Monday, April 11, 2016

P1 - Introducing the Book of Jude: Contending for the Faith

Jude 1:3 “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once and for all handed down to the saints.”

Today’s post aims to provide a summary of Jude’s inspired letter to the Christians of his day and to Christians living today. The author of this short letter is identified as “Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and the brother of James.” This identification of the author can give insight into the personal motivation behind what Jude was thinking as he composed this letter under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. 

Most commentators identify Jude as non-other than the half-brother of Jesus according to the flesh and thus the full brother of James, the author of the Epistle bearing his name. 

We know from texts such as Matthew 13:55 that Jesus had siblings who had been borne by Mary following his birth. Further testimony in John 7:4 describes how none of Jesus’ half-brothers (which of course would include James and Jude) had believed Jesus to be the Messiah and Savior during the course of His earthly ministry. We are told by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:7 that James had been an eyewitness of Jesus in His post-resurrection appearances. 

Consequently, Jesus’ appearance to his half-brother James resulted in His conversion, as evidenced by James’ presence in the upper-room prior to the day of Pentecost in Acts 1:14. Although we are not told the exact details of Jude’s conversion, it is clear he too was present in the upper room in Acts 1:14 as seen by the statement: “and his brothers.” This brief sketch of Jude’s life serves to show how at one time, he had been an unbeliever and perhaps even skeptical concerning the claims of his half-brother according to the flesh.

Regardless of how Jude’s conversion began, we can be assured of how he conceived of himself at the time of his letter. Jude describes himself first as a “bond-servant”, that is, as one who voluntarily gave himself into servitude to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Jude had been radically converted and associated Himself with Jesus as a “servant” to “Master”. It is in his identification of “brother of James” that Jude gives his identity away. 

Imagine what must had been going through his mind as he began to write. He had been at one time a skeptic of Jesus. He only saw Jesus as a flesh and blood man, blind to the fact that indeed, Jesus was a man, but not just a flesh and blood human being. The Spirit of God had gripped Jude’s heart. He had experienced a “new birth” which superseded his natural birth (see John 3:1-5). This entry-point into salvation was undoubtedly on Jude’s mind as he indicates in Jude 1:3 regarding how he had intended to write about “our common salvation”. 

More tomorrow......

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