Contributing To The Faith Once Delivered: Jude, Systematic Theology, And An Appeal To Pastors -- By: Dan Wiley
JMAT 21:2 (Fall 2017) p. 77
Contributing To The Faith Once Delivered: Jude, Systematic Theology, And An Appeal To Pastors
Abstract: For a variety of reasons, the Epistle of Jude has faced great neglect throughout the history of biblical interpretation. In recent decades, there has been a resurgence of interest in Jude yet, the Epistle of Jude is noticeably absent from most pulpits in the modern church. Although the reasons for this discontinuity are debatable, there is no doubt that the pastor who studies the Epistle of Jude will recognize the letter’s contribution to key areas of systematic theology and the importance of preaching that contribution from the pulpit today.
A study of the Epistle of Jude reveals one undeniable fact about its content: the letter, written to warn the church about apostate teachers and their coming judgment, is a theologically heavy text. In just twenty-five verses, Jude reinforces great theological themes and even offers unique data to the science of systematic theology, and much of that data is essential knowledge for believers in the world today. Therefore, the pastor who seeks to drive his congregation to “defend the faith once delivered to the saints” cannot afford to ignore the study, preaching, and teaching of this necessary text.
Ironically, the study of Jude has faced trying times throughout church history. Douglas J. Rowston famously titled his article on Jude “The Most Neglected Book in the New Testament.”2 Frankly, despite the importance of this letter, it is
JMAT 21:2 (Fall 2017) p. 78
rather easy to understand the neglect of Jude. As a text, Jude is no behemoth. In its Greek version, Jude is 461 words long, making it the fourth shortest book in the NT. Thematically, Jude shares many similarities with 2 Peter and is often grouped with that epistle in commentaries.3 Scholars generally agree that 2 Peter is expansion of Jude4; unfortunately this conclusion implies that a study of Jude is a duty of lesser importance. Topically, Jude is a “strange” book. On several occasions, it speaks of events recorded nowhere else in Scripture and draws from a first-century Jewish literary background unfamiliar to many of those in the modern world, to say nothing of its reference to 1 Enoch and the Assumption of Moses. Such content makes Jude “problematic, messy, and controversial.”5
To various degrees, these factors have influenced its reception in the church throughout its history. The early ...
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