Today we begin our study of the book of Jude, the next-to-last book of the Bible.
Scholars agree that the author of this book was Jude, the namesake of the book. Jude was one of the half-brothers of Jesus, as was James, the author of the book of James.
We see Jude (Judas) listed as one of Jesus’ half-brothers in Matthew 13:55 and Mark 6:3. We also see Jude introduce himself nearly identically to his brother James (see Jude 1 and James 1:1). Both men identify themselves as servants of Jesus Christ; Jude identifies himself as James’ brother.
Notice that neither James nor Jude identify themselves as apostles, nor do they play the “I’m related to Jesus” card for their credentials. Both men put themselves under the authority and direction of Jesus as the risen Lord and Savior, just like anyone else who follows Christ.
Scholars believe that Jude was located in Jerusalem, just as James was. James became the leader of the Jerusalem Council, and Jude was likely part of the early church as well.
The writing of Jude’s letter is sometime after Peter wrote his second epistle (around 68 AD), but before the fall of Jerusalem (70 AD). Jude quotes from 2 Peter 3:3 in Jude 17-18. Peter had warned that false teachers would come; Jude clearly deals with their arrival.
Jude most likely was writing to a Jewish audience that accepted Christ as Messiah, as he was located in Jerusalem; however, the message is applicable to both Jew and Gentile.
Jude’s message to his readers was clear – stick with the teachings of Jesus and His apostles, and not the “new” teachings of those who claimed to have the “next” or “better” teachings that superceded those of Jesus and His apostles.
These false teachers were going around and claiming that anything material was evil and anything spiritual was good. They separated spirituality from everyday living, spiritual belief from spiritual practice. With this mindset, they were teaching that as long as you “beleived”, it didn’t matter what you practiced. These teachers would pass themselves off publicly as “saints”, but behind the scenes their lives were morally bankrupt. Their talk in no way matched their walk.
As we walk through the book of Jude together, may we remember that our talk and our walk must be consistently in line with Jesus’ teachings. The bad news is that this is hard to do – Jesus’ standard is perfection. The good news is that Jesus knows we can’t achieve perfection this side of heaven, and He knows we can’t achieve this by our own “white knuckle” efforts of trying harder. Instead, He sent His Helper (the Holy Spirit) to guide and direct us, to empower us to live in His strength and power for His glory.
Only as we submit to His authority do we gain His strength.