This little letter strives to combat heresy. But what heresy? Most likely, some form of early gnosticism. Jude thus attempts here to persuade Christians to remain faithful to the teaching of Jesus. Like the other catholic epistles, this one is also pseudonymous.
The epistle is so difficult to date that some scholars date it to the year 50 while others say that it was written in the 90’s! It seems most likely to me that the letter comes from the end of the first century, for that was the period when heresies were becoming more widespread in the Church. It would not make any sense to date the letter before this period because then it would be speaking to a situation which did not exist. The letter was most likely written from one Jewish Christian enclave to another. I think it was probably written from a Palestinian Church to a Jewish Christian community in Egypt, where early gnosticism was very popular.
The letter follows this structure:
1- Opening Greeting (1-2)
2- Contend for the Faith (3-4)
3- Examples of Punishment (5-10)
4- More Examples of Punishment (11-13)
5- Prophecy of Enoch Regarding these False Teachers (14-19)
6- Another Appeal for Faith (20-23)
7- Doxology (24-25)
As is clear from this structure, the letter is most concerned with showing examples of disbelief and how those disbelievers were punished by God. Jude wishes to urge his audience to remain faithful or they too will be punished.
ASSIGNMENT: Read 1-3 John, and Brown’s Introduction, chapters 12-14.
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