By Mary Jane Chaignot

Categories: Jesus' Apostles

  • “Jude” is the English form of “Judas,” which is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Judah.”
  • The New Testament refers to at least five different people named Jude (some scholars say there are eight).
  • First, the most notable character in the New Testament with this name is Judas Iscariot, but he is not the author of “Jude.”
  • Second, there is another apostle named Jude, carefully noted as not Iscariot.
  • But the author of “Jude” is most likely not an apostle. Or at least he makes no claims for apostleship.
  • Third, Jesus had a brother named Judas (which is the equivalent of Jude).
  • Fourth, Paul stayed at Judas’ house in Damascus after being struck blind. That’s where Ananias found him (See Acts 9:11).
  • Fifth, there was also a Judas, surnamed Barsabbas, who was a Christian living in Jerusalem. He accompanied Barnabas and Paul back to Antioch after the Jerusalem Council (See Acts 15:22).
  • The author of “Jude,” however, identifies himself as being the brother of James.
  • James was also a common name, and several people in the New Testament were named James. However, this James was so well known that no other identification was needed.
  • Scholars think the only “James” that would have fit this description was “James, the brother of Jesus,” who would have been the leader of the Jerusalem Church by this time.
  • That would make Jude the brother of Jesus as well.
  • Scholars wonder why he didn’t just come right out and say that. (Instead he claims to be the servant of Jesus Christ and the brother of James.)
  • Some scholars, therefore, argue that this letter is really pseudonymous, meaning someone else wrote it and just attributed it to Jude (which would be an indication of his importance in the early Church).
  • Even if “Jude” was the brother of Jesus, little is known about this individual.
  • He was one of four brothers, possibly younger than James.
  • It is assumed that he was not a follower of Jesus during his ministry, but became a follower after some unrecorded resurrection appearances.
  • Paul refers to the brothers of the Lord as missionaries in 1 Cor 9:5. (It’s unlikely that this refers to James, who was kept busy in Jerusalem leading the church.)
  • According to Paul, these brothers traveled with their wives.
  • If this is true, it would suggest that the Lord’s brothers traveled throughout Palestine.
  • Hegesippus, a second century writer, has a story about Jude’s sons (or grandsons) appearing before the Emperor Domitian. They supposedly were considered “dangerous,” but when they explained that the kingdom of Christ was a spiritual kingdom, Domitian let them go. This event was supposedly instrumental in bringing the persecutions of Christians to a halt.
  • Later these sons (or grandsons) became leaders of the church.
  • Scholars do not know whether any of this is true although the dates could fit.
  • If the brother of Jesus was the true author of the book, it would be dated between 40-80CE.
  • Like several other NT letters, this one is written in very good Greek. Some scholars think this impugns “the brother of Jesus” theory. They claim that it would be possible, but unlikely, that a lowly Galilean would have been that proficient in written Greek.
  • Still, if he was an avid preacher traveling throughout the region, he might have worked on improving his command of the Greek language.
  • And scholars really don’t know whether first century peasants from that area were well-versed in Greek as well as Aramaic. There are some things about the first century that we simply don’t know.
  • Nothing is known about Jude’s death.


Bauckham, Richard. "Jude, 2 Peter." Word Biblical Commentary. New York, NY: Word, Incorporated. 1983.

Elliott, John. "I-II Peter/Jude." Augsburg Commentary on the New Testament. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing. 1982.

Gaebelein, Frank. "Jude." Expositor's Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing. 1985.

Hillyer, Norman. "1 and 2 Peter, Jude." New International Biblical Commentary. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson. 1993.

Keck, Leander, ed. "Jude." The New Interpreter's Bible. Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press. 1998.

Sidebottom, E.M. "James, Jude, 2 Peter." The New Century Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm B Eerdmans. 1982.

Bible Characters