The Way - Day 210 (Jude)

Daily Reading:
Don't forget to journal in your Foundations Book!
Daily Reading Audio Commentary:
Today's Question or Action Step:
Why is it important to pursue sanctification after Salvation?
Weekly Memory Verse(s):
OPTION 1: Psalm 103:1-2
OPTION 2: Proverbs 25:11-12
OPTION 3: Matthew 7:7-8
Further Study Resources:
Study Guide for Jude (Enduring Word - David Guzik)
Pastor Tom's Journal on Today's Reading:
Introduction to Jude
Living during a time when the church was being persecuted by Rome and facing the possibility of many within the church accepting doctrinal error, Jude (half brother of Jesus Christ) writes to challenge his readers to "...contend [fight] earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints" (v.3). Jude begged his readers to stand firm on the faith which had been passed down to them from the apostles and reject any teachings which were contrary to the truth. Although the reader cannot be certain about the date or audience to whom Jude was writing this letter, scholars indicate that the time of writing falls somewhere between Peter's second letter (AD 68-70) and before AD 80. The recipients of Jude's letter were most likely Jewish and seemed to be facing the infiltration of false teachers into their church. Much like John's first letter, Jude is probably warning his readers about the dangers of Gnosticism which denies the humanity and deity of Jesus (v.4), tolerates immoral lifestyles (vv.8, 16), disrespects authority (vv. 8, 11, 18), seeks financial gain (vv. 11-12, 16), and causes division as well as confusion (v.19).

Similar to the churches in Jude's day, false teachings abound in our world today and are always waiting to push themselves into the minds of believers. Rather than being open to every teacher and teaching, Christians must not only stand firm in the truth but also demonstrate the truth through obedience to God's commandments. As Jude's letter became a warning to the believers in the first century, Christians today must maintain our faith in Jesus by "building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life" (vv.20-21). 

Jude 1-11
Beginning his letter with a standard Jewish greeting, Jude refers to himself as "a bondservant [slave] of Jesus Christ, and brother of James [leader in church at Jerusalem]" and extends "mercy, peace, and love..." (v.1) to those who are receiving his writing. Instead of prolonging his greeting, Jude rushes right into the main reason he was penning this letter, "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" (v.3). It appears that Jude's first intention in writing this letter was to speak of the joy and unity in their salvation; however, the invasion of false teachers into the church caused him to change his mind and write about the importance of defending the truth. Jude was very alarmed about these "certain men [who had] crept in unnoticed..." (v.4a) because their message was contrary to that of the apostles and led people away from the truth. These false teachers were "ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness [immorality] and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ" (v.4b). From Jude's words, the reader can conclude that these teachers were using the forgiveness of Jesus as an excuse to live any way that they wanted, even though they ultimately denied the truth about Him.

Rather than pretending that false teaching, unbelief, and immorality were something new, Jude provides three Old Testament illustrations of those who were deceived about the truth and faced God's judgment. First, Jude writes concerning the Israelites (God's chosen people) whom He delivered from Egyptian bondage only to watch them engage in worship of idols and participate in wickedness (v.5). This generation of unbelievers was not able to enter the land which God had promised to Abraham and his descendants (Numbers 14:22-30, 35). Secondly, Jude refers to the fallen angels who possessed the bodies of men (Genesis 6:1-3) in order to defile and deceive; however, the end of these angels would be everlasting judgment (v.6, see also Revelation 20:10). The final illustration used by Jude was the incident at Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19) when men were giving "themselves over to sexual immorality" (v.7) and were eventually judged by earthly fire, which is a preview of the coming judgment in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:11-15).

Much like those who denied the truth in times past, the false teachers of Jude's day proved that they did not represent God because they did not follow His commandments. Jude reveals three characteristics of these false teachers - they "defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries [angels]" (v.8). Jude gives an example of what he talking about when he mentions that the false teachers "speak evil of dignitaries [angels]." It seems that Michael (God's chief angel) struggled against Satan himself in a battle for the body of Moses after he died (Deuteronomy 34:5-6). Satan may have wanted to use Moses' body for some uncertain purposes which were obviously contrary to God's will. Instead of taking matters into his own hands, Michael left the final decision in God's hands and did not dare curse an angel as powerful as Satan. Apparently, the false teachers of Jude's day, being arrogant, felt as if they possessed all authority above even angels and could speak anything on behalf of God. Jude condemned their actions. Anyone who speaks with this type of prideful authority, speaks without knowledge and will ultimately face divine judgment.

It is important that Christians do not believe everyone who says that they represent God, but rather compare their teachings and lifestyle with God's standards. Those whose teachings contradict Scripture must be rejected as well as those whose lifestyle demonstrates immorality.

Jude 12-25
Jude was writing this very brief letter to challenge believers in the church to "...contend earnestly for the faith which was once delivered to all the saints" (v.3) because "certain men have crept in unnoticed...who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ" (v.4). These false teachers could be recognized considering that their teachings were contrary to the apostles and their lifestyles were lived in contrast to God's commandments. Deceitfulness and disobedience were two distinguishing marks of those who do not represent God. By using three Old Testament illustrations, Jude was quick to remind his readers that these false teachers would face the same judgment as those who disobeyed God in the past (vv.5-7). To further expose these false teachers, Jude listed three characteristics which defined their lifestyles: immoral (v.8a), rebellious (v.8b), and arrogant (v.8c-11).

Jude continues to warn his readers about the potential danger these false prophets bring into the church and he begins by referring to the meals (called love feasts) shared amongst Christians to celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is likely that the false teachers were also taking part in these meals as if they worshipped the same God as those who believed; however, Jude labels them as "spots" (stains) on the church. Instead of teaching the truth, Jude says that these deceivers are, "...clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever" (vv. 12b-13). These teachers made many special promises and claims, but they were all empty because they did not teach the truth. In case the presence of these false teachers caused believers to be disheartened, Jude reminded them that their deceitfulness had been predicted by the prophets of old; however, their destruction was sure (vv.14-15). Believers should not be discouraged; in fact, they should keep in mind that the apostles were fully aware of the false teachers who would seek to infiltrate the church, but it did not stop them from preaching and living the truth (vv.16-19).

Rather than wasting energy on those spreading lies, Jude wrote, "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life" (vv.20-21). Furthermore, Jude had some special advice for the faithful Christians concerning those who were being deceived by the false teachers, "And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh (vv.22-23). Instead of turning their backs on those who were being deceived, believers were to be compassionate and do everything possible to bring them back to the truth.

In a fitting conclusion to his letter, Jude reminds his readers that it is God "who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy" (v.24). It would not be in their own strength that they could resist the deceivers, but only through God's protecting power. As they maintained their faith in God, He would provide security now and for all eternity.

Dear God, thank You for being able to keep me from stumbling so that You can present me faultless before the presence of God.