The letter of Jude is short, only twenty-five verses in length, but it is very serious. The first half of verse one tells us about Jude, the author of the letter. "Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James" (Jude 1a). Here we see three characteristics of Jude the author and the reason for his seriousness.
First, Jude was saved!
Jude is short for Judas. This Jude was the brother of James and both were the brothers of the Lord. Matthew 13:54-56 and Mark 6:2-3 establish the truth that this Jude was Judas the brother of James and also they were the half brothers of Jesus. There was a time when the brothers of the Lord didn’t believe in Him (John 7:2-5). There was a time when the Lord’s brothers thought that He had lost His senses or was out of His mind (Mark 3:20-21). So there was a time when both Jude and James didn’t believe in Jesus as the Messiah.
However, Acts 1:14 reveals that they did become believers as do their letters. Both James and Jude considered themselves saved by signifying their spiritual relationships to Jesus Christ as their King – “James, a bond-servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ” (James 1:1) and “Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ…” (Jude 1). Jude also said, “Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation…” (Jude 3). Both Jude and James refused any special regards based on their physical relationships to Jesus – because it gave them none – but emphasized their spiritual relationships by regeneration – being born again! Therefore the salvation of James and Jude was identical to and in common with any who would ever be saved.
Next, Jude was a servant!
“Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ.” Bond-servant is duolos and means slave or bond-slave. The bond-slave has no rights except to do his master’s will. Our relationship to Jesus Christ as a bond-servant or bond-slave is indicative of the reality of regeneration with Jesus as the King and us as his subjects. This means that none of the Lord’s physical family had any special privileges or exemptions in regard to their positions under the Kingship of Jesus Christ. Even Mary His mother had to yield to Jesus Christ as her Lord. And indeed Mary did consider herself a bond-slave of the Lord (Luke 1:26-55).
Our salvation always results in our being persuaded about the kingdom of God and His King. It always results in our humble submission to the authority of Jesus Christ over our lives. And indeed, the government of our lives shall rest on His shoulders. Jesus is the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for His sheep and He is the Great Shepherd who was raised from the dead to direct our lives. He is the Chief Shepherd who is coming again to remember us in His kingdom. All subjects of the King are servants of the King. We must never forget that our salvation has placed us back into proper relationship with God – we as His loving and loyal servants; He as our loving, leading, protecting, providing, gracious, and glorious King.
Those who are saved are also servants of His Majesty the King.
Third, Jude was serious!
Seriousness always marks those who are saved and who are serving their Lord. Being a bond-servant of the Lord is a serious matter. After all, He will Himself settle accounts with all men and judge us according to our faithfulness – “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Jude did not call himself an apostle but distinguished himself from them, saying, “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ” (17). So seriousness in the matter of serving the Lord was not for apostles only but is for all who are bond-servants of Jesus Christ.
Jude’s seriousness is clearly seen in this little letter of twenty-five verses. He wrote it under special restraint or necessity as he tells us in verse three. Jude had to deal with the serious and disturbing topic of apostasy although he would have rather written a more positive letter on the topic of our common salvation. Surely many in our day would say that Jude was too serious even to the point of being unloving and unkind in this short but sharply severe letter. However when we consider the deadly and deluding dangers of apostasy with its destructive heresies which undermine and deny the majesty and glory and grace of our Lord and thereby deceiving and destroying souls, we actually see that Jude’s seriousness was not too severe, nor unkind, nor unloving, but exactly what is called for at such a time.
The seriousness of Jude in his day of apostasy speaks with special force to our own times in this day of wide-spread apostasy. For way too long the enemy has had unguarded entrance into the fellowship of the beloved until his secretly introduced heresies have become incorporated, encapsulated, and now propagated as though they are the absolute gospel. We are living in a very dangerous age, beloved, and this is not a time for peace but a time for war. This is not a time for slackness but a time for seriousness. This is a time for those who are saved by the Lord, and are servants of the Lord, to be serious for the Lord. And this we will do by knowing the truth and guarding the truth; by earnestly contending for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.