The Letter of St. Jude

This letter is attributed to “Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and brother of James” (Jude 1). Since he is not identified as an apostle, the author is believed to be the Jude named in the gospels among the relatives of Jesus (Mt 13:55; Mk 6:3), and not the Jude or Judas listed among the twelve apostles.  The James who is named as his brother is the one to whom the Letter of James is attributed. Nothing else is known of this Jude.

The letter is addressed  to all Christians to warn against false teachers.  The errors that Jude addresses seem to reflect an early form of gnosticism.  There is so much similarity between Jude and 2 Peter, especially Jude 4–16 and 2 Pt 2:1–18, that there must be a literary relationship between them. Since there is no evidence for the view that both authors borrowed from the same source, it is usually supposed that one of them borrowed from the other. Most scholars believe that Jude is the earlier of the two, principally because he quotes two apocryphal Jewish works, the Assumption of Moses (Jude 9) and the Book of Enoch (Jude 14–15) as part of his structured argument, whereas 2 Peter omits both references. Since there was controversy in the early church in regards to citing noncanonical literature, it is more probable that a later writer would omit such references rather than add them.

Many interpreters today consider Jude a pseudonymous work dating from the end of the first century or even later. In support of this view they adduce the following arguments: (a) the apostles are referred to as belonging to an age that has receded into the past (Jude 17–18); (b) faith is understood as a body of doctrine handed down by a process of tradition (Jude 3); (c) the author’s competent Greek style shows that he must have had a Hellenistic cultural formation; (d) the gnostic character of the errors described suggests early second century.

Excerpts from Jude:

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The Letter of St. Jude:

Chapter 1

Address and Greeting.

1 Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and brother of James, to those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept safe for Jesus Christ:
2 may mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.

Occasion for Writing.

3 Beloved, although I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I now feel a need to write to encourage you to contend for the faith that was once for all handed down to the holy ones.

4 For there have been some intruders, who long ago were designated for this condemnation, godless persons, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and who deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

The False Teachers.

5 I wish to remind you, although you know all things, that [the] Lord who once saved a people from the land of Egypt later destroyed those who did not believe.
6 The angels too, who did not keep to their own domain but deserted their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains, in gloom, for the judgment of the great day.
7 Likewise, Sodom, Gomorrah, and the surrounding towns, which, in the same manner as they, indulged in sexual promiscuity and practiced unnatural vice, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.
8 Similarly, these dreamers nevertheless also defile the flesh, scorn lordship, and revile glorious beings.
9 Yet the archangel Michael, when he argued with the devil in a dispute over the body of Moses, did not venture to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him but said, “May the Lord rebuke you!”
10 But these people revile what they do not understand and are destroyed by what they know by nature like irrational animals.
11 Woe to them!  They followed the way of Cain, abandoned themselves to Balaam’s error for the sake of gain, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
12 These are blemishes on your love feasts, as they carouse fearlessly and look after themselves. They are waterless clouds blown about by winds, fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead and uprooted.
13 They are like wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shameless deeds, wandering stars for whom the gloom of darkness has been reserved forever.
14 Enoch, of the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied also about them when he said, “Behold, the Lord has come with his countless holy ones
15 to execute judgment on all and to convict everyone for all the godless deeds that they committed and for all the harsh words godless sinners have uttered against him.”
16 These people are complainers, disgruntled ones who live by their desires; their mouths utter bombast as they fawn over people to gain advantage.


17 But you, beloved, remember the words spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,
18 for they told you, “In [the] last time there will be scoffers who will live according to their own godless desires.”
19 These are the ones who cause divisions; they live on the natural plane, devoid of the Spirit.
20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up in your most holy faith; pray in the holy Spirit.
21 Keep yourselves in the love of God and wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
22 On those who waver, have mercy;
23 save others by snatching them out of the fire; on others have mercy with fear, abhorring even the outer garment stained by the flesh.


24 To the one who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you unblemished and exultant, in the presence of his glory,
25 to the only God, our savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord be glory, majesty, power, and authority from ages past, now, and for ages to come. Amen.
  • [5] For this first example of divine punishment on those who had been saved but did not then keep faith, see Nm 14:28–29. Some manuscripts have the word “once” (hapax as at Jude 3) after “you know”; some commentators have suggested that it means “knowing one thing” or “you know all things once for all.”

  • [6] This second example draws on Gn 6:1–4 as elaborated in the apocryphal Book of Enoch (cf. Jude 14): heavenly beings came to earth and had sexual intercourse with women. God punished them by casting them out of heaven into darkness and bondage.

  • [7Practiced unnatural vice: literally, “went after alien flesh.” This example derives from Gn 19:125, especially 411, when the townsmen of Sodom violated both hospitality and morality by demanding that Lot’s two visitors (really messengers of Yahweh) be handed over to them so that they could abuse them sexually. Unnatural vice: this refers to the desire for intimacies by human beings with angels (the reverse of the example in Jude 6). Sodom (whence “sodomy”) and Gomorrah became proverbial as object lessons for God’s punishment on sin (Is 1:9Jer 50:40Am 4:11Mt 10:152 Pt 2:6).

  • [9The archangel Michael…judgment: a reference to an incident in the apocryphal Assumption of Moses. Dt 34:6 had said of Moses, literally in Greek, “they buried him”. The later account tells how Michael, who was sent to bury him, was challenged by the devil’s interest in the body. Our author draws out the point that if an archangel refrained from reviling even the devil, how wrong it is for mere human beings to revile glorious beings (angels).

  • [11Cain…Balaam…Korah: examples of rebellious men and of the punishment their conduct incurred; cf. Gn 4:816Nm 16:13531:16. See note on 2 Pt 2:15.

  • [1415] Cited from the apocryphal Book of Enoch 1:9.