Harry Whittaker

8. "Enoch" (v14-16)

Men of the character Jude is repudiating here will assuredly come under judgement. Several of his phrases have already said or strongly implied this. But now a specially telling example:

"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgement upon all, and to convict 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."

It used to be maintained that these words must be a quotation from the Enoch of Genesis 5, which had survived through three millenia as part of an oral tradition.

But this will not do. There is a 'Book of Enoch', extant today, which was in circulation amongst Jews and Christians in the first century, and the words of v. 14 are an explicit quotation from it, whilst v. 15 is an effective paraphrase of, and a big improvement on, the dieas of judgement which come elsewhere in 'Enoch'.

That this work was not written by the original Enoch is evident at first reading. So the fact has to be faced that here is Jude plainly and unashamedly bolstering up his argument with a quotation from a book with not divine authority, and which is a palpable forgery after the manner that became fashionable in that epoch. Even if it is urged (rightly) that the words in question are actually a distorted quotation from Deuteronomy 33:2, pirated by 'Enoch', the problem still remains that Jude explicitly attributes them to "Enoch, the seventh from Adam".

There is an easy solution to this problem in one word which has been mistranslated and generally overlooked: autois, "of these". But this dative case should read "to these" (R.V.), "for these". (Another possibility, "by these", is clearly inadmissible here.)

This word makes all the difference. Jude is now seen to be asserting rather sardonically: These bad men have a 'scripture' which they esteem highly; then why do they not take notice of what it says of them? This is what is sometimes called the argument ad hominem -- coming down to the level of your opponent, accepting for the moment his assumptions without necessarily agreeing to them, and then proceeding to show that the 'authority' he quotes disallows the truth of his conclusion. Similarly, in the parable about the rich man in hell, Jesus took over the main ideas of the Pharisees about the hereafter, but he was careful to make plain how absurd he judged them to be ("Studies in the Gospels", Chapter 138, H.A.W.). So also Jude here, by the way he says: "to these Enoch prophesied...."

In this case the sentiment of verse 14 is thoroughly Biblical, even though the original words in Deuteronomy 33 appear in a very different context.

Jude's "to these" becomes the more effective when it is seen as an element in a rather scornful repetitious tactic: verses 8 (R.V.), 10, 12, 14, 16. (What a contrast with Peter's use of "these" -- 2 Pet. 1:4,8,9,10,12 -- with reference to "exceeding great and precious promises"!)

Even the mention of Enoch as "the seventh from Adam" (claimed as the author of this spurious prophecy) seems to have special point, for he was probably removed out of persecution to a divine sanctuary (Heb. 11:5, s.w. 7:12), and this deliverance took place only a short while before the first thousand years of human history had expired. If these men Jude denounced took this apocryphal writing so seriously, couldn't they get the message, and apply it to Christian flight from Jerusalem as portending a titanic judgement on the city?

Well, the next verse sets it out plainly enough for them. The fourfold repetition of "all" and "ungodly" could hardly be more forceful in its effect. But the Greek text does actually put even more point to it by the way in which "Ungodly sinners!" is saved up to the end of the sentence as a final explosive reprobation.

These men are "murmurers, complainers", who speak "hard words" against the Lord by speaking against those whom He has appointed to His work. Here are echoes once again of Israel in the wilderness (Exod. 14:11; 15:24; 16:2; 17:2,3; Num. 11:1-6; 14:2,8,11; 16:41; 20:2; 21:5; Deut. 1:27, LXX; 9:7; Josh. 9:18; Psa. 106:25; 1 Cor. 10:10; John 6:41,43)., and especially of Korah's rebellion (Num. 16:11). That graphic Greek word "complainers" describes men who are not satisfied with their own lot. And since "their mouth" (their spokesman) speaks "great swelling words" (used about Daniel in Dan. 5:12, LXX), after the manner of the Judaistic "Satan" who was such a thorn in the flesh to Paul (2 Cor. 11:13-15,22ff), this further allusion to Korah (following on v. 11) comes in very appropriately. As also does the final phrase: "having men's persons in admiration because of advantage" -- those who deliberately sought to work mischief in the early ecclesias found that it paid to parade the high qualification of rabbinic education and scholarship which their leaders had.

Paul's counter to such was a warning against "fables and endless genealogies....profane and old wives' fables....profane and vain babblings....Jewish fables and commandments of men" (1 Tim. 1:4; 4:7; 2 Tim. 2:16; Tit. 1:14). But Jude had other methods, as v. 14 clearly shows: even their Jewish fables denounce them.

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