Jude 1:20-23

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,
21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
22 Be merciful to those who doubt;
23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.[a]

Images for Jude 1:20-23

Jude 1:20-23 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO JUDE

That this epistle was written by Jude, one of the twelve apostles of Christ, and not by Jude the fifteenth bishop of Jerusalem, who lived in the time of Trojan, a little before Bar Cocab, the false Messiah, as Grotius thought, is evident from his being called, in the epistle itself, the brother of James, and which is confirmed by all copies; and its agreement with the second epistle of Peter shows it to have been written about the same time, and upon the same occasion. As to Jude's not calling himself an apostle, but a servant of Jesus Christ, it may be observed, that the latter is much the same with the former, and the Apostle Paul sometimes uses them both, as in Ro 1:1 Tit 1:1, and sometimes neither, as \1Th 1:1 2Th 1:1 Phm 1:1\, and sometimes only servant, as Jude does here, Php 1:1, though in some copies of the title of this epistle he is called "Jude the Apostle"; and as to Jude's making mention of the apostles as if he was later than they, and not of their number, Jude 1:17, it may be returned for answer to it, that the Apostle Peter expresses himself much in the same manner, 2Pe 3:2, where some copies, instead of "us the apostles", read "your apostles", \\see Gill on "2Pe 3:2"\\; moreover, Jude seems to cite a passage out of Peter, as Peter in the same chapter cites the Apostle Paul, which only shows agreement in their doctrine and writing; and at most it only follows from hence, that Jude wrote after some of the apostles, as Paul and Peter, who had foretold there would be mockers in the last time; and that Jude had lived to be a witness of the truth of what they had said; nor does he exclude himself from their number. And that this epistle is a genuine one appears from the majesty of its style, the truth of doctrine contained in it, and its agreement with the second epistle of Peter, and from the early reception of it in the churches. Eusebius {a} says, it was reckoned among the seven catholic epistles, and was published in most churches; though he observes, that many of the ancients make no mention of it: but certain it is, that several of the ancient writers before him do make mention of it, and cite it as genuine, as Clemens Alexandrinus {b}, Tertullian {c}, and Origen {d}: and as for the prophecy of Enoch, cited in this epistle, it is not taken out of an apocryphal book, that bears that name, for the apostle makes no mention of any writing of his, but of a prophecy; and had he cited it out of that book, as it was truth, it can no more prejudice the authority of this epistle, than the citations made by the Apostle Paul out of the Heathen poets can affect his epistles: and whereas there is an account also given in this epistle of a dispute about the body of Moses, nowhere else to be met with, supposing it to be understood of his real body, of which \\see Gill on "Jude 1:9"\\; this can be no more an objection to the genuineness of this epistle, than the mention of Jannes and Jambres, who withstood Moses, by the Apostle Paul, 2Ti 3:8, is an objection to an epistle of his, whose names are not to be met with in other parts of Scripture; but were what were known by tradition, as might be the case here. The epistle is called "catholic", or "general", because it is not written to any particular person or church, but to the saints in general, and it may be to the same persons that Peter wrote his; see 1Pe 1:1, 2Pe 1:1, and who seem to be chiefly the believing Jews; see Jude 1:5,17, though the Syriac version of Jude 1:1 reads, "Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ"--ammel, "to the nations", or "Gentiles, called" the design of the epistle to both is to exhort them to continue in the faith, and contend for it; and to describe false teachers, to point out their principles, practices, and dreadful end, that so they might shun and avoid them.

{a} Hist. Eccles. l. 2. c. 23. {b} Paedagog. l. 3. c. 8. p. 239. & Stromat. l. 3. p. 431. {c} De Cultu Foemin. l. 1. c. 3. {d} In Josh. Homil. 7. fol. 156. E. & Comment, in Matth. p. 223. Ed. Huet.

\\INTRODUCTION TO JUDE 1\\

The writer of this epistle describes himself by his name, Jude; by his spiritual condition, "a servant of Christ"; and by his natural relation, "a brother of James"; and inscribes it to persons chosen of God, secured in Christ, and called by grace, Jude 1:1, whom he salutes, and wishes a multiplication of mercy, peace, and love unto, Jude 1:2, and then points at the subject matter of his epistle, "the common salvation"; and his view in writing it, which was to exhort them to contend earnestly for, the Gospel; which exhortation was necessary, since some reprobate and wicked men, abusers of the grace of God, and blasphemers of the person of Christ, had got in among them, Jude 1:3,4, and in order to deter them from following their pernicious ways, he lays before them various instances of divine vengeance on sinners; as the Israelites, whom God delivered out of Egypt, and yet destroyed them for their unbelief; the angels, who not content with their first estate, forsook their habitation, and are reserved in chains of darkness to the day of judgment; and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha, and the adjacent cities, who for their uncleanness suffer the vengeance of eternal fire, as an example to others, Jude 1:5-7, in like manner, the apostle observes, these false teachers, who were filthy dreamers, defiled themselves with such sins, and also despised and spoke evil of civil magistrates, Jude 1:8, which sin of theirs is aggravated by Michael the archangel not railing at the devil, in a contention with him about the body of Moses, but gently reproving him; by speaking evil of what they were ignorant of, and by their brutish sensuality, in corrupting: themselves in things they had natural knowledge of, Jude 1:9,10, and both their sin and punishment are exemplified in the cases of Cain, Balaam, and Korah; being guilty of hatred of the brethren, of covetousness, and of contradiction, Jude 1:11, and by various metaphors are set forth their intemperance, hypocrisy, instability, unfruitfulness, pride, wrath, and lust, for whom the blackest darkness is reserved for ever, Jude 1:12,13, the certainty of which is proved from an ancient prophecy of Enoch, concerning the coming of Christ to judgment, when vengeance will be taken on those men for their ungodly deeds and hard speeches, Jude 1:14,15, who are further described by their murmurs and complaints; by their pride, respect of persons, and covetousness; by their scoffs, and walking after their own lusts, as had been foretold by the apostles of Christ; by separating themselves from the saints, and by their sensuality, and not having the Spirit of God, Jude 1:17-19, and the apostle having thus at large described these false teachers, by reason of whom the saints were in danger, directs them to the use of means by which they might be secured from them; such as building themselves up in their most holy faith, praying in the holy Ghost, keeping themselves in the love of God, and looking for the mercy of Christ unto eternal life, Jude 1:20,21, and he teaches them not only to be concerned for themselves, but for others also, who were in danger from these deceivers; to deal with some in a tender and compassionate way, with others more roughly, expressing an hatred to a filthy conversation, Jude 1:22,23, and then the epistle is concluded with a doxology, or an ascription of glory to the only wise God our Saviour, who is able to keep his people from falling into such pernicious principles and practices, and to present them faultless before his glorious presence with exceeding joy, Jude 1:24,25.

Jude 1:20-23 In-Context

18 They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.”
19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit,
21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
22 Be merciful to those who doubt;
23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—
25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

Cross References 7

  • 1. Colossians 2:7; 1 Thessalonians 5:11
  • 2. ver 3
  • 3. Ephesians 6:18
  • 4. Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28; 2 Peter 3:12
  • 5. S Matthew 25:46
  • 6. Amos 4:11; Zechariah 3:2-5; 1 Corinthians 3:15
  • 7. Revelation 3:4

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. The Greek manuscripts of these verses vary at several points.