Essentials for the Faithful Jude 16—25
The short epistle of Jude is a scathing denunciation of false teachers and their immoral doctrines. It portrays them as evil individuals who worm their way into churches even though they are hell-bound sinners whom Jude groups with some of the worst offenders in the Bible: Korah, Cain, fallen angels, Balaam, the judged Israelites of the wilderness, the Devil, and the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah (vv. 5–16).
Because of the danger they pose, the epistle exhorts the church “to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (v. 3).
Scripture lists the wicked practices to be expected in the last days, a phrase many commentators say refers to the Church Age:
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Tim. 3:1–5).
It should come as no surprise that mockers and scoffers are in our churches today (2 Pet. 3:3; Jude 17–18). Jude described them as “grumblers, complainers, walking according to their own lusts; and they mouth great swelling words, flattering people to gain advantage” (Jude 16).
To help the church, Jude listed three practical essentials for true Christians. They will help you detect and avoid false teachers, and they’re easy to remember: keep growing, keep praying, and keep trusting (vv. 20–23).
Jude wrote of “building yourselves up on your most holy faith” (v. 20). There is a Jewish saying, “Remembrance brings action in its train” (Talmud Menahot 13). It means that remembering instruction associated with God’s Word produces godly thought and behavior. Knowing and studying God’s Word is essential to ferret out false teachers.
It’s easy to become distracted today with so much opinionated Bible-study information available. Some is helpful; some is wrong. “Building yourselves up” comes from reading the Bible itself. This concept may sound simple and naïve; but if you want to grow in faith, you must rely on God’s Word. All things are to be judged through the lens of Scripture.
Another Jewish expression is “Not all things are kosher.” Kosher means proper and ritually pure. It implies authenticity. Jude teaches that spiritual-sounding doctrines creep into churches, but “not all are kosher.” Beware of novelties. Practice discernment.
Scripture is sufficient. It is the first line of defense against assaults from the evil one in these last days. Contending for the faith involves studying and “rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). That is why the apostle Paul told his young protégé, Timothy, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching” (4:2).
Our warfare is spiritual. Satan wants to destroy godly testimonies and the church. Therefore, Scripture admonishes us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). Prayer is a powerful weapon. It is essential to fight the seductions of false teachers and their counterfeit doctrines. That is why Jude told believers to keep “praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 20).
In Ephesians 6:11–18, Paul likened the Roman legionnaires and their gear to Christians putting on the whole armor of God. He listed six specific items (belt, breastplate, shoes, shield, helmet, and sword) and implied a seventh, which is often overlooked yet vital: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (v. 18).
In battle Roman infantrymen first threw their spears to disarm their enemies’ shields and perhaps even gore them. Then the order was given for the soldiers to advance confidently with swords drawn.
As a metaphor, the spear represents prayer. Prayer can thwart the enemy’s evil plots and should always be part of the equipage of the well-armed Christian. Always remember in times of trouble, pray to God for help.
Notice Jude 20 does not merely say pray, but pray “in the Holy Spirit.” According to Bible commentator Matthew Henry (1662–1714), “Our prayers are most likely to prevail, when we pray in the Holy Ghost under his guidance and influence, according to the rule of his word, with faith, fervency, and earnestness.”1
Jude closes with a powerful doxology. It stresses that our confidence rests in a mighty God (El Shaddai). An old Christian axiom still rings true: “When God is all you’ve got, then He is all you need”:
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, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen (vv. 24–25).
The apostle Paul warned us that, as time progresses, spiritual deception will increase:
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables (2 Tim. 4:3–4).
Christians must be constantly vigilant. The good news is that we are not alone. The God of Scripture can keep us safe and secure (Rom. 8:31).
In the 18th century, an itinerant preacher in London named Thomas Olivers decided to attend a synagogue service. At the conclusion of the service, the cantor (official who chants the prayers) sang a traditional Hebrew doxology called the “Yigdal,” which means “may He be magnified.” The tune so moved Olivers that he asked and was graciously given a copy of the melody. Using the tune, he wrote a hymn that soon became extremely popular, in part because it conveys the same confidence in God that Jude expresses in the closing doxology.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob can be trusted. He is truly a shield and tower who keeps His own secure and guards them by His side. The hymn is “The God of Abraham Praise.” Here are two of the stanzas:
The God of Abraham praise, who reigns enthroned above;
Ancient of everlasting days, and God of Love;
Jehovah, great I AM! by earth and Heav’n confessed;
I bow and bless the sacred Name forever blessed.
He keeps His own secure, He guards them by His side,
Arrays in garments, white and pure, His spotless bride:
With streams of sacred bliss, with groves of living joys—
With all the fruits of Paradise, He still supplies.
No matter what false teachers say, nothing can destroy the truth about God and Jesus Christ. Faithful Christians who desire to serve God and be loyal to Jesus Christ should keep growing, praying, and trusting. These are the essentials, and they will give you the discernment you need to recognize and resist false doctrine.
- Matthew Henry, “Jude,” Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary on the Whole Bible <biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-concise/jude/1.html>.