“Beloved Ones, . . . Keep Yourselves in God’s Love”
“Beloved ones, by building up yourselves on your most holy faith, and praying with holy spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love.”—Jude 20, 21.
1, 2. Besides warnings, what instruction is found in the letter of Jude?
JEHOVAH’S undeserved kindness is evident in his dealings with those who love him. Through his inspired Word he shows what he requires of them. And how grateful we can be that a part of God’s Word, the letter of Jude, provides warnings that can help us to maintain a proper relationship with Jehovah God!
2 Yet, besides giving needed warnings, Jude shows what we must do to be upbuilt spiritually and to ‘keep ourselves in God’s love.’ Hence, we will benefit greatly from considering the concluding portion of Jude’s letter.
3, 4. To what “sayings” of Jesus’ apostles did Jude refer?
3 Providing an important reminder, Jude wrote:
“As for you, beloved ones, call to mind the sayings that have been previously spoken by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, how they used to say to you: ‘In the last time there will be ridiculers, proceeding according to their own desires for ungodly things.’ These are the ones that make separations, animalistic men, not having spirituality.” (Jude 17-19)
Jude said much to expose the “ungodly men” who slyly crept into the congregation. Then, entreating fellow believers for whom he had great affection, Jude bid them to recall words previously spoken by Jesus’ apostles. Recalling those sayings should have moved all genuine Christians to “put up a hard fight for the faith.”
4 The apostle Paul warned fellow overseers that from among them men would “rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:29, 30) He told Timothy that ‘in later times some would fall away from the faith.’ (1 Timothy 4:1, 2) And the apostle Peter specifically warned that ‘in the last days there would come ridiculers, saying: “Where is this promised presence of his?”’—2 Peter 3:1-4.
5. How may faithful Christians have been treated by the “ungodly men” who had slipped into the congregation, but how should godly persons have reacted to this?
5 Hence, recipients of Jude’s letter had good reason to expect “ridiculers” to appear during the period that immediately preceded the end of the Jewish system of things. It was not unlikely that the “ungodly men” who had slipped into the congregation were ridiculing faithful believers who adhered to Jehovah’s righteous standards and would not join the “false brothers” in loose conduct. But it was essential that godly persons “put up a hard fight for the faith,” even though they might have been derided by false teachers who ‘proceeded according to’ and were driven by their own immoral “desires for ungodly things.”—Compare 2 Corinthians 11:26; Galatians 2:4, 5.
6. Although God assured the unity of those loving him, what did the ungodly ridiculers try to do?
6 Whereas God, by his spirit, assured the unity of those loving him, those ungodly ridiculers tried to “make separations,” or “distinctions,” endeavoring to carry on a separating work among Jehovah’s people. (Jude 19, New World Translation, 1950 edition, footnote; Psalm 133:1-3; 1 Corinthians 1:10) Although the ridiculers spoke against faithful responsible men in the congregation, the ungodly ones expressed admiration for individuals who could benefit them. (Jude 8, 16) Like the Pharisees, they looked down on the humble, godly members of the congregation. Rather than gathering with the Lord, they tried to scatter. Even today some try to draw the unsteady away into private groups, supposedly for “Bible study.” This could never promote love for God, Christ and the Christian congregation.—Luke 11:23.
7. Why were the “ungodly men” fittingly termed “animalistic”?
7 Those men were fittingly termed “animalistic,” or “soulical,” for they were sentient creatures yielding to fleshly sensations, appetites and inclinations. (Compare Kingdom Interlinear Translation, Jude verse 19.) Although they considered themselves spiritually enlightened, Jude described them as “not having spirituality,” or, literally, not having “the spirit.” Actually, those “animalistic men” lacked Jehovah’s spirit, could not comprehend spiritual matters and scarcely rose above the level of unreasoning beasts. If we have Jehovah’s spirit and understand “the deep things of God,” we should be deeply grateful to our heavenly Father.—1 Corinthians 2:6-16.
How to Remain in God’s Love
8. The expression “most holy faith” may have referred to what?
8 Jude next turned to earnest entreaty, saying:
“But you, beloved ones, by building up yourselves on your most holy faith, and praying with holy spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love, while you are waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ with everlasting life in view.” (Jude 20, 21)
Jude lovingly showed how his cherished fellow believers could remain in the love of Jehovah. Following his counsel certainly would include the cultivating of faith, a fruit of God’s spirit. (Galatians 5:22, 23) But in view of Jude’s earlier reference to fighting for ‘the faith delivered to the holy ones’ (Jude vs. 3), the expression “most holy faith” may have referred to the whole range of Christian teachings, including the good news of salvation. The foundation of such true faith is Christ, and it was called “most holy” because it looked to the God of holiness and was based exclusively upon his holy Word.—Acts 20:32; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.
9. We must do what to ‘upbuild ourselves on our most holy faith’?
9 For Christians to ‘upbuild themselves on their most holy faith,’ or to strengthen it, they must diligently study God’s Word personally and congregationally. Frequently discussing the Scriptures with fellow Christian witnesses of Jehovah, as well as proclaiming the good news to others, will deepen the impression the Bible makes on our hearts. But none of this can be accomplished apart from earnest prayer. An individual ‘prays with holy spirit’ when praying under its influence and in harmony with the things in Jehovah’s Word. Moreover, the Scriptures, written under inspiration of God’s spirit, show us how to pray and what to request in prayer. For instance, we can confidently pray to be filled with God’s holy spirit. If we ‘pray with holy spirit,’ our prayers will reveal a proper heart condition, one loved by God. We will thus be protected from improper influences, including the views of any “ungodly men” who might slip into the congregation.—Luke 11:13; Romans 8:9, 26, 27.
10. To ‘keep themselves in God’s love,’ what was required of Jude’s fellow believers?
10 To ‘keep themselves in God’s love,’ Jude’s fellow believers had to observe Jehovah’s commandments and those of His Son. (John 15:10; 1 John 5:3) Remaining in the love of God calls for speech and conduct approved by Jehovah. Being imperfect and sinful, the faithful ones would, in order to remain in God’s love, continually require Jehovah’s mercy extended through Jesus Christ and made possible by means of the ransom sacrifice of their Lord. (Romans 5:8; 9:14-18; 1 John 4:9, 10) The continuance of divine mercy toward Jesus’ faithful followers eventually results in everlasting life.—John 3:16.
The Need to Show Mercy to Others
11. What did Jude say about mercy, and in showing it between whom was it necessary to distinguish?
11 Regarding the need to show mercy, Jude said:
“Also, continue showing mercy to some that have doubts; save them by snatching them out of the fire. But continue showing mercy to others, doing so with fear, while you hate even the inner garment that has been stained by the flesh.” (Jude 22, 23)
If Jude’s fellow believers were to continue receiving divine mercy, they had to be merciful to others whose eternal life was at stake. (James 2:13) But for the faithful to ‘continue showing mercy to some having doubts,’ it was necessary for them to distinguish between those eligible for mercy and the ‘dreamers.’
12. (a) Because of being influenced by the “ungodly men,” some may have had what doubts? (b) How would it be possible to ‘snatch some out of the fire’?
12 By their false teaching, murmuring, complaining, and so forth, the “ungodly men” were causing spiritually unsteady persons to be filled with doubts. Shaken by the swelling words of the false teachers, the doubting ones may have wondered whether dedicated Christians really were Jehovah’s people and may have stopped sharing with them in worship and in preaching the good news. Such unstable ones were in danger of the “fire,” or everlasting destruction. (Compare Matthew 18:8, 9; 25:31-33, 41-46.) But by quickly coming to their aid with spiritual exhortation and prayer, stable Christians, especially congregation overseers, would be able to save them, “snatching them out of the fire.”—Galatians 6:1; James 5:13-20.
13. (a) In what way had some ‘stained their inner garment’? (b) How might wearers of ‘stained garments’ be ‘saved’?
13 Some may have yielded to the flesh defilers and fallen with them into immorality, or else into spiritual adultery. (James 4:4) By giving way to animalistic practices, they had, as it were, ‘stained the inner garment.’ They had stained their inward personality as genuine Christians, like a garment worn next to the skin. (Compare Revelation 3:4, 5.) Faithful witnesses of Jehovah guarded against spotting up their own garment of Christian personality in this way because this displeased Jehovah God and might lead to destruction. Yet, godly persons, particularly the appointed elders, compassionately tried to help the unstable wearers of ‘stained garments’ back to the way of salvation. If true repentance was shown by the wayward, it would be possible to “save them” from the death in divine disfavor to which an unclean course would lead them.—Proverbs 28:13.
Ascribe Glory, Majesty, Might and Authority to God
14, 15. (a) Who was able to guard Jude’s anointed fellow worshipers from stumbling, and into what could a person stumble? (b) How could faithful anointed witnesses of Jehovah be ‘set unblemished’ before God? (c) To what do the “great crowd” look forward?
14 In conclusion, Jude committed his readers to God, saying:
“Now to the one who is able to guard you from stumbling and to set you unblemished in the sight of his glory with great joy, to the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, might and authority for all past eternity and now and into all eternity. Amen.” (Jude 24, 25)
Having provided inspired warning and sound counsel, Jude had to place spiritually endangered fellow believers in God’s care. Jehovah alone could make them successful in resisting the “ungodly men” in their midst. So Jude appropriately concluded his letter with an ascription of praise to the Most High.
15 Jude’s anointed fellow worshipers could have confidence in Jehovah as ‘the one able to guard them from stumbling.’ God could protect them from falling into transgression and from yielding to the temptation to engage in the immorality being encouraged by the ungodly flesh defilers. Indeed, Jehovah could guard the godly from “stumbling” into gross sin and the destruction awaiting unrepentant animalistic false Christians. Moreover, Jehovah was able “to set [his faithful witnesses] unblemished in the sight of his glory,” or, “before his glorious person.” (NW, 1950 edition) They would be able to stand unspotted spiritually because of God’s undeserved kindness. (Ephesians 2:1-7; Colossians 1:21-23) Faithful anointed witnesses of Jehovah want Jesus Christ to resurrect them and present them in spiritual perfection before the “glorious person” of God. (John 5:25; 11:24, 25) Surely, this will result in “great joy” for them. Similarly, the “great crowd” look forward to being shepherded through “the great tribulation” and enjoying further privileges of “sacred service” as they advance to human perfection here on earth.—Revelation 7:9, 10, 14-17.
16. (a) Why can Jehovah be called “the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord”? (b) Jude ascribed what to God, and why fittingly so?
16 Jehovah is, as Jude said, “the only God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Frequently in the Scriptures Jehovah is identified as a Savior. (Psalm 106:21; Isaiah 43:3; Jeremiah 14:8; Luke 1:46, 47) He is the One providing for salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. (Matthew 20:28; John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:9, 14) Fittingly, to Jehovah Jude ascribed “glory” (Greek, doxa), denoting splendor. (Compare Psalm 29:1, 2.) To God he also ascribed “majesty” (Greek, megalōsynē), signifying “greatness” of a kingly nature. (Int) This is an appropriate acknowledgment of Jehovah’s supreme regal authority as “King of eternity.” (1 Timothy 1:17) Kratos, or “might,” too, was ascribed to Jehovah, apparently signifying his dominion, or rulership, whether in heaven or over the earth. (Compare Daniel 4:25; Revelation 11:16-18.) Jude further ascribed to God “authority” (Greek, exousia), for Jehovah has the authority and ability to act as He pleases.—Daniel 4:34, 35.
17. Why would Jude’s ascription to God be appropriate (a) “for all past eternity”? (b) “now”? (c) “into all eternity”?
17 Jude appropriately ascribed glory, majesty, might and authority to Jehovah “for all past eternity,” or “before all time,” as men might know it, because Jehovah is God “from time indefinite to time indefinite.” (Jude 25, NW, 1950 edition, footnote; Psalm 90:2) Jehovah’s worshipers would properly ascribe these things to Him “now,” that is, when Jude wrote as well as today. Moreover, Jehovah merits this ascription “into all eternity,” for he will never die and will always have faithful praisers. (Habakkuk 1:12; Psalm 148) To Jude’s virtual prayer in closing, he added “Amen,” or “So be it.” And with his expression of praise all faithful Christian witnesses of Jehovah heartily agree.
Take Jude’s Message to Heart!
18. From Jude’s letter, what have we learned about (a) false teachers? (b) “loose conduct”? (c) lack of faith? (d) respect for authority? (e) murmuring and complaining? (f) admiring others for selfish advantage?
18 Jude’s letter has real meaning for Jehovah’s Witnesses today. We must cling to God’s Word and thoroughly shun false teachers. (Job 13:16; 27:8, 9; Jeremiah 17:13; Jude 4, 19) The faithful must resist any inducement to engage in “loose conduct.” (Jude 3, 4; Genesis 39:7-12) Nor may we succumb to lack of faith, for this could cost us eternal life. (Hebrews 3:12; Jude 5) Jude’s message should also move us to respect divinely constituted authority and to resist any temptation to speak against those faithfully shouldering congregational responsibility. (Hebrews 13:17; Jude 8, 9) Rather than murmuring and complaining, we should be moved by Jude’s letter to display love for Jehovah God and our fellow believers. (Matthew 22:37-40; John 13:34, 35; Romans 13:8-10; Jude 16) Jude’s words also help us to avoid admiring others for selfish advantage, this being among the devious ways that would make us detestable to Jehovah.—Proverbs 3:32; Jude 16.
19. Why should we take Jude’s divinely inspired message to heart?
19 Therefore, as dedicated Christian witnesses of Jehovah and his dear Son, may we all take to heart the weighty and loving message of the disciple Jude. (Compare Isaiah 43:10-12; Acts 1:8.) His words will make us even more surefooted as we tread the “path of life.” (Psalm 16:11) May we ‘keep on guard according to Jehovah’s word,’ including the letter of Jude. (Psalm 119:9-16) In that way, we will succeed in ‘putting up a hard fight for the faith’ and will, with divine aid, ‘keep ourselves in God’s love.’
Do you remember these points?
□ Who warned that ‘in the last time there would be ridiculers,’ and why did Jude direct attention to this?
□ What was the “most holy faith,” and how can we upbuild ourselves on it?
□ How could Jude’s fellow believers ‘keep themselves in God’s love’?
□ For what reason did some professing Christians need mercy, and what was meant by “snatching them out of the fire”?
□ Why was it fitting for Jude to ascribe glory, majesty, might and authority to Jehovah God?
□ We should take Jude’s message to heart because it helps us to deal successfully with what problems?
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Jehovah’s faithful witnesses of the first century “put up a hard fight for the faith,” even though they may have been ridiculed by false teachers
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‘Pray with holy spirit’