DIG: How does this example from history relate to the problems of unbelief, immorality, violence and rebellion? How does this example convey the certainty, severity and rightness of the Lord’s judgment?
REFLECT: The pride which thinks it knows better than God and the desire for forbidden things are the way to ruin in time and eternity. When has pride or lust affected your life? How long did it take you to learn from that mistake? Did you hurt others? Have you sought forgiveness? How can you help others avoid the same trap?
And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority, but abandoned their own home - these [ADONAI] has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for the great Day of judgment (Jude 6).
For God did not spare the angels who sinned; on the contrary, He put them in gloomy pits of darkness lower than Sheol to be held for judgment (Second Peter 2:4 CJB).
By means of the fourth triad, Jude next reminds believers of three lessons from history. For the second lesson, Jude takes us from the apostasy of Isra'el to the sin of fallen angels the nefilim in Genesis 6:4. The early Church understood that Jude 6 referred to Genesis 6. In fact, it was not until the latter part of the fourth century that any other view was suggested. Most of the early Church fathers held the same view.40 Foremost among them were Irenaeus, Against Heresies (Book IV, 36:4), and Justin Martyr, Second Apology, Chapter Five.41
And the angels who did not keep their arche, or original positions of authority (Jude 6a). The first meaning of the Greek word arche means beginning. In other words, they left their original positions as angels in the beginning, to violate the natural laws of God that kept them separate from the human race. Angels are created beings and do not reproduce themselves. There is the same number of angels today as when they were created. But humans reproduce themselves. From Adam and Eve, the race has grown to the proportions it is today.
The second meaning of arche comes from the first: authority, sovereignty, dominion, the beginning or first place of authority. Therefore, this meaning of arche teaches that those angels did not keep their original, dignified high positions. The verb keep is tereo and actually means to guard. The verb expresses the act of watchful care. That is, those angels did not fulfill their obligation to carefully guard and maintain their beginning positions of authority for which they were created, but abandoned those limits to invade territory that was foreign to them, namely, the human race.42
But abandoned their own home (Jude 6b). With Lucifer they rebelled against their created role and place. The verb abandoned is in the aorist tense and refers to a once-for-all act. They were done with heaven forever. This was apostasy with a vengeance. They had, so to speak, burnt their bridges behind them, and descended into a new sphere, the earth, and into a foreign relationship, that with the human race, foreign, because humans are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27) and angels are not.
Pride got them kicked out of heaven, and when they got to earth they had a lust for human women. When ADONAI expelled them from heaven for that rebellion (see my commentary on Isaiah Dp – How You Have Fallen From Heaven, O Morning Star), they continued on their downward spiral to the point of taking masculine form and having sex with human women to produce a generation of little demons who could not be saved and eventually infecting the whole human race (see my commentary on Genesis Ca – The Sons of God Married the Daughters of Men), thus perverting the LORD’s plan of salvation.
For God did not spare the angels who sinned (Second Peter 2:4a). There is no article before the word angels in the Greek. They are looked upon as a class, not individually, and the fact that they are created beings is important to Jude. The reasoning was that if God did not spare the angels, He would surely not spare human beings.
On the contrary, these He has kept in gloomy dungeons lower than Sheol (Second Peter 2:4b CJB). The King James Version interprets this: cast them down to hell. This is a single word in Greek, occurring only here in the Bible, meaning Tartarus. The Complete Jewish Bible translates this phrase lower than Sheol because it is underneath hell. It is the prison of the fallen angels, their gloomy pits of darkness. Tartarus is not the same as the Abyss where fallen angels other than those found in Genesis 6 are temporarily confined. Tartarus, in Greek mythology, was the place of punishment for departed spirits of the very wicked, particularly rebellious god like Tantalus. But just as Paul could quote an apt verse of the pagan poet Aratus (Acts 17:28), so could Peter make use of this imagery from Homer. Josephus does the same, and talks of heathen gods chained in Tartarus. The evil angels were in their place of torment, although they must wait until their final judgment.43
Were the false teachers arrogant and prideful? Let them remember that pride had ruined the angels. Were they consumed with lust? This, too, caused the downfall of the angels. Privileged position had not saved the angels and it would not save them! Jude reinforces his lesson with a touch of savage irony. The arrogant angels had been too prideful to keep their original positions – so ADONAI has kept them in gloomy dungeons lower than sh'ol. The way Jude referred to the angels gives reason to believe that this truth was widely accepted by his readers, and thus needed no further explanation.
Bound with everlasting chains (Jude 6c). Chains is seiros and gives us the idea of the loss of freedom in a place of confinement, a fate the demons feared (Matthew 8:29 and Luke 8:31). Bound is in the perfect tense, meaning they are in a state of complete and careful guard continually. Darkness is zophos, the blackness of the densest darkness imaginable, originally used of the gloom of the underworld. Darkness was a common way of describing divine punishment in the ancient world; the Greeks used the same word that Jude uses here to describe the place of departed spirits.44
Unlike the people of Isra'el, who were saved from Egypt, and then so many fell into unbelief, became apostate, were destroyed in the wilderness, but still had a future in the far eschatological future plan of ADONAI; these angels from the instant of their creation, had their own place, their own domain, their own glorious home with God. But because of pride they apostatized, and there is no return to the dignity and glory they once had. They are doomed for all eternity.45
They are to be held until the great Day of judgment (Second Peter 2:4b CJB and Jude 6d; also see my commentary on Revelation Fo – The Great White Throne Judgment), where they will be sent to eternal misery in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14). Of course, Peter’s primary purpose here was not to get lost in the details of this account about the fallen angels, especially since his readers were apparently already familiar with it. Instead, he used this illustration to emphasize the main point of his argument – namely, that ADONAI severely judges all those who oppose Him and His truth. Like the angels, the rebellious apostates who were guilty of the same pride and lust (Jude 4) will face divine wrath.46