The Simple Jesus in Jude 5

The Simple Jesus in Jude 5

The final name to explore is the shortest name that Jude uses, the simple uncompounded, unmodified Jesus.  This name is found in verse 5 but not in every manuscript. Therefore, it is wise to review the variants before moving on in this study. Philipp Bartholomä has cataloged the three main variants and 2 lesser attested variants.[1]  The possible subjects for Jude 5 are “(reading 1) “Lord” [κύριος]; (reading 2) “Jesus” [Ἰησοῦς] and (reading 3) “God” [θεός]”.  After a worthy study of the options, Batholomä concludes that reading 3 is the most inferior.[2]   He notes that reading 1 has been championed by many[3]but not because of the manuscript evidence but rather because of the theological implications of reading 2.  As “Metzger and Wikgren state in the Textual Commentary,“critical principles seem to require the adoption of Ίησοῦς, which admittedly is the best attested reading among Greek and versional witnesses.””[4]  And yet these scholars opt for an inferior reading to avoid the Christological implications.[5]  Yet, the Jesusreading has the strongest manuscript support and is more geographically widespread and has been adopted by scholars, translators and some critical editions of the New Testament.[6]

Given Bartholomä’s findings and reasoning, the Epistle of Jude contains a 7thdirect reference to Jesus.  What is amazing about this usage of the name is its simplicity and the theological implications that it carries.  As a simple name without the messianic title compounded to it, the man Jesus appears to be in view.  The human person who walked the earth, lived and died on the cross is in view.  This isn’t a new introduction to the epistle.  The very humanity of Jesus was in view when Jude called himself the ‘brother of James’ (1). There are not many James in the early church who were well known enough that one could claim them as a brother and at the same time have enough social capital to write a letter that would be included in the New Testament.[7]  Only James, the brother of Jesus who also had a brother named Judas – the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek Jude (Matt 13:55) – could fit this bill.[8]  This James is mentioned in the Jerusalem council (Acts 15:13) as one with power and authority to decide the issues before the church.  Paul met with him (Gal 1:19) and the risen Christ appeared directly to James (1Cor 15:7).  Thus, Jude appears to be writing as part of the Jacobean tradition and his ethical concerns dovetail nicely with those of his brother James.  But that is another point, for the purposes of this study, the humanity of Jesus, although having already been alluded to at the beginning of the letter, will now be developed more fully.

The text says that Jesus, the human man ‘saved a people out of the land of Egypt’ and ‘afterward destroyed those who did not believe’ (5). Furthermore, the implied subject of the verb in verse 6 refers directly back to Jesus in verse 5 and also attributes angelic binding to Him, as well.  Thus, by reason, Jude is declaring that Jesus was pre-existent in the Old Testament.[9]  And while this may startle some readers, it isn’t entirely foreign.  1 Cor. 10:4 declares that Christ was the rock in the desert that accompanied the people of God out of Egypt. Furthermore, Moses “considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward” (Heb 11:26). And Jesus declares in John 8:58that “before Abraham was, I am.” Each of these texts gives us an example of the theology that Jude is espousing: Jesus is God.

The focus of the text, however, is upon the saving and judging activity that has been entrusted to the God-man, Jesus.[10]  Whether it is the angelic host who fell, the covenant people who sinned or the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah that were overthrown, judgment, along with power and authority belongs to Jesus.  The implication is clear, regardless of whether the humanity or divinity of Jesus is in view, Jesus has the power and authority to judge and to save, to condemn or to be merciful.[11]

As one elder pastor has put it,

Jesus is the Lord of your life whether you let Him operate in your life or not. He is by nature the Lord. Ultimately a lord has dominion over one, and the Lord will be the Lord. If He is not recognized as Lord now, He will be someday when every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:11). We may choose to recognize Him as Lord today or be coerced into recognizing Him as Lord at His return.”[12]

And it is this Lordship that Jude wants his audience to recognize and respond to by contending for the faith (3), living a holy life and fleeing ungodly licentiousness (4).  Why? Because ‘God is glorified in salvation through judgment.”[13]

See also

The First Triad of Names for Jesus in Jude

The Second Triad of Names for Jesus in Jude

My next post will focus on The Deity of Jesus in Jude.


[1]Bartholomä, “Did Jesus Save the People out of Egypt?”

[2]Bartholomä, 148.

[3]Hort, Metzger, Bauckham and Wasserman champion Reading 1, i.e. Lord. See Bartholomä, 144-5.

[4]Bartholomä, “Did Jesus Save the People out of Egypt?,” 157.See also Bruce M. Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament: A Companion Volume to the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament (3d Ed.), 2nd ed. (London, New York: United Bible Societies, 1971), 657–58.

[5]Bartholomä, “Did Jesus Save the People out of Egypt?”see pages 144 fn2, 3, 4 and 145 fn7.

[6]Bartholomä.144, 148-149.  Osburn, the Critica Maior and the ESV accept the Jesus reading as well as Alexandrian text uncials (A B)…miniscules (33 81 322 323 1241 1739 1881)…(Origen 1739mg)

[7]D. A. Carson and Douglas J. Moo, An Introduction to the New Testament, 2nd ed (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2005), 690.  Chester and Martin, The Theology of the Letters of James, Peter, and Jude, 65.

[8]Richard Bauckham, “The Relatives of Jesus,” Themelios21, no. 2 (January 1996): 19.See also: Frey, “The Epistle of Jude between Judaism and Hellenism,” 309–11.Frey concludes that pseudepigraphy is unlikely due to the obscure person’s name in which the letter is written. Why not write in James’ name or better yet Peter’s?  Frey also believes that Jude wrote before 2 Peter, for what purpose could Jude hope to attain if 2 Peter already existed?

[9]Bruce, The New Testament Development of Old Testament Themes, 35–36.  Bartholomä, “Did Jesus Save the People out of Egypt?,” 154.

[10]Chester and Martin, The Theology of the Letters of James, Peter, and Jude, 77–79.

[11]Chad B Van Dixhoorn, Confessing the Faith: A Reader’s Guide to the Westminster Confession of Faith, 2016, 435–36.

[12]Elmer L. Towns, The Names of Jesus: Over 700 Names of Jesus to Help You Really Know the Lord Loves You, electronic, 1986, Sermon 2: The Title “Lord,”[ETowns].pdf.  This is a pdf version of 12 transcribed sermons.

[13]James M. Hamilton,God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology(Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2010), 537.


Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *