Revelation 1:20

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches. Revelation 1:20

John is in the process of writing “the things which are” from the previous verse. That is now explained by the Lord, saying, “The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands.” In the Greek, there is a difference in these words than of those in verse 1:16. There it said, “in His right hand.” Here, it says, “upon My right hand.” Thus, it appears as if His hand is open, and resting upon it are these seven stars.

The word “mystery” does not signify something unknowable. Rather, it signifies something that cannot be known until it is revealed. For example, the gospel, the rapture, the uniting of the church with Christ, and so on, were called mysteries by Paul. None of those things could be known apart from them being revealed by God.

So it is true with this. Jesus has these objects which typologically represent something else. In the Old Testament, there was a menorah, a table of showbread, an altar of incense, the veil, the Ark of the Covenant, and so on. All of those things were merely types and shadows of other things found in Christ. For example, the veil is said explicitly in Hebrews 10:20 to be the flesh of Christ. The meaning of the implements is unknown, and it cannot be known without God revealing it. But now, Christ is going to do so.

In this, He says, “The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches.” The translation is not correct. In the Greek, there is no article before “churches.” It says, “The seven stars are the angels of seven churches.” The general nature of the words provides us with insight into the fact that what will be said to them is a generalization of any church at any given time which will then fall into one of the seven categories set forth by the Lord. There were many more churches than just these seven at John’s time, but the Lord selected these for His specific reasons.

Next, the word “angels,” in both Hebrew and Greek, signifies “messengers.” It can speak of divine or human messengers. In this case, there are quite a few possibilities as to what is being referred to. A few for reference are:

1) Heavenly beings. The term is certainly used this way many times in Revelation and elsewhere in the New Testament. But this then begs the question as to why John would be instructed to write to these beings to repent, or refer to them in human terms such as being “alive” and “dead” (meaning in a spiritual sense), and so on? Heavenly angels do not control churches, nor do they communicate with churches. Angels are ministering spirits as described in Hebrews, but John would not be writing such things to a ministering spirit.

2) The angels are actually a representation of the church itself. In other words, John is writing to a church that is represented by the people in the church. However, this is shown to be incorrect because the churches are called “the seven lampstands” in this verse. Therefore, they are two separate entities. Further, this is again confirmed in verse 2:5 where the Lord says that unless certain action is taken, He will take the lampstand away. The address is in the singular, meaning to the “angel.”

3) The angels are the leaders of the individual churches. This is not without precedent. In Daniel 12 it says this of proper teachers –

“Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:3

Similarly, such a term is used of false teachers in Jude –

“These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.” Jude 1:12, 13

Therefore, this is the most likely meaning of the word “angels” here, and thus a better translation for the verse would be “messenger.” This is how the word in Hebrew, malak, is translated in Malachi 2:7 when speaking of the priest in Israel –

“For the lips of a priest should keep knowledge,
And people should seek the law from his mouth;
For he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.”

The seven “stars,” symbols of authority, represent the seven leaders of the church. They are the messengers of the word of God and the gospel message to the body of believers.

Understanding this is the case, the next words of Jesus are, “and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches.” Again, the translation is incorrect. There is no article before “churches.” It should read, “and the seven lampstands which you saw are seven churches.” Again, the generalization is given to avoid misanalysing what is being conveyed. Error has arisen in many commentaries because of the improper inserting of a definite article which does not belong in the text.

It is certain that all true leaders are under the authority of Christ. Likewise, all true churches – even with their many problems – are a part of the one true church. The representation of Christ having seven stars in His right hand, and also walking among the seven golden lampstands, must be taken as symbolic of all true leaders and all true churches throughout the church age. Seven then – the number of spiritual perfection – is given to represent all of the true church.

The seven lampstands represent the churches. As a lampstand issues forth light, so the churches are intended to issue forth light as well. This is the intent of what is said. And this is exactly how Paul explains the gospel in 2 Corinthians 4:4 and 2 Timothy 1:10, meaning “light.” The church is the focal point for where that gospel message is to be proclaimed.

Life application: After this verse, there are only 21 exciting chapters left. The coming pages are gloriously filled with the splendor of God, the majesty of Jesus Christ, and the judgment of the ages coming upon an unrepentant world. In the midst of this is the salvation of God’s long-wayward and yet beloved people Israel.

Before that, there will be the letters to review that John has been instructed to write. Of those churches, a lot of negative words from Jesus will be conveyed to its leaders. However, having lampstands indicates that the churches are accepted by Jesus as functioning properly, at least to some degree. A lampstand is intended to give light. If a church is failing to be a light as intended, then the lampstand is removed.

This has certainly occurred over the ages as individual churches fail to properly preach and teach the gospel. When a church apostatizes, or “falls away” from the truth, it is no longer a valid church and its lampstand is removed; it becomes a haunt of darkness and uncleanliness. Be sure to evaluate the church you are in right now. Is it following the Bible? Is it straying? Has it completely left the Lord’s commands? Take time to evaluate where you attend and, if necessary, make the move to a congregation the Lord would approve of.

Lord Jesus, in Your hand is all of the rule and authority over Your church. Help the churches that we attend to be properly functioning ones that will bring You and Your glorious gospel the honor it is due. Help us to be responsive to the needs of our congregations, and to be people who will help keep our churches in line with Your word. May it be so to Your glory. Amen.



Revelation 1:14

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; Revelation 1:14

Here, John continues with the description of the Lord whom he beheld in His vision, beginning with, “His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow.” Here we have a comparison to that found in the Old Testament. In Psalm 51, David’s sin was uncovered, and he mourned over what he had done wrong. In his words, he said –

“Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7

Thus, we have a direct comparison of “whiter than snow” by David to being pure and undefiled; sinless. Isaiah provides a second comparison of what is seen here in Revelation saying –

“‘Come now, and let us reason together,’
Says the Lord,
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be as wool.” Isaiah 1:18

Not only does Isaiah equate “white as snow” with sinless purity, but he then adds in a like-comparison, saying, “as wool.” Scripture has interpreted Scripture. Understanding this, Daniel 7 unites both and uses them to describe not the Son of Man introduced in the previous verse (Daniel 7:13 14), but the Ancient of Days of Daniel 7:9, 10 –

“I watched till thrones were put in place,
And the Ancient of Days was seated;
His garment was white as snow,
And the hair of His head was like pure wool.
His throne was a fiery flame,
Its wheels a burning fire;
10 A fiery stream issued
And came forth from before Him.
A thousand thousands ministered to Him;
Ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him.
The court was seated,
And the books were opened.”

What this is telling us is that the Son of Man IS the Ancient of Days. This should be obvious because God cannot be seen. He has no parts. This is the first hint that every revelation of God seen in a physical aspect in the book of Revelation is that of Jesus Christ, revealing the unseen God to us.

That God cannot be seen is supported elsewhere in Scripture, such as 1 Timothy 1:17, 1 Timothy 6:16, and 1 John 4:12. To understand this from a logical perspective, one simply needs to understand that time, space, and matter were all created by God. None can exist apart from the other two. As this is so, God is before His creation and He is outside of His creation. He is not bound by time, by space, or by matter. He is thus pure actuality with no potential to change. Therefore, Jesus Christ – the incarnate Word of God – reveals the unseen God to us. As this is so, any theophany of God is Jesus revealing the unseen God to us. This should be remembered as we proceed through the book of Revelation. The book is the “Revelation” or unveiling of Jesus Christ.

With this understood, there is one other attribute of the white hair that could be logically applied. In Leviticus 19, it says –

“You shall rise before the gray headed and honor the presence of an old man, and fear your God: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:32

Also, Proverbs 16 says –

“The silver-haired head is a crown of glory,
If it is found in the way of righteousness.” Proverbs 16:31

The intent of these, and other, verses is to show that the gray hair of a person conveys age, wisdom, honor, respect, and righteousness. Therefore, this second connotation certainly applies. Jesus Christ is the Ancient of Days, He is the epitome of Wisdom, He is deserving of the greatest honor and respect, and He is the embodiment of righteousness.

John next says of Him, “and His eyes like a flame of fire.” It is a description seen in Daniel 10:6 –

“His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude.”

The idea of fire in the Bible is that of judgment, purification, refinement, and so on. The Lord spoke from the midst of the fire when the Ten Commandments were given. It spoke of judgment. Any infraction of the law would be met with it. In Numbers 31:23, fire was to be used for the purification of defiled items.

And Paul, writing to the Corinthians, says the following –

“Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” 1 Corinthians 3:12-15


“Therefore we make it our aim, whether present or absent, to be well pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. 11 Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are well known to God, and I also trust are well known in your consciences.” 2 Corinthians 5:9-11

Believers will come before Christ at the Judgment Seat of Christ, and that which is of no value shall be burned away. The eyes of the Lord will pierce through the days of our lives and the actions of our conduct, and they will purify us for our eternal state. On the other hand, Revelation later says –

“Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. 12 His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself.” Revelation 19:11, 12

Those who are not found in Christ will be judged with those same burning eyes, and they will be purified through destruction. See Revelation 20:9-15 for a description of their fate. None of this should be a surprise, however. Jude 1:7 says that what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah was given as an example to all of those “suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.”

Life application: As has been the case and will continue to be the case, the argument against Jesus’ deity crumbles into emptiness before the words of John as he relates what he sees in the glorious person of Jesus Christ.

Understanding this, the world must view Him from every aspect. He is the Provider of peace, but He is also the Judge of the wicked. He is gracious and merciful, and yet He is holy, pure, undefiled, and righteous. Those who fail to come to Him for salvation are set for an eternal swim in the Lake of Fire. Be ready for the day you stand before God. Call on Jesus Christ and receive His pardon for your sins now. Believe the gospel – Christ died for your sins, O sinner. Let Him wash away your misdeeds and purify you for eternal life in glory.

Lord God, we know that it is by Your righteousness that we are purified, and through Christ our sin is removed. We also know that it is Your penetrating gaze that looks upon our hearts and that knows every deed we do, both good and bad. Because of this, we cannot hide our sin. Instead, we confess it to You openly, asking that You cleanse us, purify us, and restore us to You through the precious blood of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.














Jude -25

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
Jude -25

This final verse of Jude varies considerably in various Greek texts. Putting the two major texts side by side will reveal this –

To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.

…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.

Sticking with the text of the NKJV for consistency, Jude begins with, “To God our Savior.” Seven times in the New Testament God is said to be our “Savior.” Likewise, almost 20 times Jesus’ is given the title of Savior. In the Old Testament, it was the Lord (Yehovah) who is called the Savior –

“Tell and bring forth your case; Yes, let them take counsel together. Who has declared this from ancient time? Who has told it from that time? Have not I, the Lord? And there is no other God besides Me, A just God and a Savior; There is none besides Me.” Isaiah 45:21

This clearly demonstrates that the doctrine of the deity of Jesus Christ belongs not to the invention of the church, but to God who authored Scripture. God is not confused, Scripture is not contradictory, and Jesus is God.

In Jude saying, “To God our Savior,” it is an acknowledgment of that. Jesus is fully human and fully God. It is God who authored the plan of redemption. It is He who united with flesh in the incarnation, and it is through the humanity of Christ that the process of salvation was then effected. All of what occurred demonstrates wisdom, purpose, and intent that has been worked out in the stream of time. For this reason, Jude next says of God, “Who alone is wise.”

The simple statement is expanded upon by Paul in his first epistle to the Corinthians –

“Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”1 Corinthians 1:20-25

Again, the words are also reflected in Paul’s letter to Timothy –

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Timothy 1:17

The words of Paul continue to closely match Jude’s words when he next says, “Be glory and majesty.” The word doxa, or glory, conveys the idea of God’s infinite intrinsic worth. The word translated as “glory” in the Hebrew language gives the sense of weight or heaviness. Thus, there is the idea of the substance or essence of God which the mind contemplates and then assigns infinite value to what is considered.

The word translated as “majesty” signifies greatness. In the case of God, it is an infinite and majestic greatness because He possesses “Dominion and power,” and which Jude ascribes to Him. Of these words, Albert Barnes states –

“With the expression of such a desire it was not inappropriate that this Epistle should be closed – and it is not inappropriate that this volume should be closed with the utterance of the same wish. In all our affections and aspirations, may God be supreme; in all the sin and woe which prevail here below, may we look forward with strong desire to the time when his dominion shall be set up over all the earth; in all our own sins and sorrows, be it ours to look onward to the time when in a purer and happier world his reign may be set up over our own souls, and when we may cast every crown at his feet and say, ‘Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory, and honor, and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. – Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God,’ Revelation 4:11; Revelation 19:1.”

To ascribe “dominion and power” to God, as Jude and others do in Scripture, is to proclaim that God’s rule stands far above the broken existence we now experience, and that what we now know will be forever eclipsed by a state of existence that we actually cannot comprehend at this time. It is a statement of faith in the promises of God for His redeemed.

Jude then acknowledges that this dominion and power stands “Both now and forever.” The Greek reads, “both now and unto all the ages.” Jude acknowledges that God’s dominion and power exist right now, even if we do not perceive it because of the wickedness and rebellion all around us. And when those things are removed from His presence, His unchanging kingdom will continue on forever and ever. The ages will come and go, but God’s kingdom will remain.

With this magnificent doxology complete, Jude finishes the epistle with, “Amen.” It signifies “Truth” or “So be it.” The words are words of faith. As we walk through this world, seeing all that is harmful, vile, and opposed to God, and when we proclaim Amen to the glory of God, we are demonstrating faith that He transcends what we now experience. It is thus the acknowledgment of our hope in what He has promised to us.

God has set forth a plan, He has worked in the stream of human existence to execute it for His people, and He has done it through the Person of Jesus Christ. May we never fail to proclaim the praises of God who has done this for us. Amen.

Life application: To recap the highlight of Jude’s words, we will note that the wisdom of God is evident in His creation and also in the glorious plan of redemption that He alone controls as the Savior. Jude ascribed four honorific words –

1) Glory – the manifestation of God’s attributes such as His radiance, splendor, brilliance, and so forth.
2) Majesty – a word ascribed to kings, thus signifying His authoritative reign.
3) Dominion – God’s kingship extends to the entire spectrum of the created order, from one end of the universe to the other. It also transcends the created order, expanding into a realm we will never – even for all eternity – be able to fully perceive.
4) Power – God created and even now sustains the universe. Every aspect of the created order is under control of His mighty hand.

God, being the author of time, space, and matter is outside of our sphere of existence, and He is therefore eternally existent; His glory has no end. Despite the words of woe and caution in his epistle, Jude means for us to be confident that God’s plan is being worked out and that He will satisfactorily lead His redeemed to the new heavens and the new earth that are promised in the book coming up next, Revelation.

Let us hold confidently to the truth that God is in control, and that because of Jesus Christ, we are assured eternity in His presence, reveling in His glory.

Thank You, heavenly Father, for Your precious word. It is good and right to be reminded throughout the pages of Scripture that we are to be constantly on guard against the deceitfulness of man and to rely solely on You and Your word for our life, our doctrine, and our hope. Thank You for our Hope – Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.










Jude -24

Monday, 10 August 2020

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, Jude -24

Jude finishes his epistle with two resounding verses which form a doxology and a benediction comparable in the New Testament to Romans 16:25 and 1 Timothy 6:14-16. His words here begin with a connection to what he just said in the previous verse, “but others save with fear.” While working to bring the light of the truth to others, we are to not allow ourselves to get caught up in the same sins we are trying to rescue others from. As Jude continued saying, “pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”

As noted, one can get burned by fire when pulling out another, and one can contract the same infection that defiled another’s garments. Jude’s warning was to be cautious while conducting one’s affairs lest we get caught up in other’s sins. With this understood, Jude begins his marvelous doxology by saying, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling.”

Some translations say “falling” rather than “stumbling.” This is incorrect. A fall implies permanency. To stumble means to get misdirected or tripped up, but it is not considered permanent. This was the point of Paul’s words concerning Israel in Romans 11 –

“I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles.” Romans 11:11

Jude uses the same word here, ptaió, with a negative prefix attached to it, aptaistos. In the five uses of the word ptaió, each consistently refers to a stumble, but not a fall. The salvation of the person is not in question. Jude says that the Lord is able to keep us from stumbling. The word translated as “keep” signifies “to guard.” In this, if we are willing to rely on the Lord and His word, we will be guarded from any stumbling.

However, and while understanding this, he continues with, “And to present you faultless.” Even if a believer stumbles, we have the surety that we will be presented “faultless.” The word signifies “without spot,” or “without blemish.” Thus, “faultless,” “blameless,” and other such words are suitable to convey the meaning.

The idea here is that for those in Christ, they are purified by Him, and they will be presented in this manner before God. This is possible because we are not only purified by His cleansing blood of atonement, but we are covered by it from that point on. When God sees us, He does not see our misdeeds, but Christ’s perfection. Our sin – past, present, and future – is under the blood. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5 –

“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.” 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19

God has forgiven past sin in Christ, and no sin is imputed under the New Covenant. As sin is what separates us from God, and as sin is no longer imputed, we can never again be separated from God. This is the idea that is conveyed in Jude’s words. From there, he continues with, “Before the presence of His glory.”

It is Christ who presents those who have come to Him before the presence of God. Christ Jesus is both fully man and fully God. Thus, He purifies us, He keeps us from stumbling, and He presents us faultless before the glory of the Triune God.

The word Jude uses, translated as “present,” is histémi. It means “to make one stand.” Two verses from the psalms will help us understand what Jude is referring to here –

“Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord?
Or who may stand in His holy place?” Psalm 24:3

“If You, Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?” Psalm 130:3

Jude says that it is the Lord who will make us stand before God. The psalmist wondered who could stand before the Lord if He marked our iniquities. The answer is “none.” No person whose sin is imputed to Him can do so. But for those in Christ, we may (and we indeed will) be made to stand before the presence of His glory.

In fact, it impossible that it could be otherwise. What Christ has done is fully capable, finished, and forever. Once it is received, it is sealed with God’s guarantee (Ephesians 1:13, 14), and it will come to pass. And, as Jude notes as he finishes this verse, it is “with exceeding joy.” The Greek reads, “in exceeding joy.”

It is a state which we will be in at that moment, and it will continue for all eternity. The word translated as “exceeding joy” signifies ecstatic joy, exaltation, or gladness. What occurs as we come before God will be the highest form of joy that we could possibly imagine – and more so. We will be presented before God without sin, we will understand that this state will be eternal, and we will have the knowledge that God Himself did this for us in Christ. At that time, the love of God for us will be understood in a way that we can only begin to sense while in these fallen bodies.

Life application: Jesus is able to guard us against stumbling in the sense that we could never lose God’s favor once we are saved. This then is speaking of eternal salvation. Just as we may stumble slightly when climbing a mountain (comparable to intermittent sins in this life), Jesus is keeping us from falling over the precipice completely.

Nothing in creation can keep the saved believer from this final good end. It is a promise, a guarantee, and in God’s mind it is already accomplished. The Greek word for “faultless” (noted above) is used in 1 Peter 1:19 when speaking of Jesus – “but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

Thus, this doesn’t mean we are faultless in and of ourselves then, but because of Christ’s imputed righteousness. When we accept Jesus as Lord, His perfect life is transferred to us so that we are completely innocent before God.

If you attend a church, or follow a teacher on the internet, that teaches you can lose your salvation, you are being instructed by a person who does not know his theology very well. This is a basic point of doctrine. God does not save His people unto eternal insecurity. He saves us despite ourselves.

To say that what Christ has done for us is insufficient to save us and to continue to save us is to –

  • Diminish the glory of what He has done for us.
  • Say that we actually are responsible for our salvation.
  • Indicate that our salvation was never by grace through faith.

Such a doctrine can be termed an “after the fact false gospel.” When the gospel is presented, the idea that one can lose his salvation is normally not ever even entertained. The gospel is given, the salvation is (hopefully) received by faith, and the person is saved unto eternal life – deal done.

Nothing false may have been introduced into the gospel. However, once the person is saved and believes in Christ, if he is then taught that he can lose his salvation and he must perform or perish, a false (but after the fact) gospel has been introduced. That person will remain saved, but his walk will – from that time on – be a sad walk of mistrust in the very blood that saved him in the first place.

Understanding this, you may consider finding a new church to attend, or you might stop watching the teacher who teaches this really bad doctrine. It can only negatively affect your own walk with the Lord. And more, if he cannot get this simple point of doctrine right, how much else has he gotten wrong on the more complicated issues of theology?

Lord Jesus, surely You have done great and mighty things for us. And your word promises that these wonderful works will continue to transfer to us until the day we stand holy, blameless, and without the stain of sin – in Your glorious presence. How can we do anything but praise You?! Hallelujah to the perfect Lamb of God! Amen.













Jude -23

Sunday, 9 August 2020

but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. Jude -23

The previous verse stated, “And on some have compassion, making a distinction.” That same thought now continues with, “but others save with fear.” The Greek reads, “in fear.” The idea is that we are to be in fear, and thus watchful, of being stained by their infection while rescuing them. Without such an attitude of care, we ourselves could be brought into whatever has infected them. With this understood, Jude next says, “pulling them out of the fire.”

In his words here and just ahead, Jude is certainly drawing on Old Testament parallels. This one looks back to Zechariah 3 –

“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him. And the Lord said to Satan, ‘The Lord rebuke you, Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?’” Zechariah 3:1, 2

Another possibility is that of Lot who was literally pulled back inside his house by the angels and then later forced from Sodom in order to flee the destruction which was to come. This is certainly likely based on what it says in Amos 4:11 –

“‘I overthrew some of you,
As God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,
And you were like a firebrand plucked from the burning;
Yet you have not returned to Me,’
Says the Lord.”

The Greek word translated as “pulling,” is harpazó, is referring to yanking someone with force, such as if you were to yank someone back from an oncoming car. It is the word Paul uses in 1 Thessalonians 4:17 to describe what will occur at the rapture. The idea here is that one is to be careful to not get burned while pulling another out of the fire. Something that is so easy to do while evangelizing those caught in sin.

Jude next says, “hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” The idea of the garments “defiled by the flesh” goes all the way back to the Law of Moses. The specific “garment” described today is a chitón. It is the inner garment, closest to the body.

The book of Leviticus describes how to handle the effects of leprosy. One of the effects of this disease is that the garment itself could become a carrier and therefore was to be burned in order to prevent its infectious spread (Leviticus 13). Further, to touch any person, or any article touched by a person with a bodily discharge would render the one touching him or it unclean (Leviticus 15, etc.).

This is the symbolism that Jude is using. We are to “save others with [in] fear,” being on guard not to let their infection spread to us while we are involved in their conversion. When it says, “pulling them out of the fire,” it is certainly speaking of the anticipated effects of their life if they remain unconverted – Hell and the Lake of Fire.

As a side note, to understand the New Testament meaning behind the Levitical laws mentioned above – all which point to Christ, His work, or how it applies to us – be sure to watch the Leviticus sermons on YouTube from the Superior Word. What Israel was commanded in their earthly lives points to spiritual truths in our life in Christ. The entire book is a fascinating study into understanding what God has done for us in Christ Jesus.

Life application: In the verse today, we are taught truths that we need to apply to our lives in how we deal with such people. As Christians, we are to –

  1. Work actively to work to bring about a change in the people around us.
  2. Make every effort to divert them from the reckless path which leads to hell.
  3. While doing so, keep free from being entangled in the very sins these people are engaged in.

This verse is a profound call to the Christian to actively engage in battle while being constantly on guard that the battle doesn’t consume us in the process.

Jesus, help us to determine to work daily in bringing about an understanding in others concerning Your holiness and their need to be brought out of the defiled state they are in. We acknowledge our own weakness toward sin, and our dependence on You for protection when we do so. As we tell others about Your salvation in Christ throughout this lost world, please keep us from being entangled in the very sins that we are warning against. Thank You for being with us through this battle. Amen.