Enoch was a great man. He was the seventh generation from Adam and the father of Methuselah the oldest man ever to live, yet he died before his father. Enoch holds the distinction of being one of only two people ever to live on this earth who never died. Enoch walked with God. He lived by faith in God. God was so moved by Enoch’s life of faith and his walk with Him that “He took him” directly to heaven without Enoch passing through death. Elijah was the only other person to have this experience and his was done in a powerful way before Elisha the prophet.
Genesis didn’t record anything that Enoch said nor did any other Old Testament writer. The writer of Hebrews pulled Enoch out as an example of living by faith. But Jude told of something no other inspired writer mentioned. “It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.’ These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.”(Jude 14-16)
What makes this quotation strange is that it is quoted from the Book of Enoch an apocryphal book written during the intertestamental period between the close of the Old Testament and the opening of the New. Like many books written during this time the author took the name of some well known person to give some credibility to their message. It wasn’t seen then as an inspired book and wasn’t regarded as being from Enoch. So, was Jude mistaken in attributing the words to Enoch the seventh from Adam? Did he think Enoch wrote I Enoch? Was he just mistaken?
The quotation has caused a lot of confusion all through the years. Some argued that Jude was uninspired because he used the quotation and attributed it to Enoch. Some have said that the Book of Enoch must be inspired since Jude quoted it? The fact Jude quoted the statement doesn’t imply the Book of Enoch was inspired any more Paul’s quoting different poets meant they were inspired. It does indicate that what had been said was true. The most likely explanation seems to me to be that among the Jews the quotation from Enoch had been passed down through the generations and the writer of the book of Enoch had included a quotation that was commonly recognized as something that Enoch had prophesied. Jude quoted the words from Enoch that had also been quoted by the Book of Enoch. It didn’t mean the book was right about everything, but that this quote was right.
The correct focus isn’t so much on where he got the quote as it is on what the message from Enoch was about. Enoch was thinking about people like these false teachers when he foretold the judgement of the ungodly. He had foretold the second coming of Jesus in judgment. Compare how Jude described the second coming with what Jesus said in Matthew 25:31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another.” Then in I Thessalonians 4:13-18 Paul foretold the second coming by saying that “God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” Jude’s message is the same as Jesus and Paul’s that when the Lord comes again He will bring with Him the angels and those who have died in Christ.
When Jesus comes again it will be to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way and all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him. Jude’s point is that these false teachers who have come into the church may fool the people and lead members of the body off into their errors, but they won’t fool the Lord and won’t escape His judgment.
Jude describes these ungodly teachers are “Grumbler’s, finding fault”. Instead of building up the church, they are ones who tear down the body by tearing down those who differ with them. Paul said in Philippians 2:14, 15 “Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you may prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” Grumbling, complaining, faultfinding doesn’t benefit the church but tears it apart.
Jude said they are “Following their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.” They weren’t submissive to the Lord but lived by passions. Flatterers don’t worry about truth, but look for ways to get the upper hand and take control of others. When teachers are more concerned about having control over other people’s thinking than they are about the truth they cause only problems.
As God’s church and teachers in it, we need to always be aware that judgment is coming. The Lord judges by truth, righteousness and God’s will. Let’s be ready when it comes.