The Epistle of Jude, part 4
Mar 20, 2019
Before continuing to the next verses in Jude, we need to go back to previous verses and explain a few of the minor points raised.
The Sovereignty of God
First, in Jude 4 we read that the Gnostic infiltrators had been “long beforehand marked out for this condemnation.” Jude recognized the sovereignty of God, and so he attributes the existence of Gnostics to the divine plan. No doubt he agreed with Paul when he wrote in Romans 9:22 about vessels of dishonor that God has created.
Calvinists, of course, have used this to try to prove that God creates certain people to be unbelievers, and that their end is to be burned in hell forever. They fail to see that the judgment of God is remedial and that God will save all mankind in the end. Only that solution is truly just, and it is the only solution that aligns with a God of Love. Calvin’s problem was that he read Romans 9 without first understanding Romans 5.
Note that Jude’s example lists the Israelites themselves as being comparable to the Gnostics. Almost the entire generation of Israelites were “subsequently destroyed” (Jude 5) in the wilderness. Did that mean they all went to an eternal hell? No, they merely failed to reach the goal of the Promised Land, which in New Testament terms is to be Sons of God. They were justified by faith (Passover), but they failed to receive Pentecost at Sinai, and thus they also failed to enter the land at Tabernacles.
The same situation is found in the church today, where all true believers are justified by faith in the blood of the Lamb but not all are filled with the Spirit and even fewer have the quality of faith necessary to receive the promise of Tabernacles. Fortunately, the New Covenant itself is God’s promise to the church and, indeed, to the whole earth. When men question God’s ability to fulfill His promise, the word of the Lord rings loud and clear from Numbers 14:21,
21 but indeed, as I live, all the earth will be filled with the glory of the Lord.
Do you think God has a problem bringing the Israelites into the Promised Land? Wait until you see how He saves the whole earth! A delay does not mean failure, unless you believe that death is the final deadline for someone to be saved. Death is a deadline to be an overcomer who inherits the promise in the First Resurrection, but it is not a deadline to be saved.
Hebrews 9:27 says,
27 And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.
This tells us that judgment comes after death. It says nothing about a deadline, unless you assume that judgment is the final condition with no remedy or correction possible. But the verse says nothing about that. I too believe that judgment comes after death, but to understand the nature and duration of divine judgment, one must look elsewhere for answers.
Where but at the Great White Throne will every knee bow and every tongue swear allegiance to God and Christ (Isaiah 45:23)?
Jude, then, recognizes that many are “long beforehand marked out for this condemnation,” but this condemnation is not a permanent condition. It is aionian (Greek) or olam (Hebrew), which describe an unknown, hidden, or indefinite period of time that is best rendered “an age.”
Jude’s Use of Aidios
In Jude 6 we read the author’s second example of how people can fall from an original position of belief or perfection. The “angels who did not keep their own domain” are said to be “kept in eternal [aidios] bonds under darkness.”
This is one of two places where this unique word was used in the New Testament. The usual word is aionian, which is the normal equivalent of the Hebrew olam, “hidden.” Paul too used aidios once in Romans 1:20,
20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal [aidios] power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.
Paul’s point was to show that God’s “invisible attributes,” including His aidios power and divine nature, have been clearly seen by all in the world—through nature itself, if nothing else. In other words, Paul was not intending to present God’s “eternal power,” but rather His hidden attributes that have been revealed and clearly seen. The contrast is not between eternal and temporary but between hidden and visible.
Hence, also Dr. Bullinger suggests that in The Companion Bible, appendix 151 that aidios was not from the Greek word aei, as is commonly supposed, but from a (not) and idein (to see). By this understanding, he says it means “unseen or hidden.” That would be the equivalent of olam in Hebrew, whose root word is alam, “to hide.”
Yet even aei, the root of aionian, does not mean “forever” but “without fail.” In Acts 7:51 Peter says,
51 You men who are stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always [aei] resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.
Peter was not saying that they would resist the Holy Spirit forever, but rather that they did so without fail. Nonetheless, regardless of the inherent Greek meaning of this root word, we must understand that the Jews were using aionian as the established equivalent of the Hebrew word olam. That is the source of the biblical meaning of aionian.
But Jude uses the term aidios, which is even clearer in its meaning, especially when we see how the apostle Paul used the term in Romans 1:20. The bottom line is that Jude 6 was telling us that the fallen angels had been bound with unseen chains of darkness. The time itself was limited, because it was “for the judgment of the great day,” at which time they would be summoned to the Great White Throne for judgment. Jude has no further explanation.
Futility in Creation is Subject to Time
The original purpose and intent of God for creation will be fulfilled, because God is a success, not a failure. To fail (Hebrew: khawtaw) is to sin, as we see in the biblical use of the word in Judges 20:16,
16 Out of all these people 700 choice men were left-handed; each one could sling a stone at a hair and not miss [khawtaw].
Yet Genesis 18:20 says also,
20 And the Lord said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin [khawtaw] is exceedingly grave.”
Sin means missing the mark, or failing to reach one’s goal. So Paul says in Romans 3:23,
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
The word picture is of an archer whose arrow falls short of the target. In this case the target is “the glory of God.”
God Himself also has a target, or goal, and if He should fall short of that goal, then He might be properly called a sinner. Therefore, when God gives His word, promise, vow, or oath, He is responsible to reach the intended goal, despite the obstacles and opposition. His New Covenant vow is to make us His people, to be our God, and to write His law upon our hearts (Hebrews 8:10). If He is incapable of doing this, then He should not have made such a vow.
But we know that God is indeed successful, for He is fully capable of doing all that He has set out to do. We do not worship a great Sinner, as the Greeks did in worshiping their sinful gods.
Hence, the chaos in creation that was brought about by Adam’s sin did not cause God to fail in His original purpose. God will win in the end. Nonetheless, there has been a delay, which has brought about the need for the creation of time. All that is associated with this delay is subject to time, for it is only when God’s goal is reached, and all creation has been reconciled, that time becomes irrelevant and useless.
So Paul says in Romans 8:19-21,
19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
Creation itself has a stake in the manifestation (or “revealing”) of the sons of God. The sons of God, that is, the overcomers, are the first fruits of creation (1 Corinthians 15:20), just as Christ was the first fruits of the overcomers (James 1:18). First fruits always signal a greater harvest yet to come. God is not content with receiving a few first fruits and then letting the rest of the harvest burn.
We are all in training as sons of God. Those who fail to achieve the goal of entering the Promised Land in the First Resurrection will experience a delay until the general resurrection at the end of the thousand years (Revelation 20:11). The delay does not mean that they will be lost. They will simply remain “dead” until they are raised in resurrection.
This is the meaning of the Israelites dying in the wilderness without receiving the promise on account of their unbelief. It is not a permanent condition, for at the Great White Throne judgment some will be given immortality (“life”), while others will be brought to further judgment (John 5:28, 29).
The believers, those justified by faith through Passover, as the Israelite under Moses, will be given immortal life at the Great White Throne. Yet even the unbelievers who are judged will merely experience a longer delay to the Creation Jubilee at the end of Time. The law of Jubilee demands the cancellation of all debt (sin) at the appointed time. The law of Jubilee does not eliminate divine judgment; it only limits it through the grace and mercy of the God of Love.
What About the Nephilim?
Scripture says very little about the Nephilim, other than showing their judgment at the time of the flood, where they were bound with chains of darkness. Yet there was a second group of Nephilim who were produced after the flood, which Moses and David encountered. Hence, there are Nephilim who were not bound with chains of darkness, and we ourselves have encountered them in the spirit.
Yesterday’s weblog dealt with the Nephilim, and so (as we often see), our own local team had an encounter with a few of them yesterday afternoon. We were led to go to an Indian burial mound to cleanse the land of innocent blood. As we approached, the spiritual guardian of that place attacked us, followed by four more after we arrived at the site itself. None of them were any match for Jesus, of course, although they were very powerful.
During that encounter, we also saw three Nephilim nearby. We did not know what to do with them, so we sent them to the feet of Jesus for judgment, letting Him decide their fate.
I do not often write about our extracurricular activities here, but you can be sure that the Spirit of God keeps us quite busy in between the weblogs.
This is part 4 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Jude" To view all parts, click the link below.