Jude's Letter

After reading Jude’s letter and John 1, it’s clear the Church found itself offering a defense against the alternative teachings and accusations that Jesus was but a mere man, which seemed to be in existence as early as John and Jude’s day.

Who were these false teachers, and where were they located? I take it they knew the apostles, or at least knew of their teachings. I understand Gnosticism has its roots later down the line?

Thanks

usccb.org/bible/scripture.cfm?bk=Jude&ch=

I am glad 1ke posted that link, giving me an occasion to quickly read Jude again: Where are you seeing this “defense against the alternative teachings and accusations that Jesus was but a mere man”? Rather, the letter is mainly about sexual promiscuity.

It seems to me you are leaping to this interpretation from verse 4, “godless persons, who pervert the grace of our God into licentiousness and who deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ”. There is nothing here about anyone claiming that Jesus was merely human. There are many ways to ‘deny’ someone; to teach that Jesus was merely human is very specific and not justified by the text: Usually, when the Bible uses ‘deny’ in this way, the meaning is disobedience, disregard, i.e. a rejection of authority or rebellion. Hence Jesus saying “deny oneself and follow me”, meaning that we must reject our disordered passions, rebel against our natural (carnal) desires to follow instead a supernatural goal, etc. So this verse means ‘denying the authority of Jesus’; it does not mean ‘denying that Jesus was divine’: You need more from the text to arrive at this more specific conclusion.

Please clarify, especially if I have overlooked something.

Thanks. So from what I can gather the gnostics must have been acting relatively early, if they were to affect the mind of both Peter and Jude. Peter’s warnings of false teachers is as equally as grave and important. Is there anything we know of the earliest gnostics? Were they based in Jerusalem? Maybe the Esseenes?

Several early heresies said that Jesus was a mere man. The earliest two that I’m aware of are the Adoptionists and the Ebionites. St. Irenaeus discusses both groups at this link: newadvent.org/fathers/0103126.htm

St. Irenaeus does not name anyone who was influential in the early Ebionite community, at least not that I can see, but he does name some guy named Cerinthus as an influential person among the Adoptionists. The Catholic Encyclopedia says that Cerinthus was a contemporary of St. John and “against [his] errors on the divinity of Christ the Apostle [John] is said to have written the Fourth Gospel.” source

Thank you for shedding some light. Makes me wonder where these folk came from, mentally speaking. It seems as though they wished to infuse parts of Christ’s life and passion into their own definition and picture. Cirinthus even seems to believe Jesus resurrection, though as man not as the Messiah. Very strange.

It is possible that forms of gnostic belief existed before Christianity and latched onto the figure of Jesus, becoming a Christian heresy.

Though I would think the Gnostics would be those denying the humanity of Jesus, not His divinity. Gnostic Jesus is generally the being who came to show the rest of us that we are powerful spirits trapped in a world of matter, which leads to the teaching that His human life and bloody death were merely illusionary, not a way of saving us by taking on our fleshy humanity as is the orthodox belief.

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