The author of the book of Jude identifies himself as “…a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James…” (1:1). Mentioning James in this way infers that he was widely known to the brethren. There are four men named James in the New Testament, but only one James whom we know had a brother named Judas (a.k.a.). Jesus’ brother James was a prominent man in the church at Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; 16:13; 21:18; 1 Corinthians 15:7; Galatians 1:19; 2:9, 12). Jude is likely the Lord’s brother, though it seems perhaps our of humility, he identified himself as the brother of James and the Lord’s bondservant.
Verses 3-4 set up the topic of discussion for this short letter. He wrote:
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. (Jude 1:3-4)
He desired to write an uplifting letter to the brethren extolling our common salvation, but instead he saw the need to urge the Christians to stand firm against the enemies of the faith. Our English phrase “contend earnestly” comes from a single Greek word, epagwnizomai; a powerful term which literally translates to “agonize upon.” It is the word which would be used to describe Olympic style wrestling, a great illustration for our stand for the truth.
He acknowledges the challengers to the faith. The problem is not from outside only, but also from within. Verse 4 speaks about some who have crept in unnoticed. False teachers and false prophets do not announce themselves—they will work from within the body of Christ doing all manner of damage until they are put out of the church. There was no shortage of heresy to challenge the first century Christians. Those whom Jude wrote about were Gnostics, who “…defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries” (v 8).
Jude reminds his reader that false teachers will be judged by the Lord (v 5-7). In the text, he gives three examples of God’s judgment: 1) the Exodus generation, 2) the angels who left their abode, and 3) Sodom and Gomorrah. The wicked will not stand before God. Jude gave several descriptions of the wicked character of false teachers. He identified them as:
|“ungodly men”||“clouds without water”|
|“dreamers”||“late autumn trees without fruit”|
|“defile the flesh”||“raging waves of the sea”|
|“reject authority”||“wandering stars”|
|“speak evil of dignitaries”||“ungodly … ungodly … ungodly”|
|“brute beasts”||“grumblers … complainers”|
|“gone in the way of Cain”||“walking in their own lusts”|
|“run greedily in the error of Balaam”||“great swelling words”|
|“rebellion of Korah”||“mockers”|
|“spots … hidden rocks”||“sensual persons”|
He closes his letter encouraging the children of God to build up their faith, to be earnest in prayer, to focus on God’s love, to desire the mercy of Christ, and to look out for one another in the faith. His final admonition is:
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. (v 24-25)
The book of Revelation next time.