Jude 1:11

ESV 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.
NIV Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion.
NASB Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have given themselves up to the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
CSB Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, have plunged into Balaam's error for profit, and have perished in Korah's rebellion.
NLT What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion.
KJV Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.

What does Jude 1:11 mean?

In this verse Jude brings three indictments against the false teachers: (1) They were following Cain's example; (2) like Balaam, they had chosen profit above integrity; and (3) like Korah, they had rebelled against God.

Cain was the first human being born naturally, to his parents Adam and Eve, who were the first human beings created by God. Cain was a farmer who offered vegetables to the Lord as his way of worshiping (Genesis 4:3). Cain's brother Abel was a shepherd who worshiped God by offering portions of some of the firstborn of his flock (Genesis 4:4). The Lord accepted Abel's offering, which was a blood sacrifice offered in faith (Hebrews 11:4), but He rejected Cain's offering (Genesis 4:4–5). Following Cain's example, the false teachers despised Jesus' blood sacrifice and devised their own corrupt worship. Furthermore, Jude's connection to Cain implies some level of jealousy. Just as Cain was jealous of Abel, even so the false teachers were jealous of those who obeyed the Lord, and they hated genuine believers (1 John 3:12).

Balaam was a heathen prophet who lived during the time of the Israelites' journey through the wilderness following their escape from Egypt. Balak, King of Moab, offered rewards to Balaam if he would curse the Israelites. Balaam refused to curse them, but he persuaded Balak to corrupt them by getting them to marry the pagan Moabite women (Numbers 22—25). Jude accuses the false teachers of rushing for profit into Balaam's error. They valued financial gain more highly than God's will and led their followers into immorality.

Also during Israel's wilderness journey, Korah and his followers rebelled against Moses' authority and thereby refused to accept God's authority since God had appointed Moses as Israel's leader (Numbers 16). Korah also presumed to take upon himself a priestly role, but God had appointed only Aaron to the position of Israel's high priest. Consequently, God destroyed those rebels. The false teachers rejected the authority of Scripture and of those whom God had appointed to teach it. Their destruction was so certain that Jude uses the past tense to describe it.

In verse 11 Jude begins his indictment of the false teachers by pronouncing, "Woe to them!" He anticipates the terrible fate of the false teachers under God's judgment. The prophet Isaiah also pronounced woe upon those who had turned away from the Lord and His truth. He declared, "Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and shrewd in their own sight" (Isaiah 5:20–21).
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