Jude, Brother of James

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you” (Jude 1–2).

- Jude 1–2

In pulpits across the land, ordained “ministers” who are practicing homosexuals teach boldly what they claim are the truths of God. In other places, elders and teachers look the other way when their strongest supporters are known to be living in sin. Gifted pastors seduce other men’s wives with little fear of reprisal.

Regrettably, such statements do not cause much surprise for many Christians today. Some of the events described are common not only in newspaper headlines covering liberal denominations but also in the evangelical world. The sexual immorality prevalent in our culture is increasingly infecting the church.

However, such things are not only true of the church in our day, they were also threats faced by the earliest Christians. Two thousand years ago, the church of Jesus Christ found itself infiltrated by false teachers who used the grace of God as an excuse for wanton immorality. The task of warning the church about such individuals and calling Christians to persevere in the grace of God fell to “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James” (Jude 1).

Today we begin our study of the final General Epistle, the short letter of Jude. In today’s passage, the author describes himself as a brother of James. This James is none other than James the apostle and brother of the Lord Jesus. Therefore, Jude was also one of Jesus’ brothers and likely not a disciple during Christ’s earthly ministry; beyond this we know little about him. The early church said Jude’s grandsons were church leaders in Palestine, perhaps indicating Jude ministered there. First Corinthians 9:5 implies the brothers of Jesus conducted missionary work, and Jude’s epistle was sent to Jewish Christians whose exact identity and location is unknown to us.

Like the original audiences of many of the other General Epistles, these Christians were facing the onslaught of false teaching. Particularly, this false teaching involved promoting sexual immorality and possibly a denial of Christ’s return. Over the next few weeks we will seek to learn humbly from Jude’s warnings about false doctrine in order to be prepared when facing similar situations.

Coram Deo

Take some time to read through the book of Jude today in preparation for this month’s study. Consider that Jude, out of humility, does not assert his physical kinship with Jesus but describes himself as a humble servant of the Lord. As we confront problems in the church, we should likewise be as concerned about humility as we are about the truth. Ask the Lord to remind you to be humble before Him, even as you stand for the truth of His Gospel.

Passages for Further Study

Matt. 13:55
Mark 3:31–35
John 7:1–9
Gal. 1:19

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