I spoke last evening at PRBC on Jude 1-4, just drawing out some thoughts and making application. And I was struck by a phrase that once again pressed upon my mind in a new and fresh way. I noted that one could (and someone probably has, I honestly do not know) with benefit write a book solely upon the greetings found in the New Testament epistles. The theology found therein is striking, rich, and deep. And the same is true here. Here is the text: “Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept by Jesus Christ” (my translation). Now, if you are reading the KJV/NKJV or reading the TR (since the most common TR doesn’t bother with providing textual variants), it reads “sanctified” rather than “beloved.” You need to have the BibleWorks fonts installed (they are generally available on line) to follow this, but here is the difference in the two readings:
Calvin dismissed “beloved” because the textual data available to him was quite limited. However, with the discovery of the great uncials and the papyri, the reading has been given a strong foundation. Surely, both terms are true; that is, we are surely sanctified by God the Father just as we are beloved by Him. But in this case I think the more ancient reading provides us with a biblically consistent statement.
The Father is the source of salvation itself, the fountainhead. Ephesians 1:3 expresses the same truth when it blesses God the Father for blessing us with every spiritual blessing, for choosing us, and for predestining us in love (Eph. 1:4). So Jude is recognizing the loving foundation of soteriology itself: the love of God the Father. The “called,” the elect, are “beloved,” perfect passive participle, loved in completeness by God the Father, and, in the same way, “kept,” guarded, protected, also in perfection, by God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. And the form of the language “bookends” by putting the article first, and then the substantive at the end, i.e., “the beloved by God the Father and kept by Jesus Christ called ones,” similar to verse 3, “the once-for-all delivered to the saints faith.”
These words echo the same glorious thought we find in John 6:37ff. God the Father gives the chosen ones to the Son; the Son perfectly saves them. Here, God the Father in love chooses; the Son keeps those who are thusly chosen. Same glorious truth.
And we should also see the connection to the often grossly misunderstood and misrepresented term “foreknow” when used with God as the one doing the action. Very few of those who throw the term around, making the action, when God is the one doing it, equal to some philosophical concept of mere prescience, take the time to consider what anyone else has said about it. But even then, when they see someone speaking of how “foreknow” means God lovingly chooses to enter into a relationship with one who has yet to even experience birth, they mock the concept rather than providing a meaningful response. But here we have the same concept, where God’s love and His election of a particular people are connected together in the divine words of Scripture.
There is much more to be gleaned from this tremendous passage, but I thought I would share these thoughts on the blog today. Change of pace from the past two weeks!