“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,”
Jude now turns to how to deal with apostasy from a personal perspective.
1. Build yourselves up on your most holy faith.
2. Pray in the Holy Spirit.
3. Keep yourselves in the love of God
4. Wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The words “but you” show the contrast between apostates and Jude’s readers. These words carry the idea of “as for you as over against the apostates.” The believer has the prerogative to deal with apostasy.
This is the third time Jude uses the term “beloved” (vv. 3, 17, 20). “Beloved” is one of God’s favorite names for His children. Believers are God’s aristocracy, God’s elect. Jude is concerned that his harsh treatment of apostates will affect his relationship with his readers.
building yourselves up on your most holy faith,
Jude’s first policy for dealing with apostasy is to build an edification construct of the soul. Jude challenges his readers to deal with the issue of apostasy by personal edification.
We build ourselves by taking heed to the “most holy faith”; that is, the Word of God. We need to understand the passage, grasp its principle, and apply the principle to our experience. The metaphor of building a building connected with spiritual growth portrays the idea of solidity and strength in the Christian life. Our first and greatest defense against apostasy is to be strong inwardly in the Word of God. We are to build ourselves “on” our “most holy faith.” This is the foundation for constructing our faith.
The words “building yourselves up” mean to build upon, build up. The foundation was laid down by the Word of God, but the believer is to finish building the structure by applying its principles to experience by faith.
Our “most holy faith” is the same idea as the faith once delivered (v. 3). Our faith rests on what God has revealed in His Word. The Word of God is central to spiritual growth. “Faith” here is the body of belief found in the Bible. It is the controlling factor that keeps us from false teaching. Faith here is “most holy” because it comes from God and is set apart by God for us.
The sure foundation for faith is the Word of God.
If we shut the Bible, we shut the mouth of God. Studying the Word of God is not optional. It is not like going through a spiritual cafeteria, picking and choosing whether we eat it or not.
Application of the principles of God’s Word to experience is basic to Christian living. We cannot do this by proxy or remote control. This is far more than Bible reading; it goes on to Bible understanding and application. This is our Christian career, not a hobby. The Bible is our most important apparatus for living the Christian life. It is the stock and trade of Christian living. We feed on the Bible.
The devil manufactures substitute spiritual food for the believer constantly. We love to read anything or participate in anything except the diligent study of the Bible. God has a special diet for the believer, or “saint food”—the Word of God. We develop spiritual muscles to gain strength. We ought to be stronger this year than we were last year. We should control our temper more this year than last year. Character does not come from something within the person, but character comes from the appropriation of truth to experience. There can be no biblical character without truth.
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. Ac 20:32
…having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone… Eph 2:20
But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’” Mt 4:4
…as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby… 1 Pe 2:2
…but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Pe 3:18
I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth More than my necessary food. Job 23:12
Note that Job did not say that the Bible was more important than dessert but more important than his “necessary food,” such as meat and vegetables.
Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O Lord God of hosts. Je 15:16
Dear Dr. Grant, Greetings from Bangalore. All along, I though this verse referred to building ourselves up by prayer, fasting etc to be productive in church (First AG, Bangalore). After studying your article, I have come to realise my mistake – the text instructs us to build our thinking – on the Word – in order to combat apostasy in the church. Thank you.
You forgot the last part of the verse….”praying in the Holy Spirit”
Paul, that phrase was not forgotten. Just click to the next study 20b.
Hi Dr Richison,
I am part of a Bible study on Jude facilitated by Deb Elkink. Looking at this verse again this week I am stuck. The “Holy Faith” here may well refer to the gospel of salvation ( verse 3) not the entirety of God’s word. The essence of the gospel is what defines us as Christians and separates apostates- what do they do with Christ and His work? Holy God, helpless sinner, perfect savior, personal faith. ( thoughts not my own, but they help me to sort out in my own head what the important elements of the gospel of salvation are.) The more I am built up in gospel truth-what Christ provided for me through His death and life the the more I value the core truths of the Holy Faith. Please help me see how the whole canon of scripture is referred to in this verse.
Ina, thanks for your thoughts. I am blessed that you deal seriously with God’s Word.
Both verse 3 and verse 20 deal with the entirety of God’s Word. Our “common salvation” is not the same thing as “to contend earnestly for THE faith.” The definite article in the Greek carries far more specificity than the English. The definite article there refers to faith as it is revealed in the realm of doctrine (the body of what we believe). The Greek article implies the recognized body of belief. This was especially important for the argument of the entire epistle—defense of the faith. In addition, the faith mentioned in verse 3 was “once delivered” to the saints (the Greek word “delivered” means to be entrusted with the faith). Once the canon was complete there was no further word that need to be said (no further revelation) about it because God fully revealed and closed the canon.
I did not develop this idea in verse 3 but the concept of salvation can carry a much broader idea than simply Christ died, buried and rose from the dead. For example, the word can carry the simple idea of deliverance from a number of things. Peter used the verb form of this word when he yelled out “Lord, save me” from drowning when he was walking on the water. The word here can mean the entire corpus of delivering us from sin, the power of sin, and ultimate deliverance from sin.
The metaphor of building on a foundation in verse 20 is that of maturity. We find it elsewhere in 1 Co 3:10-15; Eph 2:20; 1 Pe 2:5. Here building on the “most holy faith” here is again the body of teaching, the entirety of the belief system we have in Christ. It is true as you say, that we are to grow in the dimension of the gospel to which you refer but the idea is much broader; that is, there is many more truths on which we need to grow. Growth in Christianity is based on objective truth, not on subjective ideas or some form of mysticism. In other words, we cannot grow if we bypass the mind. In fact, we grow using it and then applying it to our experience. Constant use of this principle brings us to edification Rom. 14:19; 1 Cor. 14:12, 26; Eph. 4:16; 1 Thess. 5:11; cf. 1 Cor. 8:1).
The idea of “holy” here does not mean pure but set apart or unique. We tend not to think of the word “hold” in English in the ontological sense, that is, in the nature of its being as a special body completely unique from God.
In summary, your idea is proper but delimited in terms of the context of Jude.
I have never understood this verse of the Bible the way I understand it now by your teaching. Thank you very much sir. I plan to put it in practice.
Thank you Dr. Grant for this deep and insightful exposition and application. You say that the most holy faith refers to the entirety of the belief system we have in Christ. Does it include the Old Testament as well? And if the canon was not yet close at the time of Jude’s writing, how could it be possible that he is referring to the entire scripture? It would be immensely helpful if you reply. Thank you.
Joshua, thanks for your excellent question. God gave the Bible in what in theology is called progressive revelation, from the writing of Genesis to John’s writings. The canon was not complete at the writing of Jude, but the principle applies to all the books of the Bible after the closing of the canon, including the Old Testament. There is a difference between the formal and informal closing of the canon. For example, the Muratorian Canon around A.D. 200 included most of the books we have in the canon today (Protestant). The final 27 books are found in a letter written by Athanasius, a 4th-century bishop of Alexandria, dated to A.D. 367. The final 27-book New Testament was first formally canonized during the councils of Hippo (393) and Carthage (397) in North Africa. However, the church informally accepted these books long before they were formally voted by church councils. The readers of the book of Jude understood it as the books that they possessed at the time of reading. For us, at our time of reading, it includes the entire Protestant Old and New Testaments.
Hello Dr. Grant, having read through your truth and encouraging commentary for Jude 20, Can I possibly request that you please post every new commentary you write from now straight unto my in-box. Thank you.
Oluwatoyin, if you go to the home page, scroll down to subscribe and you will receive daily emails from versebyversecommentary.com Also, there are over 14,000 free pages of material by just using the navigation system on the site. Just click “book” then another popup occurs, then click verse.
Thank you Dr. Grant I will like to get more of your teaching,
Thank you Rose for your comment. You can get access to 15,000 pages by going to “book” and then after a popup choose the verse you prefer.