Harry Whittaker

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 mind:

  1. "Called" normally refers to those invited to a banquet -- the meal of fellowship.
  2. "Beloved" (vv. 1,3) is the word agapetos, specially appropriate to those sharing the Agape.
  3. "Mercy" is usually forgiveness. This is a common New Testament meaning. Compare the familiar words "for the remission of sins" (Matt. 26:28).
  4. "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 you."
  5. "Love" is the word agape, identical with the word for the Love Feast.
  6. "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 service.
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 them.

Next Next Next