Summary of the book: Jude was about to write to all the believers about salvation. But as he sat down to put pen to paper, he changed his mind. He doesn't know why he changes his mind. But we can be sure, the Holy Spirit was behind this sudden mental shift. God often interrupts our important plans with something more important.
Suddenly, instead of telling believes about salvation, Jude feels it is more important to tell believers to hold on to the faith they received from their spiritual ancestors. This leads him to tell his readers a prophesy of the last days. Jude uses the believers knowledge of past events in the Bible to discuss present and future events. He speaks of controversy in the church. This controversy is caused by believers in the church.
Have you ever started out to write a letter about one thing and ended up instead writing about something else? When you started the letter or the phoone call, you had your thoughts all worked out, but then you ended up putting aside your first thoughts and started on something else that seemed more pressing? Did Jude know these thoughts were prophetic? Maybe, maybe not. After all, the warning he gives his readers is yet another warning against "wolves in sheep's clothing." But Jude's words were obviously so important they ended up being included in II Peter. Obviously, the early church thought these warnings about the last days were important.
Jude started his letter to those who were "sanctified in Christ Jesus and called." Ah the old phrase: "Called-out ones." That's the meaning of the elect. Christians are supposed to be called out ones. Nowadays, most Christians are far from called-out. They align themselves with social groups, political groups, ethnic groups. And yes, God wants us to be in true fellowship with other people. But we must remember that the day will come when we must realize that we cling to the Jesus of scripture and not to any new gospels.
Jude's introduction of himself is quite interesting. He calls himself, Jude the brother of James and servant of our Lord Jesus Christ. First, he doesn't want his readers getting him mixed up with Judas Iscariot. But most importantly, James was Jesus' brother. So what Jude is saying is "Jude, the brother to Jesus's brother." I love the humble way he gets around actually mentioning that he is related to Jesus by blood. In addition, now, as Saint Paul said, we no longer know Jesus in the flesh. Jesus is the risen Lord.
Jude mentions that he wanted to talk about the common salvation. We don't know what he meant to say about our common salvation. Who knows? Maybe it is something we have already deduced from Paul's epistles or some other Biblical epistle. Maybe it was something that only Jude "the brother of Jesus" could say, some great wonderful truth that only a person who was both a family member of Jesus and servant of God, could show us. But Jude never told us. Instead, he tells us that he felt the urge to talk about something else. So we are faced with an interruption or a movement away from Jude's original writing plans.
So what is so important that the Holy Spirit pre-empted Jude's plan? Why this sudden message? Plain and simple: The Holy Spirit wants those sanctified in Christ --we Christians-- to know that certain people --wolves in sheep's clothing-- have crept in rather sneakily into the fold and these sneaky ministers are going overboard with the notion of grace, liberty, and carnality.
Jude --or rather, the holy Spirit-- wants the readers to "contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints." To "contend for the faith" means to hold on to the religion God gave you and to what the Bible teaches you.
Jude doesn't tell us the exact nature of the preaching of these false believers. But we get a good psychological and spiritual description of them. Jude uses old Bible stories from the Old Testament to let us understand what these sneaky ministers are up to.
First of all, he says that these people are like the people who Moses led out of Egypt...they were saved but because they did not believe, they were destroyed by God. They are like the people in Enoch's time, who whined and complained and mocked.
Who are these people? Are they the ones who wondered around for 40 years and died off until a new generation popped up? Are they the ones who wanted meat in the desert instead of manna (angel's food)? Are these the ones who gave themselves over to the flesh and sinned sexually and idolatrously while Moses went up the mountain? Who are these folks? We can't place them exactly.
Jude gives us some clues. Jude says they were saved in some ways and yet in some ways they believed not. He compares these sneaky ministers to the angels who left their first estate and went after strange flesh like the people in Sodom and Gomorrah. (See Genesis 6: 1-4, Genesis 19: 1 Corinthians 11:10 , 2 Peter 2:4)
Obviously, there is something lascivious about these ministers. They "turn the grace of our God into lasciviousness" That is they get rid of the part of God's law that condemns certain sexual sin by turning the sin itself into a symbol of God's graciousness. Remember Lamech? And they are like the folks in Sodom and the angels...they are sexually perverse by doing what the angels and the folks in Sodom did. Their is something unnatural about their sexuality. Their imaginations is filled with filth. And their sexuality is somehow mixed up with their theology. And all this is going to happen in the last days.
But what else? They despise authority. They hate being told what to do and they speak evil of spiritual dignity. Jude says, "When Michael was arguing with the devil, Michael wasn't impolite even to the devil. But these ministers have a boldness that is without bounds." In some ways, these lascivious ministers of the last days have authority issues. They don't like hierarchies, unless they're the ones on top.
Jude goes even further. He tells his readers that these ministers don't know anything about goodness or the spiritual or the holy. They only understand the natural and their natural needs. They make their natural needs the important be-all and end all of their religion. Their spirituality is based on what their physical desires are. In plain words, if their sexual passion disagrees with a Biblical verse, they will accept the "rightness or wrongness of their religious and Biblical interpretations based on their sexual passion. Because that's all they know. They have no ability to see things in a discerning spiritual manner. Their insight is not true spiritual insight, but human reasoning based on human sexual, emotional and psychological appetites and needs. They are mockers who walk after their own lusts and they are sensual and don't understand about true spirituality. Their religion is rooted in the newest psycho-spirituality fads.
Jude tells us that the false teachers do not like good people. Like Cain, they have a problem with goodness and holiness. They call good evil and evil good. If they see something good in someone --someone who is contending for the faith-- they become uncomfortable and hateful. And like Cain, they choose to destroy good people simply because they dislike goodness. Like Balaam, monetary gains sway their preaching and deep inside they know that they are fighting against God. But they will mock those who hold fast to the true faith.
What else about these people? They are complainers and murmurers who make hard speeches against God. It's as if they are basically whiners who think that God has been unfair to them. It is possible that they whine about their childhood. Or they whine about God's people. Or they whine about injustices. Whether they have truly suffered or only think that they have suffered, that's not the problem. They hate the God of authority. But Jude tells his readers that God will come to avenge Himself and to prove Himself to those who complained so harshly against Him and His scriptures.
I can only deduce that the end-time church will have within its midst ministers who pit the Bible --"the faith received from our fathers" against their licentious sexuality. These people will whine against those who hold to the old faith and they will mock them as old-fashioned and will complain about Bible-believing Christians. In my personal opinion, from judging the times and the book of Jude, it seems that the Bible will have to prove itself agains the sexuality of some so-called Christians. Jude uses the verse, "the angels who left their verse estate" to describe the sexually licentious Christians in the last days who will also in their own way "go after strange flesh" with unnatural lusts. And this time, they will fight against the Bible.
It is interesting to note that the book before the last book of the Bible --the Revelations of God's judgement-- gives us a great guide to judging false preachers. The question, of course is this: Will God's people hold on to the true faith? Most of us don't like being mocked. And even now, the mocking has begun.