1:4 For certain men 1 have secretly slipped in among you 2 – men who long ago 3 were marked out 4 for the condemnation I am about to describe 5 – ungodly men who have turned the grace of our God into a license for evil 6 and who deny our only Master 7 and Lord, 8 Jesus Christ.
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 tn Grk “people.” However, if Jude is indeed arguing that Peter’s prophecy about false teachers has come true, these are most likely men in the original historical and cultural setting. See discussion of this point in the note on the phrase “these men” in 2 Pet 2:12.
2 tn “Among you” is not in the Greek text, but is obviously implied.
sn The infiltration referred to by the phrase slipped in among you was predicted by Peter (2 Pet 2:1), Paul (e.g., Acts 20:29-30), and OT prophets.
3 tn Or “in the past.” The adverb πάλαι (palai) can refer to either, though the meaning “long ago” is more common.
4 tn Grk “written about.”
5 tn Grk “for this condemnation.” τοῦτο (touto) is almost surely a kataphoric demonstrative pronoun, pointing to what follows in vv. 5-18. Otherwise, the condemnation is only implied (in v. 3b) or is merely a statement of their sinfulness (“ungodly” in v. 4b), not a judgment of it.
6 tn Grk “debauchery.” This is the same word Peter uses to predict what the false teachers will be like (2 Pet 2:2, 7, 18).
sn Turned the grace of our God into a license for evil. One of the implications that the gospel in the apostolic period was truly a gospel of grace was the fact that the enemies of the gospel could pervert it into license. If it were a gospel of works, no such abuse could be imagined. Along these lines, note Rom 6:1 – “Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase?” This question could not have even been asked had the gospel been one of works. But grace is easily misunderstood by those who would abuse it.
7 tc Most later witnesses (P Ψ Ï sy) have θεόν (qeon, “God”) after δεσπότην (despothn, “master”), which appears to be a motivated reading in that it explicitly links “Master” to “God” in keeping with the normal NT pattern (see Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24; 2 Tim 2:21; Rev 6:10). In patristic Greek, δεσπότης (despoth") was used especially of God (cf. BDAG 220 s.v. 1.b.). The earlier and better witnesses (Ì72,78 א A B C 0251 33 81 323 1241 1739 al co) lack θεόν; the shorter reading is thus preferred on both internal and external grounds.
sn The Greek term for Master (δεσπότης, despoths) is the same term the author of 2 Peter used (2 Pet 2:1) to describe his Lord when he prophesied about these false teachers. Since δεσπότης is used only ten times in the NT, the verbal connection between these two books at this juncture is striking. This is especially so since both Peter and Jude speak of these false teachers as denying the Master (both using the same verb). The basic difference is that Peter is looking to the future, while Jude is arguing that these false teachers are here now.
8 tn The terms “Master and Lord” both refer to the same person. The construction in Greek is known as the Granville Sharp rule, named after the English philanthropist-linguist who first clearly articulated the rule in 1798. Sharp pointed out that in the construction article-noun-καί-noun (where καί [kai] = “and”), when two nouns are singular, personal, and common (i.e., not proper names), they always had the same referent. Illustrations such as “the friend and brother,” “the God and Father,” etc. abound in the NT to prove Sharp’s point. For more discussion see ExSyn 270-78. See also Titus 2:13 and 2 Pet 1:1
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.”
12 tn The verb ἐκχέω (ekcew) normally means “pour out.” Here, in the passive, it occasionally has a reflexive idea, as BDAG 312 s.v. 3. suggests (with extra-biblical examples).
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.
21 tn “They are” is not in Greek, but resumes the thought begun at the front of v. 12. There is no period before “They are.” English usage requires breaking this into more than one sentence.
22 tn Cf. 2 Pet 2:17. Jude’s emphasis is slightly different (instead of waterless springs, they are waterless clouds).
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).