James and Jude
A Fitting End
How do you finish a letter or a book? The last thing people read is often what they remember most. John closes out Revelation by pointing to Christ’s return. Isaiah has readers think about the new heaven and the new earth. Matthew ends his gospel with the Great Commission. Many of Paul’s letters end with a blessing of God’s grace for his readers. The entire book of Deuteronomy holds final addresses from Moses to the people of Israel in the last months of his life. And as we’ll see today, Jude packs a lot into his ending.
I. DAY ONE
A. “But you, beloved…” What a contrast to Jude’s descriptions and harsh warnings to false teachers infiltrating the church. This week’s study is divided into two parts, both beginning with this tender phrase. Read Jude 1:17-18 where he admonishes his dear readers to remember.
1. The greatest defense against ungodly philosophies is comparing them to previously learned truth. Studying, memorizing and reviewing – remembering – needs to be habitual. Jude implies, correctly so, that we tend to forget.
a. Read Psalm 63:6, 77:11, 103:18, 105:5. What are some of the things we should remember?
b. Read Acts 20:35; Hebrews 13:3, 7. What are other things the apostles specifically tell us to remember?
2. Read II Peter 3:1-7. What does this passage add to Jude 1:17-18? How does reading these warnings from a different author help you remember?
B. Exhortations, warnings and promises abound in Scripture that the prophets of old and the apostles who walked with Jesus wanted God’s people to never forget.
1. What things do you need to remember from this study in James and Jude?
2. How will you keep them fresh in your heart?
II. DAY TWO
A. When it’s vital to remember something, short, easy phrases or associations help embed it in our memory. Even though we’ve been given numerous verses about the fate, admonition and character traits of false teachers who will infiltrate our assemblies, Jude offers another short, easy list in verse 19.
1. The NIV is an especially good translation of Jude 1:19. It says, “These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts, and do not have the Spirit.”
2. Let’s look at these three characteristics of false teachers using simple, one-word terms.
3. Breakers – Those who divide, breaking relationships especially between believers. Read I Corinthians 1:10. How can you keep separations from happening in your church, team of workers or small group of believers due to wrong teaching?
a. Brutes – These people are worldly-minded to the extreme.
b. Read I Corinthians 2:14. What evidences from this verse could you use to help others understand the nature of false teachers?
c. Unbelievers – By telling us false teachers are “devoid” of the Holy Spirit, Jude reasserts their unsaved state. Believing anything other than Jesus Christ crucified as a means for salvation means no salvation. Read Galatians 1:6-9. How can you stand in the face of false philosophies?
3. Read Jude 1:19 again and think of your own terms for these three character traits in order to better remember them – and to be on the watch for them.
III. DAY THREE
A. Today we come to the second time Jude uses the phrase, “But you, beloved…” First, as we studied in Day 1 and 2, Jude wants believers to remember. Now, Jude advises us to retrofit. Read Jude 1:20-21.
1. Earthquakes abound where I live. As technology advances, we’ve seen many bridges and buildings go through retrofitting. Basically, retrofitting is when something old has something new put on it – more steel, an outer coating, columns, tighter connections – that will make it stronger and more able to withstand the earth’s movements.
2. So, how can we retrofit our walk with God? What does Jude recommend we do in verses 20-21?
3. Read Psalm 101.
a. How many different things does the psalmist list that, ultimately, help to retrofit his walk?
b. What will this do for his relationship to God?
c. Which one do you need to incorporate into your life today?
B. As we pray in the Spirit and keep ourselves in the center of God’s love, we are to wait anxiously for the life to come that, in His mercy, Jesus Christ gives. Read I Timothy 1:16.
1. Mercy, according to Webster, is “that benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant …. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being.”1
a. If mercy is a mark of the essence of God, in what kind of people should true mercy be found?
b. How can you remind those around you of the Father’s great mercy completed in you?
2. When we think about “waiting anxiously” for Christ’s return, one pastor I heard recently had a great illustration. After months at sea, a ship filled with sailors finally arrived back at home port. On the dock were many wives waiting for their husbands. But one sailor noticed his wasn’t among them. Heading home, he found his wife fixing a beautiful dinner, the table set with the best china. She turned from her meal making with a smile, telling him she was so happy to have her sailor husband home. “I’ve been waiting for you,” she said. And with as gentle a reply as he could give, he said, “Yes, you have been waiting for me. But some of the other wives were watching, too.”2
a. How does anxiously waiting and diligently watching for Christ’s return look in your life?
IV. DAY FOUR
A. What are some basic things we should do as we retrofit our walk with Christ and wait for His return? Today, we’ll explore some of the ideas Jude had for his readers as they worked through life together as a body of believers.
1. In Jude 1:22, Jude suggests we have mercy on those who doubt.
a. Review the definition of mercy from yesterday. The definition of doubting is more complex than one might think. The meaning of doubt here is “to withdraw from one, desert.”3 Remember the point James made about partiality creating disunity in chapter 2 of his letter? His brother, Jude, is looking at unraveling unity from the opposite side – when believers pull away.
b. Read the story of the demon-possessed man from Gerasenes in Mark 5:1-20. What did Jesus tell the man to do when the man asked to go with Him? In what way could this man uniquely show “mercy on some, who are doubting”?
c. How can you have mercy on a fellow believer who is doubting, pulling away from the truth of God’s word?
2. Next, Jude tells readers in verse 23 that we need to “save others, snatching them out of the fire.”
a. Who do you know that desperately needs to hear the gospel today?
b. Are you willing to retrofit yourself in such a way that you take every opportunity to “snatch” people for God’s glory?
3. Finally, in this retrofitting process, Jude wants us to focus on having mercy while being careful of contamination or corrupting ourselves. Read Proverbs 25:26; Daniel 6:4; II Peter 2:19.
a. What can you do to protect yourself from the things ensnaring those you are trying to help?
V. DAY FIVE
A. As we noted before, Jude’s contribution to Scripture is only a 25-verse note, but it has amazing impact. He ends his letter with one of the most beautiful benedictions in the Bible.
1. Read Jude 1:24-25.
a. In verse 24, what things is the Lord able to do for you?
b. What character traits does Jude contribute to God in verse 25?
c. Which portion of these verses means the most to you?
2. Ending a letter can seem daunting because we long for it to encapsulate how we feel, summarize what we’ve said and give one last piece of encouragement to the recipient. Read Romans 16:25-27; II Thessalonians 3:18; and II Peter 3:17-18.
a. What are some of the different ways these New Testament authors end their letters?
b. How are they alike?
3. Take some time today and write out a benediction or blessing for someone who needs encouragement.
Studying James and Jude, their relationship to each other, their relationship with their half-brother Jesus, their love for believers and what God wrote through them for our instruction today, has been an amazing journey. May what we’ve learned become embedded in our hearts so that we become more like Christ because of it.
There’s a chorus of a song that was instrumental in helping my son long to accept Christ when he was just a toddler. As I sing it to myself now, I realize it is something we should long for every day of our lives. “One day Jesus will call my name. As day’s go by, I hope I don’t stay the same. I wanna get so close to Him that there’s no big change on that day when Jesus calls my name.”4
That’s exactly what James and Jude wanted all along.
[Author’s note: I’m using the New American Standard Bible for the study on James unless otherwise noted.]
1. Noah Webster, An American Dictionary of the English Language (S. Converse, New York, 1828), facsimile reprinted by Foundation for American Christian Education, San Francisco, CA, s.v. “mercy.”
2. Woodrow Kroll, “Jude’s Lessons About Religious Phonies,” Back to the Bible radio broadcast, July 2, 2010.
3. “Dictionary and Word Search for diakrinō (Strong’s 1252)” (Blue Letter Bible. 1996-2010) 9 Aug 2010.
4. Phil McHugh, “One Day Jesus Will Call My Name,” Group Seven Publishing/BMI.
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