This is the ninth in a series of excerpts from the MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available here.
Near the end of Jude’s epistle, he quotes a prophecy from Enoch: “Look! The Lord comes with thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment on all …” (vv. 14-15).
Nowhere in Scripture does Enoch’s prophecy appear, leading some to dispute the inspiration of Jude. After all, it is argued, if a writer inspired by the Holy Spirit shares an ancient prophecy about the end of days, why not select a prophecy that already has found its way into the canon?
However, there is good reason to accept the prophecy of Enoch as the very words of God.
The quotation is from the Book of Enoch, a pseudepigraphical work attributed to the great-grandfather of Noah. The book is not considered canonical by most religious groups, but it was familiar to Jewish Christians in the first century, and cited by second-century church fathers.
Specifically, Jude draws from Enoch 1:9, which reads, in part: “And behold! He cometh with ten thousands of His holy ones to execute judgment upon all, and to destroy all the ungodly …”
Jude’s quotation is similar but not identical. Perhaps this is because Jude cites a portion of the Book of Enoch the Spirit confirms as genuine, tightening up the language from its non-inspired source. As Edward Pentecost writes, “If Jude quoted the apocryphal book, he was affirming only the truth of that prophecy and not endorsing the book in its entirety.”