Jude 1:12

ESV These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted;
NIV These people are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm--shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted--twice dead.
NASB These are the ones who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, like shepherds caring only for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted;
CSB These people are dangerous reefs at your love feasts as they eat with you without reverence. They are shepherds who only look after themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by winds; trees in late autumn--fruitless, twice dead and uprooted.
NLT When these people eat with you in your fellowship meals commemorating the Lord’s love, they are like dangerous reefs that can shipwreck you. They are like shameless shepherds who care only for themselves. They are like clouds blowing over the land without giving any rain. They are like trees in autumn that are doubly dead, for they bear no fruit and have been pulled up by the roots.
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;

What does Jude 1:12 mean?

Jude has been condemning the spiritual errors of apostates, who are bringing false teachings into the church. The prior verse described particular sins, as exemplified by other figures in Scripture. Here, he continues by explaining how those sins will eventually lead these rebellious ones into disaster.

Jude describes the apostates as "hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear." The early church held feasts that celebrated the believers' mutual love. Probably, the love feast was held before the communion service. Somehow, the false teachers had mingled with the believers at the love feasts, but they were stains on otherwise beautiful occasions. Like a coral reef concealed under the water can catch a boat off guard, sinking it, the presence of these false teachers was a spiritual danger to those around them.

Jude points to the false shepherds' self-indulgence by saying they feed only themselves. Jesus depicted a false shepherd as not caring for the sheep. He says a false shepherd abandons the flock when the wolf approaches (John 10:12–13). False teachers appear to be legitimate ministers, but this is only a disguise. They put on the role of ministers of light in order to practice evil and achieve personal gain. Paul, also, exposes these men as "deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light" (2 Corinthians 11:13–14). Paul further writes in Philippians 3:19 that false teachers are absorbed with earthly things.

Jude further compares the false teachers to wind-blown clouds that give no rain. Just as people living in a dry climate long for clouds to bring water to the earth, even so thirsty people looked in vain to the false teachers for spiritual nourishment. However, the false teachers did not carry the water of life—the Word of God. Jude accuses the false teachers of being barren trees with dead roots, unlike true believers that bear the fruit of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit produces godly characteristics in those who walk in the truth (Galatians 5:22–23).
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