This sermon was originally preached in 2014.
It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.
Jude 14-19 ESV
As discussed in the previous lesson, verses 5-19 form the bulk of Jude’s letter. Herein Jude’s primary goals are to give characteristics of false teachers and remind of their upcoming judgment. To do this, Jude focuses upon nuggets of history that served as examples or warnings of these current false teachers, and then he follows each with an explanation of how it pertains to those people. The three that were studied previously were all examples from history; within these verses, Jude provides two prophetic warnings concerning the church’s infiltration by false teachers.
THE PROPHESY OF ENOCH // VERSES 14-15
The first warning that Jude cites is from a man named Enoch. To give a brief background, Enoch is only mentioned four times in the Bible. The summary account of Enoch’s life is found in Genesis 5, and it only lasts four verses (Gen. 5:21-24). His story is set in the midst of Seth’s genealogy, where the first ten generations of humanity are shown to live and die. In fact, Enoch’s life is really the only break from the monotony of the genealogical list. Whereas everyone else in the chapter died, Enoch did not. Instead of dying, we are told that “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him” (Gen. 5:24). After this account, the Bible goes silent about Enoch until the New Testament. Luke’s Gospel features Enoch’s name in the genealogy of Christ (Luke 3:37). The book of Hebrews then describes Enoch as having pleased God and escaped death (Heb. 11:5). The final reference of Enoch is here in the Jude’s epistle.
The diligent observer will notice that this prophesy of Enoch is not mentioned in Genesis, Luke, or Hebrews. We must therefore ask from where Jude got Enoch’s statement. In fact, Jude is quoting First Enoch, an apocryphal book. Calling a book apocryphal simply means that it was not included within the canon of Scripture. As it stands, many pieces of literature were written during the thousands of years covered in the Bible, but of all the books written, only sixty-six were deemed the very words of God. Catholic tradition, however, recognizes several of these books, called the Apocrypha, to be canonical. These books include Tobit, Judith, Sirach, additions to Esther and Daniel, Baruch, and First and Second Maccabees. None of which we believe to be God-breathed Scripture. Interestingly, the book of First Enoch did not even make it into the Catholic’s Apocrypha; instead, it has usually been blatantly rejected for not truly being from Enoch. It seems odd then that Jude would quote First Enoch when he knew it to be ripe with errors. The conclusion that we must make is similar to the one made regarding the Assumption of Moses in verse 9. Jude is not endorsing all of First Enoch as being Scripture or as even being written by Enoch. Rather, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Jude quoted the ninth verse of the first chapter of First Enoch as being truth. Somehow, in a book full of errors, God preserved an actual prophesy of Enoch. Jude’s usage is the validity of its truth.
Now that the background of Enoch and First Enoch has been discussed, let us analyze the warning that Enoch makes against the false teachers. First, the description that Enoch is particularly fond of using is “ungodly” since he uses the term four times in one verse. As mentioned in verse 4, to be ungodly is to be against God, especially in the moral capacity. Specifically mentioned are their evil deeds and harsh things spoken against God. Thus, these men stand in opposition to God, so God stands in opposition to them. Second, Enoch states that the Lord is coming to execute judgment. He describes the Lord as coming with ten thousands of holy ones (probably angels). Jesus gives a very similar statement concerning His second coming in Matthew (Matt. 24:30-31). Paul also describes Jesus returning in judgment “with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thess. 1:7-10). John’s vision of Christ in Revelation 19 is also of this monumental event (Rev. 19:11-21). Therefore, we can conclude that Enoch was prophesying about Jesus’ second coming. This fits well with the theme of the false teachers’ judgment that has undergirded the letter so far. Jude wants us to be fully aware of the end that awaits the ungodly.
GRUMBLERS, MALCONTENTS // VERSE 16
Since Jude has provided his textual warning against the false teachers, he now pronounces the direct application to the ungodly of his day. Enoch described the recipients of God’s wrath as being ungodly, doing and speaking contrary to God, but Jude narrows in that focus by mentioning how that specifically displays itself. First, they are called grumblers. Grumblers are bitter complainers against God. They are dissatisfied with the portion of life that God has given them, and so they whisper complaints against Him, mumbling their grievances. In case one thinks that this should not be a terrible sin, the Israelites were punished in the wilderness often for their discontented grumblings against God.
But of course, grumbling is the action, the result of a discontent heart. Which leads us the second characteristic: they are malcontents. The malcontent is never pleased with his or her circumstances. They constantly bemoan their present conditions. At first, discontent and grumbling appear to be too minor of sins for Jude to be so vehemently condemning them; however, a demeanor of dissatisfaction is antithetical to the Christian lifestyle. Paul writes in Philippians 4 about the great contentment that he has in Christ, a contentment that reaches beyond any given circumstance or trial. Ultimately, Paul is able to be content in any condition because of the satisfaction that he has in Christ. The man who has everything that he needs and is satisfied with that will never be discontent. And such is the heart of Paul. He found Christ to be of superior worth and infinite value. Because he was satisfied in Christ, he was able to be content regardless of the circumstance. A constant state of discontent reveals a heart that has never truly known the satisfaction of Christ. The grumbling and discontent heart is an unbelieving heart.
Next, Jude calls them followers of their own desires. These are not godly desires, but rather they hunger for the forbidden fruit, the lusts of their flesh. As verse 10 described, their actions resemble unreasoning animals, and decisions are made based on primal instinct. They do not bear the fruit of self-control but are governed by their sinful desires. The root of this behavior is selfishness. There is scarcely anything more selfish than passionately seeking one’s own momentary pleasure regardless of how it affects others.
Because giving into primitive longings is ultimately selfish, it is only natural that they would also be boasters. Their self-disclosing rhetoric is extravagantly arrogant. They adamantly proclaim their own excellence. Once again, this is diametrically opposed to the Christian mentality. The follower of Christ is entirely fixated upon one notion: the glory of Christ. Because of the magnificent love with which He loved us, we now turn in response to Him, forever proclaiming His greatness. The Christian framework is the selfless glorifying of Christ. May we each say with Paul: “But far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Gal. 6:14). By boasting in themselves, they reveal that they do not truly know Christ.
Continuing the results of their selfishness, Jude describes them as flatterers. They show favoritism to gain advantage. Though they may have the appearance of benefiting others, such actions are only done as a means of ultimately benefitting themselves. In a true display of the wolf beneath the sheep’s clothing, they prey upon others to advantage for themselves. For them, the church is a social ladder to climb, earning them praise of men and prestige. Also, since they were false teachers, they likely profited financially through their flattery. Ultimately, they are predators of those within the church, not servants as Jesus was.
REMEMBER THE APOSTLES‘ PREDICTIONS // VERSES 17-19
Jude begins his final cautionary citation by revealing his heart once more for his readers. He calls them beloved, his dearly loved children. The utter separation between the true believers and the false teachers could not be more noticeable. Jude speaks of the believers as being his family, but he only calls the heretics by the distant term “these people.”
Next, Jude asks again that his audience remember. We saw this call for remembrance at the beginning of Jude’s rant against the false teachers in verse 5, but now he is reemphasizing that call to arms. I believe that he does this because he is going to quote the apostles. Thus far, all of Jude’s examples and warnings have been from the distant past. Enoch, after all, was one of the first men mentioned in the Bible. Therefore, perhaps he is using the warning of the apostles to show his audience the current relevance. A warning from the apostles would be significant because they were the leaders of the early church and many of Jude’s readers had likely met one of the apostles personally. Thus, Jude pleads with them to remember their words against these false teachers.
Within this apostolic warning (as we read in verse 18), there are a few things that we must note. First, Jude seems to be quoting a common saying of the apostles rather than any one specifically. However, the second epistle of Peter contains a very similar passage: “knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires” (2 Pet. 3:3). Therefore, it could be that Jude pulled this saying from Peter’s letter. Either way, Jude expects that his readers have heard the saying before.
Second, they are called scoffers that follow ungodly passions. These scoffers are known for their mockery of godly things. Instead of having fearful respect of God and His holiness, they only dishonor Him by scorning His ways. In particular, Peter mentions that they scoff at the second coming of Christ (2 Pet. 3:4). It is fitting of their character that they would mock what has been promised to destroy them. Such kind as these will not repent to God because they laugh at the very idea that God will hold them in judgment.
Third, these scoffers were to arise in the last days. The biblical phrase “last days” can become quite confusing. With so many well-known preachers proclaiming the end is nigh, how are we able to truly know when the last days are upon us. Biblically, we are already in the last days. The final era of humanity, known as the last days, began with the resurrection of Christ and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon the church (Acts 2:17). The author of Hebrews begins the letter by calling the present era “these last days” (Heb. 1:2). Thus, the last days of earth have been going on for roughly two thousand years now, and that is not a problem but rather providence. God has chosen to make the final time of earth longer than most Christians could have ever imagined.
Jude finishes his discourse against false teachers with three final descriptions of them within verse 19. First, he warns that they cause divisions. Throughout the Scriptures, we learn repeatedly that it is God’s will for the church to be united as the body of Christ. We are meant to be one people, focused on the expansion of God’s kingdom through the proclamation of the gospel. Thus, the apostles did not tolerate anyone who threatened the unity of the church. Take Paul’s advice to Titus concerning divisive people: “As for the person who stirs up division, after warning him once and then twice, have nothing more to do with him, knowing that such a person is warped and sinful; he is self-condemned” (Titus 3:10-11).
Next, Jude calls them worldly people. For Christians, this is a terrible accusation because in Christ, we live in the spirit, not in the flesh. To be of the world is to be against Christ. Paul writes in Romans 8:5-8, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
The worst and most pointed description is saved for last: devoid of the Spirit. As followers of Christ, we know that because of Christ’s death the Holy Spirit, who transforms, revives, and renews our heart, can dwell within us. A Christian without the Holy Spirit is not a Christian because without the Holy Spirit, there is no regenerated heart. Jude is, thus, flatly calling the false teachers what they truly are: not Christians.