by Rev. Ian Arnold
Of the epistles, all 22 of them, the majority are known by the names of the Christian Churches to which they were addressed (for example, Romans and 1 & 2 Corinthians), Several of them carry the name of a particular person (for example, Timothy) and a few are known from the name of the person who wrote them. Jude is one of these latter.
Who was Jude? Well, this has been debated from the outset. The reality is that no one can say for sure. Whilst hotly disputed, especially by those who believe that Mary had no more children following the birth of the Lord, it is possible that he was an actual half-brother of the Lord (see Matthew 13:55 & Mark 6:3). It is also possible that he was one of the twelve apostles, being given – or adopting – the name “Thaddaeus”. Who knows? If he was a half-brother of Jesus he seems to have moved on from the scepticism about Him all such half-brothers initially had. (See John’s Gospel (See Chapter7:5).Jude is the epistle of a convinced and committed follower of the Lord and probable early leader in the Christian movement.
The epistle is a very short one, a single Chapter of 23 verses. It is easy to find in the Bible, coming immediately before the Book of Revelation.
There has to have been another epistle Jude was going to write (see verse 3), but the worrying behaviour of certain people caused him to put it aside and to write this one. Clearly a crisis had arisen (where?) about the inroads of what seems to have been Gnosticism and accompanying loose behaviour. Jude wrote, not so much refuting this teaching but warning of the dark consequences awaiting those who were advocating it. “Woe to them! For they have gone in the way of Cain, have run greedily in the error of Balaam for profit, and perished in the rebellion of Korah.” (Verse 11)
It is not a “given” though that everyone will be taken in by such teaching. To the contrary, if believers remain true to their faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keeping themselves in the love of God, and looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (verses 20 & 21) these things will safeguard them from it.
The message remains relevant today. It is not to make light of what this asks of us, but living in a world awash with different thinking and philosophies about life, we are best safeguarded from falling into the spiritually damaging and being carried along by them, by growing our connection with the Lord, building up our faith and praying in the Holy Spirit.