Friday, September 10, 2010
Exposition of Jude: Part 20 of 25
Note: This is a series of occasional verse by verse expositions of Jude (begun in March 2007--hard to believe!). An archive of this and past commentaries may be found under the lable "Jude Exposition" below.
Jude 1:20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,
The church is threatened on two sides. There are enemies without, but there are also enemies within. The church must face persecution from the world and heresy that breaks out among its own ranks. The book of Jude is a work directed toward the enemies within.
Having completed his description of the false teachers at v. 19, Jude turns to contrast the character and life of the believers. The false teachers are sensual, worldly, and without the Spirit (v. 19), “but” (the Greek conjunction de) believers are altogether different. Jude writes to the company of the saints. They are the “beloved” (agapetoi). They are loved by each other (John 13:34-35). They are loved by the apostles (cf. 1 Peter 2:11; 4:12). Most importantly, they are loved by God Himself (1 John 5:19). They are loved by God, because they have been found to be in Christ. The Father loves the Son and those who are in the Son thus share in the status of being “beloved.” So Paul says that God has “made us accepted in the Beloved” (Eph 1:6). As Jesus taught, “if anyone will love Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him” (John 14:23).
Having established the identity of the believers to whom he writes as the beloved of God, Jude then describes two specific activities of the saints. They are involved in edification and in prayer.
First, they edify one another: “building yourselves up on your most holy faith.” This defines their attitude toward one another (the horizontal). They have come together as a temple made up of living stones, built on Jesus as the cornerstone (cf. 1 Peter 2:4-8). Now they must use their words and deeds to further strengthen their brothers and sisters. As Paul said, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification” (Rom 15:2). Jude stresses here the central importance of doctrine. Edification is on the “most holy faith.” At the outset, Jude exhorted his hearers “to contend earnestly for the faith” (v. 3). Each believer should constructively confirm in the hearts of his fellow believers the doctrinal and confessional truths on which they stand. They share in a “like precious faith” (2 Peter 1:1) that must be defended from distortion and compromise. The church’s doctrinal foundation is in the confession that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16-18). They build one another up when they uphold this truth one to another.
Second, they pray in the Holy Spirit: “praying in the Holy Spirit.” This defines their attitude toward God (the vertical). Prayer is foundational to the Christian life. Jesus taught his disciples how to pray (see Matthew 6:9-13). He also provided them a living model of how to be a man of prayer (cf. Mark 6:46). Luke says that the early church was devoted to prayer (Acts 2:42) and that when they prayed the place was sometimes shaken (Acts 4:31). Paul encouraged the believers to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Matthew Henry said that prayer is like a letter sent from earth to heaven. Charles Spurgeon said that prayer was like a thermometer for the church to measure its health. He also called the church’s prayer meeting its most important gathering of the week. Believers edify each other in a “holy” faith and they pray in the “Holy” Spirit. Both faith and prayer set them apart for God’s purposes. To pray in the Spirit is not to have some wild, ecstatic experience. It is, rather, to be led by the Spirit of God to understand how to pray and what to pray, knowing that “whatever we ask we receive from him” (1 John 3:22) as long as it is “according to His will” (1 John 5:14).
The sum: Jude tells the believers they have an identity and a status. They are beloved. He also tells them that they have two defining traits. They edify and they pray.
1. Which do you think is most a threat to the church today, forces outside or inside?
2. How does Jude contrast the saints and the false teachers?
3. How does the believer’s union with Christ make him “beloved” by the Father?
4. How might a believer edify his fellow believers in “the most holy faith”?
5. What does it mean to “pray in the Holy Spirit”?