If you thought Peter was brutal, wait until you read Jude. Note, the Greek rendering is Judas, but historically he is known as Jude. I suppose that is to keep him from getting mixed up with that other guy, the one we don’t talk about.
1. Jude [Judas], a slave of Messiah Jesus, brother of James, to those who have been loved by Father God and preserved in the call of Messiah Jesus.
2. May mercy, peace, and love increase in you.
3. Dear ones, I was all very eager to write to you about our shared salvation, but find it necessary instead to write calling you to strive for the things that once were handed to you as a deposit of faith.
4. For some people sneaked in, the kind of godless people who from of old were ordained to judgment. These people transformed the grace of our God into debauchery and denied the Master and Lord Messiah Jesus.
5. I want to remind you, the same Lord who once saved the people from Egypt destroyed them the second time around when they did not trust.
6. From the beginning, he has kept in continual chains and gloom until the great day of judgment the angels who did not keep themselves but abandoned their own realm.
7. These people fornicate and sexually gratify with other flesh, like Sodom and Gomorrah and the five cities, which was set before us as an example, undergoing eternal punishment of fire.
8. Nevertheless, they likewise dream of the flesh. They defile authority and blashpheme the glorious ones.
9. Even the archangel Michael, when he kept debating the disputed body of Moses, dared not to bring a charge of blasphemy but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you.’
10. But so many of these people blaspheme what they do not know and at the same time they live as unreasonable animals. They are destroyed by their instincts, which is all they know.
11. Woe to these kinds of people: they travel in the path of Cain, earn the wage of Balaam’s error, and all the while being swept up in Korah’s rebellion. They destroy themselves.
12. These are the ones who are like hidden rocks at your love feasts, eating without fear, shepherding themselves, waterless clous carried away by the wind, fruitless trees at harvest, doubly dead. They have been uprooted.
13. They are wild, foaming waves of the sea, shaming themselves. They are wandering stars reserved to gloom and eternal darkness.
14. But Enoch, the seventh descendant from Adam, prophesied saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came in his holy myriad’
15. to pass judgment against all of them and to convict every soul that commits ungodly deeds as well as all those who speak defiant words against him, all the ungodly sinners.
16. They are disgruntled grumblers who have led themselves away after their own desires. They speak from the mouth inflated words to people’s faces for their own advantage.
Jude launches with, ‘I wanted to talk about our shared joy of salvation, but you guys are so astray that I feel the need to write about judgment instead.’ I feel you, Jude. I feel you.
The problem seems to be people who have settled into the community of faith and are following error. He likens them to Balaam, the professional curser, and to the fallen angels of old. The tenor of the text seems to be, ‘If God punished even these people, how much more do you think he is going to punish the ones who disingenuously live amongst you.’
It is a good question. One doesn’t have to look with too much imagination at the present condition of the church in the western world to see those who follow their own desires rather than the teachings of Scripture. Imposters are everywhere — left, right, up and down.
The imagery of wandering stars in the dark sky is captivating to me. This might be a reference to comets, which move with apparent randomness, unlike the fixed stars and predictable planets. They are unhinged from the pattern of authority, discipline, structure, and holiness. The result is they are doomed against the backdrop of night. These people look like as if they belong, but they are really just passing through.
The warning Jude has is for true lights, believers, to not be caught up into the tiny gravitation pull of these roaming figures for they will only drag people away into their own darkness. Advent is a time of light, when we remember the light of the world came in and dwelt among us. Jude is calling us to cling to the true light, and not be drawn away by these temporarily bright but utterly doomed people who are filled with doctrinal error, misguided notions of propriety, confusion, and consumed by a desire to justify their own immoral lifestyles or greed, division, and power.