“These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (Jude 12, New King James version).
“When these people eat with you in your fellowship meals commemorating the Lord’s love, they are like dangerous reefs that can shipwreck you. They are like shameless shepherds who care only for themselves. They are like clouds blowing over the land without giving any rain. They are like trees in autumn that are doubly dead, for they bear no fruit and have been pulled up by the roots” (Jude 12, New Living Translation).
Verse 12: Spots, Clouds, Winds, Trees:
Jude 12a: “These are spots in your love feasts.” “These are hidden reefs (elements of danger)” Jude 12, The Amplified Bible).
The Greek word for “spots” is spilas, “a rock in the sea, ledge, reef.” These false teachers are like reefs or rocks in the sea that lie submerged and invisible beneath the surface of the water, deadly dangerous for ships that might venture near their jagged edges.
Verse 12b: “Love-feasts.”
“Love-feasts,” agapais, are a common fellowship meal of the church preceding the Lord's Supper. The Love-feast or agape meal was a significant dimension of the fellowship and worship of the early church. Jude's picture here recalls the disciple's last supper, in the upper room with Jesus, where none of the disciples had a clue that there was a Judas betrayer in their midst! The tragedy is that members of the assembly which Jude is addressing did not realize the true character of these men.
Verse 12c: “While they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves.”
It appears that these apostates, unholy and impure as they were, still continued to have fellowship with the Church! They were participating in their love-feasts. This is strange, but it is very likely that their power and influence in that place had overcome the power and authority of the real ministers of Christ; a very common case when false teachers invade the Church.
It seems that they were sumptuously feasting, and was what Peter has in mind when he write, “Those who count it pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you…” These sensualists converted the love-feast into a revel. Compare Paul's words in 1 Corinthians 11:20,21, “Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper. For in eating, each one takes his own supper ahead of others; and one is hungry and another is drunk.”
“These men insisted on participating in these love-feasts, not to express mutual love and concern, but to gratify their own appetites Jude is condemning their brazen self-indulgence, revealing their true character. Williams remarks, “Satan had been found among the sons of God before this, and such intrusions have not yet ceased.” –Hiebert
Verse 12d: “Without fear.”
“They are an arrogant lot! This is the difference between a true shepherd and a hireling: the true shepherd cares for the sheep, while the hireling cares only for himself. “Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?” (Ezekiel 34:3). But these apostates ought to be afraid, for their judgment is coming.” –Wiersbe
Verse 12e: False Promise. “They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds.”
Have you ever seen a hot summer day, just hoping for a little relief, perhaps, a bit of rain, to cool you? Then you see a dark cloud and you breath a sigh of relief, “Here comes the rain.” Only to have the cloud dissipate, and go away. That’s what Jude is saying here. Like clouds the false teachers attracted attention to themselves and promised refreshment, but they proved to be all show and no substance.
“The term translated without water…also occurs in Matthew 12:43, ‘When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none,’ in reference to the wanderings of evil spirits through dry and barren places (cf. Luke 11:24-26). By describing false teachers in the same way that Luke describes demons, Jude reiterated the connection between the apostates and their satanic sources.” –MacArthur
“Carried about by winds:” This metaphor indicates that it is unsafe to follow such men. It does not merely indicate their own instability....Not only are these men unstable in themselves, but anyone who follows them will be led astray from the path of truth and purity. This meaning is in full accord with the thrust of this epistle." –Hiebert
Verse 12e: Barren Profession. “Late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots.”
Late autumn is the time when you would expect to harvest fruit. The Amplified Bible translates this, “without fruit at the late autumn gathering time.” “Twice dead.” This describes the apostate teachers as being no help at all, useless, nothing left to do but pull them up by the roots!
John 15:16, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain.”
The apostates fruit shows they possess nothing of godly, spiritual substance.
Matthew 7:16-20, “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”
These apostates are “twice dead” because they are not Christians, Ephesians 2:1, “Who were dead in trespasses and sins” and now they are dead as apostates who teach false doctrine, Jude 4 describes them: “ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Twice dead” could also refer to Revelation 21:8, “But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” They will die physically once, and then they will die spiritually the second time. It is at least saying they are well on the road to the Lake of Fire.
Verse 13: Waves and Stars:
Verse 13a: “Raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame.” “wild waves of the sea, flinging up their own shame like foam…” (AMP). “All they leave behind them is shame and disgrace like the dirty foam left along the beach by the wild waves” (TLB).
“Raging” in Greek is agria, meaning “wild” in the sense of untamed or not subject to restraint. Jude portrays the fierce brute force of the waves and their instability and unpredictability as they roll toward shore.
Many, many years ago I was body surfing near our home in California, when I caught a very large wave (rather it caught me), well I hit it at a wrong angle and this giant wave literally drove me into the floor of the Pacific Ocean with such force that it ripped all of the skin from my stomach and chest. A memorable experience with God’s powerful nature!
“Unsettled, turbulent, and arrogant spirits; boldly belching out their abominable opinions and detestable doctrines.” –John Trapp.
Like the swelling of the sea, they make a lot of noise, but what do they produce? Have you ever walked along the beach the morning after a storm and seen the ugly refuse that has been deposited on the shore? Jude may have had Isaiah 57:20, “But the wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt.” The true teachers of the Word bring up the treasures of the deep, but the false teachers produce only refuse. And what they boast about, they really ought to be ashamed of!
“Waves cast up bits of filth and debris on the shore with their foam and flotsam (wreckage, refuse). Similarly the false teachers spread evidence of their uncontrolled immorality and impurity wherever they went (cf. Isaiah 57:20). –Constable
“They are like wild sea waves frothing out their own shameless deeds. The picture is this. After a storm, when the waves have been lashing the shore with their frothing spray and their spume, there is always left on the shore a fringe of seaweed and driftwood and all kinds of unsightly litter from the sea. That is always an unlovely scene....The deeds of the wicked men are like the useless and unsightly litter which the waves leave scattered on the beach after a storm....The picture vividly portrays the ugliness of the deeds of Jude's opponents.”
I was speaking at a Bible Conference in Mobile, Alabama in August of 1969, one week after the category 5 hurricane, Camille hit the Gulf Coast with 175 miles-per-hour winds. There were 259 fatalities from this storm. 23 people, partying in an apartment in Pass Christian, Mississippi were washed out to sea. I wept as my pastor friend and I drove through the devastated area. The sea was so powerful that the water along Highway 90 was 10 feet deep, where many large homes had stood, just the steps remained. Large ocean-going ships and barges were in the middle of the highway and in people’s lawns. Nature is powerful!
My son, John David and I were having dinner at the pier in Redondo beach when a storm was brewing offshore. The waves were going over the top of the pier, shaking the restaurant we were in, until they finally closed the pier, which was partially destroyed that night. Nature is powerful!
Verse 13b: “Wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.”
This possibly refers to comets, which shine a while and then pass into darkness. "They belong not to the system: they stray at random and without law, and must at last be severed from the lights which rule while they are ruled.” –Lumby
“Wandering” in Greek is, planao, “to cause to stray, to lead astray, lead aside from the right way. We get our English word “planet” from planao, it describes one who wanders about, used mostly of the planets, which appeared to wander across the skies among the fixed stars.
“They are destined both for ‘everlasting fire’ (Matthew 25:14). in the ultimate ‘Lake of Fire’ (Revelation 20:15), yet also for ‘outer darkness’ (Matthew 25:30). "The blackness of darkness...forever” (2 Peter 2:17). How both can be true we do not know, nor do we need to know. Possibly the final hell is a dark nebula or a black hole, or perhaps the fires are merely symbolic of even worse realities. In any case, the eternal future of such false teachers is indescribably dismal. Great had been their opportunities; therefore great will be their judgment when they misuse them in such deadly ways.” –Henry Morris
“God has reserved chains of darkness for the rebellious angels (Jude 6), and He has reserved ‘the blackness of darkness forever’ for apostate teachers. Beware of following a falling star! It will lead you into eternal blackness.” –Wiersbe
It is clear in context that Jude is referencing ungodly people, most likely influential leaders in the church who are damaging and defiling the work of God. The particular focus of this example is that they are “reserved” for a “blackness of darkness forever.” “These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” (2 Peter 2:17).
“Blackness of darkness.” The Greek word for “darkness” is skotos literally that sphere in which light is absent. The phrase “the outer darkness” (Matthew 22:13) refers to the place of punishment or exclusion from God who is light!
Is that what a lost eternity looks like? Eternal loneliness, banished from God’s presence? Like comets (wandering stars, in ancient vernacular) destined to float aimlessly alone, forever.
William Elbert Munsey, 1833-1877, Methodist minister preached the sermon, “The Outer Darkness of the Eternally Lost,” in which he describes the blackness and loneliness of eternal separation from God. Here is an excerpt from that sermon:
“A lost soul, flung by the power of God beyond creation’s boundaries into immeasurable wastes of night, where no world ever rolled in sight, no ray of light ever penciled an image, and over whose expanse no angel ever flew. See it traversing the darkness and threading the inky abysms in search of worlds, in search of heaven, in search of something where there is nothing visible, tangible or ponderable–in search of something besides itself…No battlemented walls of towering jasper will ever meet thy gaze, or furnish a resting place for thy weary pinion. Fly on lost soul, forever, no angel of mercy will ever cross thy solitary way, or overtake thee in thy wanderings…Lost in boundless, bottomless, infinite darkness, fly on, thou shalt never find company till the ghost of eternity will greet you over the grave of God, and thou shalt never find rest till thou art able to fold thy wings on the gravestone of thy maker.”
Powerful words, but words of truth. I don’t know who all will read this sermon, but it is seen by people from many nations. I’m wondering about you! Do you know for certain, without a shadow of a doubt that you are safe, on your way to heaven? Do you absolutely know that you will not spend eternity wandering in “outer darkness?” in eternal punishment from the presence of God.
This place of eternal separation from God is a place of no mercy. We don’t understand what it would be like to live without mercy because our world in permeated with mercy.
God is a merciful God! He has given all He could give to help us prepare for a future with Him in Heaven. He sent His Son to die a horrible, torturous death on a cross for you! “God put His love on the line for us by offering His Son in sacrificial death while we were of no use whatever to Him” (Romans 5:8, The Message). “Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God: (1 Peter 3:18, New Living Translation).
But one second after you die, God’s mercy ends!
Charles Wesley wrote:
Depths of mercy can there be, mercy yet reserved for me?
Can my God His wrath forbear, me the chief of sinner spare?
I have long withstood His grace, long provoked Him to His face,
Would not hearken to His call, grieved Him by a thousand falls.
This place of eternal separation from God is a place of no hope! Over the door Dante’s Inferno are the words, “Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here.” As long as we have life, there is hope! Behind every dark cloud there’s a silver lining. But in God’s place of eternal punishment there is no hope.
“These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power…”(2 Thessalonians 1:9, NASB).
“And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46).
”Is God really that cruel, pastor, you’re making God sound like a monster.” Oh, listen my friend, God has given everything to keep anyone from entering into outer darkness. How can on e possibly think of God as unfair and cruel when he has provided a way of escape for everyone! That escape route in Jesus Christ. Just tell Jesus, “I don’t not want to go to that place. I want to go to Heaven, I know someone there.” God made it so simple that everyone could get in! Paul and Silas were in prison, singing praises to God, when God miraculously engineered their escape. The jailor ran in, frightened because he thought he had lost his prisoners, he asks, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household” (Acts 16:30,31, NLT). Here’s the whole simple formula in a few verses in the New Testament book of Romans:
“If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. As the Scriptures tell us, ‘Anyone who trusts in him will never be disgraced.’ Jew and Gentile are the same in this respect. They have the same Lord, who gives generously to all who call on him. For “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:9-13, NLT).
Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV) and The Living Bible (TLB).