In verse three Jude gives us the purpose for writing the letter. He is writing with a heavy heart, because he initially wanted to write this as a letter of encouragement and affirmation. He wanted to edify the believers as he desired to write about the common salvation they shared. The common salvation he speaks of is the general faith they all shared. The word common is the word koinos in which we get the word koinoinia which means fellowship. Jude desired to fellowship with the believers and encourage them in their salvation to let them know they were on the right course.
Unfortunately his desire had to be placed on the back burner because of some very unfortunate events that were taking place in this fellowship. He found it necessary to urge the believers to “contend for the faith”. He was making an appeal to them to stand up against the heresies that had infiltrated their body of believers. It is believed that even as early as the mid 60’s A.D. heresies were creeping into fellowships. As we will soon see, some of those heresies were starting to surface in this group.
Jude encourages his readers to contend for their faith. The Greek word for contend is where we get our English word agonize. It means to fight, to struggle with strenuous zeal. He was urging this fellowship to be proactive in its fight against heresy. They were to actively struggle in the fight for the faith. The author was essentially telling them not to have an attitude of “We don’t want to offend anyone or cause people to leave or start any fights, so we will allow these teachings to go on and eventually they will stop.” No, Jude was urging them to stop what was going on or face the consequences.
They were encouraged to fight for the “faith”. The word faith is not just a general faith but is πίστις (Pisitis) which means a strong conviction of truth. In particular it means to have a conviction of belief respecting man’s relationship to God and divine things. These truths include…
- God exists and is creator of all things.
- Jesus Christ is the Messiah and savior.
- Salvation is obtained by grace through faith in Christ alone.
- Those who belong to Christ will love God with all their heart, mind, soul and strength and love neighbor as self.
Certain people had crept into the fellowship. These "wolves" were individuals who had infiltrated this body with false teachings and heresies. They had crept in unnoticed, the Greek word is pareisduno (par-ice-doo'-no) which means to enter in secretly or stealthily (parasites). According to Jude they were designated ahead of time for condemnation. This expression teaches that the condemnation of apostates has been determined long beforehand. These men may have crept in and taken the church by surprise however God in his sovereignty was not. They were designated before hand to be false teachers and God had taken measures to make sure these men were exposed.
MacDonald, W., & Farstad, A. (1997, c1995). Believer's Bible Commentary : Old and New Testaments (Jud 4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.