1:8 Yet these men, 1 as a result of their dreams, 2 defile the flesh, reject authority, 3 and insult 4 the glorious ones. 5 1:9 But even 6 when Michael the archangel 7 was arguing with the devil and debating with him 8 concerning Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring a slanderous judgment, but said, “May the Lord rebuke you!” 1:10 But these men do not understand the things they slander, and they are being destroyed by the very things that, like irrational animals, they instinctively comprehend. 9 1:11 Woe to them! For they have traveled down Cain’s path, 10 and because of greed 11 have abandoned themselves 12 to 13 Balaam’s error; hence, 14 they will certainly perish 15 in Korah’s rebellion. 1:12 These men are 16 dangerous reefs 17 at your love feasts, 18 feasting without reverence, 19 feeding only themselves. 20 They are 21 waterless 22 clouds, carried along by the winds; autumn trees without fruit 23 – twice dead, 24 uprooted; 1:13 wild sea waves, 25 spewing out the foam of 26 their shame; 27 wayward stars 28 for whom the utter depths of eternal darkness 29 have been reserved.
1 tn The reference is now to the false teachers.
2 tn Grk “dreaming.” The participle ἐνυπνιαζόμενοι (enupniazomenoi, “dreaming”) is adverbial to the pronoun οὗτοι (|outoi, “these”), though the particular relationship is not clear. It could mean, “while dreaming,” “by dreaming,” or “because of dreaming.” This translation has adopted the last option as Jude’s meaning, partially for syntactical reasons (the causal participle usually precedes the main verb) and partially for contextual reasons (these false teachers must derive their authority from some source, and the dreams provide the most obvious base). The participle ἐνυπνιαζόμενοι was sometimes used of apocalyptic visions, both of true and false prophets. This seems to be the meaning here.
4 tn The construction with the three verbs (“defile, “reject,” and “insult”) involves the particles μέν, δέ, δέ (men, de, de). A more literal (and pedantic) translation would be: “on the one hand, they defile the flesh, on the other hand, they reject authority, and on another hand, they insult the glorious ones.”
5 sn The glorious ones refers to angelic beings rather than mere human beings, just as in 2 Pet 2:10 (on which this passage apparently depends). Whether the angelic beings are good or evil, however, is difficult to tell (hence, the translation is left ambiguous). However, both in 2 Pet 2:11 and here, in Jude 9, the wicked angels seem to be in view (for not even Michael insults them).
6 tn The word “even” is not in Greek; it is implied by the height of the contrast.
7 sn According to Jewish intertestamental literature (such as 1 En. 20), Michael was one of seven archangels.
8 tn The sentence structure is a bit different in Greek. Literally it reads: “But Michael the archangel, when arguing with the devil and disputing.”
9 tn Or “they should naturally comprehend.” The present tense in this context may have a conative force.
sn They instinctively comprehend. Like irrational animals, these false teachers do grasp one thing – the instinctive behavior of animals in heat. R. Bauckham (Jude, 2 Peter [WBC], 63) notes that “Though they claim to be guided by special spiritual insight gained in heavenly revelations, they are in fact following the sexual instincts which they share with the animals.” Jude’s focus is somewhat different from Peter’s: Peter argued that, like irrational animals who are born to be caught and killed, these men will be destroyed when destroying others (2 Pet 2:12). Jude, however, does not mention the destruction of animals, just that these false teachers will be destroyed for mimicking them.
10 tn Or “they have gone the way of Cain.”
11 tn Grk “for wages.”
13 tn Or “in.”
14 tn Grk “and.” See note on “perish” later in this verse.
15 tn The three verbs in this verse are all aorist indicative (“have gone down,” “have abandoned,” “have perished”). Although the first and second could be considered constative or ingressive, the last is almost surely proleptic (referring to the certainty of their future judgment). Although it may seem odd that a proleptic aorist is so casually connected to other aorists with a different syntactical force, it is not unparalleled (cf. Rom 8:30).
16 tn Grk “these are the men who are.”
17 tn Though σπιλάδες (spilades) is frequently translated “blemishes” or “stains,” such is actually a translation of the Greek word σπίλοι (spiloi). The two words are quite similar, especially in their root or lexical forms (σπιλάς [spila"] and σπίλος [spilos] respectively). Some scholars have suggested that σπιλάδες in this context means the same thing as σπίλοι. But such could be the case only by a stretch of the imagination (see BDAG 938 s.v. σπιλάς for discussion). Others suggest that Jude’s spelling was in error (which also is doubtful). One reason for the tension is that in the parallel passage, 2 Pet 2:13, the term used is indeed σπίλος. And if either Jude used 2 Peter or 2 Peter used Jude, one would expect to see the same word. Jude, however, may have changed the wording for the sake of a subtle wordplay. The word σπιλάς was often used of a mere rock, though it normally was associated with a rock along the shore or one jutting out in the water. Thus, the false teachers would appear as “rocks” – as pillars in the community (cf. Matt 16:18; Gal 2:9), when in reality if a believer got too close to them his faith would get shipwrecked. Some suggest that σπιλάδες here means “hidden rocks.” Though this meaning is attested for the word, it is inappropriate in this context, since these false teachers are anything but hidden. They are dangerous because undiscerning folks get close to them, thinking they are rocks and pillars, when they are really dangerous reefs.
18 tc Several witnesses (A Cvid 1243 1846 al), influenced by the parallel in 2 Pet 2:13, read ἀπάταις (apatai", “deceptions”) for ἀγάπαις (agapai", “love-feasts”) in v. 12. However, ἀγάπαις has much stronger and earlier support and should therefore be considered original.
sn The danger of the false teachers at the love feasts would be especially pernicious, for the love feasts of the early church involved the Lord’s Supper, worship, and instruction.
19 tn Or “fearlessly.” The term in this context, however, is decidedly negative. The implication is that these false teachers ate the Lord’s Supper without regarding the sanctity of the meal. Cf. 1 Cor 11:17-22.
20 tn Grk “shepherding themselves.” The verb ποιμαίνω (poimainw) means “shepherd, nurture [the flock].” But these men, rather than tending to the flock of God, nurture only themselves. They thus fall under the condemnation Paul uttered when writing to the Corinthians: “For when it comes time to eat [the Lord’s Supper,] each one goes ahead with his own meal” (1 Cor 11:21). Above all, the love-feast was intended to be a shared meal in which all ate and all felt welcome.
23 sn The imagery portraying the false teachers as autumn trees without fruit has to do with their lack of productivity. Recall the statement to the same effect by Jesus in Matt 7:16-20, in which false prophets will be known by their fruits. Like waterless clouds full of false hope, these trees do not yield any harvest even though it is expected.
24 tn Grk “having died twice.”
sn Twice dead probably has no relevance to the tree metaphor, but has great applicability to these false teachers. As in Rev 20:6, those who die twice are those who die physically and spiritually. The aphorism is true: “born once, die twice; born twice, die once” (cf. Rev 20:5; John 3, 11).
25 tn Grk “wild waves of the sea.”
26 tn Grk “foaming, causing to foam.” The verb form is intensive and causative. BDAG 360 s.v. ἐπαφρίζω suggests the meaning “to cause to splash up like froth, cause to foam,” or, in this context, “waves casting up their own shameless deeds like (dirty) foam.”
27 tn Grk “shames, shameful things.” It is uncertain whether shameful deeds or shameful words are in view. Either way, the picture has taken a decided turn: Though waterless clouds and fruitless trees may promise good things, but deliver nothing, wild sea-waves are portents of filth spewed forth from the belly of the sea.
28 sn The imagery of a star seems to fit the nautical theme that Jude is developing. Stars were of course the guides to sailors at night, just as teachers are responsible to lead the flock through a benighted world. But false teachers, as wayward stars, are not fixed and hence offer unreliable, even disastrous guidance. They are thus both the dangerous reefs on which the ships could be destroyed and the false guides, leading them into these rocks. There is a special irony that these lights will be snuffed out, reserved for the darkest depths of eternal darkness.