“Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.” ~ Jude 1:1-2
In the opening salutation (verses 1-2) of Jude, the target audience is clearly defined: those who are sanctified AND preserved AND called. In doing so, the salutation also reveals that there are three ways in which God works in the life of a Believer. And, thereby, it provides the basis for the remainder of the letter.
Sanctification is the act of being made clean: being made holy. Man cannot make himself holy, only God the Father can do so. There is a role for us to keep ourselves pure (2 Timothy 2:21), but holiness is imparted by God.
“Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. And [God the Father] answered and spoke unto those that stood before Him, saying, ‘Take away the filthy garments from [Joshua].’ And unto [Joshua] He said, ‘Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee, and I will clothe thee with change of raiment.’” ~ Zechariah 3:3-4
God the Father makes us holy.
Preservation means keeping something from decay or deterioration. Jude reveals that preservation of Believers is the job of Jesus Christ. This is perhaps best demonstrated when Jesus washed His disciples feet (John 13:5-10). As Jesus told Simon Peter (verse 10), the washed (i.e., the saved) had no need to be washed (saved) again, except for their feet. The feet symbolizes the Believer’s interaction with the world: as believers go about their day, even as they serve God, we sin.
Imperfection, deviation from God’s perfect will, is as pervasive as dust. So Jesus washes our feet he preserves us from deterioration. Without washing, our feet would quickly become so filthy that it would be difficult to walk on them, and they would be natural harbors for bacteria, leading to disease and infection. Likewise, without Jesus washing sin from our lives, our interactions with the world around us, our witness, becomes filthy and impeded, diseased and infected.
“…Christ also loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.” ~ Ephesians 5:25b-27
God the Father makes us holy, Jesus keeps us holy.
In this context, “called” means appointed to serve (1 Corinthians 1:1-2). Holiness in the life of a Believer is not an end in itself. We are made holy to be used by God. Indeed, that was the problem of asceticism and certain forms of monasticism practiced by the early church and still in evidence today.
Far too often, Believers are lulled to sleep or driven to distraction by the notion of attaining and maintaining purity/holiness. As Jesus taught in Matthew 5:15, a hidden light is useless: the point of lighting a candle is to use it for light.
The point of making a vessel holy is to use it in the worship of God, for the glorification of God (Numbers 7:1-3, 2 Timothy 2:21). A calling—i.e., a ministry/service—is an integral part of holiness. Without a calling, without a ministry, holiness becomes pointless and impotent. Jesus put it this way:
“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” ~ John 15:8
God the Father makes us holy (sanctification), Jesus keeps us holy (preservation), so that we can serve properly.
MERCY, PEACE and LOVE
Jude completes the doctrinal architecture by coupling sanctification, preservation and calling with their enablers/facilitators.
God’s mercy makes it possible for us to receive sanctification. We do not deserve and cannot earn or manufacture our own holiness. Therefore we can only obtain it through mercy.
“Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.” ~ Exodus 15:13
Being at peace with Jesus, being on His team, being His disciple, makes it possible for Him to preserve us, to keep us clean. Jesus only washed His disciples’ feet. (And Judas’ foot-wash never mattered, see John 13:10-11, since Judas had never gotten a “bath”: Judas was not saved. Therefore, he could neither be sanctified nor preserved; and was not one of the called).
“Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” ~ 2 Peter 3:14
Love is the reason we are called and the reason we respond to God’s call. God wants to demonstrate His love to mankind, and He works through the lives of Believers to do it. We respond to God’s call because as children of God we also love our fellowmen.
“We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” ~ 1 John 4:19-21
Mercy makes sanctification (holiness) possible, peace makes preservation possible, and love makes service/ministry (our calling) possible.
The stage has now been set, the paradigm has now been constructed. For the rest of the epistle, Jude is going to talk about holiness. Especially, Jude will emphasize the importance of preserving/maintaining holiness so that the church can be an effective witness for Christ in an immoral society.