1 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:

Jude identifies himself as the brother of James (the half-brother of Jesus). It is interesting that he does not identify himself as the half-brother of Jesus, but as a bond-servant of Jesus Christ (or Jesus, the Messiah). In James’ espistle, he too identifies himself as a bond-servant of Jesus Christ.

A bond-servant is one who doesn’t work for pay. It is a great honor to be a bond-servant of Jesus Christ.

Jude writes to those who are called – i.e. those who are born again – and loved by God, and kept for Jesus. It is good to remember that we are loved by God especially when we are in a trial. It is also good to remember that we are kept for Christ so that we think twice before doing something stupid.

2 May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.

Jude understands the value of receiving God’s mercy and of having peace with God and of being a recipient of God’s love, and so he wishes these things upon his readers.

Jude saw that a lot of people were doing things that would incur the wrath of God. He writes to these people so that they will not end up like those people, but rather, instead of wrath, they will receive God’s mercy, and be at peace with God, and be recipients of God’s love.

3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.

Jude wanted to write to these people, and the Holy Spirit urged him to appeal to them to contend earnestly for the faith.

To contend earnestly for the faith means to take pains to believe the truths revealed in Scripture.

It is easy to just read Scripture and forget what we have read. To really believe what we read we must spend time thinking about what we have read and consciously apply what we have read. As we apply it we begin to see its value and then we understand it better and receive the confidence to truly believe it.

Scripture was once for all handed down to the saints. That is, God’s revelation to man for the current age is complete. Therefore, we need to take seriously what God tells us in Scripture about how He deals with different kinds of people. God’s not going to change that information at some point in the future. Specifically, if He says that His wrath will come upon certain types of people it will certainly happen.

4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

One mark of ungodly people is that they turn the grace of our God into licentiousness. That is, they believe and practice and teach that it is okay to continue in sin because forgiveness is available through Jesus Christ.

Ungodly people make it difficult for us to believe God. They creep in unnoticed (sometimes through the television set) and make us think that it is okay to continue in sin because God forgives us.

To deny Jesus as our Master and Lord is to disregard what He tells us to do. This is because, when we make Jesus our Lord and Master we are essentially saying that we will obey Him in everything. But these ungodly people, by their words and their life, tell us that it is okay to not obey Jesus. Such people will be judged.

Jude reminds us that such people are going to experience the wrath of God.

To prove his point, Jude points out a number of people (or groups of people) in the Old Testament whose life was taken in an unusual way by God. They angered God so much that God took their life (or desired to take their life, but spared them at the last moment when they repented).

Does your life cause others to disregard the commands of Scripture?

5 Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.

We too ‘know all things once for all’. That is, we too have the entire revelation of God available to us. But it is easy to forget what we know, and hence we need reminding. If we have the ministry of sharing the word in the church then we need to remind people of what is written in it, including the wrath of God that Jude reminds people about. In most churches, people are only reminded of the love of God. However, a true ministry of the word of God will also remind people of the wrath of God.

The Old Testament was written for our instruction. When we see how the Lord dealt with certain types of people there we understand that He will deal with us in the same way if we are that type of people.

God promised the Jews that He would deliver them from slavery in Egypt and bring them to the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. But they didn’t believe Him. They thought that they would die fighting with the inhabitants of that land. So God, after bringing them out of Egypt, did not let them enter into the Promised Land. Instead, He let them wander in the wilderness for 40 years, until all the adults who came out of Egypt (except for Joshua and Caleb, who believed God) died.

Now here is the thing to internalize: if you don’t believe God when He says something clearly to you then He will do the same to you too!

Some people think that a saved person cannot lose his or her salvation. But here, Jude is telling us that God saved the Jews from Egypt but then later destroyed them because they didn’t believe in Him. If He did that to the Jews won’t He do the same to those who believed in Jesus at one point in time but no longer believe in His Son Jesus?

6 And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day,

I think that the angels referred to here are the ones mentioned in Gen 6:1-5 who took human wives and bore children that were not fully human. Such a race of people had to be terminated as they could not be saved (since the Savior had to be of the same race as the ones He was saving). That is why God sent the flood in Noah’s time. And the angels who were responsible for this had to be locked up so that they don’t repeat such a thing. These angels (and I think that they were angels, not demons who had already fallen with Satan) were essentially imprisoned until the Day of Judgment (described here as ‘kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day’).

In that day, God destroyed the entire human race (except for Noah and his family). Jude’s point is that God is not afraid to destroy radically when the situation demands it.

7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

Even Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed when they tried to have sex with animals.

8 Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.

So if men today disregard the command of the land and fantasize about intimacy with animals or angels / demons God will certainly destroy them too.

9 But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"

The angels, and demons, are powerful beings, and need to be treated with respect. Even the most powerful angel, when confronting the most powerful demon, was careful about how he approached him. If he did so, how much more should we.

Therefore, those who invite angels or demons to immoral activity will certainly be destroyed.

10 But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed.

If people transgress in areas where things are instinctively beyond bounds, and speak evil of commands that they do not understand they too will be destroyed.

11 Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.

Here again, we see that Jude is trying to understand what kind of behavior incurs God’s wrath. He writes this letter to remind people of the things that makes God angry. He writes so that they won’t do the things that make God angry.

Korah rebelled against authority appointed by God and incurred God’s wrath as in having an unusual form of death – being swallowed up alive by the earth and descending alive into Sheol (Num 16:29-30).

Balaam’s story is found in Num 22-25, 31, and Rev 2:14. Balaam incurred the wrath of God because he caused the children of God to stray away from God. He was a Gentile diviner (who was able to hear God), who (after hearing from God) prophesied good or evil things upon people. When Balak, king of Moab, saw the Israelites entering the land, he got scared and tried to hire Balaam to curse them, promising Balaam lots of money. When Balaam inquired of God, God told Balaam that the Israelites were a blessed people and cannot be cursed. Balak didn’t like to hear that and promised Balaam more money to curse them. Even though Balaam knew God’s view on the matter he still kept enquiring about the matter from God (hoping that God would change His mind and he would get his money). As a result, God was about to kill him as he was going to meet with Balak, when his donkey saved him. He repented immediately, and so God spared him. But then, Balaam advised Balak on how to turn God against the Israelites. In the end, the Israelites killed Balaam when they raided the Midianites.

Cain was jealous that God thought more highly of his brother and murdered him, thus incurring God’s wrath.

So we see that besides the things mentioned in the verses 5-7, these three things also result in tasting God’s wrath. Specifically, God cursed Cain and thus put a bounty on his head, making him a target for anyone looking for trouble. But Cain pleaded with God for mercy and so God showed him mercy.

Be careful not to challenge God appointed authority (unless God has appointed you to do so, as in the case of Paul in Gal 2). God may tolerate it – up to a point. Once that point is reached, you will experience the wrath of God, just as Korah did.

Be careful about leading the children of God astray, or about teaching others to lead the children of God astray, just so that you can profit financially. Jesus said that it is better to have someone tie a heavy millstone around your neck and drown you in the depth of the sea (Mt 18:6). There are many preachers and teachers of God’s word today who fall into this category.

Be careful not to be jealous of somebody else’s ministry and therefore attempt to destroy his reputation or take his life. God will mark you for destruction if you do that.

12 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 shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

People in the church who wish to take more than they give are also among those who incur the wrath of God.

14 {It was} also about these men {that} Enoch, {in} the seventh {generation} from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones,

15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."

Long before Jude understood these things, Enoch, who walked with God for 300 years, understood that God would destroy evil doers.

Be careful about what you say about God and how you say it. The second of the Ten Commandments is to not take the name of God in vain.

16 These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their {own} lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of {gaining an} advantage.

God’s wrath also comes upon those who grumble about how things are. They think that they are the rulers of the universe, and therefore everything should go the way they want it to (i.e. they follow after their own lusts). Such people don’t realize that when they grumble about the things around them they are finding fault with the sovereign God, the Person in charge of all things around them.

People who speak arrogantly, as if their success were their own doing, also incur God’s wrath, because they take credit for what God has done.

Even those who flatter people for the sake of gaining an advantage will experience God’s wrath.

17 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.

God’s wrath also comes upon those who cause divisions between brothers (Pr 6:16-19).

God’s wrath also comes upon those who are worldly-minded. These are the ones in the church who haven’t given up the values of the world. They still want the things that the world esteems. They are the enemies of God (Jas 4:4).

It is a good thing to take some time to reflect upon your life and behavior and see if you fall in any of the categories above. If there is need to repent, repent now, before the wrath of God descends upon you. If there is something to set right, set it right now, repent now, before the wrath of God descends upon you.

If you find that your life is a mess, and that most of the things you do usually out wrong, and most of your decisions have not been good ones, examine yourself even more carefully; for perhaps God is trying to warn you of impending doom.

As the writer to the Hebrews says, it is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb 10:26-31).

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.

How should you react when you see people around you doing things that will incur the wrath of God?

You should keep yourself in the love of God. That is, don’t do the things that will incur the wrath of God. Here is how you do that:

You should build yourself up on your most holy faith. That is, spend time reading, understanding and applying God’s word in your life, clearly understanding and internalizing what incurs God’s wrath.

You should pray in the Spirit, asking God to protect you – to lead you not into temptation but to deliver you from doing things that incur God’s wrath.

Finally, you should look forward to the coming of Christ when you receive the promise of eternal life.

22 And have mercy on some, who are doubting;

If some people don’t believe that such things will incur God’s wrath, don’t persecute them or let them face your wrath. Instead, have mercy on them and keep trying to persuade them.

23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.

If we see people who are doing things that will incur God’s wrath then, if we have any influence over them, we should try to convince them to stop doing that.

If you were once caught up in things that incur God’s wrath, be careful when trying to convince people engaged in similar activity; be afraid that you might get caught up again.

24 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.

Jude sees God as One who is able to keep him from stumbling. We should think of God in the same way too.

Jude also sees God as One who is able to make us stand blameless in the presence of His glory. And this brings him great joy. Is this your view of God? And does it bring you great joy?

Jude mentions the existence of the beginning of time, and the existence of God before all time. It was nearly 2000 years later, when Einstein discovered general relativity, and others built upon it, that science discovered that time had a beginning, and that there must have been a Being in existence before time. This lends credence to the divine inspiration of the letter of Jude.

It should be no surprise therefore that Jude attributes glory, majesty, dominion and authority to God.

In summary, don’t put yourself in a position where God prevents you from getting saved (or entering the Promised Land) or takes your life before your time has come, thus denying you salvation (if you were not saved at that time) or fruitful work for God.

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