Jude 20-23: How to Keep Yourselves in the Love of God

Translation & Sermon by Nate Wilson for Christ the Redeemer Church, Manhattan KS, 26 Nov 2017


·         My first four sermons on Jude have been kinda downers because of the Apostle Jude’s focus on how terrible sin is in the church. And while sin is terrible – and we need to feel that, I didn’t mean for all the negative stuff to stretch into three sermons. But, as the guy who ran my college apprenticeship as an electrician used to say, “That’s how the cookie crumbles,” although he said say it in Latin, sic biscitus disintegratus.

·         But now we get to the passage that made me want to preach from Jude in the first place, and that is verses 20-23. In verse 20, Jude switches away from “those guys” and doesn’t talk about “them” any more. Verse 20 begins, “But, loved ones, as for y’all…” Beloved, this is for us! We are dearly loved! What words of encouragement does the next-to-last apostle have for us? It is a wonderful encouragement!

·         I want to illustrate it with a little demonstration involving a spotlight:

0        Thirty years ago, when I was a summer camp counselor at Camp New Pace, the retreat center we rented had a big electric spotlight the size of a small cannon, mounted in the balcony. It had half-a-dozen levers on the side that would lower different colored gels in front of the bulb, and a big handle in the back to control where the light was pointing. When we did Friday night skit night, one of us would sit back there and train that spotlight on the campers on-stage, and it was just as good as being on Broadway!

0        In that situation, there are two parties interested in the spotlight being on the performer: the performer himself, and the operator of the spotlight. Both want the same thing and are working toward the same end.

0        In a sense, all the performer has to do to stay in the spotlight is just to do his or her thing and not jump off the stage and run out of the theater.

0        If the performer walks to the other side of the stage, he doesn’t have to worry about whether the spotlight will follow because he is the actor and the spotlight operator’s job is to keep the actor in the spotlight.

0        The spotlight operator is not going to point the spotlight somewhere else unless perhaps it is to the spot where the actor is about to be.

0        No analogy is perfect, but this spotlight analogy gives some sense of what I see the apostle Jude commanding us in verse 21: “keep yourselves in the love of God.”

0        How do you keep yourself in the spotlight of the love of God? If God is the operator of the spotlight, you don’t have to worry about whether or not His love will be with you, it’s His job, as it were, to keep loving you, and it’s your job to keep displaying His character, so, unless you totally bag out of Christianity and leave the theater altogether, there’s really no reason to fear losing the love of God, keeping you in the love of God is the mutual interest of both you and God.

·         The phrase in Jude 21, “the love of God,” also reflects the mutuality of love because it can be interpreted objectively “God’s love for you” or subjectively “your love for God.” The NIV’s translation narrows it down only to God’s love (which does come first[1]), but the wording here in Jude “agape theou” can have both your love for God and God’s love for you in view.

·         But the command here is to “keep yourselves” in that love. How do you do that? Jude defines how to execute this command by employing three Greek participles in verses 20-21. Those three participles are “building,” “praying,” and “anticipating/looking/waiting.” In the KJV, NAS, and ESV, these participles are translated as English participles (with the “–ing” ending), but in the NIV, the first two participles are translated as imperatives to show their relationship to the main imperative “keep yourselves in the love of God” meaning “build up your faith and pray.” The NIV translates the third participle temporally with the word “as” – “as you wait.” But these three participles tell us how to obey this command. How do you keep yourself in the love of God? 1) Build up faith, 2) pray in the Spirit, and 3) anticipate Jesus’ mercy. Let’s look at these three in turn:

1) Keep Yourselves in the Love of God by Building Up Faith (v.20a)

·         But loved ones, as for y’all, building yourselves on in your most holy faith…”

·         The Greek participle for “building upon” is a compound of the preposition epi (which means “upon”) plus the noun oikos (which means “house”) plus the verb demo “to build” -  ἐπ-οικο-δομοῦντες. It implies that there is a foundation already-laid, and you are to be building something on top of that.

0        1 Corinthians 3:10-13 lays it out clearly that the foundation is the Gospel, such as Paul preached, and what is built upon it is the subsequent teaching of pastors (like Apollos) as well as the way in which the gospel is lived out in the lives and work of believers: “According to the grace of God which was given to me as a wise architect, I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each look to how he is building upon it, for no one is able to lay another foundation besides the one which is being laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now, if any one builds up gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, [or] straw upon the foundation, the work of each will become apparent, for the day will show that by fire it is revealed, and the fire will test the work of each one, as to what quality it is.” (NAW)

0        Colossians 2:6-7 says the same thing using the metaphor of a tree: The foundational “roots” are set in “receiving” the Gospel of “Jesus Christ,” but then there is subsequent “instruction” and “walking in” it: “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” (NKJV)

0        When you prayed the sinner’s prayer – or walked the aisle, or were baptized, or whatever the moment was that you received the good news that Jesus died for your sins and is your Savior, that was only the beginning of your Christian life. Ever since then you have been “building on” that foundation of faith.

·         Now, there are going to be those who do a poor job of it and will make it into heaven “only as one escaping through the flames” (as the NIV puts it in 1 Cor. 3:15),

0        Now, that would be fairly excusable if you were in some corner of the world where church meetings were illegal and all you had of God’s word was one page hand-copied from some visiting evangelist’s Bible, written in a trade language you understood only 80% of,

0        But in twenty-first century America, we do not have that excuse. We have dozens of English translations at our fingertips, accessible 24 hours a day on our smartphones and notebooks, complete with click-through pop-up menus that will show us the underlying Greek and Hebrew words and their definitions together with commentaries and audio sermons galore on it all.

0        The opportunity God has given us to get to know His word is fabulous, and it must not be squandered, we must seize the opportunity we have to grow in faith!

·         And Faith is certainly portrayed in the Bible as something which grows:

0        After the Apostle Paul preached the gospel in the town of Thessalonica, he had to flee for his life because of persecution (Acts 17:13), but he prayed earnestly that he could come back and “perfect what was lacking in their faith,” and he sent Timothy to “strengthen and encourage” their faith.[2]

0        Faith is not a static thing; it grows and matures. Paul later wrote in 2 Corinthians 10:15b “…Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our area of activity among you will greatly expand” (NIV).

0        We see the same in the Apostle Peter’s writings: 2 Peter 1:5-7 “But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.” (NKJV) Knowledge of Bible doctrine and the active obedience of love are the way we build upon our most holy faith[3].

·         So, let us study the Word of God to “add knowledge to our faith” (“Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee” Ps. 119:11, KJV), but let us also do what it teaches us to do. Over and over in the Bible, loving God is equated with obeying His ways:

0        Deuteronomy 7:9 "Therefore know that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments”

0        John 14:15, 23-24 "If you love Me, keep My commandments... If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.”

0        1 John 5:2-3 “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and keep His commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” (NKJV)

·         Some of you have taken up the challenge of reading a theological book, others have taken online seminary classes, others listen to sermons online – I hope all of you are reading your Bibles –these are all great ways to build yourselves up in your most holy[4] faith, but to keep ourselves in the love of God we must also act on what we are learning about God, growing in our praise for Him, growing in our repentance from sin, and growing in expressing His love toward others.

2) Keep Yourselves in the Love of God by Praying in the Spirit (v.20b)

·         “Prayer is the nurse of faith,” wrote Matthew Henry. It is the second means of grace to keep ourselves in the love of God. John Calvin wrote, “whenever the question is respecting the constancy of faith, we must flee to prayer.”

·         “Praying in the Spirit” means letting the Holy Spirit control and guide the words you say. Every time the Bible talks about being filled with the Spirit, the context has to do with communication.

0        When Ezekiel was “in the Spirit” he prophecied about dry bones taking on flesh (Ezek. 37:1),

0        When David was “in the Spirit” he wrote Psalm 110 (Matt. 22:4),

0        Luke 1:17 says John the Baptizer prepared the way of the Lord by prophecying “in the spirit,”

0        In Luke 10:21, when Jesus rejoiced “in the Spirit,” He prayed was praying to God the Father,

0        When the Apostle Paul commanded us to be “filled with the Spirit,” he said it meant “speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” and “giving thanks to God the Father through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:18-20), and

0        When the Apostle John was “in the Spirit” on the Lord’s Day (Rev. 1:10) He wrote the book of Revelation.

0        When we start praying by saying, “Holy Spirit, what shall I say?” and we pray what He guides our minds to be concerned about, we are praying in the Spirit, and He will give us the words.

0        And when you run out of words, Romans 8:26 tell us He will even communicate groans to God: “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (NASB, cf. John 11:33)

0        So, “praying in the Spirit” has to do with talking to God under the control of the Holy Spirit. We can also see what “praying in the spirit” is about by considering its opposite:

·         Praying “in the Spirit” is the opposite of being controlled by your flesh:

0        Romans 8:9 “…you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you...” (NKJV)

0        Galatians 5:16 “…Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.” (NKJV)

0        Philippians 3:3 “For we… worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (NKJV)

0        So, praying in the Spirit is talking to God under the control of the Holy Spirit and not under the control of your natural, selfish instincts.

·         Furthermore, praying “in the Spirit” is praying within the context of a relationship with the one true God who is a spirit and who exists in three persons – who are all in seamless relationship with each other. Prayer is about a relationship with God!

·         I have been reading through Andrew Murray’s book, With Christ in the School of Prayer, and, although I find points occasionally that I disagree with, such as some dispensationalism that seems to come out in his chapter on “The Holy Spirit and Prayer,” nevertheless, I think he expressed well in the following quote the way that praying in the Spirit is all about relating to all the persons of the Godhead: “True prayer is the living experience of the truth of the Holy Trinity. The Spirit’s breathing, the Son’s intercession, and the Father’s will become one in us.”

·         Let me repeat that, “True prayer is the living experience of the truth of the Holy Trinity. The Spirit’s breathing, the Son’s intercession, and the Father’s will become one in us… The great work which Jesus began on earth of reconciling God and man in His own body, He carries on in heaven. To accomplish this, He took the conflict between God’s righteousness and our sin into His own person. On the cross, He ended the struggle once and for all in His own body. Then He ascended to heaven, where He carries out the deliverance He obtained and manifests His victory in each member of His Body. This is why He lives to pray. In his unceasing intercession, He places Himself in living fellowship with the unceasing prayer of His redeemed ones. Or rather, it is His unceasing intercession which shows itself in their prayers, giving them a power they never had before. He does this through the Holy Spirit. This Spirit of the glorified Jesus was not manifested and could not be until Jesus had been glorified [Here he references John 7:39b, where the Apostle comments that ‘…the Spirit was not yet present[5] because Jesus was not yet glorified’ ~NAW]… At Pentecost He descended as the Spirit of the glorified Jesus, bringing down and communicating to us the full fruit and power of the accomplished redemption. Christ’s continuing intercession maintains the effectiveness and application of His redemption. The Holy Spirit descending from Christ to us draws us up into the great stream of His ascending prayers.”

·         Such intimacy with God Himself in prayer is breathtaking, and this is how we keep ourselves in the love of God!

3) Keep Yourselves in the Love of God by Waiting for Christ’s Mercy & Showing Mercy (v.21-23)

A) v.21 “Anticipate the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto/leading/bringing you to eternal life.”

0        The Greek word for this waiting/eager looking/ anticipation is the same one used of Simeon and Anna in the temple who were “eagerly anticipating” the coming of the kingdom of God and who recognized the baby Jesus as the Messiah (Luke 2:25 & 38).

0        It is later used of Joseph of Arimathea – it was his “anticipation” of the coming of the kingdom of God that gave him the courage to part ways with his buddies on the Sanhedrin and honor Jesus by collecting his dead body off the cross and burying it in his family sepulcher. (Mark 15:43)

0        For these kind-of Old Testament saints in the New Testament, this expectation that God was going to do something wonderful to reveal Himself and to bring salvation in new ways and to further establish a community of people who reflected the character of God, this expectation led them to action – to living lives of obedience to God’s commands, going against the flow of their contemporaries, and pointing others to the coming of Christ.

0        Today, we do much the same thing, just as Paul wrote in Titus 2:11-14, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for [anticipating] the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” (NKJV)

0        Are you looking forward with anticipation to seeing Jesus face-to-face? to being rescued completely from your sin and from all the sin in the world? to heaven? Do realize that you will attain these things not because you earned them but because God mercifully gave them to you? That attitude will keep you in the love of God[6].

0        But, just as building yourself up in the faith means not only learning, but also acting on what you learn from the Bible, so also with mercy – not only do we anticipate receiving the mercy of Christ (in the forgiveness of our sins and the receiving of ourselves into heaven), but we also give out mercy to others.

0        When you know you have received mercy, that’s when you can show mercy. Like Jesus said in His parable of the unforgiving servant in Matthew 18:33, “Isn’t it proper for you to have mercy on your fellow-servant, like I myself also had mercy on you?” (NAW)

B) So we must show mercy to others: “v.22 And keep showing mercy to those who are doubting, 23 and be saving those cautiously, grabbing them out of the fire while hating even the undergarment stained from the flesh.”

0        Modern critical editions of the Greek New Testament add the words “and on some have mercy” (ous de eleate) to v.23, making “hating the defiled garment” part of a third category of people to have mercy on. This insertion is based on three of the five oldest-known Greek manuscripts and the Latin Vulgate (together with 18 or so more Greek manuscripts which are not as ancient). This is significant, but not overwhelming evidence in its favor, so I prefer the traditional Greek text. There is no essential difference in meaning, whether the people with the stained garments are the same as those who need to be snatched out of the fire or not, but the way I take it, the two participles “grabbing” and “hating” are descriptions of how to go about showing mercy by saving these kind of persons “with fear.”

0        Bringing care and healing to the sick was frequently[7] the context in which the New Testament describes “showing mercy.” Jesus “showed mercy” in this way to many who were blind, sick with leprosy, or demon-possessed, and that is one way we too can show mercy, by bringing care and healing to the sick.

0        But, as those of you who are health professionals know, you have to observe certain precautions when you expose yourself to those who are sick so that you don’t become sick yourself or pass the disease on to others. That is why I think Jude says to save those who are doubting while maintaining a healthy fear of falling into the same loss of faith into which they have fallen.

0        The danger of hell-fire is real[8], and everyone who does not trust Jesus to save them – everyone who does not have that “most holy faith” as their own will be condemned, and that is a compelling reason to share the gospel with those who are lost. It’s the only way they can be saved from the fires of hell (Rom. 10:14), so let us keep ourselves in the love of God by both anticipating the mercy of Christ’s salvation for ourselves and sharing the good news of that salvation with others.

0        At the same time, we must be careful in our interactions with those who do not have our faith. Remember Jude’s main command is to “step up the fight for the faith” in v.3, and we saw the echo of that same command in v. 20 to “build yourselves up in your holy faith.” Those to whom we are showing mercy and sharing the gospel in v. 22 are who are “doubting” and doubters can drag away towards unbelief the very individuals who are trying to help them:

à        I have seen converts from religions like Islam to Christianity go back to their people to share the gospel and get converted back to Islam instead.

à        I have seen Christians go into secular universities to be a gospel witness and come out atheists instead with their Ph.D’s.

à        I have seen apologists go out to engage various cult groups with the gospel, and then get sucked into heresies themselves.

à        It happens; that’s why we need to minister mercy “with fear/caution.”

0        So we are to “hate even the garment polluted by the flesh” as a precaution against our own faith getting knocked down and losing the love of God ourselves. Keeping our love of God is done, in part, by keeping our hate for what is ungodly.

à        Love and hate are two sides of the same coin; speaking of Christian faith that is all love and no hate is as nonsensical as talking about a one-sided coin!

à        Achan did not hate the garments stained with the sin of the Canaanite citizens of Jericho whom God had said to utterly destroy, instead, Achan was distracted from his devotion to God by an attraction to the collateral benefits he could get from the wicked – even while he was on a mission from God in the Israelite army.

à        What might tempt you to divide your attention between God and something else on missions that bring you into contact with non-Christians?

à        In Revelation 2:6, Jesus commends the church in Ephesus for hating! Yes, you heard that right! (“But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”) The Nicolatians were apparently into sexual immorality and idol worship, both of which are so much at odds with the faithfulness and integrity of God that He cannot tolerate those kinds of things, and neither should we who share in His character.

à        Perhaps a modern-day equivalent would be if one of you men felt called to preach the gospel in a strip-joint. It’s not something I would recommend, but if you were to do it, you would have to be so well-set in your hatred of the sin of adultery that you could minister in a context full of people committing adultery without being sucked down into the sin of adultery yourself. I think that’s what Jude is talking about.

à        There are sinners and temptations in every context to which God calls us, so we must bring our love and our hate into alignment with what God loves and hates so that we can stay in the love of God, anticipating His mercy, while being His agents of mercy in a sin-sick world (cf. Heb. 1:9).


So, there you have it, the three ways to keep ourselves in the spotlight of God’s love:

  1. “building yourselves on in your most holy faith,
  2. “praying in the Holy Spirit,” and
  3. “anticipating the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And keep showing mercy to those who are doubting”

By the way, this is not a singular action, keeping yourself in the love of God. This is what the church does as a community for each other. Notice all the plural “you’s”: v.20 “loved ones (plural), as for y’all (plural), building yourselves (plural) in your (plural) most holy faith, you (plural) praying, keep yourselves (plural) in the love of God, you (plural) anticipating the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ…”

·         Do you see that this is not something you should try to do all by yourself, and it is not something you should leave your brothers and sisters in Christ to do all by themselves?

·         What would it look like if the church as a community kept each other in the love of God?

o       We would be building up one another’s faith, not just our own. Teaching and encouraging them.

o       We would be praying for each other, not just for ourselves[9],

o       And we would be anticipating the mercy of eternal life coming to each other, not beating everyone else down with criticism about how faulty their love for God is.

·         Brothers, let us keep ourselves in the love of God!


Appendix: Excerpts from John Gill’s commentary on this passage

Keep yourselves in the love of God,.... By which may be meant either the grace and favour of God, that love with which God loves his people; and then the exhortation to the saints to keep themselves in it is, to set it always before them, to keep it constantly in view, to exercise faith on it, firmly believing their interest in it; as also to meditate on it, give themselves up wholly to the contemplation of it, and employ their thoughts constantly about it, which is the foundation of all grace here, and glory hereafter; or to preserve themselves by it, for so the words may be rendered, "preserve yourselves by the love of God"; against Satan's temptations, the snares of the world, and the lusts of the flesh; whenever Satan solicits to sin, and any snare is laid to draw into it, and the flesh attempts to be predominant, saints should betake themselves to the love of God, as to a strong hold and preservative against sin, and reason as Joseph did, Gen_39:9, for the love of God, and continuance in it, do not depend on anything that can be done by men; nor is there any danger of real believers falling from it, or losing it, since it is unchangeable, and is from everlasting to everlasting; or else by the love of God we are to understand that love with which his people love him and of which he is the object, Luk_11:42; and then the meaning of the exhortation is, that though this grace of love cannot be lost, yet, inasmuch as the fervour of it may be abated, and the people of God grow cold and indifferent in their expressions of it, it becomes them to make use of all proper means to maintain and increase it in themselves and others; such as are mentioned in the context, as conversing together in an edifying way about the doctrines of the Gospel, and praying either separately or together, under the influences of the Holy Spirit, and looking forward for the grace and mercy of Christ unto everlasting life; all which, with many other, things, by the blessing of God, may serve to maintain and revive the grace of love, and blow it up into a flame: though perhaps this phrase may chiefly design that love, peace, and concord, which ought to subsist among saints as brethren, and which they should be careful to preserve; and may be called the love of God, just as the same thing is styled the peace of God, Col_3:15, because it is what God requires, what he calls unto, which is of him, and is taught by him in regeneration, and what his, love engages to, and without which there is no true love to him; and he takes, love shown to his people as if shown to himself; and this sense is favoured by the context, both by the words in the preceding verse, and in the following ones:


looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. The mercy of Christ may be considered either as past, which was shown in eternity, in his covenant transactions with his Father, in engaging in the cause of his people, in espousing them to himself, and in the care of their persons, grace, and glory; and in time, in assuming their nature, in his tender concern for the bodies and souls of men, in bearing the sins and sorrows of his people, in the redemption of them, and in their regeneration and calling; and there is the present mercy of Christ, in interceding for his people, in sympathizing with them under all their afflictions, in succouring them under all their temptations, in suiting himself, as the great Shepherd, to all the circumstances of his flock; and there is the future mercy of Christ, which will be shown at death, in the grave, and at the resurrection, at the day of judgment, and in the merciful sentence he will pronounce on his people; and this seems to be designed here; the consequent of which, or what is annexed to it, and in which it issues, is eternal life; which is not owing to the works of men, but to the grace of God, and mercy of Christ; eternal life is in him, and is given through him, and to his mercy should men look for it. Christ himself is to be looked for, who will certainly come a second time; and eternal life is to be looked for by him; and this is only to be expected through his grace and mercy; and this is to be looked for by faith, in the love of it, with delight and pleasure, and cheerfulness, with eagerness, and yet with patience.


hating even the garment spotted, by the flesh; by which may be meant the conversation of those men, even their filthy conversation, which is to be hated, though their persons are not; but all ways and means should be used to save them; and this is one way, by showing a dislike unto, and a resentment at their wicked way of living, excluding them from church communion for it, and shunning all conversation with them. The allusion is not to garments defiled by profluvious persons, or menstruous women, as some think, but to garments spotted with nocturnal pollutions, or through unnatural lusts, which these persons were addicted to (Vid. Sueton. in Vita Neronis, c. 28)…


Jude 20-25 Greek Edition and Comparative translations[A]





20 ῾Υμεῖς δέ, ἀγαπητοί, τῇ ἁγιωτάτῃ ὑμῶν πίστει ἐποικοδομοῦντες[B] ἑαυτοὺς, ἐν Πνεύματι ῾Αγίῳ προσευχόμενοι,

20 But loved ones, as for y’all, building yourselves on in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,

20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith [and] praying in the Holy Spirit,

21 ἑαυτοὺς ἐν ἀγάπῃ Θεοῦ τηρήσατε, προσδεχόμενοι τὸ ἔλεος τοῦ Κυρίου ἡμῶν ᾿Ιησοῦ Χριστοῦ, εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον.

21 keep yourselves in the love of God, anticipating the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ [that leads] to eternal life.

22 καὶ οὓς μὲν ἐλεεῖτε διακρινόμενους[C],

22 And keep showing mercy to those who are doubting,

22 And of some have compas­sion, making a differenceTR:

22 And have mercy on those who doubt;

23 οὓς δὲ ἐν φόβῳ σώζετε, ἐκ πυρὸς ἁρπάζοντες, [D] μισοῦντες καὶ τὸν ἀπὸ τῆς σαρκὸς ἐσπιλωμένον χιτῶνα.

23 and be saving those cautiously, grabbing them out of the fire while hating even the undergarment stained from the flesh.

23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercyUBS with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.


[1] 1 John 4:19 As for us, we love Him because HE first loved us. (NAW)

[2] 1 Thess. 3:2 “[I] sent Timothy, our brother and minister of God, and our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ, to establish you and encourage you concerning your faith… 10 night and day praying exceedingly that we may see your face and perfect what is lacking in your faith.” (NKJV)

[3] “…men build on faith when love is added, or perhaps… men build on faith, as far as they make proficiency in it, and doubtless the daily progress of faith is such that itself rises up as a building.” ~John Calvin

[4] This is the only occurrence in the Greek Bible of “holy” in the superlative, so it seems to just be Jude’s unique way of showing respect for the Gospel.

[5] The Greek verb here is the verb of being, which I translated “was present,” but most English versions add the English word “given.”

[6] “[I]t ought to be noticed that he would not have us hope for eternal life except through the mercy of Christ: for He will in such a manner be our judge, as to have no other rule in judging us than that gratuitous benefit of redemption obtained by Himself.” ~John Calvin

[7] 40% of the 32 occurrences of eleew in the GNT

[8]  Zech. 3:2, Amos 4:11

[9] Ephesians 6:18 NKJV  praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints

[A] [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 a translation 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.

[B] The oldest-known Greek manuscript, P72 reads “being built up” instead of “building upon,” and adds a word at the end that indicates “praying for yourselves.”

[C] The modern Critical editions of the GNT spell this participle in the Accusative case (which make it an adjective modifying what sort of people you are to have mercy on – viz. the NASB “have mercy on some who are doubting”). This is based upon the reading of all five of the known pre-6th century Greek Manuscripts: P72, Sinaiticus, Vaticanus, Ephraemi Rescriptus, and Alexandrinus. The Majority of the Greek manuscripts, on the other hand (and the TR and Pat editions) render it Nominative, which would make it an adverb describing how you are to show mercy (viz the KJV “have compassion making a difference”). But the ancient Latin and Coptic versions go with the older reading over the majority reading, and I will throw in my lot with them. The modern critical editions also use a simpler spelling for the verb (ελεατε – found in the Sinaiticus and Vaticanus, two of the oldest-known Greek manuscripts, although P72 agrees with the majority spelling!) which is no different in meaning; it is just a variant spelling.

[D] Modern critical editions of the GNT add the words “and on some” (ous de eleate), making “hating the defiled garment” part of a third category of people to have mercy on. This insertion is based on three of the five oldest-known Greek manuscripts and the Vulgate together with 18 or so more Greek manuscripts which are not as ancient. This is significant, but not overwhelming evidence in its favor, so I will keep the traditional Greek text. There is no essential difference in meaning either way.