Is Jude Structured Chiastically?

Multiple scholars have argued for a chiastic structure of Jude’s letter. I’m currently preaching through its 25 verses on Sunday evenings, so I’ve spent time thinking through its structure too, and I think a chiastic arrangement is right. Here’s my adaptation of what I think’s going on:

  • 1-2   Opening Greeting
  •           3   Contend for the Faith
  •                    4   Judgment for Apostates Has Been Written About
  •               5-19   Here Are Some Examples of Such Judgment
  •           20-23   Here’s How to Contend for the Faith
  • 24-25   Closing Doxology

In the outermost frame (vv. 1-2, 24-25) Jude mentions both God and Jesus (v. 1, 25), and he also mentions being “kept” (vv. 1, 24).  He opens by writing to “those who are called” (v. 1), and he closes by praising “him who is able” (vv. 24-25). Jude wants “mercy, peace, and love” for his readers (v. 2), and he wants “glory, majesty, dominion, and authority” for God (v. 25).

In the second section (vv. 3, 20-23) Jude speaks about “the faith.”  In v. 3 he tells his readers to contend for it, and in vv. 20-23 he picks up the idea again and this time elaborates on what he means.  They should contend for the faith (v. 3) by persevering in it and snatching others from the fire (vv. 20-23).

The center of the chiasm (vv. 4, 5-19) highlights God’s judgment on those who reject him and the way of righteousness.  Jude says their judgment has been written about (v. 4), and then he lists examples to reinforce his claim (vv. 5-19).  Jude appeals to both Old Testament and extra-canonical stories and images.  His concern is to vehemently deter his readers from treading the way of the intruders, for it’s a path under wrath.

Another way to think about the body of the letter (vv. 3-23) is to emphasize its theme verses (vv. 3-4), which set the tone for everything that follows.  Jude explains two things: his reason for writing the letter (v. 3) and his warning about the apostates’ inevitable judgment (v. 4). Then the rest of the body (vv. 5-23) elaborates on these theme verses, only in reverse: vv. 5-19 pick up on v. 4, and vv. 20-23 pick up on v. 3.

I find the preceding descriptions of Jude’s structure very helpful for interpreting it.  Do you find a chiastic arrangement convincing?  Is there anything you’d change about how I explained its parts in light of the whole?

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Savoring the Biblical Text

Over at The Gospel Coalition site, I contributed an article (“See and Savor the Bible’s Rich Layers”) on reading the Bible patiently.  The goal of this kind of reading is to savor the text and see what is there but not readily apparent.

A patient reading of Scripture yields insight because we can reflect carefully on the text (even large portions of it) and make valuable intertextual connections.  Some connections are clear, like when a writer quotes a biblical passage, but at other times we may only discern an echo of or an allusion to a previous text.  These connections matter, and only the discipline of reading the Bible repeatedly and patiently can develop a sensitivity to see them.

Here’s an excerpt from the article: “The layers of a text matter because the authors wrote and arranged their material from a perspective shaped by the Old Testament. Even the words of later Old Testament writers were molded by earlier biblical texts. Their minds were drenched in ancient images and stories and promises. Our goal should be to immerse our minds in these things too.”

Revitalizing a Church?

Mark Vroegop, a lead pastor for an Indianapolis congregation, unpacks six wise statements for those engaging the task of revitalizing a church.  Here are the statements, bullet-point style:

  • (1) Love them more than you hate where they are at
  • (2) Think like a missionary
  • (3) Small changes + time = progress
  • (4) Ground them in the Bible
  • (5) Wait for a providential tipping point
  • (6) Make tough changes with a personal touch