Salutation. 1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and the brother of James,[a] to those who have been called, who are dear to God the Father and have been kept safe by Jesus Christ: 2 may mercy, peace, and love be granted you in abundance.
Benefits of Being a Christian. 3 Beloved, I was just at the point of writing to you about the salvation we share, when it became necessary for me to write and urge you to fight earnestly for the faith that was once and for all entrusted to the saints.[b] 4 For certain men have infiltrated your ranks, people who long ago were designated for condemnation.[c] These godless persons pervert the grace of our God into an excuse for immorality and disown our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Character and Doom of the False Teachers.[d] 5 Although you already know all this, allow me to remind you that the Lord, who once delivered the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who refused to believe.[e] 6 Remember also that the angels, who were dissatisfied with the dominion that had been assigned to them and abandoned their proper dwelling place, have been kept bound by him in darkness with eternal chains until the judgment of the great Day.[f] 7 And do not fail to remember Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighboring cities, which in a similar way indulged in sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who undergo the punishment of eternal fire.[g]
8 In the same way, these dreamers defile their bodies, make light of authority, and insult celestial beings.[h] 9 Even the archangel Michael, when he engaged in an argument with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but instead said: “May the Lord rebuke you!”[i] 10 However, these people pour abuse on anything they do not understand, and the very things that they know by instinct, like irrational animals, lead to their destruction.
11 Woe to them! They have followed in the footsteps of Cain; they have abandoned themselves to the error of Balaam for the sake of gain; and they have perished in the rebellion of Korah.[j] 12 [k]They are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without fear. They are shepherds who feed only themselves. They are like clouds blown about by winds without giving rain, or like trees in autumn barren and uprooted and so twice dead. 13 They are like wild sea waves whose foam reflects their shameless deeds, or like wandering stars for whom the gloom of darkness is stored up forever. 14 [l]Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, also prophesied against them when he said, “Behold, the Lord is coming with tens of thousands of his saints, 15 to pronounce judgment on humanity and to convict all the ungodly for all the godless deeds that each has impiously committed and for all the defiant words spoken against him by godless sinners.” 16 These are grumblers and fault-finders. They indulge their own passions,[m] and their mouths are full of bombastic talk as they flatter others in order to achieve their own ends.
17 Appeal to the Faithful. But you, dear friends, must remember the predictions made by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.[n] 18 For they said to you, “In the final age there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly passions.”[o] 19 It is these people who create divisions, who follow their natural instincts and do not possess the Spirit.
20 A Program of the Christian Life.[p] However, you, dear friends, must build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God as you await our Lord Jesus Christ in his mercy, who will grant you eternal life.
22 Have compassion for those who are wavering. 23 Save others by snatching them out of the fire. And for still others have compassion mixed with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies.
24 Doxology.[q] Now to him who is able to keep you from falling and to bring you safely to his glorious presence, unblemished and rejoicing, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time, now, and forevermore. Amen.
- Jude 1:1 Jude . . . the brother of James: see Introduction. Servant: see note on Rom 1:1. Kept safe by Jesus Christ: he holds the universe together (see Col 1:17; Heb 1:3) and will ensure that Christians persevere in the faith and reach their eternal inheritance (see Jn 6:37-40; 17:11f; 1 Pet 1:3-5).
- Jude 1:3 Those who possess the true faith must defend it zealously against all error. But this defense of the truth must always be carried out in a lawful manner. Saints: see note on Rom 1:7.
- Jude 1:4 Long ago were designated for condemnation: the author may be referring to Old Testament denunciations of godless men or to Enoch’s prophecy (see vv. 14-15) or he may mean that condemnation has long ago been ready to overtake them because of their sin (see 2 Pet 2:3).
- Jude 1:5 The fate of those who pervert faith in Christ and the Christian life is sketched out, in the eyes of the author, in that which overtook the most infamous evildoers of the Bible and which the Jewish literature of the period readily recounts. Thus, a few Biblical scenes are strung together: the people rebelling in the wilderness (Num 14:26-35; see 1 Cor 10:5); the fall of the mysterious heavenly beings that are likened to angels (Gen 6:1-3); the chastisement of the wicked cities (Gen 19:1-29); the punishment of Cain (Gen 4:1-24); the error of Balaam (Num 22:2—24:25; 31:16); the revolt of Korah (Num 16:1-35). Upon those whom he regards as liars, the author calls down the prophecy of judgment that is placed on the lips of Enoch, that ancestor whose mysterious destiny is scrutinized in Jewish literature (see Gen 5:18-24; Wis 4:10f; Lk 3:32-38; Heb 11:5).
Who, then, are these men who pervert the Gospel? They are people who delight in bizarre speculations, who go so far as to deny the lordship of Christ and forget his Person, his role, and his unique work. They insult celestial beings; they doubtless misunderstand the angels or want to judge their merits and their respective roles. Even the archangel Michael—according to the apocryphal book entitled The Assumption of Moses—left to God alone the task of condemning the devil (see Zec 3:2). They are spiritual in discourse but lax in morals and corruptors.
- Jude 1:5 The first of three examples of divine punishment formerly meted out is that which befell those who had been saved but failed to keep the faith (see Num 14:28f).
- Jude 1:6 The second example is taken from Gen 6:1-4 as elaborated in the apocryphal Book of Enoch (see Jude 14). Enoch says that the celestial beings let themselves be seduced by the “daughters of men.” But in Jude as in 2 Pet 2:4, the statement that the angels sinned is not accompanied by any details.
- Jude 1:7 The third example is taken from Gen 19:1-24. The townsmen of Sodom lusted not after human beings but after the strangers who were angels. The apocryphal Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs, like Jude 6-7, also compares the sin of the angels with that of the Sodomites.
- Jude 1:8 The false teachers are undeterred by the punishment of the fallen angels (vv. 6-7). Yet they themselves, by their crime and punishment, are like those who were chastised in the Old Testament.
- Jude 1:9 This is a reference to an incident recorded in the apocryphal Assumption of Moses, in which Michael the archangel has a dispute with the devil concerning who can claim Moses’ body after his death. Jude argues that if an archangel refrained from reviling even the devil, mere human beings are certainly wrong to revile angels (celestial beings—v. 8).
- Jude 1:11 The author gives three Old Testament personalities who each in some way illustrate the character of the false teachers: (1) footsteps of Cain: selfishness and hatred for a brother (see Gen 4:3f); (2) error of Balaam: surrendering integrity as a spiritual leader because of consuming greed (see note on 2 Pet 2:15); (3) rebellion of Korah: rebelling against God’s appointed leadership (see Num 16). Thus, the false teachers are loveless, greedy, and insubordinate—and destruction is sure to overtake them.
- Jude 1:12 Jude now characterizes the false teachers by the use of six graphic metaphors: (1) blemishes at your love feasts: see notes on 1 Cor 11:17-34; 11:27-34; and 2 Pet 2:13; (2) shepherds who feed only themselves: instead of caring for their sheep (see Ezek 34:8-10; Jn 10:12f); (3) clouds blown about by winds without giving rain: the false teachers promise much but give nothing; (4) trees in autumn barren and uprooted and so twice dead: once again, a figure of empty promises; (5) wild sea waves whose foam reflects their shameless deeds: their product is like the foam or scum at the seashore; (6) wandering stars: as these provide no guidance for navigation, neither do the false teachers give any reliable guide to the Christian life.
- Jude 1:14 Cited from the noncanonical Book of Enoch 1:9, probably from memory. Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam: cited from Enoch 60:8; this refers to the Enoch in the line of Seth (Gen 5:18-24; 1 Chr 1:1-3), not the one in the line of Cain (Gen 4:17). The Book of Enoch was highly respected by many Jews and Christians of that time.
- Jude 1:16 These are . . . passions: suggested by Enoch 5:5.
- Jude 1:17 This is a reference to the apostolic preaching received through tradition, to which Jude alluded in v. 3.
- Jude 1:18 Right from the start, the apostolic catechesis had announced that Christians should not be astonished at the appearance of men full of delirium (see Acts 20:29-30). In the final age . . . ungodly passions: this does not seem to be an exact Scripture citation, but see Acts 20:29-31; 1 Tim 4:1; 2 Tim 3:1-5; 4:3; 2 Pet 3:3; see also Mt 24:24; Mk 13:22.
- Jude 1:20 Jude now tells Christians how to contend for the faith. (1) They must build themselves up in their faith, which is the orthodox body of truth and practice received from the Apostles (see Acts 2:42; Rom 6:17; Gal 1:23); they do so by having fellowship with the Lord and his people, by continuing in the Gospel and in the Word of God, and by worshiping in spirit and truth—especially the Eucharist. (2) They must be a praying people (see Lk 18:1), praying in the Holy Spirit (see Rom 8:26-27; Gal 4:6; Eph 6:18) that God’s Kingdom may come and his will may be done (see Mt 6:10-11). (3) They are to remain in God’s love by imitating Jesus (Mt 16:24) and by mutual love and support (see 1 Jn 5:1-4). (4) They are to wait expectantly for the Second Coming and to keep their eyes on the mercy of Jesus that leads to eternal life (see v. 3). (5) They are to tend to those who waver, snatching others from the judgment, and maintain an attitude of pity and concern but keep their distance from the corruptors.
- Jude 1:24 One of the greatest doxologies of the New Testament concludes this brief Letter. Remaining in the presence of the living God gives Christians the power to persevere and make progress. All this is due to Jesus Christ, who sums up in himself the majesty, the power, and the authority of God.