From:  Over 50 Interpreters Explain Second Peter and Jude             Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2018



List of All Sources Quoted At End of File







Verses 1-11




Verse 1                                               Translations

Weymouth:     Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James: To those who are in God the Father, enfolded in His love, and kept for Jesus Christ, and called.

WEB:              Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:

Young’s:         Judas, of Jesus Christ a servant, and brother of James, to those sanctified in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ kept -- called,

Conte (RC):    Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and

brother of James, to those who are beloved in God

the Father, and who are guarded and called in Jesus


Verse 1           Jude.   Reasons why Jude might not make reference to his physical kinship to Jesus if he were an apostle—or even if he were not [31]:  If the view taken in the Introduction to the Epistle is correct, Jude sustained a near relation to the Lord Jesus, being, as James was, “the Lord‘s brother,” Galatians 1:19.  The reasons why he did not advert to this fact here, as an appellation which would serve to designate him, and as showing his authority to address others in the manner in which he proposed to do in this Epistle, probably were:  (1) that the right to do this did not rest on his mere “relationship” to the Lord Jesus, but on the fact that He had called certain persons to be His apostles, and had authorized them to do it; and, (2) that a reference to this relationship, as a ground of authority, might have created jealousies among the apostles themselves.  We may learn from the fact that Jude merely calls himself “the servant of the Lord Jesus,” that is, a Christian, (a) that this is a distinction more to be desired than, would be a mere natural relationship to the Savior, and consequently, (b) that it is a higher honor than any distinction arising from birth or family.  Compare Matthew 12:46-50.   

                        Argument that he was not an apostle because there is an extremely high probability it would have been mentioned [46]:  As he does not say that he is an Apostle, the inference is that he is not one.  Contrast Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 1:1; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Galatians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1; Colossians 1:1; 1 Timothy 1:1; 2 Timothy 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1 (where “Apostle” is used without “servant”); and Titus 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1 (where “Apostle” is added to “servant”).  Excepting John, whose characteristic reserve accounts for it, Apostles proclaim themselves to be such in stating their credentials.

                        Hebrews and the Epistle of James must be set aside as doubtful, or be admitted as illustrations of the rule.  Philippians 1:1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; and 2 Thessalonians 1:1 are not exceptions:  St. Paul is there combined with others who are not Apostles.  The same may be said of Philemon verse 1.  Moreover, there Paul naturally avoids stating credentials: he wishes to appeal to Philemon’s affection (Philemon verses 8-9), not to his own authority.

                        the servant of Jesus Christ.  Literally, “a bondsman” of.  [3]

                        The word is literally a “bondservant” or “slave.”  Possibly there is something of humility in the term, but there is surely much of dignity.  The same title was claimed by the great Apostle Paul.  It may be assumed properly by every follower of Christ.  Each one belongs to Him, as purchased by His precious blood, each owes to Him submission, each finds his chief joy in His service.  [7]

                        The words may have a side reference to the ungodly men against whom he writes, who are not “servants of Jesus Christ.”  [46]

                        and brother of James.  Literally, “one from the same womb.”  [3] 

He makes mention of “James,” his brother, as being well known, and of great influence among the Jewish Christians.  [11]  

It may be inferred, without much risk of error, that he wished, bearing so common a name, to distinguish himself from others, like Judas not Iscariot, of John 14:22, Luke 6:16, the Lebbæus or Thaddæus of Matthew 10:3, Judas surnamed Barsabas (Acts 15:22), and others.  [38]

This is added not merely to explain who he is, but his claim to be heard.  It is almost incredible that an Apostle should have urged such a claim, and yet not have stated the much higher claim of his own office:  the inference again is that the writer is not an Apostle.  Only one James can be meant.  After the death of James the brother of John, only one James appears in the Acts (Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18)—James the Just, brother of our Lord (Matthew 13:15), and first Bishop of Jerusalem.  The brother of so saintly a man, one of the “pillars” of the Church (Galatians 2:9), and holding so high an office, might claim the attention of Christians.  [46]

Textual variant added in many translations:  “to those who are called, beloved” [ESV].  Not invited merely, but having accepted the invitation, and having therefore the “calling” of sons.  This is the uniform meaning in Scripture; not having the name, but the character (compare “a man’s calling”).  [50]

to them that are sanctified [“beloved,” NASB] by God the Father.  Literally, sanctified in God the Father, i.e. through union with Him, living in Him.  Some of the better MSS, however, give “beloved in God,” in which case the thought would be that they were the objects of the writer’s love, not “according to the flesh,” but with an emotion which had its source in God.  So taken it would be analogous to the phrases “salute you much in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 16:19), or, “rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 4:4).  [38] 

to them that are sanctified [“beloved,” NASB].  Christians.  [14]

On “sanctified:  Devoted to his service, set apart for Him and made holy, through the influence of His grace.  [47]

Our sanctification is not our own work.  [5]

On “beloved:  Our affection for Christians springs from their relation to Christ and their likeness to Him, as our love for God’s children rests on the same grounds.  This is the brotherly love of the Gospel as distinguished from the love of good-will.  [51]

by [in, NASB] God the Father.  We are not to interpret beloved by God, but the believers are the objects of the writer’s love, in God who is the Father of Jesus Christ.  [50]

and preserved in [kept for, ESV, NASB] Jesus Christ.  "Kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation," 1 Peter 1:5.  [29]

The reason for St. Jude’s here characterizing the called as beloved and kept, is because he has in his mind others who had been called, but had gone astray and incurred the wrath of God.  [36]

As He says Himself (John 17:11), “Keep them in thy name which thou hast given me.”  [44]

We see from this that Jude, like all the other apostles, preached the personal return of Jesus to this world.  [48] 

preserved.  The tense of the participle in the Greek implies a completed act continuing in its results.  The word may be noted as specially characteristic of the later Epistles.  We have it in 1 Peter 1:4; 2 Peter 2:4, 2:9, 2:17, 3:7; eight times in 1 John; four times in Jude.  In the sense in which it is used here, it is probably connected with the fact of the delay in the second Advent of the Lord, and was chosen to indicate that those who were waiting patiently for it were being kept or guarded by their union with Christ.  [38]

in [kept for, ESV, NASB] Jesus Christ.  In order to be His forever.  Jude conceives his readers to have been preserved from falling away from Christ up to that very time.  Wordsworth:  “The evil angels are preserved or kept for judgment (2 Peter 2:4); the heavens are preserved or kept for fire (2 Peter 3:7); but ye are preserved and kept for Jesus Christ, and there is an everlasting inheritance preserved or kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:4).”  [50]   

He created them, and redeemed them, and renewed them; they are therefore His own possession (His “peculiar people”), and as His, are kept for and finally presented to Him (Compare John 17:6, 12).  [51]

and called.  For they have heard and heeded the gracious summons to salvation given by the Holy Spirit.  [7]

And called — By the preaching of the word, by the dispensations of divine providence, and by the drawings of divine grace; called to receive the whole gospel blessing in time and in eternity.  These things are premised, lest any of them should be discouraged by the terrible things which are afterward mentioned.  [47]

This description of the persons addressed does not occur in any other of the General Epistles, but is so used by Paul in the salutation of Romans 1:6 and 1 Corinthians 1:2.  In Romans 1:1 he applies the term “called” to himself.  The phrase denotes Christians as those who have heard and obeyed God’s invitation to reconciliation and submission.  On Romans 1:6 Sanday and Headlam paraphrase it “called out of the mass of mankind into the inner society of the church.” [45]


In depth:  Other cases of Divine calling [36].  We have many examples of the Divine calling in the Gospels, as in the case of the Apostles (Matthew 4:21; Mark 1:20) and in the parables of the Great Supper and the Laborers in the Vineyard.

This idea of calling or election is derived from the O.T.  See Hort’s note on 1 Peter 1:1 ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ ἐκλεκτοῖς:  “Two great forms of election are spoken of in the O.T., the choosing of Israel, and the choosing of single Israelites, or bodies of Israelites, to perform certain functions for Israel. . . . The calling and the choosing imply each other, the calling being the outward expression of the antecedent choosing, the act by which it begins to take effect.  Both words emphatically mark the present state of the persons addressed as being due to the free agency of God. . . .   In Deuteronomy 4:37 the choosing, by God is ascribed to His own love of Israel: the ground of it lay in Himself, not in Israel. . . .

“As is the election of the ruler or priest within Israel for the sake of Israel, such is the election of Israel for the sake of the whole human race.  Such also, still more clearly and emphatically, is the election of the new Israel.”

For a similar use of the word “call” in Isaiah, cf. Isaiah 48:12; 43:1, 7.  The chief distinction between the “calling” of the old and of the new dispensation is that the former is rather expressive of dignity (“called by the name of God”), the latter of invitation; but the former appears also in the N.T. in phrases [found in] James 2:7 and 1 Peter 2:9.



Verse 2                                               Translations

Weymouth:     May mercy, peace and love be abundantly granted to you.

WEB:              Mercy to you and peace and love be multiplied.

Young’s:         kindness to you, and peace, and love, be multiplied

Conte (RC):    May mercy, and peace, and love be

fulfilled in you.


Verse 2           Mercy.  Is that favor toward the undeserving shown by the Father.  [7]

                        The pardon of all their sins and acceptance with God.  [31]

                        Mercy means nearly the same as grace in the salutations of Paul.  Were any one to wish for a refined distinction, it may be said that grace is properly the effect of mercy; for there is no other reason why God has embraced us in love, but that he pitied our miseries.  [35]

                        Another triplet, which possibly looks back to the one just preceding:  called by God’s mercy, preserved in peace, beloved in love.  “Mercy” and “peace” occur in the opening greetings of 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and 2 John.  The three are in logical order here: mercy from God to man; hence peace between God and man; hence love of all towards all.  [46]

unto you.  By their very nature these blessings are targeted at those who have embraced the gospel rather than those who have scornfully rejected it.  [rw] 

and peace.  Next to mercy is peace, which we have from the sense of having    obtained mercy.  We can have no true and lasting peace but what flows from our reconciliation with God by Jesus Christ.  [5]

and love.  As from mercy springs peace, so from peace springs love, His love to us, our love to Him, and our brotherly love (forgotten, wretchedly neglected, grace!) to one another.  [5]

“Mercy” is God’s feeling towards them; “peace” is their condition as the result of it; “love” is either their feeling Godward and manward as the effect of God’s grace (so it is in Ephesians 6:23), or it is God’s love to them that are called, in the manifold expressions of it (so it is in Jude, verse 21, and in 2 Corinthians 13:14).  This last view seems preferable; it is for the fullness of love he prays, as it is for abundance of mercy and peace.  [51]

be multiplied.  Be increased and grow abundantly.  [rw]



Verse 3                                               Translations

Weymouth:     Dear friends, since I am eager to begin a letter to you on the subject of our common salvation, I find myself constrained to write and cheer you on to the vigorous defense of the faith delivered once for all to God's people.

WEB:              Beloved, while I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I was constrained to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

Young’s:         Beloved, all diligence using to write to you concerning the common salvation, I had necessity to write to you, exhorting to agonize for the faith once delivered to the saints,

Conte (RC):    Most beloved, taking all care to

write to you about your common salvation, I

found it necessary to write to you in order to beg

you to contend earnestly for the faith that was

handed down once to the saints.


Verse 3           Beloved.  Occurring at the beginning of an epistle only here and 3 John 2.  [2]

                        It indicates, possibly, the writer’s wish to be brief and get to his subject at once; and, as his subject is a very unpleasing one, he hastens to assure his readers of affection for them, to prevent his strong language from offending them.  [46]

when I gave all diligence to write unto you.  When I applied my mind earnestly; implying that he had reflected on the subject, and thought particularly what it would be desirable to write to them.  The state of mind referred to is that of one who was purposing to write a letter, and who thought over carefully what it would be proper to say.  [31]

“Diligence:  zeal (spoude), earnest desire and prompt and strenuous effort to realize it.  [45]

of the [our, NKJV] common salvation.  The best MSS insert “our”—of our common salvation: i.e., of those things which pertain to the salvation of us all.  [46]

The gospel salvation is a common salvation, that is, in a most sincere offer and tender of it to all mankind to whom the notice of it reaches:  for so the commission runs (Mark 16:15, 16), Go you into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature etc.  Surely God means as He speaks; He does not delude us with vain words, whatever men do; and therefore none are excluded from the benefit of these gracious offers and invitations, but those who obstinately, impenitently, finally exclude themselves.  Whoever will may come and drink of the water of life freely, Revelation 22:17.  The application of it is made to all believers, and only to such; it is made to the weak as well as to the strong.  [5]

The common salvation” (Jude 3); “the common faith” (Titus 1:4).  Probably neither of the writers meant more than to bring himself nearer to the persons whom they were respectively addressing; but their language goes a great deal further than the immediate application of it.  The “salvation” was “common” to Jude and his readers, as “the faith” was to Paul and Titus, because the salvation and the faith are one, all the world over.  All who possess “the common salvation” are so blessed because they exercise “the common faith.”  [27]

The term “common salvation,” not elsewhere found in the New Testament, has a parallel in the “common faith” of Titus 1:4.  In both passages stress is laid on the “faith,” or the “salvation,” as being that in which all Christians were sharers, as distinct from the “knowledge” which was claimed by false teachers as belonging only to a few.  [38]

it was needful for me.  Better, perhaps, “I found a necessity.”  [38]

On account of their danger from false teachers.  [14]

Note his eagerness to write them.  [43] 

to write unto you.  The words have been interpreted as meaning that he was about to write a fuller or more general Epistle, and was then diverted from his purpose by the urgent need for a protest against the threatening errors; and the inference, though not, perhaps, demonstrable, is at least legitimate, and derives some support from the change of tense (which the English version fails to represent) in the two infinitives, the first “to write” being in the present tense, such as might be used of a general purpose, the second in the aorist, as pointing to an immediate and special act.  [38]

and exhort you.  The word parakalon includes the ideas “exhort” and “encourage.”  Jude’s readers were already on the right side; he wishes to help them to hold out against temptation and perhaps persecution.  [45]

that ye should earnestly.  Not furiously.  Those who strive for the Christian faith, or in the Christian course, must strive lawfully, or they lose their labor, and run great hazard of losing their crown, 2 Timothy 2:5.  The wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God, James 1:20.  Lying for the truth is bad, and scolding for it is not much better.  [5]

The word here rendered “earnestly contend”--ἐπαγωνίζεσθαι epagōnizesthai--is one of those words used by the sacred writers which have allusion to the Grecian games.  This word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament.  It means “to contend upon”--i.e., “for or about” anything; and would be applicable to the earnest effort put forth in those games to obtain the prize. The reference here, of course, is only to contention by argument, by reasoning, by holding fast the principles of religion, and maintaining them against all opposers.  It would not justify “contention” by arms, by violence, or by persecution.  [31]

contend for the faith.  The word is a graphic one, implying standing over a thing to fight in its defense.  You must fight as well as build (Nehemiah 4:16, 18).  [46]

This expression finds a close parallel in the “striving together for the faith” of Philippians 1:27.  [38]

Yet humbly, meekly, and lovingly; otherwise your contention will only hurt your cause, if not destroy your soul.  [15]

Faith here means not an attitude of mind, but a fixed doctrine, such as might be “delivered” from one generation to another.  [16] 

[Faith =] the doctrine of the gospel; faith is taken for the object of faith.  [28]

Every age has its own special “New Theology.”  But we keep to the Truth as it has come down to us through the ages from Jesus Christ—“the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.”  When that faith is attacked we must bear witness, even to the point of “earnest contention,” to its vitality, its power, its unchangeableness.  [49] 

Defend the faith delivered by the apostles, not humanly invented summaries that people insist we defend in order to “prove” that we uphold the apostolic faith.  What faith is meant?  Not a creed or confession of faith as formulated by a denomination, sect or party, but the faith, which has been delivered once for all unto the saints.  It is the same faith concerning which our Lord asked the question, “Nevertheless when the Son of Man cometh, shall He find the faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)  It is the faith revealed in the Word of God.  The heart of that faith is the Son of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the apostles’ doctrine made known by the Holy Spirit; it is therefore the whole body of revealed truth.  This faith is given by revelation, a different thing from what is being taught today, as if this faith were the product of a process of evolution through the religious experiences of the race for thousands of years.  [23]

And:  “Hence it is evident that the faith for which Christians are to contend strenuously, is that alone which is contained in the writings of the evangelists, apostles, and Jewish prophets.  Now as they have expressed the things which were revealed to them in words dictated by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:13), we are to contend, not only for the things contained in their writings, but also for that form of words in which they have expressed these things, lest by contending for forms invented and established by human authority, as better fitted to express the truth than the words of inspiration, we fall into error.  See 2 Timothy 1:13.  Jude’s exhortation ought in a particular manner to be attended to by the ministers of the gospel, whose duty more especially it is to preserve the people from error, both in opinion and practice.” — Macknight.  [47]

which was once delivered unto the saints.  To which nothing can be added, from which nothing may be detracted, in which nothing more nor less should be altered.  [5]

                        There is no other gospel, there will be none.  Its content will be more fully understood, its implications will be developed, its predictions will be fulfilled; but it will never be supplemented or succeeded or supplanted.  [7]

                        He exhorts to contend for the faith delivered once for all, the faith without innovation, the gospel of the apostles in distinction from the adulterations of false teachers.  The doctrine of a progressive revelation after the apostles is not found in the New Testament.  [22]



Verse 4                                               Translations

Weymouth:     For certain persons have crept in unnoticed--men spoken of in ancient writings as pre-destined to this condemnation--ungodly men, who pervert the grace of our God into an excuse for immorality, and disown Jesus Christ, our only Sovereign and Lord.

WEB:              For there are certain men who crept in secretly, even those who were long ago written about for this condemnation: ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into indecency, and denying our only Master, God, and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Young’s:         for there did come in unobserved certain men, long ago having been written beforehand to this judgment, impious, the grace of our God perverting to lasciviousness, and our only Master, God, and Lord -- Jesus Christ -- denying,

Conte (RC):    For certain men entered unnoticed,

who were written of beforehand unto this judgment:

impious persons who are transforming the grace of

our God into self-indulgence, and who are denying

both the sole Ruler and our Lord Jesus Christ.


Verse 4           For.  The apostle now gives reason for thus defending the truth.  [31]

there are certain men.  There is a touch of contempt in the way in which, as in Galatians 2:4, 2 Peter 2:1, the false teachers are referred to without being named.  [38]

Not necessarily a large number but more than just one isolated individual.  [rw]

                        Paul had foretold of such apostates (Acts 20:29-30) and Peter had drawn somewhat more fully their characters (2 Peter 2:13).  But Jude had lived to see some of them, in his day, as actually come into the professing Church.  [25]

crept in unawares.  By stealth. [14]

Their coming had been predicted long ago, but their entrance into the Church had been unobserved, or their real nature had not been known, and their power had not been appreciated.  [7]

“Crept in unawares” is analogous to “unawares brought in, who came in privily” (Galatians 2:4), and to “privily bring in (2 Peter 2:1).  It is this insidious invasion which constitutes the necessity for writing stated in Jude verse 3.  Unfaithful Christians are sometimes regarded as an emergence from within, rather than an invasion from without (1 John 2:19).  [46]

Conscious malice need not be inferred, but whatever the intention the evil results were the same.  We need not insist that these false teachers purposely crept in from without, but stress is laid on the fact that they ought not to belong to the Church, because their views and teaching are utterly opposed to the truths of the Gospel.  [50]  

who were before of old ordained.  The phrase “of old”--πάλαι  palai--means “long ago,” implying that a considerable time had elapsed, though without determining how much.  It is used in the New Testament only in the following places:  Matthew 11:21, “they would have repented long ago;” Mark 15:44, “whether he had been any while dead;  Luke 10:13, “they had a great while ago repented;” Hebrews 1:1, “spake in time past unto the fathers;” 2 Peter 1:9, “purged from his old sins;” and in the passage before us.  [31]

We are not for a moment to suppose that there was any decree of God ordaining  them to commit wickedness; but this wickedness having been foreseen, their punishment was determined.  [41]  

to this condemnation.  This condemnation which comes on all the ungodly.  [22]

“This condemnation,” viz., the one stated in the denunciations which follow, and illustrated by the fate of those mentioned in Jude verses 5-7.  Note the three-fold description of the men thus written down for judgment:  they are ungodly; they pervert God’s grace; they deny Christ.  [46]

Wordsworth:  “The doom which they would incur had been set forth beforehand and visibly displayed in the punishment of the Israelites (verse 5), and in that of the rebel angels (verse 6), and had been graven indelibly in letters of fire on the soil of Sodom and Gomorrah (verse 7).  Since God is unchangeably just and holy, all who sin after the manner of those who have been thus punished, must look for like punishment to theirs.”  [50]

ungodly men.  Men without piety or true religion, whatever may be their pretensions.  [31]

                        In what two forms this ungodliness manifested itself is specially brought out in what follows.  [50]

turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness [lewdness, NKJV].  Taking occasion from the mercy of God to live in sin.  [14]

They, indeed, pretend to be Christians, but they regard the grace of God, who has in Christ entered into a special relationship of love to us, as a permit for licentiousness, because His grace would under all circumstances grant them forgiveness for everything, a claim which Paul had already foreseen as coming (cf. Romans 6:15).  But thereby, as a matter of fact, they deny, that they have a Superior over them, who certainly is for them, as Christians, the only Master, and they act as though Jesus Christ were not our Lord who had been exalted to God.  [9]

our God.  “Our God,” not theirs; they are “without God in the world.”  [46]

and denying the only Lord God.  That is, the doctrines which they held were in fact a denial of the only true God, and of the Redeemer of men.  It cannot be supposed that they openly and formally did this, for then they could have made no pretensions to the name Christian.  [31]

and our Lord Jesus Christ.  Since the same doctrine came from both the Father and the Son, the teaching of both was being rejected since they were in absolute concurrence as to moral truth.  [rw]

One possible reason for doing so:  Their denial of Christ was a denial that He had come in the flesh.  These sectaries held that the flesh was wholly sinful.  [22]

Or:  Denial of the truth about Jesus or a denial of what Jesus taught—or both?  This denial of Christ was both doctrinal and practical, although it is most likely that Jude had in mind especially their practical denial of Christ.  [50]


                        In depth:  A textual variation—“Deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ [substitution ESV, NASB and varied others adopt  in place of the reading:  “and denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”  [After] “our only Master” [the] Authorized Version, following inferior manuscripts, adds “God.”  “Master” (despotes) implies a harsher and more absolute dominion than “Lord” (kurios).  Despotes . . . implies on the part of him who uses it, a more entire prostration of self before the might and majesty of God than kurios would have done” (Trench, Synonyms, page 95).  Despotes is used of the Father in Luke 2:27; Acts 4:24; Revelation 6:10, and is so taken here in the Revised Version margin, “the only Master, and our Lord.”  This view is probably correct; cf. 1 Timothy 6:15, “the blessed and only Potentate” (dunastes), used of the Father.  Revised Version, following the dependent passage, 2 Peter 2:1, couples “Master” with “Lord” as also referring to Christ.  In 1 Peter 2:18, &c., it is used of the master of slaves.  [45] 


                        In depth:  Predestined to their evil behavior or their evil behavior itself doing the “predestining” of themselves to condemnation?  In favor of the latter [31]:  The word here rendered “before ordained”--προγεγραμμένοι  progegrammenoi--occurs in the New Testament only here and in the following places:  Romans 15:4, twice, “Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning;” Galatians 3:1, “Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth;” and Ephesians 3:3, “As I wrote afore in few words.”

In these places there is evidently no idea implied of “ordaining, or pre-ordaining,” in the sense in which those words are now commonly understood. To that word there is usually attached the idea of designating or appointing as by an arbitrary decree; but no such meaning enters into the word here used.  The Greek word properly means, “to write before;” then “to have written before;” and then, with reference to time future, “to post up beforehand in writing; to announce by posting up on a written tablet,” as of some ordinance, law, or requirement; as descriptive of what will be, or what should be.

Compare Robinson, Lexicon. Burder (in Rosenmuller‘s Morgenland, in loc.) remarks that “the names of those who were to be tried were usually posted up in a public place, as was also their sentence after their condemnation, and that this was denoted by the same Greek word which the apostle uses here.  Elsner,” says he, “remarks that the Greek authors use the word as applicable to those who, among the Romans, were said to be ‘proscribed;’ that is, those whose names were posted up in a public place, whereby they were appointed to death, and in reference to whom a reward was offered to any one who would kill them.” 

The idea here clearly is that of some such designation beforehand as would occur if the persons had been publicly posted as appointed to death.  Their names, indeed, were not mentioned, but there was such a description of them, or of their character, that it was clear who were meant.

In regard to the question what the apostle means by such a designation or appointment beforehand, it is clear that he does not refer in this place to any arbitrary or eternal decree, but to such a designation as was made by the facts to which he immediately refers--that is, to the Divine prediction that there would be such persons (Jude, verses 14-15, verse 18); and to the consideration that in the case of the unbelieving Israelites, the rebel angels, and the inhabitants of Sodom, there was as clear a proof that such persons would be punished as if their names had been posted up.  All these instances bore on just such cases as these, and in these facts they might read their sentence as clearly as if their names had been written on the face of the sky.

This interpretation seems to me to embrace all that the words fairly imply, and all that the exigence of the case demands; and if this be correct, then two things follow logically:  (1) that this passage should not be adduced to prove that God has from all eternity, by an arbitrary decree, ordained a certain portion of the race to destruction, whatever may be true on that point; and (2) that all abandoned sinners now may see, in the facts which have occurred in the treatment of the wicked in past times, just as certain evidence of their destruction, if they do not repent, as if their names were written in letters of light, and if it were announced to the universe that they would be damned.



Verse 5                                               Translations

Weymouth:     I desire to remind you--although the whole matter is already familiar to you--that the Lord saved a people out of the land of Egypt, but afterwards destroyed those who had no faith.

WEB:              Now I desire to remind you, though you already know this, that the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who didn't believe.

Young’s:         and to remind you I intend, you knowing once this, that the Lord, a people out of the land of Egypt having saved, again those who did not believe did destroy;

Conte (RC):    So I want to caution you. Those who

once knew everything that Jesus did, in saving the

people from the land of Egypt, afterwards perished

because they did not believe.


Verse 5           I will therefore put you in remembrance.  Of how God speaks judgments on sinners.  [22]

                        “To show you what must be the doom of such men, I will call certain facts to your recollection, with which you are familiar, respecting the Divine treatment of the wicked in times past.”  [31]

                        Œcumenius observes, that “by proposing the following examples of the destruction of sinners from the Old Testament history, the apostle designed to show, that the God of the Old Testament is the same with the God of the New, in opposition to the Manicheans, who denied this; also to prove that the goodness of God will not hinder him from punishing the wicked under the new dispensation, any more than it hindered him from punishing them under the old.”  [47]

though ye once knew this [know all things once for all, NASB; once fully knew it, ESV].  “Ye know all things once for all” might in English idiom be thus paraphrased, “Ye have known these things all along.”  [44]

The thing which seems to have been in the mind of the apostle was an intention to call to their recollection, as bearing on the case before him, facts with which they had formerly been familiar, and about which there was no doubt.  It was the thing which we often endeavor to do in argument--to remind a person of some fact which he once knew very well, and which bears directly on the case.  [31]

The better MSS give “knew all things,” reminding us of “ye know all things” of 1 John 2:20.  The word is limited in both cases, by the context, to all the essential elements of Christian faith and duty.  [38]

how that the Lord [Jesus, ESV].  The MSS present a curious variation of reading, some giving “the Lord,” some “Jesus,” and some “God.”  [38]

The Vatican and Alexandrian Manuscripts read “though ye once knew all how that Jesus having saved,” etc.  The Sinaitic Manuscript reads “though ye knew all how that the Lord once having saved,” etc.  [40]

By the Lord is meant God, and it was the people of Israel that the Lord saved at the time of the Exodus from Egypt.  If we accept the reading Jesus as many very ancient authorities read, then “Jude here would speak from the same point of view as Paul does in 1 Corinthians 10:4 (see also 1 Peter 1:11), according to which all the acts of divine revelation are done by the instrumentality of Christ, as the eternal Son and revealer of God” (Huther).  [50] 

having saved the people.  The people of Israel.  [28]

The reference to the judgment that fell upon Israel in the wilderness takes the place of that drawn from the flood in 2 Peter 2:5, and may, perhaps, be traced to Paul’s way of dealing with that history in 1 Corinthians 10:1-10, or to Hebrews 3:12-19.  [38]

out of the land of Egypt.  Delivered them from the Egyptian bondage. [18] 

The bearing of this fact on the case, before the mind of Jude, seems to have been this--that, as those who had been delivered from Egypt were afterward destroyed for their unbelief, or as the mere fact of their being rescued did not prevent destruction from coming on them, so the fact that these persons seemed to be delivered from sin, and had become professed followers of God would not prevent their being destroyed if they led wicked lives.  It might rather be inferred from the example of the Israelites that they would be. [31]

afterward destroyed them that believed not.  These words may refer to the destruction mentioned in Numbers 25:1-9, or it may refer to their entire history which is, in brief, salvation and judgment, true of them at first, and true of them even to the close.  [51]

For the Scripture expressly saith, they perished in the wilderness, “because they believed not in God, but tempted,” i.e. distrusted, “him, ten times,” Numbers 14:22, Ps. cvi. 24, and Paul, “We see then they could not enter in because of unbelief,” Hebrews 3:18, 19, Hebrews 4:2.  [4]

That is, destroyed the far greater part of that very people, whom he had once saved in a very extraordinary manner.  Let no one, therefore, presume upon past mercies, as if he were now out of danger.  Jude does not mention the various sins committed by the Israelites in the wilderness, such as their worshipping the golden calf, refusing to go into Canaan, when commanded of God, their fornication with the Midianitish women, their frequent murmurings, &c., but he sums up the whole in their unbelief, because it was the source of all their sins.  [47]

                        A Greek textual point to be considered:  Instead of afterward the Greek is the second time.  [50] 

Interpreted as the second destruction to occur:  The point may well be that unbelievers were destroyed twice in the Exodus:  Unbelievers in Egypt (death of the first born, death of the Egyptian Army in the Red Sea) and then unbelievers in the wilderness.  The first set of unbelievers was non-Jews; the second were Jews.  God did not exempt either from Divine wrath because of who they were.  [rw]

Interpreted as the second major event to occur to the Israelites:  The reference is to what befell the unbelieving in the wilderness after the deliverance from Egypt.  Wordsworth:  “The first thing that God did was to deliver them; the second thing was to destroy them.  So soon did destruction follow deliverance even of His own people.  Let this be a warning to these false teachers, and to you.”  In the parallel passage in 2 Peter 2:5, instead of this example, the deluge is named.  [50]



Verse 6                                               Translations

Weymouth:     And angels--those who did not keep the position originally assigned to them, but deserted their own proper abode--He reserves in everlasting bonds, in darkness, in preparation for the judgement of the great day.

WEB:              Angels who didn't keep their first domain, but deserted their own dwelling place, he has kept in everlasting bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.

Young’s:         messengers also, those who did not keep their own principality, but did leave their proper dwelling, to a judgment of a great day, in bonds everlasting, under darkness He hath kept,

Conte (RC):    And truly, the Angels, who did

not keep to their first place, but instead abandoned

their own domiciles, he has reserved with per-

petual chains under darkness, unto the great day

of judgment.


Verse 6           And the angels.  This is an argument from the greater to the less; for the state of angels is higher than ours; and yet God punished their defection in a dreadful manner.  He will not then forgive our perfidy, if we depart from the grace unto which he has called us.  [35]

which kept not their first estate.  Here it refers to the rank and dignity which the angels had in heaven.  That rank or pre-eminence they did not keep, but fell from it.  [31]

The [Greek term for “first estate”] originally signifies beginning, and so frequently in New Testament, mostly in the Gospels, Acts, Hebrews, Catholic Epistles, and Apocalypse.  From this comes a secondary meaning of sovereignty, dominion, magistracy, as being the beginning or first place of power.  So mostly by Paul, as principalities (Romans 8:38); rule (1 Corinthians 15:24).  Compare Luke 12:11, magistrates; Revision, rulers and Luke 20:20, power.  Revision, rule.  A peculiar use of the word occurs at Acts 10:11, “the sheet knit at the four corners;  the corners being the beginnings of the sheet.  In this passage the A.V. has adopted the first meaning, beginning, in its rendering first estate.  Revision adopts the second rendering principality.  The Jews regarded the angels as having dominion over earthly creatures; and the angels are often spoken of in the New Testament as principalities; as Romans 8:38; Ephesians 1:21; so that this term would be appropriate to designate their dignity, which they forsook.  [2]

The fall of the angels is here declared to be due to their own deliberate will and act.  The cause of Satan’s fall was pride (1 Timothy 3:6), and no doubt this also was the impelling cause of the fall of these angels [as well].  [50]

but left their own habitation.   Interpreted as referring to leaving their original character or nature:  That is, the state in which they were first created, their original dignity.  [12]

Interpreted as referring to leaving their assigned responsibilities:  This is the only place in Scripture where we learn anything definite respecting the fall of the angels—from this we gather that their fall was through ambition or discontent.  They were not content with the place or position which God had assigned to them and desired a higher one.  Mr. Blunt quotes Isaiah 14:13-15, as referring to one greater than Nebuchadnezzar when he writes “Thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascent into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God:  I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, on the sides of the north:  I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.  Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.”  [41]

Interpreted as meaning left/rejected from heaven:  To wit, according to the common interpretation, in heaven.  The word rendered “habitation” (οἰκητήριον  oikētērion) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament.  It means here that heaven was their native abode or dwelling-place.  They left it by sin; but the expression here would seem possibly to mean that they became “dissatisfied” with their abode, and voluntarily preferred to change it for another.  If they did become thus dissatisfied, the cause is wholly unknown, and conjecture is useless.  Some of the later Jews supposed that they relinquished heaven out of love for the daughters of men.  [31]

Interpreted as meaning “interbreeding” with humans:  Who they were and how they sinned has been much questioned.  The notion that they are “the sons of God” mentioned in Genesis 6:4, and that they fell through fleshly desires, is affirmed in the Book of Enoch; and some have thought this explanation to be the meaning of the passage in Genesis.  But it is very doubtful whether Jude quotes the Book of Enoch; and if he does, he certainly differs not unfrequently from its teaching.  The passage in Genesis, moreover, refers rather to the intermarriage of the descendants of Seth and of Cain. Further, this interpretation is inconsistent with what is said by our Lord of the angelic nature [Matthew 22:30], and it is [referred to], besides, an anticipation of the sin mentioned in the next verse.  Probably, therefore, the verse points to a sin of another kind, and to an earlier time.  Milton’s account is probably nearer the truth (compare 1 Timothy 3:6).  [51]

Other possible reasons for their rejection:  Became discontented with their condition, and refused to do the will of God.  2 Peter 2:4.  [14]

These angels, then, had fallen.  Created holy, they had sinned and become wicked angels, or evil spirits.  [22]

He hath reserved.  Instead of annihilating them.  [39]

in everlasting chains.  But they can no longer escape from this habitation of theirs, and for this reason there is no escape for them from the eternal destruction; nor is there such for those who have deserted the dignity of saints which has been given them and have again sunk into godlessness.  [9]

The chains are called “everlasting,” but they are only used for a temporary purpose, to keep them for the final judgment.  [36]

The words, like those of 2 Peter 2:4, seem to indicate a distinction between the angels who were thus punished, and the “demons” or “unclean spirits” with Satan at their head, who exercise a permitted power as the tempters, accusers, and destroyers of mankind, the “world-rulers of this darkness” of Ephesians 6:12.  [38]

The limits of our knowledge on the subject:  Speculations as to how this and 2 Peter 2:4 are to be reconciled with such texts as Luke 22:31, 1 Peter 5:8, which speak plainly of the freedom and activity of Satan, and Ephesians 6:12, Romans 8:38, Colossians 2:15, which imply numerous agents akin to him, are not very profitable.  The reality of powers of evil may be inferred, apart from Scripture, from their effects.  That some of these powers are personal, some not, some free, some not, and that all are to be defeated at last, seems to be implied in Scripture; but its silence is a rebuke to curious speculation.  Enough is told us for our comfort, warning, and assurance.  It consoles us to know that much of the evil of which we are conscious in ourselves is not our own, but comes from without.  It puts us on our guard to know that we have such powers arrayed against us.  It gives us confidence to know that we have abundant means of victory even over them.  [46]

The “chains” refer not to their place of confinement but to the limitations on their behavior?  They may well be said to be chained, because they are forever restrained from recovering the glory and happiness which they once possessed.  The chains of darkness of which Peter and Jude speak, and to which Satan and his angels are confirmed and kept until the day of judgment “are of such power as to restrain them from ever recovering their place in the regions of light, but not such as to prevent them from exercising great power over sinful persons in this world. . . .  And although their chain now permits them to visit this earth, yet they always carry that chain with them, and are restrained from injuring God’s servants” (Wordsworth).  [50]   

under darkness.  The sense is, that that deep darkness always endures; there is no intermission; no light; it will exist forever.  This passage in itself does not prove that the punishment of the rebel angels will be eternal, but merely that they are kept in a dark prison in which there is no light, and which is to exist for ever, with reference to the final trial.  [31]

If one wishes to interpret this symbolically, the reference is not to the “geographic location” they reside in but to the fact that they bear the ongoing punishment of the very moral “darkness” into which they plunged themselves.  “Intellectually” knowing their ultimate doom, on an “emotional” level, they still operate on the delusion that they somehow will ultimately escape it all.  Of course the text could refer to both their “location” and their internal “psychology.”  [rw]

unto the judgment of the great day.  The punishment of the rebel angels after the judgment is represented as an everlasting fire, which has been prepared for them and their followers, Matthew 25:41. [31]

                         So called [in] Revelation 6:17 (compare Revelation 16:14), and nowhere else in the New Testament.  Perhaps it comes from Joel 2:31; Malachi 4:5.  John’s expression is the “last day” (John 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:24; 12:48; and nowhere else).  “The day of judgment,” “that day,” and “the day of the Lord,” are other common expressions.  [46]


                        In depth:  The nature and cause of angelic confinement in ancient thought [38].  The Book of Enoch  speaks of fallen angels as kept in their prison-house till the day of judgment (xxii. 4), and those which are represented by the Midrasch Ruth in the Book of Zohar, “After that the sons of God had begotten sons, God took them and brought them to the mount of darkness and bound them in chains of darkness which reach to the middle of the great abyss.”

A fuller form of the Rabbinic legend relates that the angels Asa and Asael charged God with folly in having created man who so soon provoked Him, and that He answered that if they had been on earth they would have sinned as man had done.  “And thereupon He allowed them to descend to earth, and they sinned with the daughters of men.  And when they would have returned to Heaven they could not, for they were banished from their former habitation and brought into the dark mountains of the earth” (Nischmath Chaim in Nork’s Rabbinische Quellen und Parallelen).

The resemblance between this tradition and that of the Zoroastrian legend of the fall of Ahriman and his angels, and again of the punishment of the Titans by Zeus in the mythology of Hesiod (Theogon. 729), shows the wide-spread currency of the belief referred to.



Verse 7                                               Translations

Weymouth:     So also Sodom and Gomorrah--and the neighboring towns in the same manner--having been guilty of gross fornication and having gone astray in pursuit of unnatural vice, are now before us as a specimen of the fire of the Ages in the punishment which they are undergoing.

WEB:              Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, having, in the same way as these, given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.

Young’s:         as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, in like manner to these, having given themselves to whoredom, and gone after other flesh, have been set before -- an example, of fire age-during, justice suffering.

Conte (RC):    And also Sodom and Gomorrah, and

the adjoining cities, in similar ways, having given

themselves over to fornication and to the pursuing

of other flesh, were made an example, suffering

the punishment of eternal fire.


Verse 7           Even as Sodom and Gomorrha.  The angels chose to adopt a style of behavior so fundamentally hostile to that which God ordained that, like Sodom and Gomorrah, He ultimately had to act against them.  [rw]

                        The sexual nature often read into the nature of the angelic transgression:  The words describe the form of evil for which the cities of the plain have become a byword of infamy.  In saying that this sin was like that of the angels, it is clearly implied that in the latter case also there was a degradation of nature, such as is emphasized in the words that “the sons of God went in unto the daughters of men” (Genesis 6:4).  Impurity, and not simply or chiefly pride, as in the mediæval traditions represented in the poems of Cædmon and Milton, is thought of as the leading feature in the fall of the angels (Book of Enoch, c. 9).  [38]  

                        We must read, in like manner to these, and arrange the sentence thus:  Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them, giving themselves over to fornication in like manner to these.  Who are meant by “these”?  Not the ungodly men of verse 4, which would anticipate verse 8; nor the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha, which would be somewhat clumsy in the Greek; but the angels of verse 6.  The reference is again to the impurity of certain angels in having intercourse with the daughters of men, of which there is so much in the Book of Enoch.  This sin of the angels was strictly analogous to that of the people of Sodom.  [46]

That the angelic sin Jude refers to was sexual in nature seems impossible, however, to reconcile with Jesus’ teaching that sexuality does not exist in heavenly beings:  For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30).  Whatever happened in Genesis 6:4 involved the “daughters of men” with them targeted in order to have a sexual relationship with them.  Furthermore the Genesis19  text clearly implies that the perceived gender of the angels sent to Sodom was male because the attacking locals were offered women and turned them down.  [rw]

and the cities about them.  I.e., Admah and Zeboim.  See Genesis 10:19 and Deuteronomy 29:23.  Also Hosea 11:8.  [13]

There may have been other towns, also, that perished at the same time, but these are particularly mentioned.  They seem to have partaken of the same general characteristics, as neighboring towns and cities generally do.  [31]

The “towns,” it may be observed, are put (as often) for the “inhabitants.”  [11] 

I conceive they are said to “suffer the vengeance of eternal fire,” not because their souls are at present punished in hell-fire, but because they and their cities perished by that fire from heaven, which brought a perpetual and irreparable destruction on them and their cities:  for, first, we have proved, note on 2 Peter 2:6, 3:7, that even the devils themselves are not tormented at present in that infernal fire, but only will be cast into it at the day of judgment; and therefore neither do the wicked Sodomites yet suffer in those flames.  [4]

in like manner.  i.e., with Sodom etc.  [13]

There seems no necessity for interpreting the expression as if it must mean that their sin was of the same kind; it is sufficient that they were both guilty of very great wickedness.  [17]    

There has been much diversity in interpreting this clause.  Some refer it to the angels, as if it meant that the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah committed sin in a way similar to the angels; some suppose that it refers to the wicked teachers about whom Jude was discoursing, meaning that Sodom and Gomorrah committed the same kind of sins which they did; some that the meaning is, that “the cities round about Sodom and Gomorrah” sinned in the same way as those cities; and some that they were punished in the same manner, and were set forth like them as an example.  I see no evidence that it refers to the angels, and if it did, it would not prove, as some have supposed, that their sin was of the same kind as that of Sodom, since there might have been a resemblance in some respects, though not in all.  I see no reason to believe, as Macknight holds, that it refers to “false teachers,” since that would be to suppose that the inhabitants of Sodom copied their example long before the example [itself] was set.  It seems to me, therefore, that the reference is to the cities round about Sodom; and that the sense is, that they committed iniquity in the same manner as the inhabitants of Sodom did, and were set forth in the same way as an example.  [31]

giving themselves over to fornication.  No one made them do this.  They voluntarily and, presumably, with great enthusiasm pursued all the sexual violations of God’s moral code that caught their fancy.  Whatever predisposing genetic inclinations they may or may not have had, they weren’t about to let anything stop them from seeking their pleasure.  [rw]

and going after.  The phrase occurs Mark 1:20; James and John leaving their father and going after Jesus.  “The world is gone after him (John 12:19).  Here metaphorical.  The force of [the term in Greek] is away; turning away from purity, and going after strange flesh.  [2]

The meaning of the phrase “going after” is, that they were greatly addicted to this vice.  [31]

strange flesh.  Compare 2 Peter 2:10; and see Romans 1:27; Leviticus 18:22, 23.  [2]

Literally, other flesh; other than the “natural use” of Romans 1:27, implying the crime which has received its name from Sodom.  [39]

Other  flesh” surely means “other than the flesh” that God intended for fleshly relations.  It isn’t their lack of hospitality to their neighbors nor their brazen injustice toward visitors to their community, but the perceived sexual gender of their targets that constituted their worst or primary sin.  “Other flesh” in no way fits any of the claimed alternative explanations for the condemnation of the cities’ behavior.  [rw]  

are set forth.  The [Greek] verb means, literally, to lie exposed.  Used of meats on the table ready for the guests; of a corpse laid out for burial; of a question under discussion.  Thus the corruption and punishment of the cities of the plain are laid out in plain sight.  [2]

for an example.  They furnish a warning against all such conduct, and a demonstration that punishment shall come upon the ungodly.  The condemnation of any sinner, or of any class of sinners, always furnishes such a warning.  [31]

[It] is given in the Sinaitic Manuscript as follows, “and are set forth as an example to them that suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”  [40]

Sodom and Gomorrha as an example whose “ruins” could still be viewed:  “There being yet visible some relics of the fire coming down from heaven, and the shadows of the five cities.”  This region, say Clemens Romanus, and other Christian writers, “being condemned by fire and brimstone, made it apparent that God reserves the wicked for punishment and stripes.”  Even heathen writers do confess that it was traditionally received, “that formerly there were fruitful fields, and large cities, which were afterward consumed by thunder and lightning.”  This sense may be farther confirmed from the parallel place of Peter, who saith that God, reducing the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes, condemned the inhabitants of them by that overthrow, proposing them for an example of his vindictive justice upon them who afterward should live ungodly:  where plainly the reduction of those cities with their inhabitants into ashes, or the burning them by fire and brimstone falling down from heaven, is mentioned as the thing which placed them as an example of God’s vengeance on the ungodly to all future ages; nor could any thing be a more fit example of it:  for since Peter hath informed us, that “the heavens and the earth that now are, are reserved to fire against the day of judgment, and destruction of ungodly men, when the earth and the works that are therein shall be burnt up,” what could be a more exact emblem of that day, “when God will come in flaming fire to take vengeance on the wicked,” and leave them burning with the earth for ever, than was this burning of the cities and the inhabitants of Sodom, by fire and brimstone falling down from heaven?  [4]   

             suffering the vengeance.  The word “vengeance” means punishment; that is, such vengeance as the Lord takes on the guilty; not vengeance for the gratification of private and personal feeling, but like that which a magistrate appoints for the maintenance of the laws; such as justice demands.  [31]
                        For “vengeance,” which admits of a bad as well as a good meaning, it might be better to read “just punishment.”  [38]
                        of eternal fire.  i.e. a fire out of which there is no restoration, a condign and final judgment.  [19]            
                        The fire which had destroyed them is thought of as being still their doom, as permanent as the “eternal fire” of Matthew 25:41.  [38]        

Meaning of “eternal” in such passages as Sodom and Gomorrha as meaning “permanently” rather than literal, chronologically unending--[but is there really any practical difference?]:  Nor is there any thing more common and familiar in Scripture, than to represent a thorough and irreparable devastation, whose effects and signs should be still remaining, by the word which we here render “eternal:”  “I will set thee in places desolate of old,” Ezekiel 16:20; “I will destroy thee, and thou shalt be no more for ever,” verse 21; “I will make thee a perpetual desolation, and thy cities shall be built no more,” 35:9 (see also Ezekiel 36:2, Isaiah lviii. 12); “They have caused them to stumble in their ways, to make their land desolate, and a perpetual hissing,” Jeremiah 18:15, 16; “I will bring you, an everlasting reproach and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten,” Jeremiah 23:40, xxv. 9; “I will make the land of the Chaldeans a perpetual desolation; they shall sleep a perpetual sleep,” Jeremiah. li. 39. 

And this especially is threatened, where the       destruction of a nation or people is likened to the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah; thus, “Babylon shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah; it shall never be inhabited,” Isaiah 13:19, 20, and again, Jeremiah l. 40.  The like is said of Edom, Jeremiah xlix. 17, 18, and of Moab, “Surely Moab shall be as Sodom, and the children of Ammon as Gomorrah, a perpetual desolation,” Zephaniah 2:9.  [4]

Why such language was used:  “A destruction so utter and so permanent as theirs has been, is the nearest approach that can be found in this world to the destruction which awaits those who are kept under darkness to the judgment of the great day”  (Lamby).  [2]

                        Does not envolve ceasing to exist, but of the utter destruction of their happiness at existing:  As Sodom and Gomorrha suffered the punishment of a fire that consumed them utterly, so that they will never be restored, so the wicked will suffer as long as they are capable of suffering.  This is analogical.  Or, as Sodom and Gomorrha are really suffering the punishment of which the fiery overthrow of their cities was the symbol, so shall these men be punished.  This is positive, and is favored by all those passages in which death is used not as material death only, but as continued life—the cessation not of being but of well-being—the destruction which is not annihilation.  [51]



Verse 8                                               Translations

Weymouth:     Yet in just the same way these dreamers also pollute the body, while they set authority at naught and speak evil of dignities.

WEB:              Yet in the same way, these also in their dreaming defile the flesh, despise authority, and slander celestial beings.

Young’s:         In like manner, nevertheless, those dreaming also the flesh indeed do defile, and lordship they put away, and dignities they speak evil of,

Conte (RC):    Similarly also, these ones certainly

defile the flesh, and they despise proper authority,

and they blaspheme against majesty.


Verse 8           Likewise also [Yet in the same way, NASB; yet in like manner, ESV].  The corrupt teachers who are referred to [in] Jude verse 4.  [34] 

                        In spite of these examples of judgment and punishment, these false teachers of verse 4 actually commit the same abominable sins as did the Sodomites.  [50]  

                        these filthy dreamers.  The word “filthy” has been supplied by our translators, but there is no good reason why it should have been introduced.  The Greek word (ἐνυπνιάζω  enupniazō) means to dream; and is applied to these persons as holding doctrines and opinions which sustained the same relation to truth which dreams do to good sense.  Their doctrines were the fruits of mere imagination, foolish vagaries and fancies.  [31]

                        The adjective “filthy” fits well with the first of their sins that is immediately listed--sexual sins--but not the other two characteristics of their behavior.  Their bending of their sexual drive was only part of a far wider range of base attitudes and behavior.  It wasn’t like it stood alone.  [rw]

                        [“Dreamers:”]  So called for the visionary speculations out of which their profligate and fantastic systems were formed.  These visions produced vices of the three following classes[:]  “Defile the flesh”—“Despise”—[and] “Speak evil of Dignities.”  [39]

                        “Dreamers” actually describes all three sins of which they are accused?  “Filthy” is not in the original Greek, nor in any previous English version, but is supplied from the next clause; not rightly, for “dreamers” goes with all three clauses, not with “defile the flesh” only.  This being admitted, a number of painful interpretations are at once excluded.  “These dreamers also” means these ungodly men, who are deep in the slumber of sin (see Romans 13:11), as well as the three classes of sinners just mentioned.  Excepting in Acts 2:17, which is a quotation from Joel 2:28, the word for “dreamer” occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, but is found in the LXX version of Isaiah 56:10, of dogs that dream and make a noise in their sleep.  Jude perhaps has this passage in his mind.  [46]

defile the flesh.  Pollute themselves; give indulgence to corrupt passions and appetites.  [31]

The inclusion of “filthy” to modify “dreamers” could well be explained by these words—what they were “dreamers” about were those actions that would morally defile the human body.  The obsession with easily available online hard-core pornography would seem to be an obvious modern parallel.  [rw]

despise dominion [reject authority, NKJV].  The “dominion,” or lordship, is that of Almighty God.  Set aside, or reject (Mark 7:9; Luke 7:30; John 12:48), would be better than “despise,” to mark the difference between this and 2 Peter 2:10.  [46]  Unquestionably they do such.  However could folk this deeply obsessed with their extreme behavior do so without a major element of despising that authority entering the picture as well?  You not only reject the authority, but you have contempt for those that would even attempt to have you obey it. [rw]

Or:  Spurn obedience to law, human and divine.  [14]

Or:  Those that are invested with [authority] by Christ, and made by him the overseers of his flock.  [15]

and speak evil of dignities [dignitaries, NKJV; angelic majesties, NASB].  Persons called by God to stations of authority or honor.  [14]

[The Greek word] dominion, occurs in three other passages, Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16; 2 Peter 2:10.  In the first two, and probably in the third, the reference is to angelic dignities.  Some explain this passage and the one in Peter, of evil angels.  In Colossians the term is used with thrones, principalities, and powers, with reference to the orders of the celestial hierarchy as conceived by Gnostic teachers, and with a view to exalt Christ above all these.  [2]

                        Reasoning for rejecting the angelic interpretation of their “dignities / dignitaries:  Doxas, literally “glories,” are usually taken to mean angels, perhaps regarded as the guardians of public decency.  According to  one interpretation they appear in that capacity in 1 Corinthians 11:10, which seems to say that women should be veiled at Christian services “because of the angels.”  But no instance is quoted of the [direct] use of doxa for “angels.”  It does not seem likely that blasphemy against angels would be so conspicuous a sin of licentious men as to call forth this emphatic condemnation.  In Revelation 2:1, &c., church officials are styled angels; etymologically kuriotes is simply “dominion.”  Probably here, though used elsewhere for angels, it refers to the constituted authorities of the church (see also verse 11).  Men who wished to set at nought the principles of Christian morality and yet remain in the church, had no choice but to attack its actual leaders and teachers.  [45]



Verse 9                                               Translations

Weymouth:     But Michael the Archangel, when contending with the Devil and arguing with him about the body of Moses, did not dare to pronounce judgement on him in abusive terms, but simply said, "The Lord rebuke you."

WEB:              But Michael, the archangel, when contending with the devil and arguing about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him an abusive condemnation, but said, "May the Lord rebuke you!"

Young’s:         yet Michael, the chief messenger, when, with the devil contending, he was disputing about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring up an evil-speaking judgment, but said, 'The Lord rebuke thee!'

Conte (RC):    When Michael the Archangel, disput-

ing with the devil, contended about the body of

Moses, he did not dare to bring against him a judg-

ment of blasphemy, so instead he said: “The Lord

commands you.”


Verse 9           Yet Michael the archangel.  It does not appear whether Jude learned this by any revelation or from ancient tradition. It suffices, that these things were not only true, but acknowledged as such by them to whom he wrote.  [15]

When and why Michael the archangel disputed with the devil about the body of Moses, commentators have in vain tried to discover.  We must be satisfied with this glimpse of the fact. [13]

These libertines allow themselves to use language against celestial beings which even an archangel did not venture to use against Satan.  In the Old Testament Michael appears as the guardian angel of the people of Israel, Daniel 10:21; 12:1; in the New Testament he is mentioned only here and in Revelation 12:7.  In the Book of Enoch his meekness is spoken of; he is “the merciful, the patient, the holy Michael,” Enoch 40:8.  [46]

Origin of angelic names.  “Because the book of Daniel is the first sacred writing in which proper names are given to particular angels, some have fancied that, during the Babylonish captivity, the Jews invented these names, or learned them from the Chaldeans.  But this seems an unfounded conjecture.  For the angel who appeared to Zacharias (Luke 1:19), called himself Gabriel, which shows that that name was not of Chaldean invention.”  [47]

the archangel.  This word occurs but once more in the sacred writings, 1 Thessalonians 4:16.  So that whether there be one archangel only, or more, it is not possible for us to determine.  [15]

Or:  Nowhere in Scripture is the plural used, “archangels”; but only ONE, “archangel.”  The only other passage in the New Testament where it occurs, is 1 Thessalonians 4:16, where Christ is distinguished from the archangel, with whose voice He shall descend to raise the dead; they therefore err who confound Christ with Michael. The name means, Who is like God? In Daniel 10:13 he is called “One (‘the first,’ Margin) of the chief princes.” He is the champion angel of Israel.  In Revelation 12:7 the conflict between Michael and Satan is again alluded to.  [20]

when contending with the devil.  This reference to Michael was said by Origen to be founded on a Jewish work called “The Assumption of Moses,” the first part of which was lately found in an old Latin translation at Milan; and this is the view of Davidson, so far at least as the words “the Lord rebuke thee” are concerned.  Others refer it to Zechariah 3:1; but there is nothing there about Moses’ body, or Michael, or a dispute about the body.  Others, again, to a rabbinical comment on Deuteronomy 34:6, where Michael is said to have been made guardian of Moses’ grave.  Doubtless Jude was referring to some accepted story or tradition, probably based on Deuteronomy 34:6.  [2]

Or:  Jude does not quote from tradition, nor does he quote from a source now no longer available, or, as others surmise, used one of Zechariah’s visions (chapter 3), but the Holy Spirit revealed unto him what actually took place when Moses had died.  [23]

he disputed about the body of Moses.  The nature of this controversy is wholly unknown, and conjecture is useless. It is not said, however, that there was a strife which should get the body, or a contention about burying it.  [31]

There is a veil of mystery thrown by the writer of Deuteronomy 34 round the death and burial of Moses.  He was apparently buried by God Himself, and the place of internment carefully concealed.  The most likely conjecture is that God concealed the body, and that Satan desired to take it out of its concealment, that he might tempt the Israelites to pay it idolatrous worship—after the manner of modern relic worship.  It is to be remembered that there is nothing in the account given by Jude, which might not well have taken place; there is nothing superstitious in it, nothing unnatural, nothing ludicrous, as in the Rabbinical legends respecting the death of Moses.  What we are taught is simply this, that the good spirits refrain from railing, even in their contests with the evil ones.  [41]    

The strange question, “What did the devil want with the body of Moses?” has been asked, and answered in more ways than one:—(1) to make it an object of idolatry, as the Israelites would be very likely to worship it; (2) to keep it as his own, as that of a murderer, because Moses killed the Egyptian (Exodus 2:12).  [46]

durst not.  Not because he feared the devil, but because he feared God, and feared to commit sin by using reproachful language.  [14]

bring against him a railing [reviling, NKJV] accusation.  The Greek phrase, literally a judgment, or charge, of blasphemy, though not absolutely identical with that in 2 Peter 2:11, has substantially the same meaning--not “an accusation of blasphemy,” but one characterized by reviling.  [38]

The argument does not lie in any regard shown to the devil as a dignitary and one who exercises dominion over subordinate evil spirits; for to be a leader of a band of such inexcusable rebels could entitle him to no respect; but it seems to arise from the detestable character of the devil; as if he had said:  If the angel did not rail even against the devil, how much less ought we against men in authority, even supposing them in some things to behave amiss?  To do it therefore when they behave well, must be a wickedness yet much more aggravated.  [17]  

This is not the natural reaction one would expect:  Whether the document which Jude quotes was history or prose-poem, the archangel’s language repeated the words of Zechariah’s angel [Zechariah 3:1-3].  Nor does the historical character of the document make important difference, for the modern pulpit could as properly elucidate a moral principle from Milton as from Macaulay.  When it is said that “Jude quoted an apochryphal document,” it must be remembered that apochryphal means here simply the uninspired literature of the Hebrew Church.  And if the book quoted was an imaginative production, its author wrote more wisely and more worthily of quotation than Milton, who makes even the angels retort “scorn for scorn.” [39]

but said, The Lord rebuke thee.  Restrain thy rage, control, and punish thee.  [14]


In depth:  An abiding lesson of this text:  Courtesy in opposition—but candor and steadfastness defending truth as well [39].  But are we to treat Satan with courtesy?  We reply, that there is a deep moral wisdom in the maxim, “Give even the devil his due.”  Respect is due to dignity, to position, to any excellence even in the worst character.  And courtesy is due to the worst who is in the performance of a dignified office. 

And this, nevertheless, does not silence the voice of moral rebuke.  When the dignitary puts off his dignity and becomes a buffoon, a criminal, a culprit, there is a suitable treatment for him as a buffoon, a criminal, a culprit.  Dignified courts know how to treat a criminal with due respect and self-respect. 

When moral severity arraigns the guilty, in the true spirit either of reforming or of condemning for the warning of others, or for the public good, the plainest words of human language may be sometimes justifiably used.  Of this truth, this very fragment of Jude’s is a rare example.  And when Jesus arraigned Satan (John 8:44), truth and righteousness took precedence of courtesy.

Preachers of the present day need not be afraid of this passage.  It is a noble text in behalf of courtesy and moral rectitude in our forensic and judicial chambers, in our legislative and congressional halls, in our editorial columns.  While just arraignments of official corruption are all-important and must never be effeminated, our courts are at the present day degraded by discourtesy, our senators bandy epithets suggestive of “honourable satisfaction,” and our newspapers run riot in partisan detraction.  Said the Irish orator, Grattan, “The gentleman cannot be severe without being unparliamentary; I will show him how to be severe and parliamentary too.”  At the present day a great public problem is how to state unflinching truth without extenuating, or setting down aught in malice.


                        In depth:  Does Jude cite this dispute over the body of Moses as history or as an illustration from a well known story?  In behalf of the illustration scenario from modern custom [24]: [He] refers to a certain apocryphal Jewish book called “The Assumption of Moses”; compare Jude verses 11, 14,and 2 Timothy 3:8.  Though he refers to such books, he does not necessarily imply that the stories he read in them are true.  Even in sermons we sometimes hear references to stories or speeches in Shakespeare or Milton, which we listen to as illustrations, not as being true to fact. 

The precedent of the apostle Paul invoking a well known story that he likely did not invoke as strict history [46]:  Evidently it is something supposed to be well known to those whom St. Jude is addressing, and it appears to be given as a fact which he believes, though we cannot be sure of this.  In any case it does not follow that we are to believe in it as an historical fact.  Reverent, and therefore cautious, theories of inspiration need not exclude the possibility of an unhistorical incident being cited as an illustration or a warning.  St. Paul makes use of the Jewish legend of the rock following the Israelites in the wilderness as an illustration (1 Corinthians 10:4).  [46]  

                        In behalf of it being cited because the false teachers themselves accepted the authority of the source regardless of whether Jude did as well [31]:  Hug supposes that the reference here, as well as that in Jude, verse 14, to the prophecy of Enoch, is derived from some apocryphal books existing in the time of Jude; and that though those books contained mere fables, the apostle appealed to them, not as conceding what was said to be true, but in order to refute and rebuke those against whom he wrote, out of books which they admitted to be of authority.

Arguments and confutations, he says, drawn from the sacred Scriptures, would have been of no avail in reasoning with them, for these they evaded 2 Peter 3:16, and there were no surer means of influencing them than those writings which they themselves valued as the sources of their special views.  According to this, the apostle did not mean to vouch for the truth of the story, but merely to make use of it in argument.

The objection to this is, that the apostle does in fact seem to refer to the contest between Michael and the devil as true.  He speaks of it in the same way in which he would have done if he had spoken of the death of Moses, or of his smiting the rock, or of his leading the children of Israel across the Red Sea, or of any other fact in history.  If he regarded it as a mere fable, though it would have been honest and consistent with all proper views of inspiration for him to have said to those against whom he argued, that on their own principles such and such things were true, yet it would not be honest to speak of it as [if] a fact which he admitted to be true. 

Besides, it should be remembered that he is not arguing with them, in which case it might be admissible reason in this way, but was making statements to others about them, and showing that they manifested a spirit entirely different from that which the angels evinced even when contending in a just cause against the prince of all evil.


                        In depth:  An origin in the “Assumption of Moses?”   The case against it [31]:  It has been supposed that the apostle quotes an apocryphal book existing in his time, containing this account, and that he means to admit that the account is true.  Origen mentions such a book, called “the Assumption of Moses,” containing this very account of the contest between Michael and the devil about the body of Moses.  That was a Jewish Greek book, and Origen supposed that this was the source of the account here.

That book is now lost. There is still extant a book in Hebrew, called פטירת משׁה paTiyret Mosheh--“the Death of Moses,” which some have supposed to be the book referred to by Origen.  That book contains many fabulous stories about the death of Moses, and is evidently the work of some Jew drawing wholly upon his imagination.

There is no reason to suppose that this is the same book referred to by Origen under the name of “the Assumption of Moses;” and there is a moral certainty that an inspired writer could not have quoted it as of authority.  Further, there can be no reasonable doubt that such a book as Origen refers to, under the title of “the Assumption of Moses,” was extant in his time, but that does not prove by any means that it was extant in the time of Jude, or that he quoted it.  There is, indeed, no positive proof that it was not extant in the time of Jude, but there is none that it was, and all the facts in the case will be met by the supposition that it was written afterward, and that the tradition on the subject here referred to by Jude was incorporated into it.

                        In this reconstruction Jude would not be the “horse” pulling the “cart” of the Assumption of Moses, but vice versa:  It is not Jude accepting the Assumption, but the Assumption building upon and expanding what Jude had said.  Although quite reasonable—and making better sense in its own right—this would still leave the problem of where in the world was Jude getting his own story from?  [rw]  


                        What has survived of the “Assumtpion of Moses” [50]?  Origen (died 254 A.D.) expresses it as his opinion that Jude here refers to an apocryphal book “The Assumption of Moses,” and this work is occasionally referred to by the Greek Fathers down to the tenth century.  For nearly nine hundred years this work was lost, and until recently was simply referred to as a book of whose character and nature we were entirely ignorant.

                        In 1861 about one half of the book was discovered by Ceriani, the librarian of the Ambrosian library at Milan, among manuscripts taken from the monastery of Bobbio, near Pavia (the Muratorian Canon had also originally belonged to Columban’s great monastery at Bobbio).  The manuscript (a palimpsest) is evidently of the sixth century and contained also a considerable fragment of the Book of Jubilees. 

It is a translation from the Greek.  Some, like Ewald, Merx, Dillmann, and others, think it was originally written in Aramaic; others like Mangold, Hilgenfeld, and Drummond, regard the Greek as the original.  The fragment which we possess is divided into two parts, (1) the prophetical address of Moses to Joshua his successor (1-15), and (2) the answer of Joshua with the encouraging reply of Moses (16-19).

Ewald, Dillmann, Wieseler, and Schuerer, think the book was written about 6 A.D.; Hilgenfield, Mangold, Merx, Davidson, and others, place it between 44 and 64 A.D.; Hausrath fixes on the reign of Domitian; Volkman decides on 137 or 138 A.D. and F. Philippi supposes the book to have been written during the second century A.D.

A. D. Deane, who has given us the fullest discussion in English on this subject (Monthly Interpreter, March, 1885, pages 321-348), says:  “Too much stress must not be laid upon the supposed quotation from The Assumption, as the passage referred to is not extant, and both Jude and Pseudo-Moses may have used some tradition current among the Jews of the period.”    


                        In depth:  The scenario that Zechariah 3:1 is alluded to and that the confrontation in that the debate was over the future of Moses’ “body” of people, the Israelites [47].  Mr. Baxter suggests it as a doubt, whether it were about the dead body of Moses, or Moses exposed on the water, when an infant, that there was this contention.  Baxter suggests also another interpretation, in his note on this verse.  Because the apostle here seems to allude to Zechariah 3:1, where we read of Joshua the high-priest (representing the Jewish people), standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him; and the Lord, namely, by his angel, saying unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan; even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee: and inasmuch as the subject of that contention, between the angel and Satan, was the restoration of the Jewish Church and state, Baxter thinks that by the body of Moses here may be meant the Jewish constitution, civil and religious, which Moses had established. 

An interpretation which Macknight seems to countenance:  “Michael is spoken of as one of the chief angels, who took care of the Israelites as a nation.  He may therefore have been the angel of the Lord, before whom Joshua, the high-priest, is said (Zechariah 3:1) to have stood, Satan being at his right hand to resist him, namely, in his design of restoring the Jewish Church and state, called by Jude, the body of Moses, just as the Christian Church is called by Paul, the body of Christ.”

And this interpretation, however apparently improbable, receives some countenance from the consideration, that, among the Hebrews, the body of a thing is often used for the thing itself.  Thus, Romans 7:24, the body of sin signifies sin itself.  So the body of Moses may signify Moses himself, who is sometimes put in the New Testament for his law, as 2 Corinthians 3:15, When Moses is read, &c.; Acts 15:21, Moses hath in every city them that preach him. 


                        In depth:  A case that Zechariah 3:1 is not alluded to [31].   Some have supposed that the reference is to the passage in Zechariah, 3:1, following “And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.  And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan,” etc.  The opinion that Jude refers to this passage was held by Lardner.

But the objections to this are very obvious:  (1) There is no similarity between the two, except the expression, “the Lord rebuke thee.”

(2) The name Michael does not occur at all in the passage in Zechariah.

(3) There is no mention made of the “body of Moses” there, and no allusion to it whatever.

(4) There is no intimation that there was any such contention about his body.  There is a mere mention that Satan resisted the angel of the Lord, as seen in the vision, but no intimation that the controversy had any reference to Moses in any way.

(5) The reason of the resistance which Satan offered to the angel in the vision as seen by Zechariah is stated.  It was in regard to the consecration of Joshua to the office of high priest implying a return of prosperity to Jerusalem, and the restoration of the worship of God there in its purity; see Zechariah 3:2.  To this Satan was of course opposed, and the vision represents him as resisting the angel in his purpose thus to set him apart to that office.  These reasons seem to me to make it clear that Jude did not refer to the passage in Zechariah, nor is there any other place in the Old Testament to which it can be supposed he had reference.


                        In depth:  Could Jude simply be invoking one of those varied and scattered tidbits of Jewish tradition that were scattered among the existing Jewish popular and clerical traditions [31]?  The remaining supposition is, that Jude here refers to a prevalent “tradition” among the Jews, and that he has adopted it as containing an important truth, and one which bore on the subject under discussion.  In support of this, it may be observed,

                        (a) That it is well known that there were many traditions of this nature among the Jews.  See Matthew 15:2.

                        (b) That though many of these traditions were puerile and false, yet there is no reason to doubt that some of them might have been founded in truth.

                        (c) That an inspired writer might select those which were true, for the illustration of his subject, with as much propriety as he might select what was written; since if what was thus handed down by tradition was true, it was as proper to use it as to use a fact made known in any other way.

                        (d) That in fact such traditions were adopted by the inspired writers when they would serve to illustrate a subject which they were discussing.  Thus Paul refers to the tradition about Jannes and Jambres as true history.  See 2 Timothy 3:8.

                        (e) If, therefore, what is here said was true, there was no impropriety in its being referred to by Jude as an illustration of his subject.

                        The only material question then is, whether it is true.  And who can prove that it is not?  What evidence is there that it is not?  How is it possible to demonstrate that it is not?

There are many allusions in the Bible to angels; there is express mention of such an angel as Michael (Daniel 12:1); there is frequent mention of the devil; and there are numerous affirmations that both bad and good angels are employed in important transactions on the earth.  Who can prove that such spirits never meet, never come in conflict, never encounter each other in executing their purposes?  Good men meet bad men, and why is it any more absurd to suppose that good angels may encounter bad ones?

It should be remembered, further, that there is no need of supposing that the subject of the dispute was about burying the body of Moses; or that Michael sought to bury it, and the devil endeavored to prevent it--the one in order that it might not be worshipped by the Israelites, and the other that it might be.  This indeed became incorporated into the tradition in the apocryphal books which were afterward written; but Jude says not one word of this, and is in no way responsible for it. 

All that he says is, that there was a contention or dispute (διακρινόμενος  διελέγετο  diakrinomenos dielegeto respecting “his body.”  But when it was, or what was the occasion, or how it was conducted, he does not state, and we have no right to ascribe to him sentiments which he has not expressed.  If ever such a controversy of any kind existed respecting that body, it is all that Jude affirms, and is all for which he should be held responsible.

The sum of the matter, then, it seems to me is, that Jude has, as Paul did on another occasion, adopted a tradition which was prevalent in his time; that there is nothing necessarily absurd or impossible in the fact affirmed by the tradition, and that no one can possibly demonstrate that it is not true.


                        In depth:  Jewish traditions describing the events around the death of Moses [38].  Œcumenius indeed, writing in the tenth century, reports a tradition that Michael was appointed to minister at the burial of Moses, and that the devil urged that his murder of the Egyptian (Exodus 2:12) had deprived him of the right of sepulture, and Origen (de Princ. iii. 2) states that the record of the dispute was found in a lost apocryphal book known as the Assumption of Moses, but in both these instances it is possible that the traditions may have grown out of the words of Jude instead of being the foundation on which they rested.

Rabbinic legends, however, though they do not furnish the precise fact to which Jude refers, show that a whole cycle of strange fantastic stories had gathered round the brief mysterious report of the death of Moses in Deuteronomy 34:5-6, and it will be worth while to give some of these as showing their general character.  Thus, in the Targum, or Paraphrase, of Jonathan on Deuteronomy it is stated that the grave of Moses was given over to the special custody of the Archangel Michael.

In the Debarim Rabba i.e. the Midrash on Deuteronomy (fol. 263), it is related that Sammael, the prince of the Evil Angels, was impatient for the death of Moses.  “And he said, ‘When will the longed-for moment come when Michael shall weep and I shall laugh?’  And at last the time came when Michael said to Sammael, ‘Ah! cursed one! Shall I weep while thou laughest?’ and made answer in the words of Micah, ‘Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord shall be a light unto me’ ” (Micah 7:8).

A longer and wilder legend is given in the same book (fol. 246), which must be somewhat abridged.  “Moses prayed that if he might not enter into the Promised Land, he might at least be allowed to live; but God told him that unless he died in this world he could have no life in the world to come, and commanded Gabriel to fetch his soul.  Gabriel shrank from the task.  Michael was next bidden to go, and he too shrank; and then the command was given to Sammael, who found him with his face shining as the light, and he was afraid and trembled . He told him why he was come, and Moses asked him who had sent him, and he made answer that he was sent by the Creator of the Universe.  But Moses still held out, and Sammael returned with his task unfulfilled.  And Moses prayed, ‘Lord of the World, give not my soul over to the Angel of Death.”

And there came a voice from Heaven, ‘Fear not, Moses, I will provide for thy burial,’ and Moses stood up and sanctified himself as do the Seraphim, and the Most High came down from Heaven and the three chief angels with Him.  Michael prepared the bier and Gabriel spread out the winding sheet. . . .  And the Most High kissed him, and through that kiss took his soul to Himself” (Nork, Rabbinische Quellen).

It is suggestive that the sin of the angels comes prominently forward in connection with the legend.  The soul of Moses pleads its reluctance to leave the body which was so holy:  “Lord of the world!  The angels Asa and Asael lusted after the daughters of men, but Moses, from the day Thou appearedst unto him in the bush, led a life of perpetual continence.”



Verse 10                                             Translations

Weymouth:     Yet these men are abusive in matters of which they know nothing, and in things which, like the brutes, they understand instinctively--in all these they corrupt themselves.

WEB:              But these speak evil of whatever things they don't know. What they understand naturally, like the creatures without reason, they are destroyed in these things.

Young’s:         and these, as many things indeed as they have not known, they speak evil of; and as many things as naturally (as the irrational beasts) they understand, in these they are corrupted;

Conte (RC):    But these men certainly blaspheme

against whatever they do not understand. And yet,

whatever they, like mute animals, know from

nature, in these things they are corrupted.


Verse 10         But these.  False, wicked teachers. [14]

                        —In strong contrast to the scrupulous reverence of the archangel.  “Fools rush in where angels fear to tread.”  [46]

speak evil.  All the more heinous, he declares, is slander, when uttered by men against the Supreme Majesty, or even against inferior authorities (seeing that one angel did not venture to rail at another, in a case where the wickedness of that other furnished him with just grounds to do it.)  He goes on, however, to say, in verse 10, that in their ignorance of God and divine things, these persons think it nothing to utter their slanders, and that any knowledge or insight which they may acquire, in a natural way, respecting the affairs of this earthly life--although, in fact, it be of no more value than the instinct of irrational beasts--does not hinder them from falling a prey to their fleshly corruption.  [6]

of those things which they know not.  The whole range of invisible and heavenly things, and even the nobler sentiments of our nature.  [51]

Or:  Usually understood of the “dominions” and “dignities” of verse 8; either angels, because sensual men would not have the spiritual gifts by which they would know about angels; or church authorities whom they did not “know” in the sense of recognizing.  But this clause may generalize [verse] 8b, “they rail not only at persons above them in authority, but at truths above their knowledge,” the latter being Christian truths they were too gross and selfish to grasp.  Nothing could be true or reasonable which they could not understand.  [45]    

Or:  The context leaves no doubt that the region of the “things which they know not” is that of good and evil spirits.  The false teachers were, though in another spirit, “intruding into those things which they had not seen,” like those whom Paul condemns in Colossians 2:18.  [38]

but what they know naturally [understand instinctively, ESV].  Like mere animals, they could only take in the physical pain and enjoyment and such material effects of actions, and so, through eagerness after the self-indulgence that seemed open to them, they brought about their own destruction.  [45]  

The two halves of the verse are in emphatic contrast.  What they do not know, and cannot know, they abuse by gross irreverence:  what they know, and cannot help knowing, they abuse by gross licentiousness.  If this Epistle is prior to 2 Peter it is strange that the author of the latter should have neglected so telling an antithesis, and should (from a literary point of view) have so spoiled the passage by his mode of adaptation (2 Peter 2:12).  If 2 Peter is prior there is nothing strange in Jude improving upon the mode of expression.   The word for “know” is not the same in both clauses.  The word used in “which they know not” is the most general and common word of the kind in Greek, expressing mere perception, and occurring about three hundred times in the New Testament; that used in “what they know naturally” is more definite, and expresses practical experience productive of skill and science; it occurs fourteen times in the New Testament, mostly in the Acts. (Compare “Paul I know,” Acts 19:15.)  [46]

as brute beasts.  Animals without intelligence.  2 Peter 2:12.  [31].

“As drunk as a beast” is, in truth, a libel on the lower creation.   Drunkenness and like abuses of natural appetite are sins of man only.  [51]

in those things they corrupt themselves.  That is, in the plainest and most natural and necessary things, things that lie most open and obvious to natural reason and conscience; even in those things they corrupt, debase, and defile themselves:  the fault, whatever it is, lies not in their understandings or apprehensions, but in their depraved wills and disordered appetites and affections.  [5]

Or, perhaps, they work their own ruin.  Note the tense; not future, but present.  The corruption, or ruin, is not a judgment hanging over them; it is already going on.  [46]



Verse 11                                             Translations

Weymouth:     Alas for them; for they have followed in the steps of Cain; for the sake of gain they have rushed on headlong in the evil ways of Balaam; and have perished in rebellion like that of Korah!

WEB:              Woe to them! For they went in the way of Cain, and ran riotously in the error of Balaam for hire, and perished in Korah's rebellion.

Young’s:         woe to them! because in the way of Cain they did go on, and to the deceit of Balaam for reward they did rush, and in the gainsaying of Korah they did perish.

Conte (RC):    Woe to them! For they have gone

after the way of Cain, and they have poured out the

error of Balaam for profit, and they have perished

in the sedition of Korah.


Verse 11         Woe unto them!  The denunciation of woes, common in the Lord's ministry, is only found here in all the rest of the New Testament.  [22]

                        Peter, to the same effect, pronounces them cursed children.  Macknight, who renders the clause, woe is to them, considers it as only a declaration of the misery which was to come on them:  in which sense only the phrase is used by our Lord, Matthew 24:19, Woe unto them that are with child, &c., for certainly this was no wish of punishment, since to be with child, and to give suck in those days, was no crime.  But it was a declaration of the misery which was coming on persons in that helpless condition.  [47]

                        The words may mean, “Woe is to them,” a description of their miserable condition, present or future, uttered as a warning to others (Calvin); or even “Alas for them,” expressive of pity (Newcome); or as generally expressive of pain and indignation, a censure and a threat:  in any case the word speaks of evil and woe, whether uttered in the tone of compassion which bewails it (Matthew 23:15), or of the indignation that imprecates it (Matthew 11:21).  Here the context favors the idea that it is neither pity nor imprecation, for their sin is strongly condemned, and they are said to have been punished; but a cry of horror on taking in at one glance the whole course of their ungodliness, and its final plunge into the dark abyss (as in Revelation 18:16, 19).  [51]

                        for they have gone . . . ran . . . perished.  These English tenses imply that the verse describes something that had already taken place; but the whole letter implies that the punishment of the “ungodly” had not yet befallen them.  Perhaps through the influence of a familiar Hebrew idiom, past tenses are used to express the certainty of a future event.  “They have followed in the footsteps of Cain,” &c., so much was past, “and are irrevocably involved in their punishment.” [45]

for they have gone in the way of Cain.  Cain is perhaps chosen as an instance of one who defied the simplest and most obvious laws of God by murder, or else as having consulted only his own natural instincts in choosing an offering for God.  [37]

The first great criminal; the first to outrage the laws of nature. Explanations to the effect that these libertines followed Cain by murdering men’s souls by their corrupt doctrine, or by persecuting believers, and other suggestions still more curious, are needlessly far-fetched.  John 8:44, and 1 John 3:15, are not strictly apposite: these ungodly men may have hated and persecuted the righteous, but St. Jude does not tell us so.  Sensuality is always selfish, but by no means always ill-natured or malignant.  [46]

and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward [for pay, NASB; for the sake of gain, ESV].  Of the three examples of sin punished which Jude uses 2 Peter only adopts one, Balaam.  Balaam is chosen as having prostituted the prophetic gift for gain (and the false teachers made money one of their objects).  [37]

                        Balaam’s most conspicuous sin was his willingness to earn money, the means for self-indulgence, by cursing God’s people, another parallel to the “railing” of the “ungodly” and its motive.  This may be in the writer’s mind, but probably we should translate “through the deceit of Balaam” by which he deceived Israel and deluded the people into immorality, Numbers 31:16.  So Revelation 2:14, “Thou hast there,” at Pergamum, “some that hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumblingblock before the Israelites, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit fornication.”  Perhaps we should render freely, “They have come to ruin through being seduced by such rewards as Balaam sought for himself or offered to the Israelites.”  Balaam claimed to be God’s prophet, and sought to make sinful gain from his inspiration; just as the “ungodly” turned God’s grace into lasciviousness.  [45]   

ran greedily [rushed, NIV; rushed headlong, NASB; abandoned themselves, Holman].  Greek, εξεχυθησαν, have been poured out, like a torrent without banks.  [47]

Literally, “have been poured out,” used of spilt wine, Luke 5:37; of shed blood, Luke 11:50; of God’s love “shed abroad in our hearts,” Romans 5:3; hence perhaps “ran riotously” [English Revised Version] like wine gushing out of a burst skin.  R.V. margin, has “cast themselves away through,” i.e. they became lost and ruined like spilt wine.  The same Greek word is used in the translation of Psalms 73:2 for a Hebrew word meaning “slipped.”  [45]

for reward [for pay, NASB; for the sake of gain, ESV].  Money is the chief object with them. They teach error for reward, knowing all along that their teaching is contrary to the revelation of God. Money, honor and glory from men, self exaltation and self gratification are the leading motives of these men.  [23]

and perished in the gainsaying of Core.  The sin of Korah was open rebellion and opposition against the authority of God and the priesthood He had instituted.  [23]

I.e., a gainsaying like that of Korah.  The “ungodly” attacked church officials as Korah challenged the authority of Moses and Aaron, Numbers 16.  [45]

Here, as in many passages of Scripture, a thing is said to have happened which was only to happen.  This manner of speaking was used to show the absolute certainty of the thing spoken of.  [47]

Another, implicit, parallel with Korah:  Completing the parallel thus suggested it is obvious that as the false teachers answer to Korah and his company, so the true apostles and prophets of the Church of Christ are thought of as occupying a position like that of Aaron or Moses.  [38]


                        In depth:  Theories of the kind of sin Cain was guilty of [8].  Many expositors find the similarity with Cain to consist in this, that, whereas he murdered his brother, these by seduction of the brethren are guilty of spiritual murder; so Oecumenius, Estius, Grotius (Cain fratri vitam caducam ademit; illi fratribus adimunt aeternam), Calovius, Hornejus, Schott, and others.  But this conversion into the spiritual is [not] brought forward by Jude.

                        Other expositors, adhering to the murder committed by Cain, think on the persecuting zeal of these false teachers against believers; so Nicolas de Llyra, sequuntur mores et studia latronis ex invidia et avaritia persequentes sincerioris theologiae studiosos.  As the later Jews regarded Cain as a symbol of moral skepticism, so Schneckenburger supposes that Jude would here reproach his opponents with this skepticism; but there is also no indication of this in the context.

                        De Wette stops at the idea that Cain is named as “the archetype of all wicked men;” so also Arnaud and Hofmann; but this is too general.  Bruckner finds the point of resemblance in this, that as Cain out of envy on account of the favor shown to Abel, resisting the commandment and warning of God, slew his brother, so these false teachers resisted God, and that from envy of the favor shown to believers.  But in the context there is no indication of the definite statement “from envy.”

                        It is more in correspondence with the context to find the Tertium compar, in this, that Cain, in spite of the warning of God, followed his own wicked lusts.  Fronmuller:  “The point of comparison is acting on the selfish impulses of nature, in contempt of the warnings of God.”


                        In depth:  Reconstruction of how the contemporary heretics might be “recycling” the same basic errors of Balaam [36].  On the whole I understand the passage thus:  Balaam went wrong because he allowed himself to hanker after gain and so lost his communion with God.  He not only went wrong himself, but he abused his great influence and his reputation as a prophet, to lead astray the Israelites by drawing them away from the holy worship of Jehovah to the impure worship of Baal Peor.  So these false teachers use their prophetical gifts for purposes of self-aggrandizement, and endeavor to make their services attractive by excluding from religion all that is strenuous and difficult, and opening the door to every kind of indulgence.









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