Tagged: commentary on Jude

The prophecy of Enoch

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

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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 MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available here.

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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 MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available here.

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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. 8:15-27; 9:20-27), and later to Zechariah (Luke 1:11-23) 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 MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available here.

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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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What does it mean to contend for the faith?

This is the fourth in a series of excerpts from the MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available here.

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Jude writes in verse 3 of his epistle, “I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.”

The Holy Spirit has stirred Jude’s heart, causing him to grieve over the manner in which his beloved friends are allowing false teachings to seep into the church. They must not sit idly by while interlopers undermine the first-order doctrines established by the eyewitnesses of the life of Christ.

Like Paul, who writes that “an obligation is placed on me” to preach the gospel (1 Cor. 9:16), Jude senses a heavy burden that compels him to address false teachers in the church. He and his readers are not able to share a common salvation if they lose the doctrinal truths that define it. Therefore, Jude exhorts them to contend for the faith.

Agonizing for sound doctrine

“Contend” is a strong word that translates the Greek compound verb epagonizomai, found only here in the New Testament and translated “earnestly contend” in some translations.

The simple verb agonizomai first meant to compete in an athletic contest, and then, more generally, to fight, struggle, or strive. It’s where we get the English transliteration “agonize.”

Like Jude, the apostles invest themselves heavily in teaching sound doctrine to followers of Jesus and preparing church leaders to defend the faith.

For example, Paul tearfully urges the Ephesian elders, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among whom the Holy Spirit has appointed you as overseers, to shepherd the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. And men from among yourselves will rise up with deviant doctrines to lure the disciples into following them. Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for three years I did not stop warning each of you with tears” (Acts 20:28-31).

Even though they must contend with Jewish lawyers, Roman rulers, Greek philosophers, and miracle-working sorcerers, the apostles engage in their fiercest battles inside the seemingly safe confines of the confessing church. That’s where the greatest challenges to Christianity lie.

Bleeding out

The church has withstood – and even flourished under – persecution, but it threatens to bleed out from the self-inflicted wounds of false doctrine. Jude senses this and urges his readers to “agonize” in defense of the faith.

Jude does not suggest a violent response to false teachers, and neither do the apostles. Peter encourages us with his balanced plan of attack, urging us to “set apart the Messiah as Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you. However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame” (1 Peter 3:15-16).

By contending for “the faith,” Jude is not referring to saving faith, or to trust in God’s promises, although he would heartily agree these are important aspects of our rest in the sufficiency of Christ. Rather, Jude is writing about the body of doctrine that defines Christianity – principally the first-order issues that pertain to our common salvation.

Luke writes about this in Acts 2:42, as first-century believers continually devote themselves to the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, breaking bread, and prayer. Further, Paul instructs Timothy to protect the faith – the sound words the young pastor has heard from Paul. He is to guard the treasure entrusted to him through the indwelling Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 1:13-14).

Jude wants his readers to know that “the faith” is firmly established and unchanging. The work of Christ is finished. He is seated at the Father’s right hand as our Mediator and Intercessor. He has sent the Holy Spirit to convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment, as well as to regenerate, baptize, indwell, seal, fill, comfort, and lead His own.

Further, He is preparing a place for us in His kingdom. And He is coming one day in power and great glory to fulfill all things. The gospel of the kingdom is written in the blood of Jesus and confirmed in the empty tomb. It is “delivered to the saints once for all” (Jude 3b).

So, who are the people with whom Jude’s readers must contend? Jude is about to offer us a graphic introduction.

Next: Who are those guys?

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