Fake News Pundits Exposed in Five Sharp Words
The die is cast. The FakeNews! pundits have been exposed. The debate is often fierce concerning the following passage of Scripture. There is one theological system that believes that this passage is from the Old Testament person named Enoch (Gen. 4.17) and was written by him before the flood. There is another theological system that believes that Jude is using a quote from a Pseudepigraphal Book called First Enoch. It is from this latter belief system that I am writing.
Final Illustration Jude 14-16
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men. Jude quotes from many sources to make his case. He cites from the First Testament (vv. 5– 8, 11), from Jewish traditions, i.e., Enoch (vv. 9, 14– 16), and from the teaching of the apostles (vv. 17– 18). It does not necessarily follow that he believed that the whole book of First Enoch was inspired since he quotes freely from many different sources.
The phrase seventh from Adam is a description that is used often in First Enoch. Looking at the generations in Genesis inclusively helps one arrive at the description. The use of the number seven, which for Judaism was the number of perfection,[ref]Rabbi Eliyahu Safran. “Seven: The Power of Numbers.” https://www.ou.org/torah/parsha/parsha-from-ou/seven-the-power-of-numbers/. accessed May 16, 2018.[/ref] may indicate Enoch’s special place in the genealogy as the man who walked with God (Gen. 5.24). This special status in the minds of the Jews gave him special recognition as a spokesperson for God and is the root of all the legends concerning Enoch in Intertestamental Judaism.
See, the lord is coming. This text has two possible interpretations. First, the early believer’s practiced applying First Testament theophany texts to the coming of Jesus. There are several texts in the First Testament where God is spoken of as coming (Isa. 40.10; 63.1-6, 66.15). Second, the form of First Enoch 1.9 as seen in Jude 14 is the source of the Maranatha formula that was widely used in early Christianity. Some scholarship sides with the first interpretation.
Those who reside in the first theological system and see this as an actual prophecy of Enoch, stress the fact that the first prophecy given in Scripture was not of the First Coming of Jesus but of the Second Coming. This seems farfetched in light of the fact that they did not have a conception of the Messiah until very late in Jewish history. It is fair to say that those who hold to this prophecy are those who hold to a Dispensational theological view rather than an Evangelical theology point of view.[ref]Scot McKnight. Which Evangelicalism Have You Abandoned? http://wgriff.in/wuel/ accessed 5.16.18[/ref] .
One should note that there is no indication in this passage as to when Jesus will return. As we shall see, it is not when Jesus will return that Jude wants his readers to know about it, it is what Jesus will do when he comes that should hold their attention.
The Lord will return with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him. This phrase is used in the First Testament at Deuteronomy 33.2. The older Dispensational theologians used this verse to prove a pre-tribulation rapture of the church based on the KJV translation of “ten thousands of his saints.” This interpretation followed this line of reasoning: If Jesus was returning with his saints, they must have gone to be with him prior to the Second Coming, i.e., at the rapture of the church. The word translated by the KJV as saints is translated by the NIV as holy ones. One must remember that Jude was quoting a book and interpreting it according to the common understanding of his day. The context of coming was understood by the early Jesus followers as occurring with angels (Matt. 16.27; 25.31; Mark 8.38; Luke 9.26; 2 Thess. 1.7).
This judgment was coming especially to the ungodly for what they had said against Jesus. To speak harsh words, i.e., hard things, meant to express stubborn resistance to the will of God.
One must take note again that the passage ends with a note of judgment. It would be hard to escape the belief that Jude wanted his readers to understand that judgment follows those who follow the errors of the Fake News! purveyors.
Fake News Pundits Exposed in Five Sharp Words
In summary, Jude describes these troublemakers with five sharp and potent words. There should not be a possibility that anyone who has read and understood Jude to this point could hardly miss recognizing the false teachers.
These men are grumblers. This word appears only here in the Second Testament. In the LXX it is the word which, describes the grumbling of Israel in the wilderness (Ex. 15.24; 17.3; Num. 14.29). John demonstrates how some things never change in his book, “At this, the Jews began to grumble about him because he said, ‘I am the bread that came down from heaven.’” The idea, which the word conveys, is discontentment. When one is discontent, grumbling usually follows. When one is not happy with the will of God for his or her life, discontentment occurs and grumbling follows. For Jude, these Fake News! teachers were the counterparts of the discontented Israelites in the wilderness. Their destruction would follow as surely as did the destruction of those in the wilderness. Other translations use the word murmur to indicate an under-the-breath kind of grumbling. Jude now connects this idea to the opposite—loudmouthed faultfinders.
And they were faultfinders. The use of and says to the reader that to grumble and to fault-find was equal in the mind of Jude. It is easy to find fault. Jesus suggested that one should look to himself before finding fault with the other person. These Fake News! folks could not be satisfied with the ways things were believed by the naive followers of Jesus. These Fake News! folks thought of themselves as the righteous of the day who had come to proclaim to the Jesus followers the faults of their beliefs with the intention of leading them into denying Jesus and into immoral practices. The word faultfinder indicates that they were not hidden in their mode of deception; they were open and loud. Sounds just like the Fake News! propagandist today, huh?
They follow their own evil desires. This is not the first time that Jude has described the FakeNew! proclaimers as sinners. He wanted desperately for his readers to understand that these folks govern their lives by something other than the Spirit of God. They govern their lives by their own lusts for power. Their own lifestyle was the standard for their character and life. The ideas they propagated dominated their lives. Not all desires or lusts are evil. The New Testament demonstrates that lusts can be positive (1 Thess. 2.17). It is more often, however, used in an evil sense. The second thing to notice is that these Fake News! teachers follow or continue to walk along this path. Their habit of life was to follow their own evil desires while being deceived about these habits being evil. What they do as a habit, they wish to deceive others to follow their example. These kinds of leaders only lead to chaos in one’s life and the life of a community of faith.
They boast about themselves. One could translate this, their mouths speak swelling words which picture their boasting as arrogance. The word boast could be translated as swollen words which, shows their egotistical spirit. They acted like they were a cut above everyone else. Their ostentatious speeches were specified to lead others to doom. Their presumptuous attitudes only lead them to the road of destruction. Watch out for boastful leaders who can only see what they are doing as good, with no view toward understanding that others in the kingdom of God also have value.
And (again connecting these two phrases and demonstrating equality in the mind of the author) flatter others for their own advantage. These Fake News! teachers passed along flattering words in order to make a profit with the wares they were sharing. This sounds like the error of Balaam! They court the favor of those with an influence so that they can reap advantage for themselves. They seek power and prestige. The Institutional Church has run amuck today with the same kind of leadership. The theme seems to be: if we are successful and rich, we are happening in the eyes of God. If we are suffering and poor, we must be doing something wrong.
Jesus followers must wake up and not fall into this serious error in thinking and living that the FakeNews! teacher hammer out day and night. When one lives in a sound chamber, everything sounds the same, which is a form of homophily and woe be unto you if you think differently from all the other birds in the nest.
Next, we turn to how we should contend for the faith in our lives and the life of the ecclesia in order not to fall into Fake News! as we journey in God’s kingdom.