A Study of Jude

From Bad to “Badder”: How God will Address the Internal Corruption (Jude 5-16) – part one

“Sin never ruins but where it reigns.” ~ William Secker, Puritan

I. Introduction

Jude spends the next twelve verses addressing the false teachers. Utilizing various Old Testament and inter-testamental Jewish writings, Jude compares these ungodly individuals to those who sinned in the past. In so doing, our author highlights several important principles. As aptly noted by one commentator, “God’s judgments in the past and the prophetic testimony all bear witness to the coming and the doom of the heretics who have invaded the church” (Green, Jude and 2 Peter, 61).

This study will observe verses 5-10. We will not only observe the vital truths Jude seeks to convey to his readers, we will also discuss the use of Jude’s non-canonical traditions in relationship to the rest of Scripture.

II. From Bad to “Badder” (vv. 5-16)

A. The Diabolic Trio and the Problem of Sin (vv. 5-8)

v. 5 – The call to remember serves as a vital tool for moral instruction (see 1 Thess 1:5; 2:1, 2, 5, 11). The fate of those who pursued unrighteousness should serve as a contestant reminder of the consequences of sin.

1.  Generation of the Exodus (v. 5)

Various English versions differ on who exactly is accomplishing the deliverance of the Israelites and then later punishes those who are rebellious. The standard rendering is “Lord” (e.g., KJV, NIV, NASB). This reading is in keeping with the Old Testament’s portrayal of the Lord as the one who brought the people out of the land of Egypt (see Exod 16:6; 18:1; Deut 26:8). However, more recent versions have rendered the subject as “Jesus” (e.g., ESV, NET). The basis for this translation is as follows:

    • The quality and quantity of Greek manuscripts, copies of Jude, favors the reading “Jesus”.
    • “Jesus” is a more difficult reading; and thus, is to be preferred (see Metzger, A Textual Commentary, 12-13).
    • Scribes would have been highly unlikely to have changed “Lord” to “Jesus” (see P. Bartholomii, “Did Jesus Save the People out of Egypt?” NovT 50 [2008], 149-153).
    • The idea of a pre-incarnate Christ who is involved in the life of Israel is not foreign to the New Testament (see 1 Cor 10:9).

 

Why is this discussion concerning the reading of verse 5 important? Jude’s reference to Jesus emphasizes His pre-existence and His operative work in the Old Testament. This reading reflects a high Christology as Jude stresses both the deity and rule of Christ (also, see v. 4).

Principles gleaned:

    • The Lord is faithful to His covenant (v. 5); and His servants are known by their faithfulness.
    • Failure to walk by faith results in judgment (v. 5).

2.  Genesis and the Angels (v. 6)

Most likely Jude is referring to Genesis 6:1-4 (see 1 Peter 3:18-22; 1 Enoch 6-12; 12:3-6; 2 Bar 56:10-16; Josephus, Ant. 1.3.1).

Principles gleaned:

    • “Those who hold a privileged position are not exempt from divine judgment if they embrace sin” (Green, 68).
    • A day of judgment awaits all those who fail to glorify the Lord.

 

3.  Gomorrah and Company (v. 7)

As observed in our study of 2 Peter, Sodom and Gomorrah became prime examples in both Jewish and Christian literature of unrighteousness. Here, Jude compares the residents of these cities to the fallen angels in verse 6. Both groups engage in inappropriate sexual behavior. It should be noted that Sodom and Gomorrah are condemned throughout Jewish writings for not only sexual deviance, but also, for arrogance, lack of hospitality, and gluttony.

Principle gleaned:

    • Sodom and Gomorrah displays the judgment that awaits those who fail to walk in accordance with God’s standards. Both these residents and the angels failed to fulfill their duty and placement in God’s established order. Peter also refers to these cities as an “example” (2:6).

Note that this fire is “eternal.” The severity of the punishment underscores the severity of the sin and the permanence of this suffering.

Throughout Jewish literature, these three groups become the notorious archetypal examples of sin and judgment.

4. Summary

v. 8 Jude accuses these “dreamers,” or individuals who are claiming divine agency, as guilty of the following:

    • Immoral. The term is used for “pollution” – “a label attached to whatever is out of place with regard to the society’s view of an orderly and safe world” (deSilva, Honor, Patronage, Kinship and Purity, 243).
    • Rebels. Ultimately, their practices indicate their unwillingness to submit to the Lord.
    • Slanderers. Their actions also displayed a disdain for God’s representatives.

 

B. Michael the Archangel and the Problem of Slander (vv. 9-10)

v. 9 – Jude refers to an event that is absent in the Old Testament. Instead, this event stems from an intertestamental Jewish writing, The Assumption of Moses. Michael the Archangel is seen throughout Jewish literature as the champion and protector of Israel and fights Satan (see Dan 12:1; 1 Enoch 20:5; Rev 12:7-9).

Based upon Zechariah 3:1-2, it appears that Michael and Satan disagree over Moses’ bodily ascent into God’s presence. This account serves as a pattern for how God will allow the righteous to stand without blemish in His presence (see R. Stokes, “Not Over Moses’ Dead Body,” JSNT 40.2 [2017], 192-213). Many scholars believe that Satan slandered Moses because he slew the Egyptian and hid the body in the sand (Exod 2:11-12).

Laced in legal terms, Michael is careful not to serve as Judge, but asks God to judge the devil. Unlike the false teachers, Michael understood the sovereignty of God. The role of Judge belongs solely to God.

v. 10 – Jude returns to the false teachers and implies that they slander just like the devil.
“by instinct, irrational animals” – Similar to 2 Peter 2:12, the phrase is used of sexual excesses. Without a moral compass or sense of right and wrong, these individuals will self-destruct.

Excursus One: Jude cites from two non-canonical books in this section (e.g., the Assumption of Moses in verse 9 and 1 Enoch in verse 14). How do we account for Jude’s use of non-canonical traditions and the Canon?
Jude never cites these books as “scripture” (e.g., use of grafh or introductory formula).

Citing the event does not indicate that Jude regarded the remaining of these works as true (see Acts 17:28; 1 Cor 15:33; Titus 1:12).

The information may stem from the time of Enoch and Moses; OR Jude could be referencing material familiar to his audience with no indication of its truthfulness. This is a possibility since the audience was apparently “in to” apocalyptic issues.

III. Intersect

Review the principles gleaned on page 2 of these notes:

  • The Lord is faithful to His covenant (v. 5); and His servants are known by their faithfulness.
  • Failure to walk by faith results in judgment (v. 5).
  • “Those who hold a privileged position are not exempt from divine judgment if they embrace sin” (Green, 68).
  • A day of judgment awaits all those who fail to glorify the Lord.
  • Sodom and Gomorrah displays the judgment that awaits those who fail to walk in accordance with God’s standards. Both these residents and the angels failed to fulfill their duty and placement in God’s established order.

“The custom of sinning takes away the sense of it; the course of the world takes away the shame of it.”
~ John Owen

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For further thought . . .
Based upon our study this morning, I invite you to spend some additional time this week reflecting on the following:
The only means to spiritual maturity is mastery of the Word of God. Read Proverbs 2:2-5. What does this passage of Scripture imply about the pursuit of wisdom?

Notice what the ultimate goal of this pursuit of wisdom entails?

What steps do you need to take to foster this pursuit (e.g., daily devotions, accountability)?