In several passages throughout the New Testament, we find serious warnings about impending apostasy...
* Jesus warned that false prophets would arise, the love of many would grow cold, and only those who endure to the end would be saved - Mt 24:11-13
[Mat 24:11-13 NKJV] 11 "Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
12 "And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
13 "But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
* Paul foretold of many disciples being drawn away - Ac 20:29-30
[Act 20:29-30 NKJV] 29 "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves
will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 "Also from among yourselves
men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after
* Peter warned about the rise of false teachers, and how many would follow their destructive ways - 2Pe 2:1-3
[2Pe 2:1-3 NKJV] 1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as
there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive
heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, [and] bring on themselves swift
destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the
way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with
deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their
destruction does not slumber.
By the time the epistles of John and Jude were written, the danger was no longer pending, it was very much in existence...
• Antichrists were present, and false prophets were in the world - 1Jn 2:18; 4:1; 2Jn 1:7
[1Jo 2:18 NKJV] 18 Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.
[2Jo 1:7 NKJV] 7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ [as] coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
• Jude was forced to change his original purpose to deal with the crisis - Jude 1:3-4
If the danger of apostasy was already present in the 1st century A.D., we should not be surprised that the danger exists in the 21st century. We would do well to pay close heed to those epistles written to tell us how to deal with apostasy, and that makes The Epistle Of Jude especially relevant.
Jude, as stated in the salutation (Jude 1:1). That he does not identify himself as an apostle, and appears to distinguish himself from the apostles (Jude 1:17), suggests he was not the apostle Jude (cf. Lk 6:16; Ac 1:13). His self-identification as "the brother of James" leads many to believe the author to be Judas, brother of James and also of the Lord Jesus (cf. Mt 13:55). Like James, Jude chose not to accentuate his physical relation to Jesus, but his spiritual one ("a bondservant of Jesus Christ," cf. Jude 1:1; Jm 1:1).
The letter is addressed "to those who are called" (Jude 1:1) without any specific designation as to who they were or where they lived. The references to Old Testament incidents and extra-biblical sources (cf. Jude 1:5-7,9,11,14) strongly suggests that the original readers were Jewish Christians, perhaps living in Palestine.
Similarities between the Epistle of Jude and the Second Epistle of Peter indicate one author may have influenced the other. Since Peter wrote of false teachers who were to come (cf. 2Pe 2:1) and Jude warned of those who had already "crept in unnoticed" (cf. Jude 1:4), it is possible that that Jude wrote after Peter. Peter’s death in during the reign of Nero (which ended in 68 A.D.) places his own epistle sometime before 67 A.D. The lack of any mention of the destruction of Jerusalem (which occurred during the fall of 70 A.D.) suggests that Jude wrote before that notable event. If so, then the date of composition may have been between 67-70 A.D.
PURPOSE AND THEME
Jude’s original purpose in penning this epistle was to write of the common salvation he and his readers shared (Jude 1:3). But the presence of ungodly men and the danger of them leading Christians astray forced a change in purpose:
* To encourage his readers to contend earnestly for the faith that had been delivered to the saints (Jude 1:3)
As for the theme, Jude’s first admonition serves us well:
Contend earnestly for the faith
Here is a simple outline of the book... Greetings (1-2)
1. Purpose for writing (3-4)
2. God’s judgments in time past (5-7)
3. Character and doom of false teachers (8-19)
4. Exhortations to build their faith (20-23)
Concluding doxology (24-25)
1) Who is author of The Epistle Of Jude? (1)
- Jude, brother of James (likely the half-brothers of Jesus, Mt 13:55)
2) Who were the recipients of this epistle?
- "Those who were called", possibly Jewish Christians
3) When was it written?
- Most date it between 67-70 A.D.
4) What has been suggested as its purpose?
- To encourage his readers to contend earnestly for the faith that had been delivered to the saints
5) What has been suggested as its theme?
- Contend earnestly for the faith
6) What are the main divisions of this epistle as outlined above?
- Greetings (1-2)
- Purpose for writing (3-4)
- God’s judgments in time past (5-7)
- Character and doom of false teachers (8-19)
- Exhortations to build their faith (20-23)
- Concluding doxology (24-25)
Greetings to the Called
[Jde 1:1-25 NKJV] 1 Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ: 2 Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
Contend for the faith
3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
Old and new apostates
5 But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day; 7 as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them in a similar manner to these, having given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. 8 Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries. 9 Yet Michael the archangel, in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" 10 But these speak evil of whatever they do not know; and whatever they know naturally, like brute beasts, in these things they corrupt themselves. 11 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.
Apostates depraved and doomed
12 These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving [only] themselves. [They are] clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; 13 raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. 14 Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, 15 "to execute judgment on all, to convict all who are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have committed in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him."
16 These are grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling [words], flattering people to gain advantage. 17 But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: 18 how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their own ungodly lusts. 19 These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit.
Maintain your life with God
20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. 22 And on some have compassion, making a distinction; 23 but others save with fear, pulling [them] out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.
Glory to God
24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present [you] faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, [Be] glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.