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Course Hero, "New Testament Study Guide," April 27, 2018, accessed July 21, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/New-Testament/.

New Testament | Jude | Summary

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Summary

Jude writes to encourage and warn the community of Christ-believers.

  • Some "intruders" have infiltrated the community, and Jude denounces them for denying Christ (Jude 4).
  • Jude reminds the people that God has consistently punished the people and groups who turned away from God.
  • Examples of disobedience include the Israelites themselves, as in the instances of Cain and Korah, and rebellious angelic beings.
  • The author claims that the people who disturb the Christ-believing community have fallen into the same kind of error as those who rebelled against God, and he insists they will face the same fate.
  • Applying a series of nature metaphors to the rebellious figures, the author calls them "blemishes," "waterless clouds," "autumn trees without fruit," and "wandering stars" (Jude 12–13).
  • Jude reminds the community about prophetic announcements that the last days would involve many encounters with worldly people.
  • He instructs them to "have mercy on some who are wavering," in the hope that they might preserve such people from final judgment (Jude 22).

Analysis

The letter illuminates the close connection many early Christ-believers had to Jewish communities, texts, and teachings. Jude emphasizes divine justice and the promise of an eschatological (end-times) judgment when God's justice will catch up with those who have committed unrighteous acts.

He even refers to the punishment of angelic beings, an idea he draws from a text known as 1 Enoch, which was found among the collection of Jewish texts called the Dead Sea Scrolls. The Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered in caves near Qumran in the mid-20th century. This book, missing from most churches' canons (lists of authoritative books), was probably composed and revised over several hundred years, in the 4th to 1st centuries BCE. It claims to be by the biblical figure Enoch, and the first portion that describes the fallen, rebellious angels also tells about Enoch's journey through the regions of heaven. Jude's familiarity with the noncanonical story suggests that he was deeply interested in the idea of a future divine judgment. By grouping the opponents of his contemporary Christ-believing community with historical rebels and lawless figures, Jude gives a biblical and prophetic justification for the Christ-believers to completely reject them.

Additionally, the letter demonstrates that metaphors drawn from the everyday world were of crucial importance for early Christian writers in their attempts to communicate theological teaching in relatable terms. Jude specifically compares the false teachers to natural phenomena, effectively conveying the idea that these teachers are not capable of contributing anything positive to the Christ-believers.

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