We are told that Jesus had fleshly brothers and sisters. At first, during His earthly ministry, His brothers did not believe in Him. However, they were later converted and were present with their mother and the apostles in Jerusalem soon after His ascension into heaven. James and Jude later became great leaders in the church and wrote the letters in the New Testament that bear their names.
Much time and effort were consumed during the early years of the church refuting the errors of false teachers. The purpose of Jude’s letter also was to forcefully warn about false teachers and the tragic results of following them. Sadly to say, if he were writing today, false teachers would still need to be identified and warned.
No one is sure when Jude wrote his letter, but many believe it was probably written from Jerusalem about A.D. 68. He directed his comments to Christians in general, but probably more specifically to Jewish believers. Parts of his letter are similar to portions of Peter’s second epistle. It is probable that as he referred to parts of the Old Testament, he also quoted Peter’s writing to emphasize some of his points.
Jude identified himself as the writer of this letter, a brother of James and also as a servant of Jesus Christ. As he began, he inferred that a longer and more general letter about their salvation had been planned. The need to urge them to fight for the faith (one and only faith) against false teachers caused him to change his purpose.
Evil men even denying God and Christ, his Son had slipped into the church. Their false teaching and vile manner of life were cause for Jude’s urgent concern that they be stopped immediately. They were a dire threat to the peace and harmony of the church.
Jude reminded his readers of examples of how God had dealt in the past with those who rebelled against His will. Even though He is loving and merciful, He is also just and certain to punish the unrighteous. He compared them with well-known Old Testament characters Cain, Balaam and Korah who were severely punished for their sins.
False teachers appear to offer much, but their promises are like empty clouds and barren fruit trees. They instead, like hidden reefs in the sea destroy those unaware of their presence. Enoch prophesied in an obscure prophecy thousands of years earlier about the punishment of these men.
Ungodly men are sly in their attempts to mislead God’s children. Jude gave some identifying marks of such men. They were described as grumblers, complainers, self-centered, flatterers and mockers. These people must not be followed nor tolerated because of the divisions they cause in the church.
As Jude began to conclude his letter, he issued a call for positive action. He urged them to build themselves up and keep themselves in the love of God by calling on Him to strengthen their faith. One calls on God through prayer and His reply can be found by a careful study of His word. One is kept in the love of God by conforming to His will.
Stronger Christians were instructed to have compassion on those who are weaker and to try to save them from the influence of the wicked men among them. Strong and vigorous teaching would be necessary to convert the more hardened sinners. Care must be exercised by teachers to avoid being caught up in their same errors.
Jude ended his letter with a tribute and praise to God. He is able and willing to keep His children from stumbling as long as they keep their eyes upon Him and His word. God is our Savior and He is wise. Glory, majesty, dominion and power are His now and forever.