Monday, 20 July 2020
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. Jude -3
Jude begins the body of his letter as John did in 3 John, stating “Beloved.” He is writing to saved believers, and his words are to be taken as such. The warnings he will communicate are to be taken in love. He will repeat this same word two more times before he finishes the letter. Next, he says, “while I was very diligent to write to you.”
It is actually a present participle and should say, “in giving all diligence.” It was and continued to be upon his heart to write his letter which was “concerning our common salvation.” Jude was intending to sit down and write an epistle which focused on the common salvation of all people – both Jew and Gentile, for men and for women, for kings and for common people. There is one gospel and only one gospel, and that one gospel leads to a common salvation for all when it is accepted. In other words, Jude was going to write a note which would dispel the myth that there were separate gospels for separate classes of people, as hyperdispensationalists claim today.
However, that heresy is sufficiently addressed elsewhere when the Bible is taken in its proper context, and so Jude says he “found it necessary to write to you.” Something else was laid upon his heart which was more necessary to write about than the heretical teachings of those who divide the gospel. Being as such, he was then compelled to write this warning out for the instruction of all believers who are a part of this “common salvation.” Understanding this, he continues with, “exhorting you.”
The idea here is that of urging on. They have all been granted the common salvation found in Christ, but a pressing issue which obviously affects all within the faith must be addressed. Therefore, to review, Jude’s exhortation is –
- To all believers who have been saved by the one true gospel; who share in the common salvation found in Christ.
- Potentially affects all of them in regard to the faith they possess.
He then continues by stating that his exhortation is for them “to contend earnestly for the faith.” The verb he uses is found only here in the New Testament, epagónizomai. It is derived from epi, or “on,” and agonizomai, signifying “to struggle.” It refers to an intense athletic contest, or even of warfare. One can think of an athlete in the Grecian games, struggling to gain the advantage in wrestling. Jude is asking the reader to not just live in the faith, but to wrestle to maintain its purity.
The idea set forth by Jude is similar to that found in Galatians 2. Paul was facing a direct challenge to the gospel by Judaizers who had come in and tried to pervert it (today’s Hebrew Roots movement adherents). When this occurred, he said to those at Galatia –
“And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), 5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.” Galatians 2:4, 5
Paul earnestly contended for the faith against the heresy which had been introduced. Jude will warn his audience to stand fast against another group who would come in and attempt to pervert the purity of the gospel. Jude then finishes by stating that it is this faith “which was once for all delivered to the saints.”
Even though Jude decided to write about contending for the faith, and not about the common salvation of believers, he still has written about the common salvation of believers. His words here clearly reflect this. The faith – meaning the means of receiving the gospel and then the new life which that brings to believers – was delivered “once for all.”
The Greek word is hapax. It means “once,” but it signifies once and not to be repeated, and thus “once for all.” For example, Hebrews 9:28 says, “so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.”
The work of Christ is a one-time and for-all-time event. It is complete in its scope, and the message of what He has done is received in the same way for all who will respond. It is those whom Jude calls “the saints.” The term is all-inclusive. Both Jew and Gentile are included in this one faith which is received by the one gospel.
It is this which Jude will continue to defend, giving concrete examples of those who are to be watched out for.
Life application: In calling his recipients “beloved,” Jude sets the tone that will need to be remembered because of the strong words to come in his short letter. Due to the apostasy going on around him, he changed his direction, even before starting his letter. This tells us that Jude’s letter was intended as a word of encouragement and the shared blessing of salvation in Christ, but the Holy Spirit prompted him to amend his words as a warning for all Christians of how that shared blessing can be lost without diligence.
When a generation of saved believers doesn’t contend for the faith, those around them and those coming after them will be the ones to suffer loss – through never coming to salvation. And so, Jude’s exhortation is that these people “contend earnestly” for the faith.
What Jude says has nothing to do with a loss of salvation for the already saved individual. Instead, it points to those who have never heard the truth and who have received a false version instead. The message of Christ was given at the beginning of the church age and had not come incrementally. Instead, it was a body of knowledge centered on the work of Jesus and given to us by the apostles. “Once for all” allows no other interpretation in this context.
In other words, when the apostolic age ended, God’s revelation of the work of Christ ended. There are no “prophetic words” from the Lord today, and only perverse and twisted individuals who think too highly of themselves would claim prophetic revelation. We have God’s revealed truth in the Bible, not in continued apostolic authority or in the depraved claims of wayward teachers. Hold fast to what has been since the beginning with no additions, and you will have that which was once delivered for all to the saints.
Heavenly Father, help us to be strong in our reliance on Your word and the truth it reveals about Jesus Christ as Lord. We know that nothing can be added to what You have said or done, so help to open the eyes of Your people to those who falsely claim prophetic revelation today. Keep us on the straight and narrow path recorded in the word You have given. Amen.