Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 20 January 2014; Revised 11 January 2019
Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison with consideration given to the American Standard Version (which is in the public domain) and the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. All other Scripture quotations are from the NASB Updated Edition (1995), unless otherwise indicated. Click here for Abbreviations of Bible Versions.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited and resources consulted may be found at the end of the commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Unless otherwise indicated references to the Talmud are from the Soncino Babylonian Talmud (1948); available online at Halakhah.com. Click here for Talmud Abbreviations.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic writings and message I use the terms Judah (Jude), Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament). The abbreviation LXX stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use by Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C.
Grammar: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations.
Please see the Introduction for background information on the letter.
1 Judah, a servant of Yeshua the Messiah, and brother of Jacob, to those called, having been loved in God the Father, and having been kept in Messiah Yeshua:
Judah: Grk. Ioudas, a transliteration of Heb. Y'hudah ("Judah") meaning "praise YHVH" (the tetragrammaton of the God of Israel), hereinafter "Judah." The English spelling of "Jude" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729. The proper name of Judah was very esteemed in the first century because it was not only one of the twelve patriarchs, but it was also made popular by the Jewish hero Judas Maccabaeus (Heb. Y'hudah HaMakabi) who led the nation in their fight for independence from Syria in 166 BC. The Besekh identifies seven other men with the Greek name Ioudas.
The Judah writing this letter was the half brother of Yeshua (Matt 13:55, Mark 6:3). During Yeshua's earthly ministry his brother Judah was not a disciple (John 7:3-5). Indeed, he probably shared the opinion of his siblings and mother that Yeshua had "lost his senses" (Mark 3:21). The resurrection appearance of Yeshua to him was undoubtedly the catalyst to bring about his acceptance of his brother as the Messiah. Luke notes that after the ascension the brothers of Yeshua joined with the twelve apostles and the other believers in Jerusalem to await empowerment by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:14). Nothing more is known in the Besekh of Judah other than this letter he wrote.
a servant: Grk. doulos can mean either slave or servant. In the LXX doulos translates the Heb. word ebed, which similarly described someone enslaved after being captured in war or in order to pay a debt, whether voluntarily or involuntarily (Ex 21:7; Lev 25:39, 44, 47). In addition, ebed identified those that served God, especially service in the temple (DNTT 3:593ff). The great Hebrew and Jewish heroes of the faith were distinguished with the honorific, including Abraham (Gen 18:3; 26:24), Isaac (Gen 24:14), Jacob (Deut 9:27), Job (Job 1:8), Moses (Ex 4:10), Caleb (Num 14:24), Joshua (Josh 24:29), Samson (Judg 15:18), Samuel (1Sam 3:10), David (2Sam 3:18), Elijah (2Kgs 9:36), Jonah (2Kgs 14:25), Hezekiah (2Chr 32:16), Nehemiah (Neh 1:11), Isaiah (Isa 20:3), Zerubbabel (Hag 2:23), Daniel (Dan 6:20) and all the Hebrew prophets (Jer 25:4).
In his earthly ministry Yeshua was the preeminent servant of the Lord (Php 2:7), but besides Judah other notable spiritual leaders are named, including Miriam (Luke 1:38), Simeon (Luke 2:29), Paul (Rom 1:1), Phoebe (Rom 16:1), Apollos (1Cor 3:5), Timothy (Php 1:1), Epaphras (Col 1:7), Tychicus (Col 4:7), Jacob (Jas 1:1), Peter (2Pet 1:1), and John (Rev 1:1). Judah refers to himself as a "servant," as does his brother Jacob (Jas 1:1), because he was devoted utterly to his Lord. Judah does not identify himself as an apostle, since there was no need for him to assert such authority, as Paul who constantly identified himself an apostle in order to defend his divine commission. Stern suggests that Judah wanted to avoid the appearance of exploiting his blood relationship with Yeshua.
Fruchtenbaum describes Judah as a traveling evangelist (428), since Paul alludes to Judah when he says that the "brothers of the Lord" take a believing wife along with them in their ministry (1Cor 9:5). Supporting the thesis that Judah was an evangelist is the fact that his name is not included in the list of congregational overseers in various cities compiled by Hippolytus, AD 170-236, On the Seventy Apostles.
of Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua, which means "YHVH is salvation" (BDB 221). Yeshua has the same Hebrew root as yoshia ("He will save") and is also the masculine form of the Hebrew word yeshu‘ah, ("salvation") (Stern 4). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, probably Gabriel, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). The English rendering of "Jesus" originated with the Mace New Testament in 1729.
In the LXX both Yeshua and Y’hoshua were common names and rendered as Iēsous. The name of Yeshua was given to six men in the Tanakh and translated as "Jeshua" in English versions (1Chr 24:11; 2Chr 31:15; Ezra 2:6; 3:2; Neh 3:19; 8:7). Three men bore the name Y’hoshua ("Joshua") (Deut 3:21; 1Sam 6:14, 18; 2Kgs 23:8). In the Besekh three men bear the name Yeshua. There is Bar-Yeshua (Acts 13:6), a Jewish false prophet and magician whom Paul cursed so that he became blind (Acts 13:11), and Yeshua called Justus, a fellow minister of Paul (Col 4:11). By far the most important of the three is the Yeshua of Nazareth, the Son of David, Son of Man and Son of God.
Interestingly, the apostolic narratives record just three occasions when he was addressed directly by name: by ten lepers (Luke 17:13), by blind Bartimaeus (Mark 10:47; Luke 18:38) and by the thief on the cross (Luke 23:42). For many Jews the name "Jesus" is a distinctly Christian word. Sadly, for many Christians the name "Jesus," while precious, does not evoke the reality of his Jewish identity. In his thirty-some years on earth people called him Yeshua. Gentile believers must never forget that Yeshua was born to a Jewish mother, raised in a Jewish home in a Jewish community situated among the Jewish people in the land God gave to Abraham and his Jewish posterity. By virtue of His incarnation and Jewish mother, Yeshua must still be a Jew.
the Messiah: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Anointed One or Messiah. The English "Christ" transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. In Greek culture christos comes from chriein, to rub lightly, and in its secular use had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint, and was anything but an expression of honor. As a personal reference it even tended toward the disrespectful (DNTT 2:334). Christos was chosen deliberately by the Jewish translators of the LXX to render Mashiach and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word.
The Heb. title Mashiach means ‘anointed one’ or ‘poured on.’ Mashiach was used in the Tanakh for (1) the patriarchs (1Chr 16:16-22; Ps 105:15); (2) the High Priest, Lev 4:5; (3) the King, 1Sam 12:3; 2Sam 22:51; Isa 45:1; and (4) the Messiah, Ps 2:2 and Dan 9:25-26. This last usage defined the term in the first century A.D. The title of "Anointed One" alludes to a ceremony of anointing with olive oil to invest one with the authority of an office. There was no comparable concept in Greek culture. Yeshua was not physically anointed in his commissioning for ministry, although He was anointed with the Spirit in accordance with Isaiah 61:1 (Matt 3:16). However, he was anointed with nard in preparation for his death (Mark 14:3-8; John 12:3), so in that sense he was physically anointed for his final and greatest ministry.
It cannot be emphasized too many times that the title Christos was the invention of Jews long before Yeshua was born and not by Gentile Christians. A more accurate translation of Christos would be "Jewish Messiah." The Christos of the apostles was both high priest and king of the Jews who fulfilled all the promises made to the patriarchs and the nation of Israel. (For discussion on Messianic identity and expectation in the first century see my commentary on Mark 1:1).
I have placed the definite article "the" before "Messiah" because Messiah is a title, not a last name. After all, no Jew would ever say "David King," but either "King David" or "David the King." The title/name reference to Yeshua occurs six times in this letter (verses 1, 4, 17, 21, 25), which Christian Bibles uniformly translate as "Jesus Christ." The Messianic Jewish versions CJB, HNV, MW, and TLV, all translate as the name/title as "Yeshua the Messiah," but the OJB has the title before the name, HaMoshiach Yehoshua.
and: Grk. de, conj. particle, marking the superaddition of a clause and used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also" (BAG). The third meaning applies here. a brother: Grk. adelphos, lit. "of the same womb," and in secular Greek meant "brother." Usage in the apostolic writings is generally literal, but figurative uses also abound indicating affinity in common interests or culture. In the apostolic narratives adelphos primarily refers to blood siblings or fellow Israelites (Matt 4:18; 5:22-24; Mark 3:22; Acts 1:14; 3:22; 7:13), as it does here.
of Jacob: Grk. Iakōbos is a Grecized form of Iakōb ("Jacob"), which transliterates the Heb. Ya'akov ("Jacob"). Iakōbos is often used in the writings of Josephus for the patriarch (BAG 368). Blum points out that after the martyrdom of Jacob the son of Zebedee (c. A.D. 44; Acts 12:2), the only Jacob who is well enough known that the unspecified use of his name would be generally recognizable was Jacob, leader of the congregation in Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; 1Cor 15:7; Gal 2:9). Paul called him "Jacob, the Lord's brother" (Gal 1:19). The name is rendered inaccurately as "James" in Christian Bibles. (See the my commentary on the letter of Jacob for more information on the background of the apostle.) Brumbach notes that in Judah's time a person would describe himself as someone's son, rather than someone's brother (3). The reason for the exception here seems to be Jacob's prominence as a leader of the Messianic community in Jerusalem.
Judah's letter exhibits a fondness for triads (groups of three). In his first triad Judah uses three verbs to describe the letter recipients: "called," "loved" and "kept." to those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. called: Grk. klētos, derived from the verb kaleō (to call), means called or invited with a focus on special privilege in the divine realm. Klētos occurs ten times in the Besekh, first occurring in Matthew 22:14 in a figurative sense meaning an invitation to the Kingdom of God, "many are called, but few are chosen." Paul used klētos to describe his privileged status as an apostle (Rom 1:1; 1Cor 1:1) and applied the word to disciples of Yeshua in the congregations of Rome (Rom 1:6, 7; 8:28) and Corinth (1Cor 1:2, 24), which were mostly Jewish. (See my article The Apostolic Community for discussion of the constituency of congregations in the apostolic era.)
In the LXX klētos occurs first to translate Heb. miqra (a convocation, convoking or reading, BDB 896) used of religious gathering on the Sabbath and certain sacred days mandated for Israelites (Ex 12:16; 14 times in Lev 23; Num 28:1; 29:1, 7, 12). Klētos is also used to translate the participle, "called ones," of Heb. qara (to call, proclaim, or read, BDB 894) (DNTT 1:272) for guests invited to a banquet (1Kgs 1:41, 49; 3 Macc 5:14). A special usage of klētos occurs in Zephaniah 1:7-8 where the "called ones" are those chosen for an eschatological feast at the Day of the Lord, similar to the great "supper" described in Revelation 19:7-9, 17-18. Thus, Judah probably alludes to those called to the kingdom banquet at which God's people will dine with the great patriarchs (Matt 8:11; 22:2; 25:10) and, considering the term's usage in the Torah, implies that the letter's recipients keep God's sacred calendar as defined in the Torah.
having been loved: Grk. agapaō, perf. pass. part., to have such an interest in another that one wishes to contribute to the other's well-being, even if it means making a personal sacrifice to do so. In the LXX agapaō translates aheb, but aheb is a far more comprehensive word than agapaō. Aheb is like the English word "love" which is used to mean all these things. The verb points to the work of God who has loved the world from the beginning. A handful of late MSS have "sanctified," which is preserved in the Textus Receptus and therefore found in the JUB, KJ21, KJV, NKJV, YLT and early English versions (1526-1729). Metzger says the reading of "sanctified," modeled on 1Corinthians 1:2, was introduced by copyists in order to avoid the difficult and unusual combination of en theo patri ēgapmenois (656).
in: Grk. en, 'within' or 'in,' but here with an instrumental meaning of 'by.' God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. In secular Greek writings a number of deities, always represented in anthropomorphic form, were called theos. In ancient polytheistic culture theos was not one omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator and ruler of the universe and certainly not spirit as described in Scripture (John 4:24). In the LXX theos renders primarily Elohim (over 2300 times), but also the tetragrammaton YHVH (over 300 times). As with many other Greek words the LXX infused new meaning into theos (DNTT 2:67-70).
the Father: Grk. patēr, normally of a male biological parent or ancestor, but frequently in reference to God, which emphasizes both his activity as creator and sustainer. Patēr is used in the LXX to render ab ("av"). Many people think of God as father in relation to all mankind as Paul in his Athenian sermon quotes the Greek philosopher Epimenides, "we also are His children" (Acts 17:28; cf. Eph 4:6). While God gave physical life to mankind, he is only Father in a spiritual and covenantal sense in relation to Israel (Ex 4:22; Isa 63:16; 64:8; Jer 31:9; Hos 11:1; Matt 2:15; Rom 9:4). God is even more particularly the father of the disciples of Yeshua, emphasized exclusively in Paul's writings as "our Father" (Rom 1:7; 1Cor 1:3; 2Cor 1:2; Gal 1:3; Eph 1:2; Php 1:2; Col 1:2; 2Th 1:1; 2:16; Phm 1:3). Other apostles refer to God simply as "the Father" (Acts 2:33; Jas 1:17; 1Pet 1:2; 1Jn 1:2).
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. In contrast to most Bible versions I translate all the instances of kai (and all the other conjunctions) as a reminder of the Jewish apostle's Hebraic writing style.
having been kept: Grk. tēreō, perf. pass. part., may mean (1) guard, keep watch; (2) keep; (3) keep blameless or uninjured; (4) protect; (5) hold or follow, e.g. the Torah, traditions or commands. In the LXX tēreō renders Heb. shamar (to keep, watch or preserve, BDB 1036). The predominate meaning of tēreō in the LXX is that of keeping or obeying divine instruction (1Sam 15:11; Prov 3:1, 20; 19:16) or being kept by Wisdom (Prov 2:11; 4:6; 7:5; 8:34) as the object (DNTT 2:132). There is an interesting usage in Proverbs (13:3; 16:17; 19:16) of he who guards his mouth, or watches his way, or keeps the commandment, preserves (tēreō) his life. Some versions translate the verb specifically according to the fourth meaning, "kept safe" (CEB, CEV, ERV, EXB, GW, NEB, TEV, TLV). In other words, "kept" has the sense for some interpreters of preserving one's status and position in the Body of Messiah. However, considering the usage in the Tanakh the intended meaning could be is "kept blameless," as in verse 24 below (cf. 1Th 3:13; 5:23).
in: There is no preposition in the Greek text, but the preposition preceding "God the Father" probably serves in this place also. Messiah Yeshua: See the previous mention of the name and title. Bible versions are divided over translation: "by Messiah" (CEB, CEV, HCSB, ISV, NIRV, NIV, REV), "for Messiah" (ASV, CJB, ESV, HNV, MW, NAB, NASB, NET, NJB, NLV, NRSV, OJB, RSV, TLV) and "in Messiah" (DRA, ERV, JUB, KJ21, KJV, NCV, NEB, NKJV, YLT). All of these translations could be correct in that Yeshua kept his disciples (John 17:12) and he prayed that the Father would keep or protect his disciples from the evil one (John 17:11, 15). The statement of preservation probably has an eschatological viewpoint (cf. 1Th 5:23).
Additional Note on the Father: In typical Jewish fashion Judah makes a clear distinction between God (theos) the Father and Yeshua, whom he identifies as kurios (7 times) and christos (6 times), but not huios, "Son." In fact, nowhere in the Besekh do the apostles refer to Yeshua as theos (God) and they always carefully distinguish between the Messiah's possession of divine attributes and the oneness of the God of Israel. A quick concordance search indicates that wherever "Messiah" or "Yeshua" and "God" appear together in the same verse they are always clearly distinguished. Some verses make the contrast especially sharp, such as Acts 2:36, "God has made him both Lord and Messiah." (cf. Acts 4:10; 20:21; Rom 1:7; Col 1:3; 1Th 1:3; 1Pet 1:2; 4:11; Jude 1:25; Rev 1:1).
Lest the reader misunderstand my point, there is no equivocation in apostolic writings that Yeshua is the image of the invisible God and agent of creation (Rom 1:4; 2Cor 4:4; Col 1:15-17; Heb 1:2-3), but the apostles do not say, "God is Yeshua." Such a statement would confuse the Son with the Father. The enigma of John 1:1 ("the Word was with God and God was the Word") is captured in Philippians 2:6, "although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped."
2 Mercy to you and peace and love be multiplied.
Judah offers his second triad with three wishes for the recipients of his letter. Mercy: Grk eleos, kindness expressed for one in need, compassion, mercy or pity. In the LXX eleos normally represents Heb. chesed, which means proper covenant behavior, the solidarity which the partners in the covenant owe one another. Chesed results in one giving help to the covenant partner in his need. So the connotation of eleos meaning chesed may stretch from loyalty to a covenant to kindliness, mercy, and pity (DNTT 2:594). BDB defines chesed as essentially goodness or kindness and often occurs in passages with the sense of kindness of men towards men, in doing favors and benefits, but also kindness extended to the lowly and needy (338).
to you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. and: Grk. kai, conj. peace: Grk. eirēnē in Greek literature primarily denoted an absence of war (DNTT 2:776f). Eirēnē is basically a relational word that means a state of harmony as a result from cessation of hostility or a peaceful condition that focuses on mutual acceptance in personal relationships and that reflects common objectives. Eirēnē was used in the LXX to translate shalom, which has a much broader meaning. Shalom represents communal welfare or even personal well being, the source of which is God alone (cf. Rom 15:33; 1Cor 14:33). The term denotes the status of a relationship and not necessarily an emotional state.
and: Grk. kai, conj. love: Grk. agapē, a relatively high level of interest in the well-being of another, affection, esteem, love. The noun is one of the four Greek words for "love" and the one that occurs most frequently in the Besekh. In the LXX agapē renders Heb. ahavah (SH-160, BDB 12), which is used of both human and divine love. Ahavah is used of the love of husband toward wife (Gen 29:20; SS 2:4-5; 5:8; 8:6-7), and God's love for His people Israel (Deut 7:8; 2Chr 2:11; Isa 63:9; Jer 31:3; Hos 11:4; Zeph 3:17). Ahava occurs frequently In the wisdom literature in a more abstract form, such as "love covers all sins (Prov 10:12). The Jewish translators of the LXX apparently coined the noun agapē, since there is no Greek literature earlier than the LXX that uses the noun (DNTT 2:539).
Agapē, unlike the verb agapaō, is never used in a negative sense (cf. Luke 6:32). God's nature and actions are the epitome of agapē (John 3:16; 1Jn 4:8) and the preeminent virtue (1Cor 13:1-13). The essential factor in every passage employing the agapē is the willingness to sacrifice for an object, which sets it apart from the affection of phileō, the family loyalty of storgē and the passion of eros. be multiplied: Grk. plethunō, aor. pass. opt., to increase more in number; increase, multiply. The rare optative mood indicates strong contingency or possibility, no definite anticipation of realization, but sees what is conceivable. The mood is used here to express a wish. These three virtues, mercy, peace and love, are supreme blessings of God.
Occasion for the Letter, 3-4
3 Beloved, I am exercising all diligence to write to you of our common salvation. I had a necessity to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faithfulness having been delivered once to the holy ones.
Beloved: Grk. agapētos, held in affection, esteemed or dear. I am exercising: Grk. poieō, pres. mid. part., to be active in bringing about a state or condition, do, perform, make. all: Grk. pas, adj., conveying the idea of comprehensiveness, all, whole, or every. diligence: Grk. spoudē may mean either (1) haste or (2) zealous commitment for carrying out an obligation or opportunity for service, earnestness, zeal, concerned commitment. The second meaning applies here. to write: Grk. graphō, pres. inf., to write or inscribe a document. The present tense indicates the progress of actually writing the letter. to you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. The plural pronoun has a corporate intention but also implies a personal knowledge of the letter's recipients. of our: Grk. hēmeis, 1p-pl. pers. pron. common: Grk. koinos, shared collectively, in common or shared.
salvation: Grk. sōtēria is used in the sense of preservation in danger, deliverance from impending death or eternal salvation. The context of this important theological term is the loss of freedom. "Whenever men by their own fault or through some superior power have come under the control of someone else, and have lost their freedom to implement their will and decisions, and when their own resources are inadequate to deal with that other power, they can regain their freedom only by the intervention of a third party" (DNTT 3:177). That third party is the God of Israel and his agent to accomplish deliverance is the Messiah. In the LXX sōtēria translates six different Hebrew formations derived from the root verb yasha, to deliver (DNTT 3:206). The focus of "our common salvation" has always been Israel.
I had: Grk. echō, aor., to have something under one's control, to possess. a necessity: Grk. anagkē, a term indicating a constraining or compelling force, necessity, constraint. to write: Grk. graphō, aor. inf. The aorist tense points back to the point at which Judah felt he needed to write. to you: Grk. humeis. exhorting: Grk. parakaleō, pres. part., to motivate performance; urge, exhort, encourage. you to contend earnestly: Grk. epagonizomai, pres. mid. inf., contend, a term associated with athletics, implying strenuous defense and struggle. The term occurs only here in the Besekh. Paul was fond of using athletic terminology (1Cor 9:25; Col 1:29; 1Th 2:19; 2Tim 2:5). The verb is not found in the LXX, but it does occur in Philo, the first century Jewish philosopher (BAG).
for the faithfulness: Grk. pistis, incorporates two primary facets of meaning, first that which causes trust and faith, i.e., faithfulness or reliability, and second, trust or confidence in an active sense (BAG). Pistis is used in the LXX to twice render Heb. emun (Deut 32:20; Prov 13:17; 'faithfulness,' BDB 53), but renders Heb. emunah ('firmness, steadfastness, fidelity,' BDB 53) over 20 times (mainly of men's faithfulness, 1Sam 26:23; 2Kgs 12:15; 22:7; 1Chr 9:22, 26, 31; 2Chr 31:12, 15, 18; 34:12; Prov 3:3; 12:17, 22; Jer 5:1, 3; 7:28; 9:3; Hos 2:20; but also of God's faithfulness, Ps 33:4; Lam 3:23; Hab 2:4). Pistis also translates Heb. aman (to confirm, to support, Jer 15:18), amanah ('fixed support,' Neh 9:38; 11:23; SS 4:8) and emet (firmness, faithfulness, truth, Prov 14:22; Jer 28:9; 33:6). The LXX usage emphasizes that the Hebrew meaning of faithfulness is the intended usage of pistis. The apostles build on this meaning and represent pistis as composed of two elements.
The first element of faithfulness is confidence or trust: "And without faith[fulness] it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him" (Heb 11:6; cf. Heb 4:2). True faith leads one to seek God and then trust Him to respond with His good gifts. The second element of faithfulness involves commitment, constancy and obedience, which includes following God’s direction for life and producing works of righteousness (cf. Eph 2:8-10). Judah may be personifying pistis as a substitute for Yeshua or as shorthand for the faithfulness of Yeshua. Indeed, Paul presents justification and salvation as accomplished by the faithfulness of Yeshua (cf. Rom 3:22, 26; 5:1; Gal 2:16, 20; 3:22, 26; Eph 2:8; 3:12; Php 3:9). See my commentary on Romans 3:22. Just as the God of Israel is the "faithful God" (Deut 7:9), so Yeshua is the faithful witness (Rev 1:5; 3:14). Indeed, one of Yeshua's names is "Faithful and True" (Rev 19:11).
having been delivered: Grk. paradidōmi, aor. pass. part., to convey from one position to another, hand over. The focus may be (1) of subjecting a person to a custodial procedure and a judicial process; hand over, deliver; or (2) of transmission of something to someone; hand over, give, commit, commend. The first usage occurs in the narrative of Yeshua being arrested and delivered to the Sanhedrin for trial (Mark 9:31). With the adverb following the usage of the verb likely contains both meanings. once: Grk. hapax, adv., once, whether used as a numerical term or of a unique and decisive act. Yeshua's faithfulness which wrought salvation was an unrepeatable act and accomplished for the whole world (John 3:16-17; 1Tim 2:6; Heb 7:27; 9:28; 1Jn 2:2). Thus, many versions add "for all" to the translation of the adverb.
to the holy ones: pl. of Grk. hagios, set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of God and therefore holy or sacred. The hagios word-group translates the Heb. qadôsh, "holy," and its derivatives (DNTT 2:224), which means to be separated from what is common, unclean or contrary to God’s holiness. In the Tanakh the term is used for the nation of Israel as the people of God (Deut 7:6; Job 15:15; Ps 16:3; 34:9; 89:5, 7; Dan 7:18, 21-22, 25, 27; 8:24; Zech 14:5). The label originated when God called Israel to be a people consecrated to worship and obey Him. The term succeeds in having a corporate meaning as well as an individual meaning.
In later Jewish literature the plural hagioi is used for members of the Jerusalem priestly community (1Macc 1:46; 7:17). The community of Qumran described itself as "the holy ones of His people" (1QM 6:6), "we, your holy people" (1QM 14:12), "separate from the session of perverse men" (1QS 8:13) and the "Yahad [unity] of Holiness" (1QS 8:21) (TDSS). In 1QS 8:21 the Essenes defined the Yahad of Holiness as those who walk blamelessly as God commanded. Paul addressed most of his congregational letters to the "holy ones." These congregations were well acquainted with the LXX and the usage of hagioi for the holy ones of Israel would have significant meaning for the Jews in the congregation.
The "holy one" shares a likeness of nature with Yeshua, but apostolic usage never intended the label of "holy ones" in any elitist sense. The historical restriction of "saints," from the Latin sanctus, in Christianity to designate only the apostles and later Christian leaders acclaimed for their ministry and miracles is unfortunate and misleading as to the meaning of the term in Scripture. In fact, the word "saint" is so associated with its usage in Christianity, that it has lost all its Jewish significance in the English language. When a Christian reads "saints" in his Bible he naturally thinks "Christians," however it is defined in his denomination.
The true "holy ones" are those who have accepted the truth of the Good News of the Messiah, repented of their sins, put their trust in the atoning sacrifice of Yeshua for their sins and separated themselves to be faithful to their Lord (Col 1:2). Being a "holy one" is a high level of devotion to which all disciples are called (Rom 1:7; 1Cor 1:2; Eph 1:18). The "holy ones" are those who are wholly His and who seek to live by His Torah standards of righteousness (Eph 5:3-16; Rev 12:17; 14:12). The "holy ones" comprehend the full measure of the love of God in Messiah (Eph 3:18-19). The "holy ones" are to receive prayer support in the Body of Messiah (Eph 6:18). The "holy ones" care for the needy within the Body of Messiah (Rom 12:13; 16:2). The "holy ones" are fit to hear and decide disputes between believers (1Cor 6:1).
The "holy ones" are bold intercessors so that their prayers are remembered in Heaven (Rev 5:8; 8:4). The "holy ones" are willing to lay down their lives for the sake of Yeshua (Rev 12:11; 13:7, 10; 14:12-13). It is the "holy ones" for whom the Spirit intercedes according to the will of the Father (Rom 8:27). The "holy ones" certainly includes Gentile believers who have been grafted into the Jewish root and made members of the Commonwealth of Israel (Acts 15; Romans 11; Ephesians 2), but the term "holy ones" is used in a number of passages in such a way that only Jewish people can be intended, as here (Matt 27:52; Acts 9:13, 32, 41; 26:10; Rom 15:25-26, 31; 1Cor 16:1; 2Cor 8:4; 9:1, 12; Eph 1:15; Col 1:4; Phm 1:5; Heb 6:10).
Additional Note on Pistis: Many interpreters recognize a third usage in the Besekh of pistis as a systematized body of belief or doctrine, citing various passages (Acts 6:7; Rom 1:5; 12:6; Gal 1:23; 1Tim 1:19; 4:1, 6; 6:10; 2Tim 4:3, 7; Jude 1:3, 20) (BAG 669). Thus, many versions translate the verse as "contend earnestly for the faith once for all entrusted to the saints" or words to that effect. However, the theological objectivizing of pistis was the result of later usage of pistis by church fathers who ignored the Jewish roots of apostolic terminology. Misunderstanding could be attributed to viewing the word with the definite article, ho (the) pistis, as a theological position, doctrinal truths or the "body of apostolic teaching" (as Blum, Clarke, Fruchtenbaum, Gill, Robertson, Wesley), rather than a spiritual and behavioral characteristic.
However, the function of the definite article in Greek is to point out an object or to draw attention to it (DM 137). The definite article does not change the definition of the noun. For example, the Greek name Iēsous (Yeshua, Jesus) often appears in the genitive case as tou Iēsou, but no Bible translates the name as "the Jesus." In addition, too many Christians in general and Christian theologians in particular prefer to emphasize doctrine and denominational theology than faithfulness to Torah standards presented in the apostolic writings. In the cited passages above pistis could just as easily be translated as "faithfulness" or "trust." There is no need to interpret pistis in those verses as "doctrine."
The word typically rendered as "doctrine" is Grk. didaskalia, lit. "teaching" or "instruction" (e.g., Matt 15:9; Eph 4:13; 1Tim 6:3; 2Tim 4:3; Titus 1:9). Yet, the apostle's didaskalia was not a systematic theology as normally conceived in Christianity, but a historical orientation to the purposes of God in electing Israel to bring a Redeemer and the fulfillment of promises made to the patriarchs. Even if Judah had "doctrine" in mind, it would, as Stern points out, include not only apostolic teaching to be believed (e.g., 1Tim 3:16), but the entire Messianic way of life to be observed and obeyed (781). Brumbach concurs with Stern saying,
"Judah is concerned with more than just the proper theology and doctrine of these believers; he is concerned with the entirety of the spiritual lives, including their behavior. From a Jewish perspective, our thoughts and actions are intimately linked and must not only be consistent, but a natural outgrowth of the other. Judaism is not as concerned with correct theology as much as it is with one's behavior, because behavior is a reflection and the proof of our thinking and relationship with God." (32)
What Judah had in mind was the example of faithfulness exhibited by Yeshua and that character should be embraced and defended by his followers.
4 For certain men slipped in, those long ago, having been written into this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into license, and denying the only Master and our Lord, Yeshua the Messiah.
Judah offers his third triad, declaring three things about "certain men." For: Grk. gar, is generally accepted as a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that." Gar often functions to connect statements in narratives with preceding statements. certain: pl. of Grk. tis, masc. indef. pron. used to indicate non-specification; someone, a certain one. men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos, human being, used generally of male or female, and in the plural of people, men, mankind or the human race. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, used for a human male or generically for man and woman and as a contrast to animals (Gen 1:26-27); (2) ish, SH-376, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23-24) and (3) enosh, SH-582, man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Ps 8:4-5).
slipped in: Grk. pareisduō, aor., from para ("beside") and eisduō ("enter") make one's way in alongside, secretly slip in. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. In Classical Greek the verb meant 'to slip in' or 'penetrate' and was used of a leech's bite (LSJ). The verb does not occur in the LXX at all but it does occur in Josephus to describe Cleopatra's secret campaign to have King Herod and King Malichus executed by the order of Antony (Wars I, 18:4). Fruchtenbaum says the verb means to get in by the back door. HELPS explains the verb as referring to people who appear to be true believers, but in reality oppose the faith. The description is like the parable Yeshua told of an enemy who sowed tares among the wheat while the farmer was sleeping (Matt 13:38-39), which Henry Morris interprets as "teachers who use the terminology of the faith, but distort and undermine the plain teachings of Scripture" (DSB).
The phrase "certain men crept in" indicates a specific group or class of individuals. Peter conveys a similar idea by saying that false prophets and false teachers arose among the people and introduce destructive heresies (2Pet 2:1). Yet, Judah never explains who he means. The verb implies a certain premeditation and not merely someone who lost their faith and backslid. During Yeshua's ministry various scribes and Pharisees, obviously spies for the Sanhedrin, showed up wherever he taught. These visitors while displaying themselves as great models of piety would challenge his authority simply by asking questions designed to trip him up.
those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a dem. pron. long ago: Grk. palai, adv., reference to time past, which may be (1) much earlier than present time, long ago or (2) relatively close to the present time, a while ago, already, recently. Marshall has "the ones of old." Most versions favor the first meaning for this verse, but it's more likely that Judah is referring to more recent events since the time reference is connected with denial of Yeshua. The recent problem may be illustrated in Paul's writings when he uses the pronoun tis to designate "certain men" who promoted legalism (Gal 2:12) and taught "strange doctrines" (1Tim 1:3).
having been written: Grk. prographō, perf. pass. part., to write down beforehand, to write down previously, i.e., written in God's book of judgment (Rienecker). A number of versions translate the verb with words as "foreordained," "designated," "marked out," but the verb stresses writing as a prophetic act. The verb occurs only four times in the Besekh and the rest in the writings of Paul (Rom 15:4; Gal 3:1; Eph 3:3). into: Grk. eis, prep., focus on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; into, to, toward. this: Grk. touto, neut. demonstrative pronoun. condemnation: Grk. krima may refer to a judicial decision, decree or verdict, or a sentence of condemnation and the subsequent punishment itself. The term is used here of the judgment of God.
ungodly men: pl. of Grk. asebēs, adj., ungodly, impious, irreverent, irreligious in an active sense. The adjective occurs 9 times in the Besekh and besides verse 14 below, it is found 3 times in Paul (Rom 4:5; 5:6; 1Tim 1:9) and 4 times in Peter (1Pet 4:18; 2Pet 2:5, 6; 3:7). Judah is not advocating a divine determinism in which certain people were predestined at creation to eternal life or eternal separation from God. Rather, God condemned all manner of wickedness to be worthy of death from the beginning. Paul makes the same point in his catalogues of sins that prevent sharing in the Kingdom of God (1Cor 6:9; Gal 5:21; Eph 5:5).
Jacobs notes that as in many apocalyptic communities like that at Qumran (which divided humanity into "children of light" and "children of darkness," 1Qs 1:9-11), humanity has already been divided into camps of saved and condemned" (461). turning: Grk. metatithēmi, pres. part., may mean (1) make a change in position, such as transferring allegiance, distance oneself, desert or (2) cause to be different, change, pervert. Danker and Mounce favor the second meaning here. The verb occurs six times in the Besekh, four of which are in Paul (Acts 7:16; Gal 1:6 [2t]; Heb 7:12; 11:5).
the grace: Grk. charis, disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient; thus, grace, gracefulness, graciousness, favor, thanks or gratitude. In the LXX charis occurs about 190 times of which only about 75 have a Hebrew equivalent, of which 61 are for Heb. hēn (favor) (DNTT 2:116). Charis also twice renders Heb. hesed (loyal love or loving-kindness) and rachamim ("mercy"). The use of hēn in biblical history depicts the stronger coming to the help of the weaker who stands in need of help by reason of his circumstances or natural weakness. of our: Grk. hēmeis, nominative pl. of egō, our. The use of the possessive pronoun alludes to Israel. God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See the note on verse 1 above. The gods of other nations were not known for grace.
into: Grk. eis, prep. license: Grk. aselgeia, wanton disregard for social or moral standards, self-abandonment, licentiousness. Mounce adds intemperance and outrageous behavior. BAG adds debauchery and sensuality. Rienecker says that the word contains the idea of shameless greed, animal lust, sheer self-indulgence which is such a slave to its so-called pleasures that it is lost to shame. It is one who acknowledges no restraints, who dares whatever his caprice and wanton petulance may suggest (II, 33). The analysis of turning charis into aselgeia is a kind of antinomianism, which was a contemporary problem Paul strongly condemned (Rom 6:1-2; 13:13).
and: Grk. kai, conj. denying: Grk. arneomai, pres. mid. part., may mean to (1) give a negative answer, say no, deny; (2) refuse to acknowledge, disown, deny; or (3) refuse to pay any attention to, disregard, ignore, disdain. The second meaning applies here with a nuance of the third. the only: Grk. monos, adj., signifying the exclusion of any other entity, alone, only. Master: Grk. despotēs means lord, master or ruler and refers to one who exercises absolute authority (Rienecker 2:481). The term originally applied to the master of a household and a master in contrast to a slave. Later the term was applied to political authority, and in Greek culture usually with a negative meaning.
Despotēs occurs about 60 times in the LXX and mostly translates Heb. adôn (SH-113), lord, master. The first use of adôn in the Tanakh, spelled "Adonai," occurs on the lips of Abraham addressing a visitor who turns out to be YHVH in pre-incarnate form (Gen 18:3, 13). The second usage of adôn is spoken by Sarah in reference to her husband (Gen 18:12). Within Greek culture the use of despotēs expresses the arbitrary, unlimited exercise of power without any real conditions, but typical of Jewish use of Greek words new meaning was infused into the term. Israel experienced the Lordship of God in his gracious saving actions in history.
Where despotēs is used, especially in later writings, the word particularly emphasizes God's omnipotence (Isa 1:24; 3:1; 10:33; Jer 4:10; 15:11; Jon 4:3; Dan 9:8, 15-17, 19) (DNTT 2:509). Despotēs occurs only ten times in the Besekh, four of which refer to humans, but six are of God or Yeshua (here; Luke 2:29; Acts 4:24; 2Tim 2:21; Rev 6:10; 2Pet 2:1). Judah strongly affirms that all authority in the earth has been given to Yeshua by the Father (cf. Matt 28:18; John 17:1-2; 1Cor 15:23-25; Eph 1:20-22; 1Pet 3:21-22; Rev 2:27; 11:15), thus he is "the only Master". Judah's point is that the antinomianism of the ungodly effectively deny Yeshua's absolute authority over them.
and: Grk. kai, conj. Lord: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) 'one in control through possession,' and therefore owner or master; or (2) 'one esteemed for authority or high status,' thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times, of which over 6,000 times is to replace the Hebrew tetragrammaton YHVH (DNTT 2:511). Kurios is the principal title by which disciples and members of the public addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry, over twice as many times as any other title (e.g., Rabbi, Teacher, Master). The frequent use of kurios to address Yeshua in the flesh would not have considered deity. Unbelieving Jews would have called him kurios out of respect. However, expectant Jews would call Yeshua adôn because the Messiah would rule over Israel. Yeshua the Messiah: See the note on verse 1 above.
Textual Note: Since despotēs is used in both the LXX and the Besekh in reference to God, the TR inserts theos ("God") after "Master," based on late MSS. This reading is preserved in the DRA, KJ21, KJV, LITV, NKJV, and YLT. Despite many occasional variant readings the wording of the text as presented in the Greek New Testament (UBS/NA) is strongly supported by the earliest and best MSS (Metzger 656f).
5 But I want to remind you, once having known all things, that the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed the ones not having been faithful.
But: Grk. de, conj. See verse 1 above. For this verse Judah intends a strong contrast, since he is describing what he feels compelled to do as a result of the preceding thought. I want: Grk. boulomai, pres. mid., to be willing; with the infinitive verb "remind" the emphasis is on desiring something, not a deliberative decision or resolution; thus, to wish, want or desire (BAG). to remind: Grk. hupomimnēskō, aor. inf., cause to be in the mind in a time subsequent to earlier experience or awareness, remind, remember, think of. you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron., a general reference to all the recipients of the letter. once: Grk. hapax, adv. See verse 3 above. Judah probably uses the adverb idiomatically of "there was a time you…"
having known: Grk. oida, perf. part. (the perf. tense of Grk. eidon, to see), to have seen or perceived, hence to know. The verb is used for various kinds of knowledge: (1) to know someone or about someone; (2) to be intimately acquainted with or stand in a close relation to someone; (3) to know or understand how to do something, be able; (4) understand, recognize, or come to know by experience; and (5) to remember (BAG). In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045; e.g., Num 11:16; Deut 1:39; Josh 2:4; 2Sam 19:6), which has a wide range of meaning, but in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, whether of knowing persons or knowing by experience, as well as knowing by learning (DNTT 2:395). To the Hebrew mind "knowing" is not philosophical or theoretical, but based in reality and experience.
all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., all, whole or every, conveying the idea of comprehensiveness. For his Jewish audience the "all things" included the Torah and the history of Israel as he will go on to illustrate. that: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, here introducing a subordinate clause or indirect statement that functions as complementary object of a preceding verb. the Lord: Grk. kurios. See the note on the previous verse. having saved: Grk. sōzō (from saos, 'free from harm'), aor. part., to rescue from a hazardous condition or circumstance.
In the LXX sōzō translates no less than 15 different Hebrew verbs, but the most important yasha, to deliver and save (e.g., 1Sam 23:5), and malat, to escape, deliver, save, (e.g., 1Kgs 1:12). The verbs are used in relation to various external threats and bodily peril, especially enemies (DNTT 3:206). Two important principles may be noted in the Tanakh. First, deliverance may come about through men, even though possessing significant limitations (e.g., Gideon, Jdg 7:2). Second, the pious Israelite was aware of the fact that deliverance comes ultimately from God himself (Ps 18:2; 44:3). It is by His power and name that foes are vanquished and evil defeated.
The verb sōzō is also used in various contexts to refer to being rescued from spiritual peril, frequently in an apocalyptic sense of being delivered from God's wrath. In the historical books of the Tanakh God’s judgment was temporal, but beginning with Isaiah the prophets foretold the results of judgment lasting forever (Isa 34:10; Jer 25:9; Ezek 35:9). The apostolic writings reveal that salvation is the assurance of deliverance from God’s wrath in the Day of the Lord and at the final judgment (Rom 5:9; 1Cor 5:5; 1Th 5:9; Heb 11:7; 1Pet 1:5), as well as deliverance from all that might lead to such judgment, such as sin. In Joel 2:32 salvation is promised to those who call on the name of the Lord and in Daniel 12:1 it is they whose names are written in the book of life.
a people: Grk. laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically and in Scripture often viewed in contrast with the ruling class. The term corresponds to the Heb. am-ha'aretz, "people of the land," i.e., the people of Israel. The use of "people" alludes to the fact that the descendants of Jacob did not become a nation until they arrived at Mt. Sinai and accepted the covenant. out of: Grk. ek, prep. used to introduce an aspect of separation or origin, lit. "out of, from within." the land: Grk. gē can mean the ground, land as contrasted with the sea, the earth in contrast to heaven and a region of the earth defined by boundary, culture or language. The LXX uses gē more than 2,000 times and translates the Heb. word erets (DNTT 1:517). In the Tanakh erets designates either (a) the earth in a cosmological sense, or (b) "the land" in the sense of a specific territorial area, primarily the Land of Israel, but here of a different country.
of Egypt: Grk. Aiguptos, a land in northeastern Africa, home to one of the earliest civilizations, and an important cultural and political influence on ancient Israel. In contrast to the modern nation, ancient Egypt was confined to the Nile River valley, a long, narrow ribbon of fertile land (the "black land") surrounded by uninhabitable desert (the "red land"). Egypt proper, from the first cataract of the Nile to the Mediterranean, is some 750 miles long. Judah summarizes the familiar story of the exodus found in Exodus 1–14. The summary also implies the history of how the Israelites came to be in Egypt (Genesis 39–50), as had been prophesied to Abraham (Gen 15:13).
afterward: Grk. deuteros, adj., second, again, the second time, another time; here identifying a temporal sequence between the verb "saved" to the verb following. destroyed: Grk. apollumi, aor., to cause severe damage, i.e., to destroy, or to experience disconnection or separation. the ones: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a dem. pron. not: Grk. mē, adv., expressing qualified negation, 'not,' used for an emphatic negative assertion. It differs from the other standard negative particle, oú, in that oú is objective, dealing only with simple facts, while mē is subjective, involving will and thought (DM 265f).
having been faithful: Grk. pisteuō, aor. part., in general Greek usage, means to have confidence or faith in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. Derived from the noun pistis (faithfulness, fidelity, trust, confidence), the verb puts into action conviction represented by the noun. In the LXX pisteuō renders the Heb. 'aman, which has a range of meaning: (1) confirm or support; (2) true, reliable or faithful; (3) to stand firm or trust (BDB 52). In the Hebrew concept trust and faithfulness are inseparable. If one trusts, then one is faithful.
Most versions translate the verb with "believe," but the context is the history of Israel. In Christian usage "believe" can mean to acknowledge that God exists or affirm a creedal statement of doctrine. Such belief does not necessarily connote a personal relationship with the God of Israel (cf. Jas 2:19). The CJB is closer to the mark with "did not trust." The TLB has "did not trust and obey Him." The MSG has "those who defected." The EXB has an explanatory note "unfaithful" and the NLT has "those who did not remain faithful." Judah's point is that those who were rescued from Egypt were destroyed due to their willful unfaithfulness. The historical reference is to the entire wilderness generation that came out of Egypt, with the exception of Joshua and Caleb (Num 14:30; 32:13).
Textual Note: A number of significant MSS (4th - 6th c.) read Iēsous ("Yeshua, Jesus," UBS1) instead of kurios ("Lord"), and is reflected in some Christian versions (DRA, ESV, LEB, MRINT, NET, NLT). The reading of kurios also has important textual support and is thus found in all the published Greek texts of the New Testament. Ironically, the translation committee for the modern NU-Text gives kurios a "D" ranking (Metzger 657). Assigning "D" to the chosen text indicates that the committee had great difficulty in arriving at a decision. Sometimes the "D" ranking indicates the least unsatisfactory reading (Metzger, Introduction, 14). The reading of Iēsous may have relevance to Judah's historical narrative in light of Paul's statement that the rock that followed Israel in the wilderness was the Messiah (1Cor 10:4).
Judah offers his fourth triad by saying three things about fallen angels. And likewise: Grk. te, conj. used to connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; and, and likewise, at the same time, moreover. angels: pl. of Grk. angelos means one sent, a messenger, whether human or celestial (BAG). In the LXX angelos renders Heb. malak, which means messenger, representative, courier or angel (DNTT 1:101f). The decision to translate malak or angelos as "angel" relies primarily on the context. In this context the plural noun means "angels." In the book of 1Enoch, being dated in the first half of the 2nd century BC, angels are mentioned numerous times. The Essenes possessed a highly developed angelology, including preserving the names of angels that are mentioned by Enoch (Josephus, Wars II, 8:7). The Pharisees believed in the existence of angels, but the Sadducees did not (Acts 23:8).
Exactly when the angels were created or some sinned is not disclosed in Scripture. Job is the first one to give a hint as to the creation of the angels. "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth …When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God [Heb. benei-Elohim] shouted for joy" (Job 38:4, 7 NASB). The earth or land was brought into existence on the third day, so the angels had to have been created prior to this in order to witness the event. Psalm 104:2-5 suggests that angels were created on the second day when the waters of the Deep were stretched out and the expanse (or firmament) was created (cf. Gen 1:6-8). In the beginning the angels shared the great music of God and their existence was of light and joy. They lived in the mountain of God and "walked in the midst of the stones of fire," referring to the beauty of heaven (cf. Job 38:7; Gen 1:3, 14; Ps 89:5; Ezek 28:13-15).
Angels are far different from popular assumptions about angels. Angels are not glorified humans that earn status in heaven by doing good works on earth. In Scripture angels have masculine descriptions (Jdg 13:6; Dan 9:21; Mark 16:5; Luke 24:4), contrary to art and media, which sometimes depicts them as female. In the Bible angels constitute the lowest order of the five categories of celestial beings, each with distinctive functions:
(1) The four living creatures (Heb. chayyot, SH-2416; Ezek 1:5; Rev 4:6-8). The four living creatures have six wings and multiple eyes.
(2) Seraphim (Heb. seraph; SH-8314; Isa 6:2-6). the seraphim have six wings
(3) Cherubim (Heb. cherub; SH-3742; Gen 3:24; Ex 25:18-20). The cherubim have two wings.
(4) Chief princes (Heb. rishon-sarim; Dan 10:13) or archangels (1Enoch 9:1; 1Th 4:16; Jude 1:9; Rev 8:2); and
(5) Angels (Heb. malakim, SH-4397). The archangels and angels have no wings. When seen on earth they always appear in human form (Josh 5:13; Jdg 13:6; Dan 8:16; 9:21; 12:6). The heavenly angels number in the millions (Heb 12:22; Rev 5:11).
There are over a dozen appearances of an angel to humans mentioned in the Tanakh and even more in the Besekh. Angels figure prominently in Scripture as ministering spirits (Mark 1:13; Heb 1:14) and personal guardians (Matt 18:10; Acts 12:15). Apparently they are in attendance at gatherings of believers for worship (1Cor 11:10). Angels assisted in giving the Torah (Deut 33:2; Acts 7:53; Gal 3:19; Heb 2:2). Angels do the Lord's bidding and sometimes are God's instruments in executing His judgment, particularly among His own people (2Sam 24:17; Acts 12:23).
that kept: Grk. tēreō, aor. part., may mean (1) maintain in a secure state, keep; or (2) be in compliance, a response to instruction, keep, observe. The second meaning applies here. not: Grk. mē, adv. of qualified negation, particularly emphasizing will and thought. their: pl. of Grk. heautou, reflexive pron.; himself. domain: Grk. archē, a noun that signifies priority and here refers to an assigned position or sphere of activity, position, domain or jurisdiction. The term implies an hierarchy among angels. but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. left: Grk. apoleipō, aor. part., to leave behind. their own: Grk. idios, adj., belonging to oneself, one's own. Idios particularly emphasizes the nature of a relationship, that is, belonging to an individual in contrast to what is public property or belongs to another.
habitation: Grk. oikētērion, habitation, dwelling, or abode. This unique word occurs only twice in the Besekh, the other by Paul of a heavenly dwelling place (2Cor 5:2). Judah thus speaks of angels who once enjoyed positions of prominence in heaven, but left in rebellion. Some interpreters believe that Judah alludes to the Genesis narrative in which the "sons of God (Heb. benei-Elohim)," supposedly fallen angels, took the "daughters of men" as wives (Gen 6:2, 4) (so Blum, Brumbach, Fruchtenbaum, Jacobs). Josephus recounts this belief when he wrote "Many angels of God accompanied with women and begat sons that proved unjust" (Ant. I, 3:1). Enoch records that during the days of Jared, the great-great-grandfather of Noah, 200 angels rebelled against God, forsook their place in heaven and descended to earth and there took wives from human women (1Enoch 6:1-8; 7:1-6). It should be noted that this leaving was volitional and should not be confused with the war in heaven that resulted in the dragon and his angels being expelled from heaven to earth (Rev 12:4, 7-9).
Dr. Henry Morris in his commentary on Genesis (The Genesis Record, Baker Book House, 1976) supports the thesis of fallen angels, but interprets the "sons of God" as "possessed" men, comparable to demonic possession (169). Morris labels the Jewish interpretation of "sons of God" in Genesis 6:2 to mean "angels of God" as a religious legend, fantasy or mythology. Besides the fact that we have no knowledge of the ability of angels to copulate, Yeshua firmly declared that angels do not marry (Matt 22:30) and the Genesis narrative clearly depicts marriage. In the book of Job angels are referred to in a neutral sense as "sons of God" (Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7), but many more times in the Bible humans are called "sons of God" (Deut 14:1; Ps 82:6; Hos 1:10; Matt 5:9, 45; Luke 6:35; Rom 8:14-15, 19, 23; 9:26; Gal 3:26; 4:6-7; Eph 1:5; Heb 12:7-8).
Against the interpretation of Morris these points may be made:
• Just because we don't know of the ability of angels to copulate does not mean that they lack the ability.
• The expression benei-Elohim occurs only in Genesis 6:2, 4 and Job 1:6; 2:1; and 38:7. In the other Tanakh passages Morris cites Deuteronomy 14:1 has banim-YHVH-Elohim and Psalm 82:6 has benei-Elyon, and in both cases refer to Israelites.
• Job was a contemporary of Abraham (if not earlier; see my article on Job) and his usage of "sons of God" to mean "angels" would make this designation the second time in biblical chronology that "sons of God" has this meaning. The later usage of "sons of God" to refer to humans does not negate its earlier usage for angels. Therefore it should not be discounted in the Genesis narrative.
• Yeshua said that the angels "in heaven" do not marry (Matt 22:30; Mark 12:25). He does not say that the angels who fell refrained from marriage.
Another approach is to interpret "sons of God" in Genesis 6 in a strictly human sense. For example, the sons of God would be descendants of Seth and the "daughters of men" are descendants of Cain. However, this solution does not explain their spiritual condition that led to the global flood to destroy them all. "Sons of Elohim" might mean "sons of gods," that is, idolatrous men, which would explain God's judgment on that generation (Gen 6:3, 5). However, the humanistic interpretation fails to account for the fact that the expression "sons of God" and "daughters of men" is a qualitative distinction between the two groups and their mating produced unusual offspring (Gen 6:4), called Nephilim (lit. "fallen ones").
he has kept: Grk. tēreō, perf. While the former use of the verb pertained to the rebellious angels, this usage concerns God's action of punishment. The perfect tense describes action completed in past time with continuing results in the present. in eternal: Grk. aidios, never having an end in time, everlasting, eternal. bonds: pl. of Grk. desmos, a medium or device used for restraining someone, bond or fetter. Only a divinely created device could restrain an angelic being. under: Grk. hupo, prep. used to indicate a position that is relatively lower; below, under. darkness: Grk. zophos, gloom, darkness, especially of infernal darkness. Peter, in repeating the narrative of angelic punishment, combines zophos with the Grk. verb tartaroō, "thrust down to Tartarus" (2Pet 2:4), a unique term for the deepest abyss where fallen angels are imprisoned (Thayer).
Judah was given a revelation of the imprisonment of fallen angels in advance of John's learning of it in his Patmos vision (Rev 9:14-16). John saw four angels bound at the river Euphrates who had authority over an army of "200 million." (See my commentary on Revelation 9.) to the judgment: Grk. krisis, judgment, here of divine scrutiny and determination of punishment. of the great: Grk. megas, exceeding a standard and therefore impressive, great; here as a superlative of an event of historic proportions. day: Grk. hēmera, a 24-hour day, here refers to an appointed day for a special purpose. The "great day" is the appointed Day of the Lord when God pours out His wrath on the wicked (Zeph 1:14; Rev 16:14). In John's revelation the vast army bound at the River Euphrates who will be released to execute the sixth trumpet of wrath on the Day of the Lord.
7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, in like manner with them having committed harlotry and having gone after other flesh, are set forth as an example, undergoing the penalty of eternal fire.
Judah offers his fifth triad by saying three things about Sodom and Gomorrah that are similar to the actions of the fallen angels: committed harlotry, went after other flesh and underwent the penalty of fire. Even as: Grk. hōs, adv. focusing on the idea of a pattern or model, just as, similar to, even as. Sodom: Grk. Sodoma, one of five “cities of the valley” (Gen 13:12; 19:29) of Abraham's time and a place of Lot's residence (Gen 13:10-12; 14:12; 19:1). Exact locations are unknown, but they were probably situated in the Valley of Siddim (Gen 14:3, 8, 10-11) near the Dead Sea. The city was known for the wickedness of its inhabitants (Gen 18:10) and because of which the city was consumed by a fiery judgment of the Lord in spite of intercession by Abraham (Gen 18:22-32; 19:24). Not even ten righteous men could be found there.
and: Grk. kai, conj. Gomorrah: Grk. Gomorra, another of the five "cities of the valley" (Gen 13:12; 19:29) of Abraham's time. Gomorrah shared the same moral degeneracy of Sodom and suffered the same divine judgment. See the article Sodom and Gomorrah Found! for more scientific information on the location and background of these cities. and: Grk. kai, conj. the cities: pl. of Grk. polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town. around them: While Sodom and Gomorrah are given the principle attention in biblical narrative Judah makes it clear that the neighboring towns shared the same corrupt moral condition. The Tanakh identifies these cities as Admah and Zeboiim (Deut 29:23; Hos 11:8).
in like: Grk. homoios, adj., like, similar, resembling. manner: Grk. tropos may mean (1) mode or procedure in which something takes place; way, manner; or (2) a person's manner of living; conduct, way of life. The first meaning applies here. with them: pl. Grk. houtos, dem. pron. The dative case of the pronoun emphasizes association. Judah is not saying that fallen angels engaged in homosexual sex, but that the sin of Sodom was of the same type as the fallen angels, i.e., purposeful rebellion against divine authority. having committed harlotry: Grk. ekporneuō, aor. act. part., commit fornication and metaphorically of idolatry (LSJ). The verb, formed from the prep. ek (out of, from within) and porneuō (to prostitute), occurs only here in the Besekh.
Thayer says the prefix ek seems to indicate a lust that gluts itself, satisfies itself completely. In the LXX ekporneuō occurs about 45 times for the Heb. verb zanah (SH-2181, to commit fornication with a harlot or prostitute; or to be or act as a harlot, BDB 275) for sexual harlotry (Gen 38:24; Ex 35:16; Lev 19:29; 21:9) and spiritual harlotry (Ex 35:14; Deut 31:16; Jer 3:1; Ezek 6:9; 16:16; 20:30; 23:3; Hos 2:5). Ekporneuō also occurs in the Testament of Daniel 5:5 for "going a-whoring after women of the lawless ones" (BAG). Thus, zanah particularly stood for the wicked practices of idolatry and pagan religion.
Readers should understand that while the English word "fornication" in the modern vernacular is used for voluntary sex between persons either unmarried or not married to each other, the Bible words ekporneuō and porneuō meant having sex with a prostitute and being a prostitute. The Jerusalem Council especially emphasized in its moral guidelines that all disciples were to abstain from harlotry and eating food sacrificed to idols (Acts 15:20). Two congregations were singled out in Revelation for violating this standard (Pergamum, Rev 2:14; and Thyatira, Rev 2:20). Today there are congregations that similarly minimize or deny the sinfulness of sexual activity outside the biblical marriage design.
and: Grk. kai, conj. having gone: Grk. aperchomai, aor. part., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of a destination, to go, depart or leave. Judah depicts an intentional diversion from God's will. after: Grk. opisō, prep., adv., in a state, condition or situation that is subsequent, used here in the extended sense of association. In other words the abandonment of God's standards of morality led to further degeneration. other: Grk. heteros, a distributive pronoun that may (1) distinguish one item from another in a numerical sense, other, another; or (2) express dissimilarity of one item relative to another, whether generically or qualitatively; other, another or different. Some versions use the misleading translation of "strange" (ASV, HNV, KJ21, KJV, MW, NASB, NKJV, WEB).
flesh: Grk. sarx, "flesh," has both literal and figurative uses in Scripture: (1) the tissue that covers the skeleton of a human or animal; (2) the whole body viewed as a substance; (3) human or mortal nature, with its limitations; (4) theologically human desire that stands in opposition to the Spirit; and (6) the genitals with or without a suggestion of sinfulness connected with it (BAG). In the LXX sarx renders Heb. basar, which has the same range of meaning (DNTT 1:672). Here sarx most likely serves as a euphemism for genital contact or intercourse, as in Genesis 2:25 where "one flesh" refers to male-female sexual intercourse. "Other flesh" would then mean the union of prohibited relations. With the mention of Sodom and Gomorrah "other flesh" would certainly mean male-male copulation prohibited by God's Law (Lev 18:22), and in their case even homosexual rape of visiting strangers (Gen 19:4-9) (DSB).
The phrase "other flesh" may be Judah's way of summarizing Paul's catalog of sexual sinners who are barred from inheriting the Kingdom of God (1Cor 6:9-10): pornoi ("fornicators," male prostitutes), eidōlolatrai ("idolators," pagan worship included intercourse with deities via a prostitute; cf. Acts 15:20), moichoi ("adulterers," men who have sex with married women; also wives with multiple lovers, Prov 6:24-32), malakoi ("effeminate," i.e., a catamite, a boy or youth in a homosexual relationship with an adult male), and arsenokoitai ("homosexuals," also a pederast, an adult male who has sexual relations with a boy). Paul noted that some of the Corinthian disciples had once been involved in these sins, but had been washed by Yeshua's blood and sanctified by the Spirit (1Cor 6:11), proving that these conditions are not genetic but moral.
are set forth: Grk. prokeimai, pres. mid., to be in public view, be set forth. as an example: Grk. deigma, proof or example of something. The term occurs only here in the Besekh. The noun does not occur in the LXX, but it is found in writings of Philo and Josephus and occurs as a loanword in rabbinic writings (BAG). undergoing: Grk. hupechō, pres. part., a technical legal term meaning to be liable to suffer or undergo penalty. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. The verb appears a few times in the LXX: Ps 89:50; Ezek 5:7 and 2Macc 4:48; as well as in Josephus (BAG). the penalty: Grk. dikē, the assessment of penalty for violation of what is right as a result of a judicial hearing.
of eternal: Grk. aiōnios, adj., relating to time without boundaries or interruption; eternal; or relating to a period of unending duration; permanent, lasting. In the LXX aiōnios occurs as the equivalent for Heb. olam, "a long duration, antiquity or futurity" (BDB 761), which is also used as an adverb meaning "for ever, for all time" (DNTT 3:827). fire: Grk. pur, fire, as a physical state of burning. Eternal fire is a characteristic of hell (Matt 18:8; 25:41). The names of the Sodom and Gomorrah became figurative of extraordinary sinfulness (Deut 32:32; Isa 1:10; Jer 23:14; Matt 11:23-24; Luke 10:12). The memory of their destruction provided a picture of God's judgment (Isa 13:19; Jer 49:18; Matt 10:14-15; 11:23-24) and made them an example to be avoided (Deut 29:23-25; 2Pet 2:6). John the apostle would later be informed that unrepentant pornoi would be consigned to the lake of fire (Rev 21:8).
8 Yet likewise also these dreaming ones indeed defile the flesh, moreover they set aside authority, and they slander glorious ones.
Judah offers his sixth triad by describing three actions of the "dreaming ones." Yet: Grk. mentoi, conj. that focuses on reaction to a preceding detail; yet, nevertheless. likewise: Grk. homoiōs, adv., likewise, in similar manner, similarly. also: Grk. kai, conj. these: pl. of Grk. houtos, dem. pron. dreaming ones: Grk. enupniazomai, pres. mid. part., to dream. In the LXX enupniazomai renders Heb. chalam (SH-2492), to dream, and appears in contexts of revelatory or prophetic dreams (e.g. Gen 28:12; 37:5-6, 9-10; 41:5). The verb occurs elsewhere in the Besekh only in Acts 2:17, a quotation from the prophet Joel.
In biblical times God spoke to the patriarchs and prophets of Israel in visions and dreams, as He declared, "Listen to what I say: when there is a prophet among you, I, ADONAI, make myself known to him in a vision, I speak with him in a dream. (Num 12:6 CJB). Indeed, in biblical times, it was considered a tragic loss when God withheld communication in this manner (cf. 1Sam 3:1; Ps 74:9; Ezek 7:26; Amos 8:11f). When Paul wrote that God had spoken to the fathers and the prophets in many ways (Heb 1:1) he implied the inclusion of dreams. Philo, the first century Jewish philosopher, wrote a book on the subject called On Dreams, That They Are God Sent.
God did use dreams to communicate His will and to portend the future. Sometimes God spoke in a dream to offer personal guidance, such as to Abimelech (Gen 20:3), Laban (Gen 31:24), Solomon (1Kgs 3:5), Joseph (Matt 1:20; 2:13, 22), the Magi (Matt 2:12), and Pilate’s wife (Matt 27:19). Most of the dream occurrences in Scripture, however, were visionary, prophetic and often contained symbolic elements that troubled the recipient and others who heard the dreams. Jacob (Gen 28:12; 31:10f), Joseph (Gen 37:5-10), an Egyptian cupbearer and baker (Gen 40:5), Pharaoh (Gen 41:1), a friend of Gideon (Judg 13:7-9), Nebuchadnezzar (Dan 2:1; 4:5), and Daniel (Dan 7:1) were recipients of such dreams. For every visionary dream an interpretation.
God did not intend to stop using dreams to communicate His will. Joel prophesied that when He poured out His Spirit "old men will dream dreams and young men will see visions (Joel 2:28). Peter repeated this promise on Pentecost (Acts 2:17). However, we should note that all the visionary dreams in Scripture had a bearing on the welfare of Israel or God’s sovereign plan for Israel. The primary test of whether a dream comes from God is the principle of two or three witnesses (Matt 18:16). The principle is illustrated in the story of the Egyptian Pharaoh who had two prophetic dreams that told the same story (Gen 41:1-7). God revealed to Joseph that the second dream repeated and reinforced the message of the first dream. In the case of Nebuchadnezzar's prophetic dream God revealed the interpretation not only to Daniel but also his three friends (Dan 2:23).
Just as God's people received guidance through dreams there was the real problem of Satan imitating God's work by inspiring false dreams. The Torah warned Israel not to follow any prophet into idolatry who claimed authority based on a dream (Deut 13:1-5). In Jeremiah's time there were prophets who prophesied falsely, claiming the authority of a dream (Jer 23:25; 29:28). In that time the dreaming false prophets claimed that God was not going to bring judgment on Israel and they were safe from the Babylonians (Jer 23:17; 27:9). After the exile people were resorting to diviners for personal guidance provided on the basis of dreams (Zech 10:2). Paul warned about listening to false prophets who take their stand based on things they have seen (see my comment on Col 2:18). Judah's condemnation of the "dreaming ones" reflects this biblical history.
indeed: Grk. mén, conj., a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. defile: Grk. miainō, stain, to contaminate, pollute, defile, used of both ritual and moral pollution, the latter sense here. The verb occurs only four times in the Besekh, three of which are in Paul (Titus 1:15; Heb 12:15). In the LXX miainō frequently renders forms of Heb. tamê (SH-2390), 'defile,' especially in ritual contexts in Leviticus, Numbers and Ezekiel (DNTT 1:447). the flesh: Grk. sarx. See the previous verse. The term is likely used here as a euphemism for the genitals. The word picture of "defile the flesh" alludes to immoral conduct in a brothel, which Judah may intend to be taken literally, or figurative of defilement of character. moreover: Grk. de, conj. See verse 5 above. they set aside: Grk. atheteō, to set aside as unworthy of consideration, to invalidate or nullify. Yeshua used this verb to accuse certain Pharisees of setting aside Torah commandments for their traditions (Mark 7:9), as well as rejecting his teachings (John 12:48).
authority: Grk. kuriotēs, lordship, dominion, applied to possessors of extraordinary power. Mounce adds "constituted authority. Since the word is derived from kurios (lord, master, owner), the term has a concrete meaning of authority (LSJ). The word occurs only four times in the Besekh. Paul uses the word twice (Eph 1:21; Col 1:16) and Mounce thinks both instances could refer to angelic powers. Yet in those contexts kuriotēs is set in contrast to what is in heaven. Peter's use of the term in 2Pet 2:10 implies human authority. "Dominion" could also be a euphemism for Torah as authority for life, since God gave the Torah (Ex 24:12) and was assisted in that revelation by angels (Acts 7:53; Gal 3:19). The Torah reflects the lordship of the heavenly powers over all human life. As a result of supposed visionary revelation, then, the offenders justify setting aside Torah standards and engage in sexual immorality. Jezebel of Thyatira probably "prophesied" such rationalization for her wickedness (Rev 2:19).
and: Grk. de, conj. they slander: Grk. blasphēmeō, to cause damage to reputation by arrogant speech or action; slander, revile, malign, vilify, defame. glorious ones: Grk. doxas, pl. fem. of doxa, which has four categories of meaning: (1) brightness, splendor or radiance as of light; (2) magnificence, splendor of what catches the eye; (3) fame, renown, honor or approval of that which is esteemed; and (4) glorious angelic beings and majesties (BAG). In the LXX doxa translates Heb. kabōd (abundance, honor, glory, BDB 458), which often refers to the luminous presence of God, the glorious and terrifying manifestation of Himself in fiery light (e.g. Ex 13:21-22; 24:17; 33:18; 40:35; Num 14:22; Deut 5:24; cf. Acts 2:3; 1Tim 6:16). In the apostolic writings doxa is a continuation of the underlying Hebrew concept (DNTT 2:45).
Danker as other interpreters believe that doxas, translated as "glorious ones," refers to transcendent beings, such as angels. Some versions adopt this view with the translation of "angels" (CEB, CEV, EXB, ICB, NCV, WE), "angelic beings" (CJB, GNC), "angelic majesties" (AMP, NASB) or "celestial beings" (HNV, MEV, NIV, WEB). While this interpretation seems reasonable we must ask, why would anyone slander angels? Slander is ordinarily directed at a known person who is an object of hostility. What form would such slander take and what would it accomplish? Humans cannot cause angels any harm. The plural form doxas occurs in only two other verses, 1Pet 1:11 where it refers to "glories" following the sufferings of Yeshua and 2Pet 2:10 where it used in the same sort of construction as this verse. Was Peter talking about angels? If the two writers meant "angels" why not use the word for "angels?"
Another approach to the plural form is to consider that the term "glory" from its Hebraic origin indicates something or someone of excellence worthy of honor and esteem (cf. John 2:11; 7:18; 12:43; Rom 2:7; 1Cor 11:7, 15; 15:40; 2Cor 3:7). Yeshua passed on his glory to his apostles (John 17:22). Another consideration is that Paul says "the glory" belongs to the Israelites (Rom 9:4), so that the faithful remnant of Israel could be called "glorious ones." Paul also speaks of the ministry of the Spirit and the ministry of righteousness abounding in glory (2Cor 3:7-11). Then Paul provides that inspired picture of spiritual transformation:
"But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit." (2Cor 3:18 NASB)
"Glory to glory" is more than one glory. It is very possible that Judah means that the "ungodly dreaming ones" are not slandering or hurling verbal abuse at angels they've never met and never would meet, but at Jews whom they have met, especially the apostles whose authority had been rejected by these ungodly men.
9 But Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a judgment of slander, but said, "The Lord rebuke you."
But: Grk. de, conj. Michael: Grk. Michaēl (for Heb. Mikha'el, "who is like God?") is described as one of the chief princes (Dan 10:13). "Chief," Heb rishon, may mean former, first or chief (BDB 911). It could be that Michael was one of the first angelic beings created and from the beginning was the guardian of the Messianic line, which later extended to the nation of Israel. Michael was apparently sent because Daniel's intercession directly concerned Israel. In Daniel 10:13 Michael fights the demonic prince over Persia to permit God’s messenger to reach Daniel. Daniel is told that Michael is one "who stands guard over the sons of your people" (Dan 12:1). Thus, Michael is Israel’s guardian angel. Here Michael also has an intercessory role.
the archangel: Grk. archangelos, chief angel or head messenger of God, archangel. The title occur only twice in the Besekh (also 1Thess 4:16). While the Pharisees believed in angels Josephus said that the Essenes in particular preserved the names of the angels (Wars, Book II, 8:7). Gabriel (Dan 8:16; 9:21; Luke 1:19, 26) and Michael (Dan 10:13, 21; Rev 12:7) are included in a list of seven archangels, called the "angels of the presence" in 1Enoch 9:1. The remaining five archangels are Uri'el, Rapha'el, Ragu'el, Saraka'el, and Remi'el. Each archangel is assigned a special function that either serves God or His people Israel (1Enoch 20:1-7; 40:1-9). These seven archangels may well be the seven angels in Revelation that sound the seven trumpets of judgment (Rev 8:2) and pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath (Rev 15:7).
when: Grk. hote, temporal adv. contending: Grk. diakrinō, pres. mid. part., to dispute or contend with. with the devil: Grk. diabolos means "slanderer, accuser." Diabolos is used in the LXX to translate the Heb. word sātān, which means “adversary.” The words “devil” and “satan” are not personal names, but titles used in the Scriptures to describe the activity of a person, whether human or heavenly, who opposes other humans (e.g. Num 22:22; 1Sam 29:4; 1Chr 21:1; Job 2:1; Zech 3:1). In the Besekh diabolos is never used to describe a human (DNTT 3:468f).
he disputed: Grk. dialegomia, impf. mid., of speech exchange, dispute, argue, debate. This verb occurs 13 times in the Besekh and except for one time in Mark 9:34, the verb appears only in relation to Paul, ten times in Luke's narrative of Paul's ministry, and once by Paul (Heb 12:5). about: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near, about, or having to do with something; about, concerning. the body: Grk. sōma, a structured physical unit in contrast to its parts, body of human or animal, whether living or dead, but normally of a living human body. In Hebraic thought "the body" represents the whole man. In this context soma refers to a corpse.
of Moses: Grk. Mōusēs, for Heb. Mosheh, is most likely derived from Egyptian mes meaning "child" or "son" (BDB 602), since the daughter of Pharaoh named him (Ex 2:10). She explained the chosen name by saying, "Because I drew [Heb. mashah, "to draw"] him out of the water." Moses was the great Hebrew leader, prophet and lawgiver of Israel. Moses was a Levite, the son of Amram and Jochebed (Num 26:59). He had two wives, Zipporah (Ex 2:21; 18:2) and a Cushite woman (Num 12:1), and two sons of Zipporah, one named Gershom and the other named Eliezer (Ex 18:3-4). Moses was the leader of the Israelites in their deliverance from Egyptian slavery and oppression and their journey through the wilderness.
At Mount Sinai Moses served as mediator to facilitate the beginning of the covenant relationship between God and Israel. Forty years later on the plains of Moab Moses renewed the covenant with Israel and made preparations for their entry into the promised land. Moses compiled, wrote and/or edited the five books attributed to his name (Ex 24:4; Deut 31:9; Mark 12:19; Luke 24:27, 44; Acts 15:21; Rom 10:5) and left Israel with the rich legacy of God's Word. He was a heroic leader of the people and a devout man of God. His story is found in the extensive narratives from Exodus 1:1 through Deuteronomy 34:1. Moses died at the age of 120 (Deut 34:7). He was a giant of a man. (See my article Moses and Yeshua.)
did not: Grk. ou, adv. of strong negation. dare: Grk. tolmaō, aor., act with apparent abandonment or audacity, dare. not bring: Grk. epipherō, aor. inf., bring on, inflict or pronounce in a judicial sense. a judgment: Grk. krisis, judgment, which may involve scrutiny of conduct and administration of justice. of slander: Grk. blasphēmia means slander, defamation, blasphemy or abusive speech, and in the Besekh is sometimes directed at men and sometimes at God. but said: Grk. legō, aor., to make a statement or utterance, whether oral or in written form. The verb "say" functions as quotation marks for the statement following. the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 4 above. rebuke: Grk. epitimaō, aor. opt., to express urgently to elicit compliance; reprimand, warn, reprove or rebuke. you: Grk. su, second person pronoun.
Stern explains that Judah reportedly alludes to a story included in the Testament of Moses, a Jewish writing from the beginning of the first century. Although some portions of it have survived, the relevant ones have not. However, elements of the legend are found elsewhere. Deuteronomy Rabbah 11:10 reports that an hour before the death of Moses a dispute occurred between Satan, regarded in Judaism as the angel of death, and Michael who, on the basis of Daniel 10:13, 21; 12:1, is regarded in Jewish tradition as Israel’s defender and Satan’s opponent. The Torah says that God buried Moses in the valley of Moab opposite Beth-Peor, but the actual burial place is unknown (Deut 34:6). Targum Jonathan says that Moses’ tomb was put under Michael's authority.
The Testament of Moses must have added that God assigned Michael to bury Moses' corpse, but when Satan claimed it as his Michael took issue with him. Even though Michael was one of the chief angels, he did not dare act as Judge against Satan, because he recognized that Satan's role as accuser was given to him by God (as portrayed in Job 1–2). The Besekh, like the Tanakh, does not consider Satan an independent force for evil, but a servant of God with limited authority. So, in keeping with the warning of God, "Vengeance is mine; I will repay" (Deut 32:25), Michael said only, "The Lord rebuke you," echoing God's own rebuke of Satan (Zech 3:1–2).
10 But these slander what things they have known not: moreover what things they understand naturally, like unreasoning animals, in these things they are destroyed.
But: Grk. de, conj. these: pl. of Grk. houtos, dem. pron.; i.e., the "dreaming ones" of verse 8. slander: Grk. blasphēmeō, pres. See verse 8 above. what things: pl. of Grk. hosos, reflexive pron. they have known: Grk. oida, perf. See verse 5 above. not: Grk. ou, adv. In other words, they criticize or mock revealed truth and they state their own assumptions and beliefs as if they were facts. moreover: Grk. de, conj. what things: pl. of Grk. hosos. they understand: Grk. epistamai, pres. mid., take a position required for something; (1) grasp mentally; understand; or (2) acquire information; know. The second meaning applies here. naturally: Grk. phusikōs, adv., in the manner of elemental behavior; naturally, as defined by the simile that follows and therefore in satirical vein. The word occurs only here in the Besekh. The word is not found in the LXX, but does occur in Philo (BAG).
like: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 7 above. unreasoning: Grk. alogos, adj., lacking the reasoning capacity of humans. Peter also uses the adjective in reference to animals (2Pet 2:12). animals: Grk. zōon, denotes a living thing or being that is not human. In the LXX zōon stands for Heb. chay (SH-2416), an animal, a living being, used of a living creature with the capability for breath and locomotion. The word zōon appears first in Genesis 1:21 of animals created on the fifth day of the creation week. in: Grk. en, prep. these things: pl. of Grk. houtos, dem. pron. they are destroyed: Grk. phtheirō, pres. pass., cause change from a good condition to one that ends in ruin; ruin, spoil, corrupt, destroy. The verb occurs once in a similar usage in Peter (2Pet 2:12), but six times in Paul's writings (1Cor 3:17; 15:33; 2Cor 7:2; 11:3; Eph 4:22). Since the "dreaming ones" lack the capacity to spiritually appraise truth (1Cor 2:14-15), they will end badly.
11 Woe to them, because they went the way of Cain, and abandoned to the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
Judah offers his seventh triad by likening the ungodly dreaming ones to three villains in the Tanakh. Although there names are not given in chronological order, their stories function as a parallelism. Woe: Grk. ouai, an interjection expressing a sense of profound grief, especially in the face of impending disaster or expressing certainty of assured disaster. A "woe" is a calamity of such proportions that it stretches the mind to think of anything worse. In the LXX ouai renders Hebrew words meaning "to howl," which may express grief (Prov 23:29), despair (1Sam 4:7), lamentation (1Kgs 13:30), dissatisfaction (Isa 1:4), pain (Jer 10:19), a threat (Ezek 16:23) or simply to attract attention (Isa 55:11) (DNTT 3:1051).
In contrast to the usage of "woe" in the Tanakh Judah uses the term as Yeshua did of potential punishment or judgment for sinful behavior. Yeshua pronounced woes on Chorazin and Bethsaida for the unwillingness of their residents to repent (Matt 11:21). He also pronounced seven woes on scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy and legalism, saying that their end would be in hell (Matt 23:13-33). to them: pl. of Grk. autos, pers. pron. Judah again alludes to the "dreaming ones" of verse 8 above and now pronounces "woe" on them like a clap of thunder. because: Grk. hoti, conj. they went: Grk. poreuō, aor. pass., to move from one part of an area to another, go or make one's way.
the way: Grk. hodos, with the focus on the concept of going the word typically has the sense of a route for traveling, hence a way, a road or a highway, but used idiomatically here for one's conduct or way of life. The mention of "way" reflects the Hebrew theology of the two ways, the way of righteousness leading to life and the way of wickedness leading to death (cf. Psalm 1). The ungodly dreaming ones have taken the way of death. of Cain: Grk. Kain (Heb. Qayin, "possession"), pronounced "Qah-yeen," the first-born son of Adam and Eve, whose story is found in Genesis 4:1-17. Cain was a farmer, and his brother Abel (Heb. Hevel, "sorrow") a shepherd (see Josephus, Ant., I, 2:1). When the two men brought offerings to the Lord, Abel's offering of firstlings from the flock was accepted; but Cain's offering from the ground was not.
Abel set the example for what became God's standard in the Torah, the firstborn of humans and animals and the first fruits of crops. Cain did not bring the first fruits. Cain apparently treated his offering as what he desired to give with no thought of sacrifice. God warned Cain that Sin was crouching at his door and warned him to resist. Cain ignored the warning and out of jealousy murdered his brother. God then offered at least two opportunities to repent (Gen 4:9-10), but instead Cain chose to rationalize his actions. In punishment, God denied him future farming success and made him to be a wandering vagabond. God marked him off to protect him from anyone seeking to avenge Abel's murder.
and: Grk. kai, conj. abandoned: Grk. ekcheō, aor. pass., cause to come out in a stream; pour out, but used here figuratively of a focus on concentrated intention of self-destruction; abandon. to the error: Grk. planē, a wandering from the standard route, veering away from what is true or right; deviation, error. The term "error" functions as a synonym of "way" and "rebellion" following. of Balaam: Grk. Balaam for Heb. Bil'am ("not of the people," i.e., a foreigner). The allusion to Balaam would present a strong image to those familiar with the Torah story, which is narrated in Numbers 22―25. (See also Josephus, Ant., IV, 6:1-13.) Balak was king of the Moabites and greatly feared the Israelites. So, he hired Balaam from the region of Abraham’s origin to use divination to curse Israel.
Of course, God intervened and forced Balaam to change all his curses to blessings. After Balak’s plan failed, Balaam apparently suggested another approach that did meet with some temporary success. The sociable Moabites invited the Israelites to their feasts, which turned out to be occasions for paying homage to idols and engaging in sexual orgies. The Israelites were easily seduced, but subsequently severely punished for their folly. The same accusation is made of the congregational leader in Pergamum (Rev 2:14). Even though Balaam offered blessings and even proclaimed a Messianic prophecy (Num 24:17), he was still executed for his rebellion against God (Num 31:8; Josh 13:22).
for reward: Grk. misthos, reciprocation for performance, as payment for labor, pay, wages. Balaam provided his services to Balak on a contract basis (Num 22:7). The fee for Balaam's services is never defined but it presumptively would have been enough to make him a wealthy man (cf. Num 22:18). While there is promise of great reward in serving God, this is not to be the motivation for the disciple of Yeshua. Instead disciples are to be known by their giving, not their getting. For the ungodly dreaming ones their wages will be death.
and: Grk. kai, conj. perished: Grk. apollumi, aor. mid. ind., to cause severe damage with the focus on loss of existence, and in this case eliminating by death. in the rebellion: Grk. antilogia, adversarial stance or position; opposition, insurgency, rebellion. Antilogia functions as a synonym of the preceding terms "way" and "error." of Korah: Grk. Kore (for Heb. Qorach), meaning "bald." Korah, a Levite, was a leader of a rebellion against Moses and Aaron while Israel was camped in the wilderness of Paran (Num 16:1-35). Korah, Dathan, and Abiram led a confederacy of 250 princes of the people against Aaron's claim to the priesthood and Moses' claim to authority in general. The rebels contended that the entire congregation was sanctified and therefore Levites should be qualified to perform priestly functions. As punishment for their insubordination, God caused the earth to open and swallow the leaders, their families and their property. A fire from the Lord consumed the 250 followers. (See Josephus, Ant., IV, 2:1-4; 3:4.)
All three of these villains had one thing in common. They refused to surrender totally to the will of God. They thought they had the right to determine how they served God. They were wrong.
12 These are stains in your love-feasts, fearlessly feasting together, feeding themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, having died twice, having been uprooted;
In this verse and the next Judah describes the ungodly dreaming ones with five word pictures: hidden reefs, waterless clouds, fruitless trees, foaming waves and wandering stars. These: pl. of Grk. houtos, dem. pron. are: Grk. eimi, pres., to be, a function word used primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate (BAG). "These are" is an allusion to the "dreaming ones" (verse 8) who follow after the way of Cain, the error of Balaam and the rebellion of Korah. stains: Grk. spilas, may mean either (1) rocky underwater area; ledge of rock, reef; or (2) a spot or stain. The word occurs only here in the Besekh. The noun does not occur in the LXX, but is found in Josephus (BAG).
Interpretation depends on which of the two possible meanings is preferred. Bible versions are thus divided over translation with many versions favoring the first meaning with "reefs" or "rocks" (AMP, ASV, CEB, ESV, HCSB, HNV, MW, NASB, NET, NLT, OJB, REV, TLV, WEB), but other versions favoring the second meaning with "blemishes," "blot," "spots," or "stains" (BRG, CEV, CJB, DLNT, DRA, ISV, KJVM, MEV, NAB, NCV, NEB, NIRV, NIV, NKJV, NRSV, RSV, TEV). Blum thinks the rendering of "hidden rocks" connotes the danger of shipwreck of the faith, but I think the Jewish background of Judah would view these ungodly persons in terms of uncleanness. A parallel description occurs in 2Peter 2:13, but the Greek text there uses the alternate spelling of spilos, meaning stain or blemish.
in your: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. love-feasts: Grk. agapais, pl. of agapē, lit. "loves." See the note on verse 2 above. Greek lexicons say the plural form is used of a feast at which common interests are shared. The plural form does not occur in the LXX or other non-canonical Jewish literature, and occurs only here in the Besekh. BAG and Thayer explain that the plural agapais refers to feasts expressing and fostering mutual love which used to be held by Christians before the celebration of the Lord's supper, and at which the poorer Christians mingled with the wealthier and partook in common with the rest of food provided at the expense of the wealthy. The interpretation of "love-feast" is based on writings of church fathers (e.g., Clement of Alexandria, Instructor, II:1; Tertullian, Apology, Chap. 39) and not on any contemporary Jewish literature. This meaning is reinforced by the verb "feasting together" that follows.
Early disciples certainly "broke bread" together, an idiomatic expression for sharing a meal (Acts 2:42, 46; 20:7, 11; 1Cor 11:20-21), but none of the biblical narratives ever describe them with the word agapē. Paul's exhortation to the Corinthian congregation indicates that common meals were shared, but in that situation the fellowship was the opposite of a "love-feast" (see my commentary on 1Cor 11:20-33). In this passage Judah does not criticize the manner of feasting as Paul does in his letter, but the character of some of the people in attendance. Judah's usage of agapais could hint at the ideal of feasting found in the prophecy of Zechariah:
"ADONAI-Tzva'ot says, 'The fast days of the fourth, fifth, seventh and tenth months are to become times of joy, gladness and cheer for the house of Y'hudah. Therefore, love truth and peace." (Zech 8:19 CJB)
fearlessly: Grk. aphobōs, adv., without fear. The word occurs four times in the Besekh, but only here does it carry the sense of acting without awareness of accountability (cf. Luke 1:74; 1Cor 16:10; Php 1:14). feasting together: Grk. suneuōcheomai, pres. mid. part., to put on a feast, to enjoy a feast, to feast together. The verb does not occur at all in the LXX, and in the Besekh only twice (also 2Pet 2:13). Josephus uses the verb for the communal meals associated with the three Jewish pilgrims festivals (Josephus, Ant., IV, 8:7), or other occasions of feasting, not ordinary family meals. The adverb "fearlessly" might indicate feasting in a disrespectful manner, not considering the fear of God (cf. 1Cor 11:27-32; Heb 10:26-31). There are two occurrences of the verb in Jewish literature that illustrate this point.
Josephus uses the verb to refer to the occasion when Noah "feasted with his companions," i.e., his family, after leaving the ark (Ant. I, 3:5), but a second mention of "feasting" occurred after wine production and Noah became drunk, fell asleep and lay naked in an unseemly manner (Gen 9:20; Josephus, Ant. I, 6:3). Then, Philo, the Jewish philosopher, uses the verb when he condemns sharing a feast that violates the rule of Leviticus 7:24 to include meat taken from a dead carcass or torn by wild beasts (Special Laws, IV, 23:119). However, Judah is criticizing participants who are in reality "so-called brothers" (cf. 1Cor 5:11) and who come to a congregational meal without shame and expect to be received in love. Judah goes on to describe their true nature.
feeding: Grk. poimainō, pres. part., (1) to tend or shepherd a flock of sheep, with the focus on ensuring pasturage, or (2) of tending God's people, with the focus on providing care. Danker interprets the verb here of tending to one's own interests. Marshall and several versions translate the verb as "feeding," which seems appropriate to the context of the love-feast. themselves: pl. of Grk. heautou, personal pronoun. The phrase "feeding themselves" is set in contrast to the "feasting" and functions as a word picture depicting someone who comes to a potluck without bringing anything. They feed off the largesse and generosity of others but contribute nothing to it. In reality the ungodly dreaming ones care only for themselves. Because of their self-focus they do not submit to the authority of congregational leaders or apostolic teaching.
clouds: Grk. nephelē, cloud, as of the atmospheric phenomena that brings rain. without water: Grk. anudros, adj., waterless, used of various natural phenomena, such as springs and wells, but here of clouds. Waterless clouds are a common occurrence, but here used of the "dreaming ones" who produce nothing of value. Peter uses this word to describe false prophets, although he associates the adjective with springs (2Pet 2:17). carried along: Grk. parapherō, pres. pass. part., to remove from a position; carry away. The verb occurs four times in the Besekh, one of which is a warning from Paul writing to Messianic Jews not to be "carried away" by strange teachings (Heb 13:9). The rebellious ones of whom Judah wrote ignored the danger of heresy.
by winds: pl. of Grk. anemos, wind as a natural phenomenon, used here as a metaphor. The noun occurs 31 times in the Besekh, but is used figuratively only two other times. Jacob ("James") mentions strong winds that propel a ship (Jas 3:4) as a word picture of the evil use of the tongue. Paul uses the word to describe those who are "carried about by every wind of doctrine" (Eph 4:14). Judah may be alluding to Proverbs 25:14, "Like clouds and wind without rain is a man who boasts of his gifts falsely." The false teachers are all promise without performance.
autumn: Grk. phthinopōrinos, late autumn, alludes to trees that ought to be ripe for picking but have no fruit. The word does not occur in the LXX or other contemporary Jewish literature and occurs only here in the Besekh. trees: Grk. dendron, tree without specification of species and variety. without fruit: Grk. akarpos, no fruit; fruitless, useless, unproductive. The point of the comparison is probably that trees which have no fruit at the time of harvest have not fulfilled the purpose for which they exist (BAG). having died: Grk. apothnēskō, aor. part., death, usually in a physical sense, but also used in a spiritual sense (John 6:50; Rom 7:10).
twice: Grk. dis, adv., twice. Ordinarily speaking "having died twice" would encompass both spiritual and physical death. having been uprooted: Grk. ekrizoō, aor. pass. part., to take out by the roots; uproot. The verb occurs in the LXX in five passages describing (1) pagan peoples were "uprooted" after invasion (Jdg 5:14); (2) a legal judgment of banishment (Ezra 7:26); (3) a commission to Jeremiah to "uproot" (Jer 1:10); (4) Daniel's vision of the little horn removing three other horns (Dan 7:8); and (5) divine judgment on the Philistines to be uprooted from Ekron (Zeph 2:4).
Judah employs contrasting word pictures, since trees do not die, not having life. In Scripture life is defined by possession of three characteristics: (1) breathes air (Gen 1:20), (2) has blood (Lev 17:11; Deut 12:23), and (3) has the ability to move (Gen 1:21). Judah may be alluding to Israel being uprooted from the land because of rebelliousness and idolatry (e.g., Deut 29:28; 1Kgs 14:15; Jer 12:14-17; 45:4). A fruitless tree being removed from the ground thus illustrates God's judgment of removing the offenders from the Body of Messiah and their names erased from the Book of Life (cf. Rev 3:5).
Textual Note: Several late MSS influenced by the prevailing text of 2Peter 2:13 read apatais ("deceptions," "pleasures") instead of agapais ("love-feasts") (Metzger 658). In addition, the TR has peripherō, "carry about," instead of parapherō, which is followed by the KJV and NKJV, but this verb is not supported by the earliest and best MSS.
13 wild waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the blackness of darkness has been reserved forever.
Wild: Grk. agrios, pertains to not being tamed, here of high waves on the sea; raging, wild. waves: Grk. kuma, heaped up mass of water, wave. of the sea: Grk. thalassa (corresponding to Heb. yam), used of both a sea, such as the Mediterranean, and inland bodies of water, i.e., lake. The English language "sea" normally refers to a body of salt water and "lake" to a body of fresh water, although local convention can override this rule. Thalassa (as its Hebrew counterpart) simply refers to a body of water deep enough and wide enough to require a boat to cross it. It's possible that Judah had a particular body of water in mind. Sometimes when the word "sea" is used alone, a specific body is intended, such as the Mediterranean or the Sea of Galilee. Judah would certainly be familiar with the storms on the Sea of Galilee and the "wild waves" stirred up by winds rushing down the surrounding mountains.
foaming out: Grk. epaphrizō, pres. part., foam up or out. The rare verb, which occurs only here in the Besekh, is derived from a noun that describes the foam produced by an epileptic seizure. Judah provides a very scientific observation. Seawater is not pure H2O, but is full of tiny particles consisting of dissolved salts, proteins, fats, dead algae, pollutants, as well as bits and pieces of organic and artificial matter. When the ocean is agitated by wind and waves these particles form bubbles on the surface. Most seawater foam is harmless, but foam caused by dead algae can be toxic to humans. Isaiah depicts a similar condition, "But the wicked are like the tossing sea, for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up refuse and mud." (Isa 57:20 NASB).
their own shame: Grk. aischunē, repulsive deed, shameful. The noun occurs 6 times in the Besekh, three of which are in Paul (2Cor 4:2; Php 3:19; Heb 12:2). The description connects to the preceding verb and pertains to dirty foam cast up on a shore. The character and conduct of the "dreaming ones" are disgusting.
wandering: Grk. planētēs, wanderer. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh and functions as an adjective. The noun is derived from the verb planaō (wander, deceive). See the note on the related noun planē in verse 11 above. The word in this verse have the functional meaning of aimless or without pattern. There is no direct Hebrew equivalent to the planaō word-group, but the verb most frequently renders ta'ah (to wander about; to lead astray) (DNTT 2:458). The noun planētēs occurs once in the LXX in Hosea 9:17 in reference to rebellious Israelites who would be sent from the Land and become "wanderers." God meant that idolatry would lead to even further wandering from the truth. Unfortunately, in the history of Christianity the Church made the term "Wandering Jew" a reproach, and insured they would literally wander by pogroms, property seizures and expulsion from various countries.
stars: Grk. astēr, a luminous heavenly body other than the sun. In Scripture the term may refer to any object in the heavens, whether planets, asteroids, meteors or stars. A "wandering star" would include comets and meteors, but planets also move, sometimes in an erratic manner based on observation from the earth. for whom: pl. of Grk. hos, masc. rel. pron; who. the blackness: Grk. zophos. See verse 6 above. of darkness: Grk. skotos, absence of light, darkness. God created the darkness, the original darkness of "the deep" (Gen 1:2), then the blackness of interstellar space (Isa 50:3) and the darkness that results from the movement of the earth and the sun (Gen 1:5). God can even remove light and thereby cause darkness to occur in a geographical place (Ex 10:21-22; 14:20; Josh 24:7). In the Tanakh sheol is described as a place of deep darkness (Job 38:17), and the future place of punishment is called "outer darkness" (Matt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30).
has been reserved: Grk. tēreō, perf. pass., to maintain in a secure state, here with focus on a penal state. The perfect tense is used to indicate action completed in past time with continuing results in the present. forever: Grk. aiōn, a long period of time or a segment of extended time, age, determined by qualifiers as present or future; lit. "into the age." In the LXX aiōn translates ōlam, which means long duration, antiquity or futurity (BDB 761). In the Tanakh, ōlam is generally concerned with a concrete idea of time in relation to the whole duration of a man's life (DNTT 3:827). Judah essentially says that the "blackness of darkness" has always existed in the past and will always exist in the future as a place of punishment for the false teachers.
14 Moreover to these also Enoch, the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones,
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. to these: pl. of Grk. houtos, dem. pron. also: Grk. kai, conj. Enoch: Grk. Henōch (for Heb. Chanōk, "dedicated"), the son of Jared (Gen 5:18). Enoch fathered Methuselah at the age of 65 and lived another 300 years during which time he had other sons and daughters. According to Jewish legend Enoch was a ruler and teacher (Ginzberg, I:III). Enoch lived in such close fellowship with God that he was transported into the presence of God without dying (Gen 5:19). The name of Enoch appears elsewhere in the Besekh only in the genealogy of Yeshua (Luke 3:37) and in Paul's list of heroes where he attributes Enoch's bodily ascension to faithfulness (Heb 11:5).
the seventh generation: Grk. hebdomos, seventh, adj., an allusion to the genealogical chronology in Genesis 5. The word "generation" is not in the Greek text, but implied. The number could mean that Enoch was the seventh from creation with Adam counted as the first, or the seventh after Adam considering that his first two sons, Cain and Abel, were essentially lost to the Messianic line. from: Grk. apo, prep. prep. generally used to denote separation, here in relation to a point of origin.
Adam: Grk. Adam (for Heb. Adam, "red," "ground," NIBD), pronounced "Ah-dahm," an indeclinable name, but Adamos in Josephus (Ant. I, 1:2) (Thayer). Adam was the first man, created on the sixth day of creation and placed in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:19-23; 3:8-9). He and the woman God created for him (whom Adam named Chavah, "life," Gen 3:20) became the progenitors of the human race. Adam, unlike the animals, was created in the image of God (Gen 1:26). Created in innocence the first couple did not know sin, but when tempted by the Serpent they disobeyed God's commandment. As a result God punished the couple and all their offspring with death, both physical and spiritual. Indeed, all of creation has suffered because of their sin. Adam and Eve had multiple sons and daughters, only three of whom are named. Adam died at the age of 930 years (Gen 5:5).
prophesied: Grk. prophēteuō, aor., means to proclaim a divine revelation, to prophetically reveal what is hidden, or foretell the future. According to this verse Enoch prophesied. This statement is no different than saying that Noah was a preacher of righteousness to his generation (2Pet 2:5). saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See the note on verse 9 above. The name of Enoch is associated with a large body of ancient extra-biblical literature. Judah proceeds to quote verbatim from 1Enoch 1:9, which continues into the next verse. 1Enoch probably dates to the 2nd century B.C. and is included by most scholars in the Jewish Pseudepigrapha, books written by unknown authors but attributed to famous biblical figures. (For a scholarly assessment of 1Enoch go to Early Jewish Writings.)
Accepting this classification of 1Enoch Stern points out that such attribution was not deceptive, but either honorific or a means of identifying the message of the actual author with the character and activity of the supposed one; compare the writer of an historical novel or documentary who puts words in the mouth of George Washington (783). In addition, Stern says that Judah’s quoting a non-canonical book does not make 1Enoch inspired Scripture, nor does it disqualify Judah’s letter. Paul quoted pagan authors at Acts 17:28–29 and Titus 1:12, and no one supposes that their works should be included in Holy Writ or Paul’s excluded.
Although non-canonical many church fathers regarded 1Enoch as an authentic work of the biblical Enoch containing divine revelation. Judah's use of the quoted material is hardly in the same category as Paul's use of pagan sources and would seem to confirm the patristic point of view. Judah clearly treats the quote as genuine prophetic material. One only needs to consider that the Genesis narratives were transmitted by means of written records that were later compiled by Moses. It's not impossible that Enoch's work would be preserved due to the import of its content.
Behold: Grk. horaō, from idou, means look at, take notice, observe, see, or gaze at; here used as an interjection. the Lord: Grk. kurios. See the note on verse 4 above. came: Grk. erchomai, aor., to come or arrive, with an implication of the point of origin. In this case the point of origin is heaven. with ten thousands: pl. of Grk. murias, which in ordinary usage equaled 10,000 (BAG). Idiomatically, then, the plural form can refer to a very great number, tens of thousands. The noun occurs only eight times in the Besekh, all in the plural form, two of which relate to a host of angels (Heb 12:22; Rev 5:11). In the LXX murias occurs 25 times, only two of which are in the singular form, and renders Heb. r'bavah (multitude, myriad, ten thousand, BDB 914). All but six occurrences refer to people and one is of the angels in heaven (Dan 7:10).
of his holy ones: pl. of Grk. hagios. See verse 3 above. Angels are "holy ones" (Ps 89:5, 7; Dan 4:17; Zech 14:5) and the Besekh identifies angels as holy to God (Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; Rev 14:10). Yeshua said at his arrest that he had more than twelve legions of angels (i.e., more than 72,000) at his disposal (Matt 26:53). These angels may be the ones that will accompany Yeshua in his second coming, as he prophesied (Matt 25:31), and mentioned by the apostles Paul (2Th 1:5-10) and John (Rev 19:11-15).
15 to execute judgment against all, and to convict all the ungodly concerning all their works of ungodliness which they did impiously, and concerning all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
Judah offers his eighth triad consisting of three things the Messiah will do when he comes. to execute: Grk. poieō, aor. inf. See the note on verse 3 above. judgment: Grk. krisis. See the note on verse 6 above. against: Grk. kata, prep., the root meaning is "down," but with the genitive case of the adjective following it is translated as "against" denoting direction (DM 107). all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., all. See the note on verse 5 above. The first action of the Messiah is to execute judgment, because all must stand before the judgment seat of the Messiah (2Cor 5:10). This action includes establishing the court setting and gathering those being judged.
and: Grk. kai, conj. to convict: Grk. elenchō, aor. act. inf., refers to evaluating or responding to improper behavior with varying modes of approach, depending on the context. The verb could mean (1) to expose wrongdoing, (2) disapprove of wrongdoing or (3) offer convincing evidence of wrongdoing. The third meaning applies here. all: Grk. pas. the ungodly: pl. of Grk. asebēs, adj. See verse 4 above. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. See verse 9 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, all. their works: pl. of Grk. ergon generally means a deed, action or accomplishment with these applications: (a) in contrast to rest; (b) as a practical proof of something; (c) of the deeds of God and Yeshua, specifically miracles; or (d) the deeds of men, exhibiting a consistent moral character, whether good or bad (BAG).
of ungodliness: Grk. asebeia, lack of respect or reverence for deity displayed in sacrilegious words or deeds (Danker). The root seb- meant originally to step back from someone or something, to maintain a distance. From this spatial meaning developed the metaphorical idea of trepidation ranging from shame, through wonder, to something approaching fear (DNTT 2:91). Thus, eusebeia, fear of God, is the opposite of asebeia. In the LXX the asebeia word-group translates several different Hebrew words (e.g., Deut 9:4-5; 17:13; 18:20, 22; Job 9:20; Ps 5:10; Prov 1:19, 31; 11:5-6). In the LXX asebeia and adikia ("unrighteousness") stand very close to hamartia ("sin"), because social order and social justice are inseparable from worship (DNTT 2:93). which: Grk. hos, rel. pron. they did impiously: Grk. asebeō, aor. act., to be ungodly or act impiously. The conviction is based on the errant nature of the acts as prohibited by his commandments.
and: Grk. kai, conj. The second clause depicts a second form of conviction. concerning: Grk. peri, prep. all: pl. of Grk. pas, all. the harsh things: pl. of Grk. sklēros, unyielding in nature, difficult, hard. Danker translates as "harsh" in the sense of abrasive words. that: Grk. hos, rel. pron. ungodly: Grk. asebēs, adj., ungodly, impious, wicked, sinful. sinners: pl. of Grk. hamartōlos, one who fails to meet religious or legal standards. In the Tanakh the term “sinner” (Heb. chatta) referred to someone who willfully violated Torah commandments, and which tended toward habitual practice. In the apostolic writings hamartōlos generally equates to the Hebrew word, but has a broader usage and can mean essentially an outsider relative to the "in-group."
Among the Pharisees, the ultimate "in-group," the habitual violation of traditions they considered important was enough to label a person as a "sinner." Some Pharisees were outraged because Yeshua associated with “sinners” and even allowed one to touch Him (Matt 9:11; Luke 7:39). Eventually they labeled Yeshua a sinner because he healed on the Sabbath (John 9:16). Modern Christians commit the same error by including mistakes or falling short of God's perfection as sin and therefore believers are never allowed to escape the label of "sinner." When one begins to call light dark, then the meaning of "sinner" loses its force. However, Judah is using the term here in its original Hebraic sense of a transgressor of Torah standards.
have spoken: Grk. laleō, aor., to make a sound or a statement. Judah no doubt alludes to things he has heard. against: Grk. kata, prep. him: Grk. autos, per. pron., i.e., against the God of Israel or perhaps His Messiah. The apostles record a number of times when unbelieving Jews spoke harshly against Yeshua and defamed his character, calling him a Samaritan (John 8:48) and a sinner (John 9:24), and accusing him of having a demon (John 7:20; 8:48, 52; 10:20) and being insane (John 10:20). Thus, the second form of conviction is against those offenses that defamed the Messiah or repudiated his authority.
Taking verses 14 and 15 together Judah emphasizes that when Yeshua comes to execute judgment on the enemies of God's people, the angels will assist him in this task. While angels are ministers of much good toward the disciples (Heb 1:14), they are also God's agents for carrying out His wrath on the wicked: An angel destroyed an Assyrians army threatening Jerusalem (2Kgs 19:35). An angel struck down 72,000 Israelites as a result of David's folly of numbering the fighting men of Israel and Judah (2Sam 24:15-16). An angel killed King Herod Agrippa I when people acclaimed him a god and he did not give glory to the true God (Acts 12:23). At the end of the age angels will gather all the lawless out of the kingdom (Matt 13:39, 41, 49). In Revelation the seven archangels blow trumpets of judgment (Rev 8:6) and pour out bowls of wrath (Rev 15:1) on the beast's empire.
16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking after their desires, their mouth speaking bombastic words, flattering people for the sake of advantage.
Judah offers his ninth triad consisting of three things about the objects of Messiah's judgment; they are grumblers, complainers and lustful. These: pl. of Grk. houtos, dem. pron.; the ones being judged in the previous verse. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 12 above. grumblers: pl. of Grk. goggustēs (derived from the verb gogguzō, to grumble or murmur), a grumbler, a discontent. The noun does not occur in the standard LXX (although the verb does), but it is found in 2nd cent. Jewish revisions of the LXX: Symmachus (Prov 26:22) and Theodotion (Prov 26:20) (BAG). The word occurs only here in the Besekh.
complainers: pl. of Grk. mempsimoiros, used in satire of people who complain about their lot in life; malcontent. The word is not found in other Jewish literature and occurs only here in the Besekh. walking: Grk. poreuō, pres. mid. part., may mean (1) to move from one part of an area to another, go or make one's way; or (2) in an ethical sense, conduct oneself, live or walk. The second meaning applies here. after: Grk. kata, prep., used here in the sense of direction.
their desires: pl. of Grk. epithumia may mean either (1) a strong feeling or interest, 'desire' or (2) an inordinate or improper desire, 'craving.' In the LXX epithumia occurs about 50 times and normally translates the Heb. avvah to express (a) a morally neutral desire (e.g. Deut 12:15, 20); (b) a praiseworthy desire (e.g. Gen 31:30; Prov 10:24; 13:12); or (c) an evil desire opposed to God's will (e.g. Num 11:4, 34, Deut 5:21; 9:22). Obviously the third meaning is in view here.
their mouth: Grk. stoma, the mouth as a bodily organ. The noun is singular, but it has a collective or corporate sense of a group. speaking: Grk. laleō. See the note on the previous verse. The grumblers and complainers speak as with one voice. pompous words: pl. of Grk. huperogkos, of excessive size or weight, bombastic. Mounce adds pompous, swelling and boastful. The word also occurs in 2Peter 2:18. flattering: Grk. thaumazō, pres. part., be extraordinarily impressed, amazed, astonished, surprised. The verb is used in the sense of a feigned effort to impress others. people: pl. of Grk. prosōpon, lit. "faces." The word is used of an Hebraic idiom signifying or suggesting favoritism or partiality. for the sake of: Grk. charin, prep., in view of, because of, in the interest of so as to secure something. advantage: Grk. ōpheleia, a beneficial circumstance; thus, profit, gain or advantage.
Exhortation to Disciples, 17-23
17 But you, beloved, remember the words spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord, Yeshua the Messiah;
But: Grk. de, conj. See the note on verse 5 above. you: pl. of Grk. su, personal pronoun, you. beloved: pl. of Grk. agapētos, held in affection, esteemed or dear. The double address is typical of Hebraic grammar. Judah makes a sharp transition from the strong warning of verses 9-16 to offer instruction for discipleship in the present age. While Judah has confronted some serious spiritual issues he follows Paul's counsel to speak the truth in love (Eph 4:15) to those whom he considers dear friends.
remember: Grk. mimnēskomai, aor. mid. imp., to call something to mind that one has noted or thought about in the past; recollect, remember. In the LXX mimnēskomai generally renders Heb. zakar with the same meaning (DNTT 3:232). The command to remember occurs often in the Tanakh, serving as a call for Israel to retain the knowledge of their history and past deliverances (Ex 13:3; 32:13; Deut 5:15; 7:18; 8:2; 9:7; 15:15; 16:12; 24:9, 18; 25:17; 32:7; Mic 6:5), to recall God's nature, power and spiritual redemption (Isa 44:21-22; 46:8-10) and to obey the commandments and keep traditions instructed by the Lord (Ex 20:8; Num 15:39-40; Deut 8:18; 16:3; Josh 1:13).
the words: pl. of Grk. rhēma may mean (1) communication consisting of words, often with the implication of importance or special significance; statement, pronouncement, declaration, word; or (2) in a Hebraic manner of something that arouses talk because it is remarkable or noteworthy; a matter, thing, event. In the LXX rhēma translates Heb. dabar , which has the same range of meaning (DNTT 3:1119). The dominate use of dabar in the Tanakh is in relation to God, either as words spoken by God as instruction, rebuke or exhortation to His people (Ex 19:6-9; 34:28; Num 14:39; Deut 9:5-6), or as a personification of the divine majesty who creates and reveals divine purposes (Gen 15:1; Ps 33:4, 6; cf. John 1:1).
spoken beforehand: Grk. prolegō, perf. pass. part., to tell beforehand or in advance. The perfect tense represents action accomplished in past time with continuing results into the present. The verb appears 14 times in the Besekh, including once by Peter in a similar manner (2Pet 3:2), and ten times by Paul, six of which are in reference to something he had previously proclaimed (2Cor 7:3; 13:2; Gal 1:9; 5:21; 1Th 3:4; 4:6). The verb does not imply that the ones who did the speaking were now dead.
by: Grk. hupo, under, but when used in the sense of agency it is translated as "by." However, hupo in this case would also emphasize the principle of "under the authority of." Yeshua had given the Twelve the authority to "bind and loose" (Matt 16:19; 18:18), that is, impose requirements or release from requirements. Paul expressed that he had this same authority from Yeshua (1Cor 11:23; 14:37; 15:3; Gal 1:12; Col 3:24). Although Judah will state what was "spoken beforehand" in the next verse, the statement alludes to the fact that there is much of the ministry of Yeshua and his apostles that is not recorded in Scripture (cf. John 21:25).
the apostles: pl. of Grk. apostolos, a delegate, ambassador, envoy, messenger, emissary or official representative. In the LXX apostolos translated shalach (1Kgs 14:6), "one being sent." First century Judaism institutionalized the office of shaliach, who acted as an official messenger or a proxy for and with the full authority of the sender. Thus, the OJB and TLV render the plural noun as shlichim. The shaliach’s mission was "limited in scope and duration by definite commission and terminating on its completion" (DNTT 1:128). When Paul persecuted the disciples of Yeshua he was acting as a shaliach of the Sanhedrin, but when he was transformed by his Damascus road experience he became the shaliach of Yeshua (1Tim 1:1, 12-15).
In the apostolic writings the term "apostle" is specifically applied to the original Twelve (Matt 10:2), then Mattathias (Acts 1:25-26), Paul (Acts 14:14), Barnabas (Acts 14:14), Jacob (the brother of Yeshua, Gal 1:19), and Andronicus and Junia (Rom 16:7). Several passages with the plural "apostles" without specification would suggest other leaders with that status, such as those present among the "charter members" at Pentecost, including Judah (Acts 1:14; 2:37, 42-43; 4:33, 35; 5:12; 8:14; 11:1; 15:4; 1Cor 12:28-29; 15:7; Eph 4:11).
The apostles of Yeshua were so named because they had "seen the Lord," either during his earthly ministry or after his resurrection (John 20:25; Acts 9:27; 1Cor 9:1; 15:5-9; 1Jn 1:1) and were approved to speak on His behalf. All true apostles had the authority to proclaim the good news, exercise authority, shepherd the congregations they founded (cf. 1Cor 14:37) and equip the disciples for service (Eph 4:11).
of our Lord: Grk. kurios. See the note on verse 1 above. Yeshua the Messiah: See the note on verse 1 above. Judah emphasizes the authority under which the apostles prophesied. The fact that Judah uses the plural form of "apostles" indicates that what was spoken beforehand was of agreement among them. By generalizing Judah does not exclude himself from their number as some suppose. This same manner of communication can be found in the letter from the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:22-23; 16:24).
18 That they said to you, "Before the last time there will be mockers, going after their own desires of ungodliness.
That: Grk. hoti, conj. that connects two sets of data, here introducing a direct quotation. they said: Grk. legō, impf. See the note on verse 9 above. The imperfect tense is used to convey continuous or repeated action in past time. So, the quoted material, as typical of apostolic preaching, was repeated on different occasions in different locations. to you: pl. of Grk. su. The plural "you" addresses the recipients of this letter, but also implies congregations generally that heard this message.
Before: Grk. epi, prep., lit. "upon," but with the genitive case of the next noun could have the meaning of "upon, on, at, by or before" (DM 106). Most versions translate the preposition as "in," even though the normal Greek word with that meaning is en. A few versions have "at" (OJB, Voice, WE), but I believe Judah intends epi to mean "before." The Greek preposition "in" has the root meaning of "inside" and given the following time reference Judah's exact intention is important. The parallel quotation in 2Peter 3:3 has the same preposition, although generally translated the same as here.
the last: Grk. eschatos, coming at the end or after all others. In the apostolic narratives the term generally has an everyday usage of people (Matt 20:8), place (Luke 14:9) or things (Matt 5:26), but in Acts and the epistles the term also identifies the present age of the New Covenant and Messiah ("last days," Acts 2:17; Heb 1:2; Jas 5:3; 2Tim 3:1). In the LXX eschatos occurs some 150 times to translate formations of the Heb. root achar (after, behind, latter, last, end) (DNTT 2:55). Besides the ordinary meaning of "last" eschatos is found in the Hebrew prophetic formula "at the end of the days," translated as "last days" or "latter days" (Isa 2:2; 41:23; Jer 23:20; 30:24; 49:39; Ezek 38:16; Dan 2:28, 44; 8:19; 10:14; 12:5-13; Hos 3:5; Mic 4:1). Eschatological time is a time of judgment and saving activity of the God of Israel. Considering the full message of the apostles Judah is no doubt using eschatos in reference to the end of the age.
time: Grk. chronos may refer to (1) a span or period of time; or (2) a point or definite moment in time. In the LXX chronos occurs about 100 times, generally to render Heb. yom, day (DNTT 3:841). The Hebrew word yom is generally used as a specific division of time denoting the daytime portion of a 24-hour day (Gen 1:5) or a complete solar/lunar cycle of 24 hours (Ex 2:13). The Hebrews did not conceive of time in the abstract, but used yom overwhelmingly in the sense of ordinary measurable time. The use of "last chronos" in the singular likely correlates to "the last [eschatos] day" prophesied by Yeshua (John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 11:24; 12:48) at which the resurrection and judgment occur. This definition is confirmed in 1Peter 1:5, which speaks of the salvation that will be revealed in the "last time." Thus, the following prophecy will take place before the final great event of the present age. The prediction does not preclude the fulfillment in Judah's own time, as seems implied by the next verse.
there will be: Grk. eimi, fut. mid. See verse 12 above. mockers: pl. of Grk. empaiktēs, scoffer. Mounce adds "mocker, derider." This word occurs only here and in 2Peter 3:3. In the LXX empaiktēs occurs only in Isaiah 3:4 to render Heb. taalulim (wantonness, caprice, BDB 760), where the word characterizes capricious or mischievous children. However, Judah and Peter use the noun in very different ways. In context Peter describes the mockers as people who not only follow after their own desires, but deride God's people for believing in the Second Coming. Peter sarcastically comments that the mockers fail to notice (i.e., they are really stupid) that the earth was formed out of water, that the earth's population was destroyed in the deluge of Noah's time and the present universe is reserved for a day of judgment and destruction.
The mockers of whom Judah speaks are a different group, even though they may share the same spiritual and moral character of the mockers in 2Peter. Judah proceeds to describe those he dubs as "mockers." going after: Grk. poreuō, pres. mid. part. See the note on verse 11 above. The verb has the sense of "going from place to place." their own: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun, lit. "of themselves;" their. desires: pl. of Grk. epithumia, a strong desire. See verse 16 above. The word epithumia can be positive or negative, but Judah defines the type of desires possessed by the mockers. of ungodliness: pl. of Grk. asebeia. See the note on verse 15 above. Paul gave a similar message warning of godless people in the last days (2Tim 3:1-5).
19 These are those causing divisions, natural, not having the Spirit.
Judah offers his tenth triad in describing characteristics of the mockers: divisive, worldly, and lacking the Spirit (or spirit). These: pl. of Grk. houtos, dem. pron.; i.e., "these mockers." are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 12 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, def. article, but used here as a dem. pron. Judah then lists three characteristics of the mockers. causing divisions: Grk. apodiorizō, pres. part., to draw a boundary through, to mark off by dividing or separating; divide, separate. The verb is not found in other Jewish literature and occurs only here in the Besekh. The divisions result because of rejection of apostolic authority and apostolic teaching. Indeed, we may say that Christian denominations have resulted because of the same problem.
natural: Grk. psuchikos, adj., at the level of physical impulse or direction, physical, unspiritual, worldly. The term denotes the life of the natural world and whatever belongs to it (BAG). The adjective occurs only five times in the Besekh, three in Paul (1Cor 2:14; 15:44, 46) and once in his brother Jacob's letter (Jas 3:15). Judah then defines what he means by the term "natural." not: Grk. mē, adv. See verse 5 above. having: Grk. echō, pres. part., to possess. See the note on verse 3 above. the Spirit: Grk. pneuma, spirit. Pneuma as representative of the supernatural world is set in contrast to psuchikos. Not to have the Holy Spirit is to deny oneself spiritual victory and a close relationship with God. The spiritual consequences are catastrophic. Since the noun lacks the definite article Judah could mean "spirit" as a human passion for something, especially for God and spiritual things (cf. Luke 1:17; John 4:23-24; Acts 6:3; 1Cor 2:4; 14:32; 2Cor 7:1; 12:18; Gal 6:1; Eph 1:17; Col 2:5).
20 But you, beloved, building up yourselves in your most holy faithfulness, praying in the Holy Spirit,
In this verse and the next Judah offers his eleventh triad, speaking of the Spirit, God the Father and Yeshua, which reflects the triune nature of God. The hortatory instruction of these two verses contains the twelfth triad in the use of three participles for actions to be pursued by disciples; building up, praying in the Spirit and waiting for the Messiah. The use of participles in exhortation reflects Hebraic grammar (Stern 428). Using participles for exhortation is very uncommon in Koine Greek, but is common in non-biblical Jewish writings (Davies 130). The language of apostolic writings is really Jewish Greek akin to the LXX. A participle is a verbal adjective, so it not only describes action, but also the character of the one performing the action. The fact that the participles are present tense means the letter's recipients are already doing these things and they should maintain those virtues.
But: Grk. de, conj. you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron. beloved: Grk. agapētos. Judah repeats the address of verse 3. See the note there. building up: Grk. epoikodomeō, pres. part., to build upon, a word picture drawn from the construction industry, and occurs elsewhere only in the writings of Paul, figuratively of building a spiritual community (1Cor 3:10, 12; Eph 2:20) or a spiritual life (1Cor 3:14; Col 2:7). yourselves: Grk. heautou, pron., lit. "of yourselves." in your: pl. of Grk. su, pers. pron., lit. "of you."
most holy: Grk. hagios, adj. See verse 3 above. Bible versions are virtually unanimous in translating hagios here as "most holy." The question naturally arises of why an adjective that simply means "holy" should be given here as "most holy." Nowhere else in the Besekh does any Bible version translate hagios as "most holy." In the Hebrew Bible the English "most holy" translates qodesh qodeshim, lit. "holy of holies" (Ex 30:10; LXX hagion tōn hagiōn), used for articles in the tabernacle or sacrificial offerings devoted to the service of God. Judah's text has tē hagiōtatē, which Robertson says is a superlative form of hagios, the only occurrence of this form of hagios in the Besekh. A superlative expresses a degree of the adjective being used that is greater than any other possible degree of the adjective.
faithfulness: Grk. pistis. See the note on verse 3 above. Historically, Christian interpretation of pistis in this verse has been of an agreed set of beliefs or a systematic doctrine (BAG, Thayer). Mounce interprets pistis here as "Gospel faith." Danker explains, "belief in God's saving activity is objectified as the kind of response that is shared by the community of believers." Danker is much closer to the mark than BAG or Thayer. Pistis for Judah, grounded in the Hebraic concept of faithfulness, does not reflect the Apostles Creed, but the entire Messianic worldview and way of life to be observed and obeyed. The Pharisees and Sadducees viewed their halakhah ("way to walk") as sacred and inviolate, but for Judah and his fellow Messianic Jews their belief in Yeshua as the Messiah and their discipleship grounded in Him was "most holy."
praying: Grk. proseuchomai, pres. mid. part., to petition deity for some personal desire. The verb is plural, which could imply either community prayer or intensive prayer, i.e., intercession, or both. In the LXX proseuchomai renders Heb. palal, to intervene or interpose, i.e., judge. The verb has a variety of meanings, including arbitrate, judge, intercede and pray. The context of prayer in the Tanakh is addressing the Sovereign Judge of all people and thus prayer by its nature requires self-examination. The verb refers to petitioning God for His help or answer with respect to a personal need or the needs of others.
in: Grk. en, prep. the Holy: Grk. hagios, adj. The Greek text omits the definite article, but in the Hebraic sense the article is not needed since hagios is part of a name, not a title. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), separate, sacred, holy (DNTT 2:224; BDB 872). Qadosh is first used of God in Leviticus 11:44. Spirit: Grk. pneuma for Heb. ruach. The Greek word order is en pneumati hagiō and this exact phrase appears in a small number of passages (Matt 3:11; Luke 3:16; John 1:33; Rom 9:1; 14:17; 2Cor 6:6; 1Th 1:5).
"Holy Spirit" is not the title of a separate being, because God is Spirit (John 4:24). All of the passages mentioning the Holy Spirit indicate that He is divine, not less or other than God. The specific name "Holy Spirit" occurs only three times in the Tanakh (Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10, 11) given as Ruach Qodesh. The Holy Spirit is identified by three other forms in the Tanakh (Ruach Elohim, Gen 1:2; Ruach YHVH, Judg 3:10; and Ruach Adonai YHVH, Isa 61:1). The lack of a definite article for either "Holy" or "Spirit" in the Greek text of this verse corresponds to the lack of the definite article in the three passages of Ruach Qodesh.
The association of the Holy Spirit with prayer occurs elsewhere only in Paul.
"In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words." (Rom 8:26 NASB)
"And now I urge you, brothers, by our Lord Yeshua the Messiah and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God on my behalf." (Rom 15:30 CJB)
"with all prayer and requests, praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the holy ones." (Eph 6:18 HNV)
"for I know that this will work out for my deliverance, because of your prayers and the support I get from the Spirit of Yeshua the Messiah." (Php 1:19 CJB)
What does it mean to pray in the Holy Spirit? Some might think it means to pray with glossolalia or a special prayer language. However, Yeshua cautioned his disciples, "when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose they will be heard for their many words" (Matt 6:7 NASB). For more discussion on this topic see my web article Speaking in Tongues. Since prayer is petitioning God, then praying in the Holy Spirit would encompass the following principles:
● Praying in unity with the purposes of God (Rom 8:26f; Eph 6:18).
● Praying in unity with other disciples (Acts 12:5; Rom 15:30; 1Cor 7:5).
● Praying in accord with God's will as expressed in Scripture, which is inspired by the Holy Spirit and is the sword of the Spirit (Eph 6:17; Col 1:9).
● Praying with the illumination and inspiration of the Holy Spirit (John 15:13; Rom 8:5-6; 1Cor 2:10-16)
Praying in the Spirit is an important ministry of disciples. Mockers are not capable of praying in the Spirit since they do not have the Spirit. We may say that one of the reasons for new believers to receive the Spirit (cf. John 7:39; 20:22; Acts 8:14-15) is to enable effective prayer.
21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord, Yeshua the Messiah, into eternal life.
keep: Grk. tēreō, aor. imp., to protect, guard or keep. See the note on verse 1 above. yourselves: pl. of Gr. heautou, rel. pron., lit. "of yourselves," in agreement with the verb "keep" in the second person plural. in: Grk. en, prep. the love: Grk. agapē, sacrificial devotion, love. See verse 2 above. of God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 1 above. The genitive case of theos is subjective, that is, the love comes from God. The concept of the "love of God" (God's love for us) appears seven times in Paul (Rom 5:5; 8:39; 2Cor 13:11, 13, 14; Eph 2:4; 2Th 3:5), but none in Peter. So, keeping in the love of God means recognizing the blessedness of being loved by God and remaining in His favor. awaiting: Grk. prosdechomai, pres. mid. part., to look forward to in a receptive frame of mind, wait for.
the mercy: Grk. eleos, kindness expressed in compassion. Mercy is not only a present reality, as in verse 2 above, but something to anticipate. of our: Grk. hēmeis, 1p-pl. pers. pron. Lord: Grk. kurios. See the note on verse 1 above. Yeshua the Messiah: See the note on verse 1 above. The "mercy of Yeshua" will be accomplished by him at his Second Coming. Paul warned that we all must stand before the judgment seat of the Messiah (2Cor 5:10). Yeshua depicted this judgment in the parable of the sheep and goats (Matt 25:31-46). The mercy that we await is the same kind of mercy Yeshua extended to the needy during his earthly ministry.
into: Grk. eis, prep. eternal: Grk. aiōnios, adj., future time without boundaries or interruption, eternal. See the note on verse 7 above. life: Grk. zōē, alive in contrast with being dead. "Eternal life" is the ultimate prize and the quality of life manifested in glory, honor and immortality. Both the Pharisees and Essenes embraced the doctrine of the immortality of the soul and resurrection (Josephus, Wars II, 8:11, 14). Reward and punishment will begin after death and the souls of the righteous will enter heavenly blessedness, while the souls of the ungodly are punished in Hadēs in the depths of the earth. This separation is clearly presented in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:22-26).
Eternal life, however, is not just eternal existence, but sharing in the life of God. For that reason Yeshua taught that eternal life, the best kind of life possible, begins now (Matt 10:39; John 6:35, 63; 10:10). It doesn't wait until after one dies. Nevertheless, the fullness of eternal life awaits the Second Coming. The final mercy of Yeshua will be resurrection on the last day, freeing disciples from the curse imposed on mankind because of Adam's sin and transforming us into immortality.
22 And indeed have mercy on those doubting;
In this verse and the next Judah offers his thirteenth triad in advice on evangelistic outreach in relation to three types of people. Fruchtenbaum thinks the types are all of believers (444), but it is by no means clear these categories are of congregational members. They are certainly not "holy ones" or disciples, so whatever faith they might have is defective. And: Grk. kai, conj., and. indeed: Grk. mén, an intensive conjunction to make a point more emphatic, indeed. have mercy on: Grk. eleaō, pres. imp., an alternate form of eleeō, have compassion, have mercy on, to show concern for one who is in a bad situation or condition. The present tense means to start and keep on doing the commanded behavior. The verb eleaō occurs only 3 times in the Besekh, here, the next verse and in Paul (Rom 9:16).
The principal form eleeō appears 32 times in the Besekh, about half in the apostolic narratives where it is used of healings sought from and performed by Yeshua (e.g., Matt 9:27). In the apostolic letters the verb is used primarily in the sense of redemption of Israel (Rom 9:15-16; 11:30-32 1Pet 2:10), but also of Paul's personal testimony of receiving God's mercy (1Cor 7:25; 1Tim 1:13, 16). An exception is in Romans 12:8 where eleeō is a spiritual gift to be performed with generosity and in Philippians 2:27 where it is used of healing.
In the LXX eleaō appears only twice: 4Macc 9:3 and Prov 21:26, in which it renders Heb. nathan (SH-5414), to give, the virtue opposite of greed. The primary Greek form eleeō appears about 100 times and primarily translates Heb. chanan (SH-2603), to show favor, be gracious, especially of God covenantal favor toward man (Gen 33:5, 11; Num 6:25), but also to seek favor of man for man (2Kgs 1:13; Esth 4:8) or of God for man (Deut 3:23). The mercy may be practical such as providing for the needy (Ps 37:21; Prov 14:31) or redemptive with deliverance from evil or sins (Ex 33:19; 1Kgs 8:33).
those: pl. of Grk. hos, rel. pron. doubting: Grk. diakrinō, pres. mid. part., may mean (1) distinguish in reference to class or ethnic distinctions; (2) evaluate or judge in regard to making a decision, often in a legal context; (3) dispute, contend with; or (4) doubt in the sense of intellectual weighing of matters that leads to wavering or hesitation. Danker and BAG favor the fourth meaning in this verse. Likewise, Fruchtenbaum and Blum interpret the verb as those who are simply doubting or hesitating. Mounce and Thayer favor the third meaning. Stern interprets the verb to mean they have closed themselves off to the truth. One can neither teach nor save them, only rebuke them, praying that God will help them to change. It could be that since Judah does not say to rebuke them, but to have mercy on them, then this is a group of people who are "at odds with themselves."
Judah's use of the verb could very well have shades of both meanings of "doubting" and "disputing." Since Judah is writing to Messianic Jews then the "doubting ones" could be Jewish friends and family members who are uncertain about the truth of the Messianic message. They must be dealt with patiently by showing them love. Many Bible readers when asked who in the Bible doubted would name Thomas. But, Judah could also relate to the trait. He himself had doubted his brother's claim to be the Messiah (Mark 3:21), and like his brother Jacob and Thomas required personal contact with the resurrected Yeshua to change his mind. Judah encourages his fellow leaders and disciples not be become impatient when those who never saw the risen Messiah have honest doubts or waver in their trust.
23 but others save, snatching them out of the fire; and others have mercy with fear; hating even the garment stained by the flesh.
but: Grk. de, conj., used here as a simple connective particle. See the note on verse 5 above. others: pl. of Grk. hos, a relative pronoun used here of the second class of persons. save: Grk. sōzō, pres. imp., to rescue or deliver. See verse 5 above. The present tense emphasizes a continuing commitment. To save someone is not merely to convince him that he needs forgiveness from God, but to confront him with the reality of a coming judgment that will determine eternal destiny. Judah does not deny that the source and means of salvation is in God himself, but disciples are God's agents is proclaiming the offer of salvation.
snatching: Grk. harpazō, pres. part., to take away by seizure; take away, seize. The verb is not meant to counsel physical grappling with people, although there might be times when family intervention is necessary for destructive behavior. Rather Judah describes the true character of salvation. them: pl. of Grk. hos, rel. pron. out of: Grk. ek, prep. the fire: Grk. pur, fire, both in the literal sense of combustible materials burning, and figuratively of eschatological punishment (1Cor 3:13; 2Th 1:8; Heb 10:27; 2Pet 3:7). This is a powerful word picture and "fire" very likely is intended as figurative of hell. Therefore, the object of this ministry is either an unbeliever or a backslidden believer, just as Paul warns Messianic Jews of the consequences of turning away from the Messiah (Heb 10:26-27).
and: Grk. de, conj. others: pl. of Grk. hos. The phrase is repeated to transition to the third class of persons. have mercy: Grk. eleaō, pres. imp. See the previous verse. The present tense signifies to start and continue the behavior. Giving mercy should be a continual ministry and persistence is required to accomplish the spiritual goal. with fear: Grk. phobos may mean (1) feeling of need to escape from or avoid a threat; fear; (2) feeling of respect; reverence, awe; or (3) the process of causing in someone a feeling of need to escape from a situation; intimidation. "Having mercy with fear" is not fear of the person who needs God, but is comparable to Paul's statement, "knowing the fear of God, we persuade men" (2Cor 5:11).
hating: Grk. miseō, pres. part., to have a strong dislike for some person or thing. even: Grk. kai, conj. the garment: Grk. chitōn, a garment worn next to the skin, tunic. In the LXX chitōn renders Heb. kethoneth, "tunic," the principal ordinary garment made of linen and worn next to the skin by both men and women (BDB 509). stained: Grk. spiloō, perf. pass. part., cause to be spotted or stained, spot, defile. The verb does not occur in the LXX, but it is used in Wisdom of Solomon 15:4 and the Testament of Asher 2:7 (BAG). The verb occurs only two times in the Besekh, the other by his brother Jacob (Jas 3:6). The verb is used here of moral uncleanness.
by the flesh: Grk. sarx, flesh. See the note on verse 7 above. The noun could refer generally of selfish behavior or more euphemistically of the genitals and thus refer to immoral activity, so often associated with false teaching and idolatrous activities (e.g., 1Cor 10:7-8; Rev 2:14, 20). The admonition to "hate the garment" may be comparable to the saying of "love the sinner, but hate the sin." Outreach to those in deep sin or seriously backslidden believers must done with extreme care to avoid being compromised by the sinful behavior. Paul advised, "Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted" (Gal 6:1 NASB).
Textual Note: The text of verses 22 and 23 has been transmitted in diverse forms. Some MSS refer to three classes of people, while other MSS refer to only two classes and even one MS seems to reduce the group to one (Metzger 658). The MS evidence for three classes is strong and Judah has already demonstrated a preference for arranging his material in groups of three.
Verses 24 and 25 comprise a doxology, a term normally associated by Christians with their worship liturgy. The term, derived from the Greek words doxa ("glory") and logos ("word"), means essentially "word of glory." However, the doxology is not a Christian invention. "Giving glory" is a Hebrew idiom for speaking the truth about a matter in a legal context (e.g., Josh 7:19; John 9:24), and by extension means to praise the God of Israel and express devotion to Him by speaking the truth about His attributes (e.g., Luke 17:18; Acts 12:23). The doxology is in reality a type of Jewish b'rakhah ("blessing") of God, which dates to antediluvian (Gen 9:26) and patriarchal times (Gen 24:26). The b'rakhah typically begins with "blessed be God" or "YHVH." This formula occurs over 30 times in the Tanakh and is also found in the Besekh (Luke 1:68; 2Cor 1:3; Eph 1:3; 1Pet 1:3).
A doxology expands and magnifies the content of the b'rakhah. Doxology phrases litter the Psalms and it may be that David was the one who developed the liturgical form, which the Levites then put into practice. David said "the heavens are telling the glory of God" (Ps 19:1), which would include the praise of heavenly beings (Isa 6:1-3; Rev 4:10–11; 5:12–13). David was inspired to write doxologies (e.g., 1Chr 29:10-13), and he called on the people of God to engage in the same form of praise (1Chron 16:29),
"All Your works shall give thanks to You, O LORD, and Your godly ones shall bless You. 11 They shall speak of the glory of Your kingdom and talk of Your power; 12 to make known to the sons of men Your mighty acts and the glory of the majesty of Your kingdom." (Ps 145:10-12 NASB)
The doxology was part of early synagogue practice and thus would be familiar to the apostles. The use of the doxology in the Besekh (Rom 11:33–36, 16:25–27; Gal 1:3-5; Eph 3:20-21; Php 4:20; 1Tim 1:17; 2Tim 4:18; Heb 13:20-21; 1Pet 4:11; 2Pet 3:18; Rev 1:6) no doubt echoes their experience, but reflects a Messianic interpretation. The doxologies of God's people will continue into heaven (Rev 15:3–4).
24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to stand you before His glory without blemish in exceeding joy,
Now: Grk. de, conj. See the note on verse 5. to Him: Grk. ho, pronoun used euphemistically of God. who is able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid. part., to be capable of doing or achieving something, here used of the omnipotence of God. Judah then describes two specific actions that God is able to accomplish. to keep: Grk. phulassō, aor. inf., to ensure that something remains intact; keep safe, preserve, watch. you: Grk. humeis, 2p-pl. pers. pron., encompasses all true disciples of Yeshua. from stumbling: Grk. aptaistos, adj., without stumbling, from ptaiō, to lose one's footing, trip, stumble, used of a moral mishap or sin. The word is found in the LXX, Philo and the Sibylline Oracles, and occurs only here in the Besekh (BAG). The disciple may be able to say "no" to temptation (Titus 2:11-12), but ultimately victory over Satan requires the power of God (2Pet 2:9).
and: Grk. kai, conj. to stand: Grk. histēmi, aor. inf., may mean (1) to cause to be in a position or place; set, place, bring forward; or (2) be in an upright position, to stand, often used of bodily posture. Danker prefers the first meaning but Mounce prefers the second. Some Bible versions favor the first meaning with "set," "place" or "bring" (ASV, CJB, ERV, NCV, NIRV, NLT, OJB, TEV, YLT), but others prefer the second with "stand" (GW, HCSB, ISV, LEB, NASB, NET, NLV, NRSV). Some versions have "present" (CEB, ESV, KJV, NIV, NKJV, RSV, TLV), which blurs the distinction between the two choices. I believe "stand" makes the best choice considering the anticipated location and in Revelation the redeemed are seen standing before the throne (Rev 7:9; 15:2).
you before: Grk. katenōpion, adv. that functions as a preposition here, in a position that is in front of; before, i.e. "before God." The word occurs only three times in the Besekh, the other two in Paul (Eph 1:4; Col 1:22). His: Grk. autos, pers. pron. glory: Grk. doxa. See verse 8 above. The noun used here is glorious presence of God in heaven (cf. John 17:24; Acts 7:55; Rom 8:18; Col 3:4; 2Th 1:9; Titus 2:13; Rev 21:11). Paul says the Holy One dwells in unapproachable light (1Tim 6:16), yet Ezekiel (Ezek 1:22-28) and John (Rev 5:2-6) were given glimpses of the spectacular rainbow radiance that surrounds the heavenly throne.
The inspiration for the imagery of "standing before His glory" may be derived from the account of Moses and the elders of Israel who "saw God" and ate and drank in His presence at Mt. Sinai (Ex 24:9-11). During that encounter with God His glory covered the mountain top as a cloud and appeared to the Israelites as a consuming fire (Ex 24:16-17). The imagery is repeated in Isaiah 24:23, "for the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and His glory will be before His elders." Daniel also had a vision of tens of thousands of angels standing before the presence of God (Dan 7:10) and John saw a great multitude of people standing before the throne (Rev 7:9).
blameless: Grk. amōmos, adj., 'unblemished' when used of sacrificial animals and 'blameless' when used in an ethical or moral sense as here. In the LXX amōmos stands for Heb. tamim with the same meaning, principally in Torah passages concerning sacrificial animals (DNTT 2:924). However, tamim is the word used to describe Noah's character (Gen 6:9), to describe God's expectation of Abraham (Gen 17:1), and used by David as a self-description (2Sam 22:24). The related adjective tam ("complete, blameless," BDB 1070) is used to describe Jacob (Gen 25:27) and Job (Job 1:1, 8; 2:3). In the Besekh amōmos is characteristic of Yeshua (Heb 9:14; 1Pet 1:19), God's expectation for the Body of Messiah (Eph 1:4; 5:27; Php 2:15; Col 1:22) and the characteristic of the Messianic Jewish witnesses in the last days (Rev 14:5). Judah makes it clear that God should be given the credit for the blameless state of the holy ones before the throne.
in exceeding joy: Grk. agalliasis, exuberant joy, rejoicing. The noun occurs only five times in the Besekh and speaks of a range of emotional experience: (1) the parental joy of new birth (Luke 1:14); (2) the joy expressed by Yochanan the Immerser in the womb (Luke 1:44); (3) the joyful fellowship of shared meals (Acts 2:46); and (4) the joy of festival celebration (Heb 1:9). A common thread that runs through these different settings is that the expression of joy is connected with the coming of the Messiah. Judah uses the noun to depict the joy at the consummation of Messiah's Kingdom and experienced by those privileged to stand victorious before God, having heard "well done, good and faithful servant."
25 to the only God, our Savior, through Yeshua the Messiah our Lord, be glory, majesty, power and authority, before all time, and now, and for evermore. Amen.
to the only: Grk. monos, adj. signifying the exclusion of any other entity; alone, only. God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See the note on verse 1 above. Judah's declaration is not merely a philosophical assertion of monotheism as preferable to atheism, pantheism or polytheism. Scripture declares that the great Creator God, the God of Israel, the God of Jews and Christians, is the only God in existence and there is no other (Deut 4:35, 39; Isa 45:5; 46:9). The deities worshipped by other religions and cults are the products of men's imaginations and do not exist. It is the lie of Satan that the true God might go by other names in other religions.
our: Grk. hēmeis, 1p-pl. pers./poss. pron., lit. "of us," a reference to the Israel and the Messianic Community. Savior: Grk. sōtēr, one who liberates from real or threatening harm or loss, savior, deliverer, or benefactor. In the LXX sōtēr renders the Heb. yeshu'ah ("one who brings deliverance") and the participle moshia a derivative of the verb yasha ("to save") (DNTT 3:217), which is another form of the word hoshia and is related to Yeshua’s own name (Matt 1:21). In the book of Judges sōtēr appears as a technical term for the judge-deliverers, but the overwhelming usage of sōtēr in the Tanakh is applied to the God of Israel. God, as Savior, delivers from things outward, such as enemies (Ex 14:30; 1Sam 4:3; 2Sam 3:18), and things inward, such as sin (Ezek 36:29). He delivers people who are contrite and humble (Ps 34:19).
The word sōtēr occurs 24 times in the Besekh and always refers to a divine deliverer. The title is used 8 times of the God of Israel (here; Luke 1:47; 1Tim 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4), and the rest of Yeshua (Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31; 13:23; Eph 5:23; Php 3:20; 2Tim 1:10; Titus 1:4; 2:13; 3:6; 2Pet 1:1, 11; 2:20; 3:2, 18; 1Jn 4:14). Thus in the Besekh sōtēr and the related verb sōzō ("deliver, rescue, save"), build on the foundation already established in the Tanakh. The God of Israel is the only savior.
through: Grk. dia, prep. Yeshua the Messiah: See verse 1 above. Judah concurs with the Paul (1Tim 2:5; Heb 8:6) that Yeshua is the mediator of the Father's salvation. our: Grk. hēmeis. Lord: Grk. kurios, master, owner, lord. See the note on verse 1 above. Judah uses the pronoun "our" with "Lord" to emphasize the corporate nature of the relationship of disciples with Yeshua as the head and master of the Body of Messiah. Judah then cites four attributes of the God of Israel worthy of praise.
be glory: Grk. doxa, glory. See the previous verse and verse 8 above. Judah uses doxa here of the honor and praise given to the God of glory. majesty: Grk. megalōsunē, greatness, majesty, as a superlative characteristic. The word occurs only three times in the Besekh. The other two times are in Paul (Heb 1:3; 8:1) where it serves as a euphemism for God the Father. Blum suggests the term means "awful transcendence." power: Grk. kratos, quality of being strong; strength, might. and: Grk. kai, conj. authority: Grk. exousia, the right to speak or act in a situation without looking or waiting for approval; authority, right, jurisdiction. God has sovereign freedom to do as He pleases. In addition, God established authority structures on earth, including government, congregational leaders, husbands, and parents.
Judah then offers his fourteenth triad in describing the existence of God and Yeshua in relation to time: past, present and future. before: Grk. pros, prep., near or facing, used here in a temporal sense of 'before.' all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 3 above. time: Grk. aiōn. See verse 13 above. The singular noun carries a corporate sense of "before all the ages" or "before the creation of the world." There was no time before God created it (Gen 1:1). and: Grk. kai, conj. now: Grk. nun ("noon"), adv. of time in the present, 'now' or more emphatically 'right now,' likely a simple substitute for the "present age." and: Grk. kai, conj. for evermore: pl. of Grk. aiōn, lit. "into all the ages," that is, "the age to come." Scripture knows nothing of the "dispensational theology" held by so many Evangelicals. The full clause "before all time, now and for evermore" duplicates the meaning of "who was, who is and who is to come" (Rev 1:4, 8; 4:8). As a result the identified attributes of God do not change through all the ages of time.
Amen: Grk. amēn, a strong affirmation in worshipful statement; so let it be, truly, amen. Amēn transliterates the Heb. amēn, which means “it is true, so be it, or may it become true” (Stern 26). Amēn is derived from the Heb. root aman, which means to confirm, support, to be faithful (BDB 52). In Hebrew amēn points to something previously said, thus it is used in English as well as Hebrew by those listening to a prayer. Judah's closing his doxology with “amen” is probably a cue for the congregation hearing the Scripture read to respond appropriately.
Textual Note: Some late MSS and the TR insert sophos, "wise" after "only," apparently to assimilate the doxology to the one in Romans 16:27 (Metzger 661). The phrase "before all time" is omitted by the TR and late MSS and thus not found in the KJV or NKJV. Metzger suggests the phrase may have been removed because it did not seem to be appropriate in a doxology, even though it has very strong MS support (661).
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
Barker: William P. Barker, Everyone In the Bible. Fleming H. Revell Co., 1966.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. London: Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981. Online.
Blum: Edwin A. Blum, The Epistle of Jude. Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 12, Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp., 1989-1999.
Brumbach: Rabbi Joshua Brumbach, Jude: Faith and the Destructive Influence of Heresy. Lederer Books, 2014.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
Danker: F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DNTT: Dictionary of New Testament Theology. 3 Vols., ed. Colin Brown. Zondervan Publishing House, 1975.
Faussett: A.R. Faussett, Jude. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown, 1871) Online.
Fruchtenbaum: Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Ariel's Bible Commentary: The Messianic Jewish Epistles. Ariel Ministries, 2005.
Ginzberg: Louis Ginzberg, The Legends of the Jews, 1909. Online.
GNT: The Greek New Testament, eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, & Allen Wiegren. American Bible Society, 1966.
HELPS: The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. eds. Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
LSJ: Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon. Rev. ed. Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online.
Marshall: Alfred Marshall, NASB-NIV Parallel New Testament in Greek and English. Zondervan Pub. House, 1986.
Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.
Morris: Henry Morris, The Genesis Record, Baker Books, 1976.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
NASBEC: New American Standard Bible Exhaustive Concordance, Updated Edition. Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998.
NIBD: Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Herbert Lockyer, ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
Rienecker: Fritz Rienecker, A Linguistic Key to the Greek New Testament, Vol. 2. Zondervan Pub. House, 1980.
Robertson: Archibald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, 6 Vols. Broadman Press, 1933. (Parsons CD-ROM Version 2.0, 1997)
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary. Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889. online.
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