Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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JUDE - Introduction

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Jude - Introduction

Supplemental Commentary:



Author.  Ancient tradition attests that the author of this Epistle is St. Jude the Apostle.  This tradition rests on a strong scriptural basis.  The author designates himself "Jude the brother of James," and St. Luke twice mentions "Jude the brother of James" among the Apostles (Luke 6, 16; Act 1, 13).  The evident purpose of both writers is to identify Jude by his relationship to James.  When St. Luke and St. Jude wrote (60-67), St. James the Less, the son of Alpheus and Bishop of Jerusalem, was still prominent, if only in memory.  St. James the Less was one of the "brethren of the Lord" (Gal. 1, 19) and had a brother named Jude (Matt. 13, 55; Mark 6, 3).  In Matt. 10, 3 and Mark 3, 18, Jude is called Thaddeus and is joined with James, the son of Alpheus, in the list of the Apostles.  Hardly more than his name is known from the New Testament.  From the manner in which he identifies himself in this Epistle, one may rightly conclude that he preached the gospel to the Jews, as did his brother James.  Tradition assigns Palestine and the neighboring districts of Arabia, Syria and Mesopotamia as the scene of his apostolic labors, and Beirut as the place where he suffered martyrdom.

Destination.  Though not mentioned by name, those to whom the Epistle was written are indicated by its contents.  They were well acquainted with the Old Testament (5 f.11) and with Jewish apocrypha and tradition (9.14).  This marks them as converts from Judaism.  More specific indication is that fact that St. Jude identifies himself as the brother of St. James, the well known and beloved Bishop of Jerusalem and author of an Epistle written to Jewish converts.  A further indication is seen in v.17, which implies that the gospel was preached to the readers of this Epistle by several Apostles.  It is most probable that the Epistle was addressed to Jewish Christians of those districts in in which tradition says St. Jude exercised the apostolate.

Date of Composition.  It seems certain that the Epistle was written after the death of St. James (62 A.D.), for Hegesippus declares that there were no heresies or dissensions among the Christians of Palestine as long as St. James lived (Eusebius, Hist. Eccl., IV, 22).  This date is suggested as the earliest by the admonition to recall the teaching they had received from the Apostles, and by the fact that the errors mentioned in the Epistle appear more developed than when St. Paul wrote against the same teachings in the Pastoral Epistles.  The date of writing cannot be placed after the destruction of Jerusalem (70 A.D.), for the wars that preceded this event caused a dissolution of the Christian communities in Palestine, and it is not likely that St. Jude would have omitted mention of this example of  divine judgment.  Finally, a comparison between this Epistle and 2 Peter shows that St. Peter knew and used the Epistle of St. Jude.

Some modern authors outside the church claim that the Epistle was written in post-apostolic times.  They base this claim on the assumption that the Epistle attacks gnostic errors of the second century.  The assumption is proved false by the fact that the errors mentioned in Jude made their appearance in the days of the Apostles, as evidenced by the Epistles of St. Paul (Phil. 3, 17 f; 1 Tim. 4, 1 f; 2 Tim. 3, 1 f).

Canonicity.  The Epistle of St. Jude has been received by the Church as part of the inspired Scriptures from the earliest times.  Witnesses from the fourth century are Sts. Jerome, Ambrose and Augustine, the synod of Laodicea and the Council of Carthage.  Witnesses from the second and third centuries are the Muratorian Canon, Origen, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, St. Cyprian, the "Martyrdom of Polycarp"---witnesses to the faith of the Church from all parts of Christendom.

Some doubts were raised against the inspiration of the Epistle, especially among the Syrians.  The cause of their doubts was probably Jude's quotation from the Book of Henoch.  But not everything contained in an apocryphal book is false, and an inspired author may quote an uninspired book.  Such a quotation does not imply approval of the book itself, but approval only of the part quoted, and is not contrary to inspiration.



Introduction  1-4

I. Warning Against False Teachers  5-19

II. Admonitions for Christians  20-23

Conclusion  24-25

Confraternity Bible:



The Epistle is both brief and practical.  It was occasioned by the teachings and practices of certain heretics within the Church.  By their evil lives they were denying that Jesus is the only Lord and Master.  They were opposed to all law and authority, and changed Christian liberty into unrestrained license.  The Epistle is a warning to them.