Jude Archeology


The author of Jude called himself "a brother of James" (v. 1). The most well-known James of the early church was James, the Lord's The brother (see the introduction to the book of James). Mark 6:3 mentions both James and Jude (Greek "Judas") among the members of Jesus' immediate family. It should be noted that neither James nor Jude ever by referred to himself as Jesus' brother (most likely a demonstration of reverence), but others did not hesitate to speak of them in this way (v. (see Mt 13:55: Jn 7:3-10; Ac 1:14; 1Co 9:5; Gal 1:19).  

Some Biblical scholars deny that Jude wrote this letter, primarily on the grounds that its Greek is too articulate to have come from a Galilean. but this falsely assumes that the Galileans were semiliterate and lacking in contact with Hellenistic culture. Tiberias, on the Gift western shore of the Sea of Galilee, was a thoroughly Hellenistic city, and its presence in the region illustrates that the broader culture of the Greco-Roman world was never far away.

Many believe that 2 Peter borrowed and modified material from Jude (see the introduction to 2Pe). If this was indeed the case, and if 2 Peter was written about A.D. 64-68, as appears probable, then Jude was obviously written before A.D. 68. The apparent borrowing, however, may have gone the other way around.


All that is known of the original recipients of this letter is that they were Christians (v. 1). Verse 3 may indicate that Jude knew them personally; from this some infer that the letter was more than simply a pamphlet addressed to a number of churches or to all Christians everywhere.


The tone of the letter suggests that its author was alarmed, and verse 3 indicates that the epistle was written in some haste. Jude clearly wanted to warn his readers to beware of false brothers who were infiltrating the churches, creating an irreverent atmosphere, causing divisions and disseminating doubt and cynicism. Their motivation was greed and lust.

Interpreters have naturally tried to identify these false brothers, but Jude was not specific about them. It may be that he was dismayed over an increasing trend toward worldliness and the presence of a significant number of unconverted people within the churches.


Notice the similarities between Jude and 2 Peter. Watch for references to the noncanonical works titled the Testament of Moses (also called the Assumption of Moses; v. 9) and the book of Enoch (v. 14).


  • The book of Jude was regarded by the second-century church father Origen as "of but few verses yet full of mighty words of heavenly wisdom" (vv. 1-12).

  • Jude, like his brothers, did not believe in Jesus during his earthly ministry but became his follower after the resurrection (v. 1).

  • Both James and Jude in the opening of their New Testament letters referred to themselves as servants of Jesus Christ rather than as his brothers in the flesh (v. 1).

  • Two of Jude's grandsons were brought before the emperor Domitian as descendants of David, but both were dismissed as harmless peasants (v. 1).


The book of Jude includes the following themes:

1. Warning against false teachers. Jude's primary focus was the ethical dangers posed by false teachers who denied Christ's lordship by using Christian freedom and God's grace as a "license for immorality" (v. 4). These false teachers were "grumblers and faultfinders" (v. 16), scoffers who followed their own ungodly desires and natural instincts (vv. 18-19).

2. Christian behavior. Jude's letter emphasizes the lordship of Christ (vv. 4,9,14-15,25). Christian freedom is not a hall pass to do whatever one wishes. Christians are to build themselves up in the foundational teachings of the faith, pray, remain faithful to God and be merciful to others.


  I. Introduction (1-2)

       II. Occasion for the Letter (3-4)

      Ill. Warning Against False Teachers (5-16)

      IV. Exhortation to Believers (17-23)

       V. Concluding Doxology (24-25)

The Bible and Pseudepigraphical Literature

JUDE Pseudepigrapha, meaning "false title," refers to Jewish books that falsely claimed to have been written by Moses, Enoch, Abraham or some other ancient hero of the faith. Most pseudepigrapha were written between 250 B.c. and A.D.200. A few examples are as follows:

  • Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs: A series of documents claiming to be the"testaments"of the patriarchs of the tribes of Israel, in which they by turn give exhortations to their descendants. This work was probably written in the second century B.C., but its present form seems to reflect revision by a Christian. Depending upon interpretation, it may present a doctrine of two messiahs: a priestly messiah (from Levi) and a royal messiah (from Judah). In a manner typical of intertestamental Judaism,, this work describes the Mosaic Law as the wisdom of God but reflects also the influence of Stoicism, a Hellenistic school of philosophy.3 • Testament of Solomon: An outlandish tale, in which Solomon receives a magical' ring from the archangel Michael and uses it to control demons, the book may have been written during the first or second century A.D.

  • Testament of Moses: A text in which Moses purportedly predicts the history of Israel from the conquest under Joshua to the postexilic period, the book's principal concern is the apostasy of Hellenistic Jews. The date of its composition is disputed; some suggest that it was composed during the first century A.D. • Psalms of Solomon: This is a first-century B.C. collection of psalms written in reaction to the Roman occupation of Palestine., These psalms anticipated the coming of a "Lord Messiah" who would lead pious Jews to overthrow the Roman forces occupying the land.They are important for illustrating the Messianic fervor and religious turmoil that prevailed among the Jews in the days prior to Jesus' birth.,

  • Jubilees: Claiming Mosaic authorship, this work, essentially a retelling of Genesis and Exodus written between the second century B.C. and the first century A.D., has some curious emphases. For example, it devotes a great deal of attention to Rebekah and considers the slaughter of Shechem (Ge 34) to have been a praiseworthy event. The book is also intensely concerned with priestly matters.  

  • First Enoch: Early mystics of both Jewish and Christian background were fascinated by Enoch, the man who, after having walked with God, "was no more" (Ge 5:24). First Enoch is the first of many "accounts"detailing Enoch's ascent into heaven, but even this work is a composite of texts written from approximately the third century B.c.to the first century A.D.The narrative is highly fantastic in nature. For example, 1 Enoch 6-11 describes the rebellion of the "watchers," the angels who, according to Genesis 6:1-4 (cf. Jude 6) took the daughters of men to be their wives. In 1 Enoch 72-82, a section referred to as the Astronomical Book of Enoch, Enoch is given a tour of the heavens by the angel Uriel and sees the gates out of which the sun and moon rise and set. This section is also highly concerned with calendar issues.

As a rule the New Testament authors avoided this material, but Jude appears to have made use of it in two places. In verse 9 he alluded to a story concerning Michael and the devil that is found in a version of The Assumption of Moses (as noted by Clement and Origen;the actual text is lost). Also, in verse 14 Jude quoted from 1 Enoch 1:9: "See,the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones." It is possible that through God's providence some pseudepigrapha have preserved some genuine traditions and that Jude was able to discern the true from the false. Given the nature of these books, however, it would be perilous to treat them as reliable sources. It is also helpful to keep in mind that citation of a given work by a Biblical author does not in and of itself imply endorsement. Paul cited pagan poets (Ac 17:28; 1Co 15:33;Tit 1:12), and Jude's references to 1 Enoch do not imply that he thought the book had canonical authority.