Notes (NET Translation)
1:3 Dear friends, although I have been eager to write to you about our common salvation, I now feel compelled instead to write to encourage you to contend earnestly for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.
The Greek term agapeotoi (“friends”) was the common way a father would address his beloved child (G. Green 52). The term implies the familial bond that exists among Christians. The author had either intended to write about their common salvation or he was already in the process of writing but ceased in order to compose this letter instead (G. Green 53). The entrance of the heretics compelled Jude to write this letter. The author uses athletic imagery when he encourages the readers to “contend” (epagonizesthai) for the faith, meaning the gospel (Bauckham 32-33; G. Green 56). The contest is not merely a defense of the gospel, it is an offensive struggle that involves promoting the gospel’s advance and victory by the living out of the Christian life (Bauckham 32). The phrase “once for all” (hapax) points to a perfection or completion: the “gospel of Jesus Christ has received its full explication through the apostles” (Schreiner 436; cf. G. Green 57). That the faith was once for all entrusted to the saints means that “(1) no new revelation can change the essence of this faith, and (2) it is the faith that they have received (the word for ‘entrusted’ indicates the passing on of a tradition) from their teachers, possibly including Jude” (Davids 42).
1:4 For certain men have secretly slipped in among you – men who long ago were marked out for the condemnation I am about to describe – ungodly men who have turned the grace of our God into a license for evil and who deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
The phrase “certain men have secretly slipped in among you” (pareisedysan gar tines anthropoi) impugns the motives of the heretics (G. Green 57). The language suggests the heretics may have been itinerant teachers or prophets (cf. 2 Cor 11:4, 13; 2 Jn 10; Didache 11-12; Ignatius Eph. 9; Bauckham 35). The content of verses 5-19 suggests Jude is stating the condemnation of the heretics was marked out in Jewish prophecy (Davids 43-44). “Jude encounters the teaching of ‘cheap grace,’ that is, grace without repentance or even grace that grants license to sin more than before, in the interlopers, and it becomes one of the charges against them” (Davids 45). The kind of evil in question is probably sexual immorality (6-8, 16; Bauckham 38). By calling Jesus Christ both Master and Lord Jude highlights the audacity of those who deny him: they “are both disowning him as Master and flouting his authority as universal Judge” (Bauckham 39). Since the heretics still remained in the Christian community (12) we should see their denial not as doctrinal denial but as ethical denial (cf. Titus 1:16).
Bauckham, Richard J. Jude, 2 Peter. Word Books, 1983.
Davids, Peter H. The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude. Kindle Edition. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006.
Green, Gene. Jude & 2 Peter. Baker Academic, 2008.
Green, Michael. 2 Peter & Jude. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007.
Schreiner, Thomas R. 1, 2 Peter, Jude. Holman Reference, 2003.