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Click to Read Jude, without all the additives like chapters and verses.
A Quick Overview
Jude is one of the shortest books in the New Testament. Its primary purpose was and still is to provide a wake-up call to Jesus followers concerning false teachers, what we are calling in this series: Purveyors of Fake News! In a world full of error, this ancient book speaks a clear word about how to keep yourself from being deceived about information that you hear and read. In this present age, who doesn’t need to think about that? It is the intent of this series of posts to provide a learning environment in which you as a reader of Scripture can discover meaning as well as a few possible thoughts about how to live into this material from the words of this mostly overlooked book.
If you would like to converse about this material, leave a comment in the Comment section at the end of this page and or any of the pages in this series.
Age Written: AD ‘70s or ‘80s FROM
To: Jesus Followers Everywhere
Problem: Fake News about Jesus
Audience: Those who add cultural and political practices to Christianity
A Powerful Message Against Fake News!
Jude’s edgy brevity communicates the urgency of his notion that false teachers needed to be condemned and removed from the church.[ref]Charles R. Swindoll. Insight for Living Ministries. https://www.insight.org/resources/bible/the-general-epistles/jude. accessed. April 14. 2018[/ref]
Fake News! is a term that has been formerly used to describe the content of news that is consistently reported that intentionally fabricates news stories with stuff that has no basis in fact, but is presented as being factually accurate. However, after the presidential campaign and election of 2016 FakeNews! has now come to mean anything that does not mesh with a person’s own views. The apparent goal is to use such “news” to influence listeners to a specific point of view regardless of whether it is true or factual.
Many centuries ago, this same idea could have been applied to the stories that swirled around the ancient first-century church in its own missionary efforts to share the good news of Jesus but found resistance from those who opposed the early church’s missionary efforts.
Jude’s task in this controversial period of time was to confront not only the FakeNews! but the carriers of such news as well. His words are pretty pointed on occasion.
An Introduction to Jude
Those who may be Beatles fans may remember one of their songs written by Paul McCartney and credited to Lennon-McCartney that had the name of this book, although had nothing to do with the book of Jude.[ref]Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hey_Jude. accessed 4.15.18[/ref] Popular culture has made that possible. But, how many folks realize that “Jude” is the name of a Second Testament author who also wrote a small book to address an ancient problem that is still a problem today?
Jude is one of the shortest books in the Second Testament. Its primary purpose is to provide a wake-up call to the early ecclesia concerning false teachers. In a world full of error, not unlike the present day, Jude speaks a clear word about how to keep yourself from deception. It is the intent of this short series of articles to provide a learning environment in which you can discover meaning as well as a possible way to live into the words of this mostly overlooked book.
Jude is a small book with a powerful message. That sentence is a candid and equitable evaluation of the letter of Jude. The ecclesia has always had its problems. The early ecclesia was no exception. Jude’s responsibility as a functioning caretaker was to confront the small group of gatherings with the problems they had. No doubt it was a painful task. Some of these people who would read this letter could have been his friends. Some may have even been his converts. To have children go astray is traumatic. To correct them is demanding.
When the ecclesia (commonly call church today) gets into the world, it is fulfilling its mission. However, when the world gets into the ecclesia, it is destructive and devastating. Jude’s letter was the solution to the problem that he was delegated to correct.
It should not come as a surprise that the ecclesia would have problems, given the understanding that it is made up of people from all walks of life. In any local community of faith (ecclesia), one can find an assortment of different kinds of folks. From the rich to the poor; the uneducated to the educated; the power mongers to the oppressed; the political extremes of the far left to the far right, the list is endless, but they are all there and probably others as well.
The early communities of faith to which Jude wrote had allowed forces within its own ranks to take a commanding leadership role. These individuals were threatening to destroy communities of faith with corrupt teaching. Jude was delegated by God to intervene and call these communities of faith back to their source.
Over the course of our study of Jude, we will introduce you to the following fourteen ideas, including the one you are reading, in order to make your reading and study of Jude more rewarding. Here they are:
- What Do You Do with What the Biblical Teachers Taught?
- A Powerful Message Against Fake News!
- Purveyors of Fake News!
- Contenders Against Fake News!
- Confronting Fake News!
- Fake News! Content Delivered by Prophetic Deception
- Condemning Fake News!
- A Graphic Description of Fake News! Reporters
- Fake News! Pundits, Your Time is Up / Your 15 Minutes of Fame Is Up!
- Fake News! Pundits, Your Fate Is Sealed
- Fake News! Pundits Exposed in Six Sharp Words
- Resisting Fake News! By Remembering
- Resisting Fake News! by Thinking, Building, Praying, Keeping, Waiting, and Being Merciful
- Eradicating Fake News! by Rescuing
One must remember that the book of Jude was set in a historical setting and its readers had a historical perspective by which they understood it. A study of the background of the book puts us in closer contact with some of their precepts. It makes us less of a stranger to the author and to those to whom he was writing. I think the following are helpful ideas for you as a reader to be exposed to in order to discover the ideas that are contained in Jude.
Below you can read more fully about how Jude was acknowledged as being a part of Scripture. We will ask who wrote it. And, we will inquire about the date it was written. All of this background is helpful to recognize what Jude is saying to his first listeners/readers.
Acknowledgment As Canon
Scripture did not come to us by overnight express or a two day Amazon Prime package. The ecclesia lingered long in determining what was Scripture and what was not Scripture. The word canon is often used as an equivalent for what we call the Bible. The term canon as used in Christianity refers to a list of books, which the early ecclesia over a period of years understood as their rule for their direction as followers of Jesus (sometimes called faith). The simple meaning of canon is measuring rod. Books, which are sacred, are found in all religions. Both Christians and Jews have respective canons. By the end of the third century, the ecclesia had adopted the canon that we now accept in the Protestant church.Fake News! is a term that has been formerly used to describe the content that was consistently reported that intentionally fabricated news stories. Click To Tweet
Within scholarship, there are questions that are raised even today about the authenticity of Jude.
- The earliest traces of Jude being cited by writers outside of the first century can be found in the second century where the Didache 2.7 has a similarity in thought to Jude 22-23; and Didache 3.6 to Jude 8-10, but not direct vocabulary. [ref]Wikipedia “Didache” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Didache, accessed 6.18.18.[/ref] It was a Greek handbook, which gave instructions on morals and church order.
- There are traces of Jude in books of the Shepherd of Hermas,[ref]Wikipedia, “The Shepherd of Hermas” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Shepherd_of_Hermas, accessed, 6.18.18. [/ref] a source that throws light on the beliefs of Jewish Christianity at the close of the first century and the beginning of the second century.
- Also, there are echoes in Barnabas, a work that is attributed to Barnabas from the second century, which is strongly anti-Jewish in tone and is marked by forced allegorical exegesis.
- In addition, fragments of thought in Clement of Rome, who lived in Rome and wrote a book to the Corinthians church some fifty years after Paul wrote First Corinthians.
- And finally, there are portions in Polycarp, who lived and associated with John and other eyewitnesses of Jesus, and who was martyred for his faith.
These writers and their writings indicate that Jude was known from an early period. In the last quarter of the second century, the canon of Muratori included Jude. The Muratorian Canon was a list of books known at Rome about A.D. 200. This document attested to the books, which were received in the Catholic Church in the West and were authorized to be read in public. Different Church Fathers had different views:
- Origen, who was the head of the school he attended in Alexandria for 28 years where he wrote an incredible number of books, did not appear to question its authenticity.
- Eusebius, known as the Father of Church History, classified it as a disputed book.
- By the end of the third century, it was accepted in three important church centers: Alexandria, Carthage, and Rome.
- Athanasius, who was the hero of the orthodox battle about the deity of Christ, included Jude as the last of the so-called seven Catholic Epistles.
The opinions that were raised and caused Jude to be disputed by some centered on his use of Apocryphal—Pseudepigraphal writings. Jude quoted from the Assumption of Moses and First Enoch. But, this is not any different than Paul quoting from the pagan poets of his day (Acts 17.28; 1 Cor. 15.33; Titus 1.12). [Note: There are fourteen (14) books in the Apocrypha and eighteen (18) in the Pseudepigrapha. They are a large collection of Jewish writings, which are not included in the First Testament canon. The Catholic church refers to the Pseudepigrapha as deuterocanonical}.
Jude begins his letter with his name. The question to ask is: which Jude? Jude was a common name in this period of time. As an example, I run into many males whose first name is Jason. I often ask them if they were born in the mid-1970s? Yes is the most common answer. Jason was a popular name in the early ’80 of that century. You could call the writer Judas if you were speaking in Greek. Or, you could call him Judah if you were speaking Hebrew. Jude is the English translation. The author of this book further identified himself as a brother of James. It seems that he wanted his readers to understand that reference to refer to James of Jerusalem, the brother of Jesus (Acts 15).
There are five individuals named Jude that appear in the Second Testament:
- Judas of Damascus (Acts 9.11);
- Judas called Barsabbas (Acts 15.22);
- Judas Iscariot (Mark 3.19);
- Judas the apostle also called Thaddaeus (Matt. 10.3);
- Judas the brother of Jesus (Matt. 13.55).
Most scholars hold to the view that Jude, the brother of Jesus, was the author of this book. There are some exceptions. J. Sidlow Baxter in his book: Explore The Book says that Jude the son of Alpheus was the author.[ref]J. Sidlow Baxter. Explore the Book: Six Volumes in One. Volume 6: Acts to Revelation. 313.[/ref]
Age Written (Date)
The dating of the book of Jude certainly affects authorship considerations. Evangelical scholars like the late: F.F. Bruce, Donald Guthrie, and William Barclay, believed that the date of Jude is within the first century. Suggested dates for the writing of Jude vary between A.D. 60-140. Trying to determine a date sometimes amounts to little more than an educated guess. There are two main periods into which scholars labor to place the writing of Jude.
The First Part of the Second Century
Those who embrace this point of view believe that the author of Jude is pseudonymous, i.e., written by someone else and calling himself Jude, the brother of James. A pseudonymous writer was not an uncommon occurrence in the ancient world. The first fifty years of the second century appear to be held in the highest regard by those with this view. The defense for this position is Jude’s conception of Christianity in creedal terms, i.e., the use of the words “the faith” (3) to indicate a collection of beliefs and his tendency to accord scriptural authority to the word of the apostles (17). These same tendencies are found in the Didache and the Letter of Barnabas, which are from the middle of the second century. A date of A.D. 125 has often been forwarded.
The Latter Part of the First Century
Authors like the late Donald Guthrie and F.F. Bruce argue for this earlier period. There are three arguments that appear conclusive to those who believe Jude is dated in this period. They are:
- Terms like “the faith” (3) indicate a crystallization of belief. One does not have to wait until the first part, or the middle of the second century for crystallization to occur. The idea is used in the early writings of Paul (Gal. 1.23). Other Scriptures indicate that there was a clear indication of Christian orthodoxy that was well established by the ’50s of the first century (Rom. 6.17; 1 Thess. 2.13; 2 Thess. 2.15; 3.6).
- There is a reference to the passing of the Apostolic Age in verse 17. It looks like Jude was suggesting that he was not an original missionary and was calling his readers’ attention to what had been spoken by the first missionaries. He is drawing their attention to what they had spoken, not what they had written. The latter point would point to a period close to the actual time that these missionaries lived.
- There is a feeling when reading Jude that Gnostic beliefs were being attacked. However, Gnosticism was a form of belief that was most dangerous at the close of the second century. The basic presupposition of this philosophy was a dualism that believed that spirit was good and that material was evil. Salvation was an escape from the realm of matter to spirit via knowledge. This conflict became most acute in the understanding of the person of Jesus.
Jude was not reflecting an elaborate Gnosticism of the second century but was reflecting a development that had striking similarities with those situations faced by Paul in Corinth. There is evidence of an incipient Gnosticism within the first century, which gave rise to false responses to the faith of the early Jesus followers.
The following two short videos give a brief overview of Gnosticism. Your time might be well spent to watch both of them.
- Tom Wright on Gnosticism
- Gnosticism and the Early Church
The last part of the first century appears to be the date for the writing of Jude. Most conservative scholars, although it could have been as late as A.D. 90, believe an actual date lies between A.D. 65 and A.D. 80.
Next, on to our exposure to Purveyors of Fake News!
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