Lutheran Church Missouri Synod
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A Short Study on the Book of Jude
1. Who is Jude (Greek: Judas)? What evidence is there in verse 1 and 17?
The best theory is that Jude was the half-brother of Jesus, since he describes himself in verse 1 (evidence) as the "brother of James" whom we know to be Christ's half-brother (Mt. 13:55; Acts 1:14; 1 Co. 9:5; Gal. 1:19). This Jude (or Judas) is referred to in Mark 6:3. He could not be Judas the apostle (Luke 6:16--I'm not talking about Judas Iscariot) because he states that he is not an apostle in verse 17 (evidence).
2. According to verses 3-4, what is the chief purpose that Jude wrote this brief letter?
To urge his Christian readers to contend for the true Christian Faith that was being twisted by certain false teachers.
3. What is "the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (NASB) mentioned in verse 3?
The "faith" mentioned by Jude in verse 3 is the complete body of Christian doctrine (all the chief doctrines) taught by Christ and passed on by the apostles, not merely saving faith. This "faith" is taught in the New Testament. Note that Jude speaks of this faith as "once for all delivered," that is, finished. God's revelation was finished when the New Testament was finished.
4. Read verse 4. What was the error of the false teachers that Jude is warning about?
"who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." They were apparently teaching that being saved by grace means you can live any immoral way you want. This seems to be an early form of Gnosticism. 2 Peter 2 also fights against this. "Christians have freedom to have sex with whomever they want" might have been their slogan. By doing this, Jude points out, they were denying Christ.
5. Read verses 5-6. What two examples does Jude give? What is his point?
1) The Israelites destroyed in the wilderness (verse 5); 2) The angels who followed Satan's rebellion and were thrown out of heaven (verse 6). His point is stated in the first part of verse 5. Just because his readers now know the Christian truth is no guarantee that they will never fall away in the future. Look at the Israelites. Look at the fallen angels. They also once knew. But they rejected that knowledge and were punished. The Christian must ever contend for the Faith.
6. What does it mean that the angels "did not keep their own domain" (Greek: did not keep their own rule/jurisdiction; NIV: "positions of authority"; NET: "position of authority")?
Jude is describing Satan's rebellion in which a third (See Rev. 12:3-4?) of the angels joined. They weren't satisfied with the station and position in heaven that God had given them: thus, they were thrown out of heaven.
7. Jude sees a similarity between "Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them," and the false teachers. What is this similarity? What does it mean that they "went after strange flesh" (NASB) (Greek: different flesh; NIV: "perversions"; NET: "unnatural vices")?
This is a clear reference to homosexuality which Genesis 19 shows us. This refutes the notion of some liberal scholars that Gen. 19 does not talk about homosexuality but that the sin of Sodom was "inhospitality." It is possible that the false teachers that Jude was writing against also were engaging in homosexuality.
8. Read verse 8. Jude accuses the false teachers of reviling "angelic majesties" (NASB) (Greek: glories). [Note: Translations widely differ on the way they translate this word. The King James and New King James translate it "dignities" and "dignitaries" respectively. The NET renders it "God's splendor" and the NIV "celestial beings." The context, verses 8-10, strongly suggests that the NASB is the accurate translation]. What does it mean to "revile angelic majesties"?
This is a difficult passage to interpret. However, the context suggests that reviling angelic majesties is the opposite of what Michael did (verse 9). Michael (though He could have) did not mock or verbally abuse the devil. He rebuked him in the name of the Lord. Therefore, the false teachers were apparently doing the opposite of this, namely, in their ignorance were verbally mocking and deriding the devil.
9. When did Michael dispute with the devil about the body of Moses (verse 9)? What is the point here for us?
There is no mention of this in the 66 books of the Biblical canon. Some early church fathers and most scholars believe that this was taken from an apocryphal book called "The Assumption of Moses" which has not been recognized as being part of the Bible. Jude, under inspiration of the Spirit, draws out this fact about Moses' body because this, at least, really happened. This does not mean that the entire book should be included in the canon; it means that this one point was accurate and Jude makes use of it for his purposes. The point here for us is that we also should not verbally mock the devil, but always rebuke him in the name of Jesus Christ.
10. Beginning with verse 11 and ending with 13, Jude uses eight metaphors to describe the false teachers. Can you find all eight?
They are: 1) the way of Cain; 2) the error of Balaam; 3) the rebellion of Korah [all false prophets and rebels from the OT]; 4) stains/blemishes; 5) waterless clouds blown by the winds; 6) fruitless autumn trees, twice dead, uprooted; 7) wild waves; 8) wandering stars.
11. What is the "black darkness" (Greek: the gloom of darkness) referred to at the end of verse 13?
The place of eternal torment, hell.
12. Where does Jude get his information about Enoch's prophesy in verses 14-15?
From the apocryphal book of Enoch, which claims to have been written by the Enoch of Genesis 5 (the one who didn't die), but didn't appear until the first century B.C. It was a book used and respected by the early church but one that was never widely and fully accepted as canonical. This doesn't mean it doesn't contain some truth as Jude makes clear here.
13. After warning against the false teachers in 4-16, where does Jude direct the faith of his Christian readers in 17-18?
To the words of the apostles! The very same words that we now have in our New Testament. The quotation here is probably from 2 Tm. 3:1ff. This is highly significant. It reminds us that the only way to combat false teaching is from the Scriptures alone!
14. In 20-21 Jude gives excellent advice to his Christian readers when he tells them to 1)build themselves up in their holy faith; 2)pray in the Holy Spirit; 3)keep themselves in the love of God; 4)wait for mercy of Jesus. Describe how the Christian is to do each of these four things.
1) We build ourselves up in our most holy faith by reading, hearing, and meditating upon Holy Scripture, the source of our apostolic faith. Also the Lord's Supper.
2) We pray in the Holy Spirit, whenever we pray according to God's will.
3) We keep ourselves in God's love by staying in Christ; we stay in Christ by believing in Him as our Ransom and Redeemer; we strengthen our faith in Him by continuing in the Church's Means of Grace which nourish us with the Gospel.
4) We wait for the mercy of Jesus by gearing our lives toward His Second Coming which we do by doing # 3.