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It was now imperiled by teachers who denied it, both in their teaching and in their life, and it was necessary for men like S. Jude and the other New Testament writers to redouble their efforts to maintain it unimpaired.
“ Turning the grace of God into lasciviousness.” This description agrees with that in 2 S. Peter 2:18, 19. See note on that text. Under the pretence of magnifying the grace of God (Rom. 6:1), such men, under the guise of Christian liberty, led base and licentious lives.
Compare 1 Cor. 6:9-18; 2 Peter 2:2: I S. John 3:7-10.
Angels who did not keep their own principality.” See 2 Peter 2:4 and note.
Left their proper habitation.” This seems to imply such a descent from the region of heaven to that of earth as that referred to in the language of Genesis 6:2.
“ He has kept in perpetual bonds under darkness.”
S. Jude's language like that of S. Peter in his second epistle, chapter two, follows the traditions of the book of Enoch. The resemblance between this tradition, that of the Zoroastrian legend of the fall of Ahriman and his angels, and that of the punishment of the Titans by Zeus in the mythology of Hesiod, shows the widespread currency of the belief referred to.
“ Gone after strange flesh.” Moral and physical impurity, and not simply or chiefly pride, as in the mediæval traditions of Caedmon and Milton, is here shown to be the leading feature of the fall of the angels.
“ But these revile whatever they do not know.” Compare Col. 2:18.
" What they understand naturally like the creatures without reason."
Here is a reference to the natural impulses of sensual desire which the false teachers referred to understood all too well, but which they perverted either to the mere gratification of lust, or to that gratification in a way contrary to the laws of nature. Compare Rom. I :
26–27. “ They went in the way of Cain.” Lust is hard by hate. Such false teachers, therefore, as just referred to, must of necessity become murderous and malignant as well as sensual.
“ These are they who are hidden rocks in your love feasts."
See 2 Peter 2:13 and note. “ Feed themselves."
These teachers of impurity, instead of submitting themselves to the true pastors of the Church, came in like the false shepherds of Ezek. 34, 1, 2, 8, 10, to feed themselves, that is, to indulge their own lusts in defiance of authority. 1:13
• Wandering stars.” These false teachers are like comets or shooting stars, whose irregular appearance startles and terrifies men, and then they vanish into darkness. Such is the parable of the short-lived fame and baleful influence of the false teachers whom S. Jude has in view. They, too, were drifting 'away into eternal darkness. 1:14.
“ To these also Enoch, prophesied. The words which follow are almost a verbal quotation from the Book of Enoch.
The phrase occurs in the Septuagint, Gen. 19:21 ; Lev. 19:15.
The temper characterized is that which fawns as in wondering admiration on the great, while all the time the flatterer is simply seeking what profit he can get out o him whom he flatters.
" There will be mockers." See 2 Peter 3:3 and note. 1:19.
“ These are they who make separations." The false teachers and mockers spoken of drew lines of separation which Christ did not draw. They claimed for themselves a higher Christian knowledge than the ordinary brother. See 2 S. Peter 2 : 19 and note. They lost sight of the unity of Christ's Church and preferred the position of a sect or party. In doing this they united the exclusiveness of the Pharisees with the sensuous unbelief of the Sadducees.
Praying in the Holy Spirit.” The thought here given expression to corresponds with S. Paul's language in Rom. 8 : 26 and the almost identical phraseology of 1 Cor. 14:15. What is meant is the ecstatic outpouring of prayer in which the words of the worshipper seem to come directly from the Spirit who “ helps our weakness” and “ makes intercession for us,” it may be in 'articulate speech, it may be, in “ groanings which cannot be uttered.” Rom. 8:26. 1:25.
“ To the only God our Saviour." Compare i Tim. 1:13.
The Father, no less than the Son was thought of by S. Peter as well as by S. Paul as the Saviour and preserver of all men.
The contents of the epistle of S. James have well been called the wisdom of $. James. For no book of the New Testament, not even excepting S. Matthew's Gospel, has such an exclusive savor of the old Hebrew wisdom litera
The epistle as a whole seems to divide itself naturally into five main divisions, and these again into two each, one of which is less rhythmic and shows the traces far less distinctly of parallelism, while that which follows has both of these to a more marked extent.
The first chapter begins thus with little rhythm and parallelism and then at verse nine rises more surely to both.
To the twelve tribes." At the time this letter was written, Judah and Benjamin had to a great extent returned to the Holy Land from their captivity, though great numbers of both tribes were living in various parts of the world. The remaining ten had lost their tribal distinctions and have long since perished from all historical record.
Long before the destruction of Jerusalem Jewish colonists were found in many parts of Europe as well as Asia and suffered from time to time through the persecutions of their enemies. But even where they suffered most they sprang again from the same undying stock, however much it had been hewn by the sword, or burnt by the fire.
1:2. “ Consider it all joy," etc.
The apostle is following the same line of thought as that expressed in Heb. 5: 14. By use our senses may be exercised to the discernment of good and evil. The graces of God given to the soul grow and enlarge on the same. principle as the powers of body and mind. If, then, they are allowed to go without exercise they must of necessity at length decay and die. For just as the veteran who has learned to face habitual danger as a duty is more trustworthy than a raw recruit, so it is with the Christian soldier in his spiritual warfare. In the words of S. Paul (2 Tim. 2 : 3), he must“ endure hardness." It is only thus he can become strong in the strength which God supplies. Innocence that has never been tried is beautiful to look upon. But there is a higher stage of the same virtue,purity won by long and often bitter conflict with the powers of darkness and of death.
Temptation is not sin.
You cannot, the old German divine tells us, you cannot prevent the birds flying over your heads, but you can prevent their making nests there.
“ Let endurance have its perfect work." The grace of endurance will not come to its full beauty in an hour. Emotion and sentiment have their place in the beginning of a Christian career, but that is not to be the end of the matter. Until we have won life by endu. rance the perfect work of God is not worked out in us.
1:6. “ Without any doubts.”
Here S. James re-echoes the words of our Lord to his wondering disciples as they looked at the withering fig tree. (S. Matth. 21:21).
Faith, in the beginning, is the gift of God, but it is ours