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Introduction to the Epistle of Jude

The author of this epistle introduces himself as “Jude the brother of James.” Among the apostles there was a “Judas (Jude) James,” the word son or brother being unexpressed, and some have concluded that the “Judas, not Iscariot,” of the twelve is the writer of this letter. It is more likely, however, that he was the brother of the James of Jerusalem, who became so prominent in the history of the Palestine church, and whom Paul speaks of as a “pillar.” In the last fifteen years before the overthrow of Jerusalem he became the most influential personage among the Jewish Christians, and it was only natural that Jude, if his brother, should refer to that relationship in order to secure a more favorable hearing. That James was “the Lord's brother” (Ga. 1:19), but among the brethren of the Lord there was a Jude also, whom we have every reason to believe to be the writer of this epistle. For a fuller discussion of the question, see the Introduction to the Epistle of James. There reasons will be found for the conclusion that James was not an apostle, and it would follow also that Jude was not of the twelve. Since the authors of the second and third gospels and of Acts were not apostles, it need not be thought strange that two of the epistles were by other holy men.

Another question of some interest arises from a comparison of Jude with Second Peter. The reader will find that Jude 3–18 is almost identical with 2 Peter 1:5 and 2:1–18. One or the other writer certainly had before him the work of the other. Critics are divided concerning which was the earlier writer, and reasons can be given for assigning the priority to each. It seems to me probable that the “Speaker's Commentary” is right in deciding in favor of Peter, and that Jude was written at a date not much later. It is probable that he found a part of Peter's epistle expressed his ideas so well that he modified it somewhat and inserted it in his letter. It is more likely that he would thus honor an apostolic letter of the renowned Peter than that Peter would borrow from him. On this hypothesis this epistle was written between a.d. 65 and 70, or shortly before the siege of Jerusalem. We have no data for determining where it is written, but there seems to be no doubt that, like the epistles of Peter and of James, it was primarily addressed to Jewish Christians. It contains a salutation with reasons for writing (verse 4); then three examples of the punitive justice of God; following this is a particular account of the wicked ways of certain false teachers against which he would warn them; after this comes a concluding portion in which disciples are warned and exhorted, and the whole closes with one of the sublimest doxologies of the Bible. 401

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