Contending for the Faith
by Dave Jenkins
With few words Jude in Jude 1:3-4 reveals the reason for the composition of his letter: first, he wants to encourage the readers to affirm their faith; next, he alerts them to the danger of immoral people who have slipped in among them; and last, he opens the eyes of the believers to the life and doctrine of their opponents.
Jude 1:3, “Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.”
“Love.” Jude addresses his readers with a common greeting of that day” beloved”. Here put this greeting in the context of the address (“to those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ” v.1) and the blessing (“mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you” v.2).
As a Pastor, Jude clearly distinguishes between the recipients of his letter and the false teachers. He expresses his love to the readers, but also tells them to be aware of the pernicious teachings of these heretics. The term beloved demonstrates his affection for the members of the Christian church.
“Salvation.” Because of his pastoral love, Jude composes his letter and writes, “although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (vs.3). Jude indicates that circumstances caused him to change the content of the letter he was planning to write. We have only a few words about the content of this intended epistle: “the salvation we share.” We do well not to speculate what Jude would have
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written. But what does he mean by the phrase we share? The letter itself it too brief to provide any evidence that Jude is addressing both Jewish and Gentile Christians. If we lack support for making a distinction between Christians of Jewish and Gentile backgrounds, we have to look at the purpose of Jude’s epistle for an answer to this question.
Writing his letter to strength the believers in their faith, Jude refers to the common bond of salvation they possess (Titus 1:4; Acts 2:44). Moreover, he intimates that this very bond helps them withstand false teachers in their community who do not possess salvation. In verses 3 and 4 a contrast is evident between the salvation the believers share and the condemnation God reserves for the godless men.
“Faith.” Jude reveals his personal interest in the spiritual life of the readers. He says, “I felt I had to write.” He notes the necessity of exhorting the believers to contend for the faith. Notice that at the beginning and end of his letter Jude mentions the same subject. In the opening of his epistle he urges the readers “to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.” He concludes his epistle with the exhortation: “But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit” (vs.20).
What is this faith Jude mentions? In view of the context, we understand the word faith to mean the body of Christian beliefs. It is the gospel the apostles proclaimed and therefore is equivalent to the “apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42). Thus, it is not the trust and confidence that the individual believer has in God, for that is subjective faith. In this passage Jude speaks of Christian doctrine, that is, objective faith…
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