- Introduction (1-4)
- Warning against false teachers (5-16)
- Exhortation to faithfulness (17-23)
- Benediction (24, 25)
Authorship, date and background
Jude was the brother of James (Jude 1), who was the moderator of the Jerusalem church. In Mark 6:3 both of them are called the brothers of Jesus. Jude like James, came to know Jesus the Christ as Savior subsequent to the resurrection. He was not an important figure in the early church. His letter in its style, vocabulary and terseness is similar to the one written by his brother James. He was not listed among the apostles. Nothing in the letter indicates specifically for whom it was intended. It was probably composed outside of Palestine and was intended for the Jews of Diaspora (that is, the Jews who had been dispersed) who had come to the knowledge of Jesus Christ and were associated with the church). Jude's illustrations from the Old Testament involving obscure figures and his use of extrabiblical quotations suggest that his readers were familiar with these literary sources commonly known as Jews. The heresy Jude was combating was somehow connected to Gnosticism, based on the opinion that the grace of god allowed for fleshly indulgence since body and spirit were regarded as separate and unrelated. This allowed them to indulge with abandon in all kinds of licentious conduct and other evils.
Characteristics and content
Jude articulates the foundational truths of the Christian faith as though they are well established and unchanging. He addresses his readers as "beloved," and has for his purpose the need to urge them to "contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints" (3). In doing so, he presents them with the consequences which fall on those who depart from the faith. First he speaks about Israel which had been saved out of Egypt, and when they distrusted God he destroyed them (5). He recalls God awful judgement on the fallen angels who have been chained up in prisons, waiting for the judgement day (6). As if this were not enough, he cites the judgement of God against Sodom and Gomorrah which were destroyed by fire and thus continue to be a warning to us (70. These are sobering illustrations and hard words.
Jude also uses illustrations of persons who experienced the wrath of God: Cain, Balaam, and Korah (11). He quotes with approval from the noncanonical book of Enoch about the coming of the Lord with his holy ones to render judgement and mete out punishment to the wicked; he also quotes from the Assumption of Moses about the dispute between Michael and Satan over the body of Moses. They were undoubtedly books familiar to his readers. He warns his readers to be careful and assures them that God "is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy" (24).