Y'hudah Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern
1. From: Y’hudah, a slave of Yeshua the Messiah and a brother of Ya‘akov
To: Those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept for Yeshua the Messiah:
Y'hudah is traditionally understood to be the brother of Ya'akov and of Yeshua (Mt 13:55. Mk 6:3,1С 9:5). If so, he might call himself a slave of Yeshua the Messiah in order to avoid exploiting his blood relationship with the Lord. But some scholars think that this Y'hudah is a relatively unknown person who mentioned his better-known brother (also unknown to us) in order to help his readers identify him.
No clue is given as to the intended audience; the heresy described makes Asia Minor a likely destination.
2. May mercy, love and shalom be yours in full measure.
3. Dear friends, I was busily at work writing to you about the salvation we share, when I found it necessary to write, urging you to keep contending earnestly for the faith which was once and for all passed on to God’s people.
I was busily at work writing to you about the salvation we share. As with many books mentioned in the Tanakh that have not survived, our curiosity about Y'hudah's soteriological treatise cannot be satisfied.
4. For certain individuals, the ones written about long ago as being meant for this condemnation, have wormed their way in — ungodly people who pervert God’s grace into a license for debauchery and disown our only Master and Lord, Yeshua the Messiah.
Keep contending earnestly for the faith which was once and for all passed on to God's people. This, along with v. 17 ("the words spoken... by the emissaries of our Lord"), suggests that the letter was written in the latter part of the first century when "the faith" had begun to crystallize. This use of Greek pistis to mean a systematized body of doctrine is unusual (see Ac 3:16N, Ga 2:16cN), but even here we should not limit "the faith" to its intellectual aspects; it includes and implies not only doctrine to be believed, but the entire Messianic way of life to be observed and obeyed (Ro 1:5, "the obedience that comes from trusting").
This is clear from v. 4: what the ungodly people do is not merely pass on mistaken information, but pervert God's grace into a license for debauchery and disown our only Master and Lord. They no longer recognize Yeshua's right to command obedience but teach instead a perversion of Ro 3:28 and Ep 2:8-9, that a person is considered righteous by God on the ground of professing faith in Yeshua regardless of what sort of works he does. Such an attitude quickly results in debauchery, as well as other kinds of antinomianism, since it removes the ethical and moral component of faith/faithfulness/ trusting. In Y'hudah's time various kinds of Gnostics taught in this way; our age too has its share of false teachers (see 2 Ti 4:3-4, 1 Yn 4:4-6&N).
Written about long ago. See vv. 14-15.
5. Since you already know all this, my purpose is only to remind you that Adonai, who once delivered the people from Egypt, later destroyed those who did not trust.
6. And the angels that did not keep within their original authority, but abandoned their proper sphere, he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for the Judgment of the Great Day.
7. And S’dom, ‘Amora and the surrounding cities, following a pattern like theirs, committing sexual sins and perversions, lie exposed as a warning of the everlasting fire awaiting those who must undergo punishment.
Three examples warn that God does not tolerate those who "pervert God's grace" (vv. 3b-4&N). The Lord who once delivered the people... later destroyed them.
Compare Ro 11:19-22, MJ 3:7-4:11&NN. On v. 6 see 2 Ke 2:4&N. On v. 7 see 2 Ke 2:5-9N.
8. Likewise, these people, with their visions, defile their own flesh, despise godly authority and insult angelic beings.
9. When Mikha’el, one of the ruling angels, took issue with the Adversary, arguing over the body of Moshe, he did not dare bring against him an insulting charge, but said, “May Adonai rebuke you.”
Although modern Jewish popular ideology holds that angels are a Christian invention reflecting a departure from pure monotheism, actually the Tanakh speaks of them often, and post-Tanakh Judaism developed an intricate angelology which helps to explain this verse. Moreover, the tantalizing brevity of the Tanakh's account of Moses' death together with the fact that "to this day no one knows where he is buried" (Deuteronomy 34:5-6) gave rise to numerous elaborations (see Rv 6:9&N, 11:3-6&N, and especially 12:7&N).
Here Y'hudah reportedly alludes to a story included in the Testament of Moses, a Jewish writing from the beginning of the first century C.E.; 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 a dispute an hour before Moses' death between Samma'el — regarded in Judaism as the angel of death and often identified with the Adversary (Satan, the accuser; see Mt 4:1N) — and Mikha'el (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; see Rv 12:7&N). Targum Yonalan says that Moses' tomb was put under Mikha'el's authority. The Testament of Moses must have added that God assigned Mikha'el to bury Moses' corpse, but when Satan claimed it as his Mikha'el took issue with the Adversary, arguing over the body of Moshe. Yet even though he was one of the chief angels (on this phrase see 1 Th 4:16N), Mikha'el did not dare bring against Satan an insulting charge, because he recognized that Satan's role as accuser was given to him by God. (This is portrayed clearly in Job 1-2; the New Testament, like the Tanakh, does not consider Satan an independent force for evil, but a servant of God with limited authority.) Rather, in keeping with the warning, "Adonai says, 'Vengeance is my responsibility; I will repay'"(Deuteronomy 32:25, Ro 12:19), he said only, "May Adonai rebuke you," echoing God's own rebuke of Satan (Zechariah 3:1-2).
For more on Mikha'el see Rv 12:7N. Also compare 2 Ke 2:10-13 with vv. 8-10.
10. However, these people insult anything they don’t understand; and what they do understand naturally, without thinking, like animals — by these things they are destroyed!
11. Woe to them, in that they have walked the road of Kayin, they have given themselves over for money to the error of Bil‘am, they have been destroyed in the rebellion of Korach.
The rebellious road of Kayin took him "out from the presence of Adonai" (Genesis 4:16) because he refused to accept God's advice and did nol take advantage of any of the five or six opportunities God gave him to repent (Genesis4:1-16). Cain's road led him to murder his brother Abel, but murder was not the road itself. See MJ 11:4N.
They have given themselves over for money to the error of Bil'am (Balaam). See 2 Ke 2:15-16N.
Numbers 16 reports the rebellion of Korach (Korah) against God's appointed leader Moses as a major threat to the community of Israel, eliminated only when God had the earth swallow up Korach and his 250 co-conspirators. Because the false prophets similarly wish to take on themselves the authority in the Body of the Messiah which God has given to others, Y'hudah says they have been destroyed.
12. These men are filthy spots at your festive gatherings meant to foster love; they share your meals without a qualm, while caring only for themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by the winds; trees without fruit even in autumn, and doubly dead because they have been uprooted;
13. savage sea-waves heaving forth their shameful deeds like foam; wandering stars for whom the blackest darkness has been reserved forever.
Compare 2 Ke 2:17&N.
Waterless clouds carried along by the winds. Compare Proverbs 25:14, "One who boasts of gifts that he fails to give is like clouds and wind without rain."
In Jewish culture, meals have always been festive gatherings meant to foster love; among believers in Yeshua this is seen at Ac 2:42 and 1С 11:21.
14. Moreover, Hanokh, in the seventh generation starting with Adam, also prophesied about these men, saying, “Look! Adonai came with his myriads of holy ones
15. to execute judgment against everyone, that is, to convict all the godless for their godless deeds which they have done in such a godless way, and for all the harsh words these godless sinners have spoken against him.”
Y'hudah quotes 1 Enoch 1:9. 1 Enoch, a compilation of writings by several authors who lived in the last two centuries B.C.E., is one of the Pseudepigrapha, Jewish books attributed to famous biblical figures, such as Chanoch (Enoch, Genesis 5:18-24), in the seventh generation starting with Adam (Genesis 5:1). 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.
Y'hudah's quoting a non-canonical book does not make 1 Enoch inspired Scripture, nor does it disqualify Y'hudah's letter. Sha'ul quoted pagan authors at Ac 17:28-29 and Ti 1:12, and no one supposes that their works should be included in Holy Writ or Sha'ul's excluded.
16. These people are grumblers and complainers, they follow their evil passions, their mouths speak grandiosities, and they flatter others to gain advantage.
17. But you, dear friends, keep in mind the words spoken in advance by the emissaries of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah.
18. They told you, “During the acharit-hayamim there will be scoffers following their own godless passions.”
The majority of scholars hold that 2 Kefa is an expansion of Y'hudah's letter, but these verses suggest that Y'hudah drew on 2 Kefa, since Y'hudah not only excludes himself from the emissaries of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, but in reciting what they told you he seems to be quoting 2 Ke 3:3. A third possibility is that both books partly depend on a common source.
19. These are the people who cause divisions. They are controlled by their impulses, because they don’t have the Spirit.
Compare Ro 8:9-13.
20. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith, and pray in union with the Ruach HaKodesh.
21. Thus keep yourselves in God’s love, as you wait for our Lord Yeshua the Messiah to give you the mercy that leads to eternal life.
Y'hudah contrasts "you, dear friends," genuine believers, with the ungodly libertines of vv. 4-19, and prescribes four things to do. On faith see vv. 3-4N.
22. Rebuke some who are disputing;
23. save others, snatching them out of the fire; and to yet others, show mercy, but with fear, hating even the clothes stained by their vices.
There are a number of textual variants of these two verses; several of them mention only two kinds of people who have left the "most holy faith" (v. 20), but the preponderant evidence favors three:
(1) Those who are disputing 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.
(2) Others, who have been swept along by the libertine disputers, are themselves relatively innocent but in grave danger of falling away. Save them, snatching them out of the fire, then ground them in the principles of truth.
(3) Yet others have fallen into sin but have not lost their basic teachability, so that they may be restored. To them, show mercy, but with fear, hating even the clothes stained by their vices — love the sinner, but hate the sin. "You who have the Spirit should set him right, but in a spirit of humility, keeping an eye on yourselves so that you won't be tempted too" (Ga 6:1).
24. Now, to the one who can keep you from falling
and set you without defect and full of joy
in the presence of his Sh’khinah —
25. to God alone, our Deliverer,
through Yeshua the Messiah, our Lord —
be glory, majesty, power and authority
before all time, now and forever.
In addressing God as the one who can keep you from falling, the closing prayer follows the theme of vv. 22-23. This passage is one of the greatest of the New Testament doxologies, comparable with Ro 11:33-36, 16:25-27; Rv 4:10-11, 5:12-13, 15:3-4.
On Sh'khmah see Paragraph (3) of MJ 1:2-3N.
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