rev. 22:18-19

RECOMMENDED:

INTRODUCTION TO JUDE – John MacArthur

STUDY GUIDE ON JUDE – J. Vernon McGee

BOOK OF JUDE OVERVIEW – Chuck Swindoll

SUMMARY OF JUDE – Got Questions

FOUR PROGRESSIVE STEPS INTO APOSTASY – Mike Gendron

WHERE DID THE EMERGENT CHURCH EMERGE FROM? Many more resource links on the bottom of this page!

 

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