The Epistle of Jude is a short letter (25 verses) written to Christians at an undisclosed location. This letter was written from a Jewish point of view, and many have concluded that it was written to either solely Jewish Christians or a mixture of Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians who had an understanding of Jewish traditions. It was written around the mid-60’s A.D. by a person named Jude. We don’t know very much about Jude, but we are pretty certain that he was the brother of James (who is believed to be the brother of Jesus). According to Matt. 13:55 & Mark 6:3 it can be concluded that Jude was almost certainly the brother of Jesus. These passages that I just mentioned refer to Jude as Judas because the name Jude in the Greek is Ἰούδας (Ee oo das).
The purpose in writing this letter was to issue a response and a call to the recipients of this letter to contend for the faith as false teachers had infiltrated this church.
Vs 1 - 2
Vs 1: The author refers to himself as “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.” The word “servant” in Greek is δοῦλοσ (doulos) which means a bond servant or a slave. It is one who gives himself up to another’s will and whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing his cause among men. A biblical servant was one who is devoted to another to the disregard of one’s own interests. Jude considers himself first and foremost a servant to Jesus Christ. His interests, causes and services were to Jesus Christ. He was a bond man to His savior and master, and he spent his life preaching and advancing the Kingdom of Christ. According to extra biblical historical documents James was known as “James the just” and according to Acts 15 he was the leader of the Jerusalem church. Josephus writes that James was “noted for his scrupulous keeping of the Jewish law.”
Once Jude establishes who he is, he writes that the letter is written to “those who are called” or κλητός (Kletos) which means those invited by God in the proclamation of the Gospel to obtain eternal salvation in the Kingdom of Christ. The called are people who are divinely selected or appointed. In simple terms this letter is written to Christians. Since this is so this means that not only does this letter apply to the people of this time but also applies to you and me today. We are the Kletos, we are divinely appointed to be His people. God has called us to eternal salvation and with this comes a great responsibility to walk according to His ways and share His gospel message. The called are also the “beloved in God” which means that not only are we divinely appointed Christians, but we are also loved dearly by the Father. We are divinely called to be followers of Christ, dearly loved by the Father and “kept” in Jesus. The word “kept” τηρέω (tereo)means preserved, to guard, attend carefully. In Christ we are preserved and guarded. To those who are in Christ there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. We are kept secure by Him.
Vs 2: Mercy, Peace & Love be multiplied among you.
What a beautiful greeting. Jude is not only saying may you have mercy, peace and love he is saying, “may it be multiplied” or increased among you. It is constant, active and ever growing. May this be the kind of mercy, peace and love that we experience and show in our Christian walk.
Vs 3 - 4
Contend for the Faith
Vs 3: Jude gives us the purpose for writing the letter. Jude was writing with a heavy heart because he initially wanted to write this letter as a letter of encouragement and affirmation. He wanted to edify the believers as he desired to write about the common salvation they shared. Common salvation is the general faith they had in common. The word common is the word koinos in which we get the word koinoinia which means fellowship. Jude desired to fellowship (through a letter) with the believers and encourage them in their salvation and let them know they were on the right course. Unfortunately, his desire to write an encouraging letter had to be placed on the backburner, because of some very unfortunate events that were happening in the fellowship.
Jude found it necessary to urge the believers to “contend for the faith”. He was making an appeal to them to stand up against the heresies that had been infiltrating the body of believers. Even as early as the mid 60’s A.D. heresies were making their ways into fellowships. Unfortunately, as we will soon see, some of those heresies were starting to surface in this group. Jude was encouraging the fellowship to “contend for the faith”. The Greek word for contend is where we get our English word agonize. It means to fight, to struggle with strenuous zeal. Jude was urging this body to be proactive in its fight against heresy. They were to actively struggle in fighting for the faith. Jude was essentially telling them not to have an attitude of “We don’t want to offend anyone or cause people to leave or start any fights so we will allow these teachings to go on and eventually they will stop.” No, Jude was urging them to stop what was going on or face the consequences.
They are to contend of fight for the “faith”. The word faith in g
Greek πίστις (Pisitis) which means a strong conviction of truth; in particular it is a conviction of belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things. These truths include…
At the time of writing this letter there was already an established teaching about salvation that was rooted in the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. Jude is urging the body to contend for the faith. They were to fight for the truth of the existence of God, to fight for the Lordship of Jesus Christ, to fight for the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, and to fight the wolves who were masquerading in this body as sheep.
Vs 4: Unfortunately, certain people had crept in and infiltrated fellowship with false teaching and heresy. They had “Crept in unnoticed” or pareisduno (par-ice-doo'-no) to enter in secretly or stealthily like parasites. These people have secretly crept into this body and they were designated ahead of time for condemnation. This expression teaches that the condemnation of apostates has been determined long beforehand. They may have crept in and taken the church by surprise but God in his sovereignty was not. They were designated before hand to be false teachers and God had taken measures to make sure these people were exposed.
Characteristics of Wolves In Sheep’s Clothing
a.Ungodly- Destitute of reverence to God. Condemning God.
b.Pervert the grace to sensuality – To change or add to the gospel message of grace, to fall away, or put something else in its place (idolatry).
i.Sensuality - unbridled lust, excessiveness, shamelessness and insolence.
ii.They were changing God’s grace of kindness and forgiveness to a license to sin.
c.Deny that Jesus is Lord – Disregard for Jesus or try to prove false the supremacy and Christology of Jesus. People who say or believe, “Jesus wasn’t really God and He never claimed to be God.” “He was a good man but not God.”
Vs 5 - 7
A Stern Warning and a Gentle Reminder
Since the false teachers (wolves in sheep’s clothing) had secretly crept into the Church, Jude finds it necessary to give the readers a warning about the judgment of false teachers by reminding them how God deals with all tolerated sin.
Vs 5: “I want to remind you” about God’s stern judgment in the past in dealing with sin. This reminder implies that they were familiar with the forthcoming accounts and maybe they needed a “refresher” course on the history of God’s dealing with all types of blatant sin.
Jude gives three examples for the church to remember…
Jude reminds the readers that the Jesus he speaks about was the same Jesus who saved the Israelites from Egyptians slavery and pursuit. He is also the same Jesus who executed judgment on the nation in the desert. Some manuscripts read “The Lord” but the ESV and other modern translations show that the Greek word used is Jesus. In this passage we see that Jesus and God are one in the same. Equating Jesus with God was an early Apostolic teaching that was widely held and understood (Remember Jude says, “I want to remind you”). Thus, Jesus and God are considered equal here and this was nothing new to the readers.
Two facts are present in this account of the Exodus of Israel.
Vs 6: The second reminder is about the angels who rebelled against God were sinning against God. We do not know what their actual sin was. Some attribute the sin to the angels and Nephilim in Gen. 6, plus 2 Peter 2:4-9 talks a little about the fallen angels. However, what we do know is that the angels who sinned did not stay in the position God appointed them. This could very well be referring to Lucifer and his desires to be like the Most High. He left his position of servant or messenger when he tried to overthrow the throne of God. The result was punishment for their sin by containment in eternal chains and kept until the judgment.
Sodom and Gomorrah
Vs 7: The third reminder is found in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. The question arises, “Why was Sodom and Gomorrah destroyed?” We are told that is was because of sexual immorality. The Greek word is ἐκπορνεύω [ekporneuo/ek·porn·yoo·o] and means giving oneself over to fornication, to go a whoring. The people of Sodom and Gomorrah pursued unnatural desires and the word nnatural ἕτερος [heteros /het·er·os/] means went back after another, one not of the same nature, form or class. The word Desires - σάρξ [sarx /sarx/] means flesh or more commonly referred to the animal nature with cravings which incite sin. It is the earthly nature of man and therefore prone to sin and oppose God. Sodom and Gomorrah serve as an example of how God has dealt with the sin of sexual immorality and is very much a warning to the ungodly.
In review the three sins mentioned are…
How to Contend for the Faith Today
There are still wolves masquerading as sheep in the church today. We are to contend and guard the message of Christ that is taught in the Bible. We are called to expose the wolves when they creep in and we are to protect the flock with the truth. How do we do this?
MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Jud 4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
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