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What the Bible says about Jude
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Philippians 1:27

Paul wrote this to the Philippian church, considered to be one of his better, most beloved congregations, before the major apostasy of the late first century hit full stride. However, he was already beginning to warn them that they needed to be united in one spirit and one mind and strive, show some effort, work hard, to keep the unity of the faith.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh

Jude 1:1

One commentary opines that Jude is the most neglected book in all the New Testament, and it is not difficult to consider this to be true. It is primarily known for verse 3, "earnestly contend for the faith," and for verses 24 and 25, a noble and uplifting praise of God. The book is only twenty-five verses long, and it is tucked between the oft-quoted Johannine epistles and the well-worn, dog-eared pages of Revelation. In addition, Jude does not provide much in the way of doctrine or Christian living. Besides this, it is almost a carbon copy of II Peter 2.

Most of Jude is a scathing denunciation of false teachers—the smoke almost rises from its pages. The denunciation is sandwiched between two short, three-verse sections in which he exhorts them to faith and love. One of the factors that nearly kept it out of the canon was that Jude quotes two passages from apocryphal books, "The Assumption of Moses" and "The Book of Enoch," both of which were written between the writing of Malachi and beginning of the New Testament. Though they were apocryphal, Jude has no problem quoting passages from them.

Though it seems as if this book has several prohibitive factors, these are merely human perceptions. God has no problem with it, as He included it within the Bible for a reason. He saw something in it that would be of great value to His people down through the ages, and perhaps, due to His omniscience, He inspired Jude to write it specifically for the end-time church when the events that the apostle mentions would be most applicable. Certainly, it applied to those in the first century, since he wrote it to counter specific problems of the time. It really is a timeless book because the circumstances of Jude's day crop up from time to time within the church.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh

Jude 1:1

Jude's entire book is based on Matthew 7:15-20, where Jesus tells us, "Beware of false prophets," and "by their fruits you will know them." We should keep this thought in the back of our minds as we study Jude because most of the book describes these false teachers and their false teachings. Jude is giving this warning so that we will be able to spot them when they come out, when they begin to show their fruit.

In this way, Jude and II Peter are both witnesses to the certainty of false teachers, giving us instruction on identifying them and their effects. That said, however, the two epistles are only similar on the surface. They bring out different nuances of these false teachers. It is good to read them together, but it is also good to study them separately, because they are not necessarily saying the exact same things. They agree, but they give us different details, different information, so we can know more fully how to spot these false teachers.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh

Jude 1:1

Jude wastes no time getting into his subject. The first thing he does is call himself a servant of Jesus Christ, not His brother. Most commentators note that this shows his humility. He was not coming to them with authority because of his blood relationship with Jesus but with the authority of Christ's servant, who had been specifically commissioned to do this job. Yes, there is humility but also a great deal of authority.

He underpins his authority by calling himself the brother of James. James, in the New Testament church, was a bedrock figure. Remember, Paul likens him, with Peter and John, to a pillar, pointing to his high reputation in the church as a person of great authority. James summed up matters in the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, and he was generally known as righteous. A tradition has come down to us that James had knees like a camel's because he spent so much time in prayer. So, Jude establishes his credibility in his humility and his authority in that he is Christ's servant and has a direct link to James, who had a sterling reputation in the church.

He goes on to describe true Christians. He makes sure his salutation includes this description in it because he is beginning to separate the wheat from the tares. "True Christians are like this," he says. "They are called, sanctified by the Father, and preserved by Christ."

First, he says true Christians are specifically invited into the family (John 6:44). God the Father sends out the call, and He brings them to His Son, Jesus Christ.

Second, true Christians are set apart by the Father's calling, His mercy in forgiving them, His bringing of them to repentance, and His acceptance of them when He gives them His Holy Spirit. Romans 8 says that, if we have the Spirit of God, we are the sons of God. Jude, then, makes a distinction here. True Christians are "the called" and "the sanctified," people who have been made holy.

Third, he says we are guarded, kept, made secure, preserved, by Christ's work on our behalf. Without Him, we would have fallen away years ago. Without Christ's intervention on our behalf before the Father, we would be long gone. His strength has kept us here, not our own, so it shows a relationship with our Protector. We have a calling, we have a relationship with the Father, and we have a relationship with the Son. These distinctions are significant in the midst of apostasy, because they separate the sheep from the goats.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh

Jude 1:2

Jude wishes upon his readers specific blessings. His salutation is not the same as the apostle Paul and some of the other writers used. He specifically chooses "mercy, peace, and love," as all three are vital in times of apostasy.

He asks for mercy because they probably needed to repent. His whole reason for writing the epistle stems from the fact that they had begun to get lax, allowing false teachers and false teachings in. They needed God's mercy as they began to repent.

He wishes them peace because, obviously, a major result of apostasy is war and division. Remember, his brother writes in James 3:18 that the fruits of righteousness are produced in peace, and these people were not producing the fruits of righteousness for two reasons: false teachings and war. Thus, they needed peace

Finally, he includes "love," the prime virtue. They needed love because it would take love to resolve this situation—and not just love for God but love for one another. This is the agape form of love, not just phileo— not just caring for one another but setting the mind to do God's will for each other and for God.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh

Jude 1:5-11

In these seven verses, Jude expands on his general description of false teachers in verse 4. He compares them in turn to the unbelieving Israelites, to the angels that sinned, and finally to the perverts in Sodom and vicinity. He is giving examples of the three major hallmarks of apostasy:

  1. Unbelief, the Israelites' major failing.

  2. Rebellion, which the angels who sinned did.

  3. Immorality, what occurred in Sodom and Gomorrah.

Unbelief, rebellion, and immorality all result in divine judgment and punishment. The Israelites died in the wilderness, the angels that sinned were placed under restraint, and Sodom and Gomorrah were blasted off the face of the earth. We cannot find better examples of divine judgment and punishment than these.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh

Jude 1:17

"The words" could be better translated as "the message." He identifies this message as what was "spoken before by the apostles." Where is Jude pointing the church? To that one message, the faith, he mentioned in verse 3.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wisdom of Men and Faith

Related Topics: Jude


Jude 1:20-23

Jude gives us practical things that we need to do in verses 20 through 23:

  1. Do whatever it takes to be thoroughly grounded in the truth. (Ephesians 2:19—20).

  2. Pray in the holy spirit (Ephesians 6:18). This means we need to use the connection that we have with God so that we can take on God's mind. Our prayers should strengthen that bond and make us more like Him.

  3. Keep yourself in God's love (I John 5:3).

  4. Wait patiently for Christ's mercy (Psalm 37:7-11). He really means "Wait for Christ to come," for that will ultimately take care of all false teachers and all false teachings. Do not despair just because things look bleak right now. In the end they will be fixed.

In verses 22 and 23, the apostle instructs us how to take care of these people. If some are wavering and just beginning to turn away from the truth, we should have compassion on them and try to turn them back. If we find someone in a fault, we should be gentle and attempt to return them to God's way so that we or anyone else is not snared as well.

For those who have already started down the path of evil, we have to take a more forceful approach. If we can, we have to put the fear of God in them. It may be the only thing that can bring them back. Just as Jude does in verse 13, we have to let them know what their fate will be if they continue on in their error. As difficult as it may be, we have to let them know their future is total destruction—eternal death—if they keep it up. Unfortunately, this sometimes means dismissing them from our fellowship, just as Paul had to do with the incestuous sinner in Corinth (I Corinthians 5:1-5). Jude also says that while we are doing this, we have to keep them at arm's length so we are not turned ourselves, "hating even the garment defiled by the flesh." We do not want to have anything to do with defilement (II Corinthians 7:1).

Richard T. Ritenbaugh

Revelation 2:4-5

The Ephesian church did have a problem. It was not in holding false teachers at arm's length, but in tending to become lax, to "drift with the tide," as it were, and this made them an easy target for false teachers. In this way, their weakness was, in a way, connected to their strength. They approached matters somewhat lackadaisically when times were fairly good, but when times became bad, they seemed to be able to stand up for the truth.

At certain times, their devotion to God's way left a lot to be desired. Just before the apostle John died in about AD 100, this was very much the case, and he really had to rouse them to get them back. From what we know from church history, by this time the membership of the true church was small and concentrated mostly around John in the church at Ephesus and some of the nearby towns in Asia Minor that he directly pastored.

Jude recognized the beginning of this drifting when he wrote in the mid-60s. All the apostles wrote similar things in their epistles: that the members of the church needed to get on the stick because false doctrines and false teachers were already in evidence among them and beginning to cause problems. If they did not root them out quickly, destruction would follow. The brethren were far too tolerant of divergent beliefs and practices, and Jude, especially, makes this point rather bluntly. He basically yells at them. Those who know Greek intimately say his language is very terse and sharp, and with it he lays in to them for being too tolerant of untruth.

His brother, Jesus, is more circumspect in His wording in Revelation 2:5. To paraphrase, he says, "I would rather that you were strong all the time. You need to go back and do the first works and remain strong so that these false teachers do not get a foothold in the church in the first place."

Richard T. Ritenbaugh


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