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Jude 1-3 by Robert Dean
Series:Jude (2012)
Duration:1 hr 6 mins 32 secs

Foundation: Biblical Authority
Jude 1, 2, 3
Jude Lesson #07
April 26, 2012
Dr. Robert L. Dean, Jr.

Mercy is the application of grace, and that particularly fits the context of Jude because whereas 2 Peter is foreshadowing and predicting a coming time when false teachers would come disrupt the church Jude’s basic mention is that they are here, contend for the faith. So, the congregation that he is addressing here are already in the battle and they need mercy, which is grace in action, and mercy carries an overtone of compassion for those who are in difficult circumstances.

This first word here that is translated “mercy” is an interesting one. It is the Greek word ELEOS, and if you were Jewish the word that you would associate this with from the Old Testament is the word chesed. Most of the time it is ELEOS, that is the Greek translation from the Septuagint (LXX) for the word chesed, and chesed has to do with God’s faithful, loyal love and it is more than grace, which is a different word in the Hebrew.

Although chesed relates to grace it has to do with God’s constancy to the objects of His love, even when they don’t deserve it, so it is more application oriented than the word “grace.” Grace refers to the basic principle whereas mercy refers to its application, and it brings into focus the fact that those who are the recipients don’t deserve it; they are desperately in need of that grace because of their circumstances. So the idea of mercy tells us something about the negative circumstances of someone in need of this.

The concept of grace in Greek usage as it developed over the years is a word that implied a favor that was freely done, motivated out of a person’s own character. It is not done in return for something, it is not done to gain something; it is done without claim or any expectation of any kind of return; it is a free gift. Mercy emphasizes the freeness of that gift to man but it emphasizes that they are already in desperate need of that grace.

The word “peace” EIRENE is a word that indicates a couple of different things. It indicates theologically our peace with God, the fact that we are at one with God because of the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. But in this context it is a word that is used addressing believers who already have that peace with God because they are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, that aspect of hostility between the unbeliever and God has been completely removed and they are one, in harmony. But the verb here that is used is the word PLETHUNO in the optative mood—which is a mood we don’t often talk about because there are only seventy verbs in the New Testament in the optative mood. The optative mood is similar to the subjunctive mood; it is a sort of mood of possibility or a mood expressing a desire or wish. In the Greek language it has been taken over by the subjunctive more and more, so it is fading out. But when we find it, it expresses a wish.

So what James is really saying here is, “May mercy, peace and love be multiplied.” It is passive, which means that it is something that they are receiving. The one who is performing the action is not stated but that would be God. This is the expression of a prayer. It expresses his desire that God would be working in their life to experientially sanctify them. Remember, peace is mentioned in Galatians 5:22 as a fruit of the Spirit, so this is not simply the aspect of reconciliation here but is related also to the ongoing stability in the believer’s life, his state of mind where he has peace that is calm and tranquil because he is resting in the provision and power of God. It sets the context again in terms of experiential sanctification.

We are talking about principles in this Epistle related to the believer’s growth. May we grow on the basis of God’s mercy because we live in the devil’s world and we are in dire circumstances. May we grow in peace, that despite the struggles that are around us and the conflicts and chaos around us we may remain relaxed and calm, trusting in God and seeking His power to survive and to deal with circumstances around us.

And then love: understanding God’s love growing in our love for Him which is based on the Word of God, 2 Peter 3:18  “but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” So it, too, is a progressive or experiential concept here, not one that is related to phase one sanctification or justification, and tells us that what the focus of this letter foreshadows and that it is going to be on that ongoing sanctification aspect.

Peter uses this same word in his salutation in 1 Peter 1:2. In 2 Peter 1:2 he says “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.” Again, the emphasis seen for Peter is that grace and peace only grow and mature on the basis of knowledge, not on the basis of experience, not on the basis of emotion, not on the basis of singing hymns and choruses and having feel-good experiences at church; it is on the basis of learning about God and about Jesus Christ, and then converting that knowledge into transformed thinking and living.

In Jude 3 we come into the main body of the epistle with an introduction to the reason that he is writing. He explains that he really wanted to write about something else but there was a compulsion, something that was happening internally within his own mind, and as he came to understand the circumstances of his readers he wrote instead about something different. He was originally going to write to them about their “common salvation,” a phrase that is only used here in this Epistle. The idea seems to be that he wanted to write initially about all that is involved in their salvation—justification, etc. He doesn’t do that because God the Holy Spirit is overshadowing him, and in this ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of a writer he is being compelled to write in a different direction.

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 to the saints.”

He begins with the word “beloved,” which is an unusual word that is applied to believers in the Scriptures. It is rare but it is not that it is never used, it is just unusual. And so it would be doubly unusual for this to be used twice in this text which is why we emphasize the fact of sanctification by God the Father as the most likely reading of verse one rather than “beloved.” He uses it simply as a title of endearment to his audience, emphasizing his own care for them. This is an expression of pastoral care, pastoral love emphasizing what we believe, how we believe it and why it makes a difference in the way we live.

Then he uses a combination of words, the key word being SPOUDE, which means haste, speed, diligence, perseverance, willingness, zeal. It is the word that the KJV originally translated when we read, “Study to show thyself approved unto God.” “Study” there is SPOUDAZO, which is the verb form, and it means to be diligent. The focus in that passage is on the object of the diligence, the Word of God.

So the way in which one would be diligent towards the Word of God would be by studying, so that is why it is translated in that particular way. Here we have the noun form which means that we are to make or to do all diligence. We have a present participle of POIEO, which simply means to do or to make. It is a temporal participle here which has the idea of “when”—“when I was making all diligence to write to you.” The idea here is not that he has already started to write but he is thinking about it, forming it in his thoughts in preparation to write an epistle to these readers. While he is making that preparation God the Holy Spirit impresses something else upon his mind.

He then says, “I felt the necessity to write to you.” So he changes course before he writes about their common salvation. He uses a combination of words here. He uses the verb ECHO, which means to have something, to hold on to something. We could translate it idiomatically as “I found,” but literally it would be translated, “I had” or “I have a necessity” or “I am under compulsion.” All that communicates the same idea.

There is this overwhelming compulsion or necessity, he doesn’t say, “The Holy Spirit spoke to me,” or “I felt a rumbling on the inside” or “a quiver in my liver.” He just has this compulsion. The more he thinks about it the more the Holy Spirit directs his thinking on a particular course of action. This word ANANKE, indicates discipline in the verb, self-discipline. So there is a compulsion, a discipline behind this that is being emphasized. 

Next, “appealing—exhorting—that you contend earnestly for the faith.” The word “appealing” is PARAKALEO in a participial form. The sense of this participle is to challenge with something. The word “exhortation” is a word that kind of loses its sense here today, we don’t use it a lot, but it actually means to challenge someone to a specific course of action. It is action oriented. But before we get to the action part there has to be an understanding of why the action is necessary, and Jude spends much of the epistle on why the action is necessary.

The challenge is to do something specific, and that is expressed in the present active infinitive here of the verb EPAGONIZOMAI. This emphasizes putting everything you have into the effort. It emphasizes discipline, it brings into focus time management, time discipline, making something a priority that is more important than anything else in life. It brings into focus the fact that it is going to be tough.

There are going to be challenges to be overcome, times when you feel defeated and that you shouldn’t go forward. There are times when you feel you just can’t get it all together, but you are going to stick with it, and you go through the trial and contend or fight vigorously for something. The epi that is added as a preposition to the main word AGONIZO indicates that you are struggling for something specific, and that is expressed as “the faith.”

One commentator writes regarding EPAGONIZOMAI: “It was used more generally of any conflict, contest or debate, or lawsuit …” So it has to do with competition. “… Involved is the thought of expenditure of all of one’s energy in order to prevail.” So the challenge for us is: how much energy are we putting into contending for the faith.

Three areas in which we contend for the faith:

  1. We can contend for the faith in terms of our own personal, spiritual life. There is always a struggle going on in spiritual life between the sin nature and walking by God the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:16–23. We are to walk by means of the Spirit and when we do so that we will not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. There is always this struggle: human viewpoint vs. divine viewpoint. So the first arena in which we struggle for the faith is in terms of our own personal focus, our own personal commitment to the Word of God and to learning the Word of God, and to following and applying the Word of God. Is this going to be my priority, am I going to do everything I can to truly understand what the Word of God says, means, and how it applies to whatever it may be that I face in life.

In life today we face different kinds of challenges. We face challenges from our own sin nature; we face challenges perhaps from family members and friends who think perhaps we are a little bit strange because of our interesting the Bible. We face a challenge from our culture which is growing increasingly hostile to biblical Christianity and to those who believe in biblical Christianity. We are consistently marginalized, no matter how accurate our scholarship is, no matter how in-depth our teaching is, we are just ignored because, “Well you people believe God actually spoke to us or that there actually is a God, that’s not very intellectual, so why spend any time thinking regarding anything you people, you fundamentalists, you evangelicals believe? You are going to believe it, you are just superstitious, you have no mind.”

So we have to be able to answer those arguments—not necessarily publicly but we have to answer them in our own mind because our sin nature is going to grab hold of those things in moments of struggle and doubt as a rationalization foundation for not obeying God. So we have to come to understand the struggle in our own soul and decide where our priorities are. If our priorities are the Word of God then that means more than just saying it; that means changing how we structure our day, how we structure our week. It means sometimes changing where we live so that we can be in a place where God the Holy Spirit can teach and train us under a pastor-teacher in a congregation.

Now that is not always possible for people to change their geographical location. We live in an age where it is harder and harder for people to find a local church that they can go to just to be a part of a local body of believers and then use various media formats to just teach them and train them while they are still in an acceptable congregation. The Word of God teaches that the normative pattern for the believer is to be assembled with other believers, and so it is not normative to be a lone ranger believer and doing it on your own. But unfortunately, that becomes a reality in a society that is becoming increasingly hostile and negative to the Word of God.

The reason that Jude is writing this is because of Jude 4, “For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation …” There are false teachers amongst us. Even evangelical churches or so-called fundamentalist churches, are falling by the wayside because of the influence of postmodernism, because of the influence of our culture—moral relativism, and so it is harder and harder to find a church that is sticking to the foundations of the faith, as Jude puts it, “which was once for all handed down to the saints.” So we have to recognize that it is a struggle.

  1. The second area of struggle is in terms of the church, perhaps. We have to make sure that the church is contending for the faith. We do that without being contentious, without challenging the pastor on every minutia of doctrine. Some people get so rigid about terminology and they get wound up too tight over this, and they can’t communicate to people. When you communicate to them in just basic, general, accepted theological Christian terms then they have to restate it in some kind of theological jargon that may not get the point. When they are talking to an unbeliever they are talking in theological terms they are familiar with, but the unbeliever has no clue as to what they are talking about. They have to learn how to state what they believe in a number of different ways.
  2. The other area of contending for the faith is toward the culture itself: not letting the culture bully us and intimidate us into being afraid to take a stand for the truth. That has happened historically innumerable times in different cultures and it is usually a foreshadowing of the final stages within the history of Christianity in that particular nation.

We are to “contend.” This is a word indicating a struggle, but we are not to contend contentiously. We are to have the fruit of the Spirit exhibited in how we address things when it comes to the culture or the local church. We do not want to say things in a way that is dishonorable and reflects poorly upon ourselves, upon what we believe, and upon the Lord.

We are contending, James says, for the faith. When we have terminology like this in the Scripture and there is the emphasis in contending for the faith, faith is a term that not only means believing in something where the noun is noun of action that expresses the action of believing something, trusting in something, saying that something is true; we also have the word used to refer to the body or the content of what we believe.

So it comes to mean the faith. That is how the word is used here in this verse. In the English it is translated with an article because that takes up the sense in the Greek; it is a qualitative distinction. The article indicates that this is a specific set of beliefs, and it is a set of beliefs that is “once for all handed down to the saints.” The word “once” is the Greek word HAPAZ used also of the atonement. It is once-for-all, it has already been given; it is a set body of beliefs, not something that is evolving.

Sometimes theologians talk about the development of doctrine. They are not talking about how what we believed changed or evolved from, say, apples to oranges, but how our understanding of what the Bible taught became more and more refined and clear over time. There is a development of our doctrinal understanding of what the Bible teaches, which is not the same as saying that the doctrine, the body of faith changes.

This gives us an interesting little window into the process of inspiration and how the human writer of Scripture is brought to a point of writing Scripture. Jude talks about it from his own experience. His experience was as he heard about some of the things that were going on in this congregation that he was addressing he thought that he would write to them about their common salvation.

He had one idea in mind, and then as he was thinking that through God the Holy Spirit began to work on him and he began to realize that as he thought about it and as the Holy Spirit was moving him (2 Peter 1:20–21) and influencing his thinking. This helps us to understand something about the process of how Scripture was communicated. This is extremely important because it is the foundational doctrine. As Jude tells us, we have to contend earnestly for the faith. So, when we think of the faith, what are the essentials of the faith?

Where does truth come from? How do we know something is true? How do we know something is accurate? How do we know something is absolute? This relates to the study of the Bible, the origin and the study of the text. This is what is referred to in theology as bibliology, i.e., the study of the Bible.

In bibliology we ask about the Bible. For example, we ask: how was the Bible revealed? How does the Bible tell us that Moses or Joshua or Daniel, Matthew, John, Luke, or Paul receive the information that they then communicate in a written form to their generation and subsequent generations? Is it a dictation? Is it something like we find in the cults of Islam or Mormonism where somebody is just taken aside into a cave or someplace like that and somebody dictates or gives it to them?

Everything in Islam and Mormonism is given to one person over one time. In contrast, what we have in the Bible is that God reveals the truth of His Word to over forty different authors over a period of 1,500 years, maybe longer. These forty plus writers came from many different walks of life and cultures and they don’t disagree on any of the subjects they address which are the most controversial subjects spoken to man. In contrast, these other “holy” books like the Book of Mormon and the Koran are given in toto to one individual. That should raise our suspicions to begin with. The question is: how was the Bible revealed?

Another question: Are there errors in the Bible? Is the Bible myth and legend? We hear that a lot. We have these questions. Can we have a conviction that this is true? How was the Bible revealed? Are there errors in the Bible? When we ask the question of errors, there are two kinds of errors.

One is authorship where the author wrote down false information: his historical facts are wrong; his scientific facts are wrong; his geographical facts are wrong; his ethical facts are wrong; something like that.

The second kind of error is the error of transmission. The original author wrote everything down and it was accurate and perfect without error, but then when it was copied two or three centuries down the road a word got left out or an additional word or phrase got entered in by a scribe in the margin as an explanation, and then some scribe later on inserted that into the text. These are called errors of transmission.

We need to ask questions, like what was the means of inspiration? Did God dictate Scriptures? It is something that was purely an act of the human author so that the Bible would then only contain the Word of God? Or is there dual authorship? And the bottom line of all of this is the issue of biblical authority.

Really, for the last 200 years of church history in the West this has been the major battleground. This started in the early 19th century. Actually, elements can be traced back into the 17th century where some pastors began to question doctrines in Scripture during the Enlightenment because it didn’t fit their reason. Their rational processes questioned, how could God become a man? I don’t understand. How can God heal a leper? I don’t understand? So because they couldn’t understand or give a rational explanation they began to doubt. How can there be three in one? So we’ll just throw out the deity of Christ.

So, they began to erode Scripture. By the 19th century this type of thinking, the rationalism from the Enlightenment, began to bear its evil fruit in what became known as 19th century liberal theology, also known as higher criticism, also known as German rationalism, also known as modernism. This was the big phrase at the beginning of the 20th century known as the modernist-fundamentalist controversy.

One of the words used to describe conservative Biblicists who believe that the Bible is the infallible, inerrant Word of God is the term “fundamentalism.” The term did not come into use until the 1920s, but the facts of what we call Christian fundamentalism were there going back all the way to the first century and beyond.

But within the history of American Christianity, as this battle came and the struggle and the contending for the faith developed in the 19th century against these assaults from higher criticism and German rationalism and liberalism there was a response from the conservative Christian community. That was really led by the theologians of Princeton Theological Seminary which sort of became the bastion of orthodoxy in the area of understanding the inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture.

The great theologians that wrote and addressed this topic were there at Princeton, and they led the charge. It wasn’t restricted to Princeton, there were many others, but this was the bastion of faith. When we talk about the rise of fundamentalism the first steam of influence that flowed into that river of fundamentalism was the theology of Princeton emphasizing the inerrancy and the infallibility of Scripture.

Another stream that influenced fundamentalism—although it was not restricted to it but was a heavy part of it—was the pre-millennialism that came from a consistent literal interpretation of Scripture in the 19th century, various conservative groups, and this crystallized into new dispensational theology. There were various Bible conferences at the end of the 19th century where these conservative thinkers and pastors and theologians got together and would stimulate one another by their preaching, teaching, and relationship.

This is part of the background to why we have Bible conferences like we do. The Pre-Trib Rapture Study Group was a consciously developed conference to imitate what went on in the late 19th century. The Chafer Seminary Pastors’ Conference and others are designed to focus on the issues of the day, and to give pastors and theologians and those who are specialists in particular areas the opportunity to focus on those and to stimulate other pastors so that we become better prepared to contend for the faith. This pre-millennialism and dispensationalism was very much a part of this stream that leads into fundamentalism.

Then there was a third strand which was just good solid conservative theology that developed out of a set of books written early in the 1900s. Some had been commissioned to write articles and publish them in twelve volumes—scholarly articles at the highest level of scholarship addressing the challenges that came from 19th century liberalism. This set of books was called The Fundamentals of Christianity. After that, and on the basis of that, another man by the name of Curtis Lee Laws coined the term “fundamentalists.” Fundamentalists were those who believed the fundamentals.

In the process at the same time there was a group of Presbyterian conservatives in the northern Presbyterian denomination—most denominations split at the time of the American civil war and the northern denominations were the ones who came under the assault from liberalism most at the beginning, and so they began to identify what were the fundamentals—and in their view there were five fundamentals in the faith.

The inerrancy of the Bible is the first, because that is the foundation, the authority of Scripture. Second, the literal nature of the biblical accounts, especially regarding Christ’s miracles and the Creation account in Genesis. These first two are so important. One understands the basis for authority is an inerrant Scripture, and then we have the literal hermeneutic, the literal nature of the biblical accounts, especially with regard to the miracles and Creation.

Third, the virgin birth of Christ. Fourth, the bodily resurrection and the literal physical return of Christ. And fifth, the substitutionary atonement of Christ on the Cross.