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 aid 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, 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.
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 (Luke 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 2 Peter 3:3 with Jude 18), it may be inferred that he wrote his letter later, possibly in 65 C.E.
The Bible book of Jude was accepted as canonical by early Scripture cataloguers. Among these from the second through the fourth centuries C.E. were Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Athanasius, Epiphanius, Gregory Nazianzus, Philastrius, Jerome and Augustine. The letter is also included in the Muratorian Fragment (c. 170 C.E.).
OUTLINE OF CONTENTS
I. Identification of writer and salutation (vss. 1, 2)
II. Reason for writing: Immoral, ungodly men slipped into congregation (vss. 3 4)
III. Historical examples of wrong conduct and consequences (vss. 5-7)
A. Israelites whom God saved out of Egypt but afterward destroyed for lack of faith (vs. 5)
B. Angels that forsook proper dwelling place in Noah’s days reserved by God for judgment (vs. 6)
C. Sodom and Gomorrah and surrounding cities, because of excessive fornication and sexual perversion, underwent judicial punishment of everlasting fire (vs. 7)
IV. Description of disrespectful, immoral persons that seek to defile flesh (vss. 8-13)
A. Disregard lordship and speak abusively of glorious ones, not imitating respectful attitude of archangel Michael (vss. 8-10)
B. Pursue bad course like Cain, Balaam and Korah (vs. 11)
C. Are like rocks hidden below water, shepherds that feed selves, waterless clouds, fruitless trees that have been uprooted, wild waves of sea and wandering stars (vss. 12, 13)
V. Declarations of God’s judgment against ungodly (vss. 14-19)
A. Enoch’s prophecy about coming destruction of ungodly (vss. 14, 15)
B. Selfish, animalistic, ungodly men foretold by apostles for “last time” (vss. 16-19)
VI. Encouragement for true believers and their responsibility (vss. 20-25)
A. Build selves up in holy faith and pray with holy spirit (vs. 20)
B. Keep in love of God and expectation of mercy (vs. 21)
C. Show mercy to those having doubts; endeavor to save them by snatching them out of fire (vss. 22, 23)
D. Conclusion ascribing to God the glory, majesty, might and authority for all past eternity and now and into all eternity (vss. 24, 25)