14. And Enoch also. I rather think that this prophecy was unwritten, than that it was taken from an apocryphal book; for it may have been delivered down by memory to posterity by the ancients. 1 Were any one to ask, that since similar sentences occur in many parts of Scripture, why did he not quote a testimony written by one of the prophets? the answer is obvious, that he wished to repeat from the oldest antiquity what the Spirit had pronounced respecting them: and this is what the words intimate; for he says expressly that he was the seventh from Adam, in order to commend the antiquity of the prophecy, because it existed in the world before the flood.
But I have said that this prophecy was known to the Jews by being reported; but if any one thinks otherwise, I will not contend with him, nor, indeed, respecting the epistle itself, whether it be that of Jude or of some other. In things doubtful, I only follow what seems probable.
Behold, the Lord cometh, or came. The past tense, after the manner of the prophets, is used for the future. He says, that the Lord would come with ten thousand of his saints; 2 and by saints he means the faithful as well as angels; for both will adorn the tribunal of Christ, when he shall descend to judge the world. He says, ten thousand, as Daniel also mentions myriads of angels, (Daniel 7:10;) in order that, the multitude of the ungodly may not, like a violent sea, overwhelm the children of God; but that they may think of this, that the Lord will sometime collect his own people, a part of whom are dwelling in heaven, unseen by us, and a part are hid under a great mass of chaff.
But the vengeance suspended over the wicked ought to keep the elect in fear and watchfulness. He speaks of deeds and words, Because their corrupters did much evil, not only by their wicked life, but also by their impure and false speech. And their words were hard, on account of the refractory audacity, by which, being elated, they acted insolently. 3
16. These are murmurers. They who indulge their depraved lusts, are hard to please, and morose, so that they are never satisfied. Hence it is, that they always murmur and complain, however kindly good men may treat them. 4 He condemns their proud language, because they haughtily made a boast of themselves; but at the same time he shews that they were mean in their disposition, for they were servilely submissive for the sake of gain. And, commonly, this sort of inconsistency is seen in unprincipled men of this kind. When there is no one to check their insolence, or when there is nothing that stands in their way, their pride is intolerable, so that they imperiously arrogate everything to themselves; but they meanly flatter those whom they fear, and from whom they expect some advantage. He takes persons as signifying eternal greatness and power.
1 This is the most common opinion. There is no evidence of such a book being known for some time after this epistle was written; and the book so called was probably a forgery, occasioned by this reference to Enoch's prophecy. See Macknight's Preface to this Epistle. Until of late, it was supposed to be lost; but in 1821, the late Archbishop Laurence, having found an Ethiopia version of it, published it with a translation. -- Ed.
2 Literally, "with his holy myriads." -- Ed
3 There seems to be a want of due order in the 15th verse; the execution of judgment is mentioned first, and then the conviction of the ungodly; but it is an order which exactly corresponds with numberless passages in Scripture: the final action first, and then that which lends to it. -- Ed.
4 We may render the words " Grumblers and fault-finders" that is, as the word means, with their own lot: they grumbled or murmured against others, and were discontented with their own condition; and yet walked in such a way (that is, in indulging their lusts,) as made their lot worse and occasioned still more grumbling. -- Ed.
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