It is easy for the preacher to identify with Jude’s letter to the church. Facing the world and church with the truth has always been the lot of men of God all the way back to Noah. Most Protestant scholars agree that the author of the book was Judas the brother of James and Christ (Matt. 13:55, Jude 1:1, Losch, 2008). The date of the book is hard to set exactly but most scholars say that it was written in the first century A.D. and it does show up in Muratorian Canon which is the oldest canonical list dated in the second century A.D. (Laird, 2016). The book has several key features. First, that it is so similar to 2 Peter 2 that one author could very well have been quoting the other (Elwell, Beitzel, 1988). However, considering that all truth is absolute, the text has one author, orchestrator, and the two texts are relatively close in date of origin, it is no surprise there would be overlapping themes. Just as there were overlapping themes in the Reformation centered around justification by faith, it is not surprising that there would be overlapping themes in the first centuries as well. Second, Jude quotes from the Assumption of Moses and 1 Enoch which are both apocryphal books (Elwell, Beitzel, 1988). There is a clear connection between Jude and 2 Peter 2 in theme; it is possible that 2 Peter and Jude address the same heresy centered around the deity of Christ. Paul addressed this same topic in Colossians and it was finally settled, at least as orthodoxy was concerned, at the Council of Nicea in the third century. Peter and Jude both talk about Angels, Sodom, Lot, and sexual immorality. They connect all of these items with the false teachers that they both say are slipping into the church.
There are a lot of themes to talk about but perhaps the most distinct is the challenge that false teachers and their followers act like “unreasoning” or “irrational” animals fit to be destroyed (Jude 10, 2 Peter 2:11, ESV). It is fascinating how these statements culminate at almost the same point in the discourse. Jude and Peter are clearly talking to a group of people that are swept up in mysticism. There are several early groups that Peter and Jude might be addressing and most of them fall under the broad category of Gnostic. Though there is no consensus about what group Peter and Jude were addressing (Laird, 2016).
Both Peter and Jude appeal to the authority of the old testament narratives to combat this infiltration of unreasoning or irrational mysticism. Specifically to the story of Balaam. It seems both Peter and Jude were making the same point that Balaam was so irrational that the donkey was more rational than him. They connect these false teachers to Balaam’s irrationality; in short, Peter and Jude are saying these false teachers would be better off if they had the sense of a donkey.
For both Peter and Jude there is a sternness about how they address these false teachers. Almost like the shepherd David targeting the lion and bear with his sling in the defense of his sheep; Peter and Jude take this subject with the utmost seriousness as if they are David between the sheep and the lion. This is where the preacher feels solidarity with Jude. Anyone that has stood in the gap and understands the call to protect the sheep would understand the stern nature of the words.
Jude ends with a call to “[build] yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20. ESV). This is Jude’s, Peters, and Christ’s method for the believer to combat false teaching. Christ said, continue in my word and that will make you free (John 8 31-32). Peter said, ” be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish” (2 Peter 3:14 ESV). For the Christian today, this call to be disciplined is no less a necessity. It is the Word of God that by hearing can build up a shield of faith that can protect the mind from irrational mysticism. God’s truth has been set in the heavens from the beginning, it is neither irrational nor hidden to the point that no one has an excuse to not know it (Romans 1:18-20). In today’s time, instead of mysticism about angels and the nature of Christ that Jude was addressing, the Christian has to deal with the irrationality of a culture that believes a universe could make itself and come out of nothing without the aid of the Divine Creator. In every stage, the church has faced false teachers and in every stage, the answer is the same; the Word of God rightly taught, keeps the hearts and minds of it hearers from the irrational mysticism sold by false teachers.
Elwell, W. A., & Beitzel, B. J. (1988). Jude, Letter Of. In Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 2, p. 1240). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book
Laird, B. (2016). Muratorian Fragment. In J. D. Barry, D. Bomar, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, D. Mangum, C. Sinclair Wolcott, … W. Widder (Eds.), The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.
Losch, R. R. (2008). In All the People in the Bible: An A–Z Guide to the Saints, Scoundrels, and Other Characters in Scripture (p. 246). Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.