The Epistle of Jude for Today A Progressive Look At The Text

Saint Jude

A thought provoking commentary on the general epistle of Jude

Sister Abigail Hester (Willow)

by Sister Abigail Hester.

All Scriptures references from The Bible In Basic English.

About The Bible In Basic English

“The Bible in Basic English was printed in 1965 ( Now Public Domain), this version of the Bible was developed for those with limited education or where English is a second language. It uses about a 1,000 different words in total across the whole text.” http://www.prayerscapes.com/Links/free_public_domain_bibles.html

ADD Can Be A Blessing!

When I first started reading the Bible (being A.D.D.) , I started with the short books. Jude was one of those books. Now don’t let the brevity of Jude cause you to dismiss this interesting text. In order to understand this book you need a comprehensive understanding of the Old Testament. If you do not have an understanding of the Old Testament you will not understand many of Jude’s references.

The format of this post is simple. Below each verse or grouping of verses I will post a brief commentary and some questions in order to spark your understanding of this text and promote further study. My commentary and questions will be in red print to distinguish it from the text of Jude. So lets begin…

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James, to those of God's selection who have been made holy by God the Father and are kept safe for Jesus Christ: May mercy and peace and love be increased in you. 

I am going to make every attempt to group these verses together in complete sentences. So we start off with Jude being the author of this short action packed letter. He is one of the half brothers of Jesus. Now I appreciate his placing himself in a place of humility. He says I am “a servant of Jesus Christ”. He could have just said I am Jude the brother of Jesus and then went on to make the point in his letter. To be “a servant” means that Jude was claiming to be consecrated. He was claiming to be set-apart for Jesus. I love the phrase to be “made holy by God the Father”. This seems to hint that we as followers of Jesus can stop trying to earn our righteousness by our works. It seems that we keep getting trapped in that place where we feel we have to do something to earn God’s love. I have a message for you: Stop It! We are kept safe for Jesus Christ.

I have to make a note here when I read: “May mercy and peace and love be increased in you”. These should be the characteristics of all followers of Jesus.

My loved ones, while my thoughts were full of a letter which I was going to send you about our common salvation, it was necessary for me to send you one requesting you with all my heart to go on fighting strongly for the faith which has been given to the saints once and for ever. 

Jude wanted to write about “our common salvation”. To some degree I wish he did. At least he could have after completing this letter set out to write about “the common salvation”. When Jude says “common” he is not referring to cheap. His point is that we have been saved into a community. I would love to challenge you to think on what that would look like. I will just say a few things. There is not one way for the man and another way for the woman. There is not one way for the rich and another way for the poor. There is not one way for the black and another way for the white. There is not one way for the gays and another way for the straights. I would love for you to share with me your thoughts regarding your meditation on the phrase “common salvation”.

So instead of Jude writing about the “common salvation” he felt compelled no doubt by the Spirit of God to change his topic. I would like to pause here and think about what it means to have that sort of mystical experience with God. I mean was this something like God was moving his fingers to write about a new topic? Was it just that Jude felt inspired to abandon his original message? I have gotten up on Sunday mornings with my message prepared only to change it on the spot just before service. Can spiritually inspired people ever be wrong? Like could I hold the wrong position on the topic and feel that I am on God’s side? I know that just in the last five years some things that I really held on to like the Deity of Christ and the inerrancy of the Bible have really started to shatter right before my eyes. Could it be that there are errors in the Bible? Could the Bible simply be wrong on an issue?

So the topic that Jude is going with here is an exhortation “to go on fighting strongly for the faith”. I used to quote this verse from the KJV which said “to earnestly contend for the faith”. I would soften this by saying that we are to contend without being contentious which I guess if you were going to follow this exhortation then that would certainly be better. I mean we have seen some contentious Christians. Instead of trying to just express my thoughts, let me try to get you to start thinking. What role does “strongly fighting for the faith” actually play for today’s believers? What do you think it meant in the time of this writing? Could it be that God being so much bigger than we are, does not need us to fight for Him? Let me just say this, I think there should be a rule that until you can love like Him you cannot fight for Him. This would change the scene for sure. Just imagine if believers were to love like Jesus. It could mean that we would look more like Buddhist!

For certain men have come among you secretly, marked out before in the holy Writings for this evil fate, men without the fear of God, turning his grace into an unclean thing, and false to our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. 

So we see that Jude is still stuck in some sort of tribalism. He of course says that those who do not believe and act like us are “evil” and outside of the faith. Jude is on some level here “fighting” against those who would use God’s Grace as a license to sin.

Now it is my purpose to put you in mind, though you once had knowledge of all these things, of how the Lord, having taken a people safely out of Egypt, later sent destruction on those who had no faith;
And the angels who did not keep to their kingdom but went out from the place which was theirs, he has put in eternal chains and in dark night till the great day of the judging.
Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the towns near them, having like these, given themselves up to unclean desires and gone after strange flesh, have been made an example, undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

Jude is here reminding the believers of a number of Old Testament stories where people somehow fell outside of the love and grace of God. Are you a parent? Do you ever fall out of love with your children? Do you think God could fall out of love with His children? I believe that all people are saved by the grace and love of God. If grace then means not by works, why is it that we turn it into works? Saying that someone has to believe all of the right things or do all of the right things in order to be saved is no longer grace. Who does this open the door of salvation up to? Everyone! Paul said “that in Adam ALL died yet in Christ ALL shall be made alive” (add verse). If we believe that somehow someone could escape the grace and love of God wouldn’t that then say that Adam had more power over humanity than Jesus.

Now all that most people know about “Sodom and Gomorrah” is that it was the place where God judged all of the gays. Now if you were to read that text more closely you would see that this interpretation does not really hold up. If God judged these towns because of the gays then all of them were gay (add verse). But there seems to be for Jude a link between verses 6 and 7. The phrases “even as” and “having like these” seems to link the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah to that of the “angels”. You see there was a rather mystical view in that day that somehow angels had sexual relations with humans (Genesis 6:1-4) and that in some way happened again in Sodom and Gomorrah. So if this is the case then the “gone after strange flesh” means something other than homosexuality, since it would have had to have been flesh of another kind, something not human. Now Ezekiel however states plainly the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah.

If this view is to hold up, then again we see that this and the other texts related to Sodom and Gomorrah have nothing to do with homosexuality to begin with. So lets try and apply this understanding to today’s Gay Marriage Debate. Well, it cannot be applied since it has nothing to do with the topic.

However though let’s assume for a minute that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was Homosexuality, we still could not apply it to the Gay Marriage Debate since it would be referring to non-consensual homosexual gang rape.

In the same way these dreamers make the flesh unclean, having no respect for authorities, and say evil of rulers. 
Now when Michael, one of the chief angels, was fighting against the Evil One for the body of Moses, fearing to make use of violent words against him, he only said, May the Lord be your judge.

Now I was mentored in my early years of ministry by one of the leading exorcist in the United States. To this day, I still see the need for Deliverance Ministry. One of the key elements of exorcism that I learned early on, can be found in the above verse. So “Michael, one of the chief angels” and “the Evil One” are in a dialogue about the “body of Moses” and we see something really important. Michael did not “make use of violent words”. I see a lot of the “use of violent words” in Deliverance Ministries today. This should not be. So the secret to my success as an exorcist has always been the phrase “may the Lord be your judge” or as the KJV translates it “the Lord rebuke you”. One more thing that I think is important is never to make the battle personal. I never say “I rebuke you”. I believe the battle is the Lords. I always say “the Lord rebuke you”.

But these men say evil about such things as they have no knowledge of; and the things of which they have natural knowledge, like beasts without reason, are the cause of their destruction.
A curse on them! They have gone in the way of Cain, running uncontrolled into the error of Balaam for reward, and have come to destruction by saying evil against the Lord, like Korah.

These are all references to Old Testament Stories. Be sure to check them out! What was “the way of Cain”? What was “the error of Balaam”? What was “the gainsaying of Korah”? I would love to discuss these things in the comments below.

In the next 5 verses, Jude describes these “certain men who had come among you secretly” that he mentioned in verse 4.

These men are unseen rocks at your love-feasts, when they take part in them with you, keepers of sheep who without fear take the food of the sheep; clouds without water rushing before the wind, wasted trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots, 
Violent waves of the sea, streaming with their shame, wandering stars for whom the darkest night is kept in store for ever.

The early church had potluck meals at their meetings that they called “love-feast”. I love that name! The text shows that they had some problems. I really think we can learn a few things from these problems. There were ministers “who without fear take the food of the sheep”. They would go the the line first and feed themselves leaving nothing for the other members or guest. The “love-feast” was originally designed with the poor in mind. Everyone was supposed to be able to eat. Jude further describes these men as “clouds without water”. What does this mean? If you were a farmer and a cloud promising rain appeared and did not produce that certainly would be upsetting. These ministers would come on the scene and make grand promises and then never follow through. These ministers are described as “trees without fruit”. They do not have evidence of a spiritual life. Paul says “the fruit of the spirit is love” (add verse). Jude goes on to describe these men as “violent waves of the sea, streaming with their shame”. The best way to imagine this I would think is to imagine the beach after a storm. The storm is loud, crazy and violent, slinging stuff everywhere.

Imagine a beach after such a storm. It is a mess! This apparently is a description of the “fruit” of such minister. Lastly Jude says, these ministers are “wandering stars”. If you were on the sea and trying to plot your course you would use the stars. A wandering star would not give you good direction. These ministers were leading them in the wrong direction.

Now we get this imagery of hell. It is described as “the darkest night is kept in store for ever”. Does God send people to hell? Is hell eternal? Let’s discuss this in the comment section below.

The prophet Enoch, who was the seventh after Adam, said of these men, The Lord came with tens of thousands of his saints,
To be the judge of all, and to give a decision against all those whose lives are unpleasing to him, because of the evil acts which they have done, and because of all the hard things which sinners without fear of God have said against him.

Part of the above two verses are a quote from the Book of Enoch. While we cannot find this text in our Bibles, the Book of Enoch is in the canon of the Ethiopian Bible. Certainly a fun text to read. Have you read the Book of Enoch? If not then please visit our Monastery Library.

These are the men who make trouble, ever desiring change, going after evil pleasures, using high-sounding words, respecting men's position in the hope of reward.

Jude says these ministers “make trouble”. So they are trouble makers. He says they are “going after evil pleasures”. Shall I translate this and say they wanted the desires of their flesh. He says that these ministers are “using high-sounding words” and “respecting men’s position in the hope of reward”. They minister for there own benefit. They are in the ministry for the cushy life and notoriety it could afford them.

As ministers of the Good News of Jesus Christ, I think we can do well not to follow their examples in our own ministries.

But you, my loved ones, keep in memory the words which were said before by the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, How they said to you, In the last days there will be men who, guided by their evil desires, will make sport of holy things.
These are the men who make divisions, natural men, not having the Spirit.

Jude reminds those of us who are spiritual to remember the words of “the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ”.

But you, my loved ones, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, and making prayers in the Holy Spirit,

Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for life eternal through the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Here Jude reminds us as believers to keep growing. Don’t become stagnant. Don’t assume that you know everything. Remain objective and teachable. Keep growing! He reminds us to keep in “prayer”. As believers our lives should be characterized by prayer.

He says “keep yourselves in the love of God”. I think it is important to note that Jude does not say keep God loving you. He is saying we should keep ourselves in the place of God’s blessing.

Jude says that we are to be “looking for life eternal”. What do you think this means?

And have pity on those who are in doubt; 

And to some give salvation, pulling them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the clothing which is made unclean by the flesh.

Now notice he says “have pity on those who are in doubt”. He warns us to be careful not to get pulled into a sinful lifestyle by saying, “hating even the clothing which is made unclean by the flesh”.

Now to him who is able to keep you from falling, and to give you a place in his glory, free from all evil, with great joy, 

To the only God our Saviour, through Jesus Christ our Lord, let us give glory and honour and authority and power, before all time and now and for ever. So be it.

God is able to “keep you from falling”. He wants “to give you a place in his glory”. He does this “with great joy”.

The secret of the ages is that God is already “our saviour”. We as believers can rejoice in this knowledge. God will ultimately reconcile all things to Himself. We are to tell others this message so that they can know and participate in God’s grace.

The above commentary was written in 2012.

Feedback From Readers

DrManeker

www.christianlgbtrights.org

www.radicalchristianity.net

“This is a wonderful, sensitive exposition of the Gospel of grace by this brief study of Jude. Thanks so much, Abigail for your insightful study of the Scriptures.”

– Jerry Maneker
brianbowen

www.brianbowenministries.com

“BRILLIANT take on Jude! THANK YOU for your service to His Kingdom! Can’t wait for new installments! God bless you too, Sister Abigail! [HUGZ]”

– Brian Bowen2

Published by Sister Abigail Hester (Willow)

As a child I loved everything to do with the outdoors and was even a part of the Boy Scouts. It was the Boy Scouts that taught me the importance of being prepared. As a teenager I lost my father to a brain aneurysm which sparked an even deeper interest in health and wellness. It was around this time that I found myself living with an herbalist and the rest is history. Willow has a Bachelor of Christian Website Design from Saint Luke Evangelical School of Biblical Studies, a Masters of Theology from Saint Luke Evangelical School of Biblical Studies, a Masters of Comparative Religion from Universal Life Church Seminary, a Masters of Metaphysical Healing from Universal Life Church Seminary, a Masters of Shamanism from Universal Life Church Seminary, and a Doctorate of Religious Humanities from the Educational Department of Universal Life Church International Headquarters. Willow has completed both Herbal Medicine: Nourishing Herbal Infusions – Drink Your Way To Health, Seven Rivers of Healing and Energy Healing: Shaman’s Circle: Earth Spirits and Guides courses at Wise Woman University. Willow is a Certified Biblical Health Coach (Biblical Health Institute), Certified Nutritional Consultant (Life Extension Center), Eat God’s Way Consultant (Life Extension Center), Raw Food Chef (Living in Live Food Chef Certification Program) and Herb Specialist (Natural Health School). Willow has been ordained into the ministry by Universal Life Church International HQ (2000). Willow has also been ordained as a Peace Keeper, a Peace Minister (MP) and a Healing Minister through Luntiang Aghama Natural Divine Arts Shrine Of Healing INC., Philippines. Willow is an Interfaith ChristoPagan Nun.

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