New Testament Eschatology: Jude

By Charles Geiser

     The book or letter of Jude plays its part in reference to several points on “last things” as well as the other writings in the Bible. In understanding the time, manner, event, and scope of fulfillment of Bible prophecy in the consummation of God’s scheme of redemption, we are to be responsible in making an effort to have the continuity, harmony, and relationship the scriptures require to grasp God’s eternal purpose, purposed in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:10,11). Jude plays its part in this whole effort.

     “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called” (Jude 1). We may have here the first glimpse of something yet to come. The King James Version reveals Jude speaking to them who were “sanctified” and “preserved,” but Nestle’s Greek text (23rd edition) shows a better translation, “having been loved” and “having been kept,” referring surely to the saints being addressed by the inspired Jude. It was God who had revealed His love to man through Jesus Christ and it was the same Father in heaven who continued to manifest His love toward the faithful sons of God, and at the same time (according to the text literally just cited) was the source or cause of their being “kept” or “preserved.”

     We suggest that the protection or preservation Jude referred to was taking place during that time of transition of the two aeons or ages of that first-century “generation.” See Acts 18:1821:25,26Hebrews 7:288:3,49:810:1113:11; etc.. Those “kept” by the Lord were being “kept” until the second coming of Christ–they were waiting “for his Son from heaven” (Jude 24I Thessalonians 1:102:193:134:13-175:23). Their “waiting” for Christ to come again, as He had promised (John 14:1-3Revelation 2:25,26; et al), was the same time or generation that God was keeping those saints (our text, verse 1). This would continue until they would inherit the blessings of the kingdom (Hebrews 1:149:15Genesis 12:3Galatians 3:8Matthew 25:31ff.; II Thessalonians 1:5James 2:5Revelation 21:7) at the end of the Jewish age in A.D. 70. This all relates to the rest of Jude’s letter and philology as we continue.

     We next notice that the Lord (verse 5) had “reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day” (verse 6) those angels which “had not kept their own habitation” (see also II Peter 2:4). The references to “chains” and “darkness”, we believe, referred symbolically to the nature of their existence for those who had disobeyed God (compare Mark 9:44ff.; Revelation 20:16:15-17). The New Testament appears to know of one “judgment day” only as it related to the end time of Bible prophecy; thus the “judgment of the great day” can be discerned from a little consideration. The references in the New Testament to this “day of judgment” have various added or deleted terms to it, but they all point to “that day” (Luke 17:31Mark 13:32). It is called the “day of wrath” (Romans 2:5), “day of visitation” (I Peter 2:12), “great day of his wrath” (Revelation 6:17), “day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30), “the evil day” (Ephesians 6:13), and often simply “that day” or “the day” (Romans 13:12II Thessalonians 1:10). We do not suggest that the Holy Spirit through the inspired writers of the New Testament gave us a series of references to “the great day” that we now must sift through and try to guess or exegete as best possible when they apply in supposed fulfillment. Can one imagine finding “great day” passages in the New Testament and then trying to figure out if one fits A.D. 70, another sometime between then and now, or sometime in our future? Let us see if Jesus can help us in this part.

     Jesus once said, “IN THAT DAY, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back” (Luke 17:31). The nature of the verse and context and the admonishment of Jesus concerning expedient actions at a certain time make “that day” seem to sound like some kind of “day of judgment.” There are those who interpret such as Luke 17:31 to be yet future to us today, not yet fulfilled. But if we turn to Matthew 24 in Jesus’ discourse on the fall of Jerusalem at A.D. 70, we find the very same language almost word for word. “Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes” (verses 17,18).

     The fulfillment of these verses, Jesus said, would be in that generation (Matthew 24:34). Matthew 24:17,18 is surely parallel to Luke 17:31. This is the same reference and prophecy made by Jesus, about the same thing, to the same time; it is just that one is Luke’s inspired account, the other is Matthew’s. A few say these verses are not speaking of the very same thing, but we find that very difficult to accept. If that could be so, we could say there were more than one crucifixion of Christ at different times, because we have the different accounts of it in respective Gospels! LUKE 17:31 AND MATTHEW 24:17,18 REVEAL JESUS SPEAKING OF THE VERY SAME THING, NAMELY, THE END OF THE JEWISH ECONOMY AT A.D. 70, AND WE BELIEVE THIS IS CONSISTENT WITH EACH OF THE GOSPELS, THE LETTERS, AND WITH REVELATION WHEN IT COMES TO DISCUSSING “THE GREAT DAY OF WRATH.”

     But what is a further point to consider? If we have wondered when to apply “that day” in Luke 17:31, Jesus has told us when–in that generation! “Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34). What things? Well, any man on his housetop not coming down and no man in his field returning to get his clothes. Jesus did not call the “scribes, Pharisees, and hypocrites” of His day a “generation of vipers” only to have them wait 2000 years or more until some “great day of judgment” (Matthew 23:29-33). “BEHOLD, YOUR HOUSE IS LEFT UNTO YOU DESOLATE” (Matthew 23:38). And so was Jude talking about that same “day of judgment” in verse 6. It was to be the “judgment of the great day” upon old, carnal Judaism at her end, as Babylon (Revelation 18; I Peter 5:13). The whore was to fall (Matthew 22:7,819:14,27Hebrews 6:8II Peter 3:10-12Hebrews 8:13Philippians 1:102:16Revelation 6:15-17). Her “end” (Matthew 24:3,13,14) was to be in their generation (Matthew 24:34I Corinthians 15:24Hebrews 3:6,146:8,11Revelation 2:25,26). When Peter wrote his first epistle, the “end” of her “things” was “at hand” (I Pet.4:7Luke 21:5-7). The coming of the Lord was “near” (James 5:7-9Hebrews 10:37). This was Jude’s “judgment of the great day” for angels.

     Jude then goes to speaking of “filthy dreamers” (verse 8) who spoke evil of things they knew nothing about (verse 10), chasing the actions of Cain, Balaam, and Korah before them (verse 11), spots, waterless clouds, withered fruit trees, even without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots, waves foaming their own shame, wandering stars, “to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever” (verses 12,13). In the New Testament context, these figures seem to point basically to the false teachers and prophets of Judaism, the same kind that Jesus rebuffed in Matthew 23 for example. These unbelievers concerning Christ would receive, as we discussed already, in that “judgment of the great day” what the disobedient angels would receive. The wrath of God would come to the uttermost upon them (I Thessalonians 2:14-16Romans 2:8II Corinthians 5:10; et al). Of this same “great day” Jesus had said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world (Exodus 20:1ff.) to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matthew 24:21). Such would be a time of severity in Jude’s “great day of judgment” with blackness of darkness for those who refused the gospel (II Thessalonians 1:4-10John 8:41-441:11,12).

     The coming of the Lord was to be with ten thousands of his saints (verse 14; I Thessalonians 4:14) to execute judgment (Jude 15; compare verse 6 again), all to be at the second coming of Christ (Jude 21). Jesus had said he would “come again” (John 14:3Matthew 16:27,2826:68; et al), even in their generation (Matthew 24:27,30,34). Jude 14 would synchronize with I Thessalonians 3:13, “to the end he may establish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ WITH ALL HIS SAINTS.” Christ not only would come with His saints, He also would be glorified IN HIS SAINTS (II Thessalonians 1:10). It may be that His “saints” (II Thessalonians 1:10) at His second advent refer to his “holy ones” (the Greek can be translated either), because they came, were to come, with Him also (Matthew 25:3116:27). Thus, the “angels” of Matthew 16:27 and 25:31 could refer to His “saints” in II Thessalonians 1:10 and the “saints” of II Thessalonians 1:10 refer to those “saints” of the tribulation who endured and overcame in Revelation (2:25,26; 3:20,21). They glorified Christ by overcoming at Christ’s return without sin unto salvation (Hebrews 9:28Matthew 24:30,34). But we still understand that the coming of the Lord with His saints, His ten thousands of saints, was at the “judgment of the great day” in their generation (I Peter 4:5-7,17,18Romans 13:12Philippians 4:5), and this all took place at the fall of Jerusalem and the temple at A.D. 70 (Matthew 24:14,34).

     In verse 18, Jude referred, we believe, to the apostles of verse 17 as being those who “told you there should be mockers in the last time….” We add that these “mockers” here mentioned by Jude refer to the same ones as such in II Peter 3:3,4, the “scoffers” who questioned the delay of the second coming of Christ. These “scoffers” or “mockers” existed during the “last time” (Greek, “last of the time,” eschatou tou chronou) which would seem to mean the same as “during the last of the days,” (ep eschaton ton hemeron; compare Jude 18 and II Peter 3:3). Parallel construction and similar terminology are found in Acts 2:17-20; I Timothy 4:l; II Timothy 3:1I Peter 1:5,20Hebrews 1:2James 5:3 and “last days” or “last time” refers to the period prior to the fall of Jerusalem at A.D. 70. From Calvary to the abomination of desolation (Daniel 9:24-27Matthew 24:15,34) would have been the time of the “last days” of the Jewish exigency. When Jude thus wrote his letter, he was living in the “last time” (verse 18) of the Mosaic system just prior to its “end” (Matthew 24:14,34Hebrews 3:6,14I Corinthians 15:23,24; et al).

     In Jude 21, he admonishes the saints to “keep themselves in the love of God (with a view to the end of the Jewish age and its carnal ordinances) awaiting the mercy of the Lord of us Jesus Christ into life eternal” (Greek rendering). Jude’s audience was “awaiting” the mercy of Christ which was tantamount to “awaiting” the return of Christ to confirm the saints (I Corinthians 1:7,8) and gather the elect together for ever (Matthew 24:31,34I Thessalonians 1:10II Thessalonians 1:4-102:l; Hebrews 10:24-269:28). If the “mercy of Christ” has not come yet for Jude’s readers, they have been “awaiting” or “looking” for that mercy a long time! The interpretative understanding of the scriptures for correctness should be that we remember the first-century milieu or situation, who was being written to, the setting of that part of the world then, so that we may better exegete the scriptures. See I Thessalonians 2:14-16 for just one example of a condition for the Thessalonian saints that in no way exists today on the face of this earth.

     And, we traditionally have begun our comments and remarks in II Thessalonians one at verses 7-9 when being on the subject of punishment or judgment or something of this nature, telescoping through the centuries with abandon, not seeing verse six, “seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation TO THEM THAT TROUBLE YOU (Thessalonians).” When it comes to end-time events in the New Testament, we must remember that Paul and Jude had a particular generation and people to whom they were writing. It is similar to Paul’s reference to the “present distress” to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 7:26). It was present then, but not now! But someone surely says, “We are in the present distress today that Paul spoke of in I Corinthians 7:26,” but that simply is not the case!

     To “await” the mercy of Christ was in the direction or into eternal life (Jude 21), which was the promise of the inheritance of that eternal life even by Jesus (Mark 10:29,30; see also Hebrews 9:151:14I John 2:25Matthew 25:31-46).

     Finally, in Jude 24 we read about the only One who was able to guard against “falling” (probably back into Jewish rites and laws which could not justify) such as Paul’s discussion in Galatians 1:6-10 and apostasy. That which was about to vanish away in fulfillment (Matthew 5:17,18Hebrews 8:8-13) should not be a temptation to Jude’s readers. It would be Christ at His return who would be able to present them faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy (literally, “and to set you before the glory of him unblemished with exaltation”). Paul wrote like this to the Ephesians, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it (“her” is better–feminine gender used); That he might sanctify and cleanse it (her) with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it (her) to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (5:25-27).

     The saints of Jude’s day were to be “presented” to God as perfect, mature, and spotless as the body of Christ. The “presentation” had not taken place yet as Jude wrote, the “marriage” of the betrothed to Christ was not yet at II Corinthians 11:2 (see Revelation 19:721:2). But when the marriage came at the second coming of Christ, the bride was ready (Matthew 22:1-1425:1-13), Christ’s “body” would be spotless and unblemished because she had endured and overcome that “world” that was “passing away” then (I Corinthians 7:29-31I John 2:15-17Hebrews 8:13Revelation 1:2,32:25,26). So Jude was writing that it was Christ who was able to keep them from falling and to set them before God’s glory in a perfect state and exaltation (Romans 8:9Matthew 13:43II Peter 1:19Revelation 2:2826:6).


     We believe the evidence is very strong from Jude’s letter itself that he was writing of the end time, at least in part of his letter, of the Jewish estate just prior to A.D. 70. There does not appear to be any way in which Jude’s words can be divided in application in time, some to the first century and other passages to our future today. Jude’s reference to those brethren being “preserved in Jesus Christ” (verse 1), to the coming judgment of the great day (verse 6,13), the reference to the second coming of Christ (verse 14), to the mockers in the last time of the Jewish age (verse 18), how the brethren were to look for the mercy of Christ unto eternal life (verse 21), and that Christ would keep them and thus be able to present them blameless before the glory of God (verse 24), and then tie these with the parallel language of the period between the 69th and 70th weeks and the 70th week of Daniel (Daniel 9; Matthew 24; Revelation), we come to believe that Jude was addressing a first-century people, a group of saints, living then when time for that old age or aeon was short (I Corinthians 7:29aJames 5:8Hebrews 10:37) and they awaited their redemption on that day (Luke 21:28,32Ephesians 4:30Romans 5:9,10).

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