The Missouri Baptist Convention has 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. This post features the last half of Chapter 16: Doxology: To the Only God Our Savior.
Previously: To the Only God Our Savior
Now to Him who is able to protect you from stumbling and to make you stand in the presence of His glory, blameless and with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power, and authority before all time, now, and forever. Amen. (Jude 24-25 HCSB)
Jude ends his epistle with a wonderful four-part doxology, or word of praise. To “the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord,” Jude offers:
Glory– the sum total of all that God is and does. The word “glory” captures all the divine attributes in their radiance. The Greek word doxa, from which we get “glory,” means honor; renown; an especially divine quality; the unspoken manifestation of God; splendor. We see this in Yahweh in the Old Testament. In the desert, the Lord provides a place in the crevice of a rock for Moses, and covers His servant with His hand to protect him from the certain death that results when sinful humans see God’s glorious face (Ex. 33:20-23).
Such glory belongs only to God (Isa. 42:8; 48:11). However, in the New Testament, we see divine glory as an attribute of Jesus – an attribute He shared with the Father before the creation of the world (John 17:5). On the Mount of Transfiguration, Jesus shows Peter, James, and John his glory. His face shines like the sun, and even His clothes become as white as light (Matt. 17:1-8). The writer of Hebrews notes this about Jesus, “He is the radiance of His [God’s] glory, the exact expression of His nature …” (Heb. 1:3a).
Majesty– God’s greatness or magnificence. He is not simply King; He is King of kings. He is not merely Lord; He is Lord of lords. “Majesty” is megalosune in the Greek, and it appears three other times in the New Testament (HCSB). In Heb. 1:3, after Jesus makes purification for sins, He sits down at “the right hand of the Majesty on high.” The writer of Hebrews goes on to emphasize, “[W]e have this kind of high priest [Jesus], who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens” (Heb. 8:1). Peter writes, “For we did not follow cleverly contrived myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; instead, we were eyewitnesses of His majesty” – a reference to the Transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16).
Jesus, who possessed this divine magnificence in eternity past as a member of the Godhead, temporarily set aside His majesty – but not His deity – to become a man and offer Himself in our place on the cross. For this reason, God highly exalts Him, bestowing on Him the name above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Phil. 2:6-10).
Power– dominion, might, strength. The Greek word kratoscarries the idea of complete control. God is sovereign over all He has made and over all that plays out in the universe: the course of the stars, human history, angelic destiny, and the ultimate regeneration of a fallen creation that groans beneath the weight of sin (see Rom. 8:18-23). Kratosappears in a number of New Testament doxologies, including:
- 1 Tim. 6:16 – God is “the only One who has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom none of mankind has seen or can see, to whom be honor and eternal might.”
- 2:14 – “Now since the children have flesh and blood in common, He [Jesus] also shared in these, so that through His death He might destroy the one holding thepowerof death – that is, the Devil …”
- 1 Peter 4:11 – “If anyone speaks, his speech should be like the oracles of God; if anyone serves, his service should be from the strength God provides, so that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To Him belong the glory and the powerforever and ever. Amen.”
- 1 Peter 5:11 – “To Him be the dominion Amen.”
- 1:6 – To Him who “made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father – to Him be the glory and dominionforever. Amen.” (emphasis added in all quotations)
Authority– the right to exercise power. The Greek word used here is exousia. While the word dunamismeans physical power – which the New Testament depicts God, angels, persons, and even things manifesting – exousia, when used of God, denotes absolute and unrestricted authority. All authority is properly God’s, who may delegate it to others (see, for example, John 19:11; Rom. 13:1-7).
Jesus possesses the same intrinsic authority as God the Father because He is co-equal with the Father (John 1:1; 10:30; Phil. 2:6; Col. 1:16; 2:9-10). At the same time, because of the unique pattern of relationships within the Trinity, especially during Jesus’ incarnation, there is a sense in which the Father gives Jesus His authority (Matt. 9:8; 28:18; John 5:22; Eph. 1:20-23; Phil. 2:9-11; Rev. 2:27).
As Steve Lemke points out, “Jesus’ authority was manifested in His incarnation by His authority to forgive sin, provide salvation, heal sickness, cast out demons, and judge humanity…. As Jesus carried out His teaching ministry, He spoke with authority which was immediately recognized by His hearers as being absent in the teachings of the scribes and Pharisees.” This authority, as Jude makes clear, is God’s “before all time, now, and forever” (v. 25).
Jude concludes this short epistle with a powerful reminder that God is in control. We are slaves of Christ. But more than that, we are precious friends sovereignly called, graciously loved, and securely kept. We are the recipients of His mercy, peace, and love. He has granted us a “common salvation” that is detailed in a body of doctrinal truths known simply as “the faith,” which we are to vigorously defend against false teachers who have infiltrated the church.
God has equipped us to build a defensive perimeter around our spiritual lives, by which we keep ourselves in the love of God, and from which we launch rescue missions to buoy the doubters, wake up the deceived, and grieve over the departed.
Defending the Christian faith is not a spiritual gift, nor is it an office of the church. It is the command of God to everyone who claims Jesus as Lord. As all followers of Jesus enjoy a “common salvation,” we also share a common call to contend for the faith that defines our standing in Christ.
The apostle Peter implores every Christian to “set apart the Messiah as Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” Equally important, we must do this “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15-16).
Our fundamental goal in defending the Christian faith should never be to win an argument, stalk a debate, or own the last word. Rather, it should be to share biblical truth gently with our drifting friends as we acknowledge the sovereign roles of the Triune God: The Father, who draws (John 6:44); the Spirit, who convicts (John 14:7-11); and the Son, who alone can save (Acts 4:11-12).
The closing verses of a Puritan prayer express the vanity of life apart from God, and the end for which He created us:
O may I never fall into the tempers and vanities, the sensuality and folly of the present world!
It is a place of inexpressible sorrow, a vast empty nothingness;
Time is a moment, a vapour, and all its enjoyments are empty bubbles, fleeting blasts of wind, from which nothing satisfactory can be derived;
Give me grace always to keep in covenant with thee, and to reject as delusion a great name here or hereafter, together with all sinful pleasures or profits.
Help me to know continually that there can be no true happiness, no fulfilling of thy purpose for me, apart from a life lived in and for the Son of thy love.
This concludes our study of the Epistle of Jude.