Spots in Your Love Feasts

I. Jude describes the evil people as “spots in your feasts of charity.”

A. The term for “spots” can be misunderstood.

1. The word is SPILAS, which means “hidden rock” (shoals)

a. It is most often connected with reefs or shoals hidden under water in secular Greek literature
b. It is only used this one time in the New Testament

2. The similar word, SPILOS, describes ungodly men as “spots and blemishes” (2 Peter 2:13).

a. James notes that the tongue “defileth the whole body” (James 3:6)
b. Paul tells us that Christ will present the church to Himself “not having spot or wrinkle” (Ephesians 5:27)

B. The phrase “feasts of charity” is difficult to explain.

1. The phrase is a rather free translation of the word AGAPE in plural form.

a. It only appears in the plural this one time.
b. It is connected to the idea of “feasts” by association.
1) Jude continues the verse with “when they feast with you…”
2) Peter seems to deal with the same subject (2 Peter 2:13) noting that the “spots and blemishes…..feast with you.”
c. It is said that Paul alludes to a “love feast” in 1 Corinthians 11:20-22.

2. The phrase may have another application, indicated by Jude’s word choices.

a. The word for “feast” in the parallel phrase is SUNEUOCHEOMAI.
1) The basic translation is “to fare well together.” It is extended to “feasts” by implication.
2) The word is used elsewhere only in 2 Peter 2:13.
b. The New Testament contains two other words for “feast.”
1) DEIPNON means “the chief meal” and comes from a word that means “expensive” and is used of the “Lord’s supper” (1 Corinthians 11:20).
2) HEORTE means “festival” or “holy day.”

C. The additional description of “feeding themselves” requires close scrutiny.

1. The word is POIMAININTES, a participial form of the word for “pastor” or “shepherd.”

2. The verb from which the participle is formed is used by others.

a. Jesus told Peter to “feed my sheep” (John 21:16).
b. Paul told the elders to “feed the church of God” (Acts 20:28).
c. Peter told the elders to “feed the flock of God” (1 Peter 5:2).

3. The use of the main noun form (POIMEN) is significant.

a. Christ calls Himself the “shepherd of the sheep” (John 10:2).
b. Paul identifies the gift of “pastors” (Ephesians. 4:11).

4. The use of secondary noun forms is instructive.

a. POIMNE is used of a flock of sheep (I Corinthians 9:7; Luke 2:8).
b. POIMNION is only used of the church flock (Luke 12:32; Acts 20:28-29; 1 Peter 5:2-3).

5. The form and context of Jude require a specific application.

a. The men are “shepherding (pastoring, feeding) themselves.”
b. The men are enjoying a favored relationship among the Christians (compare 2 Timothy 4:3-4).

D. The words TAIS AGAPAIS HUMON (translated “feasts of charity”) mean “the loves of yours.”

1. That is rough English, but proper Greek.

2. That has no grammatical or etymological connection to “feast” at all.

3. That has sparse historical and/or biblical connection at best.

E. The words should refer to the various aspects of Christian love.

1. We are to love one another (John 13:35).

2. We are to do all things with love (1 Corinthians 16:14).

3. We are to serve others in love (Galatians 5:13).

4. We are to forbear in love (Ephesians 4:2).

5. We are to speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

6. We are to walk in love (Ephesians 5:2).

7. We are to be unified in love (Philippians 2:2).

8. We are to encourage good works by love (Hebrews 10:24).

II. The words chosen by Jude seem to require a more restrictive usage.

A. The common words for “feast” were not used.

B. The other use by Peter (2 Peter 2:13) does not require banqueting.

1. He is speaking about the evil lifestyle of “false prophets also among the people” (2 Peter 2:1).

2. He is pointing out that the Christians are permitting these evil men to “fare well with you” (my translation of SUNEUOCHEOMAI in 2 Peter 2:13)

a. The idea of “faring well” fits better with the overall theme of Jude.
1) He is warning of the cleverness of the evil men.
2) He is using a series of figurative illustrations to describe the deceptive nature of the evil men.
b. The specific alert to the Christians that the ungodly men were “pastoring themselves” while “faring well among you” is in harmony with the message. The fact that no Biblical data demands a “feast of charity” is supportive of another application.

III. Jude also describes the evil people as “clouds without water.”

 A. This seems to be the only direct simile between “clouds” and people.

1. The closest possible use is of the “clouds of witnesses” in Hebrews 12:1.

2. The parallel use in 2 Peter 2:17 is negative as well.

B. This demands an understanding of the symbolism.

  1. Clouds, when mentioned outside the normal function of atmospheric indicators (rain, storms, etc.) are most often associated with the presence or work of God.

a. God directed Israel with a cloud (Exodus 13:21).
b. God appeared to Moses out of a cloud (Exodus 16:10).
c. God demonstrated His presence in the tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38) and the temple (1 Kings 8:10-11) by a cloud.
d. God spoke out of a cloud to the Apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5).
e. Christ was taken up to His Father in a cloud (Acts 1:9).
f. Christ will return “coming in a cloud” (Luke 21:27).

2. Water, when used figuratively of the Lord’s work, seems to denote either purity or positive, life-giving values.

a. It was required for cleansing the sacrifices (Leviticus 1:9, 13, etc.).
b. It was required for cleansing the priests themselves (Leviticus 8:6, etc.).
c. It was required for personal cleansing (Leviticus 15:5-27, etc.).
d. It is used as a figure for spiritual nourishment (Psalm 1:3).
e. It is used of salvation (Isaiah 12:3, etc.).
f. It is used of the Lord’s blessing (Isaiah 44:1-4, etc.)
g. It is used of the purging of the Lord (Ezekiel 36:25-27).
h. It is used of eternal life (John 4:10-14).
i. It is used of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39).
j. It is used of the purifying effect of the Word (Ephesians 5:26).
k. Its negative use is always connected with evil.
1) David longs to find God (Psalm 63:1).
2) Isaiah identifies those judged (Isaiah 1:28-30).
3) Jeremiah describes unfaithful Christians (Jeremiah 2:13).
4) Peter parallels Jude’s warning (2 Peter 2:17).

III. This presents a striking picture of the ungodly men.

A. They should be identifying either the presence or the ministry of God (the clouds).  They are not.

1. This would parallel the language used by Jude about their “pastoring themselves.”

2. This would also parallel the implied leadership role played by these ungodly men.

B. They should be giving out purifying, life-giving, Christ-honoring information (the water).  They are not.

C. They are further described as “carried about of winds.”

1. That idea most frequently describes two conditions.

a. It is a symbol of adversity (Matthew 7:25-27).
b. It is a symbol of personal whim (Matthew 11:7; Luke 7:24).

2. That idea fits well into the overall picture.

a. These men do not stand the test when affliction or persecution arises for the Word’s sake (Mark 4:17).
b. These men are driven “to and fro” by false doctrine (Ephesians 4:14; Hebrews 13:9).
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