The longer Christianity was preached, the more Christians had to contend for the faith. There were people who were wanting to change the message of Christianity, but some writers of books in the New Testament urged their readers to challenge those who were in opposition to Jesus Christ. One such author, Jude, states at the beginning of his letter that it was impressed upon him that he should write to those who are “beloved in God the Father” to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
At the beginning of this epistle, Jude talks about those who in the past have not believed what God said. He even uses the Israelites as an example. Jude spends six verses to describe the characteristics of those who were trying to get Christians to cease believing in Jesus, as well as, to describe their motives. He says these types of people will be judged by God.
In the final nine verses of his book, Jude gives some encouraging words to his readers with the expectation that they will remain faithful to Jesus. He says the apostles predicted there would be those who “cause divisions, [are] worldly-minded, [and] devoid of the Spirit” (v. 19).
Jude says there are some things the Christians need to do: Constantly be “building yourself up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep[ing] yourselves in the love of God” and be “waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life” (v. 20, 21). He concludes his book by saying how one is to treat those who have struggling with the faith and their faith. He says, “have mercy on some, who are doubting; save others, snatching them out of the fire; and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh” (v. 22, 23).
Jude wants his readers to deal gently with those who are struggling but he also wants them to “contend earnestly for the faith” (v. 3). The Greek word used by Jude has the idea of a strong debate about the faith. Some Bible versions simply translate the Greek word, “contend.” However, the emphasis may not be fully disclosed if only this word is used. There are other translations which add the word “earnestly” to the command; wanting to impart the urgency and the effort in which one will “contend for the faith.”
There must be much effort in trying to convince people that the message of Christianity must be the basis for their life. This contending, with gentleness and kindness, will convince people how they can be living God’s way.
Carlton G. McPeak is an evangelist working in the Florida Gateway region. All Scriptural quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Holman Bible Publishers, unless otherwise stated. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.