A Graphic Description of Fake News Reporters
In verses 8-10, Jude provides a graphic description of the Fake News! reporters that he has previously introduced. His accusations are clear and straightforward. One of the most difficult things to do in today’s secular society and church society is to get Jesus followers to confront each other. Confrontation for most folks here is my point of view and you need to agree with me. Fewer problems would exist if we would take the message of Jude and his model and apply it to our church, work, and political lives. In all ages, Fake News! reporters cover their tracks with crafty, careless, enterprising, and sly ways while using a litany of accusations which role off their pens and out of their mouths with asinine regularity. Against these gullible purveyors, Jesus followers of all ages must stand and fight for their views even if the Fake News! proclaimers are a part of their daily and close friends.
There are five main points which are apropos to the Fake News! purveyors. Jude’s words scan their behavior and temperament. Do any of your friends have these behavioral issues? How about: do you have any of these behavioral issues?
In the same way, as the people in the illustrations of verses 5-7 acted in rebellion against God, these Fake News! reporters behave like dreamers. The word dreamers usually means to see delusion. It does not mean the dreams a person has as he or she sleeps at night. It is a metaphor, a comparison. In its metaphorical sense, the word dreamers could suggest an enticement with alluring thoughts, which carries one away to a mocking behavior. It is not too difficult to understand that some force other than God was driving these Fake News! reporters. This word only appears two times in all of Scripture. The other time is in the Acts 2.17 passage where Peter told his listeners on the Day of Pentecost that what they have just witnessed is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. There the word is used in a positive light and the meaning would be completely different than in this passage with Jude. Why? Because context determines the meaning of a word. No reader/listener should look up the definition of a word and then apply that definition to all other occasions where the word appears.
In 1979, yep, that’s a long time ago, I was functioning as a pastor in a local church. During that period, a group of young folks (four young ladies) arrived in our community and attended a church service. During a brief visit with them after the service, I discovered that they were part of a larger organization who sent out young folks to evangelize communities. I asked them where they were staying while they were in town. They had no accommodations. So, I offered for them to stay on the church property in one of the buildings which had restrooms and a shower. They accepted. I inquired about what they did in the evenings after their door-to-door daily operation. They informed me that when they returned to their living quarters, wherever they were, they would study the Bible together. So, I inquired further. How do you study? Their answer didn’t surprise me. Here was their routine.
They had only five (5) books with them. One Bible for each of them (a King James Version) and a hefty Strong’s Concordance. They began each study session with picking a group of verses and then each of them looking up one of the words in the concordance and identifying the supposed meaning. The others would take notes and one of them was the official notetaker. I discovered later that the official note taker was responsible on their return for turning in the daily notes to the larger group at the end of their tour. They did this routine every single night of the week. No days off. When they had collected all the word meanings, then they would read the verses and identify what they had learned by inspecting the Strong’s definition.
After a few days, I asked them if they would mind having a conversation with me about their procedure after one of their evening study periods. They agreed. I began by asking them a few general questions. Why did they think this was a good study procedure? Answer: it was the one provided to them by the larger group that had sent them out. I asked them: do you think that after you finish your word definition procedure that you know what the verses are saying? Answer: Yes! Would you mind if I talk about a different perspective of learning what the text of Scripture may mean? They were hesitant but agreed.
First question: how many of you know what a simile or a metaphor is and can you give me an example. I discovered that their high school English teachers had exposed them to such words. So I asked: do you believe that there are any similies or metaphors in the Bible text? They thought and to a person, they all answered, No! Why do you believe that, I inquired? They thought for a few moments and then one of them ventured a guess. Because no one has taught us to think about figures of speech in the Bible text. We have only been instructed to find word meanings of English words from Strong’s concordance.
Then I asked them to take a risk. Would you allow me to teach you about the use of words in Scripture under the rubric of seeing the vast amount of different kinds of literature that appears in the Bible? In a rote response, they all spoke at once. “We will have to pray about that.”
The next day they said that they would take me up on my offer. We began that night. For the next week and a half, I met with these ladies and essentially took them through a Bible as Literature course. (In full disclosure, I had taught the course that I was teaching them in the Community College system in another area.) Over the days, they kept telling me that this information was going to get them into trouble when they returned to their larger group. I agreed with them. I kept reminding them that “context determines the meaning of a word not a concordance.”
In reality, these enterprising young ladies had been delivering Fake News! about how to understand the Bible. It’s still happening, right this moment, as I am writing this material and as you are reading it.
At the conclusion, they gave me a miniature sculpture of Frier Tuck all dressed in a purple robe and a desk plack that read “Head Hermeneutical Hack.” I have cherished them for years. Both of these items still grace my office today as I write this story. I have never seen or heard from those ladies after that brief time with them. I’ll have to admit, I wondered what they did with the information I provided them.
When reading Scripture, there is a clear case for questioning a “look up a word definition and make it the meaning every time it appears” concept of reading and interpretation. Otherwise, in the text of Scripture, we make Jude say the same thing as Luke or Luke says the same thing as Jude. In either case, we would be wrong.
Indulgers In Sexual Licenses 8b
Their behavior was extremely sexual as they pollute their bodies. The simple meaning of these words is that these men and maybe women were indulgers in sexual licenses. The term flesh is used in many ways in Scripture. These teachers believed that sin was the only arena in which God could show his grace. Their motto would be something like: The more we sin the more the grace increases in our lives. To this Paul rang a resounding NO! (Rom. 6.1ff.). The word pollute means to dye with a color. While Paul taught that one’s body is the temple of the Spirit (1 Cor. 6.19), these men were teaching that believers should color their bodies with the color of “sin” because in doing so they could experience the grace of God in a way that one was unable to experience it if he or she did not sin. Paul tells us to flee immorality and not to give in to the works of the flesh. Yet, the believers to whom Jude was writing were being inundated with a new gospel (cf. Gal. 1.4) whose aim was to teach them to sin so that the grace of God could be seen.
Rebellers Against Existing Authority 8c
The next behavior that Jude shares with us is that these Fake News! teachers reject authority. That is they rebelled against existing orders of authority. The intent of the word is to exhibit the goal of the false teachers, which was to do away with the authority of God that was established in the church. They made every attempt to foil the efficacy of God’s authority, seeking to make it void in the lives of the people whom they were intent on destroying. These teachers were irritated by the teaching of the first missionaries, which content has come to us as Scripture. They discard the words of life as rubbish, which Scripture dispenses.
Presumptuous In Their Speaking: 8d
One would think that Jude had been confronting enough, but he extends his list to include and slander celestial beings. From the Greek word, which is translated slander, we get the English blasphemy. In a generic sense, it means, to speak evil of. Nothing tops the ignorance of talking about something one does not have any information about, a dreadful situation that often happens in Bible studies and current news broadcasts. These men, however, were speaking evil against angels, and as we shall discover from the following illustration that Jude supplies us, they did not have the slightest idea of whom they were slandering. While some have taken the words celestial beings to mean Jesus, the context warrants us to understand them as angels.
Illustrative Argument: 9
Jude now launches into an illustrative argument that is not found in the First Testament but in the Pseudepigrapha in an apocalyptic book called the Assumption of Moses (sometimes referred to as the Testament of Moses). But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing: Here the word disputing suggests a continued controversy over the body of Moses. The word carries strong combative overtones. Thus, one of the ways that we can keep ourselves from an error that we hear is to use the same tactic that Michael did. He did not get into a verbal war with his enemy. He simply used the authority given to him by God. He requested that God do the rebuking of the enemy.
In the NIV translation, the word dispute apparently translates two Greek words. The phrase including both words could be translated in arguing with the Devil (disputed) about the body of Moses. The word dispute implies that there was a continued dialogue of words between the two contestants. The point of contrast is that Michael could not reject the devil’s accusations on his own authority. He had to depend on the authority of God …with the Devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “the Lord rebuke you!” The accusation is that these folks who were delivering Fake News! were presumptuous in their speaking. This illustration provided the reader with a well-known story that showed how even archangels do not take the liberty to speak against even evil celestial beings, in this case, the Devil himself. So what right do we have to do so?
Seeking Destruction Of Believers 10
The fifth thing which Jude sketches about these teachers were that even after all their bad behavior yet these men speak abusively. Again the word, which is translated slanderous above, appears again here translated abusively …against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals—these are the very things that destroy them. These men in their primitive instincts seek to destroy their victims by getting them to follow their words into destruction Jude is saying that these men live only as physical beings with no spiritual inclination. The connective yet contrasts the behavior of these men with the behaviors recorded in the previous verses. William Barclay says:
Their values are fleshly values; their gospel is a gospel of the flesh. Jude describes men who have lost all sense of, and awareness of, spiritual things, and for whom the things demanded by the animal instincts of man are the only realities and the only standards.[ref]William Barclay, The Letters of John and Jude, 333[/ref]
Here are two things to note about these individuals.
- They are like unreasoning animals (metaphor), which means that they are without any logic or reason. Having the accusation of being unreasoning animals said about you would not win any honors in their society or ours. But, it is true. Those who teach others to consume misinformation are not simply illogical people; they are ignorant of any redeemable reason.
- Their false understanding and their non-logic are the very things that destroy them.
Barclay’s statement is germane at this point:
If a man consistently over a lifetime refuses to listen to God, if he shuts his ears and his eyes to all spiritual values and standards and voices, if he makes his instincts the sole standard of his desires, and the sole dynamic of his conduct, then, in the end, he will come to a time when he cannot hear the voice of God, when the spiritual values are lost, and when he has nothing left to be his master but his claimant desires. In the end a man can come to a state when he cannot even see the necessity of self-control, when he cannot even see the beauty of chastity, when purity has no attraction for him, and when the only thing which matters in this world is the satisfaction of the impulses, instincts, and desires which come from his animal nature. And it is a terrible thing to have reached a stage in which a man is deaf to God and blind to goodness, and that is the stage which the men whom Jude attacks had reached.[ref]William Barclay, The Letters of John and Jude, 222, 223[/ref]
In summary, Jude has accused these Fake News! reporters of being dreamers; indulging in sexual licenses; rebelling against existing authority; being presumptuous in their speaking, and seeking the destruction of Jesus followers. This condemnation was true in the time Jude wrote and is still true today in our own present time in our sacred/secular society.
Know any folks like that today who are baptized in Fake News?