Jude: Contending Earnestly for the Faith

Jude: Contending Earnestly for the Faith

I.  INTRODUCTION.  1, 2.

1.  The Author.  1a.

The author simply identifies himself as "Jude, the bondservant of Jesus Christ, and the brother of James."  His brother, James, was well known as a leader of the church in Jerusalem.  In Acts 15:13 we find him speaking to the church council there regarding circumcision and the salvation of Gentiles.

Both Jude and James were half-brothers of the Lord.  They are mentioned in Matthew 14:55 and Mark 6:3.  Jude is Judas in these verses.

Instead of writing that he was a brother of Jesus, he refers to himself as "the bondservant of Jesus Christ."  A bondservant was really a slave.  Obviously, this speaks of his complete dedication to the Lord.

2.  The Addressee.  1b.

This letter was written by Jude "To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ."  Throughout Jude's epistle he makes frequent use of triads.  For example, the recipients of his letter are (1) called, (2) sanctified, and (3) preserved.  The New International Version used the loved instead of sanctified.  How wonderful to be among those who are called, loved, and kept!  These three words summarize the believer's experience from beginning to end.

3.  The Greeting.  2.

Here in the second verse we have Jude's second triad: (1) mercy, (2) peace, and (3) love.  Just think about these things, and how blessed the believer is in Christ.  And Jude desired that mercy, peace, and love be multiplied in the lives of the readers.

 

II.  EXHORTATION.  3, 4.

1.  An Exhortation to Defend the Faith.  3.

Jude had intended to write with some diligence regarding "our common salvation."  This is a salvation that is shared by all who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior.

Instead, he found it necessary to exhort the believers "to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."  To contend is to fight.  The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy that he had fought the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7).  This is the same Greek word as contend.

The faith for which we contend is that body of truth commonly shared by those who have been saved by grace through faith in the Son of God, who died for our sins, was buried, and rose again.  It's the truth that sets men free, the truth of the Word of God.

It's important to note that this faith was "once for all" delivered to the saints.  That's once for all time.  There isn't any new truth that needs to be added to that which has already been entrusted to believers.  Any additional revelation is heresy.

Notice that the faith was "delivered" to the saints.  In other words it was passed on from one believer to another.  Paul uses this word in 1 Corinthians 15:3, where he reminds the Christians at Corinth that he delivered the gospel to them.

2.  The Entrance of Ungodly Men.  4.

Ungodly men had "crept in unnoticed."  Jude likens them to snakes or serpents.  We're reminded of someone who had a dialogue with Eve in the garden in Genesis 3.

 Two charges are brought against these men.  First, they defile the grace of God.  There are different ways that this can be done.  Some like the Pharisees of Jesus' day were legalistic.

  They taught that salvation was by the works of the law, making void God's saving grace.  Others, like those mentioned by Jude, were lewd, proclaiming a gospel of licentiousness.  They said, "Since you are saved by grace, let sin abound.  You aren't saved by works, so go out and live like the devil.  Have fun.  Eat, drink, and be merry!"  Is it any wonder that they are called ungodly?

Second, they denied the person and work of Jesus Christ.  The titles, "Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ," refer to the same person.

The condemnation to which they were "long ago marked out" was clearly spelled out in many Old Testament Scriptures.  For example, see Psalm 1:5, 6, and Isaiah 13:11.  Their end is also predicted in the New Testament in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-10, and 2 Peter 2:3.

 

III.  CONDEMNATION.  5-7.

The Old Testament not only declared the terrible judgment of the ungodly, but provided frightening examples from the past.  Here we have another triad.

1.  Unbelieving Jews.  5.

They had been delivered from Egypt, and had experienced God's guidance and provision in the wilderness, but failed to enter Canaan because of their unbelief.  Read Hebrews 3:7-19.

2.  Fallen Angels.  6.

These angels "did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode."  The Greek word translated left carries with it the thought of forsaking.  Those angels who left their own home forsook the Lord in so doing.  They apparently followed Satan in his fall.

These fallen angels are presently "reserved in everlasting chains under darkness."  They are awaiting "the judgment of the great day."  Since God will judge angels, consider the solemn words of Hebrews 10:26-31.

3.  Immoral Cities.  7.

Fiery destruction was the fearful exhibition of God's condemnation of Sodom and Gomorrha, and surrounding cities, which joined them in sexual immorality.  You can read about this in Genesis 19.

Some churches today wrestle with the issue of homosexuality.  Denominations are divided. 

Some pastors do not want to appear judgmental or censorious.  Was God wrong in setting forth those condemned cities "as an example"?  Of course not.  Homosexuality is immoral.  See Leviticus 18:22; 20:13; Romans 1:26, 27.

 

IV.  DESCRIPTION.  8-10.

1.  Dreamers.  8-10.

The King James Version of the Bible speaks of "filthy dreamers."  The word "filthy" does not appear in other translations, because that word is not found in the Greek text.  However, the word "likewise" is.  The dreamers of verse 8 are like the ungodly mentioned in the above examples.

These dreamers didn't just dream.  They claimed to get their teachings by dreams or revelations.  Moses forewarned of such men in Deuteronomy 13:1-5.

Jude again resorts to a three-fold description of these false teachers, who "defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries."

In verses 9 and 10 he cites an example by way of contrast of a dialogue between Michael the archangel and the devil.  This conversation is not recorded in the Bible.  Jewish tradition adopted it from an apocryphal book, The Assumption of Moses.  Michael did not slander Satan, the leader of the fallen angels.  Whereas, the dreamers even "speak evil of whatever they do not know."

The filthy dreamers are "like brute beasts," or "unreasoning animals" as in the New International Version.  In the defilement of the flesh and willful ignorance of the truth "they corrupt themselves."

2.  Ungodly Men of the Past.  11.

Here we have a triad of men, who are proven to be worthy of condemnation in the Old Testament.  "Woe to them!"  What a solemn pronouncement!  Here we have three examples not be followed: (1) the way of Cain, (2) the error of Balaam, and (3) the rebellion of Korah.

We can read about Cain in Genesis 4:3-8, and Hebrews 11:4.  His brother, Abel, "offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice," a lamb.  Cain represents those who want to come to God their own way on their own terms.  He was also a murderer.

Under the guise of serving God, Balaam encouraged others to sin, while at the same time seeking financial gain from their error.  See Numbers 22, and 2 Peter 2:15, 16.

The rebellion of Korah is mentioned in Numbers 16.  He led a revolt against Moses and Aaron.  Korah refused to acknowledge the authority delegated to them by God.  Those who followed Korah in his rebellion perished.

3.  Metaphors.  12, 13.

What are the ungodly like?  Here we do not have a triad, but rather a five-fold description of them.  They are (1) spots or stains in love feasts, (2) clouds without water, (3) late autumn trees, (4) raging waves of the sea, and (5) wandering stars.

Though the ungodly participate in the love feasts, they are merely self-serving.  True love serves others.  These people unabashedly look out only for themselves.  They also deny the absolute truth of the Bible.  They adhere to relative truth.  Their feet are firmly planted in midair, where they are moved by every wind of doctrine.  As late autumn trees they are "twice dead."  They bear no fruit and are uprooted.  All of the condemned exhibit shameful behavior.  Wandering stars are useless to navigators.  Only fixed stars can guide ships at sea.  The ungodly described here are not to be followed.

 

V.  PREDICTION.  14-19.

1.  The Prophecy of Enoch.  14, 15.

What is known as the apocryphal Book of Enoch contains a statement similar to that quoted by Jude in verses 14 and 15.  In this book Enoch prophesied of the coming of the Lord "to execute judgment" on the ungodly.  The word ungodly appears four times in verse 15.

The early church had a problem accepting the book of Jude as the inspired word of God, because of this extra-biblical quotation.  Finally it was considered part of the sacred canon, as the apostle Paul also quoted other writers, who weren't Christians.  For example, in Titus 1:12 he quotes Epimenides, a Cretan poet.  Apparently those to whom Jude's letter was addressed were familiar with this prediction.

2.  The Words of the Apostles.  16-19.

The apostles also foretold the coming of these ungodly men.  Jude brought to remembrance the warning of these men of God, "the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ." Both Peter and Paul had much to say about false teachers.  In fact the second chapter of 2 Peter is similar to Jude's epistle.  They are so much alike that the question has been asked, Who copied from whom?

It appears that 2 Peter was written before Jude.  Peter wrote in 2 Peter 2:1, "There will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them...."  He spoke of the future, saying that they would come.  Jude, on the other hand, wrote that they had arrived.  If anyone copied from anyone, it seems that Jude copied from Peter.

The apostles predicted that "there would be mockers in the last time."  In 2 Peter 3:2 we read, "Scoffers will come in the last days...."

In verses 16 and 19 we find more descriptive language regarding the ungodly.

 

VI.  INSTRUCTION.  20-23.

1.  The Basic Premise.  21b.

In verse 3 the believers were exhorted to contend earnestly for the faith.  Underline these words: "keep yourselves in the love of God."  Ungodly, false teachers are disruptive and divisive.  But God's "beloved" are to maintain their loving relationship with the Lord.  How do you do that?

2.  The Bold Pursuit.  20, 21a, 22, 23.

Six courses of action are outlined for us in these four verses.  Notice the use of -ing particles that support the premise.  This is God's way to remain in His love.

(1)  Build yourself up on your most holy faith.  Consider Paul's admonition to the elders at Ephesus.  "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up...."  Acts 20:32.  No Christian can be strong in the Lord apart from the Word of God at work in his life.  Also, the only way to fight the good fight of faith is with the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God.

(2)  Pray in the Spirit.  This should not be some unique experience in the life of the Christian.  It is not praying in tongues.  Those born of the Spirit, should live in the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, and talk in the Spirit.  There is no substitute to being filled with the Spirit.  God only fills that which is His.

(3)  Look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ when He comes again.  We find a similar consideration in Titus 2:13, where we read, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ."  Those who are looking will truly find mercy in that Day.

(4)  Have compassion on those who doubt.  Verse 22 in the New International Version is translated better.  It reads, "Be merciful to those who doubt."  There is hope, even for the ungodly men who are described in this book.  Love never fails, and Christians only need to remember the grace of God that they received in Jesus Christ.

(5)  Snatch others from the fire.  God is in the rescue business.  The mandate is called The Great Commission.  Believers should reach out to the lost.

 

VII.  BENEDICTION.  24, 25.

1.  What God Can Do.  24.

In the opening salutation in verse 1 we learned that believers are "preserved" in Jesus Christ.  Here we are reminded that He "is able to keep you from stumbling."  Christians are "kept by the power of God through faith."  1 Peter 1:5.  He holds His sheep securely in His hand.

He is not only able to keep His own.  He is also able "to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy."  What a statement!  Just dwell on that!

2.  What God is Due.  25.

"God our Savior" is the Lord Jesus Christ.  We cannot improve on the doxology that ends this little book.

"To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever,
Amen."

 
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