DIG: What characteristics of wickedness do you see here? How did the apostates divide the flock? How did they compare with the Pharisees of Jesus’ day? How were they like the Gnostics? What example do we have of this in the Bible? In what way were they worldly-minded? What is the old nature? What were the false teachers lacking?
REFLECT: Can people with whom you associate with or work with see a difference in you? Or do you talk and act like everybody else? If you were arrested for being a believer – would there be enough evidence to convict? Just what is that evidence?
These are the people who divide you, worldly-minded, who do not have the Spirit (Jude 19).
The person without the Spirit [the natural man] does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit (First Corinthians 2:14).
Jude now connects the prophecy of the prophets and the apostles to his own readers with the term these (houtoi). The wolves in sheep’s clothing in their midst were predicted by the prophets and the apostles. Jude was not suggesting that the prophets and apostles were thinking of one specific congregation. They prophesied that the Church in general would experience the onslaught of the apostates.106 In another threefold cord of divine truth, Jude describes future mockers in his eleventh triad. These people make separations, are sensual and lack the Holy Spirit.
First, these are the people who divide you (Jude 19a). Once again we are faced with a Greek word found nowhere else in the New Testament. The word for divide, apodiorizo, means to make a distinction. This distinction points to the limits that ADONAI has communicated in His Word for the control of human conduct. People sin when they overstep these divine limits. An apostate scoffs at the limits of the Bible, denies the authority of the Word of God, and lives outside the boundaries that true believers respect. As a result, they cause divisions within the universal Church.
The other side of this truth was given by Paul when he wrote to the church at Corinth: I hear that when you gather together as a congregation you divide up into cliques, and to a degree I believe it. No doubt there have to be (dei) differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval (First Corinthians 11:19 CJB and NIV). The English phrase: there have to be translates the single Greek word dei, which means it is necessary or it must be, and indicates necessity or pressure of any kind. When Peter and the other apostles were told by the Sanhedrin (see my commentary on The Life of Christ Lg – The Great Sanhedrin), to stop preaching the Gospel, they replied: We must obey (dei) God rather than men (Acts 5:29)! The word is often used in the B’rit Chadashah to represent divine necessity. Yeshua used it many times in relation to certain divinely appointed events including His crucifixion and resurrection (Matthew 24:6, 26:54; John 3:14). The Lord Himself even said: Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to sin! Such things must come (dei) , but woe to the person through whom they come (Matthew 18:7)! That is the sense in which Paul uses the term above.
The worldliness and fleshly disobedience of those who cause the divisions would expose and highlight the love, harmony, and spirituality of those who have God’s approval. Approved (dokimos) refers to that which has passed a test. The term was used of precious metals tried in fire and proved to be pure. Divisions within the congregations of God, sinful as it is, nonetheless is used by ADONAI to prove the worth of His holy ones (Deuteronomy 33:2-3; Job 5:1; Psalm 16:3 and Jude 1). In the midst of the bickering and divisiveness true believers are separated out as pure gold is from the dross. Evil helps to reveal good. Divisions in the local congregations of God caused by unbelievers, creates an opportunity for true spiritual strength, wisdom, and leadership to be displayed (First Thessalonians 2:3-4).107
These people portrayed themselves as superior to everyone else. Like the Pharisees, they were arrogant (Luke 16:15, 18:9 and 11), condescending (Matthew 23:4-5), sticking to their self-styled set of rules (Mark 7:5-8), and their own understanding of the “truth” (Matthew 16:6, 11-12). Instead of putting others before themselves, which is the true key to spiritual unity (Philippians 2:1-4), they exalted themselves and their own agendas. Naturally, the end result was division and strife in the congregations of God.108
The Gnostics (see Ac - Jude from a Jewish Perspective: Purpose) divided people into two categories: those who were tied to this life and could not rise above it, and those who could come into possession of true “knowledge” and were truly spiritual. Some people are ready to listen to anything new and different, who are ready to be swept away by whatever new wind of teaching might be blowing. Others, however, better established in the faith, resisted. So it is as if Jude was saying, “Very well then. You want a distinction to be made . . . you shall have it. You will be set apart for destruction.”
We need only turn back one book in our Bibles to find a picture of Jude 19. Diotrephes is mentioned as a man who caused a division in one of the churches in the province of Asia by refusing to receive the apostle John. The reason was that Diotrephes loved to be first (Third John 9a), in which he overstepped the biblical principle: Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves (Philippians 2:3). He also exhibited other characteristics of apostasy. As John wrote: Diotrephes doesn’t recognize our authority . . . and if that weren’t enough for him, he refuses to recognize the brothers’ authority either; moreover, he stops those who want to do so and tries to drive them out of the congregation (Third John 9b-10 CJB). It is noteworthy that John wrote in the very next verse: Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God (Third John 11c). There was Diotrephes doing evil within the church. He had not seen God, nor beheld the Lamb of God – he was apostate, a false teacher.
Second, these people are psuchikos or worldly-minded (Jude 19b). Psuchikos can also be translated as sensual. But the word does not mean debauchery, as in Jude 4d, nor the lustful desires of sinful human nature (Jude 16d and Second Peter 2:18); but rather, limited to the realm of the senses, or dominated by the soul. Humans consist of spirit, soul and body (First Thessalonians 5:23). The spirit is the higher part of us, giving us God-consciousness. The soul is the self, the personality, the seat of emotions and the will. The Greek word used here is the same word Paul used in First Corinthians 2:14 in describing the natural man (or natural woman), which means they are not saved. Believers are normally spiritual if they are obedient to the Word of God, although they may be carnal, or infants in Christ (First Corinthians 3:1). They are never said to be sensual. Unsaved people, on the other hand, are natural, dominated by their emotions. The [natural] man without the [Holy] Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned. This points out that the future mockers will not simply be believers who go astray. But rather, they are religious terrorists.
But you, you do not identify with your old nature but with the Spirit — provided the Spirit of God is living inside you, for anyone who doesn’t have the Spirit of the Messiah doesn’t belong to Him (Rom 8:9 also see John 3:5; 1 John 3:24). The apostates had never become part of the family of ADONAI. There is no passage of Scripture that could be made the basis for the concept that the [natural] man was ever anything but an unsaved man. The imposters are people who never became children of the LORD no matter how deeply they may have been moved by the Good News, no matter how public their profession of faith may have been, no matter how prominent the positions they may have held in the congregation of God. These are sensual, worldly-minded people who are not, and never were saved.109
We can now see how cleverly Jude deals with these people, who say the rest of the world is psuchikoi, while they are the pneumatikoi. But Jude turns the words around and charges them. “It is you,” he thunders at them, “who are the psuchikoi, the flesh-dominated; it is you who possess no pneuma, no real knowledge and no experience of God.” Jude is saying to these people that although they think of themselves as the spiritual elite, are in the spiritual gutter. Those whom they despise are actually better off than they are. The truth about these so-called intellectual and spiritual giants was that all they really wanted to do was sin, so they twisted their supposed faith into an excuse to do it.110
There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them (Second Timothy 3:1-5).
Third, and as if to drive the point home, Jude adds that they do not have the Spirit of God (Jude 19c), and so are dead in their sins (Ephesians 2:1). Even though the false teachers claimed to be the spiritual ones, they were dreamers (Jude 8), and did not know Him at all - they did not have the Spirit of God (also see Romans 8:9). The truth is that they were physically alive (psuchikoi), but because the Holy Spirit had never regenerated them, they were spiritually dead. They were religious frauds who paid lip service to faith and spiritual life but denied such claims by their actions. As Paul told Titus, “They claim to know God, but with their actions they deny Him. They are detestable and disobedient; they have proved themselves unfit to do anything good” (Titus 1:16).111
A true believer is baptized in/by/with (en pneumati, all three words can be translated interchangeably in Greek) the Spirit into the body of Christ, indwelt by the Spirit, taught by the Spirit, and led by the Spirit. An apostate knows nothing of any of these things. But you can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, “Papa! Father” (Galatians 4:6 The Message)! Jude’s words are some of the most solemn in the entire Bible. One who does not pay attention to the limits established in the Word of God to live by is worldly-minded and doesn’t have the Spirit of the Messiah. Short of turning to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, such a one is lost forever.112
Paul was correct when he wrote: For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of [false] teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths (Second Timothy 4:3-4). As a result, the words of the prophets and apostles are confirmed by the words of Jude (see Aw – Remember What Our Lord Jesus Christ Foretold: There Will Be Scoffers Who Follow Ungodly Desires).