What does Jude 1:11 mean?
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.
NKJV: Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
Verse Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
Jude 1:5–16 describes the nature, errors, and fate of false teachers plaguing the Christian church. Jude's readers seem to have been acquainted with Israel's history. This passage references Old Testament events to help explain the apostates' sins, the danger they pose, and how the Lord will punish them. Jude references the unbelief of Israel after the Lord delivered them from slavery in Egypt, rebellious angels, the ungodly people of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the dangers of allowing such people to mingle with other believers.
Chapter Summary:
Jude's brief letter describes men at their worst and God at His best. Believers are already on the victorious side! Those who mock God's truth and who follow their own desires all while claiming to be Christians, are the most dangerous kind of unbelievers. These persons pose a danger to themselves and to any Christians they might influence. In response, Christians need to focus on understanding the truth of God's written Word and submitting to His will.
Chapter Context:
Jude is a single-chapter letter which reflects earlier warnings about apostates and their false teachings. Other passages of Scripture describe evil men who taught that Jesus was not fully human or fully God (1 John 2:22; 4:1–3), that God's grace allowed them to live immorally (2 Peter 2; Romans 6:1, 15), that Jesus blood was not an adequate sacrifice (Galatians 1:6–9; Hebrews 3:12–19; 10:19), and sinners gain a right standing in God's sight by keeping the law of Moses (Galatians 5:4, 7–9). Jude's letter combats false teaching and exhorts readers to remain faithful to the Lord.
Book Summary:
The book of Jude is a letter written by a half-brother of Jesus, likely later than AD 66–67, which was after 2 Peter was written. Its placement immediately before the book of Revelation is appropriate. This letter warns about false religion and evil men, whom Revelation describes as maliciously affecting political and religious conditions.
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