From the Editor’s Notebook: Journeying Through Jude, part 1

From the Editor’s Notebook

W. Ross Rainey

Journeying Through Jude
(Part 1)

The Writer

There are seven Judes or Judases mentioned in the New Testament:

    1. Judas, the ancestor of Jesus (Luke 3:30)

    2. Judas, the Galilean (Acts 5:37).

    3. Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve and the betrayer of Christ (Mark 3:19).

    4. Judas, with whom the Apostle Paul lodged (Acts 9:11).

    5. Judas Barsabbas, one of the chief men among the brethren at Jerusalem (Acts 15:22).

    6. Judas, the apostle (Acts 1:13)

    7. Judas, the half brother of the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3).

The writer of this brief letter is the last in the list, Jude, the half brother of our Lord (Jude had a human father, whereas our Lord did not). The Scriptures certify that he became a believer shortly after the resurrection of Christ (cf. John 7:5; Acts 1:14; 1 Cor. 15:7). Though Tertullian identifies the author of this letter as the Apostle Jude, it should be noted that the writer made no claim to be an apostle and actually distinguished himself from the apostles (v. 17). He appealed to his relationship as the “brother of James” (v. 1), which James was prominent among his readers. By omission of the apostolic title both James and Jude indicate that they were not apostles. That Jude made no claim in his letter to be the brother of the Lord Jesus is easily understood in the light of Christ’s altered human relationships following His ascension to the right hand of God the Father. Rather, he simply referred to himself as “the servant of Jesus Christ.”

That Jude was an evangelist and married may be inferred from 1 Corinthians 9:5. Nothing further is known about him.

His style of writing is much like that of his brother James, poetic and vivid. It may be further described as bold, rugged, picturesque, prophetic, energetic and even vehement.

The Readers

Though the address is general, it is evident that Jewish believers are in view. Apart from 2 Peter and possibly Hebrews, this letter contains more allusions to Jewish history than any other New Testament letter. Verses 4 and 16 localize the occasion of the letter, and in all probability it was addressed to some particular church, probably in Palestine.

The Date

Since there is no mention of the destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.), which surely would have been cited in verses 5-7, it is assumed that Jude wrote his letter around 67 or 68 A.D.

The Object

    1. Jude is especially fond of triplets, of which there are twelve groups (see v. 1, having two sets, vv. 2, 8, 11; double triplets are found in “kept,” three times in reference to the godly, vv. 1, 21, 24, and three times in reference to the ungodly, vv. 6, 13; and in “ungodly,” vv. 4, 15, 18).

    2. A portrait of false teachers is given in the three historical examples of Cain, Salaam and Korah.

    3. Jude is the only book in the Bible which records the strife over Moses’ body (v. 9), and the prophecy of Enoch (vv. 14-15).

    4. Jude refers to three groups of writings: (1) the Old Testament; (2) the New Testament; and (3) the Apocryphal Writings.

    5. Jude is very similar to 2 Peter, and since it is widely believed that the latter is the earlier of the two letters, it is apparent that Jude quotes from it (cf. Jude 4-16 with 2 Pet. 2:1-18; and Jude 17 & 18 with 2 Pet. 3:2 & 3).

    6. Jude mentions three eternal things: (1) chains; (2) fire; and (3) life (see vv. 6, 7, 21).

    7. Jude presents the pathway of security for the Christian, and several prominent themes are found in his letter:
    a. The Trinity (vv. 4, 20).
    b. The deity of Christ (V. 21).
    c. The historicity of the Old Testament (vv. 5-11).
    d. The personality and power of Satan (v. 9).
    e. The angels (vv. 6-7).
    f. The certainty of judgment (vv. 6, 7, 13).
    g. The second coming of Christ (vv. 14-15).

    8. Peter speaks of the apostasy as undeveloped; whereas Jude speaks of it as having already come.

    9. Jude is a profound and highly applicable letter in view of present-day conditions of widespread apostacy.

    10. That Jude should refer to the Apocryphal books of The Assumption or Ascension of Moses (written about 50 A.D.), and the Book of Enoch (written in the 1st or 2nd century B.C.) need not cause surprise. James makes use of the Wisdom of Solomon, and Paul quotes from Epimenides, Aratus, and Menander (Acts 17:28; 1 Cor. 15:33; 2 Tim. 3:8; Tit. 1:12). Jude uses these references as passing illustrations. There is no need to suppose that these excerpts from extant and current sources were given by special revelation. “Honour is not done to God by our creating a miracle where there is no need for one.”1

    11. “Kept” is the keynote of the letter. It is found in verses 1, 6 and 21, and in another form in verse 24.

    12. Jude “is the Holy Spirit’s warning to the church against apostasy.”2

    13. In Jude, Christians are PRESERVED “in Christ.”

Quotable Quotes

Origin, one of the early church fathers, refers to Jude’s letter as “an Epistle of few lines, but one filled full of the strong words of heavenly grace.”3

Robert Lee has stated: “Jude’s epistle is one of the most solemn in the Bible. It gives a history of apostasy from before time to the end of time, dealing with the ambitious angels, self-righteous Cain, depraved Sodomites, rebellious Israel, greedy Balaam, presumptuous Korah, and the apostasy of his day and ours; in all, three judgments on corporate wickedness, and three on individual.”4

S. Maxwell Coder wrote: “Jude is the only book in all God’s Word entirely devoted to the great apostasy which is to come upon Christendom before the Lord Jesus Christ returns. This brief message of twenty-five verses is the vestibule to the Revelation, introducing the Bible student to the apocalyptic judgments unfolded therein.

“Without Jude, the prophetic picture which begins with the teachings of Christ in the Gospels and develops throughout the epistles would be incomplete.”5

(Editor’s Note: This introductory study of Jude’s letter is the first of several studies on this important epistle which will appear in future issues of the magazine, in our Lord’s will.)

1 Ibid., p. 305.

2 Robert L. Evans, The Epistle of Jude, p.5.

3 Ibid., p. 5.

4 Robert Lee, The Outlined Bible, Analysis No. 65.

5 S. Maxwell Coder, Jude: The Acts of the Apostates, p. 3.