Jude 11 – Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion.
Jude could be viewed as one of the most negative books of the New Testament, but his negativity is out of love for God’s people (he calls them “beloved”) in order to warn them of “wolves” in the church trying to harm the “sheep” or those who love and serve God.
In this part of the book, he gives more negative examples from Scripture where apostates (false believers) wreaked havoc in their lives and the lives of others.
Jude’s first negative example is Cain from Genesis 4. Like false believers in the church, Cain was supposed to love like a brother but ended up being a murderer.
The brothers Cain and Abel worked as a farmer and herdsmen, which are both honorable trades. As acts of worship, the brothers both brought offerings to the Lord, but the Lord rejected Cain’s offering and received Abel’s.
This greatly angered Cain and the Lord warned Cain to control his anger lest it consume him and lead him into sin, the very thing that happened and resulted in a murder between the only two brothers on the earth. Jude’s warning is that sometimes “brothers” in the church are murders like Cain.
Jude’s second negative example is “Balaam’s error” (see Numbers 22-24). God became angry with Balaam because he was willing to be a false prophet and proclaim lies because he got paid well. In every age, false prophets are motived by false profits. The underlying sin is greed from lovers of money.
Jude’s third negative example is “Korah’s rebellion” (see Numbers 16). Korah rebelled against Moses, with no regard for his spiritual authority given from God. Jude is warning that some people in the church were just like Korah, defiant of God and godly leadership.
The underlying sins are pride and independence, which lead to rebellion and an insurrection. This is the same course of action as Satan and demons who led the first rebellion after which Korah modeled his rebellion.
One Bible commentator says, “When Jude sat down to compose his letter, he wanted to write about salvation, but felt compelled to caution his audience about false teachers who had slipped into their congregation (v. 3–4). His descriptions paint a scathing portrait of these spiritual charlatans. Stealthy and crafty, they presented themselves as bearers of the good news. Defensive walls wouldn’t have helped the community Jude addressed, because these leaders were already inside.” (1)
To learn more about these negative examples, read Cain’s story in Genesis 4, Hebrews 11:4, and 1 John 3:12-13; read about Balaam’s error in Numbers 22-24; and read about Korah’s rebellion in Numbers 16.
- John D. Barry and Miles Custis, 2 Peter & Jude: Contend for the Faith, Not Your Average Bible Study (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2014), 5.
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