When one thinks of the epistle of Jude, two sections of the letter come to mind. The first section is found in verse 4 where Jude exhorts the brethren saying – 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 tells them up front that he had all intention of writing them about the salvation that they shared in Christ, but because of those who have crept in, Jude now found it necessary to write a very different letter. One in which he exhorts them to contend earnestly for the faith. The verb Jude uses for contend, means to struggle for, or to fight for. It was used to describe the strenuous, even grueling effort that Greek athletes exerted in their competitions. Jude was sounding the trumpet, the battle cry, that they should “fight the good fight of faith, and lay hold on eternal life, to which you were also called and have confessed the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”
The other section of Jude which is very well known is the 2 verses that close out the letter, verses 24 & 25. Many churches close their service with the benediction: “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.”
As well known as these two sections are, it is also true that many do not know much more about this epistle. In fact, it’s said to be the least preached book in the NT. If you look through sites that offer sermons, you’ll see there are not many who expositionally preach through the book. While one can find hundreds of commentaries on most of the individual books of the NT, one is hard pressed to find commentaries on Jude. Thankfully there are a few good ones, but, they are few in number! Why is this? Some believe it was a book written, and meant for a specific time, and occasion – either for and against 2nd Century Gnostic mystics who had crept into the church; others say that it is written about a future apostasy that takes place prior to Jesus’ return. So they reason: “it doesn’t affect us today.” Another reason Jude is not often dealt with, that it contains several OT references, and also a few references to apocalyptic Jewish writings. Many teachers and preachers don’t know how to, or, would rather not deal with this. There are other reasons; possibly the letter’s length being only 25 verses. For these reasons many stay clear of the book, besides an occasional sermon on Jude 4, typically titled, “Contend for the faith.”
Obviously we do not agree with any of their reasoning, as the Bible affirms that “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16), and that includes the epistle of Jude. While the epistle was written to a specific group by Jude, it has much to teach us today in a world that is literally filled with false teachers and false churches! We also believe that the analogies that Jude uses from the OT and from the traditional Jewish literature help us understand and follow Jude’s thinking as he lays out his case against the blasphemers and false prophets of his time; Jude calls them dreamers! Although the apocryphal books are not scripture, clearly, whatever Jude quoted becomes God breathed, and thus profitable for teaching and reproof!
Brethren I’m very excited about this opportunity to dig into a book, written by Jesus’ half brother, that is full of jewels to be mined. The application that I see from this short letter is astronomical for the church today – including things to be thankful for, things to be watchful of, and things to pray for. The letter is full of doctrine, from its opening salutation, until its final benediction. Doctrine that will set your heart ablaze for God and the things of God! This week prepare by reading the epistle of Jude.
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