Study Notes

Jude 1:1-4

1:1-2 Jude

Jude. In Greek, the word is Ee-oo-DAS. Judas. Why have the translators shortened Judas down to Jude? Is Judas really such a bad name? After all, there was Judas Maccabeus, a valiant Jew who recaptured and restored God's temple 160 years before Christ was born. There was an apostle named Judas, the son of James (Luke 6:16; John 14:22); there was Judas of Galilee (Acts 5:37); Judas of Damascus (Acts 9:11); Judas Barsabbas (Acts 15:22,27,32); and Judas, one of Jesus' brothers (Matt 13:55, Mark 6:3). But then there was Judas Iscariot, the apostle that betrayed Jesus. No wonder we're more comfortable calling the writer of this epistle Jude!

Who is he? He only identifies himself with two statements: He is a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and a brother of James.

Brother Of James

James wasa leader, probably the senior pastor, of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 12:17; 15:13). Paul tells us that the first time he went to Jerusalem as a Christian, he...

Gal. 1:19 ...did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord's brother.

James was the half-brother of Jesus Christ. They both had Mary for a mom, but each had different fathers - Jesus born from God, James born from Joseph.

In Matthew and Mark, we read that when the locals were amazed at Jesus, they said,

Matt. 13:55 "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?

So James is the head of the church in Jerusalem, the half-brother of Jesus, and the brother of Jude. That means that Jude also is the half-brother of Jesus. As a matter of fact, we read his name there in Matthew.


He claims brotherhood to James, but servanthood to Jesus. I love the fact that Jude says, "I'm the brother of James, but I'm a bond-servant of Jesus Christ."

A bond-servant is a certain type of servant. Remember that the Lord commanded in Exodus 21,

Exod. 21:2, 5-6 If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment... But if the slave plainly says, "I love my master...; I will not go out as a free man," then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.

You see, the bond-servant was one who voluntarily chose to serve for life, because he knew that the life he had as a servant was better than he would have as a free man. Many men in the New Testament were called bond-servants of Jesus Christ: Paul, Timothy, Epaphras (Ep-af-RAS), Tychicus (Too-khee-KOS), James, Simon Peter, Jude, and John - each of them called bondservants.

This is a group that we should desire to be included in and listed among. To be a bond-servant of Jesus Christ is to say, "I'm committing to be a servant of God for my entire life, because I love my Master, and I realize that my so-called 'freedom' in the world can't hold a candle to my 'slavery' in Christ." As Paul told the Romans,

Rom. 6:22 But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.

Jude didn't say, "I'm a brother of Jesus," rather he said, "I'm a bond-servant of Jesus."

The Called

Jude says that he is writing to "the called." Who are the called? Paul wrote,

Rom. 8:29-30 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

Those who have been called have been justified. Remember that justified means that your guilt has been erased. "I'm justified" means that now it's "just as if I'd" never sinned. We've been made not guilty. And since we now have no sin on record, we're able to be admitted into heaven. That's why the writer of Hebrews calls the "calling" that we're talking about a "heavenly calling." Paul wrote to Timothy and said,

1Tim. 6:12 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called.

Ultimately, then, we're talking about being called to eternal life in heaven. We've been called to eternal life, we've been justified, made not guilty. Think about it. Not paroled, not pardoned. Not a suspended sentence, not off on a technicality... Made not guilty. Absolved of any and all guilt. Total acquittal!

So what did we do to deserve this calling? Nothing.

2Tim. 1:9 (He) saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus

As a matter of fact, the funny thing about this calling is that not only did we not deserve it, but we weren't even the best candidates for it. Paul told us to consider our qualifications for being called, to really think about it:

1Cor. 1:26-29 For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.

Not many wise. Not many mighty. Not many noble. The weak and despised. That's us! And we've been justified from sin. We've been qualified for heaven. Even though we were too unqualified and too undignified for any of it.

So, as we consider this calling to eternal life in heaven, we have to consider how we should respond to such an incredible and undeserved privilege...

Eph. 4:1 ... walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,

In your life, you should be walking in a way that is worthy of this free gift you've been given. As people who are thinking, "God, I don't even know how to begin to thank you, but I'm going to spend the rest of my life trying to." And the way to do that, Peter said, is to be imitating the holiness of Him who called you. Imitating the holiness of God:

1Pet. 1:15 the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;

It's about presenting your body as a living sacrifice. Being holy. Denying the lusts of your flesh to be pure. That is what it means to walk worthy of the calling. Striving for personal holiness.

In Peter's second epistle, he wrote a list of good things like self-control, godliness, kindness, and love. And then said,

2Pet. 1:10 Be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble.

If you're a Christian, you've been personally called by God. You've been justified - your slate wiped clean for good. You've been admitted into heaven, even though you were undeserving and unqualified. But you were called anyway. So, be diligent to make your calling sure by practicing holiness.

So Jude is writing to the called - to every Christian.

Beloved In God The Father, Kept For Jesus Christ

He also describes us as beloved in God the Father. Most of us are pretty understanding of the fact that the Father loves us. Certainly, the basic gospel message proclaims this:

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.

1John 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son {to be} the propitiation for our sins.

So we understand, hopefully, that the Father loves us. But "kept for Jesus Christ." What does that mean? It means that the Father is preserving us, reserving us, for His Son. Paul wrote,

1Ths. 5:23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

You're being reserved, preserved, and observed for Jesus Christ. When you think that you can't hang on a minute longer, remember that the Father is making sure that you'll make it - because you've been called with a heavenly calling, loved by the Father, and kept for His Son Jesus.

1:3 Felt The Necessity

Jude sat down to write to all Christians about our common salvation - not common as in ordinary or inferior. Common as in equally shared. But then the Spirit of God began to prompt his heart to write something that the Lord urgently wanted us to hear.

Contend Earnestly For The Faith

The message God wanted to get across was that we must contend for the faith. What does he mean, "contend for the faith?" Well, the Greek word here is, "ep-ag-o-NID-zom-ahee." That's a loaded word! The word "ag-o-NID-zom-ahee," from which we get our word "agonize," means "to strive, fight, contend with adversaries." "Epi," which means "upon," is added to the word to make it extreme. We are to contend earnestly, fight strenuously, labor fervently.

How can we contend for the faith? Paul told Timothy to fight the good fight by instructing certain men in the church to stop teaching strange doctrines.

Though its not popular in today's politically-correct age of "tolerance," we must speak out against ungodly and unbiblical gospels. Remember when legalistic judaizers were deceiving Christians in Galatia, Paul wrote,

Gal. 1:6-9 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is {really} not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.

Now many in the church today would say, "Paul is being judgmental. Paul isn't being loving. Hasn't God called us all to unity?" But God hasn't called us to compromise the truth of the gospel. He has called us to contend earnestly for it. We must absolutely call cults cults. We must point out error. We must warn believers of deceivers.

So who is it specifically that we are to be contending against? Jude is about to tell us...

1:4 Certain Persons

Apostates. These are those whom Jude is writing his epistle about. It has been said that while Luke wrote the Acts of the Apostles, Jude wrote of the Acts of the Apostates.

What is an apostate? Jude is going to spend most of this epistle defining that for us, but in a nutshell, an apostate is someone who abandons the faith. Yet, they are so much more dangerous to us than any unbeliever.

Crept In Unnoticed

Jude says that these apostates creep into the church unnoticed. How do they do this? They come in disguise. Jesus told us,

Matt. 7:15 "Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves."

Paul warned the Corinthian church,

2Cor. 11:13-15 For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds.

Disguised as sheep, disguised as servants of righteousness, apostates sneak into the church, unnoticed by the true sheep. We're not talking about people that are outside the church. They're in the church - unnoticed.

Marked Out For This Condemnation

But God has noticed them. And although they may have made professions of faith at some point in their lives, although they might look like Christians and act externally like Christians, God has already reserved their places in hell. They have been long beforehand marked out for this condemnation.

Grace Into Licentiousness

Jesus said that although they're dressed like sheep, we'll be able to recognize these deceivers in our midst. How?

Matt. 7:16-20 "You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn {bushes,} nor figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits."

What fruits should we be looking for? Verse four tells us ungodly behavior,licentiousness. What is licentiousness? It means, "sensuality, unbridled lust, excess, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence." It is ungodly behavior of the worst kind.

Keep an eye out for people who claim to be Christians, and justify this behavior by saying, "All my sins are forgiven. You're just being a legalist." Because people who practice and advocate such things are not from God - they are deceivers in our midst. We must be very careful of people that preach grace as a license to sin. We are absolutely saved by grace, not by our works, but we are also absolutely commanded throughout Scripture to live holy, godly lives - denying sin.

Rom. 6:1-2 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace might increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it?

Let us not live in sin just because our sin has been forgiven. Those who continue to willfully live in sin indicate that they have not truly received the grace of God

As Jude continues this epistle, he will give us examples of people who should have delighted in the grace and mercy of God, but instead rebelled and fell away.

The two themes of this book run side by side: One: Be on the alert to protect the people of God from apostates that would lead them astray. Two: we need to be mindful of our own Christianity, that we are not falling into behaviors and attitudes that could ultimately shipwreck us.

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