Home Library

Jude 1:20-21

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 10, 2013


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved?

Today we finish working our way through this little letter written by one of Jesus’ half-brothers, his youngest brother.

Half-brother? They had the same mother (Mary) but different fathers (Jesus was God’s Son, Jude was Joseph’s son).

Jude is apparently the youngest of Mary’s five sons.

PlayHey Jude” clip

We mentioned that Jude’s main theme is his concern for the false teachers that were beginning to crop up in the church. We read in verse 3

(Jud 3 NKJV) Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

Today we will look at how Jude encourages his readers to have a healthy faith in the light of these false teachers that can creep into the church.

Sometimes we can get so worried about the “false teachers” that we can neglect our own walk with the Lord.

I’ve seen this among friends who become so focused on becoming the world’s greatest heresy hunters that their own lives can fall apart.

:20-21 Healthy Faith

Jude gives us four phrases that define a healthy faith.

:20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,

:21 keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

:20 belovedagapetos – beloved, esteemed, dear, favorite, worthy of love

:20 building yourselves up on your most holy faith

most holyhagios – holy

Adjective is in the “superlative” form, “most holy”

faithpistis – conviction of the truth of anything, belief

building yourselves upepoikodomeo (“upon” + “to build a house”) – to build upon, build up

To finish the structure of which the foundation has already been laid, to give constant increase in Christian knowledge and in a life conformed thereto.
Present active participle
(1 Co 3:10–15 NKJV) —10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
(Eph 2:19–22 NKJV) —19 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, 20 having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, 21 in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 22 in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
(Col 2:6–7 NKJV) —6 As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.


Build your faith

The word “faith” can describe what you believe or your trust in God.
What you believe
I am responsible to know what I believe.

Jude was talking about the content of our belief when he talked about,

(Jud 3 NKJV) …the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

We are called to get God’s Word into our lives. Paul told the Ephesian elders:

(Ac 20:32 NKJV) “So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Paul wrote to Timothy:

(2 Ti 3:16–17 NKJV) —16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

I am of the opinion that we as Christians ought to spend a little time each day reading and thinking about God’s Word.

(Ps 1:1–3 NKJV)1 Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night. 3 He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

Would you like this to describe your life?  Then take time each day to read and think about God’s Word.  One chapter a day will take you through the entire New Testament in a year.

Three chapters a day will take you through the entire Bible in a year.

Nurture your faith.  Grow in knowing what you believe.
How you trust
Build your trusting muscles

This too can be tied to God’s Word.

(Ro 10:17 NKJV) So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

The more we learn and understand God’s Word, the easier it is to trust Him.

Enduring trials

If you really want your trust in God to grow, then stop running away when you encounter difficult times.

Peter wrote that difficult times work to refine our faith.

(1 Pe 1:6–7 NKJV) —6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

Gold is refined by heating it up until it is molten and all the impurities begin to rise to the surface. The goldsmith will continue to scoop the impurities off of the surface until the gold is pure. He knows it’s pure when he can see his reflection in the surface of the gold.

Difficult times cause the impurities come to the surface.

You can choose to just stir the impurities back into your life, or you can work with God to remove them from your life.

James wrote that our trials grow us up.

(Jas 1:2–4 NKJV) —2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

The word “patience” speaks of endurance, of remaining under the difficulty. When I learn to “remain under” the trial, I see the “perfect” work. The word “perfect” speaks of maturity.

Don’t run from your trials. Learn to grow through them.

:20 praying in the Holy Spirit

prayingproseuchomai – to offer prayers, to pray

Present deponent participle

Being “in the Holy Spirit” has to do with living your life in a way that is influenced by and surrounded by the Spirit of God.

  Paul wrote,

(Ga 5:25 NKJV) If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
(Ac 19:21 NKJV) —21 When these things were accomplished, Paul purposed in the Spirit, when he had passed through Macedonia and Achaia, to go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”
(Ro 8:9 NKJV) —9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.
(1 Co 14:2 NKJV) —2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.

The concept of praying in the Holy Spirit involves,

(Wuest) constantly praying in the sphere of and by means of the Holy Spirit
It’s about learning to pray in a way that is influenced by and surrounded by the Spirit of God.


Spirit Prayer

This is one of the ways that we can build up our faith.
Praying in tongues
Paul connects praying in tongues with the Spirit.

(1 Co 14:14–15 NKJV) —14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.

The gift of tongues is a spiritual gift that the Holy Spirit can give to a person where they are enabled to speak or pray in a language that they have never learned before.

It first showed up on the Day of Pentecost:

(Ac 2:4 NKJV) And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The point of the gift is that I am allowing the Holy Spirit to pray what needs to be prayed, even though I don’t know what’s being said.

Some people teach that the gift of tongues doesn’t exist today.

Paul taught that the gift would cease when Jesus came back.

One of the benefits of the gift of tongues is that it builds up the person who uses it.

(1 Co 14:4 NKJV) He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.

If you have the gift of tongues, I would encourage you to use the gift in your personal prayer times.  I do. It will build you up.

Prompted by the Spirit
But not necessarily praying in tongues. Paul wrote,

(Ro 8:26–27 NLT)26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. 27 And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.

I think Paul goes beyond tongues here.

The point is that the Holy Spirit knows what we ought to be asking God, and whether it’s through tongues, groanings, or thoughts in our own language, we want to learn to allow the Holy Spirit to lead our prayers.

Paul wrote that prayer ought to be part of our spiritual warfare against Satan:

(Eph 6:18 NKJV) praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints—

Have you ever had the experience where you started thinking about someone, grew concerned, and started praying for them, and then you found out that they were in trouble at that time?
Does God Still Speak To Men?
A young man had been to Wednesday night Bible Study. The Pastor had shared about listening to God and obeying the Lord’s voice. The young man couldn’t help but wonder, “Does God still speak to people?”
After service he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and they discussed the message. Several different ones talked about how God had led them in different ways. It was about ten o’clock when the young man started driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray, “God.. If you still speak to people speak to me. I will listen. I will do my best to obey.” As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought, stop and buy a gallon of milk. He shook his head and said out loud, “God is that you?” He didn’t get a reply and started on toward home. But again, the thought, buy a gallon of milk. The young man thought about Samuel and how he didn’t recognize the voice of God, and how little Samuel ran to Eli. “Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk.”
It didn’t seem like too hard a test of obedience. He could always use the milk. He stopped and purchased the gallon of milk and started off toward home. As he passed Seventh Street, he again felt the urge, “Turn down that street.” This is crazy he thought and drove on pass the intersection. Again, he felt that he should turn down seventh street.
At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh. Half jokingly, he said out loud, “Okay, God, I will.” He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop. He pulled over to the curb and looked around. He was in a semicommercial area of town. It wasn’t the best but it wasn’t the worst of neighborhoods either. The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark like the people were already in bed. Again, he sensed something, “Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street.”
The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the people were either gone or they were already asleep. He started to open the door and then sat back in the car seat. “Lord, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going to be mad and I will look stupid.”
Again, he felt like he should go and give the milk. Finally, he opened the door, “Okay God, if this is you, I will go to the door and I will give them the milk. If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want to be obedient. I guess that will count for something but if they don’t answer right away, I am out of here.”
He walked across the street and rang the bell. He could hear some noise inside. A man’s voice yelled out, “Who is it? What do you want?” Then the door opened before the young man could get away. The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt. He looked like he just got out of bed. He had a strange look on his face and he didn’t seem too happy to have some stranger standing on his doorstep. “What is it?”
The young man thrust out the gallon of milk, “Here, I brought this to you.” The man took the milk and rushed down a hall way speaking loudly in Spanish. Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying.
The man had tears streaming down his face. The man began speaking and half crying, “We were just praying. We had some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn’t have any milk for our baby. I was just praying and asking God to show me how to get some milk.” His wife in the kitchen yelled out, “I ask him to send an Angel with some. Are you an Angel?” The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him and put in the man’s hand. He turned and walked back toward his car and the tears were streaming down his face. He knew that God still answers prayers and that God still speaks to His people.

- Author Unknown

Is that a real story?  I don’t really know.  But I’ve seen things happen like this a lot. 
Just this past week I’ve had two separate people come up to me and talk about how a certain missionary family had been on their heart, and they were going to give some money to them.  I happen to know this family, and I happen to know that this was a HUGE answer to prayer.  Yes, God still works like this today.
The bigger question for you is, will you learn to listen to the Holy Spirit?  You may make mistakes.  You may be called a fool, but learn to listen to the Holy Spirit.

:21 keep yourselves in the love of God

the loveagape – brotherly love, affection, good will, love, benevolence

keeptereo – to attend to carefully; to guard; to keep one in the state in which he is

Aorist active imperative

A word about Grammar – There are four verbs in our sentence. Three of them end with “-ing”, meaning that they are participles. The word “keep” in contrast is a command, and imperative.

That makes this the main focus of the passage, to “keep ourselves in the love of God”. The other three verbs give us some ideas about how we do that, by “building”, “praying”, and “looking”. 

You can see some of this in the NIV translation:

(Jud 20–21 NIV) —20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
(Jud 20–21 NASB95) —20 But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.

Back in verse 1, we are told that we are “preserved” or “kept” in Jesus Christ.

(Jud 1 NKJV) …To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ:

In verse 5, the angels did not “keep” their proper doman.

(Jud 6 NKJV) And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;

James tells us that pure and undefiled religion includes:

(Jas 1:27 NKJV) …to keep oneself unspotted from the world.

We’ll come back to this thought in a minute…

:21 looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

looking forprosdechomai (“toward” + “to receive”) – to receive to one’s self; to expect: the fulfillment of promises

(NAS) waiting anxiously
Present deponent participle
(Lk 2:25 NKJV) —25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon, and this man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him.
(Lk 12:35–36 NKJV) —35 “Let your waist be girded and your lamps burning; 36 and you yourselves be like men who wait for their master, when he will return from the wedding, that when he comes and knocks they may open to him immediately.
(Lk 23:51 NKJV) —51 He had not consented to their decision and deed. He was from Arimathea, a city of the Jews, who himself was also waiting for the kingdom of God.

:21 the mercy … unto eternal life

the mercyeleos – mercy: kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them; the mercy of Christ, whereby at his return to judgment he will bless true Christians with eternal life

The “mercy” Jude is talking about is the mercy we find at the second coming, our “blessed hope”.



Our hope is that we will indeed find mercy when Jesus returns.
Our hope is what helps us to hang on to the end.
Several years ago, an experiment on endurance was conducted at the University of California at Berkeley. The experiment involved placing Norwegian field rats in a tub of water, where they were forced to swim until they grew exhausted and finally drowned. During the first experiment, the researchers discovered that on the average, these rats were capable of swimming for over seven hours before drowning. 
A second experiment was conducted, exactly like the first but with one exception. This time, when a rat was getting too exhausted to swim any longer, the researchers would remove the rat from the tub of water for a few seconds, then put the rat back into the water to continue swimming. These rats were able to swim for almost 20 hours before perishing. 
The researchers concluded that the rats in the second group were able to swim so much longer than the first group because of one factor: they had HOPE. They had experienced a rescue---and what kept them going was the HOPE that they would be rescued again.

Edited from More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks by Wayne Rice. Copyright 1995 by Youth Specialties, Inc. 

Do you ever wonder how much more can you take?
Illustration (quote from Peter Kreeft)
Suppose God took you on some mind bending trip into your future and you saw with indubitable certainty that despite everything—your sin, your smallness, your stupidity—you could have free for the asking your whole crazy heart's deepest desire: heaven, eternal joy. Would you not return fearless and singing? What can earth do to you, if you are guaranteed heaven? To fear the worst earthly loss would be like a millionaire fearing the loss of a penny—less, a scratch on a penny.

Quoted in Tullian TchividjianGlorious Ruin, page 175, quoting Peter Kreeft

Paul wrote,
(Tt 2:11–13 NKJV) —11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,
He also wrote,
(2 Co 4:16–18 NKJV)16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

It’s our hope of the eternal that keeps us going.

:21 keep yourselves in the love of God

As I mentioned earlier, the grammar makes this the important focus.  This is the thing we are commanded to do, and we do it by “building our most holy faith”, by “praying in the Spirit”, and by “looking for the Second Coming”.


Safe in God’s love

You don’t have to earn God’s love, you already have it.
(Jn 3:16 NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

If anything is keeping you from God’s love, it’s that you don’t believe in His Son.

Once you believe in Jesus, there is nothing that can separate you from God’s love.
(Ro 8:35–39 NKJV) —35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” 37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Our part is to simply recognize God’s love, and stay put. Jesus said,
(Jn 15:9–11 NKJV) —9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
Ernest Hemingway wrote a story about a father and his teenage son. In the story, the relationship had become somewhat strained, and the teenage son ran away from home. His father began a journey in search of that rebellious son.
Finally, in Madrid, Spain, in a last desperate attempt to find the boy, the father put an ad in the local newspaper. The ad read: “Dear Paco, Meet me in front of the newspaper office at noon. All is forgiven. I love you. Your father.” The next day, in front of the newspaper office, eight hundred Pacos showed up. They were all seeking forgiveness. They were all seeking the love of their father.

You already have God’s love.

The Amazon River is the largest river in the world.  The mouth is 100 miles across.  There is enough water to exceed the combined flow of the Yangtze, Mississippi and Nile Rivers.  So much water comes from the Amazon (this picture is taken from about 300 miles up) that they can detect its currents 200 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean.  One irony of ancient navigation is that sailors in ancient times died for lack of fresh water... caught in windless waters of the South Atlantic.  They were adrift, helpless, dying of thirst. Sometimes other ships from South America who knew the area would come alongside and call out, “What is your problem?”  And they would exclaim, “Can you spare us some water?  Our sailors are dying of thirst!”  And from the other ship would come the cry, “Just lower your buckets.  You are in the mouth of the mighty Amazon River.”

You are already in the love of God.  Just lower your buckets and drink.