In our book-by-book tour of the Bible, we come to Jude, the last of the general letters (epistles). Jude is very short, one chapter, 25 verses, and less than 600 words long. Verse one identifies the author as Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus, and a brother to James. That would make him a half-brother to Jesus as well. Jesus had two disciples named Judas. The consensus is that the Judas not Iscariot is this Jude who wrote the epistle of Jude. Sometimes he is identified as Jude so as not to get him confused with Judas Iscariot. If I were him, I would want to keep that distinction clear! There is no clear consensus regarding the year of its writing. Any time between 65 and 85 AD is possible.
Some considered that the epistle of Jude should not be included in the Bible, the main reason being that it quoted heavily from the non-biblical Book of Enoch. It was however, included in our Bible. Jude has a strong resemblance to 2 Peter leading some to speculate that the author of the second one had seen the first one, but there is no way to know which was first. Jude gives no clear indication of who his target audience is. He states that he is writing to Christians but indicates no particular group. He does assume that his readers have some knowledge of Hebrew history and tradition, thus maybe he is writing particularly to Jewish Christians.
Jude begins by telling his readers that he set out to write about their being saved. It is safe to assume that he was planning a joyful celebration of our amazing salvation. However, he quickly turned to other things. He sounds the alarm: false teachers have already infiltrated the church. Jude pleads with believers to be watchful and guard against these teachers of licentiousness. As a graphic and stern word of warning, Jude goes on to mention several examples of God’s wrath being poured out upon others in the past. He points out that those wicked men who have secretly come into the church are not only false teachers but they are also guilty of reviling others and grumbling. Jude points out their awful fate. He says that eternal fire and darkness have been reserved for them.
Jude reminds his readers that Christ and the apostles (curiously he seems to leave himself out of that group) have already warned them about evil men who would cause divisions. Jude gives them some practical advice on how to protect themselves from the false teachers. He told them to pray in the Holy Spirit while keeping themselves in the love of God. He told them to look forward to the Second Coming of Christ, while showing mercy to others. This showing of mercy might well bring about salvation to those whom they showed mercy. He did warn them about not getting caught up in the sin of those they were showing mercy to.
Jude closes his letter with one of the most beautiful doxologies in the whole Bible. He reminds his readers that the God whom they serve is able to keep them from stumbling; that their God is able to keep them out of the eternal fire and stand them in His presence; that they will stand before God blameless; they will stand before God with great joy. He reminds his readers that God alone is our Savior, that He alone is worthy to receive glory and majesty and dominion and authority; and that is has always been that way and always will be that way.
This God whom Jude describes is the God I want to serve.