- Jude- Its Interpreter
LETTER HEADING. “Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, the brother of Jesus. . .” On these opening words there are some very interesting and helpful remarks as found in John Peter Lange’s “Commentary on the Holy Scriptures”: “Who are these two brothers, Jude and James? James, the Apostle, the brother of John, cannot be meant here, for he was early martyred (Acts 12:2), and probably had no brother besides John (Matt. 4:21; 20:20; 26:37; 27:56. . .); nor can it be James, the son of Alphaeus, called the Little, of whose person and work we have no certain date, cp. Mk. 15:40. He must be a well-known individual, doubtless the much revered head of the Church at Jerusalem, besides whom history knows no other distinguished man of that name. . .Paul, in Gal. 1:19, introduces James, the Lord’s brother, and evidently distinguishes him by that designation from the Apostle James the Less, and describes him as an apostle in a wider sense, cp. II Cor. 8:23, Gk.; Rom. 16:7; Phil. 2:25, Gk.; Ac. 14:14. Hence we need not be surprised that some of the Fathers. . .(including) Augustine, call him also an apostle . . Adelphos (brother) in forty-nine passages of the New Testament signifies actual brother, while the sense cousin cannot be proved in a single passage. At first they (his brothers, rch) did not believe in Him as the Messiah, Jn. 7:5, but after the Resurrection of Jesus, I Cor. 15:7, and after the Ascension, we find them forming part of the circle of believers. Acts 1:14. Among the brothers of the Lord, after they had become believers, James soon occupied a prominent position. He is introduced as the representative of ’’Jewish Christians” in the Mother Church, Acts. 12:17. His near bodily relation to the Lord, his pious life and austere habits soon raised him to apostolical dignity. At the Apostolical Council on the obligatoriness of the law, his judgment proved decisive, Acts 15:13. The council of elders gathered round him, 21:18. Among the pillars of the Church, he is mentioned first (Gal. 2:9), while otherwise Peter is the Prince of the Apostles.
“He is probably the author of the Epistle of James in the Canon; for the principles contained therein are in exact keeping with the notices of his life reported by the Fathers, and he, like Jude, describes himself, not as an apostle, but only as a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ (Jas. 1:1). If it be objected that Luke does not clearly distinguish the non-apostolic James from the Apostle James, who is mentioned in Acts 1:13, we. . .answer . . .that the then familiarity with all the circumstances of the case did not require such a distinction to be specially marked, and that the same holds good in the case of the two Philips, Acts 1:13;8:5.(The) assertion that the Church at Jerusalem would not have recognized as its head any other than an Apostle, cannot be substantiated by any reasons.
“Our Jude was then the brother of that revered head at Jerusalem, and with him sustained the same family relation to the Lord. His not describing himself as the Lord’s brother, like James in His Epistle, may have been the effect of modesty, or his sense of the spiritual relation in which he stood to Christ may have predominated over that of his physical relation, even as . . .was the case with our Lord Himself, Matt. 12:48-50. . .
“We have no reliable data concerning the life and work of Jude. He has generally been confounded with Judas Lebbaeus, as James the Just with James, the son of Alphaeus. . .” This, Lange’s sketch of these two brothers, is well worth careful study.
SIGNIFICANCE. Jude is, in Greek, Judas, which means Praise. The name originated in the birth of Judah. “Now Leah said, I will praise the Lord.” Therefore, she called his name Judah” (Gn. 29:35). This Judas, Jude as we know him, was the exact opposite of the traitor, Judas Iscariot. For Jude was characterized by a life of confessing and praising God. That more blessed form of the name, Judah, is one of the names of the Church, which was given to Christ to be to the praise of the glory of His grace. Perhaps this name, Jude, is not common among us as are other Bible names. But does your life and mine reveal a constancy in praising God, so that if you or I did bare the name, people could say, “He lives up to his name”?
Usually, it is wise, proper and necessary to sign one’s name to one’s letter at its beginning, as here, or at the end. as ordinarily. Sometimes there is good purpose in withholding the name, as did the writer to the Epistle to the Hebrews. A good name may be given to both good and bad men. There was Judas the apostle and Judas the apostate. There was Enoch of Seth’s line and Enoch of Cain’s line. There was a godly Lamech and a wicked Lamech. The German word for Jew is Jude. In Nazi graffiti, the word “Jude!” used to be painted on a wall or house to mark the next in line for persecution and murder. In Stormonth’s etymological dictionary (1904), the meaning of the word “Jew” is not given. It means “Praise.” But this dictionary does have: “Jew: in any dishonest dealings, applied to a cheat.” Such a delineation would probably be rejected by the editorial staff of any contemporaneous dictionary as prejudiced discrimination, anti-semitic and racist. Yet Stormonth’s designation is on the tip of everybody’s tongue, including that of the best Christians. So we had better pray the prayer, “Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips” (Ps. 141:3). For spiritually every Christian is a true Jew. Rom. 2:28, 29. Are we as Christians living testimonies to God’s praise? That’s the way it should be, for only true Christians are true Jews.
SLAVE. The original Greek reads, “Judas, Jesus Christ’s slave, (de) on the other hand, brother of James.” The Authorized Version’s “servant” is, literally, “slave,” even “bond slave.” But isn’t that a little too strong, for a Christian to call himself “Jesus Christ’s slave”? Shouldn’t the Christian retain just a bit of “self-respect” and refer to himself simply as a servant of Christ, surely not a slave? (My! my! PRIDE does have its preferences, doesn’t it?) But no, the word is slave. In fact, he that is called in the Lord, whether bond or free, is said to be Christ’s slave. I Cor. 7:22. Christian slave-masters were said to have the Lord for their Master. Eph. 6:9, “knowing that your Master (Lord) is also in heaven.” So a Christian slave is God’s freeman, while a Christian slave-master is God’s slave. Paul, Rom. 1:1, although making it clear that he is by calling an apostle, does so only after first confessing he is “a slave of Jesus Christ.” Paul, as a Christian, is self-effacing, rather than self-assertive. While holding to his office he nevertheless does so humbly in yet gracious self-denial. Do we have such self-effacing grace? For himself and for his close associate, Timothy, he claimed no higher title or honor than “slaves of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:1).
OFFICE BEARERS. Perhaps it may be said that the term slave does not refer to an office, as such; nevertheless, it is applied to those in the ministry, as in II Tim. 2:24, “The servant (slave) of the Lord must not strive, but be gentle to all men, apt to teach, patient.” The Old Testament priests were called the servants of the Lord. Psalm 134:1. The Lord also speaks of “My servants the prophets,” Amos 3:7. Even Christ, in His office of Mediator, is called Jehovah’s “righteous Servant.”
QUEEN OR SERVANT? Modern science, we are told, is about to eliminate from American life the concept of male and female equally being servants of God to make them equally and mutually independent of one another and independent parties over against whatever gods there may be. If so, then science has already been outdone by the Roman Catholic Church in its unjustifiable and unbiblical exaltation of Mary. She, long ago, has been called by Rome not only co-redemptrix but also co-creatix. She actually had replaced Jesus as the redemptive symbol. Now feminism capitalizes on this, glorifying Mary’s virginity as perpetual and symbolizing the woman’s autonomy and completeness, independently of the male. But Mary, the mother of the Lord, never called herself, as Roman Catholics do, Mother of God, Queen of the Apostles, Queen of Heaven, Queen of Hell, Queen of Angels, Queen of the World, Queen of Glory, the Door of Paradise, the Gate of Heaven or Sovereign Mistress of the Devils. Rather, this is the way she styled herself: “Behold, the handmaid (female slave) of the Lord (Jehovah)”, Luke 1:38. The Roman Catholic Church had transformed her into “Wonder Woman.” The feminist movement, going beyond this, has made the modern female a ruling wonder, the feminist Christ a Son-Daughter of the Heavenly Father-Mother and the crucifix an exhibition of a nude woman!
But the apostles esteemed it the greatest honor to style themselves and be held in regard as Christ’s bondservants. Jude, too, believed that with no other term was he entitled to Christ.