Survey of JudeBook Type: General letter, sometimes referred to using the term catholic epistle. The last of the epistles in the New Testament. The twenty-sixth book of the New Testament, and the sixty-fifth book of the Bible.
Author: Jude, the brother of James. Most likely, this is the half-brother of Jesus (Jude 1:1; Matthew 13:55).
Audience: Jude is written to a general audience, rather than to a specific congregation or person. According to the text itself, concern over apostasy changed the writer's intent. Rather than writing about common salvation, he felt led to warn fellow believers about false teachers and ungodly doctrines. The reliance on references to Old Testament ideas suggests that Jude wrote to Jewish Christians, or to well-informed Gentile believers.
Date: Somewhere between AD 67 and 80. Jude and 2 Peter share common themes, so scholars are split on which came earlier, and whether or not one drew inspiration from the other. Peter refers to widespread apostasy as something which "would" happen, while Jude describes it as something which "is" happening. For that reason, most believe it was written later.
Overview: Jude's letter is short; this is one of five single-chapter texts contained in the canon of Scripture.
Jude's emphasis is on the dangers posed by false teachings. The concern is not merely about competing religious ideas. Rather, Jude warns of those who claim to be Christian believers, yet teach doctrines contradictory to the truth. Such persons are a danger to the church's spiritual health, as they promote selfishness, sinfulness, and division.
What's rebuked in this letter sounds very much like Gnosticism: an early heresy which many early church fathers would confront in their own writings.
Key Verses (ESV):
Jude 1:3: "Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints."
Jude 1:17–18: "But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They said to you, 'In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.'"
Jude 1:22–23: "And have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh."