James and Jude
“You can’t judge a book by its cover.” Some of my favorite finds at antique shops and used book stores have been treasures hidden between tattered covers and in yellowed, crackling pages. And some of the worst trash ever written comes with amazing artwork or clever titles in beautiful binding.
The same goes for false teachers. Jude is showing us what to look for, how to read between the lines, giving us things to skim that will give us the heart of the story—without having to delve deeply into the book, exposing ourselves fully to its wickedness.
I. DAY ONE
A. Last week we looked at what Jude wrote regarding the fate of the false teachers of his day. Now Jude will show us what we can expect from false leaders—of then and now. Read Jude 1:11.
1. Jude begins with the word “woe” which is a frightening term. Scripture is filled with woes; also translated in some versions as “dreadful’ or “terrible” consequences, coming upon those who blatantly disregard God’s ways.
2. Jesus, himself, used the term many times.
a. Read: Matthew 18:7, 23:16; Mark 14:21; Luke 6:24, 11:42, 52.
b. What kinds of things did Jesus warn against?
c. Why do you think these things were so abhorrent to Christ?
B. Jude, like his brother James and his half-brother Jesus, has a gift for showing his point, not merely telling it. He uses examples from the Old Testament, stories his readers would have grown up hearing, and puts freshness to them within the context of his letter.
1. Jude’s first example is that of Cain.
a. Read: Genesis 4:3-8 ; Hebrews 11:4; I John 3:12.
b. From the above verses, what do you see as Jude’s point regarding the character of false teachers?
c. What would that look like in today’s culture?
2. Isaiah 45:9 in the NLT says, “Destruction is certain for those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot ever argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you are doing it wrong!’? Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be!’?”
a. In light of the Isaiah verse, how can we spot a false teacher “gone the way of Cain”?
II. DAY TWO
A. Jude not only packs in a lot of information in his small book, he fills each verse with nuance. We’re still working through Jude 1:11 today. Jude has two more “woe-ful” illustrations for his readers that show the character of false teachers.
1. Balaam is the next of Jude’s examples illustrating a false teacher. Skim Numbers 22-24. Against the direct counsel of God, Balaam tried and found he could not curse the Hebrews for which the Midianite king, Balak, had promised payment. But Balaam did find a weakness for the Midianites to exploit.
a. Read: Numbers 31:16; II Peter 2:15; Revelation 2:14.
b. What was the strategy of Balaam?
c. How does that coincide with the enemy’s plan for today’s believers?
2. Even though Balaam was not part of Israel, God used him (Numbers 22:20). God even allowed Balaam to prophecy about the Messiah (Numbers 24:15-17). Dr. Charles C. Ryrie said that Balaam depicts “the covetousness of one who hires himself to do religious work for personal gain.”
a. Read the “woe” of Isaiah 5:20-21. How do these verses further Jude’s case regarding Balaam and false leaders in the church?
B. Jude’s third illustration in verse 11 of his book is the rebellion of Korah.
1. Quickly read Numbers 16:1-33.
a. What was Korah’s complaint and what did he do about it?
b. What was God’s resulting punishment?
c. Think of a time when you’ve seen rebellion rise in a congregation or group of believers—even in a seemingly insignificant way. How can God use you to stop such an attitude from spreading?
2. From Isaiah 30:1 and Hosea 7:13, what else can you deduce about false leaders?
a. False teachers often wallow in pride that results in rebellion against church leaders. Is there anything harbored in my heart against the Lord or against those truly godly men He’s put in authority over me in my church?
III. DAY THREE
A. The terrible outcomes for false teachers are relayed by Jude because of one main reason: their actions eventually have negative ramifications on the body of believers. Read Jude 1:12-13. These illustrations by the author are particularly vivid. Let’s study each one individually.
1. “Hidden reefs” are the first picture Jude gives us.
a. Read I Corinthians 11:20-22. These “love feasts” are fellowship meals associated with celebrations of the Lord’s Supper. How does Paul show similar poor practices that parallel Jude’s?
b. What does Jude tell us in his letter about the false teachers’ attitudes during this feast?
2. The second picture in Jude 1:12 is “clouds without water.”
a. These clouds promise moisture but never fulfill, and they are constantly changing course. How are these ideas effective illustrations for false teaching?
b. Read Proverbs 25:14 and Ephesians 4:14. What more do these verses add to Jude’s writing?
3. Now Jude adds “autumn trees” to help us understand false leaders.
a. What are the specific descriptions of these trees in Jude 1:12?
b. Read Matthew 15:13 for a similar illustration from Jesus. What does Christ add in His description?
4. In Jude 1:13 the depictions showing the results of false teaching continue with “wild waves.”
a. Read Isaiah 57:20. What extra descriptions does the prophet add?
5. Finally, Jude ends with “wandering stars” in the second half of verse 13.
a. What does this illustration tell you about the character of these false leaders?
B. We’ve looked at five ramifications of false teaching on the body of Christ.
1. Which is most impacting to you?
2. How might it play out among believers today?
IV. DAY FOUR
A. At the end of his book, James used the example of Elijah to help prove a point. It’s interesting that his brother, Jude, now uses Enoch–the only other man recorded in Scripture never to have actually died—to prove his point.
1. Read: Jude 1:14-15; Genesis 5:18-24; Hebrews 11:5-6.
a. What are vital details of Enoch’s relatively short life?
b. Jude also quotes the historical “Book of Enoch” to tell us what Enoch prophesied regarding false teachers.1
c. In most versions, the word “ungodly” is used several times in Jude 1:15. Webster defines ungodly as “wicked, impious; neglecting the fear and worship of God, or violating his commands.”2 How does this match with Jude’s warning, thus far?
2. For verses related to the judgment described in Jude 1:14, read Daniel 7:10 and Matthew 16:27. To whom are these passages referring?
a. Who has final say over the outcome of false teachers?
b. How does this comfort you today?
V. DAY FIVE
A. When a police detective is asked to find a criminal, one aspect is vital: having as detailed a description as possible. Jude wants believers to be on the lookout for these criminals, these false teachers who would steal believers’ hearts away from the truth of God’s word. So, in verse 16 of his letter, Jude gives us a detailed description. And some of the characteristics hit a little too close to home for me.
1. First on the list is “grumblers.” We’re going to do a lot of looking at words, so here’s what the dictionary says grumble means: “to murmur with discontent; to utter a low voice by way of complaint.”3
a. Read Philippians 2:14-16. How has your attitude made those in authority over you possibly feel as if they’d run in vain?
2. Second is “finding fault.” This also has a connotation of complaining but it goes deeper. It also means “to express blame.”
a. Read Isaiah 58:9. When have you “pointed the finger” of blame, outwardly or in your heart, possibly causing God’s blessing to be lifted in a situation?
3. The New Living Translation lists the next characteristic as “doing whatever evil they feel like.”
a. Read Mark 7:20-23 and James 1:14-15. In what way does following what we feel breed a ground for false teaching to take hold of us?
4. Jude then describes these men as “boasters,” “loud-mouthed braggarts,” “speaking arrogantly” or even those who “mouth great-swelling words.”
a. Has there been a time when you’ve been swayed by the “great-swelling” speech of another?
b. How can you stop such talk within your group of believers?
5. The last one seems the most insidious because it appears to be the most deceitful. I like the way the Living Bible bluntly paraphrases it – “…when they show respect for others, it is only to get something from them in return.”
B. I’ve only hinted at this but it needs to be asked: When you read these traits, how many of them do you see in yourself? Ask God right now to help you strip away these characteristics that, quite frankly, put you in line with false teachers and expose you to more influence from them.
As a mom, I’ve culled through books too numerous to count—from simple chapter books to 500-page tomes—in order to make sure my kids were getting the best of the best in the way of literature that would, ultimately, mold them into the man and woman God wants them to be. I’m so thankful that Jude did his homework for us. His analysis of false teachers allows us to be aware of their schemes and helps us from following in their footsteps. We can’t judge a book by its cover, but we can listen to wise leaders—like Jude—who’ve read the material beforehand so that we can concentrate on the good stuff.
[Author’s note: I’m using the New American Standard Bible for the study on James unless otherwise noted.]
1. Charles C. Ryrie, The New American Standard Bible, commentary on Jude 1:14.
2. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language,(S. Converse: New York, 1828, facsimile reprinted by Foundation for American Christian Education, San Francisco, CA), “ungodly”.
3. Ibid, “grumble.”
[button style=”2″ caption=”Lesson Download” link=”https://thriveministry.box.com/shared/static/40n82hmbhi0yja9fyrdckbc86pfdmnkg.doc”][/button]