(New American Standard Bible)
Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:
(New Living Translation)
This letter is from Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James.
I am writing to all who have been called by God the Father,
who loves you and keeps you safe in the care of Jesus Christ.
In the opening of his epistle (which is just a fancy word for 'letter'), Jude lets us know exactly who he is. What is interesting to me, is the controversy he created, which apparently is still debated today. Jude states he is:
- A bond-servant - δοῦλος doulos is the Greek word which translates to one who gives himself up to another's will whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing His cause among men.
Wow. That is a strong characterization Jude uses. His sole purpose at this point in his life was to point others to Jesus. This causes me to examine my own purpose. I don't know that I am constantly a bond-servant of Christ. The world wins more often than I'd like to admit. I am both humbled and motivated by Jude's description.
- of Jesus Christ - the 'of' is important to note. This preposition means belonging to, connected with. Jude is directly aligning himself with Jesus, the Son of God, the Saviour of mankind, God incarnate; and Christ, anointed, Messiah.
- a brother of James - here is where the controversy kicks in for theologians. While they agree Jude was a blood-relative of Jesus, some believe he was merely a cousin (because they believe Mary remained a virgin throughout her life), though others believe he was a half-brother. You can research and decide for yourselves; though I will tell you I am in the 'half-brother' camp.
Jude is so humble! From all indications, even though he was raised beside Jesus, Jude did not believe Jesus was the Messiah until His resurrection. That moment of realization was powerful and life-changing for Jude. He chose to spend the rest of his days showing others The Way. He gave himself second-place status, not only to Jesus, but also when describing himself to his other sibling, James. He truly had a servant's heart.
Jude continues his letter by addressing it to certain people:
- To those who are the called - κλητός - kletos is the Greek word for called. It's deeper meaning: Invited (by God in the proclamation of the Gospel) to obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom through Christ.
- beloved in God the Father - ἀγαπάω - agapao is Greek for love dearly. Jude is addressing Christians, those who know in their hearts the benevolence of God, who sent His son to die for them.
- and kept for Jesus Christ: - τηρέω - tereo means to keep, but Jude used it further to mean cause one to persevere or to stand firm in a thing.
So now that we have all the pieces, let's put the puzzle together by rewriting Jude's address using the definitions we have learned:
You, who have been invited by God to obtain eternal salvation in My kingdom through Christ.
You, who are loved dearly, and who know My sovereign goodwill.
You, who stand firm in Me because of My Son, Jesus Christ.
Do you see yourself being spoken to in those words?
He is calling for you, and you are so loved.
What stood out most to you in this verse?