Some commentators agree with what Bateman says, “The letter begins with Jude identifying himself in a self-effacing or unassuming manner.”[1] The first verse reads, “Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, to those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.” He argues the Greek word “Doulos” should not be translated as servant but as slave. That obscures its “precise significance in the language of the first century.” He argues that the term was more of a “legal status” than a designation. They were seen as property. They couldn’t own property because he or she was property and would be inherited by the heirs of the owner. “Slaves were also grouped along with animals. Even in Judaea during the time of Jesus, the slave was on a lower level of humanity. Jude’s description is rather significant in light of the early to mid-60s when large numbers of Judaean peasants were in servitude to landlords.” Yet some suggest that it is a title of honor like it was for Moses in the Old Testament and some of the prophets. They claim to be God’s spokesmen. Davids says, “It is not a term of humility per se (“I am just a nobody”), but an indication that in their eyes their status comes, not from themselves but from the one to whom they belong and whose delegate they are.”[2] Whichever view one takes it is clear that Jude was identifying himself as under the authority of another. In his case, it is his own brother which would take more humility than usual. Being under authority is a crucial element for Christians. Helm says of Jude, “He is modeling Christian maturity for every reader—strikingly by the third word in the English text. That he does so with such matter-of-fact joy ought to be encouraging. Never think it wrong or demeaning to identify yourself as one under authority. There is great sweetness in living by God’s design.”[3]

Jude clearly recognizes Jesus as the Messiah. In the early church that was predominantly made up of Jewish believers, this was the sign of a true Christian. One must acknowledge that Jesus was the one talked about throughout the Old Testament and seen as the savior of the world. Of course, when Stephen made that assertion in Acts 7, he was stoned to death by the Jews. As the brother of James, Jude was also the half-brother of Jesus. The zealous Jews who nailed Jesus to the cross and later killed Stephen were opposed to applying this title to Jesus. It marked Jude as a legitimate believer in Jesus to the Jewish community as a whole. This made him a target, but it also made his message more acceptable to the Christians to which he was writing.

Jude applies three titles to his readers. First, they are the “called.” Charles Spurgeon had some good observations about how God is the initiator of our salvation. He writes, “I believe the doctrine of election because I am quite sure that if God had not chosen me I should never have chosen him; and I am sure He chose me before I was born, or else He never would have chosen me afterward. And He must have elected me for reasons unknown to me, for I never could find any reason in myself why He should have looked upon me with special love.”4 Second, they are “beloved in God the Father.” Finally, they are “kept for Jesus Christ.” Helm puts these three words together and says, “The fullness in the phrases ‘called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ only deepens our sense of good fortune. Incredible—loved by the Father, kept for the Son, and called by the Spirit. Called, beloved, and kept. Like a river, the words when put together flow effortlessly, soothing weary listeners in need of shoring up their faith.”

[1] Bateman, Herbert W., IV. 2015. Jude: Evangelical Exegetical Commentary. Edited by H. Wayne House, W. Hall Harris III, and Andrew W. Pitts. Evangelical Exegetical Commentary. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[2] Davids, Peter H. 2006. The Letters of 2 Peter and Jude. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.

[3] Helm, David R. 2008. 1 & 2 Peter and Jude: Sharing Christ’s Sufferings. Preaching the Word. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

4 Charles H. Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1954), p. 227.