Peter and Jude appear to be quoting the book of 1 Enoch, which is part of the psuedepigrapha. Why would they quote it? What does it mean when an apostle quotes from a non-biblical source? I think both Peter and Jude quote 1 Enoch, the way a teacher today might quote Harry Potter — to make a point based on popular culture.
Peter is writing to churches which are troubled by false teachers. These false teachers are distorting the apostolic gospel and deceiving believers into leading immoral lives. In chapter 1 Peter insisted that the apostolic gospel is a revelation from God and that believing the gospel results in a lifestyle marked by a pursuit of godliness. In chapter 2 he turns his attention directly on the problem of false teachers, although I believe he had the false teachers in view from the start.
2 Peter 2:4-10a is 1 sentence in the original Greek. This podcast covers only the interpretative challenges of 2:4. The next podcast covers the sentence itself.
The main point is fairly easy to see. This is an “If-then” clause. The “If” clauses are
- 2:4 For if God did not spare the angels when they sinned
- 2:5 if he did not spare the ancient world
- 2:6 if he didn’t spare Sodom and Gomorrah
- 2:7 if he rescued righteous Lot
- the THEN-clause is in 2:9: then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment
He said in 2:3 the condemnation of the false teaches is not idle and neither is their destruction asleep. 2:4-10 are his historical proof.
What story are Peter and Jude referencing?
- Peter and Jude appear to be quoting from the book of 1 Enoch which is part of the psuedepigrapha.
- 1 Enoch is a fictional story based on Genesis 6, which assumes the “sons of God” are fallen angels, the “daughters of men” are human women and the “nephilim” are a mighty race born from this union. In the Enoch story, God judges the fallen angels. This view was the popular understanding because of this fictional genre that includes 1 Enoch.
- The author claims to be Enoch, the son of Jared, the father of Methuselah Genesis 5:21-22; Luke 3:37; Hebrews 11:5; Jude 1:14.
- 1 Enoch is not part of the Old Testament in either the Protestant or Catholic Bibles.
- The text of the Book of Enoch
- What is the Book of Enoch?
- Article on Genesis 6: Who were the Nephilim (Answers in Genesis)
Do Peter and Jude actually quote 1 Enoch?
- Jude explicitly quotes from 1 Enoch in 1:14, even naming the book.
- The details both Peter and Jude give all find an echo in the book of 1 Enoch.
- Yes, they appear to quote 1 Enoch.
Why would Peter and Jude quote 1 Enoch?
Arguments I reject:
- Peter & Jude quote Enoch because they believe it to be true but Peter & Jude were wrong.
- Peter & Jude are quoting some other document we don’t have today. For example, Peter and Jude are referencing Isaiah 14:12-17 and/or Ezekiel 28:11-9, which refer may refer to the fall of Satan.
- Peter and Jude are quoting Enoch because they believe it to be true and it is true.
I have argued that Peter wrote first and Jude is quoting Peter. Thus Jude quotes Enoch because Peter does.
I think Peter and Jude both quote from the fictional book of 1 Enoch. I think both Peter and Jude believe that book to be part of the popular fiction of the day and that they quote it as fiction, the way a teacher today might quote Star Wars or Harry Potter. I think they quote it to use popular culture to further the larger point of the sentence that God judges those who rebel against him.