Jude 1:14–15

“It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied” (Jude 14).

The period of time between the Old and New Testaments was marked by a great deal of international upheaval. The Maccabean revolt (around 164 BC) ended the tyranny of Antiochus IV who defiled the Jerusalem temple. Israel subsequently enjoyed independence from foreign rule. This continued until 63 bc when the Roman general Pompey made Palestine a part of the Roman empire.

Though prophets were silent during the intertestamental period, the Jews continued to produce many religious works. These works came to be known as the deuterocanonical books, and many of them, such as 1 and 2 Maccabees, are included in the canon of the Roman Catholic Church. However, many other works were produced at this time and were never recognized as inspired, even though they may have been used as devotional aids by some Jews.

One of these is known as the Testament of Moses and is the likely source for Jude’s description of the fight over Moses’ body in verse 9 of his epistle. Jude’s reliance on an uninspired source immediately raises concerns for us. These concerns are only compounded by today’s passage. In verses 14–15, Jude quotes 1 Enoch, a pseude-pigraphal (falsely attributed) work written between the third and first centuries bc. This book is based on the enigmatic “Enoch” of Genesis 5:18–24, and was a favorite of the Dead Sea sect.

But did Jude consider the aforementioned works inspired? If so, then we need to add to our Old Testament canon. If not, maybe Jude ought to be disqualified as an apostle for quoting an uninspired work as if it were inspired? Indeed, many in the early church had problems accepting Jude as canonical because of his use of these sources.

But we need not resort to such a thing, for Jude’s use of this material does not mean he recognized these works as a whole were inspired. While operating under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, Jude was led to include portions of these sources in his inspired letter. The apostle could distinguish the truths from the errors in these apocryphal books, and thus his use of a non-canonical writing is perfectly in keeping with the inspiration and inerrancy of his letter.

Coram Deo

All truth finds its origin in God Himself. Therefore, we should not be dismayed that Jude quotes from sources not inspired by God. We can be sure Jude, under the superintendence of the Holy Spirit, was able to sift the wheat from the chaff in these non-canonical sources. Thus his letter, like all of Scripture, remains authoritative. Thank the Lord for giving us His Word and study it so that you may apply its truth to your life.

For Further Study