Book of Jude Part 17 (series: Lessons on Jude)
by John Lowe
V. Exhortations Against Apostates. 17–23.
A. Exhortation by the Apostles. 17–19.
17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
Jude now turns away from the apostates (renouncers, defectors, deserters, renegades: somebody who renounces a belief or allegiance) to the believers’ role in the midst of these hireling shepherds. First, he reminds them that they have been forewarned with regard to the oncoming peril. Then he encourages them to maintain themselves in a strong spiritual condition. Finally, he counsels them to use discernment in ministering to those who have been victimized by the apostates. The apostles had predicted the rise of false teachers. This can be seen in the ministry of:
• Paul (Acts 20.29-30) “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them” Paul later wrote to Timothy who was in Ephesus concerning these grievous wolves (see I Tim 1:3–7). His warning was later fulfilled in the apostasy of such men as Hymenaeus, Alexander, and Philetus.
(2 Tim 3.1-9) “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as theirs also was.”
• Peter (See 2 Pet. 2:1–22)
• (2 Pet. 3:1–4 ) “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;”
• and John (1 Jn. 2:18, 19)--"Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."
But, beloved. Jude now asserts that there is a contrast to this picture of judgment on these imposters. Jude shows that this is not the way for those who are truly redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. He addresses believers as “dear.”
remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; “Spoken before” has been taken to mean that Jude is a late author writing in another generation than that of the apostles; this is not a valid inference, since the word does not necessarily mean “a long time ago.” Paul often used this word to refer to his own previous statements made only weeks or months before; once, in *Galatians 1:9, he uses it to refer to his statement in the previous verse! The whole purpose of the letter is to remind them that the Word of God was given once and for all by the apostles. The words were not, of course, spoken of the apostles, but “by the apostles,” as is obvious from the next verse.
*(Galatians 1.9) "As we said before, so say I now
again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." Paul no doubt had warned them of the dangers of false teachers as he did the Ephesian elders (Acts 20:29–32). The perfect tense of said (Gr prolegō) means that it was a certain and clear pronouncement.
There is a striking similarity between these two verses (17, 18) and 2 Peter 3:1-3--"This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts,” The reminder is that, although there are false teachers among them who claim to be also representing God, believers must recognize, accept, and obey only the true word of God as found in the Old Testament (the holy prophets) and in the preaching of the apostles (meaning himself and the others). It occurs in the same connection following the description of the false and dangerous teachers against whom the apostle would guard them, and understood almost in the same words. When Jude entreats them to remember the words which were spoken by the apostles, it is not necessarily to be inferred that he was not himself an apostle, for he is speaking of what was past, and there might have been a special reason why he should refer to something that they would distinctly remember which had been spoken by the other apostles on this point. Or it might be that he meant also to include himself among them, and to speak of the apostles collectively, without particularly specifying himself.
While the pretender is despised by the faithful and will be judged by Christ, those who have been forgiven by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross will be embraced in the bonds of love. In the midst of this gross apostasy, great comfort is provided in knowing that this kind of hypocrisy had been predicted by the apostles of Jesus Christ. The Twelve learned it at Jesus’ feet as He carefully taught them all of those things pertaining to the kingdom. “False messiahs and false prophets will appear. They will work miraculous signs and do wonderful things to deceive, if possible, those whom God has chosen. Be on your guard! I have told you everything before it happens” (Mark 13:22-23).
Remember…the words. Instead of following those teachers and their corrupt doctrine, remember what Christ and his apostles have said; for they foretold the coming of such false teachers and impostors. Jude is implying that his readers had been contemporaries of the apostles. Peter uses the very same formula in reminding the contemporaries of him and the other apostles.
spoken before. Spoken already; before now.
How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time. The gist of their message was that there would be mockers in the last time (the end of the Jewish nation as a political entity), following their own ungodly lusts. There are close verbal correlations with II Peter3.3--"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts;" and I Timothy 4:1--"Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils.” To some, it seems harsh to attribute false teaching as coming from Satan, and one must be careful not to attribute everything with which he disagrees to Satan--which seems to hint at some kind of oral formula in apostolic times.
Mockers. The word rendered mockers is the same which in the parallel place in 2 Peter 3:3 is rendered scoffers. Peter has stated more fully what was the particular subject on which they scoffed, and has shown that there was no reason for it: “And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:4).