Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Exposition of Jude: Part 24 of 25
Note: This is part of an occassional verse by verse exposition through the book of Jude. For an archive of past commentaries, see the label "Jude Exposition" below.
Jude 1:24 Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,
And so it all ends with praise. After all the polemics of Jude, after the call for earnest contending for the faith (v. 3), after the almost clinical analysis of the errors of the false teacher, and the encouragement to believers, Jude ends with a stirring benediction or doxology of praise to God.
And so this book reflects what will be the end for every saint and the end of this age. After a season of warfare and struggle and defending the faith, there comes praise.
Jude ends, “Now unto him that is able….” Praise is only properly directed to the right object. Jude’s praise begins with addressing God as the one who is able. Indeed, the God of the Bible is the only one who is able.
When Jesus told his disciples that is was easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to go into heaven, his disciples ask, “Who then can be saved?” (Matt 19:25), Jesus replied, “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (v. 26).
Paul addresses this prayer to God: Ephesians 3:20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.
Think of what God is able to do:
He is able to create this world and all that is in it in the space of six days and all very good.
He is able to continue the work of creation by sustaining all that is by the word of his power.
He is able to heal the sick and open blinded eyes.
He is able to still storms.
He is able to melt hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh.
He is able to raise the dead to life.
So, Jude ends his letter with this God-centered prayer addressed, “unto him that is able…”
Next, Jude focuses on two things in particular that God is able to do related to the needs of the recipients of this letter:
1. He is able to keep you from falling.
This is a particularly reassuring prayer given the subject matter, the dangers of false teaching and apostasy. Will the recipients of this letter be ensnared in these false teachings?
The verb for “to keep” is phylasso. It means to guard, to keep under guard, to protect, to defend, to keep safe.
The phrase for “from falling” here is simply one word, an adjective aptaistos, “free from stumbling” (the first of two alpha privatives in this verse).
This is a prayer to God thanking him for his persevering grace. God not only saves sinners by grace but he keeps them saved by grace.
This benediction also illustrates the very nature of a public prayer which is both vertical (God-directed) but also horizontal (man-encouraging).
2. And to present you faultless.
Here Jude moves from praising God for perseverance to praising from for glorification.
He is able to present his saints “faultless” (amomos; without blemish; note the second alpha privative). Are they faultless? Can they live a perfect and sinless life? No. But—and this is the miracle—God is able to present them as faultless, because of Christ. Sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stain.
Where are they presented? “Before the presence of his glory.” Who can stand in his presence? Certainly not sinful man without the shield of Christ. A welder has to wear a mask to protect his eyes from the blinding light of the welding torch. So if we were to look upon God in his glory without a mediating filter we would be blinded and undone. We are unable. But God is able to this for us because of Christ.
Thus, rightly we do so “with exceeding joy.” Would a man be filled with joy if seconds before he was to be condemned to death he discovered the sentence had been lifted, the prison door was open, and he had been set free? Would a sick man suffering with cancer be filled with joy if the sickness left his body and he was fully healed? This then too is the spirit of those guilty and sin-sick sinners upon whom Christ has poured out his forgiving and healing mercy.