Author: Ron Graham
Jude’s Short Letter
—Beginning a study of the epistle
Our first study in the letter from Jude. We look at his introduction in verses 1-2. He states who he is, describes those he is writing to, and gives a blessing.
¶“1Jude, slave of Jesus Christ, brother of James, to those who, having been made holy* in God [the] Father and kept for Jesus Christ, [are] called: 2Mercy to you; and peace and love be multiplied” (Jude 1:1-2).
(*Note: In verse 1, an alternative reading is “beloved” instead of “made holy”).
1 From Jude, Slave of Jesus Christ (Verse 1)
Jude primarily refers to himself as “the slave of Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:1). This is not just for an apostle. All Christians should regard themselves as such.
On this subject, Paul says, "Christ set us free" (Galatians 5:1) and yet, like Jude, he calls himself "the slave of Christ" (Galatians 1:10). He elsewhere tells those set free from the law of sin and death that they too, like him, are the "slaves of righteousness" (Romans 6:14-18).
We should regard the words “slave of Jesus Christ” as an expression of our total commitment to Jesus our Lord, and his total ownership of us as his holy people. I'm sure Jude did so.
2 To the Holy, Kept, and Called (Verse 1)
Jude says he is writing ¶“to those who, having been made holy in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ, are called” (Jude 1:1b). These are all common New Testament terms for Christians.
Sometimes in scripture, God’s people are called “saints” which means sanctified people or more simply, people made holy. For instance, Paul wrote ¶“To the called out of God at Corinth, to those who are made holy in Christ Jesus, called to be holy people...” (1Corinthians 1:2).
This is another way the scripture looks at Christians. They are preserved, they endure and persevere. The writer to the Hebrews says, for example, ¶“But we don't belong to those who draw back to ruin, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:39).
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians along the same line: ¶“Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy, and may your whole spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1Thessalonians 5:23).
Yet another view of the Lord’s people is that they are called. Jesus expressed it beautifully when he said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27 NKJV). By the way, this idea is lost in our word “church” which is used to translate the Greek εκκλησια (ekklesia) meaning “called out”.
We should regard this calling as not merely an “invitation” from God, but as a summons from God. Jesus made this very clear in one of his banquet parables (Luke 14:15-24)
3 Wishing Mercy, Peace, and Love (Verse 2)
Jude offers a simple wish for a blessing on those he writes to: “Mercy to you; and peace and love be multiplied” (Jude 1:2).
A shorthand for every blessing in Christ
We all understand mercy, peace, and love, and they are common themes in scripture. When Bible writers speak of “faith, hope, and love” or “grace, mercy, and peace” or “mercy, peace, and love” that's a sort of shorthand for the long list of bountiful blessings that we have in Jesus Christ.
¶“His divine power has given us all things needed for life and godliness... great and precious promises” (2Peter 1:2-4). “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing...” (Ephesians 1:2-3).
Jude wishes that spiritual blessings be multiplied to God’s holy people, but now he goes on to worry that they will be divided by spiritual darkness and perversion.
Note: Who was Jude?
Jude/Judas was either one of the twelve apostles, or one of Jesus’s brothers.
- The apostle called “Judas of James”.
In Luke’s lists of the 12 apostles (Luke 6:16 and Acts 1:13), we find the name “Judas of James” (Some translations insert the word “son of” while others insert the word “brother of”). In Matthew and Mark, the same apostle is called “Thaddaeus” (Matthew 10:2 and Mark 3:16-19).
- The brother of Jesus
Jesus had brothers and sisters, two of whom were named James and Judas (Matthew 13:55-56). Apparently “brothers of the Lord” became apostles, since Paul includes them as such (1Corinthians 9:1-6) and names among the “apostles... James the brother of the Lord” (Galatians 1:18-19).