Then there is the prayer that "mercy, and peace, and love may be multiplied. It had evidently been upon the heart of Jude to write an epistle to the Christians whom he knew. He gave all diligence to carry out his intention. This must mean that he prayed and thought over this matter.
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He then decided to write about the common salvation. This is the gospel. It is the nearest and the dearest object to every believer, for it is the matchless story of God's love.
It reveals the Son of God, our Lord, who died for our sins, who was buried and rose again the third day. There are blessed depths and heights in this gospel, the salvation which believers have in common, which have never yet been measured. Jude thought to make this the theme of his epistle. The power which was to guide his pen constrained him to write about something else.
The Holy Spirit constrained him to exhort Christians to contend earnestly for the faith once and for all delivered unto the saints. Here is a very fine illustration at the close of the New Testament of how the Word of God was given. Jude had a desire to write about the common salvation; but the Holy Spirit wanted him to write about something else and He constrained him to do so, not in his own words but in words given by God. What faith is meant? Not a creed or confession of faith as formulated by a denomination, sect or party, but the faith, which has been delivered once for all unto the saints.
It is the same faith concerning which our Lord asked the question, "Nevertheless when the Son of Man cometh, shall He find the faith on the earth? The heart of that faith is the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the apostles' doctrine made known by the Holy Spirit; it is therefore the whole body of revealed truth. This faith is given by revelation, a different thing from what is being taught today, as if this faith were the product of a process of evolution through the religious experiences of the race for thousands of years.
The truths which man needs cannot be found by searching. This faith is "once for all delivered unto the saints. Nor is this faith delivered to the world, but to the saints, that is to the body of Christ, the Church. That faith was being corrupted when Jude received the commission to exhort Christians to contend earnestly for it. They were ungodly men, having taken on the Christian profession without possessing the reality of it.
The evil they introduced was twofold. They turned the grace of God into lasciviousness and they denied the rights of Christ to be Lord and Master. They professed to believe in grace, but abused it so that they might indulge in their own lusts; they knew nothing of the power of godliness manifested in holy living and therefore they denied the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Spirit of God reminds them of certain apostasies in past history and how God in judgment dealt with it.
If we compare this section of Jude's Epistle with 2Pe 2: Peter speaks first of the angels that sinned; then of Noah and the flood and finally of Sodom and Gomorrha and the deliverance of Lot. Jude on the other hand does not mention Noah at all, nor Lot. He speaks first of the Israelites who had come out of Egypt and were destroyed in the wilderness because they believed not. This is followed by the angels who kept not their first estate; then comes Sodom and Gomorrha and the judgment which fell upon these cities, and finally Jude adds something which is not found elsewhere in the Word of God, the incident about Michael contending with the devil about the body of Moses.
It is far fetched with this different testimony which Jude gives to charge him with having copied Peter, or Peter having used Jude. When we examine these examples of the past, we discover that they are not chronologically arranged.
Yet in the same way these men - Like these godless cities once found at the tip of the Dead Sea. It is his distinguishing attribute. This ungodliness is next shown to take the form of an immoral perversion of spiritual privilege— turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness. If we compare this section of Jude's Epistle with 2Pe 2: Peter speaks first of the angels that sinned; then of Noah and the flood and finally of Sodom and Gomorrha and the deliverance of Lot. He speaks first of the Israelites who had come out of Egypt and were destroyed in the wilderness because they believed not. Second example of Divine vengeance. Having set in the forefront of his warnings these terrible instances of gross sin and overwhelming penalty, the writer proceeds to deal with the real character of the insidious troublers and corrupters of the Churches of his time.
If they were reported according to the time when they happened, Jude, like Peter, should have mentioned first the angels that sinned; after which Sodom and Gomorrha would be in order, followed by the Israelites who fell in the wilderness and after that Michael contending with the devil. Why this unchronological arrangement in this Epistle? There must be a purpose in it.
We believe the arrangement is made in the manner as it is to teach us the starting point and the goal of apostasy. It starts with unbelief The people had been saved out of Egypt, but they believed not and were destroyed in the wilderness, except those mentioned in the Word who believed.
Thus all apostasy starts with unbelief in what God has spoken.
The angels which kept not their first estate, who left their own habitation, and who are now chained, are the same angels of whom Peter speaks, those who brought in the corruption described in the opening verses of Ge 6. They gave up the place assigned to them. This is the next step in the progress of apostasy.
Unbelief leads to rebellion against God. Sodom and Gomorrha come next. Here we find the grossest immoralities and going after strange flesh. These vicious things are still in the world, and why are they so prominent in our days? On account of unbelief. Then follows the statement, that these apostates are filthy dreamers who defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
This is the goal of all apostasy. The predicted lawlessness with which this age ends is the fruitage of infidelity. Such is the development of apostasy. Unbelief, rebellion against God and his revealed truth, immorality and anarchy. These steps may be traced in our own times. To show that Michael, the archangel, would not rail against the fallen angel-prince, now the devil, as these apostates despise dominions, the incident concerning Michael contending against the devil about the body of Moses is introduced.
He durst not bring a railing accusation against the former Lucifer, the son of the morning, for Michael still recognized in him the once great and glorious creature. It is stated by some of the early church fathers that this episode was recorded in a Jewish apocryphal book "Assumption of Moses.
Another Jewish tradition has it that Michael had been given the custody of the grave of Moses. Jude does not quote from tradition, nor does he quote from a source now no longer available, or, as others surmise, used one of Zechariah's visions chapter 3 , but the Holy Spirit revealed unto him what actually took place when Moses had died. They therefore judged the lot which was assigned them by God unworthy of them and railed against it. We may gather from the parallel passage in 2 Peter that they forswore in especial the restraints put upon them by the providence or by the grace of God, and asserted a liberty which meant unbridled self-indulgence.
The arrogant selfishness which refused to be fettered by Divine law naturally expressed itself also in "great swelling words," in loud protestations, perhaps, that nothing should interfere with their liberty. The phrase which in the New Testament occurs again only in 2 Peter is the same as is rendered "speak marvelous things" in Daniel's description of the king who "shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvelous things against the God of gods," etc.
Daniel , Daniel In the last clause we have a phrase similar to, but not quite the same as, the one which usually expresses the idea of having respect of persons. The Authorized Version, therefore, seems to do better than the Revised Version here in adopting a rendering which indicates that there is some difference from the usual form. The point of this difference may be that Jude's phrase expresses not merely the partial and unprincipled conduct which is one thing to the poor and another to the rich, but the open and unconcealed adulation with which these men hung upon those to whom it might be of advantage to attach themselves.
The proud repudiation of the submission which was due to God and the Divine disposal of their lot was accompanied by a cringing, unblushing submission of their manhood to those of their fellow-men who had favours to bestow. Arrogance and servility are near of kin. The boaster is half-brother to the parasite. A direct appeal is now introduced to the readers. Its object is to save them from being disconcerted by the rise of these impious men or beguiled by their pretensions.
They are reminded, therefore, of apostolic words, by which from the beginning they had been taught to anticipate such perils and to be on their guard against them.