JUDE, THE LETTER OF
An inspired letter of the Christian Greek Scriptures written by Jude, a brother of James and therefore evidently also a half brother of Jesus Christ. (See JUDE.) Addressed to “the called ones who are loved in relationship with God the Father and preserved for Jesus Christ,” this general letter was evidently to be circulated to all Christians.—Jude 1.
At the time Jude wrote his letter a threatening situation had developed. Immoral, animalistic men had slipped in among Christians and were ‘turning the undeserved kindness of God into an excuse for loose conduct.’ For this reason Jude did not, as he had originally intended, write about the salvation that Christians called to God’s heavenly Kingdom hold in common. Instead, directed by God’s spirit, he provided exhortation to help fellow believers to cope successfully with corruptive influences inside the congregation. Jude admonished them to “put up a hard fight for the faith” by resisting immoral persons, by maintaining pure worship and fine conduct, and by “praying with holy spirit.” (Jude 3, 4, 19-23) Drawing upon such examples as the angels that sinned, the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah, Cain, Balaam, and Korah, Jude forcefully proved that Jehovah’s judgment will be executed upon ungodly persons just as certainly as it was upon the unfaithful angels and wicked men of former times. He also exposed the baseness of those who were trying to defile Christians.—Jude 5-16, 19.
Unique Information. Though short, Jude’s letter contains some information not found elsewhere in the Bible. It alone mentions the archangel Michael’s dispute with the Devil over Moses’ body and the prophecy uttered centuries earlier by Enoch. (Jude 9, 14, 15) Whether Jude received this information through direct revelation or by reliable transmission (either oral or written) is not known. If the latter was the case, this may explain the presence of a similar reference to Enoch’s prophesying in the apocryphal book of Enoch (thought to have been written probably sometime during the second and first centuries B.C.E.). A common source could have furnished the basis for the statement in the inspired letter as well as in the apocryphal book.
Place and Time of Writing. Likely Jude wrote his letter from Palestine, as there is no record of his ever having left this land. It is possible to arrive at an approximate date for the letter on the basis of internal evidence. The fact that Jude mentions neither Cestius Gallus’ coming against Jerusalem (66 C.E.) nor the fall of that city to the Romans under Titus (70 C.E.) suggests that he wrote before the year 66 C.E. Had even a part of Jesus’ prophecy regarding Jerusalem’s destruction been fulfilled (Lu 19:43, 44), Jude doubtless would have included this execution of divine judgment as another warning example. Since Jude seemingly quoted from Peter’s second letter about ridiculers appearing “in the last time” (compare 2Pe 3:3 with Jude 18), it may be inferred that he wrote his letter later, in about 65 C.E.
Authenticity. The Bible book of Jude was accepted as canonical by early Scripture catalogers. Among these from the second through the fourth centuries C.E. were Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Epiphanius, Gregory of Nazianzus, Philastrius, Jerome, and Augustine. The letter is also included in the Muratorian Fragment (c. 170 C.E.).
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HIGHLIGHTS OF JUDE
Concise, powerful warning against wicked ones who would infiltrate the congregation
Probably written about 65 C.E., more than 30 years after the death and resurrection of Christ
A situation calling for Christian endurance (vss 1-4)
Ungodly men have slipped into congregation and are using God’s undeserved kindness as an excuse for loose conduct
Christians must put up a hard fight for the faith
Attitudes, conduct, and people to guard against (vss 5-16)
Not to be forgotten is the fact that Israelites saved from Egypt who later lacked faith were destroyed
Angels that forsook their proper position were punished
Grossly immoral Sodom and Gomorrah suffered the judgment of everlasting fire
Despite these examples, some endeavor to bring similar practices into the congregation
Michael was not abusive, even when speaking with the Devil; but these men ‘speak abusively of glorious ones’
They are following the bad examples of Cain, Balaam, and Korah
They pose a threat comparable to rocks hidden below water; like waterless clouds and dead, uprooted trees, they produce nothing beneficial
Enoch prophesied God’s judgment against such ungodly sinners
These men are murmurers, complainers, self-centered, as well as deceptive flatterers
How Christians can resist this bad influence (vss 17-25)
Remember, the apostles foretold the presence of such men in “the last time”
Christians should stand out as different from them, building themselves up on the foundation of faith, praying with holy spirit, keeping themselves in God’s love, waiting for Jesus’ mercy to be expressed
They should also help others, showing mercy to doubters, saving them by snatching them out of the fire