Tag Archives: Jude

Cryptic References

The short book of Jude, contains many examples to illuminate the main theme of his letter (concerning ungodly people in the church).  However, some of these illustrations fail to accomplish that goal for us in our world today.  They are more cryptic than clarifying.

The first is in verse 9, where Jude talks about the archangel Michael having a disagreement with the devil about Moses’ body.  Now we may be familiar with the angel Michael; he is mentioned in the book of Daniel and Revelation, but there is no mention in the Bible about him and Satan verbally sparring about Moses.  This verse is actually a reference to an ancient, non-biblical text, called “The Assumption of Moses.”

Similarly, in verse 14, Jude mentions a prophecy of Enoch.  We also know of Enoch from the book of Genesis, but there is no mention of him ever prophesying.  Again, this is a reference to an ancient non-biblical text, “The Book of Enoch.”

Jude was comfortable using examples from these two books because they would have been common knowledge to the people he was writing to.  As such, these familiar references would have helped readers, in that day, better comprehend the points he was making.

That is not to imply that these non-biblical books need to be elevated to the same level as the Bible or used as a viable source for forming our theology.  There were merely communication tools, along the lines of Paul, in his letter to Titus, citing a local poet’s disparaging remarks about his own people of Crete.

While all these references may be confusing to us now, they were clarifying back then.

[Jude 1:9, “Michael” references, Revelation 12:7, Jude 1:14-15, “Enoch” references, Titus 1:12]

Jude’s Advice

In Jude’s letter, he warns Jesus’ followers to be on the alert for ungodly people in the church.

After detailing their characteristics, Jude tucks in a bit of advice at the end of his letter.  Implicitly, it is his recommendations on how followers of Jesus can avoid being ungodly, offering three prescriptions to promote godliness:

  1. Build up your faith.
  2. Pray in the Holy Spirit.
  3. Remain in God’s love.

These, then, are three essentials that we are to actively pursue: faith, prayer, and love.

Although some items on Jude’s list of ungodly behaviors may be far removed from us, other aspects might be quite close, such as speaking against things we don’t understand and being divisive.  What about grumbling and finding fault?  For those who follow Jesus, these are apparently all forms of ungodliness.

However, we can do much to avoid these errors as we actively seek to build up our faith, pray with the Holy Spirit’s power, and abide in the love of God.

By following Jude’s advice, we can avoid the error of ungodliness.

[Jude 1:20-21]

Hey, Jude

The book of Jude in the Bible is a short letter that is tucked in the back, just before Revelation.  Add to this the fact that it is a bit confusing with obscure references.  Plus, Jude meanders his way through his message with many distracting examples and illustrations.  Given all this, it is little wonder that the writing of Jude is largely ignored.

Removing Jude’s supporting text, his essential message is to watch out for ungodly people in the church.  Their profile is that they…

pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord (v 4).

pollute their own bodies, reject authority, and heap abuse on celestial beings (v 8).

slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct — as irrational animals do — will destroy them (v 10).

are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm — shepherds who feed only themselves (v 12).

are grumblers and fault finders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage (v 16).

are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit (v 19).

Do you know anyone who acts like this?  Then watch out.  Do you ever act like this?  Then take corrective action.

[Jude]