Book of Jude Part 8 (series: Lessons on Jude)
by John Lowe
Some of the sins in Sodom, in addition to homosexuality, were pride, gluttony, laziness, and self-centeredness--"Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good” (Ezekiel 16:49-50). But the sins for which they are here reprimand were those of sexual wickedness. Jude uses these cities not so much as an example of their wickedness but rather as an example of the consequences of such epidemic homosexuality and promiscuity. Just as Sodom and Gomorrah, the people who committed such abominations would also suffer the eternal judgment of a holy and righteous God.
Both of what God will do to such transgressors, and of the position laid down in Jude 4, which is, that God has in the most open and positive manner declared that such and such sinners shall meet with the punishment due to their crimes.
The punishment meted out to Sodom and Gomorrah, the angels and God’s people furnish a warning against all such conduct, and a demonstration that punishment shall come upon the ungodly. The condemnation of any sinner, or of any class of sinners, always furnishes such a warning--“And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly" (2 Peter 2:6) .
suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
The word rendered here as “suffering” is used metaphorically to mean ‘to sustain, undergo or suffer punishment.’ The word is applied to Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them; but the things stated relate to the inhabitants of those cities. The word “vengeance” means punishment; that is, such vengeance as the Lord takes on the guilty; not vengeance for the gratification of private and personal feeling, but like that which a magistrate appoints for the maintenance of the laws; such as justice demands. The phrase "eternal fire" is one that is often used to denote future punishment—like expressing the severity and intensity of the suffering--"Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Mat. 25.41). As it is used here, it cannot mean that the fires which consumed Sodom and Gomorrah were literally eternal, or were always kept burning, because that was not true. The expression seems to denote, in this connection, two things:
(1.) That the destruction of the cities of the plain, along with their inhabitants, was as complete as if the fires had been burning forever— the consumption was absolute and enduring—the sinners were entirely cut off, and the cities were rendered forever desolate; and
(2.) that, in its nature and duration, this was a striking symbol of the destruction which will come upon the ungodly.
I do not see that the apostle means to affirm that those particular sinners who dwelt in Sodom would be punished forever, since his expressions do not directly assert that, and his argument does not demand it; but still the image in his mind, of the destruction of those cities, was clearly that of the utter desolation and ruin of which this was the symbol; of the perpetual destruction of the wicked, like that of the cities of the plain. If this had not been the case, there was no reason why he should have used the word eternal—meaning here perpetual—since, if in his mind there was no image of future punishment, all that the argument would have demanded was the simple statement that they were cut off by fire. The passage, then, cannot be used to prove that the particular dwellers in Sodom will be punished forever—whatever may be the truth on that point; but you can take it to the bank that there is a place of eternal punishment, of which that was a striking symbol. The meaning is that the case was one which furnished a demonstration of the fact that God will punish sin; that this was an example of the punishment which God sometimes inflicts on sinners in this world, and a type of that eternal punishment will be inflicted in the next.
As far as their being rebuilt, that is impossible, because the very ground on which they stood is burned up, and the whole plain is now the immense lake called Asphaltites. As far as the destruction of the cities is concerned, it has no end; they were totally burnt up, and never were and never can be rebuilt. Their ruin is a warning to all people to take heed of, and flee from, “fleshly lusts that war against the soul” *(1 Pt. 2:11).
*(1 Pe. 2.11) “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; lasciviousness. Absence of restraint, wantonness, indecency.
IV. The Apostate Present. 8–16.
A. Activity of the Apostates. 8–10.
8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
Jude turns to the subject of present-day apostates, and launches into a description of their sins, their indictment, their counterparts in nature, their doom, and their ungodly words and deeds (vv. 8–16).
First of all is the matter of their sins. By dreaming they defile the flesh. Their thought life is polluted. Living in a world of filthy fantasies, they eventually find the fulfillment of their dreams in sexual immorality, just like the men of Sodom.
They reject authority. They are rebels against God and against governmental institutions. Depend on them to be advocates of lawlessness and anarchy. Their names are on the membership rolls of organizations that are dedicated to the overthrow of government.
They speak evil of angelic dignitaries. It means nothing to them that “there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Rom. 13:1b). They scorn the divine command, “You shall not ... curse a ruler of your people” (Ex. 22:28). They speak contemptuously and spitefully against authority, whether it is divine, angelic, or human. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh. Jude returns to the present condition that existed in the young Christian churches. The ungodly people who had joined themselves to the believers were consumed with lasciviousness (lustfulness). They were agitated by impure dreams. They contaminate their bodies with sin, reject the Lord’s authority, and insult His glory.
They rejected any authority and hated those in positions of leadership. They paid no attention to law and order but did what they desired, especially seeking sensual pleasure. It was a very permissive philosophy with no inhibitions. They reviled heavenly things. They libeled the reputation of anyone who was a believer or made any attempt to seek heavenly things.“There is a way that seems right to a person, but eventually, it ends in death” (Proverbs 14:12).
Jude now shows the complete and total corruption of these false teachers to prove their similarity to the sort of people mentioned in the above examples. The word “filthy” is not in the original text and may have been mistakenly supplied; dreamers (Gr enypiazomai) means that they are prophets, or actually false prophets, who claimed to get their teachings by revelation or dreams *(see Deut. 13:1–5). That they are filthy is not to be denied but is brought out by the fact that they defile flesh which seems to mean men as opposed to angels, and also connects them with the people of Sodom who went after strange flesh. Today, we have many preachers; especially those on TV who claim to have received a special revelation from God or the ability to heal the sick and infirmed. They will be judged to be the same as the false prophets and suffer the same fate.
*(Deut. 13:1–5) “1If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, 2And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; 3Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. 5And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.”
Likewise also. In the same way, do these persons defile the flesh, or resemble the inhabitants of Sodom; that is, they practice the same kind of vices. What the apostle says is, that their character resembled that of the inhabitants of Sodom; the example which he cites of the punishment which was brought on those sinners, leaves it to be clearly inferred that the persons of whom he was speaking would be punished in a similar manner.
Likewise also these filthy dreamers. He means to say that these false teachers and their followers were as unbelieving and disobedient as the Israelites in the wilderness, as rebellious against the authority of God as the fallen angels, and as impure and unholy as the Sodomites; and that consequently, they must expect similar punishment.