“And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.” (Jude 1:22-23)
In the context of this passage, Jude has been exhorting us to “build up” ourselves in the “most holy faith,” keeping ourselves in God’s love and looking forward to “the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:20-21). The instructions that follow may apply to us and our fellow believers. If so, then these categories would fit the “vessels of . . . dishonor” that Paul alludes to that are in a “great house” (2 Timothy 2:20).
“Of some have compassion, making a difference.” Some of those in our circle of influence need our “pity.” The word choices imply a desperate need that we must attempt to remedy. Many of the Lord’s healing miracles were done because of compassion. We are encouraged to “make a difference” in the lives of those who urgently need the healing of the Word of God.
“Others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” These are in jeopardy of eternal judgment. They are truly needy but are more dangerous to deal with. Even the imagery used by Jude is fearful. These are so “spotted” (dirty, filthy) by their fleshly deeds that we must “beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Peter 3:17).
Jude’s admonition is also applicable to Paul’s concern for the unsaved Jews that he “might save some of them” (Romans 11:14), or his willingness to become as “them that are without law” so that he might “gain them” and to become “as weak, that I might gain the weak” (1 Corinthians 9:21-22). The instructions are valid for either perspective.
Paul echoes Jude’s concern when he says, “I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). HMM III