False Teachers are Like Unreasoning Animals – Exegesis of Jude 1:9-10

When we finished Jude 1:8 last week we saw how apostates revile angelic majesties and how the Greek language revealed the deeper meaning. Verse 9 was the illustration that Jude used to show reviling angelic majesties. With this said, let’s look at verse 9 with a little more depth.

“But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’”

Before we dig in I want to highlight a few things. This encounter is not mentioned anywhere in scripture with the exception of Jude 1:9. Jude, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit speaks of something that God has chosen not to fully reveal to us, and that is okay. This encounter is actually spoken of in the pseudepigraphal “Assumption of Moses”. Pseudepigraphal books are Jewish in nature and were written between 300 B.C. and 300 A.D. They are works that are attributed to people of the past, but they were not written by these specific figures of the past, making it pseudo (under a false name). Jude’s pulling out of a quote from this book does not give credence to the entire work, rather it only gives credence to the specific section he quoted. Jude quoted this section by inspiration of the Holy Spirit which is what gives it validity.

We know that Michael has clashed with Satan before in scripture and is one of God’s chief angels (Daniel 10:13,21, 12:1, and Revelation 12:7). Michael has probably had countless battles against Satan and his demons as he carries out the will of God. There is a spiritual battle going on all around us that by the grace of God we cannot see. In this instance, we know that Moses died on Mt. Nebo in Moab before the Israelites entered the promised land, and was then secretly buried in a place not known to man (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). There are some that believe that Satan wanted to desecrate the body of Moses or that he might have even have wanted to use it as an object of worship, or some other nefarious purpose. I have an idea of what it might have been. This is just a theory, so follow along with me for a minute. It is likely that Satan had an idea of what God might do with Moses body in the future. So he wanted to thwart God’s plan like he always tries to do, yet perpetually fails. He knows his end in Revelation and would know the book and its meaning very well. In Revelation 11 there are two prophets that will be dressed in sackcloth that will be preaching the Gospel of Christ and breathing judgment on those that try to harm them until their death and resurrection. Jewish tradition believes that Elijah and Moses will return before the Messiah. In Revelation 11:6 it is believed that one of these men is Moses because of the witnesses’ power to turn water into blood like the plagues of Egypt, as well as the power to destroy people with fire like Elijah calling down fire in his showdown with the prophets of Baal. Many look at Malachi 4:5 which literally predicts Elijah’s return. Also, In Matthew 17:3-4 we see Jesus transfigured, having a conversation with Moses and Elijah about something which the Lord chose to keep from us. It makes you ponder why He was speaking to them both? Could he be speaking to them about their 1260 day ministry prior to His return? It may be that Satan wanted to seize Moses body in order to prevent his return in Revelation 11 with Elijah. This is speculation, but what is obvious is that Satan wanted to do something with Moses body to attempt to thwart the will of God.

Notice in verse 9 “disputed” is “diakrino” which means, “to separate thoroughly”. The preposition “dia” (thoroughly back and forth) intensifies the word “krino” (to judge) showing that they had a sharp disagreement in terms of beliefs. It is meant to show contrasting ideas that are polar opposites and denotes a going back and forth with someone in disagreement. The Greek word for “arguing” (dialegomai) is a combination of “dia” (going from one side across to the other) and intensifies “lego” (bringing to closure/laying it to rest). Properly, it means to speak something to a conclusion, or to get a conclusion across. It signifies a going back and forth with thoughts and ideas. It is where we get our English word, “dialogue”. Michael contended with Satan, but it never became an unrighteous indignation. So much so, that Michael did not pronounce a “railing judgment” (Blasphemia Krisis) against Satan. As you know blasphemia means to slander and is used to describe Satan as the Father of Lies. Michael did not in any way insult or malign Satan even though any derogatory comment about him would be true. So Michael did not fall into sin (unrighteous indignation), instead he said, “The Lord rebuke you!” He allowed the Lord to be the Judge and the One who will justify him. When you are dealing with evil people, especially those who are apostate, you will quickly see that they cannot control the deceit and vile speech that comes out of their mouths. It is fine to get your position and conclusion across just like Michael, but like Satan, don’t expect an apostate to listen to what you have to say. They only want to make you stumble. I am sure that Satan wanted nothing more than to provoke Michael to an unrighteous anger. Don’t try to be the Holy Spirit for anyone because it only leads to sin. I wonder if Michael gives us an example of how to conclude our arguments with false teachers. There is power and humility when a believer tells an unrepentant apostate, “The Lord rebuke you!” These false teachers are children of the devil. As you will see in verse 10 Jude compares them to “unreasoning animals” showing their inability to refrain from their wickedness. As we see, apostates revile that which they don’t understand like their father Satan.

“But these men revile (blasphemeo) the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals by these things they are destroyed.” Jude 1:10

“But these men “blaspheme” the things which they do not understand.” They do not understand the mysteries of scripture or even how to interpret the bible. They are only capable of eisegesis. Because they cannot exegete scripture they read their crooked beliefs into it, and in doing so they literally blaspheme/slander God.

“And the things which they know by instinct.” The Greek word for “know” is “epistamai”. Epi is “upon” and histemi means “to stand”. Properly, “to stand upon”. It is not the experiential knowledge (gnosis), rather it is a knowledge that is sustained by intentional effort. When it is modified by (phusikos – meaning “in a natural manner” or “by nature”) we see that the context posits an apostate as one who has a natural disposition for evil. Their mind is focused on it all the time. Jude then takes this and adds to it by calling them, “unreasoning animals”. Unreasoning is “alogos” and literally means “to be destitute of reason”. You have no ability to reason with an apostate or a false teacher because they are set in their ways, and like an animal which is impossible to reason with, go on their merry way to destruction.

We have a lot of hunters in the church that I am a member of. Those of you that go deer hunting may at times leave out corn as a lure to bring the deer out of its safe place and into the open. When the deer comes out and starts eating the corn, does it think, “Wait, I am not in a corn field, why are there random ears of corn just sitting out in the middle of the woods? Someone must be trying to kill me!” The deer acts upon instinct, it is conscious, but doesn’t have a conscience, or the ability to reason. It acts on instinct alone, and as such, the hunter knowing the animal’s instinct uses it to trap or kill the beast. When the deer finds food its natural instinct is to eat it. The hunter then fires the arrow into the neck of the animal and it dies. This is why Jude says, “like unreasoning animals by these things they are destroyed.” The instinct of the false teacher always leads them into the crosshairs of the Lord’s bow of judgment.

If there is one thing that I pray you take away from this is that false teachers desecrate the word of God because they don’t understand it. It is the easiest way to spot a false teacher. Desecrating the word comes naturally to them because they have no fear of God.

Next week we will look at Jude 1:11 and how apostates compare to Cain, Balaam, and Korah.

Soli Deo Gloria!

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Author: thomascoutouzis

I was born in the United States as a second generation Greek. My family comes from the Island of Kalymnos which is the island next to Patmos (Where the apostle John wrote Revelation). My wife Kathy is of Korean descent and we have two wonderful children, Chloe and Micah. We live in a small town outside of Raleigh, North Carolina called Fuquay Varina. The Lord redeemed me as a young boy as my mother (who was a believer) shared the Gospel with me. If I had to categorize my denomination I would most likely fall into the Reformed Baptist realm with some differences over non-essential doctrine. I am an expositional bible teacher who attends Fellowship Baptist Church in Willow Springs, NC. For the last few years I have been taking God's word and teaching it on outlets like Twitter and Wordpress. I am also a fan of both J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis' fantasy novels. As such I am writing a fantasy series full of adventure, while weaving deep theological truth into the story and characters. My first book, "Athanasia: The Great Insurrection" is available in both ebook and paperback currently. I am hoping to release the second book in the series, "Athanasia: The Unknown Lands" around September of 2018.

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