Beware of Apostates!
Highlights From the Letter of Jude
JEHOVAH’S servants must “abhor what is wicked” and “cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9) The Bible writer Jude helped others to do this in his letter sent from Palestine probably about 65 C.E.
Jude called himself “a slave of Jesus Christ, but a brother of James.” This James was evidently the well-known half brother of Jesus Christ. (Mark 6:3; Acts 15:13-21; Galatians 1:19) Jude himself was thus Jesus’ half brother. However, he may have thought it unbecoming to mention this fleshly tie, since Christ was then a glorified spirit person in heaven. Jude’s letter was very direct in giving counsel that can help us to “cling to what is good” and beware of apostates.
“Put Up a Hard Fight”
Though Jude intended to write about the salvation Christians hold in common, he found it necessary to urge his readers to “put up a hard fight for the faith.” (Verses 1-4) Why? Because ungodly men had slipped into the congregation and were ‘turning the undeserved kindness of God into an excuse for loose conduct.’ They wrongly thought that they could break God’s laws and yet stay among his people. May we never yield to such wicked reasoning but always pursue righteousness, thankful that through Jesus’ blood God mercifully washed us from our sins.—1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 1 John 1:7.
Warnings Set Before Us
It is necessary to guard against certain attitudes, conduct, and people. (Verses 5-16) Because some Israelites saved from Egypt lacked faith, they were destroyed. Angels that forsook their proper position have been “reserved with eternal bonds under dense [spiritual] darkness for the judgment of the great day.” Gross immorality brought “the judicial punishment of everlasting fire” upon Sodom and Gomorrah. Therefore, let us always please God and never leave “the path of life.”—Psalm 16:11.
Unlike the archangel Michael, who would not even bring a judgment against the Devil in abusive terms, the ungodly men spoke abusively of “glorious ones,” evidently those with certain glory conferred upon them by God and Christ as anointed elders. Let us not show disrespect for God-given authority!
The bad examples of Cain, Balaam, and Korah were followed by the ungodly men. They posed a spiritual threat comparable to rocks hidden below water and were like waterless clouds and dead, uprooted trees producing nothing beneficial. Those apostates were also murmurers, complainers, and ‘admirers of personalities for the sake of their own benefit.’
Keep On Resisting
Jude next gave advice on resisting bad influences. (Verses 17-25) There would be ridiculers in “the last time,” and true Christians must endure them and their taunting words today. To resist such bad influences, we should build ourselves up on our “most holy faith,” pray with holy spirit, and keep in God’s love, while waiting for Jesus’ mercy to be expressed.
Apparently in the role of false teachers, the ungodly men caused some to have doubts. (Compare 2 Peter 2:1-3.) And what did doubters need? Why, spiritual help to be snatched out of the “fire,” everlasting destruction! (Matthew 18:8, 9) But the godly need not fear that destiny, for Jehovah will protect them from “stumbling” into sin and the destruction awaiting apostates.
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Hidden Rocks: Jude warned fellow Christians about ‘rocks hidden below water in their love feasts.’ (Jude 12) Feigning love for believers, such apostates were like jagged underwater rocks that could wreck ships or rip and kill swimmers. Love feasts may have been banquets to which materially prosperous Christians invited poor fellow believers. The Church Father Chrysostom (347?–407 C.E.) said: “They all met at a common feast: the rich bringing provisions, and the poor and those who had nothing being invited, they all feasted in common together.” Whatever was the nature of the early love feasts, Jude’s warning helped the faithful to beware of apostate ‘hidden rocks’ that could bring about spiritual death. Though Christians were not commanded to hold love feasts, and they are not held today, Jehovah’s people do help one another materially in times of need and do have pleasurable fellowship.