Translation commentary on Jude 1:24

The person to whom praise is addressed in the doxology is God. To him is linked with “to the only God, our Savior” in verse 25. In many languages translators will need to introduce “God” at this point rather than at the beginning of verse 24 and say, for example, “The only God, our [inclusive] Savior, is able to keep….” (See the alternative translation model at the end of the comments on verse 25.) Jude does not simply refer to God, but he mentions two functions of God that are directly related to Jude’s readers. First, he describes God as able to keep them from falling. The expression to him who is able is used in two other doxologies (Rom 16.25; Eph 3.20) and emphasizes God’s power and sufficiency. The word translated falling is literally “stumbling” and is a very popular metaphor in the Old Testament, particularly in the book of Psalms, where the psalmist refers to God’s power to prevent him from falling into the traps laid down by the enemy (see Psa 140.4-5; 141.9; 142.3). In Jude falling may have the general meaning of being defeated by any problem or difficulty, or of giving in to sin. But perhaps here it focuses on the particular meaning of a person losing faith and ceasing to be a follower of Christ, together with the consequences of receiving judgment. This of course happens if Jude’s readers rely on their own strength in dealing with the godless. But in the end it is God who will give them victory over these people and their false teachings.

The second attribute of God is his ability to make people sinless and bring them into his very presence. The formula used by Jude is similar to formulas present in other New Testament doxologies (Col 1.22; Eph 1.4), indicating that this is a standard formula. To present you is to put you in front of, to put you before. The word for without blemish was used originally to describe animals that were brought for the temple sacrifice; they were to be perfect in every way, without defect of any kind (see 1 Peter 1.19 for example). In other parts of the Bible this word is used of the moral purity and integrity that should characterize people who come to worship God (for example, Psa 15.2; Pro 11.5; Eph 1.4; Heb 9.14). This is the sense in which it is used here. Glory refers to God’s being and presence, characterized by radiance, majesty, and greatness. Here it perhaps has overtones of the manner in which God appears at the end of time. The whole expression before the presence of his glory therefore simply means “before his glorious presence” (Good News Translation).

With rejoicing further characterizes those who are presented before God. This also has overtones of the joy and exultation of God’s people when he reveals himself to them at the end of the age. The Greek construction clearly suggests that with rejoicing is parallel to without blemish, suggesting perhaps that joy is a result of being pronounced not guilty at the final judgment. If this is correct then the translation must show clearly this relationship. Some translations have tried to do this, like Good News Translation “faultless and joyful,” Jerusalem Bible “bring you safe to his glorious presence, innocent and happy,” and Translator’s New Testament “present you, blameless and rejoicing, in his glorious presence.”

Quoted with permission from Arichea, Daniel C. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on The Letter from Jude. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1993. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .