Mockers in the Last Time
But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit (Jude 17-19).
Verses seventeen through nineteen conclude Jude’s remarks on the apostasy prophesied to prevail throughout Christendom in the latter days. In this passage we are introduced to “mockers,” who are specifically associated with “the last time.” The apostles had previously spoken of their appearance (cf. 1Tim.4: 1-3; 2 Tim. 4: 1-4; 2 Thess.2: 2, 3), and their appearance near the close of the age results from the terminal corrupting process of the leaven (“... till the whole was leavened”) placed in the three measures of meal by the woman in Matt. 13: 33. From the place which these mockers occupy in Jude, it seems evident that Satan has reserved his most corrupt work for that period of time when the Church will have reached its most corrupt state.
The spiritually destitute condition of the Church in the end-time is not a state into which the Church is yet to move, except for the fact that the leaven is still working, producing further corruption. We are living during the time prophesied in Scripture when the leavening process has already worked into the entire mass. We’re living during the time immediately preceding Christ’s return when the prophesied apostasy of Scripture is rapidly, nearing its pinnacle. We’re living during the Laodicean period of Revelation, chapters two and three; and the present spiritual condition of the Church, typified by the spiritual condition of the Laodicean Church, is described by the words, “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Rev. 3: 14ff). It is in these days, in the very time during which we live, that the “mockers” from Jude appear.
Jude’s point of termination for his discourse on apostasy is the same point of termination which Peter records in the parallel section of his second epistle. This, of course, is easy to understand, for the Holy Spirit moved both of these men to write about the same thing, revealing the end of the matter through both men. These are the words of Peter and Jude only insofar as they were the human instruments used to record the words. These passages are, as all Scripture, the very Word of God. God Himself, near the beginning of the Church Age, revealed through Peter and Jude exactly how conditions would be at the end of the Church Age, immediately preceding His Son’s return.
2 Peter 3:1-13 forms the parallel section to Jude 17-19. In the Authorized Version of Scripture, the word, “scoffers” appears in 2 Peter (v. 3) rather than the word “mockers” as in Jude. However, the same word (empaiktes) appears in both passages in the Greek text; and there should be no difference in the way it is understood, for both passages refer to the same individuals, etc. Empaiktes means to “mock,” “ridicule,” “make fun of,” “scoff at.” The only other appearance of this word in the New Testament is in its verb form (empaizo) in the gospel accounts. With two exceptions (Matt. 2: 16; Luke 14: 29), empaizo is used in these accounts only in passages describing the degradation which Christ endured at the hands of both the Roman soldiers and the religious leaders in Israel during His trial and crucifixion (cf. Matt. 20: 19; 27: 29, 31, 41; Mark 10: 34; 15: 20, 31; Luke 18: 32; 22: 63; 23: 11, 36). The same basic thought is in view throughout all these references, including 2 Peter 3: 3 and Jude 18. Mockers, in the Word of God, are those who “belittle,” “ridicule,” “scorn,” “make light of” both the living Word and the written Word.
A cognate form of empaiktes is the word paizo used in 1 Cor. 10: 7 (the only, appearance of this word in the N.T.). This word means “amuse” or “play” and is itself closely, related to the word pais, meaning “child.” Thus, the thought behind paizo has to do with “acting as a child,” “child-like,” etc. Moving the thought of “acting as a child” into the rationale of the mockers in 2 Peter 3: 3 and Jude 18 will illustrate one facet of their actions.
Another facet of their actions can be derived from the way paizo is used in 1 Cor. 10: 7. Events in this passage have to do with the time in the wilderness of Sinai when the Israelites reveled in pagan idolatry (Ex. 32; 1ff). They “sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play” (a direct quotation from Ex. 32: 6). This occurred after Moses had been away from the camp, in the Mount, for many days. The people “saw that Moses delayed to come down out of the mount,” and their thoughts turned toward new leadership. They desired to make a god (Elohim [cf, vv. 1, 4, 8, 23, 31], same Hebrew word used for the one True and Living God throughout the O.T.) who would “go before” them, for they didn’t know what had become of Moses. A “molten calf” was formed to serve as their god (their Elohim), sacrifices were offered to this calf, and within the festivities surrounding these sacrifices there were times of eating and drinking. The people rising up to play was associated with the gay times of dancing, etc. attending such festivities. All of these were performed after the manner, customs, and idolatrous practices of the Egyptians.
Moses in the Mount, away
from the camp of
Thus, putting these things together, the “mockers” in 2 Peter and Jude are seen as individuals who have not only stood away from “the faith” but their actions are associated with both those of a child and those of the world. They, in their ofttimes pretence of exhibiting a spiritually mature, superior knowledge, in reality exhibit a carnally immature, inferior knowledge (cf. 2 Peter 2:18; Jude 16). They, as their counterparts in the wilderness of Sinai during Moses’ day, revel, not in the things of God, but in the things of the world. They have rejected the wisdom that comes from above and resorted to that which is base, from below.
The mockers who appear in “the last time” are said to “separate themselves [lit. ‘cause divisions’]” (Jude 19a). They, through their false doctrines, cause schisms among Christians, seeking to overthrow the faith of those whom Jude is warning. They themselves are no longer earnestly striving with reference to “the faith”; and their efforts are directed toward, not those in the arena which they now occupy, but those in the arena which they left.
The method which they use to produce divisions among Christians, according to 2 Peter 3: 4, is questioning the Word of God. Through their “great swelling words” they make light of what God has promised in His Word; and Peter, introducing his message on apostates, stated that many would follow the “pernicious ways” of men such as these, “by reason of whom the way of truth” would be “evil spoken of.” These apostates have defiled their own garments; and, through “damnable heresies,” they seek to lead other Christians to do the same (2 Peter 2: 1, 2, 18).
These mockers are further described as being “sensual, having not the Spirit” (Jude 19b). The word “sensual” is a translation of the Greek word psuchikos, meaning “soulical,” “natural.” The soul is that part of man associated with the natural life. The soul is the seat of a person’s emotions, feelings, and desires pertaining to his man-conscious existence. Christians possess an unredeemed soul, and Christians resorting to the soulical nature are following the man of flesh rather than the man of spirit. […]
These are “apostates” - believers who have stood away from “the faith.” The thought centers around the fact that here are individuals who, within their apostasy, now “mock” the things of God, they follow the ways of the man of flesh, and the Spirit of God has nothing to do with the entire matter. The leaven has done its work, everything is alien to the Spirit’s control, and these apostates are completely estranged from the Spirit’s work in their lives.*
[* See G. H. Lang’s ‘The Personal Indwelling of the Holy Spirit’.]
1. Where is the Promise of His Coming?
The pseudo message proclaimed by the mockers who appear during the latter days is given in 2 Peter 3: 4. This message involves a naturalistic, uniformitarian outlook which smacks at the very heart of all prophetic Scripture: “Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”
This message sequentially appears immediately following Enoch’s prophecy. Enoch prophesied during the days before the Flood - five millenniums ago - concerning the very return which the mockers of the end-time deny. Enoch’s prophecy pertained to a judgment which would come upon the mockers, other apostates, and all other Christians - faithful and unfaithful alike - at the time of Christ’s return. The Lord is going to “judge his people”; and Scripture states, concerning Christians in relation to this judgment, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10: 30, 31; cf. 1 Cor. 3: 11-15; 2 Cor. 5: 10, 11). Many Christians deny that such judgment will occur, but the mockers carry this one step further and deny the very return of Christ to bring about this judgment. They deny Enoch’s prophecy in toto.
God, in His Word, is very specific and clear concerning the fact of His Son’s return. Jesus will return; and insofar as Scripture is concerned, that’s the end of the matter. The subject is not open for discussion. Jesus’ words, “And if I go ... I will come again” (John 14: 3), mean exactly what they say. He has gone away to prepare a place for Christians, fulfilling the first part of this verse; and He will come again to receive Christians unto Himself, fulfilling the latter part of this verse. His departure, as Moses’ departure into the mount, was fulfilled in a literal manner; and His return, as Moses’ return back to the camp, will, likewise, be fulfilled in a literal manner. Moses, prior to his departure, promised that he would return, and he did (Ex. 24: 15; 32: 15ff); Christ, prior to His departure, promised that He would return, and He will (John 14: 3; 1 Thess. 4: 16, 17).*
[* Note the time of Christ’s return and what must take place beforehand: Matt. 24: 29; Mark 13: 24-26; Luke 21: 27.]
The mockers, however, in spite of all the great prophecies of Scripture, ridicule and belittle the doctrine of Christ’s return. Their reasoning is built around a naturalistic, uniformitarian premise that nothing has changed since the creation of the heavens and the earth, and nothing is going to change. Time, as we know it, will continue on and on uninterrupted. God is not going to intervene in the affairs of man. He has not so done in the past, nor will He so do in the future. This is their reasoning, but this is not at all in accord with what the Word of God has to say about the matter.
2. Willingly Ignorant
The interesting point which Scripture reveals concerning these mockers and their message is the fact that they are willingly ignorant concerning their false claims of uniformitarian theology. The word “ignorant” in the Greek text is lanthano, which means to “escape notice,” or “be hidden.” They have willingly allowed what Scripture has to say about the matter to escape their notice, be hidden from them. They are in a position to understand God’s Word. They possess a saved human spirit into which the Word of God can be received ... but they have resorted to the soulical man, rejecting the leadership of the Holy Spirit in their lives (Jude 19). Through this means, they have willingly allowed a veil to be placed over their eyes (cf. 2 Cor. 4: 3-5).*
[* This condition finally comes to pass upon those who are continually disobedient to the Word of God. See, 2 Pet. 2: 21. cf. Heb. 12: 14, 15; Num. 13: 31, etc,. When this happens, “the last state of that man becometh worse than the first:” (Luke 11: 26, R.V.). “And the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him:” (1 Kings 16: 14, LXX.). “We must OBEY God rather than men!” … “We are witnesses of these things,” said Peter, “and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to THOSE WHO OBEY HIM:” (Acts 5: 29, 32, N.I.V.). See also David’s prayer after his restoration: “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me:” Psalm 51: 10, 11, N.I.V.). And again, “Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit in my inward parts. Cast not away from thy presence; and remove not thy holy Spirit from me. Restore me to the joy of thy salvation: establish me with thy directing Spirit:” (LXX). The Holy Spirit does not indwell or empower any disobedient Christian!]
That which the mockers have willingly allowed to be hidden from them is something which would expose the entire pseudo uniformitarian claim upon which their pseudo message rests. They seek to substantiate their question concerning Christ’s return by that which is itself false. And the Holy Spirit, through Peter, showing the utter futility of their ways, exposes their pseudo message by destroying the false premise upon which it is built. The Holy Spirit draws from Biblical history to show that all things have not continued “as they were from the beginning of the creation.” God has intervened in the history of this earth in the past (vv. 5, 6). The Holy Spirit then advances this same thought into the future to show that all things will not continue indefinitely as they presently are. God will intervene once again in the history of this earth (v.7).
3. The World That Then Was
2 Peter 3: 6 has to do with a destruction of the world following its creation, referred to in verse four. There is some controversy in theological circles concerning whether this pertains to the pre-Adamic destruction in Gen. 1: 2a or to the post-Adamic destruction produced by the Flood during Noah’s day. Either of these destructions would serve to expose the mockers’ false uniformitarian theology in verse four. However, even though this is true, it must be kept in mind that Scripture at this point is only dealing with one of these destructions; and it is necessary that the correct destruction be ascertained in order to properly understand this section of the Word of God. As will be shown, “the world that then was,” refers to the pre-Adamic world, not to the post-Adamic world of Noah’s day. Peter dealt with the Noachian Flood in chapter two (v. 5), but in chapter three he is dealing with something entirely different.
First of all, the text has to do with a destruction of the earth following its creation, not a destruction of the earth following its restoration. This destruction came upon a creation which, “by the word of God,” was “of old” (v. 5). These words are a direct allusion to the creation of the heavens and the earth in verse four, referring to Gen. 1: 1. The world of Gen. 1: 1 (a kosmos, an orderly arrangement) is the world which was destroyed (became a chaos) in 2 Peter 3: 6. Gen. 1: 2a, revealing this destruction, forms the Old Testament commentary for 2 Peter 3: 6, not the Flood during Noah’s day.
Second, the parallel drawn between past and future destructions in 2 Peter 3: 5-7 will show that only the destruction of Gen. 1: 2a can possibly be under consideration in verse six. The pre-Adamic destruction was quite different than the post-Adamic destruction during Noah’s day. The destruction of Gen. 1: 2a involved not only the earth but the heavens also. The light of the sun, moon, and stars was blotted out (cf. Gen. 1: 2a, 3, 14-19). Nothing comparable to this occurred during the Noachian Flood. 2 Peter 3: 7, paralleling the past destruction reveals a future destruction of the earth which will also include the heavens. Thus, in the sense of parallel counterparts - past and future - only the destruction of Gen. 1: 2a can be considered in past time.
Further, the emphasis, and really only matter under consideration in the pre-Adamic destruction was upon the material creation, as in the future destruction. However, the emphasis or main thrust of the matter under consideration in the destruction during Noah’s day was upon a people inhabiting a portion of this material creation - upon the people of the earth. The pre-Adamic destruction was of such a nature that God had to restore the heavens and the earth. This He did over the six-day period of Gen. 1: 2b-25. God brought into existence order out of disorder. He brought into existence a kosmos out of a chaos. The destruction during Noah’s day, however, was quite different. The heavens were untouched, and the earth itself was not destroyed in the same sense as the destruction in Gen. 1: 2a. No restoration of the earth followed the Flood during Noah’s day, as in the pre-Adamic destruction, simply because no restoration was necessary.
4. The Heavens and the Earth, Which Are Now
The expression, “the heavens and the earth, which are now,” refers to the heavens and the earth existing since the restoration of Gen. 1: 2b-25. Both the heavens and the earth were destroyed in the previous destruction, and both will be destroyed in the future destruction. This future destruction will occur at the end of the coming Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord covers the last three and one-half years of the Tribulation and the entirety of the Millennium which follows. At the close of the millennial reign of Christ the present heavens and earth will, through a destructive process, pass out of existence; and a new heavens and earth will, through a creative process, be brought into existence (2 Peter 3: 7, 10-13; cf. Isa. 65: 17).
Following the Day of the
Lord, following the time of the destruction and earth and the creation of a new
heavens and earth. - the “day of God” will be ushered in (2 Peter 3: 12). At this time, the Son will deliver
up the “
Mockers in the last days have willingly allowed both Biblical history and Biblical prophecy to escape their notice. The leaven in the meal has accomplished its deteriorating work, and this leaven will be allowed to continue working - the mockers will be allowed to continue their pseudo message - until Christ Himself returns and puts a stop to the entire matter. That is, the mockers will be allowed to continue their pseudo message until the time when the very event which they have been speaking against occurs. They will then be brought into judgment, as unfaithful servants, to render an account.
God has intervened in the affairs of man in the past, and God will intervene in the affairs of man yet future. Make no mistake about these matters set forth in Biblical history and Biblical prophecy.
This One Thing
“But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Peter 3: 8).
Peter’s summation of the matter concerning “the world that then was” and “the heavens and the earth which are now” involves a period of time referred to by the expressions “day” and “one thousand years”; and he does not want Christians to be ignorant concerning this time. The word “ignorant” is a translation of the Greek word lanthano, the same as in verse five; and the manner in which the prohibition appears in the Greek text of verse eight indicates that those addressed were, as the mockers in verse five, allowing something to escape their notice. Literally Peter states, “But, beloved, stop allowing this one thing to escape your notice, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
1. One Day, One Thousand Years
The time in verse eight is to be ascertained by reference to the preceding verses. These preceding verses set forth Biblical history, as it relates to Biblical prophecy. This section covers the complete scope of revealed events pertaining to the heavens and the earth - from the point of their creation, through the time of their first destruction, to the time of their second and final destruction. Time, however, does not come into view until the restoration of the ruined creation following its first destruction. Behind this is a dateless past, wherein time, insofar as the revealed scope of time in Scripture is concerned, is not reckoned. Thus, time in verse eight, within its context, must be recognized to begin at the point of the restoration of the heavens and the earth (“the heavens and the earth, which are no”) in verse seven.
2 Peter 3: 5-8 can be outlined under four headings: Creation, Ruin, Restoration, and Time. a) Creation (v. 5b): Parallel 2 Peter 3: 5b with Gen. 1: 1. “ … by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water [‘the earth having been placed together out of water and by water’].”
“In the beginning God created the heaven [‘heavens’] and the earth.” b) Ruin (v. 6): Parallel 2 Peter 3: 6 with Gen. 1: 2a.
“Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” “And the earth was [became] without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep [‘upon the face of the raging waters’].” c) Restoration (v. 7): Parallel 2 Peter 3: 7 with Gen. 1:2b-25. “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word” [ref. v. 5].
“And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters [beginning the restoration process for ‘the heavens and the earth, which are now’] ...” d) Time (v. 8): Parallel 2 Peter 3: 8 with the septenary arrangement of time set forth in Gen. 1: 2b-2: 3.
God worked six days and rested the seventh in the past restoration; and, following man’s sin, bringing both himself and the material creation under “the bondage of corruption,” God began working to bring about another restoration - that of the creature and the creation. The latter restoration and rest is patterned after the former. God will, once again, work six days and rest the seventh. In the latter restoration and rest, each day is one thousand years in length. This is the teaching set forth in 2 Peter 3: 8.
(Note that within the septenary arrangement of time in 2 Peter 3: 8 attention can be directed only to the restoration of the heavens and the earth destroyed in Gen. 1: 2a. Thus, the destructions of Gen. 1: 2a and He looked upon as synonymous, for the septenary arrangement of time in verse eight is drawn from its context [vv. 5-7])
2. The Sabbath
According to Ex. 31: 13-17, the Sabbath was given to Israel to
keep the thought ever before them that the present six - and seven-day (six and seven thousand-year pattern of
restoration and rest is based on the original pattern of restoration and rest
in Genesis, chapters one and two; and, just as God rested on the seventh day
following six days of work in the Genesis account, He is going to rest for one
day following the present six days of restoration work. The Sabbath was a “sign” established between God
and the children of
The present-day counterpart to the Israelites failing to keep the Sabbath, and thereby rejecting what God had to say concerning a day of rest following six days of work, is Christians who reject what Scripture has to say, concerning the coming Sabbath of rest. These individuals in Christendom today are called “amillennialists” a word designating their belief that there will be no Millennium or Sabbath rest following the present six days of work. And it should come as not surprise that amillennial teaching has become far more prevalent in Christendom than millennial teaching. Why? Simply because of the corrupting process of the leaven over a period of nineteen hundred years. God judged the Israelites in the Old Testament for their failure to recognize the sign of the Sabbath, and God will judge Christians for exhibiting this same attitude today.
A Sabbath rest is coming. Heb. 4: 9 states, “There remaineth therefore a rest [‘Sabbath keeping,’ ‘Sabbath
rest’] for the people of God.” The word translated “rest” is sabbatismos in the Greek text. This is a form of
the word for “Sabbath,” referring to a “Sabbath keeping,” which is a seventh-day rest. The allusion is by no means to a present rest
into which Christians enter, for such has nothing to do with the seventh
day. The sabbatismos can only be
millennial in its scope of fulfilment.
This is in keeping with the context (vv. 5-11). The septenary arrangement of the pattern
established in the Book of Genesis, the reason the Sabbath was given to
God answers the mockers in 2 Peter 3: 3, 4 by calling attention to a panorama of events which encompass the entire scope of God’s Revelation to man, written particularly around the septenary arrangement of time established in the Book of Genesis. All the Scriptures are about Christ (Luke 24: 27), and His first coming is incomplete without His second coming. “Where is the promise of his coming?” It’s in Genesis ... Psalms ... Malachi ... Matthew ... Acts ... Revelation. The enlightened Christian might well ask, “Where isn’t the promise of His coming?”
As prophesied in Jude 17-19 and 2 Peter 3: 3ff, “mockers” will appear “in the last time” with a pseudo message concerning Christ’s return. They will follow a uniformitarian theology that nothing has changed in the past, and nothing is going to change in the future. God has not intervened in the affairs of man in the past, and He is not going to intervene in the affairs of man in the future. Through this form of reasoning, originating from man’s wisdom during Man’s Day, mockers appearing in Christendom during the latter days will scoff at, make light of, belittle the great doctrines surrounding the return of Christ.
The Old Testament
counterpart to that which Scripture has foretold will occur in Christendom
during the latter days is the experiences of the children of
Moses in the type, before departing the camp of Israel and ascending the
Mount, left specific instructions for his people:- “Tarry ye here for us [Joshua accompanied Moses], until we come again unto you
…” The people of Israel
were to tarry in the wilderness of Sinai, awaiting Moses’ (and Joshua’s)
return. But after a lengthy period of
time, seeing that “Moses delayed to come down out of the mount,” the people grew weary and sought after new leadership. They went to Aaron (who, along with Hur, had
been left in charge) and said, “Up, make us
gods, which shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man that brought us up
out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” Aaron, acceding to their demand,
collected gold from the people, melted the gold and formed a “molten calf.” The people then offered sacrifices unto the
calf, worshipped the calf, and engaged in times of festivities surrounding the
sacrifices and worship. In this manner
the people of
Because of this lapse
into idolatry, God’s thoughts turned toward the destruction of the entire
nation. God revealed both the idolatry and His intentions to Moses while he was
still in the Mount, and Moses then interceded and fasted for “forty days and forty nights” on behalf of the nation. As a
result, God stayed His hand (cf.
Ex. 32: 10-14; Deut. 9: 13, 14, 18-20, 25-29). But upon Moses’ return from the Mount,
even though the nation itself had been spared, God’s judgment still fell upon
His people. The molten calf was burned
and ground to powder. The powder was
then cast “into the brook that descended out of
the mount,” and the children of
Had the Israelites believed Moses and followed his instructions - tarrying in the wilderness of Sinai, awaiting his return – they would not have fallen into idolatry incurring God’s judgment. Thus, carrying this over into the antitype, one can immediately see the importance of Christians understanding and following exact Biblical guidelines concerning activity during Christ’s absence while awaiting His return. Christ, as Moses, is away from the camp today. He is in heaven, interceding on our behalf; and He has been there for an extensive period of time. Before His departure into heaven, He, as Moses before his departure into the Mount, left specific instructions for His people: “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19: 13). Christians are to be engaged in the Lord's business, awaiting His return. However, Christians, as the Israelites, have taken their eyes off this command. They have grown weary, ceased to be engaged in the Lord’s business, and ceased to await His return. They, as the Israelites, have become involved in other things, namely idolatry.
The “molten calf,” formed by Aaron during Moses’ stay in the Mount, was an idol apparently
derived from the Israelites’ former as association
Scripture reveals three very significant points concerning
Nakedness and shame are subjects which have their roots in the second and third chapters of Genesis, in Scriptures surrounding the creation and fall of man. Adam and Eve, in an un-fallen state, following their creation, were both “naked” and “were not ashamed.” However, in a fallen state, following the entrance of sin, they “knew that they were naked” and were “afraid.” They attempted to hide their nakedness by constructing fig-leaf aprons; and, apparently realizing the inadequacy of the fig-leaf aprons, they then “hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden” (Gen. 2: 25; 3: 6-10).
God, rejecting their fig-leaf aprons as completely unsuitable for covering their nakedness, provided His Own covering made from animal skins (Gen. 3: 21). This provision was from God, He performed the work to bring about the covering, a vicarious sacrifice was involved, and blood was shed. This is the method which God used at the very beginning to cover fallen man’s nakedness, i.e., to effect fallen man’s redemption; and this method, originally set forth by God in Genesis, establishes a pattern which can never change throughout Scripture. The promised Redeemer in Gen. 3: 15 MUST, at some following point in time, effect man’s redemption after the established pattern in Gen. 3: 21. That is, first of all the Redeemer must be God, for only God can perform the work of redemption; second, the Redeemer must provide a vicarious sacrifice; and third, blood must be shed.
Christians today, because of Christ’s vicarious sacrifice and shed blood are clothed in the righteousness of Christ - the antitype of Adam and Eve clothed with the provided animal skins in Gen. 3: 21. They, in this respect, now possess a right relationship with God, for this relationship is based entirely on the righteousness of Christ and His finished work. Nothing which man does - typified by the fig-leaf aprons - can have anything to do with either establishing or adding to this right relationship. Man’s reception of imputed righteousness is entirely of God.
Man can bring nothing whatsoever into a work - either before or after his salvation - which God Himself, in the person of His Son, has finished. Consequently, Christians MUST remain clothed in the righteousness of Christ forever, else the completeness, sufficiency, etc. of the very redemptive work of God Himself would be brought into question. Hence, in this respect, Christians can NEVER be found naked.
Thus far the subject under discussion has been “nakedness” relative to the righteousness
of Christ and eternal
salvation. However, there is another type of “nakedness” in
Scripture. The Israelites had
appropriated the blood of the paschal lambs in
Understanding the matter surrounding more than one type nakedness is contingent on understanding there is more than one type of justification. This is dealt with in James, chapter two (vv. 14-26). There is a justification by faith, and there is also a justification by works. Accordingly, there is a covering for one’s nakedness associated with each. Justification by faith has to do with the salvation which we presently possess, the salvation of the spirit; and justification by works has to do with the salvation to be revealed at the time of our Lord’s return, the salvation of the soul. The covering for nakedness which we presently possess, associated with eternal salvation, is the righteousness of Christ; and the covering for nakedness, associated with the hope set before Christians, is the righteous acts of the saint - the wedding garment.
Justification is NEVER by faith and works (i.e., a single justification where faith and works are both involved). It is always by one or the other, NEVER a combination of the two; and justification by faith MUST always precede any mention of justification by works. Justification by works emanates out of a person’s faithfulness following his justification by faith, and works of this nature bring faith to its proper goal (James 2: 22; 1 Peter 1: 9). Thus, a person MUST first be in a position to exercise faith before works can enter. That is to say, he MUST first be justified by faith before he can be justified by works.
The wedding garment (“fine linen”) in Rev. 19: 8 is specifically said to be composed of the “righteous acts of the saints” (ASV). The word translated “righteous acts” (“righteousness,” KJV) is plural in the Greek text (dikaiomata) and cannot refer to the imputed righteousness of Christ. Dikaiomata in this verse has to do with “righteous acts” producing justification. In this respect, these are “justifying acts” of the saints (the same word, appearing in the singular, is translated “justification” and “righteousness” [referring to justification by faith, made possible through Christ’s righteous, justifying act] in Rom. 5: 16, 18; and the cognate verb [from dikaioo] is translated “justified” [referring to both justification by faith and justification by works] in James 2: 24). Works emanating out of faithfulness resulting in one’s justification by works, provide the Christian with a wedding garment.
Apart from the wedding, garment, a Christian will be found naked at the time of Christ’s return. Having been justified by faith and clothed in the righteousness of Christ he can never be separated from the love of Christ. He can never be found naked relative to his justification by faith; but failing to be justified by works following his justification by faith, resulting in no wedding garment (nakedness relative to justification by works), will meet with dire consequences at the time of Christ’s return (note: “judgment” on the basis of works [1 Cor. 3: 12-15; cf. Matt. 16: 24-27; Luke 19: 15-26.]).
Appearing in the presence of Christ without a wedding garment is portrayed in Matt. 22: 11-14 by the man (from among the “guests,” Gr. anakeimenon, “reclining ones”) appearing at the marriage festivities without a wedding garment. This man would not have been at these festivities in the first place had he not previously been justified by faith. This section of Scripture is prophetic in its scope of fulfilment. The festivities portrayed here have to do with events surrounding the marriage of the Lamb; and this marriage, with its festivities will occur … at the end of the present age.
The man without a wedding garment was questioned concerning both his presence at the festivities and the manner in which he appeared. The subtle distinction between two different negatives in the Greek text of verses eleven and twelve (ou and me) show that the man knew he was supposed to have a wedding garment, but he knowingly, defiantly appeared without the necessary attire. Because he was not proper clothed, he was denied admittance bound, and cast into the darkness outside. That is, he was found naked, denied admittance, bound, and cast into a place comparable to a darkened courtyard outside a brilliantly lighted banqueting hall. This man sets forth the fate awaiting, not unsaved individuals, but certain saved individuals. The wedding garment (righteous acts of the saints) is in view, not the imputed righteousness of Christ. This man typifies those Christians who, in that coming day … seek admittance to the festivities surrounding the marriage of God’s Son without being clothed in the proper attire - the wedding garment.
Apostasy in the camp of
The shepherds in
Christendom, the ones who are supposed to keep the great truths surrounding
Christ’s return ever before the people, have become engaged in other activities;
and they have led their flocks into these other activities. The end result, foretold thirty-five hundred
years ago during the days of Moses, has been apostasy. The
mockers are present, and the great
Building Oneself Up, Praying ...
“But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on [by means of] your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20).
Immediately preceding Jude’s discourse on apostasy (vv. 4-19), he exhorted Christians to “earnestly contend for [‘earnestly strive with reference to’] the faith.” Then, immediately following Jude’s discourse on apostasy, he again refers to the proper relationship of Christians to faith: “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on [by means of] your most holy faith ...” (v. 20). Rather than an exhortation though, as in verse three, verse twenty simply refers to Christians being built up in the faith. The thought from the Greek text has to do with building upon an existing foundation. Verse twenty is actually a continuation of verse three, with the intervening section on apostasy separating the verses. Jude exhorted Christians concerning “the faith” prior to his discourse on apostasy; and now, having completed this discourse, he picks up with the Christians’ relationship to faith exactly where his discourse left off.
How does a person “earnestly contend for [earnestly strive with reference to] the faith”? Jude’s response to the manner in which this exhortation is to be carried out is given in the continuation of the subject in verse twenty. A person earnestly strives with reference to “the faith” through building himself up by means of his “faith.” This is in perfect agreement with the parallel section to Jude 3 in 2 Peter 1: 5-8 (ref. Chapter I). In this parallel section Christians are exhorted to “add to [‘abundantly supply in’] your faith …” 2 Pet. 1: 5-8 and Jude 3, 20 refer to the same thing.
Christians are presently engaged in a battle. This battle is spiritual. It is not against “flesh and blood,” but “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places [‘against the spirit forces of wickedness in heavenly places’].” In this battle Christians are to properly equip themselves with an armour, and among the pieces of this armour is “the shield of faith.” A Christian holding forth this shield in the warfare against the spirit forces of wickedness will be able “to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked [‘wicked one’]” (Eph. 6: 11-17). According to Rom. 10: 17, “faith cometh by [‘out of’] hearing, and hearing by [‘through’] the word of God.” A person equips himself with the shield of faith by being built up in “the faith.” In this manner, and in this manner alone, he is able to protect himself from the wiles of Satan – “fiery darts” in the form of apostasy as in Jude, etc.
Immediately following the statement concerning individuals being built up by means of their “most holy faith,” Jude refers to “praying in the Holy Spirit.” The Divine commentary on this verse is Rom. 8: 26, 27: “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself [‘Himself’] maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” Praying in the Holy Spirit is prayer motivated by the Holy Spirit which emanates from the man of spirit. It is praying by means of and dependence upon the indwelling Holy Spirit. Prayer of this nature lays an integral part in Christians being built up in the faith. The Word of God is “spiritually discerned,” and Christians receiving this Word into their saved human spirits MUST rely upon the indwelling Holy Spirit to lead them “into all truth” (1 Cor. 2: 14; John 16: 13). Christians MUST ever combine their study with prayer after this fashion.
“Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for [‘awaiting’] the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life [‘unto life for the age’]” (Jude 21).
Jude, in his discourse on faith and apostasy, has been building toward a climactic exhortation. He previously exhorted Christians to earnestly strive with reference to “the faith” (v. 3); he warned Christians concerning standing away from “the faith” (vv. 4-19); and he then came back to the positive side of the Christians’ relationship to faith (v. 20), continuing from verse three. All things in the first twenty verses point to what Jude states in verse twenty-one: “Keep yourselves in ... looking [‘awaiting’] …”
The “love of God” in which Christians are to keep themselves is the same love previously mentioned in verse two. The word “love” in both instances is agape in the Greek text, the same as in 2 Peter 1: 7. Agape refers to “Divine love” which God is in His character and nature. “God is love,” i.e.,”God, is agape” (1 John 4: 8). This is the highest type love attainable. It is love produced in the life of faithful believers by the indwelling Holy Spirit, and Christians are to keep themselves within the sphere of this love. Agape appears at the conclusion of the list of things to be “abundantly supplied in” a Christian’s faith in 2 Peter 1: 5-8. It is placed last, as also in Jude 20, 21, because it is the height of Christian experience, and nothing can be added therein.
Christians - being brought unto maturity through being built up in the faith (v. 20; cf. “knowledge,” Gr. epignosis [2 Peter 1: 8]), keeping themselves in the love of God (v. 21a) are to await “the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life [‘unto life for the age’]” (v. 21b). This, of course, is the goal upon which all things in the present pilgrim walk focus. The goal of faith is the salvation of the soul (life), which has to do with life in the coming age. The entire concept concerning faith in relation to one’s calling and life in the coming age set forth by Jude is identical to that set forth by Paul in 1 Tim. 6: 12:- “Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life [lit. ‘Strive in the good contest of the faith; lay hold on life for the age’*], whereunto thou art also called...” Jude directs his entire epistle toward exhorting and warning Christians, with one thing in view. Jude looked out toward that day when Christians would be called to an accounting and, at that time, either realize or be denied the goal of their calling.
[* See FOOTNOTES]
exhortation centers around Christians awaiting Christ’s return in a prepared, ready
manner. The failure of innumerable
Christians to so do has resulted in the present apostasy throughout Christendom
“And of some have compassion, making a difference [lit. ‘And you show mercy to the ones who are wavering (or “doubting,” “contentious”)’]: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (Jude 22, 23).
As Christians are to await “the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ,” they are, themselves, to show mercy, compassion to other Christians. The words “making a difference” (KJV) in verse twenty - two are the translation of the Greek word diakrino, which is often used in other portions of the New Testament in the sense of “wavering,” “doubting,” or “being contentious” (cf. Matt. 21: 21; Acts 10: 20; 11: 2, 12; Rom. 14: 23; James 1: 6; Jude 9). This would appear to be the way it should be understood in Jude 22. Those Christians who are wavering, doubting, or even being contentious concerning the great truths set forth in verses twenty and twenty-one are to receive mercy at the hands of Christians who understand these truths, not a contentious, doubting, or wavering spirit in return. Such responses will only serve to further alienate them. Mercy is the quality which must be exhibited to win them.
The salvation in verse twenty-three has nothing to do with eternal life. That’s not the issue being dealt with at all. The text is dealing with Christians awaiting “the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ” unto life for the age (v. 21) and, during this time of waiting, showing mercy to other Christians who are wavering, doubting, or being contentious relative to life for the age (vv. 22, 23). The same basic thought is set forth in James 5: 19, 20: “Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him [turns him back to the truth]; let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” Turning Christians either to the truth or back to the truth, as in James 5:19, 20 and Jude 22, 23, has to do with the salvation of the soul alone. The entire matter of the unique relationship which Christians have with one another occurs on the basis of the fact that both are new creations “in Christ”; but, within this relationship Christians MUST look from the present forward, not from the present back. Christians MUST keep their eyes fixed on the goal of their calling the goal of faith, the salvation of their souls.
The thought of pulling Christians “out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh” (v. 23) is similar to Joshua the high priest in Zech. 3: 1-7 being clothed in filthy garments and plucked as a brand “out of the fire.” The thought in Jude though would have to be brought over into the context of Christians being clothed in the wedding garment rather than unsaved individuals, as portrayed by Joshua, being clothed in the righteousness of Christ. The thought in Jude extends into the area with which Joshua found himself confronted following his being plucked as a brand from the fire and being clothed with a change of raiment. He was then told, “If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house” (v. 7). Just as there are two different justifications and two different garments in connection with these justifications, there are also dual truths on being removed as a brand from the fire. Zech. 3: 2-4 sets forth one, and Jude 23 sets forth the other.
How are Christians able to so live as Jude has previously exhorted? How are Christians able to govern their lives in such a manner that an abundant entrance “into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” will be their portion? They are able so to live and govern their lives in a manner only because of the One who loved them and gave Himself for them continues to love them and is “able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Eph. 3: 20). The concluding words of Jude sum up his entire epistle after this fashion:
“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy. To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”
- Jude 24, 25
- A. L. CHITWOOD. (From: ‘JUDE The Acts of the Apostates’, pp. 95-114.)
FOOTNOTES ON ENGLISH TRANSLATIONS OF THE GREEK WORD ‘AIONIOS’.
The Greek language, from which our English versions have been translated, does not contain a word for “eternal.” A person using the Greek language thinks in the sense of “ages”; and the way this language is normally used in the New Testament to express “eternal,” apart from textual considerations, is through the use of the Greek words eis tous aionas ton aionon, meaning, “unto [or, ‘with respect to’] the ages of the ages” (ref. Heb. 13: 21; 1 Pet. 4: 11; Rev. 1: 6; 4: 9, 10 for several examples of places where these words are used, translated “forever and ever” in most versions.
Another less frequent used way to express “eternal” in the Greek New Testament, apart from textual considerations, is through the use of the shortened form of the preceding - eis tous aionas, meaning “unto [or, ‘with respect to’] the ages” (ref. Rom. 9: 5; 11: 36; 2Cor. 11: 31; Heb. 13: 8 for several examples of places where these words are used, translated “forever” in most versions.
The word from the Greek text translated “eternal” in Heb. 5: 9 is aionios. This is the adjective equivalent of the noun aion, referred to in the preceding paragraph in its plural form to express “eternal.” Aion means “an aeon [ the word ‘aeon’ is derived from aion]” or “an era,” usually understood throughout the Greek New Testament as “an age.”
Aionios, the adjective equivalent of aion, is used seventy-one times in the Greek New Testament and has been indiscriminately translated “eternal” or “everlasting” in almost every instance in the various English versions. This word though should be understood about thirty of these seventy-one times in the sense of “age-lasting” rather than “eternal”; and the occurrence in Heb. 5: 9 forms a case in point.
Several good examples of other places where aionios should be translated and understood as “age-lasting” are Gal. 6: 8; 1Tim. 6: 12; Titus 1: 2; 3: 7. These passages have to do with running the present race of the faith in view of one day realizing an inheritance in the[millennial] kingdom, which is the hope set before Christians.
On the other hand, aionios can be
understood in the sense of “eternal” if
the text so indicates. Several
good examples of places where aionios should be translated and
understood are John 3: 15, 16, 36. These passages have to do with the life derived through faith in Christ because
of His finished work at
Textual considerations must always be taken into account when properly translating and understanding aionios, for this is a word which can be used to imply either “age-lasting” or “eternal”; and it is used both ways numerous times in the New Testament. Textual considerations in Heb. 5: 9 leave no room to question exactly how aionios should be understood and translated in this verse. Life during the coming age, occupying a position as co-heir with Christ in that coming day, is what the Book of Hebrews is about.
2. SUFFERING, REIGNING.
Suffering with or on behalf of Christ must precede reigning with Christ. The latter cannot be realized apart from the former. Such suffering is inseparably linked with obedience; and the text clearly states that Christ is the source of that future salvation “unto all them that [presently] obey him,” in the same respect that Christ is the source of presently Possessed eternal salvation for all those who have (in the past) “believed” on Him.
1 Peter 1: 11, relative to the saving of the soul (vv. 9, 10), states, “Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify when it [‘He’] testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ [lit., ‘the sufferings with respect to Christ’], and the glory that should follow.”
The thought, contextually, is not at all that of Christ suffering. Rather, the thought has to do with Christians suffering with respect to Christ’s sufferings, subsequently realizing the salvation of their souls through having part in the glory which is to follow the sufferings.
This is the underlying thought behind the whole book of 1 Peter, expressed in so many words by the writer in 4: 12, 13: “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.”
This is the “eternal [‘age-lasting’ ] glory” to which Christians have been called and in which [overcoming]* Christians will be established after they “have suffered a while,” with obedience to Christ emanating from the sufferings (1 Peter 5: 10). “
* See Rev. 3: 21.
- A. L. Chitwood.