Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Exposition of Jude: Part 3 of 25

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

Jude 1:3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

Why is Jude writing this letter? In v. 3 we have the purpose of this epistle explained.

First, Jude says he was diligent to write to these "beloved" (the called, sanctified, and preserved believers [see v. 2]) concerning "their common salvation." The adjective "common" in Greek is koinos. It reminds one of the noun for "fellowship" [koinonia]. As believers we are joined in fellowship by a common experience of salvation. What are we saved from? The Bible says we are saved not merely from ourselves, or from our sin, but from the wrath of God! In John 3:36 we read that the one "who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him."

Second, however, Jude notes that it was necessary for him to encourage (from the Greek parakaleo; we might use the stronger verb: "to exhort") the believers to contend earnestly for the faith. What is "the faith once for all delivered to the saints"? Here "faith" refers to core doctrinal content and not merely to the experience of believing in Jesus. Jude, like Paul in his letters, is urging the defense of right doctrine about who Jesus is. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 Paul reminds the church at Corinth of the seminal facts of "the gospel" which he had received (including the death, burial, resurrection, and appearances of Jesus) and then faithfully communicated to this church. Paul warned the Galatians not to accept "a different gospel" (Gal 1:6). Jude, likewise, is in a battle with false teachers bearing counterfeit ideas about Jesus. We must always be on our guard against error and compromise in doctrine. Jude urges us to make a spirited defense of Biblical truth.

Practical application:

1. Have you ever noticed an immediate common bond with a new acquaintance who is a believer? How is this attributable to your common experience of salvation?
2. What are the core Biblical doctrines that must be defended?
3. How does Jude 1:3 support the practice of a church setting down its fundamental beliefs in a confession of faith?
4. How does Jude 1:3 debunk the notion that one can be a Christian without getting "bogged down" in doctrinal precision?
5. Do you know enough about the Christian faith to resist false teachers and false teaching?


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