From:  Over 50 Interpreters Explain Second Peter and Jude      Return to Home 

By Roland H. Worth, Jr.  © 2018






Over 50 Interpreters

Explain Second Peter

and Jude











Compiled and Edited


Roland H. Worth, Jr.




Copyright © 2018 by author

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The primary text of this work is the traditional King James Version.  More modern renditions are included from the New King James Version of selected words and phrases and occasionally others.


Scripture taken from the New King James Version.  Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  All rights reserved.






List of All Sources Quoted At End of File





2018 Preface


            Those who have already used the entry in this series on the gospel of Luke may recall that the strong majority of that text had already been researched when I finally decided to finish that lengthy work.  In contrast only about a quarter had been done for 1 Peter and 2 Peter/Jude.  None had been done on the epistles of John, which had to be researched "from scratch," thereby permitting an entire significant "section" of the New Testament to be completed and presented together.

            In the years since Mark and Luke were done, a tremendous amount of material has been made available in internet editions, facilitating the speed and ease of research immensely.  In these compilations that come afterwards these titles are typically only noted as coming from an "Internet edition" or a similar phrase.  A few books have been available in pdf form--another wonderful research tool--and in those cases full bibliographical information has been provided.  

            Individuals quoted are often edited in regard to length but never in a manner to alter the point they intend to make--which will vary to different degrees from one commentator to another.  Alterations on two minor matters also deserve to be noticed.  I typically remove the bulk of the “St.” references describing the apostles because it virtually turns a valid description (“saint”) into a title.  Similarly I often adopted the American way of noticing a quotation—“and”--instead of the British—‘and’ but one will find a mixture of styles on both of these points.

            I hope these new entries in the series will be useful to their readers.  I encourage you to "copy out" the entire volume--and all of the others I have on my website--to assure they will remain available to you and friends.  In my mid-70s, death is no longer an abstract possibility, especially when I carry with me such things as a quadruple heart bypass and a double bypass.  On the optimistic side, the first heart attack a decade ago should have killed me but God has blessed me well and I'm a stubborn soul so far as getting more gospel work accomplished.  A highly desirable combination in my opinion.


                                                            Roland H. Worth, Jr.

                                                            Fall 2017







(2 Peter)









A Detailed Analysis of the Arguments Pro and Con Concerning the Petrine Authorship of This Book [46].


                        It is inexpedient to encumber the discussion with an attempted reductio ad horribile of one of the alternatives.  A court must not concern itself with the consequences of finding the prisoner guilty. 

Let us, therefore, at once set aside all such notions as this; that if the Epistle is not by Peter, “the Church, which for more than fourteen centuries has received it, has been imposed upon by what must, in that case, be regarded as a Satanic device.”  Satan forging the Second Epistle of Peter would indeed be Satan casting out Satan.

Or, again, “If any book which she reads as the Word of God is not the Word of God, but the work of an impostor, then—with reverence be it said—Christ’s promise to His Church has failed, and the Holy Spirit has not been given to guide her into all truth . . . The testimony of the universal Church of Christ, declaring that the Epistles which we receive as such are Epistles of Peter and are the Word of God, is not her testimony only—it is the testimony of Christ.” [Actually it was a promise to the apostles, NOT “the Church:  John 16:13-15.  This very epistle tells us that this promise was fulfilled in the first century itself:  2 Peter 1:3.  [rw]

Every true Christian will sympathize with the zeal for God’s Word which is conspicuous in these passages; but it will be well to keep apart two questions which they combine and almost confuse—(a) Is this Second Epistle the work of Peter?  (b) Is it part of the Word of God?  The second question is here taken for granted.  The Church answered it in the affirmative fifteen hundred years ago, and it is no part of the present work to question the decision.

Only the first question will be discussed; and to attempt to settle it by considerations such as the passages just quoted suggest, is neither just, nor wise, nor in the deepest sense reverent.  It is not just; for how can we give a fair hearing to adverse evidence if we approach it in a spirit which compels us to regard it as false or misleading?

It is not wise; for what will be our position if, after all, the adverse evidence is too strong for even our pre-judgment?  It is not reverent; for it virtually assumes that the Almighty cannot exalt an Epistle put forth under a pretended name to the dignity of being His Word; and that He who spoke to His chosen people by the lips of impure Balaam cannot speak to us by the writings of one who may have ill-advisedly assumed the pen of an Apostle.  Hosea 1:2-3; Hosea 3:1-2 may warn us to be on our guard against pronouncing hastily beforehand as to what means and instruments it is or is not possible for God to employ for the instruction of His people.

                        These remarks are not made with a view to surrendering the authenticity of the Epistle as a thing of no moment, but only that we may be able to weigh the evidence with calmness.  The question of the genuineness of the Epistle is one of immense interest and no small importance; but there is no terrible alternative before us.  If, after all, we have to admit that the Epistle is possibly, or probably or certainly not the work of Peter, the spiritual value of the contents, both in themselves and in having received the stamp of the Church as canonical, will remain absolutely unchanged.  

                        [So it makes no difference if a liar pretends to be an apostle since what he has written is accurate?  Theoretically that is certainly true, but if one has hidden his real identity, does not that automatically create the desire to see what else he has altered or erroneously added?  In short, why assume that a faker will stop with a faked identity and go no further?  Yes there, no doubt, have been a few such people—but does one really want to put in their hands the establishment of what is to be accepted as truth?  rw]

[In this case] possibly, our own views of God’s providence in relation to the canon of Scripture may require re-consideration and re-adjustment.   This, however, is but the common experience both of the individual and of the race.   Men’s views of God’s dealings with them are ever needing re-adjustment, as He hides and manifests Himself in history; for His ways are not as our ways, nor His thoughts as our thoughts.

The objections to the genuineness of the Epistle are of four kinds: being drawn (a) from the history of the Epistle; (b) from its contents in relation to the First Epistle; (c) from the contents considered in themselves; (d) from the same in relation to the Epistle of Jude.  In each case it will be most convenient to state the adverse facts first, and then what may be said on the other side.


(a) External Evidence: The History of the Epistle.[For additional information on this theme see further below the section entitled, “Additional Contributions on the Apostolic Genuineness of This Epistle.”  rw]

Among the earliest writers there is a remarkable silence with regard to this Epistle.  There is no mention of it, and no certain quotation from it or allusion to it, in either the first or second century.  Neither the Apostolic Fathers nor Justin Martyr nor Irenæus yield anything that can be relied upon as a reference.

It is probable that Irenæus did not know of its existence; it is almost certain that neither Tertullian nor Cyprian did.  About Clement of Alexandria there is some doubt, owing to inconsistent statements of Eusebius and Cassiodorus.  But seeing that in the large amount of Clement’s writings now extant there is only one possible, and not one probable, reference to it, and that, in quoting 1 Peter, he writes, “Peter in his Epistle says,” the probability is that he did not know it.

The Muratorian Fragment (circ. A.D. 170) omits it.  It is wanting in the Peschito or old Syriac version (and Peter was personally known in Syria, especially at Antioch), and also in the old Latin version which preceded the Vulgate.  Thus we are brought quite into the third century without any sure trace of the Epistle.

Origen certainly knew it.  In those of his works which exist only in the Latin translation of Rufinus he quotes it as the work of Peter.  But Rufinus is not a trustworthy translator; and Origen, in works of which the original Greek is still extant, either expresses a doubt about it or rejects it by implication, as Clement of Alexandria does.

Eusebius certainly rejected it; Chrysostom, Theodore, and Theodoret probably did so; and we learn from Didymus, Jerome’s preceptor, that doubts about it still survived late in the fourth century, though he seems to have overcome them in himself.  At the Reformation these doubts revived again, and have never subsided since.  At the present time, a large number of the best critics consider the Epistle suspicious or spurious.

On the other hand, there are possible allusions to it in Clement of Rome, Polycarp, Hermas, Justin Martyr, Melito, Theophilus, and Hippolytus:  and some even among adverse critics consider those in the Shepherd of Hermas (circ. A.D. 140) to be certain.  Specimens of these possible allusions:

            Clement, ii. 5; iii. 4;


            Hermas, ii. 13, 15, 20; iii. 5;

            Justin Martyr, ii. 1, iii. 8;

            Melito, iii. 5-7;

            Theophilus, i. 19, 21;

            Hippolytus, i. 21.

The first certain reference to the Epistle as by Peter is in a Latin translation of a letter by Origen’s pupil, Firmilian of Cæsarea, to Cyprian (A.D. 256).  Athanasius, Cyril of Jerusalem, Basil, Gregory Nazianzen, Jerome, Rufinus, and Augustine accepted it, although they knew that it had been much suspected; and they, of course, had evidence which has not come down to us.

The Councils of Laodicea (circ. A.D. 360) and of Hippo (A.D. 393) formally included it in the Canon, decisions which have never been reversed.  Its omission from the Muratorian Fragment is somewhat weakened by the fact that 1 Peter (about which there is no doubt) is omitted also; and, as a set-off to its omission from the Peschito, we have the fact that Ephrem Syrus seems to have accepted it.

Thus the adverse external evidence, serious though it is, is anything but conclusive.  It can easily be explained.  Communication between the churches was fitful and irregular, sometimes slow, sometimes very rapid.  Accidents might favor the circulation of the First Epistle and delay that of the Second.  The very fact of its being the first Letter from the pen of the chief Apostle would promote the spread of the First Epistle; and as it was known to have been written only a few years before the death of St. Peter, this would make a second Letter within so short an interval a little improbable.

The marked difference of style and language between the two Letters, which Jerome tells us had attracted notice, would increase the distrust.  The amount of apocryphal literature which began to appear at a very early date, and flooded the Church in the second and third centuries, made all churches very suspicious about unknown writings; and several of these apocryphal books bore the name of Peter. 

Every year that the arrival of the Epistle at any particular church was delayed would make its acceptance by that church less probable.  The fate of the Fourth Gospel, on account of its appearing after the others had obtained full possession of the field, is an illustration of similar causes and effects. 

When we remember that many narratives of Christ’s life (Luke 1:1) and some letters of Paul have entirely perished, we need not be surprised that a short Epistle like this, containing little that ordinary Christians did not know, should have remained for more than a century quite unknown to many churches and suspected by others.  If the external evidence were all, we might admit that the general and authoritative reception of the Epistle in the fourth century, after such full doubt and debate, is more than sufficient for us.


(b) Internal Evidence: The Contents of the Second Epistle in relation to the First.—Very formidable lists of points of difference between the two Epistles have been drawn up, but recent adverse critics have ceased to urge many of these supposed differences; we may, therefore, content ourselves with some of the most telling of such arguments as specimens.

( α) 1 Peter uses Old Testament phraseology, and quotes Old Testament writers; 2 Peter, with two doubtful exceptions (2 Peter 2:22, 3:8), does neither.

( β) 1 Peter is mainly about suffering persecution; 2 Peter is mainly about heresy,

( γ) 1 Peter speaks of the Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of Christ; 2 Peter mentions none of them.

( δ) 1 Peter represents the return of Christ as near (1 Peter 4:7), and calls it a “revelation” (1 Peter 1:7, 13; 4:13); 2 Peter represents it as possibly distant (2 Peter 3:15), and calls it “coming” (2 Peter 1:16, 3:4, 3:12).

( ε) 1 Peter calls our Lord simply “Christ” or “Jesus Christ;” 2 Peter always adds “Savior” (five times; and the word does not occur once in 1 Peter), or “Lord,” or both.

( ζ)1 Peter insists on faith; 2 Peter on knowledge,

( η) The Greek of 1 Peter is smooth, with easily-moving sentences, simply connected; that of 2 Peter is rough, with heavily-moving sentences, of which the construction is often harsh and, when prolonged, broken.


                        To these and similar arguments it may be replied that considerable differences between the two Epistles are admitted, but they may easily be exaggerated. Of the above, some are not strictly true; in particular, ( α) and ( ε), others tell rather in favor of the genuineness of 2 Peter.  Why should a second letter, written soon after the first, on a very different subject, repeat the topics of the first, or even use much of its phraseology?  Encouragement under persecution and denunciation of corrupt doctrine and conduct require very different language.  Great similarity of expression under such very different circumstances would have looked like the careful imitation of a forger.

Jerome’s suggestion, that Peter used different “interpreters” in the two Epistles to put his thoughts into Greek, is a possible solution of many differences; but it is not likely that Peter, though originally an illiterate fisherman, was still, at the end of a long and active life, unable to write the Greek of either Epistle; and both of them show traces of a writer not perfectly at home in the language.  King’s theory, that 2 Peter is a translation from an Aramaic original, is another possible solution. 

But neither theory is needed.  Both Epistles are too short to supply satisfactory materials for an argument of this kind; and neither of them exhibit any such marked characteristics as those found in the writings of Luke or Paul or John.  An anonymous pamphlet on any subject by Carlyle or Victor Hugo would probably be assigned to the right author at once; but most writers, even if known by many books, have no such marked style as would betray them in a few pages on a special subject: and here we are arguing as to the authorship of a tract of four pages from a tract of six pages on a different subject.

In such a case, similarities, which cannot easily be the result of imitation, are stronger evidence of identity of authorship than dissimilarities are of non-identity. Difference of mood, of subject, of surroundings, would probably account for all the dissimilarities, did we but know all the facts.  The First Epistle would seem to have been written with much thought and care, as by one who felt a delicacy about intruding himself upon communities which Paul had almost made his own.  Hence the earnest, gentle dignity of the Epistle, which makes one think how age must have tamed the spirit of the impetuous Apostle. 

But in the Second Letter, written probably under pressure, we see that the old vehemence is still there.  There is a slight indication of it in the way in which he goes at once to the point (2 Peter 1:3-5); as he nears the evil which has so excited his fear and indignation, the construction becomes broken (2 Peter 1:17); and when he is in the full torrent of his invective, feeling seems almost to choke his utterance.  Hence the rugged Greek, from which at times we can scarcely extricate the construction; hence, too, the repetitions, which some have thought a sign of inferiority.  They are the natural results of emotion struggling to express itself in a language with which it is not perfectly familiar.  Similar harsh constructions and tautological repetitions may be found in some of Peter’s speeches as recorded in the Acts (Acts 1:21-22; Acts 3:13-16, 26; Acts 4:9; 10:36-40).


                        Against the admitted differences may be set some very real coincidences, both in thought and language, between the two Epistles.  These also may be exaggerated and their force over-estimated; but when soberly treated they are a valuable contribution to the evidence.  Obvious similarities of language are of no great moment (see 2 Peter 1:14, 16; 2:7); for it is admitted by all that the writer of the Second Letter knew the First.  But subtle coincidences of thought, lying almost beyond the reach of the conscious imitator, are worth considering.  (See 2 Peter 1:3, 5, 7; 2:18-19.)  The traces of Paul’s phraseology, which have been urged against the originality of 2 Peter, may, from this point of view, be counted in its favor, for such traces are very strong in the First Epistle.

                        The arguments, therefore, to be drawn from a comparison of the two Letters do not give much support to those who impugn the genuineness of the Second Epistle.  A patient consideration of the facts may lead some to the conclusion that, considering the brevity of both Letters and the different purpose of each, the amount of agreement, both on and below the surface, throws the balance in favor of both being the product of one mind.  The assertion that had the Second Epistle not claimed to be by Peter no one would ever have dreamed of assigning it to him, is easily made and not easily refuted; but study of the phenomena will lead to its being doubted.


                        (c) Internal Evidence: The Contents of the Epistle considered in themselves.It is in this section of the argument that far the most serious objections to the authenticity occur.  The following have been urged:—

( α) It is unlike the simple, practical spirit of St. Peter to enlarge upon the manner of the creation and of the destruction of the world (2 Peter 3:5-7, 10-12).

( β) It is unlike an Apostle to appeal to “the commandment of your Apostles” (2 Peter 3:2).

( γ) The interchange of future and present tenses (2 Peter 2:1-3, 10, 12-13; 3:3, 5) looks like a later writer trying to write like a prophet in an earlier age, and at times forgetting his assumed position,

( δ) Ideas belonging to an age later than that of the Apostles are introduced.  Of this there are four marked instances—

(1) The expression “the holy mount” (2 Peter 1:18) betrays an age which professes to know where the Transfiguration took place (of which the Gospels tell us nothing), and which has a taste for miracles. 

(2) No such argument as that urged by the scoffers (2 Peter 3:4) would be possible in Peter’s lifetime; it implies that at least the first generation of Christians has died out.

(3) 2 Peter is addressed (2 Peter 1:1) to all Gentile Christians, and at the same time (2 Peter 3:1) to the same readers as those of 1 Peter, which is addressed (2 Peter 1:1) to particular churches, i.e., the post-Apostolic idea that the letters of Apostles are the common property of all Christians is implied.

(4) Paul’s writings are spoken of as equivalent to Scripture (2 Peter 3:16).


Let us take these objections in order.

( α) That Peter should enlarge upon the details of the creation and of the destruction of the world is not more strange than that he should enlarge upon “the spirits in prison” (1 Peter 3:19-20, 4:6).  It would almost seem as if such mysterious subjects had an attraction for him (1 Peter 1:12).  At least it is more reasonable to suppose this, seeing that there are some facts to support us, than to settle precariously what “the simple, practical spirit of Peter” would or would not be likely to enlarge upon.

( β) Let us grant that an Apostle is often content with insisting on his own authority:  this is no proof that he would never appeal to the authority of another Apostle.  In 2 Peter the writer has more than once stated his personal claim to be heard (2 Peter 1:1, 18), and is then willing to sink his own authority in that of the Apostolic body, nay, is anxious to do so; for, as in the First Epistle, he still feels a delicacy about addressing congregations which, in the first instance, belonged to the Apostle of the Gentiles, and so he not only appeals to that Apostle’s commandment, but points out that his commandment is at the same time that of Jesus Christ.

In Ephesians 3:5 Paul makes a similar appeal to the authority of others; and it may warn us to be cautious in arguing as to what an Apostle would be sure to do in certain cases when we find this passage used to cast doubt on the Apostolic origin of such an Epistle as that to the Ephesians.

( γ) This plausible argument will not bear close inspection.  The evils which the writer foretells are already present in the germ.  Moreover, the prophetic present as equivalent to a future is very common in prophecies; the future is so confidently realized that it is spoken of as present.  In similar prophecies in the New Testament there is a similar mixture of future and present (2 Thessalonians 2:3, 7; 2 Timothy 3:1-2, 8).

( δ) We come now to the most weighty group of objections.

(1) The expression “the holy mount” does not imply that the mount is known; and the theory that it does is reduced to an absurdity when it is further urged that “the holy mount,” as applied to a known spot, must mean Mount Zion.  Would any sane Christian, whether of the first or of the second century, represent the Transfiguration as taking place on Mount Zion?  “The mount” simply means the one spoken of in the Gospels in connection with this event.

Nor does the epithet “holy” indicate a miracle-loving age.  Any Jew would naturally use it of a spot where the glory of the Lord had been revealed (Exodus 3:5; Joshua 5:15).

(2) The force of this argument is not so great as at first sight appears.  In the Epistle of Clement of Rome (A.D. 95-100) the same scoffing argument is quoted as condemned by “Scripture” (chap. 23).  The “Scripture” is probably not 2 Peter.  But we here have proof that this scoffing objection was old enough to have been written against before A.D. 95. The kindred error of Hymenæus and Philetus was in existence in Paul’s lifetime.

Besides which, it is not certain that “since the fathers fell asleep” refers to Christians at all. (See 2 Peter 3:4.)  The argument may be a piece of Sadducism, which had found its way into the Christian Church; the tone of it is not unlike that in Mark 12:23.

(3) The premises here are too vague for so definite a conclusion. To state the premises fairly we must say 2 Peter is addressed in the main to all Gentile Christians, and also in the main to the same readers as 1 Peter, which is addressed mainly to five or six different churches.  From such indefinite data no very clean-cut and decided result can be obtained.

Moreover, it is open to question whether the idea that the letters of Apostles are the common property of Christians was not in existence in the Apostolic age.  The phenomena of the text of the last two chapters of Romans tend to show that this idea was beginning to arise some years before the traditional date of Peter’s death.  The Epistle to the Ephesians would lead us in the same direction.  So that it, is doubtful (a) whether the idea is implied in 2 Peter; (b) whether it was not in existence in St. Peter’s lifetime.

(4) No objection, probably, has had more effect than this.  “The other Scriptures,” it is urged, may mean either Old Testament or New Testament writings; in either case, we are face to face with a writer later than the Apostolic age.  If Old Testament Scriptures are meant, it is incredible that Peter would place Epistles of St. Paul side by side with them as “Scripture.”  If New Testament Scriptures are meant, this indicates a date at which certain Christian writings had begun to be considered equal in authority to the Old Testament, and this date is later than the death of St. Peter.

In 2 Peter 3:16 it is [probable that] not Old Testament, but Christian, writings are meant; not any definite collection of writings, but certain well-known documents other than the Epistles of Paul just mentioned.  We must remember that the Greek words for “other” are sometimes used loosely, and rather illogically, without the two individuals, or two classes, being exactly alike (compare Luke 10:1, 23:32; John 14:16); so that we cannot be sure that the writer means to place these Epistles of Paul on precisely the same level with “the other Scriptures.”

And that “Scripture” was used in the first century as rather a comprehensive term is shown by the passage from Clement of Rome alluded to above, where he quotes (chap. 23) as “Scripture” a passage not found either in the Old or New Testaments. 

Again, the high authority claimed by Apostles for their own words makes this passage, although unique in the New Testament, quite intelligible.  (Compare Acts 15:28; 1 Corinthians 5:3-4; 1 Thessalonians 2:13.)  Perhaps the nearest parallel is 1 Peter 1:12, where evangelists are placed on the same level with the Old Testament prophets, a very remarkable coincidence between the two Epistles.

One more consideration must be urged.  The date of Peter’s death is not certain, and the traditional date may be too early.  Several of the objections just considered would be still further weakened if Peter’s death took place not in the third, but in the fourth quarter of the century.

But besides answering objections, we may observe—

(1) that the writer professes to be Simon Peter (2 Peter 1:1), one whose death Christ foretold (2 Peter 1:14), a witness of the Transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16-18), and the writer of the First Epistle (2 Peter 3:1);  [Note that if the author be someone else, he has affirmed his identity as the apostle Peter no less than four times.  It is not a matter of him “harmlessly” adopted the personae only in the first verse.  He continues to insist on it.  Can this repetition reasonably be dismissed as mere “inoffensive” pretense?  rw]

(2) that he speaks with authority (2 Peter 1:12-13, 15-16), yet is not afraid to admit the high authority of prophecy (2 Peter 1:19);

(3) that there is some trace of the conciliatory position between Jewish and Gentile converts which St. Peter occupied between the rigor of James and the liberty of Paul (2 Peter 1:1-2; 3:15);

(4) that the expression “our beloved brother Paul,” so unlike the way in which Clement of Rome, Ignatius, Polycarp, and Clement of Alexandria speak of Paul (2 Peter 3:15), is a strong mark of an Apostolic author—a writer of the second century would scarcely find his way back to this;

(5) that some striking coincidences between thoughts and expressions in this Epistle and passages in Peter’s speeches as reported in the Acts exist.  (See 2 Peter 1:1; 3:12.)

                        On the other hand, no weight can be allowed to the argument that “all motive for forgery is absent.”  It is quite true that “this Epistle does not support any hierarchical pretensions nor bear upon any of the controversies of a later age.” 

But a motive quite sufficient can be found, viz., to put down with the authority of an Apostle an alarming corruption, both in doctrine and conduct.  This motive might have induced excellent men in the primitive Church to write in the name of Peter, and the moral sense of the community would not have condemned them.  Such personations, purely in the interests of religion and virtue, are neither impossible nor unknown; and the very words “forgery” and “impostor,” in reference to such acts and agents in primitive times, are fallacious.  We must beware of transferring our own ideas of literary morality to an age in which they were absolutely non-existent.  [Yet it would seem that Paul would have rejected such reasoning since he clearly wrote:  “Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound” (Romans 6:1).  To lie “for good” would still have been counted as sin--not virtue.  rw]


                        (d) Internal Evidence: The Contents of the Epistle in relation to the Epistle of St. Jude. This subject is discussed in the Introduction to Jude.  The conclusion there arrived at is that the priority of neither Epistle can be proved, but that the balance inclines decidedly towards the priority of 2 Peter.  If the priority of Jude should ever be demonstrated, then we have still more reason for placing the date of Peter’s death later than A.D. 67 or 68, unless the authenticity of 2 Peter is admitted to be more than doubtful.


The conclusion, then, to which this long discussion leads us is this—the objections to the Epistle are such that, had the duty of fixing the Canon of the New Testament fallen on us, we should scarcely have ventured, on the existing evidence, to include the Epistle; they are not such as to warrant us in reversing the decision of the fourth century, which had evidence that we have not.  If modern criticism be the court of appeal to which the judgment of the fourth century is referred, as it has not sufficient reasons for reversing that judgment, it can only confirm it.




Additional Contributions on the Apostolic Genuineness of This Epistle



                        Case for 2 Peter As From the Same Author as 1 Peter­­ [2].  Into the much-vexed question of the authenticity of the second epistle we are not called upon to enter.  The point of differences of style between the two epistles is a fair one.  There are such differences, and very decided ones, though perhaps they are no more and no greater than can be explained by diversity of subject and circumstances, and the difference in the author’s age.  Some of the expressions peculiar to the second epistle are--granting things which pertain unto life and godliness (1:3); precious and exceeding great (1:4); adding all diligence, and supply virtue (1:5); an entrance richly supplied (1:11); receiving forgetfulness (1:9); sects of perdition (2:1); cast down to Tartarus (2:4); the world compacted out of water and by means of water (3:5), etc.

                        But, while allowing for these differences, and recognizing the weakness of the external evidence for the authenticity of the epistle, the internal evidence of style and tone seems to us to outweigh the differences, and to show that both epistles were from the same hand.  There is the same picturesqueness of diction, and a similar fertility of unusual words.  Of the one hundred and twenty words which occur only in the writings of Peter, fifty-seven are peculiar to the second epistle; and, what is still more noteworthy, only one of these words [in Greek], putting off, is common to the two epistles--a fact which tells very strongly against the hypothesis of a forgery. 

That hypothesis, it may be observed, is in the highest degree improbable.  The Christian earnestness, the protest against deception, the tender and adoring reminiscence of Christ, the emphasis upon the person and doctrine of the Lord Jesus which mark this epistle, imply a moral standard quite inconsistent with the perpetration of a deliberate forgery.

                        Comparisons of expressions in this epistle with those used or inspired by Peter in the Acts of the Apostles exhibit a close correspondence; and a correspondence, which, however, must not be too strongly pressed, appears on a comparison with certain passages in the gospels.  Thus the verb [in Greek for] to give, occurs only in Mark 15:45, and 2 Peter 1:3, 4; and the recurrence of the words exodus, or decease, and tabernacle in the same connection (2 Peter 1:13-15, 17, 18) is very striking from the pen of one who, at the Transfiguration, heard the heavenly visitants conversing of Christ’s decease, and who proposed to build tabernacles for their abode.  The repeated use of the word [in Greek for] stablish, and its derivatives (1:12; 3:17; 2:14; 3:16) is also suggestive, in view of the admonition of Jesus to Peter by the same word--strengthen thy brethren (Luke 22:32).

                        There is the same retrospective character in both epistles.  In both the writer teaches that prophecy does not carry its own interpretation; in both he alludes to the small number saved from the flood; both have the same sentiments on the nature and right use of Christian liberty, and on the value of prophecy; in both [is the Greek term for] virtue attributed to God, a use of the word occurring nowhere else in the New Testament.

                        The style of both epistles is vigorous rather than elegant, strong, and sometimes rough, the work of a plain, practical man, and of an observer rather than a reasoner, whose thoughts do not follow each other in logical sequence.  The fervid spirit of the writer appears in his habit of massing epithets, and repeating his thoughts in nearly the same words and forms (see, for instance, 1 Peter 1:4; 2:4, 11; 1:19; 2:9.  Also, 1:7, and 4:12; 1:13, and 4:7, 5:8; 1:14, and 2:11, 4:2; 2:15, and 3:1, 16; 2:19, and 3:14, 4:14.  2 Peter 1:4, 8,17; 2:10, 11, 12-15; 3:15).  Professor Ezra Abbot has brought out some remarkable correspondences between this epistle and the writings of Josephus, and maintains that the author of the letter is largely dependent upon the Jewish historian (Expositor, 2d series, iii., 49). 


                        Self Description Given by the Author Fits That of Peter [7].  While serious doubt has been felt as to the authorship of this epistle, it is most probable that it should be assigned to the apostle whose name it bears.  He was now far advanced in years.  Long before, when the risen Lord met his disciples in the morning twilight by the sea, he predicted that Peter, when old, would endure martyrdom for the sake of his Master whom he was bidden to follow not only in service but in suffering.  The day of supreme testing was at hand, as he penned this epistle. 

                        “The putting off of my tabernacle cometh swiftly,” he writes, “even as our Lord Jesus Christ signified unto me.”  However he sounds no note of despondency, fear, or gloom; his message, like that of his First Epistle, is radiant with hope.  His thought is centered upon the coming of Christ; he still rejoices to think of the time “when the chief Shepherd shall be manifested” from whom he would receive “the crown of glory that fadeth not away.” 

                        Something of the splendor of that crowning        day he now declares was witnessed by  him on the holy mount, when he saw the transfigured Christ; long years have passed, but the vivid memory of that “Majestic Glory”  is set forth as a ground of his present, triumphant faith.  The writer further declares of himself that he has written a previous epistle of a somewhat similar character; that he is on intimate terms with Paul, whom he calls “our beloved brother,” and with whose letters he declares himself familiar.  Surely it is idle to conjecture who this writer may have been if he was not Peter the apostle, whom its references so definitely depict.


Failure of the Effort to Consistently Find a Genuine Petrine Letter Buried Somewhere Within the Current Three Chapter Work [46].  The Epistle must stand or fall as a whole.  It is impossible to reject passages which appear to be open to objection and retain the rest.  The thought is eminently consecutive throughout, the style is uniform, and the writer frequently glances back at what he has said before or anticipates what is coming.  The network of connected ideas which thus pervades the whole cannot be severed otherwise than violently.

Moreover, the singular want of agreement among those who advocate an expurgated edition as to what portions should be struck out and what not, is another reason for refusing to disintegrate the Epistle.  Thus, Grotius thinks that the words “Peter” and “Apostle,” in 2 Peter 1:1, and 2 Peter 1:18 and 2 Peter 3:15-16, are interpolations. 

Bertholt would retain 2 Peter 1, 3, rejecting 2 Peter 2.

Lange (in Herzog) would reject all that lies between 2 Peter 1:19 and 2 Peter 3:3, i.e., from the words “knowing this first” in 2 Peter 1:20 to the same words in 2 Peter 3:3.

Ullmann surrenders all but 2 Peter 1.

Bunsen retains nothing but the first eleven verses and the doxology.




Additional Rebuttal of Selected Objections to Second Peter Being by the Apostle



                        The Failure to Mention the Death and Resurrection of Jesus [23].  One of the critics makes the following statement in denying the Petrine authorship:  “The fact that the only allusions to the incidents in the Lord’s life found in the Epistle are such as would support the character as one writing as Peter does become, in view of the silence of the Epistle as to the passion, the resurrection, the ascension, and of the absence from it of allusions to the Lord’s teaching as recorded in the gospel, are a serious ground for questioning the Petrine authorship of the Epistle” (Chase).  Like most critics this one lacks in spiritual discernment. In fact, if critics had some spiritual insight in the majestic scope of God’s holy Word, they would not be critics, but worshipers.

                        All second Epistles, except Second Corinthians, have a peculiar character. Second Thessalonians, Second Timothy, Second and Third John, and the little Epistle of Jude are in reality prophetic.  They all speak of the future, the coming evils in professing Christendom, the apostasy, and all warn against these things.  The Second Epistle of Peter shares the same character with the other second Epistles and Jude’s Epistle.  There was no need for Peter to refer again to the passion being outside of the scope of this second letter, he had given his witness and testimony as to these facts so abundantly in his first Epistle.


                        Inconsistencies of Deniers of the Genuineness on the Basis of Which Petrine Epistle Is Better Written [50].  A careful comparison of the contents of this Epistle with that of 1 Peter shows that this Epistle must have been written by the same person who wrote 1 Peter.  And when we compare minutely the actual Greek words used this evidence becomes still stronger.  (Lumby, Davidson, and Plumptre have developed this argument very fully.) 

In spite of these remarkable points of similarity in style and diction which are so clearly presented by these two Epistles, there are some critics who refuse to accept 2 Peter as a genuine letter of Peter, for the very reason that this second Epistle differs so much in style and diction from the first.  But no matter how many possible points of difference may be traced, and no matter how subjective these may be, the points of similarity will always be greater by far, and the argument is so much the stronger, because the points of similarity in these Epistles are undesigned.

Stress has been laid upon the following points of dissimilarity:

(1)     They differ in the titles applied to God the Father and to Christ;

(2)     In speaking of Christ’s Second coming different expressions are used;

(3)     The Second Epistle differs from the First in fondness for repetitions of words and phrases;

(4)     The particles connecting the sentences are different;

(5)     In quotations from the Old Testament, the Epistles greatly differ;

(6)     The Second Epistle is distinguished by poverty of language;

(7)     The style of the First is fresh, lively, periodic; that of the Second, flat, cold, heavy, etc.    

What is most surprising, though these critics may agree in denying the genuineness of 2 Peter, they cannot even agree on the very points at issue.  Bleek, who lays much stress on this point of difference in style and diction says:  “The Epistles present the greatest contrast both in thought and language.  The main difference is that the language of the First Epistle is somewhat rough and Hebraizing, while that of the Second is more elegant and better Greek; the style of the second is more periodic, while in the first the connection of sentences is simple, and even clumsy.”

                        Abbott (Expositor, 1882), who also denies the Petrine origin of 2 Peter, on the other hand, maintains that not only is there a great difference in style between the two Epistles, but that the writer of 2 Peter is “ignorant of the ordinary Greek idiom,” the Greek being infinitely inferior to that of 1 Peter.  





Place of Writing



The Roman Option


The place of composition has been a matter of much dispute.  But if we assume, as there is every reason to do so, that Peter after writing his first Epistle about 63 A.D., left Babylon on the Euphrates and made a journey to Rome, there is every probability in its favor that Peter wrote his second letter at Rome, shortly before his death, an opinion accepted by most commentators.  [50]  



The Babylonian Option


No certain intimation of the place where this Epistle was written is given in the Epistle itself.  It is probable that it was at the same place as the former, as, if it had not been, we may presume that there would have been some reference to the fact that he had changed his residence, or some local allusion which would have enabled us to determine the fact.  [31]   





Date of Writing



The Unquestionable Fact:  The Writer Thought His Death Was Relatively Close  [31].   In regard to the time when this Epistle was written, nothing can be determined with absolute certainty.  All that appears on that subject from the Epistle itself, is, that at the time of writing it the author was expecting soon to die:  2 Peter 1:14, “knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me.”

What evidence he had that he was soon to die he has not informed us; nor is it known even what he meant precisely by the word “shortly.”  The Greek word (ταχινή tachinē) is indeed one that would imply that the event was expected not to be far off; but a man would not unnaturally use it who felt that he was growing old, even though he should in fact live several years afterwards.

                        The Savior, John 21:18, did not state to Peter when his death would occur, except that it would be when he should be old; and the probability is, that the fact that he was growing old was the only intimation that he had that he was soon to die.                 


                        The Evidence for a pre-70 Date from Fact that the Fall of Jerusalem is not mentioned [46].      As to the date, any time after the writing of the First Epistle may be right; probably not long before the Apostle’s martyrdom.  The fact that the destruction of Jerusalem is not mentioned is reason for believing that it had not taken place when the letter was written.

                        If it be said that a writer personating St. Peter would have avoided so obvious a blunder, we may reply (1) that these are just the pitfalls into which literary [im]personators in an early age fall; (2) that it is not certain that it would have been a blunder—St. Peter may have been living A.D. 70; (3) that the destruction of Jerusalem would have served the purpose of the letter so well, as an argument (more strong than the Transfiguration) for Christ’s return to judgment, as a fulfillment of prophecy on this subject, and as a signal instance of divine vengeance, that no explanation of its omission is so satisfactory as that it had not yet taken place.





Intended Audience


                        The letter is written “to them that have obtained a like precious faith with us in the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ” (1:1).  In 3:1 we have this more definite information:  “This is now, beloved, the second epistle that I write unto you.” 

                        And there is no reason why we should question this statement that this letter is addressed to the same persons to whom he sent the first.  As was the first, so this letter is written for both Jews and Gentiles; his readers were also acquainted with the writings of Paul (3:15-16), were familiar with the Old Testament (1:19-21; 2:5-7, 15), and were living among the Gentiles (2:18).  We have a right, therefore, to conclude that this letter was written to the Christian Churches, composed of Christian Jews and Gentiles, scattered throughout Asia Minor.  [50]





Similarities of 1 Peter with Other New Testament Epistles--The Case of Paul


                        [2:]  Nor are such resemblances wanting in the second epistle, though they are resemblances in tone, subject, and spirit, rather than verbal.  It is in this epistle that Peter designates Paul’s writings as Scripture (iii. 16).  Compare:


                                    Paul                                                     2 Peter


                                    Rom. i. 28; iii. 20                                  i. 2

                                    1 Tim. i. 4; iv. 7                                    i. 16

                                    1 Tim. vi. 5; Tit. i. 11                            ii. 3

                                    1 Cor. x. 29; Gal. v. 13                        ii. 19

                                    Rom. ii. 4; ix. 22                                   iii. 15

                                    Gal. ii. 4                                               ii. 1







                        The establishment of the Canonicity of the Second Epistle of Peter is a matter of very great difficulty, and yet there seems to me no Epistle in the New Testament which presents so many marks of Divine assistance, in what it teaches and enforces, as this.  The first ten or eleven verses seem almost unique among the Epistles for their majestic eloquence.

                        If it be an apocryphal book, it is very different indeed from every other which has come down to us—nothing approaching to puerility, to feebleness, to undue condescension to the error or prejudices of those for whom it is written.  Every line of it subservient to the main design of putting the readers on their guard, lest “being led away by the error of the wicked, they fall from their own steadfastness.”

                        The Second Epistle is not distinctly referred to by any of the Apostolic Fathers.  I say “distinctly,” for though there are several references to the quotation, “A thousand years is as one day,” yet they cannot be with any certainty referred to 2 Peter 3:8.

                        Till very lately it was supposed that the first undoubted reference was by Origen in the third century; but a remarkable passage is given by Bishop Wordsworth from an oration of Milito of Sardis in the second century, which seems undoubtedly a reminiscence of 2 Peter 3:8:  “There was a flood of water, and all men and living creatures were destroyed by the multitude of waters, and the just men preserved in an ark of wood by the ordinance of God.  So also it will be at the last time; there will be a flood of fire, and the earth will be burnt up together with its mountains, and men will be burnt up with the idols which they have made, and the sea, together with the isles, shall be burnt; and the just shall be delivered from the fury of the fire, as their fellows in the ark from the waters of the deluge.

                        This was first published from the Syriac discovered by the late Dr. Cureton.  Now as I have remarked in my note there is no other place in Scripture in which the deluge of water and the deluge of fire are put side by side except this; so that we are almost driven to the belief that Milito must have seen this passage.

                        Hippolytus, in a discourse “On the End of the World and of Antichrist,” writes:  “He (Peter) who has the keys of the kingdom, has instructed us to this effect:  ‘Know this first, children, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts:  and there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies.”

                        Origen also (but in those works only which survive in the Latin translation of Rufinus), constantly quotes the Second Epistle.  Thus in Homily iv, on Leviticus:  “And again, Peter says:  ‘Ye have been made partakers (consortes) of the Divine nature.’   And again in a Homily, xiii, on the book Numbers, “As Scripture says in a certain place, ‘the dumb  animal, answering with human voice, reproved the madness of the prophet.’ ”

                        From the time of Eusebius, as Alford says, it was very generally received as canonical.   

                        With respect to the internal evidence, this would principally be found in the use of words and illustrations, which are common to this and to the First Epistle, confessed on all hands to be genuine.  Taking into account the shortness of both these documents, there are some remarkable coincidences of language.  [41]                  


                        If written by an apostle, the epistle has unquestionable right to be considered canonical for if an apostolic writing can’t automatically be considered canonical, what in the world could be?  [rw]















                        Argument for non-apostolic authorship by one who was physical kin of the Lord [22].  The author of this epistle introduces himself as “Jude the brother of James.”  Among the apostles there was a “Judas (Jude) James,” the word son or brother being unexpressed, and some have concluded that the "Judas, not Iscariot," of the twelve is the writer of this letter.  It is more likely, however, that he was the brother of the James of Jerusalem, who became so prominent in the history of the Palestine church, and whom Paul speaks of as a “pillar.”  In the last fifteen years before the overthrow of Jerusalem he became the most influential personage among the Jewish Christians, and it was only natural that Jude, if his brother, should refer to that relationship in order to secure a more favorable hearing. 

That James was “the Lord's brother” (Galatians 1:19), but among the brethren of the Lord there was a Jude also, whom we have every reason to believe to be the writer of this epistle.  That James was not an apostle, and it would follow also that Jude was not of the twelve.  Since the authors of the second and third gospels and of Acts were not apostles, it need not be thought strange that two of the epistles were by other holy men.   


More detailed argumentation that this author was a kinsman of Jesus [46].  He tells us that he is a “servant of Jesus Christ” and “brother of James.”  Had he been an Apostle he would probably have said so.  (Compare Romans 1:1; Titus 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1.)   Had he been an Apostle he would not have claimed attention by calling himself “the brother of James,” when he possessed so very much stronger a claim.

The fact that (verse 17) the writer appeals to the words of Apostles proves nothing; an Apostle might do so.  But at least such an appeal is more natural in one who is not an Apostle:  there being no reason why he should keep his Apostleship in the background if he possessed it.

Our Jude, then, is the Judas of Matthew 13:55, and the Juda of Mark 6:3; not the Judas of Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13, where “brother of James” should more probably be “son of James.”  The author of this Epistle is rightly described as the brother of James, “brother” being expressed in the Greek.  The James indicated is James “the Just,” the brother of the Lord, and first Bishop of Jerusalem, who, though not an Apostle, was nevertheless a person of such dignity as quite to account for this writer thinking it worth while to mention his near relationship to him.

The present question is mixed up with the vexed question as to the brethren of our Lord.  The view here taken is that they were not the sons of Alphæus—i.e., cousins—but in some real sense brethren:  either the children of Joseph and Mary, or of Joseph by a former wife, or by a levirate marriage, or by adoption.  Which of these four alternatives is the right one will probably never be determined.

Jerome’s theory, that they were our Lord’s cousins, children of Alphæus, is contradicted by John 7:5.  (See there and Matthew 12:46.)  It owes its prevalence in the West mainly to Jerome’s influence.  The identification of James the Lord’s brother with James the son of Alphæus, which it involves, has never prevailed in the Eastern Church.  Our author, then, together with his better known brother, James, were in some sense our Lord’s “brethren,” and not Apostles.

If it be asked, Would not Jude in this case have appealed to his relationship to Christ rather than to his relationship to James?  we may securely answer “No.”  As the author of the Adumbrationes centuries ago remarked, religious feeling would deter him, as it did his brother James in his Epistle, from mentioning this fact.  The Ascension had altered all Christ’s human relationships, and His brethren would shrink from claiming kinship after the flesh with His glorified Body. 

This conjecture is supported by facts.  Nowhere in primitive Christian literature is any authority claimed or attributed on the basis of nearness of kin to the Redeemer.  He Himself had taught Christians that the lowliest among them might rise above the closest of such earthly ties (Luke 11:27-28); to be spiritually “the servant of Jesus Christ” was much more than being His actual brother.

Of this Jude very little is known.  Unless he was an exception to the statement in John 7:5 (of which there is no intimation), he did not at first believe on Christ, but joined the Apostles after the convincing fact of the Resurrection (Acts 1:14).  That, like his brothers (1 Corinthians 9:5), he was married appears from Hegesippus, who tells us (Eus. H. E., III. xx.) that two grandsons of Jude were brought before Domitian as descendants of a royal house, and therefore dangerous persons; but on their proving their poverty, and explaining that Christ’s kingdom was not of this world, they were contemptuously dismissed.  This story almost implies that the relationship to Christ was very close; for Hegesippus remarks, by way of explanation, that Domitian was afraid of Christ, just as Herod was.

Statements of St. Jude’s preaching in various parts of the world rest upon late and untrustworthy evidence.  That he was an Evangelist, is implied in his writing this Epistle; but nothing is known respecting his labors.


                        Argument for the apostolic authorship of the book [31].  He does not call himself an “apostle,” but supposes that the terms which he uses would sufficiently identify him, and would be a sufficient reason for his addressing his brethren in the manner in which he does in this Epistle.  There were two of the name of “James” among the apostles (Luke 6:14-15); and it has been made a question of which of them he was the brother.  There were also two of the name of Judas, or Jude; but there is no difficulty in determining which of them was the author of this Epistle, for the other had the surname of Iscariot, and was the traitor.     

                        Of Jude little is known. His name is found in the list of the apostles, but, besides that, it is but once mentioned in the Gospels.  The only thing that is preserved of him in the Evangelists, is a question which he put to the Savior, on the eve of his crucifixion.  The Savior had said, in his parting address to his disciples, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself unto him.”

In regard to the meaning of this remark, Judas is said to have asked the following question:  “Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?”  (John 14:21-22).  To this question the Savior gave him a kind and satisfactory answer, and that is the last that is said of him in the Gospels.         

Of his subsequent life we know little.  In Acts 15:22, he is mentioned as surnamed “Barsabas,” and as being sent with Paul and Barnabas and Silas to Antioch.

                        If this Epistle was written by the apostle Jude, the brother of James and of our Lord, there can be no doubt of its canonical authority, and its claim to a place in the New Testament.  It is true that he does not call himself an apostle, but simply mentions himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ, and a brother of James.”  By this appellation, however, he has practically made it known that he was one of the apostles, for all who had a catalogue of the apostles would know “that Judas, the brother of James,” was one of them.

At the same time, as the relation of James to our Lord was well understood (Galatians 1:19), his authority would be recognized as soon as he was known to be the author of the Epistle.  It may be asked, indeed, if he was an apostle, why he did not call himself such; and why he did not seek to give authority and currency to his Epistle, by adverting to the fact that he was the “Lord‘s brother.”

To the first of these questions, it may be replied, that to have called himself “Judas, the apostle,” would not have designated him so certainly, as to call himself “the brother of James;” and besides, the naked title, “Judas, the apostle,” was one which he might not choose to see applied to himself.  After the act of the traitor, and the reproach which he had brought upon that name, it is probable that he would prefer to designate himself by some other appellation than one which had such associations connected with it.  It may be added, also, that in several of his epistles Paul himself does not make use of the name of the apostle, Philemon, verse 1; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1. 

To the second question, it may be replied, that “modesty” may have kept him from applying to himself the title, the “Lord‘s brother.”  Even James never uses it of himself; and we only know that he sustained this relation from an incidental remark of the apostle Paul, Galatians 1:19.  Great honor would be attached to that relationship, and it is possible that the reason why it was not referred to by James and Jude was an apprehension that it might produce jealousy, as if they claimed some special pre-eminence over their brethren.





Place of Writing



                        As to the place we have no evidence, either external or internal.  [46]


                        And:  We have no means for deciding the place of composition.  Most commentators favor Palestine, and on account of the Jewish tone of the Epistle, even Jerusalem itself has been suggested.  [50]  





Date of Writing



                        Survey of dating options and case for an early date [31].  It is not possible to ascertain with certainty the time when the Epistle was written.  There are no marks of time in it by which that can be known, nor is there any account among the early Christian writers which determines this.  Benson supposes that it was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, a few weeks or months after the Second Epistle of Peter; Mill, that it was written about 90 A.D.; Dodwell and Cave, that it was written after the destruction of Jerusalem, in the year 71 or 72 A.D.; L‘Enfant and Beausobre, that it was between the year 70 and 75 A.D.; Witsius and Estius, that it was in the apostle‘s old age; Lardner, that it was about the year 65 or 66 A.D.; Michaelis, that it was before the destruction of Jerusalem; and Macknight, that it was in the latter part of the apostolic age, and not long before the death of Jude.  All this, it is manifest, is mostly conjecture.

There are only two things, it seems to me, in the Epistle, which can be regarded as “any” indication of the time.  One is the striking resemblance to the Second Epistle of Peter, referring clearly to the same kind of errors, and warning those whom he addressed against the arts of the same kind of teachers, thus showing that it was written at about the same time as that Epistle; and the other is, that it seems to have been written before the destruction of Jerusalem, for, as Michaelis has well remarked, “As the author has mentioned (Jude, verses 5-8), several well-known instances of Divine justice in punishing sinners, he would probably if Jerusalem had been already destroyed, not have neglected to add to his other examples this most remarkable instance of Divine vengeance, especially as Christ had himself foretold it.”  

As there is reason to suppose that the Second Epistle of Peter was written about 64 or 65 A.D., we shall not probably, err in supposing that this was written not far from that time.


                        Additional evidence in behalf of an early date [36].  The Epistle contains some indications of time.  (1) The fact that the destruction of Jerusalem and consequent ruin of the Jewish nation is not mentioned among the instances of divine vengeance (verses 5-7) is a strong reason for believing that the Epistle was written before A.D. 70.

(2)  The fact that such libertines as are here described are allowed to remain members of the Christian community points to a time when Church discipline is in its very infancy.  The evils are very similar to those which St. Paul has to condemn in the Church of Corinth (1 Corinthians 5:1-2; 6:8-18; 11:17-22).  

                        (3)  It seems to be implied (Jude verse 17) that some of those addressed had heard Apostles.





Intended Audience



                        The case for Christians whether Jewish or Gentile in origin [31].  Nothing can be determined with entire certainty in regard to the persons to whom this Epistle was written.  Witsius supposed that it was addressed to Christians everywhere;  Hammond, that it was addressed to Jewish Christians alone, who were scattered abroad, and that its design was to secure them against the errors of the Gnostics; Benson, that it was directed to Jewish believers, especially to those of the western dispersion; Lardner, that it was written to all, without distinction, who had embraced the gospel.  The principal argument for supposing that it was addressed to Jewish converts is, that the apostle refers mainly for proof to Hebrew writings, but this might be sufficiently accounted for by the fact that the writer himself was of Jewish origin.

                        The only way of determining anything on this point is from the Epistle itself.  The inscription is, “To them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called,” Jude, verse 1.  From this it would appear evident that he had no particular classes of Christians in his eye, whether of Jewish or Gentile origin, but that he designed the Epistle for the general use of all who had embraced the Christian religion.  The errors which he combats in the Epistle were evidently wide-spread, and were of such a nature that it was proper to warn all Christians against them.  They might, it is true, be more prevalent in some quarters than in others, but still they were so common that Christians everywhere should be put on their guard against them.


                        The case for Jewish Christians being the primary recipients—though the logic was obviously applicable to all [50].  A careful study of the Epistle shows that the letter is evidently addressed to Christian Jews who are familiar with Old Testament Scriptures and Jewish traditions.  As the allusions are all Jewish, some have thought that the Epistle must have been addressed to some church or churches in Palestine, or to some particular district of the Diaspora, in which nearly all the church members were converted Jews.  But this question cannot be positively decided.


                        The case for Gentile Christians being the primary recipients—though the logic was obviously applicable to all [46].  The object is plainly stated (verses 3-4)—to urge his readers to contend earnestly for the faith which was being caricatured and denied by the libertinism and practical infidelity of certain members of the community.  In what Church or Churches this evil prevailed we are not told; but it would be more likely to arise among converts from heathenism than from Judaism.





Purpose / Reason for Writing



                        The Target of the Book:  The Morally Reprobate or the Heretical [8]?  The Object of the Epistle is the confirmation of the readers in the gospel published to them by the apostles, in opposition to certain intruders, who, abusing the liberty of the gospel, gave themselves up to immoral excesses.  Arnaud, Reuss, Bleek, Bruckner, and Hofmann consider them to be only vicious men.  On the contrary, Dorner observes, “The opponents of Jude are not only corrupt in practice, but also heretical teachers.” 

They are not indeed described as actual false teachers; but yet from verses 4, 8, 18, 19, we can hardly think otherwise than that their libertinism was conjoined with dogmatic (perhaps Gnostic) errors; on which account also Bruckner states that  “they had points which bordered on the dogmatic;” and Hofmann says that “they screened their immoral conduct by blasphemous assumptions.” 

Weiss calls them “Libertines on principle.”  That they attached themselves to a particular definite Gnostic system, for example, that of the Carpocratians (Clemens Alexandrinus), cannot be proved.  Their tendency appears to have been related to the error of the Nicolaitanes and the Balaamites (Revelation 2) (Thiersch, Wiesinger, Schott).  Jude opposes to them simply the apostolic gospel, without particularly characterizing the points of their contradiction to it. 


Structure of the Epistle [46].  The plan of the Epistle, short as it is, is evidently laid with considerable care; and the writer betrays a fondness for threefold divisions which is quite remarkable.  It would scarcely be an exaggeration to say that wherever a group of three is possible he makes one.  One or two of the triplets may be accidental, but the majority of them can hardly be so; and this fact may be worth remembering in discussing the question of priority between this Epistle and 2 Peter.

There are ten (or possibly twelve) groups of three in this short Epistle of 25 verses: viz. (1 and 2) Jude verse 1;

(3) Jude verse 2;

(4) Jude verse 4;

(5) Jude verses 5-7;

(6) Jude verse 8;

(7) Jude verse 11;

(8) Jude verses 12-19;

(9) Jude verse 19;

(10) Jude verses 20-21;

(11) Jude verses 22-23;

(12) Jude verse 25.

                        Of these (4) and (10) are perhaps doubtful; but there can be no question about the rest, although the last two are obscured in the English version, owing to our translators having followed a defective Greek text.





Relationship of 2 Peter and Jude


                        Similarity of 2 Peter and Jude:  Did One Rely on the Other or Both on a Third Source?  An Overview [31].  One of the most remarkable things respecting this Epistle, is its resemblance to the second chapter of the Second Epistle of Peter--a similarity so striking as to make it quite certain that one of these writers had seen the Epistle of the other, and copied from it; or rather, perhaps, adopted the language of the other as expressing his own views.  It is evident, that substantially the same class of teachers is referred to by both; that they held the same errors, and were guilty of the same corrupt and dangerous practices; and that the two apostles, in describing them, made use of the same expressions, and employed the same arguments against them.  They refer to the same facts in history, and to the same arguments from tradition; and if either of them quoted an apocryphal book, both have done it.

On the resemblance, compare the following places:

Jude verse 8, with 2 Peter 2:10;

Jude verse 10, with 2 Peter 2:12;

Jude verse 16, with 2 Peter 2:18;

Jude verse 4, with 2 Peter 1:2-3;

Jude verse 7, with 2 Peter 2:6;

Jude, verse 9, with 2 Peter 2:11.

The similarity between the two is so striking, both in the general structure of the argument and in the particular expressions, that it cannot have been accidental.  It is not such a resemblance as would be likely to occur in two authors, if they had been writing in a wholly independent manner.  In regard to this resemblance, there is but one of three ways in which it can be accounted for: either that the Holy Spirit inspired both of them to say the same thing, without the one having any knowledge of what the other said; or that they both copied from a common document, which is now lost; or that one copied from the other.

As to the first of these solutions, that the Holy Spirit inspired them both to say the same thing, it may be observed that no one can deny that this is “possible,” but is by no means probable.  No other instance of the kind occurs in the Bible, and the supposition would not be in accordance with what seems to have been a law in inspiration, that the sacred writers were allowed to express themselves according to the bent of their own genius.  See 1 Corinthians 14:32.

As to the second of these suppositions, that they both copied from a common document, which is now lost, it may be observed, that this is wholly without evidence.  That such a thing was “possible,” there can be no doubt, but the supposition should not be adopted without necessity.  If there had been such an original inspired document, it would probably have been preserved; or there would have been, in one or both of those who copied from it, some such allusion to it that it would have been possible to verify the supposition.

The remaining way of accounting for the resemblance, therefore, is to suppose that one of them had seen the Epistle of the other, and adopted the same line of argument, and many of the same expressions.  This will account for all the facts in the case, and can be supposed to be true without doing violence to any just view of their inspiration. 

A question still arises, however, whether Peter or Jude is the original writer from which the other has copied.  This question it is impossible to determine with certainty, and it is of little importance.  If the common opinion which is stated above be correct, that Peter wrote his Epistle first, of course that determines the matter.  But that is not absolutely certain, nor is there any method by which it can be determined.

Hug adopts the other opinion, and supposes that Jude was the original writer.  His reasons for this opinion are substantially these:

(1) That there is little probability that Jude, in so brief an epistle as his, consisting of only 25 verses, would have made use of foreign aid.

(2) That the style and phraseology of Jude is simple, unlabored, and without ornament; while that of Peter is artificial, and wears the appearance of embellishment and amplification; that the simple language of Jude seems to have been molded by Peter into a more elegant form, and is embellished with participles, and even with rhetorical flourishes.

(3) That there is allusion in both Epistles (2 Peter 2:11; Jude 1:9) to a controversy between angels and fallen spirits; but that it is so alluded to by Peter, that it would not be understood without the more full statement of Jude; and that Peter evidently supposed that the letter of Jude was in the hands of those to whom he wrote, and that thus the allusion would be at once understood.

It could not be supposed that every reader would be acquainted with the fact alluded to by Peter; it was not stated in the sacred books of the Jews, and it seems probable that there must have been some book to which they had access, where the information was more full.  Jude, however, as the original writer, stated it more at length, and having done this, a bare allusion to it by Peter was all that was necessary.  Jude states the matter definitely, and expressly mentions the dispute of Michael with the devil about the body of Moses.  But the language of Peter is so general and indefinite, that we could not know what he meant unless we had Jude in our possession.

It must be admitted that these considerations have much weight, though they are not absolutely conclusive.  It should be added, that whichever supposition is adopted, the fact that one has expressed substantially the same sentiments as the other, and in nearly the same language, is no reason for rejecting either, any more than the coincidence between the Gospels is a reason for concluding that only one of them can be an inspired document.  There might have been good reasons why the same warnings and counsels should have proceeded from two inspired men.


                        Similarity of 2 Peter and Jude:  A More Detailed Overview [50].  The resemblance between 2 Peter 2:1-3:3 and Jude 4-18 is so remarkable that there seems to be some close connection between the two Epistles.  Four theories have been proposed to explain this relation.

                        (1)  That both writers drew from some common document, written in some other language than Greek.  This view was first advocated by Bishop Sherlock, who thought it highly probable that both Peter and Jude had “translated from some old Hebrew (Aramaic) book, which will account for the difference of language between them, and the great agreement in their images and idea.”  But there have been very few advocates of this theory, and it is nothing else than an ingenious hypothesis.

                        (2)  That Peter made use of the Epistle of Jude.  This is the opinion most generally accepted in recent times.  But all the arguments induced in favor of this view are very unsatisfactory.

                        It has been adopted by Eichhorn, Neander, De Wette, Huther, and others among the German theologians and among the English, by Davidson, Alford, Farrar, Plumptre, Eadie, Salmon and others.  The following reasons have been given for this:

                        (1)  “The phraseology of Jude is simpler than that of Peter which is more artificial, rhetorical, paraphrastic, and amplified” (Davidson).  Both De Wette and Davidson give numerous illustrations to prove this statement, but Brueckner, who also favors the priority of Jude, says that all these examples are far-fetched and overdrawn, and Davidson himself is compelled to say, “In adopting the originality of Jude, it is not necessary to suppose that Peter was a mere copyist.  Peter still appears as an original writer.  His individuality is not obscured.”

                        (2)  “Expressions occurring in Jude’s Epistle are altered in a very singular manner” (Davidson).  These changes occurring in the Greek for the words rocks (Jude 12; 2 Peter 2:13), love-feasts (Jude 12; 2 Peter 2:13), clouds without water (Jude 12; 2 Peter 2:17), are, however, of such an immaterial character that the argument can be used either way, and in either case is of little value.

                        (3)  “The passages 2 Peter 2:4, 11 become clear only from Jude 6, 9, and are manifestly taken from that passage” (De Wette).  This is a mere begging of the question and proves nothing either way, for 2 Peter 2:4 is not obscure, and 2 Peter 2:11, as well as Jude 9, doubtless refer to a tradition well known to the readers of both Epistles.

                        (4)  “The course of thought in Jude is firm and distinct, whilst in 2 Peter it is wavering and unsteady, like that of an imitator” (De Wette).  But Gloag correctly remarks:  “This feature is so entirely subjective that it is differently appreciated by different critics; while some regard it as a mark of originality in Jude, others regard it as a mark of originality in Peter.”

                        (5)  “The opponents described and denounced in Jude are distinctly portrayed; but in 2 Peter the picture is not clear” (Davidson).  But this very argument proves the priority of 2 Peter, and not of the Epistle of Jude.  During the interval between the composition of 2 Peter and the Epistle of Jude, these heresies had developed themselves more sharply.

                        (6)  “It is not so probable that Jude should have extracted a very brief epistle from a larger one, as that the writer of the longer should have used the shorter” (Davidson).  But little stress need be laid upon such a subjective opinion.         

                        (3)  A third theory supposes that Jude made use of the Epistle of Peter.  This view has been advocated by many scholars, and is still maintained by many recent commentators, although Holtzman calls it “an abandoned hypothesis.”  But all the arguments presented to prove that Jude has made use of 2 Peter are unsatisfactory to [this] writer.  What they do prove is the priority of 2 Peter, but nothing more.  

                        [The approach] has been adopted by Michaelis, Bengel, Stier, Plummer, Lumby, and others.  Gloag gives an excellent summary of the reasons assigned for the priority of 2 Peter:

                        (1)  “What was future when Peter wrote was present when Jude wrote.”  Compare especially 2 Peter 1:1-3 with Jude 4; and 2 Peter 3:1-4 with Jude 17-18.  This, however, does not prove that Jude made use of 2 Peter, but simply demonstrates that 2 Peter was written some time before, and that there was a possibility of Jude having seen it.

                        (2)  In Jude 17-18 (“Remember ye the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; how they said to you, In the last time there shall be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts”) we have a direct reference to 2 Peter 3:3 (“Knowing this first, that in the last days mockers shall come with mockery, walking after their own lusts”).  It does seem as if there was here a direct quotation from 2 Peter, but it is far more natural and probable that Jude here refers to the oral teaching which his hearers had heard from the lips of the Apostles who had visited them in their journeyings (“the words which have been spoken before by the apostles”).

                        (3)  “In Jude’s Epistle moral corruption appears to be in a more advanced state.”  (Compare especially 2 Peter 2:1-3 with Jude 4, 8, 10, 13, 16).  The devil teaching of which Peter speaks has already in Jude found its natural consequence of evil doing.  This indeed proves the priority of 2 Peter, but does not prove that Jude made us of it.

                        (4)  Jude elaborates some of the passages of Peter.  (Compare 2 Peter 2:4 with Jude 6; 2 Peter 2:6 with Jude 7; 2 Peter 2:11 with Jude 9; 2 Peter 2:17 with Jude 12.)  Lumby develops this very fully.  But after all this proves nothing, as it is more than counterbalanced by more numerous instances of expansion in parallel passages in 2 Peter.

                        (4)  The fourth theory is that Peter and Jude wrote independently of each other.  This view has been presented under various forms.  Olshausen and Augusti would explain the resemblance by the fact that Jude and Peter may have corresponded together or may have seen each other and talked the matter over together.  

                        Although there are many points of resemblance between 2 Peter 2:1-3:3 and Jude 4-18, there are also remarkable points of difference.  A careful comparison of these two passages brings out clearly the following divergences:


                        2 Peter 2:1:  There shall be false teachers.  Jude 4:  Ungodly men are crept in.

                        2 Peter 2:2-3:  Their method of working.  Jude:  No mention.

                        2 Peter:  No mention.  Jude 5:  Destruction of Israelites.

                        2 Peter 2:5:  Destruction by Flood.  Jude:  No mention.

                        2 Peter 2:6:  No mention of the sin.  Jude 7:  The sin of Sodom.

                        2 Peter 2:7:  The deliverance of Lot.  Jude:  No mention.

                        2 Peter 2:11:  Angels rail not at dignities.  Jude 9:  Michael rails not at the devil.

                        2 Peter:  No mention.  Jude 11:  Reference to Cain.     

                        2 Peter:  No mention.  Jude 11:  Reference to Korah.

                        2 Peter:  No mention.  Jude 14:  Reference to prophecy of Enoch.

                        2 Peter 2:20-22:  Warning.  Jude:  No reference.

                        2 Peter 3:3-4:  Scorners deny the Second Advent.  Jude 18:  No reference to Second Advent.


                        When Gloag and Alford raise the objection that those who hold such a view must be advocates of the mechanical view of inspiration, they simply aim to bring discredit upon this view, without giving any genuine reasons against it, for it has been proved by those who maintain the priority of Jude or by those who hold to the priority of Peter, that these passages “are so similar that it must follow that one borrowed from the other, or that both made use of a common document” (Gloag).  

                        In spite of all that has been written on this subject we hold that the difference between the two sections are so great, and of such a peculiar character, that it seems impossible that Jude, at the time of the writing of his Epistle, could have used 2 Peter.  Further let it be carefully noted that the resemblance between the two passages, on which so much stress has been laid, consists mainly and large in the examples and illustrations cited, and not so much in the words used.  If we can account for the resemblances which are so evident, in some other way, we need not insist that Jude made a slavish use of Peter, for, as has already been shown, the priority of 2 Peter is undoubtedly established.

                        Neither writer copies from the other, nor is it at all likely that Jude had ever seen the Epistle of Peter, but as the errors against which they both wrote were of the same general character, differing only as the bud differs from the flower, or the blossom from the fruit, and as the persons to whom they wrote had received the same kind of instruction, and were familiar with the same traditions which had been delivered to them by the Apostles themselves (1 Corinthians 11:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:15), especially the prophetical application of the Old Testament history and illustrations to New Testament times, it need not surprise us that in writing against these pernicious heresies and abominations they both should follow the same general line of thought and both “remind the early believers of those Scripture characters whose examples as warnings had been inculcated amongst all the churches as part of the Apostolic teaching” (Sadler).    

            Wordsworth:  “It would be erroneous to assert, that St. Jude had merely copied a large portion of Peter.  It ought rather to be said, that the Holy Spirit often repeated by one Prophet what He had said by another, and that He often repeated by a third Evangelist what He had written before by the other two; and that he does this for greater confirmation of what He had said. . . .  And so, for like reasons; He repeats by Jude, not however without some modifications and additions, what He had already declared by Peter.  He has thus set His seal on Peter’s Second Epistle, and has shown that the prophecies, which He Himself there uttered, have been fulfilled.”  


                A “Psychological” Difficulty in Conceding Jude Wrote First [1].  The priority of Jude would probably be conceded, were it not so difficult to believe that Peter would use the work of a teacher so little known.  But this objection ignores the fact that the dependence of 2 Peter upon Jude does not impugn the genuineness of the former epistle; while the dependence of Jude upon 2 Peter implies that nearly all of the briefer epistle is borrowed from the longer one.


                Similarity of 2 Peter and Jude Explained on the Basis of Joint Reliance on a Shared Doctrinal Tradition [41].  We shall now have to consider the extraordinary similarity between the illustrations found in the second chapter of [2 Peter] and those in the Epistle of St. Jude.  I give side by side the parallel passages in the Revised Version:--


2 Peter 2:1:  But there arose false prophets also among the people, as among you also there shall be false teachers, who shall privily bring in destructive heresies, denying even the Master that brought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.  

Jude, verse 3:  Beloved, when I was giving all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you, exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints.


2 Peter 2:2:  And many shall follow their lascivious doings, by reason of whom the way of the truth shall be evil spoken of.  And in covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you, whose sentence now from of old lingereth not, and their destruction slumbereth not.

Jude, verse 4:  For there are certain men crept in privily, even they who were of old set forth unto this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ.


2 Peter 2:4:  For if God spared not angels when they sinned, but cast them down to hell (Tartarus), and committed them to pits of darkness to be reserved unto judgment.

Jude, verse 5:  Now I desire to put you in remembrance, though ye know all things once for all, how that the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterwards destroyed them that believed not

Jude, verse 6:  And angels which kept not their own principality, but left  their proper habitation, he hath kept under everlasting bonds under darkness, unto the judgment of the great day.                 


2 Peter 2:5:  And spared not the ancient world, but preserved Noah with seven others, a preacher of righteousness, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.

2 Peter 2:6:  And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes, condemned them with an overthrow, having made them an ensample unto those that should live ungodly.              

Jude, verse 7:  Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them, having in like manner with these given themselves over to fornication, and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.


                        2 Peter 2:8:  For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their lawless deeds

Jude, verse 8:  Yet in like manner these also in their dreamings defile the flesh, and set at nought dominion, and rail at dignities.

2 Peter 2:9:  The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation and to keep the righteous under punishment unto the day of judgment.

2 Peter 2:10a:  But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of defilement, and despise dominion.


2 Peter 2:10b:  Daring, self-willed, they tremble not to rail at dignities.

            Jude, verse 9:  But Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke thee.”


2 Peter 2:11:  Whereas angels, though greater in might and power, bring not a railing judgment against them before the Lord.   

2 Peter 2:12:  But these are creatures without reason, born mere animals, to be taken and destroyed, railing in matters whereof they are ignorant, shall in their destroying surely be destroyed.

2 Peter 2:13:  Suffering wrong as the hire of wrong-doing, men that count it pleasure to revel in the daytime; spots and blemishes, reveling in their loose feasts while they feast with you. 

2 Peter 2:14:  Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin:  enticing unsteadfast souls; having an heart exercised with covetousness; children of cursing.

2 Peter 2:15:  Forsaking the right way, they went astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the hire of wrongdoing.

2 Peter 2:16:  But he was rebuked for his own transgression; a dumb ass spake with man’s voice, and stayed the madness of the prophet.

2 Peter 2:17:  These are springs (wells) without water, and mists driven by a storm; for whom the blackness of darkness hath been reserved.

Jude, verse 10:  But these rail at whatsoever things they know not, and what they understand naturally, like the creatures without reason, in those things they are destroyed.

Jude, verse 11:  Woe unto them, for they went in the way of Cain, and ran riotously in the error of Balaam for hire, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah.  

Jude, verse 12:  These are they which are hidden rocks in your love-feasts, when they feast with you, shepherds which without fear feed themselves; clouds without water carried along by winds:  autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots.     

Jude, verse 13:  Wild waves of the sea foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the blackness of darkness hath been reserved for ever.

Jude, verse 14:  And to these also Enoch, the sevbenth from Adam, prophesied, saying, Behold the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones, &c.

Jude, verse 16:  These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their lusts (and their mouths speaketh great swelling words), showing respect of persons for the sake of advantage.



                        In looking over these two passages, we have to note that the extraordinary resemblance between them consists almost entirely in the examples cited and not in the words used.  Taking into consideration the number of examples brought forward common to both epistles, the words in common are exceedingly few.

                        Take the opening words in each.  The false prophets and false teachers in Peter are represented in Jude by “certain men.”  The success of these men is mentioned by Peter:  “Many shall follow their lascivious doings;” whereas Jude says nothing of this, but speaks of them as of old, set forth to this condemnation.  In Peter their crowning sin is denying the Lord that bought them; in St. Jude it is denying our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

                        There is nothing in the Epistle of Jude answering to verses 2 and 3 of Peter.  We should certainly have expected something corresponding to “by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of;” and something answering to “whose judgment now of old lingereth not, and their destruction slumbereth not.”

                        There is no reference to the destruction of the unbelieving Israelites in Peter. 

The reference to the Apostate Angels is markedly different in the two Epistles.  In Peter there is no allusion to the circumstances of their sin.  In Jude it consisted in “leaving their proper habitation.”  The description of their punishment in Peter [and] Jude is [clearly] the same punishment; but the principal words [used to describe it] are very different.

No mention is made of the flood in Jude, though, of all the examples, it brings out most terribly the disproportion in numbers between the few saved and the many who perished.

The description of the destruction of the cities of the plain is markedly different [in wording].  In Jude no mention is made of the deliverance of “Just Lot,” which occupies three verses in Peter.

Then we come to a passage in many respects the same in each Epistle.  In 2 Peter 2:10, “chiefly they that walk after the flesh in the lust of defilement, and despise dominion.  Daring, self-willed, they tremble not to rail at dignities, whereas angels, though greater in might and power,” &c.

In Jude:  “Yet in like manner also these in their dreamings defile the flesh, and set at nought dominion, and rail at dignities.  But Michael the archangel,” &c.  But is Jude is the original, it is surprising that Peter does not reproduce [all of the wording rather than just part].

Peter makes no mention of the Archangel and his dispute with Satan, though it seems necessary that some illustration should be brought to verify so extraordinary an assertion as “whereas angels . . . bring not a railing judgment against them before the Lord.”  It is a revelation of something which went on in the unseen world, which is unintelligible, except by taking into account what Jude reveals.  That Peter says nothing about it seems to show either that he had not seen what Jude had written, or that he took it for granted, that the incident, owing to the circulation of some apocryphal book, was well known.

The next passage presents also many points of resemblance.

In Peter it runs, “These are creatures without reason, born mere animals, to be taken and destroyed, railing in matters whereof they are ignorant, shall in their destroying surely be destroyed, suffering wrong as the hire of wrong-doing.”  In Jude it runs, “These rail at whatsoever things they know not, and what they understand naturally, like the creatures without reason, in those things are they destroyed.”  I cannot conceive how anyone can pronounce with authority (as some seem to do) which of these is the original.

This is followed in Jude by an imprecation, “Woe unto them, for they went in the way of Cain, and ran greedily in the error of Balaam for hire, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah.”  In Peter there is no reference to Cain or Korah, but a verse is occupied with the narrative of Balaam.

Verse 12 in Jude seems to have a parallel in 1 Peter 2:13:  “Spots and blemishes, revelling in their love feasts (or, as it may be read, “deceivings”) while they feast with you;” but in Jude, “these are they who are hidden rocks in your love feasts, when they feast with you.”

In Peter there is nothing parallel to the “withered trees” of Jude, or the waves foaming out their own shame, or the wandering stars; and in Jude there is nothing which answers to the great swelling words of vanity—to those who promise liberty, whilst they themselves are the servants of corruptions—and to those whose “last state is worse than the first”—and “the dog turning to his own vomit.”

Nor in Peter, to “those who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.”

Such is, I trust, a fair comparison of the extraordinary resemblances and, to me, equally extraordinary divergences between these two remarkable passages.  The divergences seem far too great to admit of “copying” on the part of either, and the resemblances must be in some way accounted for.

I believe that the only way of accounting for the phenomena presented by the two passages is by assuming that there was a common tradition delivered by the Apostles to all the Churches which they planted at the first, respecting the prophetical application of the Old Testament to Christian times.  These traditions are appealed to as well known, and the Churches are held answerable by the Apostles for the observance of them.                                  

                        Neither, then, of these Apostles copied what the other had written, but they both reminded the early believers of Scripture characters whose examples as warning had been inculcated amongst all the Churches as part of the Apostolic teaching.

                        But another point before I conclude, must be mentioned.

                        In the beginning of his third chapter the Apostle assumes that all this (i.e., the teaching of the second chapter) was already known:  “I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance, that ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy Prophets, and of the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your Apostles.”  A forger would scarcely think of asserting such a statement, but it agrees well with the hypothesis that there was a paradosis based upon the Old Testament, and which the Apostles had themselves applied to the impending flood of false doctrine which was then threatening to burst over the Church.








                         Introductory Evidence for Its Acceptance [38].  It is not mentioned or quoted by any of the Apostolic Fathers, Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, nor in the Epistle of Barnabas nor the “Shepherd” of Hermas, nor in Irenæus, nor the fragments of Papias. 

Clement of Alexandria is the first Father who quotes and names it (Paedag. iii. 8, Strom, iii. 2).  He is followed by Origen, who in his Commentary on Matthew 13:55-56, speaks of Jude as having written an Epistle “of but few verses yet full of mighty words of heavenly wisdom,” and quotes it elsewhere, though in one passage with a doubt as to its reception (Comm. on Matthew 22:23).  Tertullian (circ. a. d. 210) quotes it (de Hab. Mul. i. 3) as the work of an Apostle.

It is wanting in the Peshito, or Syriac Version (a sufficient indication, as has been remarked, of its not being by the Apostle Judas, who, under the name of Thaddeus, was the traditional Evangelist of Edessa); and when we come to the fourth century, Eusebius (H. E. iii. 25) places it among the Antilegomena or disputed books, and Jerome mentions (Cat. Script. Eccles.) that although then received, it had been rejected by many on account of its quoting the Apocryphal Book of Enoch.

                        The singular exception above referred to is that of the Muratorian Fragment (circ. a.d. 170), which, though omitting all mention of the Epistles of James and Peter, distinctly recognizes that of St Jude.  No satisfactory explanation has as yet been given of the omission of the former, but the very absence of any mention of them renders the fact of the latter being named a more decisive proof that the Epistle now before us was recognized as Canonical in the middle of the second century.


                        Additional Relevant Evidence [46].  The authenticity of the Epistle has been questioned by some from very early times, but without sufficient reason. The evidence against it is mainly this. External.—The Epistle is not contained in the Peshito or ancient Syriac version; Eusebius classes it among the disputed books (III. xxv. 3; II. xxiii. 25); Theodore of Mopsuestia seems to have rejected it; few references to it are found in early writers.  Internal.—It cites apocryphal books; has a suspicious relationship to Romans and 2 Peter; is difficult in style. 

Against this we may urge that Ephrem Syrus seems to have recognized it; the Muratorian Fragment (circ. A.D. 170) contains it; the old Latin version contains it; Tertullian (De Cult. Fern. I. iii.) accepts it as genuine and Apostolic; Clement of Alexandria quotes it as Scripture (Strom. III. ii.; Paed. III. viii.); Origen, though he knew of doubts about it (Commentary on Matthew 22:23) fully accepted it (on Matthew 13:55, 18:10, et al.); Jerome (Scrip. Eccles. iv.) says that many rejected it because it quoted apocryphal books, but that it ought to be reckoned among the Scriptures:  the Councils of Laodicea (circ. A.D 360) and of Hippo (A.D. 393) formally included it in the Canon.

The doubts about it are very intelligible: it was not by an Apostle, and therefore seemed wanting in authority, and it quoted apocryphal works.

Its brevity fully accounts for its not being often quoted. 

It is too insignificant to be a forgery; a forger would have said more, and would have selected some well-known name, and not that of one but little known, to give authority to his production.

The difficult style is natural enough in a Jew writing Greek well, but not with ease.

As already stated in reference to 2 Peter, a theory that these two Epistles (2 Peter and Jude) are translations from Aramaic originals has recently been advocated (Did St. Peter write in Greek? by E. G. King, Cambridge, 1871).  It would be presumption on the part of one who is ignorant of Hebrew to pronounce an opinion on the arguments used; but the number of them seems to be insufficient.  Mere internal evidence of this kind ought to be very strong to counterbalance the entire absence of external evidence.  Jerome would certainly give information on this point, if he possessed any, when he makes his own suggestion that Peter used different “interpreters” to write his two Epistles.


                The objection from Alleged Use of Apocryphal Literature [50].  Another objection made against the genuineness of this Epistle by some is, that there are too many apocryphal and legendary references in this Epistle, more, indeed, than in all the writings of the New Testament put together, and that such apocryphal references are inconsistent with the idea of inspiration.

                        But the question arises, Are these references to apocryphal legends or to Jewish traditions?  May not the Apocryphal Books, which some maintain that Jude used, like “The Assumption of Moses” and “The Book of Enoch,” as well as the statements of Jude, be based upon the same Jewish traditions?

                        It is highly probable that Jude, in referring to the contention of Michael with the devil concerning the body of Moses and to the prophecy of Enoch, alludes to certain true facts, handed down by Jewish tradition, well known and accepted, but not recorded in the Old Testament.  This ought not to surprise us, for Paul also gives us some facts in the history of Moses, not recorded in the Book of Exodus (2 Timothy 3:8).  Because Jude refers to these events, it does not follow that he quotes from the two apocryphal books already mentioned, which may already have existed in the time of Christ, although even this is questioned by some.









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25        Robert Hawker.  Poor Man’s Commentary.  Internet Edition.  1828.


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32        James Gray.  Concise Bible Commentary.  Internet Edition.  1897-1910.


33        F. B. Meyer.  Thru The Bible (Commentary).  Internet Edition.  1914 edition.


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36        William R. Nicoll, editor.  Expositor’s Greek Testament.   Internet



37        Cambridge Greek Testament for Schools and Colleges:  James, 1 Peter, 2         Peter, Jude.  Internet Edition.  Each individual volume:  1896.


38        Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges:  1 Peter, 2 Peter, Jude. 

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44        William G. Humphry.  A Commentary on the Revised Version of the New

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46        A. J. Mason.  “First Epistle of Peter” in Ellicott’s New Testament

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47        Joseph Benson.  Commentary on the Old and New Testaments.  Internet

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49        James Nisbett, editor.  Church Pulpit Commentary.  Internet Edition.  1876.

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