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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Jude 1

 

 

Verses 1-4

Jude 1:1-4. The author had intended to write them a pastoral letter, but circumstances have made it necessary for him to write in a different strain and to exhort them to contend earnestly for the faith. These circumstances were the presence in their midst of false brethren—whose doom was appointed long ago—men denying Jesus Christ, their Master and Lord, by their vicious lives.

Jude 1:3. the faith . . . unto the saints: this reference to the faith as "a fixed and final deposit" is said to prove the late date of the epistle: but the same conception of "the faith" is found in the Pastoral Epistles; cf. also Galatians 1:23, Romans 10:8, Ephesians 4:5.—the saints, i.e. Christians; the phrase does not suggest that the writer regards those to whom the faith was delivered as belonging to an earlier generation than those to whom he writes.

Jude 1:4. of old set . . . condemnation: render, "who were long ago set forth in writing to this doom." There is no reason to suppose that the writing" is some early Christian document (possibly 2 P.) and to see here proof of the late date of Jude (or of the priority of 2 P.). The writing is the OT with its denunciation of evil-livers. Jude has not yet said what the doom is; it is described in the next section.


Verses 5-7

Jude 1:5-7. Three examples are given as revealing the doom of such evil-livers: the faithless Israelites in the wilderness, who were destroyed; the fallen angels, who are kept in bonds under darkness until the Judgment Day; and the Cities of the Plain, which suffered the punishment of eternal fire.

Jude 1:6. The sin of the angels was twofold: (a) "they kept not their own principality," the sphere allotted to them by God (Deuteronomy 32:8, Enoch 18:13, 21:3)—the sin of pride or disobedience; (b) "they left their proper habitation," they came down to earth (Genesis 6:1-4*; Enoch, passim)—the sin of lust; the fall of the angels through lust is one of the main subjects in Enoch. The tradition as to their punishment is derived from Enoch (cf. 10:4, 12, 54:3). (For the use of Enoch by Jude, see the parallels quoted by Chase.) The whole passage should be compared with 2 Peter 2:1-9, which is based on it.


Verses 8-16

Jude 1:8-16. The false brethren sin in like manner. In their "dreamings," i.e. vain conceits ("yielding to their own wayward fancies," Chase), they are licentious and rebellious. They despise the Lordship (Jude 1:8*) and rail at the glorious ones (cf. mg.). Unlike Michael, who in his controversy with the devil did not abuse him, they do not fear to utter abuse upon things which are beyond their knowledge (i.e. the Lordship and the glorious ones); and in the carnal things which, like mere animals, they do understand, they are destroyed. They are compared to Cain, to Balaam, and to Korah. They are as dangerous as hidden rocks, selfish as shepherds who only feed themselves, useless as floating, waterless clouds or barren trees, disobedient as wandering stars (which "keep not their own principality"—their sin is like that of the fallen angels and they are doomed to the same fate—see on Jude 1:6). It was to these also that Enoch spoke when he foretold the final judgment. They are discontented, licentious, boastful, unprincipled self-seekers. The whole passage should be compared with 2 Peter 2:10-17.

Jude 1:8. dominion: render, the Lordship, i.e. Christ or God: cf. Didaché 4:1 ("whencesoever the Lordship speaketh, there is the Lord").—dignities: render, the glorious ones, i.e. the heavenly beings (2 Peter 2:10*).

Jude 1:9. The story of Michael is taken from the Assumption of Moses. The devil claimed the body of Moses on the ground that he was a murderer (Exodus 2:11). This was blasphemy which Michael would not tolerate, yet he forbore to charge the devil with blasphemy, and merely said: "The Lord rebuke thee." The story is not found in that fragment of the Assumption which has been preserved, but its presence in the original work is well attested (cf. Clement of Alexandria's Commentary on Jude; also Origen, de Princ. III, ii. 1).

Jude 1:11. in the way of Cain: the false brethren were not murderers, and there is an element of exaggeration in the comparison, which probably accounts for 2 P.'s omission of it; but cf. Wisdom of Solomon 10:3, where Cain is regarded as a typically unrighteous man. Jude emphasizes mainly the uncleanness ("the error") of Balaam (Numbers 25, the sin of Baal-Peor; cf. Revelation 2:14); in 2 P. the emphasis is rather on his covetousness. Korah despised the authority of Moses (Numbers 16), as the false brethren despised the rulers of the church.

Jude 1:12. love-feasts: 2 Peter 2:13*. Taken in connexion with "shepherds that feed themselves," and the charge of making "separations" (Jude 1:19), we may suppose the reference is to such disorders as are mentioned in connexion with the "Lord's Supper" at Corinth 1 Corinthians 11:18-22).

Jude 1:14. Enoch, the seventh from Adam (cf. Genesis 5): the quotation is based on two passages in the introduction to the Book of Enoch (1:9 and 5:4).


Verse 17-18

Jude 1:17 f. But remember the words of the apostles, how they warned you that in the last times such men would be found. This passage plainly implies that the writer was not himself an apostle; some critics maintain that it also implies that the epistle dates from the sub-apostolic age. But the past to which the writer refers was the time when those whom he is addressing had received oral instruction from the apostles—or some of them; that period of personal intercourse was now past, not necessarily because the apostles were dead, but because they were no longer living in that neighbourhood. If we suppose that the epistle was addressed to Antioch, the language is quite consistent with the situation in A.D. 63-64, when Peter and Paul were in Rome and the other apostles had left Palestine.

Jude 1:18. The same prophecy, expanded so as to include an anticipation of the denial of the Parousia, is given in 2 Peter 3:3, though 2 P. gives it as his own prophecy. It has been urged that Jude is here quoting 2 P. and giving apostolic authority to it. But the prophecy itself was plainly a constant element in the apostolic teaching (cf. 1 Timothy 4:1, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Acts 20:29), and Jude's reference to it in no way implies dependence on 2 P. The probability is that the writer of 2 P., finding the prophecy attributed by Jude to the apostles, quotes it as his own, in order still further to establish his identity with Peter.


Verses 19-23

Jude 1:19-23. These false brethren make divisions among you, but do you build up yourselves by means of your most holy faith. As regards them, show mercy towards those who are in doubt; save others, snatching them from the fire which is consuming them; show mercy to others, yet fear lest you be contaminated by them.

Jude 1:19. separations: cf. the warning against those who cause divisions in Romans 16:17; the divisions were probably social (cf. Jude 1:16, "respect of persons"), such as are referred to in 1 Corinthians 11 and James 2:1.

Jude 1:22 f. on some have mercy who are in doubt: or possibly, "some confute when they dispute." The text of both verses is most uncertain. Possibly the original text only contained two clauses and the text adopted in RV may be conflate; "some save, plucking them from the fire; some, who dispute, pity in fear" (so Bigg); see WH, vol. ii. p. 106ff. The two verses may be compared with Didach, ii. 7. "It is conceivable that parts of the Didach are ultimately the work of the author of this epistle" (Chase).

Jude 1:24 f. The epistle concludes with a doxology, which both in form and language should be compared with the doxology in Romans 16:25-27. Note the advanced Christology—Glory to God through Jesus Christ from all eternity to all eternity. Amen.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Jude 1:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/jude-1.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 23 / Ordinary 28
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