The Letter of Jude

Background

The letter from Jude was written around 65 AD, although there is a fairly wide range of possible dates. Scholars seem to agree that this was a half-brother of Jesus, just as James was.

Outline

  1. 1:1–2 Greetings
  2. 1:3–4 The problem of false teachers
  3. 1:5–13 A lesson not learned
  4. 1:14–16 Enoch’s prophecy
  5. 1:17–23 Turning away from falsehood
  6. 1:24–25 Praise

1:1–2 Greetings

Another “slave of Jesus” is Jude, who identifies himself as the brother of James. There was an Ambassador named Jude, but this one does not identify himself as an Ambassador. He doesn’t say who his intended audience is, beyond their being believers, whom he describes as being “called by Jesus.”

1:3–4 The problem of false teachers

Jude’s intentions were to just chat about salvation, but Gnosticism was rising up and infiltrating the young Congregations. Notice that we are to “contend for the faith.” Many today teach that this is wrong, unloving, negative, etc. But there is no way to take this as a vague and gentle “sharing” of what we believe. It is a strong defense and counter-attack against falsehood. And it is The Faith we are to contend for, not our personal convictions beyond salvation. It is The Faith “that was handed over to the holy ones.” That faith is what is recorded in the pages of the New Testament, that Jesus is God in the flesh who paid for our sins and rose from the dead. We dare not be weak or unsure about this, nor fail to oppose any other teaching.

The community of believers had been infiltrated by sneaky false teachers, but such are doomed. And we can recognize them by their immorality and disrespect toward God.

1:5–13 A lesson not learned

This passage gives us a rare glimpse into the realm of Messengers (angels). The “Messengers who did not stay in their positions but left their home” (trad. “fallen angels”) were thrown into an eternal gloomy prison to await Judgement Day. The statement that follows tells us that these Messengers were the ones who “were extremely promiscuous” as told in Gen. 6:1-8. The phrase “different flesh” is not defined but probably refers to the fact that Messengers were intermarrying with humans. It’s possible that the stories we’ve all heard about alleged space aliens abducting people and doing experiments on them related to reproduction are either the remaining fallen Messengers or possibly demons (the hybrid children of the illicit unions) that are trying the same thing. Their destiny is “eternal gloomy darkness”.

Jude ties the false teachers he’s writing about to these fallen Messengers. These people are like animals, dismissing the supernatural as a myth and mocking all who believe in it. Yet not even the Ruling Messenger Michael would mock Satan. This incident of them arguing over the body of Moses is not recorded in scripture. For that reason some believe the letter should not be in the Bible, but Jude is simply referring to an event in history, not promoting any false teaching.

Again, these false teachers are like wild animals who act only on instinct. They are an embarrassment at the “fellowship meals” in the assemblies, treating them only as occasions for gluttony and not recognizing the Master at all.

1:14–16 Enoch’s prophecy

Jude mentions Enoch as making a prophecy about such evil people. Does this mean we should accept as scripture the “Book of Enoch”? Not at all. For one thing, there is no record of any other prophecies from Enoch. For another, there are many forgeries of the book. And for yet another, none of them are from anywhere near the time of Enoch. The Jews faithfully preserved the words of all prophets of God, so the absence of any ancient Book of Enoch should tell us something. If the letter of Jude can be called into question just for quoting it, then certainly the Book of Enoch should not even be considered.

So though there are some intriguing things in the Book of Enoch, and it may indeed be historically accurate, the point in quoting Enoch is that he predicted the final judgment of such evil people, who do nothing but complain and boast and fool people with flattery.

1:17–23 Turning away from falsehood

Here Jude refers to Ambassadors, implying that he is not one of them. They foretold the coming of scoffers and deceivers who would cause divisions in the Congregation. But in the face of that, we must be vigilant in prayer and in following the Holy Spirit. We must show mercy to those who are confused, plead with those who are backsliding, and thereby “snatch the lost from the fire.”

1:24–25 Praise

Jude closes with yet another of many similar statements found elsewhere in scripture: Jesus is able to guard us and bring us safely into God’s presence. He will again be recognized for the majesty he had before the ages.