The Book of Jude, A Letter From God
Verse 1; “Jude, servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James; To those loved by God, even called and guarded in Jesus Christ.” That might be just slightly different from the wording in your bible, but that is the most literal translation of the verse. “..To those loved by God, even called and guarded in Jesus Christ.” Instead of the word “called”, we could use the word “invited”, or “appointed”. Christians have been “called” by God; Invited to be His children, and appointed a position in the kingdom. That’s the meaning of that first verse.
Verse 2; “Mercy unto you, and peace and love be multiplied.” That certainly needs no explanation. Jude simply wishes these three blessings would be bestowed upon all of us; Mercy, peace, and love.
Verse 3; “Beloved, while I was giving all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you, to contend earnestly for the faith, which was once for all, delivered unto the saints.”
So then although Jude had every intention of writing to the brethren about one specific subject, he was forced out of necessity, to write to them about a different subject. What Jude had intended to accomplish writing about, was what he calls “our common salvation”, in other words, the salvation which every faithful Christian shares in. What that means is that no one is saved by any different method from everyone else, and that no one is saved to any different degree from anyone else. Everyone shares, the same exact degree of salvation, and every one is saved by the exact same method.
That’s the way it is, under the new covenant, in Christ’s blood. Now under the old covenant, it was different wasn’t it? And the differences between salvation under the old covenant, and salvation under the new covenant, are all focused on Christ. I can think of three things that are required for salvation under the new covenant, that were not required under the old, and all three are centered around Christ. Can you name all three requirements?
The first requirement is believing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. What scripture tells us of this requirement? (John 8:24) The second requirement is confessing that faith in Christ. And what scriptures tells us that? (Mathew 10:32-33) And the third requirement is to be baptized into the death on Christ. And there’s several scriptures that tell us of the need to be baptized, but which scripture directly links our baptism, with Christ’s death? (Romans 6:3-4)
Our “common salvation”.. But Jude wasn’t able to write about that, as he had planned. What does the scripture say that he basically was “forced” to write about instead? The answer is.. “to contend earnestly for the faith, which was once for all, delivered unto the saints.”
Once For All
I want to say something about the phrase “once for all”. “Once for all” does not mean.. “once for all persons”; Even though that’s true, that the faith was delivered once, for all persons to take advantage of, that’s not what this specific phrase means. This phrase, in this verse, means.. “once for all time”. Here’s how Thayer’s Greek Lexicon describes it; “once for all” is used of what is done in such a way, as to be of perpetual validity, and never in need of being repeated. Once, for all time.
Another example of this phrase, is in 1 Peter 3, verse 18, where the bible says; “Because Christ also suffered for sins, once for all..” In other words, there will never be any need for Christ to suffer again. He suffered once, and that one time, is valid for all time. His suffering is perpetually valid, and His suffering never needs to be repeated. Some bible versions simply say; “Because Christ also suffered once..” And that’s fine, but the meaning is.. “once, for all time”.
Now, Jude was “constrained” to write to Christians, exhorting them to “to contend earnestly for the faith.” What is “the faith” that he’s talking about? in Acts 6, verse 7, the bible says that a great number of Jewish priests, were becoming obedient to “the faith”. In Acts 14:22, Paul was exhorting the disciples to continue “in the faith”.
1 Corinthians 16, verse 13 tells us to stand firm “in the faith”. What is “the faith” that all these verses are talking about?
The “faith” being spoken of, so many times, is connected with the gospel. If I told you to contend for the gospel, and to stand firm in the gospel, and to be obedient to the gospel, you’d know what I mean. Well, the “faith” spoken of in the bible, although connected with the gospel, isn’t the gospel. The gospel is the word of God, and “the faith” is what we acquire FROM the word of God. Just like Romans 10:17 says; “So then faith comes from hearing the word of God.”
In every definition that you’ll find for the word “faith” as used in the bible, it will always specify that “faith” is a gift from God. God has given us the only means of acquiring faith, and that is through His word. It’s a gift from God. So then we are given the “gift” of faith, and we must “contend earnestly” for it, and we must always be “obedient” to it, and we must always “continue” in it, and “stand firm” in it.
Faith is our trust and our confidence, in God, and in His word, which is the gospel. Our trust and our confidence, is described in this way, in Hebrews 11, verse 1; “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Our trust assures us, and our confidence gives us conviction.
Is there anything that is of greater value than your faith? I don’t think there is. And that’s why Jude felt “constrained” to urge us, to “contend earnestly” for it!
What do you think it means, to “contend earnestly” for your faith? “Contend earnestly” is only used this one time in the bible, and it literally means to struggle diligently. To fight, with all your strength and energy. Christians are in a fight for their faith. Every day, is a battle, to overcome trials, and temptations, and anything that might cause us to fail to obey the word of God. And what you’re fighting against, is everything that opposes the trust that you have in the word of God. And everything that opposes the conviction that you have in the word of God. You’re fighting against everything that opposes God! Every day, we are all fighting against the spirit of evil, which is the spirit of opposition to God, which is all around us, and which fights to consume us.
1 Peter 5, verse 8 warns us with these words; “Be sober, be vigilant, your adversary the devil, walks around as a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” That’s what we’re fighting against, every day. We’re contending for our faith, while satan tries to create doubt, and cause us to believe lies. The spirit of opposition to God is trying to devour us, and so we’d better be ready to fight, every day!
And so I think we need to ask ourselves.. Are we contending for the faith, or are we remaining silent when we hear god’s word being slandered, and opposed? If we’re remaining silent, then we’re not fighting for truth. It’s a simple as that. I’m afraid that we’re more afraid of offending someone, than standing up for the truth. I’ll tell you what.. If I’m on the road to hell, I sure pray that someone offends me, and at least gives me the chance to get on the right road.
Why Was Jude Constrained ?
Jude said that he was constrained, or forced, to exhort us to contend earnestly for the faith. And verse 4 tells us WHY it became necessary for him to write about this. Verse 4 says; “For..” (that means, here’s the reason) “For, there are certain men who crept in privily, even they who were of old, ordained beforehand, unto this condemnation; (and here is the judgment that has been made) Ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”
Now Jude doesn’t say who these men are, but the point is, they are there, among the brethren, and their purpose is to deceive you, and to turn your faith into doubt, and turn your conviction into speculation, so that you no longer possess the faith that you now have.
What does Jude mean, when he says that these men.. “crept in privily”? Actually, to begin with, what did these men creep “into”? If they “crept in” they had to creep into something. These men “crept into” the midst of the brethren. They crept into the assembly of the Christians, while trying to make it appear, as if they themselves were Christians. “Crept in privily” doesn’t mean that they crept in undetected, as if they didn’t want anyone to know they were there. But rather, they “crept in” keeping their motives a secret. They weren’t there with the intention of being a fellow member of the body of Christ, because they were not members of Christ!
Verse 4 says that they were “..Ungodly men, turning the grace of our God, into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Now anyone who denies that Jesus is the Christ, is not a member of His body! That’s obvious.
How does the apostle John describe those who deny the fact that Jesus is the Christ? John wrote, in 1 John 2, verse 22; “Who is the liar, but he that denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the anti-Christ, even he that denies the Father and the Son.”
And John wrote in 2 John 1, verse 7; “Many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; Any such person is the deceiver and the anti-Christ!”
These men had the spirit of the anti-Christ. They had the spirit of satan.
So then, they “crept in privily” because they didn’t want anyone to know their true spirit, and their true purpose. And what was their purpose? Why did they creep in among the brethren? Quite frankly, they wanted to disrupt, and destroy the faith of the Christians!
Why would people do that? Why would they go out of their way, to come into a place, and deliberately try to disrupt everything? If I remember correctly, I think that Doug told me about such a situation, where a group of people came into an area, and joined themselves to a particular congregation, and started teaching error, and swayed people’s beliefs, and eventually got the majority of people on their side, and basically took over the congregation. And then the members who remained faithful, had no other choice but to go their separate way, and either worship somewhere else, or start their own smaller congregation somewhere else, and the men that had “crept in privily”, took over the congregation, and the building, and all the money, and they ran things their way; And I suppose you could say they started their own denomination.
What causes people to do that? Pride? Greed? Yeah, probably.
And verse 4 further describes these men as.. “..those of long ago, who were designated beforehand, unto this condemnation.” Can you think of how these men were “designated beforehand”, even from long ago, “unto condemnation”?
When I think of “long ago”, I think of the old testament. And so here’s a verse from Psalm 53, verse 1 that might fit what the bible is talking about; “The fool says in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; There is none who does good.”
And then there’s this verse from Isaiah 59:13; “Transgressing and denying the Lord, and turning back from following our God, speaking oppression and revolt, conceiving and uttering from the heart, lying words.”
So then, the reason why Jude was constrained, and why he wrote about this topic, is because the spirit of the anti-Christ, which is also the spirit of opposition to God, and to His word, is such a threat to our faith. That spirit, is the very same spirit that’s described in Ephesians 2, verse 2. Here’s what it says; “..according to the spirit of this world, according to the prince of the powers of the air, of the spirit that now works, in the sons of disobedience.” The sons of disobedience are the offspring of disobedience. And the SPIRIT that works in the sons of disobedience, is the spirit OF disobedience.
How Was Jude Constrained ?
But now, HOW was Jude constrained? In what WAY was he constrained? Was he constrained because of his own concern for his brethren? Was Jude constrained simply because he felt the responsibility to exhort us all to contend so earnestly for the faith? Or was Jude actually constrained by God Himself, and not allowed to write about anything else? After all, it was God who inspired Jude to write what he wrote. So then maybe it was God Himself who constrained Jude.
And I’m just asking that as a thought question, because the scripture doesn’t give us the answer, so all we can do is kind of ponder that one.
Personally, I think that it was God who constrained Jude, and wouldn’t allow him to write about anything except what God ordained him to write about, namely, “the faith that was once, for all time, delivered unto the saints”.
And once again, the reason WHY God chose this topic for Jude to write about, is because of all the people who come into our midst, with a very unholy purpose, and with very destructive intentions. People who exhibit the spirit of satan.. The spirit of disobedience to God!
A Warning to the Faithful
In verses 5 thru 8, Jude gives us a warning concerning the outcome of those who do not remain faithful, and God gives us three examples of this unfaithfulness. Actually, there are two examples of falling away from God, and falling away from salvation, and then there’s one example of those who never did come to God in the first place. But the outcome is the same for all of them.
So let’s read those verses; Jude, verse 5 thru 8; “Now I desire to put you in remembrance, though you know all things, once for all, that the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believe not. And angels that kept not their own domain, but left their proper habitation, He hath kept in everlasting bonds, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.”
“Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, having in like manner with these, given themselves over to sexual immorality, and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire. Yet, in like manner, these also (those spoken of in verse 4) in their dreamings, defile the flesh, and set at nought dominion, and rail at dignities.”
So, the first example is the nation of Israel. A people who had been saved, but who had fallen from salvation because of unbelief. And this example serves as a reminder to us, that indeed, you can fall from salvation, if you fail to remain faithful. When you stop believing what God’s word says, you will obviously stop obeying what God’s word says, which results in your falling from salvation, and from grace. As a matter of fact, the evidence that you have stopped believing, is your failure to obey God’s word.
So, it happened to Israel, and it can happen to you! And Jude is putting us in remembrance of this fact. Because as he says; “though you know all things, once for all”, in other words, though you know that almost all of Israel was destroyed because of unbelief, even after God had saved them, they still fell away and were lost: And we tend to forget that it can also happen to us!
Now here’s the second example which serves as a reminder for us; Verse 6, Here’s what it says once again; “And angels that kept not their own domain, but left their proper habitation, He hath kept in everlasting bonds, under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.”
If we think that we can get by with disobeying God, think about the fact that even angels that disobeyed, didn’t “get by” with it! But rather, they are “kept in everlasting bonds under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.” And take note of the fact, that these angels are being “kept”, in these “eternal bonds under darkness” There is never going to be any release from those bonds, UNTIL the judgment.
“UNTO the judgment of the great day”, means that they are heading towards that judgment. Those angels have not yet gone through the judgment of the great day, and therefore they have not yet been literally cast into hell, but they’re being kept, unto that judgment.
Now, what other verse of scripture is very similar to this verse? It’s 2 Peter 2, verse 4. That verse says; “For if God spared not angels when they sinned, but having cast them down to tartarus, in chains of darkness, delivering them to be kept for judgment.”
Your version might say; “..but cast them down to hell..” Now, the original text doesn’t say “hell”, and it doesn’t even say “tartarus”. All the original text says is; “But tartaro’sas..” And so here’s where a person has to do a little bit of studying, to see what “tartaro’sas” actually means.
Let me read that verse how it’s actually written; “For, if God spared not angels when they sinned, but tartaro’sas, in chains of darkness, delivering them to be kept for judgment.”
“Tartaro’sas, in chains of darkness”. What does that mean? “Chains of darkness” is identical to the phrase “eternal bonds under darkness”, which Jude uses. They are both figurative phrases, that mean that the darkness, is what serves as the “chains”, or as the “bonds” which keep those angels restrained where they are, with no escape. It’s a spiritual condition, “chains of darkness”, “bonds of darkness”. That’s the condition of the angels who sinned.
But what about the word “tartaro’sas”? What does that mean?
This is another one of those “one time only” words of the new testament.. “tartaro’sas”. God has borrowed the word “tartaro’sas”, out of Greek mythology. That’s the origin of that word.. Greek mythology. That’s where the word comes from, and that’s the only place where the word is used, except for this one time that it’s used in the bible. But God has borrowed this word to use as an illustration, and also to provide emphasis, as to the destiny of these angels being spoken of.
Let me read to you what tartaro’sas means..
Tartarosas is a verb, describing action. It’s not the name of a place, because if it were, it would have to be a noun. But it is a verb, which describes some sort of action.
Here’s What it says, in a Word Study, called “Helps Word Study”
5020 tartarósas – properly, send to Tartarus (“Tartaros“).
Now, let me emphasize something; The word “tartarus” is a noun, and it’s the name of a place in Greek Mythology, where evil people are sent, and it closely resembles, the hell of the bible. It’s not exactly like hell, but it closely resembles it. Tartarus does not necessarily resemble the “hades” which the bible speaks of, but rather, it resembles the “hell’ which the bible speaks of. In Greek Mythology, tartarus isn’t a place of waiting for eternal punishment, tartarus IS the place of punishment for demons and evil persons.
Here’s the further definition of the word, from that word study source; The NT uses 5020 (tartarósas) in reference to the netherworld – the place of punishment fit only for demons. Later, Tartar’os, or Tatar’us, came to represent eternal punishment for wicked people.
“5020 (tartarós) is a Greek name for the under-world, especially the abode of the damned – hence “tartaro’sas, is to cast into hell” (A-S); to send into the subterranean abyss reserved for demons and the dead.
[In Greek mythology, Tartar’us was a “place of punishment under the earth, to which, for example, the Titans were sent” (Souter).]
Here’s From Thayer’s Greek Lexicon
Tartaro’sas; To thrust down to Tartar’us (sometimes in the Scholiasts) (cf. Winers Grammar, 25 (24) n.); to hold captive in Tartar’us: τινα σειραῖς (which see) σοφοῦ, In 2 Peter 2:4, it is used figuratively.
I think the main difference between the tartarus of Greek Mythology, and the hell of the bible, is that in Greek Mythology, tartarus is not necessarily eternal, whereas hell, is eternal.
Now, for a long time, many people have believed that 2 Peter 2, verse 4 is teaching, that those angels who sinned, have already been cast down to hell itself. But the verse doesn’t say that. Tartarus is a mythological place, it is a fictional place, where the evil gods and goddesses were imprisoned.
What 2 Peter 2, verse 4 says, is that the angels who sinned, were figuratively, “cast down to tartarus, in chains of darkness,” and that they had been delivered there, (wherever these “chains of darkness” are) to be “kept unto judgment”.
Now, in the bible, hell is the place where evil spirits go AFTER the judgment, not before the judgment. If these angels are being “kept” somewhere “unto the judgment” then they are not yet in hell. I’m sure they will be in hell, when the judgment day arrives, but for now, the bible says that they are being “kept unto judgment”. And they’re not going to escape the judgment, because they are being kept there, “in chains of darkness”. In other words, they’re restricted, in a way that resembles being chained up, so that you can’t escape.
The bible doesn’t tells us WHERE these angels are being kept, while they await the judgment. We don’t know where these “chains of darkness” are. We know one thing, that they are somewhere, away from the presence of God, because that’s where the idea of “darkness” comes is. “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all”, (1 John 1, verse 5) Therefore, wherever these angels are, they are away from God’s presence.
But it absolutely does not matter, where it is, because that’s not the point. The whole point of giving us this verses, is to assure us, and to warn us, that all who oppose God, will suffer the consequences, and none will escape the consequences.
And so, to kind of summerize what we have in this verse, (2 Peter 2, verse 4) God borrowing a word out of Greek mythology, the word “tartaro’sas”, and He is using it as an illustration, and as warning to us all, and as a way of emphasizing the fact, that no one, not even angels from heaven, will escape the judgment of the Almighty God. No living being will escape God’s judgment.
God is not necessarily saying that “tartarus” is another word for hell, He is simply using an illustration that all the Greeks were familiar with, because of the mythology that they were all familiar with, to more vividly make His point about there being no escape from the judgment.
I suppose if we want to, we can use the word tartarus, in reference to hell, but all the bible is doing, is using it as an illustration, and for emphasis.
So let’s go back to Jude, and talk a little bit about verse 6. Let me read it once more; “And angels that kept not their own domain..” The KJV says, “their own first estate”. I like that translation, because it really expresses the gist of the word. It means their originally appointed position.. “their own first estate”, or “their own domain”. In other words, these angels were evidently looking to take over another domain, or estate.. a different domain, that was never assigned to them in the first place.
So, “..Angels that kept not their own first estate, but left their proper habitation..” They left their proper dwelling place. Where is the proper dwelling place of angels? Wouldn’t that have to be heaven? Isn’t heaven where angels properly dwell?
Mathew 18, verse 10 says; “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven, their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.” Angels dwell in heaven. They’re often sent down to earth for specific purposes, but their dwelling is in heaven.
Hebrews 1:14 says this about angels; “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister, for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”
I think that we could properly say that this function of angels, as being the ones who are sent out to minister to Christians, is a part of their “own first estate”. That’s what they had the authority to do, to minister to those who will inherit salvation. And so I believe that their function, is a part of their “first estate”, as well as their original dwelling place, is a part of their “first estate”.
So then these angels had evidently abandoned their original dwelling place in heaven, and most likely, they had also abandoned their original purpose, that of ministering to Christians.
Now the bible doesn’t give us any information about where these angels choose to try to live and dwell, and the bible doesn’t tell us exactly what these angels tried to do, but the point is, it didn’t work! How are you going to oppose God, and expect to succeed? You simply cannot oppose God, without suffering the consequences. That’s what this verse is telling us.
What were the consequences of the actions of these angels? Jude says; “He (God) hath kept (them) in everlasting bonds under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.”
“Everlasting bonds under darkness, awaiting the judgment of the great day.” And Peter phrased it this way; “but tartaro’sas, in chains of darkness, delivering them to be kept for judgment.” That’s what happened to the angels who sinned, by opposing God.
Now, I think we’re ready for verse 7. “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, having in like manner with these, given themselves over to fornication, (the word fornication simply means sexual immorality of any sort) and gone after strange flesh, are set as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.”
Let me say something about the word “strange”, in that verse. The flesh that is mentioned, is simply referring to the body. So then obviously, the people went after the body, in pursuit of their sexual immorality. But the word “strange” is the word that’s really telling, about the sin of these people.
That word translated “strange”, refers to something of another type, or of a different type. Different from the original type. Now, it’s not difficult to figure this out. Everyone knows what the desires and the practice was, of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah. The act of sodomy, got it’s very name, from the city of Sodom.
And just for the sake of study, let’s go to the book of Genesis, and do a little review. The bible tells a story about Abraham, in Genesis chapter 18. And it says in verses 1 & 2; “And Jehovah appeared to him, by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door, in the heat of the day.” (Most more modern translations use the word “Lord” instead of “Jehovah”. And so you might say; “And the Lord appeared to him, by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door, in the heat of the day.”
“And he lifted up his eyes and looked, and lo, three men were standing by him. And when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the door of the tent, and bowed himself to the ground.” That was sure respectful, wasn’t it? Do you think that Abraham knew that these men were angels? Or do you think that Abraham possibly knew, that one of them was the Lord?
This is an ongoing study, and will be continued.