The book of Jude

Have you ever heard of a false teacher preaching from the book of Jude? It isn’t likely, because Jude takes them to task.  It comes just before Revelation at the back of the Bible.

It is only a page, so just take a couple of minutes to read this and you will have completed a whole book of the Bible!

It was written by Jude (surprise!), one of Jesus’ half-brothers. He is modest in his introduction. He could have done the ultimate in name-dropping (“It’s me, Jesus’ brother . . .”).

The general theme of Jude is to avoid false teaching. He highlights past examples of false teaching and examples from his time then gives guidance on how to avoid it and achieve victory over it.

It is interesting that the church was only a few decades old and false teachers had already slipped in. Most of the New Testament letters correct false doctrine, and Jesus himself spent a lot of time blasting the false teachings of the Pharisees. More verses on the importance of sound doctrine and rooting out false teachers can be found here.

Jude highlights the doom of people without Christ, and encourages believers to persevere in their faith.

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

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Judgment on False Teachers

3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

God is serious about sound teaching.  Many theological liberals mock the need for understanding scripture properly.  Ironically enough, that is more evidence of their credentials as wolves in sheep’s clothing.  The apostate denominations teaching all sorts of perversions are the same ones denying the deity and exclusivity of Jesus.  No surprise there.

5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

I thought it was very interesting how the ESV said it was Jesus who saved the Israelites in Egypt.  Of course I know that Jesus is God and there are countless other verses to support that, but I didn’t know that the earliest and best manuscripts had “Jesus” instead of the less specific “Lord” in verse 5.

Verse 7 references the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah because of their sexual immorality and perversion. This and other Bible passages show how rampant, unrestrained homosexuality was the real sin of these towns, despite some revisionist claims that their real sin was inhospitality. It is true that inhospitality was a serious social error in those times, but God isn’t in the habit of annihilating multiple cities because humans violate their own customs. If you read the original account in Genesis 19 it is clear that to call the citizens’ behavior “inhospitality” would be a gross understatement.

8 Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones. 9 But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively. 11 Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12 These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

Verse 11 has three references to Old Testament passages: Cain, who offered the wrong kind of worship to God and killed his brother out of jealousy, Balaam, who pretended to serve God out of greed and encouraged others to sin, and Korah, who rebelled directly against Moses and indirectly against God.

Verses 14-16 point out how serious rebellion is and how it will eventually be judged.

14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

Note the repetition of  “ungodly” four times.

A Call to Persevere

17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19 It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit. 20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life. 22 And have mercy on those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.

The last section emphasizes perseverance, or staying the course. Living the Christian life can be very hard at times, but we can trust that everything works out for the best in the end. Focus on Christ and living for him and you won’t have any regrets.

This all applies today like it did 2,000 years ago.  Verse 21 emphasizes that Jesus brings us eternal life. Thanks be to God for that!

Doxology

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

That is magnificent ending to this short book.  Jesus will indeed present his followers as blameless before God.  That is the real Gospel: Jesus died for our sins and rose again.  He is the one true God who is over all things.

False teaching is rampant in the church today.  The cure is to be intimately familiar with the truth.  Study God’s word as much as you can, and be ready to share the truth in love.  Because eternity matters.

10 thoughts on “The book of Jude

  1. Jesus said I judge no man. Jesus also said, love one another as I have loved you. Have you not read, in that night there shall be 2 men in one bed, one shall be taken and the other left, Peter girded his loins (for he was naked) and did cast himself into the sea. What about “when the UNCLEAN spirit goes out of a man he walketh in dry places, seeking REST, and findeth none, he says to himself I will return to my house, from whence I came, and there he goeth, but with him he take 7 more spirits more wicked then he and the last state of the man is worse then the first. I intentionaly left out HE FIND IT EMPTIED SWEPT AND GARNISHED. The spirit enters the body after it has been made male or female, and during it’s first breath of life We are all as ONE. The Glorified Jesus told Mary Magdalene I will make you a man. Who told you that homosexuality was an abomination, was it Jesus or someone else. The Disciple Jesus loved, layed his head on his bosom. Homosexuality is not a sin, we are supposed to love one another, lusting and having unlawful sex is the sin.

  2. Sounds like you’ve been reading the Gospel of Thomas and taking it seriously. The nonsense about Jesus telling Mary He would make her a man isn’t in the Bible. The Bible is God’s Word. Jesus is God. Therefore, Jesus said homosexuality is a sin.

  3. Hi Neil,
    Great point on the need for sound doctrine in the church, even the early church. It really dispels the notion of some “golden era” of the church. Error and false teachers have been there since the beginning.

    DiscipleABCT — read your bible. You really are wasting your time trying to defend the “Jesus never condemned homosexuals so it’s OK” argument. There are only about 50 posts on this blog alone the refute that position. Please repent of your sin spelled out in Romans 1:18ff.

    Blessings

  4. Didn’t the Beatles do a song about this book? (sorry, couldn’t resist).

    Good synopsis. My favorite verse is Acts 17:11 where it says they “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” They didn’t just take Paul’s word for it, they checked it against God’s Holy Word. Seems like we ought to do the same.

    And yes, Neil, I even check your words. :)

    • I had to resist the impulse to title this “Hey Jude.”

      I love Acts 17:11. Just used that yesterday on another blog!

      Sent from my iPhone

  5. “It was written by Jude (surprise!), one of Jesus’ half-brothers.”

    I know that this is not at all your point in your refections but I was curious if this statement is confirmable as fact? I have heard that it was possible that Jude was Jesus’ brother Judas but I really don’t know much about it. A friend who I have been witnessing to was asking if Jesus had brothers and why we don’t know much about them. I told her that he did have siblings and named James as one who converted after Jesus’ resurrection. (I am not arguing with you at all; just asking for more info on the subject :) )

    • Hi Alysa,

      Good question. I didn’t elaborate on that as the post was too long already. Here are a couple notes from other sources. I think the key part is ” . . . brother of James.” Hope this isn’t overkill ;-) .

      ESV Study Bible:

      As its title implies, the book was written by Jude, brother of James and Jesus (cf. Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3, where Gk. “Judas” is the same as “Jude” in Jude 1). There is little debate regarding the authenticity of the letter because of the strength of internal evidence (e.g., v. 1). Some have claimed that an anonymous author wrote this using Jude’s name, but it is unlikely that any imposter would choose the name of such an insignificant figure for his writing. Also, such a pseudonymous work would have been rejected by the church (see Introduction to 1 Timothy: Author and Title), and Jude has been accepted as canonical from earliest times.

      This is from the Bible Knowledge Commentary:

      The writer of the Epistle of Jude, the last of the “General Epistles,” introduced his letter with one simple declaration about himself: “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and a brother of James” (v. 1).
      Who was this Jude? Three possibilities exist. The author may be either (a) Judas, a half brother of Christ, or (b) Judas, the apostle, or (c) Judas, a leader in the early church of Jerusalem. This latter Judas was sent to Antioch with Paul, Barnabas, and Silas (Acts 15:22). His surname was Barsabbas, indicating that he could have been a brother of Joseph Barsabbas, who was one of two “nominees” to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:23). Thus he would have been known in the church. But little other evidence points to this individual as the author of this epistle.
      As to whether he was the Apostle Jude, verse 17 in his letter seems to indicate that he did not consider himself to be an apostle, though modesty could have led him to write as he did. However, the important subject that he wrote about would probably have called for his identifying himself with the other apostles, for authority’s sake, if he really was an apostle.
      The most probable identification is that the author Jude was a half brother of Christ, a son of Joseph and Mary after Jesus. The term “servant” would be fitting, for though at first Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him (John 7:5), yet later they saw the resurrected Christ and were convinced (Acts 1:14). Among these was Judas, who did not consider himself worthy to call himself a “brother” but just a “servant” of Jesus Christ.
      The James referred to by Jude as his brother was thus also a half brother of the Lord (Matt. 13:55; Mark 6:3), as well as a leader of the church at Jerusalem (Acts 15:13), and author of the epistle bearing his name (James 1:1).
      Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-). Vol. 2: The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures (916–917). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

      And from the Wycliffe Bible Commentary:

      Authorship and Date. The Epistle of Jude, the last of the “general” or “catholic” epistles, is declared to have been written by “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James.” Dispute over the authenticity of the claim is as old as Eusebius, who placed this letter, along with Hebrews, under suspicion. However, the soundest historical and internal evidence supports the truthfulness of the text. Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 name Judas (Jude) and James as brothers of Jesus. That James is identified so simply in this epistle is evidence that he was Jesus’ brother. Some scholars allege that “Jude” is a borrowed or pen name, but this is open to question. Apart from being the author of this letter, Jude had no special reputation or authority in the early church; therefore little reason existed for a forger to use Jude’s name.
      Pfeiffer, C. F., & Harrison, E. F. (1962). The Wycliffe Bible commentary : New Testament. Chicago: Moody Press.

    • Many names in those days were common. It takes some by surprise that the book of James was written by Jesus’ brother James, and not by James the apostle.

      Some commentators point out that James claims to be a servant of Jesus and not his brother. They believe this is because James reject Jesus as the Christ until after Jesus’ resurrection. And that the shame he felt for having doubted him prevented him from claiming to be his brother.

So, what do you think?

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