Jude is a short letter (25 verses) written to Christians at an undisclosed location. The 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), and according to Matt. 13:55 & Mark 6:3 it is concluded that Jude was the brother of Jesus. These passages refer to Jude as Judas. The name Jude in the Greek is Ἰούδας (Ee oo das).
The purpose in writing this letter was a response to and a call to the recipients of this letter to contend for the faith as false teachers had infiltrated their body of believers.
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 According to extra biblical historical documents James was known as “James the just” and according to Acts 15 he was the leader of the Jerusalem church.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.
Mercy, Peace & Love be multiplied among you.
Contend For the Faith
In verse three 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 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.
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
How to Contend For the Faith Today
Unfortunately, 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.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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