Jude 1:9-10 But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, The Lord rebuke you! Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand.
In order to win followers, the false teachers disrespected the apostles, and spoke about heavenly beings abusively (Jude 1:8). Jude cited a conversation between the archangel Michael and the devil himself. Michael was speaking to the most evil being in the universe, but instead of using abusive speech, he simply said, The Lord rebuke you!
Jude’s point is that Christians are not free to use abusive speech toward anyone, including the wicked, or even the devil. We live in a culture of massive disrespect, in which people speak abusively about anyone they do not care for. This practice is so common that we barely see the harm in it. But Jesus said, anyone who says, You fool! will be in danger of the fire of hell (Matthew 5:22). Sins of speech are just as serious as other sins, and bring very serious warnings.
Jude 1:11 Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.
Jude compared the false teachers to three Old Testament characters: Cain, Balaam and Korah. Cain was the first son of Adam and Eve, and murdered his brother Abel (Genesis 4). The false teachers were similar to Cain because they were murdering souls.
Balaam was a false religious leader who, for money, led the nation of Israel into sexual immorality (Numbers 22-25). The false teachers were doing the same thing through their wicked teaching.
Korah opposed the leadership of Moses, and the ground split apart and swallowed him whole, along with some who supported him (Numbers 16). The false teachers were similar to Korah because they too would go down into hell.
In a single verse, Jude cited three examples from the Old Testament, which his readers probably knew. This underscores the importance of knowing the whole Bible in order to understand its various parts. The various parts of the Bible contribute to the meaning of the whole, and the whole contributes to the meaning of its various parts.
A seminary professor confessed to a colleague that he had not read the whole Bible. He had studied Greek and Hebrew, but had not read the whole Bible. He had studied systematic theology and church history, but had not read the whole Bible. He had become an expert at one part of the Bible, but had not read the whole Bible. This is unacceptable.
From Jude it is clear that to understand the various parts of the Bible, we must be familiar with the whole. And to understand the whole Bible, we must be familiar with its various parts. Do not keep returning to the parts of the Bible you know, until you have studied the parts that you don’t know. God has something for us to learn on every page.
Jude 1:12 These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead.
Jude used a rapid series of metaphors to describe the false teachers. They are blemishes at your love feasts, he said. A love feast was a meal that probably followed the worship service, and may have included the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:17-34). Jude was thinking of the church as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27), and the false teachers as a pimple or a mole.
Jude also compared them to shepherds who feed only themselves. They pretended to care for Christ’s sheep, but were only in the ministry for what they could get out of it.
They were also like clouds without rain. The climate in Israel is dry, and every bit of moisture is needed. The presence of clouds would bring hope, and their passing would bring disappointment. The false teachers promised much, but delivered little.
They were also like autumn trees, without fruit. Autumn trees should be heavy with fruit, but the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) was lacking in the false teachers. They were exactly the kind of people Satan wants to lead the church.
Jude 1:13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
After a storm, shores are often covered with dirty froth, and churned up debris like dead wood, dead fish, and dead weeds. The false teachers were depositing the refuse of their evil lives on the shores of their listeners.
They were also like wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. Jude may be thinking of a shooting star that shines only briefly, then flies into oblivion. The false teachers may have seemed impressive, but they would soon flame out.
Jude 1:14-15 Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
Jude is quoting from the book of Enoch (Enoch 1:9), which is not in the Bible. The fact that Jude quotes from an extra-biblical source has been a concern to some, but Paul also quoted from sources outside the Bible (Acts 17:28, 1 Corinthians 15:33, Titus 1:12). Quoting from an extra-biblical source does not imply a complete endorsement, any more than a minister quoting an author implies a complete endorsement of all that author has written.
Reflection and Review
Should Christians disrespect the devil?
Why should people read the whole Bible?
Why do unbelievers become pastors?