The letter of Jude

Danger from False Teachers

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

www.easyenglish.info

Norman Hillyer

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

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

 

The start of Jude’s letter

v1 This letter comes to you from Jude. I am a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James. I am writing to you because God the Father has called you to his service. He loves you greatly. And God is guarding you for Jesus Christ. v2 I pray that you will appreciate all God’s gifts to you. You always have God’s sympathy and *pity. He makes you so calm. And he gives his wonderful love to you. These generous free gifts from God are without any limit.

Verse 1

At the time of the *New Testament, most people understood the *Greek language. Jude’s letter follows the usual *Greek custom (as in most *New Testament letters; see also Acts 23:26). The letter begins with three details: (1) The name of the writer (Jude). (2) Those people to whom he sends the letter (those people whom God has ‘called’). (3) A greeting (see verse 2, ‘*pity, calm, love’).

·          The writer introduces himself by name (Jude). And by occupation (a slave of Jesus Christ). And by family (a brother of James).

‘Jude’ (or Judas, the same word in the *Greek language) was a common name. In the Bible, it was the name of: (1) Jacob’s son, who became the head of the *tribe of Judah (Matthew 1:2-3). (2) One of the brothers of Jesus (Mark 6:3). (3) One of Jesus’ 12 *disciples (Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13). (4) A member of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 15:22). (5) A freedom fighter (Acts 5:37). (6) An inhabitant of the town called Damascus (Acts 9:11). (7) The wicked Judas Iscariot (Matthew 10:4).

Unlike Peter and Paul, Jude does not say that he has the authority of an *apostle. But we might not expect Jude to describe himself as a ‘slave’. Slaves often suffered under bad masters. But the early Christians discovered something that other people did not know. To be always ready to serve Jesus Christ was the way to perfect freedom (1 Corinthians 7:22).

At the time of the Bible, it was usual to call oneself a ‘son’ of one’s father (Luke 3:23-38). But Jude calls himself the ‘brother of James’. It is likely that James was the well-known leader of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; Acts 15:13). Like Jude, James was a member of Jesus’ human family (Mark 6:3). James believed that Jesus was the Christ only after Jesus’ death. When Jesus became alive again, James saw him (1 Corinthians 15:7). After that, James became one of the first Christians (Acts 1:14).

So the meaning of this verse is ‘I do not dare to say that I am a human brother of Jesus Christ. But I can say that I am a human brother of James.’

·          When God ‘calls’ a person, he is not merely trying to attract that person’s attention. The word ‘call’ means much more than that. When God calls someone, he is always asking that person to carry out a particular service (Isaiah 22:20; Romans 1:1).

·          The *Old Testament also refers to God’s care as a ‘Father’. There, the description is of God’s *covenant relation with his special people (the *Israelites) as a group (Exodus 4:22-23; Hosea 11:1). But in the *New Testament, Jesus shows us the complete meaning of God as ‘Father’ of a person. God sends sunshine and rain on good and bad people (Matthew 5:45). But this does not mean that he is the ‘Father’ of everybody. In the *New Testament, the title ‘Father’ refers to the special personal relation between God and each believer in Jesus (John 1:12-13; Ephesians 2:4-8).

·          God is guarding his people against Satan (the chief evil spirit – 1 John 5:18). God is keeping Christians safe for Jesus until he returns to this world (John 6:39: John 6:44; John 6:54; 1 Corinthians 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 5:23; 1 Peter 1:4).

Verse 2

God delights (is very pleased) to show *pity (Micah 7:18). Christ himself is the Christian’s great *calm (Ephesians 2:14). The Holy Spirit is the agent of love (Romans 5:5).

·          Jude’s prayer is of permanent value for all whom God calls. That is, for believers in every age. All Christians constantly need *pity and *calm and love. Only God can provide such qualities.

The writer changes his intention

v3 *Dear friends, I was eager to pass on some thoughts about the sweet benefits that we share as Christians. But sudden bad news has forced me to change my intention. I hear that a dangerous situation is developing in your church. But you do not seem to realise what is happening.

We are God’s holy people. I urge you to fight hard to preserve the truth that God has made known to us. That truth is permanent, once and always.

v4 Certain wicked men have joined your church secretly. Long ago God warned that this would happen. And he has already decided on the severe punishment that such men will suffer. Men of this character do not respect God. They have changed God’s *grace into something evil. They are enemies of our only Master and *Lord, Jesus Christ. These evil men say that God’s *grace gives them liberty. So they do whatever they like. They have sex with anyone that they desire. And they refuse to obey Jesus Christ. Yet he is Master and *Lord of all.

Verse 3

False teachers are trying to upset the *faith of Jude’s readers (see verse 4). So Jude is writing urgently to remind his readers to hold firmly to God. In particular, they need more of God’s love and sympathy. That love will keep them close to God and to each other. It will help to protect them against the words of the false teachers. And Jude’s readers need that protection, because the words of the false teachers are a real danger to them.

·          In the original language, the word for ‘urge’ comes from the same origin as ‘Comforter’. This is a title for the Holy Spirit (John 14:16 and 14:26). The word means ‘one who comes near to help’. Although Jude cannot himself be with them, he is supporting his readers by his prayers.

·          The ‘truth’ refers to the true tradition about the person and work of Jesus Christ. That tradition is the message that is often called the Gospel (the good news about Jesus). Each Christian, from the very first, has handed on this tradition to later believers and so to Jude’s readers. They in turn must do the same for other people.

Verse 4

The *New Testament often uses the form of words ‘certain … men’ to refer to a particular group. (It is like when someone today says, ‘You know whom I mean!’). Teachers that travelled from one place to another often caused trouble in the first churches.

Jesus himself warned the people who followed him about such false teachers (Matthew 7:15). So did Paul (2 Corinthians, chapters 10 and 11; 1 Timothy 4:1-2). So did Peter (2 Peter 2:1-3) and John (1 John 4:1).

·          It seems likely that the church of Jude’s readers is a large church. It has very many loyal members. This would make it easy for certain evil men to join them secretly.

·          It is hard to identify the false teachers. They are imitating the genuine teachers. Perhaps some false teachers have even become leaders in the church. But Jude will explain how their attitudes differ from the genuine teachers. And he will explain how dangerous the false teachers are. People might not recognise them. But God knows who they are. So their punishment is certain.

Three lessons from the past

v5 I want to remind you about some old stories. You already know them very well. They have lessons for today.

In the first story, the *Israelites were slaves in the country called Egypt. But God rescued them in a wonderful manner. Yet the people would not trust God for the future. So God left them to die in the desert.

v6 In the second story, some *angels were not content with their place of authority in heaven. They wanted something better. So they left the important place that God had specially created for them. God punished them severely. As punishment, God fixed them like prisoners with chains in deep darkness. And they will remain in that state until the day when he will act as their judge.

v7 The third story is about the terrible fate of the towns called Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns. The inhabitants were guilty of such wicked behaviour about sex that God completely destroyed those towns. He punished those people with fire that never went out.

Verse 5

Of course, the *Israelites were glad to be free. And God promised them their own country.

But the inhabitants of the country that God promised them were vast in number. And they were powerful. And they lived in strong cities. The *Israelites did not trust God to help them to overcome the inhabitants of that country. So in the end God let those *Israelites die in the desert.

Verses 6-7

The Book of Isaiah mentions some proud *angels who refused God’s arrangement for them (Isaiah 24:21-22). God punished them severely. In their case, their terrible fate was to suffer in permanent fire (Matthew 25:41).

·          The ancient Book of Enoch (not in the *Old Testament) also tells about *angels that ‘left the sky and their holy place’ (1 Enoch 12:4). God also fixed them with chains in deep darkness (1 Enoch chapter 10). This punishment happened to the *angels that Jude mentions.

The wicked *angels are not in the deep darkness of an actual prison. Jude is using picture language to describe their miserable situation. Once the wicked *angels were free spirits with powers in heaven. Now they are in chains and weak. Once the wicked *angels enjoyed the wonderful light of God himself. Now they are in permanent deep darkness. This is until the Day of Judgement (2 Peter 2:4), when the final settlement will happen.

So pride was one cause why those *angels lost their place. But there was another cause. It seems that wicked *angels wanted to have sex with beautiful women on earth (Genesis 6:1-4). Such an idea is bizarre (very strange) to us. But the meaning is plain. *Lust was the second cause why the wicked *angels lost their proper place.

Jude combines the two ideas. The evil men that Jude warns his readers about are also guilty of pride and *lust. The evil men’s terrible judgement is as sure as the fate of the evil *angels.

·          God destroyed the towns called Sodom and Gomorrah in a most extraordinary manner (Genesis 19:1-25). The event made a permanent impression on the whole nation. In the Bible, there are 15 references to what happened. These references begin in the Book of Genesis and they continue to the end of the *New Testament.

The towns called Sodom and Gomorrah were in a district that has masses of oil and gas, deep underground. Occasionally the gas and oil have so increased in pressure that there is a huge explosion. The explosion throws great clouds of burning oil high into the sky. As the burning oil pours down again, it destroys everything in its path. The heat is so powerful that the oil even burns on the surface of water. This is probably what God caused to happen to the towns called Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:1-25). And it also destroyed the other towns in that region.

The other towns in that region included towns called Admah and Zeboiim (Deuteronomy 29:23; Hosea 11:8). God saved a 5th town, called Zoar, because of Lot’s prayer (Genesis 19:20-22).

If anything remains from those towns today, it is probably underneath the Dead Sea.

The false teachers are like dreamers

v8 The false teachers are behaving like those dreamers in the past. They too are ruining their own bodies. They too laugh at authority. They too insult *angels. v9 They are so unlike Michael (God’s chief *angel). Michael argued with Satan (the chief evil spirit) about the dead body of Moses. But Michael did not curse Satan with insults. All Michael said was ‘The *Lord will declare that you are wrong.’

Verse 8

Jude has reminded the false teachers about these terrible examples from the past. But the false teachers refuse to listen. They continue with their wicked behaviour.

·          The *Greek word for ‘dreamers’ appears only once more in the *New Testament. In Acts 2:17, the word refers to a gift of the Holy Spirit to learn something about a future event. In the Septuagint (an early translation of the *Old Testament in the *Greek language), the word refers to people who falsely claim (pretend) to know about the future (Deuteronomy 13:2; Isaiah 56:10; Jeremiah 23:25). This is what the false teachers of Jude’s day are doing. They are pretending that their words are the truth. In verse 11, Jude suggests that the false teachers are like Balaam. They are even wanting people to pay them to learn their secret knowledge.

·          In their foolish dreams, the false teachers have completely lost their sense of truth and reality. The false teachers continue to ruin their bodies. But it was God who created their bodies. So their bodies actually belong to God.

·          The wrong use of sex was a well-known problem in the church from its earliest days (1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 6:9; 2 Corinthians 12:21).

·          The false teachers laugh at authority and they insult *angels. In other words, the false teachers refuse the message that *angels bring from God (Acts 7:38; Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19; Hebrews 2:2).

Verse 9

The *Old Testament does not refer to Michael’s argument with Satan. Deuteronomy 34:6 simply says that God buried his servant in the country called Moab. But nobody knows where. God did not want the *Israelites to put an *idol on that spot.

·          In the *Hebrew language, ‘Satan’ is not a personal name. It is a legal word for an official in a court. His task was to set out the evidence against a prisoner. That is, he accuses the prisoner.

·          In the *Greek language, Jude uses the words ‘the devil’ to describe Satan here. Satan is the great enemy of God. And Satan is the accuser of God’s people (Revelation 12:10).

Some of the first Christians thought that Satan was trying to claim the dead body of Moses. This was because Moses had once killed an *Egyptian (Exodus 2:12). Moses’ later life was good. But he was still a murderer so he did not deserve an honourable grave. In his role as accuser of God’s people, Satan was trying to prove that Moses was guilty. That was the opinion of those Christians.

·          Although he was God’s chief *angel, Michael refused to issue any judgement himself. Only God has the right to be the judge. And God has given that authority to Jesus (John 5:22; Acts 17:31).

Cain, Balaam and Korah

v10 These teachers laugh at anything that they do not understand. They behave like animals. They do whatever their feelings urge them to do. To carry on like that will ruin their lives. v11 What a terrible fate is waiting for them! They have copied Cain’s behaviour. Like Balaam, they cannot control their great desire for money. Like Korah, they refuse to accept other authority.

Verse 10

The false teachers show by their attitude that they do not understand *spiritual matters in general. Nor do they understand God’s plan in particular (1 Corinthians 2:7-16).

·          The false teachers may say that they are very important. But in fact they are acting like cruel animals (2 Peter 2:12). To continue in this manner will ruin them in the end.

·          Jude is not warning about some terrible last illness, such as AIDS. He is writing about the certainty of the final judgement by God. Jude has already mentioned this in verse 5 (the fate of the *Israelites in the desert) and in verse 7 (the fate of the towns called Sodom and Gomorrah).

Verse 11

In verses 5-7 Jude mentioned three *Old Testament stories. He used those stories to describe the wicked behaviour of the false teachers in a general manner. Now Jude uses three more *Old Testament references in order to warn further about the false teachers.

·          Cain, Balaam and Korah were three *Old Testament persons that were well-known, but for the same very bad reason. They led other people away from God.

            Cain murdered his own brother (Genesis chapter 4). Like Cain, the false teachers are destroying life. But in their case it is the *spiritual life of people in the church. In other words, the false teachers are trying to ruin the church members’ relation with God.

            Originally, Balaam refused payment to announce an evil fate against the *Israelites (Numbers 22:7-18). But in the end the offer of money became too strong (Deuteronomy 23:4).

            Korah refused to accept the authority that God had given to Moses and Aaron. Korah and his followers all suffered an extraordinary death (Numbers chapter 16).

The danger of the false teachers

v12 The false teachers are very dangerous. They are like rocks that hide under the surface of the sea. The false teachers spoil the special ‘love meal’ when you share food with other Christians. You have come together to remember the last meal of Jesus. The false teachers care only about themselves. They have come to get a free meal. They have no thought of Jesus. The false teachers are like dry clouds that the wind blows along. Dry clouds bring no rain. The false teachers are like trees in autumn that are without leaves or fruit. Such trees are completely dead. There is no possibility of any life, because someone has even pulled them up by the roots. v13 The false teachers are like stormy waves of the sea as they throw clouds of water into the air. And so the false teachers cause their own shame. The false teachers are like stars that have wandered from their proper path. God has reserved for them the blackest darkness that lasts for always.

Verses 12-13

Jude has compared the false teachers with certain *Old Testament men who refused to obey God’s laws. Now Jude repeats his attack on the false teachers in colourful language. His word-pictures include the four regions of the physical world: clouds in the air, trees on the earth, waves of the sea, stars in the sky. Human activities, good and bad, affect all that God has created (Isaiah 24:5; Jeremiah 12:4; Romans 8:22).

·          The original word for ‘rocks’ also has a second meaning, ‘spot, stain’. Either meaning would suit Jude’s word picture. The false teachers are like rocks that can destroy a ship. In other words, what the false teachers say can destroy a person’s trust in God. Or, the false teachers are like a dirty cloth. The fact that the false teachers are present at the special meal spoils the whole occasion. They are like the stain that ruins the cloth.

The ‘love meal’ was called the ‘agape’. It was a special meal for all church members, whatever their class. Wealthy and poor members all ate together. Each person brought some food to share.

Paul knew that the standard of behaviour at the ‘agape’ was sometimes not good (1 Corinthians 11:17-20). This was certainly true about the church of Jude’s readers. It seems that the church had a great many loyal members. They would not have noticed the secret arrival of the false teachers. So Jude’s powerful words were necessary to warn the believers.

The false teachers are trying to use what should be an occasion for real Christian love. False words will ruin it.

The behaviour of the false teachers is clearly in their self-interest. In other words, they care only about themselves. They have only come to feed themselves (1 Corinthians 11:21-22).

The practice was not uncommon. Another early Christian record called the Didache also refers to it. That book says that a genuine *prophet never pretends to speak in the Spirit in order to get a meal! (Didache 11:9).

·          False teachers are like clouds without rain. They seem to offer good things. But they never in fact do anything good. All that such clouds do is to hide the light. And all that the false teachers do is to lead people away from the true knowledge of God.

Even as a wind blows clouds along, so the many words of the false teachers carry themselves along. In other words, their own ideas are too powerful for them to control. They simply continue with their speeches, which are totally without value.

The spirit of the false teachers is dead. So are their impressive words and loud voices. They cannot give real *spiritual life to anybody.

·          The false teachers are like certain trees in autumn. These trees have had a complete season to grow. By now much fruit should be making the branches heavy. But the trees have no fruit whatever. So the farmer destroys those trees (Matthew 7:19).

·          The stormy waves are out of control. The stormy waves throw clouds of water into the air. And in those clouds is rubbish of every kind. Heaps of rubbish drop onto the beach. It is never a pretty sight (Isaiah 57:20).

The waters of the Dead Sea are so dense with salt that they strip the *bark off any wood. On the shore such wood is white. The wood seems more like a pile of dead bones than a branch from a living tree.

·          The false teachers are like stars that have wandered. The *Greek word for ‘stars that have wandered’ shows that the meaning is probably ‘*planets’. People in ancient times did not understand the strange movements of the *planets in the sky. Sailors cannot use ‘stars that wander’ to fix the ship’s direction. That would be of no value and in fact dangerous.

The false teachers are like travellers who have wandered away from the right path. So the false teachers are not doing the things that God intended for them. The false teachers refuse to obey God. They want to do whatever pleases them.

The pair of words, ‘blackest darkness’, emphasises that the awful fate of the false teachers will never end. The false teachers will be in the most hopeless situation possible.

The *Lord is coming

v14 Enoch lived in ancient times. In fact, he was the seventh (7th) from the family of Adam. Listen! Enoch had the false teachers in mind when he spoke about the *Lord’s return. Enoch said, ‘The *Lord is coming with thousands and thousands of his holy *angels! v15 He is coming to give judgement against all the wicked people for all their wicked deeds. And against all their wicked activities. And against all their terrible words when they cursed and insulted God.’ v16 These people are always complaining about something. They curse their bad luck. They blame other people when things go wrong. They desire to have what they do not possess. They praise themselves with proud words and loud voices. They pretend to respect someone’s importance merely to gain a favourable advantage for themselves.

Verse 14

The *New Testament mentions Enoch in two other places. He appears in Luke 3:37 as an earlier member of the family of Jesus. And in Hebrews 11:5 as an extraordinary example of trust in God.

·          All those centuries ago, Enoch knew that one day the *Lord would return in *glory to this world.

·          Jude calls Enoch the seventh (7th) from Adam. There are five names between Adam and Enoch (Genesis 5:3-24; 1 Chronicles 1:1-3). Jude includes the first and last names, as people did in ancient times.

*Jews considered ‘seven’ to be the perfect number. ‘Seven’ meant something that was complete. As in *sabbath, the seventh day after God created the world (Genesis 2:2).

·          Jude supports his words with a passage from the Book of Enoch. It was a popular book in those days.

Jude is not suggesting that the Book of Enoch is holy, like the Bible. But, like every good writer and speaker, he is using language that is familiar.

The passage that Jude uses from the Book of Enoch (1:9) is very suitable for his purpose.

·          In Jude verse 9, Jude referred to wicked *angels. They lost their place in heaven, because they would not accept God’s plan for them. They refused to obey God.

The false teachers are like the wicked *angels. The false teachers too refuse to obey God.

·          But, like the holy *angels, Enoch obeyed God. Therefore Enoch gained his place in heaven.

Enoch lived so close to God that Enoch’s holy life was a ‘walk with God’ (Genesis 5:22; Hebrews 11:5).

Like Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), Enoch did not die. He went straight to heaven (Genesis 5:24).

Verse 15

Several *New Testament passages say that a vast number of *angels will come with Jesus. These passages are referring to the future time when Jesus will return to this world (Matthew 16:27; Matthew 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 2 Thessalonians 1:7).

The *angels are not there with Jesus to give a colourful impression. They are there in order to serve in God’s court of final judgement.

            All people who have ever lived must attend the court to give account of their lives on earth. And then to receive judgement (John 5:22).

            God has given authority to Jesus to be the judge (John 5:27-30).

            Jesus separates all the people into two groups (Matthew 25:31-33).

            There is no longer any difference between kings and their people. Or between masters and servants. Or between ranks. Or between classes. Or between churches. All the former differences will have ended permanently.

            Jesus knows each person perfectly. There is a huge crowd in front of him. But Jesus can separate them into two groups without a mistake.

            On his special seat of *glory, Jesus signals to his *angels where each person is to go. Into the group on his left. Or into the group on his right.

            On that day, no genuine Christian will be out of sight in the mass of wicked people.

            Nor will the cleverest of wicked people be able to hide in the mass of Christians.

·    Jude repeats the word ‘wicked’ to emphasise that the fate of the false teachers is certain. And that the judgement is against every part of their lives.

Verse 16

Long ago the *Israelites were slaves. But God rescued them. Then the *Israelites complained because God led them into the desert. There was no water to drink (Exodus 15:24; 17:3; Numbers 14:29). Of course people need water to drink, especially in a desert! So the *Israelites complained: ‘God ought to realise that!’

·          Human character does not change. Lucian taught philosophy in the second century *AD. He writes about the same sort of person:

            ‘Nothing that happens ever satisfies you! You complain about everything. You do not want what you possess. You so desire what you do not have. In winter, you wish it was summer. In summer, you wish it was winter. You are like some sick people. You cannot please them. Nothing is right. Everything is wrong!’

·          Such selfish people think only about themselves. They have no interest in what someone else may need.

A change of tone

v17 But, *dear friends, there have been similar alarms in our own day. Remember that the *disciples of our *Lord Jesus Christ also told us what would happen. v18 They said that in the last time, many people will laugh at holy matters. Such people will think only about their own wicked desires. v19 These are men that split society. Human emotions lead them. They do not obey God’s Spirit.

Verse 17

‘But, dear friends’ signals a pleasant change of tone. The false teachers are no longer Jude’s immediate subject.

Jude now turns from his collection of *Old Testament references (verses 5-16). There are more recent people that warned about the *unwelcome arrival of false teachers in the church.

·          Jesus himself had warned his friends that wicked people were sure to try to turn other people away from God (Mark 13:5-6 and Mark 13:21-22).

·          *Disciples too had declared the same message (Acts 20:29; 1 Timothy chapter 1; 2 Timothy 3:1-5). And the *disciples (‘learners’) speak with authority. They had been continuously in the Master’s company (Matthew 9:9; Mark 6:45; John 1:35). They had heard what the Master taught (Matthew 5:1; Mark 2:18). They had watched the Master’s manner of life. And their Master, of course, was Christ himself.

Verse 18

People who laugh at holy matters consider them a joke. Such people have no place for God in their lives. And they have little or no thought for other people.

·          Self-interest controls these men’s thoughts and actions. That means that they do not care about anyone else. They only care about themselves.

·          They love to believe that they have *influence. Their great desire is for people to think them to be important.

Verse 19

These men divide Christians in a church. They form groups that disagree with one another. They upset people. They offer no real *pity or love to anyone.

Advice for Jude’s readers

v20 But you are my *dear friends. So carefully develop your lives on the firm base of your most holy trust in God. And pray much with the constant help of God’s Spirit. v21 Keep yourselves in the centre of God’s love for you. And wait patiently for our *Lord Jesus Christ kindly to share more and more of his life that never ends. v22 Pity those people who are unsure about their beliefs. v23 There are other people who need your help. Be very cautious about how you deal with them. It is like when someone pulls a person out of a fire. It is easy to hurt yourself as you do this. There are also other people who need *pity. They are living evil lives. So you should feel fear as you help them. You must hate even their clothes as if their wicked lives have made the clothes dirty.

Verse 20

Jude’s readers are his ‘*dear friends’. The *Greek word means ‘those people whom God loves’. All true believers share the same *spiritual relationship with God.

·          The Bible meaning of ‘holy’ is ‘set apart (separate) because it is completely different’. The ‘most holy trust’ (that is, the Christian religion) is different from all other religions. It does not come to us by human reason (intelligence). It is a precious gift from the holy God. That means that its message is unlike any other message. So too is its moral power to change a person’s life completely.

·          As in verse 3, the ‘most holy trust in God’ refers to the true tradition about the person and work of Jesus Christ.

That tradition has come from actual witnesses of the events of the life of Jesus. They saw what happened. They carefully passed on the tradition to later believers. Jude’s friends must do the same.

Jude’s friends have already begun their Christian lives. But that is only a beginning. A Christian’s *spiritual life cannot stand still. In fact, if trust in God is not growing, it is becoming weaker. A Christian must cause his trust in God to grow stronger and stronger.

·          Jude uses picture language of a builder to explain what each Christian must do in practical ways. But Jude is not suggesting that each person should think only of his own *spiritual progress. Jude is writing to the members of the church as a whole.

In the Bible, the picture-phrase ‘build a house’ always refers to a group, not to only one person (see 1 Corinthians 14:12; 1 Corinthians 14:26-31; 1 Thessalonians 5:11; 1 Peter 2:5).

·          The ‘firm base’ refers to the first action that a house builder takes. The base is below ground. It will be out of sight. Only the builder knows that it is there. The base must be strong. It has to support the weight of the whole house.

·          ‘Pray much’ is a reference to quality of prayer, not to quantity of words. Simply to repeat lots of words will not persuade God to answer a prayer (Matthew 6:7).

When you pray, do not be in a great hurry to use your own words. Take time to ask the Holy Spirit what you should say (John 4:23-24; Romans 8:26-27). And the Spirit will also make your prayer powerful (Galatians 4:6; Ephesians 6:18). God will answer in the way that is best for you.

Verse 21

God’s great love was the reason why he originally called people to begin a life of loyal service (verse 1).

·          The false teachers do not have the Spirit (verse 9). So they have no love for God. And they have no thought of God’s love for them (Revelation 2:4). Neither do they care about other people, but only about themselves.

But as loyal Christians, Jude’s friends must continue to answer God’s loving call (request) – John 15:9-10; Romans 8:35-39; 1 John 4:16. Their willing reaction will maintain and make stronger their relationship with God.

·          They must stay at the heart of God’s love (James 4:8). Then God will be able to pour out his love upon them. His love is extraordinary. And his love has no limits. All his resources are available to supply all that his people may need.

·          All God’s gifts are because of his mercy (*pity), a subject at the beginning of Jude’s letter (verse 2).

·          Jesus Christ will return to be the judge of this world (John 5:22), and to greet believers. They have received the quality of life that belongs to God (1 John 5:20). That life is Christ’s gift (John 17:2). It begins in this world. Christians will know it completely in heaven.

Verse 22

Jude has been urging his readers to develop their *spiritual life. And to make it strong. Now he discusses the practical expression of that life in the service of other people.

·          In particular, Jude has in mind those members in the church whose belief is now less sure. They have been listening to the false teachers.

·          It is not too late for the loyal believers to help those weaker members. Those believers can assist the weaker members to clear their minds from wrong thoughts.

Verse 23

Some people’s cases need more urgent action. Jude uses the picture language of someone who pulls a burning stick out of the fire (Zechariah 3:2). Rescue from total loss is still possible.

·          Loyal believers need great care not to find their own *faith in danger. It is like someone who catches a patient’s disease. They were trying to help the sick one back to health.

·          Another word picture speaks of God’s mercy (*pity). It is like a gift of clean clothes (Zechariah 3:4). God can forgive a person whose *faith is in great danger. And he can bring that person back to himself.

A declaration of *praise

v24 Praise our wonderful God! He is always ready to protect you from the false teachers. God in all his *glory will accept you as the perfect gift to himself. And all believers will share in God’s great joy. v25 He is the one and only God. And it is he who saves us by Jesus Christ our *Lord. To God alone belong *glory and *majesty. And power and authority. This was true before all ages. It is true now. And it will be true always. *Amen. Yes!

Verses 24-25

Most of Jude’s letter has been about the wicked behaviour of evil people. And about the danger that such people are to true believers.

But now Jude ends his letter on a much happier subject. He reminds his readers that their God is always their *all-powerful guard. He will defend them against every evil attack.

·          Jude wants to shout his final words to his Christian friends. God is so wonderful! He has done so much to prepare his loyal people to share in the family home in heaven.

This has always been God’s great purpose from the beginning (Ephesians 5:25-27).

·          The ‘perfect gift’ is a reference to certain perfect animals. Only these were fit for the priest to *sacrifice on the *altar (Exodus 29:38; Leviticus 1:3 and 3:1).

This was picture language for the real perfect *sacrifice. That was the death of Jesus the *Messiah on the Cross (1 Peter 1:19-21; Ephesians 1:4-7; 1 Thessalonians 3:13).

Because of the *sacrifice of Jesus, God allows us to come to him. And we can come without fear or shame. Although such attitudes would seem more suitable because of our weak human character.

·          God does much more. We come to share great joy – God’s great joy as well as our own.

A happy human family share love and joy with each other at home. That gives us a little glimpse of what our home in heaven will be like. We are members of the family of God the Father. We will know all the love and joy of that family in our future home.

Jude gives a list of four of God’s qualities.

            God’s *glory is the splendid beauty and wonderful light of his most holy character.

            God’s *majesty refers to his royal rule, which is universal.

            God’s power is that of absolute control over his world. That power makes it certain that he will overcome all his enemies.

            God’s authority refers to the way that he provides for his people. He provides everything that his people need. God passed on this authority to Jesus (Matthew 28:18).

Jude uses the words ‘before all ages’ and ‘now’ and ‘always’. These words are the best that we have to refer to the past and the present and the future (Hebrews 13:8). The words emphasise God’s total and complete command of everything.

The final ‘*Amen’ is the *Hebrew word of agreement. It means ‘Yes, certainly, let it be so’. From the earliest days of the church, ‘*Amen’ has regularly ended words of prayer and *praise to God.

Word List

AD ~ years after the birth of Jesus Christ.

all-powerful ~ with absolute power.

altar ~ the place where priests burned *sacrifices as gifts to God.

Amen ~ final word that signals agreement.

angels ~ God’s servants in heaven.

apostle ~ one of the twelve (12) men that Jesus sent to continue his work. They became the first church leaders. So the word ‘apostle’ became the title for someone who established churches across the world.

bark ~ tough skin of the trunk (main stem) and branches of a tree.

calm ~ the quality that makes a person content, even when that person suffers. Or, the source (origin) of that quality.

covenant ~ the special personal agreement that God made with the *Israelites (Exodus chapter 24).

dear friends ~ special friends to whom one shows love.

disciple ~ close follower of a teacher.

Egyptian ~ a person from the country called Egypt, or anything that has a relationship with the country called Egypt.

faith ~ trust in God.

glory ~ the splendid beauty and wonderful light of God’s most holy character.

grace ~ God’s free gift that we do not deserve and cannot earn.

Greek ~ the original language of the *New Testament.

Hebrew ~ the original language of the *Old Testament.

idol ~ home-made image of a god.

influence ~ power to direct and control people and events.

Israelites ~ *Jews; people who belong to the 12 *tribes of Israel.

Jews ~ people who belong to the 12 *tribes of Israel.

Lord ~ God’s name in the Bible; a title for Jesus to show that we respect him as our God and master. In *Hebrew, ‘Lord’ means ‘head over all’ and ‘God always’. The *Greek translation of this word means ‘master’.

lust ~ evil desire for sex.

majesty ~ royal rule.

Messiah ~ *Old Testament title for Christ.

New Testament ~ the final part of the Bible. It contains 27 books from the time of the first Christians.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible. It contains 39 books, all from before Jesus was born.

pity ~ kindness, help and sympathy.

planet ~ large round object in the sky that moves about a star.

praise ~ words to give honour to God.

prophet ~ a holy man who can speak by the power of God’s Holy Spirit.

sabbath ~ the seventh (7th) day in the week; a rest day for *Jews.

sacrifice ~ a gift of value to give honour to God.

spiritual ~ matters about the spirit (thoughts, belief) rather than physical matters (body).

tribe ~ group of the later family of one father.

unwelcome (arrival) ~ a description of the arrival of someone or something that people did not want to arrive.

 

© 2008, Wycliffe Associates (UK)

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

September 2008

Visit our website: www.easyenglish.info