In what sense did these heavenly beings leave their first estate οικητηριον

“And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—” ‭‭Jude‬ ‭1:6‬ ‭

Considering the context where οικητηριον is also used, it is intended to mean a “body” for the inner man

“For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened— not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:1-4‬ ‭

What is meant by οικητηριον? A place of residence as in a realm or a covering as in a supernatural body?

If it is an outer covering, what is left underneath? A natural body and a spirit inside or just a spirit?

  • An astute question. I would suggest that the 'environment' or 'estate' is a spirit state in which 'body' is irrelevant and the manifesting on earth went disastrously wrong as it was neither divinely authorised nor competently (creatively) executed. But still an astute question and definitely up-voted by myself (+1).
    – Nigel J
    Dec 30, 2020 at 15:19

2 Answers 2


Although οἰκητήριον is only used twice in the New Testament, its usage in other late second-temple literature is helpful for understanding its meaning.

It is regularly used to refer to a dwelling, and notably, in 3 Maccabees, refers to heaven, the dwelling of God:

For your dwelling, the heaven of heavens, is unapproachable by man (3 Macc. 2:15)

Although it is unclear that Jude had read 2 Corinthians, as already noted by Robert, Jude is saturated with influence from Jewish Apocryphal literature--it is highly likely that Jude was familiar with the usage of the term in 1 Enoch & the books of the Maccabees.

Paul has to go out of his way in 2 Corinthians to get his metaphor across--meaning this is not likely to be a common usage of the word. I propose that for purposes of understanding Jude, the meaning/usage found in the apocryphal literature is to be preferred.

[Is οἰκητήριον] A place of residence as in a realm or a covering as in a supernatural body?

The most straightforward reading is that it is a place of residence. They were no longer able to occupy the realm they had once inhabited because they had failed to live up to the calling/office they were given. The details of their shortcomings are not specified by Jude.

This fits with the following clause, which suggests these beings were condemned to a much less desirable abode.


οἰκητήριον is just habitation, or dwelling place. It's not a difficult word to interpret, and translations like "first estate" are excessively flowery for it. That does not mean that the theological interpretation is simple.

In Jude, this is a reference to the well known jewish tradition that angels descended to earth to have sex with women. This tradition is present in many manuscripts but the most famous would be the inter-testamental pseudoepigraphia that was widely circulated. Most commentators believe Jude is citing 1 Enoch and/or the Testament of Naphtali here.

Here is the NAC commentary:

Before providing more detail on Jewish tradition, it would be helpful to explain what Jude said in v. 6. He charged the angels with not keeping “their positions of authority.” The Greek word here is archēn, signifying the domain or rule or sphere of influence given to the angels. The angels abandoned “their own home” (to idion oikētērion) and transgressed proper bounds. The language is rather vague. What Jude meant, however, was that they left their proper sphere, came to the earth, became males, and had sexual relations with women. Jude used the language of retaliation here. Since the angels “did not keep” (mē tērēsantas) their proper sphere, God “has kept” (tetērēken) them “in darkness.” Abandoning what is right has consequences because God is still Lord of the world. These angels experience punishment even now in that they are “bound with everlasting chains.” We might think that literal chains are in view, but Hillyer rightly remarks: “We are not intended to imagine a literal dungeon in which fallen angels are fettered. Rather, Jude was vividly depicting the misery of their conditions. Free spirits and celestial powers, as once they were, are now shackled and impotent. Shining ones, once enjoying the marvelous light of God’s glorious presence, are now plunged in profound darkness.” Their current imprisonment, however, is not their final punishment. They are being preserved even now for the judgment on the day of the Lord. Now they are imprisoned, but they still await their final and definitive judgment on the last day.19 The main point is that those who transgress and sin will experience judgment. The angels did not escape unscathed when they violated what was fitting. Neither will the opponents sin with impunity, and hence Jude encouraged the church to resist their teaching. Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, pp. 448–449). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Many believe that Jude is specifically referring to 1 Enoch since it has the most detail on this -- these angels are called Watchers, and there is a whole book about them in 1 Enoch -- and also because Jude directly cites 1 Enoch in verse 14:

"And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, "To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches, which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."

NAC provides a good summary of the tradition Jude refers to:

The tradition, as we said, is most extensive in 1 Enoch. The angels desired the daughters of men (6:1–2) and took them as wives, who in turn gave birth to giants (7:1–2; 9:7–9; 106:14–15, 17). As a result of their sin, God threatened to send a flood (10:2). The evil of the angels is quite clear when the author said they “fornicated” with women (10:11). Some of the language used bears remarkable parallels to Jude. The angel Raphael is ordered to “ ‘Bind Azaz’el hand and foot (and) throw him into the darkness!’ And he made a hole in the desert which was in Duda’el and cast him there; he threw on top of him rugged and sharp rocks. And he covered his face in order that he may not see light; and in order that he may be sent into the fire on the great day of judgment” (10:4–6). Jude also taught that the angels who sinned were bound in darkness and await the day of judgment. That those who sinned will experience a temporary judgment before the final judgment is clearly communicated in 1 Enoch 10:12–13: “Bind them for seventy generations underneath the rocks of the ground until the day of their judgment and of their consummation, until the eternal judgment is concluded. In those days they will lead them into the bottom of the fire—and in torment—in the prison (where) they will be locked up forever” (cf. 13:2). Similarly, the Watchers are told, “You will not be able to ascend into heaven unto all eternity, but you shall remain inside the earth, imprisoned all the days of eternity” (14:5; cf. 21:1–4, 10; 88:1, 3). The idea that the Watchers abandoned their proper sphere, emphasized in Jude, is communicated in 1 Enoch as well (along with a concise summary of the event): “For what reason have you abandoned the high, holy, and eternal heaven; and slept with women and defiled yourselves with the daughters of the people, taking wives, acting like the children of the earth, and begetting giant sons?” (15:3). Jude followed the tradition in pronouncing judgment on angels who violated their proper sphere.

Schreiner, T. R. (2003). 1, 2 Peter, Jude (Vol. 37, pp. 449–450). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

As an added, bonus, even though there are only Greek fragments extant of 1 Enoch (The complete text is available only in Ethopian, as the Ethiopian church is the only church to hold that Enoch is canonical) we do find the requested οἰκτήριον in the Greek text:

Enoch 27.2:

Then answered Sariel1, one of the holy angels who was with me, and said to me, “This cursed valley2 is for those who are cursed forever. Here will be gathered all the cursed, who utter with their mouth an improper word against the Lord and speak hard things against his glory. Here they will be gathered, and here will be (their) habitation3

Nickelsburg, G. W. E. (2001). 1 Enoch: a commentary on the book of 1 Enoch. (K. Baltzer, Ed.) (p. 317). Minneapolis, MN: Fortress.

1 Could also be 'Uriel'

2 Valley of Hinnon

3 οἰκτήριον in the Akhmim papyrus of Greek Enoch (Codex Panopolitanus)

So putting this all together, the habitation that the Angels left was heaven/their spiritual bodies, so that they could be on earth and have carnal bodies in order to seduce women, and so God gave them an even lower habitation in the gloomy darkness. This provides a nice contrast with 2 Cor, where we yearn to put on the spiritual bodies. The use of habitation is simple, but the theology of angels putting on flesh and human flesh being swallowed in spirit is not.

  • There is no need to go to Enoch. Jesus cast out many demons who did not keep their first estate, but stole the habitations (bodies) of people. Even the story of wrestling over the body of Moses can be shown to be sourced from the history of David when seen as a riddle.
    – Bob Jones
    Jun 24, 2021 at 17:08
  • That is interesting, @BobJones Do you have a reference for, or can you expound on your reasoning that the wrestling over the body of Moses can be sourced from David?
    – Robert
    Jun 24, 2021 at 20:11
  • I don't have it written up, and it's been a few years. I don't think I can do justice in the comment, and it doesn't address the OP. I'm teaching 3 times a week now, but I will try to put something together in the wiki. The answer is in the two prices David paid for the plot.
    – Bob Jones
    Jun 25, 2021 at 3:30

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