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Arno Clement Gaebelein

In the Public Domain

                            THE EPISTLE OF JUDE


     The Epistle of Jude is the last Epistle preceding the great final book
with which the Holy Scriptures conclude, the book of Revelation. We believe
the place given to this Epistle is the right one, for as we shall see, it
reveals the conditions, religiously and morally, which prevail on earth
before the great coming event takes place, of which Revelation has so much
to say. Some have called it "the preface to the Revelation."

                                The Author

     We are not left in doubt who the writer is, for he mentions himself in
the beginning of it. It is Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ and brother of
James. But who is this Jude or Judas? Among the disciples were two by the
name of Judas. There was Judas Iscariot, who ended his miserable career,
after he had become the instrument of the devil, by hanging. In John 14:22
we read, "Judas saith unto Him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that Thou
wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world?" The Spirit of God
makes it plain that Judas Iscariot did not address Jesus by the name Lord,
which expresses faith in His deity, but that there was another Judas in the
apostolate who speaks here.

     When we turn to the names of the twelve in Matthew 10:2-4, we find the
name of Judas but once; it is the name of him who betrayed the Lord. The
Judas whose words are recorded in the above passage in the Gospel of John,
is called in Matthew 10:3 ... Lebbaeus whose surname was Thaddaeus." In
Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13, his name is given as Judas of James; it must be
noticed that the words in the authorized version "the brother" are in
italics, which means that they are supplied by the translators. It is not
so in the first verse of this epistle; here the writer calls himself
"brother of James."

     But there is still another Judas found in the Gospels. His name is
recorded in Matthew 13:55. "is not this the carpenter's son? is not His
mother called Mary? and His brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and
Judas?" The James, the brother of the Lord mentioned in this passage, is
the author of the Epistle of James. (See introduction to the Epistle of
James). The question then arises, is the writer of the Epistle before us,
the Apostle Judas of James, also called Lebbaeus, surnamed Thaddaeus, or is
it Judas, the one who is called one of the Lord's brethren, and therefore
the natural brother of James, the writer of the Epistle of James? Some
maintain that Jude is the Apostle Judas, while others see in Jude the
brother of James, as given in Matthew 13-55. We endorse the latter view. We
give the reasons why the writer of this Epistle cannot be the Apostle

     1. He does not speak of himself as an apostle. He designates himself
as a servant of Jesus Christ. Whenever an apostle calls himself a servant
of Jesus Christ, he adds his apostleship, as we learn from Romans 1:1,
Titus 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1. The only exception is the epistle to the
Philippians, in which Paul associates with himself in the address Timothy,
and then speaks of himself and Timothy as servants of Jesus Christ.

     2. If he were the Apostle Judas, the brother of the Apostle James, the
sons of Alphaeus, we have to face great difficulties, as Dean Alford
states, involving the wholly unjustifiable hypothesis, that those who are
called in Scripture the brethren of our Lord were not His brethren, but His
cousins, sons of Alphaeus (Cleopas).

     But why does the writer of this Epistle not speak of himself as "the
brother of the Lord?" It has been asked. James does not do so in his
Epistle either. He is silent about his relationship and so is his brother
Jude. "The question, Why does not Jude mention his earthly relationship to
the Lord? shows great ignorance of the true spirit of the writers of the
New Testament. It would be the last thing I should expect, to find one of
the brethren of the Lord asserting this relationship as a ground of
reception for an Epistle. Almost all agree that the writer of the Epistle
of James was the person known as the brother of the Lord. Yet there we have
no designation. It would have been in fact altogether inconsistent with the
true spirit of Christ (Luke 20:27, 28), and in harmony with those later
superstitious feelings with which the next and following generations
regarded His earthly relatives. Had such a designation as "Adelphos tou
Kyriou" (brother of the Lord) been found in the address of an Epistle, it
would have formed a strong a priori objection to its authenticity"

     Jude is therefore the one mentioned in Matthew 13:55. Apart from this
Epistle we know nothing more of him. The date of the Epistle is about the
year 65.

                             Its Authenticity

     It is authenticated by different ancient sources. The Muratorian
fragment mentions it as Jude's Epistle. Clement of Alexandria cites it as
Scripture, as well as Tertullian and others. The theories of some objecting
critics need not to be considered.

     To whom the Epistle was originally addressed is not stated. Some have
surmised that like James and the Petrine Epistles Jude addressed originally
Jewish believers. This may be true, for Jude mentions, prominently, like
Peter, Old Testament facts, besides some Jewish traditional matters, which
thereby are confirmed as facts. Concerning the apocryphal writings, which
especially the book of Enoch, which Jude is charged with having used in the
composition of his Epistle, we shall have more to say in the annotations.

                            Jude and 2 Peter 2

     As stated in the introduction to the Second Epistle of Peter, Jude's
testimony is very much like the testimony of the Apostle Peter in the
second chapter of his second Epistle. Hence there has been a long
controversy whether Jude copied from Peter or Peter copied from Jude. We
have stated before that if Jude had copied from Peter, his epistle could
not be an inspired Epistle, and so if Peter copied from Jude. Jude may have
known Peter's Epistle, but that does not mean that he used Peter's Epistle,
but the Holy Spirit gives a similar testimony through Jude, which is, after
a closer examination, somewhat different from Peter's epistle. This is
pointed out in the annotations.

                            The Message of Jude

     It seems about the time when Jude wrote his letter a departure from
the faith set in among believers. This is confirmed by the fact that other
epistles written about the same time give warnings of the same nature as
those given by Jude. The message of Jude may be called a prophetic history
of the apostasy of Christendom from its beginning in apostolic days down to
the end of the age, when the complete apostasy will be dealt with and
completely destroyed by the coming of the Lord. It is the darkest forecast
of the end of the age which the Spirit of God has given in the Epistles.
While apostasy and antichristianity have held sway all through the history
of Christendom, there is coming in the end of this age a consummation, the
evils of which are pictured by the Holy Spirit through the pen of Jude. We
know that we are living right in the midst of the fulfillment of Jude's
message. The Epistle is, therefore, of great importance for our times.

                         Analysis and Annotations

                            I. THE INTRODUCTION

     Verses 1-2. Jude in his brief introduction speaks of the Christian
believers, whom he addresses, as called ones, sanctified by God the Father,
and preserved in Jesus Christ. The latter statement may also be translated
"kept for Jesus Christ." What was true of the believers in Jude's day is
true of all believers. Especially comforting is the fact, that, no matter
how dark the days may be, however strong the current of evil, those who are
"the beloved of God called saints" will be preserved in Jesus Christ and
kept for Him as the members of His body, till He comes. He keeps His own.
It is the blessed assurance that the believer's keeping rests in His own
hands. In the Revelation we see in the glory vision that Christ holds seven
stars in His right hand, which is the symbol of the hand of His power with
which He keeps His own. Then there is the prayer that "mercy, and peace,
and love may be multiplied."


     Verses 3-4. "Beloved, giving all diligence to write unto you of our
common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to
earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."

     It had evidently been upon the heart of Jude to write an epistle to
the Christians whom he knew. He gave all diligence to carry out his
intention. This must mean that he prayed and thought over this matter. He
then decided to write about the common salvation. This is the gospel.

     It is the nearest and the dearest object to every believer, for it is
the matchless story of God's love. It reveals the Son of God, our Lord, who
died for our sins, who was buried and rose again the third day. There are
blessed depths and heights in this gospel, the salvation which believers
have in common, which have never yet been measured. Jude thought to make
this the theme of his epistle. Then something happened. The power which was
to guide his pen constrained him to write about something else. The Holy
Spirit constrained him to exhort Christians to contend earnestly for the
faith once and for all delivered unto the saints. Here is a very fine
illustration at the close of the New Testament of how the Word of God was
given. Jude had a desire to write about the common salvation; but the Holy
Spirit wanted him to write about something else and He constrained him to
do so, not in his own words but in words given by God.

     What faith is meant? Not a creed or confession of faith as formulated
by a denomination, sect or party, but the faith, which has been delivered
once for all unto the saints. It is the same faith concerning which our
Lord asked the question, "Nevertheless when the Son of Man cometh, shall He
find the faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8) It is the faith revealed in the
Word of God. The heart of that faith is the Son of God, our Lord Jesus
Christ, and the apostles' doctrine made known by the Holy Spirit; it is
therefore the whole body of revealed truth. This faith is given by
revelation, a different thing from what is being taught today, as if this
faith were the product of a process of evolution through the religious
experiences of the race for thousands of years. The truths which man needs
cannot be found by searching. This faith is "once for all delivered unto
the saints." It is permanent, irrevocable and like Him who has revealed it,
unchanging. Nor is this faith delivered to the world, but to the saints,
that is to the body of Christ, the Church.

     That faith was being corrupted when Jude received the commission to
exhort Christians to contend earnestly for it. They were ungodly men,
having taken on the Christian profession without possessing the reality of
it. The evil they introduced was twofold. They turned the grace of God into
lasciviousness and they denied the rights of Christ to be Lord and Master.
They professed to believe in grace, but abused it so that they might
indulge in their own lusts; they knew nothing of the power of godliness
manifested in holy living and therefore they denied the authority of the
Lord Jesus Christ.

                        III. EXAMPLES FROM THE PAST

     Verses 5-10. The Spirit of God reminds them of certain apostasies in
past history and how God in judgment dealt with it. If we compare this
section of Jude's Epistle with 2 Peter 2:4-8 we shall see how both
documents differ from each other. Peter speaks first of the angels that
sinned; then of Noah and the flood and finally of Sodom and Gomorrha and
the deliverance of Lot. Jude on the other hand does not mention Noah at
all, nor Lot. He speaks first of the Israelites who had come out of Egypt
and were destroyed in the wilderness because they believed not. This is
followed by the angels who kept not their first estate; then comes Sodom
and Gomorrha and the judgment which fell upon these cities, and finally
Jude adds something which is not found elsewhere in the Word of God, the
incident about Michael contending with the devil about the body of Moses.
It is far fetched with this different testimony which Jude gives to charge
him with having copied Peter, or Peter having used Jude.

     When we examine these examples of the past, we discover that they are
not chronologically arranged. If they were reported according to the time
when they happened, Jude, like Peter, should have mentioned first the
angels that sinned; after which Sodom and Gomorrha would be in order,
followed by the Israelites who fell in the wilderness and after that
Michael contending with the devil. Why this unchronological arrangement in
this Epistle? There must be a purpose in it. We believe the arrangement is
made in the manner as it is to teach us the starting point and the goal of
apostasy. It starts with unbelief The people had been saved out of Egypt,
but they believed not and were destroyed in the wilderness, except those
mentioned in the Word who believed.

     Thus all apostasy starts with unbelief in what God has spoken. The
angels which kept not their first estate, who left their own habitation,
and who are now chained, are the same angels of whom Peter speaks, those
who brought in the corruption described in the opening verses of Genesis 6.
They gave up the place assigned to them. This is the next step in the
progress of apostasy. Unbelief leads to rebellion against God. Sodom and
Gomorrha come next. Here we find the grossest immoralities and going after
strange flesh. These vicious things are still in the world, and why are
they so prominent in our days? On account of unbelief. Then follows the
statement, that these apostates are filthy dreamers who defile the flesh,
despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. This is lawlessness. This is
the goal of all apostasy. The predicted lawlessness with which this age
ends is the fruitage of infidelity. Such is the development of apostasy.
Unbelief, rebellion against God and his revealed truth, immorality and
anarchy. These steps may be traced in our own times.

     To show that Michael, the archangel, would not rail against the fallen
angel-prince, now the devil, as these apostates despise dominions, the
incident concerning Michael contending against the devil about the body of
Moses is introduced. He durst not bring a railing accusation against the
former Lucifer, the son of the morning, for Michael still recognized in him
the once great and glorious creature. It is stated by some of the early
church fathers that this episode was recorded in a Jewish apocryphal book
"Assumption of Moses." This book is no longer in existence. Another Jewish
tradition has it that Michael had been given the custody of the grave of

     Jude does not quote from tradition, nor does he quote from a source
now no longer available, or, as others surmise, used one of Zechariah's
visions (chapter 3), but the Holy Spirit revealed unto him what actually
took place when Moses had died. It seems that Michael the archangel was
commissioned by the Lord to conduct the funeral of Moses (Deut. 34:5-6).
Then the devil appeared upon the scene claiming the body of the servant of
the Lord, for what purpose is not revealed. (See annotations on Deuteronomy
25.) And Michael durst not bring against him a railing accusation but said,
The Lord rebuke thee. But it is different with these apostates. They are
compared with irrational animals, following their natural inclinations.


     Verses 11-13. The Spirit of God pronounces a woe upon them. The
eleventh verse is of much importance. At the close of the New Testament we
are reminded of Cain, the first murderer of the human race. Some expositors
claim that his name is introduced here because he is a representative of
all bad men; others think that he is mentioned because these apostates
hated those who are of the truth, as Cain hated Abel. The way of Cain was
the way of unbelief. He did not believe what God had spoken, while Abel
believed. He had not faith like Abel, who offered unto God a more excellent
sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous.
Cain was a religious man nevertheless, but his religion may be termed a
"bloodless religion." He brought the labor of his hands, that which he had
gathered from the land upon which the curse rested.

     The apostates go in the same way of self-will and in that way they
reject the record of God concerning His Son. They have no use for the blood
of redemption; the salvation they preach is the salvation of "Do," by
character. They rush also greedily after the error of Balaam. Money is the
chief object with them. They teach error for reward, knowing all along that
their teaching is contrary to the revelation of God. Money, honor and glory
from men, self exaltation and self gratification are the leading motives of
these men. The third characteristic is the sin of Core (Korah). The sin of
Korah was open rebellion and opposition against the authority of God and
the priesthood He had instituted. These apostates of the last days manifest
the same spirit of rebellion and defiance. They have no use for the Lord
Jesus Christ as the appointed mediator, priest and advocate. The perdition
of Korah will overtake them likewise.

     Not Jude, but the Holy Spirit, denounces them in the strongest
language. (See annotations 2 Peter 2.) They are doubly dead, first in their
own fallen nature, and in the second place by turning their ears from the
truth and going into apostasy. They are like trees which give the promise
of fruit in an imposing bloom, but which withers away; they do not yield
any fruit whatever. They are plucked up by the roots without any hope of a
revival. They are like the wild waves of the sea, foaming out their own
shame (Isaiah 62:20-21); wandering stars to whom is reserved the blackness
of darkness forever. The wandering stars in the universe belonged once to
some great solar system. They detached themselves and began their
wanderings. As they left their center they wandered further and further
away, deeper and deeper into the immense space of cold and darkness. So
these apostates left the center and became eccentric rushing, like these
wandering stars of the heavens, into the outer darkness.

                         V. THE TESTIMONY OF ENOCH

     Verses 14-16. The Holy Spirit introduces quite abruptly Enoch, the
seventh from Adam. There is a deep spiritual significance in this. Enoch
lived as an age was about to close. Before the evil days of Noah, with
universal violence, corruption and wickedness, had come, Enoch walked with
God and bore a prophetic testimony of what was to come in the future. He
suffered on account of the testimony he bore to that generation. The
ungodly spoke against him, but he kept on in his walk with God and in his
testimony, till the day came when he was suddenly removed from the earth.
"By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not
found, because God had translated him, for before his translation he had
this testimony, that he pleased God" (Hebrews 11:5). Enoch represents
prophetically the true Church living at the close of the age, bearing
witness to the coming of the Lord, and waiting in faith for the promised
translation. The Spirit of God mentions Enoch for this purpose and for our

     Much has been made by critics and rationalists about this reference to
Enoch. What Jude writes about Enoch is found in a Jewish apocryphal book by
the name of "The Book of Enoch." The book consists of supposed revelations
which were given to Enoch and to Moses. Its object seems to be a
vindication of the ways of providence and to set forth the coming and
terrible retribution for sinners. The book was known to the early church
fathers who refer to it often in their writings. For centuries it seems to
have been lost. About the close of the 18th Century an Ethiopian
translation was discovered in Abyssinia and translated into English and
German. Critics claim that this book of Enoch was used by Jude, inasmuch as
he inserted this reference to Enoch, which is almost verbatim found in that
book. But according to these critics the book of Enoch was written in the
second century and from this they reason that Jude did not write this
Epistle in the year 65 A.D.

     But there are other scholars who have ascertained that the book of
Enoch was in existence before Christ. Even if the critics were correct that
this book was written in the second century of our era, it is no evidence
that Jude could not have written his Epistle in the year as stated above.
The writers of the book of Enoch might have used Jude's statements about
Enoch. The fact that Jude in giving by the Holy Spirit this paragraph
concerning Enoch proves the record, whether it was handed down by tradition
or written in the book of Enoch, to be true.

                           VI. THE EXHORTATIONS

     Verses 17-23. These exhortations are for the people of God, whose lot
is cast in these predicted evil days. The first exhortation is to remember
the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus
Christ. To hold fast these words and remember them is the great need in the
days of apostasy. Peter bears the same witness (2 Peter 3:1-3). Building
yourselves up on your most holy faith is the next exhortation. Nothing else
is worth while building up for believers living in the last days. Prayer is
needed. But it is not prayer fir the Holy Spirit, for another Pentecost,
which is nowhere promised, nor for another baptism with the Spirit, but it
is prayer in the Spirit. The exhortation "Keep yourselves in the love of
God" means to keep oneself in the consciousness in that fellowship with the
Father and with the Son of which John speaks in his first epistle, that is
enjoying the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Looking for the mercy of
our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life, which means, looking for Himself,
for His coming. The final exhortations give instructions as to the
believer's attitude towards those who have been led away.

                            VII. THE CONCLUSION

     Verses 24-25. "Now unto Him that is able to keep you from stumbling,
and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with
exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty,
dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."

     Beautiful doxology with which this Epistle ends! His own are being
kept in the evil days with which the age closes. They are the preserved in
Jesus Christ kept for Him. And while we wait for Him, He is able to keep us
not only from falling, but from stumbling. And then comes that day in which
He will present His own, His beloved people, whom He bought by His own
precious blood. He will present them faultless before the presence of His
glory with exceeding joy. And what a day of joy and gladness, as well as of
glory, it will be, when He shall see the travail of His soul and will be
Satisfied, the day in which He will present to Himself a glorious Church,
not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy
and without blame! (Ephesians 5:27)

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