Cain, Balaam, and Korah

Text: Jude 11

Jude intended to write this letter about their “common salvation,” but deviated from his original topic and told them to “contend earnestly for the faith” (Jude 3). He warned that those who attacked “the faith” would be punished by God (Jude 5-7). Who were they? Jude warned that they were following in the footsteps of three wicked men in the Old Testament: Cain, Balaam, and Korah (Jude 11).

They Have Gone the Way of Cain (Genesis 4:1-8)

  • Why did God accept Abel’s offering but reject Cain’s? … Abel offered by faith (Hebrews 11:4), according to God’s instructions (Romans 10:17; Luke 11:50-51); Cain’s “deeds were evil” (1 John 3:12); God gave instructions regarding their offerings, but Cain disobeyed
  • Possible reasons why Cain offered what he did, like the reasons some give for not following God’s word today – focus on what he desired, what was personal, and what was convenient; all reasons are wrong (Colossians 2:23; 3:17; Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 9:23)
  • Woe to those who have gone the way of Cain – they serve God according to their desires, personalities, and convenience

They Have Rushed Headlong into the Error of Balaam (Numbers 22)

  • Balaam erred “for pay” (cf. 2 Peter 2:15) – Balak and the elders of Moab and Midian offered Balaam money to curse Israel (Numbers 22:2-7); Balaam initially refused to go, but later went (Numbers 22:12-13, 21); he wanted to go with them (Numbers 22:15-19) and looked for a reason to go, rather than accept God’s first word as being final
  • Too many put the things of this life ahead of their desire to serve God – we must not love money (1 Timothy 6:9-10), but many accept the false “prosperity gospel” (1 Timothy 6:5); this corrupt attitude leads one to accept and even promote sin (1 Timothy 6:3-5, 10; Numbers 31:16)
  • Woe to those who rush into the error of Balaam – they pursue the things of this life rather than what is right

They Have Perished in the Rebellion of Korah (Numbers 16)

  • Korah and his followers did not respect God’s chosen leaders (Numbers 16:1-3, 12-14) – by doing this, they were not respecting God (cf. Luke 10:16); they thought of themselves more highly than they ought to think (Romans 12:3)
  • These were “men of renown” (Numbers 16:2) – evidently they had let that go to their heads (1 Corinthians 3:6-7); Korah and his followers were destroyed (Numbers 16:23-35); also, those who sympathized with them were destroyed (Numbers 16:41-44, 49); this is a warning for us not to think of men beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6)
  • Woe to those who perish in the rebellion of Korah – they think more highly of themselves than they ought


  • What is the fate of those who follow in the footsteps of Cain, Balaam, and Korah? (Jude 12-15)
  • What should we do? … remember these warnings (Jude 17-19), build up our faith (Jude 20), keep ourselves in the love of God (Jude 21), and strengthen and save others (Jude 22-23)

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