Jude’s charge to Christians in Jude 4 results from the craftiness of the false teachers who have “slipped secretly” into their number. These teachers may have been itinerant (wandering) preachers which were prevalent in the ancient world in both pagan and Christian circles.
The word translated “crept in unawares” (KJV) or “crept in unnoticed” (NKJV) is a very sinister word and leaves no room for misunderstanding (cf. its use in 2 Pet. 2:1; Gal. 2:4). These teachers slip in by being nice and outwardly loving and charismatic. In fact, that’s all they talk about: tolerance, acceptance, love. There is no proclamation of God’s coming judgment or a call to repent and turn from sin. They are evil (though they may appear nice and loving) and their purpose is to do harm.
What they say sounds good on the surface because they hide their true meaning and hide their falsehood.
Jesus has given you his Word and his Spirit to guide you in discernment and he has raised up human teachers and preachers to teach you the truth so that you will recognize the error when you encounter these teachers (cf. 1 John 4:1-6). But be careful because the Evil one is deceptive (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).
As a church, we must be committed to biblical doctrine which means not only learning it, but being familiar with the references so we can look them up and understanding the meaning of these verses and how they teach this particular doctrine so that we can be ready to give an answer (1 Pet. 3:15).
Beware! They may be nice and loving, but our love for God and our loyalty to Jesus Christ must trump our love for and loyalty to any and all others.
The word “this” (“this condemnation”) is a reference to what follows in Jude 5-19. The “this,” specifically, is the condemnation given at the return of the Lord which is prophesied typologically in Jude 5-7, 11 and directly in Jude 14-15 (Bauckham, 37).
These teachers were marked down for this condemnation long ago through the OT figures that will be referenced in the following section. Jude points to them to emphasize the wickedness of the current crop of false teachers and to illustrate the condemnation that they will face.
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