The New Testament book of Jude was written to remind the church of the need for constant vigilance – to keep strong in the faith and to oppose heresy. God’s Word and the gift of eternal life have infinite value and have been entrusted to Christ’s faithful followers. There are many people who live in dedicated opposition to God and to His followers, who twist God’s truth, seeking to deceive and destroy the unwary. However, God’s truth will go forward – carried and defended by those who have committed their lives to the Son of God, who brought the truth to all mankind.
This was Jude’s message to Christians everywhere: opposition will come and Godless teachers will arise, but Christians should “contend for the faith” (1:3) by rejecting all falsehood and immorality (1:4-19), remembering God’s mighty acts of rescue and punishment (1:5-11, 1:14-16), and the warnings of the apostles (1:17-19). Believers are to build up their own faith through prayer (1:20), keeping close to Christ (1:21), helping others (1:22-23), and hating sin (1:23). Jude concludes with a glorious benediction of praise to God (1:24-25).
The Layout of Jude
The Danger Of False Teachers:
This is concentrated in (1:1-16) … Jude wrote to motivate Christians everywhere to action. He wanted them to recognize the dangers of false teaching, to protect themselves and other believers, and to win back those who had already been deceived.
The Duty To Fight For God’s Truth:
This is concentrated in (1:17-25) … Jude was writing against Godless teachers who were saying that Christians could do as they pleased without fear of God’s punishment. While few teach this heresy openly in the church today, many in the church act as though this were true. Jude’s letter contains a stern warning against living a nominal Christian life.
Themes: Explanation and Importance
Jude warns against false teachers and leaders who reject the lordship of Christ, undermine the faith of others, and lead them astray. These leaders, and anyone who follows them, will be punished.
We must staunchly defend Christian truth. Christians must avoid teachers and leaders who distort the Bible to suit their own purposes. Genuine servants of God will faithfully portray Christ in their words and conduct.
Jude also warns against apostasy – turning away from Christ. We are to remember that God punishes rebellion against Him. We must be careful not to drift away from a faithful commitment to Christ.
Those who do not seek to know the truth in God’s Word are susceptible to apostasy. Christians must guard against any false teachings that would distract them from the truth preached by the apostles and written in God’s Word.
A Closer Look… Jude 1:1-25
Jude gives his greetings:
Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James, To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ: Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance. (Jude 1:1-2)
Jude gets to his initial point regarding the sin and doom of Godless men:
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jude 1:3-4)
Jude gives three examples of rebellion against God… and how they were punished:
Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home – these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire. (Jude 1:5-7)
Jude goes on:
In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!” Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals – these are the very things that destroy them. (Jude 1:8-10)
Jude condemns them:
Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error; they have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion. (Jude 1:11)
Jude describes them fittingly:
These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm – shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted – twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever. (Jude 1:12-13)
Jude cites Enoch’s prophecy concerning these men:
Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: “See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage. (Jude 1:14-16)
Jude speaks to the duty that Christians have to fight for God’s righteous truth:
But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit. But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear – hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. (Jude 1:17-23)
Jude concludes with a beautiful doxology:
To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. (Jude 1:24-25)