Book of Jude
Written in the reign of Nero, AD 54-68
Jude writes his letter AD 60-64. Temple is destroyed, the early church scatters AD70
Jude is the fifth shortest book in the Bible, clocking in with 461 words. One night, when I couldn’t sleep I thought I would read Jude. I thought, “It’s short and shouldn’t take too long.” Was I ever wrong!
Jude is full of insight and warnings. And I couldn’t help myself with the Beatles reference on the title. 😉
Before we unpack the book of Jude, I have a disclaimer: I am not a Bible scholar. I don’t have a degree in theology. I am just a woman who desperately wants to understand the Bible and develop a deeper walk with Jesus. I try my best to state truth and understanding. I pray that anything I say here that is untrue or misunderstood will be forgotten and only the good stuff is remembered. Amen
Scripture: Read Jude 1:1-2. In the opening sentence Jude explains who he is. “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.” He is the brother of James who is the half-brother of Jesus. Therefore, Jude is the half-brother of Jesus as well. However, he doesn’t identify himself in this way. He says he is a servant of Jesus Christ.
Observation: I think he identifies himself in this way because he didn’t see himself as a sibling but as a true servant to the Lord. Interestingly, many of Jesus’ family members didn’t think of Jesus as the true messiah. It wasn’t until after the resurrection that half-brothers Jude and James came to be believers and Jesus followers. Can you imagine being a part of this family with their presumably crazy brother Jesus? “There he goes again. Jesus is so crazy.” [insert eye-roll]
Back in Biblical times it wasn’t unusual for people to claim they were the messiah. It happened a lot. So, to disbelieve Jesus’ claim could be understandable, even if his mother, Mary backed up that claim. Sometimes people needed to see for themselves to believe. Seeing is believing.
Side note: The name Jude translates to Judas, but we are not to confuse him with the one who betrayed Jesus. There are six men mentioned in the Bible named Jude/Judas.
Jude continues to address who the letter is intended for, “To those who are called…” Those who are called are early Christians.
In verse 2, “May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.” Jude prayed for these things to be multiplied not just added to Christian’s lives. This is a wonderful way to start a letter, don’t you think?
Scripture: Read Jude 1:3-16. Highlight names and places. Notice Jude states he wanted to write a different type of letter; one of common salvation, however he felt the need to write about something else. I have to wonder what he noticed in the church at the time that made him want to write a different kind of letter. What was the catalyst that made him stop and write what is a serious warning to all of us?
Observation: This different type of letter contends with false teachers. False teachers are alive and well today as they were back in his day. In verse 3, the phrase “contend for the faith” means the Christian life is a continuous struggle in a positive sense. When we “contend for” we fight for something. This “something” is our faith. We contend for the faith in a negative way when we show support for false teachers. And in a positive way, we live uncompromisingly and give glory to God who has changed us. “The faith” Jude speaks of means “the essential truths of the gospel that all Christians hold in common.” – Enduring Word
Faith is delivered once; it doesn’t need to be delivered again. It was delivered through the apostles and prophets once. Christianity is based on ONE FAITH. In Ephesians 2:2 it states we were once sinners, now saved by faith.
In verse 4, Jude talks of “certain people” or “certain men who 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.”
These certain men are the false teachers Jude speaks of. False teachers don’t wear a sign to let us know who they are. We must be on the lookout at all times. Satan knows one false teacher in a church can do more damage than 1000 outside the church walls. Let that sink in for a moment. They “pervert the grace of God.” v. 1:4
Jude 1:5-7: Jude uses examples of these “certain men” from Old Testament writing to illustrate his point. The example of Moses leading the people out of Egypt, and destroying those who did not believe (Numbers 14), and the angels who rebelled and are in chains like those of Sodom and Gomorrah (Ezekiel 16:49 and Genesis 19). These are stories the early church would know very well. And they knew how those stories ended! Spoiler alert: They didn’t end well for the sinners.
Jude 1:8: The early church had some of the same issues we have today. Today we are encouraged to “reject authority” and recognize “self” above all else, or we choose to believe certain passages of the Bible while overlooking others that don’t fit our “self-narrative” society. Our “dreams” are out-of-touch with reality. We make our own rules and do not recognize God’s authority. In Judges 21:25, the darkest days of Israel, man did the same. “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”
In verse 1:9, Jude tells us the archangel Michael contends with the devil. It’s notable that Michael is mentioned only four times in the Bible. (Daniel 10, Daniel 12, Revelation 12, and Jude 1:9). A few points about Michael:
- Archangel in Greek means “leading angel”. Michael is the head angel, the leader of all the other angels. Archangel is never mentioned as plural. There is only one archangel; as is Satan or devil is never plural, there is only one as well.
- “The body of Moses” refers to Deuteronomy 34:5-6. Moses was buried in the valley of Moab, opposite Beth-peor. Jude refers to the ancient text, “Assumption of Moses” which only a small portion survives today. No one knows exactly where Moses was buried.
- How does Michael contend with the devil? He uses spiritual warfare. “The Lord rebuke you!” These are the only words Michael speaks in the Bible. Just as Michael battles the devil with the Lord’s authority, he calls us to do the same. Battle against him in the Lord’s name.
This is a lot to take in in such a short letter. Are you staying with me?
Let’s look at three examples of “certain men” in Jude 1:11-13:
- The way of Cain. (Gen. 4) Remember the story of Cain and Abel? Cain brought an offering of fruit, which God rejected. Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock, which God favored. The difference in the offerings wasn’t that the blood offering was better to God. It was the difference between faith and unbelief. (Heb. 11:4) Cain had less faith and it showed in his offering of fruit. Like Cain, these “certain men” also showed faith of disbelief. In a fit of anger, Cain killed Abel.
- Error of Balaam. (Num. 22-25, 31) Balaam’s heart was set on the promised riches of King Balak. He ignored the talking donkey! (Anyone else see Donkey from Shrek here? Or is it just me?) Then, worst of all, Balaam led others into sin and he did it all for the love of money.
- Rebellion of Korah. (Num. 16:1-40) Korah rebelled against Moses’ authority, who was God’s appointed leader. Korah and 249 others were set on fire by God; then when people objected to how the situation was handled, God took care of them too! Korah envied Moses’ high position with God.
In Jude 1:12, the hidden reefs of your love feast refers to early Christian community meals. They would come together for a common meal called love feasts, like a modern day potluck. I really do like that term of love feast. It sounds so loving. However, Jude uses this as an example of certain men who attend and served only themselves. Not very Christian-like because while certain men where getting fat, others were going hungry. (Ref. 1 Corinthians 11:17-34)
At a Church potluck, everyone brings something to the meal to share. Some bring a lot, some bring a little. These certain men were selfish like shepherds feeding themselves. They only looked out for number one—themselves. Jude doesn’t hold back what he thinks of these certain men. He continues they are clouds without water. I would argue clouds are pretty to look at. I love big white puffy clouds and while they provide shade for a time, they are good for nothing. They don’t give life with water and they are carried by the winds to one fade or another on a whim, like certain men.
The ocean or sea is a beautiful sight too. It is also powerful. Certain men are like raging waves of the sea. I often use an app with wave sounds to help lull me to sleep at night. I find it relaxing, however, in Biblical days the sea was something to be feared. It was scary and there were stories of giant sea creatures able to swallow a whole man. Hello, Jonah.
These certain men raged like the sea and their shame is like the foam and seaweed left behind on the shore after a bad storm. He compares them to shooting stars or comets that shine for a short time then disappear forever into the utter darkness. The darkness is their final destiny forever, apart from God.
In verse 1:14, Jude refers to Enoch, the seventh from Adam. He is talking about this lineage: Adam — Seth — Enos — Cainan — Mahalaleel — Jared — Enoch. Enoch is also named in Jesus’ lineage.
Enoch appears in Genesis 5 and Hebrew 11. “In the time of the early church fathers, the book of Enoch was widely accepted as inspired scripture by Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Athenagoras, Tertullian, Origen and Lactantius.” -The Christian Comforter
Early Christians would have been familiar with this writing of the book of Enoch, although it is not recognized today. Jude quoting from non-Biblical sources doesn’t mean to the whole body of work is inspired by God. It also doesn’t mean it is not worth quoting or invalid in some way. In fact, Paul quoted from non-Biblical sources on a few occasions in Acts 17:28, 1 Cor. 15:33, and Titus 1:12.
All the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness. God will judge all those who are ungodly. This is a stiff warning not to take the judgment of God lightly!
In 1:16-18 we learn more about the character of certain men:
- They grumble
- They complain
- They are lustful
- They are liars
- They are deceptive
- They are far from Jesus (even if they attend church every Sunday)
- They are discontented
- They are smooth talkers
Um, do you know anyone like this?
Application: We are called to be different from “certain men”. Obviously, Jude thinks very little of certain men/false teachers. He warns us of being on the lookout for them, not to go astray and follow blindly. Put on your armor of God, my friends. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Scripture: Read Jude 1:17-25.
Observation: Here are some things Jude points out we should know before signing up to be a follower of Jesus:
- People will mock God. They will mock our faith, our Bible, take God out of society and focus on their own ungodly passions.
- Don’t be surprised. You have been warned.
- These worldly people, devoid of the Spirit, will make it their mission to cause division among believers, and between non-believers against believers. So, they will cause trouble inside and outside the church walls.
- Jude tells us exactly how we should protect ourselves. (1:20-23) Pay attention to the warnings. Look upward and inward in your most holy faith.
- Pray in the Holy Spirit to prepare for the battle.
- Keep in harmony with the love of God.
- Wait for the mercy of Christ. Keep Him alive in your heart and everyday life.
- Be on guard for those who need help and snatch them out of the fire.
- Show compassion to those certain men and their garment stained by flesh, in other words, their sin.
In closing out his letter, Jude uses a doxology, “Now to him…”. A doxology is a brief declaration praising God. Jude reminds us to stay connected to God who will keep you from stumbling. Glory, glory to God and Jesus Christ.
“Both now and forever” translates to “unto all ages”, in other words, for all eternity. Amen.
Application: Nowhere in the Bible does it say following Jesus and living a God-centered life full of the Holy Spirit will be easy. Just the opposite! We read stories time and time again of the hardships the apostles endured before and especially after Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. Living fully a Christian-life is not for the faint of heart or faith. It is one with the end goal of living forever with God, having a loving relationship with Him, and one in which we can lean on our faith in hard times on earth. Pay attention to the warnings of Jude. This is a short book but rich with insight and love for God.
Prayer: Dear Lord, The book of Jude is a blessing to us all. Thank you for your divine and inspired words that worked through Jesus’ servant, Jude. May you guide and keep me on alert for certain men so that I may keep my eyes fixed squarely on you and not things of this world. In God’s name I pray, Amen.