The Meaning of Jude 1:12 Explained

Jude 1:12

KJV: These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

YLT: These are in your love-feasts craggy rocks; feasting together with you, without fear shepherding themselves; clouds without water, by winds carried about; trees autumnal, without fruit, twice dead, rooted up;

Darby: These are spots in your love-feasts, feasting together with you without fear, pasturing themselves; clouds without water, carried along by the winds; autumnal trees, without fruit, twice dead, rooted up;

ASV: These are they who are hidden rocks in your love-feasts when they feast with you, shepherds that without fear feed themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn leaves without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

What does Jude 1:12 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Five more illustrations, this time from nature, emphasize the seriousness of the false teachers" error ( Jude 1:12-13).
A coral reef that lies hidden under the surface of the water can tear the bottom off a ship if it unsuspectingly runs into it. Likewise the false teachers could ruin a local church. They threatened the moral shipwreck of others. That some of the false teachers were believers or at least professing believers seems certain since they were participating in the love-feast, the most intimate service of worship the early church practiced. The love-feast was a communal meal that included observance of the Lord"s Supper (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:17-22). "Caring for themselves" highlights the apostates" self-centeredness (cf. Ezekiel 34:2; Ezekiel 34:8; Isaiah 56:11; John 10:12-13).
"Jude seems . . . to mean that these men insisted on participating in these love-feasts, not to express mutual love and concern but to gratify their own appetites." [1]
Like clouds the false teachers attracted attention to themselves and promised refreshment, but they proved to be all show and no substance (cf. Proverbs 25:14). In Palestine summer clouds often add to the humidity and consequently make the intense heat even more unbearable.
"To follow such men would result in being led astray from the path of truth and purity." [2]
Farmers often dig trees that bear no fruit out of the ground. The false teachers bore no spiritual fruit and were incapable of bearing spiritual fruit; they were twice dead (cf. Psalm 52:5; Proverbs 2:22; Jeremiah 1:10; John 15:1-6). Another view is that twice dead means dead through and through. [3] A third view is that it means dead in reality as well as in appearance. [4] A fourth view is that it means presently dead in sin and destined for eternal death. [5] An uprooted tree is an Old Testament symbol of divine judgment (cf. Psalm 52:5; Proverbs 2:22; Jeremiah 1:10). "Autumn" is literally late autumn in the Greek text, a detail that shows Jude believed he and his readers were living in the last days before the Lord"s return. This viewpoint was common among the New Testament writers (cf. Romans 13:11; 1 Peter 4:7; 1 Timothy 4:1; 1 John 2:18). Late autumn was the time when trees would have had no leaves much less fruit on their branches. [6]
"These men give no evidence of ever having been regenerated." [7]

Context Summary

Jude 1:12-25 - Beware Of The Touch Of The Ungodly
What traps and pitfalls beset us! How many have fallen who had as good or a better chance than we! The angels kept not their first estate; Adam, though created in innocency, fell; Cain was rejected; Balaam, who saw with open eyes, was slain; Korah, who had carried a censer filled with holy fire, was hurled into the abyss! How can we expect to stand! Be of good cheer! He is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless, Judges 1:24.
In the succession of terrible metaphors in Judges 1:12-13, notice that in each case there is promise without fulfillment and appearance without reality. Such is much of the Christian profession of the present day. And from time to time, as Enoch foretold, the day of the Lord comes, with its retribution for all such.
The four exquisite admonitions of Judges 1:20-21 are worth pondering. Keep yourselves in the main current of God's love. Build your character after the likeness of Christ. Pray in the Holy Spirit; keep at the oriel window of hope. Christ is able to keep, and when at last we are presented by Him to the Father, we shall realize how much we owe Him [source]

Chapter Summary: Jude 1

1  He exhorts them to be constant in the profession of the faith
4  false teachers crept in to seduce them, for whose evil doctrine a horrible punishment is prepared;
20  whereas the godly may persevere, grow in grace, and keep the faith

Greek Commentary for Jude 1:12

Hidden rocks [σπιλαδες]
Old word for rocks in the sea (covered by the water), as in Homer, here only in N.T. 2 Peter 2:13 has σπιλοι — spiloi Undoubtedly the correct text here, though A C have απαταις — apatais as in 2 Peter 2:14. For disorder at the Lord‘s Supper (and love-feasts?) see 1 Cor 11:17-34. The Gnostics made it worse, so that the love-feasts were discontinued. [source]
When they feast with you [συνευωχουμενοι]
See 2 Peter 2:13 for this very word and form. Masculine gender with ουτοι οι — houtoi hoi rather than with the feminine σπιλαδες — spilades Cf. Revelation 11:4. Construction according to sense.Shepherds that feed themselves (εαυτους ποιμαινοντες — heautous poimainontes). “Shepherding themselves.” Cf. Revelation 7:17 for this use of ποιμαινω — poimainō Clouds without water (νεπελαι ανυδροι — nephelai anudroi). Νεπελη — Nephelē common word for cloud (Matthew 24:30). 2 Peter 2:17 has πηγαι ανυδροι — pēgai anudroi (springs without water) and then ομιχλαι — homichlai (mists) and ελαυνομεναι — elaunomenai (driven) rather than περιπερομεναι — peripheromenai here (borne around, whirled around, present passive participle of περιπερω — peripherō to bear around), a powerful picture of disappointed hopes.Autumn trees Late adjective (Aristotle, Polybius, Strabo) from πτινω — phthinō to waste away, and οπωρα — opōra autumn, here only in N.T. For ακαρπα — akarpa (without fruit) see 2 Peter 1:8.Twice dead (δις αποτανοντα — dis apothanonta). Second aorist active participle of αποτνησκω — apothnēskō Fruitless and having died. Having died and also “uprooted” (εκριζωτεντα — ekrizōthenta). First aorist passive participle of εκριζοω — ekrizoō late compound, to root out, to pluck up by the roots, as in Matthew 13:29. [source]
Shepherds that feed themselves [εαυτους ποιμαινοντες]
“Shepherding themselves.” Cf. Revelation 7:17 for this use of ποιμαινω — poimainō Clouds without water Νεπελη — Nephelē common word for cloud (Matthew 24:30). 2 Peter 2:17 has πηγαι ανυδροι — pēgai anudroi (springs without water) and then ομιχλαι — homichlai (mists) and ελαυνομεναι — elaunomenai (driven) rather than περιπερομεναι — peripheromenai here (borne around, whirled around, present passive participle of περιπερω — peripherō to bear around), a powerful picture of disappointed hopes. [source]
Autumn trees [δενδρα πτινοπωρινα]
Late adjective (Aristotle, Polybius, Strabo) from πτινω — phthinō to waste away, and οπωρα — opōra autumn, here only in N.T. For ακαρπα — akarpa (without fruit) see 2 Peter 1:8.Twice dead (δις αποτανοντα — dis apothanonta). Second aorist active participle of αποτνησκω — apothnēskō Fruitless and having died. Having died and also “uprooted” (εκριζωτεντα — ekrizōthenta). First aorist passive participle of εκριζοω — ekrizoō late compound, to root out, to pluck up by the roots, as in Matthew 13:29. [source]
Twice dead [δις αποτανοντα]
Second aorist active participle of αποτνησκω — apothnēskō Fruitless and having died. Having died and also “uprooted” First aorist passive participle of εκριζοω — ekrizoō late compound, to root out, to pluck up by the roots, as in Matthew 13:29. [source]
Spots [σπιλάδες]
Only here in New Testament. So rendered in A. V., because understood as kindred to σπῖλοι (2 Peter 2:13); but rightly, as Rev., hidden rocks. So Homer, (“Odyssey,” iii., 298), “the waves dashed the ship against the rocks ( σπιλάδεσσιν ).” See on deceivings, 2 Peter 2:13. These men were no longer mere blots, but elements of danger and wreck. [source]
When they feast with you []
See on 2 Peter 2:13. [source]
Feeding [ποιμαίνοντες]
See on 1 Peter 5:2. Lit., shepherding themselves; and so Rev., shepherds that feed themselves; further their own schemes and lusts instead of tending the flock of God. Compare Isaiah 56:11. [source]
Without fear [ἀφόβως]
Of such judgments as visited Ananias and Sapphira. Possibly, as Lumby suggests, implying a rebuke to the Christian congregations for having suffered such practices. [source]
Clouds without water []
Compare 2 Peter 2:17, springs without water. As clouds which seem to be charged with refreshing showers, but are borne past ( παραφερόμεναι ) and yield no rain. [source]
Whose fruit withereth [φθινοπωρινὰ]
From φθίνω or φθίω , to waste away, pine, and ὀπώρα , autumn. Hence, literally, pertaining to the late autumn, and rightly rendered by Rev., autumn (trees). The A. V. is entirely wrong. Wyc., harvest trees. Tynd., trees without fruit at gathering-time. [source]
Twice dead []
Not only the apparent death of winter, but a real death; so that it only remains to pluck them up by the roots. [source]

What do the individual words in Jude 1:12 mean?

These are the ones in the love feasts of you hidden reefs feasting together [with you] fearlessly themselves shepherding clouds without water by winds being carried about trees autumnal without fruit twice having died having been uprooted
Οὗτοί εἰσιν οἱ ἐν ταῖς ἀγάπαις ὑμῶν σπιλάδες συνευωχούμενοι ἀφόβως ἑαυτοὺς ποιμαίνοντες νεφέλαι ἄνυδροι ὑπὸ ἀνέμων παραφερόμεναι δένδρα φθινοπωρινὰ ἄκαρπα δὶς ἀποθανόντα ἐκριζωθέντα

Οὗτοί  These 
Parse: Demonstrative Pronoun, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: οὗτος  
Sense: this.
οἱ  the  ones 
Parse: Article, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root:  
Sense: this, that, these, etc.
ἀγάπαις  love  feasts 
Parse: Noun, Dative Feminine Plural
Root: ἀγάπη  
Sense: brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence.
ὑμῶν  of  you 
Parse: Personal / Possessive Pronoun, Genitive 2nd Person Plural
Root: σύ  
Sense: you.
σπιλάδες  hidden  reefs 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Plural
Root: σπιλάς  
Sense: a rock in the sea, ledge, reef.
συνευωχούμενοι  feasting  together  [with  you] 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Middle or Passive, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: συνευωχέομαι  
Sense: to entertain together.
ἀφόβως  fearlessly 
Parse: Adverb
Root: ἀφόβως  
Sense: without fear, boldly.
ἑαυτοὺς  themselves 
Parse: Reflexive Pronoun, Accusative Masculine 3rd Person Plural
Root: ἑαυτοῦ  
Sense: himself, herself, itself, themselves.
ποιμαίνοντες  shepherding 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Active, Nominative Masculine Plural
Root: ποιμαίνω  
Sense: to feed, to tend a flock, keep sheep.
νεφέλαι  clouds 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Feminine Plural
Root: νεφέλη  
Sense: a cloud.
ἄνυδροι  without  water 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Feminine Plural
Root: ἄνυδρος  
Sense: without water.
ἀνέμων  winds 
Parse: Noun, Genitive Masculine Plural
Root: ἄνεμος  
Sense: wind, a violent agitation and stream of air.
παραφερόμεναι  being  carried  about 
Parse: Verb, Present Participle Middle or Passive, Nominative Feminine Plural
Root: παραφέρω  
Sense: to bear to, bring to, put before.
δένδρα  trees 
Parse: Noun, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: δένδρον  
Sense: a tree.
φθινοπωρινὰ  autumnal 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: φθινοπωρινός  
Sense: autumn trees.
ἄκαρπα  without  fruit 
Parse: Adjective, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: ἄκαρπος  
Sense: metaph.
δὶς  twice 
Parse: Adverb
Root: δίς  
Sense: twice.
ἀποθανόντα  having  died 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Active, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: ἀποθνῄσκω  
Sense: to die.
ἐκριζωθέντα  having  been  uprooted 
Parse: Verb, Aorist Participle Passive, Nominative Neuter Plural
Root: ἐκριζόω  
Sense: to root out, pluck up by the roots.