Book of Jude Part 3 (series: Lessons on Jude)
by John Lowe
Jude wishes mercy, peace, and love for his readers.
2 Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.
Jude wishes mercy, peace, and love for his readers. The greeting is especially suited to those who were facing the onslaught from those whose aim was to undermine the faith. All our comfort flows from the mercy, peace, and love of God, all our real enjoyment in this life, all our hope for a better life. Mercy means God’s compassionate comfort and care for His beleaguered saints in times of conflict and stress. The mercy of God is the spring and fountain of all the good we have or hope for; mercy not only for the miserable, but also for the guilty. Although the word mercy is often used to describe the relationship among people, it is primarily used in the New Testament as the overriding blessing of God toward His people. Even the best men have no merit, and must receive every blessing and grace by the way of God’s mercy Next to mercy is peace, which we have from the sense of having obtained mercy. Peace is the serenity and confidence that come from reliance on God’s word and from looking above circumstances to the One who overrules all circumstances for the accomplishment of His own purposes. This is that same peace “beyond anything we can imagine” (Philippians 4:7). We can have no true and lasting peace except for what flows from our reconciliation with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. The same mercy springs from peace, so from peace springs love, his love for us, our love for him, and our brotherly love for one another. Love is the undeserved embrace of God for His dear people—a super-affection that should then be shared with others. The word used for love here is αγαπη (agape), of which the Lord God is the only source. This love is most clearly demonstrated by the fact that God gave His only Son to be the only acceptable sacrifice for mankind’s sin *(John 3:16). Such love is totally self-giving **(1 John 3:16).
*(John 3:16) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The gospel in a nutshell. The love of God shown in action. (1) The source of love—God. (2) The extent of love—the world. (3) The sacrifice of love—He gave his only begotten Son. (4) The results of love—whosoever believeth in him should not perish.
**(1 John 3:16) “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.”
He wishes for these three blessings to be multiplied. Not measured out in meager amounts, but by multiplication! These things are mentioned as the choicest blessings which could be conferred on them: mercy—in the pardon of all their sins and acceptance with God; peace—with God, with their fellow-men, in their own consciences, and in the prospect of death; and love to God, to the brethren, to the entire world.
These godly attributes are manifested in the believer through the indwelling Holy Spirit of the living God. By that same Spirit, these blessings continue to grow and bear fruit in the lives of believers.
II. Occasion of the Epistle. 3–4.
A. Change of the Purpose. 3.
3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.
Jude had originally intended to write about the glorious salvation that is the common possession of all believers. But God’s Spirit so influenced this yielded scribe that he sensed a change of direction. A simple doctrinal essay would no longer do; it must be a fervent appeal that would strengthen the readers. They must be stirred up to contend earnestly for the faith. Attacks were being made on the sacred deposit of Christian truth, and efforts were already launched to whittle away the great fundamental doctrines. In order to combat this, God’s people must stand uncompromisingly for the inspiration, inerrancy, authority, and sufficiency of God’s Holy Word.
Yet, in contending for the faith, the believer must speak and act as a Christian. As Paul wrote: “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient” (2 Tim. 2:24). He must contend without being argumentative, and testify without ruining his testimony.
What we contend earnestly for is the faith which was once and for all delivered to the saints. Notice that! Not “once upon a time” but once and for all. The body of doctrine is complete. The canon is finished. Nothing more can be added. “If it’s new it’s not true, and if it’s true it’s not new.” When some teacher claims to have a revelation which is above and beyond what is found in the Bible, we reject it out of hand. The last word has been delivered and we neither need nor heed anything else. This is our answer to the leaders of false cults with their books that claim equal authority with the Scriptures.
Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you. This diligence is really “eagerness” to reveal the real purpose for him writing this Epistle. It is like saying, “Although I’ve wanted to write to you for a long time about our common salvation, I now find that there is a compelling necessity, I must write.” Common salvation is an abstract (theoretical) term like Christianity. Peter begins the first General Epistle with a discussion of salvation, as he does in his second epistle; so does Paul in all of his epistles, and Hebrews and James assume that their readers are saved. None of the epistles are primarily evangelistic; they are not like “gospel tracts,” but are written to Christians who have some specific need for correction, reproof, encouragement, or instruction. Here Jude sees that it was needful for me to write unto you. The word needful (Gr anangkē) implies a compelling, pressing need; a serious problem has come up among the believers, and it must be dealt with. He had to write to encourage them to earnestly contend (Gr epagōnizoman) for the faith. This word means “fight for” someone; here Jude is writing to encourage whatever “agonizing struggle” might be necessary to defend the good name of the faith. The faith is synonymous with “common salvation” or Christianity; they are to “fight for” the honor of the faith. Note that the emphasis is not on contention, but on the faith which is now described further as once delivered unto the saints. What is being promoted here is the apostolic preaching, that is, the Word of God, not an attitude of constant fighting with other believers. This is reinforced by the use of once, which is not the word for “once upon a time” assuming a considerable passage of time, but rather means “once for all,” and refers to the fact that the apostles preached this Word as a final and authoritative message which cannot now be changed by the false teachers.
Next, we must see to it that it is really the Christian faith that we believe, profess, propagate, and contend for; not the teachings of some TV evangelist, not any new age religion that stresses its own ideology instead of the inspired writings of the holy evangelists and apostles. Now observe:
I. The gospel salvation is a common salvation, that is, it is offered to all mankind; to those that the message reaches: because the commission that Jesus gave us says, “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:15, 16).
II. Surely God means what He says; he does not deceive us with vain words, like men do; and therefore none are excluded from the benefit of these gracious offers and invitations, except those who obstinately, unapologetically, finally exclude themselves. “Whoever will may come and drink of the water of life freely,” Rev. 22:17. "All good Christians meet in Christ the common head, are actuated by one and the same Spirit, are guided by one rule, meet here at one throne of grace, and hope shortly to meet in one common inheritance. This common salvation is the subject-matter of the faith of all the saints.
III. The apostles and evangelists all wrote to us about this common salvation. This cannot be doubted by those who have carefully read their writings. It is enough that they have fully declared to us, by inspiration of the Holy Ghost, all that is necessary for every one to believe and do, in order to obtain a personal interest in the common salvation.
IV. Those who preach or write about the common salvation should do it well: they should not allow themselves to offer to God or his people that which is not their best. They should be careful not to treat God irreverently, and man unjustly. The apostle (though inspired) gave all diligence to write about the common salvation. What then will become of those who (though uninspired) give no diligence, or next to none, but say to the people (even in the name of God) quicquid in buccam venerit—whatever comes next, who, so that they use scripture-words, care not how they interpret or apply them? Those who speak of sacred things ought always to speak of them with the greatest reverence, care, and diligence.