Tuesday, April 12, 2016

P2 Outline and characteristics of the book of Jude: Contending for the faith

Jude 1:3 "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 tothe saints."

In yesterday's post we introduced the book of Jude, noting how Jude himself had been transformed from being a skeptic of Jesus (his half-brother according to the flesh) to that of a ardent contender for the faith. Jude undoubtedly was eager to write about the glorious salvation of which he shared with his readers, as seen in the above opening verse. Nevertheless, the Holy Ghost had other intentions and so guided Jude to compose this short letter to urge Christians of all ages to contend for the faith. Today's post carries on our introduction of this short letter by noting some characteristics of it, followed by a proposed outline of its contents.

Some textual characteristics of the Book of Jude
Although this short letter only has 462 words (per the underlying Greek text), the brevity of Jude’s writing cannot compare to the weight of its importance. The word translated “contend” in Jude 1:3 is described in the footnotes of the New English Translation as being an intensive form of the verb (which means in the original language, the verb had attached to it a preposition, which in this case is the preposition meaning “on”). 

Whenever Greek verbs had prepositions prefixed to their forms, the result was usually some sort of an intensification, much like when we place an exclamation point (!) at the end of English sentences. The result? The New English Translation (i.e.  The ‘NET Bible’) explains: “as such, the notion of fighting, contending, struggling, etc. is heightened.” Without expounding further on this point, it’s as if Jude is placing a big fat exclamation point on the end of the phrase “contend earnestly for the faith!” Jude likely composed his letter in and around 75 A.D, which would place it in the fourth quarter of the first century. 

As Christianity by this point would had spread throughout the Mediterranean world, new challenges were coming to the fore and Christians need encouraged and in some cases, admonished. The urgency of Jude’s letter must be heeded for today, since the Christian life is nothing less than “The Fight of Faith”. We won’t say more on the text of Jude itself. Instead we will switch gears to summarizing the contents of this short but powerful letter included at the end of our New Testaments. 

Some remarks on certain patterns in the book of Jude
So, with the main theme of Jude being “contend for your faith”, what can we say about the overall contents. Two brief characteristics can be noted. First, The Bible Knowledge Commentary has noted that throughout Jude’s book there exists clusters of “threes” or “triads”:

a). Jude….servant….brother. Jude 1:1

b). Mercy, Peace, love. Jude 1:2

c). Those love….called…kept. Jude 1:2

d). godless men….changed….denied. Jude 1:4

e). people out of Egypt….angels….Sodom. Jude 1:5-7

f). the dreamers pollute….reject….slander. Jude 1:8

g). Cain, Balaam, Korah. Jude 1:11

h). Grumblers, speak arrogantly, flattering. Jude 1:16

i). merciful….snatch others… mercy. Jude 1:22-23

Since the Book of Jude is all about contending earnestly for the faith, a second characteristic involves the contrasts between defection versus faithfulness. We also discover the premium Jude places upon learning valuable lessons from the Old Testament. For instance, the villainous actions of Satan, Cain, Balaam and Korah are contrasted with the faithfulness of Michael the Archangel, Enoch and the saints of God themselves. As Romans 15:4 reminds us: “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” 

Features such as these enable us to appreciate how Jude organized his letter for the sake of reinforcing the need to fight the good fight of faith, since redemptive history abounds with examples of those who didn’t versus those who took up the cause of Christ and persevered by His grace. 

A proposed outline of the Book of Jude
To round out our overview of Jude’s short letter, we will offer a proposed outline. Outlines of Bible books are meant to provide a map for navigating through a given Bible book. Readers are invited to use either the outline below, or to perhaps review outlines that can be found in most Study Bibles.

A. How to Win the Fight of Faith. Jude 1:1-3

B. Beware of Enemies in the Fight of Faith. Jude 1:4-13 (along with 2 Corinthians 10:3-4; Ephesians 6:11-18; 1 John 2:14-17)

C. The power of God’s Word in the fight of faith. Jude 1:14-19

D. Bullet-proofing your faith in the fight of faith. Jude 1:20-23

E. How God Preserves you in the fight of faith. Jude 1:24-25

Closing thoughts
Today’s post aimed to overview the Book of Jude. We considered the author himself, and noted how his personal background and intentions contribute to our overall understanding of the theme: “contending for your faith.” We secondly noted both textual features and characteristics of Jude’s letter so as to grasp the overall thrust of his message. Then we offered a brief outline of the Book that anyone can use for their own personal study, teaching opportunities or sermon preparation. May God be glorified in the lives of those who make it their aim to “contend earnestly for the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.”

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