The Epistle of Jude is a rather neglected book. Likely due to an assortment of factors (such as its brevity and citation of apocryphal sources), this poetic letter has often been under-utilized within the church. Though I do not claim this to always have been so throughout church history, personal experience has largely left me a stranger to the book of Jude.
Why then have I chosen to study this brief book?
Simply put, it pains my soul to see radiant nuggets of Scripture being overlooked and ignored. Thus, whenever I stumble upon a deep reservoir of Text that I have yet to see mold the hearts and minds of myself and others, I feel compelled to explore that cavern, inviting others to join me in the journey.
As is the case of all Scripture, Jude is filled to the brim with divine truth as inspired by the Holy Spirit. For being such a small text, the letter is dense with riches. As far as style is concerned, Jude is one of the most poetic pieces of Scripture. Leaning heavily upon triplets of thought, Jude expertly uses historical allusions and expressive metaphors with equal potency. The persons and events referenced by Jude are massive in range. Sweeping throughout the entire Old testament, and even into the cosmic realm, he presents example after example to construct his case against the false teachers in question.
In terms of theological significance, Jude is essential for the body of Christ. His primary aim is to pastorally guard his fellow believers by warning them of the dangers that false teachers present. For Jude, the great battle of Christianity is not against outside forces that seek to rip it apart but rather against the enemies that have “crept in unnoticed.” These wolves in sheep’s clothing present the utmost danger to the flock of Christ’s followers. Oddly, the letter reads much like a public service announcement to the church as he spends much of the epistle discussing how we might be able to identify these “ungodly people.” Very few words, overall, are devoted to actually responding to these false teachers. However, when the threat is in disguise and amongst us, it is of the utmost importance that we are first able to recognize them for what they truly are.
Though the harsh and bold warnings of Jude are most striking at first glance, careful reading will show that the letter also contains marvelous truths regarding the Christian life. Bookending the central statements against the false teachers are great promises of God’s work in keeping and preserving His saints. Therefore, the Christian need not tremble with great fear regarding his or her own salvation because it is firmly resting in the keeping power of God. Furthermore, the final two verses of the epistle are one of the most beautiful doxologies in the entire Bible. After writing about the internal battle for the body of Christ and relying upon the preserving work of God, how fitting to end with an exalted praise to our great and magnificent Savior!
So then, while the cavern of Jude is brief, it is ultimately deep and full of great riches. However, the great wealth of this letter can only be mined by diving headfirst into the ancient chasm. Approached properly, such expeditions will always lead to a greater understanding of the glory and the majesty of Christ.