The Destruction of Folly

Understanding God is prerequisite to proper preaching.

“But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.” (Jude 10) 

Folly often carries a connotation of flippancy. Endless jokes revolve around foolish behavior or lack of good sense, and we often laugh or pay little attention when we witness it in person. When folly appears in Scripture, however, it is far from a laughing matter. Folly describes the blindness, ignorance, and lostness of those left to their natural way of thinking and acting. 

In 1 Corinthians 2:14, Paul says, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” 

Those about whom Jude is speaking in today’s passage are a perfect example of those whom Paul described. These blasphemers are fools in the truest sense of the word. They act out of ignorance, following their depraved way of thinking, to their own destruction. They blaspheme angels and demons and ultimately God himself. 

Jude first notes that they blaspheme “all that they do not understand.” One might think that ignorance of the matters at hand would cause them to tread more carefully, yet they continue even more brazenly in their error. John Calvin says of these people, “they added audacity to madness.” It is one thing to be ignorant; it is entirely another thing to flaunt that ignorance in blasphemy. 

This should be a caution to all who teach the Word of God. No teacher will ever have perfect comprehension of Scripture, but it should be the chief concern of every minister, missionary, parent, and others to whom God has given the privilege of instruction to give themselves to the study of God’s Word so that they may teach out of knowledge and not ignorance. Paul says emphatically, “I know whom I have believed” (1 Timothy 1:12), and that knowledge not only informed his teaching but also bolstered him in ministry. 

We do not worship “the unknown god” (Acts 17:23), nor should we teach about a God whom we have not taken the time to know and understand as he has revealed himself in Scripture. 

 Knowledge alone does not save, but one cannot be saved without true knowledge. Both biblical knowledge and a personal relationship with God through Christ are necessary for a life of faith.  

Secondly, Jude says that these teachers are destined for destruction because they act “like unreasoning animals.” This is reminiscent of God’s judgment on Nebuchadnezzar, when he was told, “you shall be driven from among men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. You shall be made to eat grass like an ox, and you shall be wet with the dew of heaven” (Daniel 4:25). Man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27), distinct from and with authority over the beasts, yet the curse of sin can, at times, render man as one of the beasts. 

These false teachers are following the natural instincts of sin. They have no true understanding but only “understand instinctively” or “understand naturally.” They are acting from the flesh. They have no more spiritual life than the oxen that graze in the field. When someone acts in a heinous or depraved manner, we often say he is an “animal” because he has chosen to debase himself so far from the dignity of man created in the image of God that his actions are almost unrecognizable as human. Jude accuses these blasphemers of being spiritual animals. They are not reasonable or rational, but, as Matthew Henry notes, they act in accordance with their “depraved wills and disordered appetites and affections.” 

The weighty result of this folly is not playful scoff but divine judgment. Jude does not say that they will be mocked or belittled for their error but “destroyed.” Ignorance is not bliss for those who teach false doctrine. Ignorance will not excuse one when he stands before the judgment throne of God. James reminds us that “[those] who teach will be judged with greater strictness” (James 3:1) and these teachers will be judged despite their ignorance. 

May it be the pursuit of every believer, but especially those who preach the gospel and teach God’s Word, to truly know the God they preach and teach. It is a privileged calling, but also a weighty calling, to preach Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2). May we do so faithfully and not as unreasoning animals. 


Heavenly Father, 
May we be diligent to know you as you have revealed yourself in your Word. Preserve us from our naturally depraved way of thinking, that we may speak of you what is right.
In your Son’s name,

Prayer Requests: 

  • Pray for the Spirit’s illumination to rightly understand God’s Word. 
  • Pray for those who teach in the church and in missions to remain faithful in that calling. 
  • Pray that your knowledge of God would expand and deepen. This resource on knowing the Lord will be a helpful asset in that pursuit.