The Inter-Advent Life (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.

Wherever the church or churches are to which Jude is writing, and there is much speculation, apostolic ministry planted them. The apostles had been there and taught there earlier. Now, Jude calls this fact back to the memory of God’s people. Jude is contrasting his readers with the ungodly (Jude 15) and malcontents (Jude 16), who have crept into the assembly (Jude 4). “But you must remember, beloved” (Jude 17). Yes, remember what the apostles taught about the “last time.” The last time began at the first coming of Christ at the first advent. The last time ends with Christ’s second coming at His second advent. The last days is the period between the two advents (Hebrews 1:2). It is the present age, the inter-advent period.

Jude describes this period, quoting apostolic teaching. “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts” (Jude 18). The Apostle Peter says almost the same thing. “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts” (2 Peter 3:3). The teachings of the Apostle Paul are similar.

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power. Avoid such men as these (2 Timothy 3:1-5).

Our Lord Jesus Christ laid the foundation for this teaching. John Murray comments on Matthew 24. “In verses 1-14, Jesus deals with the certain outstanding features of the interadventual period. We are reminded in verse 6 that the end is not immediately … and that wars, famines, and earthquakes are but the beginnings of sorrows” (Collected Writings, 2:388). Note Matthew 24:4-8.

See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.

Matthew 24:9-14 gives us a further assessment of Christ concerning this present age. As Murray puts it, “At verse 14, the more auspicious aspect of the inter-adventual history is promised, the worldwide preaching of the gospel” (Ibid.). At this point, our Lord makes this pronouncement, “Then the end will come.” Here is Matthew 24:9-14,

Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.

I agree with Murray’s appraisal of Matthew 24. “We are compelled to construe verses 4-14 as, in brief outline, a forecast of interadventual history” (Ibid.). And so, Jude is giving us a view of life in the inter-advent period. He is giving us a heads up. “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’” (Jude 17-18).

You and I ought not to be surprised to see and experience first-hand “mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” The mocker is one who points the finger laughing and scoffing and making fun of others. As self-centered, he feeds on his pride and arrogance. He follows his own ungodly cravings and passions.

Jude 19 continues, “These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.” They form cliques and sit only with themselves at fellowship meals (Jude 12). They are worldly, worldly-minded, sensual, soulish (ψυχικοί). Jude judges further that these people do not have the Spirit. Compare again, Jude 4. For this reason, their cliques develop into divisions and factions within the church.

But even these factions have a purpose. “For there must also be factions among you, so that those who are approved may become evident among you” (1 Corinthians 11:19). The KJV reads, “For there must be also heresies (αἱρέσεις) among you.” The presence of a party spirit or faction raises a sharp distinction with those who speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15). This latter group of Spirit-filled followers of Christ shares a common salvation; Jude is appealing to them to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints” (Jude 3).

Years ago, God called me to contend for the faith against a divisive faction within a congregation. Before my arrival, the congregation elected several men as elders and deacons who held biblical and theological views contrary to the Standards of the local church and denomination. As a result, they refused to take the vows required for entrance upon office. When asked to step aside so the church could elect others to office, they steadfastly refused. The only answer was to begin the process of formal discipline. The result was two full-length church trials, after which the church was able to move forward. Under such circumstances, the words of Jude 17-19 ring true and give guidance.

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.

Denny Prutow

2019-11-25T16:43:42-05:00 December 2nd, 2019|