Fight for the *Faith!

An EasyEnglish Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the letter of Jude

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Hilda Bright

This commentary has been through Advanced Theological Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

What This Letter Is About

Jude wrote the letter to warn his readers against false teachers. These teachers claimed to be Christians. But they were being a great danger to the *faith.

Plan Of The Letter

Verses 1-2 Greetings

Verses 3-16 Jude writes about the danger of false teachers. Jude gives examples from the *Old Testament, and from two other ancient books. These examples show the wrong beliefs and actions of these teachers. To teach wicked ideas and actions will certainly bring Godís severe punishment on people like that.

Verses 17-23 Jude tells Christians how to grow in their knowledge and love of Jesus. Then they can help other Christians to do the same.

Verses 24-25 Jude encourages his readers with words of praise, to remind them of Godís great love and power.

The Letter

The author and the readers

v1 From Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James.

To all whom God has called and loves. He keeps them safe for Jesus Christ.

Verse 1 Jude and James were two of the four brothers of Jesus (Mark 6:3). Jude does not say that he was a brother of Jesus. He speaks of himself only as a servant of Jesus, who was now his Master. Jude was also humble enough to mention his well-known brother, James. James became a leader of the Christian church in Jerusalem (Galatians 1:19; 2:9). Readers will now know which Jude was writing the letter. Jude (or Judas) was a common (frequent) name.

Jude likes to put ideas in threes. (Other examples are in verses 2, 4, 5-7, 8 and 11.)

∑††††††††† God has called them. God calls people to serve him in the same way as he called Israel (Isaiah 42:6). To serve him is a responsibility. It is also an honour, like an invitation to a special party. God is saying, ĎBe my guest!í

∑††††††††† God loves them. Godís love protects them and also gives them inner strength every day.

∑††††††††† God is keeping them for Jesus Christ. Whatever happens, God will keep them in safety until Jesus comes again (Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:4).

v2 May you have more and more of Godís *mercy and inner peace and love.

Verse 2 Jude prays for three gifts for his readers:

∑††††††††† ĎGodís *mercyí They need Godís pity to forgive them and to help them every day. And they will need it especially on the day of judgement.

∑††††††††† ĎGodís inner peaceí This peace of God is so much greater than we can understand (Philippians 4:7). Christians will have this inner peace because God has *forgiven them. They know that he will help them to obey him. They know that God always keeps his promises.

∑††††††††† ĎGodís loveí They will come to realise how greatly God loves them (Romans 8:35). Then they will want to show love to other people (John 15:17). Christians cannot earn any of these qualities. They are Godís free gifts.

The reason for the letter

v3 Dear friends, I was eager to write to you about the *salvation that we all share. But instead I must write and urge you to fight hard to defend the *faith.

This is the *faith that God gave to Christians, once and for always.

Verse 3 Jude loves his Ďdear friendsí, because he and they all share in Godís love. Jude had wanted to write about the *faith that they shared. This was the *faith (trust) in Jesus that God had given to them all. Christians have the responsibility to keep this *faith without change. They must be careful that people do not take important facts away from the *faith. Neither must they add false ideas. The Greek word for Ďdefendí means that it will be a great struggle. Christians must be ready at any time to meet a sudden test of their trust in Jesus.

v4 Some wicked men have come among you in secret. They change the *grace of God, as an excuse for their wicked behaviour. They deny our only Master and *Lord, Jesus Christ. Long ago, God warned that he has given judgement against people like that.

Verse 4 The Ďwicked mení are false teachers. They may have travelled from place to place. Nobody noticed when they came among Judeís readers. Their wrong ideas were a danger to the *faith. These were the errors in their teaching:

∑††††††††† They were taking wrong advantage of Godís *mercy. They used it as an excuse to behave in any way that they liked. They were like some Christians that Paul described (Romans 6:1). They said that God loves to forgive. So wicked behaviour makes it possible for God to show even more of his *grace.

∑††††††††† They said that the human body is evil. So, it does not matter how you use it. They denied Jesus and his words by the wicked way in which they lived.

∑††††††††† They denied that Jesus had a real human body. They said that he could not be hungry or need to drink. He did not feel pain.

∑††††††††† They said that Jesus was not one with God.

∑††††††††† They claimed to have special knowledge of the way to God. They were superior to ordinary Christians, who could not have this same knowledge.

Now, in verses 5-15, Jude gives examples of Godís punishment of people like that.

*Old Testament examples of Godís judgement

v5 You know all these stories, but I need to remind you of them.

God rescued the people of Israel from Egypt. But afterwards, he destroyed those who did not trust him. v6 Some *angels did not keep their position, but left their proper place in heaven. God has kept them chained in deep darkness until the day of judgement. v7 The people of Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities near them loved to practise sex in ways that are not natural. These people are a warning to other people. They suffered the punishment of fire that will last for ever.

Verse 5 The people of Israel were once slaves in Egypt (Exodus chapter 1). God rescued them through Moses (Exodus chapters 5-12). But they did not trust God enough to enter the land that God had promised to give them. So they died in the desert (Hebrews 3:17). Jesus called his death an Ďexodusí (departure) (Luke 9:31) that would rescue his people from evil. Lack of trust in him, too, will lead to Godís judgement.

Verse 6 Because of their pride, some *angels refused to obey God (Revelation 12:7-9). They left heaven to marry women on earth (Genesis 6:1-2). The false teachers in their pride and desire for women were like the bad *angels. Those *angels did not Ďkeepí their proper position. So God Ďkeptí them in chains and in darkness until the day of judgement. If God judges even *angels, he will judge men and women too.

Verse 7 The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah are an example of all kinds of wicked behaviour. Genesis 19:1-11 describes how two *angels visited Lot. They visited him to warn him to escape from Godís judgement against Sodom and Gomorrah. The men of Sodom wanted to use the visitors to satisfy their wicked desires for sex. God destroyed them with fire.

v8 But in their wicked imagination, these men are now using their bodies in the same evil way. They do not respect Godís authority. They speak evil of *angels.

Verse 8 Even with such awful examples in front of them, the false teachers have no thought for their own fate. So they continue their wicked practice of sex, like the people of Sodom. They do not obey the *Lord Jesus Christ (verse 4).

They insult Godís *angels. The Greek word for Ďangelí also means one who brings a message. So Jude may be referring to the church leaders. The false teachers consider themselves far superior.

v9 The chief *angel Michael argued with the devil about the body of Moses. But Michael would not accuse him. Instead he said, ĎMay the *Lord correct you!í

Verse 9 Jude gets his information from an ancient book called ĎThe Assumption of Mosesí. This book is not in the *Old Testament. But Judeís readers would know the story. When Moses died (Deuteronomy 34:5-6), God sent one of his most important *angels, Michael, to bury his body. But the devil said that the body belonged to him. This was because Moses had murdered an Egyptian (Exodus 2:12). Michael did not argue with the devil. He said that God himself would deal with him.

v10 These men, however, *mock anything that they do not understand. They behave like animals and do whatever they like. Their desires are wicked, and wicked behaviour will destroy them.

Verse 10 They think that anything that is outside their experience has no use or worth. They do not realise where their attitudes and actions are leading them. Their fate is as certain as in the case of those wicked people and bad *angels that Jude has mentioned.

Three more examples from the *Old Testament

v11 How terrible for them! They have followed Cainís example. *Greed has caused them to fall into Balaamís error. They are *disobeying God, as Korah did. Like him, they will die.

Verse 11

∑††††††††† Cain was the first person to kill someone. He killed his own brother (Genesis 4:1-15). The false teachers are Ďkillingí the belief of other people. Cain killed Abel. But God had already warned Cain about his anger. *Jews in *New Testament times therefore remembered Cain as someone who did not believe in Godís judgement. But God did punish him. People who decide not to trust and obey God are like Cain. God will punish them, too.

∑††††††††† Balaam is the second example. Balak, king of Moab, asked Balaam to curse Moabís enemies, the *Israelites (Numbers 22:7-18). At first, Balaam refused. But his *greed for the bribe (money) that Balak offered him was too strong. So he said that he would do it. But when he tried, he found that God made him bless the *Israelites instead of cursing them! (Deuteronomy 23:5). And later, Balaam tempted the *Israelites to break Godís law (Numbers 31:16). By *New Testament times, Balaam had a bad character as one who had led people away from God. Judeís readers knew the story. So they would immediately understand what he meant.

∑††††††††† Korah was proud and jealous. He refused to accept the authority of Moses and Aaron. He also encouraged a large number of other people to oppose Moses. But God himself had appointed Moses to serve him. So Korah and those who were with him all died. The ground split open and swallowed them (Numbers 16:1-35). The false teachers were refusing to obey the church leaders. So they must expect God to punish them. He has already decided on their fate.

*Word-pictures of these wicked men

v12 These selfish and greedy men are like hidden rocks at your love-meals together. They care only about themselves.

They are like clouds that the wind blows. But they bring no rain.

They are like trees that produce no fruit even in autumn. This is because they have no roots. And they are dead.

v13 Their wicked *deeds are like rubbish that the wild sea throws up.

They are like stars that wander about.

God has prepared a place for men like that in deep darkness for ever.

Verse 12 Rocks are dangerous. They can sink ships. These menís selfish behaviour was a great danger to the love-meals that the Christians shared to support each other. These men thought only of themselves. They felt no responsibility in love for other people.

Jude describes these dangerous men in *word-pictures. He takes examples from the four regions of the physical world: clouds in the air; trees on the earth; waves of the sea; stars in the sky.

∑††††††††† Clouds that promise rain, but produce none, are useless (of no value). These men do nothing to help other Christians to grow in their trust of Jesus.

∑††††††††† Trees that produce no fruit, even in autumn, are as good as dead. The farmer burns them (Matthew 7:19). These men are without roots, without true life in Jesus Christ. So, these men are Ďtwice deadí.

∑††††††††† Waves The *Jews hated the sea. It could be wild and dangerous. The wicked are like the sea that never rests. Its waves never stop rolling, carrying dirt and mud (Isaiah 57:20). In a similar manner, these men never stop their wicked actions. They are like the dirty rubbish that the waves leave on the shore after a storm.

∑††††††††† Wandering stars Jude is referring to the book of Enoch. This book is not in the Bible, but was very popular in *New Testament times. Enoch identifies these wandering stars as fallen (bad) *angels. Enoch obeyed God and went straight to heaven (Genesis 4:17). The bad *angels did not obey God and they lost their home in heaven. God has prepared a prison for them in deepest darkness. The false teachers who do not obey God will suffer the same fate.

Enochís warning

v14 Enoch was the seventh in the family line of Adam. Enoch spoke against these men in his book. He said, ĎLook! The *Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of his holy ones (*angels). v15 He will judge everyone. He will punish all wicked people for all the wicked things that they have done. The *Lord will punish these wicked men for all the hard words that they have ever spoken about him.í

Verse 14 Including the first man Adam, Enoch is the seventh name in the first family line (1 Chronicles 1:1-3). The *Jews considered seven was the perfect number. Genesis 5:24 tells us that Enoch Ďwalked with Godí, that is, he lived a holy life, very close to God. Enoch did not die, because God took him straight to heaven. Although he lived so long ago, Enoch speaks in his book of the return of the *Lord to judge everyone. In particular, he tells of the awful fate of wicked people who do not obey God. Jude keeps repeating the word Ďwickedí to emphasise how bad they are in Godís sight. They were not Christians at all. They did not believe that God would judge and punish them. They are making a very great mistake.

v16 These men are always complaining about something. They are never satisfied. They live for their own selfish desires. They talk about themselves to impress people. But sometimes they want to get something from someone. Then they pretend to respect that person.

Verse 16 These men complain to God about their life. They complain about the church leaders. They are like the *Israelites in the desert who were always complaining to Moses. They forgot what God had done long ago to rescue the people from being slaves in Egypt. These men forget that God in Jesus has rescued men and women from being slaves to evil. All they want to do is to satisfy their own wicked desires. They love to impress other people by the way they talk about themselves in a noisy way.

The *apostlesí warning

v17 But you, my dear friends, remember that the *apostles of the *Lord Jesus Christ warned you. v18 They said to you, ĎIn the last days there will be people who make fun of the *faith. They follow only their own desires. v19 These men divide you. They merely follow their selfish feelings. They do not have the Spirit of God.í

Verse 17 Jude has had much to say about the wicked words and behaviour of the false teachers. Now, to end his letter, he again speaks about his readers. They are his dear friends. He loves them, because they are like him. They believe in the *Lord Jesus Christ, as he does.

Jude has already appreciated their memory of the *Old Testament stories (verse 5). Now he commands them to remember how the *apostles, too, warned them about wicked men (Acts 20:29; 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Peter 3:3). Jesus also had warned about people like that (Matthew 7:15; 24:11).

Verse 18 Memory was very important in the ancient world. Few people could read and any books were rare. So Christians must develop their memories. Judeís readers must always keep clearly in their minds the good news of the gospel (what the *Lord Jesus Christ has taught and done for them). Only then will they be strong enough to defend their *faith against false teachers. Men who are as wicked as that only believe in their own ideas. They do not believe in what God teaches.

Verse 19 By their selfish words and actions, these evil men upset the unity of the church members. They did so by forming their own groups at the love-meals. They did so when they claimed to be superior Christians. They claimed that the Holy Spirit was guiding them. They certainly did not have the Holy Spirit in their lives. Godís Spirit intends Christians to love and to help each other and to keep together.

How to make trust in Jesus Christ strong

v20 My dear friends, go on making the base of your most holy *faith stronger and stronger. Pray in the Holy Spirit (he will help you). v21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, as you wait for his kindness to bring you to life in heaven with himself.

Verse 20 Jude ends his letter with words to encourage his readers.

He has warned them that their common Christian life is in great danger. The attacks on it are coming through what the false teachers say. And the attacks are coming by the way in which they live. But God offers Christians the resources with which to overcome attacks like that. That is Godís part.

Their part, as loyal Christians, is together to make full use of Godís resources. In this way they will build up a strong common *faith. Unity is strength. Then with Godís help they will be able together to oppose the evil ideas and *deeds of these wicked people.

Jude tells his readers what to do.

∑††††††††† They are to ask the Holy Spirit to help them to pray.

Their prayers must not be selfish or impatient. The Holy Spirit will teach them to know Godís desires, both for themselves and for other people. The false teachers do not have the Holy Spirit in their lives (verse 19). Otherwise, their behaviour would be holy.

∑††††††††† Verse 21 They must keep themselves in Godís love.

How do two people maintain their love for each other? They spend time together. They talk to each other. They listen to each other. They want to please each other. And the more that they do these things, the more their love for each other will grow.

We keep ourselves in Godís love in a similar way. We must spend time quietly with him. We must talk (pray) to him, even about the little things of life. We must listen to what he says to us in our hearts. We must obey what he tells us to do. We shall want to please him at all times. Because we are preparing for life with God in heaven. That life is the gift of Jesus Christ to loyal Christians on the day when he returns.

v22 Be helpful to those who may have doubts. v23 Rescue other people from the fire and save them. But there are other people, for whom you must show pity. But be careful. Hate even the clothes that their evil *deeds have made dirty.

Verses 22-23 Jude now speaks about three groups of people who need special help.

∑††††††††† There are those with doubts.

The false teachers have already damaged the *faith of some weaker Christians. Now those weaker Christians are not sure about what to believe or how to live. Jude urges his readers to be especially kind to those who have doubts. They need help to understand clearly how God wants them to live. They are to be holy, as God is holy. They are to care for other people, and not be selfish. At all times they are to trust God completely, and not their own thoughts.

∑††††††††† A second group needs help. These people have been too ready to listen to the false teachers.

Jude uses picture language. The people in this group are like a stick that is beginning to burn. Judeís readers must rescue them quickly, before the fire burns them completely.

∑††††††††† A third group is also in great danger. These are people who refuse to turn to God.

Christians must pity them and be kind to them. But they must act with great care. This is in case the life without God that these people lead begins to appear attractive. Judeís readers must hate these peopleís evil practices as they would hate to touch their dirty underwear (clothes that people wear next to the skin).

v24 Praise God! He rescues you through our *Lord Jesus Christ from being guilty of doing wrong. He helps you not to trip again. He makes you innocent in his sight. And he fills you with a joy that never ends.

v25 Before time began, and now, and for all the future, God deserves all his beautiful light, and honour, and power, and authority! *Amen!

Verse 24 Jude ends his letter with a great shout of joy. God through Jesus is so wonderful, so powerful. He can protect his loyal friends against their enemies. Because of what Jesus has done, God prepares Christians to come to live with him in heaven. What a wonderful future that is! What great joy it gives us, now and always!

Verse 25 We shall never be able to praise God enough. In love, God controls all. He rules over all. He supplies every need of all who trust him.

Word list

Amen ~ we completely agree!

angel ~ a servant of God in heaven.

apostle ~ someone whom God sends to teach about Jesus.

deed ~ something that we do.

disobey ~ not obey.

faith ~ (1) trust in God; (2) belief; (3) facts about Christian belief.

forgive ~ to show pity and not to remember bad things; to set free from wrong things that we do.

grace ~ Godís generous free gift.

greed ~ when you want too much of something that you do not really need.

Jew ~ a person who is from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; a person who believes the *faith of the Jews, called Judaism.

Lord ~ a name that we call God or Jesus; we call God or Jesus Lord when we do what they say.

mercy ~ Godís love and goodness.

mock ~ laugh in a bad way at something.

salvation ~ Godís rescue of men and women from evil and its results.

word-picture ~ a description that helps you to imagine what a physical place or object would look like.

Book List

William Barclay ~ The Letters of John & Jude ~ St. Andrews Press ~ Revised edition, 1998

Dick Lucas & Christopher Green ~ The Message of 2 Peter & Jude ~ The Bible Speaks Today ~ IVP, 1995

Michael Green ~ 2 Peter & Jude ~ Tyndale NT commentaries ~ IVP, 1987

R. H. Charles (translator) ~ The Book of Enoch ~ SPCK, 1997

Chambers 21st Century Dictionary

Bibles ~ R.S.V, T.E.V, Jerusalem, Weymouth, J. B. Phillips, N.E.B, N.I.V

 

© 1999-2002, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).

November 2002

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