Semper Reformanda

...some days even my lucky rocketship underpants don't help.

[Sunday, August 16, 2009]

Reading the Bible -- Jude 1-4

1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James,
To those who have been called, who are loved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ:

2 Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.
The sin and doom of Godless men
3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. 4 For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Jude starts off as most of the NT letters do: by identifying himself. We find out in verse 1, that Jude is the brother of James, who is the brother of Jesus thus, Jude was also a brother of Jesus. Most likely, this is the same Jude (or Judas) that is referred to in Matthew 13:55 - a son born to Joseph and Mary after the birth of Jesus.

The end of verse 1 determines the audience of the letter - in simple terms, true believers.

Verse 3 starts us off on an interesting note. It seems that the letter of Jude is not the actual letter he wished to write. Originally he sought to write about "the salvation we share," however circumstances made it such that a new topic took precedence. That topic being the defense of the faith against the false teachers that have started popping up in the church.

He goes on to use some pretty powerful phrases such as "men whose condemnation was written about long ago" and "godless men" to describe these false teachers who have "secretly slipped in" to pervert the Gospel of grace.

Licentiousness was an issue all the NT writers had to deal with. A common battle Paul had to face with his fairly revolutionary Gospel of free grace was that this led to liberal living and moral flexibility. The so-called "Christ died so that I can do whatever the heck I want" mentality. Jude was no exception in having to participate in this battle.

We see a glimpse of the argument against licentiousness that Jude will be making here in verse 4. First, he firmly states that "license for immorality" is changing the "grace of our God," which would not make it grace at all. Moreover, changing grace from what it actually is, is a flat out denial of Jesus Christ, who, as Jude states is "our only Soverign and Lord." The language here, speaking to Christ's authoritative role over the Christian.

In the following verses, we will see this theme fleshed out more.


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