New Testament Survey: The Book Of Jude
The Book Of Jude
- “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)(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.
2. The author clearly separates himself from the Apostles in (Jude 17), which eliminates the first position.
- 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).
*** Note: In the KJV Bible, when it says in (Acts 1:13) “Judas the brother of James” this should be properly translated as “Judas the son of James.”
- 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 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)|
- This may have been because they shared a common source (i.e. as Luke did when writing his Gospel: Lk 1:1-4), or they may have spoken with each other on the subject and wrote similarly. However, it is far more likely that 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, just as the early church fathers gave credibility to the various letters we have mentioned in these surveys by quoting them in their writings.
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 (4,11-12,17-18) it speaks of their arrival (present tense).
2. In (Jude 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.
- Chapters: 1
- Verses: 25
- 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.)
- Unknown (Possibilities include: Jerusalem, Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia)
[Jerome said Jude preached in Mesopotamia.]
- Because of the numerous references to the Old Testament, the primary recipients were likely Jewish Christians, with some Gentile Christians included.
- 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), 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).
- The whole emphasis of Jude’s letter is confronting apostasy and false teachers. It is probably the harshest letter in the New Testament.
- The word “ungodly” is used 6 times in Jude. This is more than any other book in the New Testament.
- 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)