Jude reminds us in today's passage that the rise of false teaching was predicted by the apostles; thus, we must be prepared to stand firm against falsehood so that our churches may not succumb to error.
“But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 17).
- Jude 17–19
A famous preacher once said he would be surprised if his church was still teaching orthodox Christianity fifty years after his death. Now, his point was not that his preaching guaranteed his congregation’s continuing in the faith; rather, he was reminding his audience that history bears abundant witness about people straying from the truth of God to unsound, man-pleasing, doctrine and worship. How many denominations today preach against the biblical standards upon which their churches were established?
The slow drift away from the faith once delivered to the saints happens largely because the people of God are too often unprepared to confront the false teachers who come into their midst. In today’s passage, Jude reminds us that the rise of false teaching in the church was predicted by the apostles (vv. 17–19). We should not be surprised when falsehood finds its way into our midst, nor should we be dismayed, for God is never caught off guard when teachers pervert His grace. However, because we have been warned by Jude, we have no excuse for being taken by false teaching. Since we know it is coming, we must be prepared to stand firm against falsehood so our churches may not succumb to error.
Some scholars believe Jude is referring to 2 Peter 2:1 in verses 17–18. Whether this is true or not, his letter would have been written at about the same time (mid-60s A.D.). This information ought to be encouraging to us; otherwise, we might think the prevalence of error we see in our day is a new phenomenon. If the apostles had to stand firm against those who perverted the Gospel so long ago (see also Gal. 1:6–9), we know we too must stand firm against the falsehoods of our day, confident the Gospel will prevail and remain long after we are gone.
Jude 19 tells us explicitly that false teachers are worldly people and devoid of the Spirit. Though they claimed otherwise, the divisions they created by denying God’s Word revealed them to be carnal and unspiritual. If someone claims to be a teacher and yet denies apostolic doctrine, we can be sure he lacks the Spirit.
In our day, those who teach heresy often plead with evangelicals to remain in liberal churches so the church may put on a unified front. But those who remain committed to God’s Word are never the cause of separation; rather, those who deny Scripture create the divisions, for many church splits would not have happened if all teachers remained committed to apostolic doctrine. Do what you can to encourage fidelity to the Bible in your denomination.
Passages for Further Study
- Jer. 14:13–16
1 Tim. 4:1–3
- 2 Peter 3:1–3