of Contrasts in the Epistle of Jude
By Doug Joseph
I. 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).
A. The condemnation of those who had crept in was prophesied long before (by Enoch at least, if not others too, perhaps).
B. 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:
2. The epistle itself tells some of the condemnedís unholy state and related doctrinal stance:
i. (v.4) godless
ii. (v.4) immoral / licentious
iii. (v.4) deny Jesus Christ.
iv. (v.8) pollute their own bodies
v. (v.8) reject authority
vi. (v.8) slander celestial beings
vii. (v.15) ungodly individuals (guilty of ungodly acts and words, which were done in an ungodly manner)
viii. (v.16) grumblers, faultfinders, boasters, and flatterers
ix. (v.18) scoffers
x . (v.19) divisive individuals who were without the Spirit of God
C. They are men who are suffering punishment because of their rebellion against 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:
i. In that present time they were given over by God to indecent acts.
ii. Also, there is future judgment waiting for them.
II. The warnings to the true Christians seem to include:
A. Don't be fooled/seduced by their doctrine.
B. Don't let them defile you.
C. Don't let them lead you astray, behavior-wise.
III. The judgment suffered by previous occupiers of "good ground" in God's Kingdom is offered to the true Christians as a warning.
A. True Christians should not think they cannot fall from grace,
1. Think not that one's past place somehow protects oneís future.
2. If true Christians choose to be seduced or defiled, etc, they too can fall and be judged (just as true Jews and true angels were).
B. 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--"
IV. 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.
A. The observed present condition of the defiled (those around the Christians), helps identify the defiled as such.
B. The ungodly people from the distant past who were judgedÖ 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).
i. The wicked did not go from holding good ground in God's kingdom to being cast out, as the above two did.
ii. However, they "gave themselves over" to that which they should not have. There is the one similarity:
a. The formerly righteous Jews gave themselves over to doubt, unbelief.
b. The formerly righteous angels gave themselves over to rebellion/abandoned their post.
c. The Sodomites and Gomorrahans gave themselves over to sexual perversity.
V. Let's not confuse the groups listed (formerly righteous Jews, formerly righteous angels, and from-bad-to-worse Sodomites and Gomorrahans) as being a list of "completely alike" items.
A. The former two (Jews and angels) were meant to parallel what will happen to true Christians if they fall.
B. The latter two (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."
VI. To summarize, and by taking the liberty of seeing a slight distinction between Sodom and Gomorrah, we see a parallel structure:
A. The true Christians ought to see a warning when looking at two prior groups: (1) Disbelieving O.T. Jews and (2) Rebellious angels.
B. The condemned, godless men who had crept in, ought to see a warning when looking at two prior groups: (1) Sodomites and (2) Gomorrahans.
C. 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.
Doug and LaDonna Joseph recently celebrated 28 wonderful years of marriage, and they have four awesome kids. Doug is an ordained minister in the United Pentecostal Church Intíl (since 2003), and pastor of Christian Apostolic Church (since 2002). He serves on the board of directors of the WV Home Missions Department, as secretary-treasurer. In 2004, the Josephs led CAC to establish Apostolic Christian Academy (K-12 Christian school). Previously, Doug was creative director for the General Home Missions Division, at the United Pentecostal Church International headquarters in St. Louis, MO, where the Josephs were blessed by the friendship and mentorship of Rev. and Mrs. Jack & Elsy Cunningham. Doug helped launch the UPCIís national Menís Ministry, and was editor for the Apostolic Man magazine. He oversaw the creation of Ready To Be Free, a sweeping evangelism thrust. Before that, the Josephs served on pastoral staff of North Charleston Apostolic Church (WV), blessed by the leadership of Pastor Billy & Shirley Cole. LaDonna Joseph is a great wife and mom. She is CACís general secretary, school principal, and minister of music. She has served on the board of directors of WV UPCIís Ladies Ministry. She has also served as the pianist for WVís All-State Choir. The Josephs helped the Coles to publish their memoirs (available at www.amazon.com and www.BillyColeBook.com). Doug is also author of New IMmortal, a futuristic Christian novel (available at www.amazon.com and www.newimmortal.com). LaDonna is a native of West Virginia. Doug hails from Shreveport, LA, and is an adopted, honorary West Virginian.
Pastor Joseph's blog is at dougjoseph.net.