"Verse 7 gives us some clues as to the specifics of their iniquity: "Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, (these angels) giving themselves over to fornication...."
2. Expositor's Bible Commentary
Here is Dr. Gagnon's personal translation of Jude 6-7
"6 - Angels, too—those who had not kept their own sphere of influence (or: position of authority, rule, station, domain; archen) but who had left behind (or: deserted, abandoned) their proper dwelling—he (i.e., the Lord) has kept until (or: for) the judgment of the great Day in eternal chains under (or: in) darkness (i.e., of the nether regions),
7 - (just) as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, which, in a manner similar to these (or: in the same way as they; ton homoion tropon toutois), committed sexual immorality (ekporneusasai) and went after ‘other flesh’ (or: strange/alien flesh, another kind of flesh, flesh other than their own, i.e., angelic flesh; kai apelthousai opiso sarkos heteras), are set before us (or: are exhibited) as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire."
Dr. Gagnon says about this passage:
"The two actions (committing sexual immorality and pursuing angels) are to be treated as related, but distinct, actions... In their lust for sexual intercourse with other men, the men of Sodom inadvertently put themselves in the sacrilegious position of pursuing sexual intercourse with angels. “In like manner” the false believers, against whom Jude wages combat, had through their lust for immoral sexual behavior come into conflict with the angelic guardians of this world order.
Jude sees the actions of the Sodomites as sharing similarities with the actions of the rebellious angels, known as “the Watchers,” recorded in Genesis 6:1-4 and in much Second Temple Jewish literature (note the expression “in a manner similar to these [angels]” in v. 7). Jude also sees similarities between these two actions and the actions of the false believers criticized in Jude’s letters (note the word “similarly” introducing v. 8).
...The actions of the Sodomites in “committing sexual immorality and going after other flesh” bear similarities to the actions of the rebellious angels in copulating with humans."
Dr. Gagnon believes Jude is making a negative comment about homosexuality although his interpretation seems strained to me, especially in view of his translation and comments above.
"Grk “strange flesh” This phrase has been variously interpreted. It could refer to flesh of another species (such as angels lusting after human flesh). This would aptly describe the sin of the angels, but not easily explain the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah.
It could refer to the homosexual practices of the Sodomites, but a difficulty arises from the use of ἕτερος (hetero"; “strange,” “other”). When this is to be distinguished from ἄλλος (allos, “another”) it suggests “another of a different kind.” If so, would that properly describe homosexual behavior?
In response, the language could easily be compact: “pursued flesh other than what was normally pursued.” However, would this find an analogy in the lust of angels (such would imply that angels normally had sexual relations of some sort, but cf. Matthew 22:30.
Another alternative is that the focus of the parallel is on the activity of the surrounding cities and the activity of the angels. This is especially plausible since the participles ἐκπορνεύσασαι (ekporneusasai, “having indulged in sexual immorality”) and ἀπελθοῦσαι (apelqousai, “having pursued”) have concord with “cities” (πόλεις, poleis), a feminine plural noun, rather than with Sodom and Gomorrah (both masculine nouns). If so, then their sin would not necessarily have to be homo- sexuality.
However, most likely the feminine participles are used because of constructio ad sensum (construction according to sense). That is, since both Sodom and Gomorrah are cities, the feminine is used to imply that all the cities are involved.
The connection with angels thus seems to be somewhat loose: Both angels and Sodom and Gomorrah indulged in heinous sexual immorality. Thus, whether the false teachers indulge in homosexual activity is not the point; mere sexual immorality is enough to condemn them."
"Some have felt that the little letter of Jude condemns homosexual acts, but closer scrutiny casts doubt on this. Jude wrote to condemn certain deceivers who had crept into the church, denying the lordship of Christ and introducing sexual misconduct (v. 4).
These disruptive non-believers, he warns, shall be punished like the angels (= the "sons of God" in Gen 6:1-4) who left their heavenly station to experience sex with human women (Jude vv. 5-6). In the same way, Jude says ("just as"), "Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities … likewise acted immorally and indulged in unnatural lust (Gk. sarkos heretas)…" (v. 7).
The Greek here means, literally, to go after "other/different flesh." Although this has been variously translated as "perversion" (NIV), "unnatural lust" (RSV2), and "lust of men for other men" (LB), a closer look shows that these can hardly be correct translations.
Heteros is used elsewhere in the NT to refer to "other" tongues (a foreign or heavenly language, Acts 2:4), a "different" Gospel than Paul taught (Gal 1:6), and "another" glory (magnificence) that distinguishes earthly forms (e.g. mountains, seas, wild areas) from the heavenly sun, moon, and stars (1 Cor 15:40).
In contrast, two gays share "natures [that] are only too alike" (J. Chaine and J.N.D. Kelly) – not "other" or "different." But now angelic "flesh," that would be very different! In fact, two grammatical connectors here ("just as" and "likewise") tie verse 7 tightly to verse 6 and require that the "different flesh" lusted after in Sodom be similar to the error of the fallen angels in Gen 6. In other words, this refers to the mob in Sodom wanting to have sex with the angelic visitors.
Dr. Robert Gagnon holds that the men of Sodom did not know that the visitors were angels – yet the ancient Jewish author of the Testament of Asher (7:1) declared that they should have.
Von Rad envisions "the heavenly messengers (who came to Sodom) as young men in their prime," whose beauty would naturally have turned heads (one can hardly imagine that they came as old hunchbacks). Whatever the case, the Sodomites' attention was focused on the wrong thing – on sexual violence, instead of caring for needy strangers.
Although the Jude text is somewhat vague, what is specifically condemned here is certain "carousing" that has been introduced at the church's "love feasts" (v. 12, communal church fellowship meals, which also included sharing the Lord's Supper). In a similar passage (and situation) in 2 Peter ch. 2, the apostle also condemns carousing in the church, connecting it specifically with (heterosexual) "adultery" (2:13-14)."
"Jude's letter reflects an early Palestinian milieu... At first glance this emphasis might appear to contradict Jesus' own focus on Sodom's refusal to be hospitable to homeless travelers. Such a misconception is easily bolstered by common translations, which are incredibly homophobic.
"Sodom and Gomorrah and surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion" (NIV Jude 7).
Given the background of centuries of misinterpretation of the Sodom narrative, probably most modern readers will think "homosexuality" on seeing the word "sexual immorality" (Greek: porneuo), but on seeing the word "perversion" they will have no doubt - and with even a small injection of outmoded Freudianism, may consider Jude quite perceptive scientifically to think that homosexuality represents a "perversion."
However, any accurate translation will make clear that Jesus' brother (Jude) also rejects the homophobic misinterpretation of the Sodom story, which arose in inter- testamental Judaism...
Jude, however, like his brother (Jesus), calls us back to the original meaning, indicating that the sexual dimension of Sodom's sin involved going after "flesh" (Greek: sarkos) that was "different/strange" (Greek: heteras).
The Jerusalem Bible footnote summarizes well the conclusions of modern scholarly studies, pointing out that Jude recognized that the Sodomites were attempting to have sexual relations with angels.
The incredible prejudice of modern translators is seen in the fact that they take the Greek word heteras (from which we get the word heterosexual) and translate with terms like "perversion", making modern readers think Jude is denouncing homosexuality."
"This being the allusion here, many have interpreted lusted after different flesh (heteras sarkos) as meaning 'indulged in sodomy'.
The Greek, however, does not tolerate this: it simply states that the flesh they desired was different (these good angels appeared in human form, but their flesh presumably was different in kind), whereas in homosexuality, as J Chaine (ad loc.) aptly remarked, 'the natures are only too alike'. p. 259,
Both had made their sin even more appalling by lusting after different flesh- the angels (in Genesis 6), because, spiritual beings though they were, they had coveted mortal women, and the Sodomites because, though only human beings, they had sought intercourse with angels."
A Commentary on the Epistles of Peter and of Jude, JND Kelly (Anglican scholar), Harper and Row: New York, 1969, p. 258
"Like the angels, these people 'indulged in sexual immorality' (NRSV) and 'went after other flesh' - ie non-human flesh. This last phrase is a better and more literal translation of the Greek than indulged in unnatural lusts because, as the account in Genesis 19:1-26 makes clear, it was two angels with whom the men of Sodom wanted to have sexual intercourse.
This is why the two examples in verses 6 and 7 are comparable for Jude, and why it cannot be homosexual intercourse which the author has in mind here: just as the angels left their proper place and indulged in sexual immorality with humans, so the men of Sodom sought to violate the proper order in creation and to have sex with angels."
The Epistles of Peter and Jude, David Horrell, Epworth Press: Peterborough, 1998, p. 121
"The third and final lesson warns against sexual immorality, a warning that draws upon the classic case of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19). That the men of Sodom and Gomorrah "pursued unnatural lust" ("pursued other flesh," v. 7) involved more than homosexuality.
They desired sex with the two supernatural beings who visited Lot. For Jude, what happened between angels and humans in Gen 19 that brought down God's fire was similar to what happened between angels and humans in Gen 6:1-4 that brought down God's flood.
That the intruders in the church had some unhealthy fascination with angelic beings (vv. 8-9) should not go unnoticed, even though the causes and expressions of that relationship are not clear to us. It is evident in verse 8 that these disrupters are so arrogant as to blaspheme the angelic servants of God who bring God's message and execute God's judgments. In other words, they are in total rebellion against heaven.
But verses 6-7 at least imply a connection or a desired connection between the troublemakers and supernatural beings by means of sex."
First and Second Peter and Jude, Fred Craddock, Westminster John Knox Press: Louisville, 1995, p. 139
"which practiced immorality in the same way as the angels and hankered afer strange flesh." The second clause explains the first. As the angels fell because of their lust for women, so the Sodomites desired sexual relations with angels. The reference is to the incident in Gen 19:4-11.
sarkos eteras "strange flesh," cannot, as many commentators and most translations assume, refer to homosexual practice, in which the flesh is not "different" (eteras); it must mean the flesh of angels... The two cases are similarly brought together in T. Napht 3:4-5."
Richard Bauckham, Jude, 2 Peter, Word Books: Waco, 1983, p. 54
"The men of Sodom and Gomorrah engaged in homosexuality: that was unnatural. But Jude may mean that just as the angels fell because of their lust for women, so the Sodomites fell because of their lust for angels (sarkos heteras indeed!).
Michael Green, The Second Epistle General of Peter and the General Epistle of Jude, Inter-Varsity Press: Leicester, 1987, p. 180
"But it is more probable that the reference is to the fact that, as the fallen angels had sought intercourse with human beings, so the men of Sodom sought intercourse with angels (the two angels in p. 160: Lot's house). This interpretation is confirmed by the following clause, gone after strange flesh, ie, after that belonging to a different order of being. To interpret 'strange' as referring to the unnaturalness of intercourse with the same sex is scarcely possible."
CEB Cranfield, I and II Peter and Jude, SCM Press: London, 1960, p. 159
"The phrase "went after other flesh" (apelQousai opisw sarkos heteras) refers to their pursuit of non-human (ie angelic!) "flesh." The expression sarkos heteras means "flesh of another kind"; thus, it is impossible to construe this passage as a condemnation of homosexual desire, which entails precisely the pursuit of the same kind."
Richard Hays, The Moral Vision of the New Testament, Harper: San Francisco, 1996, p. 404
Dr. Hays believes all intimate gay relationships are sinful, which makes his conclusion about Jude 7 all the more interesting.
Sodom and Gomorrah's sin was wickedness and rebellion against God, not homosexual sex, not lesbian sex, not transsexual sex. Jude references Sodom in connection to angels, Jude 6, who rebelled against God and left heaven, "left their first estate." These fallen angels had sex with earthly women and produced offspring part human and part fallen angel.
Jud 7 reveals that the issue in Sodom and Gomorrah was not homosexual sex, which produces no children but heterosexual style sex (specifically attempted rape) between humans and angels.
When Jude says: “going after strange flesh” he is referring to sex between humans and angels, not homosexual sex between humans and not committed, faithful same sex partnerships. As demonstrated above, many theologians, including many conservative Christians, understand the passage this way.
Related Links about