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Jude

Author: Jude, the brother of James

Date Written: c. 65-80 AD

 

Jude is mentioned in Matt 13:55 and Mark 6:3 as a member of Jesus' family.  He writes this letter to Jewish Christians, yet the exact destination of the letter is unclear.  He identifies himself as the brother of James who is mentioned several times in the NT and wrote the epistle of James.

 

As mentioned in the Introduction to 2 Peter, parts of 2 Peter (2:1-18; 3:1-3) are very similar to parts of Jude (4-13, 16-18).  Scholars have offered various guesses as to why this is the case.  It seems that one of the authors borrowed from the other, but it is not clear which one was the borrower.

 

Jude tells us that he had intended to write a letter concerning "our common salvation," (3) which would presumably be a more general treatise on Christian teaching.  Yet he decides to write a letter to encourage the believers to "contend" for the faith against the false teachers who are deceiving people (4).  In this way, Jude is very much like several other New Testament epistles.  The early apostles struggled to root out heresy and false teaching from the first years of the Christian faith.  The false teachers apparently perverted Christian teaching on grace into an excuse for sin (4).

 

Jude compares the false teachers to the doubting Israelites (5), the fallen angels (6), Sodom and Gomorrah (7), irrational animals (10), Cain, Balaam and the participants of Korah's rebellion (11).  This wide sweep of OT stories helps contextualize Jude's understanding of the false teachers.  Every OT personage he cites rebelled against God and rejected his divine authority.  Just as God exacted his judgment on each of them so will he judge the false teachers.

 

Near the end of the short letter, Jude gives instructions to the faithful.  He asks them to be mindful of the apostles' predictions about the scoffers who will come before the Second Coming of Jesus (18).  Jude equates the false teachers who are disturbing the Church with the predicted scoffers, so their presence has eschatological connotations.  He encourages his readers to edify one another, to pray in the Holy Spirit and to stay in the love of God (20-21).  He also asks them to reach out to the false teachers and those church members who have been influenced by them (22).  Yet the readers of the letter should be wary of getting too involved with the false teachers (23).  The letter concludes with a beautiful doxology (24-25)

 

Jude makes a couple references to non-biblical texts.  The story about the archangel Michael and the devil (8-9) is from the Testament of Moses.  The quotation in vv. 14-15 is from the Book of Enoch, an apocryphal book written in the first century BC.

 

Jude helps us understand the problems faced by the early Church so that we can apply the same principles to the situations we confront: to never compromise the truth of the faith (3), yet to always act in love and mercy (22-23).  Jude also teaches us to think with a biblical mindset, taking the values we can learn from biblical stories into the whole of human living.

 

By Mark Giszczak

 

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April 25, 2014

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