Introduction to Jude

The little book of Jude is small, but powerful. Jude was a “brother of James” (Jude 1) who in turn was “the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:19). That is, he was son of Mary and Joseph, and half brother to Jesus. He and James are both named in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 as sons of Mary and brothers of Jesus.

Jude, like James, did not believe on Jesus as the Christ (John 7:5) until after the resurrection, when apparently all his brothers are suddenly seen with Mary in the upper room with His disciples, awaiting the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14). It is noteworthy that Jude, once an unbelieving brother of Jesus, by the time he wrote his epistle, considered himself merely “the servant [literally ‘bondslave’] of Jesus Christ” (Jude 1). In his closing verse, he calls Jesus “God our Saviour” (Jude 25). Four times he calls Him “Lord” (Jude 4,14,17,21). Truly, his life had been transformed when he finally recognized his earthly brother for who He really was.

Very little else is known about Jude—where he ministered, to whom he was writing, when or how he died. His epistle was evidently written originally to the members of some local church where he had served, and whose members he still loved. The time of writing was probably some years after II Peter was written, for he seems to refer to that book (note Jude 17,18, in comparison with II Peter 3:3; also Jude 6 in comparison with II Peter 2:4, and Jude 11-13 in comparison with II Peter 2:15-17). The apostate conditions predicted by Peter had arrived in full force by the time Jude wrote. This means that the book probably was written after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.

Jude forthrightly claims that he was led by God in the writing of his epistle (see notes on Jude 3). He referred to the dispute of Michael with Satan over the body of Moses (Jude 9) and the prophecy of Enoch made even before the great Flood (Jude 14). These two events are known elsewhere only from the pseudepigraphical books known, respectively, as The Assumption of Moses and The Book of Enoch. Jude’s inspired references to these books do not, of course, mean that the books themselves were inspired writings, but rather that certain portions of them did convey authentic histories. They were written some time before the time of Christ, and apparently, whatever their original source may have been, did have at least some true historical records preserved in them. Consequently, Jude gives us certain fascinating insights into the ancient world which had not been inscripturated before.

His main purposes in writing were apologetic and evangelistic. Pagan philosophies had, by his time, so infiltrated the church that the Holy Spirit constrained Jude to urge Christians to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once [for all] delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3). Then, near the end of his epistle, Jude tells his readers to win some through compassion and others through fear—whatever works (Jude 22,23)! Finally, he concludes with a great doxology, assuring us that Christ will keep His own secure until His return (Jude 24).

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