2 Peter & Jude

by Eileen Poh

Day 25

Read Jude 1:8-10

Unbelieving Israelites, rebellious angels, and immoral Sodomites–what do these have to do with the false teachers that Jude was warning his readers about? Jude sees similarities between them, in that they are behaving ″in the very same way″ (Jude 1:8). That is not to say that the false teachers are committing the same sins as the Israelites, the angels, and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah; rather, their sins are of a similar kind.

But in insulting or reviling angels, the false teachers are showing how presumptuous and bold they are.

Jude lists three sins in particular: they ″pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings″ (v. 8). He has already written about the first two: the way in which the false teachers have perverted the grace of God and use it to justify their immoral lifestyle (v. 4); and how they have denied Jesus Christ ″our only Sovereign and Lord″ (v. 4), thus rejecting God's authority in their lives.

What about the third sin of heaping abuse on celestial beings (v. 8)? These celestial beings are angels, who are God's servants and must therefore be treated with respect. The false teachers, however, blaspheme or insult the angels. As they have already rejected the authority of Jesus Christ, it should come as no surprise to us that they would insult God's angels.

By way of example, Jude contrasts their audacity with the restraint of the archangel Michael in the dispute with Satan over the body of Moses (v. 9). This account is not found in the Old Testament, and Jude does not tell us his sources.

Perhaps Jude could be referring to the story of the burial of Moses taken from the Testament of Moses, an early Jewish writing.20 In this story, the devil accuses Moses of murder and wants to claim Moses' body, but Michael disputes his claim. Instead of condemning the devil for slander, however, Michael refers the matter to the Lord, saying only to Satan, ″The Lord rebuke you!″ Therefore, Jude argues, no one should say anything bad against angels, even ″fallen″ ones.

But in insulting or reviling angels, the false teachers are showing how presumptuous and bold they are. They do even what Michael the archangel didn't dare to do. These are matters they do not fully understand, though, ironically, they think they do (v. 10). After all, they claim to be spiritual people because they see visions (v. 9). Jude is very clear that there is only one end for them: destruction (v. 10).

20 See Bauckham, Jude-2 Peter, p.65-76.

Think through:

Some Christians tend to shy away from the topic of God's judgment. But New Testament writers like Jude and Peter speak clearly about it. Why do you think God's judgment is an important matter we should learn about?

What implications does God's judgment have for the way we live our lives?




About Author

Eileen Poh was a lawyer for some years before doing full-time theological studies. Her doctoral thesis (at King’s College London) examines the social relationships between Christians and non-Christians in Asia Minor in the second half of the first century AD. Eileen lectures in Biblical Studies at Discipleship Training Centre, Singapore. She is married to Philip Satterthwaite.

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