It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.
Jude 14 refers back to Jude 4, which says that “certain persons have crept in unnoticed … ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Jude 8 refers to “these people,” as does Jude 10. Verse 11 tells us that “they walked in the way of Cain.” Now, Jude 14 and 17 indicate that “it was about these men that Enoch … prophesied.”
Enoch was a prominent figure. Enoch walked with God (Genesis 5:22). He did not taste death but was translated directly to heaven (Genesis 5:24). The genealogy of Genesis 5 validates the claim that he was the seventh generation from Adam. The words attributed to Enoch come from the apocalyptic book of 1 Enoch, perhaps dating back to mid-second century B.C. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Jude takes the quoted words as accurate and prophetic. In doing so, he does not necessarily regard 1 Enoch as canonical Scripture. However, Jude applies the prophecy of Enoch to the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to judge the earth. His quotation constitutes a warning to all the ungodly in Jude’s time and in our time.
The prophecy begins with these words, “Behold, the Lord came.” This translation from the New American Standard accurately reflects the past tense. Prophetic words about future events stated in the past tense, as though they have already occurred, indicate the certainty of these future events. In Hebrew, this tense is the prophetic perfect. In 1 Enoch, the subject of the sentence is God. Jude interprets the sentence as referring to Christ, the Lord. Such an interpretive move is not uncommon in the New Testament. For example, take Isaiah 45:22-23, “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself, The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness And will not turn back, That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.” The Apostle Paul applies these words to Christ. At the name of Jesus every knee will bow. And every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11).
Christ will come again “with many thousands of His holy ones.” Matthew 25:31 describes the scene “when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him.” Since holy ones (ἁγίαις) can refer to saints, Calvin indicates that these words include “both men of faith, and the angels” (Commentary on Jude, 332). Christ and his entourage come for judgment. He will “execute judgment upon all,” believers and unbelievers alike. “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left” (Matthew 25:32-33). To His sheep, Christ will say, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34).
But our Lord will convict and sentence “all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him” (Jude 17). The ungodly include all those who died in the wilderness, lacking faith in the promised savior (Jude 5). The ungodly are those who, like Sodom and Gomorrah, engage in gross immorality (Jude 7). The ungodly are people like Cain who are ruled by anger, people like Balaam who appear to speak for God but do so only for financial gain, and rebels like Korah, who impudently challenge the authority of Christ (Jude 4, 11).
Jude 17 describes the ungodly further. They are grumblers; they have nothing good to say about anything; they cast a negative shadow on all of life. The dark side of life consumes them. Think of Israel in the wilderness longing to return to the slave pits of Egypt. They are malcontents and complainers who find fault with their food, clothing, homes, work, and families. At the same time, “they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage” (Jude 16, ESV).
They commit their “ungodly deeds in an ungodly way” (Jude 17). On the one hand, the deeds of the ungodly violate God’s standards in the Ten Commandments. On the other side, their manner stands athwart the fruit of the Spirit and comports more with the deeds of the flesh. They take the Name of Jesus lightly and often use His title, the Christ, as an expletive. But Jesus warns, “I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment” (Matthew 12:36). And in the end, He will sentence all the ungodly to a terrifying everlasting judgment, “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41). No wonder Jude 11 exclaims, “Woe to them!”
The prophet Nahum asks, “Who can stand before His indignation? Who can endure the burning of His anger?” (Nahum 1:6). The prophet Malachi likewise, “Who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire and like fullers’ soap” (Malachi 3:2). Who indeed! We are all helpless sinners.
Yes, who indeed? Romans 5:6 sounds the note of grace and salvation. “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” Romans 5:8 adds, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Yes, “Christ died for the ungodly … Christ died for us.” That is, He took the punishment due to us. He stood in our place. He died in our stead. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Corinthians 9:15).