Tracing the False Teachers through Jude

It has been argued that Jude isn’t describing the then-present false teachers in verses 17-19, and that therefore it isn’t describing the fulfillment of Peter’s prophecy in Second Peter 3:3.  That is, that what is described in verses 17-19 is just a characteristic of some future false teachers.  But does the text bear that idea out?

Tracing the False Teachers through Jude

To confirm that Jude is speaking only of the false teachers who were living and working in the church when he wrote, in fulfillment of Peter’s prophecy, we must follow the pronouns and the word “ungodly” throughout the book. Also take special notice of what is said of the present false teachers in verse 16 and compare it with the prophecy Jude quotes in verse 18.

Verses 3-4: …it was needful for me to write unto you and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints, because there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Verses 5-7 are examples of previous judgments against rebellious people.

Verse 8: Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

Verse 9 speaks of the example of Michael the archangel

Verses 10-11: but these speak evil of those things which they know not. But what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah.

Verses 12-13: These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear. Clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots. Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

Verses 14-15: And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.

Verse 16: These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.

Verses 17-18: But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

Verse 19: These be they who separate themselves, sensual, not having the Spirit.

Conclusion:

Jude only has one group of false teachers in mind throughout his letter. It is the group who had already crept in secretly, causing him to write this letter (verses 3-4). Each time the word “these” shows up, it is a reference back to this same group of false teachers.

This group of false teachers that the church was having to deal with in AD 65-66 (depending on whose dating you go with) was “walking after their own lusts” (verse 16). Immediately after stating that fact, Jude asks them to remember Peter’s prophecy about the mockers that would walk after their own lusts—proving that Jude (by God’s inspiration) connected that prophecy with what was happening in the church at that time.

-Bradley Cobb

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