Bible Study Series: The Book of Jude - The Acts of the Apostates
Bible Study Jude 1-3: The Call to Contend
By Fraser Gordon
The book of Jude is only 25 verses long and one of the smallest letters in the New Testament. Luke wrote the book of Acts, which is often referred to as the acts of the apostles after Christ’s resurrection. Jude is often referred to as the acts of the apostates because the main issue in this letter is apostasy, a falling away and departing from the truth. Jude comes just before revelation, the last book of the new testament which records God’s wrath on an unbelieving world and the return of Christ as King.
The letter was written between 67-68 AD a few years before the destruction of the temple. Jude lived at a time where christianity was under attack politically from Rome. Christians had separated themselves from idols and the worship of Rome’s leaders and were being persecuted for their belief in the one true God who gave His only son Jesus to die for their sin.
Similar to Jude’s day, the tide is now turning for us in the western world. Our culture, government, and morals were founded on biblical principles and once the view of the majority. Now we are the minority and the tide has turned. Morality is weakened and the truth of scripture is under attack. Many are being persecuted and ridiculed for their biblical view of truth.
Psalm 2.1-6 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, 3 "Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us." 4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision. 5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure: 6 "Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion."
In the first 3 verses of Psalm 2 the world speaks; ‘let us take counsel against the Lord and His anointed, let us break their bonds and cast aside their cords from us’. Yet in verses 4-6 God laughs for He has set His King - the Lord Jesus Christ in place, and he will rule. While there was political persecution from Rome, the church also faced apostasy. Gnostic apostates had infiltrated the church attempting to corrupt believers and move them away from the truth. Jude’s letter is a call to arms, to hold fast to the truth and be aware of false apostles, false prophets, and false teachers who had crept in to cause harm.
Called, sanctified and preserved
Jude 1 Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ.
Jude was the half brother of Jesus yet instead of highlighting his earthly relationship to Christ he referred to himself as a bondservant of Jesus. There is no ‘look at me, Jesus is my brother!’ Instead Jude spoke of his spiritual relationship not his earthly one, the lowly position of a bond servant. Many of Jesus’ brothers did not believe in Him during his ministry on earth (John 7.3-5) but we see in Acts 1.14 that they are in the upper room after His resurrection.
1 Corinthians 9.5 talks of Jesus’s brothers as travelling evangelists with their wives. But in this letter Jude refers to himself as a servant of Jesus and brother of James. Again in humility he places himself below James who was the main leader of the church in Jerusalem.
His message is to those who are called. This calling is the Holy Spirit's work. Jesus said in John 16.8 that “He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgement”. There is a general call of God to salvation in John 3.16. It is the Holy Spirit’s work upon our sinful state to convict us to repentance and show us that Christ’s work on the cross is the power of God for salvation. It is when we respond and believe in Jesus that we are the ‘called’.
1 Corinthians 1.24-31 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. 26 For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. 27 But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; 28 and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, 29 that no flesh should glory in His presence. 30 But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God--and righteousness and sanctification and redemption-- 31 that, as it is written, "He who glories, let him glory in the Lord."
Romans 8. 28-30 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
This call to salvation is also a call to holiness in our walk as Christians.
Romans 1.7 To all who are in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
We are called to be saints, a sanctified person, one set apart to God for His possession and service.
1 Corinthians 1.2 To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.
To those who are sanctified - most versions say beloved of God. This is the work of the Father and shows the affection of the Father to those who are called. They are beloved of God. This term is never used for unbelievers only God’s children, and it means to be dearly loved.
1 Peter 1.15-17 but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, 16 because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy." 17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.
John 17-22-23 And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: 23 I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.
We are loved by the Father with the same love that He has for the Son. This is true of all believers from the weakest to the strongest, we are all dearly loved. Many Chistians see themselves on probation with God and not in Christ. You are accepted in Christ who is also the beloved and seated with Him in the heavenlies. Dearly loved by God the Father.
Lastly Jude refers to the work of Jesus that keeps the believer. His work on the cross is the keeping power, we are preserved in Christ Jesus.
Hebrews 7.25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.
This is the finished work of Christ, sin has been dealt with once and for all past, present, and future. That is the saving to the uttermost, our past sin is put away. He is saving me right now in the present because of His life in me and He will save me in the future for He always lives to make intercession for the saints.
1 Peter 1.3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
Numbers 6.24 The Lord bless you and keep you.
Mercy, peace, and love
Jude verse 2 Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
Jude lists another triad to believers, mercy, peace and love. We need these to be multiplied to us when we fail or when we find areas in our life which Jude addresses in this letter. We need mercy, peace and love to be given in abundance in these areas but also when it comes to dealing with those involved in false teaching and apostasy.
Contend earnestly for the faith
Jude verse 3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Here Jude lays out the purpose of his letter. As he sat down with pen in hand he was eager to encourage the believers concerning their common salvation. This is the gospel of Christ which is understood amongst all believers. But as he desired to encourage, the Holy Spirit impressed on him to write a letter of warning about apostasy and false teaching instead. This letter is a call to arms to contend for the faith.
The truth about God and the truth of the scriptures is always under attack. Satan has done all he can to obliterate the truth about God; to remove, cover, twist, and hide the truth. The worst attacks often come from within the church - false teachers, doctrines of demons, and apostate leaders who cause many to depart and fall away from the faith. The scriptures warn us many times about deception and false teaching
Acts 20.28-30 Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves.
Matthew 24. 4-5 And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.
Matthew 24.11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
Matthew 24.24-25 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 See, I have told you beforehand.
Jesus spoke 4 times in Matthew 24 about deception in the last days.
1 Timothy 4.1-3 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
The Spirit expressly says!
2 Timothy 4.2-5 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry.
1 John 4.1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
All these scriptures call us to be watchful and have discernment, for as in Jude’s day likewise for us as we get closer to Jesus’ return.
Every Christian and every body of believers needs someone who has the gift of discernment, someone who can smell a rat from a thousand miles away. If you have a room full of bananas and one cucumber it should be obvious, but sadly many Christians fail to spot the phoney especially if the cucumber says they are a banana!
Jude’s call is to contend. The word means to agonise over or wrestle as in a wrestling match. We are to contend for the faith. This whole body of truth has been given to us in the scriptures and is God’s plan for salvation in saving man from his sin. It is under attack. It was delivered to us by the apostles and it doesn’t need improving or adding to. It is all that is needed to know God’s will and purpose. We must be aware of these so-called new apostles and prophets of today that say they have new truth, new, and greater revelation of God’s will and purpose above scripture.
Jude is a true watchman; his job is to warn of danger to believers. This calling is vital today when our society and churches are full of tolerance and unity. Often the watchmen are accused of being harsh, negative, and always majoring on the wrong but their concern is for the body of truth and believers spiritual welfare.
Every parent is a watchman over their children. Likewise, every pastor, leader and missionary needs to be a watchman who encourages but also exhorts, warns and protects the flock from danger coming from within as well as from without the church. Sadly not all watchmen are like this, many have compromised and fallen asleep.
Isaiah 56.10-11 His watchmen are blind, They are all ignorant; They are all dumb dogs, They cannot bark; Sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber. 11 Yes, they are greedy dogs Which never have enough. And they are shepherds Who cannot understand; They all look to their own way, Every one for his own gain, From his own territory.
As watchmen it is hard dealing with all that is false and causing harm to the body of believers.
We must always remember 2 Timothy 2.24-26:
And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, 25 in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, 26 and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.
May mercy, peace and love be multiplied to us all! God bless.