The ungodly

The author of the book of Jude was likely a brother of Jesus. Jude identified himself as the brother of James (Jude 1:1) who was a leader in the church at Jerusalem. There is evidence that suggests James was related to Jesus because in Matthew 15:33 he is mentioned among the list of Jesus’ brothers. Jude’s message centered on a particular group of people he labeled ungodly. The Greek term translated ungodly, asebes (as-eb-ace’) has to do with a person that has heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and rejected its message (G765). Jude’s close association with Jesus and likely conversion to Christianity after he was resurrected from the dead made him a good candidate to talk about the ungodly Jews that had rejected their Messiah because he himself had not believed what Jesus told him. John noted in his gospel “even His brothers did not believe in Him” (John 7:5, NKJV).

Jude warned his audience, “certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:4, NKJV). Jude’s harsh language suggested that he was disgusted by what appeared to be an intentional effort to hinder the preaching of the gospel. The phrase he used “crept in unnoticed” indicated the ungodly men he was referring to had disguised themselves as Christians in order to not draw attention to themselves, all the while stirring up trouble and planting seeds of doubt in the minds of those that were considering committing their lives to Christ. The Greek word he used, pareisduno (par-ice-doo’-no) means “to settle in alongside, i.e. lodge stealthily” (G3921). In other words, the ungodly were making themselves at home by becoming members of the church.

Jude’s condemnation of the ungodly went so far as to say that they were no better than the fallen angels that rebelled against God before the world was created (Jude 1:6). Jude indicated God was aware of the ungodly’s activities and had planned their demise from the beginning. He said, “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him'” (Jude 1:14-15, NKJV). Jude’s lack of compassion for the ungodly was rooted in his belief that they had consciously chosen to do the devil’s dirty work. It’s possible that Jude felt his disbelief of his brother’s message was due to Satan’s influence and that he had always known the truth about Jesus, but had initially chosen to reject it.

Negative impact

Although many were affected positively by Jesus’ teaching, there was a large portion of the Jewish population that rejected his messages and refused to respond to Jesus’ call to repentance. Jesus said, “Woe unto thee, Chorazin, woe unto thee, Bethsaida: for if the mighty works which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes” (Matthew 11:21). The Greek word Jesus used, which is translated repented, metanoeo (met-an-o-eh´-o) means “to think differently or afterwards that is reconsider” (3340). Jesus wanted God’s people to understand that his kingdom was not an imaginary, fictitious place, but a real destination that everyone would eventually arrive at. Jesus compared the cities within the borders of the Promised Land to “Gentile cities in Phoenicia, north of Galilee, which had not had opportunity to witness Jesus’ miracles and hear his preaching as the people had in most of Galilee” (note on Luke 10:14). Jesus’ vicious condemnation of the Jews made it clear that they would be judged for their rejection of his gospel message.

The town where Jesus had spent the majority of his time, Capernaum received the harshest reprimand of all. Jesus continued, “But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you. And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell; for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained unto this day” (Matthew 11:22-23). The mighty works Jesus referred to were the numerous miracles he had performed in Capernaum, including raising a young man from the dead (Luke 7:14-15). “Although Sodom was so sinful that God destroyed it (Gen 19:24-28; Jude 7), the people who heard the message of Jesus and his disciples were even more accountable, because they had the gospel of the kingdom preached to them. This passage clearly teaches degrees of punishment. Some sins are worse than others and bring more judgment” (note on Luke 10:12).

The day of judgment that Jesus eluded to was mentioned numerous times during his ministry. Jesus’ example of Tyre and Sidon, as well as Sodom, as cities that would fair better in the day of judgment, was meant to startle or perhaps even shock his listeners into an awareness of their extremely dangerous spiritual state. The thought that Capernaum would be brought down to hell would surely have had a negative impact on those that believed territories within the border of the Promised Land would escape the judgment or at least be judged on a different scale than the notorious pagan cities of Tyre and Sidon and ancient city of Sodom. The truth that Jesus was declaring to them was that the Jews would be judged on a different scale, one much more harsh than others, because they had heard his gospel and rejected it.