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Jude-2 Peter, Volume 50 by Richard Bauckham

The Word Biblical Commentary delivers the best in biblical scholarship, from the leading scholars of our day who share a commitment to Scripture as divine revelation. This series emphasizes a thorough analysis of textual, linguistic, structural, and theological evidence. The result is judicious and balanced insight into the meanings of the text in the framework of biblical theology. These widely acclaimed commentaries serve as exceptional resources for the professional theologian and instructor, the seminary or university student, the working minister, and everyone concerned with building theological understanding from a solid base of biblical scholarship.

Overview of Commentary Organization

  • Introduction—covers issues pertaining to the whole book, including context, date, authorship, composition, interpretive issues, purpose, and theology.
  • Each section of the commentary includes:
  • Pericope Bibliography—a helpful resource containing the most important works that pertain to each particular pericope.
  • Translation—the author’s own translation of the biblical text, reflecting the end result of exegesis and attending to Hebrew and Greek idiomatic usage of words, phrases, and tenses, yet in reasonably good English.
  • Notes—the author’s notes to the translation that address any textual variants, grammatical forms, syntactical constructions, basic meanings of words, and problems of translation.
  • Form/Structure/Setting—a discussion of redaction, genre, sources, and tradition as they concern the origin of the pericope, its canonical form, and its relation to the biblical and extra-biblical contexts in order to illuminate the structure and character of the pericope. Rhetorical or compositional features important to understanding the passage are also introduced here.
  • Comment—verse-by-verse interpretation of the text and dialogue with other interpreters, engaging with current opinion and scholarly research.
  • Explanation—brings together all the results of the discussion in previous sections to expose the meaning and intention of the text at several levels: (1) within the context of the book itself; (2) its meaning in the OT or NT; (3) its place in the entire canon; (4) theological relevance to broader OT or NT issues.
    • General Bibliography—occurring at the end of each volume, this extensive bibliographycontains all sources used anywhere in the commentary.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780310521693
Publisher: Zondervan
Publication date: 12/23/2014
Series: Word Biblical Commentary Series
Edition description: Revised
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 1,249,325
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 8.90(h) x 3.90(d)

About the Author

Richard J. Bauckham is Lecturer in the History of Christian Thought at the Univeristy of Manchester, England. He holds the B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Cambridge. He has published articles in The Journal of Theological Studies, The Reformed Journal, Evangelical Quarterly, and Tyndale Bulletin, and is a specialist in the area of eschatology and apocalypticism

David Allan Hubbard (1928 – 1996), former president and professor of Old Testament at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, was a recognized biblical scholar. In addition to over 30 books, he has written numerous articles for journals, periodicals, reference works. He was a general editor of the Word Biblical Commentary (1977 - 1996).

Glenn W. Barker (d. 1984) was a general editor of the Word Biblical Commentary (1977 - 1984).

John D. W. Watts (1921 – 2013) was President of the Baptist Theological Seminary, Ruschlikon, Switzerland, and served as Professor of Old Testament at that institution, at Fuller Theological Seminary, and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky. His numerous publications include commentaries on Isaiah (2 volumes), Amos, and Obadiah. He was Old Testament editor of the Word Biblical Commentary (1977 - 2011).

Ralph P. Martin (1925-2013) was Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Fuller Theological Seminary and a New Testament Editor for the Word Biblical Commentary series. He earned the BA and MA from the University of Manchester, England, and the PhD from King's College, University of London. He was the author of numerous studies and commentaries on the New Testament, including Worship in the Early Church, the volume on Philippians in The Tyndale New Testament Commentary series. He also wrote 2 Corinthians and James in the WBC series.

Read an Excerpt

Jude-2 Peter, Volume 50

Word Biblical Commentary

By Richard Bauckham, David A. Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker, John D. W. Watts, Ralph P. Martin


Copyright © 1983 Thomas Nelson, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-310-52169-3



Most introductory issues can really only be as a result of detailed exegesis. This Introduction is therefore dependent on the discussion of particular verses and passages throughout the commentary and gathers together some of their results. Thus wherever its statements are supported by reference to verses of Jude, the interpretation of those verses argued in the commentary is presupposed.

Form and Structure

The letter of Jude is a real letter. Formally, this is shown by the letter-opening (vv 1–2) which conforms to the style of the ancient Jewish letter. It was the letter-opening which was the really essential formal constituent of the ancient letter. Jude then states the occasion and theme of his message in a passage which corresponds formally to the "body-opening" of the ancient letter form (w 3–4). The body of the letter, however, is more like a homily than a letter: it consists of a midrash on a series of scriptural references and texts (vv 5–19) and a paraenetic section (vv 20–23). The work closes with a doxology (vv 24–25), a conclusion more appropriate to a homily than to a letter.

We might therefore regard the work as an "epistolary sermon," i.e. a work whose main content could have been delivered as a homily if Jude and his readers had been able to meet, but which has been cast in letter form so that it can be communicated to readers whom Jude could not visit in person. This practice of delivering a sermon at a distance by writing it within an epistolary framework was a natural extension of the genre of the letter, and was probably already in use before Jude's time. The letter from Baruch to the exiles in 2 Apoc. Bar 78–86 is a fictional example of the genre, but the fiction presupposes that this form of letter could be written in fact. It must therefore have existed in Judaism as well as in primitive Christianity. NT letters vary in the extent to which they resemble private letters, and in several cases are really written homilies or theological treatises with very little epistolary framework (Hebrews, James, 1 John). In Jude's case the formal characteristics of the letter are quite sufficient to establish its right to belong to the genre of the letter.

Jude is also a genuine letter in the sense that it was written for and sent to specific addressees. The content of the work makes it clear that it is not a tract against heresy in general (as Wisse, "Jude," argues), but a message for a specific situation in which a specific group of false teachers were troubling a specific church or group of churches. There is therefore no need to regard the occasion for the letter (v 3) as fictional, and, despite the generality of the address (v 1), we should not see it as a "catholic letter" addressed to all Christians, but as a work written with a specific, localized audience in mind.

The statement of the theme of the letter (vv 3–4) contains two parts: an appeal to Jude's readers ("to carry on the fight for the faith") and the background to this appeal (v 4: the false teachers, their character and their judgment). The two parts of the body of the letter correspond to this division. The midrash (vv 5–19) is devoted to the background of the appeal: it establishes, by exegesis of types and prophecies, that the false teachers are people whose behavior is condemned and whose judgment is prophesied in OT types and in prophecy from the time of Enoch to the time of the apostles. Its purpose is to demonstrate that the false teachers constitute a serious danger to the church(es). It therefore prepares the way for the real purpose of the letter, which is Jude's appeal to his readers to fight for the faith. This appeal, stated as the theme of the letter in v 3, is spelled out in detail in vv 20–23.

Commentators have usually been misled by the length and central position of the midrash (vv 5–19) into regarding it as the main content of the letter, but this is a serious mistake. The structure of the letter indicates that the midrash, though important, is important only as necessary background to the appeal (vv 20–23), which is Jude's main purpose in writing. The appeal occupies the position it does toward the end of the letter, not because it is a kind of postscript or "closing exhortation," but because it is the climax of the letter to which all the rest leads up. Recognizing this is a vital key to the understanding of the work as a whole.

That the section vv 5–19 is in the form of a midrash has been shown by Ellis (Prophecy and Hermeneutic), though his detailed analysis will be somewhat modified in this commentary. (The word "midrash" is used here in the general sense of an exegesis of Scripture which applies it to the contemporary situation, not with the implication that Jude's midrash bears any close resemblance to the forms of later rabbinic midrashim.) In order to demonstrate the statement in v 4, that the character and judgment of the false teachers has been prophesied, Jude cites a series of "texts" (vv 5–7, 11, 14–15, 17–18), though his "texts" are not always actual quotations. The first two "texts" are summary references to two sets of three OT types (vv 5–7, 11); he then quotes a prophecy of Enoch (w 14–15) and a prophecy of the apostles (vv 17–18). Each "text" (indented in the translation in this commentary) is followed by a passage of interpretation (vv 8–10, 12–13, 16, 19) which, by pointing to the character and behavior of the false teachers, identifies them as those to whom the type or prophecy applies. In one case, a secondary text (v 9) is introduced in the course of a passage of interpretation (vv 8–10); there are also less explicit allusions to other texts in other passages of interpretation (vv 12–13, 16).

Two main stylistic features mark the alternation of "text" and interpretation in the midrash. The past tenses (w 5–6, 9), prophetic aorists (w 11, 14), and future tenses (v 18) of the citations, representing historical types and prophecies, are matched by present tenses in all the interpretations, where Jude explains the fulfillment of the prophecies in the present. Secondly, although the "texts" are introduced in no consistent way, the passages of interpretation are consistently introduced by the words [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("these people") or [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] ("these people are"), a formula which resembles one sometimes used in exegesis at Qumran (see Form/Structure/Setting section in the commentary on vv 5–10). A further general stylistic characteristic of Jude's midrashic method is his considerable use of catchwords to link the exposition to the "text": catchwords in the "text" are picked up in the interpretation both before and after the citation of the "text," and sometimes also link the "texts" together. Catchwords are not entirely limited to the midrashic section, but they are most prominent there.


Jude's midrashic method bears some comparison with the pesher exegesis of Qumran. There is the same conviction that the ancient texts are eschatological prophecy which the interpreter applies to the events of his own time, understood as the time of eschatological fulfillment. Whereas the main Qumran pesharim are commentaries on whole passages or whole books of the OT ("continuous pesharim"), there are also "thematic pesharim" (4QFlor, llQMelch, 4Q 176, 177, 182, 183) which are commentaries on a collection of texts on one theme, in this resembling Jude's midrash. (The terms "pesher continu" and "pesher thématique" are those of J. Carmignac, "Le document de Qumran sur Melkisédeq," RevQ 7 [1969–71] 360–61.) But there are also differences between Jude and Qumran. The Qumran pesharim offer no analogies for Jude's quotations from apocryphal books (vv 9, 14–15) or from oral Christian prophecy (vv 17–18, perhaps v. 11), or for his use of summaries of scriptural material instead of an actual quotation from the OT (vv 5–7, 11). Moreover, Jude's use of typology (vv 5–7, 11) is not really to be found in the Qumran pesharim, which are concerned only to interpret the texts as prophecy. Jude applies Scripture to the last days not only as prophecy, but also as typology, in which the events of redemptive history are seen to foreshadow the eschatological events: this perspective he shares with Jewish apocalyptic and with the primitive Church generally

Outline of Structure

1–2 Address and Greeting

3–4 Occasion and Theme of the Letter

3 A. The Appeal

4 B. The Background to the Appeal

5–19 B. The Background to the Appeal: A Midrash on the Prophecies of the Doom of the Ungodly

5–7 (1) Three OT Types

8–10 plus interpretation

9 (la) Michael and the Devil

11 (2) Three More OT Types

12–13 plus interpretation

14–15 (3) The Prophecy of Enoch

16 plus interpretation

17–18 (4) The Prophecy of the Apostles

19 plus interpretation

20–23 A. The Appeal

24–25 Closing Doxology


Jude's command of the Greek language is best shown in his wide and effectively used vocabulary. Considering its brevity, the letter includes a high number of NT hapax legomena. There are fourteen words not found elsewhere in the NT [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v 19; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 24; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v 16; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 7; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 3; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v 13; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v 16; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 4; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 12; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v 12; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v 10; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 7; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 13; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 7), and of these only four occur in the LXX [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 24; 3 Macc 6:39; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 7; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v 13; Hos 9:17; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 7). Moreover, there are three more words which occur elsewhere in the NT only in 2 Peter, which borrowed them from Jude [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 18; 2 Pet 3:3; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 12; 2 Pet 2:13; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 16; 2 Pet 2:18). Of course, some discrimination is needed in assessing the significance of this list: some words [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] are relatively common words which other NT writers happen not to use; some [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] are rather specialized words which Jude's subject matter requires; some [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) are cognate with words ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) which are found elsewhere in the NT and are characteristic of biblical Greek; some [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] are rare. More important than the statistic is Jude's evident ability to vary his vocabulary and choose effective and appropriate words (cf., e.g., vv 12–13; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v 16) and expressions from good literary, even poetic, Greek [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 6; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] crypto, v 13). His command of good Greek idiom is also noticeable [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 3; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 7; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 9; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v 10).

If the vocabulary is rich and varied, the sentence construction is relatively simple, though parataxis is largely avoided (but cf. v 11). But sentence construction is handled with considerable rhetorical effect.

Semitisms can be found, but are not very prominent, probably less common than in most Jewish Greek. (Those in vv 14–15 result from direct translation from the Aramaic.) Examples are: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 5; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 11; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 11; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 16; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] with the genitive, v 7; perhaps omission of the article before [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] v 6, and [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], v 21, through the influence of the construct state. Also to be noticed are the "prophetic" aorists in vv 11, 14, the use of synonymous parallelism (v 6) and antithetical parallelism (v 10), the chiasmus in v la and perhaps in the structure of the whole letter (see the outline on pages 5 and 6). The author's fondness for triple expressions is a marked stylistic trait, evident throughout the letter, but is not necessarily Jewish (cf. E. von Dobschiitz, "Zwei- und dreigliedrige Formeln," JBL 50 [1931] 117–47): used to this extent, it must be an individual stylistic preference.

The style is lively and vigorous, and the whole work gives evidence of careful composition. Close exegesis soon reveals great economy of expression. Single words, phrases, and images are chosen for the associations they carry, and scriptural allusions and catchword connections increase the depth of meaning. The section vv 11–13 is perhaps especially effective in its use of carefully chosen vocabulary, a series of vivid images suggested with almost poetic economy of words, scriptural allusions, catchword connections, and the use of climax. The modern reader requires study in order to appreciate it. The much praised doxology (vv 24–25) is more readily accessible to modern appreciation.


Despite his competence in Greek, the author's real intellectual background is in the literature of Palestinian Judaism.

It is usually assumed that Jude, like many NT authors, habitually used the OT in its Greek version, the LXX, but this assumption is mistaken. Of course, Jude shows himself familiar with the usual Greek renderings of certain OT Hebrew expressions, used both in the LXX and in later Jewish Greek literature (note especially: [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "to dream" v 8; [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "to show partiality" v 16; and cf. [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] "grumbler" v 16), but this is unremarkable. Much more significant is the fact that at no point where he alludes to specific verses of the OT does he echo the language of the LXX. In two of these cases he must depend on the Hebrew text because the Septuagint does not give even the meaning he adopts (v 12: Prov 25:14; v 13: Isa 57:20), while in three other cases his vocabulary notably fails to correspond to that of the LXX (v 11: Num 26:9; v 12: Ezek 34:2; v 23: Amos 4:11; Zech 3:3). This evidence shows conclusively that it was the Hebrew Bible with which Jude was really familiar. When he wished to allude to it he did not stop to find the Septuagint translation, but made his own translation, in terms appropriate to the context and style of his work.

His use of Jewish apocryphal works is at least as extensive as his use of the OT. He has a close familiarity with 1 Enoch (vv 6, 12–16), from which he takes his only formal quotation from a written source (vv 14–15). It seems to be the Aramaic text that he uses (vv 6, 14), though he probably knew the Greek text (v 15). As for his knowledge of the various parts of our l Enoch, he certainly knew chaps 1–36 (vv 6, 12–13, 14–16, cf. v 8), probably chap 80 (vv 12–13), perhaps chaps 83–90 (v 13), but there is no conclusive evidence that he knew chaps 37–71, the Parables (cf. vv 4, 14) or chaps 91– 107 (perhaps cf. vv 8, 11, 16). The other Jewish apocryphal work which he used is the Testament of Moses (hereafter T. Mos.), both its extant text (probably, v 16; cf v 3) and its ending, which is no longer extant (v 9).

In addition to these written sources, Jude was familiar with Jewish paraenetic and haggadic traditions which cannot be pinned down to any particular written source (vv 5–7, 11). These had probably already been adopted into Jewish Christian instruction.


Excerpted from Jude-2 Peter, Volume 50 by Richard Bauckham, David A. Hubbard, Glenn W. Barker, John D. W. Watts, Ralph P. Martin. Copyright © 1983 Thomas Nelson, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Editorial Preface ix

Author's Preface xi

Abbreviations xii


Introduction 3

Form and Structure 3

Language 6

Sources 7

Character of the Letter 8

The Opponents 11

Date 13

Authorship 14

Destination 16

Attestation 16

Address and Salutation (vv 1-2) 19

Occasion and Theme (vv 3-4) 28

Three Old Testament Types (vv 5-10) 42

Excursus: The Background and Source of Jude 9 65

Three More Old Testament Types (vv 11-13) 77

The Prophecy of Enoch (vv 14-16) 93

The Prophecy of the Apostles (vv 17-19) 102

The Appeal (vv 20-23) 108

Closing Doxology (vv 24-25) 119

Bibliography 125

2 Peter

Introduction 131

Form and Structure 131

Language 135

Literary Relationships 138

Character of the Letter 151

The Opponents 154

Date 157

Authorship and Pseudonymity 158

Attestation 162

Address and Salutation (1:1-2) 165

Theme: A Summary of Peter's Message (1:3-11) 172

Occasion: Peter's Testament (1:12-15) 194

Reply to Objection 1: (a) Apostolic Eyewitness (1:16-18) 204

Reply to Objection 1: (b) The Value of Old Testament Prophecy (1:19) 223

Reply to Objection 2: The Inspiration of OT Prophecy (1:20-21) 228

Peter's Prediction of False Teachers (2:1-3a) 236

Reply to Objection 3: The Certainty of Judgment (2:3b-10a) 244

Denunciation of the False Teachers (a) (2:10b-16) 258

Denunciation of the False Teachers (b) (2:17-22) 271

Peter's Prediction of Scoffers (3:1-4) 282

Reply to Objection 4: (a) The Sovereignty of God's Word (3:5-7) 296

Reply to Objection 4: (b) The Forbearance of the Lord (3:8-10) 303

Exhortation (3:11-16) 323

Conclusion (3:17-18) 336

Bibliography 339

Indexes 343

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