How to Read Jude

The Book of Jude


Planting a garden requires the right tools. And so does interpreting the Bible. But instead of shovels, rakes, and weeders, we use observation, interpretation, contextualization, and application. 

Jude uses stories from Jewish tradition and Old Testament passages to warn the early church against corrupt leaders. This video from The Bible Project provides an overview of the book. The goal of this post is not to replace your personal study of the Bible. Rather, it is to help you navigate the structure of Jude, discover what it teaches, dive into how it fits into the rest of the Bible, and look at how it applies to your life. Use these questions as a guide as you watch this video.   



Now that you have an overview of Jude in mind, you can apply what you know to interpret specific passages in Jude. Read Jude 1–4. Utilize observation, interpretation, contextualization, and application to dissect the meaning of this passage. Use the ideas from the videos to inform your answers to the following questions about Jude 1–4.  

Jude 1:1-4 (ESV)

Greeting

1Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

2May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Judgment on False Teachers

3Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.4For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.



Observation asks the basic question: who, what, where, and when. It examines the passage at a surface level—the characters, events, themes, culture, and genre. Observations may seem obvious at first, but they open the door to the meaning of any part of the Bible. Be careful to not jump ahead to interpreting the observations, or assigning them meaning. Just list them. 

Example: Jude says there are false teachers in the churches who deny Jesus.

Observe: As you read the passage, what observations did you make about Jude 1–4? (Consider the author, time period, background information, cultural aspects, genre, themes, and actions of the characters. Also, take note of any information offered in the video.)
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Where an observation determines what the passage says, interpretation takes the next step to find out what the passage means. We’ve asked what the passage says about God and humanity, and now we ask what that means. Look at the themes and ask what they mean as well.

Example: (Observation) Jude says there are false teachers in the churches who deny Jesus. (Interpretation) The Church is not immune to false teachers or doctrine. 

Interpret: What is significant about each of the observations you made above? What is the main message of Jude 1–4? How does its message connect with the main message of all of Jude? (Think about what this book teaches about God and humanity and what that teaching means, as well as the meaning of the themes. Consider insights from the video as well.)
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Contextualization looks at how the passage fits into the rest of the book and into the story of the Bible. It connects the themes that pop up throughout the story of Scripture and sees how the book fits into the biblical narrative. 

Example: False prophets often led God's people astray in the Old Testament. Paul and the other apostles constantly warn churches against false teachers and tell them to stand against teaching that contradicts the gospel. Jesus even said that there would be those among believers who would try to twist His words. 

Contextualize: What themes does Jude 1–4 seem to establish? How do those themes connect with the rest of the book of Jude? What themes would you say have potential to carry forward into other books of the Bible? What themes connect back to the Old Testament?
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Application asks, “So what?” It considers how the meaning of this passage applies to our day-to-day lives. The point of reading Scripture isn’t to become puffed up with knowledge, but to be transformed. Ask God to show you how you can specifically put the truths from this book into practice. Brainstorm ways you can live out what you learned throughout your day.

Example: I need to be on guard against false teaching. Instead of blindly taking in what Christians say about Jesus, I should test what I hear through the Scriptures and pray for discernment. If I encounter someone who preaches a false gospel, I should confront and correct with love and truth.

Apply: How does the truth from Jude 1–4 affect you and your relationship with God and others? What are some specific actions you could take to live out the truths found in this book this week? If you're having trouble coming up with an application of this particular passage, how could you apply the main message of Jude to your life this week?
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The last step in reading the Bible helps wrap everything up. We take the time to summarize the main message and implications of the book. As you summarize what you learned, it solidifies what God taught you through this video.   

Share: Now that you’ve spent time learning about Jude, how would you explain the main points of this book to a friend? If you were going to explain what you learned to a friend, what would you say? What would you be sure to include? Why?
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Reading the Bible doesn’t have to be like weeding a garden. You can find great joy in learning about God through His Word. Read through Jude this week. As you study, use observation, interpretation, contextualization, and application as a guide. Take the next step and put what you learn into practice. 


To learn more about The Bible Project, click here.