Jude - Eleventh in a series
There are similarities between Jude's letter and the second chapter of II Peter, but also differences. We will take a look.
First, Peter speaks of false teachers that "shall be… among you" not that already were, though as he continues, he seems to know these men as imminent troublers of the faithful. Jude warns that the evil men were in their midst.
Both Peter and Jude expose the charlatans, but Peter characterizes them more as false teachers (2 Pet 2:1) while Jude sees them as mockers (Jude 1:18). Both describe them as
- entering the body by stealth
- "spots" in the communion meals
- sexually perverse and licentious
- deniers of Christ, and as
- condemned already.
Jude brings to remembrance the rebellious Hebrews under Moses, the angels who left their first estate, and Sodom and Gomorrha as three examples of those destroyed or expertly managed by God to exclude them from further rebellion; Peter points to "the angels that sinned," the old world of Noah's day, and Sodom and Gomorrha, as examples of God's dexterity in punishing evil while sparing the righteous, namely Noah, Lot and their family members.
Thus, Peter's emphasis is on God's power to save the righteous in the midst of catasrophe, (2 Pet 2:4-7) and Jude focuses on God's determination to punish rebellion as demonstrated throughout history. (Jude 1:5-7)
Both Peter and Jude write about Michael the archangel: Peter alludes to him (2 Pet 2:10, 11) but Jude cites an incident between Michael and Satan. (Jude 1:10)
In both cases it is pointed out that angels have sense and discernment enough not to spar with the devil, but the false brethren lack good judgment and are not afraid to "speak evil of dignities" (2 Peter 2:10; Jude 1:8), with Peter noting their presumptuous and self-willed nature, and Jude stating that they despise dominion and are slaves to their lower nature.
For mere men to rail against evil or even wonderful principalities shows complete lack of judgment that proper education and preaching might have corrected, unless the offender were without conscience (see previous post).
Jude's analogies of the offenders to natural phenomena include those that are lifeless and without dynamism and those with terrible force, driving and fierce. The apostates are intensely powerful while inwardly dead.
Four scenes describe the apostates: clouds without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. (Jude 1:12,13) Peter likewise sees their emptiness and contradictory wild motion and force (2 Pet 2:17).
In five descriptors, Jude sums up the personality of the ungodly deceiver: These are (a) murmurers, (b) complainers, (c) walking after their own lusts (fleshly); and (d) their mouth speaketh great swelling words (boastful, arrogant), (e) having men's persons in admiration because of advantage (flatterers, controlling types). (Jude 1:16)
Peter also notes the trait of boastfulness (2 Pet 2:18) but dwells more on their lustful behavior and wanton alluring of weak believers who had recently been saved from such lifestyles. He warns that should they return to their former selves after having come clean by the knowledge of the Lord; it would have been better never to have known the new way of righteousness (2 Pet 2:20-22). Jude, in contrast, commands the strong to save the weak. (Jude 1:22, 23)
Jude's letter is reminiscent of Peter's, or vice versa, but a careful reading brings out differences. Yet, there are enough similarities to make plain there was a cult that affected many churches.
We also wonder if Jude had read Peter's letter or vice versa, and chose to repeat certain phrases and points as a way of enforcing the views.
Since Peter states in his second letter that he knows his death is near (2 Pet 1:14), Jude may have upheld and promoted Peter's words as a memorial, a needed exhortation, and as a method of confirming his insights.(Jude 1:17)
Paul also foretold that ungodly deceivers would strive to ruin the church, and John corroborated all these warnings. (Acts 20:29; 1 Tim 4:1, 2; 2 Tim 3:1-5; 1 John 4:1-3; 2 John 1:7-11; 3 John 1:9-11)
Thus we have in the Bible two thorough warnings against such men and shorter ones in other letters.
By the testimony of two or three witnesses the truth is upheld.(Deut 19:15)