Vincent's Word Studies
The Epistle of Jude
This brief letter is assigned to the Judas of Matthew 13:55, one of the brethren of Jesus, and of James, the author of the catholic epistle. It is a hotly debated question whether Peter's second letter or Jude's epistle is the earlier, and, consequently, which writer drew upon the other. It is quite evident, either that the one used the other's epistle or that both drew from a common source. A satisfactory decision is impossible in the present state of the evidence. The matter which is common to the two epistles, besides various scattered resemblances, is principally in Jude 3-18; 2 Peter 1:1-5; 2 Peter 2:1-18 (see Ezra Abbot, Expositor, 2d series, iii., 139).
Besides the resemblance to Second Peter, the epistle is marked by its apocryphal references, especially to the Book of Enoch (see notes on Jde 1:9, Jde 1:14). In style it is terse and picturesque. "It is Greek as learned by a foreigner, and partly from books, and it is mixed up with Hebrew phrases." It contains at least fifteen words not found elsewhere in the New Testament. Dean Alford says: "It is an impassioned invective, in which the writer heaps epithet on epithet, and image on image, and returns again and again to the licentious apostates against whom he warns the church, as though all language were insufficient to give an adequate idea of their profligacy, and of his own abhorrence of their perversion of the grace and doctrines of the Gospel."
List of Greek Words Used by Jude Only
ἀποδιορίζω to separate Jde 1:19 ἄπταιστος without falling Jde 1:24 γογγυστής murmurer Jde 1:16 δεῖγμα example Jde 1:7 ἐκπορνεύω to give over to fornication Jde 1:7 ἐνυπνιάζω to dream Jde 1:8 ἐπαγωνίζομαι earnestly contend Jde 1:3 ἐπαφρίζω to foam out Jde 1:13 μεμψίμοιρος complainer Jde 1:16 παρεισδύω to creep in unawares Jde 1:4 πλανήτης a wanderer Jde 1:13 σπιλάς rock Jde 1:12 ὑπέχω to suffer, undergo Jde 1:7 φθινοπωρινός autumnal Jde 1:12 φυσικῶς naturally Jde 1:10
Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:
Rev., Judas. One of the brethren of Jesus; not the brother of James the Apostle, the son of Alphaeus, but of James the superintendent of the church at Jerusalem. He is named among the brethren of the Lord. Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3.
He does not call himself an apostle, as Paul and Peter in their introductions, and seems to distinguish himself from the apostles in Jde 1:17, Jde 1:18 : "The apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, how that they said," etc. We are told that Christ's brethren did not believe on him (John 7:5); and in Acts 1 the brethren of Jesus (John 1:14) are mentioned in a way which seems to separate them from the apostles. Δοῦλος, bond-servant, occurs in the introductions to Romans, Philippians, Titus, James, and 2Peter.
Brother of James
That Jude does not allude to his relationship to the Lord may be explained by the fact that the natural relationship in his mind would be subordinate to the spiritual (see Luke 11:27, Luke 11:28), and that such a designation would, as Dean Alford remarks, "have been in harmony with those later and superstitious feelings with which the next and following ages regarded the Lord's earthly relatives." He would shrink from emphasizing a distinction to which none of the other disciples or apostles could have a claim, the more so because of his former unbelief in Christ's authority and mission. It is noticeable that James likewise avoids such a designation.
In Jesus Christ (Ἰησοῦ Χριστῷ)
At the end of the verse, for emphasis.
Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
Peculiar to Jude in salutation.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Occurring at the beginning of an epistle only here and 3 John 1:2.
When I gave all diligence (πᾶσαν σπουδὴν ποιούμενος)
The common salvation
The best texts add ἡμῶν, of us. So Rev., "our common salvation."
It was needful (ἀνάγκην ἔσχον)
Lit., I had necessity. Alford, I found it necessary. Rev., I was constrained.
Earnestly contend (ἐπαγωνίζεσθαι)
Only here in New Testament.
The sum of what Christians believe. See on Acts 6:7.
Not formerly, but once for all. So Rev., "No other faith will be given," says Bengel.
For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.
With the whole verse compare 2 Peter 2:1.
Crept in unawares (παρεισέδυσαν)
Rev., privily. See on 2 Peter 2:1. The verb means to get in by the side (παρά), to slip in by a side-door. Only here in New Testament.
The meaning is in dispute. The word occurs four times in New Testament. In two of these instances πρό has clearly the temporal sense before (Romans 15:4; Ephesians 3:3). In Galatians 3:1, it is taken by some in the sense of openly, publicly (see note there). It seems better, on the whole, to take it here in the temporal sense, and to render written of beforehand, i.e., in prophecy as referred to in Jde 1:14, Jde 1:15. So the American Rev.
See on 1 Peter 4:3.
God is omitted in the best texts. On Lord (δεσπότην), see on 2 Peter 2:1.
I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.
Ye once knew (εἰδότας ἅπαξ)
Entirely wrong. The participle is to be rendered as present, and the once is not formerly, but once for all, as Jde 1:3. So Rev., rightly, though ye know all things once for all.
And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.
First estate (ἀρχὴν)
The word originally signifies beginning, and so frequently in New Testament, mostly in the Gospels, Acts, Hebrews, Catholic Epistles, and Apocalypse. From this comes a secondary meaning of sovereignty, dominion, magistracy, as being the beginning or first place of power. So mostly by Paul, as principalities (Romans 8:38); rule (1 Corinthians 15:24). Compare Luke 12:11, magistrates; Rev., rulers; and Luke 20:20, power. Rev., rule. A peculiar use of the word occurs at Acts 10:11, "the sheet knit at the four corners (ἀρχαῖς);" the corners being the beginnings of the sheet. In this passage the A. V. has adopted the first meaning, beginning, in its rendering first estate. Rev. adopts the second, rendering principality. The Jews regarded the angels as having dominion over earthly creatures; and the angels are often spoken of in the New Testament as ἀρχαί, principalities; as Romans 8:38; Ephesians 1:21; so that this term would be appropriate to designate their dignity, which they forsook.
Only here and 2 Corinthians 5:2.
Only here and Romans 1:20. For a longer form ἀείδιος, from ἀεί, always.
Under darkness (ὕπο ζόφον)
Under carries the sense of the darkness brooding over the fallen spirits. On darkness, see on 2 Peter 2:4. Compare Hesiod:
"There the Titanian gods, to murky gloom
Condemned by will of cloud-collecting Jove,
Lie hid in region foul."
Theogony, v., 729.
Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.
The cities about them
Giving themselves over to fornication (ἐκπορνεύσασαι)
Rev., more strictly, having given, etc. Only here in New Testament. The force of ἐκ is out and out; giving themselves up utterly. See on followed, 2 Peter 1:16.
Going after (ἀπελθοῦσαι ὀπίσω)
The aorist participle. Rev., having gone. The phrase occurs Mark 1:20; James and John leaving their father and going after Jesus. "The world is gone after him" (John 12:19). Here metaphorical. The force of ἀπό is away; turning away from purity, and going after strange flesh.
Compare 2 Peter 2:10; and see Romans 1:27; Leviticus 18:22, Leviticus 18:23. Also Jowett's introduction to Plato's "Symposium ;" Plato's "Laws," viii., 836, 841; Dllinger, "The Gentile and the Jew," Darnell's trans., ii., 238 sq.
Are set forth (πρόκεινται)
The verb means, literally, to lie exposed. Used of meats on the table ready for the guests; of a corpse laid out for burial; of a question under discussion. Thus the corruption and punishment of the cities of the plain are laid out in plain sight.
As an example (δεῖγμα)
Only here in New Testament. From δείκνυμι, to display or exhibit; something, therefore, which is held up to view as a warning.
Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire (πυρὸς αἰωνίου δίκην ὑπέχουσαι)
Rev., rightly, substitutes punishment for vengeance, since δίκη carries the underlying idea of right or justice, which is not necessarily implied in vengeance. Some of the best modern expositors render are set forth as an example of eternal fire, suffering punishment. This meaning seems, on the whole, more natural, though the Greek construction favors the others, since eternal fire is the standing term for the finally condemned in the last judgment, and could hardly be correctly said of Sodom and Gomorrah. Those cities are most truly an example of eternal fire. "A destruction so utter and so permanent as theirs has been, is the nearest approach that can be found in this world to the destruction which awaits those who are kept under darkness to the judgment of the great day" (Lumby). Suffering (ὑπέχουσαι). Only here in New Testament. The participle is present, indicating that they are suffering to this day the punishment which came upon them in Lot's time. The verb means, literally, to hold under; thence to uphold or support, and so to suffer or undergo.
Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.
Not rendered by A. V., but expressing that though they have these fearful examples before them, yet they persist in their sin.
Dominion - dignities (κυριότητα - δόξας)
It is not easy to determine the exact meaning of these two terms. Κυριότης, dominion, occurs in three other passages, Ephesians 1:21; Colossians 1:16; 2 Peter 2:10. In the first two, and probably in the third, the reference is to angelic dignities. Some explain this passage and the one in Peter, of evil angels. In Colossians the term is used with thrones, principalities, and powers, with reference to the orders of the celestial hierarchy as conceived by Gnostic teachers, and with a view to exalt Christ above all these. Glories or dignities is used in this concrete sense only here and at 2 Peter 2:10.
Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
Michael the archangel
Here we strike a peculiarity of this epistle which caused its authority to be impugned in very early times, viz., the apparent citations of apocryphal writings. The passages are Jde 1:9, Jde 1:14, Jde 1:15. This reference to Michael was said by Origen to be founded on a Jewish work called "The Assumption of Moses," the first part of which was lately found in an old Latin translation at Milan; and this is the view of Davidson, so far at least as the words "the Lord rebuke thee" are concerned. Others refer it to Zechariah 3:1; but there is nothing there about Moses' body, or Michael, or a dispute about the body. Others, again, to a rabbinical comment on Deuteronomy 34:6, where Michael is said to have been made guardian of Moses' grave. Doubtless Jude was referring to some accepted story or tradition, probably based on Deuteronomy 34:6. For a similar reference to tradition compare 2 Timothy 3:8; Acts 7:22.
Angels are described in scripture as forming a society with different orders and dignities. This conception is developed in the books written during and after the exile, especially Daniel and Zechariah. Michael (Who is like God?) is one of the seven archangels, and was regarded as the special protector of the Hebrew nation. He is mentioned three times in the Old Testament (Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1), and twice in the New Testament (Jde 1:9; Revelation 12:7). He is adored as a saint in the Romish Church. For legends, see Mrs. Jameson, "Sacred and Legendary Art," i., 94 sq.
A railing accusation (κρίσιν βλασφημίας)
Lit., a judgment of railing; a sentence savoring of impugning his dignity. Michael remembered the high estate from which he fell, and left his sentence to God.
But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.
Compare 2 Peter 2:12.
They know not (οὐκ οἴδασιν)
Mental comprehension and knowledge, and referring to the whole range of invisible things; while the other verb in this verse, also translated by A. V. know (ἐπίστανται, originally of skill in handicraft), refers to palpable things; objects of sense; the circumstances of sensual enjoyment. Rev. marks the distinction by rendering the latter verb understand.
Only here in New Testament. Compare φυσικὰ, natural, 2 Peter 2:12.
Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.
Often used by our Lord, but never elsewhere except here and in the Apocalypse. The expression in 1 Corinthians 9:16 is different. There the word is not used as an imprecation, but almost as a noun: "Woe is unto me." So Hosea 9:12 (Sept.).
Ran greedily (ἐξεχύθησαν)
Lit., were poured out. Rev., ran riotously. A strong expression, indicating a reckless, abandoned devotion of the energies, like the Latin effundi. So Tacitus says of Maecenas, "he was given up to love for Bathyllus;" lit., poured out into love.
Better, as Rev., in; as, "in the way of Cain." The error was their sphere of action. Similarly,
In the gainsaying (τῇ ἀντιλογίᾳ)
In the practice of gain-saying like Korah's. Ἀντιλογία is from ἀντί, against, and λέγω, to speak. Hence, literally, contradiction. Gainsay is a literal translation, being compounded of the Anglo-Saxon gegn, which reappears in the German gegen, against, and say.
Who spake against Moses (Numbers 16:3). The water which Moses brought from the rock at Kadesh was called the water of Meribah (Strife), or, in Septuagint, ὕδωρ ἀντιλογίας, the water of contradiction.
These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
Only here in New Testament. So rendered in A. V., because understood as kindred to σπῖλοι (2 Peter 2:13); but rightly, as Rev., hidden rocks. So Homer, ("Odyssey," iii., 298), "the waves dashed the ship against the rocks (σπιλάδεσσιν)." See on deceivings, 2 Peter 2:13. These men were no longer mere blots, but elements of danger and wreck.
When they feast with you
See on 2 Peter 2:13.
Without fear (ἀφόβως)
Of such judgments as visited Ananias and Sapphira. Possibly, as Lumby suggests, implying a rebuke to the Christian congregations for having suffered such practices.
Clouds without water
Compare 2 Peter 2:17, springs without water. As clouds which seem to be charged with refreshing showers, but are borne past (παραφερόμεναι) and yield no rain.
Whose fruit withereth (φθινοπωρινὰ)
From φθίνω or φθίω, to waste away, pine, and ὀπώρα, autumn. Hence, literally, pertaining to the late autumn, and rightly rendered by Rev., autumn (trees). The A. V. is entirely wrong. Wyc., harvest trees. Tynd., trees without fruit at gathering-time.
Not only the apparent death of winter, but a real death; so that it only remains to pluck them up by the roots.
Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.
Rev., wild, which is better, as implying quality rather than act. Waves, by nature untamed. The act or expression of the nature is given by the next word.
Foaming out (ἐπαφρίζοντα)
Only here in New Testament. Compare Isaiah 57:20.
Lit., shames or disgraces.
Compare 2 Peter 2:17. Possibly referring to comets, which shine a while and then pass into darkness. "They belong not to the system: they stray at random and without law, and must at last be severed from the lights which rule while they are ruled" (Lumby).
See on 2 Peter 2:4.
Of darkness (τοῦ σκότους)
Lit., "the darkness," the article pointing back to the darkness already mentioned, Jde 1:6.
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
This is the second of the apocryphal passages referred to in notes on Jde 1:9. It is quoted from the apocryphal book of Enoch, directly, or from a tradition based upon it. The passage in Enoch is as follows:
"Behold he comes with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon them, and to destroy the wicked, and to strive (at law) with all the carnal for everything which the sinful and ungodly have done and committed against him."
The Book of Enoch, which was known to the fathers of the second century, was lost for some centuries with the exception of a few fragments, and was found entire in a copy of the Ethiopic Bible, in 1773, by Bruce. It became known to modern students through a translation from this into English by Archbishop Lawrence, in 1821. It was probably written in Hebrew. It consists of revelations purporting to have been given to Enoch and Noah, and its object is to vindicate the ways of divine providence, to set forth the retribution reserved for sinners, angelic or human, and "to repeat in every form the great principle that the world - natural, moral, and spiritual - is under the immediate government of God."
Besides an introduction it embraces five parts: 1. A narrative of the fall of the angels, and of a tour of Enoch in company with an angel through heaven and earth, and of the mysteries seen by him. 2. Parables concerning the kingdom of God, the Messiah, and the Messianic future. 3. Astronomical and physical matter; attempting to reduce the images of the Old Testament to a physical system. 4:. Two visions, representing symbolically the history of the world to the Messianic completion. 5. Exhortations of Enoch to Methuselah and his descendants. The book shows no Christian influence, is highly moral in tone, and imitates the Old Testament myths.
With ten thousands of his saints (ἐν ἀγίαις μυριάσιν)
Ungodly (ἀσεβεῖς) - ungodly deeds (ἔργων ἀσεβείας, lit., works of ungodliness) which they have ungodly committed (ἠσέβησαν), and of all their hard speeches which ungodly (ἀσεβεῖς) sinners, etc
The evident play upon the word ungodly can be rendered but clumsily into English. Rev., translates, All the ungodly, of all their works of ungodliness which they have ungodly wrought, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. The words ungodly sinners are placed in an unusual position, at the end of the sentence, for emphasis; ungodliness being the key-note of the writer's thought.
Hard (τῶν σκληρῶν)
Speeches is supplied. Lit., hard things. So Rev. The railing, gainsaying ; the profane and vain babblings (2 Timothy 2:16). Compare John 6:60, a hard saying, where the word means not abusive but difficult. In James 3:4, rough, used of the winds. In Acts 26:14, of Saul of Tarsus; "hard to kick against the pricks."
To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.
Only here in New Testament. Doubtless, originally, with some adaptation of sound to sense, gongustai. It is used of the cooing of doves.
From μέμφομαι, to find fault with, and μοῖρα, a part or lot. Lit., blamers of their lot.
Great swelling words
See on 2 Peter 2:18.
Having men's persons in admiration (θαυμάζοντες πρόσωπα)
The Rev., shewing respect of persons, is neater, but the A. V. more literal: admiring the countenances. Compare Genesis 19:21, Sept., "I have accepted thee:" lit., have admired thy face.
Because of advantage
Compare Jde 1:3.
But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;
How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.
See on 2 Peter 3:3.
Ungodly lusts (ἐπιθυμίας τῶν ἀσεβειῶν)
Lit., lusts of ungodlinesses.
These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.
Separate themselves (ἀποδιορίζοντες)
Only here in New Testament. Themselves is unnecessary. Better, as Rev., make separations; i.e., cause divisions in the church. The verb is compounded with ἀπό, away; διά, through; ὅρος, a boundary line. Of those who draw a line through the church and set off one part from another.
See on Mark 12:30. As ψυχή denotes life in the distinctness of individual existence, "the centre of the personal being, the I of each individual," so this adjective derived from it denotes what pertains to man as man, the natural personality as distinguished from the renewed man. So 1 Corinthians 2:14; 1 Corinthians 15:44 :. The rendering sensual, here and James 3:15, is inferential: sensual because natural and unrenewed In contrast with this is
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
And of some have compassion, making a difference:
And of some have compassion, making a difference
This follows the reading, καὶ οὓς μὲν ἐλεεῖτε (ἐλεᾶτε) διακρινόμενοι. The best texts, however, read διακρινομένους, which would require, "On some have mercy who are in doubt. So Rev. Others, again, for ἐλεεῖτε, have mercy, read ἐλέγχετε, reprove, and render διακρινομένους, who are contentious: "Some who are contentious rebuke." The Rev. rendering better suits what follows.
And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Snatching them out of the fire
With fear (ἐν φόβῳ)
Lit., in fear; i.e., of the contagion of sin while we are rescuing them.
Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
To keep you from falling (φυλάξαι ὑμᾶς ἀπταίστους)
Exceeding joy (ἀγαλλιάσει)
See on 1 Peter 1:6.
To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
Both now and ever (καὶ νῦν καὶ εἰς πάντας τοὺς αἰῶνας)
Lit., both now and unto all the ages. The best texts add πρὸ παντὸς τοῦ αἰῶνος, before all time.