Letter opening. Jude is servant, not a slave but a figure of very high status such as Abraham, Moses, and David (Ex 32.13; 1 Sam 17.23
). If brother of James (Acts 12.17; 15.12
), then Jude is also kin of Jesus. He addresses no geographical church, which suggests that this is a general letter that
could be read in any church.
Enter heretics. Jude writes because certain intruders are abroad whose false doctrine (deny our only Master and Lord) leads to immorality (pervert the grace of God into licentiousness). He finds it necessary to exhort the addressees to contend for the faith that was delivered to the disciples in its fullness. He appeals, then, to the antiquity of an immutable tradition.
Refutation. Jude cites three examples of divine judgment: Although God saved a people, God later destroyed those who proved unfaithful. Similarly, although many angels remained faithful, God imprisoned the angels who strayed. Sodom
and Gomorrah illustrate divine judgment on immorality. Hence, if the intruders deny the sovereignty of God to judge, these
examples rebut that error and serve as proof of the coming judgment.
What could be worse? Jude claims that these intruders accept no laws concerning the body (defile the flesh) and reject all authority, even that of the angels who assist God's judgment. He cites an obscure document, the “Assumption of Moses,”
in which Michael the archangel confirmed God's sovereignty: The Lord rebuke you. This proves useful in support of the tradition about the Day of Judgment, which the intruders deny.
Precedents of punishment. Just as three biblical examples were cited in vv. 5–7
, so we find here three examples of deviants brought to judgment: Cain, Balaam, and Korah. In legend
Cain exemplified godlessness and envy; Balaam was willing to lead Israel astray and curse it (Num 22
); Korah typified ambition and rebellion (Num 16.1–35
). Besides accusing the intruders of parasitical corruption, they are compared to fleeting, empty natural phenomena such as
waterless clouds, uprooted trees, wild waves, and wandering stars. Their instability makes them perilous guides.
to the rescue. Jude cites as authoritative a prophecy from 1 Enoch about the coming judgment. This popular document, although used by Second
Temple Judeans and later Christian writers, was never judged to be canonical.
Jude uses it here because it contains a full statement of the topic of God's judgment and contains many parallels with gospel
traditions such as Mt 24.29–31
Prediction of heretics too. Another prediction announces that scoffers will come, the fulfillment of which bolsters Jude's repetition of predictions of the coming judgment. As the opponents lack
faith, love, and especially hope, Jude encourages the church to faithfulness, love, and hope (looking foward to the mercy of our Lord). Far from abandoning the opponents, he urges the addressees to have mercy on the wavering and to save others by snatching them from a fiery judgment.
Letter closing. A doxology concludes the letter, beginning with acknowledgment of both God's protection of the church and purification of
the members. This demonstrates that right theology (confession of God's will and powers) leads to right morals. Supreme honor
is paid to God: glory, majesty, power, and authority, similar to the hymn of praise in Rev 4.11
. In contrast, the scoffers deny the powers of our Master and Lord (v. 4
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