Epistle of Jude (Translated)

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Jude, possibly a half-brother of Jesus,[1] wrote this General Epistle for the entire Christian community.

Only one chapter long, the Epistle of Jude warns against false beliefs and heretical teachers. Christians must be vigilant against Satan infiltrating God's Church. Interestingly, this book describes two events from the times of the Old Testament that are not recorded in the Old Testament (1:9 and 14-15).

Text

Verse King James Version Proposed Conservative Translation Analysis
1 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: (From:) Jude, the slave of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To: all those who are beloved by God the Father, and held in Jesus Christ, and called Christians: The better manuscripts say "beloved," not "sanctified" (set apart).
2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. May mercy, and peace, and love be spread to you. Modern Phrasing
3 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. Beloved, when I wrote to you with all haste about our common salvation, I needed to write to you, to exhort you to sincerely maintain the faith as it was originally delivered to the saints. Modern phrasing, clarification. The better manuscripts say "our" salvation.
4 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, who have crept in unnoticed, who have already been written up for condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into sensuality, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. Clarification
5 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. So I will remind you of what you already know, of how the Lord, once He saved the people out of the land of Egypt, then destroyed those who did not believe in Him. Modern phrasing
6 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. And all those former Messengers of God who did not remain in their proper place, but left it, He shackled forever in darkness until Judgment Day. This is evidence that the "sons of God" mentioned in Genesis 6:1 were in fact fallen angels.
7 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, Furthermore, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them whose people also gave themselves over to sensuality, and homosexuality and bestiality, were made examples of, and suffered the vengeance of eternal fire. "Perversions" refers here not only to homosexuality but also to bestiality. The common definition of the modern word "sodomy" mentions both practices.
8 Likewise also these [filthy] dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. And despite all that, these dreamers on the one hand defile the flesh, and on the other hand treat powerful spirit beings as if they were nothing, and insult heavenly beings. The Greek word μεντοι means "nevertheless." Jude is emphasizing that these sneak-in artists ought to know better than to do what they're doing. Worse yet, the word for "insult" is actually "blaspheme."
9 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. Even Michael, the Chief Messenger of God, when arguing with the Devil in a dispute over the body of Moses, did not accuse the Devil himself, but instead said, "The Lord rebukes you."
10 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. But on the one hand these people insult things that they do not understand, and on the other hand with what they do understand, in their wild-animal nature, they destroy themselves.
11 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 shall perish! For they have followed the example of Cain, greedily imitated the error of Balaam, and self-destructed the way Korah the Mutineer did. "Gainsay" means to contradict or oppose. The actual Greek word is αντιλογια, which means a rebellion or a mutiny.
12 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; These people are threats to you in your love-feasts, when they dine with you without reverence, feeding themselves. They are like rainless clouds carried around by the winds; trees with withered fruit, dead twice over and uprooted,
13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. raging sea waves foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom the gloom of darkness is forever reserved.
14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, Even Enoch, seventh in line of descent from Adam, prophesied about people like this. He said, "Look! The Lord is coming with huge numbers of His holy ones, A "myriad" (Greek μυριαδος) literally means a group of ten thousand. It was the largest large-number concept known to the Greeks. Its use here is a loose statement of "very large numbers" and should not be taken to mean "groups of ten thousand."
15 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 put everyone on trial, and to convict every living person among them of their ungodly works that they did in an ungodly manner, and of all their harsh speeches that ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."
16 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 people who like to grumble and blame others and walk after their own lusts. They speak boastful words to shock people for their own advantage. The Greek phrase means "an amazing show." In fact, they are the Howard Sterns of their day.
17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; But you, beloved, remember the words that were spoken before by the Apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.
18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. They told you, didn't they, that "There will be mockers in the last times, who would walk after their own ungodly lusts.
19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. These are the divisive and non-spiritual ones, taking no guidance from the Divine Guide."
20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, But you, beloved, while you're building yourselves up on your most holy faith, and praying for guidance from the Divine Guide,
21 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, and look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that will carry you into eternal life. The aorist imperative form commands its object to do a thing and make it sure once and for all.
22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: Be merciful with some people in a discerning manner.
23 And others save with fear, pulling [them] out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Save other people as if you're snatching them out of the fire. And be merciful with still others with caution, and don't even touch the cloak that is spotted by the flesh.
24 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 let Him Who can keep you from falling, and can present you faultless before the presence of His glory with great joy,
25 To the only wise God our Saviour, [be] glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. Our only God and Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, take all glory, majesty, power and authority, now and forever. Amen. The word "wise" probably doesn't belong here.

Commentary

Jude writes about a phenomenon as old as the church itself and still as much a problem today as it was then: people coming into the church, not interested in learning to love God and appreciate the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made, but interested only in creating divisions and/or putting on shocking displays of either arrogance or "know-it-all-ism" for their own personal advantage. Virtually any leader of any organization or company will have to deal with someone like that during his career: someone interested only in grumbling, complaining, blaming other people for his own shortcomings, not willing to "get with the program," and not having any good ideas for a genuine contribution to the mission of the organization involved.

In this case, Jude describes an additional problem. The people about whom he wants to warn the church, are willing to play with forces that could destroy them in an instant. Jude narrates three incidents that demonstrate the limits of Divine Patience and the consequences of the exhaustion of that Patience. They are:

  1. The punishment of certain angels who had improper relations with certain human women, in the days before the Great Flood, and in the process produced a class of being, the Nephilim, that God needed to destroy,
  2. The punishment of Sodom and Gomorrah for the immoral practices in which nearly all their residents regularly indulged, and
  3. The destruction of great numbers of Israelites after the Golden Calf incident and the Korah Mutiny, among others, and perhaps also God's decision to keep the people wandering in the wilderness until an entire generation had died, after only Joshua and Caleb had expressed confidence that an invasion of Canaan could succeed.

How, in the face of all that, anyone could be so foolish as to "blow off" demons (whose activities were very real and very common in Jude's day) and to say insulting things about God and His Messengers, Jude finds beyond his comprehension. Jude also reminds his readers that even Michael, the ranking Messenger of God, didn't try to challenge Satan with his own strength, in order to show that even the most powerful angel apart from God Himself was smarter than that. One must remember in this context that Satan was and is personally even more powerful than Michael, because originally Satan, named Lucifer at the time, outranked Michael and held the position of Chief Messenger.

In short, the people who insult God and regard demons as if they are nothing "don't know what they're playing with," or Whom, and Jude predicts that they will receive a very expensive lesson.

But in the meantime, they pose a threat to the church on account of the divisions that they inevitably cause. Jude reminds them of that, and then uses a number of metaphors to show how non-contributory such people are: clouds that produce no rainfall, trees that produce useless fruit, stormy waves on the Great Sea (the Mediterranean Sea), and "wandering stars," probably an ancient conception of a comet.

Jude reminds his readers that the Apostles (including, most notably, Paul of Tarsus) have warned the church about such people already, and even Enoch gave similar warning. Enoch's warning does not appear in the Old Testament but appears instead in the Book of Enoch, one of the few extrabiblical sources for the story of the Great Flood.

Finally Jude gives instructions about dealing with people, with three different methods (not two as the KJV implies).

References

  1. See Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3.
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