Jude, Part 5

Saints and Sinners

Jude 14—16

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

In these three verses, Jude hones in on these apostates and gives clues that will help believers identify them. Never let it be said that the Bible keeps its readers in the dark.

In verses 14 and 15, Jude again quotes fro m an apocryphal book, known as 1 Enoch. While fragments of this ancient text have been found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, in the first century of the Christian era it was widely circulated and well known. This is why Jude quoted from it. He gives no hint that he thought what he cited was inspired; so many early believers were familiar with it, he used it as a kind of “sermon illustration.”

1. What Enoch Saw, verse 14—15

This prophecy of Enoch is not found anywhere in the Old Testament. We are told about Enoch in Genesis 5:18—24,

When Jared had lived 162 years, he became the father of Enoch. And after he became the father of Enoch, Jared lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Jared lived 962 years, and then he died.
When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.

And this is all we know about Enoch. “He walked with God;” apparently he had an amazing spiritual nature, and God simply removed him from the earth and he did not experience death. This godly man, who lived and spoke the word of the Lord before the Flood, like Jude, Paul, and Peter, preached against the false teachers of his day. We see that this problem of false teachers and false teaching is as old as man himself. For some reason, God the Holy Spirit saw fit to exclude Enoch’s writings from the canon of inspired Scripture, but here is one, single prophecy that is included: a prophecy against false teachers and their doom. Dr. Wuest’s translation of verses 14 and 15 goes like this:

And there prophesied also with respect to these, the seventh from Adam, Enoch, saying, “Behold, there comes the Lord with His holy myriads, to execute judgment against all and to convict all those who are destitute of a reverential awe towards God, concerning all their works of impiety which the impiously performed and concerning all the harsh things which impious sinners spoke against Him.

The subject of the sentence, and the subject of Enoch’s sermon, is the Lord. Jude puts the quotation is the perspective of Christ’s return. The “holy Myriads,” we know in light of Revelation, refers to either the angelic host that will accompany Christ or to the saints that will also accompany Him, or both. Jude’s point: When Christ returns in glory and power, He is coming to execute judgment upon all sinners and to convict the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in an ungodly way.

It’s interesting when we compare Enoch with the Church. Enoch was translated, removed from the earth by God. The Body of Christ, the Church, similarly, will be translated, removed from the earth by God. What will be left behind when the Church leaves will be an apostate church and a world populated by unregenerate sinners. That kind of world was judged by God using a flood, in Noah’s day. In the same way, God will judge the world to come when Christ returns. The great hymn-writer John Newton wrote these words:

At His call the dead awaken,
Rise to life from earth and sea;
All the powers of nature, shaken,
By His looks prepare to flee.
Careless sinner.
What will then become of thee?

Enoch not only preached against the wickedness of his day, but he looked far into the future to address all godless people of all generations. In fact, in the Greek, the stress in on those two words, “all” and “godless.” In a sense, this brief word of prophecy, spoken in antiquity, is a summary everything every written about Divine judgment through the pages of Scripture.

Those of us who love the Lord and love His Word grow impatient with what see as a rapid degeneration of the Church. Sometimes it is hard to fathom why the Lord permits so much heresy to preached in His Name. So many people are led astray, down the garden path of heresy. But Jude reminds us, through Enoch, a man ahead of his time, that a day of reckoning is coming. Peter said a similar thing, in 2 Peter 3:8—9,

Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change. (The Message)

Rest assured, the wicked will get their reward. Once upon a time, the great preacher Jonathan Edwards preached a powerful sermon entitled “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Now, as Leonard Ravenhill observed, the tide has changed; it is now “God in the Hands of Angry Sinners!” But, it won’t always be like this. False teachers are, as we noted before, the walking dead.

2. How to spot a false teacher, verse 16

After quoting Enoch’s prophecy, Jude applies it to the ungodly men, the apostate teachers, of his day. These false teachers, with their flowery words and heady concepts, are really, at their core, disreputable human beings. These false teachers are:

  • Grumblers. The KJV calls them “murmurers.” The Greek word means to “utter complaints,” literally to “whine.” It’s not a loud, outspoken kind of whining, but a quiet and persistent grumbling against God.
  • Faultfinders. That is, they are complainers. The false teachers complain about their lot in life, they are always searching but never finding. They are discontent, unhappy and miserable.
  • They follow their own evil desires. That’s how the NIV translates it, but a more accurate translation might be: “they follow their own passions.” They walk after their own lusts and desires, either good or bad. These apostates do whatever they want without regard for God or God’s will. That’s why they are never satisfied. Nothing can satisfy the needs of the human heart save Christ.
  • They boast about themselves. Literally, “their mouths speak bombastic words.” They’re immodest, arrogant, self-confident, and they use extravagant language to impress impressionable minds.
  • They flatter others for their own advantage. The Greek is very picturesque: “They honor faces for the sake of advantage,” in other words, they surround themselves with the pretty people, the attractive people, the talented people, so that they themselves will benefit from that relationship.

In other words, these apostates exhibit character traits exactly opposite to the Christ-like traits believers are called to demonstrate.

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