Understanding Jude’s quote of Enoch in Jude 1:14-15

Introduction:                                              

Today’s post is interested in understanding Jude’s quotation of Enoch’s prophecy in verses 14 and 15 of his short Epistle. Jude’s chief concern in his epistle is expressed in Jude 1:3 “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” As Jude develops this theme of “contending earnestly for the faith”, he spends 1:1-16 warning his readers on being aware of error. As he does so, the second part of the epistle, 1:17-25, is concerned with encouraging active faith in his readers.

Within the warning section of 1:1-16, we find Jude make reference to several Old Testament villains who serve as examples to avoid. Included among them are:  the grumblers who came out of Egypt (1:5); demons or fallen angels (1:6) and Cain, Balaam and Korah (1:11). To reinforce this hortatory section, Jude then appeals to the godly pre-flood patriarch Enoch in 1:14-15. He cites Enoch has having predicted the treasonous behavior of the heretics operating among Jude’s audience.

A closer look at Jude 1:14-15 and the the Pseudepigraphical book of Enoch

As one considers Jude’s citation of Enoch, the prophecy itself is not recorded within the book of Genesis or anywhere else in the canonical Old Testament. Though there is no formal prophecy by Enoch in the Old Testament, we do find the man himself in Genesis 5:21-24 – “Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah.  22 Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters.  23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years.  24 Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

Enoch, along with another prophetic figure, Elijah, were the only men in redemptive history who never tasted death. Enoch had been taken directly to heaven by God. This fascinating fact prompted the Jews over the centuries to speculate and develop traditions around Enoch, especially in the period of time between the Old and New Testaments.

The time falling in between the close of the Old Testament and beginning of the New Testament eras is deemed the “Intertestamental Period”. During this 400 year period of time, the Jews produced various volumes of devotional, theological and apocalyptic literature in an attempt to express their faith and anticipate their increasing desire for the coming Messiah.

One of the traits of this literature era was to attach the name of a well-known biblical figure and claim the text to had derived from that author’s words, writing or actions. Such literary works are deemed by scholars as “pseudepigrapha”. Dr. Craig Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College, quotes literary scholar James Charlesworth’s definition of pseudepigraphical literature in his book: “Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies”, page 28: “The present description of the Pseudepigrapha is as follows: Those writings 1). that….are Jewish or Christian; 2). that are often attributed to ideal figures of Israel’s past; 3). that customarily claim to contain God’s word or message; 4). that frequently build upon ideas and narratives present in the OT; 5). and that almost always were composed either or during the period 200 B.C. to A.D. 200 or, though late, aparently preserve. albeit an edited form, Jewish traditions that date from that period.”

As already noted, the Jews were fond of producing literature that claimed a famous biblical figure as it’s author. With regards to Enoch, one influential example of this type of literature is entitled “1 Enoch”.  According to the late Biblical Scholar R.H Charles in his edited work “The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English – Volume II”, page 164, 1 Enoch was composed by a variety of authors from the pre-Maccabean period (pre-168 b.c) with the final portion being completed in (105-64b.c)

The Jews living in the days of Jude’s Epistle would had been familiar with 1 Enoch. Much like our modern day Christian novels and books, “1 Enoch” or sometimes simply called “Enoch”, shaped the thinking of many Jews living in the regions around Israel.

So then, what does the foregoing discussion of “pseudepigrapha” and “1 Enoch” have to do with Jude 1:14-15? As one looks at the English and Greek texts of Jude 1:14-15, and compares them to 1 Enoch 1:9, we discover that the Holy Spirit had Jude utilize a verse from this then well-known Jewish Pseudepigraphical work. Below are the English and Greek texts of both Jude 1:14-15 and 1 Enoch 1:9 that the reader can see for comparison:

Jude 1:14-15 (NA 28 Greek Text) Προεφήτευσεν δὲ καὶ τούτοις ἕβδομος ἀπὸ Ἀδὰμ Ἑνὼχ λέγων, ἰδοὺ ἦλθεν κύριος ἐν ἁγίαις μυριάσιν αὐτοῦ. 15 ποιῆσαι κρίσιν κατὰ πάντων καὶ ἐλέγξαι πᾶσαν ψυχὴν περὶ πάντων τῶν ἔργων ἀσεβείας αὐτῶν ὧν ἠσέβησαν καὶ περὶ πάντων τῶν σκληρῶν ὧν ἐλάλησαν κατ’ αὐτοῦ ἁμαρτωλοὶ ἀσεβεῖς.

Jude 1:14-15 (NASB)It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

1 Enoch 1:9 ὅτι ἔρχεται σὺν ταῖς μυριάσιν αὐτοῦ καὶ τοῖς ἁγίοις αὐτοῦ, ποιῆσαι κρίσιν κατὰ πάντων, καὶ ἀπολέσει πάντας τοὺς ἀσεβεῖς, καὶ ἐλέγξει πᾶσαν σάρκα περὶ πάντων ἔργων τῆς ἀσεβείας αὐτῶν ὧν ἠσέβησαν καὶ σκληρῶν ὧν ἐλάλησαν λόγων, καὶ περὶ πάντων ὧν κατελάλησαν κατʼ αὐτοῦ ἁμαρτωλοὶ ἀσεβεῖς.

1 Enoch 1:9 (R.H Charles) “And behold! He cometh 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 which they have ungodly committed, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”

Now I won’t get into all the technical grammar and syntax of these texts so as to lose the forest for a few trees. Suffice it to say, there are 21 phrases and vocabulary words shared between 1 Enoch 1:9 and Jude 1:14-15. Moreover, Jude edited and abbreviated a 45 word text in 1 Enoch 1:9 down to 34 words in Jude 1:14-15.

Thoughts and Applications: How and why did Jude see fit to utilize 1 Enoch 1:9 in Jude 1:14-15

Having recognized Jude’s use of 1 Enoch in his Divinely inspired letter, the biggest question to answer is: how and why did Jude see fit to do this?  The pseudepigraphical book of 1 Enoch was never regarded by Jews or Christians as inspired or canonical. How then can Jude claim his quotation of Enoch as actually coming from that earliest of prophets, when in fact the quotation derives from a source clearly not written by him? Bible teacher and pastor Dr. John MacArthur notes in a sermon on Jude 1:14-15: “So somehow this traditional statement from Enoch, this thing that he actually said and actually was given from God to say apparently because it was a prophecy of prediction, survived and it wound up being preserved through oral or written tradition and being included in the book of Enoch. As I said, the book of Enoch was a pseudapigrapha, that is it wasn’t written by Enoch, it was a collection of literary units brought together. It is also what we call apocryphal. That is there are some things in it that are accurate and there are lots of things that are not. It is not an inspired book, it was not an Old Testament book. The Jews never accepted it as inspired. They never had it in the Canon. The Christians never accepted it as inspired. The Roman Catholic didn’t even include 1 Enoch or 2 Enoch in the Apocrypha which is in the middle, you know, of Roman Catholic Bibles. It was never viewed as Scripture, that is the book of 1 Enoch. And, in fact, by the time Jude wrote, the Canon of the Old Testament had long been closed. Jude’s quotation illustrates for us how remarkably God’s word is preserved, even amidst what is otherwise non-inspired, and thus non-canonical sources.

Clearly the Holy Spirit had Jude include this quotation from 1 Enoch 1:9 for a specific reason. Distinguished Professor of New Testament Studies at Liberty University, Dr. Randall Price, offers the following explanation of such a purpose in his book: “Searching for the Original Bible”, page 137: “If this statement concerning the biblical Enoch (Genesis 5:18-24) is indeed an allusion from the pseudepigraphical book of Enoch, it of course does not imply that Jude viewed the book of Enoch as inspired or even true. It would only mean that in this particular instance, as deSilva says, Jude ‘regarded it as a valuable resource for the exhortation and edification of Christians, a suitable quotation from an ancient authority to advance his rhetorical goals.”‘ 

Conclusion

Therefore in drawing today’s post to a close, we can honestly say that Jude’s citation of 1 Enoch illustrates the Holy Spirit’s process of both Divine inspiration and preservation of His word. I pray today’s posting has aided the reader in better understanding this particular text of Jude 1:14-15. I close with this thought from Christian Apologist Dr. Norman Geisler in his book: “A General Introduction to the Bible”: “The New Testament writers make use of a number of these books, for example, Jude 14–15 have a possible quotation from the Book of Enoch (1:9) and the Assumption of Moses (1:9); and an allusion from the Penitence of Jannes and Jambres is found in 2 Timothy 3:8. Of course, it should be remembered that the New Testament also quotes from the heathen poets Aratus (Acts 17:28); Menander (1 Cor. 15:33); and Epimenides (Titus 1:12).18 Truth is truth no matter where it is found, whether uttered by a heathen poet, a pagan prophet (Num. 24:17), or even a dumb animal (22:28). Nevertheless, it should be noted that no such formula as “it is written” or “the Scriptures say” is connected with these citations. It should also be noted that neither the New Testament writers nor the Fathers have considered these writings canonical.”

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About pastormahlon

By the grace of God I was converted to saving faith in Jesus Christ at the age of 10 and called into the Gospel ministry by age 17. Through the Lord's grace I completed a Bachelors in Bible at Lancaster Bible College in 1996 and have been married to my beautiful wife since that same year. We have been blessed with four children, ranging from 7-18 years of age. In 2002 the Lord enabled me to complete a Master of Arts in Christian Thought at Biblical Theological Seminary, Hatfield PA. For nearly 25 years I have been preaching and teaching God's Word and have been studying the original languages since 1994. In 2016 God called my family and me to move to begin a pastorate at a wonderful Southern Baptist Congregation here in Northern New York.
This entry was posted in Biblical Interpretation, Canonicity, Exegesis, Greek New Testament study and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Understanding Jude’s quote of Enoch in Jude 1:14-15

  1. It is not completely true to say that the Church or the fathers or even the Jews never considered the book of Enoch inspired. After all, the Ethiopian Orthodox Church includes the book of Enoch in their canon, and so possibly that inclusion is not unprecedented, maybe there was some ancient precedent for it.

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