Peter and Jude

Jude - Eleventh in a series

There are similarities between Jude's letter and the second chapter of II Peter, but also differences. We will take a look.

First, Peter speaks of false teachers that "shall be… among you" not that already were, though as he continues, he seems to know these men as imminent troublers of the faithful. Jude warns that the evil men were in their midst.

Both Peter and Jude expose the charlatans, but Peter characterizes them more as false teachers (2 Pet 2:1) while Jude sees them as mockers (Jude 1:18). Both describe them as

  • entering the body by stealth
  • "spots" in the communion meals
  • sexually perverse and licentious
  • deniers of Christ, and as
  • condemned already.

Jude brings to remembrance the rebellious Hebrews under Moses, the angels who left their first estate, and Sodom and Gomorrha as three examples of those destroyed or expertly managed by God to exclude them from further rebellion; Peter points to "the angels that sinned," the old world of Noah's day, and Sodom and Gomorrha, as examples of God's dexterity in punishing evil while sparing the righteous, namely Noah, Lot and their family members.

Thus, Peter's emphasis is on God's power to save the righteous in the midst of catasrophe, (2 Pet 2:4-7) and Jude focuses on God's determination to punish rebellion as demonstrated throughout history. (Jude 1:5-7)

Both Peter and Jude write about Michael the archangel: Peter alludes to him (2 Pet 2:10, 11) but Jude cites an incident between Michael and Satan. (Jude 1:10)

In both cases it is pointed out that angels have sense and discernment enough not to spar with the devil, but the false brethren lack good judgment and are not afraid to "speak evil of dignities" (2 Peter 2:10; Jude 1:8), with Peter noting their presumptuous and self-willed nature, and Jude stating that they despise dominion and are slaves to their lower nature.

For mere men to rail against evil or even wonderful principalities shows complete lack of judgment that proper education and preaching might have corrected, unless the offender were without conscience (see previous post).

Jude's analogies of the offenders to natural phenomena include those that are lifeless and without dynamism and those with terrible force, driving and fierce. The apostates are intensely powerful while inwardly dead.

Four scenes describe the apostates: clouds without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. (Jude 1:12,13) Peter likewise sees their emptiness and contradictory wild motion and force (2 Pet 2:17).

In five descriptors, Jude sums up the personality of the ungodly deceiver: These are (a) murmurers, (b) complainers, (c) walking after their own lusts (fleshly); and (d) their mouth speaketh great swelling words (boastful, arrogant), (e) having men's persons in admiration because of advantage (flatterers, controlling types). (Jude 1:16)

Peter also notes the trait of boastfulness (2 Pet 2:18) but dwells more on their lustful behavior and wanton alluring of weak believers who had recently been saved from such lifestyles. He warns that should they return to their former selves after having come clean by the knowledge of the Lord; it would have been better never to have known the new way of righteousness (2 Pet 2:20-22). Jude, in contrast, commands the strong to save the weak. (Jude 1:22, 23)

Jude's letter is reminiscent of Peter's, or vice versa, but a careful reading brings out differences. Yet, there are enough similarities to make plain there was a cult that affected many churches.

We also wonder if Jude had read Peter's letter or vice versa, and chose to repeat certain phrases and points as a way of enforcing the views.

Since Peter states in his second letter that he knows his death is near (2 Pet 1:14), Jude may have upheld and promoted Peter's words as a memorial, a needed exhortation, and as a method of confirming his insights.(Jude 1:17)

Paul also foretold that ungodly deceivers would strive to ruin the church, and John corroborated all these warnings. (Acts 20:29; 1 Tim 4:1, 2; 2 Tim 3:1-5; 1 John 4:1-3; 2 John 1:7-11; 3 John 1:9-11)

Thus we have in the Bible two thorough warnings against such men and shorter ones in other letters.

By the testimony of two or three witnesses the truth is upheld.(Deut 19:15)

Sociopathic spots

Jude - Tenth in a series

Throughout his letter, Jude draws comparisons to Scriptural examples of those who turned from God and led others astray, but whether leaders or followers, all suffered the same consequences.

In verse 12 the ungodly men are described as spots: These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear… (Jud 1:12)

In the Greek, a spot is "a rock in the sea, ledge, reef; a metaphor for men who by their conduct damage others morally, wreck them as it were." (from Thayer's Greek Lexicon or Peter uses a similar word, but his "spots" are related in the Greek to gluttonous men. (2 Pet 2:13) On comparisons between 2 Peter and Jude there is more to come in the next post.

Jude is warning that some who share in communion are impostors. In the early church the communion service was a larger meal than our current practice of tokens enjoyed within the confines of worship. Perhaps it could be likened to a church fellowship dinner.

The fellowship meal is the easiest place for believers to develop friendships with "spots." In a milieu of trust and love that follows common worship, people enjoy conversation and openness; but what if the common worship was not really held in common?

Yet, the impostors, or those claiming identity with Christ for deceptive motives, are very convincing, because they show no fear. In other words, they are without a conscience— or are they? Has God left any without a sense of what is right and what is wrong? When people call evil good, and good evil, (Isa 5:20), are they really convinced of their own lies?

Only God knows the answer to that question, but from the standpoint of living with others in an imperfect world, the answer is yes, they appear and act totally convinced, and it is not possible to reason with such people. Perhaps that is why Jude does not urge his readers to explain God's Word to the deceivers.

Instead, he simply advises believers to stay strong in Christ, and repeats Enoch's words to the faithful: And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. (Jude 1:14, 15)

The person without a conscience will, in the end, become convicted of his or her wrongs. But before that time, he can take away the righteousness of the righteous from him. (Isa 5:23 KJV)

Let us value Jude's warning, for anyone who falls under the spell of the charismatic sociopath will be judged, too. Wrong is wrong. So, stay strong, or become strong, because the Lord is coming!

And when He comes, a host will accompany him. Jesus told his disciples that his angels would be with him for the purpose of gathering his children. (Mat 24:30, 31; 25:31) Saints in the context of Enoch's prophecy, probably refers to angels as Holy Ones, not to people sanctified in Christ. At that time, departed believers will not yet have bodies, but soon thereafter, they will have. We can trust that a resurrection awaits. Stand firm in this belief, hope for the return of Christ, and be on the alert for ungodly, sociopathic fraudsters.

Note, Paul also uses the term saints to describe those with Christ at his return, however, he makes clear they are angels, not departed human souls (1 Thess 3:13; 2 Thess 1:7)

Enlightened by Cain, Balaam and Korah

Jude - Ninth in a series

Ready insight. That is what we get when comparisons are drawn to well-known characters. In Jude 11 we gain deep understanding of the ungodly men by considering three examples from Scripture of like-minded misfits.

Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. (Jud 1:11)

The story of Cain brings out a number of traits of a man who would rival God.

  • Carelessly prideful - He did not show proper respect for God by his offering. (Gen 4:3)
  • Vain, temperamental - He was angry that his offering was unacceptable though Abel's had been approved. (Gen 4:5)
  • Obstinate - He did not value God's reproof and assistance to reform. (Gen 4:6, 7)
  • Self-willed - To act out his anger against God's remonstrances, he murdered his brother. (Gen 4:8)
  • Unrepentant - He would not confess his sin and by his words did not consider it punishable. (Gen 4:9)
  • Juvenile - When punished, he whined and moaned. (Gen 4:13)

This is not a man anyone would want to emulate or be likened to. Yet, he does model sins that we commit from time to time; at least, I know I do.

The ungodly men reminded Jude of Balaam in their goal to be paid for supposed religious or prophetic service. Balaam was approached by Balak, a Moabite king, to curse Israel as the nation neared the Promised Land. However, the Lord prevailed upon Balaam to bless his people instead. He was directly charged by the Lord not to curse Israel, and his donkey prevented him from spiritual blindness (Num 22:27, 28). The words he spoke to bless Israel are beautiful:

…from the hills I behold him: lo, the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations… Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his! (Num 23:9, 10)… Surely [there is] no enchantment against Jacob, neither [is there] any divination against Israel: according to this time it shall be said of Jacob and of Israel, What hath God wrought! (Num 23:21-23) … How goodly are thy tents, O Jacob, [and] thy tabernacles, O Israel! As the valleys are they spread forth, as gardens by the river's side… as cedar trees beside the waters… (Num 24:5 --)

Three times Balak urged Balaam to curse Israel, from one altar to the next, but Balaam instead blessed God's people and refused payment (Num 24:13), prophesying again of Israel's preeminence among the nations: I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab… (Num 24:17) So, Balak and Balaam parted ways.

Then, after having been given the very words of God to bless Israel, and even though he had been in communion with the Lord in former times (Num 22:18-20), Balaam nevertheless revealed to Balak how to defeat Israel through luring them to eat food sacrificed to idols and to fornicate. (Rev 2:14) This advice succeeded to an extent, acknowledged by Moses (Num 25:3, 18; 31:16), Joshua (Jos 22:17), Peter (2 Pet 2:15) and John (Rev 2:14), as well as Jude. Balaam wanted his payment after all.

Thus, the evil men who infiltrated the church might find means of subverting some members. Perhaps, like Balaam, they knew God's mind to some extent, yet their motives were not pure. Maybe their proclamations would be successfully contradicted by strong pastors, but there is "more than one way to skin a cat." Where they failed in prophecy, they could succeed in persuasion by appealing to appetites so hard to deny.

In the early church of the book of Acts, the core group desired not to burden the new Gentile believers with regulations but offered four simple rules, two which recall Balaam's means of cursing Israel (Num 25:2, 3): abstain from meat offered to idols and from fornication. (Acts 15:29) The Moabites drew the Hebrews into idol worship by enticing them with meat, so tempting for men who had eaten only manna for nearly four decades. Then, once they had enjoyed the tasty and filling meal, their consciences could not find a reason not to fornicate, as part of the worship of Baalpeor… "Join our love feast!" For the early Christians, the two sins may not have been associated, yet either would gnaw away at conscience, leaving the soul to dessication.

The sin of Core, or Korah, was gainsaying, an old-fashioned word for contradicting or opposing. Core was proud of his ancestry. He was the great grandson of Levi. Why should he not rule along with Moses and Aaron who were his first cousins? (see Exodus 6:16-21)

Needless to say, ministry and calling have nothing to do with pedigree. The concept of men experiencing a call from God to the ministry is an important doctrine that needs to be promoted. While it is true that Christ's church is a "kingdom of priests," the man who would oppose a leader called by God must give good reason based on Scripture, not on personal opinion and boasting.

By considering the stories of Cain, Balaam and Korah, we will have discernment when imposters arise to trouble and harm the church and the body.

Attention Readers

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