Verses 17-21–A Study in Characteristics

(Verses 17-21)

In these verses Jude points out that nothing has happened which was unexpected.  The apostles had warned them that in the last days such evil men would come.

“But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

After describing the seducers, Jude now exhorts his readers to  beware of them, and he assures them that the apostles of Christ, Paul, and particularly Peter, had foretold of those wicked scoffers that would arise in the church in the last days

     “That he may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Savior:
      “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts”  (II Peter 3:2-3).

      “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrine of devils.
     “Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.”  (I Tim. 4:1-2).

    “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
    “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy.

    “Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good.
    “Traitors, heady, high minded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God.
     “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:  from such turn away” (II Tim. 3:1-4).

         Remember that back in Acts 20:29 Paul warned the Ephesian pastors that “grievous wolves would enter into the Church, “not sparing the flock.”  Also understand that the Greek word (empaiktai) translated as “scoffers” (II Pet. 3:3) and “mockers” in Jude 18 is found nowhere else in the Bible.  The word literally means, “one who makes fun of another, mocker.”  These “mockers” hold the teachings of the Word of God to scorn.  One teaching that they particularly dislike is the promise that Christ will return to earth.  Peter reveals to us that this attitude is the result of willing ignorance. The preaching of the Word is heard and understood, and then by deliberate action of their will it is rejected and held in derision.
        Now that we are in this present state of apostasy, what is our defense against such?  Instead of following those teachers and their corrupt doctrine, remember what Christ and His apostles have said about them, for they have foretold the coming of such false teachers and impostors.

       To put it simply, our best, and only defense, against this apostasy is to Cling to the Word of God.  Cling to what the Word of God has told us.  “Every Word of God {is} pure:  He is a shield unto them that put their trust in im.HimHim” (Prov. 30:5). Jude is telling us that our shelter is in God’s Word.  “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth…” (I Cor. 2:13).  And then there is the classic words on this subject:  “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man:  but holy men of God spake {as they} were moved by the Holy Ghost (II Peter 1:21).  In Acts 20:28-30 the apostle Paul warned the Ephesian pastors of this very problem.

      “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers (bishops) to feed the church of God (shepherd them) which He hath purchased with His own blood.
      “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves (these apostates) enter in among you, not sparing the flock.
      “Also of your own selves shall men arise (false teachers) speaking perverse things, (apostasy; mockeries) to draw away disciples after them.”

       Truly did the apostles repeatedly warn us that in the last time there would arise mockers led away by their own carnal lusts. It is these that are now breaking up the unity of the Church by their invidious distinctions, men of unsanctified minds, who have not the Spirit of God. The scriptures do speak much of the sin and sinners that should be found in the latter times; therefore, we ought not therefore to be troubled at what has already been foretold, nor be unarmed when we have so  been forewarned. It is a shame for them, who have oft heard and known the doctrines of the apostles, to be surprised by the seducers. Jude expected that Christians, who know what the apostles had delivered, should vigorously oppose all seducers and seduction. 
       Also, keep in mind that Jude himself was not an apostle.  We see him really expressing this in his phrase, “remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles.”  He is expressing something that was written by someone else who was an apostle.


(II Tim. 4:1-7)

        In his two letters to the young preacher Timothy, Paul is warning his son in the faith of a coming time when men would turn from the preaching of the Word of God.
       When we take both these epistles together, we find that Paul has given us a preview of the attitude of men toward the Christian Faith and the Word of God during the closing of this present Church Age.
1.     Some Shall Depart from the Faith (I Tim. 4:1).|
2.     Some Shall Deny the Faith (I Tim. 5:8).
3.     Some Shall Cast Off Their First Faith (I Tim. 5:12).

4.     Some Shall Be Seduced from the Faith (I Tim. 6:10).
5.     Some Shall Err Concerning the Faith (I Tim. 6:21).
6.     Some Shall Overthrow the Faith of Others (II Tim. 2:8).
7.     Some Shall Be Reprobates Concerning the Faith (II Tim. 3:8).
8.     Some Shall Keep the Faith (II Tim. 4:2).


The Age of which Paul was warning Timothy. We have heard all our lives there is going to be a great Falling Away from the faith

In II Tim. 3 Paul warns of this AGE OF APOSTASY.  Paul tells us:
       A.     There Will be a Distorted Behavior (vv. 2-4)
       B.     There Will Be a Distorted Religion (vv. 5-7)
       C.     There Will Be Distorted Thinking (v. 8)
               1.     A Learning (v. 7)
               2.     A Lusting (v. 8)
               3.     A Lording (v. 8)

Paul then goes on to tell us what we are to do during this AGE OF APOSTASY.  He tells us that there are two things that can combat this apostasy.  These are:  (1) The Word of God (II Tim. 3:16) and the Man of God (II Tim. 3:17).  The Man of God is to take the Word of God and fight Satan (II Tim. 4:17).

“How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.”

 “How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time,”
 Literally:  “Because they told you that at {the} last time will be   mockers”

        MOCKERS:  (empaiktai)–As has already been stated,  in the parallel, II Peter 3:3, the same Greek word is translated as “scoffers.”  This word is found nowhere else in the N.T.

Jude is reminding his readers that these “mockers”  had already been foretold by the apostles.  Today we have those who are teaching that the once accepted standards of morality and fidelity (especially in matters of sex) are outdated.  They even deny the very existence of God Himself.  But we read in Psa. 53:1–“The fool hath said in his heart, {There is} no God.  Corrupt are they, and have done abominable iniquity: {there is} none that doeth good.”  The word “fool” does not mean a “brainless” man.  It really means the man who is playing the fool. 

         “who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.”
         Literally:  “after ungodliness according to their lusts”

         The apostate’s saying that there is no God is simply wishful thinking on his part.  In his heart he really knows that if there really is a God, then his way of thinking is wrong and he can look forward to judgment (krisis-Eng. crisis).  What amazes me is the fact even though these people deny the existence of God, but at the same time they hate Him and anything, and anyone, having anything to do with Him.  I once asked an athiest why he hated a God he said that did not exist.  How could he hate something that was not there?  I could never get a sensible answer from him.
         Of these “mockers” in verse 10 they are likened to brute beasts led by their lusts.  Neither the captive bull nor the apostate has any choice for their actions.  He must go wherever his lusts drives him.  He is totally in bondage to his own lustful appetites.  He may talk about liberty from traditional moral restraints, and despise the believer who is living a life of true holiness to God, but he really is a slave to his own corruption–“While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants (literally:
slaves) of corruption:  for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into corruption”  (II Pet. 2:19).

 VERSE 19: 
“These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.”
Jude now gives us another characteristic of these apostates–that they set up divisions.

         “These be they who separate themselves,”
         Literally:  “These are the ones who make separations”

        This may also be rendered as, “They who bring about divisions.”  Luther translated this as, “Those who make factions.”  This is describing those who bring about divisions over borderline limits.  These “limits” are the limits of sin.
        We find that John had problems with the type of man of whom Jude is here describing:

“…but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.  Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words:  and not content therewith, neither doeth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth {them} out of the church: (III John 9-10).

         John is describing a man named Diotrophes, who was in the Church, but was himself proud, boastful and a basic troublemaker. He was causing divisions (“separations”) in the church.  John tells us that the problem of Diotrephes was his pride–“loveth to have the preeminence among them.”  One who seems to always display his pride and desirous of preeminence should always be marked with caution. 
        Paul tells us what to do with such people:  “…mark them (literally:  point them out publicly) which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them” (Rom. 16:17).  The last phrase, “avoid them” really speaks of church discipline. Any local assembly that will not practice Scriptural church discipline is asking for big trouble.  John also tells us what to do with these church dividers:  “…follow not that which is evil (do not believe them or follow their leading) but that which is good.  He that doeth good is of God, but he that doeth evil hath nor seen God” (unsaved church members)–III John 11.
         Such causers of divisions in a local church do so by withdrawing themselves, and their followers, from the faithful who are striving to adhere to the doctrines and tenants of the gospel.  By their doing such they are really showing their true character–unsaved church members.
        These are showing their true characters as Paul and Peter said they would. 

“For that it is a sin, and a very heinous one, "to separate from the church," is out of all question. But then it should be observed, are
1.    That by the church is meant a body of living Christians, who ‘an habitation of God through the Spirit:’

2.     That by separating is understood, renouncing all religious intercourse with them; no longer joining with them in solemn prayer, or the other public offices of religion.”–John Wesley’s Notes

It is sad, but true, that our local churches are full of such, and many are even serving on church boards.  It is these who hold back church growth and outreach.  A sadder truth is that there are even such in church pulpits.  When a church member or pastor begins to display pride or desire preeminence, then watch out.  This is an indication of trouble in the local assembly.

         “sensual, having not the Spirit.”
         Literally:  “animal-like ones, not having the Spirit”

         The word rendered as “sensual”  here does not refer to lusts or other forms of lasciviousness as we might at first think.  On the contrary, the Greek Word that is here rendered as “sensual” is the Greek word psychikos (i.e., psycho) which literally means, “non-spiritual, physical, material, not possessing the spirit of God.”  sensual, having not the Spirit.”


“As psychê (inner self) denotes life in the distinctness of individual existence, ‘the center of the personal being, the I of each individual,’  so this adjective derived from it denotes what pertains to man as man, the natural personality as distinguished from the renewed man”–Vincent’s Word Studies

         Simply speaking, sensual means “soulish, or natural.”  The soul is one’s self-consciousness. In I Cor. 2:14 Paul writes, “…the natural (soulish) man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God for they are foolishness unto him…” 
         The “soulish” man is not saved; he does not have the Holy Spirit to open up the Word of God to him. The “natural man” (the soulish; fleshly man) cannot perceive the truths of the Scriptures Who put them together in the first place.  Jude makes this clear when he continues and says, “having not the Spirit.”  Jude has here described the spiritual condition of the apostate:  he is not saved. “…if any {man} have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Rom. 8:9b)
         Such people in the local assembly are the source of problems in that assembly.  They are never led by the Spirit; therefore, their actions can never be those that will prosper or grow a local assembly.  They cause divisions within the church because they lay the blame for church problems upon others in the church; upon those who cannot endure their apostasy, but the Word of God makes it clear that it is they themselves who are the guilty ones.  Doctrines of demons have given rise to many false sects and divisions which may bear the name of Christian, but apostasy in the church has given rise to many divisions in which true believers had had to break away and establish new churches to preserve the truth of God’s Word.


“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.”

         “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves”
         Literally:  “But you, beloved, building yourselves up”       


           Jude tells us what the local churches should be doing in the face of apostasy:  that we should be building ourselves up.  This is the opposite of causing divisions.  Build yourselves up in the faith instead of separating from it or causing separations in it.  Jude is using the plural “ye” in emphatic contrast to these sensuous and unspiritual men        
         After dealing with these corrupters of the Church, Jude now turns to his readers and brings this to a fitting close, with a couple of exhortations full of a wise and tender concern. One of the two counsels deals with what they should do for the protection of their own Christian position against the insidious evils of which he has written. On the word “building,” it is said here that they were to “build up themselves;” that is, they were to act as moral and responsible agents in this, or were to put forth their own proper exertions to do it. Dependent, as we are, and as all persons with correct views will feel themselves to be, yet it is proper to endeavor to do the work of the faith as if we had ample power of ourselves. .  Know this important fact:  It is the duty, and ought to be the endeavor, of every Christian to build up himself, and others also, in the faith of the gospel; the best way for Christians not to be losers of what they have, is for them to be laborers for what they want.  Progress in Christianity is the best means of preserving us from apostasy.


         “on your most holy faith,”
         Literally:  “by your most holy faith”

         Jude tells them that they must strengthen themselves on their foundation, and that foundation is their “most holy faith.”  By this apparently Jude does not mean simply the subjective grace or virtue of faith. He is referring to the “faith” which has been already mentioned as “once delivered unto the saints” (verse 3), and is now conceived as possessed by his readers.  In this faith they have a secure foundation for their renewed life, and on this faith they are to establish themselves (build themselves up) more and more.
     The phrase “most holy faith” here refers to the system of the Christian faith which was founded on faith; and the meaning is, that they should seek to establish themselves most firmly in the belief of the doctrines, and in the practice of the duties of that faith.  Building on THE FAITH is equivalent to building on Christ, the object of faith.

“praying in the Holy Ghost”
 Literally:  “praying in the Holy Spirit”

       This is really the only way that Christians can make firm their foundation. This expression, “praying in the Holy Ghost” is not found elsewhere. It means that we pray in His strength and wisdom: He moves our hearts and directs our petitions. (See Rom. 8:26)–“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmitives…” It is interesting that the Greek word (sunantilambanomai), here rendered as “helpeth” properly means, “to take hold with one.” It may also be taken to mean, “to sustain with us; to aid us in supporting.” It is applied usually to those who unite in supporting or carrying a burden. The meaning may be thus expressed: “He greatly assists or aids us.” 
          In Eph. 6:18 Paul tells us, “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit.”  This is most necessary for it is He alone who is able to build you up.  Understand this most important fact:  The prayer that is not sent up through the influence of the Holy Ghost is never likely to reach heaven.  The Holy Spirit teaches what we are to pray for, and how to pray for it. None can pray aright save by being in the Spirit; that is, in the element of His influence.

“Keeping yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

            “Keeping yourselves in the love of God,”
            Literally:  “Keeping yourselves in the love of God”

Not in your own strength, but “in the love of God;” that is, God's love to you is the only guarantee for your being kept safe. Man's need of being watched over is implied; at the same time it is also applied that he cannot keep himself, unless God in His love keeps him. This is done by building up yourselves on your most holy faith, and praying in the Holy Ghost. “Keeping yourselves in the love of God,” may mean either God's love to us, or our love to Him. The latter appears, however, to be the sense here, because it is not something that we can do, that we should keep up God's love to us.  That is a point over which we can have no control and is a given fact.
           The good man will keep himself in the love of God.  Jude may here be thinking of the Old Covenant between God and His people as we find in Exodus 24:1-8.  In these passages we find that God came to His people promising that He would be their God and they would be His people, but that relationship depended on their accepting and obeying His“Keeping yourselves in the love of God,”  Law which He had given to them. 
           Understand this:  while it is true, in one sense, that we can never drift beyond God’s love and care, it is also true that if we want to remain in close communication with Him we must give to Him the love and obedience which must go hand-to-hand with Him.

         “looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ”
         Literally:  “eagerly awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ”

        LOOKING FOR:  (prosdechomenoi)–This Greek word literally means, “waiting for, expecting,” Acts 24;15 this word is rendered as, “admit.”  This is referring to that time when He shall come to receive His people to Himself.

       “For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
       “And not only
{they} but ourselves, also, which have the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, {to wit}, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:22-23). 

This redemption of our bodies is what all true believers are yearning for.  In Titus 2:13 Paul words it this way:  Looking for (same Greek word–prosdechomenoi) {that} blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”  This tells us that:
1.      We are to believe that Christ will return.
2.      We are to be in a state of expectation, not knowing when He will come.
Not knowing when this may occur, our minds should be in that state which constitutes expectation; that is, a belief that it will occur, and a condition of mind in which we would not be surprised if it should happen at any moment.

3.      We are to be ready for Him whenever He does come.

            “unto eternal life.”
            Literally:  “to everlasting life”

       ETERNAL LIFE (zoên aionion)This is that eternal life that Jesus spoke of in John 3:16–“…that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”


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