Jude 1:5 MEANING

Jude 1:5
(5-7) We now enter upon the main body of the Epistle. Three instances of God's vengeance: the unbelievers in the wilderness; the impure angels; Sodom and Gomorrha.

(5) I will therefore put you in remembrance.--Or, But I wish to remind you. The "but" indicates opposition to the impiety of those just mentioned.

Though ye once knew this.--The best MSS. and versions compel us to substitute "all things" for "this," and we must translate, because ye have once for all (as in Jude 1:3) known all things. You have once for all been taught all that I want to say to you; so that I need only remind you, there is no need to instruct. (Comp. Romans 15:14-15, where see Notes; 2 Peter 1:12; 1 John 2:21.) "All things" probably has special reference to Old Testament history, as what follows seems to show.

How that the Lord.--"How that" depends upon "remind," not upon "have known." There is very strong evidence in favour of substituting "Jesus" for "the Lord;" a most remarkable reading, showing how, in Christian language, the Man Jesus had become identified with the Eternal Son. The use of "Christ" in 1 Corinthians 10:4, though less striking, is similar.

Having saved the people.--Or, perhaps, having saved a people. A whole nation was rescued. The order of the three examples of signal punishment is in 2 Peter chronological: impure angels, flood, Sodom and Gomorrha; here not. But the order here is quite intelligible. St. Jude's main object is to warn his readers against that party in the Christian community who, by its abuse of Christian liberty, transformed the gospel of purity into a gospel of wantonness, and to give them a safeguard against such. And the safeguard is this: to hold fast the faith once for all delivered to them, and to remember the consequences of being unbelieving. For this purpose, no warning could be more apposite than the fate of Jude's own nation in the wilderness. This palmary instance given, two others follow, probably suggested by 2 Peter.

Afterward destroyed.--Better, secondly destroyed. Wiclif, "the secunde tyme"; Rheims, "secondly." The Lord twice manifested His power on Israel: (1) in mercy; (2) in judgment. The reference is almost certainly to Numbers 14:35; Deuteronomy 1:35, &c. The destruction of Jerusalem can scarcely be meant, whatever date we assign to the Epistle, although the striking reading, "Jesus" for "the Lord," gives some countenance to such an interpretation. The most obvious meaning is, that the people destroyed were those who, in the first instance, were saved. Had the destruction of Jerusalem been intended, the reference would probably have been more clear.

(6) And the angels which kept not.--Rather, because they kept not. The construction is similar to that in Matthew 18:25, "Forasmuch as he had not to pay." (See Note on Jude 1:8.) This second instance of the impure angels has nothing to do with the original rebellion of Satan, or "fall of the angels." The reference is either to Genesis 6:2, or (more probably), to passages in the Book of Enoch. (See Excursus at the end of this Epistle.)

Their first estate.--The Greek word has two meanings: (1) beginning, which our translators have adopted here; (2) rule or power, which would be better. Wiclif has "prinshood;" Rheims, "principalitie." The word is translated "rule" (1 Corinthians 15:24) and "principality" (Romans 8:38; Ephesians 1:21; Ephesians 3:10; Ephesians 6:12; Colossians 1:16; Colossians 2:10; Colossians 2:15; Titus 3:1). The term belongs to the Jewish classification of angels, and here refers rather to their power over things earthly than to the beginning of their state. The two meanings are but two views of the same fact: their power or dignity was their first estate. Some explain the word of the power of God over the angels; but both wording and context are against this.

Their own habitation.--Their proper home. By leaving heaven and coming down to earth, they lost their power over the earth. (Comp. Milton's Paradise Lost, Book 5)

He hath reserved.--Better, He hath kept, in ironical contrast to "which kept not" just above: the same Greek word is used in both cases. This ironical contrast does not exist in the parallel passage, 2 Peter 2:4. Would a writer, quite willing to copy, have failed to copy this? On the other hand, what more natural than that St. Jude should add a forcible touch?

In everlasting chains.--Speculations as to how this and 2 Peter 2:4 are to be reconciled with such texts as Luke 22:31, 1 Peter 5:8, which speak plainly of the freedom and activity of Satan, and Ephesians 6:12, Romans 8:38, Colossians 2:15, which imply numerous agents akin to him, are not very profitable. The reality of powers of evil may be inferred, apart from Scripture, from their effects. That some of these powers are personal, some not, some free, some not, and that all are to be defeated at last, seems to be implied in Scripture; but its silence is a rebuke to curious speculation. Enough is told us for our comfort, warning, and assurance. It consoles us to know that much of the evil of which we are conscious in ourselves is not our own, but comes from without. It puts us on our guard to know that we have such powers arrayed against us. It gives us confidence to know that we have abundant means of victory even over them.

Under darkness.--The Greek word occurs only here, Jude 1:13, 2 Peter 2:4; 2 Peter 2:17, and possibly Hebrews 12:18. A separate English word, such as "gloom," is desirable for these passages.

The great day.--So called Revelation 6:17 (comp. Revelation 16:14), and nowhere else in the New Testament. Perhaps it comes from Joel 2:31; Malachi 4:5. St. John's expression is the "last day" (John 6:39-40; John 6:44; John 6:54; John 11:24; John 12:48; and nowhere else). "The day of judgment," "that day," and "the day of the Lord," are other common expressions.

(7) Even as.--Or, possibly, how, like "how that" in Jude 1:5, depending upon "put you in remembrance." Sodom and Gomorrha are typical instances of divine vengeance both in the Old and New Testament (Isaiah 13:19; Jeremiah 50:40; Romans 9:29).

And the cities about them.--Adma and Zeboim (Deuteronomy 29:23; Hosea 11:8).

In like manner.--We must read, in like manner to these, and arrange the sentence thus: Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them, giving themselves over to fornication in like manner to these. Who are meant by "these"? Not the ungodly men of Jude 1:4, which would anticipate Jude 1:8; nor the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha, which would be somewhat clumsy in the Greek; but the angels of Jude 1:6. The reference is again to the impurity of certain angels in having intercourse with the daughters of men, of which there is so much in the Book of Enoch. This sin of the angels was strictly analogous to that of the people of Sodom.

Going after strange flesh.--Strictly, going astray after other flesh--i.e., other than is allowed; leaving natural for unnatural uses.

Are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.--It would be possible to take "of eternal fire" after "example," thus: are set forth as an example of eternal fire in undergoing punishment. (Comp. Wisdom Of Solomon 10:7.) The punishment of the submerged cities is perpetual; moreover, there are appearances as of volcanic fire under them. The Greek for "undergoing" occurs here only in the New Testament; but comp. 2 Maccabees 4:48.

Verses 5-7. - Three instances of the judgments of God are now referred to. They are cited as typical examples of the Divine retribution, with which the readers can be taken to be familiar, and which they will recognize to give point to the terror of the condemnation overhanging the men in question. Verse 5. - The first is taken from the history of Israel. It is introduced, not as a contrast with what precedes, but as a natural transition from it. It is given, too, as a matter quite within their knowledge, and of which consequently they need only to be reminded. The Authorized Version is short of the mark in several respects here. What the writer expresses is not the mere fact that he is to do a certain thing, but that he has the wish to do so. Hence the now I desire to put you in remembrance of the Revised Version is preferable to the I will therefore, etc., of the Authorized Version. The next clause is more decidedly astray. For the term rendered" once" means "once for all," and the knowledge is given as a present possession. Hence the rendering should be though ye know once for all; or better, knowing as ye do once for all - a form of expression which might be paraphrased in our English idiom, as Mr. Humphry rightly observes, "though ye have known all along." There is, however, very considerable difficulty in the reading here. It varies between "ye know this" which is accepted by the Authorized Version, "ye know all things" which is preferred by the Revised Version, and "ye all know" which, though poorly accredited, is yet supposed by Professor Herr to be not improbably the original. The documentary evidence is, on the whole, on the side of "all things;" and if this is adopted, the universal term will naturally be limited by the context to a knowledge of all that is pertinent to the point in question. This knowledge of the principles at issue in the case of these evil men, and of the retributive deeds of God by which these principles have been signally vindicated, is a reason why Jude needs simply to refresh the memories of his readers, and not to tell them anything new. In the second half of the verse there is a still more serious difficulty in the text. Instead of the term "Lord," some of the very best authorities read "Jesus." If this must be accepted, we have an act of the Jehovah of the Old Testament ascribed to the Jesus of the New Testament. But this would be an entirely unexampled usage. For, while the New Testament not unfrequently introduces the name of Christ when it refers to deeds of grace or claims of honour which the Old Testament connects with the name of Jehovah (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:4; 1 Peter 3:15, etc.), it never does this with that name of the Redeemer of the New Testament which specially marks his human nature and origin. Hence Professor Herr speaks of the reading "Jesus" here as a blunder, however supported. The ordinary reading may, therefore, be adhered to, especially as it is by no means ill accredited, having on its side two of the primary uncials and other weighty authorities. These clauses are peculiar in other respects. They speak not of "the people" as the Authorized Version puts it, but rather of "a people." And this is not without its purpose. For the idea is not simply that the ancient Israel experienced both redemption and judgment at the hands of their Lord, but that Israel's Lord, by bringing Israel out of Egypt, secured a people for himself, though he had also to destroy unbelievers among them. Again, the phrase rendered "afterward" by the Authorized Version means strictly "the second time," as is noticed by the margin of the Revised Version. What is intended, therefore, may be that Israel was the subject of two great deeds on Jehovah's part - in the first instance a redeeming deed, in the second instance a punitive deed. And his purpose in seeking a people for himself was not inconsistent with his doing what he did in this second instance. What, then, is referred to? Those seem to interpret it best who take it to be a general reference to the wilderness-fate of unbelieving Israel, rather than to any single instance of the terrors of the Divine judgment, such as that reported in Numbers 25:1-9. It is far-fetched to suppose that the event in view is one so remote from the deliverance of Israel from Egypt as the Babylonian captivity. We may compare with this verse, therefore, such passages as Psalm 106:12-21; Hebrews 3:16-4:5.

1:5-7 Outward privileges, profession, and apparent conversion, could not secure those from the vengeance of God, who turned aside in unbelief and disobedience. The destruction of the unbelieving Israelites in the wilderness, shows that none ought to presume on their privileges. They had miracles as their daily bread; yet even they perished in unbelief. A great number of the angels were not pleased with the stations God allotted to them; pride was the main and direct cause or occasion of their fall. The fallen angels are kept to the judgment of the great day; and shall fallen men escape it? Surely not. Consider this in due time. The destruction of Sodom is a loud warning to all, to take heed of, and flee from fleshly lusts that war against the soul,I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once know this,.... The Alexandrian copy, and some others, and the Vulgate Latin version, read, "knew all things"; but rather it is to be restrained by the following instance of, God's vengeance on unbelievers; which with others is produced, to vindicate the divine conduct in the condemnation of the above persons, and to show that that is certain, and may be expected, since God has always dealt thus with such persons; and this they knew by reading of the Scriptures; at least they had known it once, though it might now be forgotten by them; and they had known it once for all; they had been perfectly acquainted with it; which is said, lest the apostle should be thought to write to persons ignorant, and rude in knowledge, and to show that he wrote nothing new and unheard of, and so should have the more weight and influence upon them; and he thought fit to remind them of it, though they had known it: it is one part of the work of the ministers of the word to put people in mind of what they have known; which is necessary, because of the inattentiveness of hearers, their forgetfulness, and loss of knowledge, and the weakness of some capacities to take in, and retain things; and if the judgment is not more informed hereby, yet the affections may be afresh raised, and grace be drawn out into exercise, and the mind be established and confirmed. The instance follows,

how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt; that is, the people of Israel, who were the chosen people of God, a special people, above all others, and had peculiar privileges; these the Lord brought out of the land of Egypt, with an high hand, and a mighty arm, and saved them out of their bondage, and delivered out of their oppressions and afflictions: the Alexandrian copy, and some others, the Vulgate Latin, and Ethiopic versions, instead of "the Lord", read "Jesus": and yet, though they were a special people, and notwithstanding this wonderful deliverance, and great salvation, he

afterward destroyed them that believed not; their carcasses fell in the wilderness by one judgment or another upon them; so that of all that came out of Egypt, but two entered into the land of Canaan: this shows the evil nature of unbelief; and that God will not suffer sin to go unobserved in any; no outward privileges and profession will screen any from divine vengeance; God sometimes makes severe examples of mere nominal professors; nor must false teachers, deniers of Christ, and perverters of his Gospel, expect to go free: moreover, it may be observed, that God may do great things for persons, and yet after all destroy them; great riches and honours may be conferred on some, great natural gifts on others; some may seem as if they had the grace of God, and were brought out of spiritual Egypt, and enjoy great mercies and favours, and have many deliverances wrought for them, and yet at last perish.

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