Here is a quick review of what we have learned so far:
- Jude, brother of James, and possibly another earthly brother of Jesus writes an epistle warning against the false teaching and teachers that are influencing the church.
- Their false idea was that what was done in the physical body had no impact or effect on the soul. This teaching had 2 major results: a) it led to immoral behavior by believers who thought that sin had no consequences; and b) it denied the saving work of Christ. If sin had no impact on the soul then Christ died for nothing since He died to remove sin from the soul.
- Jude warns of the punishment to come for these false teachers. He explains that if God punished angels, the chosen people, pagans, then He would not spare these false teachers for their sins as well. He says that in every generation since the beginning of time such people appeared but they never escaped the judgment and punishment of God, and will not do so in their generation as well.
- In our second section we will finish our textual study as Jude explains how to avoid danger, a lesson that applies to their generation as well as ours today.
How to Avoid Danger – vs. 17-23
Vs. 17-19 – But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, "In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts." These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit.
Heed the warnings of your teachers. Jesus' Apostles warned of these trials and temptations at other times (Paul, Acts 20; Peter, II Peter 3:3).
Vs. 20-21 – But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
Build yourselves up spiritually. Be proactive through prayer. Maintain the love of God among yourselves. Persevere in waiting for the Lord. Do not get distracted by sin. The Lord will come.
Vs. 22-23 – And have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.
Help those who are weak in faith. Try to bring those who are being carried away back to faith but do not get too close to their sin lest you get carried away too.
There is danger but you can do something about it for yourself and for others.
Doxology – vs. 24-25
Vs. 24-25 – 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, 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.
A doxology is a spontaneous burst of praise. Jude ends his letter with praise for God and His Son Jesus Christ.
- He praises Him for His ability to keep us from stumbling (falling down into ignorance and sin). He does this by providing His Word and Spirit to guide and strengthen us.
- He praises Him for His work in bringing us to God. Without Christ we come before God as condemned sinners. Christ sheds His blood and brings us into God's presence as forgiven, holy, as sons and daughters. He brings us in this state to rejoice before God forever. Only He can do this.
Jude says that Jesus who accomplishes this and God the Father who offers it, deserve glory (praise); majesty; dominion (rulership); authority (judgment); and rightly deserves all these things forever.
He closes with the usual "Amen."
Jude points out the false teachers, reveals their sins, warns about their punishment and encourages the saints to continue faithfully following the teachings given them by the Apostles. If they do, he says, they will receive the blessings of heaven, as surely as the false teachers will receive the punishments of hell.
In closing I want to reemphasize the important fact that Jude appeals to his readers to follow the set "body of doctrine" that was already present and distributed throughout the church and considered "authoritative" by the Apostles and church leaders at that time! His appeal in this letter was to hold on to that standard of teaching which was complete and non-negotiable.
Even today, 2,000 years later, we in the churches of Christ hold to this idea that the entire body of basic doctrine concerning Christianity was recorded and preserved in the 1st century. This is why we emphasize the idea that our task in teaching the Scriptures is not to change, add, or subtract from this body of doctrine but rather it is to:
We study to understand precisely what the writers were saying to their readers, the 1st century church. This is why there is emphasis on the meaning of the original languages and context of what was being said. We want to understand in English in our day what was being said in Hebrew and Greek thousands of years ago.
Once we have understood in context the teaching of Scripture, we want to apply accurately what was being taught in our own lives today. The Scriptures were given by God for people of every age but it requires some effort to make sure that we apply correctly today the instructions and concepts communicated two to four thousand years ago.
However, once we do grasp the meaning, we want to obey the things God has given us in His word.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. (Matthew 28:19-20)
Pass it on
Once we have understood and begun to apply these things in our lives as Christians, we begin not only teaching others this "body of doctrine," we also teach them to pass on this cycle of learning, obeying, passing on.
The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also. (II Timothy 2:2)
This is why we have training classes, why we take a long time to select elders and preachers, teachers and deacons. They must be ones who are able not only to understand and themselves put into practice; they must also be able to instill in others the desire and ability to pass this treasure (the Word) on.