The 25 verses comprising the book of Jude are packed with Spiritual warnings, examples of God’s dealings with sinful man, misuses of God’s grace, depictions of Biblical false teachers, calls to action against these teachers, and a plan for staying faithful in the love of God. Jude had intended to send a letter to his readers about the “common salvation” they all shared.However, due to the growing presence of false teachers with their ungodly ways he changed his message completely. In these short verses, Jude makes eight critical observations that are as relevant to us today as they were to Christians in the First Century.
1-A Description of Faithful Brethren:
In the very first verse the writer addresses his recipients using these terms – “The Called”, “Beloved in God the Father”, and “Kept for Jesus Christ”. These three attributes give us a verbal picture of a Christian. “The Called” refers to those people who have been called to faith and obedience through the Gospel and have been justified by the blood of Jesus Christ (II Thess 2:13-14; Rom 8:28-30). “Beloved in God the Father” describes those who have been sanctified and enslaved to God resulting in eternal life. (Rom 6:22). “Kept for Jesus Christ” identifies the faithful who are preserved in our Savior. (I Thess 5:23).
2-A Great Need for Christians to Contend Earnestly for the Faith.
Their Faith, the Gospel, and the Body of Truth taught by our Lord and His apostles, was under heavy attack by unbelievers and had to be defended. There was a war going on! Jude states his reason for writing this epistle in verse 3: “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 defines what he means by the expression ‘contend earnestly for the faith’ in the later verses of the book. He says it means – “Remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. (17). Build yourselves up on your most holy faith.” (20). “Pray in the Holy Spirit.” (20). “Keep yourselves in the love of God”. (21). “Look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.” (21). When it comes to dealing with the unfaithful or unbelievers; Have mercy on some, Save others, Hate their defiled garments”. (23).
3- False teachers enter into a congregation quietly and secretly.
“For certain persons have crept in unnoticed.” Some of the readers of this letter had already faced these condemned, ungodly false teachers. This wicked movement and the evil men behind it had even turned God’s amazing grace upside down. Unholy and unrighteous men and women taught that salvation by grace gave them the right to sin without restraint and with no moral compass. The false teachers were moving rapidly with their condemned teachings and taking souls with them. Verse 4 says these ungodly people had gone so far as to “deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” The very Savior they were claiming to adore and serve when they entered these congregations, they had now completely denied.
WHEN WE TAKE A LOOSE, LIBERAL, OR SOFT ATTITUDE TOWARD SIN IN ANY WAY, AT ANY TIME, OR WITH ANYBODY, WE ALSO TURN THE GRACE OF GOD UPSIDE DOWN, AND WE ARE DENYING JESUS CHRIST AS OUR LORD and SAVIOR!
4-False teachers have been around since man’s early history.
Jude tells his readers they/we should not be surprised that evil men have abandoned the truth and speak lies pretending to be religious. “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who LONG AGO were marked out for this condemnation.” The writer gives examples of these men from the Old Testament and details some of their actions. Those who misled God’s people included: Angels who did not keep their proper domain (6); Men of Sodom and Gomorrah (7); Cain (11); Balaam (11) and Korah (11). Examples of some of their actions Jude listed are: Turning the grace of God into lewdness (4); Denying both God and Christ (4); Defiling the flesh (8); Rejecting authority (8); Speaking evil of anything they did not understand or like (10); Taking the attitude of brute beasts/unreasonable animals and corrupting themselves (10); Grumbling and complaining (16); Mouthing great swelling words and flattering people to gain an advantage (16); Mocking the truth and walking ungodly (18); Causing divisions among brethren, and being devoid of the Spirit(19).
Jude exposes these people for what they were and still are. They are not nice people who are simply mistaken on certain passages of scripture. They are not caring individuals who have a desire to teach God’s word accurately to listeners. They are evil and ungodly. The apostates mentioned here knowingly attempted to lead others away from God’s truth and into total denial and apostacy.
5-God’s judgment against the ungodly.
The writer mentions Enoch’s very blunt prophecy against these people: “Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men saying ‘Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are UNGODLY among them of all their UNGODLY deeds which they have committed in an UNGODLY way, and all of the harsh things which UNGODLY sinners have spoken against Him”. (14-15). As he was guided by the Holy Spirit, Jude ramps up his warning against false teachers in verse 16. “These are grumblers, complainers, walking according their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage”. These verses indicate we can spot someone teaching another Gospel, which is not another (Gal 1:6-7), by observing their actions and their daily lives; by listening carefully to what they say, by noting their followers and their fruits, by seeing if they meet secretly with certain members, and by their display of a haughty, arrogant attitude. This is probably the most blistering condemnation in the entire New Testament, and it was written so that First Century Christians and every Christian since that time can understand how despicable false teachers are to God.
6-False teachers are mockers and scoffers and are the members who cause division.
After penning his bold assault on these deniers of both God and Christ in verses14-16, Jude comes right back with more accusations and accounts of their sinful lifestyle in verses 17-19. He reminds these early Christians that the apostles had warned all of them concerning these proponents of error who “Walk according to their own ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. (18-19) When one is devoid or without the Holy Spirit, it is impossible for that person to teach the truth of God. It is important to note who causes divisions in churches. It is those who teach things contrary to the Gospel and not those who oppose false teaching.
7-Emphasis on the Holy Spirit.
Jude makes two very important points concerning the Holy Spirit. First, the ungodly scoffers and sensual, lustful spreaders of error are completely devoid of the Spirit. They have no part nor lot in His actions and teachings. Second, in order for the faithful to keep building and growing our faith, we must be praying in the Holy Spirit. (19-20). It is impossible to live a Christian life without the Spirit of God dwelling in us. “But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. (Rom 8:9).
8-A plan for remaining faithful to God.
In verses 20-23, Jude exhorts the brethren to increase in righteousness and spiritual service. He calls his audience and us Beloved, indicating the close relationship all those in Christ have with one another. We would do well to heed his Spirit guided advice: (1) “Build yourselves up in your most holy faith”. (2) “Pray in the Holy Spirit”. (3) “Keep yourselves in the love of God”. (4) Wait anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life”. (5) “When dealing with the unfaithful, know when to have mercy on those who are doubting, when to snatch them out of the fire to save them, and when to show mercy with fear while hating their sins.
The issues with false teachers and unscriptural teaching were so great that Jude’s epistle had to contain a lot of serious and stern warnings. However, the last two verses are the Best GEM of all and are words and thoughts we need to dwell on.
“Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy; To God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.