NIV Jude 1:

5Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lordc at one time delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. 6And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. 7In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

LES 4 Maccabees 9:9 But you, because of the despotic murder of us, you will endure, by divine justice, eternal torture by fire.”


What about the noncanonical books quoted in Jude?

2 Answers 2


There are several problems with the unlikely association of Jude 7 with the supposed precedent of 4 Macc 9:9.

  • While both have just 2 words in common, "fire" and "eternal" (the latter in slightly different grammatical sense) the subject matter is different - Jude is discussing the complete destruction of cities, while Maccabees is discussing torture of a person.
  • The context is quite different as well. Jude discusses specific cities, Sodom and Gomorrah as per Gen 19 while Maccabees discusses an individual "tyrant" and his oppression.
  • The other surrounding words are quite different. The crucial word in Jude 7 is "diken" = justice, vengeance, punishment; while Maccabees uses an unrelated word, "basanon" = torment.
  • The timing of these documents may be a problem as well. If Jude was written by the brother of Jesus, and 4 Macc was written late in the 1st century, then Jude could not be alluding to 4 Maccabees.

Thus, the more likely precedent for Jude 7 is Gen 19 and Jesus' own teaching.

  • Very cogent response, thanks. +1
    – Ruminator
    Sep 9, 2018 at 21:59
  • Can you please provide a source for the dating of the two texts? Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 9, 2018 at 22:10
  • The timing is debated as my response implies. There is a good summary here en.wikipedia.org/wiki/4_Maccabees
    – user25930
    Sep 9, 2018 at 22:21
  • The comments are not where you provide your sources. Please put it in your answer. Thanks.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 10, 2018 at 9:57
  • Also, the Wikipedia article does not provide a primary source for the dating. It makes the following unsupported statement about what "scholar" say: "...Scholars have however pointed to perceived differences of language and style. The book is generally dated between 20 and 130 CE, likely in the later half of that range...." So you have not adequately supported the dating. Can you see how this works?
    – Ruminator
    Sep 10, 2018 at 10:01

Since Jude refers to Enoch, we are better off looking at the Book of Enoch for Jude's referent than 4 Maccabees. Here is one of several mentions of eternal torment by fire in Enoch:

'Bind Azâzêl hand and foot, and cast him into the darkness: and make an opening in the desert, which is in Dûdâêl, and cast him therein. And place upon him rough and jagged rocks, and cover him with darkness, and let him abide there for ever, and cover his face that he may not see light. And on the day of the great judgement he shall be cast into the fire. (1 Enoch 10:4)

The idea of Gehenna, or Hell, had been gradually developing in Judaism since the Babylonian exile. The Book of Enoch was probably the best known source of the idea, where it is described as containing a river of fire in which particularly evil beings were tormented. Jude certainly knew this work since he refers to it. It is possible that Jesus knew it too.

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