Let’s continue with our time in Jude, by reading our next two verses.
Jude 1:6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day–
Jude 1:7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
Our first verse speaks of angels not staying within their position of authority. They had been given a position of authority, and by their own volition decided to abandon a position they had always had.
Jude describes their action with two verbs.
This term may also be translated as did not keep. When I see this term, I automatically think of “guarding” something. It is the term tēreō (τηρέω) and is used in many ways, of which include the manner Herod restrained Peter when he placed him in jail. He “guarded” the jail, in order to restrict Peter from escaping. It is also used multiple times of how Jesus has “kept” His disciples, guarding them from destruction in John 17:12.
John 17:12 ESV – While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.
Sometimes this term refers to “keeping” or “guarding” the commands of Christ given to believers. An example such as
John 14:21 ESV – Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Jude uses this term four times in his short book, the first verse of his epistle speaking of the believers being kept for (or by) Jesus.
Jude 1:1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
The last verse of his epistle places responsibility on the believer, keeping ourselves in the love of God.
Jude 1:21 ESV – keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
With that short review, we see that these angels did not keep (or guard) their position, they did not value their privilege. This speaks to their estimation of grace they had received from the Lord, in His granting them a position of authority. They did not value the grace that was bestowed upon them.
This term is apoleipō (ἀπολείπω), and is used only 6 times in the New Testament. It speaks to something being left behind, of something that is abandoned. Paul uses the term in 2 Tim 4:13 when he refers to a cloak, and some books and parchments he left with Carpus in Troas.
2 Timothy 4:13 When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.
The author of Hebrews speaks of a rest in Hebrews 4:8 that has been left behind for believers.
Hebrews 4:8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day later on.
The author of Hebrews also uses it in the negative sense when he speaks in Hebrews 10:26, referring to the great sacrifice our Lord provided.
Hebrews 10:26 ESV – For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
No other sacrifice is available, no other option other than the one sacrifice provided through the Lamb of God. There is nothing left behind that is available for the one seeking to know God. All other options are abandoned and to be jettisoned from our thinking as of any merit!
So the angels left, abandoned and forsook their first estate. Why is Jude using this example of a created being actively abandoning a position of grace to enter into judgement?
A warning? Of course, but is this example an “apples to apples” comparison with a believer’s potential experience? Is he being somewhat hyperbolic, frivolous or extending a threat in using this warning when applied to believers who many teach are eternally secure?
I mentioned the angels actively abandoning a position of grace above. As you may remember, I use Blue Letter Bible as my default study tool and for good reason, since it is very intuitive and provides the tools that assist me in my writing. One of those tools is Greek parsing, which identifies properties within each verb of the text.
Looking at the verb “left” in our verse, the following parsing comes up.
Note the description of the voice as being active. For a verse to have the active voice, this signifies the subject as the doer of the action. In this verse, the angels abandoned their estate. They were not acted upon, as if they were kicked out of their estate, but the angels performed this action of abandonment.
As a matter of fact, this voice is also used when Jude speaks of the angels not “keeping” their first estate above. Both actions, that of not keeping, and that of abandoning, were actions the angels executed.
How does Jude expect us to interpret this, for if we are eternally secure, this example of the angels abandoning their first estate seems to not quite be applicable. Is Jude bringing this example up simply to warn of judgement for the lost? Possibly, yet it seems he labors the concept of the angels having a good thing and walking away, with the resultant judgement coming to get them!
Jude continues with using Sodom and Gomorrah as a similar example of indulging in sexual immorality. Is Jude referring to the angels here, for there is no mention of the specific sin they chased after in their abandonment of their grace. I think not, but Jude does refer to the ungodly people in verse 4 as changing the grace of God into sensuality. I think Jude is reaching back to verse 4 when he brings up the topic of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The judgement the cities of Sodom underwent is an example of that which these ungodly people within the body will experience.
As an aside, it is interesting that the removal of all believers from Sodom and Gomorrah is spoken of often in the Word, and that all true believers (although few) were rescued from the judgment that fell on the region. But I don’t see where this verse addresses our topic of a believers security.
In conclusion, the example Jude uses of the angels leaving their estate brings our current topic of conditional security to the forefront, and is provided for my reader to consider. No matter where my gentle reader may land on this topic, it is only right to remember that our God is a covenant keeping God and that in every instance where we may think He has abandoned us, we are mistaken! He is actively keeping us, guarding us from destruction.
As believers, we need to seek His will, conform to His nature, and look to be like Him. In the discipline of seeking Him, of understanding His grace to us and appreciating His constant care for us, we will be careful in not estimating His love for us as less than it is, chasing after some alternative as the angels above did. And coming into destruction.
He is good all the time!
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