The Missouri Baptist Convention recently published a new resource called The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith. The 275-page book is available in print and Kindle editions on Amazon, and in print from the MBC. But we also want to make each of the 16 chapters available online. So, this post introduces the study, and then in the weeks to come we are posting The Last Apologist one chapter at a time, or, in some cases, one portion of a chapter at a time. We pray that it is a help and encouragement to you.
The General Epistle of Jude may be one of the most neglected of all New Testament books. Perhaps this is because of its brevity – the entire epistle is only 25 verses. Or perhaps it’s because Jude draws from two non-biblical sources, quoting from 1 Enoch and alluding to the Assumption of Moses. Or maybe it’s because Jude is similar to the second chapter of 2 Peter and therefore is redundant – or worse, as some claim, uninspired. Or it could be because Jude is one of the lesser-known New Testament writers. In any case, many who read through the Bible may be tempted to skip over Jude on the way to Revelation, or to give the epistle little more than a glance.
This is unfortunate because this brief letter from a relatively obscure author speaks volumes about the urgency of defending the Christian faith. Whether exhorting fellow believers to contend for the faith delivered to the saints once for all (v. 3), or urging them to keep themselves in the love of God (v. 21), Jude addresses the issues of sound doctrine and false teachers with humility, boldness, and remarkable foresight.
When referring to Jude as “the last apologist,” I don’t mean that none has come after him, for God has raised up defenders of the Christian faith in every generation. Nor do I mean that Jude is the last, chronologically, of 27 New Testament books, for surely several were written after it. Nor am I implying that Jude is the final word on Christian apologetics, or the finest document ever written on defending the Christian faith, for truly all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
By “the last apologist,” I mean simply to express my hope that every Christian who reads this book would discover – or rediscover – the marvelous theological and practical insights of Jude. His divinely inspired words are a call to action for contenders of the Christian faith, and a final warning to those who reject it. This half-brother of Jesus, who humbly calls himself a slave of the Lord, speaks into a first-century church where false teachers have slipped in the side door and twisted the grace of God into a license to sin. It’s a threat that has plagued the church in all succeeding ages. The evil one, who sows tares in Christ’s wheat fields, hopes to choke the Word of God by making the church indistinguishable from the world.
Ultimately, false teachers are destined for an eternity apart from God. History is rife with examples of God’s judgment of those who seek to overthrow His kingdom or undermine His rule. At the same time, believers confidently may look forward to the day when we are fully conformed to the image of Christ. Until then, we are to contend – to struggle earnestly and tirelessly – for the core doctrines of the Christian faith, recognizing that all glory, majesty, power, and authority belong to God our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord (v. 25).
This commentary addresses basic questions that arise when reading Jude – questions about the sovereignty of God, the reliability of Scripture, the tactics of false teachers, and the promise of Jesus to set things right when He returns. In addition, each chapter of this study explores at least one key word or phrase, and poses challenging questions for personal or group study.
It is my hope that this short volume is especially helpful to those seeking to defend the Christian faith with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15-16).
Next: Chapter 1 – Jude, a Slave: The Attitude of Apologetics