Thursday, March 29, 2007

Exposition of Jude: Part 2 of 25

This series is an occasional, verse-by-verse commentary on the book of Jude.

Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you (Jude 1:2).

After identifying the sender and the recipient, most of the letters in the New Testament begin with some kind of blessing or prayer for those who will read the epistle. In Paul’s letter to the Roman church, for example, he writes: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 1:7b). Jude 1:2 is a similar blessing. Jude is asking God to give three particular things to those who will read this letter: mercy, peace, and love.

First, he asks for mercy. What is mercy? Someone has said that "grace" is when we do get something we do not deserve, and "mercy" is when we do not get something that we do deserve. Jesus said, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy" (Matthew 5:7). Jude is praying for his readers to be as merciful to each other as God in Christ has been to them.

Second, he asks for peace. The Greek word for "peace" is the root of our English word "irenic." Jude, likely a Jewish believer, would also have had in mind the Hebrew concept of shalom, wholeness and complete health. Jude is praying for his readers to avoid small-minded fractions and fissures and to be united.

Third, he asks for love. The word "love" is the great Christian word agape. It is the inclination of a Christian man towards his wife, rooted in the self-sacrificial, cruciform way that Christ loves the church (see Ephesians 5:25). It is the way God loves the world in Christ (John 3:16). Jude is praying for his readers to serve each other’s needs self-sacrificially, as God has loved us.

We should note that these blessings are directed to the whole body of believers, the called out ones (see v. 1). One of the tests of true Christian faith is whether or not we really want to bless the local body of believers to which we belong: "He who loves His brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in Him" (1 John 1:10).

Practical Application:

1. Have you been as merciful to someone whom you believe has wronged you as you would desire God to be toward you for the wrongs you have done against Him?
2. Have your words and actions contributed to peace among God’s people or division?
3. Have you put the needs of others (your family, your fellow church members, your fellow man) above your own?


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