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What was occurring in Jude’s time was an early form of Gnosticism, often called “Incipient Gnosticism,” i.e., not fully developed.


Gnostic asked the question, “How could infinite pure spirit have anything to do with an evil material body?” There were two solutions to this dilemma:


Jesus was not really human—he only appeared to be. This was called Docetism which came from the Greek word dekeo which is defined as “to seem.” This made Jesus a ghost, an illusion; he seemed to be a man but had no real existence.


Jesus’ spirit did not inhabit his body until his baptism and his spirit left before his death. This was called Cerinthianism, from its leader, Cerinthus. This made Jesus a Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde; one did not know when Jesus was human or when he was divine. The dualism of good and evil may be the background for what Jude says in v. 4a, i.e., …who changed the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.


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Jesus Followers


There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.


(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)