Bible Question:

Who wrote the book of Jude?

Bible Answer:

Who wrote the book of Jude? According to the book of Jude, the author of the book of Jude was Jude. It is important to know that the Greek name for Jude is Ioudas. This name can also be translated as Judas and Judah. Therefore in the New Testament there are eight different men named Jude, Judas or Judah. Lou and Nida summarize the different men called Jude, Judas or Judah in the New Testament.

“(1) Judas Iscariot, the betrayer of Jesus and one of the twelve apostles (Mt 10:4); (2) Judas the son of James, and one of the twelve apostles (Lk 6:16); (3) Judas, a brother of Jesus (Mt 13:55); (4) Judas, Paul’s host in Damascus (Ac 9:11); (5) Judas, called Barsabbas, a leading Christian in Jerusalem and a companion of Paul (Ac 15:22); (6) Judas, a revolutionary leader (Ac 5:37); (7) Judah, a person in the genealogy of Jesus (Lk 3:30); (8) Judah, a son of Jacob in the genealogy of Jesus and an ancestor of an Israelite tribe (Mt 1:2; Re 7:5)—‘Judas’ or ‘Judah.’”[1]

The question is who wrote the book of Jude? What follows is the answer to the question.

Who wrote the book of Jude?

Judas Iscariot — The Betrayer of Jesus

The man we will consider first is the disciple named Judas Iscariot. He was called to be a disciple (Matthew 10:4;). He was the treasurer for Jesus and the other eleven disciples (John 13:29). He loved money. Consequently, Satan exploited his lust for money when the Pharisees offered him thirty pieces of silver to betray Christ (Matthew 26:14-16). After he betrayed Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:47-56), he felt great remorse (Matthew 27:3). Therefore, Judas returned the money to the Pharisees and then committed suicide by hanging himself (Matthew 27:3-10). He died in the year 33 B.C. Since the book of Jude was written about A.D. 68-70, Judas Iscariot could not have been the author of the book of Jude. Who wrote the book of Jude? The author was not Judas Iscariot.

Judas, the Son of James — Also Called Thaddeus

The second Judas to be considered was also one of the twelve disciples (Mark 3:18; Luke 6:16). A comparison of the two books of Mark and Luke reveals that Judas, the son of James was also called Thaddeus (Mark 3:16-19). History tells us that this Judas, named Thaddaeus, was martyred in Persia or Armenia. He died when he was shot with arrows in Syria about A.D. 65. Thus he could not have written the book published in A.D. 68-70. In addition, only one early church father claims that this apostle wrote the book of Jude.[2]

The apostle Jude, whom Matthew and Mark call Thaddeus in their Gospels, is writing against the same corrupters of the faith as Peter and John con­demn in their letters.

But, the testimony of the other early church fathers is that Jude, the brother of Jesus, wrote the book of Jude (see the next section). Since they were closer to the time when Jude was written, they have the advantage in the decision making process.

Jude, a Brother of Jesus

The third Judas or Jude mentioned in the New Testament is Jesus’ brother. He is listed among the brothers and sisters of Jesus. Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 give us a list of Mary’s children.

Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? Matthew 13:55-56 (NASB)

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. Mark 6:3 (NASB)

A quick comparison of these two passages reveal that Mary had a son named Judas. That is, Jesus had a brother named Judas. These two passages also name a son called James. Thus Jesus had brothers named Judas and James. History tells us that Judas died about A.D. 98-117.

Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 150–215) states that Jude was a)  the author of the book of Jude, b) the son of Joseph and c) one of the brothers of Jesus Christ. He wrote the following in his book called Adumbrations.

Jude was the brother of the sons of Joseph, but despite his relationship to the Lord, he did not say that he was Jesus’ brother. What did he say? He called himself Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, that is, of the Lord, and the brother of James, who was the Lord’s brother.[3]

Eusebius of Caesarea refers to Jude as the brother of our Lord in two different places in his monumental work called the History of the Church.

When Domitian ordered that those of the race of David be slain, an ancient story holds that some of the heretics accused the grandchildren of Jude (the brother of the Savior, according to the flesh), on the ground that they really were of the family of David and were re­lated to Christ himself. Hegesippus makes this quite clear.[4]

Hegesippus says that other descendants of one of the so-called broth­ers of the Lord, Jude by name, lived until the reign of Trajan [98-117], after giving testimony of their faith in Christ in the time of Domitian (81-96].[5]

Eusebius’ last quote is consistent with the date of the book of Jude of A.D. 68-70. That is, he lived long enough to write the book of Jude.

The testimony of Scripture and the early church fathers was that Jude, the brother of Jesus and James, wrote the book of Jude. The evidence points to a date of A.D. 68-70. Therefore, when Jude 1 says that Jude was the brother of James and Galatians 1:19 states that James was the brother of Jesus, we understand that both Jude and James are brothers of Christ.

But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother.  Galatians 1:19 (NASB)

Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James . . . Jude 1 (NASB)

Judas, Paul’s Host In Damascus

In Acts 9:11 we read about another, the fourth Judas in the New Testament. He was the apostle Paul’s host when he arrived in the city of Damascus.

Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and the Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” And the Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for a man from Tarsus named Saul, for he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him, so that he might regain his sight.” Acts 9:10-12 (NASB)

It is obvious from Acts 9 that this Judas was a Christian. It is highly unlikely that he would have written the book of Jude as the early church fathers never mentioned him. Therefore, it is not probable that he wrote the book of Jude.

Judas, Called Barsabbas

A fifth Judas mentioned in the New Testament is found in Acts 15:22.

Then it seemed good to the apostles and the elders, with the whole church, to choose men from among them to send to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas — Judas called Barsabbas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren . . . Acts 15:22

This verse captures the open words of a letter sent to Gentiles living in the city of Antioch that God would save Gentiles as well as Jews. Verse 22 helps us understand that this Judas was highly respected in the church in Jerusalem. Beyond this verse, Scripture has nothing more to say about him and the early church fathers never mentioned him. Therefore, it not likely that he wrote the book of Jude.

Judas, a Revolutionary Leader

Another Judas, the sixth one, can be found in Acts 5:37. The context reveals that this man was an insurrectionist who was killed in the “days of the census” (A.D. 6-7). Since the man died around the time of the insurrection, it is clear that he could not have written the book of Jude.

But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time.And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. Acts 5:34-37 (NASB)

Judah, a Patriarch In The Genealogy of Mary

Another Ioudas or Judas, also translated as Judah, in the New Testament can be found in the genealogy of Jesus, which is also Mary’s genealogy. The passage is Luke 3:30. Since the man had died  long before Mary was born, this man could not have written the book of Jude.

. . . the son of Simeon, the son of Judah, the son of Joseph, the son of Jonam, the son of Eliakim . . . Luke 3:30 (NASB)

A careful study as to why are the genealogical records for Jesus different in Matthew and Luke will reveal that this Judah died about the time of Ahaz. Additional information can also be found in a study of the genealogy of Mary and the genealogy of Joseph reveals that Judah died long before Mary was born.

Judah, a Patriarch In The Genealogy of Joseph

The eight and last Ioudas, Judah, can be found in the genealogy of Jesus (Matthew 1:2). He is a descendant of the patriarch Jacob.

Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. Matthew 1:2 (NASB)

It is clear that he was not alive at the time  the book of Jude was written since he died about 1860 B.C. Again, a careful study as to why are the genealogical records for Jesus different in Matthew and Luke will reveal that this Judah died about the time of  Ahaz.  Additional information can also be found in a study of the genealogy of Mary and the genealogy of Joseph reveals that Judah died long before Joseph was born.

Conclusion:

Therefore, it is concluded that Judas or Jude, the brother of Jesus and James, wrote the book of Jude. All of the other men called Judas, Judah or Jude had died before the book of Jude was written. The only possible exception was the apostle called Judas, also called Thaddaeus, but the testimony of the early church fathers outweighs the argument in his favor as the author of the book of Jude.

 

References:

1. Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), p. 824.
2. Bede. On Jude. Ancient Christian Commentary. InterVarsity Press. 2000. vol. XI,  p. 245.
3. Clement of Alexandria. Adumbrations. Ancient Christian Commentary. InterVarsity Press. 2000. vol. XI,  p. 245.
4. Eusebius of Caesarea. History of the Church. 3.19.2. Ancient Christian Commentary. InterVarsity Press. 2000. vol. XI,  p. 245.
5. Eusebius of Caesarea. History of the Church. 3.32.3. Ancient Christian Commentary. InterVarsity Press. 2000. vol. XI,  p. 245.

Suggested Links:

Did Jesus have two disciples named Judas?
How did the Twelve Apostles die? – Where did the Apostles die?
Why are the genealogical records for Jesus different in Matthew and Luke?
Joseph’s Genealogy
Mary’s Genealogy
Did Jude copy from the book of Enoch?
Why is the book of Enoch not included in the Bible?
How many brothers and sisters did Jesus have?