JUDE TESTIFIES THAT JESUS IS YHWH ALMIGHTY!

In this post I will present evidence from the epistle of Jude showing that this inspired author believed that Jesus is YHWH God Almighty who became flesh.  

THE GOD OF THE SHEMA

The inspired letter begins with Jude describing himself as the servant/slave of the risen Jesus and then goes on to identify Christ as the only sovereign Master and Lord of all believers:

“Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ (‘Iesou Christou doulos) and brother of James… For certain intruders have stolen in among you, people who long ago were designated for this condemnation as ungodly, who pervert the grace of our God into debauchery and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ (ton monon Despoten kai Kyrion hemon ‘Iesoun Christon).” Jude 1:1, 4 New Revised Standard Version (NRSVUE)

To call this astonishing would be putting it mildly since the [O]ld [T]estament is explicitly clear that YHWH is the only Lord who reigns in heaven and whom believers are to put their trust in:

“I lift up my eyes to you, you who sit in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maid to the hand of her mistress; so our eyes look to Yahweh, our God, until he has mercy on us.” Psalm 123:1-2 WEB

Compare this with the Greek translation (typically referred to as the Septuagint [LXX]) of the aforementioned passage:

“A Song of Degrees:] Unto thee who dwellest in heaven have I lifted up mine eyes. Behold, as the eyes of servants [are directed] to the hands of their masters (toon kyrioon), [and] as the eyes of a maidservant to the hands of her mistress; so our eyes [are directed] to the Lord our God (Kyrion ton Theon hemoon), until he have mercy upon us.” Psalm 122:1-2

In fact, the words monos Kyrios is the Greek way of saying that there is only one Yahweh, as the comparison of the Hebrew and Greek renderings of the following OT text shows:  

You are Yahweh, even you alone. You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their army, the earth and all things that are on it, the seas and all that is in them, and you preserve them all. The army of heaven worships you.” Nehemiah 9:6 World English Bible (WEB)

“And Esdras said, Thou art the only true Lord (Kyrios monos); thou madest the heaven, and the heaven of heavens, and all their array, the earth, and all things that are in it, the seas, and all things in them; and thou quickenest all things, and the hosts of heaven worship thee.” LXX 

Christ himself stated that believers cannot serve two lords since they will love the one more than the other:

“None is able to serve two lords (dysi kyriois douleuein), for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to the one, and despise the other; ye are not able to serve God and Mammon.” Matthew 6:24 Young’s Literal Translation (YLT)

Hence, for Jude to identify the heavenly Christ as the one and only Lord whom he serves means that he must have viewed Jesus as YHWH God who became a human being.

THE GOD OF THE EXODUS

This point is further confirmed by what Jude goes on to write:

“Now I desire to remind you, though you are fully informed, once and for all, that JESUS, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.” Jude 1:5 NRSVUE

Jude believed that it was the preincarnate Christ, Jesus in his prehuman existence, who actually delivered Israel out of Egypt and subsequently punished the rebellious among them in the desert!

NT textual critic Philip W. Comfort provides the textual data which points to the reading Jesus as but most likely what Jude wrote.

After mentioning the following reading,

panta hoti [ho] kyrios hapax

“[knowing that] the Lord having once and for all”

Comfort lists the major variants,

1. hapax panta, hoti Iesous
“[knowing] once for all, Jesus”

2. panta, hoti Iesous hapax
“[knowing] everything, that Jesus once”

3. hapax panta, hoti theos Christos
“[knowing] once and for all, that God [the] Messiah (or, Messiah God)

4. hapax panta, hoti ho theos
“[knowing] once and for all, that God”

5. hapax touto, hoti ho kyrios
“once [you knew] this, that the Lord”

And states:

Among all the readings cited above, the first and second variants are the most remarkable, for they say that “Jesus delivered his people out of Egypt.” This reading is found in A B 33 1739 1881 Origen Cyril Jerome Bede–AN IMPRESSIVE COLLECTION OF WITNESSES. P72 may possibly be an indirect witness to the reading “Jesus,” because it shows that the scribe had before him in his exemplar a messianic title–“Christ” (= “Messiah”). At any rate, it is easier to argue (from a textual perspective) that the reading “Jesus” is the one which all the others deviated than to argue that the reading with “Lord” (or “God”) was changed to “Jesus,” because scribes were not known for fabricating difficult readings.

Some scholars, such as Wikgren (1967, 147-152) have argued that Jude may have written Iesous in Jude 5 intending “Joshua” (see NEBmg), as in Heb 4:8. But this is very unlikely, because Joshua led the Israelites into the good land of Canaan, but not out of Egypt, and Joshua certainly did not destroy those who did not believe (Jude 5b). This was a divine activity. Thus, it is likely that Jesus here is being seen as Yahweh the Savior. In other words, from Jude’s perspective, it was Jesus, the I AM (see John 8:58), who was present with the Israelites and operative in their deliverance from Egypt. Paul shared a similar view inasmuch as he proclaimed that “Christ” was the Rock that accompanied the Israelites in their desert journeys and that “Christ” was the one the Israelites constantly “tested” during these times (see 1 Cor 10:4, 9 and note on 1 Cor 10:9). Thus, the reading “Jesus,” though difficult, IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE. As such, it should be accepted AS THE ORIGINAL READING (as it was by Eberhard Nestle [1901, 328-329] and F. F. Bruce [1964, 63]).

The first edition of the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament contained the reading “Jesus” in the text. But this was changed in the third edition, when a slim majority of the editors voted to put the reading with “Lord” in the text and the one with “Jesus” in the margin (Metzger and Wikgren voted against the decision and stated their reasons for doing so in TCGNT.)

The first English translation to adopt the wording “Jesus” was NLT. (As the New Testament coordinator who proposed this reading to the NLY committee, I was glad to see them adopt it.) Two other recent versions have adopted this reading: TNIV (a change from the NIV) and NET (see the note in NETmg). Otherwise, it has been regulated to the margin of all the other versions. NASB notes that “two early manuscripts read ‘Jesus.’” Those manuscripts are A and B. (Comfort, New Testament Text and Translation Commentary, pp. 802-803; bold and capital emphasis mine)

Comfort isn’t alone in arguing that Jesus is most likely the original reading:

21 tn The terms “Master and Lord” both refer to the same person. The construction in Greek is known as the Granville Sharp rule, named after the English philanthropist-linguist who first clearly articulated the rule in 1798. Sharp pointed out that in the construction article-noun-καί-noun (where καί [kai] = “and”), when two nouns are singular, personal, and common (i.e., not proper names), they always had the same referent. Illustrations such as “the friend and brother,” “the God and Father,” etc. abound in the NT to prove Sharp’s point. For more discussion see ExSyn 270-78. See also Titus 2:13 and 2 Pet 1:1

24 tc The reading ᾿Ιησοῦς (Iēsous, “Jesus”) is deemed too hard by several scholars, since it involves the notion of Jesus acting in the early history of the nation Israel (the NA27 has “the Lord” instead of “Jesus”). However, not only does this reading enjoy the strongest support from A VARIETY OF EARLY WITNESSES (e.g., A B 33 81 88 322 424c 665 915 1241 (1735: “the Lord Jesus”) 1739 1881 2298 2344 vg co eth Or1739mg Cyr Hier Bede), but the plethora of variants demonstrate that scribes were uncomfortable with it, for they seemed to exchange κύριος (kurios, “Lord”) or θεός (theos, “God”) for ᾿Ιησοῦς (though P72 has the intriguing reading θεὸς Χριστός [theos Christos, “God Christ”] for ᾿Ιησοῦς). As difficult as the reading ᾿Ιησοῦς is, in light of v. 4 and in light of the progress of revelation (Jude being one of the last books in the NT to be composed), it is wholly appropriate. The NA28 text now also reads Ιησοῦς. For defense of this reading, see Philipp Bartholomä, “Did Jesus Save the People out of Egypt: A Re-examination of a Textual Problem in Jude 5, ” NovT 50 (2008): 143-58.

sn The construction our Master and Lord, Jesus Christ in v. 4 follows Granville Sharp’s rule (see note on Lord). The construction strongly implies the deity of Christ. This is followed by a statement that Jesus was involved in the salvation (and later judgment) of the Hebrews. He is thus to be identified with the Lord God, Yahweh. Verse 5, then, simply fleshes out what is implicit in v. 4. (NET Bible https://netbible.org/bible/Jude+1)

As the above textual scholars rightly note, all of these variant readings point to the same inevitable conclusion, namely, that Jesus is the One who personally delivered the Israelites out of Egypt at the time of Moses.

And yet, remarkably, the OT proclaims that it was Yahweh God who brought out Israel from Egyptian bondage!

“God spoke all these words, saying, ‘I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.’” Exodus 20:1-3 WEB

I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.” Deuteronomy 5:6 WEB

“but because Yahweh loves you, and because he desires to keep the oath which he swore to your fathers, Yahweh has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.” Deuteronomy 7:8 WEB

“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the children of men, he set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the children of Israel. For Yahweh’s portion is his people. Jacob is the lot of his inheritance. He found him in a desert land, in the waste howling wilderness. He surrounded him. He cared for him. He kept him as the apple of his eye. As an eagle that stirs up her nest, that flutters over her young, he spread abroad his wings, he took them, he bore them on his feathers. Yahweh alone led him. There was no foreign god with him.” Deuteronomy 32:8-12 WEB

As such, there is no denying that Jude has described Christ as YHWH God Almighty who became flesh, since there is no other way that he could write that it was the preexistent, prehuman Jesus who personally delivered Israel from Egypt and punished some of them in the desert for sinning against him.

 THE GOD WHO JUDGES

The final proof which Jude’s letter provides in describing Jesus as YHWH is the prophecy of Enoch which Jude cites:

“It was also about these that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, ‘See, the Lord is coming with ten thousands of his holy ones, to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all the deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’… But you, beloved, build yourselves up on your most holy faith; pray in the Holy Spirit; keep yourselves in the love of God; look forward to the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.” Jude 1:14-15, 20-21 NRSVUE

The context makes it clear that the Lord who comes with his myriads of holy ones is the Lord Jesus, since later in the text Jude expressly says that it is Christ’s mercy that leads believers into eternal life when it will appear.  

Other [N]ew [T]estament and ancient Christian writings affirm that it is Christ who returns with his holy ones to judge the world in righteousness since all judgment has been entrusted to him:

“The Father judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son, so that all may honor the Son JUST AS they honor the Father. Anyone who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” John 5:22-23 NRSVUE

“For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life? For the Son of Man is to come with his angels in the glory of HIS Father, and then he will repay everyone for what has been done. Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” Matthew 16:26-28 NRSVUE

“When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you who are blessed by MY Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it to me.’ Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘You who are accursed, depart from me into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels, for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not give me clothing, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46 NRSVUE

“on the day when, according to my gospel, God through Christ Jesus judges the secret thoughts of all.” Romans 2:16 NRSVUE

“For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive due recompense for actions done in the body, whether good or evil.” 2 Corinthians 5:10 NRSVUE

“This is evidence of the righteous judgment of God and is intended to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are also suffering. For it is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you and to give relief to the afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in a fiery flame, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might,when he comes to be glorified by his saints and to be marveled at on that day among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed.” 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 NRSVUE

“Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse! Its rider is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and wages war.His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name inscribed that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, wearing fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a scepter of iron; he will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has a name inscribed, ‘King of kings and Lord of lords.’” Revelation 19:11-16 NRSVUE

Chapter 16. Watchfulness; The Coming of the Lord

Watch for your life’s sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord comesMatthew 24:42 But often shall you come together, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you be not made perfect in the last time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hateMatthew 24:11-12 for when lawlessness increases, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, Matthew 24:10 and then shall appear the world-deceiver as the Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but they that endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself. And then shall appear the signs of the truth; first, the sign of an outspreading in heaven; then the sign of the sound of the trumpet; and the third, the resurrection of the dead; yet not of all, but as it is said: The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him. Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven. The Didache

What makes Jude’s statement rather intriguing is that the source from which this prophecy comes identifies the Lord who comes to condemn the ungodly as the Holy and Great Eternal God!  

The words of the blessing of Enoch, according to which he blessed the chosen and righteous, who must be present on the Day of Distress, which is appointed, for the removal of all the wicked and impious. And Enoch took up his parable, and said: There was a righteous man, whose eyes were opened by the Lord, and he saw a Holy vision in the Heavens, which the Angels showed to me, and I heard everything from them. And I understood what I saw, but not for this generation, but for a distant generation that will come. Concerning the chosen, I spoke, and I uttered a parable concerning them: The Holy and Great One will come out from His dwelling. And the Eternal God will tread, from there, upon Mount Sinai, and He will appear with His Host, and will appear in the strength of His Power from Heaven. And all will be afraid, and the Watchers will shake, and fear and great trembling will seize them, unto the ends of the Earth. And the high mountains will be shaken, and the high hills will be made low, and will melt like wax in a flame. And the earth will sink, and everything that is on the earth will be destroyed, and there will be judgement upon all, and upon all the righteous. But for the righteous, He will make peace, and He will keep safe the chosen, and mercy will be upon them. They will all belong to God, and will prosper, and be blessed, and the light of God will shine on them. And behold! He comes with ten thousand Holy Ones, to execute judgement upon them, and to destroy the impious, and to contend with all flesh, concerning everything that the sinners, and the impious, have done and wrought against Him. (The Book of Enoch 1:1-9 http://www.bookofenoch.org/enoch1-16.htm)

In other words, Jude has described Jesus as that very High and Great Eternal God that Enoch prophesied would come to judge the wicked along with all his only ones!

Enoch’s prophesy echoes what the prophet Zechariah wrote:

“Behold, a day of Yahweh comes, when your plunder will be divided within you.For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city will be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city will go out into captivity, and the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.  Then Yahweh will go out and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.HIS FEET will stand in that day on the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in two, from east to west, making a very great valley. Half of the mountain will move toward the north, and half of it toward the south.You shall flee by the valley of my mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azel; yes, you shall flee, just like you fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Yahweh my God will come, and all the holy ones with you. It will happen in that day, that there will not be light, cold, or frost.It will be a unique day which is known to Yahweh; not day, and not night; but it will come to pass, that at evening time there will be light. It will happen in that day, that living waters will go out from Jerusalem: half of them toward the eastern sea, and half of them toward the western sea. It will be so in summer and in winter. Yahweh will be King over all the earth. In that day Yahweh will be one, and his name one… It will happen that everyone who is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, Yahweh of Armies, and to keep the feast of booths. It will be, that whoever of all the families of the earth doesn’t go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, Yahweh of Armies, on them there will be no rain.” Zechariah 14:1-9, 16-17 WEB

The inspired prophet describes YHWH’s feet physically touching the Mount of Olives, splitting it half as a result, as he descends with his holy ones to reign as the sole Potentate from Jerusalem, who will then require the nations to go up to Jerusalem to worship him there!    

The reason why this prophecy is astonishing is because the NT states that it is Jesus who will physically descend upon the Mount of Olives as he returns from heaven with all of his saints!

“When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, ‘Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.’ Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away.” Acts 1:9-12 NRSVUE

“And may he so strengthen your hearts in holiness that you may be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” 1 Thessalonians 3:13 NRSVUE

In other words, both Jude and the rest of the inspired NT writers are basically stating that Jesus is that very YHWH God, the High and Great One, whom the prophets proclaimed would descend from heaven with his saints to judge the world in righteousness!

In light of the foregoing, could the God-breathed Scriptures be any more explicit that Christ is the physical enfleshment, the human incarnation, of YHWH God Almighty, being the one true God who became a human being, while being personally distinct from and yet one with the Father and Holy Spirit?  

FURTHER READING

Jewish Christology [Part 1], [Part 2], [Part 3]

Jesus Christ: The Lord God Who Saved and Punished Israel During the Exodus

UNITARIANS PROVE THE FATHER ISN’T THE TRUE GOD

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s