Jude 1:23
And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
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1:17-23 Sensual men separate from Christ, and his church, and join themselves to the devil, the world, and the flesh, by ungodly and sinful practices. That is infinitely worse than to separate from any branch of the visible church on account of opinions, or modes and circumstances of outward government or worship. Sensual men have not the spirit of holiness, which whoever has not, does not belong to Christ. The grace of faith is most holy, as it works by love, purifies the heart, and overcomes the world, by which it is distinguished from a false and dead faith. Our prayers are most likely to prevail, when we pray in the Holy Ghost, under his guidance and influence, according to the rule of his word, with faith, fervency, and earnestness; this is praying in the Holy Ghost. And a believing expectation of eternal life will arm us against the snares of sin: lively faith in this blessed hope will help us to mortify our lusts. We must watch over one another; faithfully, yet prudently reprove each other, and set a good example to all about us. This must be done with compassion, making a difference between the weak and the wilful. Some we must treat with tenderness. Others save with fear; urging the terrors of the Lord. All endeavours must be joined with decided abhorrence of crimes, and care be taken to avoid whatever led to, or was connected with fellowship with them, in works of darkness, keeping far from what is, or appears to be evil.And others - Another class; those who were of such a character, or in such circumstances, that a more bold, earnest, and determined manner would be better adapted to them.

Save with fear - That is, by appeals adapted to produce fear. The idea seems to be that the arguments on which they relied were to be drawn from the dangers of the persons referred to, or from the dread of future wrath. It is undoubtedly true, that while there is a class of persons who can be won to embrace religion by mild and gentle persuasion, there is another class who can be aroused only by the terrors of the law. Every method is to be employed, in its proper place, that we "by all means may save some."

Pulling them out of the fire - As you would snatch persons out of the fire; or as you would seize on a person that was walking into a volcano. Then, a man would not use the mild and gentle language of persuasion, but by word and gesture show that he was deeply in earnest.

Hating even the garment spotted by the flesh - The allusion here is not quite certain, though the idea which the apostle meant to convey is not difficult to be understood. By "the garment spotted by the flesh" there may be an allusion to a garment worn by one who had had the plague, or some offensive disease which might be communicated to others by touching even the clothing which they had worn. Or there may be an allusion to the ceremonial law of Moses, by which all those who came in contact with dead bodies were regarded as unclean, Leviticus 21:11; Numbers 6:6; Numbers 9:6; Numbers 19:11. Or there may be an allusion to the case mentioned in Leviticus 15:4, Leviticus 15:10, Leviticus 15:17; or perhaps to a case of leprosy. In all such instances, there would be the idea that the thing referred to by which the garment had been spotted was polluting, contagious, or loathsome, and that it was proper not even to touch such a garment, or to come in contact with it in any way. To something of this kind the apostle compares the sins of the persons here referred to. While the utmost effort was to be made to save them, they were in no way to partake of their sins; their conduct was to be regarded as loathsome and contagious; and those who attempted to save them were to take every precaution to preserve their own purity. There is much wisdom in this counsel. While we endeavor to save the "sinner," we cannot too deeply loathe his "sins;" and in approaching some classes of sinners there is need of as much care to avoid being defiled by them, as there would be to escape the plague if we had any transaction with one who had it. Not a few have been deeply corrupted in their attempts to reform the polluted. There never could be, for example, too much circumspection and prayer for personal safety from pollution, in attempting to reform licentious and abandoned females.

23. save with fear—The oldest manuscripts do not read "with fear" in this position: but after "snatching them out of the fire" (with which, compare Am 4:11; 1Co 3:15; Zec 3:2, said of a most narrow escape), they add the following words, forming a THIRD class, "and others compassionate with (IN) fear." Three kinds of patients require three kinds of medical treatment. Ministers and Christians are said to "save" those whom they are made the instruments of saving; the Greek for "save" is present, therefore meaning "try to save." Jude already (Jude 9) had reference to the same passage (Zec 3:1-3). The three classes are: (1) those who contend with you (accusative case in oldest manuscripts), whom you should convict; (2) those who are as brands already in the fire, of which hell-fire is the consummation: these you should try to save by snatching them out; (3) those who are objects of compassion, whom accordingly you should compassionate (and help if occasion should offer), but at the same time not let pity degenerate into connivance at their error. Your compassion is to be accompanied "with fear" of being at all defiled by them.

hating—Even hatred has its legitimate field of exercise. Sin is the only thing which God hates: so ought we.

even the garment—a proverbial phrase: avoiding the most remote contact with sin, and hating that which borders on it. As garments of the apostles wrought miracles of good in healing, so the very garment of sinners metaphorically, that is, anything brought into contact with their pollution, is to be avoided. Compare as to lepers and other persons defiled, Le 13:52-57; 15:4-17: the garments were held polluted; and anyone touching them was excluded, until purified, from religious and civil communion with the sanctified people of Israel. Christians who received at baptism the white garment in token of purity, are not to defile it by any approach to what is defiled.

And others; those that are further gone, not so easily reducible, and in great danger.

Save; i.e. labour to save them, as instruments under God.

With fear; by more severe courses, sharper reprehensions, setting before them God’s judgments against obstinate sinners, 1 Corinthians 5:5.

Pulling them out of the fire: it is a proverbial speech, Zechariah 3:2: the sense is, that as they that are in the fire, and like to be destroyed by it, must not be gently exhorted to come out of it of themselves, but speedily and forcibly pulled out, in consideration of their eminent danger; so they that are more stubborn sinners, being in apparent danger of being destroyed by the fire of their lusts, and being as it were in the mouth of hell, must be more harshly and severely dealt with, by setting the Lord’s terrors before them, 2 Corinthians 5:11, and inflicting church censures on them.

Hating even the garment spotted by the flesh: it is an allusion to that ceremonial law, Leviticus 15:4,17, where he that touched a defiled garment was himself defiled. The sense is, either:

1. That where there is danger of infection from heretics and obstinate sinners, all converse with them, and any thing whereby the contagion of their doctrine or manners may reach us, is to be avoided: or:

2. That when we reprehend others, we should do it with suitable affections, and though we would save themselves, we should hate their vices, and any thing that promotes them or savours of them.

And others save with fear,.... Meaning false teachers, who lead others into errors, and such as give themselves over unto sin, whether teachers or hearers, and who are obstinate and irreclaimable; even such as these, means should be used to save, if possible, by sharp admonitions and severe language; by denouncing the awful judgments of God, which threaten them; by inflicting on them church censures in a terrible manner; by declaring the terrors of the Lord, and of hell, and of everlasting damnation:

pulling them out of the fire; of their soul destroying doctrines, and of their filthy and unnatural lusts, and as it were out of the fire of hell, of which they are in great danger:

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 (l). It was reckoned very dishonourable for religious persons, in the time of divine service, or on a sabbath day, to have on a garment spotted with any thing; if a priest's garments were spotted, and he performed service in them, that service was not right (m); and if a disciple of a wise man had any grease on his garments (on a sabbath day), he was guilty of death (n),

(l) Vid. Sueton. in Vita Neronis, c. 28. (m) T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 65. 2. & Zebachim, fol. 18. 2. & Piske Tosephot in Yoma, art. 9. & Maimon. Cele Hamikdash, c. 8. sect. 4. (n) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 114. 1.

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

(p) By fearing them and holding them back with godly severity.

(q) An amplification, taken from the forbidden things of the law which did defile.

Jude 1:23. σώζετε. Here again a word which is strictly applicable to God is transferred to him whom God uses as His instrument, cf. 1 Peter 4:11 and notes on τηρήσατε, ἐλέγχετε above, especially Jam 5:20, ὁ ἐπιστρέψας ἁμαρτωλὸν ἐκ πλάνης ὁδοῦ αὐτοῦ σώσει ψυχὴν ἐκ θανάτου.

ἐκ πυρὸς ἁρπάζοντες. The expression is borrowed from Amos 4:11, κατέστρεψα ὑμᾶς καθὼς κατέστρεψεν ὁ Θεὸς Σόδομα καὶ Γόμορρα, καὶ ἐγένεσθε ὡς δαλὸς ἐξεσπασμένος ἐκ πυρός, καὶ οὐδʼ ὣς ἐπεσπρέψατε πρός με, λέγει Κύριος, and Zechariah 3:3, οὐκ ἰδοὺ οὗτος δαλὸς ἐξεσπασμένος ἐκ πυρός; Both passages have further connexions with our epistle, the former from the reference to Sodom (see above Jude 1:7), the latter as following immediately on the words, ἐπιτιμήσαι σοι Κύριος quoted in Jude 1:9, and preceding a reference to filthy garments (see note below). In it the High Priest Joshua is a representative of Israel, saved like a brand from the captivity, which was the punishment of national sin. The image of fire is naturally suggested by the allusion to the punishment of Sodom in the passage of Amos, and of Korah (see above Jude 1:7) described in Numbers 16:35, Psalm 106:18, ἐξεκαύθη πῦρ ἐν τῇ συνα γωγῇ αὐτῶν καὶ φλὸξ κατέφλξεν ἁμαρτωλούς. The writer may also have had in mind St. Paul’s description of the building erected on the One Foundation (see above Jude 1:20), which, he says, will be tried by fire, 1 Corinthians 3:13-15, ἑκάστου τὸ ἔργον ὁ ποῖόν ἐστιν, τὸ πῦρ αὐτὸ δοκιμάσειεἴ τινος τὸ ἔργον κατακαήσεται, ζημιωθήσεται, αὐτὸς δὲ σωθήσεται, οὕτως δὲ ὡς διὰ πυρός. Such an one may be spoken of as “a brand snatched from the fire,” not however as here, saved from the fire of temptation, but as saved through the agency of God’s purgatorial fire, whether in this or in a future life.

ἐλεᾶτε ἐν φόβῳ. The faithful are urged to show all possible tenderness for the fallen, but at the same time to have a fear lest they themselves or others whom they influence should be led to think too lightly of the sin whose ravages they are endeavouring to repair. Cf. 2 Corinthians 7:1, καθαρίσωμεν ἑαυτοὺς ἀπὸ παντὸς μολυσμοῦ σαρκὸς καὶ πνεύματος ἐπιτελοῦντες ἁγιωσύνην ἐν φόβῳ Θεοῦ, Php 2:12, 1 Peter 1:17; 1 Peter 3:15. For the confusion of the contracted verbs in -έω and -άω in late Greek see Jannaris, § 850. § 854 f., Winer p. 104. The best MSS. read ἐλεᾷ in Proverbs 21:26, and ἐλεῶντος Romans 9:16, but ἐλεεῖ in Romans 9:18.

μισοῦντες καὶ τὸν ἀπὸ τῆς σαρκὸς ἐσπιλωμένον χιτῶνα. While it is the duty of the Christian to pity and pray for the sinner, he must view with loathing all that bears traces of the sin. The form of expression seems borrowed from such passages as Isaiah 30:22, Leviticus 15:17, perhaps too from Zechariah 3:4, Ἰησοῦς ἦν ἐνδεδυμένος ἱμάτια ῥυπαρά. Cf. Revelation 3:4, οὐκ ἐμόλυναν τὰ ἱμάτια αὐτῶν, and Apocal. Pauli quoted by Spitta, ὁ χιτών μου οὐκ ἐρυπώθη. The derivatives of σπίλος are peculiar to late Greek: the only other examples of σπιλόω in Biblical Greek are Jam 3:6, ἡ γλῶσσαἡ σπιλοῦσα ὅλον τὸ σῶμα and Wis 15:4, εἶδος σπιλωθὶν χρώμασι διηλλαγμένοις. Compare for the treatment of the erring 2 Timothy 2:25-26, ἐν πραΰτητι παιδεύοντα τοὺς ἀντιδιατιθεμένους, μήποτε δῷη αὐτοῖς ὁ Θεὸς μετάνοιαν εἰς ἐπίγνωσιν ἀληθείας, καὶ ἀνανήψωσιν ἐκ τῆς τοῦ διαβόλου παγίδος.

23. and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire] Here again the MSS. present a striking variation, those of most authority giving “others save, snatching them out of the fire, and have compassion on others with fear.” If we adopt this reading we have two classes of offenders brought before us, those who are to be saved as from the fire, as on the very verge of destruction, and those who are for some reason or other objects of a more tender pity, though they do not come within the range of immediate action. That pity, however, the context shews, was not to be accompanied by any tolerance of the evils into which they had fallen. In “snatching out of the fire” we have probably a reminiscence of the “brand plucked out of the fire” of Zechariah 3:2.

hating even the garment spotted by the flesh] The “garment” is the inner tunic worn next to the flesh, and therefore thought of as contaminated by its impurity, and it serves accordingly as a symbol of all outer habits of life that are affected by the inner foulness of the soul that is in bondage to the flesh. As men would loathe the touch of a defiled garment, bearing the stains of a cancerous ulcer, so they were to hate whatever was analogous to it in conduct (comp. Isaiah 30:22). The allusion to Zechariah 3:2 in the previous clause makes it probable that here also there is a reference to the “filthy garments;” polluted, i.e., with some ceremonial uncleanness, in which the high-priest Joshua the son of Josedech first appears in the prophet’s vision. In the benediction of Revelation 3:4 on those who “have not defiled their garments,” we have the same imagery.

Jude 1:23Snatching them out of the fire

The writer has in mind Zechariah 3:2, a brand plucked from the burning. Compare Amos 4:11.

With fear (ἐν φόβῳ)

Lit., in fear; i.e., of the contagion of sin while we are rescuing them.

Spotted (ἐσπιλωμένον)

Only here and James 3:6. See on 2 Peter 2:13.

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