Preface to the General Epistle of Jude
In the preface to the Epistle of James several things have been said relative to Jude the brother of James, the supposed author of this epistle; and to that preface the reader is requested to refer. What is farther necessary to be said on the author and the authenticity of this epistle, I shall take the liberty to borrow principally from Michaelis.
"If James and Jude, whom the evangelists call brothers of Jesus, were in fact only cousins or relations as some suppose, and were sons, not of Joseph, but of Alpheus, these two persons were the same as the two brothers James and Jude, who were apostles. And in this case Jude, the author of this epistle, was the same as the Apostle Jude, the brother of James who was son of Alpheus. On the other hand, if the James and the Jude, whom the evangelists call brothers of Jesus, were not the two brothers of this name who were apostles, but were the sons of Joseph, the reputed father of Jesus, we have then two different persons of the name of Jude, either of which might have written this epistle. And in this case we have to examine whether the epistle was written by an apostle of the name of Jude, or by Jude the brother-in-law of Christ.
"The author of the epistle himself has assumed neither the title of apostle of Jesus Christ, nor of brother of Jesus Christ, but calls himself only 'Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James.' Now, as the author distinguishes himself by the title 'brother of James,' and this was a common name among the Jews, he undoubtedly meant some eminent person of this name, who was well known at the time when he wrote, or the title 'brother of James' would have been no mark of distinction. We may infer, therefore, that the author of this epistle was the brother, either of the Apostle James the son of Alpheus, or of James, named the brother of Jesus, or of both, if they were one and the same person.
"The first question, therefore, to be asked is, Was the author of this epistle the Apostle Jude? or was he brother of James, the son of Alpheus? Now, I have already observed, that this question must be answered in the affirmative if James and Jude who were called brothers of Jesus, were the same as the two brothers James and Jude who were apostles. And it may be answered in the affirmative, even if they were different persons, for Jude, the author of this epistle, had in either case a brother of the name of James, and therefore might in either case call himself Jude the brother of James. I say the question may be answered in the affirmative, even if the Apostle Jude was a different person from Jude, called the brother of James. But whether it ought in this case to be answered in the affirmative, is another matter; and I really believe that it ought not: for if the Jude who wrote this epistle had been himself an apostle, and brother of an apostle, he would hardly have called himself, in an epistle written to Christians, simply 'Jude, the brother of James' without adding the title apostle. It is true that the Apostle Jude, who was brother of James, is called by St. Luke Ιουδας Ιακωβου; but St. Luke gives him this title merely to distinguish him from another apostle of this name, who was called Iscariot. Now the author of this epistle could have no motive for distinguishing himself from Judas Iscariot, who had hanged himself many years before this epistle was written. The name of Jude was very common among the Jews; and therefore the author of this epistle wished to distinguish himself from other persons who were so called. But James was likewise a very common name, and therefore if the author had been an apostle he surely would have preferred an appellation which would have removed all doubts to an appellation which left it at least uncertain whether he was an apostle or not; I grant that the omission of this title does not necessarily prove that the author of this epistle was not an apostle, for Paul has omitted it in four of his epistles: in the Epistle to the Philippians, in both Epistles to the Thessalonians, and in that to Philemon. But St. Paul was sufficiently known without this title, whereas the author of the epistle in question felt the necessity of a distinguishing appellation, as appears from the very title which he has given himself of 'brother of James.' Besides, at the time when this epistle was written, only one apostle of the name of James was then alive; for the elder James, the son of Zebedee, had been beheaded many years before. If then the author of this epistle had only given to his brother James the title of apostle, he would thus likewise have clearly ascertained who he himself was. But since he has no more given to his brother than to himself the title of apostle, I think it highly probable that neither of them were apostles.
"The next question to be asked, therefore, is, Was the Jude, who wrote this epistle, the same person as the Jude whom the evangelists call brother of Jesus? and who, according to the opinion which I think the most defensible, was in this sense brother of Jesus, that he was son of Joseph by a former wife, and therefore not his own brother, but only brother-in-law of Jesus. Now, that this epistle was written by a person of this description, appears to me highly probable; and on this supposition we may assign the reason why the author called himself 'brother of James;' for, if he was the brother-in-law of Jesus, his brother James was the person who, during so many years, had presided over the Church at Jerusalem, was well known both to Jews and Christians, and appears to have been more celebrated than either of the apostles called James. It will be objected, perhaps, that the very same reasons which I have alleged, to show that an apostle of the name of Jude would have assumed his proper title, will likewise show that a person who was called brother of Jesus would have done the same, and styled himself brother of Jesus. To this I answer, that if he was the son of Joseph, not by Mary but by a former wife, and Jude believed in the immaculate conception, he must have been sensible that though to all outward appearance he was brother-in-law to Jesus, since his own father was the husband of Jesus' mother, yet in reality he was no relation of Jesus. On the other hand, if Jude, called the brother of Jesus, was the son of Joseph, not by a former wife but by Mary, as Herder asserts, I do not see how the preceding objection can be answered; for if Jesus and Jude had the same mother, Jude might without the least impropriety, have styled himself 'brother of Jesus,' or 'brother of the Lord;' and this would have been a much more remarkable and distinguishing title than that of brother of James. A third question still remains to be asked on this subject. The apostle whom St. Luke calls Jude is called Thaddaeus by St. Matthew and St. Mark, as I have already observed. But the apostle of the Syrians, who first preached the Gospel at Edessa, and founded a Church there, was named Thaddaeus or Adaeus. It may be asked, therefore, whether the author of this epistle was Thaddaeus, the apostle of the Syrians? But the answer is decisive: the old Syriac version does not contain this epistle; consequently it is highly probable that Adai or Adaeus was not the author, for an epistle written by the great apostle of the Syrians would surely have been received into the canon of the Syrian Church."
The most accurate critics have been unable to determine the time when, and the persons to whom, this epistle was written; so that much concerning these points, as well as the author of the epistle, must remain undecided.
"I am really unable to determine," says Michaelis, "who the persons were to whom this epistle was sent; for no traces are to be discovered in it which enable us to form the least judgment on this subject; and the address with which this epistle commences is so indeterminate, that there is hardly any Christian community where Greek was spoken, which might not be denoted by it. Though this epistle has a very great similarity to the Second Epistle of Peter, it cannot have been sent to the same persons, namely, the Christians who resided in Pontus, etc., because no mention is made of them in this epistle. Nor can it have been sent to the Christians of Syria and Assyria, where Jude preached the Gospel, if he be the same person as the apostle of the Syrians; for in this case the epistle would not have been written in Greek, but in Syriac or Chaldee, and would certainly have been received into the old Syriac version.
"With respect to the date of this epistle, all that I am able to assert is, that it was written after the Second Epistle of Peter; but how many years after, whether between 64 and 66, as Lardner supposes, or between 70 and 75, as Beausobre and L'Enfant believe; or, according to Dodwell and Cave, in 71 or 72, or so late as the year 90, as is the opinion of Mill, I confess I am unable to determine, at least from any certain data. The expression, 'in the last time,' which occurs Jde 1:18, as well as in 2 Peter 3:3, is too indeterminate to warrant any conclusion respecting the date of this epistle; for though, on the one hand, it may refer to the approaching destruction of Jerusalem, it may, on the other hand, refer to a later period, and denote the close of the apostolic age; for in the First Epistle of St. John a similar expression occurs, which must be taken in this latter sense. The inference, therefore, that the Epistle of St. Jude was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, which some commentators have deduced from the above-mentioned expression, on the supposition that it alluded to that event then approaching, is very precarious, because it is drawn from premises which are themselves uncertain. However, there is some reason to believe, on other grounds, that this epistle was not written after the destruction of Jerusalem; for, as the author has mentioned, Jde 1:5-8, several well known instances of God's justice in punishing sinners, which Peter had already quoted in his second epistle to the same purpose, he would probably, if Jerusalem had been already destroyed at the time he wrote, have not neglected to add to his other examples this most remarkable instance of Divine vengeance, especially as Christ himself had foretold it.
"Lardner, indeed, though he admits the similarity of the two epistles, still thinks it a matter of doubt whether St. Jude had ever seen the Second Epistle of St. Peter; his reason is, that 'if St. Jude had formed a design of writing, and had met with an epistle of one of the apostles very suitable to his own thoughts and intentions, he would have forborne to write.'
"To this argument I:answer: -
1. If the Epistle of St. Jude was inspired by the Holy Ghost, as Lardner admits, the Holy Ghost certainly knew, while he was dictating the epistle to St. Jude, that an epistle of St. Peter, of a like import, already existed. And if the Holy Ghost, notwithstanding this knowledge, still thought that an epistle of St. Jude was not unnecessary; why shall we suppose that St. Jude himself would have been prevented writing by the same knowledge?
"2. The Second Epistle of St. Peter was addressed to the inhabitants of some particular countries; but the address of St. Jude's is general: St. Jude therefore might think it necessary to repeat for general use what St. Peter had written only to certain communities.
"3. The Epistle of St. Jude is not a bare copy of the Second Epistle of St. Peter, for in the former, not only several thoughts are more completely unravelled than in the latter, but several additions are made to what St. Peter had said; for instance Jde 1:4, Jde 1:5, Jde 1:9, Jde 1:16.
"Eusebius, in his catalogue of the books of the New Testament, places the Epistle of St. Jude among the αντιλεγομενα, contradicted or apocryphal books, in company with the Epistle of St. James, the Second Epistle of St. Peter, and the Second and Third of John.
"But Origen, who lived in the third century, though he speaks in dubious terms of the Second Epistle of St. Peter, has several times quoted the Epistle of St. Jude, and has spoken of it as an epistle on which he entertained no doubt. In his commentary on St. Matthew, when he comes to Matthew 13:55, where James, Joses, Simon, and Jude are mentioned; he says Jude wrote an epistle of few lines indeed, but full of the powerful words of the heavenly grace, who at the beginning says, 'Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James.' This is a very clear and unequivocal declaration of Origen's opinion; and it is the more remarkable because he says nothing of the Epistle of St. James, though the passage, Matthew 13:55, afforded him as good an opportunity of speaking of this epistle, as it did of the Epistle of St. Jude. Nay, Origen carries his veneration for the Epistle of Jude so far that, in his treatise De Principiis, lib. iii. cap. 2, he quotes an apocryphal book, called the Assumption of Moses, as a work of authority; because a passage from this book had been quoted by St. Jude. In one instance, however, in his commentary on St. Matthew, Origen speaks in less positive terms, for there he says, 'If any one receive the Epistle of St. Jude,' etc. Tertullian, in whose works Lardner could discover no quotation from the Second Epistle of St. Peter, describes the Epistle of St. Jude as the work of an apostle; for in his treatise De cultu faeminarum, chap. 3, he says, 'Hence it is that Enoch is quoted by the Apostle Jude.'
"Clement of Alexandria, in whose works likewise Lardner could find no quotation from the Second Epistle of St. Peter, has three times quoted the Epistle of St. Jude without expressing any doubt whatever. It appears, then, that the three ancient fathers, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and Origen, as far as we may judge from their writings which are now extant, preferred the Epistle of St. Jude to the Second Epistle of St. Peter. However, I think it not impossible that if all the writings of these authors were now extant, passages might be found in them which would turn the scale in favor of the latter; and it may be owing to mere accident that in those parts of their works which have descended to us, more passages in which they speak decidedly of St. Jude are to be found, than such as are favorable to the Second Epistle of St. Peter. For I really cannot comprehend how any impartial man who has to choose between these two epistles, which are very similar to each other, can prefer the former to the latter, or receive the Epistle of St. Jude, the contents of which labor under great difficulties, and at the same time reject, or even consider as dubious, the Second Epistle of St. Peter, the contents of which labor under no such difficulties.
"But it is much more difficult to explain Jde 1:9, in which the Archangel Michael is said to have disputed with the devil about the body of Moses. The history of this dispute, which has the appearance of a Jewish fable, it is not at present very easy to discover; because the book from which it is supposed to have been taken by the author of this epistle is no longer extant; but I will here put together such scattered accounts of it as I have been able to collect.
"Origen found in a Jewish Greek book called the Assumption of Moses, which was extant in his time, this very story related concerning the dispute of the Archangel Michael with the devil about the body of Moses. And from a comparison of the relation in his book with St. Jude's quotation, he was thoroughly persuaded that it was the book from which St. Jude quoted. This he asserts without the least hesitation; and in consequence of this persuasion he himself has quoted the Assumption of Moses as a work of authority, in proof of the temptation of Adam and Eve by the devil. But as he quoted it merely for this purpose, he has given us only an imperfect account of what this book contained, relative to the dispute about the body of Moses. One circumstance, however, he has mentioned, which is not found in the Epistle of St. Jude, viz., that Michael reproached the devil with having possessed the serpent that seduced Eve. In what manner this circumstance is connected with the dispute about the body of Moses, will appear from the following consideration: -
"The Jews imagined the person of Moses was so holy that God could find no reason for permitting him to die; and that nothing but the sin committed by Adam and Eve in paradise, which brought death into the world, was the cause why Moses did not live for ever. The same notions they entertained of some other very holy persons; for instance, of Isaiah, who they say was delivered to the angel of death merely on account of the sins of our first parents, though he himself did not deserve to die. Now, in the dispute between Michael and the devil about Moses, the devil was the accuser, and demanded the death of Moses. Michael therefore replied to him that he himself was the cause of that sin, which alone could occasion the death of Moses. How very little such notions as these agree, either with the Christian theology, or with Moses' own writings, it is unnecessary for me to declare. Besides the account given by Origen, there is a passage in the works of Ecumenius, which likewise contains a part of the story related in the Assumption of Moses, and which explains the reason of the dispute which St. Jude has mentioned concerning Moses' body. According to this passage, Michael was employed in burying Moses; but the devil endeavored to prevent it by saying that he had murdered an Egyptian, and was therefore unworthy an honorable burial. Hence it appears that some modern writers are mistaken, who have imagined that in the ancient narrative the dispute was said to have arisen from an attempt of the devil to reveal to the Jews the burial place of Moses, and to incite them to an idolatrous worship of his body.
"There is still extant a Jewish book, written in Hebrew, and intitled פטירת משה that is, 'The Death of Moses,' which some critics, especially De La Rue, supposed to be the same work as that which Origen saw in Greek. Now if it were this Hebrew book, intitled 'Phetirath Mosheh,' it would throw a great light on our present inquiry; but I have carefully examined it, and can assert that it is a modern work, and that its contents are not the same is those of the Greek book quoted by Origen. Of the Phetirath Mosheh we have two editions, which contain very different texts; the one was printed at Constantinople in 1518, and reprinted at Venice in 1544 and 1605, the other was published from a manuscript by Gilbert Gaulmyn, who added a translation of both texts, with notes."
To show that neither St. Jude, nor any inspired writer, nor indeed any person in his sober senses, could quote or in any way accredit such stuff and nonsense, I shall give the substance of this most ridiculous legend as extracted by Michaelis; for as to the Phetirath Mosheh, I have never seen it.
"Moses requests of God, under various pretences, either that he may not die at all, or at least that he may not die before he comes into Palestine. This request he makes in so froward and petulant a manner as is highly unbecoming, not only a great prophet, but even any man who has expectations of a better life after this. In short, Moses is here represented in the light of a despicable Jew begging for a continuance of life, and devoid both of Christian faith and heathen courage; and it is therefore not improbable that the inventor of this fable made himself the model after which he formed the character of Moses. God argues on the contrary with great patience and forbearance, and replies to what Moses had alleged relative to the merit of his own good works. Farther, it is God who says to Moses that he must die on account of the sin of Adam; to which Moses answers, that he ought to be excepted, because he was superior in merit to Adam, Abraham, Isaac, etc. In the meantime Samael, that is, the angel of death, whom the Jews describe as the chief of the devils rejoices at the approaching death of Moses: this is observed by Michael, who says to him, 'Thou wicked wretch, I grieve, and thou laughest.' Moses, after his request had been repeatedly refused, invokes heaven and earth, and all creatures around him to intercede in his behalf. Joshua attempts to pray for him, but the devil stops Joshua's mouth, and represents to him, really in scriptural style, the impropriety of such a prayer. The elders of the people, and with them all the children of Israel, then offered to intercede for Moses; but their mouths are likewise stopped by a million eight hundred and forty thousand devils, which, on a moderate calculation, make three devils to one man. After this, God commands the angel Gabriel to fetch the soul of Moses; but Gabriel excuses himself, saying, that Moses was too strong for him: Michael receives the same order, and excuses himself in the same manner, or, as other accounts say, under pretense that he had been the instructer of Moses, and therefore could not bear to see him die. But this latter excuse, according to the Phetirath Mosheh, was made by Zinghiel, the third angel who received this command. Samael, that is, the devil, then offers his services; but God asks him how he would take hold of Moses, whether by his mouth, or by his hands, or by his feet, saying, that every part of Moses was too holy for him to touch. The devil, however, insists on bringing the soul of Moses; yet he does not accuse him, for, on the contrary, he prizes him higher than Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob. The devil then approaches towards Moses, to execute this voluntary commission; but as soon as he sees the shining countenance of Moses, he is seized with a violent pain, like that of a woman in labor: Moses, instead of using the oriental salutation, 'Peace be with thee,' says to him, in the words of Isaiah, (for in this work Moses frequently quotes Isaiah and the Psalms), 'There is no peace to the wicked.' The devil replies that he was come, by the order of God, to fetch his soul; but Moses deters him from the attempt by representing his own strength and holiness; and saying, 'Go, thou wicked wretch, I will not give thee my soul,' he affrights the devil in such a manner that he immediately retires. The devil then returns to God, and relates what had passed, and receives an order to go a second time; the devil answers that he would go everywhere God commanded him, even into hell, and into fire, but not to Moses. This remonstrance is, however, of no avail, and he is obliged to go back again; but Moses, who sees him coming with a drawn sword, meets him with his miraculous rod, and gives him such a blow with it that the devil is glad to escape. Lastly, God himself comes; and Moses, having then no farther hopes, requests only that his soul may not be taken out of his body by the devil. This request is granted him; Zinghiel, Gabriel, and Michael then lay him on a bed, and the soul of Moses begins to dispute with God, and objects to its being taken out of a body which was so pure and holy that no fly dared to settle on it; but God kisses Moses, and with that kiss extracts his soul from his body. Upon this God utters a heavy lamentation; and thus the story in the Phetirath ends, without any mention of a dispute about the burial of Moses' body. This last scene, therefore, which was contained in the Greek book seen by Origen, is wanting in the Hebrew. But in both of these works Michael, as well as the devil, expresses the same sentiments in respect to Moses: in both works the same spirit prevails; and the concluding scene, which was contained in the Greek book, is nothing more than a continuation of the same story which is contained in the Hebrew."
Had Jude quoted a work like the above, it would have argued no inspiration, and little common sense; and the man who could have quoted it must have done it with approbation, and in that case his own composition would have been of a similar stamp. But nothing can be more dissimilar than the Epistle of Jude and the Phetirath Mosheh: the former contains nothing but manly sense, expressed in pure, energetic, and often sublime language, and accompanied, most evidently, with the deepest reverence for God; while the latter is despicable in every point of view, even considered as the work of a filthy dreamer, or as the most superannuated of old wives' fables.
"Lastly," says Michaelis, "besides the quotation which St. Jude has made in the 9th verse relative to the dispute between Michael and the devil, he has another quotation, Jde 1:14, Jde 1:15, likewise from an apocryphal book called the 'Prophecies of Enoch;' or, if not from any written book, from oral tradition. Now, should it be granted that Enoch was a prophet, though it is not certain that he was, yet as none of his prophecies are recorded in the Old Testament no one could possibly know what they were. It is manifest, therefore, that the book called the 'Prophecies of Enoch' was a mere Jewish forgery, and that too a very unfortunate one, since in all human probability the use of letters was unknown in the time of Enoch, and consequently he could not have left behind him any written prophecies. It is true that an inspired writer might have known, through the medium of Divine information, what Enoch had prophesied, without having recourse to any written work on this subject. But St. Jude, in the place where he speaks of Enoch's prophecies, does not speak of them as prophecies which had been made known to him by a particular revelation; on the contrary, he speaks of them in such a manner as implies that his readers were already acquainted with them."
From all the evidence before him, Michaelis concludes that the canonical authority of this epistle is extremely dubious; that its author is either unknown, or very uncertain; and he has even doubts that it is a forgery in the name of the Apostle Jude. Others have spoken of it in strains of unqualified commendation and praise, and think that its genuineness is established by the matters contained in it, which in every respect are suitable to the character of an inspired apostle of Christ. What has led to its discredit with many is the hasty conclusion that St. Jude quotes such a work as the Phetirath Mosheh; than which nothing can be more improbable, and perhaps nothing more false.
In almost all ages of the Church it has been assailed and defended; but it is at present generally received over the whole Christian world. It contains some very sublime and nervous passages, from the 10th to the 13th verse inclusive; the description of the false teachers is bold, happy, and energetic; the exhortation in Jde 1:20 and Jde 1:21, is both forcible and affectionate; and the doxology, in Jde 1:24 and Jde 1:25, is well adapted to the subject, and is peculiarly dignified and sublime.
I have done what I could, time and circumstances considered, to present the whole epistle to the reader in the clearest point of view; and now must commend him to God and the word of his grace, which is able to build him up, and give him an inheritance among them that are sanctified by faith in Jesus.
The address and apostolical benediction, Jde 1:1, Jde 1:2. The reasons which induced Jude to write this epistle, to excite the Christians to contend for the true faith, and to beware of false teachers, lest, falling from their steadfastness, they should be destroyed after the example of backsliding Israel, the apostate angels, and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha, Jde 1:3-7. Of the false teachers, Jde 1:8. Of Michael disputing about the body of Moses, Jde 1:9. The false teachers particularly described: they are like brute beasts, going the way of Cain, run after the error of Balaam, and shall perish, as did Korah in his gainsaying, Jde 1:10, Jde 1:11. Are impure, unsteady, fierce, shameless, etc., 12, 13. How Enoch prophesied of such, Jde 1:14, Jde 1:15. They are farther described as murmurers and complainers, Jde 1:16. We should remember the cautions given unto us by the apostles who foretold of these men, Jde 1:17-19. We should build up ourselves on our most holy faith, Jde 1:20, Jde 1:21. How the Church of Christ should treat such, Jde 1:22, Jde 1:23. The apostle's farewell, and his doxology to God, Jde 1:24, Jde 1:25.
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:Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ - Probably Jude the apostle, who was surnamed Thaddeus and Lebbeus, was son to Alpheus, and brother to James the less, Joses, and Simon. See Matthew 10:3, and collate with Luke 6:16; Matthew 13:55.
Brother of James - Supposed to be James the less, bishop of Jerusalem, mentioned here, because he was an eminent person in the Church. See the preface to St. James.
To them that are sanctified by God - Instead of ἡγιασμενοις, to the sanctified, AB, several others, both the Syriac, Erpen's Arabic, Coptic, Sahidic, Armenian, Ethiopic, and Vulgate, with several of the fathers, have ηγαπημενοις, to them that are beloved; and before εν τῳ Θεῳ, in God, some MSS., with the Syriac and Armenian, have εθνεσιν, to the Gentiles, in God the Father: but although the first is only a probable reading, this is much less so. St. Jude writes to all believers everywhere, and not to any particular Church; hence this epistle has been called a general epistle. Sanctified signifies here consecrated to God through faith in Christ.
Preserved in (or by) Jesus Christ - Signifies those who continued unshaken in the Christian faith; and implies also, that none can be preserved in the faith that do not continue in union with Christ, by whose grace alone they can be preserved and called. This should be read consecutively with the other epithets, and should be rather, in a translation, read first than last, to the saints in God the Father, called and preserved by Christ Jesus. Saints is the same as Christians; to become such they were called to believe in Christ by the preaching of the Gospel, and having believed, were preserved by the grace of Christ in the life and practice of piety.
Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.Mercy unto you - For even the best have no merit, and must receive every blessing and grace in the way of mercy.
Peace - With God and your consciences, love both to God and man, be multiplied - be unboundedly increased.
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.When I gave all diligence - This phrase, πασαν σπουδην ποιουμενος, is a Grecism for being exceedingly intent upon a subject; taking it up seriously with determination to bring it to good effect. The meaning of the apostle seems to be this: "Beloved brethren, when I saw it necessary to write to you concerning the common salvation, my mind being deeply affected with the dangers to which the Church is exposed from the false teachers that are gone out into the world, I found it extremely necessary to write and exhort you to hold fast the truth which you had received, and strenuously to contend for that only faith which, by our Lord and his apostles, has been delivered to the Christians."
Some think that St. Jude intimates that he had at first purposed to write to the Church at large, on the nature and design of the Gospel; but seeing the dangers to which the Churches were exposed, because of the false teachers, he changed his mind, and wrote pointedly against those false doctrines, exhorting them strenuously to contend for the faith.
The common salvation - The Christian religion, and the salvation which it brings. This is called common because it equally belongs to Jews and Gentiles; it is the saving grace of God which has appeared to every man, and equally offers to every human being that redemption which is provided for the whole world.
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.For there are certain men crept in unawares - Παρεισεδυσαν· They had got into the Church under specious pretences; and, when in, began to sow their bad seed.
Before of old ordained - Οἱ παλαι προγεγραμμενοι Such as were long ago proscribed, and condemned in the most public manner; this is the import of the word προγραφειν in this place, and there are many examples of this use of it in the Greek writers. See Kypke.
To this condemnation - To a similar punishment to that immediately about to be mentioned.
In the sacred writings all such persons, false doctrines, and impure practices, have been most openly proscribed and condemned; and the apostle immediately produces several examples, viz., the disobedient Israelites, the unfaithful angels, and the impure inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrha. This is most obviously the apostle's meaning, and it is as ridiculous as it is absurd to look into such words for a decree of eternal reprobation, etc., such a doctrine being as far from the apostle's mind as from that of Him in whose name he wrote.
Turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness - Making the grace and mercy of God a covering for crimes; intimating that men might sin safely who believe the Gospel, because in that Gospel grace abounds. But perhaps the goodness of God is here meant, for I cannot see how they could believe the Gospel in any way who denied the Lord Jesus Christ; unless, which is likely, their denial refers to this, that while they acknowledged Jesus as the promised Messiah, they denied him to be the only Lord, Sovereign, and Ruler of the Church and of the world. There are many in the present day who hold the same opinion.
The only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ - Μονον Δεσποτην Θεον και Κυριον ἡμων Ιησουν Χριστον αρυουμενοι. These words may be translated, Denying the only sovereign God, even our Lord Jesus Christ. But Θεον God, is omitted by ABC, sixteen others, with Erpen's Arabic, the Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, and Vulgate, and by many of the fathers. It is very likely that it was originally inserted as a gloss, to ascertain to whom the title of τον μονον Δεσποτην, the only Sovereign, belonged; and thus make two persons where only one seems to be intended. The passage I believe belongs solely to Jesus Christ, and may be read thus: Denying the only sovereign Ruler, even our Lord Jesus Christ. The text is differently arranged in the Complutensian Polyglot, which contains the first edition of the Greek Testament: Και τον μονον Θεον και Δεσποτην, τον Κυριον ἡμων Ιησουν Χριστον αρνουμενοι· Denying the only God and Sovereign, our Lord Jesus Christ. This is a very remarkable position of the words, and doubtless existed in some of the MSS. from which these editors copied. The Simonians, Nicolaitans, and Gnostics, denied God to be the creator of the world; and Simon is said to have proclaimed himself as Father to the Samaritans, as Son to the Jews, and as the Holy Ghost to all other nations. All such most obviously denied both Father, Son, and Spirit.
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.I will therefore put you in remembrance - That is, how such persons were proscribed, and condemned to bear the punishment due to such crimes.
Though ye once knew this - The word ἁπαξ, here translated once, has greatly puzzled many interpreters. It has two meanings in the sacred writings, and indeed in the Greek writers also.
1. It signifies once, one time, as opposed to twice, or several times.
2. Altogether, entirely, perfectly, interpreted by Suidas αντι τον διολου, ὁλοσχερως· and of this meaning he produces a proof from Josephus; This appears to be the sense of the word in Hebrews 6:4 : τους ἁπαξ φωτισθεντας· those who were Fully enlightened. Hebrews 10:2 : ἁπαξ κεκαθαρμενους· Thoroughly cleansed. See also Hebrews 10:3. Psalm 62:11 : ἁπαξ ελαλησεν ὁ Θεος. God spoke Fully, completely, on the subject. St. Jude is to be understood as saying, I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye are Thoroughly instructed in this.
Saved the people - Delivered them from the Egyptian bondage.
Afterward destroyed them - Because they neither believed his word, nor were obedient to his commands. This is the first example of what was mentioned Jde 1:4.
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.The angels which kept not their first estate - Την ἑαυτων αρχην Their own principality. The words may be understood of their having invaded the office or dignity of some others, or of their having by some means forfeited their own. This is spoken of those generally termed the fallen angels; but from what they fell, or from what cause or for what crime, we know not. It is generally thought to have been pride; but this is mere conjecture. One thing is certain; the angels who fell must have been in a state of probation, capable of either standing or falling, as Adam was in paradise. They did not continue faithful, though they knew the law on which they stood; they are therefore produced as the second example.
But left their own habitation - This seems to intimate that they had invaded the office and prerogatives of others, and attempted to seize on their place of residence and felicity.
He hath reserved in everlasting chains - That is, in a state of confinement from which they cannot escape.
Under darkness - Alluding probably to those dungeons or dark cells in prisons where the most flagitious culprits were confined.
The judgment of the great day, - The final judgment, when both angels and men shall receive their eternal doom. See on 2 Peter 2:4 (note). In Sohar Exod., fol. 8, c. 32: "Rabbi Isaac asked: Suppose God should punish any of his heavenly family, how would he act? R. Abba answered: He would send them into the flaming river, take away their dominion, and put others in their place." Some suppose that the saints are to occupy the places from which these angels, by transgression, fell.
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.Even as Sodom and Gomorrha - What their sin and punishment were may be seen in Genesis 19, and the notes there. This is the third example to illustrate what is laid down Jde 1:4.
Are set forth for an example - Both of what God will do to such transgressors, and of the position laid down in Jde 1:4, viz., that God has in the most open and positive manner declared that such and such sinners shall meet with the punishment due to their crimes.
Suffering the vengeance of eternal fire - Subjected to such a punishment as an endless fire can inflict. Some apply this to the utter subversion of these cities, so that by the action of that fire which descended from heaven they were totally and eternally destroyed; for as to their being rebuilt, that is impossible, seeing the very ground on which they stood is burned up, and the whole plain is now the immense lake Asphaltites. See the notes on Genesis 19 (note).
The first sense applies to the inhabitants of those wicked cities; the second, to the cities themselves: in either case the word πυρ αιωνιον signifies an eternally destructive fire; it has no end in the punishment of the wicked Sodomites, etc.; it has no end in the destruction of the cities; they were totally burnt up, and never were and never can be rebuilt. In either of these senses the word αιωνιος, eternal, has its grammatical and proper meaning.
Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.Likewise also these filthy dreamers - He means to say that these false teachers and their followers were as unbelieving and disobedient as the Israelites in the wilderness, as rebellious against the authority of God as the fallen angels, and as impure and unholy as the Sodomites; and that consequently they must expect similar punishment.
Our translators, by rendering ενυπνιαζομενοι filthy dreamers, seem to have understood St. Jude to mean les pollutions nocturnes et voluntaires de ces hommes impurs, qui se livrent sans scrupule a toutes sortes des pensees; et salissant leur imagination pas la vue de toutes sortes d' objets, tombent ensuite dans les corsuptions honteuses et criminelles. See Calmet. In plain English, self-pollution, with all its train of curses and cursed effects on body, soul, and spirit. The idea of our translators seems to be confirmed by the words σαρκα μεν μιαινουσι, they indeed pollute the flesh. See what is said at the conclusion of the thirty-eighth chapter of Genesis.
Despise dominion - Κυριοτητα δε αθετουσι· They set all government at nought - they will come under no restraints; they despise all law, and wish to live as they list.
Speak evil of dignities - Δοξας δε βλασφημουσιν· They blaspheme or speak injuriously of supreme authority. (See 2 Peter 2:10, 2 Peter 2:11.) They treat governors and government with contempt, and calumniate and misrepresent all Divine and civil institutions.
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.Yet Michael the archangel - Of this personage many things are spoken in the Jewish writings "Rabbi Judah Hakkodesh says: Wherever Michael is said to appear, the glory of the Divine Majesty is always to be understood." Shemoth Rabba, sec. ii., fol. 104, 3. So that it seems as if they considered Michael in some sort as we do the Messiah manifested in the flesh.
Let it be observed that the word archangel is never found in the plural number in the sacred writings. There can be properly only one archangel, one chief or head of all the angelic host. Nor is the word devil, as applied to the great enemy of mankind, ever found in the plural; there can be but one monarch of all fallen spirits. Michael is this archangel, and head of all the angelic orders; the devil, great dragon, or Satan, is head of all the diabolic orders. When these two hosts are opposed to each other they are said to act under these two chiefs, as leaders; hence in Revelation 12:7, it is said: Michael and his angels fought against the Dragon and his angels. The word Michael מיכאל, seems to be compounded of מי mi, who, כ ke, like, and אל El, God; he who is like God; hence by this personage, in the Apocalypse, many understand the Lord Jesus.
Disputed about the body of Moses - What this means I cannot tell; or from what source St. Jude drew it, unless from some tradition among his countrymen. There is something very like it in Debarim Rabba, sec. ii., fol. 263, 1: "Samael, that wicked one, the prince of the satans, carefully kept the soul of Moses, saying: When the time comes in which Michael shall lament, I shall have my mouth filled with laughter. Michael said to him: Wretch, I weep, and thou laughest. Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy, because I have fallen; for I shall rise again: when I sit in darkness, the Lord is my light; Micah 7:8. By the words, because I have fallen, we must understand the death of Moses; by the words, I shall rise again, the government of Joshua, etc." See the preface.
Another contention of Michael with Satan is mentioned in Yalcut Rubeni, fol. 43, 3: "At the time in which Isaac was bound there was a contention between Michael and Satan. Michael brought a ram, that Isaac might be liberated; but Satan endeavored to carry off the ram, that Isaac might be slain."
The contention mentioned by Jude is not about the sacrifice of Isaac, nor the soul of Moses, but about the Body of Moses; but why or wherefore we know not. Some think the devil wished to show the Israelites where Moses was buried, knowing that they would then adore his body; and that Michael was sent to resist this discovery.
Durst not bring against him a railing accusation - It was a Jewish maxim, as may be seen in Synopsis Sohar, page 92, note 6: "It is not lawful for man to prefer ignominious reproaches, even against wicked spirits." See Schoettgen.
Dr. Macknight says: "In Daniel 10:13, Daniel 10:21; Daniel 12:1, Michael is spoken of as one of the chief angels who took care of the Israelites as a nation; he may therefore have been the angel of the Lord before whom Joshua the high priest is said, Zechariah 3:1, to have stood, Satan being at his right hand to resist him, namely, in his design of restoring the Jewish Church and state, called by Jude the body of Moses, just as the Christian Church is called by Paul the body of Christ. Zechariah adds, And the Lord, that is, the angel of the Lord, as is plain from Zechariah 3:1, Zechariah 3:2, said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan! even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem, rebuke thee!" This is the most likely interpretation which I have seen; and it will appear the more probable when it is considered that, among the Hebrews, גוף guph, Body, is often used for a thing itself. So, in Romans 7:24, σωμα της ἁμαρτιας, the body of sin, signifies sin itself; so the body of Moses, גוף של משה guph shel Mosheh, may signify Moses himself; or that in which he was particularly concerned, viz., his institutes, religion, etc.
It may be added, that the Jews consider Michael and Samael, one as the friend, the other as the enemy, of Israel. Samael is their accuser, Michael their advocate. "Michael and Samael stand before the Lord; Satan accuses, but Michael shows the merits of Israel. Satan endeavors to speak, but Michael silences him: Hold thy tongue, says he, and let us hear what the Judge determines; for it is written, He will speak peace to his people, and to his saints; Psalm 85:8." Shemoth Rabba, sec. xviii. fol. 117, 3.
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.Speak evil of those things which they know not - They do not understand the origin and utility of civil government; they revile that which ever protects their own persons and their property. This is true in most insurrections and seditions.
But what they know naturally - They are destitute of reflection; their minds are uncultivated; they follow mere natural instinct, and are slaves to their animal propensities.
As brute beasts - Ὡς τα αλογα ζωα· Like the irrational animals; but, in the indulgence of their animal propensities, they corrupt themselves, beyond the example of the brute beasts. A fearful description; and true of many in the present day.
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.They have gone in the way of Cain - They are haters of their brethren, and they that are such are murderers; and by their false doctrine they corrupt and destroy the souls of the people.
The error of Balaam - For the sake of gain they corrupt the word of God and refine away its meaning, and let it down so as to suit the passions of the profligate. This was literally true of the Nicolaitans, who taught most impure doctrines, and followed the most lascivious practices.
Gainsaying of Core - See the account of the rebellion of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram, and their company, in Numbers 22. It appears that these persons opposed the authority of the apostles of our Lord, as Korah and his associates did that of Moses and Aaron; and St. Jude predicts them a similar punishment. In this verse he accuses them of murder, covetousness, and rebellion against the authority of God.
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;Spots in your feasts of charity - It appears that these persons, unholy and impure as they were, still continued to have outward fellowship with the Church! This is strange: but it is very likely that their power and influence in that place had swallowed up, or set aside, the power and authority of the real ministers of Christ; a very common case when worldly, time - serving men get into the Church.
The feasts of charity, the αγαπαι or love feasts, of which the apostle speaks, were in use in the primitive Church till the middle of the fourth century, when, by the council of Laodicea, they were prohibited to be held in the Churches; and, having been abused, fell into disuse. In later days they have been revived, in all the purity and simplicity of the primitive institution, among the Moravians or Unitas Fratrum, and the people called Methodists.
Among the ancients, the richer members of the Church made an occasional general feast, at which all the members attended, and the poor and the rich ate together. The fatherless, the widows, and the strangers were invited to these feasts, and their eating together was a proof of their love to each other; whence such entertainments were called love feasts. The love feasts were at first celebrated before the Lord's Supper; in process of time they appear to have been celebrated after it. But they were never considered as the Lord's Supper, nor any substitute for it. See, for farther information, Suicer, in his Thesaurus, under the word Αγαπη.
Feeding themselves without fear - Eating, not to suffice nature, but to pamper appetite. It seems the provision was abundant, and they ate to gluttony and riot. It was this which brought the love feasts into disrepute in the Church, and was the means of their being at last wholly laid aside. This abuse is never likely to take place among the Methodists, as they only use bread and water; and of this the provision is not sufficient to afford the tenth part of a meal.
Instead of αγαπαις, love feasts, απαταις, deceits, is the reading of the Codex Alexandrinus, and the Codex Ephrem, two MSS. of the highest antiquity; as also of those MSS. collated by Laurentius Valla, and of some of those in the Medicean library. This reading appears to have been introduced in order to avoid the conclusion that some might be led to draw concerning the state of the Church; it must be very corrupt, to have in its communion such corrupt men.
Clouds - without water - The doctrine of God is compared to the rain, Deuteronomy 32:2, and clouds are the instruments by which the rain is distilled upon the earth. In arid or parched countries the very appearance of a cloud is delightful, because it is a token of refreshing showers; but when sudden winds arise, and disperse these clouds, the hope of the husbandman and shepherd is cut off. These false teachers are represented as clouds; they have the form and office of the teachers of righteousness, and from such appearances pure doctrine may be naturally expected: but these are clouds without water - they distil no refreshing showers, because they have none; they are carried away and about by their passions, as those light fleecy clouds are carried by the winds. See the notes on 2 Peter 2:17.
Trees whose fruit withereth - Δενδρα φθινοπωρινα· Galled or diseased trees; for φθινοπωρον is, according to Phavorinus, νοσος φθινουσα οπωρας, a disease (in trees) which causes their fruit to wither; for although there are blossoms, and the fruit shapes or is set, the galls in the trees prevent the proper circulation of the sap, and therefore the fruit never comes to perfection. Hence the apostle immediately adds, without fruit; i.e. the fruit never comes to maturity. This metaphor expresses the same thing as the preceding. They have the appearance of ministers of the Gospel, but they have no fruit.
Twice dead - First, naturally and practically dead in sin, from which they had been revived by the preaching and grace of the Gospel. Secondly, dead by backsliding or apostasy from the true faith, by which they lost the grace they had before received; and now likely to continue in that death, because plucked up from the roots, their roots of faith and love being no longer fixed in Christ Jesus. Perhaps the aorist is taken here for the future: They Shall Be plucked up from the roots - God will exterminate them from the earth.
Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame - The same metaphor as in Isaiah 57:20 : The wicked are like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. These are like the sea in a storm, where the swells are like mountains; the breakers lash the shore, and sound like thunder; and the great deep, stirred up from its very bottom, rolls its muddy, putrid sediment, and deposits it upon the beach. Such were those proud and arrogant boasters, those headstrong, unruly, and ferocious men, who swept into their own vortex the souls of the simple, and left nothing behind them that was not indicative of their folly, their turbulence, and their impurity.
Wandering stars - Αστερες πλανηται· Not what we call planets; for although these differ from what are called the fixed stars, which never change their place, while the planets have their revolution round the sun; yet, properly speaking, there is no irregularity in their motions: for their appearance of advancing, stationary, and retrograde, are only in reference to an observer on the earth, viewing them in different parts of their orbits; for as to themselves, they ever continue a steady course through all their revolutions. But these are uncertain, anomalous meteors, ignes fatui, wills-o'-the-wisp; dancing about in the darkness which themselves have formed, and leading simple souls astray, who have ceased to walk in the light, and have no other guides but those oscillating and devious meteors which, if you run after them, will flee before you, and if you run from them will follow you.
The blackness of darkness - They are such as are going headlong into that outer darkness where there is wailing, and weeping, and gnashing of teeth. The whole of this description appears to have been borrowed from 2 Peter 2, where the reader is requested to see the notes.
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,Enoch also, the seventh from Adam - He was the seventh patriarch, and is distinguished thus from Enoch, son of Cain, who was but the third from Adam; this appears plainly from the genealogy, 1 Chronicles 1:1 : Adams Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalaleel, Jered, Henoch or Enoch, etc. Of the book of Enoch, from which this prophecy is thought to have been taken, much has been said; but as the work is apocryphal, and of no authority, I shall not burden my page with extracts. See the preface.
Perhaps the word προεφητευσε, prophesied, means no more than preached, spoke, made declarations, etc., concerning these things and persons; for doubtless he reproved the ungodliness of his own times. It is certain that a book of Enoch was known in the earliest ages of the primitive Church, and is quoted by Origen and Tertullian; and is mentioned by St. Jerome in the Apostolical Constitutions, by Nicephorus, Athanasius, and probably by St. Augustine. See Suicer's Thesaurus, vol. i., col. 1131. Such a work is still extant among the Abyssinians.
Ten thousand of his saints - This seems to be taken from Daniel 7:10.
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.To execute judgment - This was originally spoken to the antediluvians; and the coming of the Lord to destroy that world was the thing spoken of in this prophecy or declaration. But as God had threatened this, it required no direct inspiration to foretell it. To execute judgment, etc. This is a very strange verse as to its composition, and is loaded with various readings; the MSS. and versions being at little agreement among themselves on its phraseology. Αυτων, which we translate among them, is omitted by the best MSS. and versions, and is, in all probability, spurious. Many also omit ασεβειας after ργων, ungodly deeds. Many insert λογων, words or speeches, after σκληρων, hard; and this word our translators have supplied. And instead of ἁμαρτωλοι, sinners, the Sahidic has ανθρωποι, men. There are others of less note; but the frequent recurrence of All and Ungodly makes the construction of the sentence very harsh.
Dr. Macknight supposes that Enoch's prophecy was common among the Jews; for the first words in Hebrew are Maranatha, and these were used by them in that form of excommunication or cursing which they pronounced against irreclaimable offenders. The doctor forgets himself here; the words Maranatha are not Hebrew, but Syriac. In Hebrew the form of execration begins with ארור אתה arur attah, "cursed art thou;" or מחרם אתה mochoram attah: but the Syriac maran atha, is literally, our Lord is coming; see on 1 Corinthians 16:22 (note); but here, in the Syriac, the words are atha moria, "the Lord cometh." So it is doubtful whether this fancied analogy exists.
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.These are murmurers - Grudging and grumbling at all men, and at all things; complainers, μεμψιμοιροι, complainers of their fate or destiny - finding fault with God and all his providential dispensations, making and governing worlds in their own way; persons whom neither God nor man can please.
Walking after their own lusts - Taking their wild, disorderly, and impure passions for the rule of their conduct, and not the writings of the prophets and apostles.
Great swelling words - Ὑπερογκα. See the explanation of this term in 2 Peter 2:18.
Having men's persons in admiration - Time-servers and flatterers; persons who pretend to be astonished at the greatness, goodness, sagacity, learning, wisdom; etc., of rich and great men, hoping thereby to acquire money, influence, power, friends, and the like.
Because of advantage - Ωφελειας χαριν· For the sake of lucre. All the flatterers of the rich are of this kind; and especially those who profess to be ministers of the Gospel, and who, for the sake of a more advantageous settlement or living, will soothe the rich even in their sins. With such persons a rich man is every thing; and if he have but a grain of grace, his piety is extolled to the skies! I have known several ministers of this character, and wish them all to read the sixteenth verse of Jude.
But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;Remember - the words - Instead of following those teachers and their corrupt doctrine, remember what Christ and his apostles have said; for they foretold the coming of such false teachers and impostors.
How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.Mockers in the last time - See the notes on 1 Timothy 4:1; 2 Timothy 3:1 (note), etc.; and particularly 2 Peter 3:2 , 2 Peter 3:3 (note), etc., to which Jude seems to refer.
The last time. - The conclusion of the Jewish polity.
These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.Who separate themselves - From the true Church, which they leave from an affectation of superior wisdom.
Sensual - Ψυχικοι· Animal - living as brute beasts, guided simply by their own lusts and passions, their Bible being the manifold devices and covetousness of their own hearts; for they have not the Spirit - they are not spiritually minded; and have no Holy Ghost, no inspiration from God.
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,Building up yourselves - Having the most holy faith - the Gospel of our Lord Jesus, and the writings of his apostles, for your foundation; founding all your expectations on these, and seeking from the Christ who is their sum and substance; all the grace and glory ye need.
Praying in the Holy Ghost - Holding fast the Divine influence which ye have received, and under that influence making prayer and supplication to God. The prayer that is not sent up through the influence of the Holy Ghost is never likely to reach heaven.
Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.Keep yourselves in the love of God - By building up yourselves on your most holy faith, and praying in the Holy Ghost; for without this we shall soon lose the love of God.
Looking for the mercy of our Lord - For although they were to build themselves up, and to pray in the Holy Ghost, and keep themselves in the love of God, yet this building, praying, and keeping, cannot merit heaven; for, after all their diligence, earnestness, self-denial, watching, obedience, etc., they must look for the Mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ, to bring them to Eternal Life.
And of some have compassion, making a difference:And of some have compassion, making a difference - The general meaning of this exhortation is supposed to be, "Ye are not to deal alike with all those who have been seduced by false teachers; ye are to make a difference between those who have been led away by weakness and imprudence, and those who, in the pride and arrogance of their hearts, and their unwillingness to submit to wholesome discipline, have separated themselves from the Church, and become its inveterate enemies."
Instead of Και οὑς μεν ελεειτε διακρινομενοι, and of some have compassion, making a difference, many MSS., versions, and fathers have και οὑς μεν ελεγχετε διακρινομενους, and some rebuke, after having judged them; or, rebuke those that differ; or, some that are wavering convince; or whatever else the reader pleases: for this and the following verse are all confusion, both in the MSS. and versions; and it is extremely difficult to know what was the original text. Our own is as likely as any.
And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.And others save with fear - "Some of them snatch from the fire: but when they repent, have mercy upon them in fear." - Syriac. "And some of them rebuke for their sins; and on others have mercy when they are convicted; and others save from the fire and deliver them." - Erpen's Arabic. Mr. Wesley's note has probably hit the sense. "Meantime watch over others as well as yourselves; and give them such help as their various needs require. For instance,
1. Some that are wavering in judgment, staggered by others' or by their own evil reasoning, endeavor more deeply to convince of the truth as it is in Jesus.
2. Some snatch with a swift and strong hand out of the fire of sin and temptation.
3. On others show compassion, in a milder and gentler way; though still with a jealous fear, lest you yourselves be infected with the disease you endeavor to cure. See therefore that, while ye love the sinners, ye retain the utmost abhorrence of their sins, and of any, the least degree of or approach to them."
Having even the garment spotted by the flesh - Fleeing from all appearance of evil. Dictum sumptum, ut apparet, a mulieribus sanguine menstruo pollutis, quarum vestes etiam pollutae censebantur: or there may be an allusion to a case of leprosy, for that infected the garments of the afflicted person, and these garments were capable of conveying the contagion to others.
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,Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling - Who alone can preserve you from the contagion of sin, and preserve you from falling into any kind of error that might be prejudicial to the interests of your souls; and thus to present you faultless, or, as many others read, ασπιλους, without spot, alluding to the spotted garment mentioned above.
Before the presence of his glory - Where nothing can stand that does not resemble himself, with exceeding great joy, in finding yourselves eternally out of the reach of the possibility of falling, and for having now arrived at an eternity of happiness.
To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.To the only wise God - Who alone can teach, who alone has declared the truth; that truth in which ye now stand. See on Romans 16:27 (note).
Our Savior - Who has by his blood washed us from our sins, and made us kings and priests unto God the Father.
Be glory - Be ascribed all light, excellence, and splendor.
Majesty - All power, authority, and pre-eminence.
Dominion - All rule and government in the world and in the Church, in earth and in heaven.
And power - All energy and operation to every thing that is wise, great, good, holy, and excellent.
Both now - In the present state of life and things.
And ever - Εις παντας τους αιωνας· To the end of all states, places, dispensations, and worlds; and to a state which knows no termination, being that Eternity in which this glory, majesty, dominion, and power ineffably and incomprehensibly dwell.
Amen - So let it be, so ought it to be, and so it shall be.
After to the only wise God our Savior, many excellent MSS. versions, etc., add δια Ιησου Χριστου του Κυριου ἡμων, by Jesus Christ our Lord; and after dominion and power they add προ παντος του αιωνος, before all time; and both these readings Griesbach has received into the text. The text, therefore, may be read thus: To the only wise God our Savior, by Christ Jesus our Lord, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, before all time; and now, and through all futurity. Amen. Let the whole creation join in one chorus, issuing in one eternal Amen!
Subscriptions to this epistle in the Versions: -
The Epistle of Jude the apostle, whose intercession be ever with us, Amen. The end. - Syriac.
The Epistle of Jude, the brother of James is finished: and glory be to God for ever and ever, Amen. - Aethiopic.
Nothing in the Vulgate.
Nothing in the Arabic.
"This epistle was written a.d. 64, by the Apostle Jude, the brother of James; who is also called Lebbeus and Thaddeus; and who preached (the Gospel) to the Armenians and to the Persians." - This is found at the end of the Armenian Bible, printed in 1698.
The Epistle of Jude the son of Joseph, and brother of James, is ended - A MS. copy of the Syriac.
The end of the catholic Epistle of St. Jude. - Complutensian.
The Epistle of Jude the apostle is ended. - Ibid. Latin text.
In the Manuscripts: -
Jude. - Codex Vaticanus, B.
The Epistle of Jude. - Codex Alexandrinus.
The catholic Epistle of Jude. - Codex Ephrem.
The Epistle of the holy Apostle Jude. - Codex G, in Griesbach.
Of how little authority such subscriptions are, we have already had occasion to observe in various cases. Very few of them are ancient; and none of them coeval with the works to which they are appended. They are, in general, the opinions of the scribes who wrote the copies; or of the Churches for whose use they were written. No stress therefore should be laid on them, as if proceeding from Divine authority.
With the Epistle of Jude end all the apostolical epistles, and with it the canon of the New Testament, as to gospels and epistles; for the Apocalypse is a work sui generis, and can rank with neither. It is in general a collection of symbolic prophecies, which do not appear to be yet fully understood by the Christian world, and which can only be known when they are fulfilled.
Finished for a new impression, January 4th, 1832. - A. C.