THE LETTER OF ST. JUDE


Raphael of Urbino, Italy - Michael the Archangel, Musee du Louvre, Paris, 1518.


The Letter of Jude is the final of seven catholic or universal letters of the New Testament, along with James, the First and Second Letters of Peter, and the First, Second, and Third Letters of John. These letters are so called because they are addressed to the universal Church in general, and not to a specific community, such as St. Paul to the Romans. The Book of Jude is followed by the Book of Revelation, the final book of the New Testament of the Bible.

Tradition tells us this letter was written by St. Jude Thaddeus, one of the twelve Apostles and the brother of St. James the Less. Jude was the one who asked Jesus at the Last Supper, "Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?" (John 14:22). St. Jude is the Patron Saint of Hopeless Cases. The St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee was dedicated in 1962 in response to answered prayers to St. Jude.

Eusebius in Ecclesiastical History (Book I, Chapter 13, Paragraph 4-9) relates that, in response to King Abgar of Edessa requesting Jesus to heal him, Jesus Christ replied: "Blessed are you who hast believed in me without having seen me. For it is written concerning me, that they who have seen me will not believe in me, and that they who have not seen me will believe and be saved. But in regard to what you have written me, that I should come to you, it is necessary for me to fulfill all things here for which I have been sent, and after I have fulfilled them thus to be taken up again to him that sent me. But after I have been taken up I will send to you one of my disciples, that he may heal your disease and give life to you and yours."

St. Jude Thaddeus traveled to the East and healed King Abgar, evangelizing Edessa in the Kingdom of Osroene in Northern Syria beyond the Euphrates River. Jude and Nathaniel Bartholomew are named the Patron Saints of the Armenian Apostolic Church, as Jude continued on to preach in Armenia prior to his martyrdom.

The Letter of Jude is most relevant to modern times, for it reminds one of "new age" philosophy. Jude takes issue with false teachers who claim that a Christian's freedom means he is free from moral obligation. The time of writing is unknown. This letter urges believers to be faithful to the moral teachings of the Gospel!

This letter is mysterious and unique in several ways. The letter of St. Jude is the only one in the Bible that refers to Michael (verse 9) being an Archangel. There is similarity between Jude and the Second Letter of Peter 2:1-18 on false teachers. Two apocryphal Hebrew works are quoted, the Assumption of Moses (verse 9) and the Book of Enoch (verses 14-15). And Jude 13 relates a phenomenon that is often described by those patients with near-death experiences following anesthesia: "They are like wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shameless deeds, wandering stars for whom the gloom of darkness has been reserved forever." The letter urges you to maintain your life with God, looking forward to the mercy of Our Lord: "keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life."

The following Scripture is from the Douay-Rheims Bible, now in the public domain, and the New Revised Standard Version. Lines 1-4 and 20-25 of Scripture are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The Douay-Rheims Bible was the standard English Bible for Catholics for over 300 years, and still remains in use today. The Douay-Rheims Bible was the first approved English translation of St. Jerome's Latin Vulgate Bible. The Old Testament translation was completed at the English College of Douai, France in 1609, and the New Testament at the English College of Rheims, France in 1582. The Douay-Rheims Bible was revised by Bishop Challoner in England from 1749 to 1752. The Haydock Douay-Rheims Bible of 1814 was the one upon which President John F. Kennedy took the oath of office on January 20, 1961 to become the 35th President of the United States.


THE LETTER OF ST. JUDE


Greeting

1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,
To those who are called, who are beloved in God the Father and kept safe for Jesus Christ:
2 May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.

His Reason for Writing

3 Beloved, while eagerly preparing to write to you about the salvation we share,
I find it necessary to write and appeal to you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
4 For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly,
who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

False Teachers and Their Punishment

5 I will therefore admonish you, though ye once knew all things, that Jesus, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, did afterwards destroy them that believed not. 6 And the angels who kept not their principality but forsook their own habitation, he hath reserved under darkness in everlasting chains, unto the judgment of the great day. 7 As Sodom and Gomorrha, and the neighbouring cities, in like manner, having given themselves to fornication, and going after other flesh, were made an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire. 8 In like manner these men also defile the flesh, and despise dominion, and blaspheme majesty.

9 When Michael the archangel, disputing with the devil, contended about the body of Moses, he durst not bring against him the judgment of railing speech, but said: The Lord command thee. 10 But these men blaspheme whatever things they know not: and what things soever they naturally know, like dumb beasts, in these they are corrupted.

11 Woe unto them, for they have gone in the way of Cain: and after the error of Balaam they have for reward poured out themselves, and have perished in the contradiction of Korah. 12 These are spots in their banquets, feasting together without fear, feeding themselves, clouds without water, which are carried about by winds, trees of the autumn, unfruitful, twice dead, plucked up by the roots, 13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own confusion; wandering stars, to whom the storm of darkness is reserved for ever.

God's Judgement

14 Now of these Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying: Behold, the Lord cometh with thousands of his saints: 15 To execute judgment upon all and to reprove all the ungodly for all the works of their ungodliness, whereby they have done ungodly: and for all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against God. 16 These are murmurers, full of complaints, walking according to their own desires: and their mouth speaketh proud things, admiring persons, for gain's sake. 17 But you, my dearly beloved, be mindful of the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 Who told you that in the last time there should come mockers, walking according to their own desires in ungodlinesses. 19 These are they who separate themselves, sensual men, having not the Spirit.

Maintain Your Life with God

20 But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit;
21 keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.
22 And have mercy on some who are wavering; 23 save others by snatching them out of the fire;
and have mercy on still others with fear, hating even the tunic defiled by their bodies.

Benediction

24 Now to him who is able to keep you from falling,
and to make you stand without blemish in the presence of his glory with rejoicing,
25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord,
be glory, majesty, power, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.


Map of Asia Minor, the Holy Land, and Armenia.