John Mitchell, Cardiff
Jude tells us in HIS OPENING VERSE that he is a bondslave of Jesus Christ and the brother of James. Although he was related by earthly ties to the Lord Jesus he counts it of much more value to be a bondservant of the now ascended Christ than His earthly relative. However, the fact that he was the brother of the well known James would give authority to his letter and would ensure its acceptance as presenting 'apostolic teaching', see vv. 3, 17, 20. From a general reading of the epistle we observe:
It is necessary to be both positive and negative in our teaching, for Jude writes to
a) instruct regarding the common salvation, and
b) warn against those introducing doctrinal error.
There is emphasis by Jude on the words 'Keep' and 'Kept':
vv. 2: the Lord's people who were kept by God for the Lord Jesus.
vv. 3-4: exhortation for the Lord's people to contend for, and to keep the faith.
vv. 5-7; those who kept not the paths of truth and obedience are kept unto judgement.
vv. 8-19: disastrous deterioration of character through not keeping the faith.
vv. 20-23: the Lord's people to see they are kept in the love of God.
vv. 24-25: the Lord's people to be kept from stumbling.
Jude speaks of 'the faith' as that which should be contended earnestly
for (as an athlete) and does not require any modification. It should be accepted
as final and the only valid basis for spiritual growth. We would say the faith is:
Divine in its Origin: It was 'delivered unto the saints'. God is the author
of this common salvation which His servants presented in the gospel of His
Unique in its Content: It is the faith-the only valid one. It is the only
perfect revelation of God, in Christ.
Complete in its Revelation: it is 'the faith once for all delivered . . .',
therefore it is a complete and final revelation, needing no addition or revision.
Holy in its Nature: in v. 20 Jude speaks of 'your most holy faith'.
In the epistle, Jude mentions quite a number of the fundamentals of the faith: we are called upon to defend and contend earnestly for the truth:
v. 1: God is the Father of all who believe, v. 4: The glorious lesson of our Lord Jesus Christ, v. 4: The doctrine of the grace of God. v. 7: The total depravity of man. v. 9: The existence of a personal Devil, v. 19: The personality of the Holy Spirit, vv. 6, 7, 13: The fact of judgement and hell, v. 11: The justification of the sinner by faith alone. v. 14: The personal return of Christ, v. 24: The eternal security of believers. v. 25: The sovereignty and keeping power of God.
vv. 5-19: The historical accuracy and the prophetic value of the Old Testament and New Testament scriptures.
Although containing many warnings from the past the epistle encourages believers to build on this most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit, v. 20; as well as keep ourselves in God's love and look for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life, v. 21.
It might be that Jude uses non-canonical literature in his epistle. The Book of Enoch is referred to in vv. 6-14 and the Assumption of Moses in vv. 8-9. The Holy Spirit saw fit to use these extracts from non-canonical books and to include them in the accepted scriptures to illustrate spiritual truth. It could be that certain genuine oral traditions became incorporated in the Book of Enoch and the Assumption of Moses and so it may be that Jude is not quoting the earlier works but we could have an example of the two writers drawing on the same oral material. We are quite sure God inspired Jude in the writing of his epistle but we must keep an open mind on the method He used in inspiring His servant. The Holy Spirit could lead a man to use existing material and yet ensure that only true facts and ideas are actually written down as scripture.