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Jude 1:3-4 Updated American Standard Version (UASV)
3 Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all delivered to the holy ones. 4 Certain men have crept in among you who were long ago appointed for this judgment, ungodly men who change the grace of our God into an excuse for licentiousness and who prove false to our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
WE HAVE A PROBLEM Jude 3–4
Initially, Jude had wanted to write a glowing letter about the glory of the salvation we share (v. 3). Such a message would have likely celebrated the availability of grace to all, not only the elite who had special knowledge, as Gnosticism taught. But something has come to Jude’s attention. There was a problem, a big problem: For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago [had] secretly slipped in among [them] (v. 4). This sounds a great deal like the warning Peter gave his readers (2 Pet. 2:1–3). Because of these seducers, there is now a new priority—that he urge them to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. Not unlike the concerns John had in his letters, there were immoral and heretical infiltrators whose goal was apparently to corrupt the Church in faith and practice.
The phrase the faith that was once for all is loaded with meaning. It has a historical reference and future implications that are for those yet to come. The faith is an unchanging—yet unfolding—set of truths and is good for all who will give it ear, mind, and heart. No other body of truth need be given. The following are important views of the faith that Christians hold.
This Faith Was Revealed, Not Imagined
Human minds did not manufacture the truths of the gospel. They were revelation before they were tradition. They are revealed by God through Jesus Christ, the living Word of God, and they were inspired for the written Word by the Holy Spirit of God.
This Faith Is Trustworthy, Durable, and Enduring
It was delivered once, for all. It deserves to be believed, lived, and passed along to others. Even more impressive is the way God’s truth and Word continue to expand in their implications, guidance, and wisdom for successive generations to apply to contemporary issues.
This Faith Is Worth Proclaiming and Defending
The apostle Paul said as much in Philippians 1:7. There will always be obstacles to the faith, enemies of the faith, and distractions from the faith. It is a non-stop vigil to maintain purity of doctrine when it comes to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
Preaching is constantly reminding people of what people are constantly forgetting.
What was the nature of those described by Jude’s scathing words? 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 (v. 4). That constitutes a lot of trouble for the Church.
They were godless because of their doctrinal and moral corruption. It is very possible that they had bought into the dualism of Gnosticism (see Introduction to 1 John). In that system, material things are inherently evil and God does not inhabit them—or us. Since the body is corrupt, it makes little difference how or for what we use it. Such beliefs separated one’s spiritual condition from human behavior. In other words, they sometimes endorsed immorality and presumed that God’s grace would simply cover for them. Many think that way, even today. Any of us can fall prey to rationalizing our pride or lust. The capacity to compartmentalize or rationalize why we do what we do is a dangerous human gift. Misused, it leads us on a path to moral, relational, and possibly eternal destruction.
The men Jude mentions in verse 4 were godless because they denied Jesus as the Christ. Again, this was a trait of heretical teachings of the day, to rationalize away either the full deity or the humanity of Jesus Christ, and therefore minimize the meaning of His birth, life, death, resurrection, and His lordship of the Church.
By David A. Case and David W. Holdren
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 David A. Case and David W. Holdren, 1-2 Peter, 1-3 John, Jude: A Commentary for Bible Students (Indianapolis, IN: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2006), 363–365.
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