Not much is known for certain about the inspired writer of this brief letter: “Jude” identifies himself as “a servant of Jesus Christ” (a word that can also be translated as “slave”), and also as the “brother of James” (vs. 1). At least six men in the new testament were called Jude or Judas. Many scholars believe James was both the writer of the epistle of James, and a half-brother of Jesus, thus making Jude also a half-brother of the Savior (Jude is an abbreviation Judas, cf. Matthew 13:55). The apostle Judas – also called Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus, Matthew 10:33 & Mark 3:18 – is the only other reasonable prospect among those who bore this name. First Corinthians 9:5 suggests that Jude was married, and that his wife frequently traveled with him. The writer appears to exclude himself from the ranks of the apostles (Jude 17), however, and John 7:3-8 indicates that, like his brethren, this Jude had not believed Jesus’ claim of Messiahship until after His resurrection. Eusebius, an early church historian, records a tradition that two of his grandsons (Zocer and James) were later summoned to appear before Emperor Domitian because they were of the lineage of David. Jude was probably penned before the destruction of Jerusalem, and it is generally dated from 64-68 A.D.
Jude’s letter reflects the conflict experienced by every faithful gospel preacher; desiring to write/ preach about peaceful, yet being compelled by circumstances to deal with “hard, negative” subjects – to denounce sin and error plainly. The basic purpose of his letter is to warn, correct, strengthen, and encourage the saints. This is a “general” epistle (meant for all Christians), and it also shares many points in common with the book of 2 Peter 2.
Jude 3 issues a plain and specific instruction to all Christians, to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” There are five basic points to consider here:
- The original word means “struggle, strive, put forth great effort,” as in an athletic competition.
- How are we to contend? Together (Romans 15:30), and lawfully (2 Timothy 2:5).
- We are also to “contend” earnestly, as servants of the Lord (Ephesians 6:6 & Colossians 3:22).
- There is only ONE thing for which we are commanded to contend: The faith (cf. Acts 6:7 & 14:22 – this speaks of the teaching/ information that belongs to God, that originates with Him; it is not “our” faith (in the sense of personal belief), but the faith (the unique body of knowledge God revealed to men, in which Christians are to stand fast, 1 Corinthians 16:13).
- THIS faith was delivered unto humanity once for all (“one time for all time,” meaning God will not “repeat” its delivery a second time, and what He has “delivered” is sufficient for our eternal salvation (cf. 2 Peter 1:3). Just as Jesus only had to die once, so the message of salvation only needed to be revealed once!