[1:1] 1 tn Grk “Judas,” traditionally “Jude” in English versions to distinguish him from the one who betrayed Jesus. The word “From” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to indicate the sender of the letter.
[1:1] 2 tn Though δοῦλος (doulos) is normally translated “servant,” the word does not bear the connotation of a free individual serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times…in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v.). At the same time, perhaps “servant” is apt in that the δοῦλος of Jesus Christ took on that role voluntarily, unlike a slave. The most accurate translation is “bondservant” (sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος), in that it often indicates one who sells himself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force.
[1:1] sn Undoubtedly the background for the concept of being the Lord’s slave or servant is to be found in the Old Testament scriptures. For a Jew this concept did not connote drudgery, but honor and privilege. It was used of national Israel at times (Isa 43:10), but was especially associated with famous OT personalities, including such great men as Moses (Josh 14:7), David (Ps 89:3; cf. 2 Sam 7:5, 8) and Elijah (2 Kgs 10:10); all these men were “servants (or slaves) of the Lord.”
[1:1] 3 sn Although Jude was half-brother of Jesus, he humbly associates himself with James, his full brother. By first calling himself a slave of Jesus Christ, it is evident that he wants no one to place stock in his physical connections. At the same time, he must identify himself further: Since Jude was a common name in the 1st century (two of Jesus’ disciples were so named, including his betrayer), more information was needed, that is to say, brother of James.
[1:1] 4 tn Grk “loved in.” The perfect passive participle suggests that the audience’s relationship to God is not recent; the preposition ἐν (en) before πατρί (patri) could be taken as sphere or instrument (agency is unlikely, however). Another possible translation would be “dear to God.”
[1:1] 5 tn Or “by.” Datives of agency are quite rare in the NT (and other ancient Greek), almost always found with a perfect verb. Although this text qualifies, in light of the well-worn idiom of τηρέω (threw) in eschatological contexts, in which God or Christ keeps the believer safe until the parousia (cf. 1 Thess 5:23; 1 Pet 1:4; Rev 3:10; other terms meaning “to guard,” “to keep” are also found in similar eschatological contexts [cf. 2 Thess 3:3; 2 Tim 1:12; 1 Pet 1:5; Jude 24]), it is probably better to understand this verse as having such an eschatological tinge. It is at the same time possible that Jude’s language was intentionally ambiguous, implying both ideas (“kept by Jesus Christ [so that they might be] kept for Jesus Christ”). Elsewhere he displays a certain fondness for wordplays; this may be a hint of things to come.