There is amazing similarity between 2 Peter and Jude. Therefore the following logical questions arise:
- Which one was written first?
- Which one derived material from the other?
The following evidence supports 2 Peter being written before Jude.
Peter has been told by Jesus in a revelation that he is going to die very soon.1 He follows that comment with a mention of his upcoming death.2 Therefore he will no longer be able to look after his readers personally—they will have to stand on their own. So he is writing to warn them about false prophets that he knows will arise. Whether he learned this directly from Jesus at the same time he heard that his death was “imminent” is unclear. However, it is apparent that he is making a very direct prophesy of future events.
It is evident that these events he warns them of are in the future and not a current event because of the tenses of the verbs he uses. In Chapter 2 verses 1-3 he says:
…there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words….
All of the verbs that are underlined are in the Greek Future Tense and Indicative Mood. That denotes future events that have not yet occurred.
He follows this with an exhortation: “You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard…”3
Obviously, he is not talking about present problems but things that he knows will occur in the future.
In contrast, Jude is talking about problems that his readers are experiencing in the present. He said in Jude 4: “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed…” This verb is in the Greek Aorist Tense and Indicative Mood which denotes events that have occurred in the past. These false prophets have already crept in—they are not in the future.
Then in verse 8 Jude says: “Yet in the same manner these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.” These underlined verbs are in the Greek Present Tense and Indicative Mood which denotes present events.
Therefore, the people to whom Jude wrote4 were actually experiencing (in the present) things that Peter had previously prophesied (as future).
Since 2 Peter refers to things in the future and Jude refers to those same things but in the present, we should conclude that Jude was written after 2 Peter.
Furthermore, Jude may have deliberately used the same words as Peter in order to remind them of the things they already knew.5 Now that Peter has died, knowing that they had already been warned by Peter, he is using Peter’s original words as a greater authority than his own.6 That would explain their great similarity.
It would also explain why Jude is so much shorter than 2 Peter. Jude’s purpose is to remind them of what Peter said—not quote it in its entirety.
- The book of 2 Peter was written earlier than Jude.
- Jude purposely quoted material from 2 Peter.
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- 2 Peter 1:14, “…knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.”
- 2 Peter 1:15, “And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you may be able to call these things to mind.”
- 2 Peter 3:17
- Could they be the same people to whom Peter wrote? It seems likely.
- Jude 17, “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ…” He could be referring to Peter’s second letter as one of the apostles who had written those things.
- Unlike Peter, Jude was not an apostle.