Saturday, 18 July 2020
Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: Jude -1
Jude is the last general (or catholic – meaning “universal”) epistle in the Bible. As noted in the introduction, Jude (or Judas) is most probably the brother of Jesus. He is mentioned twice in the Gospels, in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3 (both are the same context) –
“Is this not the carpenter’s son? Is not His mother called Mary? And His brothers James, Joses, Simon, and Judas?” Matthew 13:55
Those who have attempted to say this epistle wasn’t written by Jude are doing so only because of their disapproval of the message it contains, not for any valid historical reason. Because Jude was never a prominent figure in the early church, there is no reason why anyone would claim to be him in a letter.
However, because he cites a couple of non-biblical books in the letter, namely the books of Enoch and the Assumption of Moses, attempts have been made to dismiss the book. Despite this, it is included in the canon of Scripture and it adds greatly to the theology presented in the Bible. Jude begins with, “Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ.”
Rather than claiming his kinship to Jesus, Jude subordinates himself to the Lord, calling himself a doulos, or bondservant of Him. It is a term used by Paul and others in relation to Christ. HELPS Word Studies notes concerning this word, “someone who belongs to another; a bond-slave, without any ownership rights of their own. Ironically, 1401 /doúlos (‘bond-slave’) is used with the highest dignity in the NT – namely, of believers who willingly live under Christ’s authority as His devoted followers.”
Jude next notes, “and brother of James.” This establishes his connection to Jesus. In noting James (who was the leader of the early church and a prominent name that would be recognized by all), it alerts the reader to the otherwise unclaimed relationship. Because, like James, he has not claimed to be an apostle, as others who have written do. Instead, noting that he is James’ brother is what forms the basis for his authority to write the letter.
Jude next states, “To those who are called.” The word “called” in Greek is klétos. HELPS word studies defines it as “the call (invitation) He gives to all people, so all can receive His salvation. God desires every person to call out to Him and receive His salvation (1 Tim 2:4,5). ‘Unfortunately, many choose not to – but all can; all don’t but all can call out to God for His mercy (not just “some”)’ (G.Archer).”
As a note concerning the structure of the verse in the Greek, the word “called” is set apart from the main verse to highlight and emphasize it. The structure of the verse in the Greek reads as follows –
“Jude, of Jesus Christ bondservant, brother then of James. To those in God the Father, having been loved, and Jesus Christ, having been kept – called.”
Next, Jude says, “sanctified by God the Father.” Here some manuscripts have “beloved” instead of “sanctified.” Either way, the word is “in” not “by.” Those who have come to God through Jesus Christ are sanctified in God. They are deemed holy and set apart. When one is in Christ, he is – by default – in God. At the end of the letter, after discussing all the perils the church was facing because of ungodly people who had crept into it, Jude will say, “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless” (verse 24).
Those words explain what being “sanctified in God” means. For those who have come to God through Christ, they are set apart and kept. Someday, they shall be presented before the throne of God without stain. That is further explained by the words, “and preserved in Jesus Christ.” The thought here is similar to that expressed by Peter –
“…who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” 1 Peter 1:5
Those who are in Christ are kept by Christ. As they are not under law, sin is no longer imputed to them, and they are eternally saved. This is solely because of what Jesus Christ has done, and it comes with an absolute guarantee, the sealing of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 14). Jude’s words here, like those of Peter – and indeed all of the apostolic writings – speak of eternal and assured salvation for those who have come to God through Christ.
Life application: The book of Jude has been called the Acts of the Apostates in contrast to the Acts of the Apostles. This is because it highlights apostasy in the church as its main theme.
He is writing his letter to the “called.” In this context, it is referring to those who have followed in God’s path to salvation which is through Jesus Christ. Such people are “sanctified by God the Father” – an indication of eternal salvation. They are also “preserved in Jesus Christ.” Again, this denotes eternal salvation. To assume that one can lose his salvation, with the power of the Father and the Son sanctifying and preserving him, is to serve God in weakness and with an unhealthy view of His great nature.
It also calls into question the truthfulness of God, it diminishes the significance of the cross of Jesus Christ, and it – without a doubt – calls God a liar because God has promised (with a guarantee) that those who come to Him through Christ will be saved. Be careful what teachers you listen to. If they teach that you can lose your salvation, they may be included in the very list of apostates that Jude will refer to. Such a major point of bad doctrine may be hiding many other dastardly faults as well.
O God! How wonderful it is to look into the words of the New Testament. There we find the fulfillment of the ages in the Person and work of Jesus Christ. Open our eyes to see the treasures You have placed there for us, for both our growth and our edification. Help us to properly and carefully handle Your word that we may be approved students of the intent and purpose of the marvelous words You have placed there. Amen.