Since v. 5 Jude has spent a lot of time and energy telling us just how bad these fake Christian are. These people snuck into the church, perverted the grace of God with their teaching, and lived in constant rebellion to God. This is why Jude’s tone has been so negative up to this point. However, here in v. 17 Jude changes his tone. He begins this verse with the words “But you, beloved…” Clearly we see that Jude’s tone changes in this verse, however the main point of Jude’s message has, and will, remain consistent. Jude’s message is that real Christians must fight for the faith.
In the first part of the book (vv. 1-4) Jude made the declaration that we need to fight for the faith. This is the main point of the book. Then, in the middle section of the book (vv. 5-16), Jude gave an explanation for why we must fight for the faith. Jude was encouraging the real Christians to fight for the faith because fake Christians were attempting to destroy the church. In this way Jude is almost like a commanding officer giving the orders to his troops for a counter offensive. Thus far we have seen that we must fight for the faith, and we have seen why we must fight for the faith. In this final section (vv. 17ff) we will see an exhortation concerning how we are to fight for the faith. Jude is going to give us some very practical and specific direction on how to fight for the faith.
I. Remember the words of the apostles (v. 17)
The first instruction Jude gives to us on how to fight for the faith is the command to remember. Jude writes, “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.” The first thing that we are to do is remember. It is not very surprising at all that Jude would mention this first. In v. 3 Jude told his readers that they needed to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” It stands to reason that if we are going to fight for the faith we must also remember the faith. Additionally, remembering is what Jude has been doing since v. 5. In vv. 5-16 Jude uses no less than seven illustrations from the Old Testament. Jude was looking back and reminding his readers of what the Old Testament had to say about rebellious individuals.
It is important to note that when the bible talks about remembering it more than just recalling something. It is not like remembering the answer to a question on a test. This remembering has to do with our minds and our wills. By saying that we need to remember Jude is saying that we need to recall what God has done in the past, and take it heart in such a way that it affects the way we live. Let me give you an example. How many of you remember the canoes up at the Master’s Mission. There were three of them; however one of them had a leak in it. If you remembered which canoe had a leak in it would have affected your decision on which canoe you were going to use. This is what Jude is saying. By remember all that Scripture has to say about rebellion, and false teachers Jude’s intention is that his readers will no longer be tempted to follow these false teachers.
b. The previously spoken words of the apostles of Jesus Christ
Jude does not leave us to wonder exactly what we are supposed to remember. Jude tells us that we are to remember “the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ…” What exactly are these words? We will get a better idea of what Jude is talking about specifically in the next verse. But for now, I think we can draw some general conclusions about what Jude means. In essence Jude is referring to the same thing that he referred to in v. 3 when he spoke of “the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.” In general he is talking about those important doctrines like justification by faith, scripture alone, and others. He is talking about those doctrines that make Christianity distinctive. Additionally, here in v. 17 Jude is asking that his readers remember what was taught to them when they first heard the Gospel from the apostles. In fact, when Jude speaks of “the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ” he probably referring to those apostles who first founded the churches that were reading this letter.