But these speak evil of those things which they know not; but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.” — Jude 10
The Translation. Some translations of the text fail to stress its particles and the antithesis they express. This must be brought out. In order to do this, and so, to some extent, clarify and balance out the text, we translate as follows.
‘‘These, however, on the one hand, whatever things they know not, they blaspheme; on the other, whatever they understand naturally, like the animals without reason, in connection with these things, they perish.”
Here Jude in his own words repeats what Peter had written: ‘‘But these, as natural brute beasts (as natural animals without reason), made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption” (II Pet. 2:12).
Contrasts. In this verse Jude first in “but these” draws a contrast between the false brethren in the church and the archangel. He, indeed, earnestly contended for the faith, but in the modesty and humility befitting a holy angel. He did not take more upon himself than that which was right. He would not presume to “play God.” But these others were contemptuous of whatever did not fit in with their supposedly all-embracive world-and- life view. They ranted and raved in ridicule against whatever they had no room for in their thimble-sized brains. Then next Jude makes an additional contrast between one and another of their faults. In effect Jude is saying, On the one hand, they are profanely proud of their ignorance; on the other hand, they wickedly abuse to their destruction whatever knowledge they do have.
Blasphemy. These in their irreverence do indeed “speak evil” (rail, v. 8, 10), but the word is stronger than that. They do no less than to blaspheme. They blaspheme “dominion” (lord- ship), and “glories,” (God’s, Christ’s) divine attributes, and much more, in fact, whatever they do not know, that is, whatever does not come within the scope of their imagined comprehensive and supposedly exhaustive knowledge. “The natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (I Cor. 2:14). These natural men, not being spiritual men, have no spiritual understanding. They lack all spiritual sense. Spiritual things are beyond them. What is beyond their ken they deny. “Whatever my net can’t catch, ain’t fish.” In other words, whatever man’s mind, which is assumed to be the measure of all things, does not comprehend, does not exist. “There ain’t no such animal!” Bring spiritual things to their attention (heaven, for example) and they ridicule and scoff. Their swinish nature is to trample pearls under their feet. (Matt. 7:6). Now all this mockery and contempt is blasphemy.
On the other hand, whatever they do understand, they understand naturally, like the irrational animals that they are. It’s not spiritual things, but what the natural (unspiritual) mind is capable of —natural things —these things they understand, for it only takes natural knowledge, not spiritual, to do that. Man since the fall has glimmerings of natural knowledge, which means that his natural knowledge (the only knowledge he has) is, at best, fragmentary. But this knowledge does leave him with some (natural, not spiritual) knowledge of God. (Rom. 1:20). He has a natural knowledge of natural things. For example, he knows the difference between good and evil. But this natural knowledge of natural things is insufficient to bring him to saving, spiritual knowledge of God or of God’s creation. Furthermore, he cannot even use his knowledge rightly (he lacks wisdom, the ability to choose the most laudable ends, and the best means to accomplish them —Webster), because he also calumniates and curses “things natural and civil.” He damns not only spiritual things, but also everything in the natural sphere. With his naturalistic (and so called “scientific”) theory of evolution, he not only blasphemes God, but the highest
“product of evolution,” man. A wonder of “science”, man is an advance on the ape-pattern. This cannot be said to be ordinary natural knowledge, but is that knowledge polluted and perverted. He always corrupts whatever belongs to the field of natural knowledge. For one thing, he totally divorces that field from any connection with God it’s Creator, and from God’s interpretation of nature. That’s blasphemy! In this way, all his natural knowledge he holds down in the unrighteousness of his own (evolutionary) interpretation of things. He “speaks against” the doctrine of creation. (I Pet. 3:16, Gk.). That, too, is blasphemy. By all this blasphemy of his he becomes inexcusable before God. He also goes to ruin, like the unbelieving Israelites, the rebel angels and the vile Sodomites. In connection with these natural things, since he has no connection with God, he perishes! For any man who has no more than a natural knowledge, who has no spiritual (knowledge) interpretation of all reality, he cannot make a right use of his knowledge, and so all his knowledge and thinking are profane. All that is left for him is ruin; he perishes.
Deniers. Jude here warns us against these apostates who “speak evil of things which they know not,” or to put the text as strongly as it actually stands, they blaspheme whatever things they know not. They castigate the things they regard as unknowable; for instance, the Being of God and the matter of a revelation from God. They will not admit to any ignorance. They are men of science and philosophy who believe man capable of absolute comprehension of knowledge. Man can do anything he wants to do, go anywhere in the universe he wishes and know anything worth knowing. The Pharisees, as we mentioned, had contempt for the doctrine of angels. Such beings cannot possibly exist, have no place in their body of divinity, because they will not fit in with what they regard as the total sphere of reality. Some are so hardened against the ways of God as to stand against the institution of the church and the means of grace, giving no place to the preaching of the Word, nor to the administration of the sacraments. These are conceived as no more than subjective mental projections within one’s individual meditations. Others speak reproachfully of the offices which God has set in the church, not knowing, or refusing to know who has a right to the office, who has right to rule in office, and wherein lies the source of authority for any office. Many use intemperate language in condemning civil government, revealing that they do not believe they have the responsibility of submission to the powers that be. Especially maintain two particular attributes of the church, namely, its Christianity and its holiness, and they will snarl and roar their disapproval. Hold uncompromisingly that Sodom is totally outside the church and absolutely must be kept out, and an insane wrath must be expected to flame out against anyone and any church taking such a stand. These apostates are incorrigibly obstinate in their ignorance. They refuse to know what they have a mind to hate. They are so desperately opposed to the truth that they will not face it nor receive its presentation to them. Since they will not have it, their hatred of the truth is without knowledge. They will not have it! they will not stand for it! Like the Dickens character, Mr. Podsnap, when it comes to the reality of anything they do not want to face, they will with a
violent wave of their hand behind their back sweep it out of existence exclaiming, “It just can’t be! I won’t have it!” That’s Podsnappery for you, and that’s evil speaking of the realities they refuse to recognize. Christian Science is a graphic example of “Podsnappery.” A little child falls to the concrete pavement to take a hard bump on the face. Its Christian Science mother merely looks back to call, “Oh, never mind! You’re not hurt, so don’t think you are!’’ (Science and Health . . .1922, p. 154f). So they not only hate the truth without knowledge, but against knowledge.
Heretics. In the apostles’ day, “the word (doctrine) of the Cross’’ was accounted “foolishness,’’ by the sophisticated Greeks, those who know least of it. Nero made the Christian religion illicit by his imperial interdict because he chose not to hear it. But when they of Caesar’s household heard it, they could not hate it. They are the devil’s dupes who, when God’s Book is brought up, suspect rather than search, and condemn it out of ignorance. Romanists, Arminians and other errorists always have and still do speak evil of the truth of unconditional election. They hold that “faith, the obedience of faith, holiness, godliness and perseverance are not fruits of the unchangeable election to glory, but are ‘conditions’ which, being required beforehand, were foreseen as being met by those who will be fully elected. . .’’ The heretic-blasphemers who in ages past troubled the churches were the Jews, Mohammedans, some false Christians as Marcion, Manes, Sabellius, Arius, Pelagius, Arminius and many others justly condemned by the orthodox fathers. They had their complicated intricacies, their disguised, devious and horribly offensive misrepresentations of the gospel which they continually charged against the Reformed churches.
Warning. The sound, orthodox, faithful churches must warn “calumniators. . .to consider the terrible judgment of God which awaits them (v. 10c, Gk., ‘in connection with these things, they perish!’) for bearing false witness against the Confessions (v. 10a, Gk., ‘they blaspheme’). . .for distressing the consciences of the weak, and for laboring to render suspect (as heretics, RCH) the society of the truly faithful.” (Conclusion to the Canons of Dordrecht). For these enemies of the truth will on any pretext, continue violently to assail and debase and degrade by slander the doctrine of the Reformed churches. “May Jesus Christ, the Son of God. . .shut the mouths of the calumniators of sound doctrine and endue the faithful minister of His Word with the Spirit of wisdom.” (ibid.).