Jude 1-4 a Commentary

During seminary I had the task of translating Jude among other books in the New Testament and I was toying with the idea of writing a commentary and I decided, why not? Jude it one of the shorter books in the Bible.  So here it goes Jude in five blogs:

Jude 1 English Standard Version (ESV)

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.4 For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

1 Now Jude is obviously not Judas who betrayed Jesus and traditionally neither is it the other disciple named Jude. This is accepted to be Jesus’ actual brother Jude. This is the brother to James the guy who wrote the other book in the New Testament, also not one of the twelve. The cool thing here is that obviously the message got through to Jesus’ own family. James and Jude become leaders in the first church and even the disciples seem to value their opinions as we see at the Jerusalem council in Acts 15. This is quite a different attitude from the brothers who almost are chiding Jesus on when they try to get him to go to the festival from John 7. Jesus responds that the world doesn’t accept him but that world accepts them, clearly making a distinction between himself and them. So when this book is written clearly they have witnessed the power of God and come around to the idea that their own brother was sent from God.  So much so that Jude now considers himself a servant of Jesus his brother and he identifies as the brother of James rather than just saying the brother of Jesus. In part b of this verse he communicates the audience as other people called loved in God and kept in Jesus Christ.  The term kept in Jesus Christ is interesting, It may be alluding to the verses that are coming where he makes the distinction of those who will not be kept or held, but who are being kept in judgment.

2 Not much needs to be said here, he is praying for mercy, peace, and love to be multiplied to the readers of the letters obviously this could just be a greeting, but it may also be what is needed as the book goes on to talk about false teachers. A need for peace and mercy in the midst of their situation may be just what they need as an aid in their trial. 

3 Now this is interesting, Jude admits that he wanted to just write a letter about the common salvation that he and the readers possessed but that given the situation he felt much more urgency to write to them about the need to fight and defend the faith. There was something going on of such import that Jude changed his mind about what to write.  He wants them to understand that their faith is under attack and that they need to defend it, in other words, that apologetics are important. Part b of this verse is also important in that it backs up the notion that the cannon and revelation are completed for the faith. This is not to say that God doesn’t speak anymore but that the Bible contains all things for life and practice already. This is also a reminder that the new revelation coming from the false teachers is not in accordance with the already delivered revelation to the saints. This is reinforcing the need for credible teachers and prophets as we will see in the following verses. 

4 Here are the people that he was warning about. Some people have crept into the church and are not easily identified other than their theology. It is their theology that causes them to stand out. The other interesting thing is that Jude identifies this as people who were designed for a certain kind of judgement that he will get to in the following verses. A key aspect of their theology? They pervert the grace that God has given and turn it into sensuality. In other words they confuse the idea of God’s grace, for license for their own sinful desires. In doing this they pervert the message and end up denying the master Jesus Christ. Why? Because their message flies in the face of everything that Jesus taught and ends up undermining him as the authority. Therefore he can say that they are ungodly. They have a special condemnation as we will see in the following passage.

What commentary is complete without a little application?  I believe the obvious one here is about false teachers, who pervert the truth of the gospel into sensuality. Does this sound at all familiar? We are currently living in a culture where some churches are deciding whether certain sins that the bible spells out to be out of bounds, are as they say, “in bounds”.  These sins are of course of the sensual nature. In other words people have found teachers that have answered their itching ears and longing hearts that want to have their Jesus and sexual sins too.  Jude even nails it on the head here when he says they pervert the grace of God into sensuality. This is exactly the message: Since God is about love and grace then people should be allowed to “love” each other no matter how perverted it may be. Either Jude is a prophet or this book was just written yesterday.

thanks

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