Jesus had four half-brothers. If they are listed in birth order, Jude (or Judas) would have been number three (Mark 6:3). We know the most about James (Book of James; Acts 15; 1 Corinthians 15:7; Galatians 2:8, 12). We know virtually nothing about Joses (or Joseph) and Simon. During Jesus’ earthly ministry none of these brothers believed in him (John 7:5). But Jesus’ resurrection changed everything for at least two of these brothers, James and Jude (Acts 1:14).
The two half-brothers whose names are attached to their New Testament epistles referred to themselves as “servants” of Jesus Christ (James 1:1; Jude 1). We might expect them to lean on their nepotism as “brothers.” But they recognized by this point that Jesus was not just their brother. He was the Son of God. They, like any others, would have to have “faith in God” (Mark 11:22). And Jude called believers to persevere in that faith.
As harsh as the epistle sounds in places, Jude addressed his hearers as dear friends (beloved) three times (vv. 3, 17, 20). He cared for these who “were called” (v. 1) that they not allow their faith to be undermined by certain individuals. Evidently Jude wanted to write about salvation. Who would not? What a glorious subject. But necessity demanded that Jude shift gears. Instead he wrote to contend (agonize; fight for; strive) for the “once-for-all-delivered-to-the-saints faith” (literal). This label (The Faith Once for All) became the title for the systematic theology book that Jack Cottrell wrote, published by College Press (2002). The faith referred to here essentially became the doctrine of what we call the New Testament. And it can be undermined for God’s holy people.
False teachers rarely come in the front door. They usually slip in secretly through a side door or window. These false teachers who are causing Jude to change his intended message are labeled as ungodly. They pervert (put in another place) God’s grace for license (wickedness) and worse, they deny Jesus in his power and lordship. Jude exposed the false teachers by citing three Old Testament examples. The people of the exodus were the first example. They did not persevere in faith and were destroyed, and this was after they had been delivered by the Lord (actually the text says “Jesus”) himself. Second were the fallen angels. It might be difficult to know the timing of when this happened, but Jude affirmed that they were being kept in darkness (some kind of nether world) for the great Day. Finally, Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned as examples of people who try to undermine faith by their sexual immorality and perversion.
Jude gave other biblical examples of undermined faith in the section between verses 8-16 (e.g. Cain, Balaam, Korah). The angel Michael and the patriarch Enoch had to stand in the gap for righteousness. Jude countered the false teachers by calling the believers to an edifying faith. He took the Christians back to the word of the apostles about these scoffers (same word in 2 Peter 3:3). The false teachers follow wicked passions. They are divisive and follow their natural instincts (physics). He even said that they did not have the Holy Spirit (Cf. Romans 8:9).
Several things lift up God’s people in their faith. These would include praying in the Holy Spirit (which probably means asking the Lord for anything in line with the Holy Spirit’s wishes) and doing whatever is necessary to stay in the love of God. Showing mercy to doubters and saving others who are steeped in sin also edifies the body. The old phrase of “hating the sin but loving the sinner” (though, in the Bible, sin is always punished in the sinner) probably applies with the phrase “hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Prayer, love, and mercy all keep Christians in the fight, and when other believers see these things it edifies them.
Jude 24, 25
Jude concluded his short one-chapter epistle with one of the most elevated doxologies in the Bible. Jude praised God as the one who could keep believers from stumbling in their faith and to present them (make them stand) to himself without fault (blameless) and with great joy. Help from stumbling takes place in this world. Standing before the Lord himself takes place in the world to come. Jude ascribed to God our Savior (a reference to the deity of Jesus?) four qualities that are also eternal, namely glory, majesty, power, and authority. What else can be said but amen?
Dr. Mark Scott teaches Preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri.
Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Lesson based on The Lookout’s Scope and Sequence ©2018. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.