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Jamieson, Fausset & Brown :: Introduction to Jude

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The General Epistle of Jude

Commentary by A. R. FAUSSET

INTRODUCTION

AUTHOR.--He calls himself in the address "the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James." See JF & B for Introduction to the Epistle of James, in proof of James the apostle, and James the Lord's brother, the bishop of Jerusalem, being one and the same person. Gal 1:19 alone seems to me to prove this. Similarly, Jude the brother of our Lord, and Jude the apostle, seem to be one and the same. JEROME [Against Helvidius], rightly maintains that by the Lord's brethren are meant his cousins, children of Mary and Cleophas (the same as Alphaeus). From 1Cr 9:5 (as "brethren of the Lord" stands between "other apostles" and "Cephas"), it seems natural to think that the brethren of the Lord are distinguished from the apostles only because all his brethren were not apostles, but only James and Jude. Jude's reason for calling himself "brother of Jesus," was that James, as bishop of Jerusalem, was better known than himself. Had he been, in the strict sense, brother of our Lord, he probably would have so entitled himself. His omission of mention of his apostleship is no proof that he was not an apostle; for so also James omits it in his heading; and Paul, in his Epistles to the Philippians, Thessalonians, and Philemon, omits it. Had the writer been a counterfeiter of the apostle Jude, he would doubtless have called himself an "apostle." He was called also Lebbaeus and Thaddeus, probably to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot, the traitor. Lebbaeus, from Hebrew "leeb," "heart," means courageous. Thaddeus is the same as Theudas, from Hebrew "thad," the "breast." Luke and John, writing later than Matthew, when there would be no confusion between him and Judas Iscariot, give his name Judas. The only circumstance relating to him recorded in the Gospels occurs in Jhn 14:22, "Judas saith unto Him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" JEROME [Commentary on Matthew] says that he was sent to Edessa, to Abgarus, king of Osroene, or Edessa, and that he preached in Syria, Arabia, Mesopotamia, and Persia, in which last country he suffered martyrdom. The story is told on EUSEBIUS' authority, that Abgarus, on his sickbed, having heard of Jesus' power to heal, sent to beg Him to come and cure him, to which the Lord replied, praising his faith, that though he had not seen the Saviour, he yet believed; adding, "As for what thou hast written, that I should come to thee, it is necessary that all those things for which I was sent should be fulfilled by Me in this place, and that having filled them I should be received up to Him that sent Me. When, therefore, I shall be received into heaven, I will send unto thee some one of My disciples who shall both heal thy distemper and give life to thee and those with thee." Thomas is accordingly said to have been inspired to send Thaddeus for the cure and baptism of Abgarus. The letters are said to have been shown Thaddeus among the archives of Edessa. It is possible such a message was verbally sent, and the substance of it registered in writing afterwards (compare 2Ki 5:1-27 and Mat 15:22 ). HEGESIPPUS (in EUSEBIUS [Ecclesiastical History, 3.20]) states that when Domitian inquired after David's posterity, some grandsons of Jude, called the Lord's brother, were brought into his presence. Being asked as to their possessions, they said that they had thirty-nine acres of the value of nine thousand denarii, out of which they paid him taxes, and lived by the labor of their hands, a proof of which they gave by showing the hardness of their hands. Being interrogated as to Christ and His kingdom, they replied that it was not of this world, but heavenly; and that it would be manifested at the end of the world, when He would come in glory to judge the living and the dead.

AUTHENTICITY.--EUSEBIUS [Ecclesiastical History, 3.25], reckons it among the Antilegomena or controverted Scriptures, "though recognized by the majority." The reference to the contest of Michael, the archangel, with the devil, for the body of Moses, not mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament, but found in the apocryphal "Book of Enoch," probably raised doubts as to its authenticity, as JEROME [On Illustrious Men, 4] says. Moreover, its not being addressed to one particular Church, or individual, caused it not to be so immediately recognized as canonical. A counterfeiter would have avoided using what did not occur in the Old Testament, and which might be regarded as apocryphal.

      As to the book of Enoch, if quoted by Jude, his quotation of a passage from it gives an inspired sanction only to the truth of that passage, not to the whole book; just as Paul, by inspiration, sanctions particular sentiments from ARATUS, EPIMENIDES, and MENANDER, but not all their writings. I think, rather as there is some slight variation between Jude's statement and that of the book of Enoch, that Jude, though probably not ignorant of the book of Enoch, stamps with inspired sanction the current tradition of the Jews as to Enoch's prophecies; just as Paul mentions the names of the Egyptian magicians, "Jannes and Jambres" ( 2Ti 3:8 ), not mentioned in the Old Testament. At all events, the prophecy ascribed to Enoch by Jude was really his, being sanctioned as such by this inspired writer. So also the narration as to the archangel Michael's dispute with Satan concerning the body of Moses, is by Jude's inspired authority ( Jud 1:9 ) declared true. The book of Enoch is quoted by JUSTIN MARTYR, IRENAEUS, CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA, &c. Bruce, the Abyssinian traveller, brought home three copies of it in Ethiopic, from Alexandria, of which Archbishop Lawrence, in 1821, gave an English translation. The Ethiopic was a version from the Greek, and the Greek doubtless a version from the Hebrew, as the names of the angels in it show. The Apostolic Constitutions, ORIGEN [Against Celsus], JEROME, and AUGUSTINE, pronounce it not canonical. Yet it is in the main edifying, vindicating God's government of the world, natural and spiritual, and contradicting none of the Scripture statements. The name Jesus never occurs, though "Son of man," so often given to Messiah in the Gospels, is frequent, and terms are used expressive of His dignity, character, and acts, exceeding the views of Messiah in any other Jewish book. The writer seems to have been a Jew who had become thoroughly imbued with the sacred writings of Daniel. And, though many coincidences occur between its sentiments and the New Testament, the Messianic portions are not distinct enough to prove that the writer knew the New Testament. Rather, he seems to have immediately preceded Christ's coming, about the time of Herod the Great, and so gives us a most interesting view of believing Jews' opinions before the advent of our Lord. The Trinity is recognized (Enoch 60:13,14). Messiah is "the elect One" existing from eternity (Enoch 48:2,3,5); "All kings shall fall down before Him, and worship and fix their hopes on this Son of man" (Enoch 61:10-13). He is the object of worship (Enoch 48:3,4); He is the supreme Judge (Enoch 60:10,11; 68:38,39). There shall be a future state of retribution (Enoch 93:8,9; 94:2,4; 95; 96; 99; 103); The eternity of future punishment (Enoch 103:5). VOLKMAR, in ALFORD, thinks the book was written at the time of the sedition of Barchochebas (A.D. 132), by a follower of Rabbi Akiba, the upholder of that impostor. This would make the book Antichristian in its origin. If this date be correct, doubtless it copied some things from Jude, giving them the Jewish, not the Christian, coloring.

      EUSEBIUS [Demonstration of the Gospel, 3.5] remarks, it accords with John's humility that in Second and Third John he calls himself "the elder." For the same reason James and Jude call themselves "servants of Jesus Christ." CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA [Adumbrations, in Epistle of Jude, p. 1007] says, "Jude, through reverential awe, did not call himself brother, but servant, of Jesus Christ, and brother of James."

      TERTULLIAN [On the Apparel of Women, 3] cites the Epistle as that of the apostle James. CLEMENT OF ALEXANDRIA in Miscellanies [3.2.11] quotes Jud 1:8, 17 as Scripture, in The Instructor [3.8.44], Jud 1:5. The MURATORI fragment asserts its canonicity [ROUTH, Sacred Fragments, 1.306]. ORIGEN [Commentary on Matthew 13:55] says, "Jude wrote an Epistle of few lines, but one filled full of the strong words of heavenly grace." Also, in his Commentary on Matthew 22:23, ORIGEN quotes Jud 1:6; and on Matthew 18:10, he quotes Jud 1:1. He calls the writer "Jude the apostle," in the Latin remains of his works (compare DAVIDSON, Introduction to the New Testament, vol. 3, p. 498). JEROME [On Illustrious Men, 4] reckons it among the Scriptures. Though the oldest manuscripts of the Peschito omit it, EPHREM THE SYRIAN recognizes it. WORDSWORTH reasons for its genuineness thus: Jude, we know, died before John, that is, before the beginning of the second century. Now EUSEBIUS [Ecclesiastical History, 3.32] tells us that James was succeeded in the bishopric of Jerusalem by Symeon his brother; and also that Symeon sat in that see till A.D. 107, when as a martyr he was crucified in his hundred twentieth year. We find that the Epistle to Jude was known in the East and West in the second century; it was therefore circulated in Symeon's lifetime. It never would have received currency such as it had, nor would Symeon have permitted a letter bearing the name of an apostle, his own brother Jude, brother of his own apostolical predecessor, James, to have been circulated, if it were not really Jude's.

      TO WHOM ADDRESSED.--The references to Old Testament history, Jud 1:5, 7, and to Jewish tradition, Jud 1:14, &c., make it likely that Jewish Christians are the readers to whom Jude mainly (though including also all Christians, Jud 1:1 ) writes, just as the kindred Epistle, Second Peter, is addressed primarily to the same class; compare JF & B for Introduction to First Peter and JF & B for Introduction to Second Peter. The persons stigmatized in it were not merely libertines (as ALFORD thinks), though no doubt that was one of their prominent characteristics, but heretics in doctrine, "denying the only Lord God, and our Saviour Jesus Christ." Hence he urges believers "earnestly to contend for the faith once delivered unto the saints" ( Jud 1:3 ). Insubordination, self-seeking, and licentiousness, the fruit of Antinomian teachings, were the evils against which Jude warns his readers; reminding them that, to build themselves in their most holy faith, and to pray in the Holy Ghost, are the only effectual safeguards. The same evils, along with mocking skepticism, shall characterize the last days before the final judgment, even as in the days when Enoch warned the ungodly of the coming flood. As Peter was in Babylon in writing 1Pe 5:13, and probably also in writing Second Peter (compare JF & B for Introduction to First Peter and JF & B for Introduction to Second Peter), Jude addressed his Epistle primarily to the Jewish Christians in and about Mesopotamian Babylon (a place of great resort to the Jews in that day), or else to the Christian Jews dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia ( 1Pe 1:1 ), the persons addressed by Peter. For Jude is expressly said to have preached in Mesopotamia [JEROME, Commentary on Matthew], and his Epistle, consisting of only twenty-five verses, contains in them no less than eleven passages from Second Peter (see my JF & B for Introduction to Second Peter for the list). Probably in Jud 1:4 he witnesses to the fulfilment of Peter's prophecy, "There are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained (rather as Greek, "forewritten," that is, announced beforehand by the apostle Peter's written prophecy) to this condemnation, ungodly men denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ." Compare 2Pe 2:1, "There shall be false teachers among you who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." Also Jud 1:17, 18 plainly refers to the very words of 2Pe 3:3, "Remember the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus; how they told you there should be mockers in the last time who should walk after their own ungodly lusts." This proves, in opposition to ALFORD, that Jude's Epistle is later than Peter's (whose inspiration he thus confirms, just as Peter confirms Paul's, 2Pe 3:15, 16 ), not vice versa.

      TIME AND PLACE OF WRITING.--ALFORD thinks, that, considering Jude was writing to Jews and citing signal instances of divine vengeance, it is very unlikely he would have omitted to allude to the destruction of Jerusalem if he had written after that event which uprooted the Jewish polity and people. He conjectures from the tone and references that the writer lived in Palestine. But as to the former, negative evidence is doubtful; for neither does John allude in his Epistles, written after the destruction of Jerusalem, to that event. MILL fixes on A.D. 90, after the death of all the apostles save John. I incline to think from Jud 1:17, 18 that some time had elapsed since the Second Epistle of Peter (written probably about A.D. 68 or 69) when Jude wrote, and, therefore, that the Epistle of Jude was written after the destruction of Jerusalem.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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