Jude 12-13: You don’t want to be around “that guy”

Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan KS, 29 Oct 2017


12. These men are reefs at y’all’s love-feasts, fearlessly partaking of good things, feeding themselves, clouds without water carried along by winds, fruitless trees at harvest-time, having died a second time after having been uprooted,

13. wild waves of the sea foaming up their own shameful deeds, wandering stars for whom the gloom of darkness has been kept for eternity.


·         In my first sermon on the book of Jude, I introduced the main command in the book of Jude to “up the fight” for the faith, and I focused on the three ethnic groups in verses 5, 6, and 7 that suffered for not keeping up the faith – that is the Hebrews, the fallen angels, and the people of Sodom & Gomorrah. We saw how the scriptures help us to contend earnestly for the true faith.

·         In my second sermon, we continued on the same theme, focusing on the three individuals mentioned in verse 11 – Cain, Balaam, and Korah, who knew about God but rebelled against Him and suffered the dreadful consequences. We saw how they fit with the four character traits of spiritual imposters outlined in verse 4, particularly the last two traits of licentiousness and lordship-denial (they are rebellious and are morally out-of-control).

·         This week, as we look at verses 12-13, Jude drives the point home with six metaphors that even though certain people seem like the life of the party and seem to be great spiritual leaders, there’s something bad wrong with them if they do not have faith in Jesus, and we must not be allured by their natural attractiveness.

·         I also want to point out a contrast word that appears 6 times between vs. 8-19, the word “these”

0        V.8 These defile the flesh

0        V.10 These blaspheme what they don’t know

0        V.12 These are stains

0        V.14 These are the topic of prophecy

0        V.16 These are grumblers

0        V.19 These cause division

·         In Greek, this word for “these” can indicate disapproval. For a time, there was a billboard on the highway leading in to the Ogden Gate of Fort Riley designed to help solders see that getting drunk on alcohol is not the great thing that the beer and liquor advertisements crack it up to be. This billboard highlighted stupid things that guys have done while drunk (such as talking obnoxiously or wrecking cars) and reminded soldiers that they don’t want to be “that guy.” Jude is doing something similar here.

·         But there is a contrast word in Jude to “these/that guy,” and that is the word “you”:

0        V.2 to you be mercy, peace, and love

0        V.3 to you I am writing

0        V.5 I am reminding you

0        V.12 your love feasts

0        V.17 but you, beloved, remember

0        V.20 but you, beloved, building faith

0        You see the contrast between “these” ungodly persons and “you” who are keeping the faith?

·         Now, in verses 12-13, the ungodly are compared to six natural phenomena that help us understand the gravity of their situation:

#1) These men are reefs at y’all’s love-feasts,

·         John Gill: “These here seem to be the Agapae, or love feasts, of the primitive Christians; the design of which was to maintain and promote brotherly love, from whence they took their name; and to refresh the poor saints, that they might have a full and comfortable meal now and then: their manner of keeping them was this; they began and ended them with prayer and singing; and they observed them with great temperance and frugality; and they were attended with much joy and gladness, and simplicity of heart: but were quickly abused, by judaizing Christians, as observing them in imitation of the passover; and by intemperance in eating and drinking; and by excluding the poor, for whose benefit they were chiefly designed; and by setting up separate meetings for them, and by admitting unfit persons unto them; such as here are said to be spots in them, blemishes, which brought great reproach and scandal upon them, being persons of infamous characters and conversations.”

·         Adam Clark: “ The feasts of charity, the αγαπαι or love feasts, of which the apostle speaks, were in use in the primitive Church ‘till the middle of the fourth century, when, by the council of Laodicea, they were prohibited to be held in the Churches; and, having been abused, fell into disuse. In later days they have been revived… among the Moravians… and… Methodists [John Wesley believed that “feasts of love (were) Anciently observed in all the church­es.”]. Among the ancients, the richer members of the Church made an occasional general feast, at which all the members attended, and the poor and the rich ate together. The father­less, the widows, and the strangers were invited to these feasts, and their eating together was a proof of their love to each other; whence such entertainments were called love feasts. The love feasts were at first celebrated before the Lord’s Supper; in process of time they appear to have been celebrated after it. But they were never considered as the Lord’s Supper..”[1]

·         The meaning of this Greek word spilades is debated.

0        It is found nowhere else in the Greek Bible, although a similarly-spelled root word meaning “spot/stain” is used half a dozen places in Scripture[2].

0        The meaning of this word, therefore, has been determined by its use in secular Greek literature, where Homer used it to describe “rocks hidden under the sea” that could shipwreck sailors.

·         The word is spelled slightly differently in the parallel passage of 2 Peter 2:13, and everybody agrees that it means “spots/stains” there.

0        Throughout the Bible, the concept of a spot or stain is commonly applied to moral failure – disobedience to God.

·         Both meanings are quite true:

0        Christian frauds have patterns of sin from which they have no intention of repenting, although they often do a good job of looking very acceptable outwardly.

0        And Christian frauds can be dangerous spiritually, teaching ideas that sound all right but which will bring shipwreck to the souls of their followers in the end.

#2) fearlessly partaking of good things, feeding themselves,

·         The Greek word aphobos translated “without qualm/fear” shows up only three other times in the NT, and all three other times describe what true Christians do fearlessly:

0        They “serve God” (Luke 1:74),

0        they do the Lord’s work (1 Cor. 16:10),

0         they “speak the word of God” (Philippians 1:14).

0        This makes the contrast between you and these posers even more stark: what is it that they do most fearlessly? They eat.

·         Godlesness leads to self-gratification rather than love for others. They care only about feeding themselves.

0        Cf. Ezekiel 34:8 "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "surely because My flock became a prey, and My flock became food for every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, nor did My shepherds search for My flock, but the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock" … 21 Because you have pushed with side and shoulder, butted all the weak ones with your horns, and scattered them abroad, 22 therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.” (NKJV)

0        This was fulfilled by Jesus in Matt. 2:6 (cf. Rev. 7:17), and by His apostles (John 21:16) and the NT elders they appointed (Acts 20:28, 1 Peter 5:2).

#3) clouds without water carried along by winds,

·         In the parallel passage of 2 Peter 2:17, it’s “springs without water” instead of “clouds without water,” but people who don’t have indoor plumbing relied on both to get their drinking water.

·         I remember my first backpacking trip on the Odum Scout trail in central Alabama. Our trail guide had been up and down it frequently and there was a spring where he had found water about five miles down the trail, so we decided to carry only a couple of pints of water each because we were just scrawny junior high kids and we were already packing all our food and tents and clothes too. The plan was to hike in five miles with all our gear, set up camp, refill our water bottles at the spring, make dinner and spend the night, and then strike camp and go on down the trail the next day. Well, apparently there had not been as much rain as usual, so when we arrived at the camp site exhausted from our first backpacking hike, almost all of us had drunk all of the water in our canteens and we were thirsty, so we went to the spring, but THERE WAS NO WATER! I’ve been on other backpacking trips where we were hard up for water but it rained and we were able to collect rain water off of our tents, but there was no rain on that first trip. Some of the guys had brought macaroni and cheese for dinner; since they had no water, they were just crunching on those dry noodles and getting more thirsty tasting that cheese powder. It was brutal for a bunch of tenderfoot junior high kids. As I recall, our guide felt so sorry for us that he hiked the 10 miles to the car and back the next morning and brought us a couple of 5-gallon bags of water to rescue us. I’ve never been so excited to see water!

·         But what if he had promised to get us water and then come back without any water? Proverbs 25:14 “Whoever falsely boasts of giving Is like clouds and wind without rain.” That’s what these church imposters were doing.

·         If you are a Christian, you have living water flowing out of you. That’s what Jesus said, John 4:14 “…whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."

·         It is precisely because imposters have not “drunk in” faith in Jesus alone that they are carried about by the storm winds of human ideas that blow all four directions at once like the Greek anemwn wind: Ephesians 4:14-15 “…we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ…”

·         Hebrews 13:8-10 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them. We have an altar from which those who serve the tabernacle have no right to eat.” (NKJV)

·         If we can grasp that we are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, we will not be blown around willy-nilly. We will also live with eternal life and bear fruit. “for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth… have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them.” (Ephesians 5:9-11, NKJV)

#4) fruitless trees at harvest-time, having died a second time after being uprooted

·         Matt. 13:22 “Then the one that was sown into the thorns, this is the one who hears the word, yet the cares of this age and the deception of wealth choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.” (NAW)

·         Fruitfulness is described in Titus 3:14 as “doing good works” and “meeting people’s needs” and 2 Peter 1:8 says that fruitfulness is exercising “brotherly kindness” and “love.” Love is, after all the fruit of the spirit.

·         Imposters don’t have that, not even at the peak of maturity and the peak of the season for fruit-bearing, which is the time referred to by the Greek word fthinopwrina, translated “autumn,” and, I think, mistakenly translated “withered” by the KJV (the fact that this word only occurs once in the whole Greek Bible does make it harder to translate, but it is corrected to “autumn” by the NKJ).

·         In the autumn, my family goes to our neighbor’s trees to pick apples and pears, but a couple of years ago there was a frost late in the spring which froze the blossoms of all the fruit trees and kept them from bearing fruit, so when it came time to harvest pears and apples in the fall, there were hardly any to be found. How disappointing.

·         Even more disappointing is a Christian who is self-centered and does not love others. But if you can recognize that not only are they not trusting God, they are under God’s judgment for being in rebellion to Him, you can learn not to expect the fruit of faith and love from them.

·         They are like doubly-dead trees that are not only too disease-ridden to live, but they have also been knocked over so that their roots have been ripped out of the ground and will never draw the sap of life again.

0        Jesus called the judgment day in the parable of the wheat and the weeds a time of “uprooting” (Mat. 13:29)

0        and in Matthew 13:29, he spoke of the future judgment to come upon the Pharisees using the same word, “Every plant which my Heavenly Father did not plant will be rooted out” (NAW).

·         The eternal judgment of the last day is called “the second death” in Rev. 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” (NKJV).

·         However, we also see that those who contend earnestly to keep the faith will overcome the world (1 John 5:2), and Jesus promised in Revelation 2:11b that “he who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.”

#5) v13. wild waves of the sea foaming up their own shameful deeds,

·         John Calvin noted, “Why this was added, we may learn more fully from the words of Peter: it was to show that, being inflated with pride, they breathed out, or rather cast out, the scum of high-flown stuff of words in grandiloquent style. As the same time they brought forth nothing spiritual, their object being on the contrary to make men as stupid as brute animals. Such… are the fanatics of our day, who call themselves Libertines. … they imagine a state of innocency in which there is no difference between baseness and honesty; they imagine a spiritual life, when fear is extinguished and when every one heedlessly indulges himself; they imagine that we become gods, because God absorbs the spirits when they quit their bodies.” These kinds of false ideas just keep coming ‘round.

·         James 1:6 tells us that those who do not contend for the “faith” but give themselves over to “doubts” are “like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind.” (NKJV)

·         Jude speaks of “shameful deeds” (plural); what sort of deeds might these be? Other epistles can fill in our understanding:

0        2 Corinthians 4:2 “But we have renounced the hidden things of shame, not walking in craftiness nor handling the word of God deceitfully, but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God.”

0        Philippians 3:18-20 “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things. For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (NKJV)

#6) wandering stars for whom the gloom of darkness has been kept for eternity

·         This is the only mention of “wandering stars” in the whole Bible, but it probably refers to planets, since we get the English word “planet” from the Greek word for “wandering” – planetai.

0        The moon revolves around the earth, and the earth revolves around the sun, so we see regular patterns in where we see the sun every day and every night,

0        and the stars are so far away that the motion of the earth is about the only variable in how we see them, so again, that creates predictable patterns in the placement of the stars,

0        but the planets, since they are much closer than the stars, their motion around our sun is noticeable from earth, so the motions of the planets have two factors that affect where we see them: the earth’s motion, and their own motion. The difference in motion of the stars versus the planets left astronomers scratching their heads at first because the planets didn’t follow the same regular patterns of the stars; they appeared to “wander” due to the extra factor that their own motion was noticeable from earth.

·         We humans get to wandering morally and spiritually when we lose sight of the object of our faith (Jesus)

0        This comes from not getting input from the Bible: Matt. 22:29 Jesus said to the Jewish Saducees, “You are wandering off course because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God” (NAW)

0        Spiritual wandering also comes when we focus our attention on people who are impressive: Matt. 24:24 “for false messiahs and false prophets will be raised up, and they will give great signs and wonders so as to cause, if it were in their power, even the chosen ones to wander astray.” (NAW)

0        Spiritual wandering comes through temptations that appeal to our flesh: Rev. 2:20 “…Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and cause My servants to wander astray to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.” (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9-11, 2 Pet. 2:15)

0        Spiritual wandering come through the influence of demons too: 1 Timothy 4:1 “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to wandering spirits and doctrines of demons”

·         How do we keep from wandering off?

0        Study the Bible: 2 Timothy 3:13-15 “But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, wandering astray and being deceived. But you must continue in the things which you have learned… the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

0        Confess faith in Jesus: 2 John 1:7 “For many who wander astray have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.”

0        Confess sin to Jesus: 1 John 1:8 “If we say that we have no sin, we wander astray, and the truth is not in us.”

·         Just as fallen angels are doomed to darkness in the final judgment, so also are rebellions humans.

0        Jude 1:6 “And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day”

0        2 Peter 2:4,9,17 “For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment… then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment… These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever-USB” (NKJV)

0        We also see that sequence of judgment of spiritual beings first, then men in Rev. 20, but both get the same end in the lake of fire.

0        Matthew 8:10-12 “And when Jesus heard [the Centurion], He marveled and said His followers, ‘So be it! I tell you, such great faith have I found with no one in Israel. And I tell you that many from East and West will come and will be pulled up to the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness. Weeping and the gnashing of teeth will be there.” (NAW)

0        In Jesus parables, “outer darkness” is where the guy who refused to wear the host’s wedding garment was thrown (Mt. 22:13) and where the unprofitable steward of the single talent was thrown in the parable of the talents (Mat. 25:30).

·         Darkness, however, is also a present state for all who have not heard the Gospel and believed in Jesus (John 12:46 “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” NKJV cf. Matt. 4:16, 6:23, Acts 26:18, 2 Cor. 6:14, Eph. 5:8, 1 Peter 2:9.)

·         Darkness symbolizes the absence of God’s love in the New Testament, and naturally shows up

0        among the wicked who are apart from God’s mercy,

0        and in scenes of judgment, such as the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai (Heb. 12:8),

0        the crucifixion (Mt. 27:45),

0        and the judgment day (Acts 2:20).

·         The word translated “reserved” here in v.13 shows up

0        in verse 1 (where it is translated “kept” or “preserved” )

0        in v.6 (where it is translated “kept” or “stay”)

0        and in v.21 (where it is translated “keep”).

·         The parallels are not to be missed: there is a “keeping” role on the part of both God and man.

0        God “keeps” us in Jesus Christ (according to v.1), and we “keep ourselves in the love of God” (according to v.21) by contending for the faith and waiting for Jesus to save us and consummate eternal life with us.

0        On the other hand, God “keeps” angels and humans in darkness who, for their part do not “keep” obedience to Him as their rightful authority.


·         Stepping back to look at the big picture again after these six metaphors, let’s remember that Jude does not seem to be worried that the people he is speaking to are “those guys,” instead, he is describing just how wide the chasm is between God’s people who keep fighting to trust Jesus and those who have joined the rebellion against Jesus.

0        There might be something beautiful about a coral reef, but a reef in a shipping lane is a public threat.

0        There might be something noble about being a shepherd, but an animal abuser who feeds himself and starves his sheep is despicable.

0        There might be something majestic about clouds, but clouds of dust are just a nuisance.

0        There might be something wonderful about Fruit trees, but if they bear no fruit, they’re good for nothing but firewood.

0        There might be something relaxing about ocean waves, but anybody in the water when storm winds are whitecapping is just going to drown.

0        And there may be something inspiring about stars, but stars wandering forever in blackness just sounds unpleasantly lonely.

·         God inspired Jude to write these things for us to help us see how bad sin and rebellion against God is. He wants us to get a knot in the pit of our stomach when we think of such perversions so that we won’t be tempted to follow after them. God wants us to see sin as the deviant and foolish behavior it is, so that we will care about the purity and holiness of the church and not tolerate sin.


Jude 12-16 Greek Edition and Comparative translations

[Brackets] indicate the addition of a word or concept not originally in the Greek text. Strikethrough indicates an inaccurate meaning or in­accurate grammar in the English version compared to the Greek text. X’s are inserted where a version omitted a word present in the Greek. Underlining highlights translations where the wording that is different from all the other English versions. Where English versions are more than diverse on a key word, I colored the Greek word and its translated words with the same color. I have also used some ab­breviations to identify the sources of variants based on editions of the Greek New Testament (GNT) currently in print: “Maj.” stands for the reading of the majority of all Greek manuscripts predating the printing press, “UBS” stands for critical editions of the GNT published by the United Bible Society, “T.R.” stands for the Textus Receptus editions of the GNT, and “Pat.” stands for the Greek Orthodox Patristic edition of the GNT.








12 Οὗτοί εἰσιν[A] ἐν ταῖς ἀγάπαις[B] ὑμῶν σπιλάδες[C], συνευωχούμενοι ἀφόβως, ἑαυτοὺς ποιμαίνοντες, νεφέλαι ἄνυδροι ὑπὸ ἀνέμων παραφερόμεναιT.R.=περι-, δένδρα φθινοπωρινὰ, ἄκαρπα, δὶς ἀποθανόντα, ἐκριζωθέντα[D],

12. These men are reefs at y’all’s love-feasts, fearlessly partaking of good things, feeding themselves, clouds without water carried along by winds, fruitless trees at harvest-time, having died a second time after having been uprooted,

12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast [with youScribner TR,C], feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried aboutTR of winds; trees [whose fruit] withereth, without fruit, twice dead, [plucked up] by the roots;

12 These are the men whoUBS are [hidden] reefs in your love feasts when they feast with [you] without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;

12 These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with [you] without [the slightest] qualm—[shepherds] who feed [only] themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit [and] uprooted--twice dead.

12 These are [hidden] reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with [you] without fear, [shepherds] feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees [in] late autumn, twice dead, uprooted;

13 κύματα ἄγρια θαλάσσης ἐπαφρίζοντα[E] τὰς ἑαυτῶν αἰσχύνας, ἀστέρες πλανῆται, οἷς ὁ ζόφος τοῦ σκότους εἰς αἰῶνα τετήρηται.

13. wild waves of the sea foaming up their own shameful deeds, wandering stars for whom the gloom of darkness has been kept for eternity.

13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shameX; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shameX [like foam]; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.

13 [They are] wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shameX; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shameX; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of [utter] darkness has been reserved forever.


[1] Albert Barns, however strongly objected, saying that love feasts were unbiblical and that this must just be talking about partaking in communion.

[2] 1 Timothy 6:14; James 1:27; 3:6; 2 Peter 3:14; Jude 1:23, cf. only LXX instance in Wisdom 15:4

[A] On the basis of the reading of half the oldest-known manuscripts and little else (P72, A, B, +9 others) the modern critical text adds οἱ = “the ones who.” It makes no difference in meaning. The NASB is about the only English version that carries it through.

[B] Curiously, by transposing two letters, you can change the word “love-feast” in Greek to the word “deceptions,” and by adding two letters to the word “stain” you get the word for “reef.” We find both of these switcheroos in the parallel passage of 2 Peter 2:13 “spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you.” This doesn’t necessarily mean that either one is wrong, it is just curious. It might even point toward a solution to the puzzle of who is quoting who; such a curious word similarity could be explained if both Peter and Jude had read the same document and wrote an inspired commentary on it, while the original was lost.

[C] Arndt & Gingrich cite Homer, Philostratus, and Ignatius as using spilad- in the sense of a rock hidden under the sea which can sink ships unexpectedly, and this meaning is the one taken by Strong, Thayer, Albert Barnes, A.R. Fausset, Marvin Vincent, A.T. Robertson, and among the versions by the Geneva, Revised Standard (and therefore ESV), American Standard (and therefore NASB), NET, NLT, and French (LS). The Vulgate, KJV, NIV, and CEV rendered it “spots/blemishes,” as did the older English commentators Matthew Henry, John Gill, Adam Clarke, and John Wesley, as well as John Calvin (who was using the Latin).

[D] The Aorist forms of these two participles lead me to believe that the death and the uprooting happened previous to the present time, so I tried to bring that temporal idea out in my translation.

[E] hapex legomenon. This is also the only mention of “wandering stars” in the Bible.