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Brother Jude

The epistle (see Epistles) of Jude is one of the shortest entries of the New Testament, and as such is often overshadowed by the Book of Revelation which follows it. Obviously, Jude was written by a man named Jude (also known as Judas - Jude was the Greek form of the Hebrew name Judas, the New Testament was written mostly in Greek), but who was he? How is it that, of all of the many talented and righteous people of the early church, a letter written by this man named Jude was included in the Bible?

Who Was Jude?

Holy Bible Jude provides a little personal information about himself:

"Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James" (Jude 1:1 RSV)

We surely know who Jesus Christ was, but who was Jude's brother James, who was obviously well-known to the early church, since Jude merely had to mention his name, with no other explanation, for everyone to know who he was? There were three such well-known men named James during the time of the New Testament record. The first was the apostle James, who along with his brother the apostle John, were among the twelve apostles:

"The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him" (Matthew 10:2-4 RSV)

It is extremely unlikely however that Jude was referring to James the brother of John because that James was martyred (see Martyrs) many years before Jude wrote his epistle, and that James is plainly identified as the brother of John, not of Jude:

"About that time Herod the king [i.e. Herod Agrippa I, see The Herods] laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword." (Acts 12:1-2 RSV)

Another of the twelve apostles was also named James (see Matthew 10:2-4 above), however other Scriptures identify that James not as the brother of Jude, but as the brother of Matthew, who was also known as Levi (i.e. that James and Matthew/Levi were the sons of Alphaeus - no mention of Jude). There were at least 3 sets of brothers in the twelve apostles - Peter and Andrew, James and John, and James (of whom very little is recorded) and Matthew/Levi.

"The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him" (Matthew 10:2-4 RSV)

And as He passed on, He saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax office, and He said to him, "Follow Me." And he rose and followed Him." (Mark 2:14 RSV)

The third recorded James is almost certainly the brother that Jude spoke of, since other Scriptures actually identify them as brothers, but so not to appear haughty, Jude merely referred to himself (i.e. in Jude 1:1) as the "servant" of Jesus Christ, when in fact Jude, and his brother James, were actual brothers of Jesus Christ. As the Word of God plainly states, Jesus had 4 brothers and at least 2 sisters - Jude was Jesus' youngest brother:

"And when Jesus had finished these parables, He went away from there, and coming to His own country He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas [i.e. Jude]? And are not all his sisters with us? [see also Mary's Other Children?]" (Matthew 13:53-56 RSV)

Fact Finder: The New Testament epistle of James was written by Jesus' actual brother James, as was the epistle of Jude written by Jesus' actual brother Jude, as we have seen in this study. What other actual relative of Jesus Christ wrote part of the New Testament - the Book of Revelation?
See The Apostle John, Aunt Mary? and Do A Little Favor For Your Cousins?


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