Remember the Words that were Spoken Beforehand (about apostates) – Exegesis of Jude 17-19

“But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, ‘In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.’ These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.”

In verse 17 we begin to see Jude pulling up from his descriptions of false teachers and move into an exhortation to the saints. He exhorts them “to remember” what the apostles of Christ have already warned them about regarding false teachers coming in the last days. The Greek word for “remember” is “mimneskomai”. It means “to be mindful/to remember”. It derives from “mnaomai” which means “to recollect” and is derived from a form of “meno” which means “to abide/to remain”. You could render the word as, “to abide in a constant state of recollection”. The word is in the present tense signifying that the believer should be in a constant state of recollection in regards to what the apostles have told us about false teachers in the last days. With this in mind, let’s look at what the apostles had to say in regards to false teaching:

“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which he purchased with His own blood. I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore, be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.” Acts 20:28-31

What I find interesting is that “not sparing” in Greek is “me pheidomai”. “Me” is a negative that denies any hypotheticals or subjectivity regarding its object. This word modifies “sparing the flock”. Pheidomai (sparing) means “to abstain” or “to refrain from doing something”. This word is in the present tense, so when it says, “not sparing” it would not be wrong to say “never refraining” from the proclamations and deceptions of their heresies. They are merciless individuals, relentless in the spread of Satan’s heresies in an attempt to destroy Christ’s Church. False teachers are a dangerous form of spiritual cancer and must be removed from the body immediately.

You can look at 2 Peter 2:1 – 3:4 to see what Peter has to say. 2 Peter is believed to be written a few years before Jude’s epistle as Jude seems to pull some of what Peter says into his letter.

“But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” 2 Peter 2:1-3

“Sensuality” in verse 2 is “aselgeia”. It means, “licentiousness” or ‘lasciviousness”. It denotes someone who lacks restraint and indulges in sexual immorality. They are lawless like the Antinomians and Libertines. Jude spoke earlier in verse 4 about false teachers being sexually immoral men and women, so too are those that follow them. These men and women teach that you should love yourself, listen to your heart, or do what makes you happy because that is what God wants. This unbiblical nonsense is what makes indulging in sexual immorality so easy, because your flesh wants to do evil. The false teacher’s words will tickle the ears of the nominal Christian, leading them to a non-biblical, me-centric, unholy, false Christianity that will lead to their destruction in Hell. Their words are like seeds planted in the fertile soils of a sinful heart, ready to germinate and take root.

In this next passage is a third apostle (John) warning about false teaching in the last days. What is obvious is that Jude knows the word of God thoroughly as he forewarns the believer to be ready.

“Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” 1 John 2:18-19

In verse 18 we see the use of the term “antichristos” for the first time in scripture. The term is only found in John’s epistles (See 1 John 4:3 and 2 John 7). The first question that comes to mind is how this term came about? I believe that John coins this term from reading the old testament prophecies of Daniel (Daniel 8:9-11, 11:31-38, 12:11) and from Christ in Matthew 24:15. Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit John ties the prophecies in Daniel (i.e. abomination of desolation) to the reign of the final world ruler before Christ’s return. A vile creature that will be the opposite of Christ and everything He stands for. An insidious man by the name of “antichrist” meaning “against Christ”. As John labels this man of perdition, he labels antichrist’s children as well by proclaiming that many antichrists have already appeared. I believe that John had one in mind by the name of Cerinthus as he wrote this. Cerinthus preached a different gospel that was rooted in Gnosticism. He denied the virgin birth and even taught that Jesus would establish a 1000 year reign of sexual pleasure after His return. Cerinthus claimed angelic inspiration for his new gospel that he was preaching as he infiltrated the church. John opposed this heretic vehemently, so much so, that Irenaeus (disciple of Polycarp) wrote in the second century about a time when John spotted Cerinthus in the bath house with him. Irenaeus records, “Let us fly, lest even the bath-house fall down, because Cerinthus, the enemy of truth, is within.” (Against Heresies 3.3.4). You can put the name of any false teacher today in place of Cerinthus in John’s warning. Inspired by the Spirit, part of me wonders if this encounter happened before he wrote 2 John, and was somewhat of the inspiration for 2 John 10-11. Literally, have nothing to do with these apostates. All of this to say that an antichrist is anyone who proclaims a gospel different than that of Christ. Steven Furtick, Joyce Meyer, Creflo Dollar, TD Jakes, Joel Osteen, Todd White, Todd Bentley, Heidi Baker, Bill Johnson, Mike Bickle are all antichrists. They preach a different Gospel from that which Christ gave, thereby setting themselves in opposition to Christ himself.

These are just some of the warnings outlined in scripture where the apostles spoke of the false teachers entering the church. With all of this said, in verse 18 Jude begins giving more descriptors.

In verse 18, Jude takes from 2 Peter 3:3 in regards to false teachers and their mockery in the last days. “…in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts”. Jude uses the same word for mocker (empaiktes) as Peter did in this verse. So what are false teachers scoffing at? They are scoffing at a return of Christ. I don’t believe this is talking about atheism per se, but rather theists who call themselves “Christians” but teach a different gospel. I know Christians use this verse to refute atheists, but the context lends itself to false teachers, who like atheists deny Christ. The only people that believe that Christ will return are the elect, not unbelievers. What is the reason why false teachers will be mocking the elect in the last days? Jude answers by echoing Peter in that they will be “following after their own lusts.” The Greek word for following is “poreuomai” meaning “to walk in one’s own ways” or in context “to walk according to their own lusts. It is in the present tense and denotes someone walking continuously in their ways, never ceasing. Lusts is “epithumia” which we saw in Jude 16 and means “uncontrollable passion” or succinctly stated within the context “lust”, which is desire out of control. These false teachers love their sin so much that they will mock us for believing that Christ would return and bring judgment. Can you imagine Steven Furtick, Joel Osteen or Bill Johnson mocking God’s elect who believe Christ will return? Rest assured, they, or their successors will do it, as will their followers. Prepare for it.

In verse 19, Jude lays out three more attributes of a false teacher. They will “cause divisions”, “will be worldly minded”, and “devoid of the Spirit.”

The word for “cause divisions” is a compound word, that contains, “apo” (from), “dia” (a division into two or more parts), and “horizo” (to set a limit/to define) which is where we get our English word “horizon”. It can be rendered as “drawing boundaries to separate one from another”. Properly, “to disjoin”. The false teacher goes into a church where believers are in unity and “disjoins” them. Apostates are good at crossing lines and creating new boundaries. This person is a sower of discord and strife. Most often, where you find division in the local church you will find an apostate at the center. From a universal church level, you will find these false teachers creating heretical doctrines that “disjoin” believers from orthodoxy. They are able to steer real believers away by mixing truth and error. While I will not call Jacobus Arminius an unbeliever, I will say that his teachings defy scripture and caused a split in the universal church making man the one in control of his destiny, not God. While I do hold to a cessationist view, I will say that the continuist beliefs have made it easy for wolves to effectively overrun the Charismatic movement with ease. While I do believe that the word of faith movement is absolute heresy, I mourn as I see those believers with little to no discernment following after these wicked men and women. The chief job of the apostate is to cause division, not unity. God unifies, while Satan disjoins.

The word for “worldly minded” is “Psuchikos”. Psuche give us our word for “soul”, but deals with the immaterial, natural man. It speaks to the baser nature of man’s corrupt desires which come naturally. It is someone who is subject to their appetites. In other words, these false teachers are subject to their immorality. They have no restraint over the evils they do like a wild animal. I heard a pastor from a church in Florida take the place of Shittim and turn it into a profane word to the laughs of the crowd. He said, “If you are outside of the will of God you are in deep….” You can figure out the rest. Perry Noble said something similar using a fecal matter emoji. It is easy to say profane things because that is what comes naturally. It is holiness that does not come easily, so when you see your Pastor faithfully proclaiming the word, thank the Lord, because that is a miracle. That is a man submitted to God.

The last phrase is “devoid of the Spirit”. The word for devoid is “me echo”. The Greek word “me” is a strong negative denying any subjectivity or opinion of a thing or matter. When you see this word used, there is no room for hypotheticals or subjectivity. “Echo” is “I have”, and combined with “Pneuma” (Spirit), you can render this as “without having the Spirit” or “not having the Spirit”. Jude minces no words here, these apostates are categorically, unconditionally, completely unregenerate. There is no truth that proceeds from their mouths, but only that which is released from the wickedness in their heart. A false teacher that mixes a little truth with a little error is still proclaiming error. It is like being pregnant. A woman is either pregnant or not pregnant, she cannot be half pregnant. The spirit in an apostate is an unholy spirit, not the Holy Spirit.

Soli Deo Gloria!


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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