“These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear.” (Jude 1:12)
The “spots” that the translators chose for this description by Jude may be better understood as “hidden rocks” just below a lake’s surface or covered over by shallow sand in a pathway. Spilas is the Greek word, not used elsewhere in the New Testament.
The feasts that Jude refers to are somewhat difficult to describe biblically since this is the only time the word agape is used in the plural. There is some evidence that the early churches were extending the time of celebration of the Lord’s Supper improperly (1 Corinthians 11:20-21), and it is probable that his warning would apply to churches who are indifferent to maintaining purity (1 Corinthians 11:27-29).
But the imagery also appears to express the danger that the “spots” present amidst the loving environment of most churches. Jude gives several insights about the character of those who would resist “the faith.” These people have established themselves as they feast and are “feeding themselves without fear.” The word choices are powerful.
The spots are suneuocheo (feeding with) and getting along very well with the rest of the church, shepherding themselves (poimaino) boldly (aphobos). This is bad! These evil men have become so entrenched that they lead their own faction with no fear of resistance or confrontation. The Lord Jesus has stern words to speak to those churches who allow biblical error to establish itself through false teachers and unconcerned leaders (Revelation 2–3).
Peter describes such people as “spots . . . and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you . . . that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls” (2 Peter 2:13-14). Not a pretty picture. God does not tolerate such ungodly behavior, and neither should we. HMM III