In a comment to a post about Calvinism, PuritanLad suggested that Jude 4 supports Calvinism. Apparently, he offered it as evidence of double predestination -- the belief that God not only unconditionally predestines some people to heaven but that he unconditionally predestines the rest of humanity to hell. Setting aside the ultimate merits of this doctrine, what are the merits of using Jude 4 to support Calvinism?
Here is the relevant verse:
For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Apparently, PuritanLad understands this verse to mean that God specifically ordained and caused some people to pervert the Gospel and work hard to turn people away from Christ. I find this problematic from a few different perspectives. It seems to be counterintuitive in light of other verses. Is God really working against His efforts of salvation? Jesus seemed to argue against such a notion in a debate with the Pharisees.
But He knew their thoughts and said to them, "Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and a house divided against itself falls."
James also seems eager to avoid casting God as standing as an obstacle to His own people.
Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.
Nevertheless, perhaps that is what Jude says and there are ways to reconcile the above verses with it. Proper exegesis of Jude 4, however, renders such attempts unnecessary at this point.
The passage is somewhat awkward and "bristles with difficulties." Richard Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, page 35. The term translated "marked out" in the NAU -- progegrammenoi -- literally means "to write before." Joseph H. Thayer, Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, page 538. It can also emphasize to make public or to designate clearly. William D. Mounce, The Analystical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament, page 390. You can see its usage in Romans 15:3 and even in Ephesians 3:3 where Paul is referring to something he wrote about earlier in his letter. This is not the word used by Paul -- proorizo -- in other letters to mean "presdestined."
Perhaps more to the point is what it is that Jude emphasizes was written about long ago. It is not the actions of the false teachers, per se, but "this condemnation." What is "this condemnation"? God's judgment on the ungodly. Jude writes about the condemnation typologically in vs. 5-8 where he recounts the judgment inflicted on the rebellious among the Jews after leaving Egypt, fallen angels, and Sodom and Gomorrah. Jude emphasizes this comparison in v. 7 by noting that "in the same way" these false teachers reject authority. Jude goes on in later verses with further examples of people being judged for their immoral and rebellious actions. The condemnation is God's judgment on these false teachers, which they deserve and have brought upon themselves by their actions. (v. 10, "by these things they are destroyed" and v. 15, "to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way").
That Jude is speaking about the prophesied judgment of the false teachers is reinforced by his use of the example in the Book of Enoch when Enoch "prophesied" about the judgment of "all of the ungodly." The emphasis on the condemnation, judgment, fate -- if you will -- that will befall those who are false teachers. Nothing about this passage states that God predestines certain men to lead other men away from God. He knows some will and has stated what will happen to them.
Why? Why does Jude feel it necessary to emphasize the judgment of false teachers?
Not to comfort his readers with the assurance that all is happening according to God's plan -- though this may be an incidential effect. Still less is he indulging in mere denunciation. The point is to prove that the libertine teaching and practice of these people puts them into a class of people who, according to Scripture, incur God's wrath and condemnation, and that therefore they constitute a severe danger, which Jude's readers must resist, to the churches.
Bauckham, op. cit., page 41.
So, in fact, Jude 4 does not support the doctrine of double predestination. Of course, others may. Or may not.