Jude 1:8 MEANING

Jude 1:8
(8-10) Application of these three instances to the libertines who are now provoking God.

(8) Likewise also.--Rather, Yet in like manner: i.e., in spite of these warnings. These ungodly men were like the unbelievers in the wilderness in denying Christ and scoffing at His promises; they were like the impure angels in leaving that "constitution which is in heaven" (Philippians 3:20) for the base pleasures of earth; they were like the people of Sodom in seeking even these base pleasures by unnatural courses.

These filthy dreamers.--We must add also. "Filthy" is not in the original Greek, nor in any previous English version, but is supplied from the next clause; not rightly, for "dreamers" goes with all three clauses, not with "defile the flesh" only. This being admitted, a number of painful interpretations are at once excluded. "These dreamers also" means these ungodly men, who are deep in the slumber of sin (see Note on Romans 13:11), as well as the three classes of sinners just mentioned. Excepting in Acts 2:17, which is a quotation from Joel 2:28, the word for "dreamer" occurs nowhere else in the New Testament, but is found in the LXX. version of Isaiah 56:10, of dogs that dream and make a noise in their sleep. St. Jude perhaps has this passage in his mind. (See below, second Note on Jude 1:12.) "Dreamers" may perhaps refer to the empty speculations of these men.

Defile the flesh.--Like the inhabitants of the cities of the plain. Some of the earliest forms of Gnosticism, on its antinomian as distinct from its ascetic side, exhibit the licentiousness inveighed against here; e.g., the Simonians, Nicolaitanes, Cainites, Carpocratians.

Despise dominion.--Like the impure angels. Insert "and" before "despise." The "dominion," or lordship, is that of Almighty God. Set aside, or reject (Mark 7:9; Luke 7:30; John 12:48), would be better than "despise," to mark the difference between this and 2 Peter 2:10.

Speak evil of dignities.--Like the murmurers in the wilderness. By "dignities," or glories, are meant unseen powers worthy of reverence. The Greek word is rare in the New Testament; only here, 2 Peter 2:10, and 1 Peter 1:11. Earthly dignities, whether ecclesiastical or civil, are not included. (Comp. the doctrine of Menander, Irenaeus, I. xxiii. 5.)

(9) Yet Michael the archangel.--These libertines allow themselves to use language against celestial beings which even an archangel did not venture to use against Satan. In the Old Testament Michael appears as the guardian angel of the people of Israel, Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1; in the New Testament he is mentioned only here and in Revelation 12:7. In the Book of Enoch his meekness is spoken of; he is "the merciful, the patient, the holy Michael," Enoch 40:8.

He disputed about the body of Moses.--To be understood quite literally: to make "the body of Moses" into a metaphor for the people of Israel, or the Mosaic law, is most unnatural. This passage is the only evidence extant of any such incident or tradition. The nearest approach to it is the Targum of Jonathan on Deuteronomy 34:6, which says that Michael was the appointed guardian of Moses' grave. According to Origen (De Princip. III. ii. 1) the source of it is a book called the Ascension, or Assumption of Moses. Evidently it is something supposed to be well known to those whom St. Jude is addressing, and it appears to be given as a fact which he believes, though we cannot be sure of this. In any case it does not follow that we are to believe in it as an historical fact. Reverent, and therefore cautious, theories of inspiration need not exclude the possibility of an unhistorical incident being cited as an illustration or a warning. St. Paul makes use of the Jewish legend of the rock following the Israelites in the wilderness as an illustration (1 Corinthians 10:4). The strange question, "What did the devil want with the body of Moses?" has been asked, and answered in more ways than one:--(1) to make it an object of idolatry, as the Israelites would be very likely to worship it; (2) to keep it as his own, as that of a murderer, because Moses killed the Egyptian (Exodus 2:12).

Durst not . . .--Out of respect to Satan's original angelic nature. (Comp. 1 Corinthians 6:1.)

A railing accusation.--More literally, a sentence savouring of evil-speaking. Wiclif, "doom"; Tyndale and Cranmer, "sentence"; Rheims, "judgment." Michael brought no sentence against the devil, but left all judgment to God.

The Lord rebuke thee.--The same rebuke is administered to Satan by the angel of Jehovah, when Satan appears as the adversary of Joshua the high priest, the restorer of the temple and of the daily sacrifice, and one of the Old Testament types of Christ (Zechariah 3:2). It is probable that the tradition here given by St. Jude is derived from this passage in Zechariah, or from a source common to both. We have another reminiscence of Zechariah 3:2 in Jude 1:23.

(10) But these . . .--In strong contrast to the scrupulous reverence of the archangel. "Fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

Those things which they know not.--The "dignities" of Jude 1:8. This shows that unseen spiritual powers are there meant: these men would know earthly rulers. It is on the unseen that they show their irreverence.

What they know naturally.--The means of gratifying their desires. The two halves of the verse are in emphatic contrast. What they do not know, and cannot know, they abuse by gross irreverence: what they know, and cannot help knowing, they abuse by gross licentiousness. If this Epistle is prior to 2 Peter it is strange that the author of the latter should have neglected so telling an antithesis, and should (from a literary point of view) have so spoiled the passage by his mode of adaptation (2 Peter 2:12). If 2 Peter is prior there is nothing strange in St. Jude improving upon the mode of expression. The word for "know" is not the same in both clauses. The word used in "which they know not" is the most general and common word of the kind in Greek, expressing mere perception, and occurring about three hundred times in the New Testament; that used in "what they know naturally" is more definite, and expresses practical experience productive of skill and science; it occurs fourteen times in the New Testament, mostly in the Acts. (Comp. "Paul I know," Acts 19:15.)

They corrupt themselves.--Or, perhaps, they work their own ruin. Note the tense; not future, but present. The corruption, or ruin, is not a judgment hanging over them; it is already going on.

Verse 8. - Having set in the forefront of his warnings these terrible instances of gross sin and overwhelming penalty, the writer proceeds to deal with the real character of the insidious troublers and corrupters of the Churches of his time. He describes them as filthy dreamers; or better, as the Revised Version puts it, men in their dreamings - an expression pointing to the foul and perverted fancies in the service of which they lived. He charges them with the particular sins of defiling the flesh, despising dominion, and railing at dignities. He further declares of them that, in practicing such sins, they run a course like that of the cities of the plain, and run it in defiance, too, of the warning held forth to them by the case of Sodom and Gomorrah. For such seems the point of the terms connecting this paragraph with the preceding, which are best rendered "nevertheless in like manner," or "yet in like manner" (Revised Version). The difficulty lies, however, in the description of their offences. What is intended by the charge that they defile the flesh is obvious. But what is referred to in the other clauses, and set at naught dominion (or, lordship), and rail at dignities (or, glories), is far from clear. It has been supposed that a lawlessness is meant which expressed itself in contempt for all earthly authority, whether political or ecclesiastical. The whole scope of the passage, however, and the analogy of 2 Peter 2:10, etc., seem to point so decidedly to higher dignities than the earthly institutions of Church and State, that most interpreters now think that celestial lordship of some kind is in view. But of what kind? That of God and that of good angels, say some. That of Christ and that of angels, say others. Both clauses, say a third class of interpreters, refer to angels, both to good angels and to evil, or to good angels alone, or to evil angels alone, as the allusions are variously understood. Pointing to the particular word which is used here for "dominion" or "lordship," some contend that there is a definite reference to the dominion of Christ, the Lord distinctively so called. But the same word is used elsewhere (cf. Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16) of angels, while the term translated "dignities," or "glories," occurs again only in 2 Peter 2:10. If, therefore, any single kind of lordship is in view, we should conclude in favour of angelic dignities, and the authority of good angels in particular. But it may be that Jude uses the terms here in a general sense to cover all kinds of authority, especially celestial authority. This is favoured by the undefined expressions which meet us in the Petrine parallel (2 Peter 2:10, etc.). It is supported, too, by the consideration that in leveling three separate charges against the men, Jude has probably in view the three separate cases which he has just cited in verses 5-7. In which case the parallel between these latter and the men now described can naturally be only of a general kind. It is remarked by Professor Plumptre that the passage in 2 Peter 2:10, etc. (see his Commentary), taken in connection with this one in Jude, suggests that "the undue worshipping of angels in the Judaizing Gnosticism which had developed out of the teaching of the Essenes (Colossians 2:18), had been met by its most extreme opponents with coarse and railing mockery as to all angels, whether good or evil, and that the apostle felt it necessary to rebuke this license of speech as well as that which paid no respect to human authority."

1:8-16 False teachers are dreamers; they greatly defile and grievously wound the soul. These teachers are of a disturbed mind and a seditious spirit; forgetting that the powers that be, are ordained of God, Ro 13:1. As to the contest about the body of Moses, it appears that Satan wished to make the place of his burial known to the Israelites, in order to tempt them to worship him, but he was prevented, and vented his rage in desperate blasphemy. This should remind all who dispute never to bring railing charges. Also learn hence, that we ought to defend those whom God owns. It is hard, if not impossible, to find any enemies to the Christian religion, who did not, and do not, live in open or secret contradiction to the principles of natural religion. Such are here compared to brute beasts, though they often boast of themselves as the wisest of mankind. They corrupt themselves in the things most open and plain. The fault lies, not in their understandings, but in their depraved wills, and their disordered appetites and affections. It is a great reproach, though unjust to religion, when those who profess it are opposed to it in heart and life. The Lord will remedy this in his time and way; not in men's blind way of plucking up the wheat with the tares. It is sad when men begin in the Spirit, and end in the flesh. Twice dead; they had been once dead in their natural, fallen state; but now they are dead again by the evident proofs of their hypocrisy. Dead trees, why cumber they the ground! Away with them to the fire. Raging waves are a terror to sailing passengers; but when they get into port, the noise and terror are ended. False teachers are to expect the worst punishments in this world and in that to come. They glare like meteors, or falling stars, and then sink into the blackness of darkness for ever. We have no mention of the prophecy of Enoch in any other part or place of Scripture; yet one plain text of Scripture, proves any point we are to believe. We find from this, that Christ's coming to judge was prophesied of, as early as the times before the flood. The Lord cometh: what a glorious time will that be! Notice how often the word ungodly is repeated. Many now do not at all refer to the terms godly, or ungodly, unless it be to mock at even the words; but it is not so in the language taught us by the Holy Ghost. Hard speeches of one another, especially if ill-grounded, will certainly come into account at the day of judgment. These evil men and seducers are angry at every thing that happens, and never pleased with their own state and condition. Their will and their fancy, are their only rule and law. Those who please their sinful appetites, are most prone to yield to ungovernable passions. The men of God, from the beginning of the world, have declared the doom denounced on them. Such let us avoid. We are to follow men only as they follow Christ.Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh,.... Which may be literally understood, either of the Jewish doctors, who pretended to be interpreters of dreams, as R. Akiba, R. Lazar, and others (n); or of the false teachers in the apostle's time, and of their filthy dreams, and nocturnal pollutions in them; which sense the Arabic and Ethiopic versions confirm; the former rendering the words thus, "so these retiring in the time of sleep, defile their own flesh"; and the latter thus, "and likewise these, who in their own sleep, pollute their own flesh"; as also of their pretensions to divine assistance and intelligence by dreams; and likewise may be figuratively understood of them; for false doctrines are dreams, and the teachers of them dreamers, Jeremiah 23:25, as are all those doctrines of men that oppose the trinity of persons in the Godhead; that contradict the deity and sonship of Christ; that depreciate any of his offices; that lessen the glory of the person and grace of the Spirit; that cry up the purity, power, and righteousness of human nature, and are contrary to the free grace of God. These arise from the darkness of the understanding, and a spirit of slumber upon them; are the fictions of their own brain, and of their roving imagination; are illusory and deceitful, and are in themselves vanities, and like dreams pass away. And the dreamers of these dreams may be said to "defile the flesh"; since they appear to follow and walk after the dictates of corrupt nature; and because by their unclean practices, mentioned in the preceding verse, they defile the flesh, that is, the body: all sin is of a defiling nature, and all men are defiled with it; but these were notoriously so; and often so it is, that unclean practices follow upon erroneous principles,

Despise dominion; either the government of the world by God, denying or speaking evil of his providence; the Ethiopic version renders it, "they deny their own God", either his being, or rather his providence; or the dominion and kingly power of Christ, to which they cared not to be subject; or rather civil magistracy, which they despised, as supposing it to be inconsistent with their Christian liberty, and rejected it as being a restraint on their lusts; choosing rather anarchy and confusion, that they might do as they pleased, though magistracy is God's ordinance, and magistrates are God's representatives:

and speak evil of dignities; or "glories"; the Arabic version reads, "the God of glory": this is to be understood either of angels, those glorious creatures, called thrones, dominions, &c. or ecclesiastical governors, who are set in the first and highest place in the church, and are the glory of the churches; or else civil magistrates, as before, who are the higher powers, and sit in high places of honour and grandeur. False teachers are injurious to themselves, disturbers of churches, and pernicious to civil government,

(n) T. Hieros. Maaser Sheni, fol. 55. 2, 3.

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