Jude is a relatively obscure figure in the New Testament – which is quite remarkable, given his family connection to the Messiah.
Jude was the half-brother of Jesus (same mother, different fathers – Jesus by the Holy Spirit & Jude by Joseph). Jude did not believe in Jesus as the Messiah until after Jesus’ resurrection. But, sometime after that he became a believer… and evidently a respected member of the early Church. But, he made no effort to peddle his relationship in order to gain attention or influence. In his letter to fellow believers, Jude introduced himself, not as a brother of Jesus, but as the “brother of James”, another of Jesus’ half-brothers (who was also prominent in the early church and wrote a New Testament letter). Jude even referred to himself as a “servant of Jesus Christ” (Jude 1:1).
Jude’s humility can be seen in his purpose for writing his letter which we have in the New Testament. Jude set aside his own agenda – his desire to write about “the salvation we share” (Jude 1:3) – in order to address more pressing issues affecting his readers.
Apparently, false teachers were spreading false doctrine within the church. They were telling anyone who would listen that once saved by God, they could live however they wanted – because they were then covered by God’s grace. Jude responded to that false teaching with a brief history lesson, reminding believers that even though God once saved the Hebrews from slavery in Egypt, He still punished those who rebelled against Him in the wilderness (Jude 1:5).
Jude regarded these false teachers as a threat to the very gospel his half-Brother had come to proclaim. He described them as “blemishes at your love feasts”, “clouds without rain”, and “twice dead” (Jude 1:12,13). Yet, despite the urgency of his message, Jude did not resort to using his connection to Jesus as a club with which to beat his audience into submission. Instead, he relied entirely on the truth and power of what he called the “most holy faith” (Jude 1:20).
Jude was slow in acknowledging the claims of Jesus, but his letter – and the fact his letter was accepted by the early Church – leaves no doubt he developed into a loving, mature Christian… eager to serve God with his whole life.
If you are struggling with the tough questions of the faith, take encouragement from Jude’s life story.
You can read Jude’s story (sometimes referred to as Judas) by piecing together Matthew 13:54-58; Mark 3:31-35; 6:1-6; and the letter of Jude.