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Jude 1:12

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

Spots in your feasts of charity - It appears that these persons, unholy and impure as they were, still continued to have outward fellowship with the Church! This is strange: but it is very likely that their power and influence in that place had swallowed up, or set aside, the power and authority of the real ministers of Christ; a very common case when worldly, time - serving men get into the Church.

The feasts of charity, the αγαπαι or love feasts, of which the apostle speaks, were in use in the primitive Church till the middle of the fourth century, when, by the council of Laodicea, they were prohibited to be held in the Churches; and, having been abused, fell into disuse. In later days they have been revived, in all the purity and simplicity of the primitive institution, among the Moravians or Unitas Fratrum, and the people called Methodists.

Among the ancients, the richer members of the Church made an occasional general feast, at which all the members attended, and the poor and the rich ate together. The fatherless, the widows, and the strangers were invited to these feasts, and their eating together was a proof of their love to each other; whence such entertainments were called love feasts. The love feasts were at first celebrated before the Lord's Supper; in process of time they appear to have been celebrated after it. But they were never considered as the Lord's Supper, nor any substitute for it. See, for farther information, Suicer, in his Thesaurus, under the word Αγαπη .

Feeding themselves without fear - Eating, not to suffice nature, but to pamper appetite. It seems the provision was abundant, and they ate to gluttony and riot. It was this which brought the love feasts into disrepute in the Church, and was the means of their being at last wholly laid aside. This abuse is never likely to take place among the Methodists, as they only use bread and water; and of this the provision is not sufficient to afford the tenth part of a meal.

Instead of αγαπαις, love feasts, απαταις, deceits, is the reading of the Codex Alexandrinus, and the Codex Ephrem, two MSS. of the highest antiquity; as also of those MSS. collated by Laurentius Valla, and of some of those in the Medicean library. This reading appears to have been introduced in order to avoid the conclusion that some might be led to draw concerning the state of the Church; it must be very corrupt, to have in its communion such corrupt men.

Clouds - without water - The doctrine of God is compared to the rain, Deuteronomy 32:2, and clouds are the instruments by which the rain is distilled upon the earth. In arid or parched countries the very appearance of a cloud is delightful, because it is a token of refreshing showers; but when sudden winds arise, and disperse these clouds, the hope of the husbandman and shepherd is cut off. These false teachers are represented as clouds; they have the form and office of the teachers of righteousness, and from such appearances pure doctrine may be naturally expected: but these are clouds without water - they distil no refreshing showers, because they have none; they are carried away and about by their passions, as those light fleecy clouds are carried by the winds. See the notes on 2 Peter 2:17.

Trees whose fruit withereth - Δενδρα φθινοπωρινα· Galled or diseased trees; for φθινοπωρον is, according to Phavorinus, νοσος φθινουσα οπωρας, a disease (in trees) which causes their fruit to wither; for although there are blossoms, and the fruit shapes or is set, the galls in the trees prevent the proper circulation of the sap, and therefore the fruit never comes to perfection. Hence the apostle immediately adds, without fruit; i.e. the fruit never comes to maturity. This metaphor expresses the same thing as the preceding. They have the appearance of ministers of the Gospel, but they have no fruit.

Twice dead - First, naturally and practically dead in sin, from which they had been revived by the preaching and grace of the Gospel. Secondly, dead by backsliding or apostasy from the true faith, by which they lost the grace they had before received; and now likely to continue in that death, because plucked up from the roots, their roots of faith and love being no longer fixed in Christ Jesus. Perhaps the aorist is taken here for the future: They Shall Be plucked up from the roots - God will exterminate them from the earth.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

These are spots - See the notes at 2 Peter 2:13. The word used by Peter, however, is not exactly the same as that used here. Peter uses the word, σπἶλοι spiloiJude, σπιλάδες spiladesThe word used by Jude means, properly, “a rock” by or in the sea; a cliff, etc. It may either be a rock by the sea, against which vessels may be wrecked, or a hidden rock “in” the sea, on which they may be stranded at an unexpected moment. See Hesyehius and Pollux, as quoted by Wetstein, “in loc.” The idea here seems to be, not that they were “spots and blemishes” in their sacred feasts, but that they were like hidden rocks to the mariner. As those rocks were the cause of shipwreck, so these false teachers caused others to make shipwreck of their faith. They were as dangerous in the church as hidden rocks are in the ocean.

In your feasts of charity - Your feasts of love. The reference is probably to the Lord‘s Supper, called a feast or festival of love, because:

(1)it revealed the love of Christ to the world;

(2)it was the means of strengthening the mutual love of the disciples: a festival which love originated, and where love reigned.

It has been supposed by many, that the reference here is to festivals which were subsequently called “Agapae,” and which are now known as “love-feasts” - meaning a festival immediately “preceding” the celebration of the Lord‘s Supper. But there are strong objections to the supposition that there is reference here to such a festival.

(1) there is no evidence, unless it be found in this passage, that such celebrations had the sanction of the apostles. They are nowhere else mentioned in the New Testament, or alluded to, unless it is in 1 Corinthians 11:25; Acts 2:46; Acts 6:2), might be so construed as to seem to lend countenance to the custom. For these reasons it seems clear to me that the passage before us does not refer to “love-feasts;” and, therefore, that they are not authorized in the New Testament. See, however, Coleman‘s Antiquities of the Christian church, chapter xvi., Section 13.

When they feast with you - Showing that they were professors of religion. Notes at 2 Peter 2:13.

Feeding themselves without fear - That is, without any proper reverence or respect for the ordinance; attending on the Lord‘s Supper as if it were an ordinary feast, and making it an occasion of riot and gluttony. See 1 Corinthians 11:20-22.

Clouds they are … - Notes, 2 Peter 2:17. Compare Ephesians 4:14.

Trees whose fruit withereth - The idea here is substantially the same as that expressed by Peter, when he says that they were “wells without water;” and by him and Jude, when they say that they are like clouds driven about by the winds, that shed down no refreshing rain upon the earth. Such wells and clouds only disappoint expectations. So a tree that should promise fruit, but whose fruit should always wither, would be useless. The word rendered “withereth” φθινοπωρινὰ phthinopōrinaoccurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, properly, “autumnal;” and the expression here denotes “trees of autumn,” that is, trees stripped of leaves and verdure; trees on which there is no fruit. - Robinson‘s Lex. The sense, in the use of this word, therefore, is not exactly that which is expressed in our translation, that the fruit has “withered,” but rather that they are like the trees of autumn, which are stripped and bare. So the Vulgate, “arbores autumnales.” The idea of their being without fruit is expressed in the next word. The “image” which seems to have been before the mind of Jude in this expression, is that of the naked trees of autumn as contrasted with the bloom of spring and the dense foliage of summer.

Without fruit - That is, they produce no fruit. Either they are wholly barren, like the barren fig-tree, or the fruit which was set never ripens, but falls off. They are, therefore, useless as religious instructors - as much so as a tree is which produces no fruit.

Twice dead - That is, either meaning that they are seen to be dead in two successive seasons, showing that there is no hope that they will revive and be valuable; or, using the word “twice” to denote emphasis, meaning that they are absolutely or altogether dead. Perhaps the idea is, that successive summers and winters have passed over them, and that no signs of life appear.

Plucked up by the roots - The wind blows them down, or they are removed by the husbandman as only cumbering the ground. They are not cut down - leaving a stump that might sprout again - but they are extirpated root and branch; that is, they are wholly worthless. There is a regular ascent in this climax. First, the apostle sees a tree apparently of autumn, stripped and leafless; then he sees it to be a tree that bears no fruit; then he sees it to be a tree over which successive winters and summers pass and no signs of life appear; then as wholly extirpated. So he says it is with these men. They produce no fruits of holiness; months and years show that there is no vitality in them; they are fit only to be extirpated and cast away. Alas! how many professors of religion are there, and how many religious teachers, who answer to this description!

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
False teachers are dreamers; they greatly defile and grievously wound the soul. These teachers are of a disturbed mind and a seditious spirit; forgetting that the powers that be, are ordained of God, Ro 13:1. As to the contest about the body of Moses, it appears that Satan wished to make the place of his burial known to the Israelites, in order to tempt them to worship him, but he was prevented, and vented his rage in desperate blasphemy. This should remind all who dispute never to bring railing charges. Also learn hence, that we ought to defend those whom God owns. It is hard, if not impossible, to find any enemies to the Christian religion, who did not, and do not, live in open or secret contradiction to the principles of natural religion. Such are here compared to brute beasts, though they often boast of themselves as the wisest of mankind. They corrupt themselves in the things most open and plain. The fault lies, not in their understandings, but in their depraved wills, and their disordered appetites and affections. It is a great reproach, though unjust to religion, when those who profess it are opposed to it in heart and life. The Lord will remedy this in his time and way; not in men's blind way of plucking up the wheat with the tares. It is sad when men begin in the Spirit, and end in the flesh. Twice dead; they had been once dead in their natural, fallen state; but now they are dead again by the evident proofs of their hypocrisy. Dead trees, why cumber they the ground! Away with them to the fire. Raging waves are a terror to sailing passengers; but when they get into port, the noise and terror are ended. False teachers are to expect the worst punishments in this world and in that to come. They glare like meteors, or falling stars, and then sink into the blackness of darkness for ever. We have no mention of the prophecy of Enoch in any other part or place of Scripture; yet one plain text of Scripture, proves any point we are to believe. We find from this, that Christ's coming to judge was prophesied of, as early as the times before the flood. The Lord cometh: what a glorious time will that be! Notice how often the word "ungodly" is repeated. Many now do not at all refer to the terms godly, or ungodly, unless it be to mock at even the words; but it is not so in the language taught us by the Holy Ghost. Hard speeches of one another, especially if ill-grounded, will certainly come into account at the day of judgment. These evil men and seducers are angry at every thing that happens, and never pleased with their own state and condition. Their will and their fancy, are their only rule and law. Those who please their sinful appetites, are most prone to yield to ungovernable passions. The men of God, from the beginning of the world, have declared the doom denounced on them. Such let us avoid. We are to follow men only as they follow Christ.
Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 1, 527

Those who feel at liberty to find fault with and censure those whom God has chosen to act an important part in this last great work would better seek to be converted and to obtain the mind of Christ. Let them remember the children of Israel who were so ready to find fault with Moses, whom God had ordained to lead His people to Canaan, and to murmur against even God Himself. All these murmurers fell in the wilderness. It is easy to rebel, easy to give battle before considering matters rationally, calmly, and settling whether there is anything to war against. The children of Israel are an example to us upon whom the ends of the world are come. 1T 527.1

It is easier for many to question and find fault in regard to matters at Battle Creek than to tell what should be done. Some would even venture to take this responsibility, but they would soon find themselves deficient in experience and would run the work into the ground. If these talkers and faultfinders would themselves become burden bearers and pray for the laborers, they would be blessed themselves and would bless others with their godly example, with their holy influence and lives. It is easier for many to talk than to pray; such lack spirituality and holiness, and their influence is an injury to the cause of God. Instead of feeling that the work at Battle Creek is their work, and that they have an interest in its prosperity, they stand aside more as spectators, to question and find fault. Those who do this are the very ones who lack experience in this work and who have suffered but little for the truth's sake. 1T 527.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 2, 376

We have spoken of having a series of meetings in this place, and of taking hold to labor for the people. But we dare not put our arms under to lift you. We want you to commence this work of reformation in your own houses. We want those that have been in the background to come up. You must begin to work. And when we see that you have commenced to labor for yourselves, we will come in and lift. We hope to reform your children, that they may be converted to Christ, and that the spirit of reformation may spread all through your midst. But when you appear twice dead, and ready to be plucked up by the roots, we dare not undertake the work. We would rather go to an unbelieving congregation where there are hearts to receive the truth. The burden of the truth is upon us. There are enough to hear the truth; and we long to be where we can speak it to them. Will you help us by going to work for yourselves? 2T 376.1

May the Lord help you to feel as you never felt before. May He help you to die to self, and get the spirit of reformation in your homes, that the angels of God may come into your midst to minister unto you, and that you may be fitted for translation to heaven. 2T 376.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies for the Church, vol. 4, 335

I was shown that the brothers B and their families are descending lower and lower. “Clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit;” and if they continue in the course they have been pursuing, they will finally be “twice dead, plucked up by the roots.” In leaning to their own understanding, they have gone down to the point where they have no practical godliness, no heaven, no God as theirs. 4T 335.1

If God's people were all connected with Him, they would discern the limited capacities of these men, their prejudices, envy, jealousy, and self-confidence. The objections which their wicked hearts may raise against the Testimonies of the Spirit of God, will not, in the providence of God, be removed. They may stumble and fall upon questions of their own originating. But God's people should see that their proud hearts have never been humbled, and their high looks have never been brought low. The Bible is clear upon all points which relate to Christian duty. All who do the will of God shall know of the doctrine. But these persons are seeking light from their own tapers and not from the Sun of Righteousness. 4T 335.2

No man who does not utter the real sentiment of his heart can be called a truthful man. Falsehood virtually consists in an intention to deceive; and this may be shown by a look or a word. Even facts may be so arranged and stated as to constitute falsehoods. Some are adepts at this business, and they will seek to justify themselves for departing from strict veracity. There are some who, in order to tear down or injure the reputation of another, will, from sheer malice, fabricate falsehoods concerning them. Lies of self-interest are uttered in buying and selling goods, cattle, or any kind of merchandise. Lies of vanity are uttered by men who love to appear what they are not. A story cannot pass through their hands without embellishment. Oh, how much is done in the world which the doers will one day wish to undo! But the record of words and deeds in the books of heaven will tell the sad story of falsehoods spoken and acted. 4T 335.3

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 153.2

Doubts Upon Satan's Hooks—I showed you that your position as a minister of the gospel would make any such course as you had pursued a reproach to the cause of God, a matter of scandal, and your actions a savor of death rather than of life. When the standard-bearer falls, who will fight? When the cross is torn down by the ones who should point it out, whom will you believe? What can be more dreadful than a minister of Jesus Christ a commandment breaker? I see only one way for your escape—break with the temptations of Satan at once, and rush for the light! Even ministers who claim to believe the truth are only blind guides if the truth is not enthroned in the heart, and a thorough transition from darkness to light has [not] taken place. They are clouds without water. I urge upon you, if you care for your own eternal welfare, the positive necessity of having the truth enthroned in your heart, for then its principles will sanctify your character.... TSB 153.2

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Ellen G. White
Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 81

If there is anything in our world that should inspire enthusiasm, it is the cross of Calvary. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.” “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” Christ is to be accepted, believed on, and exalted. This is to be the theme of conversation—the preciousness of Christ. TM 81.1

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