Contend for the Faith

Jude 1-4

Alan Lewis
Elon, North Carolina
August 2011

This evening, we will be starting a new book study.  I want to begin a study of the book of Jude, the next to last book of the NT.  It is right before the book of Revelation.  It is a very important book for us to study.  It is fascinating.  There is some strange stuff in this book.  I have to give you a warning.

There is some stuff in this book that you may never have heard before.  It is very practical as well.  There are all kinds of applications in this book for us.  What I want to do today is to cover the first four verses of the book.

Tonight, I want to answer several questions about this book.  What kind of a book is Jude?  What do we know about the author?  Who was he?  Why did he write the book?  What is the purpose or theme of the book?

Characteristics of the Book of Jude

1) It is a small book

It only has twenty-five verses.  It does not have a lot of chapters in it.  This book is only one chapter long.  It is one of five books in the Bible that are one chapter long (Obadiah, Philemon, II John, III John & Jude).

2) It is one of the general epistles

Most of the epistles of Paul were written to specific churches at Ephesus or Corinth or Galatia.  Other books of the NT are addressed to the church in general (James 1:1; I Peter 1:1).  There are eight general epistles not written to one specific church.  These include the Book of Hebrews, James, 1 & 2 Peter, 1, 2 & 3 John and Jude.

What three things does Jude say about his audience?  Christians are called by God, loved by God and kept by Christ Jesus.  Jude was not writing to Christians in general.  He knew these people.  He calls them friends (v. 3, 17, 20).  We just don’t know who they were.

3) It is most like II Peter

Nineteen of Jude’s twenty-five verses are found in II Peter.  The language is similar.  Compare Jude 4 with II Peter 2:1-3; Jude 6 with II Peter 2:4; Jude 9 with II Peter 2:11; Jude 12-13 with II Peter 2:13, 17; Jude 16 with II Peter 2:18; Jude 17 with II Peter 3:2 and Jude 18 with II Peter 3:3.

Which book was written first?  Probably II Peter.  Peter predicted that false teachers are coming into the church.  By Jude’s time they had already entered the church.  Peter warned that “there will be false teachers among you” (2:1), Jude states that “for certain men have secretly slipped in among you” (v. 4).  They have already arrived.  Peter was martyred by Nero around 68 AD.  Jude was written later (70-80 AD).

4) It quotes the Pseudepigripha

The Pseudepigripha are Jewish books written between the OT and NT with FAKE names (claiming to be written by Adam and Noah and Enoch, etc).  They were written in the intertestamental period but were never included in the Jewish canon of Scripture.

They are not part of the Hebrew Bible.  Jude alludes to the OT frequently but the only book it quotes is the book of I Enoch, a book which is not even inspired.  Jude quotes a man named Enoch.  Enoch was the man in Genesis who lived for 365 years, walked with God and then was raptured by God, taken into heaven without dying.

Jude quotes a prophecy of Enoch before the Flood.  The only problem is that the words of this prophecy do NOT come from the Book of Genesis.  Where did Enoch say this?  This quote comes from I Enoch almost word for word and that quote is found, not once but twice in the book (1:9; 100:5).

He even calls Enoch “the seventh from Adam”.  That title of Enoch does not come from the OT but from I Enoch (60:8; 93:3).  Is it possible that I Enoch quotes Jude, rather than Jude quoting I Enoch?  No.  I Enoch was written first.  We know that from the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls.  Manuscripts of I Enoch in Aramaic were discovered in Qumran.   I Enoch predates Jude.

Who Wrote the Book?

What do we know about the author of this book?  We know several things about him.

1. His name was Judas

His name in Greek is Judas (Ιούδας).  It is the same name as Judas Iscariot.  We call this “The Book of Jude” but it is really “The Book of Judas.”  Here is a book about apostasy and the name of the author is associated with a traitor.  It is not a common name today.  We don’t even name our dogs Judas.

In the same way that Adolf is no longer a popular name in Germany, since it is the name of one of the worst villains in history.  In NT times, however, Judas was a popular name.  There are five men in the NT names Judas.  One of the most famous men in Jewish history was named Judas (Judas Maccabeus).

2. He was NOT one of the Apostles

Jude does not call himself an apostle. In fact, in Jude 17 he distinguished himself from the apostles, although two of the apostles were names Judas (Luke 6:16).  Not all of the books of the NT were written by apostles.  The Gospel of Luke was not an apostle.  The Gospel of Mark was not an apostle.  The Book of Acts was not written by an apostle.

3. He was the BROTHER of the Lord Jesus

Jude doesn’t call himself the brother of Christ.  He just calls himself a slave of Christ but we know that he was also his brother (or technically he was a half-brother, because they had the same mother but not the same father).  Jesus had a brother named Judas (Matthew 13:55).

He also had a brother named James who was the head of the church in Jerusalem and wrote the Book of James.  Two books of the NT were written by the half-brothers of Christ.  When Jesus was doing his ministry, preaching and healing, neither James nor Jude were believers (John 7:5).  In fact, they thought he was crazy at one point (Mark 3:20-21, 31-32). They did not become believers until after Jesus rose from the dead.

4. He was a PREACHER

Jude was very different from Paul.  Paul was a great theologian.  Jude was more of a preacher than a scholar.  How do we know he was a preacher?  Preachers always have three points.  Jude does everything in threes.

This is unique to Jude.  We see this about ten times in the book.  He has a threefold blessing (v.2).  Paul always used two (grace and mercy) three examples of judgment (v.5-7), threefold description of opponents (v. 8).

He sees three OT characters to compare these false teachers to (v. 11).  He gives a threefold description of them (v. 19).  He describes three different kinds of people (v.22-23), three exhortations to believers (v.20) and glory is described to God three times (v.25).  Jude is a preacher and the book of Jude is a little sermon.  It is an early Christian sermon in the form of a letter.

What is the Theme of the Book?

Why did Jude write the book and what is its theme?  What’s interesting is that Jude originally planned to write a letter on a different topic.  That’s what happened to Frank Morrison.  He intended to write a book refuting the resurrection but after he did all of his research and looked at the evidence, he ended up writing a book proving the resurrection.  Jude intended to write a positive letter to encourage people.

He wanted to write a nice pastoral letter on what a great thing it is to know Jesus but because there was a huge crisis in the church at the time, Jude writes a very different kind of letter.  He writes a book about false teachers that is more negative than positive.

We live in a day when it is politically incorrect to call any teachings false.  That is considered judgmental, unloving and intolerant today but the Bible warns against false teachers and says it comes from two different sources (cf. Acts 20:28-30).

This is a very interesting warning.  Paul says that after he leaves he is worried about problems from the outside of the church and from the inside of the church.  Wolves on the outside are dangerous.  They are killers by nature.  They like the taste of blood.  They eat sheep, not grass but they are easier to detect.

They are much harder to detect when they are on the inside (denomination, seminary, school, church).  Wolves in sheep’s clothing are harder to spot.  They look like sheep on the outside but are wolves on the inside.  Paul warns about false teaching on the outside of the church and on the inside of the church, among the church leadership and even on the elder board.

By the time the Book of Jude was written, false teachers had already gotten INTO the church.  Verse fourteen says that they were taking communion with them, participating in the love feast (v. 12).  These people were the leaders of the church, elders.  Jude calls them “shepherds” (v. 12) and they were not even Christians.  He calls them “twice dead” (v. 12), because they will experience “the second death” (Revelation 20:14; 21:8).  They will die twice.

They did not even possess the Holy Spirit (v. 19).  They may talk about how spiritual they are but they don’t even have the Holy Spirit.  They may claim to have the Holy Spirit but they don’t have him.  These were not some Christians who disagree with you on some minor doctrines.  These are people who were not even saved.

Jude tells us how they got in.  Verse four says that they came in SECRETLY.  They did not enter the church with a big sign saying, “I am a false teacher.  I don’t believe the Bible is really inspired.  I don’t believe Jesus is God.”  Once they were in, they started teaching false doctrine.

The Doctrinal and Practical Implications of Jude 1:3

1. There are a set of essential doctrines called THE FAITH

There is a difference between faith and THE faith.  When we think of faith, we think of what we have to do to get saved (belief in Christ).  Here Jude is not talking about saving faith (subjective).  Faith is a noun here, not a verb and it has the article in front of it (objective).  It means a system of belief, a body of truth.

Eventually this was all written down in the pages of Scripture but when Jude wrote this, all of the books of Scripture were not written yet.  Notice that the word “faith” is also singular.  Jude says we are to contend for “the faith,” not “the faiths.”

Paul says what unites all Christians is “one faith” (Ephesians 4:5).  The world recognizes many faiths.  The church has one faith or does it?  Isn’t the Methodist faith different from the Baptist faith?  The Calvinist faith (that some Christians hold) different from the Arminian faith (that other Christians hold)?

There is one faith that all true Christians agree on.  It is centered in the gospel.  It is what the apostles taught (Acts 2:42).   There are many ways in which Christians differ on minor areas but there are some things that they are all agree on.  There are two extremes here.  Some do not take a stand about anything.  Others fight about everything.  They argue about doctrine, not matter how big or little.  Everything is a major doctrine to them.

2. This set of doctrines has been ENTRUSTED to the saints.

It was not discovered by the saints or invented by the saints but delivered to them.  Paul said it was delivered to him (I Corinthians 15:1-3).  Remember in Galatians, Paul said that he did NOT receive the gospel from men (1:11-12).  He received it from God and God entrusted this message to him (I Timothy 1:11).

3. These truths are UNALTERABLE and cannot be revised.

Jude says that they were “once” delivered to the saints.  The Greek word άπαξ means “once for all time.”  The same word is used in Hebrews 9:26.  Since this faith was delivered to the saints once, the implication is that it is fixed and unalterable.  It cannot be changed, modified or updated by ANYONE.  Paul says that he could not change it.

He says that even an angel from heaven could not change it (Galatians 1:8).  We can’t use this to prove the canon is closed (although that is true), because when Jude wrote this it was not closed yet.  There were more books of the Bible to be written but the basic set of apostolic doctrines centering on the gospel had already been delivered.

4. We are to CONTEND for these essential doctrines of the faith.

It is a fight and a struggle.  You say, I never knew faith involved a fight.  It does (I Timothy 6:12; II Timothy 4:7). The Greek word “contend” (Jude 3) means “to fight.” Is Paul talking about having a fist fight with false teachers?  No (cf. II Corinthians 10:4).  Here’s an important lesson from Jude 3.

Many believe the truth but would never defend or fight for it.  Paul said that he not only preached the gospel, he defended the gospel (Philippians 1:7, 16).  How many times have we heard people say, “We do not need to defend the Bible.  The Bible defends itself.  We just need to preach the Bible?”  It’s a common viewpoint but that’s not what this verse says.  Jude says that we are to “contend for the faith” (v. 3).

5. This is the responsibility of EVERY Christian.

This book is addressed to Christians in general, not to just the pastor (Jude 1).  The word in Greek is in the present tense which means that it is to be a continual process.  In fact, it doesn’t just say that “we are to contend for the faith,” it says that “we are to contend EARNESTLY for the faith.”  It is a strong word in Greek.  This is the only time in the entire NT this word is used (έπαγωνίζωμαι).

Why is it important?  Three out of four Christian teens walk away from the church after they leave home.  70-75% of Christian youth leave the church after high school (so Barna and USA Today). This is what Frank Turek calls “the Youth Exodus Problem.”

Why do they leave?  One reason is that they find church boring and irrelevant.  One reason is that the appeal of the world and its sins draws them away.  Intellectual skepticism is another one of the major reasons they walk away.

Who we defend it against?  In this context, it is to be defended against false teachers.  It is to be defended against skeptics, critics, agnostics, atheists, cultists, seekers, other religions, unbelieving friends and neighbors.

How the Bible has been Attacked throughout History


Some have attacked whether it is historical.  That is what liberals and modernists did.  Did the events in the Bible really happen?  Was there really a literal Adam and Eve?  Did the Flood of Noah really take place?  Did the miracles of the Bible really happen or all they all myth?  Did Jesus really rise from the dead?


Some have attacked whether the Bible was written by the people who claimed to have written it?  Did Moses really write the Pentateuch?  Did Isaiah really write the Book of Isaiah?  Did Daniel really write the Book of Daniel?  That is the view of higher criticism and the Jesus Seminar.


Some have attacked whether the Bible is inerrant.  They would say it is inspired but is it really inerrant?  They believe there are errors in the Bible, even though Jesus said “your word is truth” (John 17:17).  Some have said that the Bible must have errors in it.  It is full of contradictions and errors (historical and scientific).


Some have reinterpreted what it says.  That is how the cultists attack the Bible.  They do not deny it. They say they believe the Bible is the Word of God.  They just re-interpret it.  The use the Bible to deny the Trinity and the Deity of Christ and Hell (so JWs).  Catholics use the Bible to teach salvation by works.


Some have added books of the Bible that are not in the Bible.  The Roman Catholic Church adds some extra books in their Old Testament Bible called the Apocrypha (none of which were written in Hebrew like the rest of the Old Testament).  Mormons have added The Pearl of Great Price and The Doctrines and Covenants to Scripture.

Muslims believe that the Koran (or Qu’ran) is inspired by God, even though it denies the trinity, the deity of Christ and even denies that Jesus was even crucified.  Others believe  that the canon is not closed and God is still writing books of Scripture.


Some have attacked in how it is translated.  Many cultists have their own Bible which changes many key passages.  The Jehovah’s Witnesses use their New World Translation which changes key doctrines of Scrpture. Liberals today use gender neutral language to try to make the Bible politically correct.  Jesus is no longer seen as the Son of God.

One modern version of John 3:16 reads, “For God so loved the world that God gave God’s only Child, so that everyone who believes in that Child may not perish but may have eternal life,” (AIV)[1] even though the Greek word υίός (huios) unambiguously means “Son.” “Father” is rendered in this version by a new metaphor, “Father-Mother.”

Another example is the Queen James Bible, which was published in 2012.  It is the world’s first gay bible.  It is a gay-friendly version of the bible.  It is basically the KJV with eight verses changed. The problem is that it completely changes Scripture.  Any reference which condemns homosexuality is taken out and removed.  For example, Leviticus 18:22 reads, “Do not have sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman; that is detestable” (NIV).

The QJB reads, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind in the temple of Molech: it is an abomination.”  The implication is that this behavior is wrong to do in a pagan temple but may not be wrong to do outside of a pagan temple.  It is a strange translation because the words “in the temple of Molech” are not in the Hebrew at all.  The same five words are also mysteriously added to Leviticus 20:13.


Some have used the Bible to justify sin.  It has been used to justify homosexuality and gay marriage.  It has been used to justify bigotry and racism.  White supremacists use the Bible.  It has been used to justify pre-marital sex.  It has been used to justify smoking marijuana.

The Bible has been used to justify hatred.  The pastor in Kansas goes around with signs saying “God hates fags” and “God hates America.”  It has been used to justify spousal abuse (submission).  It has been used to justify burning people at the stake for their beliefs.

How to Earnestly Contend for the Faith

1) Know what you believe.

If you don’t know the Bible, you can’t defend it.  Christians should know what they believe and know what the Bible teaches.  We have no excuse for being ignorant of God’s Word and yet there are Christians in church after church with very little knowledge of the Bible,  Biblical illiteracy is rampant in America.

2) Give reasons for what you believe.

I Peter 3:15 says, always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15).  If you believe Jesus rose from the dead but cannot give any reasons why you believe that, you cannot contend for the faith.  You believe it but you cannot defend it.  That’s what apologetics does.

You say, I do not know how to do this.  There are books and websites and ministries dedicated to apologetics, people like Greg Koukl, William Lane Craig, Hank Hanegraaff, Kerby Anderson, Norman Geisler Gary Harbermas, Ravi Zarcharias, Josh McDowell, Frank Turek, Alex McFarland, Ron Rhodes and others.

3) Expose what is false.

Jude exposes false teachers.  He actively opposed error.  He doesn’t just say, “Everyone has their beliefs.  They just see things differently than I do.”  It is one thing to know what you believe or to give reasons for what you believe.  It is another thing to expose other teaching as false or unbiblical.

[1] An Inclusive Version (Oxford University Press), 1995.

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