False Teachers – Part I

Jude 4-7, 11, 13-15

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
August 2011

Last week, we began studying The Book of Jude.  It is a small book (only one chapter long) written by the brother of our Lord.  The men who wrote the books of James and Jude were not apostles but half brothers of Christ. The reason why Jude wrote this book is to exhort Christians to contend for the faith.  There is a group of essential doctrines of the faith that are unalterable.  They can’t change.

They were delivered to the saints and it is their job to fight for these truths.  That is what the word contend means in Greek, to fight.  Last week, I told us how we can do that.  The reason we need to contend for the faith is that there are false teachers in the church who have slipped into the church SECRETLY (Jude 4) and began distorting basic biblical truths.

Jude was a preacher. He was a hell, fire and brimstone preacher.  We see some of the strongest language against false teachers in the entire NT.  Jude wasn’t too polite to these false teachers.  It makes a good introduction to the Book of Revelation.

This epistle is a wake-up call to the church today.  Many Christians today do not know their own faith and, because they do not know their own faith, they do not really know how to spot a false teacher or false teaching.

If you do not know the truth that well, you will not be able to detect error or even be that bothered by it.  They may just think to themselves, “they have their views and I have mine” or they quote the verse that says, “judge not lest ye be judged” but they forget that the very chapter of the Bible that says “judge not lest ye be judged” says “beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing”.

Jude says two things about false teachers in this letter.  He warns what will happen to them (the terrible fate that awaits them) and he gives a description of them.  Today, we are going to talk about their destination or what is going to happen to them.  I have to warn you that this is not a pretty picture.  God reserves some of the worst punishment for false teachers.

Some of the strongest language Jesus ever uttered was spoken against false teachers.  Jesus’ harshest criticism did not come to the prostitutes but the Scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees (the religious leaders of his day who were leading people astray).

If you don’t believe me, go home and read Matthew 23.  Jude talks about the doom of these false teachers.  He says that their judgment is coming.

Today, we want to think about this question.  What will be the fate of false teachers in our day and throughout history?

  • What will be the fate of Muhammad, who founded the religion of Islam, which has sent literally billions of people to Hell?  One fifth of the world’s population is Muslim (between one to two billion people).
  • What will be the fate of Joseph Smith, who also claimed to have a revelation from God but ended up starting a false religion?
  • What will happen to David Koresh, former leader of the Branch Dravidians?  He claimed to be the Messiah.  His followers in Waco, Texas did anything he asked them to do until one day in 1993 almost all of them ended up dead.  Seventy-six died in the fire on that fateful day, including twenty children and two pregnant women (only nine escaped).  Koresh ended up with a bullet in his forehead.
  • What will happen to Jim Jones, the founder of the People’s Temple? He had a huge following.  He told people to put their faith in him.  He said that he was the reincarnation of Jesus and his followers believed him.  He took all of his followers to South America and promised them a paradise or utopia but they go there, they all committed suicide by drinking some grape juice laced with poison on Nov. 18, 1978 (Jonestown Massacre).  You can listen to it online.  It is a 45 minute recording called “The Jonestown Death Tape”.  He told his guards to shoot anyone who refused or tried to escape.  Children were killed first.  Parents killed their own children.  When the authorities got there, they found about 900 dead bodies laying on the ground, one of the largest mass suicides in history.  They also found the body of Jim Jones.  He also was shot in the head.
  • What will be the fate of Jose Luis deJesus Miranda?  He is a former heroine addict from Puerto Rico who claims to be claims to be both Jesus Christ returned and the Antichrist.  He has a “666” tattoo on his forearm. His headquarters are in Miami, Florida but his church (Growing in Grace) is in about 35 countries.
  • What will be the fate of AJ Miller and Mary Suzanne Luck?  They are leaders of what is called the Divine Truth or Jesus Cult in Australia.  AJ Miller says that he is Jesus reborn.  He says he is the Son of God and he says that his wife Mary Luck is Mary Magdalene and his followers in Australia believe him.

One of my professors in graduate school was William L. Lane.  He was a NT scholar who wrote several commentaries.  He earned his doctorate from Harvard University in NT.  I was his graduate assistant at Western Kentucky University in the 1980s.  He was the one who married Anne and I in 1987.  He was my mentor.

One of the things Dr. Lane told his students was called “Lane’s Law”.  Lane’s Law is “An ounce of evidence is worth a pound of assertion”.  People can make all kinds of claims.  Politicians do this all of the time.  Cultists can say that they are Jesus or Moses but where is the proof?  There is none.  Talk in cheap.  You can say anything.

What will happen to all these people?  Jude answers that question and the answer is not a pretty site.  There is a woe for every false teacher (Jude 11).  That describes something terrible that is going to happen to someone.  It is a proclamation of divine judgment. Jesus used that word a lot.

Jesus said, “woe to the Pharisees” (Luke 11:42, 43), “woe to the Scribes” (Luke 11:46, 52), “woe to the one who betrays the Son of Man” (Matthew 26:24) and “woe to the cities that saw his miracles but did not repent” (Luke 10:13).  It is used a lot in Revelation (8:13; 9:12; 11:14; 12:12; 18:10, 16, 19) as plagues and judgment fall on the earth.  What will happen to them?  Jude says that “the blackest darkness has been reserved FOREVER” (Jude 13) for this group of people.

Three OT Examples of Judgment

Terrible things will happen to false teachers.  Jude gives three historical examples to show what will happen to them and the punishment gets increasingly worse.  Let’s look at the first one.

Example One – OT Jews

After God saved Israel, he destroyed Israel – the same group (Jude 5).  What does that mean?  God delivered two million Jews out of slavery in Egypt supernaturally.  God saved the nation physically from slavery in Egypt but that does not mean that every person in the nation was spiritually saved.  Out of the two million people who left Egypt, only two made it into the Promise Land, as you know (Joshua and Caleb).  The rest were DESTROYED in the wilderness.

Some of those people who were destroyed were believers (Moses).  It doesn’t mean that they went to Hell necessarily but after seeing God work supernaturally (parting of the Red Sea, hearing God speak out loud on a fiery mountain), they sinned in the wilderness and God judged them.  They died in the wilderness and didn’t make it into the Promise Land.  It is a picture of terrible destruction.

Example Two – Angels

The second example is more difficult.  It is in Jude 6.  This time, it is the angels who sin.  What sin did they commit?  All Jude says is that they left their home.  They left their positions of authority.  Notice their punishment.  They used to be free.

Now they are shackled.  They are in prison, all chained up.  They used to be shining ones.  Now they are plunged in darkness.  Notice how the punishment fits the crime.  They did NOT keep their positions of authority in heaven and now they are KEPT in darkness.

They left their homes in heaven and went somewhere else.  Why did they do this?  Where did they go?  What did they do?  Jude doesn’t tell us.  His readers already knew.  It was a well-known Jewish story.

Some say that this was when the angels first sinned, when Satan rebelled against God and one-third of the angels went with him.  The sin was pride.  That is not the correct view for a number of reasons.

  • The angels who fell with Satan did not become all confined in chains of darkness.  They became demons.  They are still loose and active in the world today.
  • The sin of Satan and his angels was not leaving their home.  It was not going somewhere but wanting something.  They were in heaven when they fell.

Others believe that these angels sinned in the time of Noah.  They left heaven to come to earth.  Their sin was not pride but lust.  That has to be what Jude is talking about for a number of reasons.

  • That was the universally accepted view in Jude’s day.All Jews accepted this.  It is in the LXX, Pseudepigripha (Jubilees & I Enoch), Josephus, Jude & II Peter.  It was not until the mid-second century when a different interpretation arose.  The interpretation of “the sons of God” as the line of Seth dates back to Julius Africanus (AD 160-240) and became widely adopted by Church Fathers and later on by Luther and Calvin
  • Jude is quoting I Enoch in his epistle and that story is elaborated in I Enoch (cf. chapters 6-19).The whole book of I Enoch is an embellishment on the sin of the angels at the time of Noah.
  • The context fits a sexual sin.  The very next verse compares the sin of the angels to the sin of the people in Sodom and Gomorrah (so Testament of Naphtali 3:4-5).  Jude 7 begins with the words, “In the same way”.  The sin of both was lust.  Just as angels wanted to have sex with humans in Genesis 6, the men of Sodom wanted to have sex with angels (angelic flesh, rather than mere human flesh) in Genesis 19.  Remember,  the story of Genesis how to two visitors come to Lot’s house to get him out of Sodom and how the men of Sodom come to his door, wanting to have sex with his visitors, not know that they are angels.

Example Three – OT Gentiles

The third example is the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah (Jude 7).  Jude identifies their sin as a sexual sin.  We all know the story and what the punishment for that sin was in the OT (Genesis 19:24-25).  Jude says that this is a picture of what will happen to ALL false teachers.  They will suffer the punishment of eternal fire.  It is a picture of Hell and the punishment also fits the crime.  They were burning in lust and end up burning in Hell.

Why do you think Jude used these three examples of the false teachers?  What was the first sin?  Unbelief.  We will see next week that this was one of the characteristics of false teachers.  They don’t believe the Bible and some basic doctrines of the faith.  The other sin was sexual in nature.  Immorality was another characteristic of these false teachers (Jude 4).  We will go into more detail next week.

 Who was the Biblical Enoch?

In Jude 14-15 we see another passage on the doom of these false teachers.  He mentions a man named Enoch.  Who was Enoch (cf. Genesis 5:21-24)?

1) He lived before the Flood

He was an antediluvian. He was the father of Methuselah (one had the shortest lifespan in Genesis 5 and one had the longest).

2) He was taken up into heaven

He was raptured.  He was never died.  He was one of only two people in the Bible who never died (Enoch and Elijah).  Elijah was Jewish and Enoch was not.

3) He lived a righteous life

After his son was born, he started walking with God and he did that for three hundred years.  He lived in a wicked world but he lived a righteous life in that environment.

4) He was a preacher

He went around preaching repentance and judgment.  That was an unpopular message.  He took a stand on some things.  If it wasn’t for Jude, we would not have known this.

5) He was a prophet

He was not only a preacher, he was a prophet.  This was the first prophecy ever uttered by man.  The first prophecy in the Bible is in Genesis 3:15 but this is the first one by Enoch is the first one ever uttered by man.  It predates even Noah’s prophecy in Genesis 9 about his sons (Enoch lived before Noah).  The first prophecy ever uttered by man is about the second coming of Christ, not the first Coming.

Jude gives us a quote from Enoch in verses 14-15.  The only problem is that the quote does not come from The Book of Genesis.  It comes word for word from a book called I Enoch (91:9; 100:5)[1].

The biblical Enoch doesn’t say anything in the Book of Genesis.  What does the quote say?  These false teachers are ungodly and will be judged one day.  What do we learn about the judgment of these false teachers from this verse?  We learn six things.

Six Facts About the Final Judgment

1) This judgment will be done by Jesus

Jesus  (“the Lord”) is be the judge.  The Father judges no man but has committed all judgment to the Son (John 5:22).

2) This judgment will take place at the Second Coming

Jesus will not come by himself (with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones).  He will be accompanied by angels (Matthew 16:27; 25:31).  Revelation says that he will return with “the armies of heaven” (19:14), not just one army but many.  He will come with power and great glory (Matthew 24:30) and it will not be an invisible coming.  Revelation says that when he returns “every eye will see him” (1:7).

When he returns, judgment will follow.  We see that in every passage that talks about the Second Coming.  We see that in Jesus’ parable of the Sheep and the Goats in Matthew 25.  We see that in Revelation.  He returns to judge and to wage war (19:11).  It says that he will destroy the wicked with a sharp sword that will come out of his mouth (19:15).  Paul says this as well (cf. II Thessalonians 1:6-10).

3) This judgment will be a judgment of sin and sinners

That is something that is emphasized in the text (all who are ungodly).  The Greek text uses that word three times in Jude 15.  The KJV uses it four times in that verse.  This will be a judgment of the unsaved.  Paul says that Jesus “will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (II Thessalonians 1:8).

4) This judgment will be completely fair

The wicked will be judged by the Lord for all of the ungodly acts and words that they committed.  Jesus will not miss anything.  He will not forget about anything that happens.  Every act of injustice on earth will be punished.  He sees everything that happens.  He knows everything and will judge the wicked with complete justice and fairness (Romans 2:2, 6).

5) This judgment will be universal

No one will be exempt (the word “all” is used three times).  He will judge all nations (Joel 3:12; Matthew 25:32).

6)  It will be a judgment of words as well as actions

Every harsh word will be judged.  Matthew 12:36 says that we shall give account of every idle word on the Day of Judgment.

Jude and Biblical Inspiration

 If Jude is writing under inspiration, how could he quote from a passage in the Pseudepigripha?  Not only does he quote from it, he quotes from it word for word.  He is the only writer of the NT to do this.  There are two mistakes that people make in connection with this passage.  Beware of these two extremes.

Two Common Errors

First Error: I Enoch is inspired because Jude quotes from it.

This was the view of The Epistle of Barnabas in the second century[2] and Tertullian in the third century[3].   What is the error here?  There are several problems with this.

1) Jude does NOT call I Enoch “scripture”.

He does not use that word.  There were no mainstream Jews in the first century who accepted I Enoch as part of the Jewish Canon of Scripture.

2) Just because an author quotes part of something doesn’t mean that he necessarily endorses everything in the entire book.

Paul quotes a line from Aratus in Acts 17:28.  That does not mean that he endorsed everything that this secular philosopher said in the rest of the book.  He quotes Epimenides, another heathen philosopher in Titus 1:12 without agreeing with everything that this writer said.

He also quoted a pagan Greek poet named Menander in I Corinthians 15:33 without endorsing everything he wrote.  Jude wrote under divine inspiration and included this line from I Enoch in his book which makes it inspired but that does NOT mean that everything in the entire book I Enoch is inspired.  There are some crazy things in that book.

3) Just because it says that Enoch prophesied does not necessarily mean that he wrote a book of Scripture.

It simply means he uttered a true prediction under divine inspiration (John 11:51; Luke 1:67).  Not all of the prophets wrote books of Scripture.  There were speaking and writing prophets.

Second Error: The Book of Jude is NOT inspired (as Jerome believed[4]) because it quotes I Enoch.

This error is based on the assumption that, if Jude quotes from an apocryphal book, it must not be inspired. What is the error here?  It assumes that EVERYTHING in the book of I Enoch is apocryphal.  Apparently, that is not the case.  How an authentic tradition about Enoch ended up in the book is a mystery.  No one knows.

It would be valid to question whether Jude was inspired if Jude had a quote in it or a teaching which was completely heretical and contradicted other passages of Scripture but it doesn’t.  It is innocuous.  What does this quote of Enoch say?  When Jesus returns, he will judge the wicked.  It merely confirms what the rest of the Bible says.  There is absolutely no reason to question whether Jude is inspired.


[1] The title of Enoch as “the seventh from Adam” does not come from the OT but is a phrase that comes right out of I Enoch (60:8; 93:3).  The statement about sinners speaking harsh words with their mouth is also repeated in I Enoch 5:4; 27:2.

[2] Letter of Barnabas quotes from 1 Enoch three times, in one case referring to it as “scripture” (Barnabas 4:3 quotes 1 Enoch 89:55 and Barnabas 16:5, 6 quotes 1 Enoch 89: 66-67).

[3] Tertullian, On the Apparel of Women Book I, Chapter 3.

[4] Jerome, De Viris Illustribus, 4; cf. also Commentarium in Epistula ad Titum,1.2.

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