Comments on Jude

Submitted by admin on Wed, 2010-11-17 19:05.

Posted in | printer-friendly version »

Jude identified himself as a “slave of Jesus Christ” and as a “brother of James.” Although a “brother of the Lord” by reason of his family relationship, Jude placed the emphasis on his relationship to the Lord Jesus Christ by reason of being his follower. As a slave of the Lord Jesus Christ, Jude acknowledged him as his owner who had bought him with his precious blood and as a disciple in his service. Because Jesus Christ is the highly exalted Lord with all authority in heaven and on earth, a “slave of Jesus Christ” enjoys an exceptionally honorable status. Among believers, James appears to have been more widely known, and this may be why Jude identified himself as the “brother of James.” (Verse 1)

Jude addressed fellow believers as “called ones,” “beloved in God the Father,” and “kept for Jesus Christ.” They had been “called” or invited to become reconciled to God when the message about Christ was proclaimed to them. As persons forgiven of their sins and reconciled to God as his children, they came to be his beloved ones. His dear children are “in” him, for they are at one with him as members of his united family. They are “kept” or preserved safe for Jesus Christ, finally to be united with him in their glorified state as sinless children of his Father. Through the operation of the holy spirit upon them, believers have everything they need to be able to maintain an approved standing before God. (Verse 1; see the Notes section.)

Jude continued with the prayerful expression that believers would come to have mercy, peace, and love in abundant or increased measure. “Mercy” includes God’s compassionate concern and care, including forgiveness of sins. “Peace” is the inner sense of tranquility resulting from trust in God’s unfailing aid regardless of the circumstances one might face. “Love” is the deep affection that God has for his dear children, always looking out for what is best for them and granting them the aid and guidance they need. The greatest expression of his love was the giving of his Son so that, through him, humans might be forgiven of their sins and be reconciled to him. This proved undeniably that God would never withhold from his children whatever they truly needed. (Verse 2; Romans 8:32; 1 John 3:1; 4:10)

In connection with his writing to the “beloved,” or dear fellow believers, Jude used the expression pásan spoudén poioúmenos (literally, “all haste making”). In this context, the word spoudén (accusative case; spoudé in the nominative case) has the sense of “earnestness,” and so the expression that includes this term has been variously rendered “making every effort” (NAB), “fully intending” (REB), “eagerly looking forward to” (NJB), and “eagerly preparing” (NRSV). Jude’s initial purpose for writing had been to discuss the salvation that believers share in common. All of them had been forgiven of their sins on the basis of their faith in Christ’s sacrifice for them and had been saved or delivered from the condemnation to which sin leads. In prospect is their ultimate deliverance, coming to be completely sinless children of God. (Verse 3; see the Notes section.)

Jude’s next words may be understood to mean that the situation that had developed compelled him to change the subject matter on which he had initially intended to write. (Verse 3) This is the sense made explicit in a number of translations. “But now I feel I should write and ask you to stand up for the faith.” (NIRV) “But instead, I must write and ask you to defend the faith that God has once for all given to his people.” (CEV) “But I felt the need to write you about something else.” (NCV) “I was fully intending to write to you about the salvation we share, when I found it necessary to take up my pen and urge you to join in the struggle for that faith which God entrusted to his people once for all.” (REB) “I feel compelled to make my letter to you an earnest appeal to put up a real fight for the faith which has been once for all committed to those who belong to Christ.” (J. B. Phillips)

There is, however, a direct link of salvation to faith (or the content or the object of the faith of believers). Salvation, or deliverance from the condemnation to which sin leads and the enjoyment of eternal fellowship with God and Christ as sinless persons, is only possible through faithful adherence to Christ and the apostolic testimony concerning him. Therefore, what Jude wrote in connection with a struggle for the faith may be understood to relate to the salvation believers share in common. The German Neue Genfer Übersetzung, for example, renders the verse in a way that does not indicate a change in subject matter. “Dear friends, already for a long time it has been my urgent wish to write you about the salvation in which all of us have a part. This I now want to do with this letter, the composition of which has become even more urgent because of the present situation.” (Liebe Freunde, schon lange ist es mein dringender Wunsch, euch von dem Heil zu schreiben, an dem wir alle teilhaben. Das möchte ich nun mit diesem Brief tun, dessen Abfassung ´durch die gegenwärtige Situation` noch dringlicher geworden ist.) (Verse 3)

Jude’s encouragement or admonition for his dear fellow believers to “struggle” for the faith that had “once for all been transmitted to the holy ones” called for them to strenuously resist and to be on guard against those who corrupted the teaching of Christ and excused debased conduct. The “faith” that had been transmitted to the “holy ones” or God’s people originally came from the apostles whom Jesus Christ had personally instructed. This faith embraces everything that he revealed and taught. Jesus Christ is the object of the faith of believers, and the trustworthy apostolic witness concerning him and his example and teaching (the content of the faith of believers) was delivered “once for all,” ruling out any additions or changes. (Verse 3)

The reason for Jude’s exhortation respecting a battle for the faith was that “certain men,” proponents of pernicious error, had slipped into the community of believers. “Of old,” the scriptures had decreed these men to be destined for “judgment” or condemnation. Before Jude wrote his letter, the “holy writings” that had already existed centuries earlier made it clear that those who acted contrary to God’s ways would be judged adversely. The intruders to whom Jude made reference were “impious” or “ungodly.” They perverted the gracious favor of God “into licentiousness,” excusing shockingly unbridled conduct on the basis of divine favor, which included the merciful forgiveness of sins. Their apparent contention was that, in his gracious favor, God would not condemn any believer for sinful conduct. They denied “our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” Their denial consisted of proving false to him as the Lord they were under obligation to obey. They failed to conduct themselves in harmony with his example and teaching and ensnared others into following a divinely disapproved course. (Verse 4; see the Notes section.)

Jude wanted to remind believers that, as past developments revealed, condemnatory judgment would be directed against all who conducted themselves in a godless manner. At the same time, he recognized that they knew “everything once and for all,” or were fully informed about everything relating to the matters he would be drawing to their attention. (Verse 5)

God (the “Lord,” according to many manuscripts) “saved a people from the land of Egypt,” but afterward he “destroyed those who did not believe.” The adult Israelite generation that was saved or delivered from slavery in Egypt and, by a miracle, passed through the Red Sea on dry land and witnessed the destruction of the pursuing Egyptian military host did not get to enter the Promised Land (with the exception of Caleb, Joshua, and the Levites). Upon hearing a terrifying report from ten spies who had been sent into the land, they refused to put faith in God’s promise that he would give it to them. As a consequence of their unbelief, they perished in the wilderness. (Verse 5; Numbers 13:25-14:38; 26:57-65; see the Notes section.)

The “angels who did not keep their original place for themselves, but left their own dwelling,” God “has kept in eternal bonds in darkness for the judgment of the great day.” According to Genesis 6:1-4, “sons of God” took “daughters of men” as their wives and had children by them. The Genesis account makes no mention about the punishment inflicted on these “sons of God.” Sources familiar to Jews living in the first century CE, though, did include details that contain expressions similar to those in Jude and 2 Peter 2:4. (Verse 6)

First Enoch 12:4 is more specific in identifying the “sons of God as “the Watchers of the heaven” who “left the high heaven, the holy eternal place,” and took “wives for themselves.” As to their punishment, 1 Enoch 10:11 says that God instructed the angel Michael to “bind Semjâzâ and his associates who have united themselves with women so as to have defiled themselves with them in all their uncleanness.” This binding is not represented as their final punishment, but they are said to remain in their bound state until “the day of their judgment and of their consummation.” (1 Enoch 10:12) “In those days they shall be led off to the abyss of fire.” (1 Enoch 10:13) Regarding Azâzêl, God directed the angel Raphael to bind him “hand and foot,” and to “cast him into the darkness.” He would then remain bound and in a state of total darkness until the “day of the great judgment,” at which time he would be thrown “into the fire.” (1 Enoch 10:4-6)

Jude’s apparent objective when mentioning that the disobedient angels were reserved for judgment was to show that the corrupt ones who had slipped in among believers would not escape judgment. When making his point, he drew on information with which he and the recipients of his letter must have been familiar. (Verse 6)

Sodom, Gomorrah, and surrounding cities (Admah and Zeboiim) were destroyed, serving as a warning example to the ungodly that they also would have a condemnatory judgment expressed against them. (Deuteronomy 29:23) The inhabitants of the destroyed cities, like the disobedient angels, engaged in sexual immorality and “went after other flesh.” A mob of men in the city of Sodom wanted to rape two strangers who were angels but whom they perceived to be handsome men. (Genesis 19:4-7) So their desire to go “after other flesh” involved engaging in violent assault to indulge their debased lust. The act would have been homosexual rape, which is a gross misuse of “other flesh.” As the men of Sodom were desirous of engaging in homosexual rape, they must also have been involved in other forms of sexual immorality. In the case of the disobedient angels, the other “flesh” was that of women, humans that are of a physical kind that differs from the spirit nature of angels. While the fiery destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim occurred many centuries ago, they are spoken of as having experienced the “punishment of eternal fire.” The fire is “eternal” because these cities ceased to exist permanently. (Verse 7; 2 Peter 2:6)

Like the men of Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other cities that were destroyed, the proponents of error were guilty of defiling the flesh or engaging in sexual immorality. These corrupt individuals were “dreamers,” possibly meaning that they deluded themselves into thinking that they would not face severe divine condemnation for their acts. They also had no regard for lordships, insolently rejecting any kind of authority, and they “blasphemed glories.” Their treating lordships as of no account may have been manifest by their choosing to indulge their base cravings without regard for anyone. The expression “glories” may apply to all who had a glorious or dignified standing. Some have interpreted “glories” to designate the superterrestrial powers of darkness or fallen angels, maintaining that they still have a measure of “glory” or splendor by reason of their existence as mighty spirits. It does seem very unusual, however, that persons who defied God and his guidance would be specifically censured for blaspheming or speaking in an abusive manner of fallen angels. In keeping with the context, a more likely explanation would be that the proponents of pernicious error blasphemed or maligned those who had a dignified standing, speaking in a manner that the archangel Michael would not have considered doing even when dealing with the devil. (Verse 8; 2 Peter 2:10, 11)

In a dispute with the devil regarding the body of Moses, the archangel Michael did not dare to “blaspheme” or express condemnation against him with abusive words but said, “May the Lord rebuke you.” The archangel looked to God to express adverse judgment or condemnation. Nothing about this incident is found elsewhere in the Scriptures. The closest biblical parallel is found in Zechariah 3:1, 2, where the reference is to Satan’s accusation against high priest Joshua and to the response of YHWH’s angel, “YHWH rebuke you, Satan.” Origen (in De principiis, III, ii, 1) indicated that Michael’s dispute with the devil about the body of Moses is found in a treatise known as The Ascension of Moses. The extant fragments of this treatise do not include any portion about the dispute, and so there is no way to check just what the text may have said about Michael’s controversy with the devil. If The Ascension of Moses was composed in the early part of the first century CE as many believe, it is questionable that the work would have been so extensively circulated as to have been known and quoted by Jude. (Verse 9; 2 Peter 2:11)

Unlike Michael who showed the greatest regard for God and did not blaspheme or resort to abusive words, the proponents of pernicious error exercised no restraint on what came out of their mouths. They blasphemed, spoke abusively, maligned, or insulted whatever they did not “know” or concerning which they had no understanding or appreciation. Without any regard for God’s upright ways, they probably ridiculed or insulted whoever stood for what is right and contemptuously made light of whomever and whatever they should have treated with due respect. They were like irrational animals that lacked moral capacity and were governed by instinct, knowing or understanding only what could be described as “natural” or of a sensual nature apart from any moral discrimination. These corrupt individuals were completely given to satisfying their debased lusts. The degraded things, which they understood like mere beasts, proved to be corruption, ruin, or destruction for them. (Verse 10; 2 Peter 2:12)

On account of the course they followed, Jude pronounced “woe” or calamity for them. They had gone the way of Cain, evidently displaying the kind of hateful jealousy that moved Cain to kill his brother Abel. (Genesis 4:3-8; 1 John 3:12) The proponents of pernicious error also were like Balaam whose “error” was the desire for reward or gain. Although YHWH God had made it clear to him that he should not curse the Israelites, Balaam very much wanted the reward that Balak, the Moabite king, offered him for doing so. YHWH permitted Balaam, on condition that he would only speak what would be revealed to him, to accompany the second delegation Balak had sent. But Balaam, in defiance of God’s will, appears to have remained intent on obtaining the reward for cursing the Israelites. That this was his ultimate objective, though not expressly stated in the account in the book of Numbers, is evident from the fact that, when he could not curse the Israelites, he instructed Balak how he could use Moabite and Midiante women to seduce Israelite males to share in idolatry and sexual immorality, thereby having them bring God’s curse upon themselves. (Numbers 22:7-21; 25:1-3, 17, 18; 31:16; 2 Peter 2:15; Revelation 2:14) The corrupt ones to whom Jude made reference gave themselves up fully (literally, “poured themselves out”) to the same error, seeking, in defiance of God’s will, to indulge their lusts. (Verse 11)

Their abusive speaking and disrespect for proper authority proved to be like that of Korah. The Levite Korah sought the priesthood and rebelled against the divinely granted authority of Moses and Aaron, slandering them as persons who had exalted themselves above the “assembly of YHWH,” or over God’s people. For Korah, this resulted in his death. (Numbers 16:1-40) The corrupt ones wrongly assumed the position of teachers and maligned believers who faithfully adhered to the example and words of Jesus when imparting instruction to fellow believers. Adverse judgment was certain to befall the teachers of falsehood, and so Jude spoke of them as being destroyed in the rebellion or rebellious talk of Korah. (Verse 11)

“Love feasts” were times when believers enjoyed table fellowship, with the poor in the community of believers being able to benefit from a nourishing meal and loving association. In connection with these “love feasts,” the corrupt intruders are designated by the plural form of the Greek word spilás, which term may either designate a blemish or a rock or reef concealed by water. As morally corrupt teachers who perverted the truth, the intruders would have been a blot on the love feasts, using occasions that were an expression of love for vile purposes. They also were like the hidden hazardous rocks or reefs on which ships could be wrecked. Their plausible arguments and feigned friendship would have concealed just how destructive to faith involvement with them could be. So either meaning of spilás would fit the context. (Verse 12; 2 Peter 2:13; see the Notes section.)

At the love feasts, the wrongly motivated ones “feasted fearlessly” among devoted believers. They appear to have had no qualms about their objective to indulge debased desires, expounding ruinous views and trying to seduce others to engage in God-dishonoring conduct, including sexual immorality. They pretended to be caring shepherds, but, in reality, were false shepherds who determined to “feed themselves,” getting whatever they could from others to satisfy their lusts. Though appearing to have represented themselves as being able to benefit others, they provided nothing of value. They were like “waterless clouds,” seemingly giving promise of refreshing rain but yielding not a trace of precipitation while being blown about in one direction and then in another. When mature fruit should have been ripe for harvest in the fall, they were like fruitless trees. The description of these trees as “twice dead” could signify that they were completely dead or that they were dead from two standpoints (with reference to fruit [barren] and as trees). That nothing suggestive of life remained in these trees is indicated by their being described as “uprooted.” (Verse 12; 2 Peter 2:13, 14, 17)

The corrupt intruders were like “wild waves of the sea” that produce dirty foam. Like turbulent waves with their dirty foam, they shamelessly exposed their defiling objectives and deeds. Everything to which they gave rise would have been as worthless as dirty wave-generated foam. Instead of being like stars by which sailors could navigate the sea at night, they were treacherous guides comparable to “wandering stars” with no perceivable course upon which one could depend. For them, “the gloom of darkness has been kept forever [literally, ‘into the age’].” Their judgment would be that of persons eternally cut off from God, the source of all light, and thus eternally in darkness without any possibility of coming to enjoy the real life associated with the light of his favor. (Verse 13; 2 Peter 2:17)

Concerning the vile individuals, Enoch, “the seventh one from Adam,” prophesied, saying, “Look! The Lord came with myriads of his holy ones to render judgment against all and to convict every soul [‘all the ungodly,’ according to other manuscripts] regarding all their ungodly works that they committed in an ungodly manner and regarding all the harsh [literally, ‘hard’] words [missing in numerous manuscripts] ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These words indicated that God, accompanied by a host of numberless angels, would expose the record the impious had made for themselves and execute judgment against them for their words and deeds, which had dishonored him. (Verses 14 and 15; see the Notes section.)

The corrupt intruders were grumblers or murmurers, doubtless using opportunities in private conversations to downgrade others and to criticize what they had said or done. These individuals were also malcontents (mempsímoiros). The Greek word mempsímoiros describes a person who complains about his lot in life. While these persons chose a deviant course, they likely complained about the undesirable consequences. Still, they continued to pursue their own desires or lusts. The high-sounding words, misleading expressions, and outright falsehoods coming from their mouths must have reflected extreme arrogance. In an effort to gain their vile objectives, they “admired faces,” that is, they fawned over others, flattering them to catch them off guard. (Verse 16; 2 Peter 2:10, 18)

Jude exhorted his “beloved,” dear fellow believers, to recall the words “previously spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Verse 17) The apostles who had been directly chosen by Jesus Christ to bear witness about him warned believers about corrupt individuals, telling them that there would be scoffers “in the last time” who indulge their own godless desires. In order to live in a God-dishonoring manner, they needed to ridicule the teaching the apostles had received from Jesus Christ, and that teaching included that he would return and hold an accounting. The reference to the “last time” would simply be to an unspecified period in the future. Believers did not know just when the Son of God would return and so regarded it as an occurrence that could take place at any future time, and thus, for them, the “last time” proved to be a present reality. The scoffers were then already among them. (Verse 18; Matthew 24:48-50; Luke 12:45-48; Acts 20:29, 30; 2 Peter 3:3, 4)

These scoffers caused divisions, for they succeeded in deluding some among the believers. The deluded ones then followed them and came to be at odds with believers who loyally adhered to the teaching that had been conveyed through the apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. The proponents of pernicious error are further described as “soulical (psychikós), not having spirit.” The Greek term psychikós denotes that which is unspiritual and belongs to the natural, worldly, or sensual realm of life. Persons to whom this designation applied were like animals that have no moral discrimination and are controlled by their senses to act instinctively. Their not having “spirit” could indicate that they were not guided by God’s spirit or that they did not have a spiritual disposition. Their attitude, words, and actions would have revealed that their mental outlook had been molded by the world that is in a state of alienation from God. (Verse 19)

Again addressing fellow believers as his “beloved,” Jude admonished them about what they should be doing. With reference to the “most holy faith,” they were to “build themselves up” and pray “in holy spirit.” Being a faith or trust in the holy God and Jesus Christ who reflects his Father’s holiness or purity flawlessly, their faith could rightly be called holy. Their building themselves up could relate to continuing to make progress in their spiritual life, with the faith that centered in Christ serving as their solid foundation. Numerous translations represent the building up as being on the foundation of the “most holy faith.” “But you, my dear friends, must build yourselves up on the foundation of your most holy faith.” (NJB) “Dear friends, keep building on the foundation of your most holy faith.” (CEV) “But you, my friends, must make your most sacred faith the foundation of your lives.” (REB) There is also a possibility that the exhortation related to building themselves up “in the most holy faith.” This could include strengthening their faith in God and Christ by drawing encouragement from association with devoted fellow believers and keeping ever before them the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. (Verse 20)

Praying “in holy spirit” would signify allowing themselves to be guided by God’s spirit, letting the spirit be the activating and motivating power in their lives. This would also require not allowing themselves to be influenced by those whose lives did not harmonize with the leading of God’s spirit. (Verse 20)

By “praying in holy spirit,” believers would keep themselves in God’s love. As persons led by God’s spirit and making their petitions in harmony with his will by reason of the spirit’s influence, they would prove themselves to be God’s obedient children. He would continue to acknowledge them as his beloved children and, therefore, they would remain in his love, enjoying his compassionate care, concern, and aid. While continuing to conduct themselves as God’s approved children, they were to “wait for,” or look forward to, “the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ,” with “eternal life” being the objective of this mercy. In being represented as an awaited or eagerly anticipated mercy, it evidently relates to Jesus Christ’s return in glory, at which time believers would experience his mercy in the form of deliverance from the judgment that would be expressed against all who have set themselves in opposition to God’s will. Their being shown mercy will mean their coming to enjoy the real life as sinless persons. They will then possess eternal life in the fullest sense, the life distinguished by an enduring relationship with God and Christ as approved persons. (Verse 21)

As part of a community of believers, disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ were to be concerned about one another. Among them might be those who came to have doubts, beginning to waver in their faith. They may have come to have doubts on account of the plausible arguments of proponents of error and because of what might have appeared to them as a delay in Christ’s return and the liberation from distress to which they had long looked forward. In order for these doubters to be strengthened and confirmed in their faith, fellow believers needed to respond to them in a merciful, compassionate, or understanding manner as loving and caring friends. (Verse 22; see the Notes section.)

Some of the wavering believers could have been strongly influenced by the views of corrupt teachers and their faith may have been seriously undermined, placing them in a condition of great spiritual peril. In cases of this nature, fellow believers would have to act quickly, doing whatever they could to get the doubting ones back on the solid foundation of the faith that centered on Christ. These believers would have to be snatched “out of the fire,” rescued from the danger that could mean spiritual ruin to them. (Verse 23)

The condition of others in the community of believers, though needing to be helped to regain a proper standing before God and Christ, required watchfulness on the part of any who tried to aid them. According to the reading of fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus and fifth-century Codex Alexandrinus, mercy was to be shown to these individuals “with fear.” This “fear” could relate to exercising care that the compassionate response did not cause one to minimize or to condone wrongdoing or to begin yielding to the pull of similar wrong desires. While straying fellow believers may rightly be shown mercy or compassion for the plight in which they may find themselves on account of the error of their ways, their wrongs should nevertheless be hated. Jude added the admonition that even the garment that had been stained by the flesh, or defiled by sinful acts of the fallen flesh, should be abhorred. (Verse 23; see the Notes section.)

Jude concludes with an expression of praise to God, the one who is able to guard believers from stumbling, or from failing to conduct themselves uprightly, and to place them “before his glory” in an “unblemished” and “exultant” state. As the loving heavenly Father who deeply cares for his children, he will sustain believers in hardship, affliction, and distress, providing them aid, by means of his spirit, to conduct themselves in a manner that he approves. His safeguarding would continue until they would be placed before “his glory.” This future placement would apply to the time when they would appear in God’s glorious presence as his sinless children. They would then be unblemished, and the privileges and blessings bestowed upon them at that time would give rise to great rejoicing or exultation. (Verse 24)

Jude ascribed praise to the “only God our Savior” (“only wise God,” according to a number of manuscripts) “through Jesus Christ our Lord.” God is the Savior, for he (through his Son) made it possible for humans to be forgiven of their sins and to be saved or delivered from the condemnation to which sin leads. Jesus Christ is the only one through whom an acceptable approach can be made to his Father and through whom prayer and expressions of praise are made acceptable by reason of his having died for the sins of the human family. To the “only God” be “glory, majesty, power, and authority before all the [past] age and now and into all the ages [to come]. Amen [so be it].” For all eternity, God is the glorious one, the possessor of unparalleled splendor and dignity. Never will his majesty or greatness be diminished; he will always be the preeminent Sovereign. His power is unsurpassed, for he can sustain all things and everything has come to be as an expression of his purpose. God’s authority is limitless, for nothing exists that is not subject to him. (Verse 25)

Notes:

In verse 1, the reading “beloved” has the superior manuscript support. Other manuscripts read “sanctified.”

In connection with “salvation” (verse 3), the reading with the best manuscript support is the first person plural (“we”), but a number of manuscripts have the second person plural (“you”).

Verse 4 could be translated to read, “the only Master and our Lord Jesus.” A number of manuscripts do make the distinction, “the only Master God and our Lord Jesus.” According to this reading, the proponents of error denied both God and his Son, for they conducted themselves in a disapproved manner.

Fourth-century Codex Vaticanus, fifth-century Codex Alexandrinus, and a number of other manuscripts (in verse 5) say that Jesus delivered a people from Egypt.

In verse 12, the well-supported reading “love feasts” (agápais) is not found in all manuscripts. A number of manuscripts say “deceptions” (apátais).

In 1 Enoch 60:8, Noah is represented as speaking of his grandfather Enoch as the “seventh from Adam.” These words about Enoch parallel those in verse 14 of Jude.

The Genesis account does not contain any mention of Enoch’s prophesying (verses 14 and 15 of Jude), but the same basic thought is expressed in 1 Enoch 1:9. Among the Dead Sea Scrolls, twenty fragments of book of Enoch have been found. This is just as many fragments as were discovered for the book of Genesis, suggesting that the book of Enoch appears to have been highly valued. At the present time, only the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel) accept 1 Enoch as part of the Scriptures.

The portion of 1 Enoch 1:9 that is preserved in 4Q204 (a manuscript thought to date from the latter part of the first century BCE but copied from a manuscript believed to have been approximately 100 years older) is very limited. Most of the text has to be reconstructed to be meaningful. In the translation that follows the supplied parts are in brackets, “[...he will come with] myri[ads of his] holy ones […] [… to judge all f]esh for [their] works [of …] […] great and harsh […].” The complete text, as preserved in the Ethiopic version (in the Ge’es language), reads, “And look! He is coming with ten thousands of his holy ones to execute judgment upon all, and to destroy all the ungodly; and to convict all flesh of all the works of their ungodliness that they have committed in an ungodly manner, and of all the hard things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

In verse 22, the words in fifth-century Codex Alexandrinus could be rendered either “reprove some who have doubts” or (based on another significance of the Greek word diakríno) “who dispute.”

For verses 22 and 23, the reading of manuscripts vary. Fourth-century Codex Sinaiticus identifies three groups of believers who are in peril — (1) those who doubt or waver, (2) those who need to be snatched out of the fire, and (3) those who need to be shown mercy with fear. “There are some doubting souls who need your pity. Others you should save by snatching them from the flames. For others your pity must be mixed with fear; hate the very clothing that is contaminated with sensuality.” (REB) According to the wording of fourth-century Codex Vaticanus, there are only two groups — (1) the doubters who should be saved out of the fire and (2) those to whom mercy should be shown with fear. One papyrus manuscript (P72 of the late third century or early fourth century CE) identifies the two groups as being (1) those to be snatched from the fire and (2) those with doubts to whom mercy is to be shown with fear.