Welcome to the FIRST installment of Isaac Hunter’s Online Bible Study, a systematic analysis of the 66 books of the protestant bible.
This is an online class, organized informally and asynchronously. There are no sign-ups needed, no grades to be got, just a clear analysis of the bible and it’s peculiar and fantastically supernatural message for us. So, check back in often as new episodes arrive.
You can also subscribe to this bible study by clicking HERE, using your favorite RSS feed reader.
Reading the Text
At the start of each book in this series, it is recommended to do a cursory read of the entire text, just to get familiar with the subject matter in question.
So, please take some time to read through the book of Jude.
It’s a short one. I can wait.
Now that you’ve finished reading our first book, let’s do another supplemental reading of the portion of text we will be covering in this post. Normally, this would be five chapters at a time, but since Jude is such a short book (only 25 verses), go ahead and re-read.
From the Text Itself
His name is actually Ιούδας (Judas), from the Greek, a derivation of the Hebrew “Judah.”
At what point the translators opted to change his name to Jude is unknown. He is described in John 14:22 as “not Iscariot,” so it was a contentious issue even back in the first century.
Several references in the bible make Jude to be the son of James. But, Jude himself states he is James’ brother. I see no reason to dispute him. Whether the James’ listed in the New Testament are the same person or a group of persons with the same name – it makes no difference.
I would conclude the writer of Jude is the brother of James (and, subsequently, Jesus Christ – though, Jude doesn’t mention this connection).
He wanted to write them about their “common faith,” but was urged instead to encourage them to defend that faith against the “certain men [who] have crept in unnoticed.”
These were enemies of the faith, who were faking friendship in order to gain power, influence, and were spreading false doctrines among the saints – most importantly, in the denial of Jesus Christ himself (boy, does that sound familiar).
Jude states these men were haughty, arrogant, judgmental, nescient, and rebellious.
They were, as most propagators of false doctrine are, deniers of both God the Father and of Jesus Christ.
Jude goes on to elucidate the point with three examples. The unbelievers who were destroyed in the desert after the Exodus from Egypt, the Angels who left heaven and were subsequently placed in everlasting chains, awaiting judgment day, and then Sodom and Gomorrah, who paid for their sins of perversion with eternal fire.
To the point of these wicked men’s rebellion against authority, Jude points out that Michael, when he contended with the devil over the body of Moses, did not lay even an bad word against him, but simply stated, “the Lord rebuke you!”
These enemies of the saints have gone the way of Cain (who was a self-will, hateful, resentful, jealous murderer), and ran headlong in the error of Balaam (who seduced others into committing sin). Jude also compares these men to Korah, who rebelled against Moses and Aaron, only to be swallowed up by the earth.
Jude then continues his assault, comparing these men to hidden rocky reefs in their love feast, shepherds who feed themselves without fear, clouds without rain carried about by the winds, uprooted and discarded trees without fruit, wild foaming seas, wandering stars (I believe referring to the fallen angels).
Jude then does something very interesting – something that many in the modern evangelical church simply try to ignore. He quotes from extra biblical authority.
He quotes from the book of Enoch, an old testament prophet (who never actually died, but was raptured by God), stating these men the church were dealing with were the fulfillment of Enoch’s prophecy.
Jude then takes his readers back to the foundation, the teaching of the apostles and Christ. He quotes from 2 Peter 3:3, that in the last days mockers will come, and they will walk after their own ungodly lusts.
Jude then makes a comparison between these men, who cause division, who are sensual (G5591) ψυχικός psuchikos “worldly,” and have not the Spirit (who is the seal guaranteeing our salvation – 2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13, 30).
But Jude’s readers are not this way. They build upon their sacred faith, by prayer in the Spirit, they keep (G5083) τηρέω tereo “guard, keep in custody, remain unmarried” themselves in the love of God, and wait for the mercy of Christ (which leads to eternal life).
Jude then gets practical, stating , in our efforts to redeem the lost, some we should have compassion on, but others we should save with fear, as if snatching them out of the fire (so much for seeker sensitive church).
Jude concludes that Jesus is able to keep us from stumbling, and can (and will) present us faultless before the presence of his glory (God, the Father).
Snapshot of the Apostolic Bible Polyglot I used during this study. This module is a free download for the Word Bible Software. Hands down, the best FREE bible software available to-date!
Issues, Misunderstandings, Questions
First off, Jude is writing as a slave of Christ. He may be his brother, but it was not until after the crucifixion that Jesus’ family repented and believed. As Paul stated, “he who is called while slave is the Lord’s freedman….he who is called while free is Christ’s slave.”
It is interesting, despite the overt message of this letter (the wolves that have infiltrated the assembly), there is a supernatural undercurrent in Jude’s remarks that are astonishing.
In his 3 examples of the consequences of unbelief and/or disobedience, Jude allegedly makes reference to 2 Peter 2:4 and/or the Book of Enoch concerning the Genesis 6 account of Angels who left heaven and came to earth to have sex with human women (daughters of men), and produce hybrid offspring called, the Nephilim. This is controversial, to say the least. For, the popular opinion of Genesis 6: 2 is that the “sons of God” refer to the Sethites. This, of course, renders Jude and Peter (and the Book of Enoch) confounding.
To claim human rather than angelic throws many references into turmoil. If human, why are they being thrown into Tartarus (2 Peter 2:4), which is the abyss? If human alone, why are the offspring of the “sons of God” in Genesis 6 giants and men of renown? Would God not need just regular chains, rather than (G126) ἀΐδιος “everlasting” chains?
The angelic interpretation not only renders all of these references sensible, but it also explains better the brutality and severity of the Noahic flood that destroyed all life on earth. But that we must leave for another time.
The other issue I want to bring up is the use of extra biblical authority. Is it something we should do? The church, collectively, has a long history of opposing that which undermines it’s own stranglehold on orthodoxy. Almost reflexively, we see it with Catholicism and Evangelicalism alike. Bending and twisting the Scriptures until it says what we want to hear.
My conclusion would be: if the writers of the bible did it, in those instances, so can we. I see a big difference between Jude and Peter’s use of the Book of Enoch and Paul’s use of Aratus (Acts 17:28), Menander (1 Corinthians 15:33) and Epimenides. These are references to worldly writings. Jude not only references the angelic interpretation of Genesis 6:2, but he also proclaims the fulfillment of Enoch’s prophecy. This, in my mind, places some level of authority in the Book of Enoch, at least in the mind of Jude, if no one else.
It is interesting to note, Tertullian was convinced of the authority of the Book of Enoch, specifically because of Jude’s use of it. Then again, Jerome states the main reason Jude was regarded with suspicion by some and outright rejected by others in ancient times was due to its use of apocrypha.
The last issue I wanted to bring up was Jude’s apparent use of the Assumption of Moses in vs 9. Since the writing of Jude was about the same time as the writing of the Assumption, we must conclude he either had one of the first copies available, or Jude used the same source material (text or tradition) that was used for the Assumption. Either way, it’s obvious that there was at least a tradition among the Jews concerning the burial of Moses (since God did it and hid the location).
The Assumption of Moses that exists today does not reference this story, but Œcumenius in the 10th century references the tradition. Origen likewise refers to it being from the Assumption of Moses (not necessarily the same existent today.)
The letter of Jude is a fascinating read, often rife with supernatural innuendo and an almost mystical suspense akin to a modern thriller novel.
What can we take away from this tiny book? Well, just as in our day, the church had an issue of non-believers, of heretics infiltrating their ranks and causing all kinds of physical and spiritual damage to the flock.
We are urged by James to stand strong against these kind of people. All the more reason for us to firmly establish our doctrine and theology on the bedrock of the apostles and prophets, with Christ as the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20).
Likewise, we can take heart in the fact that we, as believers, have a seal in the Holy Spirit, until the resurrection and our own transfiguration event. It is not our own efforts, our own works, that will guarantee our entrance into the paradise of eternity, but it is the work on the cross alone.
Until the next study.
Answer the following questions below, then submit them using the Assignment Submission form at the bottom of this page.
- What is your opinion about Genesis 6:2, 2 Peter 2:4, and Jude 1:6, 9, 14-15? Do you think these verses refer to an angelic fall or should Genesis 6:2 be interpreted as Sethites? If the latter, please provide an interpretation of the above verses that makes more sense than angels coming to earth to take wives of the daughters of men.
If it was more important for Jude to talk about these infiltrators than about “our common faith,” what lesson should modern churches take from this?
What were Jude’s practical instructions to his readers? What were they supposed to do about these wolves sneaking in?
What did Jude mean when he said, “on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.?”
Should we utilize extrabiblical sources like the Book of Enoch or the Assumption of Moses? What about modern books about Christian Living?
Is Scriptural Authority real? Is it just a list of books that the ancient church decided on, or was God involved? How do we know? How should we approach the bible? What does it say about it’s own authority?
Tips for a More Effective Study
Bible study is often an enigma to people, especially when we receive many conflicting opinions and advice from pastors and teachers, family or friends. Although often well meaning, much of what passes for biblical study or religious doctrine is actually what Jesus coined as “doctrines of men,” or worse yet, “doctrines of demons.”
Folk theology is anything we might believe without a grounded scriptural basis. There are many reasons why we might believe it, but the fact is, many if not all of those reasons are not biblical ones.
So, here are some tips to make your time studying the bible more effective.
- Don’t put the cart before the horse.Too often, people approach the bible in search of justification for their own predetermined beliefs, rather than genuinely wanting to know what the bible really says. And, why wouldn’t we? The bible has a knack for always point out our flaws, our short comings, always trying to bring us closer and closer to Christ. So, we need to be on guard against ourselves, our own presuppositions – the beliefs we have that have no grounding in the biblical text.
- Always rely on a multitude of witnesses. Deuteronomy 17:6, 19:15 established that a matter should only be settled by the testimony of two or three witnesses. Matthew 18:16 and 2 Corinthians 13:1 reiterated the same. This recommendation is very apt when applied to the controversy surrounding modern translations. When studying the bible, it is wise to have multiple translations available. It’s also important to have translations that span the spectrum. Formal equivalent translations (or, word-for-word) should be use in serious study, or when establishing sound doctrine. Dynamic equivalent translations (thought-for-thought) are really only useful for personal devotional reading, or used as a kind of commentary, when seeking human opinion. Likewise, it’s crucial to have a good interlinear in your collection of study tools. Whether in print or digital, an interlinear allows you to dig into the original biblical languages without having to know them. I personally recommend the Apostolic Bible Polyglot, which is a Greek interlinear of the OT/NT. If you would like the Hebrew for the OT, then I recommend J.P. Greene’s Interlinear.
- Put tools in their place. Concordances, dictionaries, commentaries, cross references, etc. They all have their place, but they are merely human opinion. They can help. They can serve as a tremendous repository of human effort and knowledge that can be tapped into. But, at the end of the day, it is just opinion. Now, that being said, in our day and age, with the incredible speed in technological advancement we’ve seen just in the last few decades, there is no reason not to take advantage of some of these improvements. A good bible study program can literally transform how you approach God’s word. I recommend the Word Bible Software. It’s free!
- Above all else, Pray! Be sure to make a habit of praying regularly. Philippians 4:6 and 1 Corinthians 2:6-16 really say it all.
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Assignment Submission Form
Submit your answers to the Assignment Questions using this handy submission form below. Please include the questions with your answers. All submissions will be personally responded to. Some will be shared in future studies.