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The Epistle of Jude

Theme- The fight against False Teachers & the war on the truth

Introduction- This book was written by Jude approximately AD 65 from Palestine. This letter was written to Christians that were scattered throughput the world. The letter was not written to any particular church or congregation but “to all who are called to live in the love of God the father and the care of Jesus Christ (v.1). Jude is the brother of James and like his brother his letter is addressed to a primarily Jewish audience. Although Gentiles can read and use his letter, as they have throughout the centuries after he wrote his letter. Some liberal evangelicals dismiss Jude’s letter because they believe that the letter is historical and not relevant for believers today since Gnosticism is no longer a threat to the church as it was in Jude’s day. However the same lies are being perpetrated in our day and even more so than in Jude’s day since there are far more false teachers today. A clear rejection of false teachers is the intended application of the letter. Real servants and followers of Christ will portray him not only in their teachings but also in their lifestyles. Watch out for anyone who takes away the deity of Christ and anyone who makes the Bible less than the inspired Word of God.

 

I. Salutation and Occasion for the letter (v.1-3).
A. Jude clearly identifies himself in the 1st verse and says that he is a follower of Christ and is the brother of James. Jude makes no appeal to his readership on the basis of his personal authority. Jude simply identifies himself as a servant. I find it interesting that Jude does such a thing, because in doing so Jude sets an example for us all. There are many pastors out there that are not servants but CEO’s and act as such in their churches. Jude was not a CEO, he was a servant. Jude’s epistle was directed to those that have been called in Christ Jesus. Jude refers to divine provisions of mercy, peace and love. These are needed by Christians living in the atmosphere of apostate teaching. God’s mercy can sustain them in times of difficulty, his peace can give calmness when evil arises, and the love of God can protect and assure the believers in their face of peril. The false teachers whom Jude’s letter warns us about come into the church to destroy it and know nothing of God’s mercy, peace and love (v.1-2)
B. Jude’s letter makes no mention of the intended readers he refers to them as beloved. Jude planned to write and talk about the common salvation that they all shared, the urgent concern of false teachers was all the more important. Jude’s intention is that the believers that read his letter would all the more defend the truth of the gospel against such heretics. The Greek word defend occurs only here in the New Testament. The truth refers to the entire body of beliefs which was taught by the apostles and held by the Christians. The truth is to be kept pure and to be taught to others. The truth must be defended by Christians serious about the gospel (v.3).

II. Warnings against the False Teachers (v.4-16).
A. Jude’s letter was about certain men whom were godless whom had wormed their way into the believer’s church. They got in probably because of their personalities, communication abilities, affluence, charisma, and financial backbone (v.4).


(Application) So many Christians today are not like the Bereans (Acts 17:11) nor do they test the spirits (1 John 4:1), and are not ready to give a defense (1 Pet 3:15). John MacArthur wrote a excellent book on the subject of false teachers called the Truth War. This is one of my favorite ministry books that I believe should be a reading requirement for all Christians. In it does he name some false teachers and give a commentary on the 1st five verses in Jude. The false teachers get into the church because the people let them come in. Christians with biblical discernment wont let them in, because they know their bibles which is sadly not the case for many Christians today.

B. Fate would come upon the false teachers but that fate would be at God’s appointed time. Jude reminds his readers of the peril of apostasy by citing three examples from the past of apostates who were destroyed. Jude’s 1st example is Egypt as mentioned in verse 5. The unbelieving Israelites perished in the wilderness because of their unbelief. The false teachers would be destroyed. The second example would be the angels that sinned and left their heavenly glory. These angels will be judged on that great day. The last example that Jude uses is Sodom and Gomorrah in verse 7. So terrible was that judgment and this same judgment will come upon the false teachers in an eternal hellfire. Jude’s language description of the false teachers is quite harsh. Jude refers to the false teachers as “filthy dreamers.” As mentioned this is very harsh language. Jude certainly was not seeker friendly, and was quite direct. He told the truth as it was and was not afraid to do so. In that culture letters were read aloud to the entire congregation, so his letters were not treated like some email message in today’s society but were revered (v.5-8).
C. Jude refers to a book called The Assumption of Moses. This is not a canonical text but was used by Jude to make an illustration as he does. Michael the angel argues with Satan over the body of Moses and instead of slandering Satan, Michael leaves the judgment up to God by saying
The Lord rebuke you! The false teachers mentioned here have no regard for the authority or for the angels. Michael did not slander Satan and so the false teachers stand in arrogant contrast to Michael’s example (v.9).
D. In verse 12 does Jude state that these men are blemishes at your love feasts, and they eat without the slightest qualm, and they are shepherds that feed only themselves. Jude refers only to these false teachers as “males” but females are not ruled out.
E. Jude concludes this section of the text with a prophecy from Enoch. This prophecy is from the book of Enoch. This book is not canonical but contained enough truth to be quoted.

III. The duty to fight for God’s truth (v.17-23).
A. In verses 20-21 does Jude make the most important point in this section. He says to build yourselves up in your most holy faith and to pray in the Holy Spirit. He also says to keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Then in verse 23 does he state the climax to the section. Jude commands Christians to snatch others from the fire and save them, as their clothing is stained by corrupt flesh.

Conclusion- The purpose of the book is to remind the church of the need for constant vigilance and to keep strong in the faith and to oppose heresy. Heresy spread fast in the 1st century church and also has spread fast in the contemporary church. It spreads fast because people do not test the spirits, nor do they read their bibles.

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