Lectionary Calendar
Monday, April 15th, 2024
the Third Week after Easter
For 10¢ a day you can enjoy StudyLight.org ads
free while helping to build churches and support pastors in Uganda.
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries

The Biblical IllustratorThe Biblical Illustrator

- Jude

by Editor - Joseph Exell



The Writer of the Epistle

In verse1 he describes himself as the brother of James. If James, then, was the first of the four persons mentioned as the brethren of the Lord in Matthew 13:55, this Judas was the last of these four, and the Son of a Mary (not the Virgin) who stood by the Cross. In this ease he would not have been one of the original apostles, but was (along with James) converted by the Resurrection of the Lord. Some, however, suppose that he was the son of Alphaeus by a sister of the Virgin, but in that case the fact of the Nazarenes associating him with themselves, rather than with the Lord, would have to be accounted for. The Epistle is quoted as an inspired and canonical work in some of the early fathers. Some words in it seem to be cited in a fragment of Irenaeus, published by Pfaff in the last century--“the most holy faith delivered unto us.” Tertullian quotes it by name in his tract on “Female Dress,” chap. 3: “To these considerations is added the fact that Enoch possesses a testimony in the Apostle Jude,” etc. Clement of Alexandria also quotes it by name (“Miscellanies,” b. 3., chap. 2.): “Concerning these and the like heresies, I think that Jude has spoken prophetically in his Epistle, ‘Likewise those dreamers,’” etc. Also in Misc. 6.8: “And some pluck from the fire,” etc. Also in the “Paedagogus,” 3.8: “‘For I would have you know,’ says Jude, ‘that God, having once saved,’” etc. The Muratorian fragment also includes it in the Canon. (M. F. Sadler, M. A.)

The Epistle of St. Jude.--

The example of St. Jude in this Epistle may suggest to us that “the servant of Jesus Christ“ is justifiable in using the plainest language of warning and reproof, when circumstances demand it--nay, that he is bound to do so. Instruction and consolation are not the only duties of the pulpit. There is still such a province in religious discourse, as the province of warning and rebuke; and ministerial fidelity, undoubtedly, consists in not overlooking this. To be plain, it is not necessary that our language should be coarse. To be bold in declaring the truth, we may stand at the widest distance from arrogance and presumption. We may be fully earnest and vehement, without using invective.

Besides, we may infer the necessity of what is now stated from observing, that St. Jude has here pressed the language of reproof and warning upon the minds even of those who were greatly advanced in Christian perfection. They were those, he says, who were “sanctified by God the Father.” Even these, though far advanced, stood in need of a faithful rehearsal, both of their danger and of the motives to perseverance. High as their acquirements were, they were not beyond the reach of that sinful infection, which would shade, or tarnish, or destroy their purity. He who perseveres to the end is not the man who imagines he is secure of never falling away.

While everything that relates to the human condition and character requires the faithfulness which I now speak of, I am led to infer the justification of it, from observing, That St. Jude has united his language of warning and reproof with the wish for “mercy, and peace, and love,” So that, instead of its being indicative of the morose and bitter dispositions, it is coincident with kindness, and is the very sign of benevolence. We never apprehend that our fellow-traveller will be enraged at us, because we shake him out of the lethargy which we perceive is stealing upon him, amid the cold and snows of his journey, and is about to seal his eyes in death. Why is it, therefore, that the attempt to save from evils of a moral kind is not met with grateful acknowledgments, but because these evils are not seen to exist, or because they are deemed trifling in their origin and equally immaterial in their effects. (W. Muir, D. D.)

Relation between 2 Peter and Jude

The second chapter of the Second Epistle of Peter constitutes a remarkable peculiarity in that Epistle. Were it not for the indisputable evidence in favour of the integrity of the Epistle, we might regard this chapter as a later insertion, as it could be omitted without any injury being done to the train of thought. It differs in style from the other portions, and it is here that the chief linguistic differences between the First and Second Epistles of Peter are found. But what especially strikes one as remarkable is the close resemblance between this chapter and the Epistle of Jude, a resemblance which is not confined to a mere similarity of thought, but extends to a sameness of words and phrases, to the illustrations and references employed, and to the sequence of ideas; so that it is now almost universally conceded that there must be an intimate connection between these writings, amounting either to a dependence of the one upon the other, or to both being derived from the same source. And yet, on the other hand, this dependence is by no means slavish, each contracts or expands the ideas of the other, and in both there is a freshness of expression and a vigour of thought. The passages in the Epistles related to each other are 2 Peter 2:1; 2 Peter 3:3; and Jude 1:4-18. The subject treated of in these passages is the same--the character of the false teachers who at that period infested the Christian Church. And although there is some difference, as Peter dwells chiefly on the heretical teachers themselves, and Jude describes the licentiousness of their followers; yet it is evident that the same class of men is alluded to. Their character, their maxims, their vices, their destiny are the same; they are painted with the same colours and described by the same qualities.

Some suppose that Peter and Jude wrote independently. Both, it is asserted, wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and were guided in their thoughts. They wrote on the same subject, were well versed in the Old Testament, were directed by the same Spirit, and hence the reason of the remarkable resemblance in their writings. Such a hypothesis is unsatisfactory. The sacred Scriptures, though inspired, were yet written by men, each writer using his own style and language; and these human elements are to be judged by the ordinary rules of criticism. The words and phrases in 2 Peter 2:1-22. and Jude are so similar that it must follow either that the one borrowed from the other, or that both derived their materials from a common source.

A more plausible supposition is that both Peter and Jude borrowed from the same document; that both were translations from or adaptations of some Aramaic writing. The supposition was first stated by Bishop Sherlock, with singular ingenuity. He supposes the original document to have been some ancient Jewish writing, in which the prophecies of Enoch and Noah, relating to the flood, were recorded, so that it is easy to account for the reference to Noah by Peter and to Enoch by Jude. Still, however, the Bishop feels that this hypothesis is not sufficient to account for all the points of similarity, as, for example, the prediction of these mockers by the Apostles, and therefore he further supposes that Jude had along with this Jewish book the Epistle of Peter. Now, such a supposition does, to a certain extent, account for the resemblances and differences in the writings of Peter and Jude; it also accounts for the difference in style between the second chapter and other portions of this Second Epistle of Peter, and obviates, in a great measure, the objection drawn from the difference in style between Peter’s First and Second Epistles. But, on the other hand, it appears to be derogatory to the sacred writers, and contrary to our idea of inspiration, to suppose that both should copy from a writing which must be considered as apocryphal, and very improbable that both should fix on the same document.

A third supposition is that Jude borrowed from Peter.

1. Reasons assigned for the priority of the Epistle of Peter.

(1) In the Epistle of Peter the false teachers and scoffers are the subjects of prediction; they had not as yet arisen in the Church; whereas in the Epistle of Jude they had already arisen.

(2) There is in the Epistle of Jude a reference to predictions concerning the coming of scoffers (Jude 1:17-18). Now it is affirmed that this prediction of the Apostles is found most fully and most plainly in the Second Epistle of Peter. Paul, indeed, frequently foretold that in the last days perilous times would come, that many would depart from the faith, and that even among Christians, false teachers would arise, seeking to draw away disciples after them. But the very words employed by Jude are used in Peter’s prediction.

(3) In Jude’s Epistle corruption appears in a more advanced state. Jude is far more vehement in his expressions and denunciations than Peter; if Jude wrote first, Peter has toned down and moderated his expressions.

(4) It is asserted that Jude has in many instances expanded the expressions of Peter; added to them and adapted them to the purpose of his writing. Certainly such instances of expansion may be adduced; but little can be made of this argument, as it is counterbalanced by similar instances in the Epistle of Peter. It is supposed that Jude, about to write the Epistle concerning the common salvation, was diverted from his purpose by seeing the extreme wickedness which was corrupting the Christian Church; and, therefore, he felt that it was needful for him to write at once, and to exhort Christians to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. And finding a remarkable resemblance between the licentiousness of wicked Christians and the description of the scoffers who were to arise in the Christian Church given in the Epistle of Peter, he felt that he could best accomplish his design by borrowing from that Epistle, and freely using the sentiments it contained; and this he does in an Epistle full of vigour.

2. Objections against this hypothesis.

(1) Dean Plumptre remarks, “It was more likely that Peter should incorporate the contents of a short Epistle like that of Jude in the longer one which he was writing, than that Jude, with the whole of Peter’s Second Epistle before him, should have confined himself to one section of it only.” To this, however, it is answered that the section to which Jude confined himself was the one appropriate for his purpose. It must, however, be admitted that the comparative brevity of Jude’s Epistle, and the terse and sententious expression of its thoughts, are in favour of its originality.

(2) It is affirmed that some portions of the Epistle of Peter can only be understood by a reference to the Epistle of Jude. Thus the language of Peter concerning the forbearance of the angels, taken by itself, is unintelligible. As Hus puts it: “With Jude this is the case; he states the matter distinctly, and expressly names the dispute of Michael with the devil respecting the body of Moses. But Peter rests so much in generals, and explains himself respecting it so indefinitely, that we could not at all have guessed what he had in view in this passage, if we were not in possession of Jude.”

The only other possible supposition is that Peter borrowed from Jude.

1. This is the opinion in the present day most generally favoured.

(1) The phraseology of Jude is simpler than that of Peter, which is more artificial, rhetorical, and paraphrastic.

(2) Some of the expressions in Jude’s Epistle are distorted, and altered in a singular manner.

(3) Passages in Peter’s Epistle are obscure and can only be explained from the parallel expressions in Jude’s Epistle.

(4) The course of thought in Jude is firm and distinct, whilst in Peter it is unsteady like that of an imitator (Jude 1:4 compared with 2Pe 2:1; 2 Peter 1:19-21; Jude 1:5-8 compared with 2 Peter 2:4-11, where the interruption in 7-9 and the change of case in verse 10 are to be noticed).

(5) The opponents described and denounced in Jude arc distinctly portrayed, whereas in Second Peter the position is quite indefinite.

2. Those who adopt the opinion that Peter borrowed from the Epistle of Jude, suppose that when Peter wrote his Second Epistle, the Epistle of Jude came under his notice, and he was deeply impressed with its vigour, earnestness, inspiration; he felt that it contained the words of the Holy Ghost, and that it was most applicable to the state of the Churches to which he was writing. He therefore uses it in enforcing his own injunctions; he incorporates its sentiments in his Epistle; but he does so in no slavish manner; he makes the thoughts and words of Jude his own. Hence he omits and adds as occasion serves. The readers of the two Epistles were in some respects different. Both write to Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles; but Jude’s Epistle is chiefly addressed to Jewish Christians, and Peter’s to Gentile Christians. Hence several references employed by Jude are omitted by Peter, because he adapts his writing to Gentile Christians.

3. This view of the priority of the Epistle of Jude is exposed to several weighty objections. Especially it is considered to be opposed to the authenticity of Peter’s Epistle. It can hardly be imagined that Peter, one of the three pillars of the Church, so ready in speech and action, would borrow from one who was not an Apostle, and who was unknown in the Christian Church. “Those who, like ourselves,” observes Fronmuller, “are profoundly impressed with the authenticity of the Second Epistle of Peter, deem it, a priori, highly improbable that Peter, the prince of the Apostles, that illumined and highly gifted man, who proves his originality in the First Epistle, as well as in chaps, 1 and 3 of the Second Epistle, should have borrowed, in a part of his Epistle, the language, figures, and examples of a man evidently less gifted than himself. Especially remarkable, moreover, would be his silence concerning Jude, seeing that he made mention of Paul and his Epistles.” Hence it is that Schott argues against the priority of Jude on the ground of the authenticity of Second Peter.

4. Upon the whole, then, although we consider that 2 Peter 2:1-22; 2 Peter 3:1-3 and Jude are so dependent upon each other that either Peter must have seen the Epistle of Jude or Jude must have seen the Epistle of Peter, yet the arguments in favour of the priority of each are so nearly balanced, that it is impossible to come to a definite conclusion. The admission of the fact that one sacred writer borrowed from another is no argument against the inspiration or the genuineness of one of the writings. There are several instances in Scripture where writers have copied from one another, or from a common source. Not to mention in this point of view several passages in the synoptical Gospels, the repetitions in the Pentateuch, and the same historical accounts in the books of Samuel, the Kings, and Chronicles; the following passages are coincident in words; compare 2 Samuel 22:1-51 with Psalms 18:1-50; Psalms 14:1-7 with Psalms 53:1-6; Psalms 115:4-11 with Psalms 135:16-21; 2 Kings 18:13-19 with Isaiah 36:1-22; Isaiah 37:1-38; Isaiah 38:1-22; Isaiah 39:1-8; 2 Kings 25:23-24 with Jeremiah 40:7-9; 2 Chronicles 36:22-23 with Ezra 1:1-3; Ezra 2:1-70 with Nehemiah 7:1-73; Isaiah 2:2-4 with Micah 4:1-3, etc. In all these passages the resemblance is far more complete and exact than that found between the Epistles of Second Peter and Jude. (P. J. Gloag, D. D.)

adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile