When Jude quotes the book of Enoch, how should we view books like Enoch? Is it inspired?
As part of the New Testament, Jude is inspired by the Holy Spirit through his writing. This short epistle focuses on the judgment of God against false teachers. It is full of examples and illustrations, allusions to all sorts of judgment themes and images.
One of those themes running through out the book is fallen angels (Jude 6-7). He also mentions the Archangel Michael who fought with the devil, another image of two angels (Jude 9).
It is no surprise that he referenced the book of 1 Enoch. If you read this apocryphal book, written between the Old and New Testaments, you would see one major theme is angelology, the study of angels.
It fits in Jude because of references to angels. Jude quotes from 1 Enoch 1:9, a warning about the coming of the Lord on the Day of the Lord. Jude used Enoch because both books share the themes of angels and warning about judgment.
But does Jude consider Enoch inspired by the Holy Spirit? Why did he quote from it? First, the Jews never considered any of the apocryphal books, 14 books written between the Old and New Testaments, to be inspired.
However, they were included in most copies of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament translated around 200 BC. This was the Scripture that Jesus and the apostles read and used.
But no one referred to the Apocrypha as inspired. It was included because the stories were interesting and recorded Israel’s history between the two Testaments. So Jude did not consider Enoch inspired.
The reason no one categorizes the 14 apocryphal books as inspired by the Holy Spirit is that these books are dubious. They falsely take the names of Old Testament characters and claim that they authored these books. It is clear they did not.
Apocryphal books were written roughly between 400-200 BC. Enoch lived in the time of Genesis, in the extreme past, the beginning of human history. So we know he didn’t write 1 Enoch.
A book that has a false writer cannot be inspired by the Holy Spirit. Every book of the Bible claims authorship from someone who was living at the time of the writing. A book that claims an author that did not write the book would not be used by the Holy Spirit for his people.
So if 1 Enoch is not an inspired book, why would Jude use it? Because 1 Enoch was included in the Septuagint every Jew who did not know Hebrew read, it was a familiar book to Jude’s audience. He used Enoch as an illustration of the warning against false teachers in the last days.
Jude had a problem in his church. False teachers, perhaps the same teachers Paul contended with, came to his church and taught false doctrines to his congregation. So he filled his letter with illustrations of all of the dangers, judgments, and warnings against such practices.
Everyone in his Jewish-Christian congregation read from the Septuagint and was familiar with the apocryphal stories. It would be the equivalent of using an illustration from popular literature in any of our sermons today. Everyone would understand the reference.
Including a reference from secular or apocryphal literature does not make that work or even that part quoted inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is simply an illustration. Paul does the same thing when he quotes from a popular Greek poet when he spoke before the Areopagus , filled with a completely Greek audience. (Acts 17:28).
The apostles, prophets, and preachers of the Bible used all of the contemporary illustrations at their fingertips to affect their listeners with their messages. The Holy Spirit inspires what they said within the pages of Scripture. But he does not inspire the sources they used.