“These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage”. - Jude 16
Two thousand years ago, Jude, the brother of the Lord Jesus Christ, sat down with the intent of writing about the salvation he held in common with his congregation. However, false teachers had crept in and had begun exercising undue influence upon Jude’s audience. So, he changed his plans. Because of the danger of these evil men, Jude instead wrote a letter exhorting his audience to contend for the faith once delivered to the saints (vv. 3–4).
Although this was not Jude’s original purpose, we cannot and should not separate the exhortations of his short epistle from the instructions regarding “our common salvation.” In condemning the errors of his opponents, Jude implicitly commands us to do and teach the opposite. If we practice and preach the opposite of the errors of these godless men, we practice and preach the truth of the Gospel.
Instead of perverting the grace of God into sensuality, we must never sin that grace may abound; instead, we must teach the brethren to live in holiness (Jude 5–7; Rom. 6). Rather than relying on our own dreams and “visions,” we must submit to the words of the prophets and apostles (Jude 8–13; 2 Peter 1:16–21). Instead of living as if judgment is not coming, we must remember all who willfully teach anti-Christian falsehood will be condemned (Jude 14–15).
In today’s passage, Jude refers to some of the other doctrines practiced and preached by the false teachers, which doctrines we must still oppose today. We have already spoken of the “sinful desires” evident in the wanton immorality of these teachers. But Jude also speaks of these men as being “grumblers” and “malcontents,” referring not to their disparaging of church authority (though they did this) but to their antinomian denial of God’s law. The sin of loud-mouthed boasting is similar; these teachers spoke arrogantly about God, just as their lifestyles revealed their lack of true faith.
“Showing favoritism to gain advantage” is likely a reference to their greed. These teachers probably exploited the poor or favored the rich in order to gain influence. Such favoritism is blatantly anti-Christian (James 2:1–13), and thus Jude condemns it.
While showing favoritism to those with power or money was normal for the false teachers Jude opposed, we do not have to be false teachers to commit this same error. How many of us consciously or unconsciously give deference to the more influential members of our congregations? How many of us neglect giving of our time and money to assist the needy? Find a local ministry that serves the poor in your community and donate some of your time and money to it.
Passages for Further Study
- Prov. 16:5
- Jer. 9:23–24
- 2 Cor. 11:30
- James 4:13–17
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