Jude 1:22 “And some indeed reprove, being judged:”(Rheims New Testament)
Jude 1:22 “And have mercy on some, who are doubting”(New American Standard Bible)
Today’s post is not written from the standpoint of an academic study, but rather pastoral interest. In short: what happens when the pastor has to aid a member of his congregation through seasons of doubt? This blogger has had his share of incidents over the years where personal counseling needed administered in addressing doubts raised by congregants. Scripture itself speaks about the reality of doubt, its use in God’s providence in testing and fortifying faith and ways in which to overcome it. One scripture in particular specifically instructs Christians on what to do when another fellow believer struggles: namely Jude 1:22.
My opening statement above serves to lead into what will be a series of posts dealing with the short verse of Jude 1:22. As a pastor, it is vital that when we minister to people – that we get things right. Without controversy, Christian ministry must get its orthopraxy (right practice) from the words of scripture – which are the principle source of orthodoxy (right doctrine). With that said, knowing what the original wording of a given text is provides the foundation for all Biblical counseling and preaching. On a practical everyday level, the wording of scripture itself is rarely at issue in an overwhelming majority of cases. However, whenever dealing with the original wording of the Old or New Testament, a general awareness of the principles of textual criticism may prove beneficial. Before we consider specifically Jude 1:22, let me say a quick word on the subject of textual criticsm.
Briefly defining textual critcism
Matthew S. DeMoss defines textual criticism in his book: “Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek”, page 121: “The study of the manuscript evidence for a written work of which the original is no longer extant (that is, in existence), with the intent to discern the original text. Textual criticism involves gathering and oragnizing data, evaluating ‘variant readings’ (that is, variations of wording among the manuscript copies) reconstructing the history of the transmission of the text and attempting to identify the original text. Also referred to as ‘text-criticism’.”1 None of the original manuscripts (or autographs) of the New Testament survived after the first century. For the New Testament we have over 5,700 Greek hand-copied manuscripts – both in full-length and fragmentary form. Additionally, we have roughly 20,000 ancient versions translated from those Greek manuscripts into ancient languages such as Latin, Coptic, Armenian and others. In all, these thousands of witnesses span over 16 centuries of textual history – giving an unrivaled amount of manuscript data in comparison to other works of antiquity.
Addressing the wording of Jude 1:22 and its pastoral implications
In upcoming posts, the reader will see more to come on the subject of textual criticism, since the aim is to discover the original wording of Jude 1:22. So what exactly is at issue in this verse of scripture? Simply put, when we are ministering to a fellow believer who is struggling with doubts, do we deal with them mercifully and discretely or do we make an example of them by press them to abandon the error that is tempting them to doubt the Christian faith? Two English translations of this verse will serve to illustrate the issue at hand:
- (Rheims New Testament) Jude 1:22 “And some indeed reprove, being judged:”
- (New American Standard Bible) Jude 1:22 “And have mercy on some, who are doubting”
So when ministering to those who are doubting, do we reprove such? urging them to correct their doubts and thus embrace more tightly the faith? Or, do we take a more gentle route in exercising patience and giving the person room to wrestle while discipling them to grow in the faith they are tempted to jettison? Such questions like these have been raised by past commentators on this verse. For instance, the great commentator Adam Clarke notes in his great exegetical commentary on this verse:2
“And of some have compassion, making a difference – The general meaning of this exhortation is supposed to be, “Ye are not to deal alike with all those who have been seduced by false teachers; ye are to make a difference between those who have been led away by weakness and imprudence, and those who, in the pride and arrogance of their hearts, and their unwillingness to submit to wholesome discipline, have separated themselves from the Church, and become its inveterate enemies.”
Clarke then notes….
“Instead of ……. ‘and of some have compassion, making a difference’, many MSS., versions, and fathers have …… ‘and some rebuke, after having judged them’; or, ‘rebuke those that differ’; or, ‘some that are wavering convince’; or whatever else the reader pleases”.
Clarke then offers what seems to be a low possibility of resolving the textual and translational issues of Jude 1:22, wherein he concludes:
“for this and the following verse are all confusion, both in the MSS. and versions; and it is extremely difficult to know what was the original text. Our own is as likely as any.”
As the reader can see, there are as many practical, pastoral implications going on in Jude 1:22 as there are the textual critical considerations. Can the student, pastor and scholar alike come to a reasonably certain conclusion on the original wording of Jude 1:22? To find out, this blogger wants to explore this verse in both its English and underlying Greek text through a carefully mapped out procedure of basic textual criticism. In order to do that, we will consult New Testament Greek Scholar David Alan Black’s method for such outlined in his volume: “New Testament Textual Criticism – A Concise Guide”. 3
More next time…..
1. DeMoss, Matthew S. Pocket Dictionary for the Study of New Testament Greek. Intervarsity Press. 2001
2. Clarke, Adam. Clarke’s Commentary. Abington Press. New York. Nashville. Also available online at Biblehub.com.
3. Black, David Alan. New Testament Textual Criticism – A Concise Guide. Baker Books. 1994.