The book of Jude (Jude 1)

Bilderesultat for epistle of jude

The author of Jude called himself “a brother of James” (Jude 1:1). The most well-known James of early church was James, the Lord’s half-brother (see The book of James). Mark 6:3 mentions both James and Jude (Greek “Judas“) among the members of Jesus’ immediate family (see The family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus under Matthew 12). It should be noted that neither James nor Jude ever referred to himself as Jesus’ brother (most likely a demonstration of reverence), but others did not hesitate to speak of them in this way (see Matthew 13:55, John 7:3-10, Acts 1:14, 1 Corinthians 9:5, Galatians 1:19).

Some Biblical scholars deny that Jude wrote this letter, primarily on the grounds that its Greek is too articulate to have come from a Galilean, but this falsely assumes that the Galileans were semiliterate and lacking in contact with Hellenistic culture. Tiberias, on the western shore of the Sea of Galilee, was a thoroughly Hellenistic city, and its presence in the region illustrates that the broader culture of the Greco-Roman world was never far away.

Many believes that 2 Peter borrowed and modified material from Jude (see The book of 2 Peter). If this was indeed the case, and if 2 Peter was written about A.D. 64-68, as appears probable, then Jude was obviously written before A.D. 68. The apparent borrowing, however, may have gone the other way around.

All that is known of the original recipients of this letter is that they were Christians (Jude 1:1). Verse 3 may indicate that Jude knew them personally; from this some infer that the letter was more than simply a pamphlet addressed to a number of churches or to all Christians everywhere.

The tone of the letter suggests that its author was alarmed, and verse 3  indicates that the epistle was written in some haste. Jude clearly wanted to warn his readers to beware of false brothers who were infiltrating the churches, creating an irreverent atmosphere, causing divisions and disseminating doubt and cynicism. Their motivation Wasa greed and lust.

Interpreters have naturally tried to identify these false brothers, but Jude was not specific about them. It may be that he was dismayed over an increasing trend toward worldliness and the presence of a significant number of unconverted people within the churches.

As you read, notice the similarities between Jude and 2 Peter. Watch for references to the non-canonical works titled the Testament of Moses (also called the Assumption of Moses; 1:9) and the book of Enoch (1:14). For a better understanding of these texts, see The Bible and pseudepigraphical literature, also under Jude 1).

Did you know that the book of Jude was regarded by the second century church father Origen as “of but few verses yet full of mighty words of heavenly wisdom” (1:1-12)? Did you know that  Jude, like his brothers, did not believe in Jesus during His earthly ministry, but became His followers after the resurrection (1:1)? Did you know that both James an d Jude in the opening of their New Testament letters referred to themselves as servants of Jesus Christ rather than as His brothers in the flesh (1:1)? Did you know that Jude’s grandsons were brought before the emperor Domitian as descendants of David, but both were dismissed as harmless peasants (1:1)?


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