It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgement on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favouritism to gain advantage.
Before we get into the meaning of the passage, our minds go on a rabbit trail. Enoch is mentioned here, but this quotation does not come from Genesis. In Genesis we just read that Enoch was one who walked with God and did not die. God took him to heaven without the necessity of passing through death. One preacher I heard growing up at Underwood Chapel said it well when he said that Enoch walked so long with God that when it came time for them to part at the end of one day, God said, “How about if we go home to my house today?” Enoch was a righteous man, so where do these words of his come from. Jude was familiar with other books that described the life of Enoch, not least among these was 1 Enoch. In that book there is a passage that describes the words that Jude quotes here. 1 Enoch 1:9 reads, “And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones to execute judgement upon all, and to destroy the ungodly: And to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodliness which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”
If we know that it is not biblical, how can Jude quote it? A couple of explanations come to mind. The most likely is that he was inspired to validate this part of a text which is in other parts uninspired. Another explanation is that he uses it as an illustration in just the same way that a modern preacher might refer to a quotation in a well-known movie in order to support his main point. In either case, the fact that this is not biblical does not invalidate its truth. The truth is that there are ungodly people in the church who come together for social support, or financial support, or to bolster their own egos. Some people do not come to church because of God, they come to church because of themselves. As the church seeks to teach and grow, it has to distance itself from such people. How do you spot them? They grumble and complain that nothing goes right for them. They see their problems as located outside of themselves. They do not see their need for change. Bad things just happen to them. Then they grumble and complain. Their children don’t behave rightly, their worship service doesn’t cater to them, and the wrong people are leading in the wrong ways. In their own minds they are committed, faithful and diligent, but even the casual onlooker can see that they blame others when the problems are close to home.
May I not be one of the ungodly who pursue church fellowship to manipulate the crowd. May I not be one who sees all their problems as circumstances that can’t be avoided. May I see hardship as opportunity for growth. May I enter into community for the sake of the community.
- How do you solve the problem that Enoch quoted a book that isn’t scripture?
- What does this say about the truth in books that aren’t in the Bible?
- What were the recipients of the letter faced with?
- How would you respond to Enoch?
- How might it be possible that the reason life seems so difficult is because of your own attitude?