Y’hudah (Jude)

An Introduction

As I stated in my last post, I was not sure which way the Lord was leading me. We finished our journey through the Brit Hadashah on the life and letters of Kefa (Peter). Kefa referred to Y’hudah several times in his second letter to the saints. So, it seems fairly logical to me to explore this writing of Y’hudah (Jude).

Y’hudah is classified as a “general” letter to the saints. As we will see, there is no specific audience geographically to which the letter is written as is the case with Sha’ul’s letters.

From: Y’hudah, a slave of Yeshua the Messiah and a brother of Ya’akov: To: Those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept for Yeshua the Messiah: May mercy, love and shalom be yours in full measure. ~ Y’hudah 1-2

Who Was Y’hudah?

The author’s name is Y’hudah in Hebrew, Judas in Greek, and Jude in English. In Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3, he is mentioned as one of four half-brothers of Yeshua.

Who was this Y’hudah? Three possibilities exist. The author may be either:

Y’hudah, a half-brother of Yeshua and the brother of Ya’akov, or

Y’hudah, the Emissary, or

Y’hudah, a leader in the early church of Yerushalayim.

This latter Y’hudah was sent to Antioch with Sha’ul, Bar-naba, Y’hudah, called Bar-Sabba, and Silas (Acts 15:22). Bar-Sabba could have been a brother of Yosef Bar-Sabba, who was one of two “nominees” to replace Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:23). Thus, he would have been known in the church. But little other evidence points to this individual as the author of this epistle.

As to whether he was the Emissary Yehuda, verse 17 in his letter seems to indicate that he did not consider himself to be an emissary, though modesty could have led him to write as he did. However, the important subject that he wrote about would probably have called for his identifying himself with the other emissaries, for authority’s sake, if he really was an emissary.

The most probable identification is that the author Y’hudah was a half-brother of Yeshua, a son of Yosef and Miryam after Yeshua[1]

Date of Writing

Since Y’hudah addresses a situation similar to that addressed by Second Kefa and exhibits a literary relationship (probably as a source) to Second Kefa, the two letters are commonly dated in fairly close proximity. Therefore, while external evidence is sparse, Y’hudah is best dated in the mid-60s CE.  [2]

Why Did He Write This Letter?

He was eager to write to the recipients about their salvation but changed his mind and instead wrote them to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints. Y’hudah, then, was open to the Ruach’s adjustment of his plans so he could address something urgent that came up. He wants believers to energetically keep contending earnestly for the faith, that is, for the body of scripturally based doctrine that is to be the authoritative guide for our belief and practice. Believers are to wage battle on behalf of the true faith as deposited in God’s inerrant Word (see 2 Tim 3:14-17).

Y’hudah wrote with a heart of love and understanding, but with a note of concern and authority. He wanted to write on a joyful theme, about the salvation we share (v. 3), but was compelled to write a much more somber epistle. Like Kefa his love for Believers whom he saw endangered by encroaching adversaries moved him to turn from the more pleasant theme to sound a solemn warning about the false doctrine and teachers creeping into the community.

Canonical History

Y’hudah’s heavy use of apocryphal writings retarded its canonical status in some quarters, but its relation to Second Kefa indicates the high prestige it enjoyed elsewhere. In the 4th cent. Y’hudah overcame most of its opposition and was listed without qualification in Athanasius’s festal letter, 367 CE.  [3]

In my next post, we will pick up our exploration of Y’hudah’s letter beginning in verse 3.

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[1] Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures.

[2] The ESV Study Bible.

[3] The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Revised.

2 Kefa 3:14-18

Kefa’s Final Words

In my last post, we unpacked Kefa’s prediction that The Day of the Lord Will Come ~ Part 2 in 3 Kefa 1:8-13. In this post, we examine Kefa’s Final Words in 2 Kefa 3:14-18.

14 Therefore, dear friends, as you look for these things, do everything you can to be found by Him without spot or defect and at peace. 15 And think of our Lord’s patience as deliverance, just as our dear brother Sha’ul also wrote you, following the wisdom God gave him. 16 Indeed, he speaks about these things in all his letters. They contain some things that are hard to understand, things which the uninstructed and unstable distort, to their own destruction, as they do the other Scriptures.

This final section recaps some of the themes highlighted elsewhere in the letter. In light of the imminent return of Yeshua, Believers are to make every effort to be holy and godly. As sacrificial animals in the Tanakh were to be without spot or defect.

Interestingly, verses 15-16 is the only place in the Brit Hadashah where one of its authors refers to another of its authors specifically by name. In fact, with the phrase, the other Scriptures, Kefa gives Sha’ul’s letters the status of Holy Writ.

Kefa commends Sha’ul as our dear brother; there is no conflict between them, some nineteenth-century scholars thought to the contrary. It is possible, says Kefa, to distort what Sha’ul writes. The most common distortion is in the direction of antinomianism [1] ; this happens mostly when Sha’ul’s letters are read apart from their Tanakh and Gospels-Acts background.

The Lord’s delay in coming is designed to give men and women time to repent of their sins and come to salvation. Therefore, we must take advantage of His patience by repenting, rather than presuming upon His patience and living for unrighteous purposes.

17 But you, dear friends, since you know this in advance, guard yourselves; so that you will not be led away by the errors of the wicked and fall from your own secure position. 18 And keep growing in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah. To Him be the glory, both now and forever! Amen. ~ 2 Kefa 3:14-18 (CJB)

Since Kefa’s readers had now been warned about the false teachers in their midst, he instructed them to be on their guard and not be led away. He also encouraged them to grow in the grace and knowledge of Yeshua, the Messiah. Recall from our study of the Gospel accounts that Kefa was the first talmid (disciple) to acknowledge Yeshua as the Messiah. The theme of spiritual growth bookends the letter, recurring here after its introduction in 1:1-15. Believers should resist false teachers, focusing on growth and spiritual development in a way that glorifies God now and throughout eternity.

Closing Thoughts

We started our journey of Kefa in the Gospels-Acts way back on May 24, 2020, before examining his two letters to the saints. I pray that you have enjoyed the journey as much as I have. As I stated in that first post: “Kefa has always amazed me since I first learned about him. As we will see, he is quite the character.”

In my next post, we will…???? Well, I am not entirely sure. Although a few of my blogging friends have already posted on this topic, I have planned on doing a series on Ya’akov (James). Then I was recently reminded that I have also intended on writing on the early Creeds of the church. Not many modern Believers know they even exist. As finishing up our study of Kefa reminded me, his writings, especially in Second Kefa, have a lot in common with Y’hudah (Jude). So, you will have to check back to learn what the Lord has directed me to write on..

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[1] Relating to the view that Christians are released by grace from the obligation of observing the moral law.

2 Kefa 3:1-13

The Day of the Lord Will Come ~ Part 2

In my last post, we began to unpack Kefa’s prediction that The Day of the Lord Will Come ~ Part 1 in 3 Kefa 1:1-8. In this post, we continue to examine The Day of the Lord Will Come ~ Part 2 in 3 Kefa 1:8-13.

Moreover, dear friends, do not ignore this: with the Lord, one day is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day.

Kefa appeals to Psalm 90:4 to make his point, as did many other Jewish writers of his day (who often took “the day as a thousand years” literally and applied it to the days of creation). [1] What seems like a delay makes the Lord’s return no less sure. Kefa noted that God views time differently than humans. Yeshua will return following the divine timetable, not ours. Dear friends recalls the recipients of the letter (1:1).

The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some people think of slowness; on the contrary, He is patient with you; for it is not His purpose that anyone should be destroyed, but that everyone should turn from his sins.

The Lord has not yet returned, says Kefa, because He is patient with you. The Tanakh emphasized that God delayed judgment to allow an opportunity for the wicked to repent. His patience concerning the world’s end was further emphasized in later Jewish texts like 4 Ezra; in Jewish texts, one could no longer repent once the day of judgment had come.

10 However, the Day of the Lord will come “like a thief.” On that Day, the heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will melt and disintegrate, and the earth and everything in it will be burned up.

Even though the Second Coming appears to be delayed, the Day of the Lord will come like a thief, says Kefa. Like Sha’ul teaching on the same subject (see 1 Thess. 5:1–8) and Yochanan reporting his vision (Rev, 3:3, 16:15), he alludes to Yeshua’s own words about the suddenness of his reappearance (see Matt. 24:35–44, Luke 12:35–49). The cataclysmic picture of that Day which Kefa gives here and in vv. 7, 12 is founded in the Tanakh. (Take out your friendly concordance and see how many references you can find.)

 11 Since everything is going to be destroyed like this, what kind of people should you be? You should lead holy and Godly lives,

As usually in the Brit Hadashah, Kefa’s discussion of the future is practical and suggests how to live in the present. This focus corresponds with some apocalyptic writers’ motives but contrasts with what appear to be those of many others: impatient curiosity about the future. Those who suffered in the present order especially embraced apocalyptic hope, which gave them the strength to persevere amid seemingly insurmountable tests in this age. [2]

12 as you wait for the Day of God and work to hasten its coming. That Day will bring on the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt from the heat; 13 but we, following along with his promise, wait for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness will be at home. ~ 2 Kefa 3:8-13 (CJB)

Jewish Rabbis disagreed among themselves about whether God at a time fixed the end of the age or whether Isra’el’s repentance and obedience could hasten it. In this context, Believers hasten the coming of the end by missions and evangelism, thereby enabling the conversion of those for whose sake God has delayed the end (2 Kefa 3:9, 15).

Kefa insisted that the anticipation of the Lord’s return and its accompanying events of judgment should rouse Believers to holy living. Evil will be destroyed when Yeshua returns, and righteousness will dwell in new heavens and a new earth.

In my next post, we will complete our study of 2 Kefa by examining his Final  Words.

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[1] The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament.

[2] Ibid.

3 Kefa 1:1-7

The Day of the Lord Will Come ~ Part 1

In my last post, we continued to unpack Kefa’s denunciation of False Prophets and Teachers ~ Part 2 in 2 Kefa 2:12-22. In this post, we move on to the last chapter of Kefa’s letter to the saints to learn that The Day of the Lord Will Come in 3 Kefa 1:1-7.

In this chapter, Kefa describes the coming of the Day of the Lord, the destruction of the world with fire, and the hope of a new heaven and earth.

Dear friends, I am writing you now this second letter; and in both letters, I am trying to arouse you to wholesome thinking by means of reminders; so that you will keep in mind the predictions of the holy prophets and the command given by the Lord and Deliverer through your emissaries.

First Kefa is obviously the first letter. Predictions of the holy prophets, either those of the Tanakh or recent Brit Hadashah prophets (Acts 11:27). The rest of the chapter suggests the latter, even though at 1:19, “the prophetic Word” refers to the Tanakh. Kefa regards the command given by the Lord and Deliverer through your emissaries as having as much authority over Believers’ lives as the predictions of the holy prophets, as is also clear from v. 15.

Your emissaries reference those who founded the church Kefa addresses, and perhaps more particularly some of the other 11 emissaries and Sha’ul. (Mark 3:13–19; Acts 1:12–14; 9:1–19; compare 2 Pet 3:14–16).

First, understand this: during the Last Days, scoffers will come, following their own desires and asking, “Where is this promised ‘coming’ of his? For our fathers have died, and everything goes on just as it has since the beginning of creation.”

The last days to which Kefa is referring to things happening in his day. This phrase describes the time between Yeshua’s ascension to heaven (shortly after His resurrection) and the time when Yeshua will return again (see Acts 2:17; Heb 1:2). Scoffers refer to people disputing the truth of Yeshua’s return (His second coming); this may be a reference to the false teachers. Following according to their own desires includes the false teachers and their followers who acted like they had a form of godliness, but they lacked the transformative power of Yeshua in their lives; their decision to repeatedly choose and condone sin showed that they did not understand Yeshua.

Where is this promised ‘coming’ of his? The scoffers point to the fact that Yeshua has not yet returned as evidence for their understanding of the world. In the scoffers’ view, God is not going to intervene and judge.

But, wanting so much to be right about this, they overlook the fact that it was by God’s Word that long ago there were heavens, and there was land which arose out of water and existed between the waters,

There was land which arose out of water, refers to Gen 1:9–10, where dry land emerges from the waters, which in the ancient worldview, now surround the land (with water above the sky, below the land, and beside the land). This description reflects common cosmological beliefs in the ancient world. [1]

 and that by means of these things the world of that time was flooded with water and destroyed. It is by that same Word that the present heavens and earth, having been preserved, are being kept for fire until the Day of Judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed. ~ 2 Kefa 3:1-7 (CJB)

Kefa uses the example of God sending the flood in response to humanity’s great wickedness to show that things have indeed changed since creation, contrary to the scoffers’ beliefs. By the same word that created the world and brought the flood, God will intervene in human history again by destroying the present heavens and earth with fire and bringing a Day of Judgment and destruction of the ungodly. So, don’t scoff, saying, “I don’t see God.” Those who do so have forgotten what He has done. When God is ready to invade your situation, He can reorganize reality and bring the solution to your problem.

In my next post, we will complete our study of The Day of the Lord Will Come ~ Part 2 in 2 Kefa 3:8-13.

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[1]  Faithlife Study Bible.

2 Kefa 2:12-22

False Prophets and Teachers ~ Part 2

In my last post, we examined False Prophets and Teachers ~ Part 1 in 2 Kefa 2:1-11. In this post, we continue to unpack Kefa’s denunciation of False Prophets and Teachers ~ Part 2 in 2 Kefa 2:12-22.

Kefa compared the false teachers to Bil’am Ben-B’or (Balaam Num 22-24). Like Bil’am, these false teachers had abandoned the straight path, were consumed by greed, and would receive the wages of their unrighteousness; Bil’am’s donkey showed more moral sense than Bil’am did.

12 But these people, acting without thinking, like animals without reason, born to be captured and destroyed, insulting things about which they have no knowledge. When they are destroyed, their destruction will be total –

Kefa ridicules the false teachers’ claim of superior spiritual knowledge, stating that they are actually irrational, like animals. The false teachers prided themselves on their wisdom, but they were blind to the truth.

In verses 13-15, Kefa uses the example of Bil’am’s error to describe the character of the false teachers (see Num 22-24 and Jude 11). In using this story, he presents another guideline for identifying false teachers. As modern-day Believers, this is a lesson that we need to learn as those false teachers are still among us.

13 they will be paid back harm as wages for the harm they are doing. Their idea of pleasure is carousing in broad daylight; they are spots and defects reveling in their deceptions as they share meals with you –

Unrepentant false teachers and prophets will receive their judgment, which will be their destruction. The false teachers are shameless in the sinful deeds – they do not just enjoy sinning but the idea of doing so. They also share about their sinful actions, encouraging others to follow their ways (v. 18).

Meals with you refer to meals eaten in connection with worship service or the Lord’s Supper. These “agape meals” were meant to enrich Believers’ fellowship and strengthen their sense of union with Yeshua. But the false teachers are using the meals to lead others astray – they are exploiting the teachings of Yeshua when others are supposed to be experiencing the meaning of Yeshua’s sacrifice and growing in their faith.

14 for they have eyes always on the lookout for a woman who will commit adultery, eyes that never stop sinning, and they have a heart that has exercised itself in greed; so that they seduce unstable people. What a cursed brood!

Such false teachers are not only evil at night when their deeds can be hidden. They are evil in broad daylight as well. In the end, they will be paid back for the harm they have caused.

15 These people have left the straightway and wandered off to follow the way of Bil‘am Ben-B‘or, who loved the wages of doing harm …

The way of Bil‘am believed he could curse what God had blessed; his later teaching led the Israelites to idolatry and immorality (Num 31:16; Rev2:14). Likewise, the false teachers compromise God’s truth by immorality and likely idolatry; they will perish like Bil’am (Num 31:8).

Unlike other uses and expansions of the material Second Kefa shares Jude, the following portion of Second Kefa succinctly summarizes the stormy imagery Jude uses (2 Kefa 2:17; see Jude 12-13). Second Kefa then breaks from the material it shares with Jude to articulate warnings about the dangers of false teachers and their presence within the Messianic community.

16 but was rebuked for his sin—a dumb beast of burden spoke out with a human voice and restrained the prophet’s insanity! 17 Waterless springs they are, mists driven by a gust of wind; for them has been reserved the blackest darkness.

Like springs without water and clouds without rain, the false teachers arrive with a pretense of offering refreshment but, in reality, offer nothing to sustain spiritual growth. Thus, they are destined for the gloom of darkness, eternal hell.

18 Mouthing grandiosities of nothingness, they play on the desires of the old nature in order to seduce with debaucheries people who have just begun to escape from those whose way of life is wrong. 19 They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption; for a person is a slave to whatever has defeated him.

Contrary to the way of spiritual growth, false teachers use their communication abilities to arouse the fleshly desires of recent converts to the Messiah – references hers as people who have just begun to escape – and drag them back into their old lifestyles rather than forward in righteousness. The false teachers promise freedom to those who follow their counsel. But they deliver, and experience, slavery to corruption. The false teachers cast off sexual restraint in the name of freedom, but they are actually enslaved to their sin without realizing it.

20 Indeed, if they have once escaped the pollutions of the world through knowing our Lord and Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah, and then have again become entangled and defeated by them, their latter condition has become worse than their former.

Yeshua has offered these people the opportunity to escape – the sin which came at the price of His own life – and they have chosen to return to sin and indulge in it, and encouraged by the false teachers to do the same.

21 It would have been better for them not to have known the Way of righteousness than, fully knowing, to turn from the holy command delivered to them.

When false teachers trick Messianics into returning to their previous, unrighteous lifestyle, they will find themselves in a worse state since they know better. The false teachers have experienced Yeshua’s work enough to understand the basic principles of humanity’s behalf. As a result, the godliness expected is in direct contrast to the false teachers’ actions (see Kefa 2:9).

22 What has happened to them accords with the true proverb, “A dog returns to its own vomit.” Yes, “The pig washed itself, only to wallow in the mud!” ~ 2 Kefa 2:12-22 (CJB)

A dog returns to its own vomit, is a quotation of Proverbs 26:11. It emphasizes that false teachers will never change and any attempt to reform is pointless. The origins of the “pig” proverb is unknown, but it must have been popular since Kefa evokes a pearl of common wisdom. [1]

In my next post, we will begin to unpack 3 Kefa 1-13 dealing with The Day of the Lord Will Come.

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[1] Faithlife Study Bible.

2 Kefa 1:16-21

Yeshua’s Glory and Prophetic Word

In my last post, we explored the subject of Confirming Your Calling and Election ~ Part 2 in 2 Kefa 1:8-15. In this post, we examine Yeshua’s Glory and Prophetic Word in 2 Kefa 1:16-21.

Kefa assures his audience that, in contrast to the lies of false teachers that he will discuss later in the letter, the teaching about Yeshua’s return he has passed on is authentic and reliable. Kefa’s preaching is not based on something he made up, but on both his firsthand experience of Yeshua and the truth of Scripture. Therefore, his readers can be confident of its accuracy.

16 For when we made known to you the power and the coming of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah, we did not rely on cunningly contrived myths. On the contrary, we saw his majesty with our own eyes. 17 For we were there when he received honor and glory from God the Father; and the voice came to him from the grandeur of the Sh’khinah, saying, “This is my son, whom I love; I am well pleased with him!” 18 We heard this voice come out of heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain.

Like Moshe, Kefa encountered God on a holy mountain. Three of the four Gospel writers report this event, the Transfiguration of Yeshua, when Kefa, Ya’akov, and Yochanan personally saw the majesty of the Messiah made manifest (Mt 17:1–9, Mk 9:2–10, Lk 9:28–36). The words, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him, I am well pleased,” were also heard when Yeshua was immersed by Yochanan the Immerser (Mt 3:17, Mk 1:11, Lk 3:22); and they allude to Psalm 2:7, “You are my Son; today I have become your Father,” itself quoted at Acts 13:33 and Messianic Jews (Hebrews) 1:5, 5:5.

Prophetic Word

Having explained his credentials above, Kefa now introduces his main topic in 2 Kefa 2, dealing with false prophets and teachers.

19 Yes, we have the prophetic Word made very certain. You will do well to pay attention to it as to a light shining in a dark, murky place until the Day dawns and the Morning Star rises in your hearts. 20 First of all, understand this: no prophecy of Scripture is to be interpreted by an individual on his own; 21 for never has a prophecy come as a result of human willing – on the contrary, people moved by the Ruach HaKodesh spoke a message from God. ~ 2 Kefa 1:16-21 (CJB)

Kefa had the prophetic Word set forth by the Tanakh writers concerning God’s precious and very great promises (see v. 4) made very certain. First, his direct experience with Yeshua and his glory (vv. 16–18) made him confident. And second, since many of the words of the Prophets concerning the Messiah had already been fulfilled at Yeshua’s first coming, Kefa could be sure that the rest would be fulfilled at His second coming (this Kefa had known long before; see Acts 3:21).

The import of Kefa’s having the prophetic Word made very certain is that he, not the false teachers of Chapter 2, is the one whose prophecy interpretations should be trusted.

The Day refers to Yeshua’s second coming, but there is also an underlying hint at the Day of Judgment. As the Morning Star is Yeshua the Messiah. This seems to be a reference to Numbers 24:17, “There shall come a star out of Jacob,” taken in Judaism as pointing to the Messiah.

A prophecy of Scripture must be interpreted not based on thoughts rooted in a person’s old nature, such as those of the false prophets of Chapter 2, but based on what the Ruach makes clear about its meaning since Yeshua sent the Ruach to guide Believers into the truth.

But since He sent the Ruach to the Believers as a community, be cautious of those who offer “the true word” but avoid subjecting their opinions to other Believers’ scrutiny. Much false teaching both in Kefa’s Day and our own arises from people’s developing their own idiosyncratic interpretations, supposedly hearing the Ruach, but without examining other views or admitting that their own could be mistaken.

Never has a prophecy come as a result of human willing. This is why prophecy should not be interpreted based on one’s preconceptions, own willingness, and thinking. Just as people moved by the Ruach HaKodeshspoke a message from God, so people moved by the Ruach HaKodesh should interpret God’s message.

In my next post, we will begin to unpack 2 Kefa 2 dealing with False Prophets and Teachers. This is a timeless topic that is undoubtedly still very pertinent in our lifetimes.

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2 Kefa 1:8-15

Confirming Your Calling and Election ~ Part 2

In my last post, we began to unpack Kefa’s second letter verse by verse. In this post, we continue to explore the subject of Confirming Your Calling and Election ~ Part 2 in 2 Kefa 1:8-15.

For context, let me include 2 Kefa 1:5-7 that we studied in my last post: For this very reason, try your hardest to furnish your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with perseverance, perseverance with Godliness, Godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love.

Knowing his death is quickly approaching (see verse 14 below), Kefa urges his audience to examine their faith so that they will remain established in the truth and indeed be part of Yeshua’s Kingdom.

For if you have these qualities in abundance, they keep you from being barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Yeshua the Messiah. Indeed, whoever lacks them is blind, so shortsighted that he forgets that his past sins have been washed away.

Useful and fruitful Believers have an abundance of the qualities mentioned in vv. 5–7. On the other hand, those who lack them are barren and unfruitful because they have forgotten the cleansing from their past sins; they deliberately forget the background from which God delivered them. “Past sins” refers to sins committed before professing faith in Christ.

10 Therefore, brothers, try even harder to make your being called and chosen a certainty. For if you keep doing this, you will never stumble. 11 Thus, you will be generously supplied with everything you need to enter the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Deliverer, Yeshua the Messiah.

Try your hardest (v.5) and try even harder to add these qualities to your faith. Faith saves, but not if so-called “believers” are merely passive spectators of their salvation and fail to make their being called and chosen a certainty. Instead, they deceive themselves into thinking they are saved when they are not. The only way to be certain one will enter the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Deliverer Yeshua the Messiah, is by letting God act through you as you develop the qualities named in vv. 5–7.

If you do allow God to act through you two results, follow:

  1. You will never stumble.
  2. You will receive a glorious entry into the eternal Kingdom.

12 For this reason, I will always remind you about these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you already have. 13 And I consider it right to keep stirring you up with reminders, as long as I am in the tent of this body.

Based on the future hope of entry into the eternal Kingdom, Kefa determined always to remind his readers of teachings that they might otherwise lay aside despite his conviction that they were well-grounded in the truths they had been taught. Though they were established Believers, their lifestyles left much to be desired. As long as he was in the tent of this body (alive in the human body, a temporary dwelling place for this life), Kefa determined to continue stimulating his readers by way of reminder.

14 I know that I will soon lay aside this tent of mine, as our Lord Yeshua the Messiah has made clear to me. 15 And I will do my best to see that after my exodus, you will be able to remember these things at all times. ~ 2 Kefa 1:8-15 (CJB).

Kefa’s purpose in writing this letter was to remind Believer’s about these things, even though they knew them and were established in the truth (1:12). His urgency to issue the reminder stemmed not from any failure on the part of Believers but the impending reality of his own death, about which Yeshua made a clear prophecy (1:14; see John 21:18-19).

According to tradition, Kefa was crucified upside down, saying he did not deserve to be crucified right side up like his Lord. [1]

In my next post, we will move on to explore Yeshua’s Glory and Prophetic Word in 2 Kefa 1:16-21.

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[1] Jewish New Testament Commentary.

2 Kefa ~ An Introduction

In my last post, we completed our study of 1 Kefa. In this post, we begin our study of 2 Kefa. Before we start going verse by verse, let me share some background material from various commentaries to get us started, and then look at 2 Kefa 1:1-2.

Introduction to 2 Kefa

Second Kefa emphasizes practical Messianic living. As the Messianic movement gained steam, Messianic communities began to encounter more false teachers in their midst. Kefa cautioned Believers to beware of false teachers with their bogus doctrines and lascivious lifestyles. Against this view, 2 Kefa argues that the Day of the Lord is undoubtedly coming and that Believers should live in light of this truth.

The temptation to a sinful lifestyle so concerned Kefa that he followed up with this one shortly after his first letter. Kefa also warned against denials of Yeshua’s return with its accompanying judgment. He urged his readers to make every effort to grow in the Messianic faith’s knowledge and practice.

Authorship & Date

Regarding authorship, 2 Kefa is one of the most disputed letters in the Brit Hadashah. The style differs so much from 1 Kefa that the same person could not have written both unless he were purposely trying to alter his style. But Kefa could have given literary freedoms to a different scribe (1 Kefa 5:13) for each, with the second being more accustomed to a bombastic style. The attestation for 2 Kefa is weaker than that for most other Brit Hadashah books but more substantial than that of early Messianic books that did not become part of the canon for the Brit Hadashah.

The author of 2 Kefa plainly identified himself as the emissary Kefa:

From: Shim’on Kefa, a slave and emissary of Yeshua the Messiah. To: Those who, through the righteousness of our God and of our Deliverer Yeshua the Messiah, have been given the same kind of trust as ours: ~ 2 Kefa 1:1 (CJB)

The letter contains several personal allusions to Kefa’s life. He mentioned that his death was close (1:14), described himself as an eyewitness of the transfiguration of Yeshua (1:16–18), quoted the words of the voice from heaven at this event (1:17), indicated that he had previously written to the letter’s recipients (whom he called “dear friends” in 3:1), and also called Sha’ul “our dear brother” (3:15). This suggests that the author was close to Sha’ul. Such references point to Kefa as the author.

Many contemporary scholars, however, reject Kefa as the author of this letter. They argue the following:

  1. The personal references to Kefa’s life are a literary device used by someone who wrote under the emissary’s name to create the appearance of authenticity.
  2. The style of Greek in 2 Kefa is different from that of 1 Kefa.
  3. The reference to Sha’ul’s letters as a collection (3:15–16) points to a date later than Kefa’s lifetime.
  4. SecondKefa was dependent upon Jude. If this is true, Kefa’s authorship is problematic.

In response to these objections, one should consider the following:

  1. The early church soundly rejected the practice of writing under an apostolic pseudonym, regarding it as an outright forgery.
  2. Kefa may have had help in writing 1Kefa5:12 and not in writing 2 Kefa, a situation that would lead to different styles in his Greek.
  3. Rather than the whole collection, Kefa may have referred only to those Pauline letters that were known at the time of writing.
  4. Kefa may have borrowed some from Jude, or both may have used a common source of this evidence suggests that 2 Kefa should be accepted as authentic.  [1]

As for me, I am persuaded by those who originally compiled the canon as to its authenticity.

If Kefa authored 2 Kefa, it must have been composed by the mid-60s CE, when he was martyred in Rome.  [2]

Structure

To: Those who, through the righteousness of our God and of our Deliverer Yeshua the Messiah, have been given the same kind of trust as ours:

Second Kefa is a general letter with a typical salutation, main body, and farewell features. Its style is that of a pastoral letter, driven by the recipients’ needs, rather than some formal treatise.

After the greeting, Kefa reminds his audience of their Messianic identity – as those saved from their sins by Yeshua – and calls them to be godly people who live as if Yeshua’s return is a reality (1:3-21). Kefa then warns about false teachers motivated by greed and lust rather than by love for God (2:1-22). Much of this section and the start of the next section have strong similarities with the letter of Jude (compare 2 Kefa 2:1–18; 3:1–3 with Jude 4–18). There are several explanations for these overlaps: 2 Kefa relies on Jude, Jude relies on 2 Kefa, or both Jude and 2 Kefa rely on a common source (perhaps oral tradition).

Kefa then offers an additional argument against false teaching, assuring his readers that Yeshua will surely come again (2 Kefa 3:1–13). The letter closes with a final instruction for the Believers to depend on what they know to be true, refusing to be led astray by the false teachers (3:14–18).

In my next post, we will explore Confirming Your Calling and Election in 2 Kefa 3-15.

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[1] CSB Study Bible: Notes.

[2] Faithlife Study Bible.

1 Kefa 5:8-13

Shepherds of the Flock ~ Part 2

In my last post, we began to explore the topic of Shepherds of the Flock ~ Part 1 in 1 Kefa 5:1-7. This post concludes our study of 1 Kefa by looking at the Conclusion and Final Greeting in 1 Kefa 5:8-13.

Conclusion

Stay sober, stay alert! Your enemy, the Adversary, stalks about like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

The Adversary is HaSatan, who is real (Mat. 4:1ff) and should be resisted (see next verse and James 4:8). The Believer must transfer his anxieties to God and develop a constant watchfulness, particularly for the devices of his enemy HaSatan. In Jewish tradition, HaSatan accused God’s people before God’s throne day and night (except, in later accounts, on the Day of Atonement). [1]

Lions were viewed as the most ferocious and mighty beasts, and from Psalm 22:13, they came to be used as figures for enemies of God’s people. In the time of Nero, Believers were fed to some literal lions as well. The small, isolated Messianic communities could take heart that their other spiritual siblings – starting with the communities Kefa knew in Rome were experiencing the same trials until the end, as we see in verse 9.

Stand against him, firm in your trust, knowing that your brothers throughout the world are going through the same kinds of suffering. 10 You will have to suffer only a little while; after that, God, who is full of grace, the one who called you to His eternal glory in union with the Messiah, will Himself restore, establish, and strengthen you and make you firm. 11 To Him be the power forever and ever. Amen.

Kefa warned Believers to be aware of HaSatan’s deceitful practices and to resist him. Such behavior is fitting for temporary residents of this world.

God will restore, strengthen, and establish you. Kefa offers his audience a final word of comfort. He reminds them that God will empower and ultimately glorify those who remain steadfast in their faith under the weight of their present suffering.

Final Greetings

12 Through Silas, whom I regard as a faithful brother, I have written you briefly, encouraging you and giving my witness that this is God’s true grace. Stand firm in it!

Silas (some translations use Silvanus, which is the full Roman name) served as a scribe. Most letters were written through the agency of scribes. As a Roman citizen (Acts 16:37), Silas presumably came from a reasonably well-to-do Jewish family that provided him an excellent literary and rhetorical education; Kefa may have given him some degree of freedom in wording the letter. [2]

13 Your sister congregation in Bavel, chosen along with you, sends greetings to you, as does my son Mark. 14 Greet each other with a kiss of love. “Shalom aleikhem!” to all who belong to the Messiah. ~ 1 Kefa 5:1-12 (CJB)

At one point, Yochanan Mark abandoned Sha’ul and Bar-Nabba (see Acts 13:5, 13), with the result that Sha’ul and Bar-Nabba split over whether to take him with them again, and Sha’ul took Silas instead.

Bavel was a common euphemism for Rome among Jewish writers seeking to avoid censorship and worse.

Shalom aleikhem means “Peace be upon you,” a standard Hebrew greeting then and now. Kisses were a common affectionate greeting for close friends and relatives.

In my next post, we will begin to explore Kefa’s Second Letter, which focuses on Messianic Gentiles.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament.

[2] Ibid.​

1 Kefa 5:1-7

Shepherds of the Flock ~ Part 1

In my last post, we explored the topic of Suffering As A Believer in 1 Kefa 4:12-19. In this post, Kefa closes his first letter by offering encouragement to the Shepherds of the Flock in 1 Kefa 5:1-7.

Therefore, I urge the congregation leaders among you, as a fellow-leader and witness to the Messiah’s sufferings, as well as a sharer in the glory to be revealed:

Kefa writes the congregation leaders (elders) humbly, as a fellow-leader, not as a superior, even though he personally was a witness to the Messiah’s sufferings. Elders, older and wiser men skilled in judging cases, ruled in most Israelite towns in the Tanakh. In the Brit Hadashah, elders held a respected place in the synagogues, from which the churches took over this form of leadership.

Sha’ul writes about the glory to be revealed: “I don’t think the sufferings we are going through now are even worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed to us in the future.” ~ Romans 8:18.

shepherd the flock of God that is in your care, exercising oversight not out of constraint, but willingly, as God wants; and not out of a desire for dishonest gain, but with enthusiasm;

Kefa is faithfully transmitting Yeshua’s command to him to shepherd the flock in Yochanan 21:16 by exercising oversight … willingly. Some elders take too little responsibility so that their congregations remain undisciplined.

The image of a shepherd is that of a concerned guide, not of a severe ruler (although shepherds’ image had been applied to rulers in parts of the ancient Near East). Charges of illegitimate gain were often made against moral teachers in the ancient world, and Believers needed to avoid even the appearance of impropriety. (Like certain officials in the Jewish community, these Messianic leaders distributed the funds for the poor.)  [1]

also not as machers domineering over those in your care, but as people who become examples to the flock. 

If it is true that the Messiah wants followers who will follow, He also wants leaders who will lead – but not as machers. The word macher is Yiddish for “big shot, real operator,” with the overtone of trying to take charge; the perfect example is Diotrephes in 3 Yochanan 9–10[2]

Then, when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive glory as your unfading crown.

In ancient texts, a chief shepherd appears to have been an overseer of a group of other shepherds, although they were usually not well-to-do themselves. Crowns were garlands given to victors of athletic contests, benefactors, or other heroes, and they were perishable; those faithful to Yeshua would receive an imperishable crown. [3]

Likewise, you who are less experienced submit to leaders. Further, all of you should clothe yourselves in humility toward one another because:

“God opposes the arrogant,
but to the humble, he gives grace.”

Elders have special responsibilities to tend the flock, but they must watch the spirit in which they do it. Younger men must submit to elders, and both groups must develop the grace of humility, which is the only befitting attitude before God.

Therefore, humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God so that at the right time, He may lift you up.

Following on Proverbs 3:34, cited in 1 Kefa 5:5, Kefa urges believers to humble themselves before God. In the Tanakh, this idea often meant repenting, sometimes when facing impending judgment or learning one’s complete dependence on God. Here the sense includes embracing and accepting the suffering until God provides the way out (cf. Jer. 27:11).

Throw all your anxieties upon Him because He cares about you.

Although the promise of complete relief from persecution is in the future, Kefa encourages Believers to pray and trust God’s love for them in the present. Jews learned to see God’s love in Isra’el’s sufferings as disciplines of love. Still, most pagans, who bartered sacrifices and vows to get benefactions from the gods, had difficulty with this concept.

We know that the Creator and Ruler of the universe cares about us.

In my next post, we will conclude our study of 1 Kefa by examining the conclusion and final greeting in Shepherds of the Flock ~ Part 2 in 1 Kefa 5:8-13.

Click here for the PDF version.

 

[1] The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament.

[2] Jewish New Testament Commentary.

[3] The IVP Bible background commentary: New Testament