Jude, a Servant of Jesus Christ (Jude 1 Commentary)

Jude has long been a favorite book of mine; for being such a short work (only twen­ty-five vers­es), a num­ber of impor­tant top­ics are touched upon, includ­ing some rather eso­teric mat­ters regard­ing eter­nal pun­ish­ment, sex­u­al­i­ty, and angelol­o­gy. If you’ve nev­er read the Book of Jude, I encour­age you to take a few moments to do so. And I encour­age you to fol­low along with this com­men­tary series, twen­ty-five posts through twen­ty-five verses.

The Book of Jude is the six­ty-fifth book of Scrip­ture as arranged in (most) Chris­t­ian Bibles. Jude, like the major­i­ty of New Tes­ta­ment books, is an epis­tle — a fan­cy way of say­ing it was cor­re­spon­dence or a let­ter (you kids might need to ask your par­ents what a let­ter is; it’s a lot like e‑mail, only more of the words are spelled cor­rect­ly). The Book of Jude was writ­ten In the mid AD 60s, short­ly before Peter would author his sec­ond epistle.

This was a mere 25–30 years after the death and res­ur­rec­tion of the Christ, promi­nent eye­wit­ness­es were still alive — such as the afore­men­tioned apos­tle Peter — and the church was fac­ing oppo­si­tion not only from sec­u­lar and Jew­ish author­i­ties but was also deal­ing with ram­pant false teach­ing from a vari­ety of groups. It is these false teach­ings which Jude unleash­es a tor­rent of writ­ten rage upon, and while we will (even­tu­al­ly) get to that point, I want to take this one verse at a time, begin­ning with (can ya guess?) Jude 1. (If you’re unfa­mil­iar with the Book of Jude, it is only one chap­ter long; because of this, the stan­dard way of not­ing Bible vers­es becomes redun­dant: Jude 1:1 and Jude 1 both refer to the first verse of the epis­tle, and the lat­ter is pre­ferred for brevi­ty’s sake.) 

Jude, a ser­vant of Jesus Christ and broth­er of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: The Epis­tle of Jude 1

Jude’s intro­duc­tion of him­self is very sim­ple but it allows us to get to know a lit­tle about this man cho­sen by God to pen one of Scrip­ture’s most intense chapters.


Who was Jude? Aside from the Book of Jude, you may not think we know any­thing about him. No one by the name of Jude is men­tioned else­where in the Scriptures.

Most (all?) Eng­lish trans­la­tions would lead you to believe that Jude shows up, writes an epis­tle, then van­ish­es again. But that is not the case: Jude is men­tioned else­where in the Scrip­tures by the name “Judas,” a trans­la­tion of the Greek Ἰουδάς (prn. ee-oo-dasˈ). Vari­ants of the name include Judah and Jehu­dah. It was a com­mon name and occurs in Scrip­ture for at least ten dis­tinct individuals.

Hitch­cock­’s Bible Names gives the mean­ing of the name as “the praise of the Lord; con­fes­sion.” No mean­ing is giv­en in the Strong’s entry for Ἰουδάς (#G2455), so I can’t say whether that’s an accu­rate mean­ing or not. Giv­en Jude’s fierce con­dem­na­tion of false teach­ers in his epis­tle, it can be implied that the praise of the Lord was pre­cious to him and was some­thing not to be cor­rupt­ed by false doc­trine — no mat­ter how much lib­er­al teach­ers want to pro­claim that doc­trine does­n’t mat­ter and that we should­n’t be caught up on it.

“A servant of Jesus Christ”

Here we see Jude’s humil­i­ty. You see, Jude was more than a ser­vant of Jesus Christ, he was His broth­er! Don’t feel bad if you’re unaware that Jesus had broth­ers; a cer­tain ginor­mous church has expend­ed a lot of time, mon­ey, and effort to con­vince the world that Jesus’ moth­er Mary remained a vir­gin through­out her entire life.

When Jesus returned to His home­town, those neigh­bors who had known Him for His entire earth­ly life were aston­ished at His teach­ings and works. They knew Him so well that they found His min­istry to be sim­ply unbe­liev­able. In tes­ti­fy­ing of how well they knew Him, the neigh­bors speak of not only Jesus’ moth­er Mary but also “his broth­ers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas” (Mt. 13:49). (Did Mary Have Oth­er Chil­dren?)

Jude would have been per­fect­ly with­in his rights to say, “Jude, broth­er of Jesus…” when writ­ing his epis­tle, but he did not. He chose the far more hum­ble — yet far more descrip­tive — title of “ser­vant of Jesus Christ.”

The word “ser­vant” is a trans­la­tion of δοῦλος (dooˈ-los), a Greek word which very sim­ply means “slave” and there­fore car­ries the ideas of sub­servience and sub­jec­tion. I know the con­cept of slav­ery being a pos­i­tive thing in the Scrip­tures is about as offen­sive as telling some­one that the Scrip­tures con­demn homo­sex­u­al­i­ty, but that is why we need to be on guard against cul­ture col­or­ing our faith.

Jude — writ­ing under the guid­ed inspi­ra­tion of the Holy Spir­it, is called a ser­vant, a slave, of Jesus Christ. That is an amaz­ing statement.

Think back to all the times Jesus says some­thing to the effect of, “By this, you will be known” or “A believ­er will be known by this…” Jude met those qual­i­fi­ca­tions, and not only was Jude asso­ci­at­ed with Jesus but Jesus asso­ci­at­ed His name with Jude, and that with­out qualification.

What do peo­ple say Chris­tians ought to be nowa­days? Non­judg­men­tal? Lov­ing and com­pas­sion­ate? Open heart­ed and open mind­ed? Will­ing to look past doc­trine to see the “big­ger issues”?

These peo­ple prob­a­bly ignore the Book of Jude. Four times Jude drops a word which is more scathing than ever mod­ern cuss words could hope to be, for what could be worse than to be so far dis­so­ci­at­ed from the Lord that you should be called “ungod­ly”… four times. And that rep­re­sents just one small part of Jude’s attack on false teach­ers. How open mind­ed was Jude when he declared that the homo­sex­u­als of Sodom and Gomor­rah “serve as an exam­ple by under­go­ing a pun­ish­ment of eter­nal fire” (Jude 7)?

Yet God bestowed not only the hon­or of writ­ing an epis­tle upon Jude but also declar­ing Him to be a ser­vant — not an ene­my — of His pre­cious Son.

“and brother of James”

Jude was hard­ly a promi­nent apos­tle, and it is that obscu­ri­ty which may be the moti­va­tion to tie Jude to a promi­nent leader in the church: the apos­tle James. We saw ear­li­er when look­ing at Jude’s famil­ial rela­tion­ship with Jesus that James was includ­ed in that list as well. In addi­tion to James’ rela­tion­ship to Jesus Christ, he was also leader of the Jerusalem church (Acts 15) and was thus very promi­nent in ear­ly Chris­tian­i­ty. Attach­ing his name to Jude’s teach­ing would serve to rein­force Jude’s teach­ings to his readers.

“To those who are called”

Here we see who Jude is writ­ing to, and he calls them the “called.” What are we to make of that word? The Greek is κλητός (prn. klay-tosˈ) and is a word which means “appoint­ed” or “invit­ed” or specif­i­cal­ly some­one who is a “saint.” When we walk that con­cept through the Scrip­tures, we come across Romans 8:29–30, which says, “For those whom he foreknew he also pre­des­tined to be con­formed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the first­born among many broth­ers. 30And those whom he pre­des­tined he also called, and those whom he called he also jus­ti­fied, and those whom he jus­ti­fied he also glorified.”

So who are the called? They are those who God foreknew in the past and pre­des­tined to be con­formed to the image of His Son. Those who are pre­des­tined are ulti­mate­ly called in this life and will become jus­ti­fied and then glo­ri­fied. That chain of events can­not be bro­ken — those who are saved are des­tined to be saved, and there’s noth­ing they can do to change that — and exists apart from man’s will. The chain exists entire­ly as part of God’s good plea­sure (Eph. 1:5), and what­so­ev­er God desires, He gets.

All of that is to say that the Book of Jude is writ­ten to Chris­tians, those who have been born again and for­giv­en of all sin. This should come as no sur­prise as the bulk of the epis­tle stands as a no-holds-barred indict­ment of a vari­ety of unbelievers.

“beloved in God the Father”

I spent some time try­ing to come up with some­thing to say to that phrase. The thought that the Father loves us caus­es inef­fa­ble joy to well up with­in me. I am a sin-black­ened worm unwor­thy of even the air I breathe. I have spat upon God’s law and have rebelled against Him with stiff-necked obstinacy.

And an eter­ni­ty ago, He knew that’s exact­ly what I would do. He knew that there would be noth­ing of true val­ue with­in me, that I would do noth­ing to please Him oth­er than to heap up filthy rags in a vain attempt to be “good” (Is. 64:6).

Yet it pleased Him to not only choose me, but to make the ulti­mate sac­ri­fice in order for my sin to be for­giv­en and for me to be rec­on­ciled to Him.

Unde­serv­ing. Unwor­thy. And unaware that I was in a state of spir­i­tu­al death and blind­ness… Until the day that the Lord called me to Him so that He could jus­ti­fy me.

I hope that if you’re read­ing this, my sto­ry is your sto­ry, that you are one of the called. Believe in Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.

“and kept for Jesus Christ:”

We’re only in the first verse of Jude, and already we have two of the pri­ma­ry five tenets of Calvin­ism affirmed; ear­li­er we saw the uncon­di­tion­al elec­tion by God, and here we see per­se­ver­ance (or preser­va­tion) of the saints.

Why is it Jude com­forts his read­ers with the promise that they are being kept for their Sav­ior? Per­haps it is because Jude was over­flow­ing with joy at the thought and could­n’t cher­ish the promis­es of God per­tain­ing to sal­va­tion enough. If that is the case, who can blame him?

Much of the epis­tle, though, is neg­a­tive. With talk of eter­nal damna­tion, warn­ing after warn­ing about false teach­ers who seek to lead believ­ers astray, and more, it is under­stand­able that those Jude wrote to may wor­ry as a result. The news of your bank going under would be received quite a bit dif­fer­ent­ly if your accounts were not insured by the FDIC than if they were, right?

The promise that believ­ers are kept for Jesus is our insur­ance against all the evils of this world and the wiles of Satan.

And it is our assur­ance that we can­not fall away. Our sal­va­tion is as cer­tain today as it was an eter­ni­ty ago when God decreed it.

What could be more more com­fort­ing than know­ing that Jesus Christ awaits us and that we are being kept and pre­served by the Father so that we will be pre­sent­ed to Him as His people?

Closing thoughts

Those are my obser­va­tions from Jude 1. I take away from that verse that we should not let any­one dis­suade us from fer­vent­ly defend­ing ortho­dox Chris­tian­i­ty against those who would seek to fem­i­nize or weak­en the church or doc­trine to sat­is­fy some arti­fi­cial ideals of tol­er­ance, accep­tance, or open­ness. Truth in doc­trine is vital, and Yah­weh used His ser­vant Jude to fer­vent­ly con­tend for it against those who would seek to cor­rupt it.

May we be as bold when we pro­claim the truth.






One response to “Jude, a Servant of Jesus Christ (Jude 1 Commentary)”

  1. Dr Ahmad Mualla Avatar
    Dr Ahmad Mualla

    Ungod­ly men… going after strange flesh… Woe into them!


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Rick Beckman