Introducing the New Testament, 2nd Edition

A Historical, Literary, and Theological Survey


29. Jude

Video Introduction


This chapter offers a brief overview of the contents of Jude, followed by discussion of historical background and major themes.

In terms of historical background, Jude has traditionally been regarded as a letter written by Jude, the brother of Jesus (and of James of Jerusalem). Many modern scholars regard it as pseudepigraphical, but, in any case, it is addressed to Christians in an unnamed locale and seeks to address the problem of “false believers” who are wreaking havoc in the community. The letter is filled with polemic against these false believers without offering many clues to what they believed or did or taught: a few hints suggest that they might be hyperspiritual believers who practice a libertine lifestyle.

Jude assures his readers that the troublemakers will suffer God’s condemnation in the judgment. The letter also provides positive affirmation for “the most holy faith,” which is identified as that preserved by the apostles. The most curious aspect of the letter, however, may be its reliance on apocryphal Jewish writings that are not included in either Jewish or Christian scriptures.

Study Questions

  1. What is known of Jude the brother of Jesus? Summarize the information we have about this individual from the Bible and other sources.

  2. Discuss the question of whether Jude ought to be viewed as a pseudepigraphical work. Why would scholars doubt its authenticity? What arguments might be made in favor of authenticity?

  3. Discuss the polemic that the letter of Jude uses against the “false believers” it opposes. Cite examples of how the author reviles these opponents through the use of insults and comparisons with infamous people from the past.

  4. How does the author of Jude evaluate “tradition” and “innovation” in matters of faith?

  5. Give two examples of how Jude draws on nonbiblical writings. What problems has this raised for some Christians?