We have been asking the question, how should we respond to the unbelief in the world? We are not to wring our hands and become disillusioned, fall into despair, or give up. Rather, we have seen from the little epistle of Jude that we are to, first, keep ourselves strong in the faith (vv. 1-4). We must also be aware of attacks on the Christian faith (vv. 3-4) and be prepared to do battle for the truths of Christianity (vv. 3-4). We must acknowledge the biblical truth that the God who saves is also a God who destroys (vv. 5-7). We saw in our last post that we must realize the dangers of false teaching (vv. 8-10).
Let’s look at a seventh part of our response to unbelief in our world and it is this –
Step #7- We must See that false teachers have Nothing to Offer! (vv. 12-13).
When I was a child, I was told that calling people names (other than their given names) was not nice. Here in verses 12-13 Jude resorts to name-calling. But name-calling is appropriate when it is accurate — and these false teachers need to be carefully described by Jude.
12 These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm—shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead. 13 They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
He uses six metaphors to explain why these false teachers have nothing to offer the believers to whom Jude is writing.
(1) “They are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm”! (v. 13). The Greek term Jude uses for “blemishes” is spilades, a term meaning “rocks.” Barnes suggests it may refer to a rock by the sea against which vessels may be wrecked or a hidden rock in the sea on which they may be stranded; these false teachers cause others to make shipwreck of their faith. These eat with the believers without any fear of what their eating represents. If this is a reference to the Lord’s Supper, then they are certainly eating in an “unworthy manner” (I Cor. 11:27).
(2) They are shepherds who feed only themselves. One commentator said they pamper themselves, instead of pastoring God’ people.
(3) They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind. 2 Peter 2:17 uses a slightly different metaphor. He says they are “wells without water.” These teachers promise what they cannot deliver.
(4) They are autumn trees, without root and uprooted — twice dead. Jude “compares them to trees, which having leaves and blossoms, make a show of fruit, but cast it, or never bring it to maturity, or it rots instead of ripening; so these here make a show of truth and holiness, but all comes to nothing.” These are not trees that are “mostly dead” (to borrow an expression from “The Princess Bride”), but doubly dead. One is reminded of Matthew 21:18-19 and Jesus’ cursing of the barren fig tree which had leaves (evidence of some early, immature fruit), but no fruit.
(5) They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame. Isaiah 57:20 says, “The wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.” One commentator says, “They seem to produce nothing but foam, and to proclaim their own shame, that after all their wild roaring and agitation they should effect no more.”
(6) They are wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. The Greek word literally means “planets,” which shine for a time, but have no light in themselves. The Jews called their teachers stars, and Christian teachers are represented under the emblem of stars. But these stars have no fixed position, but just roam about. Shooting stars which seem to rush from their sphere into darkness. to whom is reserved utter darkness, a phrase which not only expresses the dreadful nature of their punishment, but also the certainty of it. It is “reserved” for them among the treasures of divine wrath and vengeance, by the righteous appointment of God, according to the just demerit of their sins. Note also that it will be for ever; there will never be any light or comfort, but a continual everlasting black despair, a worm that dieth not, a fire that will not be quenched, the smoke and blackness of which will ascend for ever and ever. Hell is meant by it, which the Jews represent as a place of darkness: the Egyptian darkness, they say, came from the darkness of hell, and in hell the wicked will be covered with darkness.
Goodness! Jude minces no words in describing these false teachers! Ideas have consequences and these false teachers not only have nothing to offer, they have much to take away!
1. Who are some of the contemporary false teachers in our culture, do you think? What are their ideas that are unbiblical?
2. What Christian truths are they taking away?