An Overview Of The Book Of Jude

Writer Of The Letter Of Jude

Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and a brother of James,” Jude 1

The Jude who wrote this letter was not an apostle. In the opening address of verse 1 he did not identify himself as an apostle. In fact, in Jude 17 he distinguished himself from the apostles and clearly did not include himself among their number. The writer, then, was not the apostle who was known as “Jude son of James” (cf. Luke 6:16; Acts 1:13), whose name was also Thaddaeus (cf. Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18).

Not being an apostle, the writer clarified he was the Jude who was the brother of James. His brother James was the well known and recognized head of the church in Jerusalem, the writer of the Letter of James, and a brother of the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Galatians 1:19; Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3). For more information about James, see the Overview Of The Book Of James. By identifying himself as the brother of James, the writer Jude made himself readily recognizable to his readers.

Being a brother of James, Jude was also a half brother of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is named as a half brother of Jesus in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. During the three years of Jesus' public ministry, Jude did not believe that his brother Jesus was the Christ and Son of God. His brothers James, Joseph, and Simon did not believe this about Jesus either (cf. John 7:3-5). Jude, like his brothers and sisters, thought Jesus was out of his mind and had lost his senses (cf. Mark 3:21).

Jude did not likely become a believer in Jesus until after Jesus had risen from the dead. What led Jude to his conversion is not known. Since Jesus appeared to his brother James (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:7), perhaps James was instrumental in Jude's conversion. In any case, Jude, as well as his brothers Joseph and Simon, became a missionary who traveled about to spread the gospel of Jesus (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:5).

Other than these scanty facts, little more is known about the life and work of Jude, except that he was married and that his wife accompanied him on his missionary journeys (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:5).

The content of Jude's letter reveals certain traits of his Christian character. He was zealous for the gospel and teachings of Jesus Christ, for the church, and for preserving the true Christian faith and life (cf. Jude 3, 4, 17, 19-21, 24-25). He was clearly agitated with the false teachers who had secretly crept into the church to turn the grace of God that forgives sins into a freedom and license to commit immoral acts and to sin all the more (cf. Jude 4). Jude was not a man to mince words. He forcefully exposed the false teachers as godless men (cf. Jude 5), blemishes (cf. Jude 12), ungodly individuals who were guilty of ungodly acts and words which were done in an ungodly manner (cf. Jude 15), grumblers and faultfinders and boasters and flatterers (cf. Jude 16), scoffers (cf. Jude 18), and divisive individuals who were without the Spirit of God (cf. Jude 19).

Through his blistering condemnation of the false teachers in his letter shines Jude's love and pastoral concern for his fellow Christians' faith and salvation. He was concerned that they be preserved from falling prey to the licentious teachings in their midst, and that those who had fallen for it be delivered from it (cf. Jude 20-23). He called on his fellow Christians to contend for the faith entrusted to them (cf. Jude 3). He built them up for the battle they were to wage against the false teachers by holding before them the love of God who would keep them in Jesus Christ for their eternal salvation (cf. Jude 1, 24).

Recipients Of The Letter Of Jude

“To those who are called, beloved in God the Father, and have been kept for Jesus Christ,” Jude 1.

This opening address does not identify who the original recipients were. The lack of information about Jude's life and work makes it impossible to determine who the Christian recipients were and where they were located. It appears that Jude may have known the recipients for some time. Three times he addressed them as dear friends, or beloved (cf. Jude 3,7,20). In Jude 3 he stated that he had been making every effort to write some kind of a document for them about their common salvation. Perhaps he had a long standing relationship with the recipients that went back to one of his former missionary journeys, of which Paul wrote about possibly as many as twenty years or more earlier (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:5), though this is pure speculation.

From the fact that Jude stated his readers were familiar with certain facts of Old Testament history, and that he also made use of statements from the apocryphal books with which the Jews were familiar, some scholars have speculated that the recipients of the letter were Jewish Christians. This, however, cannot be ascertained with any degree of certainty either.

Date And Place The Letter Of Jude Was Written

So little is known about the life and work of Jude that the date and place of writing cannot be established. Jude 17 suggests the letter was written after the time the apostles had preached and/or written to the recipients. This should not be understood to mean that all the apostles were dead when the letter was written, however, for the apostle John, for one, was still living and working in Ephesus at the time the letter is thought to have been written. But some of the apostles, with whom the recipients were familiar, may have died before Jude wrote his letter. Paul is believed to have died a martyr's death around A.D. 67 to A.D. 68. Peter is thought to have suffered martyrdom around that same time in A.D. 66 to A.D. 67. A date that has been suggested for the writing of the Letter of Jude is around A.D. 70 and possibly as late as A.D. 80.

Occasion Of The Letter Of Jude

Jude wrote the letter in response to certain false teachers who had infiltrated the church with their heresy that God's grace gave Christians the freedom to commit immoral acts and to sin all the more.

Purpose Of The Letter Of Jude

Jude's purpose was to expose the false teachers and their licentiousness, to urge the members of the church to contend for the faith that had been entrusted to them, and to encourage the members to extricate those in their midst who had fallen prey to the licentiousness.

Content Of The Letter Of Jude

The Letter of Jude bears a striking resemblance to the second chapter of the Second Letter of Peter. Scholars have asserted that either Jude borrowed material from Peter or that Peter borrowed it from Jude. If Peter borrowed from Jude, as a number of scholars have been said to have suggested, then Jude would have had to write his letter before Peter wrote his second letter. Yet it is generally thought that the Letter of Jude was written later, about A.D. 70, than the Second Letter of Peter, which was written around A.D. 66 to A.D. 67. If Jude's letter was indeed written after Peter's second letter, Jude is more likely to have borrowed from Peter than is Peter to have borrowed from Jude. It has been stated, and perhaps correctly so, that the false teachers Peter foretold in advance would arise in the church Jude later proclaimed had then infiltrated the church (compare 2 Peter 2:1-3 and Jude 4).

Jude is also said to have borrowed material from two apocryphal books, namely from “The Assumption of Moses” (cf. Jude 9) and from “The Book of Enoch” (cf. Jude 14,15). Neither are inspired Scriptures. Thus it is evident that the Holy Spirit through his inspiration, which filters out all inaccuracies and incorporates only what is the truth, had Jude make use of these two factual statements. Jude's use of the two apocryphal statements in no way implies the two apocryphal books should be considered on a par with the inspired Old Testament Scriptures. Scholars have noted that Paul also quoted from the pagan poets when their statements fit the point he was making (cf. Acts 17:28; 1 Corinthians 15:33; Titus 1:12).

Theme Of The Letter Of Jude

Contend For The Faith That Was Once For All Entrusted To The Saints, Jude 3

Outline Of The Letter Of Jude

Part 1: Address And Greeting, Jude 1,2

A. Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, Jude 1

B. To those who:

1. Have been called to faith, Jude 1

2. Are loved by God the Father, Jude 1

3. Are kept for and in Jesus Christ, Jude 1

C. The greeting that God's mercy, peace, and love belong in abundance to the recipients, Jude 2

Part 2: The Purpose Of Jude's Writing The Letter, Jude 3,4

A. Jude's admonition: Dear friends, contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints like you, Jude 3

B. Jude's reason for urging his Christian readers to contend for the faith: Certain false teachers, whose condemnation was previously written about, had secretly infiltrated their church and slipped in among them, Jude 4a

Part 3: The False Teachers' Fundamental Error, Jude 4b

A. They change the grace of God, which forgives sins, into a license and freedom to sin all the more and commit immoral acts, Jude 4b

B. They deny Jesus Christ our Lord, Jude 4b

Part 4: Three Reminders Of The Lord's Just Punishment That Falls On The Licentious, Jude 5-7

A. Remember that during the exodus the Lord destroyed the unbelieving Jews in the wilderness who did not walk in the faith. Many of them had also fallen into immorality (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:8; Numbers 25:1-15), Jude 5

B. Remember that the angels who fell into sin have been kept by the Lord in eternal bonds for the punishment to be meted out in the judgment on the last day, Jude 6

C. Remember that the homosexuals of Sodom and Gomorrah perished in the fire and brimstone as examples of those who will suffer the punishment of the eternal fires of hell, Jude 7

Part 5: A Description Of The Licentious False Teachers, Jude 8-16

A. Their false teaching is a result of their own dreaming and subjective speculations, Jude 8a

B. They then pollute and defile their own bodies in immoral acts, Jude 8b

C. They reject the authority of the Lord's apostles and spokesmen, whom he sent to preach and teach his authoritative Word, Jude 8c

D. Like unreasoning animals, they slander the angelic, celestial beings, which the archangel Michael would not do to the devil himself. By this they are corrupted, Jude 8d-10

E. They have followed the path of evil Cain. They have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, who for a profit was a false prophet who loved his wages of wickedness. He taught Balak to cause the Israelites to fall from faith by getting them to commit immoral acts. (cf. 2 Peter 2:15; Numbers 22-24; Revelation 2:14). They have perished in a rebellion like that of Korah's rebellion against the authority that the Lord had established (cf. Numbers 16:1-3 & 31-35).

F. They are stains and blemishes at your fellowship meals; waterless clouds; fruitless, uprooted trees that are twice dead; waves of shame; wandering stars reserved for the eternal outer darkness, Jude 12,13

G. They are the fulfillment of righteous Enoch's prophecy, and thus they will be judged as ungodly men who are guilty of ungodly acts and words which they commit in an ungodly manner, Jude 14,15

H. In the church they are grumblers and faultfinders, who:

1. Follow their own evil desires, Jude 16

2. Boast about themselves, Jude 16

3. Flatter you Christians for their own advantage, Jude 16

Part 6: Remember The Word's Of Jesus' Apostles Who Predicted The Coming Of Such False Teachers, Jude 17-19

A. The apostles warned you that there would be such mockers and scoffers, who would follow their own ungodly lusts and desires, Jude 17,18

B. The apostles said these false teachers are the ones who cause divisions in the church with their heresies, Jude 19a

C. The apostles said these false teachers follow their worldly, natural instincts, because they do not have the Spirit, Jude 19b

Part 7: Take These Two Courses Of Action, Jude 20-23

A. Protect yourselves from the false teaching so you may persevere in the true faith, Jude 20,21

1. Build yourselves up in your holy faith, Jude 20

2. Pray for the Holy Spirit to help and strengthen you in your fight against this immoral, false teaching, Jude 20

3. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life in heaven, Jude 21

B. Extricate those affected by the false teaching in your midst, Jude 22,23

1. Have mercy on those members who have been given doubts about the true faith by the false teachers in your midst, Jude 22

2. Save those whom you can by snatching them from the fire in which the false teaching has embroiled them, Jude 23

3. Show mercy to others with fear, while hating even the clothing that has been polluted and stained in the immoral corrupting of their bodies, Jude 23

Part 8: Closing Doxology

A hymn that gives praise to the God who is able to keep the Christians from falling from faith, so they may stand in his glorious presence without fault but with joy, Jude 24,25