The book of Jude is short, unique, and quite beautiful in its writing. Jude introduces himself as the brother of James who most likely authored the book of James and was the brother of Jesus, a prominent member of the church in Jerusalem. In this culture, to identify as someone’s brother rather than the son of their father is certainly unique. However, given James’ status in the church, this made Jude’s writing all the more accepted.
Jude addresses his letter to all those who are called and who are loved by the Father. In essence, he is writing to everyone. There really is no one that falls outside of this purview, though the qualifier of having been “kept in Jesus Christ” tells us that these words would impact, in a greater way, those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ.
On of the very unique characteristics about the book of Jude is the author’s use of extra-canonical references. Extra-canonical books are religious writings, often written in the same time period as the canonical books (those that are included in the Bible) but were not included in the final canon of Scripture when that decision was made. Many of these books are included in the Apocrypha. Jude references the Book of Enoch as well as a writing known as “The Testament of Moses.” Both of these writing were popular and well respected in New Testament times, however, they were not considered to be divinely inspired in the way that the canonical books of the Bible we know today are.
While the Reformed Church and most protestant denominations do not recognize these books as Biblical or Canonical, unlike the Catholic Church and many Orthodox churches, there certainly is still value found in them. Books like the Maccabees stand as a witness to historical events whereas others stand as a witness to that which is in the canonical Bible.
Martin Luther, one of the fathers of the Reformation said of these books, “[Apocryphal books are] books which are not held equal to the sacred Scriptures, but nevertheless are useful and good to read.” The Belgic Confession, one of the statements of faith in the Reformed tradition, observes, “The Church may certainly read these books and learn from them as far as they agree with the canonical books. But they do not have such power and virtue that one could confirm from their testimony any point of faith or of the Christian religion.”
The Belgic Confession, one of the statements of faith in the Reformed tradition, observes, “The Church may certainly read these books and learn from them as far as they agree with the canonical books. But they do not have such power and virtue that one could confirm from their testimony any point of faith or of the Christian religion.”
Perhaps sometime in the future, these will be a source of study in this blog…