I really wanted to study an entire book this week and I must admit that I chose Jude due to it’s length but also due to my lack of knowledge concerning its content. The book has very similar content to material written by the apostles but uses some unique references to apocryphal writing. Jude doesn’t appear to use the apocryphal works in a canonical or authoritative way but rather as examples.
I want to note that the book of Jude has very similar, and parallel teachings, as 2 Peter 2 does and upon reading the two the similarities are absolutely evident. However, in my brief study of Jude I don’t spend time examining these similarities but rather I am simply outlining the key points and thoughts of Jude itself.
The Book of Jude
The Book of Jude was written to contend against those who have snuck into the church, those ungodly people who are set aside to be condemned (3-4). Why are they condemned? Because they reject all authority including Jesus Christ’s, they change the faith to fit their desires of sexual immorality and reject truth based on their “dreams” or visions. (4) They use visions as their basis of authority. They blaspheme out of their innate sinfulness (7-8). They are compared to the unbelieving Egyptians (5), and the angels who rebelled against God (6), they are guilty of like sins to those of Sodom and Gomorrah (7), They are useless, not producing any good works (12) and finally they are easily swayed, this way and that, by their own false teachings and feelings. (13)
Jude tells us that these ungodly men will suffer destruction; in fact it is for one’s like this that God is coming to judge the world. They will be judged for their actions, their unbelief and their blasphemy against God (14-15.) Jude summarizes who they are, they are “…grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favouritism to gain advantage.” (Jude 16)
These people have so offended God that their destruction is assured. They deserve nothing else. How could God do anything but destroy them is a question we have to ask ourselves?
Now Jude turns to the true holy followers, to those who are part of Jesus true disciples and tells them they need to remember that the apostles said that people like this would come (17-18). The ungodly cause division and so not have the Holy Spirit, but you those with the Holy Spirit must keep themselves in God’s love, they must build their faith through prayer in the Holy Spirit waiting on the mercy of God (19-21).
The holy are also encouraged to have mercy on those who doubt, which are not the same as those who reject and blaspheme (22).
In closing Jude acknowledges that Jesus Christ is able to keep his chosen from stumbling and able to present them blameless to God, and that he is glorious, majestic, has dominion and authority over all time (24-25).
Thoughts on Jude
Jude is writing to a church with some very big problems. These ungodly are as terrible and as opposed to God as you can get, yet they have made their way into the Church. Jude is trying to shine some light on them, to make the faithful aware of them, to cause the faithful to contend against them and save those who might be swayed by them to their destruction. It is interesting that Jude makes no mention of trying to save them but rather assumes that those who have crept in to the church have no hope but are doomed to certain destruction, yet he contends for those who are still on the fence. Jude wants the faithful to build their faith and save those they can while handing the ungodly over to God for judgment.
It is interesting that Jude identifies these individuals’ sins, exposing them, but makes no mention of expelling them. Perhaps, by his appeal to the beloved he hopes, when he says to contend, that he desires them to step up and remember the truth about their faith. Although there is no direct admonishment to throw out the ungodly from their midst there is definitely an indication that they must separate themselves from these people doomed to God’s judgment by keeping themselves in the love of God. His language is so strong concerning these individuals you are almost astounded by his lack of instruction as to how to handle them other than to look to their own faith and save the doubter.
Due to Jude’s use of language concerning the ungodly, who assumed authority through visions in verse 8, referenced as “Shepherds feeding themselves” in verse 12, that they are in fact the leaders of this church and Jude is instead writing to the congregation. Whatever the case it is clear that Jude is intent on God being the Judge and the faithful are to strengthen their faith and save those who can be. The mercy Jude talks about does not seem to be for the ungodly among them but rather the unbeliever or the doubters; a unique distinction, mercy for those who are in doubt but destruction from God for those who claim to be part of the body but clearly live in sin and rebellion against him.