View Full Version : He's Dead why Fight over the body?

Sep 25th 2008, 07:08 PM
Jude 1:9

Why would the archangel have to fight with the devil over the body of a dead man?

Oops after I posted this I found

Sep 25th 2008, 07:11 PM
I've heard it surmised that, if the adversary had or knew the location of Moses' body, he might have been able to introduce "veneration of the dead", and mislead some of the Jews, who obviously held Moses in high regard. Get them to worship the body of Moses, vs. God, in other words.

Sep 25th 2008, 07:20 PM
I've heard it surmised that, if the adversary had or knew the location of Moses' body, he might have been able to introduce "veneration of the dead", and mislead some of the Jews, who obviously held Moses in high regard. Get them to worship the body of Moses, vs. God, in other words.

Praying to dead saints? Who on earth would do that?! :rolleyes:

Sep 25th 2008, 07:27 PM
Thanks for the replies. Pretty much the answer I gave the class. I mean they worshiped the bronze serpent I can just image what they would have done with Moses's body. Probably encased it in glass and locked it in a church and bring it out and carry it around once every 10 years.

Clay Blucher
Sep 25th 2008, 08:11 PM
Jude 9 is an attestation to the Assumption of Moses, a pseudepigraphal book. Jude references the book in a rhetorical attempt to denigrate his opponents. Unlike the example of Michael, who did not condemn the devil, Jude's opponents are speaking out and condemning things they do not understand. In doing so they are also slandering celestial beings. In essence, they are acting like the heathens which Jude points them out as being.

As to why the devil wanted the actual body of Moses, it is rather difficult to say. Most likely the story, being fictional, is accounting two different viewpoints on both Moses and consequently the Law. (This might imply that it was indeed a Christian apologetic work from the first century.) On the one hand the Law could have been seen as in the control of Satan who controlled Moses' destiny. On the other hand, if the Law remains on the side of God, then it plays into His plan of redemption. A curse it might be, but a needed curse to fully understand Christ. Although not the point trying to be made by Jude, this battle over the body of Moses might play a key role in how early Christians viewed the Mosaic Law in terms of their own Jewish background.

Sep 25th 2008, 08:32 PM
It could be that the bones of Moses were still endowed with miracle working power, like Elisha's were after his death....

2Ki 13:21 And it came to pass, as they were burying a man, that, behold, they spied a band of men; and they cast the man into the sepulchre of Elisha: and when the man was let down, and touched the bones of Elisha, he revived, and stood up on his feet.

I guess it wouldn't be good if some yo-yo got a hold of a prophet's miracle bones and started raising peeps from the dead. It would start a new cult I'm sure :lol:

Clay Blucher
Sep 25th 2008, 08:56 PM
A similar experience happened to both Jesus and Paul. Recall the story of the woman with bleeding that just touched Christ's clothes and was healed (Mark 5:24ff; cf. Matt 9:19ff; Luke 8:24bff). Paul had similar things happen to him (Acts 19:11-12). It is possible that there would have grown a belief that Moses' body/bones would have held God's healing powers within it.

Scruffy Kid
Sep 25th 2008, 09:52 PM
There's a good deal of thinking -- or speculation -- here about why Michael contested with the devil about Moses' body. Nothing wrong with that. It's worthwhile to think through Biblical texts from lots of angles.

But it's also important, IMO, not to lose the focus on what it is that Biblical texts are indisputably and centrally saying.

I think that Jude 1:9 is a very important text (and one of particular importance for us here at Bibleforums!!) -- but not because the body of Moses figures in the text! Jude's point is not about Moses' body, but about how we are supposed to enter into debate about even the most important of matters. This point that Jude is making about upright speech is quite plain in verse 9 taken by itself, but it also accords with Jude's main lines of argument in the letter as a whole.

Jude's Central Point in This Verse

Jude (1:8-10) says "Likewise also these ... despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. But these speak evil of those things which they know not."

There's quite a lot going on here -- almost none of it about the body of Moses or why Michael and Satan were disputing about it -- but certainly the core of Jude's point is that "bring[ing] ... railing accusations" is definitely not the thing to do. Rather, Jude is saying, even when disputing the the very worst, the very most evil, of disputants, even if one is oneself the prince of the angels (which Michael now is), even if disputing over a crucial matter, and even when (this is implied I think) sent by God on an important mission to do so, one should conduct oneself politely, moderately, even circumspectly in the discussion.

In the letter as a whole, Jude is talking about a central task of what we do as Christians in the work of the gospel: that we "should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Jude says that that is his purpose in writing, to exhort his readers earnestly to contest for that faith. Nothing, it seems, could be more important. For Jude warns his readers that certain persons have come into the Church twisting, revising, perverting the message of the gospel. This is (I should think) far worse than the wrong views of unbelievers -- it's an attempt to throw the witness of the body of Christ, the church, into error and disarray. And Jude also warns that to follow this wrong doctrine is likely to mean that one is separated from God's redemption of His people. Again, nothing could be more serious. Yet precisely in this context Jude emphasizes the importance of moderate, respectful, even humble ways of speaking.

Jude also indicates that harsh and ignorant speech is something that characterizes the opponents of the gospel. These folk talk about stuff they don't really know or understand, and even twist the very basic things they do understand. But more than that, they use reviling language, even toward authorities. The picture of Michael, prince of angels (perhaps the most authoritative representative of God and of the Lord Jesus) speaking with moderation and even circumspectly to the very worst of opponents (the devil) in defending his claim, on God's behalf for a very important thing (the body of Moses) clearly is meant to be a striking contrast which shows the difference between how God's folk (represented by Michael, here) speak and how evil folk (the devil, and those bringing the false doctrine Jude is combatting) speak.

Similar apostolic witness about meek and gentle speech
from other apostles in the NT, and from the Lord Jesus

This is like Peter who tells us (I Peter 3:1-17) that we should "sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you" but do so "with meekness and fear" so that our "good conversation in Christ" will cause people who falsely accuse us to be ashamed. Both apostles are telling us that in difficult and important circumstances, and under pressure, dealing with the most important matters, it is important for our speech to be gracious, and certainly to avoid misrepresentation or harshness.

Again, James cautions us about this very point several times in his epistle, urging us not to allow bitter comments to emerge from us about other Christians, and warning us that the tongue, by making inflamatory statements, sets the whole world of our nature into a kind of destructive conflagration. Jesus, similarly, in Matthew 5, warns us sternly to speak well of others, and not engage in insults or angry talk. Paul tells us to speak graciously, and let our speech be always seasoned with grace, and to be at peace (so far as it lies in our power) with all.

The Larger Context of Jude's Epistle Supports This

Those Jude writes against are perverting the gospel, turning the grace of God into an excuse for licentiousness, reviling others, murmerers and complainers, with "their mouths speaking great swelling words" and "mockers in the last times." Yet despite all this, Jude's counsel to those he writes to -- even as he earnest exhorts them to contend for the faith once delievered to the saints -- is to "keep yourselves in the love of God." Jude emphasizes "looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ" in the context of having mercy on those we are contending with, not condemning them. For he wants his readers to rescue these who are distorting the gospel, through gentleness as well as truth: "on some have compassion, making a difference, And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire" even despite the danger that associating with such people creates.

Thus the entire Epistle -- even intent as it is on the most vital and deadly serious matter of combatting the gravest of errors -- emphasizes using gentle, moderate speech in doing so, maintaining love for those who are propagating these appalling errors, and seeking, through compassion, to rescue them from their false views.

What has that to do with us at Bibleforums?

These words tell us about how we as Christians should conduct ourselves in debate, with one another, and with non-believers, or even those who (we feel, perhaps correctly) distort the gospel. Rather than getting pulled into harsh speech and exaggeration or dubious characterizations of others' views, it is by being a model of patience, kindness, gentleness, compassion, and scrupulous fairness that we are to combat even the most serious of errors. Speaking in these godly ways advances the gospel, and the specific points we are concerned to defend, in two ways. (1) This approach, rather than worldly speech -- harsh speech and borderline mischaracterization -- really will open the minds of sensible opponents and onlookers, and it's even the approach most likely to change the minds of unbalanced opponents. (2) Apart from the specifics of what we say, this is what the Lord commands, and what models the demeanor of Christ. Thus, apart from the specific points we are trying to make, it conveys to others (and, yes, to ourselves also) the central spirit and atmosphere of the Gospel.

I myself fall short of this counsel, I must sorrowfully admit, all the time. May God forgive me, instruct me, correct me, and help me!

Yet even though we are imperfect, this is the standard of debate we need to be seeking to adhere to here at Bibleforums!