What does Jude 1:9 mean?
ESV: But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”
NIV: But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'
NASB: But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him an abusive judgment, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'
CSB: Yet when Michael the archangel was disputing with the devil in an argument about Moses's body, he did not dare utter a slanderous condemnation against him but said, "The Lord rebuke you! "
NLT: But even Michael, one of the mightiest of the angels, did not dare accuse the devil of blasphemy, but simply said, 'The Lord rebuke you!' (This took place when Michael was arguing with the devil about Moses’ body.)
KJV: Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.
Verse Commentary:
In the previous verse, Jude referred to those who "blaspheme" celestial beings, including angels. Here, he cites the example of Michael the archangel. Michael is presented in Scripture as the chief angel in combating the Devil (Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1; Revelation 12:7–9). In this incident, Michael refused to usurp God's authority, which stands in contrast to the audacity of false teachers to slander authorities and angels.

This story comes from Jewish tradition, as recorded in a non-Scriptural book titled The Assumption of Moses. In the context Jude is using, it doesn't really matter whether this is an actual, historical event, or merely an example being given from a traditional story. Jude's reference does not imply that The Assumption of Moses is infallible, only that this was a story known to his readers. The key point here is that Michael, despite being a powerful being himself, refused to slander the Devil. This proves the arrogance of the apostates Jude is discussing. They are so conceited that they're doing what even an archangel won't!

Moses, Israel's leader during the exodus from Egypt, was buried by the Lord in an unknown place (Deuteronomy 34:1–6). According to the traditional account, Michael and the Devil had engaged in a dispute about the burial of Moses' body, but Michael would not slander the Devil. Instead, he yielded to God's authority by trusting Him to rebuke the Devil. We do not know the details of the dispute, but God may have assigned Michael with the task of guarding Moses' grave, and the Devil may have wanted to steal Moses' body to make it an object of worship.
Verse Context:
Jude 1:5–16 describes the nature, errors, and fate of false teachers plaguing the Christian church. Jude's readers seem to have been acquainted with Israel's history. This passage references Old Testament events to help explain the apostates' sins, the danger they pose, and how the Lord will punish them. Jude references the unbelief of Israel after the Lord delivered them from slavery in Egypt, rebellious angels, the ungodly people of Sodom and Gomorrah, and the dangers of allowing such people to mingle with other believers.
Chapter Summary:
Jude's brief letter describes men at their worst and God at His best. Believers are already on the victorious side! Those who mock God's truth and who follow their own desires all while claiming to be Christians, are the most dangerous kind of unbelievers. These persons pose a danger to themselves and to any Christians they might influence. In response, Christians need to focus on understanding the truth of God's written Word and submitting to His will.
Chapter Context:
Jude is a single-chapter letter which reflects earlier warnings about apostates and their false teachings. Other passages of Scripture describe evil men who taught that Jesus was not fully human or fully God (1 John 2:22; 4:1–3), that God's grace allowed them to live immorally (2 Peter 2; Romans 6:1, 15), that Jesus blood was not an adequate sacrifice (Galatians 1:6–9; Hebrews 3:12–19; 10:19), and sinners gain a right standing in God's sight by keeping the law of Moses (Galatians 5:4, 7–9). Jude's letter combats false teaching and exhorts readers to remain faithful to the Lord.
Book Summary:
The book of Jude is a letter written by a half-brother of Jesus, likely later than AD 66–67, which was after 2 Peter was written. Its placement immediately before the book of Revelation is appropriate. This letter warns about false religion and evil men, whom Revelation describes as maliciously affecting political and religious conditions.
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