Jude - Contend for the Faith

INTRODUCTION: This letter has fewer than six hundred words and can be read in less than five minutes. The only shorter works in the New Testament are Philemon, 2John, and 3John. Verse 1 of Jude is the only time that the Greek "Ioudas" [Strong's 2455] is translated as Jude in the 1679 KJV New Testament. It is otherwise translated as Juda, Judah, or Judas; and refers to the patriarch Judah, as well as to various men who lived in the first century. Some believe the author of the letter was a half-brother to the Lord, and others believe he was the brother of James, the son of Alpheus, and therefore one of the twelve apostles called by Jesus. The KJV translators probably chose to translate the Greek name to Jude in English so it would be unique from the infamy associated with Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus. “And Judas <2455> [the brother] of James, and Judas <2455> Iscariot, which also was the traitor. ” (Lu 6:16 AV) “Judas <2455> saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” (Joh 14:22 AV) “And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James [the son] of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas <2455> [the brother] of James.” (Ac 1:13 AV) In some commentaries, attention is drawn to similarities of several verses between Jude's letter and chapter 2 of 2Peter. There are other instances of parallel or very similar passages in both the Old and New Testaments, and it is hoped that through careful reading, Jude's letter will present a distinction worth consideration since it is given by inspiration of God. “All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:” (2 Timothy 3:16 AV)


Jude 1:1 (1769 KJV)

"1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, [and] called:"

COMMENTS: Jude identifies himself first as a servant of Jesus Christ, then as the brother of James. I selected some other verses to illustrate the use of servant (doulos, Strong's #1401) by apostles in their letters to the saints. Of the several Greek words that could be used for one who serves another, this term carries a very strong sense of being under the utter control of the master. This Greek word is used 119 times in the New Testament, with 33 of those appearing in the letters to the churches, all indicative of the common existence of servants in that era. If we think only in terms applied to the world system, being a servant seems not very appealing, but there is no higher calling than to be a servant of Christ. And in the kingdom of God there should be no class distinction carried over from the world system because we are all made one in Christ. “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28 AV) And in this world we are either a servant of Christ, or a servant of the world system. “Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants <1401> to obey, his servants <1401> ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness?” (Romans 6:16 AV) What a tremendous privilege Jesus has then given us to be a servant as were Jude, Paul, James, and Peter. “Paul, a servant <1401> of Jesus Christ, called [to be] an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,” (Ro 1:1 AV) “James, a servant <1401> of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. ” (Jas 1:1 AV) “Simon Peter, a servant <1401> and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:” (2Pe 1:1 AV) And Jude directs his letter to those sanctified by God the Father, preserved in Jesus Christ, and called. So the saints are set apart by the Father, preserved by the finished work of the Son, and called into continual servanthood through the Spirit.


Jude 1:2-3 (1769 KJV)

"2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. 3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."

COMMENTS: Is this not a wonderful way to greet those who will read the letter by desiring that mercy, peace, and love be multiplied [abounding, abundant, plentiful, overflowing] among them? By Jude's own words, he first had intended to write about the common salvation and the love of Christ, a subject that would be appropriate for a homogeneous blend of saints in the church. But at some point before he set down the letter in writing, the purpose had changed into a call to the vigorous defense of truth to thwart the effects of unbelievers in their midst. This declaration of a change of purpose is more clearly seen with the wording from other English versions of this verse. “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.” (Jude 1:3 ESV) “Dearly beloved, while I was doing my best to begin writing you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write and urge you to carry on a vigorous defense of the faith that was once for all entrusted to God's people.” (Jude 1:3 Williams) “Dear friends, I had intended to write to you about the salvation we share. But something has come up. It demands that I write to you and encourage you to continue your fight for the Christian faith that was entrusted to God's holy people once for all time.” (Jude 1:3 GWV) “Beloved! Though I was using all diligence to be writing unto you concerning our common salvation, yet have I had necessity to write at once unto you, exhorting you to be earnestly contending for, the faith, once for all delivered unto the saints.” (Jude 1:3 Rotherham)

We might also say that the "once delivered"here in Jude "carries the same emphasis as does the "once more"in Hebrews 12, "26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 27 And this [word], Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:"(Hebrews 12:26-28 AV) So, God himself delivered to each saint that saving faith that cannot be removed, because it is based on God's grace, not the works of man. The saints then need to serve God in reverence and Godly fear, contending against those whose intents and actions oppose salvation by faith in Christ alone and the propagation of the fruits of the Spirit.


Jude 1:4 (1769 KJV)

"4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ."

COMMENTS: Jesus warned of the many things that come out of the heart of man, so we should not be surprised that some that come into the assembly of saints have their own desires as their goals. “20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:” (Mark 7:20-22 AV) And Paul enjoins a very strong warning about the power of our own inward desires that is overcome only by Christ working within us. “17 This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind, 18 Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: 19 Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness. 20 But ye have not so learned Christ; 21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: 22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; 23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” (Ephesians 4:17-24 AV) Jude is in agreement with Paul that the natural instinct of man can carry the grace of forgiveness in Christ, to the point of unrestrained thought and action (lasciviousness), but that is completely contrary to the fruit of righteousness and holiness that should be produced by the mind renewal process as the proper response to grace. And there are those who may come into the assembly of saints with only superficial change in their lives if they have not truly been converted in their hearts. And the phrase in verse 4 of Jude, "creep in unawares"is translated from the Greek "pareisduno"which appears only here in all of the New Testament. It could also be phrased as to enter secretly, slip in stealthily, or to steal in, indicating that the presence of such men in the assembly may not be immediately clear.


Jude 1:5 (1769 KJV)

"5 I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not."

COMMENTS: Jude uses the scripturally documented fact that the Lord brought the large number in the congregation of Israel out of bondage in Egypt, but destroyed those who later defiantly rebelled in their unbelief that God was truly the one who brought them to that point. The writer of Hebrews also Exhorts his readers, emphasizes the beginning of their faith, and uses the exodus of Israel from Egypt as an example. “13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; 15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. 16 For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. 17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? [was it] not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? 19 So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.” (Hebrews 3:13-19 AV) Scripture supports scripture that we should continually encourage one another in our assemblies of faith to hold fast to the faith first delivered, because unbelief leaves the sinner in condemnation.


Jude 1:6 (1769 KJV)

"6 And the angels which kept not their 'first estate' <746>, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day."

COMMENTS: Jude goes on to speak of the great day of the Lord that will bring the final condemnation to the rebellious among men and among angels. Other scriptures speak of this day of the Lord as well. “That the wicked is reserved to the day of destruction? they shall be brought forth to the day of wrath. ” (Job 21:30 AV) “2 Before the decree bring forth, [before] the day pass as the chaff, before the fierce anger of the LORD come upon you, before the day of the LORD'S anger come upon you. 3 Seek ye the LORD, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the LORD'S anger.” (Zephaniah 2:2-3 AV) those who seek the Lord by faith will be saved from wrath, and those who are impenitent and rebellious will not be spared. “5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,” (Romans 2:5-8 AV) “ The Greek word translated as "first estate"for Jude 1:6 KJV elsewhere has the meaning of beginning, first authority, assigned place, principality, etcetera, as Jude gives us a glimpse of those rebellious angels that follow Satan rather than God. And men also follow either God or Satan. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning <746>. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” (1 John 3:8 AV) The end of the matter of rebellion by men and angels is sure, and God cannot be held back by any means. “The great day of the LORD [is] near, [it is] near, and hasteth greatly, [even] the voice of the day of the LORD: the mighty man shall cry there bitterly.” (Zephaniah 1:14 AV) “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” (Revelation 6:17 AV) “And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.” (Revelation 12:9 AV) “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet [are], and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” (Revelation 20:10 AV)


Jude 1:7 (1769 KJV)

"7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire."

COMMENTS: Jesus spoke of the mundane daily activities of Sodom and Gomorrah that transpired with no apparent penalty for their wicked activity, until Lot was taken out of their midst. He tells us such things will continue through the ages until the appointed time. “28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; 29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed [them] all. 30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” (Luke 17:28-30 AV) And Peter makes the same points as did the Lord. “6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned [them] with an overthrow, making them] an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed [his] righteous soul from day to day with [their] unlawful deeds;) 9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:” (2 Peter 2:6-9 AV) It is evident that God still allows the unsaved to continue daily routines alongside his grace-redeemed saints. Praise the Lord that he knows how to deliver from the wrath to come!


Jude 1:8-10 (1769 KJV)

"8 Likewise also these [filthy] dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. 9 Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but aid, The Lord rebuke thee. 10 But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves."

COMMENTS: The true path for following God has remained unchanged throughout the centuries. “11 Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD. 12 What man [is he that] desireth life, [and] loveth [many] days, that he may see good? 13 Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile. 14 Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.” (Psalms 34:11-14 AV) And Jesus said, “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.” (Luke 6:45 AV) Paul then instructs, “29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:29-32 AV) Without the change within our heart by conversion, and the sealing of the Holy Spirit, we cannot manifest the Christ honoring characteristics.

And we must be constrained by the Lord's love and be subject to authorities in the world while we remain. “Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute [is due]; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (Romans 13:7 AV) “1 Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work, 2 To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, [but] gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.” (Titus 3:1-2 AV) “3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, [even] the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; 4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, 5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.” (1 Timothy 6:3-5 AV) Very strong words are applied to those who assemble with the saints, but remain unconverted in their hearts.


Jude 1:11 (1769 KJV)

"11 Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core."

COMMENTS: John also tells us to avoid the wicked way of Cain, very briefly revealing the one he truly served. “Not as Cain, [who] was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.” (1 John 3:12 AV) And in Revelation we have an explanation of Balaam's error of misdirecting some in the camp of Israel. “But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” (Revelation 2:14 AV) Jude is the only New Testament writer to mention Korah (Core in the Greek) by name, but there are references to the provocation in the wilderness, and Korah's rebellion to the authority of Moses in the wilderness and the judgment against him is well documented in the book of Numbers. All three of these serve as examples of those who turned away from the opportunity to serve God, and chose to serve themselves.


Jude 1:12-13 (1769 KJV)

"12 These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds [they are] without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; 13 Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever."

COMMENTS: If the "feasts of charity"is a reference to communion, then Paul's instruction is very appropriate for any unbelievers who foolishly take part in the Lord's Supper without being part of the body of Christ. “26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come. 27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink [this] cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of [that] bread, and drink of [that] cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord's body.” (1 Corinthians 11:26-29 AV) And any who are not saved will be twice dead, plucked up by the root never to bear fruit again. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” (Revelation 2:11 AV) Jude seems really incensed at this point about the feasts of charity {love}, and perhaps communion had become a mockery within the assembly that is to receive his letter.


Jude 1:14-16 (1769 KJV)

"14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, 15 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard [speeches] which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. 16 These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling [words], having men's persons in admiration because of advantage."

COMMENTS: This statement about Enoch is unique to Jude's letter in all of scripture. It would seem that the Holy Spirit has driven Jude to press his point to his readers very vigorously, including using another reference to coming judgment. And verse 16 from some other versions provides varied viewpoints on just what Jude is saying about the men he condemns. Their murmurring and complaining seems to be designed that they might replace the leaders they do not want to follow. “These are the men who make trouble, ever desiring change, going after evil pleasures, using high-sounding words, respecting men's position in the hope of reward. ” (Jude 1:16 BBE) “These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.” (Jude 1:16 ESV) “These people complain, find fault, follow their own desires, say arrogant things, and flatter people in order to take advantage of them.” (Jude 1:16 GWV) “These men are murmurers, ever bemoaning their lot. Their lives are guided by their evil passions, and their mouths are full of big, boastful words, while they treat individual men with admiring reverence for the sake of the advantage they can gain.” (Jude 1:16 WEY) “These persons are grumblers, ever complaining about their lot. They live to satisfy their evil passions, their lips boast arrogant things, and they flatter others for personal gain.” (Jude 1:16 Williams)


Jude 1:17-23 (1769 KJV)

"17 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 How that they told you there should be mockers <1703> in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. 19 These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. 20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, 21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And of some have compassion, making a difference: 23 And others save with fear, pulling [them] out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh."

COMMENTS: Now that Jude has identified the problem, he begins to direct the saints to some steps to contend for the faith once delivered. He reminds his readers that the apostles warned of this characteristic of the last times. “1 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in [both] which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers <1703>, walking after their own lusts, 4 And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation. (2 Peter 3:1-3 AV) Jude contrasts the fact that these sensual men do not have the Spirit, by reminding those who are the beloved of God to build up their holy faith by praying in the power of the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God, and remember the sure hope of eternal life. Compassion and gentleness may be effective to draw to Christ some who are not saved. Others may be so captive to their sin that evangelizing them must be with great caution because it could present dangers of exposing the believer to sin, but if the sinner is saved they will escape eternal fire. James and Peter believe it is important to act out of Christ's love to those around us. “19 Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; 20 Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.” (James 5:19-20 AV) “And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 AV)


Jude 1:24-25 (1769 KJV)

"24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present [you] faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, 25 To the only wise God our Saviour, [be] glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen."

COMMENTS: Jude glorifies God and reminds the saints with joy that God is our Savior and he is able to keep us from falling until we appear before his unmatched glory, when we will be faultless because he has removed our sin. He is the only God, wise beyond measure, with all dominion, power, and majesty both now and for all eternity. What a benediction to our great God, and perhaps now Jude has in some part done what he had intended to do at the beginning of his letter by speaking of our salvation wrought in Christ with all glory due only to the Lord.


--- Reflections in prayer ---

Lord, in the assembly of saints, we should desire to encourage and build one another up in our faith with reminders of all that Christ has done for us once for all as we received that faith first delivered by grace. But we must also be wary of the ever present potential for the composition of any assembly of saints to drift away from a pure faith by the influence of those who have come in, but are not yet truly converted in their hearts. Keep us mindful of how abhorrent sin is to a Holy God, and how much each one of us was an offence to your holiness before our conversion. Remind us of the repeated pattern throughout history of rejection of the grace you offer, with the final judgment concealed from those who are perishing. But the great day of the Lord is as sure as if it is already upon us. Empower us through your Spirit to contend for the faith in a manner sufficient to the need of those you place around us, so that even just a few within our influence may be snatched from that eternal fire. Lord, it is your Spirit within, that keeps us from falling, and nothing of ourselves. All power, glory, honor, and worship is due to you alone. Amen and amen.

Published 25 May 2005