I am taking a break from my reading plan this week and decided to study a small epistle for the time being. After some consideration I chose the book of Jude. Why? Well, one reason is that I have never read it and I think if we are honest with each other you probably find yourself in the same boat. Jude isn’t a sexy book at first glance. It is short. It is abbrasive. It can be uncomfortable at times. Sounds like a good place to set up camp for the next weeks. This post marks the first in a series called “Gleanings in Jude” in which we will walk through the book and see what we can pull out (glean) from this book of God’s revealed truth! I want to encourage everyone reading to take this opportunity to spend some time meditating on Jude. You can do it, it is only 25 verses long. I hope this exposition will reveal to us the glory of God and will help us walk in godliness.
Jude’s Introduction (v.1-2):
1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James,
To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:
2 May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
I think we have a tendency to skip over these little introductions. At least I do. I’m not sure if we do not deem them important or if we just assume that they are basic greetings and pleasantries. Often times these greetings set up the rest of the content and are deep, theologically driven openings to a letter. Jude’s introduction is not different.
Jude begins by identifying himself as the human author of the book. This is helpful! No guess work here because Jude says it was he who penned the letter. But pay attention to how he identifies himself. First a foremost, Jude is a servant of Christ. The word here may better be translated as “slave” of Christ. This is Jude’s identity. He is primarily a slave to the righteousness of Christ. This is what the gospel does to the human heart. We were once identified by our sin but now by the grace of God we are new creations; slaves of Christ. It does not matter who Jude is because Jesus is the one who matters. What great humility we see here! Jude is writing but Jesus is the one who made the whole thing possible. Even more, Jesus is the subject too! It is all about Christ. It does not matter who Jude is and this shows in his greetings.
But in way it does matter and that is why we see the second half of the sentence. Not everyone who wrote a letter had that letter put into the Bible. Only the books discovered to be canonical by the Church were included. One basis for the legitimacy of a book was apostolic authority. This means that only books by apostles or people directly under/influenced by the apostles were considered to be canonical. Now, do you remember Jude as one of the twelves with Jesus? He is not there. But look at how Jude show’s his apostolic authority. Jude identifies himself as the brother of James. This James was the brother of Jesus thus making Jude the other brother of Jesus. James was a big deal to the Church in Jerusalem, getting big props even from Paul in Galatians. James had seen Jesus walk, resurrected on the third day. How much more humble does Jude look now? He is the Christ’s brother and yet he describes their relationship as slave/master not brother/brother. The gospel transcends all else.
Jude is writing to those who are called. This may be thought of as “invited” but this is misleading. “Called” here is referring to the effectual calling of God on the lives of the audience. Jude is addressing a group of believers. These believers are in Christ because of His sovereign work before the foundation of the world. These are beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ. What assurance! We are beloved in God. Once aliens, we are now sons. Better yet, we are kept by the author and perfector of our faith. It is Jesus that keeps up. The end of verse 1 may be better thought of as “kept by Jesus” not “kept for.” Jude is trying to encourage these believers. As we will see, the audience is facing tough times. False teachers are seeking to distort the gospel and destroy them. Jude’s tone is fierce. This intro may serve as a way to encourage them before the blast. They are afflicted and yet can take great hope in the fact that they are being kept by Jesus and even for Jesus. His purposes are sure.
Jude finishes the introduction by wishing peace, mercy and love to be manifested in them. Jude loves these people. This does not mean that he will not come down hard on them. He wishes for repentance to come and will be firm. Love and sternness are not opposites. It is all grace that Jude is writing this letter.
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