2 Peter & Jude

by Eileen Poh

Day 29

Read Jude 1:20-23

I am sure that many people do not really pay attention to the safety procedures explained by airline stewards and stewardesses before a plane takes off. So, in an emergency, some of us may not know what to do if, for instance, the oxygen masks are released. If we had paid attention, we would know that we need to secure our own masks first before helping others. If we don't, we may find ourselves in great danger.

Only when they are well grounded in their faith, will they be able to withstand and reject false teachings.

Similarly, Jude encourages his readers to keep themselves in God's love (Jude 1:21) before reaching out to those who may have been influenced by the false teachers. They need to ensure that they are themselves secure first, before they try to help others. How can they do this?

First, the Christians must build themselves up in the faith (v. 20, see also v. 3)–that is, in the teachings of Christ and His apostles. Only when they are well grounded in their faith, will they be able to withstand and reject false teachings.

Second, they must pray in the Spirit (v. 20). This means praying prayers that are motivated and guided by the Holy Spirit.

Third, they must keep themselves in God's love (v. 21). Christians are kept for Jesus Christ (v. 1), who is able to keep them from falling (v. 24). But they must also do their part and remain in God's love. This reminds us of Jesus' words to His disciples in John 15:9: ″As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.″ Jesus goes on to explain that remaining in His love means obeying His commands (v. 10).

Fourth, they must not lose hope, but must look forward to the final expression of Christ's mercy upon His return (v. 21).

All these will help Christians remain secure in Christ. Then they can turn to those who have been influenced by the false teachers. Jude mentions three groups of such people.

There are those who have begun to doubt the teachings of Christ and His apostles (v. 22). These are Christians who have listened to the false teachers and may have been swayed by them. To this group, Jude urges the Christians who have stood firm to be merciful to them, not to rebuke them harshly or reject them.

There are those who are already in the fire (v. 23). If the ″fire″ here refers to God's judgment, then this group has gone further than the doubters. In New Testament scholar Douglas Moo's words, they ″have been tempted to such a degree by the false teachers that they are teetering on the brink of hell.″27 These people must be snatched from the fire before it is too late.

Then there are those whose clothing is stained by corrupted flesh (v. 23). Jude could be thinking of the false teachers themselves or those who have turned from their ″most holy faith″ (v. 20) to give their allegiance to the false teachers. To this group, Jude urges the Christians to show mercy, for even they are not beyond hope and redemption. But Christians must approach them with fear in case they, too, get lured astray by the false teachers. Secure yourself before helping others!

27 Moo, 2 Peter, Jude, p.288.

Think through:

How secure are you in your ″most holy faith″ (Jude 1:20)?

How can you prepare yourself to help those who have been influenced by false teachings?




About Author

Eileen Poh was a lawyer for some years before doing full-time theological studies. Her doctoral thesis (at King’s College London) examines the social relationships between Christians and non-Christians in Asia Minor in the second half of the first century AD. Eileen lectures in Biblical Studies at Discipleship Training Centre, Singapore. She is married to Philip Satterthwaite.

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