The little letter of Jude has been called “the neglected epistle”, but it is so relevant to our day that it should be neglected no longer. Jude is a book of contrasts. It presents God’s wrath and God’s love. It presents the future of the wicked as well as the future of the child of God. And in the middle of it all, it reminds us of who we are and it encourages us to be all that God wants us to be.
Who was Jude? The name is actually “Judas” in the original language, a very common Jewish name. Of the six “Judases” mentioned in the New Testament, only one makes sense as the author of this epistle: the brother of James (v.1, the author of the book of James), which would make him the half-brother of Jesus (see Mark 6:3). After the resurrection of Jesus, James and Jude, along with their mother and other brothers, believed in Jesus and joined His larger band of disciples. They were present in the upper room on the Day of Pentecost when the church was born, and were among the first believers to preach the gospel (see Acts 1:14, 2:4). In spite of his impressive spiritual resumé, Jude humbly chose to call himself simply “a servant of Jesus”.
In this open letter to all believers everywhere, Jude intended to write about “our common salvation” (v.3), but he was compelled by the Lord instead to write an appeal to his brothers and sisters in Christ to defend the gospel against the attacks of false teachers. These illegitimate teachers were “creeping” into churches and confusing people by twisting the gospel, turning it into a perversion of grace and denying the true identity of the Lord Jesus. Jude viewed these people as rebels who were doomed to be judged severely (like the nation of Israel in the wilderness, the fallen angels, and the immoral men of Sodom and Gomorrah; v.5-7). The series of metaphors in verses 12-13 paints a picture of teachers who are full of hot air — they have nothing to teach but error and nothing to offer but their own shame.
Quoting an ancient prophecy of Enoch, the pre-Flood man of God (see Genesis 5:21-24), Jude announced the impending doom of the false teachers (v.14-16). When Christ returns to “execute judgment on the ungodly” (v.15), they will not be spared. Until then, we will be able to spot them in our churches by their grumbling, complaining, loud-mouthed boasting, divisiveness, and worldliness (v.16, 19). Knowing that Jesus will return soon, believers must defend the truth of the gospel from their lies. We must continue to grow in our faith, pray in the Holy Spirit (v.21), stay close to the Lord, and share our faith with those who are lost (v.22-23).
In the closing doxology (expression of praise) in verses 24-25, Jude assures us that as we live in this world of dangerous people and destructive doctrines, the Lord is “able to keep us from stumbling” into error (v.24). We just need to keep trusting Him and obeying His Word. Praise to our glorious, majestic Lord, the only true God and our only Savior (v.25)! Only He has the authority and the power to save the repentant and to damn the wicked. Amen!