Jude 1:1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James.
This letter was likely written around AD 65, by the half-brother of Jesus Christ, and the full brother of James. Like his brothers, Jude did not believe in Jesus during his earthly ministry (John 7:5), but came to believe after he rose from the dead.
The recipients were probably Jewish Christians, since Jude quoted freely from the Old Testament, and other Jewish sources. He wrote to combat the idea that God’s forgiveness includes the freedom to sin without restraint. Due to the subject’s serious nature, the tone is severe.
Jude’s letter is often overlooked because of its brevity, but it is remarkably cogent, well-written, and carefully constructed. It shares much in common with Second Peter, but it is not clear if Peter relied on Jude, if Jude relied on Peter, or if both relied on a third source. This kind of borrowing was commonly accepted in the ancient world.
Jude 1:1b To those who have been called . . . .
A distinction can be made between the general call of God and the effective call of God. Jesus spoke of the general call when he said many are called, but few are chosen (Matthew 22:14, ESV). Likewise, Peter called on multitudes to believe in Jesus Christ (Acts 2:41, Acts 3:4). This is the general call of God, which should be offered to all.
The effective call of God is how he converts a sinner to himself. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified (Romans 8:30), wrote Paul.
Before we believe in Jesus Christ, we are dead in [our] sins (Colossians 2:14), wrote Paul. Dead people cannot make themselves alive, but the call of God can. Jesus went to the tomb of his friend and said, Lazarus, come out! The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen (John 11:43-44), wrote John.
The word of God raised Lazarus from the dead, and the word of God raises dead sinners to life in Christ. When we understand the effective call of God, we will give him the glory for our conversion, and take none of the credit ourselves.
Jude 1:1c . . . who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.
God is the one who saves, and God is the one who keeps. We must believe and obey, of course, but God is the one who keeps us for his Son. We are kept for Jesus Christ, wrote Jude.
Shortly after I came to Christ, I shamefully strayed from him. For several months I walked in darkness, and showed no evidence of being a believer. God could have turned his back on me, the way I did on him, but he graciously called me back by the power of his Spirit. If I was not kept by God, I would not be in the faith today.
This idea is called preservation, and is seen in the following verses. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand (John 10:28-29), said Jesus.
Likewise, He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:8), wrote Paul. And, [H]e who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion (Philippians 1:6), wrote Paul also. By understanding the doctrine of preservation, we give glory to God for keeping us, and take none of the credit ourselves.
Jude 1:3 . . . contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.
The Christian faith, as taught by the apostles, was being eroded by false teachers. If believers did not reject the false teaching, they would soon belong to a false church. Jude rang the alarm to awaken the church to the danger it was facing.
Christians ought to contend for the faith without being contentious. Many churches have been hurt by leaders who insist that everyone agree with them on every single point. But If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other (Galatians 5:15), wrote Paul.
It is helpful to distinguish primary doctrines of Christianity from secondary doctrines. Primary doctrines include the Trinity (Matthew 28:19), the person and work of Christ (John 1:1, 14), and the authority of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16). Secondary doctrines include less important things like the role and nature of angels. Everything in the Bible is important, but not everything is equally important (Matthew 23:23). Contending for the faith is good; being contentious for the faith is bad.
Jude 1:4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
This is the heart of the problem Jude wrote to correct. The offer of forgiveness through faith in Jesus Christ, was being perverted to mean that Christians can sin without restraint, and still be saved. To teach or believe such a thing is to deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord, wrote Jude.
Jesus said, anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell (Matthew 5:28-29). To argue that Christians can live immorally is to deny the authority of Jesus Christ.
The heresy of antinomianism continues to flourish in churches around the world. Some teach that we can accept Jesus as Savior without accepting him as Lord. We can accept his forgiveness without accepting his commands. Others flatly reject Jesus’ teaching on morality and condone the very behavior he condemns. But in doing so, they deny the authority of Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.
Reflection and Review
How has Jesus kept you in the faith?
Should Christians be argumentative?
What should we do if God’s commands seem too hard for us?