Jude has written his letter to a group of Jewish readers that he warmly addresses and also reminds them of Gods divine work in their lives.
Jude, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,
To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ:
2 Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
The audience is believers who have been called, sanctified, and persevered. Why does Jude address his audience this way? I believe that in light of the aim of this letter he is reminding them of God’s divine work in their lives. God has drawn them to himself and kept them in Christ; therefore if a person denies truth they are not a Christian. So lets take a look first at Jude’s description of his audience.
Who are these believers:
Called – To be summoned or invited
In the Greek this refers to an invitation to salvation or a divine calling to an office. For example Paul being called to be an apostle (Rom 1:1). Each believer being called saints in 1 Corinthians and Romans 1. These believers were called to salvation by God. John 6:44 states:
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Sanctified – To be set apart, different, even holy. Here the father is doing the setting apart.
In Hebrews 10:9-10, we are sanctified through Christ’s body that was offered on behalf of our sins. This sacrifice was accepted by God then allowing people to be forgiven of sin and be set apart unto God. In 2 Thessalonians 2:13-14 we learn that we were chosen by God unto salvation through this process of becoming holy. This process is often carried out by the Spirit (1 Peter 1:2).
Preserved – to maintain, to guard, to keep an eye on
The Greek word is where we got our English word for theater; to gaze with the purpose of analyzing. This preserving only occurs because of Christ’s atonement for sin.
Jude describes these believers in such a way as to not confuse them with the apostates and false teachers that is discussed throughout this letter. He is addressing those who have been called and sanctified by God. This calling, sanctifying, and preserving is in the passive voice meaning this action was completed once and for all. This action is also in the present tense meaning that God the father was the one completing these actions, not the recipients!
These true believers are relying on the work of God and this is Jude’s target audience. Jude wants his readers to remember their calling, their course, and their conservation in Christ. There are false teachers before them and Jude wants them rooted in truth. If these readers believed they have earned their position before God then they are no different from those who have denied Christ and God the father. This ideology would then disregard the work of Christ and emphasize our ability to save ourselves.
As Christians it is essential to understand salvation is a work of God and that we cannot earn it. God saves a person with no need to repeat the process and is the sole performer in drawing and setting us apart to be holy. God saves a person (through the cross of Christ) and then works in their lives to make them more like himself.
What is our response:
- We need to humble ourselves and praise God for his work in our lives.
- We need to remember who we are in Christ, our identity
- We need to submit to his word and allow it to change us.
- We need to be able to spot those who are out to deceive and pervert the gospel.