Epistle of Jude

Jude was written somewhere around 65-75 AD by the brother of James. Interestingly, the author makes the point of acknowledging he is the brother of James, but does not mention Jesus. This may be a point of humility or, more likely, an acknowledgment that both men were cousins of Christ, rather than actual siblings. (Many believe that Jude was the son of Cleopas.) The theme of the book is to exhort believers to contend for the faith and reject the false teachers Jude promises will be judged just as the ‘angels’ who fell in the early years of Genesis were judged.

 

Jude’s repeated use of non-canonical writings in his Epistle is also ironic given the fact that anti-Catholic theologians have traditionally appealed to the New Testament’s (supposed) lack of citation of the apocrypha to prove them unworthy of being in the canon of Scripture. Yet Jude cites from the Book of Enoch and the Assumption of Moses, two works of antiquity respected by the early church but universally rejected as inerrant Scripture. For this reason, Jude was not fully accepted as canonical until later centuries of the church.

 

The striking similarity between Jude and 2nd Peter has always been noted, and a debate has raged over which book came first, or whether 2nd Peter was artificially derived from Jude’s Epistle. Jude may actually predate 2nd Peter because 2nd Peter appears to expand in chapter 1:12 over what Jude 1:10 states. Other theologians believe Jude was written after 2nd Peter because of a quote in verses 17-18 from 2nd Peter 3:3. For these reasons we cannot be sure just when it was written, or if it was written before or after Peter’s death.

 

The first actual acknowledgment of Jude’s Epistle is around 180 AD.

 

Jude is believed to have ministered throughout the Middle East until being martyred in Persia.

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 1

1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified1 by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.

3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.2

5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

6 And the angels which kept not their first estate3, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.4

7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner,5 giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses,6 durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.

12 These are spots7 in your feasts of charity8, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars9, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam10, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.11

16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.

17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;

18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

19 These be they who separate themselves,12 sensual, having not the Spirit.

20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,13

21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:14

23 And others save with fear15, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

25 To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

1 Jude, the slave of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are (beloved) by God the Father, and called and preserved for Jesus Christ.

2 Mercy, peace and love be multiplied to you all.

3 Beloved: Though I had planned on writing (a positive letter) about the salvation we all share, it has instead become necessary for me to write and exhort you to earnestly hold to, and fight for, the Christian faith that was originally delivered to the righteous.

4 For there are certain ungodly men that have slithered their way into your fold who, from olden times, have been ordained to condemnation for denying the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ by perverting the grace of God into a license to commit sexual sin.

5 I thus want to bring to your remembrance--even though you have heard this before--how the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed the ones who refused to believe (what He had said).

6 And the angels, who went beyond their permitted authority, and left their original sphere of habitation (to breed with humans), God has also reserved in everlasting chains in the darkness of Tartarus until the (Last Judgment),

7 Just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them that, in like manner, gave themselves over to sexual licentiousness, and engaged in forbidden sexual practices, are presented as an example to us--for they suffer the vengeance of everlasting fire.

8 In the same way, these filthy dreamers defile their bodies, reject correction, and speak evil of (heavenly) authorities.

9 Yet even Michael the archangel, when disputing over the body of Moses with the devil, didn’t presume to denounce him, but simply said: “The Lord rebuke you!”

10 But these people speak evil about things they don’t understand, and what they do understand comes from mere instinct, like brute beasts; and in those things (they believe), they corrupt themselves.

11 Woe to them, for they have gone the same bad way as Cain did (being murderers); and they greedily ran down the same road as Balaam (selling out for money); and, like Korah, they will be swallowed up for rebelling against authority.

12 These people are like reefs in front of a ship when they come to eat without fear (of God) at your gatherings for worship and fellowship. They are waterless clouds, blown about by the wind...they are autumn trees with either withered fruit, or no fruit at all--utterly dead, and plucked up by the roots.

13 They are raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame. They are “wandering stars,” banished to the blackest darkness forever.

14 Enoch, the seventh (generation) from Adam prophesied about them, saying: Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

16 These are grumbling complainers who walk after their own (perverted) lusts. Their mouths are always ready to flatter and boast in order to take advantage of people.

17 But, beloved, remember the words which the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ spoke before.

18 They told you there would be mockers in the last days who would walk after their own ungodly lusts.

19 These people are those who cause dissension. They are carnal, and devoid of the Holy Spirit.

20-21 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in the most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will give you eternal life.

22-23 And have compassion on those whose faith is weak. Others save, pulling them out of the fire. Continue showing mercy (to those who have heard and rejected the Gospel, while hating and keeping yourself from their unrighteousness).

22-23 (Alternate reading): Stand against those criticizing the faith. Others save, pulling them out of the fire. Show mercy (to those who have heard and rejected the Gospel, while hating and keeping yourself from their unrighteousness).

24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you in perfection before the presence of His glory with tremendous joy,

25 To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.

1. Only in later centuries does the word “sanctified” appear. Manuscripts before the 9th century have the word “beloved” in its place.

2. It is noteworthy that Jude, in addition to Peter and Paul, faced the problem of false teachers who were perverting the Gospel of Grace into a license for sin.

3. It is here that Jude begins to deal with the metaphysical. The “angels” he speaks of are those who coupled with human women in Genesis 6, a universal belief within Christianity and Judaism until the time of Augustine when revisionists, adopting a theory by Julius Africanus created to placate critics of Christianity, abandoned traditional thinking to embrace the false “Godly line of Seth” notion. Note also that these beings are indicated to have willingly left their place of habitation, rather than being expelled by God as happened with Satan and his angels, suggesting an additional rebellion to Satan's, or that they were some sort of spirits or creatures from the terrestrial universe. (The word “estate” refers to the boundaries of authority these angels--or whatever they were--had, while the word “habitation” is better understood as, “principality,” or “domain.”)

 

4. The latter half of the verse refers to the tradition that these fallen angels were bound in Tartarus for 70 generations, at which time their judgment would occur (also see Matt. 8:29). As the Book of Enoch states:

To Michael likewise the Lord said, Go and announce his crime to Samyaza, and to the others who are with him, who have been associated with women, that they might be polluted with all their impurity. And when all their sons shall be slain, when they shall see the perdition of their beloved, bind them for seventy generations underneath the earth, even to the day of judgment, and of consummation, until the judgment, the effect of which will last forever, be completed.

--1 Enoch 10:15.

Interestingly, the demon Azazel, mentioned in the Book of Enoch as one of the leaders of the angels in the Genesis 6 incident, is also mentioned in Lev. 16 in connection with the Yom Kippur sacrifice. The sins of the people would be conferred upon the goat for Azazel (the Scapegoat), and this goat would be taken into the wilderness a few miles southeast of Jerusalem and cast off the cliff of Haradan into an abyss at the bottom of which Azazel was believed to be imprisoned. (The Bible does not mention this, but this was what the Jews did with the goat.) There is an obvious parallel between the goat’s being cast into an abyss, and Azazel and his angels being judged and cast into the depths of Tartarus.

The Augustinian, of course, must take the view this reference to Azazel is actually a reference to Satan. If so, we have a problem: Satan and his angels are not locked up in Tartarus! Satan and his angels were alive and active in the time of Christ, and still are today!* Yet Peter specifically (2 Peter 2:4) states that at least one group of angelic beings have literally been cast down to Tartarus and bound in chains until the Last Judgment. So if Satan and his angels are not currently bound in Tartarus--who is?

The answer goes back--again--to the angels who interbred with humans.

So then--is it impossible that Azazel is somehow another name for Satan? One cannot be dogmatic on it, but as is typical on this issue, Azazel and Satan were not viewed as the same creature before post-apostolic revisionists--after being faced with a problematic verse--concluded that it had to be referring to Satan, because the traditional understanding offended them.

 

* It should be noted that some theologians hold the view that Satan and his angels are “bound” in the sense that we are (supposedly) living in the Millennial reign of Christ, and Satan and his angels cannot stop the spread the Gospel. While some fine teachers approach the Scriptures from that sort of perspective, the author is not amongst the camp of those who repeatedly see the Bible as talking in metaphors, and almost never being literal when dealing with the supernatural or end times.

 

5. One wonders how much more proof should be necessary to conclude that Jude held the same belief on the issue of Genesis 6 as everyone else of his time. Verse 4 begins with, “And the angels...” and verse 5 concludes, “even as Sodom and Gomorrha...in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh,” are crystal clear that sexual impropriety existed both in Sodom and amongst some fallen angels who went beyond the bounds God allotted to them! I reiterate that most everyone believed this doctrine until Augustine fought to overturn it, and it may be helpful to again cite from the very book Jude is quoting on the subject:

 

It happened after the sons of men had multiplied in those days, that daughters were born to them, elegant and beautiful.

And when the angels, the sons of heaven, beheld them, they became enamored of them, saying to each other: Come, let us select for ourselves wives from the progeny of men, and let us beget children.

--1 Enoch 7:1-2.

 

6. This is Jewish tradition penned in the Assumption of Moses. Interestingly, Jude states this as a known fact, not as speculation or poetic license, proving that some non-canonical books do present at least some inerrant truth not found in canonical Scripture alone. Also, commonly missed is the fact that this verse demolishes the teaching of some that Jesus is the archangel Michael. We see here that Michael is less powerful than Satan, and had to call upon the name of God to drive Satan off. Jesus, in contrast, when personally dealing with the devil, even in human form uses His own word, without calling on “the LORD,” to rebuke Satan--because He is God!

7. Better translated as: “Reefs”--rocks in the way of a sailing vessel that can cause it to wreck and be lost.

8. The feasts spoken of are the early Christian love feasts, at which they basically had potlucks, fellowship, and worship.

9. While the reference to “wandering stars” may simply be Jude’s way of saying these people are “doing their own thing,” and will be judged for it, the fact that he adds they will be banished to a realm of utter darkness suggests he is again referring to the fallen angels of Genesis 6 who were banished to Tartarus. Otherwise, Jude is recalling the legends about some stars in the heavens who were banished for refusing to obey God’s command to come forth to their ordained positions on the day of creation. James may allude to this as well when he mentions there is no “shadow of turning” in God, who is the “Father of stars” (accurately, but misleadingly, translated as “Father of lights”).

10. A quote from 1 Enoch 58:9. The Bible does not say Enoch was the seventh son of Adam; in fact, Enoch was the son of Jared. The use of the word “Seventh” is apparently mystical, and may be an attempt to tag Enoch as the head of the seventh generation from Adam.

11. The prophecy is from 1 Enoch 2:1. Deut. 33:2 uses some similar language, but only Enoch words it in this way, which is significant--for it shows how much Jude must have esteemed this book. Had Jude relegated it to mere myth, as modern theologians do, we must ask why he would quote the Book of Enoch instead of building on Deut. 33:2. Jude's quoting Enoch like this clearly suggests he accepted its teachings in the same way virtually all of Christianity and Judaism did into the 2nd century.

12. “Separate themselves” means those who cause division by opposing the teachers of truth.

13. There is some debate over what Jude means by “praying in the Holy Ghost.” Is he referring to praying in Tongues? Possibly. This may be likely, based on 1 Cor. 14:4, since Jude equates the prayer with ‘building up’ oneself. Otherwise, he is merely exhorting the people to pray according to the revealed will of God in Scripture.

14. The sentence may be better paraphrased as: And have compassion on those whose faith is weak.”

15. “With fear” is an addition from later centuries. It should otherwise be noted that the Greek in these two verses is extremely hard to understand, and this is why the paraphrase is different from the way the KJV renders it.

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