Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:
(a) Jude identifies himself as the brother of James. If this James was the leader of the church in Jerusalem, as many scholars believe, Jude was also the half-brother of Jesus. He was the Jude or Judas listed in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. Jude, like James his brother, did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah until after the resurrection. Jude may have been one of the 500 who saw the Risen Lord (1 Cor. 15:6). Or maybe he learned about Jesus from his brother James (1 Cor. 15:7).
(b) A bond-servant of Jesus Christ; see entry for Rom. 1:1.
(c) James was the leader of the Jerusalem church (Acts 15:13), the half-brother of Jesus (Gal. 1:19), and the author of the epistle that bears his name.
(d) The called. Everyone is called (1 Cor. 1:24) but only those who respond in faith are known as “the called of Jesus Christ” (Rom. 1:6).
(e) Beloved. Four times in his short letter, Jude refers to his Christian readers as beloved (Jude 1:1, 3, 17, 20). The original word (agapaō) means to be well pleased or fond of or contented. This word captures God’s heart for you. Your heavenly Father is fond of you. You are his esteemed favorite and he is well pleased with you. He looks at you with a feeling of deep contentment knowing that you are his dearly loved child.
May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.
(a) Mercy. The original word for mercy means compassion. It is similar to Paul’s traditional greeting of grace.
(b) Peace. The original word for peace means quietness and rest and by implication includes prosperity.
(c) Love. To the traditional greeting Jude adds the agape-love of God.
Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
(a) Beloved; see entry for Jude 1:1.
(b) Contend earnestly for the faith. The proper response to toxic teaching is to contend for and build each other up in the faith (Jude 1:20). This is not an invitation to hammer people with dogma, but to boldly proclaim the gospel. It is the truth that exposes the counterfeit.
In Jude’s day, false teachers had infiltrated the church preaching a licentious message (Jude 1:4). Jude calls out these false teachers and encourages the believers to take stand against their bad message.
For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
(a) Certain persons. False teachers had infiltrated the church. These “ungodly persons” are not confused Christians, but savage wolves (Acts 20:29) who have gone the way of Cain and followed the error of Balaam (Jude 1:11).
(b) Turn the grace of our God into licentiousness. Preach the gospel of grace and someone will ask, “If God’s grace is greater than my sin, why can’t I go on sinning?” (see Rom. 6:1). That was the issue Jude is confronting here. Certain people were saying grace gives us license to sin. In context, it seems they were encouraging Christians to participate at idol festivals (see entry for Jude 1:11). Jude strongly opposed this teaching.
Your sinning will never affect God’s love for you, but it will surely affect you. Sin is destructive. It will hurt you and those you love. It is not God’s will for you to destroy your health and your home through destructive choices, and this is why he gives us his grace – so that we may be empowered to say no to temptation and live whole and godly lives (Tit. 2:11-12).
Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.
(a) Woe to them! Jude’s message is “woe to them”, not “woe to you.” His rebuke is directed to the false and godless teachers who remain under condemnation, not the saint who is made righteous by Jesus.
(b) The way of Cain. Cain the killer is associated with violence (1 John 3:12).
(c) The error of Balaam. Balaam the false prophet is associated with greed (2 Pet. 2:14-15).
(d) The rebellion of Korah. Korah the rebel is associated with the offering of unauthorized incense (Num. 16:35).
What these three men have in common is idolatry. Cain brought an offering that glorified himself; Balaam devised the entrapment of Israel through idol worship; and Korah sought to usurp the Levitical priesthood. The picture that emerges is of false teachers who say the gospel is not enough. You have to add your own works and or make offerings to false gods. In context, Jude was likely talking about those who encouraged Christians to participate in idol festivals. See entry for 1 Cor. 10:14.
wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.
Wandering stars. In scripture, those who teach the gospel of righteousness are called stars (Dan. 12:3), while false teachers are called wandering stars. These wandering stars or false teachers should not be confused with the seven stars or church leaders held by the Lord in his right hand (Rev. 1:20).
But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,
(a) Beloved; see entry for Jude 1:1.
(b) Building yourselves up. We strengthen ourselves in the faith by keeping ourselves in the love of God (see next verse).
Manmade religion undermines our faith by diminishing the love of God. It does this by portraying our heavenly Father as angry or capricious or by putting price tags on his love. “You have to do more to make yourself acceptable and pleasing to God.” Become uncertain about your Father’s great love for you, and your faith will be shaken. You will be tempted to pursue dead works and you will be susceptible to the sort of false teaching Jude warns about. The antidote to this toxic teaching is to remind ourselves that we are God’s dearly-loved children and that nothing can separate us from his love (Rom 8:38-39).
keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
(a) Keep yourselves in the love of God and let nothing move you.
While John exhorts us to abide or dwell in God (1 John 2:6), Jude exhorts us to keep ourselves in the love of God. The original word for keep means watch, guard, or keep your eye on. When false teachers are adding things to the gospel, we need to take care that we remain in our Father’s love.
(b) Waiting anxiously. This is a poor translation since there is no word here that means anxiously. Rather, the word for waiting (prosdechomai) is repeated for emphasis. It is the waiting that is emphasized. In other Bibles this is translated as “expect and patiently wait” (AMP), “looking for” (KJV), and “waiting for” (ESV). It is waiting with eagerness (Rom. 8:23, Php. 3:20). We are eagerly looking forward to the Lord’s return, not waiting in fear and anxiety.
In his eschatological parables Jesus told stories of masters, noblemen, and bridegrooms being gone “a long time” (Matt. 24:48, 25:5, 25:19). Since Jesus has been gone a long time, he exhorts us to “be like servants waiting for their master” (Luke 12:36). The need to wait is echoed by the epistle writers. “Wait eagerly for our adoption as sons” (Rom 8:23); “We hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it” (Rom 8:25); “We eagerly await a Savior” (Php 3:20); “Be patient brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits…” (Jas. 5:7).
Jesus and every New Testament writer spoke of the need to wait patiently and eagerly for the Lord’s return. We are to be watchful and ready, but we are not to put life on hold. Plant trees and raise families, and do whatever God put you on this earth to do. Invest, build, dig deep and go long. Let your light shine so others may praise your Father in heaven.
(c) Eternal life is not merely endless life; eternal life is divine life. It is Christ living his life through you. See entry for 1 John 1:2.
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