Category: Columns

Who are you to judge?

This is the last in a series of 10 excerpts from the new MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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Jude describes certain false teachers as “merely natural, not having the Spirit” (v. 19). He seems to be stating plainly that these professing Christians are unbelievers. How can he make such a judgment?

Doesn’t Jesus say, “Do not judge, so that you won’t be judged” (Matt. 7:1)? Isn’t God the only one who may rightly search the hearts of people (Jer. 17:10)?

How can Jude possibly know that these interlopers are lost? Isn’t it possible they are merely deceived, or backslidden?

First, we should note that Jude describes these particular false teachers as “natural.” Literally, this means “animal-souled” and stands in contrast with “spiritual,” or “having the Spirit.” The apostle Paul describes the unbeliever as a “natural man” who “does not welcome what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to know it since it is evaluated spiritually” (1 Cor. 2:14).

Clearly, Jude and Paul are depicting people outside the kingdom of God. Jude’s use of the term psuchikos – soulish, sensual, animal-souled – describes them in sensual rather than spiritual terms.

As John MacArthur puts it, “His [Jude’s] materialistic description exposed them for who they really were – religious terrorists who lacked such internal qualities as a proper self-perception, the ability to reason, and a true knowledge of God. Even though the false teachers claimed a transcendental understanding of God, they did not know Him at all.”
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The prophecy of Enoch

This is the ninth in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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Near the end of Jude’s epistle, he quotes a prophecy from Enoch: “Look! The Lord comes with thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment on all …” (vv. 14-15).

Nowhere in Scripture does Enoch’s prophecy appear, leading some to dispute the inspiration of Jude. After all, it is argued, if a writer inspired by the Holy Spirit shares an ancient prophecy about the end of days, why not select a prophecy that already has found its way into the canon?

However, there is good reason to accept the prophecy of Enoch as the very words of God.

The quotation is from the Book of Enoch, a pseudepigraphical work attributed to the great-grandfather of Noah. The book is not considered canonical by most religious groups, but it was familiar to Jewish Christians in the first century, and cited by second-century church fathers.

Specifically, Jude draws from Enoch 1:9, which reads, in part: “And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all, and to destroy all the ungodly …”

Jude’s quotation is similar but not identical. Perhaps this is because Jude cites a portion of the Book of Enoch the Spirit confirms as genuine, tightening up the language from its non-inspired source. As Edward Pentecost writes, “If Jude quoted the apocryphal book, he was affirming only the truth of that prophecy and not endorsing the book in its entirety.”
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Can apostates be Christians?

This is the eighth in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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Of all the terms Jude uses to describe false teachers – dangerous reefs, waterless clouds, and wild waves of the sea, to name a few – he stops short of calling them apostates. Yet that is what they are. Hey Jude, what gives?

A closer look at the New Testament’s sparing use of this term may prove helpful, particularly as we broach the thorny subject of apostates’ standing with God. Are apostates backslidden Christians? Shameless pretenders? Or people who once knew Christ but now have willfully rejected Him, thus losing their salvation?

The Greek word apostasia appears only twice in the New Testament. The apostle Paul is accused of apostasy for teaching others to “abandon Moses, by telling them [Jews living among Gentiles] not to circumcise their children or to walk in our customs” (Acts 21:21b).

And Paul warns the Thessalonians not to be deceived by those claiming that the Day of the Lord has already come. “Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way,” he writes. “For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction” (2 Thess. 2:3).

Many other New Testament passages describe people who abandon the faith, never to return, for example: Hymenaeus and Alexander (1 Tim. 1:19-20); “antichrists” (1 John 2:19); and professing Jewish Christians who are beyond repentance because they have returned to the practice of offering animal sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins (Heb. 6:1-6).

An apostate, then, is someone who has received the knowledge of the truth, but willfully and decisively rejects it.
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Who is Michael the archangel?

This is the seventh in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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Jude 9 offers one of the few references in Scripture to Michael the archangel. He is the only archangel named in the Bible, and his name means, “Who is like God?”

Though little is revealed in Scripture about Michael, we are given enough information to draw some conclusions. He is introduced in Dan. 10:13 as “one of the chief princes.” He helps another angel, who has been battling the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” for 21 days, to deliver an answered prayer to Daniel. Because of the reference to Michael as “one of the chief princes,” it’s possible there are additional archangels, though none is named as such.

Some commentators suggest that Gabriel (“hero of God”) may be an archangel. He appears to Daniel (Dan. 8:1527; 9:20-27), and later to Zechariah (Luke 1:1123) and Mary (Luke 1:26-38).

Michael is one of God’s most powerful holy angels and the protector of God’s people. He is called “the great prince” in Dan. 12:1. He leads an angelic host in a heavenly battle against the “dragon and his angels,” defeating them so there is “no place for them in heaven any longer.” Satan is thrown to earth, and his angels with him (Rev. 12:7-9).

No doubt, Michael is a powerful angelic being who serves primarily as the champion angel of Israel. The word “archangel” comes from a compound Greek term archangelos and means “ruling angel.” It only occurs twice in the New Testament (1 Thess. 4:16; Jude 9) and not once in the Old Testament.
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When angels desert

This is the sixth in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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The identity of certain angels in Jude 6 is a matter of much debate. Unlike Satan and most demons, who roam the earth in search of mischief, these angels are kept “with eternal chains in darkness for the judgment of the great day, angels who did not keep their own position but deserted their proper dwelling.”

While many views have emerged, two seem to be most popular – and both views are tied, at least in part, to Gen. 6:1-4, and to a lesser extent the apocryphal Book of Enoch.

Cohabiting angels

One popular interpretation ties directly to Gen. 6:1-4, where the “sons of God” are identified as rebellious angels who cohabitate with the “daughters of man,” producing a race of giants God destroys in the great flood. Advocates of this view generally note the following:

(1) Jewish tradition supports it. For example, the Book of Enoch offers an extensive depiction of evil angels fornicating with women (1 Enoch 10:11).

(2) Based on Jude 14-15, where the author references a prophecy of Enoch, we may conclude that Jude is familiar with 1 Enoch and is influenced by it.

(3) Jude draws a parallel between the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah and the rebellion of deserting angels. Verse 7 begins, “In the same way, Sodom and Gomorrah … committed sexual immorality and practiced perversions” (emphasis added). Therefore, it seems clear that sexual sin is prominent in both instances.
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