Once for All Delivered
“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
- Jude 3–4
In this passage, Jude declares his intentions in writing this short letter. We see in verse 3 that Jude’s original purpose in composing his epistle was to discuss their “common salvation.” Yet this initial motivation was put on hold because circumstances made it necessary for Jude to exhort his audience “to contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.”
Why did Jude find it necessary to urge his audience to fight? In verse 4 he explains that certain ungodly people had crept into the church, people who, as false teachers, were designated long ago for condemnation. Wolves had gained ground among lambs, and the sheep needed to be warned lest they would fall prey to deception.
These teachers perverted “the grace of our God into sensuality” and denied “our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” While the exact details of their false words are unknown, it is clear these teachers were claiming to be Christians while living immoral lives (see also v. 7). The term rendered “ungodly” in verse 4 was often used by Jews to describe the ethical godlessness practiced in ancient Greek culture. Using the grace of God as an excuse, these teachers were denying the sovereign right of the Lord Jesus to determine moral behavior, substituting their own standards instead.
Yet such wanton living is anathema to the faith delivered to the saints mentioned in verse 3. Here “faith” is used to describe the content of what is believed by Christians. It includes such things as the simple proclamation of the Gospel as well as the moral teaching of the apostles. This faith was once for all delivered by God through His apostles. It is not open to change, revision, or addition.We find its content in the pages of sacred Scripture, which contains all of the doctrine profitable for our instruction (2 Tim. 3:14–17).
Though this faith was once delivered, this letter, and the course of church history for that matter, makes it clear this faith cannot be taken for granted but must be zealously guarded and defended. When we contend for the purity of the Gospel, we, unlike these false teachers, submit to the sovereignty of Christ.
The faith that was once for all delivered to the saints is assaulted in a variety of ways in our day. Some overtly deny Gospel truth. Some add new revelations from the “spirit” or church tradition to the apostolic testimony. Some ignore their responsibility to become well-grounded in doctrine. Take some time to consider how you must contend for the faith where you live. Pray God would help you learn to stand for the faith established in His word.
Passages for Further Study
- Lev. 18
- Prov. 5
- 1 Cor. 5
- Titus 1:1–9
- 2 Peter 2:1–3
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