Thursday, August 30, 2007

On Being a Fried Chicken Dinner--Jude 12-13

These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, looking after themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

If you open up a dictionary and turn to the B’s you will find the word banquet. The first definition of banquet is, “a lavish meal, a feast.” If you go down the freezer aisles in Wal-Mart you will find Banquet TV dinners. Sometimes I get duped into buying the Fried Chicken meal, they are only .99 cents but are certainly everything BUT a banquet. It advertises one thing on the outside and thoroughly disappointments on the inside. That is exactly what Jude says of these false teachers. Jude is going to employ four metaphors to prove his point as well as speak of their condemnation and give further weight to his exhortation in verse 12 that these men are “blemishes” on your love feasts.

Before we get practical with this verse we need to do a little exposition (explaining). First of all, it is possibly better that we view the word “blemishes” as the word “reefs”.[1] So, what Jude is saying is that there are men who are among your ranks who are shipwrecking your congregation, namely your love feasts. Which necessitates further explanation; what are the love feasts? More than likely it is a reference to the celebration of the Lord’s Supper.[2] Apparently these men are feasting (banqueting) with the believers as their “leaders” and are only looking after themselves. This is more than likely a reference to Ezekiel 34:2 where he rebukes the leaders of his day for feeding themselves at the expense of his sheep.[3] Then Jude begins his rebuke.

Jude now employs 4 metaphors to describe these false teachers. First he begins with the waterless clouds, swept away by winds. I am certain that farmers in our area are familiar with this. You look up into the sky and storm clouds begin to roll in. You get excited at the prospect of a much needed rain, only to have your hopes dashed a few moments later as the storm passes by and you are left with only a few drops. The second image Jude employs teaches the same lesson. This time he speaks of a tree that should be bearing fruit but instead it is barren. So the person tending to the trees uproots it and throws it into the fire. Just like the tree these false teachers are boasting of great spiritual things (fruit) yet are producing nothing of spiritual value. But it is not as if they are producing nothing. Jude now changes his metaphor to let us know what they are producing; filth. Just like wild waves of the sea bring up to the shore all sorts of trash and nasty scum, so these false teachers are bringing to the body nothing but trash. And lastly Jude is going to help us to see their fate. He likens them to wandering stars (probably planets that cannot be relied upon for their movement, at least in Jude’s day). Then he switches directly to the false teachers and says, “for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever”. And Jude uses the passive voice, meaning it is God that is placing them in the outer darkness. (See the prior blog, “Would a loving God really do that”)

Now what does this have to do with us today? Ask yourself, “Am I a banquet Fried Chicken meal?” Are you falsely advertising? The truth is we all want to make ourselves out to be better than we are. The outside package is so often better than what is on the inside. The truth is, even if we tried to be transparent—that by itself would not be a virtue. If we are to be real and transparent then we would have to display how utterly wicked we are and how impure our motivations are. It would not be pretty. Truly, our only hope is in Jesus Christ who is not a waterless cloud (he always comes through), a fruitless tree (he is the source of fruit), wild waves (only purity and goodness comes from Him), nor wandering stars (he is Light and in Him is no darkness). Our only hope is that the righteousness of this great God might be given to us.

[1] The meaning of “blemishes” is often disputed. It can mean either “spot, blemish, blots” or it can also be translated “reefs”. Many commentators favor the translation “blemishes”, however some still believe it is better rendered “reefs”. Many prefer the translation “blemishes” because reefs often caused danger because they are hidden. Certainly these false teachers are making themselves known. However, it is not necessary to say that in order for a reef to be hazardous it must be hidden. For this reason and also because of the unlikelihood of a polished Greek writer like Jude to have made the mistake between spilas (rock) and spilos (blemish) I prefer the translation reefs. (It was actually through reading the commentary of Richard J. Bauckham from that I have come to this conclusion). Either way Jude’s point is the same—get away from the false teachers.
[2] For a decent article on this check out
[3] Bauckham, Richard. Taken from

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