Contenders Against Fake News!
In this presentation, we begin with and an extended outline of Jude and then move into a section-by-section discussion of the text of Jude in order to get an overall understanding of what Jude was trying to communicate to his listeners/readers.
A convenient way to view the material that Jude presents is following the added-to-the-text verse structure. Remember, verses were not placed in Jude’s text by Jude or anyone close to him in time. Verses have no meaning by themselves but depend on the context in which they are found. I have written elsewhere: Stop Quoting Verses | Start Reading Stories.
The opening of the Book of Jude is the traditional opening of everyday letters from the Second Testament era. Letters in that timeframe were written on papyrus that was rolled into scrolls. When a scroll was opened, the first word the reader’s eye would see was the name of the author. This was very practical. It would save the reader from reading a scroll and then discovering that he or she did not know the author or did not like the author. Knowing who the author was, gave the scroll-reader some assurance of how to read the book based on who was writing. This is similar to today’s byline at the beginning of an article in magazines and newspapers. The photo to the right is the earliest (nearly) complete manuscript of the epistles written by Paul in the Second Testament and is labeled p46.[ref]Wikipedia. Papyrus 46. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Papyrus_46. accessed 6.20.18[/ref]
Before email, when we wrote letters or notes on paper, we signed our names at the bottom of the letter or note that we were writing. It was often the case that the receiver of the letter looked at the bottom of the page first to see who the author was before reading the text of the letter. All this pretty much changed with the invention of email and texting.
Hello: Jude 1-2
The book begins with the author’s name as was the custom. Before getting to the point of the letter, Jude introduces himself to his readers in two ways.
First, he gives his qualifications to speak to them: he refers to himself as a servant of Jesus Christ. In that period of time, the word servant indicated one who is bound to another. The term originally signified a slave as often compared with the following:
- a master (Matt. 8.9);
- a person who was free (Gal. 3.28).
- Paul considered himself and other teachers of the day as “servants” to other Christians (2 Cor. 4.5).
- A person can be a slave to many things: corruption (2 Pet. 2.19); other human beings (1 Cor. 7.23); sin (John 8.34).
However, for Jude, to be a servant of Jesus was and is for us the privilege of all followers of Jesus. The term expresses one who has given him or herself over to be controlled by a new master. Jude considered himself to have only one mission in life: to be at the beck and call of Jesus to serve him and his cause.
Second, Jude introduces himself from a human and family point of view: and a brother of James. It would have been a simple task for Jude to introduce himself as a half-brother of Jesus. What more authority would a person have needed than to be born into the physical family of Jesus? Instead, he appeals to his authority on the basis of his servanthood to Jesus’ half-brother James, not on his physical relationship. In short, Jude was not a name-dropper. His family relationship came second to his devotional relationship. Jude uses what could be called a series connective by using the word and which is the most common constructive. This connective would tell the reader/hearer that there is some equality on each side of the connective. It says to the reader that Jude is equally a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James. And we thought that all that time learning English was wasted!
Jude now introduces his audience in four ways. The following may sound a bit technical, but for those who are to be “contenders against Fake News!” we need to think clearly about the words of the description below. They will fortify us when the contending gets rough and destructive as discriminating words are thrown our way.
First, the book was written to those who have been called. The word called is the essential word. In the First Testament, Israel’s calling is closely linked with the choice or election of God (Isa. 41.8, 9; 42.1; 43.10). This concept of being called reflects the divine initiative to which each individual must respond either positively or negatively. In the Second Testament, it may be a technical term for the process of salvation into which Christians enter at their new birth. It suggests that the calling of the listeners had already become effective. The readers/listeners of this letter had been summoned by God and had responded to his invitation. The ones who are called are the ones who are loved and kept.
Second, (to those) who are loved by God the Father. The word loved is a better translation than sanctified as per the King James Version (KJV). The translation of the above text should read in God the Father. The Greek word that NIV has translated by is in. The phrase suggests that the believer is in the love of God. The picture presented is like being in a pool of water. The water is completely around you. Jude is presenting his first readers and us with a view of God’s love and our position with respect to it. Think about it: we are surrounded by the love of God all the time and in every place.
Third, and (to those) who are kept by Jesus Christ. The word kept finishes the thought of this sentence. The text says that we are kept for Jesus. Again, Jude uses the connective to tell his first reader and us that there is some equality on each side of the connective. It says to the reader that the called ones are equally loved and kept ones.
Finally, Jude introduces his hope for his audience. He uses a different greeting than other Second Testament authors. Compare the opening of Romans, 1 Corinthians, Ephesians, etc. The greeting that Jude used is especially fitting because of the theme of his book.
- Paul used the common grace and peace to you…. He adds the word mercy in his letters to Timothy.
- Peter used grace and peace be yours…. He also uses the word abundance.
- John used grace mercy and peace…in his second letter.
The first readers/listeners of the letter of Jude need to have an abundance of mercy, peace, and love in their lives in the midst of false teachers and Fake News! they were receiving. The connective and is used again to say to the reader that mercy, peace, and love are equally important for the reader to experience. His hope is that they will have:
- Mercy, The word mercy stands first in the greeting. Mercy is the benefit that the people of God need most because of the teachers who were proclaiming the Fake News! about how to follow Jesus into being a true human being.
- Peace, Every Jesus follower wants to experience peace in his or her life. The order of words that Jude used is interesting. He may be telling his readers that peace comes after one has received mercy from God.
- And love, Matthew provides his readers with an interpretation of love in Matthew 5.43-48. There are several words in the Second Testament that are translated by our English word love. The word that Jude has chosen is not a feeling that we receive but a decision that we make.
- Jude’s desire is that all three of these attributes be yours in abundance, Jude uses the word abundance to suggest that his readers may have more mercy, peace, and love than they may think that they need.
It is important to note that this greeting carries great significance for what follows in the text of Jude. To understand the significance of the greeting will allow you as a present reader to understand what was needed by these first readers of Jude in regard to standing against Fake News! which is, standing up for the ideas and concepts that the first missionaries taught them.
Questions to Ponder
- What does the connective Jude used in his opening sentence tell you about Jude?
- When you want to achieve a position, authority, or visibility, do you drop names in order to achieve your goal?
Next, Jude’s short litany moves to “Confronting Fake News!