Verses 1-2: "Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you." The author "Jude" of these verses is the "Judas" of Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. He and his brother, James, also named in those verses, were initially not believers that Mary's oldest son, their older brother, Jesus, was and is the King of glory, though they belatedly, perhaps reluctantly, came to faith in Him. The only "James" who could be named without further comment as in these verses, was the brother of Jesus who had become the leader of the church in Jerusalem and was the author of the Book of James. "Jude" was a derivation of the Hebrew name "Judah," which was "Judas" in the Greek language. This letter was written between 65 and 80 AD, extending to readers the mercy of God which offers a pardon to a convicted felon, the peace that only the Lord can give, and God's unfailing, unending love.
Notice in Verse 3, the touch of the Holy Spirit in Jude, causing him to write words that were different from his first intention: "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints." He set out to write a letter about one subject, our salvation, but found himself compelled to write earnestly about something else—and he used language normally reserved in the Greek language for the intense struggle and effort seen in athletic games. We are to be passionate in the faith that has been handed through the centuries to us and we are to share that faith with the utter conviction that is led by God.
Have you wondered why the church is so disturbingly imperfect? Well, for one thing, just like a hospital is full of sick people looking for health, churches are full of sinners who need healing from sin. Another reason for our problems is that not all who attend and participate in church really belong to the Lord. As Jude noted in Verse 4: "For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." To have God's grace, His mercy, is to find the gateway to freedom from sinful behavior, and yet some have incredibly viewed His gracefulness toward us as a ticket to do whatever they want when they want it for their own purposes. Jude called such people—"ungodly persons."
In the New Testament, we have come face-to-face with an infinitely important aspect of God. He is full of the "mercy and peace and love" mentioned in Verse 2. Such characteristics are visible in the Old Testament as well, but the emphasis is on another aspect of God—His judgment upon sins and sinners, as in Verse 5: "Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe." That destruction was directed then just like it is now—upon those who will not believe. Faith in the Lord was what saved Abraham and David, just as faith in the Lord will save you and me.
In Verses 6-8, Jude mentions a race of beings that preceded humanity, along with a dark time in the world's history to illustrate the nature of sin—"And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities around them, since they in the same way as these indulged in gross immorality and went after strange flesh, are exhibited as an example in undergoing the punishment of eternal fire. 8 Yet in the same way these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh, and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties." In Revelation 2:20, "stars" are compared in imagery to the race called "angels," and in Revelation 12:4, fully a "third of the stars of heaven," the angels, were thrown to earth in the ancient rebellion of Satan. They "abandoned their proper abode" and instead of having access to the universe and beyond, they are kept here in this madhouse called "earth." It's well-known that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was homosexuality, but there is more: In Ezekiel 16:49 we find, "this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." For Sodom, the sins of pride and callousness led to other sins. In Romans 2:18-28, we find that the rejection of faith in the Lord by a people will lead, among other things, to widespread homosexuality among a people, as God's judgment on that nation. God is very real and He is worthy of all praise. Rejecting him is dangerous and when such sinful behavior as homosexuality becomes prevalent, it's a sign that His judgment is upon us. Pray for your nation that the people and its leaders will find faith in the Lord through revival and trust in Him.
Verse 9: "But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'" Michael the archangel is mentioned in the Books of Daniel and Revelation, but it's interesting that in this verse, Jude uses a non-Biblical reference to illustrate his point, the Book of Enoch. It's not a surprise because pastors and theologians often quote or cite non-Biblical references to illustrate something in Scripture, and that's what Jude is doing here.
It's interesting that by adopting animalistic, ungodly, uncaring behavior, people become like base animals, and Jude makes that comparison in Verse 10: "But these men revile the things which they do not understand; and the things which they know by instinct, like unreasoning animals, by these things they are destroyed." Watch out—animalistic, uncaring behavior will destroy you.
The imagery of the words in Verses 11-13 are both beautiful and horrible all at the same time: "Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, and for pay they have rushed headlong into the error of Balaam, and perished in the rebellion of Korah. 12 These are the men who are hidden reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you without fear, caring for themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, doubly dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever." Cain killed his brother, becoming the first murderer...Balaam the prophet introduced sin into Israel and died because of what he had done. No one wants to hit a hidden reef with a ship, but that's what it's like when pretend Christians find their way into your church. They are like clouds that don't water the land, trees that don't bear fruit, dead men who walk around, and wandering stars, meteors that crash into our buildings, programs and hearts.
In Verses 14-16, Jude cites the Book of Enoch again: "It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, 'Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.' 16 These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage." Enoch was named in Genesis 3:21-24, as a faithful man who "walked with God," and he is presented here by Jude as God's prophet. Note here the assurance of the Lord's inevitable judgment upon the unfaithful in humanity, revealed as grumblers, fault-finders, bodily sinners and arrogant flatterers who act that way because they want an advantage for themselves.
Remember as you read Verses 17-18, that Jude, the younger brother of Jesus Christ, met the Lord's apostles personally and heard their words: "But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, 18 that they were saying to you, 'In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.' And he continued in Verse 19, "These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit." Are there people you know who seem to mock the things of God? Do they cause divisions in your midst? There is a reason—mockers are "devoid of the Spirit." They do not know the Lord and don't have His Holy Spirit
Verses 20-21: "But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life." Building yourself up in faith is not unlike building your muscles through diet and exercise. Reading the Bible is especially important, for as we learn in Romans 10:17, "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." And Jude observed that we can increase in faith by "praying in the Holy Spirit." Prayer is wonderful, and when you are swept up in God's Holy Spirit, it is a time of joy that will bless your heart and renew your faith. You've noticed that life can be very difficult. Our sin makes it so, and so does the sin of those around us, so the refreshment of study and prayer is essential to our well being. Titus 2:13 is a wonderful corollary to Jude 21, for it says—"Looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ." As Jude indicated, the Lord's return will be an act of "mercy" upon this world.
There is an annoying tendency among people to look down on those who seem to know less than they do, and such bigotry is unfortunately seen in the church. We are gifted in order to help those who are not gifted—and we are to do as Jude recommends in Verses 22-23—"And have mercy on some, who are doubting; 23 save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh." Instead of feeling contempt for those who seem to have less faith than you do, have mercy on those who are doubting. To encourage others is much like snatching them out of a dangerous fire. And we do it with holy fear, loving the sinner, but hating the sin that has entrapped them.
Verses 24-25 are simply beautiful—"Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen." There are times when all of us stumble in one way or another, and it is wonderful to know that God Himself is keeping us from falling. The Lord is, as Hebrews 12:2 states, "the author and finisher of our faith." He is faithful and does His part, even when we fall flat on our faces, and He is the One who, by His cross and through His love, will bring us safely into an eternity wrought for us by God's grace. Verse 25 concludes this work of Jude and the Holy Spirit with praise to the Lord. Jude was the younger brother, humanly speaking, and yet, through the power of God, He also met Jesus as His Lord, Savior and the Maker of all that is. Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father, the only way to receive God's Holy Spirit,
and through faith, through the grace of God, we will rejoice in the majesty, dominion and authority that was His before all time and is deservedly His—forever.
Lord, it must have been hard for Jude, as the younger human brother, to believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord. But he did, and so can we. Lord, I believe—help Thou my unbelief. I am Yours. I trust in You. In Jesus Name. Amen.