“Put Up a Hard Fight for the Faith”
“Beloved ones, . . . I found it necessary to write you to exhort you to put up a hard fight for the faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones.”—Jude 3.
1. What are some factors useful to Satan in his vain attempt to destroy true Christianity?
JEHOVAH’S servants must put up a staunch fight for the true faith. Their adversary, the Devil, seeks by outright persecution and subtle “crafty acts” to destroy their precious relationship with Jehovah God through Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 6:11, Kingdom Interlinear Translation; 1 Peter 5:8) In Satan’s vain attempt to crush true Christianity, he has tried to undermine it at times. Among the potentially corrupting factors that could serve this purpose are: (1) False teaching; (2) loose conduct; (3) lack of faith; (4) disregard for divinely constituted authority; (5) murmuring and complaining; and (6) the admiring of personalities for selfish benefit.
2. What details are here given regarding Jude’s letter?
2 Jehovah provides precisely what is needed spiritually to protect his servants and fully combat the Archdeceiver. (Isaiah 59:1) One such provision is the divinely inspired letter of Jude. Likely, the disciple Jude wrote it in Palestine before 66 CE, for he mentions neither Cestius Gallus’ coming against Jerusalem in that year nor the fall of that city to the Romans under Titus in 70 CE.*
3. In what ways can Jude’s inspired letter be of great value today?
3 Although written centuries ago, the letter of Jude is of great value to us today. Spirit-appointed Christian overseers can and should use it as a basis for giving counsel. Moreover, if we study this letter prayerfully and in humility, it can help us personally. Especially is this so if we sense increased peril from false teaching or enticement to immorality, if we discern that our faith is ebbing, or if we note in our heart a growing tendency to disregard God-given authority, to murmur complainingly or to flatter certain individuals for our own selfish advantage. As we consider this inspired letter verse by verse, doubtless we will readily see how to apply its abiding counsel personally and congregationally.
Plea for Increased Mercy, Peace and Love
4. How did Jude identify himself, and with what significance?
4 Jude opened his letter with these words:
“Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ, but a brother of James, to the called ones who are loved in relationship with God the Father and preserved for Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1)
As “a slave of Jesus Christ,” Jude was not in a degrading, abject servitude. Rather, this ‘slavery’ was based on the fact that Jesus’ followers have been bought with his precious blood for his kindly service, with everlasting life in view. They have been taken captive by Jesus’ love and have willingly surrendered themselves to him. (Matthew 11:29, 30; compare Ephesians 5:21-33.) Jude said that he was a “slave” of Christ, “but a brother of James,” apparently the James who was one of the Jerusalem congregation’s spiritual “pillars” and “the brother of the Lord.” (Galatians 2:9; 1:19; compare Acts 12:17; 15:13-21.) So Jude evidently was a fleshly half brother of Jesus, but humbly did not seek prominence by reason of his family tie with the Son of God.—Mark 6:3.
5. (a) Who were the “called ones”? (b) How were the “called ones” ‘preserved for Christ’? (c) For whom, besides the “called ones,” is Jude’s letter of encouragement?
5 Jude’s letter was intended for wide general circulation. It was sent “to the called ones,” that is, to those called by God to the glorious heavenly kingdom of his Son. (John 6:44; compare Acts 16:14.) Jehovah loved these “called ones,” and it was his good pleasure to give them the kingdom if they personally maintained a spiritually acceptable condition. (Luke 12:32; Romans 8:38, 39; compare Isaiah 52:11.) They were “preserved for Jesus Christ” in that Jehovah God safeguarded them because they were in union with his Son, being members of his body. If faithful, they would be associated with Jesus in his kingdom. (Ephesians 4:15, 16; 2 Timothy 1:12; 1 Peter 1:3-5) But the fine admonition of this letter is not limited to such “called ones.” It can also be of much encouragement to the “great crowd” of other loyal ones who today share with Christ’s spiritual “brothers” in slaving for the kingdom.—Matthew 24:14; 25:34-40; Revelation 7:4, 9, 15.
6. In what ways had God’s mercy been expressed toward Jude’s fellow worshipers?
6 Next, Jude expressed these heartfelt sentiments:
“May mercy and peace and love be increased to you.” (Jude 2)
Those to whom Jude’s letter was addressed were granted divine mercy, peace and love when they became dedicated believers and received Jehovah’s forgiveness of their sins through Jesus Christ. God’s mercy was expressed in the ransom provision he made through Jesus. (Titus 3:4-7) Another manifestation of God’s mercy consisted of their not being under bondage to the Mosaic law, to unscriptural traditions, to God-dishonoring conduct and the like. (Romans 7:4; Galatians 5:13; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; compare Revelation 18:1-5.) It was further mercy on Jehovah’s part when he preserved them for Jesus Christ, that they might serve as his slaves, as when declaring the “good news.” (Mark 13:10) Jude’s prayerful wish was that his fellow worshipers have divine mercy in increased measure.
7. Why and how do Christians experience peace?
7 Jude also prayed that his fellow believers would experience an increase of peace. Because of being unreservedly dedicated to God, Jehovah’s Witnesses today have an intimate relationship with him. Thus they are at peace with Jehovah and also have “the peace of God that excels all thought,” a tranquillity of heart and mind that unbelievers do not understand. (Philippians 4:6, 7; Colossians 1:19, 20) Moreover, they cultivate and display peace, a fruit of God’s spirit, and are able to pursue peace with fellow humans. (Galatians 5:22, 23; Hebrews 12:14) Then, too, faithful Christians fear neither the future nor death itself, but are at peace, knowing that Jehovah is with them and makes all his works cooperate for the good of those loving him.—Matthew 10:28; Romans 8:28.
8. How has Jehovah’s love been manifested toward us?
8 Jehovah’s great love was manifested in the giving of his Son “in order that everyone exercising faith in him might not be destroyed but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) While we were yet sinners having no personal relationship with Jehovah, he showed this love for us. (Romans 5:8) But, with faith in that ransom provision, we need to keep ourselves in God’s love. Jude also prayed that love be increased toward those to whom his letter was addressed.
9. Why did Jude’s fellow believers need mercy, peace and love in increased measure?
9 Jude prayed for God’s mercy, peace and love to be increased toward his beloved fellow believers because their spiritual welfare was being imperiled. Hence, they needed God’s mercy, peace and love in greater abundance than ever before.
“Put Up a Hard Fight”
10. Jude had intended to write about what?
10 Jude next emphasized the seriousness of matters, saying:
“Beloved ones, though I was making every effort to write you about the salvation we hold in common, I found it necessary to write you to exhort you to put up a hard fight for the faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones.” (Jude 3)
Jude’s use of the endearing expression “Beloved ones” assured his fellow worshipers of his affection despite his strong message. (John 13:35; compare Romans 1:7; 3 John 1, 2.) He had intended to write about the ‘salvation held in common’ by those “called” to the heavenly kingdom. (Galatians 3:26-29) It related to the precious hope of salvation that Christians possessed “according to a faith shared in common” in Jude’s day.—Titus 1:4.
11. What was the ‘faith delivered to the holy ones’?
11 The ‘faith delivered to the holy ones’ was the sum of beliefs regarding Jehovah God and his kingdom as delivered to Christians by Jesus and his inspired disciples. Apparently, it was delivered “once for all time” in the sense that Jesus’ anointed followers, the “holy ones,” received it nineteen centuries ago as the only true good news. It remains “the faith” to which Jehovah’s Witnesses today realize they must cling tenaciously, as there really is no other good news or message of salvation worthy of credence. (Galatians 1:6-8) And a prominent feature of that good news is that Jesus Christ died for the whole world of mankind. It is therefore of vital interest to the “great crowd” of “other sheep” in our day.—John 10:16; 1 John 2:1, 2; Revelation 7:9.
12. Why did Jude write to exhort fellow believers to “put up a hard fight for the faith”?
12 In Jude’s day false teachers professing Christianity were endeavoring to foist a counterfeit good news upon God’s people. Such teachings threatened their faith and salvation. (Matthew 24:13; 2 Corinthians 11:3, 4) Hence, to counteract this development, and as moved by the holy spirit and love, Jude “found it necessary” to write and exhort fellow believers to “put up a hard fight for the faith.”
13. To escape deception and loss of salvation, what must Jehovah’s Witnesses do today?
13 If we, as present-day Christian witnesses of Jehovah, are to remain loyal to God and escape deception and loss of salvation, we, too, must “put up a hard fight” against any sham good news, earnestly resisting, wrestling against, attempts to add to or take away from the teaching of Jehovah’s refined, inspired Word. (Deuteronomy 4:2; Proverbs 30:5, 6; Revelation 22:18, 19) We must measure any new or foreign teachings in the light of God’s entire Word and firmly hold to the faith that leads to salvation.—Hebrews 1:1, 2; 2:3, 4.
14, 15. (a) In what way did Jude explain the reason for changing his letter’s purpose? (b) Why would the false teachers not succeed in subverting or defiling the Christian congregation as a whole?
14 Explaining his change of purpose in writing, Jude stated:
“My reason is that certain men have slipped in who have long ago been appointed by the Scriptures to this judgment, ungodly men, turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct and proving false to our only Owner and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (Jude 4)
The men who had “slipped in” among true Christians insidiously taught falsehood. (Compare Galatians 2:4; 1 John 2:19.) Jesus had foretold an enemy movement designed to corrupt Jehovah’s people, for he showed that the Devil would sow “weeds,” or false Christians, among the “wheat,” or Christ’s true followers. (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43) There had also been apostolic warnings of apostasy, Peter specifically mentioning “false teachers.”—2 Peter 2:1; Acts 20:29, 30; 2 Thessalonians 2:3.
15 However, those wicked men would not succeed in subverting or defiling the congregation as a whole. “Long ago,” even prior to faithful Enoch’s prophesying, such men were appointed to God’s adverse judgment. (Genesis 3:15; 5:21-24; Jude 14, 15) “This judgment” apparently is spelled out by what follows in Jude’s letter.
16. How were the “ungodly men” guilty of “turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct,” and what was wrong with their thinking?
16 Those false teachers were “ungodly men,” or those having “no reverence for God.” (The New Testament in Modern English, translated by J. B. Phillips) They looked upon Jehovah’s cleansed people with unchaste motives and impure eyes. Erroneously, those irreverential men concluded that since God forgave former fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, and so forth, he would be merciful enough to forgive a person who willfully went after such sinful things again. They wrongly thought that they could break God’s moral laws with impunity, then go through a form of repentance and stay among Jehovah’s people until the next time they lusted for indulgence in sin and ‘enticed unsteady souls’ into immorality. (2 Peter 2:14) Thus the “ungodly men” were guilty of “turning the undeserved kindness of our God into an excuse for loose conduct.” They did not really appreciate or acknowledge that God was merciful in washing believers from their sins in Christ’s blood so that they might ever afterward pursue a righteous course.—Romans 6:11-23; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11.
17. In what way might some ‘prove false to their only Owner and Lord,’ and what awaits them?
17 If any of us, as dedicated witnesses of Jehovah, were to yield to ungodly persons and become slaves of sin for selfish fleshly gratification, we would be “proving false” to the one who bought us with his precious blood. We would be disowning Jesus Christ as Owner and Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:22, 23) Since destruction awaits those doing this, how vital it is that we resist such wicked men!
Strong Counsel for Our Day
18, 19. (a) What sinful course have some professed Christians followed? (b) How have some others been influenced? (c) What inspired counsel should help faithful Christians to become better equipped to “put up a hard fight for the faith”?
18 Today a few who have become associated with the congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses have sought to promote false teaching and loose conduct. These unscrupulous individuals disregard God’s righteous standards and are a real danger to loyal Christians.
19 Sad to say, hardworking, righteously disposed followers of Jesus Christ can be influenced by false teaching and loose conduct. But Jude’s strong counsel will strengthen the faithful so that they do not succumb to such Satanic efforts to destroy their relationship with Jehovah God. And as we now continue our consideration of Jude’s inspired letter, may we become better equipped to “put up a hard fight for the faith.”
See Aid to Bible Understanding, pp. 978, 979; “All Scripture Is Inspired of God and Beneficial,” pp. 259, 260, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc.
Can you answer these questions?
□ The letter of Jude deals with what factors that can imperil genuine Christians?
□ How is Jude’s letter of great value to us today?
□ Why would those to whom Jude wrote need mercy, peace and love in increased measure?
□ What is “the faith that was once for all time delivered to the holy ones”?
□ For what reason did Jude urge fellow believers to “put up a hard fight for the faith”?
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Do you, like faithful Christians in all periods, confidently “put up a hard fight for the faith”?