2. Greeting (v1-2)
Whatever his status in the church, Jude is
content to be "the slave of Jesus Christ". It is not only a mark of his
essential humility, but also, possibly, a sign of apostleship, for John, Peter,
James and Paul all use the same expression about themselves (Rev, 1:1; 2 Pet.
1:1; James 1:1; Tit. 1:1; Phil. 1:1).
He writes to those who are "kept in Jesus
Christ". Here is a key word of this epistle. It comes five times in twenty-five
verses (vv. 1,6,6,13,21; and there is also another word of comparable meaning in
v. 24). Used here in the greeting, it expresses the apostle's confidence that
the powers of evil against which he now has to contend are not being victorious
-- but, alas, in the long run they were.
In his first epistle, Peter writes similarly of
the brethren being "kept by the power of God" (1 Pet. 1:5). But in his second
epistle, he has the same idea, four times repeated, concerning God's judgement
on the wicked (2:4,9,17; 3:7).
There is some evidence that when an ecclesia of
the first century received a letter from one of the apostles, it was read when
they were assembled at the Breaking of Bread service. Another name for this
celebration was the Agape, or Love Feast (v. 12). It was their custom to follow
as closely as possible the pattern of the Last Supper, when a meal shared by all
culminated in the receiving of sanctified bread and wine from the Lord.
("Studies in the Gospels", H.A.W., Chapter 192).
Some of the New Testament epistles bear signs of
an awareness in the minds of their writers that what they wrote would be read to
the brethren at such an assembly. Jude is one of them. No less than six of the
key words in the greeting (vv. 1,2) appear to have this in
Thus, the opening phrase of the epistle is seen
to be neither haphazard nor conventional, but carefully chosen so as to focus on
a single idea or worth and importance to those who heard the words read to
- "Called" normally refers to those invited to a banquet -- the
meal of fellowship.
- "Beloved" (vv. 1,3) is the word
agapetos, specially appropriate to those sharing the
- "Mercy" is usually forgiveness. This is a common
New Testament meaning. Compare the familiar words "for the remission of sins"
- "Peace" is of course the standard
greeting: Shalom. But it also recalls the words of Jesus as the disciples came
away from the upper room: "My peace give I unto
- "Love" is the word agape, identical with the word
for the Love Feast.
- "Multiplied" surely refers to the
large number of assembled brethren, and also to the multiplying of mercy, peace
and love to them through their repeated attendance at the Breaking of Bread