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Epistle,—the reference, in this case, being probably to his Lord's injunction: “when once thou hast turned again, stablish thy brethren." i
2. The Readers. This epistle bears to be addressed to the same readers as the First.2
3. Date and Place of Composition. We may regard it as certain that it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem. Otherwise such an impressive instance of divine judgment could scarcely have been left unnoticed in alluding to the retributive justice of God.3
At the same time the errors and dangers described in this epistle, which bear a strong resemblance, in some respects, to those referred to in the Pastoral Epistles, prove that it could not have been written much sooner than 70 A.D.4 The allusion to Paul's epistles as known to his readers 5 leads to the same conclusion, as does also the frequency of the expression “put in remem
1 Luke xxii. 32 (otproov). cf. 2 Peter i. 12:
“Wherefore I shall be ready always to put you in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and are established in the truth which is with you"; iii. 16, 17: “... wherein are some things hard to be understood, which the ignorant and unstedfast wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. ... beware lest, being carried away with the error of the wicked, ye fall from your own stedfast
“This is now, beloved, the second epistle that I write unto you”; cf. i. 16, which seems to imply that the writer had himself preached to them; and iii. 15, which assumes an acquaintance with Paul's Epistles.
3 It follows from this that, if the First Epistle was not written till after 70 A.D., this epistle must be a forgery.
4 Cf. i. 16, 1 Tim. i. 4, iv. 7; ii. 3, 1 Tim. vi. 5. Tit. i. 11; ii. 10, 2 Tim.
according to the wisdom given to him,
5 iii. 15, 16: “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation ; even as our beloved brother Paul also,
brance” and kindred words, which indicate an advanced period in the apostolic age, as well as in the life of Peter -assuming that he was the writer.1
Like the First Epistle, this was probably written from Rome; but the use of the apostle's Hebrew name of Symeon, in the opening verse (R.V. margin), as well as the connection of this epistle with that of Jude, would seem to indicate a Palestinian influence of some sort, possibly in the person of Peter's amanuensis or secretary. (Cf. p. 245, note 1.)
4. Character and Contents. This epistle, unlike the First, is full of denunciation and warning. It was designed to put its readers on their guard against false teachers, who were “enticing unstedfast souls." "promising them liberty, while they themselves are bondservants of corruption."2 In opposition to their immoral doctrines it inculcates a steady and persevering endeavour after holiness as the only way to advance in true knowledge and secure an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. In particular, the writer seeks to confute the arguments and counteract the influence of certain scoffers who made light of the Second Coming, as if it were a vain delusion, and appealed to the constancy of Nature as a warrant for their unbelief. The delay of the divine judgment the writer attributes to the fact that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day,” alleging the delay to be a proof of God's mercy and long-suffering. The destruction of the world in the days of Noah is cited as an act of divine judgment analogous to that which is to take place at the end of the world, when the destroying element, however, shall be not water but fire. From the dread catastrophe there shall arise “new heavens and a new
1 i. 12, 13, 15; iii. 1, 2.
are referred to in the above passage, as if they were on a level with the other scriptures” (τας λοιπάς γραφάς), forms one of the strongest objections to the genuineness of the Epistle.
3 i. 3-11.
4 Chap. iii.
earth wherein dwelleth righteousness, for which Christians ought to be preparing; and the epistle concludes much in the same way as it commenced, by a call to 'grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.”
The intrinsic worth of the epistle is well expressed by Calvin when he says, “the majesty of the Spirit of Christ exhibits itself in every part of the epistle.”
THE GENERAL EPISTLE OF JUDE.”
1. Authorship. “Judas, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James.” It may be regarded as certain that the James, whom the writer here claims as his brother, was the well-known head of the Church at Jerusalem, one of our Lord's brethren, and the writer of the epistle that bears his name. Jude is therefore not to be identified with any of the apostles of the same name mentioned in the Gospels. Had he been an apostle he would doubtless have claimed the title, instead of being content to call himself “the brother of James.” Regarding Jude personally we know little or nothing, but an interesting tradition concerning two of his grandsons has been preserved by Hegesippus. That historian (as quoted by Eusebius) tells how the Emperor Domitian, being moved with jealousy, sent for these two kinsmen of our Lord to inquire of them regarding the kingdom to which they aspired. When he learned from them that they were merely peasant proprietors farming a few acres of land in Palestine, and saw their hands horny with constant labour, and when they told him further that the kingdom to which they looked forward was not of this
i Cf. pp. 221-3.
Matt. xiii. 55: “Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joseph, and Simon, and Judas?" Mark vi. 3: “Is not this the
carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon ? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended in him."
world, but to be revealed when Christ came to judge the quick and the dead, his alarm was removed, and he allowed them to depart in peace. Tradition tells that they lived to the reign of Trajan, honoured by the Church for their confession and for their relation to the Lord.
The obscurity of Jude himself is a strong argument for the genuineness of the epistle, as a forger would have chosen some more distinguished name to associate with his work. Its marked individuality also, exhibiting so many unusual features, by which it is distinguished from all the other books of the New Testament, except 2 Peter, is against the supposition of forgery. Although it is reckoned by Eusebius among the “disputed” books, we find it expressly quoted by Clement of Alexandria in the end of the second century, and recognised as canonical by Tertullian a few years later. It has also a place in the Muratorian Canon ; but is absent from the Syriac Version.1
2. The Readers.
On this subject we are left to conjecture. Considering the Jewish features of the book and the Jewish character of its author, it would seem probable that it was written for Christians in Palestine, but not to any particular Church, as it contains no special salutations or messages.2
3. Date and Place of Composition. Regarding the place of writing we have no direct information, but all the circumstances point to Palestine as its source. From the absence of any allusion to the
1 A sentence in the Didache (see Appendix p. 282) seems to be an echo of one of its verses ; and words or phrases have been discovered in several other writings of the first or early part of the second century that may have been suggested by it (cf. Didache ii. 7 with ver. 22). The brevity of the epistle and its being specially designed for Jewish Christians would go far to account for its being so little quoted in the first two centuries.
2 The designation which the writer gives himself- Judas, the brother of James " was well-fitted to command the attention of the Jewish converts owing to the deep reverence in which James was held by his countrymen. All through the epistle the writer assumes an acquaintance, on the part of his readers, with Jewish history and literature.
destruction of Jerusalem we may infer that it was written prior to that event; but here, as in 2 Peter, the evils with which the epistle deals preclude us from giving it a much earlier date. As an approximation we
may name 65-68 A.D. 1
4. Character and Contents. This epistle, consisting of a single chapter, bears a very striking likeness to the second chapter of 2 Peter, so much so that we may conclude with confidence that the one was borrowed from the other.2 As this epistle has certain features of originality about it which the other lacks, we
1 The opinion held by some that there is here a reference to Gnostic errors of the second century is not well-founded. The evils were mainly of a practical nature, and had recently appeared (ver. 4, cf. 22, 23); and a similar antinomian tendency had shown itself in St. Paul's time (cf. Rom. vi. ; 1 Cor. v. 1-11; 2 Cor. xii. 21 ; Gal. v. 13; Eph. V. 3; 1 Thess. iv. 6). The readers are also addressed as contemporaries of the Apostles who had heard the words (pňuata) spoken by them. Vers. 17, 18:
“But ye, beloved, remember ye the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how that they said to you, In the last time there shall be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts.” It also seems to be implied in the statement of Hegesippus above referred to that Jude was dead before the reign of Domitian (81 A.D.).
2 The great similarity will at once be seen on a comparison of the following parallel passages :— Jude 4=2 Peter ii.
“ For there are certain men crept in privily, even they who were of old set forth unto this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ," there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction"; 6=ii. 4: “And angels which kept not their own principality, but left their proper habitation, he hath kept in
everlasting bonds under darkness unto the judgement of the great day," “ For if God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell, and committed them to pits of darkness, to be reserved unto judgement"; 7=ii. 6 : “Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, having in like manner with these given themselves over to fornication, and gone after strange flesh, as set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire," "and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, having made them an example unto those that should live ungodly"; 8=ii. 10: " Yet in like manner these also in their dreamings defile the flesh, and set at nought dominion, and rail at dignities,” “but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of defilement, and despise dominion. Daring, selfwilled they tremble not to rail at dignities"; g=ii. 11: “But Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing judgement, but said, The Lord rebuke thee,' “whereas angels, though greater in might and power, bring not a railing judgement against them before the Lord"; 10=ii. 12: “But these rail at whatsoever things they know not : and what they understand naturally, like the creatures without reason, in these things are they destroyed,” “But these, as creatures without reason, born mere animals to be taken and destroyed, railing in matters whereof they are ignorant, shall in their destroying surely be de