Jude 8 states: “Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion and speak evil of dignities.” Jude says that there are “filthy dreamers” who “despise dominion” and also “speak evil of dignities.” What is it to “speak evil of dignities”? And, are people “speaking evil of dignities” today?
A study of this text and related passages suggests that this involves mocking the idea of Satan, demons, the powers of darkness, as well as the invisible world of angelic beings who do the work of God.
There are various rankings of celestial beings. These mentioned here are called “dignities,” a word that is indicative of their exalted position and rank.
In Ephesians 6:12 the apostle speaks of “principalities,” “powers,” “the rulers of the darkness of this world” and also of “spiritual wickedness in high places.” The words used in the Greek suggest a hierarchy of authority. Elsewhere in Scripture, Michael is called “Michael the archangel” (Jude 9). He is also known as “Michael … the great prince” (Daniel 12:1). The Bible also speaks of “Michael and HIS angels” (Revelation 12:7), suggesting that Michael is ruler over a company of angelic beings. These “dignities” are the highest ranking angels.
However, the word “dignities” in Jude 8 should not be limited to exalted evil angels. The text does not say that these “filthy dreamers” “speak evil of evil dignities.” These celestial “dignities” could be both good and bad.
Jude doesn’t indicate why these “filthy dreamers” “speak evil of dignities.” However, since these dreamers “defile the flesh” it could be that they are so controlled by physical passions that their fleshly bent leads them to discount the reality of the spiritual world. These are false teachers driven by lust. In their pride and arrogance they despise authority and speak evil of holy things which are beyond the five senses.
Angels have great appeal to the masses today because of the innate human desire to find meaning to life. Our modern world is becoming more spiritual, though it is not becoming more Christian, but rather less Christian. Modern spirituality is dominated by a fascination with angelic beings. Angels often become a substitute for God. They are often perceived as being less judgmental and harsh than the God of the Bible.
The other extreme is rank materialism, which denies the existence of the unseen world. Apparently, those who “speak evil of dignities” fall into this camp. The only world that they recognized is the world of that which is visible. We should not deny the reality of the unseen world, but neither should we forget that the Lord Jesus Christ is Lord over all.