Letter from Judas

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New Testament
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The Letter of Jude is the third shortest book in the New Testament with 461 words. The letter of Jude consists of only one chapter, which has been divided into 25 verses since early modern times . It is a warning to fight for the only true faith and not to fall for the false teachers who have crept into the church. Originally the author wanted to write a lesson on the subject of salvation, but the infiltration of false teachers and immoral people led him to the traditional exhortation.


The author is called Judas, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James . The name can refer to James , the (eldest) brother or cousin of Jesus, later leader of the Jerusalem early church , as one of the brothers of Jesus was called Judas ( Mk 6,3  EU ). The fact that the author does not directly refer to himself as the brother of Jesus would then be an expression of particular reverence.

The name Judas was common then, and the Apostle Thomas was sometimes referred to as Judas Thomas .

The church fathers related this information to Judas Thaddäus , who is mentioned in Lk 6.16  EU and Acts 1.13  EU as one of the apostles with the addition of the son of James . He is not to be confused with the other apostle named Judas Iscariot . It is not clear which James was his brother and which his father. James, son of Alphaeus (James the Younger, Lk 6.15  EU ) is just as conceivable as James, the son of Zebedee ( James the Elder ), who is named next to the favorite disciple John (v. 14 EU ). Possibly fathers and sons in the circle of the disciples were considered to be “brothers”, so that here not the physical, but the spiritual relationship is meant.

Based on the content of his letter, the author is probably to be found in Jewish Christian circles. Its language is independent (e.g. the motif of the "most holy faith" in EU 20 ), but contains related motifs with a letter of Paul ( 2nd letter to the Corinthians ), the letter of James and the letters of John (emphasis on the love and mercy of God, in EU 21) ).

Time of origin

Neither the time of origin nor the recipient of the letter of Jude can be determined with certainty. There are relationships with the 2nd letter of Peter : The heresies predicted there have - according to Jude's letter - now appeared ( 2 Petr 2, 1–3  EU ).

The dating attempts range from 50 to 120 AD: It is dated to 50–55 AD if it is assigned to an original Jewish Christianity. The time around 70 AD, or the last third of the 1st century, or the decades 80–100 AD as the time of apocalyptic heyday is also represented.


The letter of Jude is directed against false teachers who have entered the church. Although they participate in the love feasts of the church, they deny Jesus Christ and abuse the grace of God (v. 12 EU ).

The author wants to overcome this situation of doubt and discord in the addressed community with his admonition by showing a clear alternative: trust in the sole ruler Jesus Christ brings salvation in the final judgment and eternal joy (v. 24 EU ). For the others, the godless, “the judgment has long been written” (v. 4 EU ), which the author reminds his readers of. From Israel's election in the Exodus, even since creation , God predestined the final judgment (v. 6 EU ): This brings "the torment of the eternal fire" and is valid like the angels who communed with mortal people ( 1 Mos 6 : 2– 4  EU ) and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah who committed fornication, including the “dreamers who defile their flesh” by despising Christ's rule and “blaspheming the majesties”.

Obviously what was meant were the previous authorities in the community of Jude's epistle, who faced competitors. Their actions consisted of “speaking proud words” and self-serving “respecting the person”, “walking according to their godless desires” and “making divisions”. In order to put them in their place, the author refers to motifs that the Bible does not otherwise know: a fight between the archangel Michael and the devil for the body of Moses (v. 9 EU ) and a prophecy of " Enoch the seventh of Adam “( 1 Mos 5,21  EU or 1 Hen 60,8) from God's judgment on the wicked. He emphasizes in clearly late Jewish, apocalyptic language (cf. Ethiopian Book of Enoch 1 Hen 1.14, 5 Mos 33.2  EU ) the continuity of salvation history with the people of the "saints" (the chosen Jews) and the Christians, but at the same time shows the threat of final rejection, which also applies to them.

While the godless false teachers “do not have the spirit”, the admonition aims at the insight: But you, my dear ones, build yourselves on your most holy faith, pray in the Holy Spirit and keep yourselves in the love of God ... (v. 20 EU ), which now consists in tearing the doubters (those confused by the false teachers) "out of the fire" and saving them from perdition in the final judgment (v. 22 EU ). That is why the author initially addressed his letter to the “Appointed” (v. 1 EU ). In order to encourage them to do so, he concludes in a doxology (praising honor) once again emphasizing the only authority that can “protect you from stumbling” and “place blamelessly before the face of his (God's) glory with joy” (v. 24 EU ): namely Jesus Christ.

The reason behind this remains unspoken and is only implicitly recognizable in the emphasis on Christ's sole rule: it is he who already anticipated the final judgment on the cross , took over the punishment of the wicked and thus freed them from it.


  • Jörg Frey : The Letter of Judas between Judaism and Hellenism. In: Wolfgang Kraus, Karl-Wilhelm Niebuhr (Hrsg.): Early Judaism and the New Testament in the horizon of Biblical Theology. Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2003, pp. 180-210.
  • Walter Grundmann : The letter of Judas and the second letter of Peter (= theological hand commentary on the New Testament. Vol. 15). 3rd edition, Deichert, Leipzig 1986.
  • Roman Heiligenthal : The letter of Judas. Aspects of Research in the Past Centuries. In: Theologische Rundschau . No. 51, 1986, pp. 117-129.
  • Roman Heiligenthal: Between Enoch and Paul. Studies on the theological history of the epistle of Jude (= texts and works on the New Testament age. [DANCE] vol. 6). Francke, Tübingen 1992, ISBN 3-7720-1885-8 .
  • Martin Holland : Judas letter . In: Gerhard Maier: Jakobusbrief (= Edition C: B, Biblical Commentaries. [Edition C / B] Vol. 23). 2nd edition, Hänssler, Neuhausen-Stuttgart 1991, ISBN 3-7751-1380-0 .
  • Uwe Holmer , Werner de Boor : The letters of Peter and the letter of Judas (= Wuppertal study Bible . NT 18). Brockhaus, Wuppertal 1994.
  • Henning Paulsen : Judas letter . In: Theological Real Encyclopedia . Vol. 17, de Gruyter, Berlin 1988, pp. 307-310.
  • Henning Paulsen: The second letter of Peter and the letter of Jude (= critical-exegetical commentary on the New Testament. Vol. 12, 2). Vandenhoeck and Ruprecht, Göttingen 1992, ISBN 3-525-51626-6 .
  • Karl Hermann Schelkle : The letters of Peter. The Letter of Jude (= Herder's theological commentary on the New Testament. ). Herder, Freiburg im Breisgau 2002.
  • Gerhard Sellin : The heretics of the letter of Jude. In: Journal for New Testament Science . (ZNW) No. 77, 1986, pp. 206-225.
  • Anton Vögtle : The Letter of Judas. The 2nd Letter of Peter (= Evangelical-Catholic Commentary on the New Testament. (EKK) Vol. 22). Benziger, Zurich a. a. 1994, ISBN 3-545-23124-0 .

Web links

Commons : Letter of Jude  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files

Individual evidence

  1. after Nestle-Aland , 27th edition
  2. a b Fritz Rienecker, Gerhard Maier: Lexicon for the Bible. Brockhaus, Wuppertal 1998, Lemma Judas letter .
  3. James Rendel Harris pointed out that in the Syrian tradition the Apostle Thomas is considered to be Judas Thomas and brother of Jesus, whereby the twin is then related to the milk brotherhood . Then Judas would be a first name of one of the well-known apostles. This is contradicted by the fact that the content of Jude's epistle is in no way related to the content of the apocryphal Thomas tradition.
  4. Klaus Berger : Commentary on the New Testament. Gütersloh 2011, p. 978.
  5. Werner de Boor in the Wuppertal Study Bible . R. Brockhaus, Wuppertal 1989 (Peter and Jude), p. 189.
  6. Udo Schnelle : Introduction to the New Testament . Göttingen 1996, p. 477.
  7. 1 Hen 60: 8 “Enoch the seventh of Adam”
  8. ^ Rau, Eckhard. Cosmology, eschatology and the teaching authority of Henoch 1974 p. 40 "It is true that 1 Hen 1,3-9 follows 1: 1 through the connection of Dtn 33.2 with Dtn 33.1."