We are studying the little Epistle of Jude. So far we have seen that the writer is Jude the half-brother of Yeshua, and brother of James who was a leader in the Jerusalem Church. Jude's purpose in writing was to warn the Church against overlooking false teachers who had arrived in the Church. Jude begins this Epistle by calling his readers, the called, the loved, and the kept by Yeshua. This triad speaks of the security of believers—because the Father loved you, the Spirit called you, and Christ keeps you. The Trinity is involved in your security.
I have mentioned in past studies that Jude loves triads, well in verse one he speaks of a triad of brothers, The Complete Jewish Bible has, "From: Y'hudah, a slave of Yeshua the Messiah and a brother of Ya'akov." So we have Y'hudah, Yeshua, and Ya'akov. This also speaks of three forms of relation: slave, Lord, and brother. The threefold description of their state (called, beloved, and kept) is followed by a threefold prayer for mercy, peace, and love to be multiplied to them:
May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you. Jude 1:2 NASB
I said in our first study of Jude that there were 14 triads in this book, but I now see twenty of these triads in the twenty five verses of Jude. So what's up with these triads? What is Jude's point in using these? Well we can't really know for sure why, but it is obvious that three is important to him.
Remember, to a Hebrew numbers are first and foremost symbolic. Greeks see numbers primarily as a quantity. But Hebrews see numbers primarily as quality or symbol. To us there are simply three. But to the Hebrew mind, the three would be symbolic.
One of the interesting features of Hebrew and Greek is that in both written languages there are no numeric characters. Where we have numbers and letters, they have only letters. So, in each language, the letters are also used as numbers. In a small way we do the same thing in English. For example, is "O" a zero or a letter in the alphabet? The context tells us which is which, and we have no problem understanding it. The same goes for Hebrew and Greek. They knew when they were writing numbers and when they were writing letters. Three letters are not used in auto VIN numbers to eliminate confusion, they are o, i and q. This makes sense because there is no context in a vin number.
In Scripture the number three represents something in its completeness. It is the number of Divine perfection. The Trinity consists of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. There are three qualities of the universe: Time, Space, and Matter. The number 3 is used 467 times in the Bible. This number usually indicates something of importance or significance in God's plan of salvation by identifying an important event in Salvation History. Let me just give you of few of the three's we find in Scripture.
In the Tanakh:
The 3 righteous patriarchs before the flood were Abel, Enoch and Noah. After the deluge, there were the righteous "fathers" Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (later renamed Israel).
There were three divisions of the desert Tabernacle and later the Temple in Jerusalem: the Outer Court, the Holy Place, and the Holy of Holies (Exodus 27:9; 26:1-30, 35-37; 31-34; 38:9-20; 21-31; 40:1-33; 1 Kings 6: 1-37). God is mentioned three times in the Shema, the Old Covenant profession of faith (Deuteronomy 6:4).
Of the seven annual Feasts of Yahweh, three are "pilgrim feasts" in which every man 13 years or older must present himself before Yahweh at His Sanctuary and later at the Temple in Jerusalem. This command is repeated three time in Scripture (Exodus 23:14-17; 34:18-23; Deuteronomy 16:16).
Jonah spent three days in the belly of the great fish (Jonah 1:17); Jonah took three days to journey across the city of Nineveh (Jonah 3:3).
In the New Testament:
There are 27 books in the New Testament, which is 3x3x3, or completeness to the third power. There were only three individuals who witnessed Yeshua's transfiguration on Mount Hermon. Those who saw Yeshua's glory on the Mount were John, Peter, and James. Yeshua prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane before His arrest. He was placed on the cross at the 3rd hour of the day (9 a.m.) and died at the 9th hour (3 p.m.). There were 3 hours of darkness that covered the land while Yeshua was suffering on the cross from the 6th hour to the 9th hour. Christ was dead for three full days and three full nights before being resurrected. Yeshua's ministry lasted three years, covering three Passovers (John 2:13; 6:4; 11:55-12:1). Saul was blinded for three days (Acts 9:9).
So three is an important number in Scripture, but why does Jude us these triads, what is he trying to say? Well maybe he is using three to validate what he is saying. Validity of testimony in the Tanakh was affirmed by the mouth of two or three witnesses:
"A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed. Deuteronomy 19:15 NASB
Having multiple witnesses safeguarded against dishonesty or mistaken testimony.
And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. Ecclesiastes 4:12 NASB
While one person might be overcome, two people can withstand an attack, and a group of three is stronger still.
The same principle applied in the New Testament:
"But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that BY THE MOUTH OF TWO OR THREE WITNESSES EVERY FACT MAY BE CONFIRMED. Matthew 18:16 NASB
So again we see the power of three witnesses. Do you remember what Paul told the elders of Ephesus in Acts 20?:
"I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Acts 20:29-30 NASB
Paul is telling them that from among them "the elders" savage wolves would come. Now with that in mind, notice what he tells Timothy, who is at Ephesus:
Do not receive an accusation against an elder except on the basis of two or three witnesses. Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also will be fearful of sinning. 1 Timothy 5:19-20 NASB
So those who Jude is warning of may be those in church leadership and so he is following the biblical injunction of using three witnesses. Now of course this is speculation on my part, but it makes sense to me.
Alright, with that said, let's get to our text:
May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you. Jude 1:2 NASB
"Be multiplied"—is a verb in the optative mood, which expresses a wish, and in the New Testament usually signifies a prayer. So Jude is praying for mercy and peace and love to be multiplied to his readers. This is one of those introductions that is really very familiar. This kind of language can be seen in several of the Epistles where the Apostle Paul or even Peter, who is likewise writing under the inspiration of God, would give this type of greeting. Let me show you a couple:
Grace to you and peace from God the Father and the Lord Yeshua Christ. 2 Thessalonians 1:2 NASB
To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. Colossians 1:2 NASB
So this greeting in Jude is typical except for one thing. This is the only greeting in the New Testament that does NOT use the word "grace." Why is that? The word may have been deliberately left out because the false teachers had corrupted the use of the word—"ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness."
This mercy, peace, and love all come from Yahweh, and Jude prays they would know them in abundance.
"Mercy"—is the Greek word eleos, which means: "to help one afflicted or seeking aid, to bring help to the wretched." Mercy is the outward manifestation of pity. The verb signifies a feeling of sympathy with the misery of another, especially when manifested in action. This Greek word has within it the idea of "living from others." There is a Greek word eleemosynary, which means: "alms, or alms giving," built on the word for mercy, eleos. You may be familiar with the term eleemosynary institutions. These would be organizations like the Red Cross, the United Fund, or Berean Bible Church. These are all eleemosynary institutions. So eleemosynary institutions are institutions that live by contributions; that is, they live by the contributions of others.
So to receive mercy from God is to live from another. We have been given mercy that contains within it the payment for our sins by the Lord Yeshua the Christ, which is life. He took our death and gave us His life. Salvation is an act of mercy. Our salvation is not by merit, it is by mercy:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Yeshua the Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Yeshua the Christ from the dead, 1 Peter 1:3 NASB
So according to Yahweh's great mercy, He caused us to be born again.
"Peace"—before we can understand what God means by peace, we have to realize that, first of all, mankind has no peace:
"There is no peace for the wicked," says the LORD. Isaiah 48:22 NASB
There is enmity between unsaved man and God, but the believer is at peace with God:
Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua the Christ, Romans 5:1 NASB
We, believers, have peace with God through our Lord Yeshua the Christ. What does peace with God mean? It means the war is over, it means that God is no longer our enemy, no longer promising judgment and death. Peace with God is the new status between God and the believer which flows from the reconciliation accomplished in Yeshua the Christ:
and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Colossians 1:20 NASB
As soon as you talk about reconciliation, you are talking about something being wrong. Suppose someone walks up to you and says, "Did you hear that so and so have reconciled?" You might say, "I didn't know there was a problem." Why? Because reconciliation presupposes conflict, hostility, difficulty. "Made peace" means: "to establish harmony." Yeshua put an end to the disturbed relations between God and man. He restored believing man and God. Before we came to trust Christ we were God's enemies because of sin. Yeshua destroyed the enmity between God and man by His work on the cross. Peace with God is only "through our Lord Yeshua the Christ."
In Hebrew peace is shalom. It comes from the root shalam, and it is used most often of restitution, which means: "to make someone whole." It literally means: "to make one whole and complete." Shalom Aleykhem is saying, "May you be whole and complete. May you have everything you need to be whole and complete."
"Love"—this is the Greek word agape. God's love is not dependent on anything in you, because there is nothing in you worth loving. God's love for us in Christ secures our salvation forever:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8 NASB
This is the first time in the New Testament where we are told that God loves us. The belief of our day that God loves everybody is a modern belief. The writings of the church fathers, the Reformers, or the Puritans will be searched in vain for any such concept. The fact is, that the love of God is a truth for the saints only. With the exception of John 3:16, not once in the four Gospels do we read of the Lord Yeshua telling sinners that God loved them. In the book of Acts, which records the evangelistic labors and messages of the apostles, God's love is NEVER referred to at all. The word love never appears in Acts. Does that seem odd to you? But when we come to the Epistles, which are addressed to the saints, we have a full presentation of the truth.
So here is mercy from God the Father, who is called "the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort" (2 Corinthians 1:3), and peace from the Son, for "He is our peace" (Ephesians 2:14), and love from the Spirit (Romans 5:5), "The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost, which is given to us." So again the Trinity is involved in our salvation.
Now, as I said, these are all talking about attributes that Yahweh demonstrates to us. But because Yahweh loves us, we are to be like our Father and love others. So I want to share with you how William Barclay defines agape:
The real meaning of agape is unconquerable benevolence. If we regard a person with agape, it means that nothing that he can do will make us seek anything but his highest good. Though he injure us and insult us, we will never feel anything but kindness towards him. That quite clearly means that this Christian love is not an emotional thing. This agape is a thing, not only of the emotions, but also of the will. It is the ability to retain unconquerable good will to the unlovely and the unlovable, towards those who do not love us, and even towards those whom we do not like. Agape is that quality of mind and heart which compels a Christian never to feel any bitterness, never to feel any desire for revenge, but always to seek the highest good of every man no matter what he may be.
That is pretty convicting stuff. Alright, back to our text.
"Be multiplied to you"—this word is the aorist passive optative of the verb plethuno, meaning: "to cause to increase," not by adding, but by a much greater scale, and that is why it came to be known as "to multiply." May you just have a constantly increasing amount of this.
What does it mean for these things to be multiplied? When a person becomes a believer, God has given him a new heart and translated him from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of His dear Son (Colossians 1:13). Once that has taken place, has not God bestowed abundantly His mercy, peace, and love to its fullest degree? That is, once someone's sins are all paid for, once their sins are all forgiven, and once God has given that person the gift of eternal life, what more mercy can God bestow?
There are no further sins to cover. Each and every one of the our sins (whether past, present, or future) were paid for while Christ was on the cross. All of the sins of those whom Yeshua would save in the New Testament era were future, and Christ paid for all of those sins, too. So, the love of God has covered the multitude of sins. There cannot be any greater expression of love than that. So how can we understand these being multiplied? The answer may be found in 2 Peter 1, where God says:
Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Yeshua our Lord; 2 Peter 1:2 NASB
It is not that God is going to bestow more mercy, or that we will somehow experience more peace from God. But we will have the knowledge of Yahweh increase in our lives as we spend time in the Bible. That is, the more we read the Bible and study the Scriptures, and the more time we spend in the Word of God, then the better the understanding we will have of God's mercy. The more we learn about God's commandments, the more we will see our sin. The more we see our sin, the more God's mercy shines through. Let's move on!
Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. Jude 1:3 NASB
This is one of the most interesting introductions to an Epistle because Jude tells us that he had one intention when he sat down to write, and he actually wound up writing something other than he had intended.
The word "beloved" is the Greek word agapetos. This is a term of affection, and He uses it again in verse 17, "But, beloved," and then in verse 20, "But you, beloved." It is used sixty times in the New Testament—the first nine times by Yahweh to Christ His beloved Son and then ONLY of believers. We are beloved!
"While I was making every effort to write you"—the word effort is from the Greek spoude, which is at times translated as "hurry." For example, Mary went into the hill country "in a hurry" in Luke 1:39. Here, this word is speaking of something that must be done urgently. So spoude can refer to swiftness of movement or action and means: "hurry or speed" (like our expression "in a hurry"). It can refer to an earnest commitment in discharge of an obligation or experience of a relationship.
"Write"— s grapho, which is from root graph, which primarily means: "to scratch on or engrave as on an ornament, reports, letters, etc." So Jude sat down to write them with great diligence: "About our common salvation"—the word "common" here is from the Greek koinos, which is translated in Acts 10:
But Peter said, "By no means, Lord, for I have never eaten anything unholy and unclean." Acts 10:14 NASB
Here "unholy" is koinos. Now we know that our salvation is not unholy. You have to be careful trying to get the meaning of a word from just a concordance. So what does he mean by "common"? Look at how it is used in:
And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. Acts 4:31-32 NASB
"Those who believed were of one heart and one soul"—means that they had all things common. This is the point that God is making regarding salvation. We all are partakers of that One heart:
"And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, Ezekiel 11:19 NASB
It is a common salvation. All who trust in Christ share this common grace of God, we share a common faith in the Lord Yeshua the Christ, because it is equally distributed to each one of His elect. Notice Paul's greeting to Titus:
To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Yeshua our Savior. Titus 1:4 NASB
All believers share a "common faith" a "common salvation". The word "common" is koinos, the verbal form being koinoneo, "to become a sharer, a partner." Thus, the idea is of "a common salvation" possessed in common with others.
So Jude began to write to these believers something of a treatise on soteriology, probably as a reminder that the Gospel, as they learned it from Paul, was the true Gospel—hence, "our common salvation." But news of heretics infiltrating the Church changed his plans; he now wrote to them, appealing to them to stand their ground and fight for the faith they had learned.
"I felt the necessity to write to you"—Jude's thoughts were interrupted. He had a change of mind. He moves from salvation to what might be called polemics, moral polemics, as well as doctrinal, from soteriology to apologetics, defense of the faith.
Being a "necessity" has to do with God's constraining power as He would move His prophets to write down the Scriptures:
for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. 2 Peter 1:21 NASB
Jude is giving us some insight into what it means to be moved by the Holy Spirit. He gave all diligence to write. It was needful for him to write. He could not prevent it. He could not hold back the words. Jeremiah had said:
But if I say, "I will not remember Him Or speak anymore in His name," Then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire Shut up in my bones; And I am weary of holding it in, And I cannot endure it. Jeremiah 20:9 NASB
The Word of God so constrained Jeremiah that he felt a tremendous need, a tremendous desire, to the point where he had no choice but to declare the Word of God. And then, whether or not a messenger came, or people came, or the Spirit of God just opened his mind, all of a sudden he realized, "I have to write something else." And he says, "I felt the necessity to write you." All of a sudden he tried and he tired and he couldn't pull it off, and then he was just compelled. "I felt the necessity," that is a strong word. Paul used the same expression in:
For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for I am under compulsion; for woe is me if I do not preach the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:16 NASB
Paul was compelled to preach, and Jude was compelled to write:
"Appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith"—"contend earnestly" is from epagonizomai, a root word of this "agonizomai," which basically is a combination of two Greek words that have formed into one word; it is found in 1 Timothy 6:12, where we read:
Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. 1 Timothy 6:12 NASB
The word "fight," which is agonizomai, is a key part of these words "contend earnestly." To contend earnestly for or to fight is the same idea. This is to fight for, to fight strenuously for, to defend vigorously. "I am calling on you to an extreme form of agony." It's a present infinitive, which means: "it's continuous action. I am calling on you, I am appealing to you to an ongoing battle, continuous conflict." What are they to be fighting for?
"For the faith"—what exactly is this faith that we are to fight for? I don't believe that he's talking about a list of doctrines that we might find in a theological text book. He's talking about the sum of what Christians believe. Approximately one-half of the 38 occurrences of the specific phrase "the faith" don't refer to the ACT of believing, but rather, to WHAT is believed. Robertson remarks that the faith refers to "the Gospel, the faith system as in Gal 1:23; Jude 1:3, etc. (It) means more than individual trust in Christ." He's talking about the Gospel as "the faith," not the extensive doctrinal development that we've seen through the history of Christianity. He's talking essentially about the Christian message of salvation through Yeshua the Christ,
What that means is that the message is unchangeable, the unchangeable regulative message of the Christian Gospel. It is not invented. It is something that is handed down. It's something that is given. It's something that is entrusted to the Church.
When John wrote his second Epistle, he said in verse 9:
Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 2 John 1:9 NASB
So, in the variations that we might express in the communication of the truth, there is freedom, providing we abide in the truth.
The faith was delivered to the saints through the apostles:
that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; Ephesians 3:3-5 NASB
The faith is constituted in the Apostles' doctrine, the objective faith. As Acts 2:42 says, "They continued in the Apostles' doctrine." We must contend for the Gospel because many are seeking to destroy it.
Notice what Jude says about this faith, "Which was once for all handed down to the saints"—the original text puts it, "Once for all delivered to the saint's faith." "Once for all" is the Greek word hapax, which refers to something done for all time with lasting results, never needing repetition. The Christian faith, the Gospel in its entirety, in its completeness was in the past one time entrusted to the saints. There's no new faith, and this is why there's no new revelation. The Christian faith was deposited through the apostles and those who worked with them in the first century.
"Handed down"—is the Greek paradidomi, which comes from para, meaning: "alongside, beside, to the side of, over to, and didomi," which means: "to give." It conveys the basic meaning of to give over from one's hand to someone or something. This faith was "handed down"; it was not something which we have manufactured and discovered for ourselves. They had received this message of salvation, the faith, from the apostles; now they must fight to preserve it.
To anyone or any school of thought or any group that teaches there is something missing in our understanding of Christianity, Scripture says they are wrong. The faith that saves, the Gospel of Yeshua, was delivered in it's entirety "once." This destroys forever the view that there is any such thing as a latter day revelation or that God will add any additional revelation to what He has already revealed in the Bible.
Many have tried to come along since that time and make a claim that the original church missed something. The Judaizers and Gnostics made that claim. The Catholic Church has made that claim over the centuries and continues to make it today. Mormons make that claim; JW's make that claim; Christian Science makes that claim; many others have made that claim. But Scripture says that all we need to understand came through Yeshua and His apostles once for all.
The biggest destroyer of the Gospel in our day is the health/wealth Gospel, which makes the Gospel no longer a message of our sin, Christ's righteousness and the need to reconcile with God. In it's place, the "faith" becomes a promise of wealth, health,
acceptance, happiness, or some other worthless, meaningless, temporal and utterly bankrupt principle in place of our eternal salvation by grace through faith in Yeshua the Christ.
One of the biggest signs of a cult is that they have a "prophet," someone who they say adds to the revelation of God's word in the Bible. Theology, within the word of God, may evolve—it can evolve, for theology is our understanding of the Word of God. But the Word of God, itself, never changes! It is sealed in its contents, it is sealed in its Authorship, it is sealed in its historical setting, because in the fullness of time God sent forth His own Son, and whether an angel, a prophet, a priest, or a patriarch preaches another gospel unto you, let him be anathema!
Who is this faith handed down to? "To the saints"—this refers to every believer, all believers are saints.
What about Christians today? Do we have the responsibility to "contend earnestly for the faith," or is that a thing of the past? I believe that everyone of us who know the Lord Yeshua are to be fighting for truth. I think this involves to things:
1) We are to be standing for the truth, knowing Scripture and teaching others the truth of the Gospel. Opposing false and erroneous doctrine through the teaching and expounding of sound doctrine.
2) We are all to be agonizing in our own life to be obedient to the truth. Contending for the faith through personal sacrifice and discipline so that at the end of our lives we can say with Paul:
For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; 2 Timothy 4:6-7 NASB
We are all involved in a fight for truth, let's be faithful warriors. All that God wanted to say and all that He did say He put in this Book. That keeps it simple, doesn't it? This Book is all we need. Scripture is all we need. You don't need to be running around checking out every new revelation and you don't need to be listening as if God was going to tell you some secret that He hadn't revealed to anybody else. It's all in the Bible, and we are to read it, study it, meditate upon it, and fight for it. We are not only proclaimers of the truth, we are protectors of the truth.
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