Jude - Fifth in a series
From Jude's perspective, everything had changed. He was born when Jews and Gentiles were separate by God's command, slaves were not fortunate people, and women and men differed in measured value, but now there is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male nor female (Gal 3:28). In Christ all are one and each one is a new creature (2 Cor 5:17), by confession that He is Lord.
Yes, it happened just as Scripture promised, A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do [them]. (Ez 36:27, 28)
Walking in God's laws; keeping his commands and doing them— now, with the Holy Spirit, it shall be done!
The Lord was plain that the law was not set aside by his coming, yet at times it seemed that way. In dietary laws and sacrificial observances, there was a new understanding. Christ himself was the passover lamb and few restrictions were observed in what might be eaten, yet other laws were unchanged.
It would be impossible to navigate all these changes without the Holy Spirit who brought to Jude's mind the words of Jesus (John 16:13).
Funny, in certain matters there were no changes. For example, the people of the Lord were still vastly outnumbered. With Israel it was never survival of the fittest but of the weakest in terms of numbers, weapons and steeds. Now more than ever it would be survival by God's power to save and by his sovereign plan.
Major differences in how evildoers were to be dealt with had developed over the centuries. In Israel's past, idolatrous nations were decimated to enable the Hebrews' survival, and rebels against God's laws were dealt with severely. Now, enemy nations were in control of the ancient nation of Israel, and the evildoer in the midst of God's new nation must be tested, at times shunned, or, Jude will say, clearly discerned [edited 7-5], for indeed, knowledge is power. How different the circumstances and commands! Yet in the flood of change, the steadfast love of the Lord endured.
Jude begins his purpose statement with the term of endearment, "Beloved." Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort [you] that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 1:3)
Twice more in his letter he addresses the readers as "beloved." There is a musical cadence of three beats to the measure throughout, as Jude expresses what is in his heart. We will find:
- Three defining characteristics of the ungodly men who have crept in among the believers; (Jud 1: 4)
- Three examples of how God historically has dealt with rebels; (Jud 1: 5-7)
- Three further descriptions of the "filthy dreamers"; (Jud 1:8)
- Three points about their behavior and nature; (Jud 1:10)
- Three examples from Scripture of like-minded men; (Jud 1:11)
- Four analogies comparing these evil men to ugly or terrifying scenes from the earth and heavens, but these are within a list of nine aspects of their behavior; (Jud 1:12-16)
- Followed by three final observations about these mockers; (Jud 1:17-19)
- Then three words of advice on how believers need to build up their hearts in the faith, to withstand the influence of the false brothers; (Jud 1:20-21)
- Three tactics for dealing with those who have fallen under the spell of the infiltrators, plus advice on how to regard such missions; [edited 7-5] (Jud 1:22-23)
- Followed by words of assurance, adoration and praise, of course, nine in full. (Jud 1:24-25)
The reason for all these three's is to uphold the faith ONCE delivered, as stated in Jude 1:3. This instance of the word "once" connotes one time, once, once for all in the Greek. There would be no new revelations. (Heb 9:26, 28; Heb 10:10; 1 Peter 3:18)
It may be of interest to the reader to review E. E. Bullinger's insights in his Number in Scripture chapter onThree.