Invitation to Jude
This epistle was written by Jude/Judas, the brother of James, the son Joseph and Mary (Matt 13:55; Mark 6:3), and the half-brother of Jesus. The date for this epistle is uncertain, but the letter was probably written in the 60s. The letter’s recipients are also unclear, but perhaps it was written to Jewish believers near or in Palestine, but we cannot be certain even of this. Jude wanted to write about the salvation he shared with his readers (Jude 3), but interlopers in the church made it necessary for him to counteract the false teaching that threatened the community. The false teachers may have misinterpreted Paul’s teaching on grace and the consequence was that they promoted licentiousness. Two themes stand out in the letter: (1) the saints need to persevere to the end to be saved; and (2) God promises to preserve those who are his own.
Jude was written so that believers would contend for the faith that was transmitted to them and so that they would not the abandon the faith that was threatened by false teachers.
“Now to him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of his glory, without blemish and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now and forever. Amen.”
— Jude 24–25 CSB
I. Greeting (1–2)
II. The Purpose for Writing (3–4)
III. Judgment of the Intruders (5–16)
A. God’s Judgment (5–10)
B. Woe Oracle (11–13)
C. Enoch’s Prophecy (14–16)
IV. Exhortations to Believers (17–23)
A. Remember the Apostolic Predictions (17–19)
B. Keep Yourselves in God’s Love (20–21)
C. Show Mercy to Those Affected by Opponents (22–23)
V. Doxology (24–25)
The letter begins with a greeting which has three elements: (1) the author; (2) the recipients; and (3) a prayer wish.
1a The author identifies himself as Jude. Jude here is not the apostle named Jude, but the son of Mary and Joseph (Matt 13:55; Mark 6:3), and as the verse says, the “brother of James.” James was also the half-brother of Jesus and is the same James who played a central role in Galatians 1–2, in the Apostolic Council in Acts 15, and who wrote the epistle of James. Jude is also identified as a “servant” or “slave” (doulos) of Jesus Christ. He does not identify himself as equal to his half-brother but recognizes that Jesus as the Christ and the Messiah was his authority.
1b The recipients are not identified by their geographical location or their ethnic background. Instead, they are identified as the “called,” which means that they were summoned to faith by God the Father. This calling is effective because it overcomes all resistance and brings believers to faith. Those who are miraculously called are also deeply loved by the Father. The language of love is often associated with election in the scriptures (e.g., Isa 41:8–9; Hos 11:1). Believers are not only called and loved, but they are “kept.” Most English versions say they were kept “for” Jesus Christ, but it is more likely that Jude intends to say that they were kept “by Jesus Christ.” Keeping refers to preservation, to the guarding and protection of the faith of the readers. Jude will warn the readers in the strongest terms about the necessity of perseverance, but at the outset of the letter he reminds them that God set his love on them before the world began and that he called them to himself. Also, as those who are called and loved, they will be kept and preserved by Jesus Christ. Ultimately, perseverance is a gift that comes from God himself, and this should comfort believers as they reflect on the warnings in the letter.
2 Since the readers are facing a great battle, Jude prays that God will show mercy to them by keeping them from falling away, that he will give them peace in the midst of all the pressures and stresses of life, and that his love will be their portion. Jude prays three things for his readers, and Jude loves triads as we shall see.
The Purpose for Writing (3–4)
3 Jude intended to write a letter about the great salvation he and the readers had in common. Unforeseen circumstances, however, necessitated a course correction so that he was writing instead about the need to “contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.” Faith here does not mean “trust in God” but the doctrine, the gospel confession embraced by believers. The truth of the gospel has been declared definitively in the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Since the “last days” have arrived, there will no new revelation until the second coming (Heb 1:2).
4 The faith needs to be defended. Outsiders had entered surreptitiously into the church, throwing the church into confusion. Jude tells us four things about these false teachers:
- God knew all along that they were coming, and they will not triumph but be judged instead.
- They live ungodly lives.
- They subverted the teaching of God’s grace, using it to justify a life of sin.
- They denied Jesus Christ as Master and Lord. They probably did not deny Jesus’s deity or humanity but denied the Lord by the way they lived, by their licentious lives.
Judgment of the Intruders (5–16)
God’s Judgment (5–10)
Jude 5–10 reminds the readers that judgment will come on those who live ungodly lives, on those who turn away from the gospel.
5–7 Three historical examples of God’s judgment are given:
- Jesus saved Israel out of Egypt and destroyed those who did not believe (Jude 5). Yes, Jude speaks of Jesus here, for what is attributed to God in the OT is often by NT writers credited to Jesus, showing Jesus’s deity. Even though Israel was delivered from Egypt, the generation that did not believe was destroyed and judged in the wilderness and never made it to the land of promise.
- God bound the angels who sinned in Gen 6:1–4 (Jude 6). These angels sinned by having sexual relations with women. Since they did not adhere to the boundaries between men and angels established by God, God has now restrained and limited these demons and will pass final judgment on them on the last day.
- God destroyed the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and nearby towns who gave themselves to sexual sin in a blatant way (Jude 7). The destruction of these cities serves as a type and anticipation of the judgment of everlasting fire that is coming.
8–10 Jude now applies the three historical judgments to his readers. Notice that he applies what he is saying to the readers with the word “these” (houtoi). The false teachers justify their behavior with dreams and so-called revelations, but they deserve judgment since they “defile” the “flesh” by sexual sin, refuse to submit to any authority, and revile angelic powers (note again the triad). By way of contrast, Michael the archangel did not even dare to reprove the devil when arguing with the latter about the body of Moses. Instead, he left final judgment to the Lord, calling upon the Lord to rebuke the devil. “These people” (Jude 10), in contrast to Michael, denigrate what they do not comprehend and, in a sense, live like animals and will end up being destroyed.
Woe Oracle (11–13)
Like the OT prophets, Jude pronounces woe on those who go astray.
11 Here we find another triad, as three historical characters who were infamous for their sin are introduced. The interlopers have followed the pathway of Cain (Gen 4), and like Balaam (Num 22–24), they live for money, and they are rebellious like Korah (Num 16).
12 Jude again applies the OT accounts to “these people.” The false teachers feign to belong to the church at “love feasts,” but they are like “dangerous reefs” that can cause shipwreck. They are “pastors” who do not care for the flock and are utterly narcissistic shepherds. They seem to promise waters of refreshment but leave people thirsty and empty like clouds without rain. They are dead trees with no fruit whatsoever.
13 Their shameful way of living is comparable to the wild and surging “waves of the sea.” They wander from the truth, and thus will experience final judgment.
Enoch’s Prophecy (14–16)
14–15 A prophecy from 1 Enoch (1:9) is cited here. Probably Jude quotes the book because it was important to the readers. No major group of Christians has ever argued that 1 Enoch is canonical scripture, and we need to remember that pagan writers are also cited in the NT without there being any thought of canonical authority (cf. Acts 17:28; Titus 1:12). We might think a prophecy from 1 Enoch would contain something surprising and stunning, but actually the prophecy emphasizes a common truth: when the Lord comes, he will judge all those who lived and spoke in an ungodly way. Jude certainly understands “the Lord” here to refer to Jesus Christ and his future coming.
16 Jude applies Enoch’s prophecy (“These people”) to the false teachers once again. Ungodliness is now defined as grumbling with discontent, as people who live to satisfy their desires, as those who speak arrogantly and who flatter others.
Exhortations to Believers (17–23)
Remember the Apostolic Predictions (17–19)
17–18 Jude turns to address the beloved believers in the congregation, reminding them of what the apostles predicted. They forecasted that scoffers with “ungodly desires” would come.
19 Jude again describes the outsiders with the words “these people,” indicting them with another triad. First, they are dissenters and dividers instead of those who bring harmony. Second, they are worldly and secular. Third, they are unbelievers, not being indwelt by the Holy Spirit.
Keep Yourselves in God’s Love (20–21)
20–21 The readers are addressed again. Here we have one main verb, and three participles that further unpack the main verb. The central command is: “keep yourselves in the love of God.” We saw earlier that believers are kept by Jesus Christ (Jude 1), but such a promise does not absolve believers of responsibility. They are summoned to keep themselves in God’s love. In other words, believers must persevere in the faith. They keep themselves in God’s love in three ways. First, they must grow in their knowledge of “your most holy faith,” and the word “faith” means, as we saw in Jude 3, doctrinal truth. Second, they are to pray “in the Holy Spirit.” They are to pray that the truths of the gospel will burn in their hearts and pray that they will never outlive their love for the Lord. Third, they are to long for Jesus’s coming and anticipate receiving mercy from him on the last day. Those who will receive eternal life do not consider this world to be their heaven.
Show Mercy to Those Affected by Opponents (22–23)
Three admonitions about how to treat others are given.
22 First, those who are wavering and doubting should be shown mercy. Their doubting is not to be commended or embraced, but believers know their own weaknesses and their own faltering, and thus they show mercy and invite those who are wavering to renewed faith.
23 Second, others are descending to destruction, and believers are to do everything they can to snatch them “from the fire,” and thereby deliver them from destruction. Believers are not to sit idly by as fellow-members fall into sin, but they are to do all that they can to rescue them.
Third, in some cases mercy must be mingled with fear and hatred. There is to be mercy and grace for the sinner, but there must also be the recognition at the same time that the sin could entice and capture the person showing mercy. If they do not watch over their own affections and their own life, they could fall into sin themselves while extending grace and mercy to those who have fallen deeply into sin.
24–25 Jude has warned the believers about the dangers of false teaching and exhorted them to persevere in the faith. Now he returns, as he did in the introduction to the book, to God’s preserving and keeping love. God’s preservation of his own functions as the framework for the letter, reminding believers that our endurance is always the product and result of God’s grace. God keeps believers from falling away and apostatizing, which is what he means by “stumbling” here. God is the one who strengthens believers so that they stand in the presence of his stunning glory joyfully and without fault. Therefore, all the glory, all the majesty, all the power and authority goes to God through the Lord Jesus Christ forever and ever for his great saving work!
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1:1 Jude, a servantFor the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface“>1 of Jesus Christ and brother of James,
To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept forOr by“>2 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.
5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who savedSome manuscripts although you fully knew it, that the Lord who once saved“>3 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,Greek different flesh“>4 serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
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 reefsOr are blemishes“>5 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.
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.
A Call to Persevere
17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18 TheyOr Christ, because they“>6 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 garmentGreek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin”>7 stained by the flesh.
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 timeOr before any age“>8 and now and forever. Amen.
 1:1 Or by
 1:5 Some manuscripts although you fully knew it, that the Lord who once saved
 1:7 Greek different flesh
 1:12 Or are blemishes
 1:18 Or Christ, because they
 1:23 Greek chiton, a long garment worn under the cloak next to the skin
 1:25 Or before any age