The epistle is named for the writer, Jude.
The writer signs his name as "Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James" (1). It is generally agreed that he was a brother of the Lord (Mat 13:55), and therefore not one of the apostles, for the brethren of the Lord did not believe on Jesus until after the resurrection (Jn 7:5; Acts 1:13-22). However, a few expositors try to identify the writer of this epistle as "Judas (Thaddeus) the brother of James," one of the twelve apostles (Lk 6:16; Jn 14:22). Since Jude does not call himself an apostle, we are inclined to believe that he was not.
Although the letter is addressed to Christians in general, "To them that are called, beloved in God the father, and kept for Jesus Christ" (1), it was likely intended at first for Jewish Christians in Palestine. Several allusions presuppose an acquaintance with Old Testament scriptures and Jewish traditions. Some critics believe that the epistle was sent to Antioch in Syria and that it was intended for both Jewish and Gentile Christians.
There is no suggestion concerning the place of origin, but critics estimate that it was written about A.D. 66. Evidently it was written before A.D. 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed, for Jude would certainly have mentioned that event along with the other persecutions given.
False teachers among the brethren were teaching heresies in the congregational meetings. Some of the men were also immoral in conduct. Jude wrote to expose their immoralities and heresies, urging Christians "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints" (3). This epistle and the second chapter of II Peter are very similar. Some think that Jude wrote first, but in our present state of knowledge it is impossible to reach a definite conclusion regarding the matter. A distinctive feature of the book is the writer's fondness for triplet expressions. It is somewhat terse and picturesque. Alford describes it as an "impassioned invective with epithet on epithet, image on image." The stern warnings concerning the fate of wicked disturbers give some the impression that the writer was a harsh character with little or no pathos. This criticism, however, overlooks the fact that the writer was discussing a very serious problem as he was guided by the Holy Spirit. Some of the words have a definite poetic ring.