Study of Contrasts in the Epistle of Jude

By Doug Joseph

  1. In the Epistle of Jude, two groups are contrasted: True Christians should earnestly contend for the faith once delivered (v.3) ... because (as of the time of its writing) condemned men had crept in (v.4).
    1. The condemnation of those who had crept in was prophesied long before (by Enoch at least, if not others too, perhaps).
    2. They are men of false doctrine and unholy lifestyle, even though they seem to fellowship with true Christians.
      1. Some false doctrines historically referenced from the period include:
        1. Gnostism,
        2. Docetism,
        3. Marcianism
      2. The epistle itself tells some of the condemned’s unholy state and related doctrinal stance:
        1. (v.4) They are godless, which is tied to their...
        2. (v.4) Immorality / licentiousness -- They change the grace of God into a license for immorality.
        3. (v.4) They deny Jesus Christ.
        4. (v.8) They pollute their own bodies.
        5. (v.8) They reject authority.
        6. (v.8) They slander celestial beings.
          Verse 4: "They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord."
          Verse 8: "These dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings."
    3. They are men who are suffering punishment because of their rebellion again God/godly authority and their slander of celestial beings.
      1. Correlation with biblical teaching elsewhere, and study of the epistle itself, hints that their punishment is twofold:
        1. In that present time they were given over by God to indecent acts.
        2. Also, there is future judgment waiting for them
  2. The warnings to the true Christians seem to include:
    1. Don't be fooled/seduced by their doctrine.
    2. Don't let them defile you.
    3. Don't let them lead you astray, behavior-wise.
  3. The judgment suffered by previous occupiers of "good ground" in God's Kingdom is offered to the true Christians for reasons discerned.
    1. True Christians should not think they cannot fall from grace,
      1. Think not that one's past place somehow protects one's future.
      2. If the true Christians are seduced, fooled, or defiled, etc, they too will be fall and be judged.
    2. The list of previous "good-ground-holders" who rebelled and fell/were judged included:
      1. (v.5) O.T. Jews for lack of faith -- "the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe."
      2. (v.6) Angels for rebellion/abandoning their home -- "Angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home--"
  4. By contrast, the prior debauchery of ungodly people from the distant past was shown as a tie to the wickedness of the condemned men who crept in.
    1. The observed present condition of the defiled (those around the Christians), helps identify the defiled as such.
    2. The ungodly people from the distant past who were judged… were listed as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah.
      1. The Sodomites and Gomorrahans are not the same as the Jews or the angels (although one similarity is observed).
        1. The wicked did not go from holding good ground in God's kingdom to being cast out, as the above two did.
        2. However, they "gave themselves over" to that which they should not have. There is the one similarity:
          1. The formerly righteous Jews gave themselves over to doubt, unbelief.
          2. The formerly righteous angels gave themselves over to rebellion/abandoned their post.
          3. The Sodomites and Gomorrahans gave themselves over to sexual perversity.
  5. Let's not confuse the three groups listed (formerly righteous Jews, formerly righteous angels, and from-bad-to-worse Sodomites and Gomorrahans) as being part of a list of three "completely alike" items.
    1. The first two were meant to parallel what will happen to true Christians if they fall.
    2. B. The latter (Sodomites and Gomorrahans) were meant to parallel the defiled, condemned men who had crept in. See vv. 7-8:
      1. (v.7) Sodomites and Gomorrahans "serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire."
      2. (v.8) The condemned who have crept in, are related directly to the Sodomites and Gomorrahans -- "In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings."
  6. To summarize, and by taking the liberty of seeing a slight distinction between Sodom and Gomorrah, we see a parallel structure:
    1. The true Christians ought to see a warning when looking at two prior groups: (1) Disbelieving O.T. Jews and (2) Rebellious angels.
    2. The condemned, godless men who had crept in, ought to see a warning when looking at two prior groups: (1) Sodomites and (2) Gomorrahans.
    3. We're assured that the godless (crept-in) men won't see their warning, because their condemnation has already been prophesied. So the question is: Will the true Christians see their warning? The book is a very firm call to holiness in both doctrine and lifestyle; holiness in right teaching and holiness in right practices.