Jude 1-13: No-one Gets Between Jesus and His Church

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5 Responses to “Jude 1-13: No-one Gets Between Jesus and His Church”

  1. Kate says:

    David,

    There seems to be a few passages like this, that are debated a lot amongst commentators. What are your tips for the average Christian reading something like and trying to make sense of it? How do we decide which commentator is right?

  2. davidould says:

    Great question, Kate. I think a couple of things spring to mind.

    1. Some passages are tricky, we just can’t get round it. It’s ok for us to say “look, we’re not quite sure what’s going on”.
    2. Even if the exact meaning is uncertain, there may still be a clear implication drawn from the passage that we can still walk away with. So, for example, in v9 with “Michael” and “The Body of Moses”, we may not quite understand what is going on but the implication that Jude draws out is pretty clear – false teachers speak slanderously/blasphemously, those who rebuke them speak without slandering. So even if we’re not sure on the exact details, we can still know what the application is.
    3. I think a further principle that helps is to look for a point of reference in the Bible, rather than outside it. So, in the case of v9, the statement of “the LORD rebuke you” is a direct pick-up from Zechariah 3. That seems to be uncontroversial. With that in mind I’m more minded to look at the context of Zech. 3 to understand Jude 9 than to start insisting that it must be an extra-Biblical apocryphal reference.
    4. As you evaluate the different options put in front of you, ask yourself which makes most sense of both the context of the text you’re reading and the context of any other Biblical text being referred to/alluded to. In the case of Jude 9 we are in the middle of learning how Jesus takes on false teachers so to see a text like Zech 3 where the Angel of the LORD (the pre-incarnate Christ – don’t worry, blogpost coming) takes on the ultimate false teacher (Satan), well that tells me I might be on to the right path.
    5. It’s ok at the end of all of it to go “look, it’s not clear”. Hopefully I get that right in the sermon. I give you my best attempt to explain it and then go on to say, “look, I’m not going to the stake over this one”. If the great and the good of Biblical commentary are divided over it then it’s quite presumptuous to say “I know what this is for sure”.

    Hope those thoughts help. Keep the questions or clarifications/comments coming.

  3. Kirstie says:

    David.

    I still had a burning question which I didn’t get chance to ask on Sunday night, which is this:

    What can we say to our friends and family who are taught by these ‘godless’ teachers and truly believe that the tolerant, non-judgemental Jesus they are taught about is Jesus the King, and that we’re mistaken in our ‘literal interpretation’ of the Bible?

    Kirstie

  4. davidould says:

    love that one, Kirstie. I’ve found the best way to handle that is to open up a difficult set of words from Jesus and say “so show me how that can be interpreted differently” and let them get on with it. The task of actually sitting down and working out what a portion of Biblical text means is always an illuminating one – it shows us the truth but it also exposes the assumptions and prejudices we bring to the text.

    Thing is, though, we have to have the courage to say “I don’t see how on earth you’re getting that from there” if some bizarre explanation is provided.

    Oh, and I like to distinguish my vocab. I’m constantly saying “it’s not about interpretation, it’s about comprehension”.

    Another good gag is to respond to something they say by completely reinventing it. So, for example, my friend says,

    “The Bible can just be interpreted any way you like”.

    I might reply,

    “Yes, thanks for that, you’re entirely correct in saying there’s only one intended meaning in the Bible”.

    Some people are happy with the concept of the reader giving a text its meaning, until you do exactly the same thing with their own words. ;-)

    Above all I’m trying to get them to question the claim that they’re making. We live in a culture that thinks its postmodern in its approach to texts, but it actually isn’t – it’s just appropriated the label to avoid engaging with the text.

    That’s not to say that there’s not some real postmoderns out there (my favourite is Paul Riceour – a really good reader of the Bible).


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