Having reminded the early church that he was the brother of James, the half brother of Jesus and one of His apostles, Jude, who became a follower only after the Lord’s resurrection, greets his spiritual brethren then asks the Lord to multiply mercy, peace and love toward them. The apostle then goes straight to the point and spends the following 16 verses warning them about a problem that had by that time (between A.D. 70 and 80) become a major problem throughout the churches. False prophets on assignment from Satan were wreaking havoc within the Body of Christ by preaching what the Apostle Paul called a “perverted gospel” (Gal. 1:6-9). We find Jude reminding his readers of the gospel they were being pulled away from–God Holy Word.
Verse 3: Jude reminds his readers of their focal point–“the common salvation.” “The” is what is called a “definite article,” meaning that there is only one entity from which to choose. In this case, salvation is that entity. “Common” meant that all true believers recognized “the (one and only) salvation.” Jude goes on to write about “the” (one and only) faith necessary for attaining “the” common salvation which had been taught to God seekers by Jesus Christ Himself. Parishioners were commanded to “contend” for the true gospel, also called “the faith.” In that they were to “contend” for it, there had to be people trying to destroy it. “The” (one and only true) faith can only come from “the” (one and only true) source of faith–God’s Word: “For faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Rom. 10:19), which Jesus identified as God’s Truth (Jn. 17:17). Immediately following the establishment of the New Testament Church, Satan’s agents began telling believers that there was a better, easier way to do things, and that the reward for taking the easy way would be the same as for taking God’s more restrictive, more difficult way–eternal life. This is exactly what Satan told Eve in the Garden of Eden when he assured her that she and Adam could defy God and “… not surely die,” meaning that they would live forever. In Jude’s day the Serpent was singing the same song. One can hear him singing it today by turning on the radio or television. At this point I will ask the reader to indulge me as I repeat a couple of ditties I have coined which exemplify the message found in the devil’s song: “Sin and grin, my friend, for in the end you still win.” “Pie in the sky, sin till you die, for in the sweet by and by, you’ll still get to fly.” Crude, but they make my point. Satan told Eve in the garden the same thing his prophets tell her spiritual descendants today: “You can sin and still win. God’s grace makes sin go away.” In other words, “sinners saved by grace” have a “sinning license” that allows one to sin in the same way that a hunting license allows one to hunt.
Verse 4: In this verse Jude warns the egglesia–God’s called out ones–that there were ungodly men within their midst who had slipped into the church unaware. These were the spiritual descendants of those who had led Israel astray in the past and had caused an entire generation to fail to enter the Promised Land. Like their predecessors, the current batch of false prophets consisted of God-rejecting men who had turned His grace into lasciviousness (a license to sin). Jude points out that by embracing what these men were teaching, the people were denying God and Christ Lordship over their lives. Like their modern day counterparts, these “ministers of righteousness” did not deny the existence of God, they simply presented to the people a better, more user-friendly path than the one along which God was leading them. During His time on earth Jesus had warned His followers that such men would rise up in the church and lead the masses of salvation seekers through Satan’s wide (easy) gate and along his broad (inclusive) path which would lead them to destruction. Few, Jesus said, would choose to enter His strait (difficult) gate and walk His narrow (restrictive) path leading to salvation (Mat. 7:13,14). L.J.