Today: [Jude 1:] Does the Book of Enoch Belong in the Canon? In the second to last book of the Bible, we find a quote from the book of Enoch. Does this mean that we are to include this book in our canon or to revere it as scripture? Some believers do have a strong appetite for alternative authorities and obscure ancient readings. We will examine this question in our study of the book of Jude.
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[Jde 1:1-25 KJV] 1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, [and] called: 2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. 5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. 6 And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. 7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. 8 Likewise also these [filthy] dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. 9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. 10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. 11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. 12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds [they are] without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. 14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard [speeches] which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. 16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling [words], having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage. 17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. 19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. 20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: 23 And others save with fear, pulling [them] out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. 24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, [be] glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.
The book of Jude identifies itself by an author of the same name. He mentions being the brother of James who was the half-brother of Jesus being born of Mary and Joseph after Jesus’ birth. James was martyred in the early days of the church and Jude was martyred about the same time as Paul. We know he had descendants as well for their persecution is recorded in the histories of the Romans. They are of interest because as natural relatives of Jesus they were the last of the line of David. These were grandchildren of Jude who were executed under persecution by the emperor Trajan as he sought to wipe out that last descendants of King David.
Jude writes this letter as a general epistle to the church at large. He speaks of what he terms the common salvation seeking to correct error and expose certain heresies that had crept into the church. In the later years of the early church exposing heretical teachings and teachers increased more and more. Jude speaks of individual teachers who preached in favor of wanton and shameless lifestyles as a means of exalting, by contrast, the measure of God’s forgiveness even for the most egregious of sins. We would use the term hyper-grace to identify such teachings today.
Hyper-grace is a term used to describe teachings that emphasize the grace of God allegedly applied to men without the need for repentance and confession of sin. Teachers of these doctrines assert that all sin, past, present, and future, has already been forgiven, so there is no need for a believer to ever confess it. These teachings are present with us today and were present in the first century also, and Jude speaks against them strongly.
Jude makes the case (v. 5) that as God called Israel out of Egypt, so the believer is called out of the world and its sinful habits. As those who did not believe were destroyed during the 40 years in the wilderness even after salvation from Egypt, so the believer is to live godly in Christ Jesus after coming to Christ lest we fall after the same example of unbelief. Jude goes on to give the example of the disobedient angels in Gen. 6 who were punished for their rebellion and also of Sodom and Gomorrha that were destroyed for their iniquities.
Jude speaks of what he calls “filthy dreamers” that defile themselves with immorality and recognize no authority higher than themselves. He reminds us that Michael the archangel was very conscious of lines of authority when he contended with the devil over the body of Moses. Micheal did not speak presumptively but these teachers that Jude is exposing think nothing of speaking evil of those things which they know not and in which they corrupt themselves.
These elements are not absent from the church of our generation. One striking example would be Dave Berg and Children of God movement in past decades who preached a gospel of unlimited grace and used prostitution and sexual immorality as a means of spreading their message. Jude declares that these corrupt influences do these things for the purposes of their own gain. They not only gathered followers after themselves but also joined with the churches that Jude is writing to. Jude calls them spots in their feasts of charity who would join in with the churches and partake of their generosity all the while they were seeking to undermine leadership and lead people astray.
In v. 14 Jude continues and quotes from the book of Enoch. This is interesting because none of the five books attributed to Enoch are included in the canon. The specific quote Jude makes is from 1st Enoch 1:9, a book that was known to be in circulation in Jude’s day that he no doubt could have and apparently was familiar with. Scholars grudgingly acknowledge this extra-biblical quote though no Christian groups go so far as to suggest any of the books of Enoch should be included in the canon of scripture.
What is to be our conclusion about this quote from Enoch? If you believe that Jude is scripture and that all scripture is given by God, inspired by the Holy Spirit and infallible you can then conclude that Enoch must have left writings to us without necessarily concluding that we should then regard specifically the book of 1st Enoch as part of scripture. This would also apply as being true to any of the several quotations in other parts of the scripture from extra-biblical, non-canonical sources.
What did Enoch prophesy? He spoke of the Lord coming with thousands of saints to execute judgment against the world for ungodliness. This tells us that things on earth and in unfolding human history will not go on infinitum. God will one day abruptly bring human culture and civilization to a halt and bring all men living or dead to judgment. Many teachers and self-appointed scholars teach against this in denial of this consistent theme of end-time judgment that appears throughout scripture.
Who are those that will be brought to judgment? These are those who are murmurers, complainers (mentioned first) and then those who speak prideful so-called revelations and those who walk after their own carnal desires. Jude reminds us that Jesus predicted such things. He then describes these pernicious influences as being those who separate themselves. This is an inditement against Christian culture as we know it whose very definition is expressed in the denominational divisions that make up Christianity as a whole. These are they who are sensual not having the Spirit. What do we conclude? The Spirit of God does not inspire denominational and sectarian divisions in the body of Christ. We may not have any influence to make it any different than things are, but we can hold this in our hearts as a matter of serious consideration and not just accepting this sad condition without another thought.
Given all these disturbing matters how are we to respond? By building ourselves up spiritually by the practice of praying in the Spirit with evidence of speaking in other tongues. Speaking in tongues is not a badge of spiritual attainment, but it is a tool to build ourselves up in the faith that we might find the strength to keep ourselves (v. 20) in the love of God.
Lest we join the ranks of apostacy hunters, Jude reminds us that those who make a difference are not those who expose as heretical any who do not agree with them but rather those who move in the compassion of God even in difficult and confusing times. We want to keep the main thing the main thing, and that is love unfeigned and kindness toward all. Having given ourselves over to these things our trust is (according to Jude) found in looking to Jesus that He might keep us from falling into error and to present us faultless in the presence of God in the judgment to come.
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