Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James…

The way Jude chooses to introduce himself should be of great interest to any student of Scripture. Jude explains in the first verse of his epistle that he is “a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James.” Jude’s choice to establish himself to the reader in this way serves two purposes. First, to avoid distraction and controversy. Transliteration has English readers referring to him as Jude, and the name Jude is not weighty or controversial in our context. If anything, you may get a Beatles song stuck in your head. In Hebrew, the name Jude is Judah. Not only is this name not controversial or distracting, but it is regal; however, this name that elicits a neutral response from English readers, and a revered response from Hebrew readers, would be cause for pause to the original Greek audience because the name Jude, in Greek, is Ιούδας, or Judas.

Imagine your church getting a warning letter from Judas. That would be like Hogwarts getting a warning letter from Voldemort saying, “You’ve been infiltrated!” We see a similar attempt to avoid confusion in John 14:22, as Judas is called “not Iscariot.” Thomas Manton considers it wise to avoid controversy when possible: “Men drink less freely of a suspected fountain.”

Jude’s second introduction aims to explain his relationship with Jesus. Jude called himself the brother of James, but it is peculiar because Jude is also the biological brother of Jesus. He is named as one of Jesus’ four brothers in Matthew 13:5: “Is not this carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?” Why does Jude bury the lead? Why wouldn’t he leave the gate stating his most prominent credential? I know if Jesus was my brother, that is precisely how I would begin the letter, but Jude chooses instead to introduce himself, not as his brother, but as a servant of Jesus. Church history tells us that Jude, like his brother James, did not believe Jesus was the Messiah until after His resurrection. They had proclaimed that Jesus was their brother all their lives but denied that He was their Lord. They could see Jesus as a rabbi and a prophet but not as the promised Messiah.

He acknowledged Jesus as a brother his entire life but later realized that he would be lost if Jesus was only his brother and not his Lord. Click To Tweet

What changed Jude’s mind? It was the most significant event in human history: Christ’s resurrection. After all the time Jude spent with Jesus, after listening to years of Jesus’ infinitely wise teaching, after having the privilege of a front-row seat to many of Jesus’ miraculous works, it was the resurrection that eventually caused him to believe in his heart and confess with his mouth that Jesus is Lord.

This is why Jude introduces himself as a servant of Jesus. He acknowledged Jesus as a brother his entire life but later realized that he would be lost if Jesus was only his brother and not his Lord. We would do well to remember this today. If Jesus is our homeboy but not our Lord, we are lost. If “gospel” is our favorite genre of music and not the good news of the God-man Jesus Christ that we believe in and depend on, we are lost.

From Jude’s perspective, he is now, first and foremost, a servant of Jesus. His brother has become his Lord.

Find Content by Category

Tweet What You Like

Find Content by Month

Top Tags

related resources