Contending for the Faith
Philippe R. Sterling
We must cultivate holiness in opposition to ungodly false teachers and seek to rescue those who fall prey to them.
Jude is a half-brother of Jesus who modestly calls himself a servant of Christ. He writes at a time when false teachers had penetrated the church. He urges believers to contend for the faith.
Literary Structure and Content
I. Salutation: Jude, a bondservant of Christ and brother of James, writes to those who are the called, beloved in
God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ, invoking the multiplication of mercy, peace and love to them (1-2).
II. Purpose of the Letter: We must contend for the faith in the light of the infiltration of false teachers (3-4).
A. Intended Message: Jude intended to write about our common faith (3a).
B. Necessary Message: Jude wrote instead to urge us to contend for the faith because of the infiltration of
false teachers who are ungodly, pervert grace, and deny Christ (3b-4).
III. Indictment: The infiltrating false teachers are corrupt sinners and apostates against whom we should take
defensive measures (5-23).
A. The infiltrating false teachers are corrupt sinners who follow the example of ancient sinners (5-10).
1. God has judged corrupt sinners in the past (5-7).
a. God judged His people Israel for unbelief (5).
b. God judged angels for presumption (6).
c. God judged Sodom and Gomorrah for gross immorality (7).
2. The actions of the infiltrating false teachers expose them as sinners of similar character and conduct (8-10).
a. They defile the flesh (8a).
b. They reject authority (8b).
c. They revile angels (8c-10).
B. We must take defensive measures against the infiltrating false teachers (11-23).
1. Summary Description: The infiltrating false teachers are like Cain, Balaam, and Korah (11).
a. They go the way of Cain whose trouble began with the offering of an unacceptable sacrifice which
led to murder.
b. They run into the error of Balaam who perverted his office for gain which led to immorality.
c. They will perish like Korah who led a rebellion against God’s constituted authority.
2. Their Corrupt Worship: We must view the unbelieving selfish worship of the infiltrating false teachers in light
of their coming judgment (12-15).
The words “These are . . .” introduce three successive sections which describe these false teachers and how to guard against them (12, 16, 19). The three sections fill out how they are like Cain, Balaam, and Korah.
a. Description: Illustrations from the church assembly, sky, land, and sea picture the false worship of
the infiltrators (12-13).
1) “These are” stains that mar the fellowship of the Lord’s Supper as they care only for themselves.
2) They are like waterless clouds carried by winds — they are driven by their lusts and unable to
provide blessing or refreshment.
3) They are like autumn trees at harvest time that yield no fruit, are doubly dead — spiritually dead
and doomed to an eternal second death, having been uprooted — having no moral or
4) They are like wild waves that are restless and foam up their shameless deeds.
5) They are like a comet streaking across the sky and disappearing in the black darkness forever.
b. Defense: We are to be aware of the vision God gave Enoch concerning the judgment of all
such ungodliness at the coming of the Lord (14-15).
This was a prophecy handed down in Jewish tradition. Jesus may have affirmed the validity of this account in the Enoch traditions to His half-brother Jude.
3. Their Corrupt Words: We must view these faulting, flattering false teachers in light of the
apostles’ forewarnings (16-18).
a. Description: These (“These are . . .”) infiltrating false teachers fault and flatter to fulfill their lusts and
gain an advantage (16).
b. Defense: But we (“But you . . .”) ought to remember the forewarnings of the apostles concerning
such mockers who follow their ungodly lusts (17).
4, Their Divisive Ways: We must counter the divisiveness of these worldly minded unspiritual false teachers
by keeping ourselves in the love of God and seeking to rescue those who fall prey to them (19-23).
a. Description: These (“These are . . .”) divisive false teachers are worldly-minded and unspiritual (19).
b. Defense: But we (“But you . . .”) must keep ourselves in the love of God and seek to rescue those who
fall prey to them (20-23).
1) Concerning Ourselves: Keep in the love of God (20-21).
a) Building: We keep in the love of God by developing a mature understanding of doctrine.
b) Praying: We keep in the love of God by maintaining a vital relationship with God in prayer.
c) Waiting: We keep in the love of God by looking to the coming of Christ.
2) Concerning Others: Rescue those who fall prey (22-23).
a) The Doubting: Minister to the doubting with compassion.
b) The Deceived: Minister to the deceived with compulsion.
c) The Defiled: Minister to the defiled with caution.
IV. Doxology: God is gloriously sufficient to sustain a life of holiness (24-25).
Christ is able to give us spiritual victory through this life until He presents us blameless before His Father to God’s eternal glory. Amen.
Theological Reflection and Application
God will judge those who live in an ungodly manner and teach others to do so. Believers are to keep in the love of God and rescue those who fall prey to ungodly false teachers. God is able to keep believers from stumbling to stand blameless before Him.