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Jesus Fish 3

New Testament Survey: The Book Of Jude

Written By: Steve Shirley

The Book Of Jude

Author:

  • “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James” (Jude 1).
  • Jude (“Judah” in Hebrew)(“Judas” in Greek) was a very common name in the 1st century (because of Judas Maccabaeus, who led a Jewish revolt against Syria during the intertestamental period). There are possibly up to 8 men with this name in the New Testament. However, most scholars believe that the author of this letter could only be one of two men:

1. The Apostle Judas (not Iscariot), who was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus (Lk 6:16)(Jn 14:22)(Acts 1:13)(Also called: Lebbaeus Thaddaeus: Mt 10:3).

2. Judas, the half-brother of Jesus (Mt 13:55)(Mk 6:3).

  • The majority of the evidence points to the latter position. There are two main reasons why this belief is held:

1. Jude calls himself the “brother of James,” and we can see in (Mt 13:55)(Mk 6:3) that Juda (Judas) and James were two of the four half-brothers of Jesus.

***Note: In the KJV Bible, (Lk 6:16) and (Acts 1:13) call the Apostle Judas “Judas the brother of James,” however, all other versions of the Bible use “Judas the son of James.” The latter is likely correct.

2. The author clearly separates himself from the apostles in (Jude 17), which eliminates the first position. (Jude 17)(NKJV): “remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

  • Both Jude and James identify themselves in the beginning of their letters as “servants,” not “brothers” of Jesus Christ. This was most certainly an act of humility and modesty. It would also have been unnecessary for either to identify themselves as brothers of Jesus since this was already well known to the readers. (However, James was almost certainly the better known as the leader of the church at Jerusalem [Acts 15:1-29], and Jude may have identified himself as the “brother of James” to gain a more favorable hearing for his letter.)
  • Nonetheless, others did address them as brothers of Jesus: Matthew (Mt 13:55), Mark (Mk 6:3), John (Jn 7:1-10), Luke (Acts 1:14), Paul (Gal 1:19).
  • As we can see from the verses in John, Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him during His earthly ministry. However, we can see that they became believers after Jesus’ resurrection (1 Cor 9:5), praying in the “upper room” during Pentecost with the disciples and their mother Mary (Acts 1:14).
    (Jesus specifically appeared to James during one of His resurrection appearances: 1 Cor 15:7).
  • These early church fathers (Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius) affirmed that Jude authored this book. Eusebius, in his writings, placed it among the disputed books (antilegomena). Origen said it was “a letter of few lines… but filled with the healthful words of heavenly grace.”
  • The main reason why it was disputed, and not widely accepted as canonical early on, was because of its quotes from the apocryphal books of 1 Enoch (verse 14) and the Assumption of Moses (verse 9). However, Jude (inspired by the Holy Spirit) was simply stating a fact that was contained in each of these books, and not giving credence to the book as a whole. Paul also quoted extra-Biblical writers: Aratus (Acts 17:28), Menander (1 Cor 15:33), and Epimenides (Titus 1:12).
  • No direct quotes are made from the Old Testament in this letter, but a number of people and places from the OT are mentioned: Israel’s escape from Egypt (verse 5), the rebellion of the angels (verse 6), Sodom and Gomorrah (verse 7), Moses (verse 9), Cain, Balaam, and Korah (verse 11), Enoch and Adam (verse 14).
  • This is the 4th shortest book in the New Testament, and the last of the 8 “General Epistles” (Heb, James, 1&2 Pet, 1,2,3 Jn, Jude), so called because they were addressed to the “universal” (catholic) church, and not to a certain individual or church.
  • As we mentioned previously in the Survey of 2nd Peter, it is interesting to note that the second chapter of that letter, which warns about false teachers, is almost exactly the same as the book of Jude. Compare:
(Jude 1:2) / (2 Pet 1:2) (Jude 1:9) / (2 Pet 2:11)
(Jude 1:4) / (2 Pet 2:1) (Jude 1:11) / (2 Pet 2:15)
(Jude 1:6) / (2 Pet 2:4) (Jude 1:12) / (2 Pet 2:17)
(Jude 1:7) / (2 Pet 2:6) (Jude 1:16) / (2 Pet 2:18)
(Jude 1:8) / (2 Pet 2:10) (Jude 1:18) / (2 Pet 2:1)(2 Pet 3:3)

There are several reason as to why this may have occurred.

1. They may have shared a common source for information (i.e. as Luke did when writing his Gospel: Lk 1:1-4).

2. They may have spoken with each other on this subject, and wrote similarly.

3. Most likely, however, one writer borrowed from the other. Whether Peter borrowed from Jude, or Jude from Peter, has been a point of contention amongst scholars. There are arguments for each viewpoint:

Peter borrowed from Jude:

1. From a logical standpoint, it seems to make more sense for a larger work (2 Peter) to incorporate a smaller work (Jude) into it (quoting), than for a smaller work to be written with the sole purpose of repeating what has already been said.

2. Peter may have quoted Jude to give apostolic authority to it. (In a sense, this is similar to why I have mentioned the “early church fathers” in these NT surveys. When they mention things from the New Testament in their writings, it adds extra “authority” [not “apostolic” of course] to them.)

Jude borrowed from Peter:

1. In (2 Pet 2:1-3), Peter says there “shall be” (future tense) the coming of false teachers and scoffers, while in (Jude 1:4,11-12,17-19), Jude speaks of their arrival (present tense).

2. In (Jude 1:17-18), Jude directly quotes (2 Pet 3:3), and states that it was from an Apostle, implying that Peter wrote before him.

3. If Peter had quoted the book of Jude, it would have gained instant apostolic authority, but instead, it was one of the last books accepted into the Canon.

The Stats:

  • Chapters: 1
  • Verses: 25

Date Written:

  • App. 67-70 A.D. (Likely very shortly after 2nd Peter, if Jude did indeed quote Peter.)
  • Since there is no mention of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, which occurred in 70 A.D., it was likely written prior to this event. (It would have been a perfect example of God’s judgment which was one of the main purposes of Jude’s letter.)

Place Written:

  • Unknown (Possibilities include: Jerusalem, Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia)
    [Jerome said Jude preached in Mesopotamia.]

Written To:

  • Unknown
  • Because of the numerous references to the Old Testament, the primary recipients were likely Jewish Christians, with some Gentile Christians included.

Key Verses:

(Jude 3, 5-9, 18-24) 

***Note: Verse 6 is tied to the Old Testament, is very complex to explain, and its meaning is debated amongst scholars. As such, we will not go into detail on the meaning of this verse here. I have exposited this verse in-depth, and you can find this study here: https://jesusalive.cc/jude-six-and-genesis-six .

***Note: See “Excursus” at the end of this study for more on verse 9.

Purpose:

  • To warn his “beloved” (Jude 3,17,20) readers about the apostate false teachers (likely Gnostics) in their midst who were “turn(ing) the grace of God into lasciviousness (a license to sin)” (Jude 4).
  • To exhort them to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 3) and truth.
  • To condemn and describe the false teachers (Jude 4,8,10,16,18-19), and explain the judgment they would face from God.
  • To encourage the believers to build themselves up in the faith, and pray in the Holy Spirit (Jude 20), to keep themselves in the love of God, and look for His mercy (Jude 21), to show mercy to some (Jude 22), and to save others (who may have been deceived) by “pulling them out of the fire” (Jude 23).

Special Emphasis:

  • The whole emphasis of Jude’s letter is confronting apostasy and false teachers. It is probably the harshest letter in the New Testament.
  • Two Greek words (“asebeia” / “asebeo“), translated as “ungodliness / ungodly,” are used 4 times in Jude. This is more than any other book in the New Testament.
  • The word “archangel” (Gr: “archaggelos“) is found only in (Jude 9) and (1 Th 4:16) in the New Testament.

Excursus on Jude 9 (The body of Moses):

     QUESTION: If God buried the body of Moses after he died (Deut 34:6), then how could there be a dispute between Michael and Satan over his body (Jude 9)?

  • (Deut 34:5-6)(NASB) “So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. (6) And He (God) buried him in the valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows his burial place to this day.”
  • Comparing these two verses in Deuteronomy to Jude 9, how do we reconcile these verses? After studying this quite a bit, I find two answers to be the most plausible.
  • First, we learn earlier in Numbers that God would not allow Moses to enter the Promised Land because he had sinned against Him (Num 20:2-13)(Also see: Deut 32:48-52). God actually brought Moses’ life to an end. (Deut 34:7 tells us that Moses was perfectly healthy when he died.) After the death of Moses (Deut 34:5), we are told that God “buried him” (Deut 34:6). But, did God bury him “immediately?” Maybe not.
  • This is where (Jude 9) might come into play. After the death of Moses, as the body of Moses laid there, perhaps Michael was there to protect it. (He is shown to be the chief guardian angel [an “archangel“]: Dan 12:1, Dan 10:13,21, Rev 12:7.) Satan was also there, and he wanted the body! Why he wanted it, we do not know for sure, but we can be sure it was for a sinister reason.
  • The reason given by most scholars, and what seems to me to be the most logical answer, is that he likely wanted to use the body of Moses to create a shrine or idol that the Israelites would worship instead of God. This was certainly a good strategy, as we see that they have already done this with “the Golden Calf” (Ex Ch. 32), and they turned the “bronze serpent” of (Num 21:4-9) into an idol that they worshipped all the way until Hezekiah became king (about 700 years later!), when he destroyed it. (***Note: The Israelites would also likely have had to leave the Promised Land to worship at this shrine or idol to Moses.)
  • Knowing Satan’s plot, how could God stop it? By stepping in, and burying the body of Moses Himself, “in a place” where no one (including Satan) would know where it was.
  • BUT, the second theory is VERY interesting too!
  • In this theory, after Moses died, God buried him. But, after a period of time (we don’t know how long a period of time), God raised the body of Moses, and brought it to Heaven. WHAT, you might be saying? Let me explain!
  • We know that at a future date, God is going to put Elijah and Moses on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus (Mt 17:1-9). We also know, of course, that since God had taken Elijah up to Heaven bodily (without dying) (2 Kin 2:11), he almost certainly was at the Mount of Transfiguration in that same body, right? Doesn’t it make sense that Moses would also appear in his body? So, how could Moses get that body? If God had previously brought it to Heaven from where He had “hidden it!”
  • ***Note: Moses may also be one of the “two witnesses” who appears bodily in (Rev 11:3-12).
  • This would be where (Jude 9) comes in for this theory. After God raised the body of Moses from its “hiding place,” there was a war over that body between Michael and Satan. Satan likely either wanted the body for himself (for some sinister purpose), or he simply wanted to stop what was happening. This war appears to have ended after Michael says, “The Lord rebuke thee.”
  • ***Note: A majority of scholars believe that (Jude 9) was taken from a pseudepigraphical work called “The Assumption of Moses” (Origin and Clement of Alexandria confirm this). The definition of “Assumption” in this work means, “the taking up of a person into heaven” (Webster’s). This also seems to fit with this second theory. (Jude 9 is one of several places in the New Testament that appears to quote from extra-biblical sources. While these sources may contain some truths, this does not mean that they were God-inspired works.)
  • It is worth noting that this war closely parallels another war in the heavenly realm, which is found in (Dan 10:10-14), when Satan hinders the angel Gabriel from answering a prayer for 21 days, until Michael steps in to stop Satan.
  • Ultimately, we do not know “for sure” how these two verses fit together, but I find either of these two theories to be the most plausible.
  • ***Note: Supporters of the second theory include commentaries from: Ellicott, Barnes, Jamieson/Fausset/Brown, Liberty, Life Application Bible.

__________

Survey:

      • The Epistle is in five divisions:

1. Introduction, 1-2.

2. Occasion of the Epistle, 3-4.

3. Apostasy is possible, 5-7.

4. Apostate teachers described, 8-19.

5. The saints assured and comforted, 20-25.

(Survey from Scofield Reference Notes [1917 ed.]: Public Domain)

Copyright: https://JesusAlive.cc © Steve Shirley