Day 349 – Thru the Bible
Today we read Jude. Here’s the overview video for Jude.
Video – Read Scripture: Jude
How does this video help you understand Jude better?
Jude 1 – There is a lot wrapped up in this simple greeting, the opening line of Jude’s epistle. Jude is the brother of James, by which he means James the apostle, the brother of Jesus (not James the disciple of Jesus, who was killed by Herod; ). So Jude himself is the brother of Jesus. But he doesn’t identify himself as such. He calls himself James’s brother but Jesus’ “servant.”
The reason for Jude’s humility is obvious: this brother of Jude is the incarnate Son of God (John 3:16). He is the head and “the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent” (Colossians 1:18). Jude says of the One who is not ashamed to call us His brothers (Hebrews 2:11), “I am not worthy to call my brother my brother. I am his servant!” Yet, the one who is only worthy of being a “servant” addresses his readers as “beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ” (Jude 1). Thus, Jude grants believers his own family status. In doing so, he reminds us of the great Gospel privilege of being children of God (1 John 3:1) even though we are deserving only of being His servants.
Since the Gospel is true, this is how we are invited to begin every day: with the multiplication of “mercy, peace, and love.” This is what is raining down on us every moment of the day by the grace of God. This is what is most deeply true of us.
Jude urges Believers to resist those who pervert the promises of grace into an excuse for sensuality (Titus 2:11–12). He urges Believers to contend for the faith once for all delivered to them. In 1 Timothy 1:8–11 we learn that sensual sins, passions of the flesh, are contrary to “sound doctrine” and “the gospel of the glory of the blessed God.” What we learn in this passage in Jude and others is that God’s grace does not lead us away from our Master and Lord (Jude 4).
Grace liberates us not only by forgiving us but also by freeing us from bondage to sin by instilling loyalty to Jesus in our hearts. Because He has given Himself for us, we give ourselves to Him. The Gospel transforms our desires from the inside out. We are led into right living by discovering that our life and joy are most full as we serve the One we most love.
Grace forgives disobedience but it does not produce disobedience, nor is it a free pass to disobey. Jude recalls God’s mighty deeds in history to remind his readers of coming judgment for the wicked. We are given three sobering reminders in these verses.
First, hell is real. What is the effect of combining two earthly accounts of judgment with one heavenly account of the same? By equating the heavenly event with the two earthly events, Jude makes all spiritual spheres subject to the same historical reality. Condemnation for unrepented wickedness is not theoretical nor intended for only a portion of God’s creation. The spiritual judgment of hell will be real—sadly and painfully real.
Second, hell is eternal. Note Jude’s language of “eternal chains” and “punishment of eternal fire.”
Third, there will be those participating in the spiritual communities of heaven and earth who are going to hell. Jude gives three examples: some Israelites, certain angels, and the cities surrounding Sodom and Gomorrah. A cursory connection to God’s people is no guaranteed refuge from the punishment of sin. There are indeed “people who have crept in” to the community of faith, who have gotten into the sheepfold in another way than that of true salvation (John 10:1). Peter refers to these in 2 Peter 2:1.
So where is the comfort amid all this gloom and doom? Jude gives it to us in verse 5. It is Jesus, who saved God’s people out of bondage in Egypt. He was the active agent rescuing His covenant people from bondage and preparing them to be the means by which the nations of the earth would be blessed. Jesus alone saves. He did it in the days of the exodus, and He does it today, for any sinner who turns trustingly to Him.
The reality of coming judgment is sobering. Yet true Believers can take comfort, for at least two reasons. First, all wrongs and injustices committed against God’s people will one day be avenged. God’s children will be vindicated. We do not need to seek vengeance now. God will settle all debts at His appointed time. Second, for those who trust in Jesus, His cross has become our own final judgment. He was condemned so that we need not be.
Jude’s concluding doxology is stirring, connecting God’s infinite worth to our “great joy.” The affirmation of Jesus’ ability to “keep [us] from stumbling” is an echo of verse 1, which assures us that we are being “kept for Jesus Christ.” There is an inextricable connection between God’s glory and our salvation. Were it not for God, we would be falling from grace every waking second. It is He who keeps us from stumbling; it is He who qualifies us as blameless.
So Jude wants to ascribe to God all that He is due: glory (credit), majesty (beauty), dominion (jurisdiction), and authority (power). Thus, this closing doxology stands in stark contrast to the darkness Jude has spoken of throughout his letter.
We see in the end the radiance of glory that stands in stark contrast to the depths of wickedness. Instead of dangerously hidden reefs, we see in the doxology the visible rock of refuge, the rock higher than ourselves, the stone carved from the mountain that smashes kingdoms (Daniel 2), the strong tower and safe refuge, the rock upon which, if we are shipwrecked, it is for our good and security. Instead of self-centered shepherds, we see the Good Shepherd who cares for the sheep at all times, who feeds the sheep with His own flesh (John 10:11).
We see the glory of God not in some thin, vaporous mist but in the pillar of cloud leading the sons of God through the wilderness. We see the commander of the winds, the sender and the stopper of them. Instead of fruitless trees, we see the true vine in whom there is life abundant—the vine who was once dead but who is now up-risen in glory and vindication (John 15:1). Instead of being swept along by the wild waves of the sea, we see the One who walks upon the waves and calms the storms (Mark 6:45–52). Instead of “wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever” (Jude 13), we see the bright morning star, the blazing sun of righteousness for whom the brightness of brightest glory has been reserved forever (Revelation 22:16).
How great the light that casts the shadow! He has illumined our way, and has kept us from falling away, so He gets all the glory. This is indeed grounds for great joy, as we look to Jesus. What shall we say then to this confrontation with God’s “glory, majesty, dominion, and authority”?
Thank you, Jesus!
How does your love for Jesus impact your daily life?
What other thoughts or questions does today’s video and reading bring up?
Some of these notes are from the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible study notes. We highly recommend this study Bible.
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