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The Epistle of Jude: Commentary by the Early Christians

Verse-by-verse analysis from Christians of the first millennium

Chapter 1

1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

[Clement Of Alexandria] Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ,— of Him as Lord; but the brother of James. For this is true; he was His brother, (the son) of Joseph.

Jude, who wrote the Catholic Epistle, the brother of the sons of Joseph, and very religious, while knowing the near relationship of the Lord, yet did not say that he himself was His brother.

[Bede] The apostle Jude, called Thaddaeus, whom Matthew 10:3 and Mark 3:18 mentioned in their Gospels.

2 Mercy unto you, and peace and love, be multiplied.

3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was necessary for me to write unto you, and exhort you that you should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

[Bede] That is, of that salvation which was shared by him and them. For indeed the salvation, faith, and love of Christ are one and common to all the elect.

[Irenaeus of Lyons] Of the apostolical teaching and the most holy "faith delivered unto us."

[Polycarp of Smyrna] Wherefore, forsaking the vanity of many, and their false doctrines, let us return to the word which has been handed down to us.

4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into licentiousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

[Andreas of Caesarea] Jude means that their condemnation was predestined, for even the betrayal of Judas had been foretold.

[Clement Of Alexandria] "For certain men have entered unawares, ungodly men, who had been of old ordained and predestined to the judgment of our God;" not that they might become impious, but that, being now impious, they were ordained to judgment. "For the Lord God," he says, "who once delivered a people out of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not;" that is, that He might train them through punishment. For they were indeed punished, and they perished on account of those that are saved, until they turn to the Lord.

[2 Peter 2] But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.

5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though you once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

[Bede] He is referring not to Jesus the son of Nun but to our Lord, showing first that he did not have his beginning at his birth, as the heretics have wished to assert, but he existed as the eternal God.

[Clement of Alexandria] "For I would have you know "says Jude, "that God, having once saved His people from the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed them that believed not; and the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, He hath reserved to the judgment of the great day, in everlasting chains under darkness of the savage angels."

6 And the angels who kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

[2 Peter 4] For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment;

[Clement of Alexandria] "But the angels", he says, "that kept not their own pre-eminence," that, namely, which they received through advancement, "but left their own habitation," meaning, that is, the heaven and the stars, became, and are called apostates. "He has reserved these to the judgment of the great day, in chains, under darkness." He means the place near the earth, that is, the dark air. Now he called "chains" the loss of the honour in which they had stood, and the lust of feeble things; since, bound by their own lust, they cannot be converted.

7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after unnatural lust, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

[2 Peter 6] if he condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah by burning them to ashes, and made them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

[Bede] So by conflagration of the people of Sodom he gives the example of those who exchange the grace of our Lord for self-indulgence.

[Oecumenius] The unnatural lust in which the Sodomites indulged was homosexuality, which is wrong because it cannot lead to procreation.

8 Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise authority, and speak evil of the glorious ones.

[Clement Of Alexandria] "Similarly to the same," he says, "also those dreamers,"— that is, who dream in their imagination lusts and wicked desires, regarding as good not that which is truly good, and superior to all good—"defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of majesty," that is, the only Lord, who is truly our Lord, Jesus Christ, and alone worthy of praise. They "speak evil of majesty," that is, of the angels.

"also those dreamers"-that is, who dream in their imagination lusts and wicked desires, regarding as good not that which is truly good, and superior to all good,-defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of majesty "that is, the only Lord.

9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil as he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke you.

[Clement Of Alexandria] Here he confirms the assumption of Moses. He is here called Michael, who through an angel near to us debated with the devil.

10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

[Clement Of Alexandria] He means that they eat, and drink, and indulge in uncleanness, and says that they do other things that are common to them with animals, devoid of reason.

11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.

[Cyprian of Carthage] And that we may know that this voice of God came forth with His true and highest majesty to honour and avenge His priests; when three of the ministers.

[2 Peter 2:15] They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam son of Bezer, who loved the wages of wickedness.

12 These are spots in your love feasts, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about by winds; trees whose fruit withers, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

[2 Peter 2:13] They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning; they seduce the unstable; they are experts in greed—an accursed brood!

13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.

[Andreas of Caesarea] The words of Jude here about these men are to be understood metaphorically.

[Clement Of Alexandria] "Waves of a raging sea": By these words he signifies the life of the Gentiles, whose end is abominable ambition. "Wandering stars,"— that is, he means those who err and are apostates are of that kind of stars which fell from the seats of the angels— to whom, for their apostasy, the blackness of darkness is reserved for ever.

14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his saints,

[Clement Of Alexandria] In these words he verities the prophecy.

[Tertullian of Carthage] Nor, of course, is this fact wonderful, that they did not receive some Scriptures which spake of Him whom even in person, speaking in their presence, they were not to receive. To these considerations is added the fact that Enoch possesses a testimony in the Apostle Jude.

15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convict all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaks great swelling words, holding men in admiration for the sake of advantage.

17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;

18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

19 These are they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

[Oecumenius] Here was see yet another crime which these awful heretics have committed. Not only are they perishing themselves, they have raided the Church and taken people away from it, which means that they have taken them outside the faith into their own assemblies.

[Clement Of Alexandria} Those, he says, separating the faithful from the unfaithful, be convicted according to their own unbelief. And again those separating from the flesh. He says, Animal not having the spirit; that is, the spirit which is by faith, which supervenes through the practice of righteousness.

20 But you, beloved, building up yourselves in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,

[Oecumenius] To forever reform themselves according to the Holy Spirit’s guidance; in other words, by building congregations up, by their preaching, in the teaching of the Holy Spirit.

[Ambrosiaster] To pray in the Spirit always means to offer prayer to God with a clean conscience and a pure faith. If we live a good life the Holy Spirit dwells with us and we can receive what we ask for.

21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

22 And on some have compassion, making a difference:

[Cyprian of Carthage] Since, then, there is much difference.

[Clement Of Alexandria] "The greater he seems to be, the more humble should he be "says Clement in the Epistle to the Corinthians,-"such an one as is capable of complying with the precept, `And some pluck from the fire, and on others have compassion, making a difference, '"

23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

[ Augustine] It is a characteristic of the just not to hate anything in sinners other than their sins; and to love those people themselves.

[Clement Of Alexandria] In the same way "the bed is ordered to be shaken up "so that there may be no recollection of effusion in sleep.

[Tertullian of Carthage] What if, even here, you should conceive to reply that communion is indeed denied to sinners, very especially such as had been "polluted by the flesh"

24 Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

[Jerome] We are not told that a man can be without sin… but that God, if He chooses, can keep a man free from sin, and of His mercy guard him so that he may be without blemish. And I say that all things are possible with God; but that everything which a man desires is not possible to him, and especially.

[Augustine] Does he not most manifestly show that perseverance in good unto the end is God’s gift? And no one need doubt, but that whosoever prays from the Lord that he may persevere in good, confesses thereby that such perseverance is His gift.

[Clement Of Alexandria] Now to Him, he says, who is able to keep you without stumbling, and present you faultless before the presence of His glory in joy. In the presence of His glory: he means in the presence of the angels, to be presented faultless, having become angels. When Daniel speaks of the people and comes into the presence of the Lord, he does not say this, because he saw God: for it is impossible that any one whose heart is not pure should see God; but he says this, that everything that the people did was in the sight of God, and was manifest to Him; that is, that nothing is hid from the Lord. Now, in the Gospel according to Mark (14:62), the Lord being interrogated by the chief of the priests if He was the Christ, the Son of the blessed God, answering, said, I am; and you shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power. But powers mean the holy angels. Further, when He says at the right hand of God, He means the self-same [beings], by reason of the equality and likeness of the angelic and holy powers, which are called by the name of God. He says, therefore, that He sits at the right hand; that is, that He rests in pre-eminent honour. In the other Gospels, however, He is said not to have replied to the high priest, on his asking if He was the Son of God. But what said He? You say. Answering sufficiently well. For had He said, It is as you understand, he would have said what was not true, not confessing Himself to be the Son of God; [for] they did not entertain this opinion of Him; but by saying You say, He spoke truly. For what they had no knowledge of, but expressed in words, that he confessed to be true

25 To the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.

[Bede This summary bestows coequal and coeternal glory and the kingdom both on the Father and Son through all and before all ages and refutes the error of those who believe that the Son is less or later than the Father, when it says that glory, splendor, lordship, and power belong to God the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord, and this not from some beginning in time but before all ages both now and for ever.


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