Jude: Disagreeing to Agree

Falling in line with other epistles attributed to “the Pillars,” (Galatians 2:9) Jude, literally, Judas (Ἰούδας) is included in the canon as part of a larger narrative about Paul’s conflict with Peter and James. The obvious implications of the name Judas, the “brother of James” (1:1) and the adaptation of Jude’s phraseology by the letters of Peter 1 underscore its placement with Paul’s opponents. Written in the same vein as the letters of Peter and James, Jude is presented as a corrective for those who would twist Pauline liberty into an excuse for lawless behavior. Far from contradicting Paul’s teaching, Jude accentuates his message, warning of dire consequences for “ungodly persons” who rebel against the authority of the written word.

Emphasizing the “written” gospel’s dominion twice in the same verse (1:3) Jude stresses his “effort” and the “necessity” of “writing” (γράφειν/γράψαι) the faith “once for all handed down to the saints.”  Even Michael the archangel “did not dare” speak on God’s behalf, deferring instead to the coming judgement. (1:9; Galatians 1:8) Echoing a typical Pauline formula (Ex. Galatians 1:7) he goes on to explain that “certain persons” who “have crept in unnoticed” (1:4) are undermining this written teaching by twisting the “grace of God into licentiousness.”  In effect, Jude amplifies Paul’s corrective from 1 Corinthians: Freedom in Christ, like freedom from bondage in Egypt (1:5) is not “freedom” in a general sense.  In Exodus, the people are set free for the express purpose of serving God. (Exodus 8:1) This point is consolidated in Jude’s reference to the “rebellion of Korah” (1:11; Numbers 16) which resulted in the destruction of Korah, Dathan and Abiram and their entire households. (Numbers 16:31) The same point carries over in each biblical example cited.

Finally, Jude explains that the ungodly are easily recognized in the objective of their speech. Circumventing the inconvenient truth of the gospel, which undermines both teacher and student, the ungodly “speak arrogantly,” that is, on the authority of human wisdom, status, or affiliation, “flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.” (1:15) Since a human word is always spoken in selfishness, it is easily discerned from the gospel, which does not seek to please human beings. (Galatians 1:10) “But you,” Jude explains, “ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1:17) It is this teaching, consigned to the written gospel, which  is able to keep its adherents “from stumbling.” (1:24)  Not to any human beings, Jude warns, but to God alone be “dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever.” (1:25)

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  1. Tarazi, Paul N., “Volume 65: Jude, Orthodox Audio Bible Commentary,” OCABS Press, 2004

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