Sunday, June 21, 2015

Important purposes of the angelic realm in Jude

Jude 1:3 "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints."

Today we want to consider the importance and purpose of the angelic realm in Jude. It was Jude's purpose to urge his readers (and us) to "contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints." One of the ways Jude chose under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to urge his readers was by mentioning the angels, demons and Satan. The angelic realm (composed of demons, good angels and Satan) is portrayed in scripture as intelligent agents occupying the invisible realm of the created order. (compare Colossians 1:16-17) Good angels serve the purposes of serving God's people. (Hebrews 1:14) Demons are fallen angels led by Satan to opposed God's purposes and His people. (Ephesians 6:11-18; 1 Peter 5:8) With the span of Jude's short letter, we find reference to angels, demons and Satan no less than seven times. So the question is: why are angels so prominent within Jude's short letter? Moreover, what purposes can we gather as to why they are important for us today as we contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints? Notice three important purposes of the angelic realm in Jude...

1. Warn of the realities of Hell. Jude 1:1-16
The majority of material in Jude's short epistle is dedicated to warning his readers to be aware of false teachers and error. To drive home the point about the outcome of those who persist in the seduction of false teaching, Jude uses both historic examples of false prophets and teachers combined with the frightening reality of hell. Jude 1:5-11 lays out the examples of those who forsook Biblical faith, including those who came out of Egypt (Jude 1:5); Cain (Jude 11:11); Balaam the pagan prophet in the book of Numbers (Jude 1:11) and Korah who opposed Moses (Jude 1:11). False teaching and prophets lead to Hell. So what realities of hell do we discover in the Book of Jude? How do such realities allign with what Jesus taught on the subject?

Hell is described by Jude as a dark place (1:6, 1:13) Jesus called the darkness of Hell "outer darkness" in Matthew 25:46. Jude then explains hell as a destructive place through the imagery of fire, as seen in Jude 1:7,23. Jesus too refers to the details of unquenchable and everlasting fire burning in both the holding place of unbelievers called hades or Hell and the eternal place of punishment called "The Lake of Fire" or also by the same name "Hell" in  Mark 9:43 and Matthew 18:18.

To intensify his already strong warnings, Jude thirdly mentions that hell is demonically infested and reinforces this frightening imagery through the Devil's conflict with Michael the Archangel here on earth and some of the various fallen angels chained in reserved judgment. (1:6,8). 

The specific mention of fallen angels in Jude 1:6 matches with what we read of them in 2 Peter 2:4 "For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment." Also too, Jesus refers to Hell as having been prepared for "The Devil and his angels" in Matthew 25:41. It is quite likely that Jude is quoting Peter's second letter, which may explain why we also see such similarities between Jesus and Jude (not forgetting that Jude wrote under Divine inspiration).

The Bible Knowledge Commentary remarks: "Most commentators, however, assign the date between A.D. 67 and 80. Jude was probably influenced by Peter, who wrote his second epistle about A.D. 67–68. (Peter predicted that false teachers would arise [2 Peter 2:1; 3:3], but Jude stated that they have “slipped in among you” [Jude 4].)"

So who are the fallen angels mentioned by Jude? These particular demons may the very ones that participated in the abominations committed prior to the flood in Genesis 6:1-4 which resulted in the mutation of giants roaming on the earth. To think of the dangers of false doctrine as resulting in Hell is frightening enough. However to be reminded of hell being infested by demons far worse than those roaming freely here on earth serves more than fair warning to anyone contemplating apostasy from the faith. So the angelic realm, particularly the demons, are mentioned to warn us of the realities of hell. But what about the good angels? Notice a second purpose of the angelic realm in Jude, namely....

2. Encouragement with the realities of Heaven. Jude 1:14, 24-25
Jude 1:14 states - "It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones." In context, Jude is referencing a prophecy spoken by the pre-flood patriarch Enoch that is not recorded in Genesis. I won't get into the specific details of the nature of Jude's citation of Enoch in this post, and choose to point interested readers to a post written on Jude's use of Enoch at

Instead, I want to focus the reader's attention on the underlined phrase "holy ones". Biblical passages such as Deuteronomy 33:2; Daniel 7:10; Matthew 16:27 and Hebrews 12:22 use this term to refer to the angels that comprise the heavenly court of God's glory and majesty. 

Even though the main point of Jude's reference is to indicate the judgment of the false teachers by Jesus at His second coming, mention of the good angels serves to remind the saints of God that they are on the winning side of eternity. The truth of the believer's heavenly home is a great way of reinforcing the need to contend for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints. As we saw a couple of days ago, Jesus and the Apostle Peter both taught quite a bit on Heaven. With Jude depending partly on Peter's writings, references to Heaven would only make sense. Heaven will definitely be a place populated by angels (Jude 1:14) and is the ultimate destination of the Christian. (Jude 1:24-25). Heaven is afterall the abode of God on His throne. More could be said but we must hasten. What important purposes do angels, demons and Satan serve in the book of Jude? We saw that God included them to warn about the realities of hell and to encourage believers with the realities of Heaven. Now notice the final purpose...

3. To focus attention on Jesus Christ. Jude 1:15-25
Jude 1:14b says again: “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones." What is the ultimate goal of the Christian fighting the good fight of faith? Now we already looked at our heavenly home as an ultimate goal. 

But what is "the" ultimate goal of the Christian? To see Jesus at His second coming. The devil who fought with Michael the archangel in Jude 1:8 will be destroyed and cast into the Lake of fire by Jesus at His return in Revelation 20. When Jesus comes, he will have an entourage of angelic hosts numbering in the trillions. All of heaven's angels will accompany Jesus and the saints who are behind Him in the train of His robe. (Matt 16:27; 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; 1 Thessalonians 3:13 & Revelation 15:8) Those saints who are with Jesus at His second advent will had been those who died in the Lord or who were raptured seven years prior. (Mt 13:39; 16:27; 24:31) Mentioning such heavenly realities serves to point the way to the Lord Jesus Christ. This is why Jude closes out his book in Jude 1:24-25 "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."

Closing thoughts
Today we considered three important reasons for the angelic realm being mentioned in the Book of Jude. These three reasons aid in fulfilling the main point of the letter: "To contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints".

1. Warn of the realities of Hell
2. Encourage with the realities of Heaven
3. Focus attention on Jesus Christ

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