By Jeff Arnette
The letter of Jude and the person are not well known to modern readers of the Bible. Most have no idea who he was or why his unique letter is even considered Scripture. I call his letter unique because of its contents. In the letter Jude refers to a book called “The Assumption of Moses” and one called “The Book of Enoch.” Do not let this cause you to think they are inspired or even worthy of your time to read them. Jude is simply referencing books that were well-known in this time to make a point about faithfulness and the danger of rebelling against God.
By including these quotes, he is saying that they are correct. I know this sounds strange but truthfully, he is not the only writer in Scripture to include outside sources in his work. Paul does it in Acts 17 when he was preaching on Mar’s Hill to the Greek philosophers. In Acts 17:28 he quotes two well-known Greek philosophers the first being “Epimedes of Crete” and then one by Aratus called “Phainomena.” Neither man is saying these writers are inspired or that what they wrote is always true. They are simply saying that this specific reference is true.
The person “Jude” is a brother of James (Jude 1) which would mean that he is also a brother of Jesus Christ. In the Greek, his name is “Judas” and in the Hebrew his name would be “Judah.” In Matthew 13:55 Judah is mentioned as a brother of Jesus. From the gospels we know that both James and Jude doubted Jesus’ claims as the Messiah. However, both men because devout believers after the resurrection and went on to be leaders in the early Church. Jude and James were likely in the “Upper Room” in Acts 1:12-14. Beyond this we do not know much about Jude which says that he did not leverage his family connection to Jesus to grab for power or influence. As he says in verse 1, he was a servant of Jesus Christ and that was enough.
In his letter, Jude says he was eager to write about their common salvation but after finding out about their struggles with false teacher he decided it was more important to encourage them to “Contend for the Faith.” He says that these false teachers had crept in unnoticed and were perverting the gospel and grace of our Lord Jesus causing some to indulge their sinful desires and by doing so were denying Jesus Christ.
Do not miss this point! Jude is saying that giving into your sinful desires is an act that denies Jesus. He wrote to warn them of the dangers these false teachers were creating for them. To listen to them could cost you everything, even your own salvation.
The purpose of Jude’s letter encourages them to earnestly “Contend for the faith” as delivered to the saints. Note that the message of Jesus was fully delivered to the saints. By extension this means that it did not need anything more added to it and anything that is added to it is to be rejected as false. Jude encourages his readers to remain faithful to Jesus and our faith by rejecting such false teachings and living godly lives. He gives us 6 examples to remind us of the dangers of rejecting or rebelling against God. He says that we should not follow the example of Israel coming out of Egypt, the angels who tried to have more authority and power, and the people of Sodom and Gomorrah who indulged their sexual desires. He also reminds us of Cain who killed his brother, Balaam who was greedy for more money, and Korah who rebelled against Moses because he wanted to be in charge.
Indulging your sinful desires and rejecting God’s words never works out well. The little letter of Jude, although small, carries a big punch and teaches us that faithfulness is always the right path to follow in life. Let me encourage you to read again this little letter and contemplate it great lessons.
- Jeff Arnette preaches for the Central Haywood church of Christ, Clyde, NC. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: https://centralhaywoodcoc.com/