Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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JUDE - Chapter 1

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Supplemental Commentary:

Introduction  1-4

1-4:  Purpose of Address.    1 f. The writer identifies himself as the brother of St. James the Less (see Introduction).  He calls himself a servant of Jesus Christ, a designation not only of every Christian, but especially of the Apostles who were in the service of the gospel (Rom. 1, 1; Jas. 1, 1).  The Christians are called from sin to grace and salvation.  The source of their call is the love of God the Father, and its purpose is to preserve them for Jesus Christ.  St. Jude writes in order to warn them against teachers who are endeavoring to make them untrue to their call.

3.  This verse affords no evidence that St. Jude wrote, or intended to write, a longer letter.  It means that he had long planned to write, and the report of heretics in the Church moved him to write the present Epistle.  In the face of danger, he exhorts the Christians to contend for the purity of the faith once for all delivered, i.e., preached by the Apostles as an unchangeable doctrine for all times.    4.  The heretics are characterized as ungodly men who have stealthily entered in, men who were not sincere in embracing the faith.  They pervert the doctrine of grace and liberty by teaching the lawfulness of sensual indulgence (2 Pet. 2, 19; Gal. 5, 13).  They disown, i.e., refuse subjection to Jesus, by which a practical denial of faith by sinful life is most probably meant.  They were marked out: their fate was foreshadowed in the judgments of God upon sinners in times past.


5-7:  Divine Judgments.    5.  All the adult Israelites who came out of Egypt, except Josue and Caleb, perished in the desert (Num. 14, 35-38).  The Lord first saved them from the Egyptians, but later destroyed them because of their unbelief---a warning that those who are untrue to faith will perish.

6.  Many of the angels were not satisfied with the dignity conferred upon them in their creation and rebelled against God.  They lost their dignity and were cast into hell.  There they are kept in everlasting bonds, awaiting the great day, the day of general judgment, when final sentence will be passed on them and the fullness of penalty exacted (2 Pet. 2, 4; Job 4, 18).  The example warns that Christians lose their dignity by rebellion against God.

7.  Just as: does not make this verse parallel with the preceding, as if St. Jude meant that the angels committed the same sin as the people of Sodom, for such crimes are impossible in the angels.  According to Greek construction, this connecting particle can be understood as introducing another example.  If any comparison is intended, it is between the punishment of the angels and the punishment of the cities mentioned.  The people of Sodom and Gomorrah, and of the neighboring cities of Adama and Seboim (Deut. 29, 23), practised unnatural vice against the sixth commandment (Rom. 1, 27; Gen. 19, 1 f).  Eternal fire: the fire that destroyed these was eternal in its effect, for they were not rebuilt; the punishment of the inhabitants was also eternal like that of the angels.

8-13:  Evil Life of Heretics.    8.  A general statement that the heretics are guilty of the same sins as those mentioned in the preceding examples.  They defile the flesh with impurities and refuse to submit to authority (cf. 4).  They deride majesty, i.e., the angels, who are called "majesties" (Greek text) because of their superiority to man.  Cf. 2 Pet. 2, 10.

9.  In deriding the angels, the heretics do what even the Archangel Michael did not venture to do when disputing with the devil about the body of Moses which God caused to be buried in a secret place (Deut. 34, 6).  This dispute is nowhere else recorded in the Scriptures.  Its cause is not given, but it is certain that the devil wished to make some evil use of the body of Moses.  Clement of Alexandria and Origen say that St. Jude here quotes from the "Ascension of Moses," an apocryphal book.  Though the fragments of this book now extant contain no mention of the dispute, it is possible that it originally contained the incident.  Views of the origin of the book differ widely, some believing that it was not written until the second century, and its use by St. Jude is uncertain.  He may be referring to an oral tradition, as St. Paul does on several occasions (Gal. 3, 19; 2 Tim. 3, 8; Heb. 11, 37).

10.  The heretics, having no understanding of the spiritual, deride whatever is above the natural.  Their thoughts and actions are concerned with satisfying the natural powers and instincts they have in common with brute beasts.  Given free play and indulgence, these natural powers become a source of destruction.    11.  The heretics are similar to certain sinners of the past: to Cain, in neglecting the warnings of God and following his own desires (Gen. 4, 7); to Balaam, in endeavoring to seduce men for the sake of gain (Num. 31, 16); to Core, in rebelling against God and the authority established by Him (Num. 16, 1 ff).

12 f.  A series of concrete examples describe the character and life of these men.  They are stains on the congregation by their immoderate feasting.  In emptiness of spirit they are like clouds without water carried about by the winds.  Like trees in the fall, they are unfruitful of good.  Uprooted from grace, they are twice dead---having died to paganism by their conversion and having died to grace by their immorality.  Like the sea casting up uncleanness on the shore, their life brings to light the evil of their hearts.  Separated from God, they wander like stars gone astray and disappear into eternal darkness.

14-19:  Judgment of Heretics.    14 f.  St. Jude quotes a prophecy of Henoch, the seventh patriarch after Adam (Gen. 4, 17).  The heretics who fall under this condemnation are murmurers, lustful, and seekers after popularity for the sake of gain.  The prophecy cited in these verses is also found in the apocryphal "Book of Henoch."  Many Fathers believed that St. Jude quotes this book, a view that has found widespread acceptance.  Others believe that St. Jude quotes oral tradition.  If he quotes the apocryphal book---a possibility which must be allowed---he does not thereby approve the book or imply that it was inspired.  The formula, "Henoch prophesied," introduces the prophet himself as speaking, and approval and prophetical character are given only to the words quoted.

17 f.  The Apostles had warned against teachers who would scoff at the supernatural and live immoral lives.  This appeal to the teaching of the Apostles does not imply that the Epistle was written in post-apostolic times or that its author was not an Apostle.  St. Jude recalls to the minds of his readers what the Apostles had told them, without excluding himself from their number.

19.  The heretics are sensual men: follow the lower dictates and instincts of nature; and have not the Spirit: are without the grace of the Holy Spirit.  Some see in this verse an indication that the Epistle was written against second century gnostics who divided men into two classes: the sensual and the spiritual.  This classification, however, is current in the New Testament (see 1 Cor. 2, 13 f; 1 Thess. 5, 23).  In the Epistles of St. Paul, "sensual men" are those governed by the senses and lower faculties, and "spiritual men" are those governed by the higher faculties of the soul influenced by the grace of the Holy Spirit.  St. Jude used the term "sensual men" in the same sense, as seen from his description of the heretics in the preceding verses.


20-21:  Perseverance.  An admonition to remain steadfast in the faith, upon which alone true Christianity is founded.  The grace for this blessing is obtained through prayer in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8, 26).  They are exhorted to persevere in the love of God, by which they possess the firm hope of mercy when Jesus Christ comes in judgment.  As elsewhere in the New Testament, the essence of Christianity is expressed in the formulas: faith-hope-charity, God-Christ-Holy Spirit.

22-23:  Charity.  The Christians should practise charity towards those who are led astray (Jas. 5, 19 f).  The reading of these verses is uncertain in the Greek, but the better translation recognizes three classes.  Judged, in the light of the Greek text, may be understood as "who waver."  The Christians should endeavor to bring back all who have strayed from the faith.  If their efforts fail, they are to show mercy and sympathy, but at the same time carefully avoid the danger of contamination by sinners.

Conclusion  24-25

The Epistle closes with a doxology similar to Rom. 16, 25.  The Apostles exhorts his readers to praise the eternal, almighty God who has become their Savior through Jesus Christ.  His grace is sufficient to preserve them from sin.  Guarded and preserved by grace, they will be able to stand unspotted in His presence.

Raymond F. Stoll

Confraternity Bible:

Purpose of Address  1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James, to the called who have been loved in God the Father and preserved for Christ Jesus: 2 mercy and peace and charity be given you in abundance.

3 Beloved, while I was making every endeavor to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you, exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.  4* For certain men have stealthily entered in, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men who turn the grace of God into wantonness and disown our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Divine Judgments  5 But I desire to remind you, though once for all you have come to know all things, that Jesus, who saved the people from the land of Egypt, the next time destroyed those who did not believe.  6 And the angels also who did not preserve their original state, but forsook their abode, he has kept in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.  7 Just as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the neighboring cities which like them committed sins of immorality and practised unnatural vice, have been made an example, undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.

Evil Life of Heretics  8 In like manner do these men also defile the flesh, disregard authority, deride majesty.  9* Yet when Michael the archangel was fiercely disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, he did not venture to bring against him an accusation of blasphemy, but said, "May the Lord rebuke thee."  10 But these men deride whatever they do not know; and the things they know by instinct like the dumb beasts, become for them a source of destruction.  11* Woe to them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and have rushed on thoughtlessly into the error of Balaam for the sake of gain, and have perished in the rebellion of Core.  12 These men are stains on their feasts, banqueting together without fear, looking after themselves; clouds without water, carried about by the winds; trees in the fall, unfruitful, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom the storm of darkness has been reserved forever.

Judgment of Heretics  14 Now of these also Henoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord has come with thousands of his holy ones 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the impious of all their impious works, and of all the hard things that impious sinners have spoken against him."  16 These are grumbling murmurers walking according to their lusts.  And haughty in speech, they cultivate people for the sake of gain.  17 But as for you, beloved, be mindful of the words that have been spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 who kept saying to you that at the end of time there will come scoffers, walking impiously according to their lusts.  19 These are they who set themselves apart, sensual men, not having the Spirit.

Perseverance and Charity  20 But as for you, beloved, build up yourselves upon your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.  21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto life everlasting.  22 And some, who are judged, reprove; 23 but others, save, snatching them from the fire.  And to others be merciful with fear, hating even the garment which is soiled by the flesh.

24 Now to him who is able to preserve you without sin and to set you before the presence of his glory, without blemish, in gladness, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, belong glory and majesty, dominion and authority, before all time, and now, and forever.  Amen.


4: These man had not been sincere in embracing Christianity.  Hence they are said to have stealthily entered in.

9: The cause of the dispute is not assigned, but it is certain the devil wished to make some evil use of the body of Moses.

11: Rebellion of Core: who opposed Moses, a divinely appointed authority.  The heretics resemble these men, and will be punished as they were.