Book of Jude Study

The Book of Jude is only one chapter long.  It has a theme which corresponds to the theme of the Book of 2 Peter.

Reading in Jude 1:1-2: Jude is referring to the very well known James, the James who was not of the twelve Apostles, the James who is leading the Christians at Jerusalem and moderating the Jerusalem Council in Acts chapter 15 (and that was after the Apostle James, the son of Zebedee, the Apostle John’s brother, had been killed by Herod in Acts chapter 12 several years before).  This James and Jude are likely brothers of Jesus Christ according to the flesh who are referenced as such in Mark 6:3.  However, Jude regards himself as a servant of Jesus Christ and only refers to himself as James’ brother here.  He refers to Jesus Christ as His Lord in verse twenty one of this epistle, and he calls Him the “the only wise God and Savior” at the closing of the epistle in verse 25.

Jude 3: The common salvation is clearly laid hold of in the context of following the faith once delivered to the saints.  There is no salvation for anyone which neglects or transgresses that faith.

Hebrews 2:3-4 says: “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?.”

2 John 9-11: “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.  He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.  If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.”

Those who want to have Christian unity without doctrinal scrutiny are prime candidates to be among those who are being rebuked in the Book of Jude, and rebuked frequently elsewhere in the Bible, especially as the Apostles contended with false doctrine and subtle ungodly false teachers creeping into the Christian assemblies they had founded which were built upon the sound principles of God’s truth.  You cannot write about authentic salvation in Christ without dealing with this topic.  

Jude saw that he needed to deal with this head on as he wrote about authentic salvation in ChristUnfortunately, the unfaithfulness of many afterwards has caused the primary points that Jude is going to make as he deals with this to be things which Christendom now, including evangelical Christianity, teaches the very opposite on.

Jude 4: Ordained or appointed in the Old Testament to the condemnation which Jude is about to elaborate on because of their own choices and ways.  Jude is not saying that God appointed them to be evil deceivers.

These people who were subtly creeping into Christian assemblies, attacking the faith once delivered to the saints, and misrepresenting the common salvation in Jesus Christ which God has offered to mankind were teaching, somehow in some way, that God’s grace is lasciviousness or licentiousness- and thereby denying God’s authority and Jesus Christ’s Lordship.  That is, they are somehow teaching that Christ’s grace is compatible with transgressing God, transgressing God-ordained authority, and practicing sin.  That’s not my interpretation.  That is exactly what Jude makes so obvious as he continues that one who denies it still is the very type of person he is exposing and rebuking here- or is at least under the damnable influence of such deceivers.

Jude 5: Read 1 Corinthians chapter 10 in its entirety and many other passages to see Christians warned that they can, and will, fall from God’s grace if they turn against God and do not walk before Him by faith.   

Jude 6: This is referenced also in 1 Peter chapter 3 and 2 Peter chapter 2.  God did not spare Israel and disobedient angels; and he also does not spare those who commit fornication and those who practice sin before Him in any way.

Jude 7: This not only rebukes the progressive (who are really regressive) compromisers who say that sodomy isn’t abominable to God and who promote gay marriage and/or bless same sex couples, it also rebukes the multitude of evangelical preachers who teach that people can come to Jesus Christ and obtain His grace while continuing to practice sin, as well as the multitudes who say that an authentically born-again Christian could never possibly go back to sin and end up lost.  Jude is warning authentic Christians with reminders from these examples that those who are disobedient to God and obey not Christ’s Gospel are going to face the vengeance of eternal fire, even if they had previously been in the Christian faith authentically.  There is no hesitancy about this nor backtracking to take the weight off what he is communicating (such hesitancy and backtracking are so common though in evangelical Christianity now in the rare instances that severe Biblical warnings are given).

Jude 8: Remember that though Jude is rebuking the subtle false teachers who have crept into Apostolic Christian first century assemblies, he is clearly giving the warning at the same time about those who teach damnable doctrine not so subtly.  He is warning that heeding these false teachers puts one in the realm of the devil and heading to facing God’s wrath in the lake of fire too.

This is corresponding to what Peter wrote about false teachers in 2 Peter chapter two.  They do not honor God-ordained boundaries and authority no matter how holy they look and/sound and they are presumptuous about who or what they speak against.  Yet they are often, especially the most subtle, good public relations managers.  Private correspondence is a much more telling indicator.  

Jude 9-10: I’ve heard of an indigenous missionary who sounded and seemed holy on the outside.  Yet when a few people came to assist him, they got to be around him when he was away from his church and away from cameras.  They saw how he would berate people over things like giving him a coke when he had ordered tea (or something like that), they saw how he would throw a tantrum to a manager when he got a scratch on his car entering into a business’ parking lot, how he would harass and demean poorer people in subtle ways (and not on camera anyways), and how he would embezzle money given him for ministry  (enough to let him live in pleasure subtly without that being evident to the outside world).  At the very least though, a bad attitude towards authority is a common mark of false teachers of this sort. Often, these people will be the most defensive of whatever real or assumed authority that they do have and be quick to strike at those who (they say) are attacking it.  But the Law of God is the Judge of who the righteous giving just rebuke are and who the hypocrites are.  Hypocritical Christian teachers and leaders are often quick to quote Psalm 105:15 “Touch not mine anointed, and do my prophets no harm.”  Yet they won’t say that the context of this passage is God coming to the defense of those who were faithful in His eyes; not people presumptuously calling themselves God’s anointed and getting angry when their sin and falsehood is being brought to light.

Jude 11: Cain tried to make an offering to God that wasn’t made on God’s terms.  He wanted to please God in his own way.  He was angry when God didn’t accept his offering, and he got angry at Abel for telling him how it ought to be done.

Balaam in general did speak the truth (like the most subtle false teachers do).  Yet he had his own agenda in his speaking which he decided he was going to pursue no matter what in order to get the reward from men that he had set his heart on.  Letting go of that, and surrendering to the Lord, was something he considered out of the question.  The Lord Himself is the great reward of those who diligently seek Him, and He withholds no good from them that walk uprightly.  The very subtle false teachers are such because they will even say things like this, but they still have their own agenda which makes their transgression exceedingly wicked and makes their coming reward (in a negative way) of condemnation even greater damnation than the typical lost person will receive in the fire of hell.

Korah, like Diotrephes spoken of in 3 John, loved the preeminence among God’s congregation and opposed God-ordained leadership from within in his attempt to attain it.  

Jude 12: The particular false teachers being most directly rebuked are able to be such because they have hardened their heart and seared their conscience so greatly.  And by the language Jude is using, they had been born-again, many of them, yet sinned unto death afterwards by continually hardening their heart and refusing to heed God’s voice.  These are so vile and dishonest that they could depart from the Lord like this and yet fool themselves and others that they had not done so.  They were so callous that they could commune with the faithful in Christian assemblies without fear, acting like they rightfully fit in and even as if they were even fitting spiritual leadership to them.

Jude 13-15: Is Jude endorsing the book of Enoch as Scripture here?  Just because this quote which Jude cites is in the Book of Enoch (as it is known today) does not mean that Jude regards the book of Enoch as authoritative.  One reason for this is that when Jesus and the Apostles cited Scripture, they would usually say things like “It is written” or use some other phrase to express an appeal to God’s Word.  Very nearly every book in the Old Testament was so cited, or alluded to, at least once like this in the New Testament.  Yet Jude does not do this with the Book of Enoch.  Jude actually doesn’t make reference to the particular Book of Enoch at all, though he gives a quote which is now featured in what is called the book of Enoch book.  At the very most, Jude was citing one true statement from the Book of Enoch to make a point.  That would be no different than how the Apostle Paul quoted heathen poets to make a point, or no different than how someone now might cite a well-known quote, that is not from the Bible, to help illustrate a Biblical truth.  

And it also does not seem unlikely to me that the phrase which Jude quotes from the Biblical patriarch Enoch was something which oral tradition accurately regarded the Biblical Enoch as saying.  Whoever then forged the Book of Enoch (as we know it now), around the 2nd century BC, could very well have taken this phrase, which the Biblical Enoch actually said, and incorporated that into the forgery which is known now as the Book of Enoch.  Regardless, Jude certainly does not give this quote as if he was quoting from the Hebrew Bible.  Jude never even mentions, let alone endorses, the book which we know as the Book of Enoch.   

The very saying which Jude did acknowledge as coming from Enoch (the righteous man, not the book attributed to him) was spoken as a guarantee of God’s wrath coming on all who are ungodly before Him in word and/or deed.   You can take that to the bank.  

Jude 16: We can be sure that murmurers and complainers walk after their own lusts.  Often, you can’t know that someone is like this sometimes unless you really get to know them in a more private setting and see what they’re like when they don’t get their way.  When it comes to these subtle false teachers, you’re not going to see it otherwise unless they cease being subtle to a significant extent.  At the same time, they will praise certain others in partiality and speak self-deprecating words in relation to others due to how they see such speaking to be to their own advantage.

Jude 17-18: We have samples of such words since we have several warnings along these lines in Paul and John’s epistles.  The epistle of 2 Peter is another such example, especially when you read it from beginning to end and take note of the theme woven throughout the entirety of the epistle.  Jesus Himself warned in the Gospel accounts (which were written by His Apostles and their close co-workers as well) of many deceivers coming in His name and of many who will be shut out of His kingdom and cast into hell-fire though they confidently claimed to have taught in His name, cast out devils in His name, and done many wonderful works in his name.

Jude 19: Jude could easily be referring here to factions which subtly arise right within Apostolic Christian assemblies, though he could also be referring to their aloofness in relation to Christ’s authentic Apostles and their co-workers who had genuine authority in the Apostolic churches.  And also, 1 John 2:19, is a cross reference here.  Along with 1 John 2:19, this could also be referring to how these eventually, over time, do separate from the first century Apostolic assemblies (after doing much damage within them- see how badly some were damaged shortly afterwards when the Risen Christ and appeared to the Apostle John on the Isle of Patmos and gave the messages to the seven churches in Asia recorded in Revelation chapters two and three).  In each case, such a departure doesn’t mean these had never been born-again and known Christ in terms of fellowship.  They mean that if they had been born-again they repeatedly hardened themselves to Him, died spiritually, and then left (if they did indeed completely leave the Apostolic assemblies).  Remember verse twelve calling these “twice dead” and plucked up by the roots” among other things.

Jude 20: Again, this has all been primarily a warning to real Christians who had not yet been destroyed spiritually by the bad influence of these subtle false teachers or by the influence of anything or anyone else.

Regarding “building up yourselves on your most holy faith” remember 2 Peter 1:4-8.

With “praying in the Holy Ghost” remember that the Holy Spirit inspired Scripture (which gives directions for us, shows us the will of God concerning man, and makes intercession for the faithful on a personal level as they pray as Romans 8 talks about).  The Holy Spirit was sent to glorify Jesus Christ the rightful Lord of all and the one mediator between God and man as 1 Timothy chapter 2 talks about.  

Jude 21: Here remember 14:21:He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”  Also, remember here Matthew 24:9-13: “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.  And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.  And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.  And because iniquity (lawlessness) shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold (that implies their love had been hot at one time).  But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”

Jude 22-23: Jude is reminding the Christians of the need to seek to rescue others from this corrupt world and the corrupt influence of false Christian teachers.  There is not a one size fits all approach in terms of how we relate to sinners, including fallen Christians who have strayed from the right way who need to be restored.  We need to treat all according to the righteous principles of God’s Law and without partiality, yet circumstances may require more or less distance be kept, more or less caution used in interacting, etc.   People and circumstances should be read- honestly and impartially- in order to make wise decisions in this regard.  Do-gooders (look up the definition), lazy people, snobs (look up the definition), and those too much taken up with their own concerns will inevitably fail.

Jude 24: In spite of reality and the negativity which must be addressed regarding the corruption in the world and which has (and even much more so now) infiltrated Christianity, and contrary to those who say Romans chapter 7 was Paul’s experience as a Christian, and contrary to those who think you have to escape society almost altogether to be a victorious Christian, in obtaining and walking in Jesus Christ’s true grace (remember 1 Peter 5:12 and Titus 2:11-14) committing sin is not inevitable and it is possible to be upright and pure in a way which the Lord does find acceptable and which will prepare a person to stand before God’s throne (2 Peter 3:14 is an good cross reference here).  There is nothing more important than that.  There is no greater reward than to be properly prepared.  Jude is exhorting us to live for that and strive according to God’s Word through Jesus Christ to obtain that.  That goal can be had in spite of the frustrations, pain, and uncertainties of life.  That goal can be had in spite of the great deception and corruption in the world, and despite the heightened spiritual wickedness within the realm of Christendom.  That goal is attainable and worth pursuing though it brings pain, sets your life back, and costs you much- even if it seems to destroy you and cost you everything you can think of.  Coming to the moment described here would be better than winning the Olympics or the Super Bowl times the highest number we can fathom and more, coming to such a moment is worth all it might take to get there and more -especially considering that we are all going to have to stand before God in His glory to be judged by Him anyways.  

Jude 25: And tie this back to verses 3 and 4 of this book for key insight into discerning the authentic Christ-centered Gospel and Christian faith from a man-centered gospel and corrupted Christianity. 

Aaron’s email is: [email protected]