The General Epistle of Jude designates its author as “a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.” Its message was for Christians wherever unity was threatened by heretical teaching and where Christian doctrinal and moral standards were questioned.
Author: Jude, one of our Lord’s brothers
One Key passage to look at:
Jude 3 – “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
Observations about Jude:
– Jude was one of the Lord’s brothers, called Judas in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3.
– His older brother James was:
— The famous leader in the Jerusalem church. Acts 15:13-21
— The author of the Book of James.
– Like his brothers, Jude did not believe in Jesus before the resurrection (John 7:1-9; Acts 1:14).
– The only other Biblical reference to him is in I Corinthians 9:5 where it is recorded that “the brothers of the Lord” took their wives along on their missionary journey.
– No particular circle of readers is referenced in the book, nor are any geographical regions mentioned.
– Has some strong similarities with II Peter.
— II Peter 2:1 – 3:4 is greatly similar to Jude verses 4-18.
– There is not enough information in the epistle to settle the question of whether his readers were Jewish or Gentile Christians.
— There is probably a mixture of both.
– In any case, the progress of the faith in their region was threatened by a number of apostates who rejected Christ in practice and principle.
– Because of the silence of the New Testament and tradition concerning Jude’s last years, we cannot know where the epistle was written, nor is there any way to be certain of its date.
– Jude’s silence concerning the destruction of Jerusalem does not prove that he wrote this letter before A.D. 70
– Fight! Contend! Do battle! When apostasy arises, when false teachers emerge, when the truth of God is attacked, it is time to fight for the faith.
– Only Christians who are spiritually “in shape” can answer the summons.
– At the beginning of his letter, Jude focuses on the believer’s common salvation, but then feels compelled to challenge them to contend for the faith.
– The danger is real.
— False teachers have crept into the church, turning god’s grace into unbounded license to do as they please.
– Jude reminds such men of God’s past dealings with:
a. Unbelieving Israel.
b. Disobedient angels.
c. Wicked Sodom and Gomorrah.
– In the face of such danger, Christians should not be caught off guard.
– The contents of the book reveal two major purposes:
— First: To condemn the practices of the ungodly libertines who were infesting the churches and corrupting Christians.
— Second: To counsel the readers to stand firm, grow in their faith, and contend for the faith.
– The challenge is great, but so is the God who is able to keep them from stumbling.
A surprisingly number of the Pauline and non-Pauline epistles confront the problem of false teachers, and almost all of them allude to it. Jude goes beyond all other New Testament epistles in its relentless and passionate
denunciation of the apostolic teachers who have “crept in unnoticed.” With the exception of its salutation (verses 1-2) and doxology (verses 24-25), the entire epistle revolves around this alarming problem. Combining the theme of II Peter with the style of James, Jude is potent in spite of its brevity.
There are four major sections in the book:
Jude addresses his letter to Christians who are “called,” “sanctified,” and “preserved,” and wishes for them the three fold blessing of mercy, peace, and love. Grim news about the encroaching of false teachers in the churches has impelled Jude to put aside his commentary on salvation to write this timely word of rebuke and warning.
In view of the apostates who turn “the grace of our God into lewdness” and deny Christ, it is crucial that believers “contend earnestly for the faith.
Jude begins his extended expose of the apostate teachers by illustrating their ultimate doom with three examples of divine judgment from the Pentateuch in the Old Testament. Like unreasoning animals, these apostates are ruled by the things they revile, and they are destroyed by the things they practice. Even the archangel is more careful in his dealings with superhuman powers than are these arrogant men. He compares these rebellious men from the Book of Genesis and Numbers. Both of these incurred the condemnation of God (verse 11). Verses 12-13 succinctly summarize their character with five highly descriptive metaphors taken from nature. In verse 16 Jude catalogs some of their practices.
This letter has been exposing apostate teachers (verses 8, 10, 12, 14, 16), but now Jude directly addresses his readers (“But you, beloved, remember” verse 17). He reminds them of the apostolic warning that such men would come (verses 17-19) and encourages them to protect themselves against the onslaught of apostasy (verses
20-21). The readers must become mature in their own faith so that they will be able to rescue those who are enticed or already ensnared by error (verses 22-23).
Jude closes with one of the greatest doxologies in the Bible. It emphasizes the power of Christ to keep those who trust in Him from being overthrown by error.
Jude 24-25 – “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.”