Monday, July 06, 2009

Exposition of Jude: Part 17 of 25

Note: This is a series of occasional verse by verse expositions of Jude.

Jude 1:17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ:

After exposing the errors and dangers of false teachers who deceive the undiscerning, Jude encourages his hearers to cling to the sound and healthy teaching of the apostles. The contrast is made clear by the conjunction "but" (Greek: de). Jude addresses the "beloved" of God, authentic disciples of Christ, upon whom God’s affections have been freely and lavishly bestowed. In Paul’s great epistle to the Romans he likewise refers to the believers there as "beloved of God, called to be saints" (Romans 1:7).

Jude urges the beloved to remember the words that were "spoken before" (proeipon) by the apostles. One might well render this verb as "prophetically spoken." In fact, Jude will go on to highlight the apostolic prediction that false teachers would trouble the flock of God (see Jude 1:18; cf. Acts 20:29-30; 2 Peter 3:3). Like the inspired prophets of old, the apostles accurately predict what will transpire.

Jude 1:17 is also an important passage for understanding the doctrine of Scripture. Jude encourages the believers to look to the teaching of the apostles as a reliable standard of authority for determining truth. In Acts 2:42 Luke says that the early believers continued steadfastly in "the apostles’ doctrine." These same apostles and their inspired associates would also be moved by the Holy Spirit to write down the truth revealed to them for the benefit of the church (cf. 2 Peter 1:20-21; 3:15-16). Thus, by the Master Builder’s appointment, the household of God is constructed "on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone" (Ephesians 2:20).

The apostles were not self-appointed. They were "the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ." Jesus gave the twelve disciples the name "apostles" (Luke 6:13). They were his hand-picked men for this task. Jesus said to these men in John 15:16: "You did not choose Me, but I chose you…." They were eye and ear witnesses to his ministry and majesty (2 Peter 1:16; 1 John 1:1).

We who live in this age can no longer listen to the apostles, but we can hear their voice when we read the inspired, canonical writings that they left behind. Jude anticipates the writing of the New Testament and the completion of the Biblical canon. In essence, he urges believers of all ages to look to the Scriptures alone as final authority for direction and counsel.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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