Today we continue on from the previous post in this series where we began our expository journey through the Epistle of Jude. Jude represents the first expository assignment I have been tasked with in our church plant in Denmark - Kristuskirken. Though short in length, Jude is a letter jam packed with information on why we should hunt down false teachers that conceal themselves in the church, how we should identify them, and that we as Christians should go to war against them secure in the knowledge of being kept in the safety of God's preserving grace. Much of the credit for this series must go to John MacArthur whose teaching on this Epistle has been my major source. This teaching is too vital not to post in this forum and I hope it will pour fuel on our fire to "contend earnestly for the once for all delivered faith".
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 (Jude 1).
We see in the first verse that this letter was written by Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James. Jude in the greek is translated Judas. It is interesting to know something about this guy. In a book about apostates or those who depart from the faith, Jude was the opposite. Someone who personally knew Jesus and rejected Him but repented later on. We know that this Jude or Judas was not the one who betrayed the Lord nor was he the other Apostle called Judas Thaddeus because we see in verse 17 he identifies the Apostles as people other than himself.
But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 17)
Who is this Judas? He tells us he is also a brother of James. And who is James? James is the brother of our Lord. James is the Lord's half brother. That is to say, Joseph and Mary were mother and father of the half brothers, we call them that, of Jesus because Joseph was not the father of Jesus, so He was only a half brother being virgin born. But if you look at Matthew 13:55 and in Mark 6:3 it says:
Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? (Matthew 13:55)
James and Joseph and Simon and Judas...so we know this Judas who is the brother of James must then be the brother of the James who is the half brother of our Lord. This is also a big slap in the face to the Roman Catholic church’s idolatrous teachings on Mary. They teach that Mary was without sin but Scripture says that she called Him her Savior. Roman Catholics teach that Mary is a mediator between God and man but Scripture teaches that Christ is the only mediator. Those two heresies are quite well known, but I want to draw your attention to the Catholic teaching of Mary’s perpetual virginity. Jude is proof of this falsehood as well being the Lord’s half brother.
So Jude introduces himself in the first verse as the brother of James which makes him the brother of Jesus. Listen to Galatians 1:19, Paul says, "I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord's brother." So here again this James is identified specifically in Galatians 1:19 as the Lord's brother. He's the head of the Jerusalem church. Now what is so amazing about this is the fact that these brothers of Jesus didn't believe in Him!
After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand. So his brothers said to him, "Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world." For not even his brothers believed in him. Jesus said to them, "My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. (John 7:1-7)
We know that later on (probably after the resurrection) at least two of His brothers believed in Him. Two of them were used by the Spirit of God to write New Testament books; James writing the book of James, Jude writing the book of Jude.
Why didn't Jude identify himself as the Lord's half brother? We also see in verse one that He is a bondservant of Jesus Christ, in the greek that word for servant is doulos or slave. The term slave has been a very sensitive word as slave trading was an active reality when many of the Bible translations were being produced. The Greek word doulos occurs 124 times in the Greek NT. Many Bibles have translated it as “servant” or “bondservant.” The translation of doulos as servant is faulty (cf. BDAG, p. 260) and causes people to miss a significant biblical teaching because of the difference between a servant and a slave - John Macarthur
Or as Paul states it; "You are not your own, for you were bought at a price . . . ” (1Co 6:19b-20). Jude is a slave to the Lord. He doesn't want to identify Himself as the Lord's half brother to distract us from the new reality of Jesus as the risen Lord. And the Apostates Jude is exposing are utterly hostile to the idea of being slaves to Jesus Christ. It is interesting that rather than deal with the specific heresies that were going on Jude looks at the character and behavior of these people. Unlike a slave to Christ they are driven by greed and sensuality. Heresies may change through history but the apostates always behave the same way. They love money, they love power, they love pleasure, and they love to sin. These people Jude is warning about are slaves to the world and slaves to their own lust. But Jude’s life is not his own, instead of referring to himself as the Lord’s brother he describes himself as a slave to Him; and the call to follow Christ is a call to slavery, to die to ourselves, to take up our cross, to know the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering. Imagine that, Jude and James grew up in the same house as Jesus and never recognized Who He really was. Now that He was the risen Lord they had repented and devoted their lives to Him. All the Apostles except for John had been killed for their devotion to Jesus but Jude was not backing down. He was calling the church to fight harder than ever for the Gospel that Christ delivered.
To be continued next Friday . . .
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