The General Epistle of Jude describes the forces of apostasy that were at work in the early Church. As you study this epistle, you can learn how to discern those who seek to turn disciples of Jesus Christ away from the faith. You can also come to feel the importance of earnestly contending for the faith and remaining true to it.
The author of this epistle identified himself as “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James” (Jude 1:1). Traditionally the author has been understood to be the Jude who was the half-brother of Jesus Christ (see Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; Bible Dictionary, “Jude”).
Jude was evidently a Church member of high esteem in Jerusalem, and he may have traveled as a missionary (see Acts 1:13–14; 1 Corinthians 9:5). There is no indication of what priesthood office Jude held, but the epistle itself suggests that he had a position of authority that qualified him to write letters of counsel.
We do not know where the Epistle of Jude was written. If this letter was indeed authored by Jude the brother of Jesus, it was probably written between A.D. 40 and 80.
The Epistle of Jude was addressed to faithful Christians—“to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:1). Jude’s stated purpose was to encourage his readers to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 1:3) against ungodly teachers who had entered the Church and were promoting immoral behavior and false teachings that denied the Lord Jesus Christ.
Although it is one of the shortest books in the New Testament, the Epistle of Jude contains information that is not found anywhere else in the Bible. Jude wrote about “angels which kept not their first estate” (Jude 1:6; see also Abraham 3:26), of a confrontation between Michael and Lucifer over the body of Moses (Jude 1:9), and of a prophecy of Enoch about the Savior’s Second Coming (Jude 1:14–15; see also Moses 7:65–66).
Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles noted several unique characteristics of the epistle of Jude:
“In the whole Bible, it is Jude only who preserves for us the concept that pre-existence was our first estate and that certain angels failed to pass its tests.
“It is to him that we turn for our meager knowledge of the disputation between Michael and Lucifer about the body of Moses.
“He alone records Enoch’s glorious prophecy about the Second Coming of the Son of Man” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [1965–73], 3:415).
Jude’s words are sharp against those who opposed God and His servants and against those who were practicing immoral pagan worship and claiming to be exempt from needing to obey God’s commandments, including the law of chastity. He described some of the characteristics of these corrupt individuals.
Jude 1. Jude exhorts Church members to “earnestly contend for the faith” (Jude 1:3). He explains that people have discreetly crept in among the Saints and are spreading false doctrine and promoting evil practices. He warns of the judgments that come upon those who turn away from God, and he counsels Church members to build up their faith and “keep [themselves] in the love of God” (Jude 1:21).