Every week or so I will post my Take Five sections on this page, one after the other. As this page grows in size you will need to scroll down to the latest post. I hope you will find these quick studies useful for your own walk with the Lord Jesus.
Jude is one of the lesser known epistles in the New Testament. It’s only 25 verses long, but don’t let its length fool you. It’s packed with power and insight for life in the 21st century.
We start with verse one: “Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you.”
At the outset of his epistle, Jude introduces himself as both a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and a brother of James. This James is the same one who wrote the epistle that carries his name and who, along with the other apostles, led the early church after the resurrection of the Messiah. James was one of the leaders of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 as the apostles and others struggled with their first significant doctrinal issue of circumcision.
According to conservative Biblical scholarship, Jude is the younger brother of Jesus. This is surmised because in the lists of Jesus’ brothers found in Matthew 13:55 and in Mark 6:3, James is mentioned first and Jude last or next to last. Listing brothers according to age was a common and age-old practice among Jews and others who lived in the middle east. (Catholic tradition holds that Mary had no other children after Jesus, and the Greek word for 'brothers' can also mean 'cousins.' It is beyond the scope of this study to explore that point. Please do an internet search for more details).
I hope you noticed that last phrase: “For the common good.”
It would do everyone well to read Solomon’s book of Ecclesiastes at least once a year. What the wise king wrote in those 12 chapters will serve to keep our perspective on the right track.
It would also do everyone well to read the short history of the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar in the third and fourth chapters of Daniel’s prophecy. No one wants to have to learn as Nebuchadnezzar had to learn – that God is able to humble those who walk in pride.
I also want us to see in this first verse that Jude calls himself a bond-servant of Jesus Christ. Another equally accurate translation of that clause would be, “Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ.”
Something to think about: What does it mean to you to be a slave of Jesus Christ?
I mentioned Nebuchadnezzar in the last reflection. Here’s what the powerful and formidable king said to himself as he strolled along the roof of his palace. Wherever he looked in all direction lay his expansive kingdom. And the king said to himself: “Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’”
Yet it was only a year earlier – talk about the mercy and patience of God – a year earlier, God warned the king about his pride. And now, as Nebuchadnezzar puffed out his chest, God had had enough.
“While the word was in the king’s mouth, a voice came from heaven, saying, ‘King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is declared: sovereignty has been removed from you, and you will be driven away from mankind, and your dwelling place will be with the beasts of the field . . . until you recognize that the Most High is ruler over the realm of mankind and bestows it on whomever He wishes.’
I like the description of pride found in the apocryphal book of Sirach – written around the 2nd century BC: “How can dust and ashes be proud? Even in life the human body decays. A long illness baffles the physician; the king of today will die tomorrow. For when one is dead he inherits maggots and vermin and worms. The beginning of human pride is to forsake the Lord; the heart has withdrawn from its Maker. For the beginning of pride is sin, and the one who clings to it pours out abominations. Sirach 10:10-13
Jesus tells us in John 15:1-5 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. . . . Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
Jude recognized his place, and that was at the feet of Jesus. He was a willing slave, a bond-servant bought with a price – a most costly price. And as Christ’s slave, he would go wherever and do whatever his Master commanded.
Are you an honorable and faithful bond-servant of Jesus? Being so is a choice.
Meditate for a while on the lyrics to this hymn written by Isaac Watts:
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
Save in the death of Christ my God!
All the vain things that charm me most,
I sacrifice them to His blood.
Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
caring not my Lord was crucified,
knowing not it was for me He died
pardon there was multiplied to me;
there my burdened soul found liberty
then I trembled at the law I'd spurned,
till my guilty soul imploring turned
pardon there was multiplied to me;
there my burdened soul found liberty
“It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.” (Jude 1:14-16)
Before we get too far into these two verses, let’s first look at who Enoch was and what his story can teach us.
We first find reference to him in Genesis 5:18-24 – “Jared lived one hundred and sixty-two years and became the father of Enoch. Then Jared lived eight hundred years after he became the father of Enoch, and he had other sons and daughters. So, all the days of Jared were nine hundred and sixty-two years, and he died. Enoch lived sixty-five years and became the father of Methuselah. Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So, all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”
Enoch is also listed in Jesus’ genealogy (Luke 3:37) and we find him in the ‘faith chapter’ of Hebrews 11:5-6.
The first point we should note about Enoch is his age when he was 'taken up': 365. His father, Jared, lived to be 962 years old. Jared’s father lived 895 years. In fact, the average age of those listed in Genesis 5 from Adam until Noah was around 780 years (I did not include Enoch’s age in that average).
There is no good reason for those who believe the Bible to be inerrant to scoff at the phenomenal ages to which people lived in those early days of Genesis. Moses, who wrote the Genesis account, was not ignorant. He was trained in all the wisdom of Egypt (Acts 7:22). The man certainly knew how to count! And he certainly knew the general lifespan of men and women in his day. But God revealed to Moses the longevity of early humans after Adam, just as He revealed to him the details of Genesis one through three.
We can accept the Biblical record about creation because God gave us the history through Moses. Unless the context surrounding a passage is clearly intended to be symbolic or allegory, we can also accept God’s word about the longevity of those men listed in Genesis chapter five.
I want to now draw attention to Enoch’s relationship with God to that point, and the age at which God took him up to heaven. Moses tells us, “Enoch walked with God.” He was essentially a ‘youngster’ when God took him at 365 years of age. Enoch did not die. He was simply taken up to God’s throne.
Have you ever cried out to God when some young person you knew – especially someone who walked with God to the best of their fledgling knowledge and ability – have you ever cried to God and asked why He took them in the ‘prime’ of their life?
Perhaps Isaiah has at least a partial answer to your question: “The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; And devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil, he enters into peace; They rest in their beds, each one who walked in his upright way.” (Isaiah 57:1-3)
Concluding today’s lesson, I want to draw attention again to a phrase in verse 22. Here are several translations of the first part of that verse:
“Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah.” (NASB) [See Bible translations below]
“After he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked faithfully with God 300 years.” (NIV)
“Enoch walked with God after he begot Methuselah for three hundred years.” (NABRE)
“And Enoch walked with God after he begat Methuselah three hundred years.” (KJV)
“And Enoch walketh habitually with God after his begetting Methuselah three hundred years.” (YLT)
The Hebrew text suggests Enoch did NOT walk closely with God for the first 65 years of his life. He might not have been walking at all with God during those years. Not until he has his first son did his attitude toward God change.
And therein lies a wonderful and exciting message for you and me. Whoever you are, wherever you have been, whatever you have done in the first part of your life until today – God has a way of interrupting our lives and turning us around. Whether something dramatic like the birth of a child, or a marriage, or a divorce, or the death of someone we loved – or something mundane, something we’ve read or heard – the methods God uses to grab our attention are endless, but the purpose of those methods is singular: To open your eyes and your heart so that you will from that point on walk closely with the Savior.
Has such a thing ever happened to you? Are you walking closely to Jesus? Perhaps this particular lesson in Jude is God’s wake up call to your own heart.
NASB - New American Standard Bible
NIV – New International Version
NABRE – New American Bible Revised Edition
KJV – King James Version
YLT – Young’s Literal Translation
In lesson sixteen we touched on what we know about Enoch. Now let’s explore what Jude himself tells us about the man: “It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.” (Jude 1:14-16)
Who are ‘these men’ to whom Jude refers? From the context of the first sixteen verses of Jude we can surmise: ‘These men’ are those who crept unnoticed into their Christian assemblies and taught heretical doctrines.
They twisted the meaning of God’s grace into a license to do evil. They denied Jesus’ deity. They not only practiced sexual immorality but encouraged it of others. They rejected God-appointed authorities and imitated the wicked lifestyles of Cain, Balaam, and Korah (verse 11). They grumbled, were arrogant, and flattered others for the sake of gaining an advantage.
Jude tells us it is of these wolves in sheep clothing that Enoch’s prophecy applies: “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.” (verses 14-15)
It was only seven generations after Adam that God gave Enoch a prophecy of the Lord’s second coming, and the warning of God’s wrath that would fall on all the ungodly when He returns (e.g. Matthew 16:27 and Revelation 19:11-16).
Some today find this yet-to-be fulfilled prophecy disturbing because it contradicts their preferential view of the New Testament God as one of love, and not judgement. Yet the same New Testament Scriptures tell us, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever (see Hebrews 13:8)
Yes, God is love. John 3:16 is the most popular text most often referred to – “God so loved the world that He gave . . ..” But two verses later the Lord adds: “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” And then there is this last verse of the same chapter: “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
The God of John 3:16 is also the same God of Luke 13:27-28 who will say to some at the Judgment Seat: - ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from Me, all you evildoers.’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
The Scriptures provide us many commandments which provide the border within which the Christian must live and work and play. Some of those commandments have to do with a lifestyle of holiness, repentance, love, mercy, self-control, and perseverance.
Think about perseverance in your own Christian walk. Some synonyms are ‘resolve, grit, diligence, doggedness, and endurance.’
Are you diligent, dogged, and resolved to live a lifestyle of holiness, self-control, and repentance? Or are you content to fudge a little here and a little there?
Not only must I answer those questions for myself, I must also decide virtually hour by hour whether I will persevere in doing the right things.
God never promises the Christian life would be an easy life. Rather, He promised it would be a battle (e.g. Romans 8:5-8; James 4:1-4; Galatians 5:13-17) for which we must learn to use spiritual armor (Ephesians 6:10-18).
What changes in your lifestyle will you ask the Lord to help you make? Will you ask Him to help you persevere in your desire to walk more fully in the way in which all God’s children ought to walk?
In the first half of Jude’s epistle, the Holy Spirit focuses our attention on the negative: what not to do. In the second half of this epistle, God changes focus to the positive: What we ought to do.
We turn our attention to those challenges next time.