the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25
Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary Haydock's Catholic Commentary
by George Leo Haydock
CATHOLIC EPISTLE OF ST. JUDE,
This Epistle, as we find by Eusebius (lib. iii. History of the Church, chap. xxv.) and St. Jerome, (in Catal.) was not everywhere received as canonical till about the end of the fourth age [century]. It is cited by Origen, hom. vii. in Josue [Joshua]; by Tertullian, lib. de cultu fœminarum; by Clement of Alexandria, lib. iii. Pædag.; by St. Athanasius, in Synopsi; by St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Carm. xxxiv.; by St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Catech. 4ta.; by the councils of Laodicea and the third council of Carthage; by St. Augustine, lib. ii. de Doct. Christiana, chap. viii. See Tillemont, and Nat. Alex. in his preface to this epistle. The time when it was written is uncertain, only it is insinuated ver. 17 that few of the apostles were then living, perhaps only St. John. The design was to give all Christians a horror of the detestable doctrine and infamous practices of the Simonites, Nicolaites, and such heretics, who having the name of Christians, were become a scandal to religion and to all mankind, as may be seen in St. Irenæus and St. Epiphanius. He copies in a manner what St. Peter had written in his third Epistle, Chap. ii. (Witham) --- St. Jude in the first part of his Epistle, (ver. 1 to 16) writes against certain heretics of his day, known in history by the name of Gnostics, whose extravagant opinions and shameful and criminal disorders have been described by St. Epiphanius, St. Irenæus, and other Fathers. In the second part, he seems to have principally in view such as were to arise in the latter times; and he exhorts such of the faithful as should live to see those days, to remain firm in the faith which they had received, applying themselves to prayer, persevering in charity, and awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ and eternal life, which He has promised them. St. Jude in thus exerting himself, like St. Peter, against the first and last heresies, has invincibly established the perpetuity of the Catholic Church. With regard to the doubts of certain authors relative to the authenticity of this Epistle, we can oppose Origen, who says that St. Jude wrote a letter, which in the few lines it contains, includes discourses full of force and heavenly grace --- Greek: Ioudas egrapsen epistolen oligostichon men, pepleromenen de ton tes ouraniou charitos erromenon logon. --- And St. Epiphanius says, that he believed the Holy Ghost inspired St. Jude with the design of writing against the Gnostics in the letter he has left us....We find it inserted in the ancient catalogues of sacred Scripture, as in that of the council of Laodicea, canon. lx; of Carthage, canon xlvii: nor can there be any reasonable doubt at present for admitting it into the canon of Scripture. It is received by the Catholic Church, and has been received ever since the fourth age [century]. What gave doubts relative to the authenticity of this Epistle, was the author’s quoting a prophecy of Enoch, which seemed to have been taken from a spurious work published under the name of this patriarch, and a fact concerning the death of Moses, not found in the canonical books of the Old Testament; but the apostle might have cited the prophecy of Enoch, and the fact concerning Moses, on the faith of some ancient tradition, without a reference to any book. Eusebius (History of the Church, lib. iii. chap. xxv.) bears testimony that this Epistle, though not frequently cited by the ancients, was publicly read in many Churches. Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and the later Fathers, had admitted it as part of canonical Scripture. Hence Luther, the Centuriators of Magdeburg, and the Anabaptists, have no just reason to look upon this Epistle as doubtful. Le Clerc, in his Hist. Eccles. (an. 90.) acts more candidly in admitting it without any scruple. As for the exception Grotius take from St. Jude not assuming the quality of apostles, and from its not being universally received in the first ages [centuries], we can answer, that St. Peter, St. Paul, St. John, did not take the title of apostles at the head of all their letters, and that some Churches have doubted at first of the authenticity of other writings, which have afterwards been universally acknowledged as authentic and canonical.