In Jude 1:5 we heard the sobering word that after the Exodus God destroyed those coming out of Egypt who did not believe. The theme of judgement continues in v. 6. God has authority to judge not only men but also the angels.
Jude assumes an underlying narrative that we must admit we know little about. At some point in history, in an incident not clearly described in Scripture, some of the angels apparently rebelled against God’s good design by not keeping "their proper domain." Some speculate that passages like Isaiah 14:12-14 (beginning, "How you have fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!") refer to this cosmic, angelic rebellion. This may be, but we must be careful not to tread beyond the sure boundaries of Scripture into unfruitful speculation. The Bible does not tell us everything we possibly could know. It tells us everything we need to know to make us "wise for salvation" (2 Tim 3:15).
Whatever the circumstances of their rebellion, it is clear that God soon subdued these rebel angels, and that he holds them for a final day of judgement. They are "reserved in everlasting chains under darkness" awaiting "the judgement of the great day." In 2 Peter 2:4 we likewise read that "God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell [Tartarus] and delivered them into the chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgement."
The warning Jude impresses upon his hearers is that the false teachers, "certain men who have crept in unnoticed" (v. 4), face a similar fate as the rebellious angels. If God did not spare angels, he will not spare men. These false teachers have also left their "proper domain." They distort the truth of God. Their end will be judgement at the "great day" (likely a reference to the second coming of Christ, described as "the day of Jesus Christ" in Phil 1:6 and "the day of the Lord" in 1 Thess 5:2 and 2 Peter 3:10).
In addition to this dire warning, the believer may also breathe a sigh of relief. Thanks to the righteous life and atoning death of Christ, "God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thess 5:9).
- If God did not spare these angels, why would he save sinful men?
- Have you ever considered that at the time of Jesus’ second coming, not only men but also angels will be judged by Christ? Are you ready to stand before the judgement seat of Christ (see Rom 14:10; 2 Cor 5:10)?
(Evangel article 8/2/07)