Sola Scriptura in the Epistle of Jude

sola scripturay 2The epistle of Jude presents a short yet powerful defense of Sola Scriptura. I will detail the argument in what follows.

1. The Church Vs. The World

Firstly, Jude identifies only two groups of people, viz. The people of God and the enemies of God/The redeemed and the unredeemed. These two groups are in irreconcilable conflict.[1]

2. The Revealed Word Vs. What is Known Naturally

Secondly, the Church is said to be in possession of the faith, to have the capacity to defend the faith, to have the capacity to build one another up in the faith, and the capacity to remember the Word of Christ. Noting these two points, let us formulate our argument.

MP: All Christian duties fall under two broad categories, viz. Defense of the faith and Edification through the faith.

mp: Defense of the faith and Edification through the faith are achieved solely via the application of the Word of Christ in Scripture to the world and the church, respectively.

C: Therefore, all Christian duties are achieved solely via the application of the Word of Christ in Scripture to the world and the church, respectively.

The Romanists may argue that this assumes that the Word of Christ is limited to what is found in Scripture alone. They are correct, for this is what Jude indicates in his epistle (spec. vv.17-18). It is evident that Jude remembers the words of Christ and His apostles as authoritative. This, however, does not exclude his own words, seeing as his epistle is also divinely inspired. Hence, the command to the church to turn to and utilize the Scriptures alone is contained in Scripture as well. As Dr. Gill explains:

…these words mean not the doctrines of the apostles in general, but particularly the prophecies delivered out by them, as by the Apostles Paul and Peter, concerning the false teachers that should arise; and these being spoken of before, and by apostles, even by the apostles, of our Lord Jesus Christ, were worthy of regard, and deserved to be remembered; a remembrance of which is a preservative from error, and a relief in the worst of times, whether of persecution, or heresy. This does not suppose that Jude was not an apostle, only that there were other apostles besides him; and that these, some of them at least, had prophesied of these men, and that he had lived to see their predictions verified; nor does he exclude himself from being one of them; yea, the Ethiopic version reads, “which we the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ have formerly declared unto you”[2]

The Word that is declared is what is contained in Scripture, it is Scripture. Note that Jude’s words are derived from Peter’s words in 2 Peter 3:1-5.

This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder,  that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.

Whereas Jude commands the church to “remember…the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ,”[3] Peter commands the church to “remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles.”[4] This is not a discrepancy; Peter is commending the church to the Old Testament and the apostolic writings,[5] Jude is commending the church to the apostolic writings (i.e. The Gospels and Epistles). Thus, the command given by Jude is not contrary to the command given by Peter, but extends the breadth of referential material concerning the matter of discourse. The prophets prophesied, Christ prophesied, Paul prophesied, the apostles prophesied, and here Jude is commending the entire corpus of Scripture (including his own epistle) to the church.

This is, it should be noted, precisely the case in the Scriptures to which Jude alludes. Peter and Paul are likewise speaking of the “last days” (i.e. The days following the ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ), and commend their readers to the Scriptures. Paul identifies the Scriptures as sufficient for every good work; Peter identifies the Scriptures (including Paul’s writings) as sufficient for the Church; and Jude identifies all of the writing preceding his own letter as being sufficient for the Church. The question may be raised by an unbeliever: If Paul was sufficient, then why did Peter write? And if Peter was, then why Jude? Because Scripture is the Word of God and as such its parts cannot be separated from one another. Consequently, any part indicates the whole and the whole is a harmony of perfect parts. Note also that these letters were written at different times and their collation culminates in the completion of the canon in time. Thus, Paul approves what has been written; Peter approves what has been written; Jude approves what has been written. If this is the case, which it seems to be, it would indicate that none of the apostolic writers or prophets approved of what had not already been spoken by the Lord through his apostles. Thus, the Holy Spirit is guarding the church from error and giving explicitly approval to what He has spoken already. The canon is taking shape before our very eyes.

Concluding Remarks

Thus, the canon is self-verifying, God needs no external verification. Rather, the Holy Spirit speaks and causes His people to hear the Voice of the Lord, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Timothy was not limited to the Old Testament, nor was Paul limiting his commendation to the Old Testament. After all, Paul identifies Luke-Acts as Scripture in 1st Timothy 5:18. And Peter’s commendation is not limited to the Old Testament and the writings of Paul, for he identifies the preaching of the proclamation of the other apostles, stating that whereas the coming Person and Work of our Lord Jesus was revealed to the prophets, these things “…have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven…”[6] Since all this is clearly taught in Scripture, why do the Romanists act as if it is not? Because their head is not Jesus Christ but a fallen man, a sinful and detestable blasphemer who has illegitimately appointed himself as the visible head of the universal Christian church.


[1] For more on this, see Dr. Bahnsen’s excellent article “At War With the Word,” <http://www.cmfnow.com/articles/pa083.htm&gt;
[2] John Gill’s Exposition of the Whole Bible, Jude
[3] v.17
[4] 2 Pet 3:2
[5] cf. 2 Pet 3:1-4, 2 Tim 3:1-7 & Mark 13:32-37
[6] 1st Pet 1:12b
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5 thoughts on “Sola Scriptura in the Epistle of Jude

  1. Heather says:

    Hey, hiram.

    As I’ve no idea how often you make your way around the blogosphere these days, I wanted to drop a thank you here for the link to that typology paper.
    Craig and I both are appreciative of the insight.

    :D

    Liked by 1 person

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