The author of this letter is Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James. As the brother of James, Jude is also one of the four brothers of Jesus that we read about in Matthew 13:55 (Judas). It is interesting that Jude does not make sure that the recipients know he is the brother of Jesus to give himself credibility. Rather, Jude simply calls himself a servant of Jesus Christ, equating himself with all Christians. The recipients seem to be universal in this letter (â€œto those who are called, who are sanctified [beloved] by God, and preserved in Jesus Christâ€). Thus, it would seem that all Christians are in view. Perhaps this is the case. But it seems that Jude is dealing with a particular group of people who are causing problems for the Christians. In verse 2 we read the standard salutation in first century letters: â€œMercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.â€
We would now expect a section of thanksgiving in this letter. However, Jude goes right to the point of the letter in verse 3 telling the recipients about how he wanted to write to them about their common salvation. But Jude cannot write to them about their common salvation because there is a problem. Jude says, â€œI found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.â€ Why did Jude have to change the purpose of his letter from writing about the common salvation they share to writing about contending earnestly for the faith?
Verse 4 reveals the problem: â€œFor certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lordâ€ (NIV). Some people have mixed into the number of the Christians who are ungodly men. They have secretly slipped in and are taking the grace of God and perverting it into a license to commit sin. Further, these people are denying that Jesus is the Lord. After our study of First, Second, and Third John it seems reasonable to believe that these people who have crept in unnoticed hold the Gnostic doctrine. Both of these tenets that Jude identifies (committing sins and denying Jesus as the Lord) were problems that the early Christians had to fight against. Therefore Jude must write to the Christians to deal with this problem rather than encourage the Christians about their common salvation.
Description of False Teachers (5-16)
Past Judgment of False Teachers (5-7). In verses 5-7 Jude reminds the recipients about the past judgments that have been laid against false teachers. The first example is Israel in the wilderness. The people were led out of Egypt but those who did not believe perished in the wilderness before entering Canaan. The second example is concerning the angels who did not keep their proper positions. They are kept in darkness, bound in eternal chains for judgment. Unfortunately, this is all the information Jude gives us about angels, but he states this as if it is well known. Rebellious angels will also receive condemnation. The third example is Sodom, Gomorrah, and the other cities of the plain who gave themselves over to sexual immorality and suffered punishment for doing so. The point Jude is making is that these false teachers should not be listen to because their condemnation is clearly seen in the examples of the past.
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