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Jude 1:22-25: How Can We Have Mercy on Those Who Doubt?

Understanding Jude's Context


Jude's epistle, a brief yet profound letter, addresses the issues of false teaching and apostasy within the early Christian community. Written by Jude, the brother of James and likely the half-brother of Jesus, this letter serves as a call to contend for the faith amidst growing threats from within the church. Jude’s audience was facing a crisis of faith, prompted by individuals who were distorting the gospel and leading believers astray. Jude 1:3 explicitly states his purpose: “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.”


The Importance of Mercy in Jude's Message


Jude 1:22-25 focuses on the need for mercy, particularly toward those who are struggling with doubt. This section of Jude’s letter is a compassionate call to action, emphasizing the importance of mercy within the Christian community. Understanding the context of these verses involves recognizing the tension between upholding doctrinal purity and demonstrating compassion toward those who waver.


Jude 1:22—“And have mercy on those who doubt”


The phrase “have mercy on those who doubt” highlights the compassionate approach believers should take toward those who are struggling with their faith. Doubt, in this context, refers to a wavering or hesitation in belief, often due to the influence of false teachings. The Greek word for doubt here, “διακρινόμενοι” (diakrinomenoi), suggests a division within the mind, an uncertainty about the truth.


Mercy, as encouraged by Jude, is a fundamental Christian virtue. Jesus himself exemplified mercy in his ministry, showing compassion to those who were lost or confused. Matthew 9:36 records, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” In a similar vein, Jude urges believers to extend mercy to those who are doubting, recognizing that doubt is not a sign of failure but an opportunity for growth and restoration.





Jude 1:23—“Save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.”


This verse expands on the theme of mercy by distinguishing between different groups of people in need of help. “Save others by snatching them out of the fire” employs a vivid metaphor of rescue from imminent danger. The “fire” here symbolizes judgment or severe spiritual peril. This imagery is reminiscent of Zechariah 3:2, where Joshua the high priest is described as “a brand plucked from the fire.” The urgency and intensity of the situation call for decisive and compassionate intervention to prevent spiritual destruction.


The phrase “to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” introduces a nuanced approach to mercy. It acknowledges the necessity of maintaining a holy fear or reverence for God while showing mercy. The “garment stained by the flesh” refers to the defilement associated with sinful behavior. Believers are called to extend mercy but with a discerning awareness of the corrupting influence of sin. This reflects a balance between compassion and caution, ensuring that the act of mercy does not lead to moral compromise.


Jude 1:24—“Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy,”


Jude concludes his exhortation with a doxology, a declaration of praise to God. This verse emphasizes God’s power and faithfulness in preserving believers. The assurance that God is “able to keep you from stumbling” provides comfort and confidence amidst the challenges of doubt and false teaching. The Greek word for “stumbling” (ἀπταίστους, aptaistous) indicates falling into sin or error. God’s ability to preserve believers underscores His sovereign grace and the security of those who trust in Him.


The phrase “to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy” points to the ultimate goal of the Christian journey – standing blameless before God. This eschatological hope is a source of joy and encouragement, affirming that despite the present struggles, God will bring His people to a state of complete sanctification. This resonates with Ephesians 5:27, which speaks of Christ presenting the church to Himself “in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”





Jude 1:25—“to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”


The final verse of Jude’s letter ascribes glory and honor to God, acknowledging His eternal sovereignty. The attributes listed – glory, majesty, dominion, and authority – highlight the transcendent nature of God. This doxology serves as a reminder of God’s ultimate authority over all things, providing a fitting conclusion to the letter’s themes of faithfulness and mercy.

The acknowledgment of Jesus Christ as “our Lord” affirms the centrality of Christ in the Christian faith. It is through Jesus that believers experience salvation and are able to extend mercy to others. This reflects the unity of the Godhead in the work of redemption and the assurance of God’s eternal reign.





Practical Implications for Believers


Jude 1:22-25 offers practical guidance for believers in dealing with doubt, both in themselves and others. It emphasizes the importance of a compassionate and merciful approach while maintaining doctrinal integrity. This balance is crucial in fostering a supportive and faithful Christian community.


Extending Mercy


Believers are called to extend mercy to those who doubt, recognizing that doubt is a common experience in the journey of faith. Mercy involves empathy, understanding, and a willingness to support others in their struggles. It requires patience and a commitment to walking alongside those who are wavering, offering encouragement and guidance.


Active Intervention


The exhortation to “save others by snatching them out of the fire” underscores the need for proactive intervention in the lives of those who are in spiritual danger. This involves identifying those who are at risk of falling away and taking decisive action to help them. It may include prayer, counsel, and providing resources that can strengthen their faith.


Maintaining Holiness


Showing mercy with fear, as instructed in verse 23, reminds believers to be vigilant in maintaining personal holiness. This involves hating “even the garment stained by the flesh,” which symbolizes a rejection of sin and its corrupting influence. Believers are called to uphold godly standards while demonstrating compassion, ensuring that their acts of mercy do not lead to moral compromise.


Trusting in God’s Preservation


The assurance that God is able to keep believers from stumbling provides a foundation of confidence and hope. Trusting in God’s preserving power allows believers to face challenges with the assurance that He is faithful to complete the work He has begun in them. This trust fosters resilience and steadfastness in the faith.


Worship and Praise


The doxology in verse 25 serves as a reminder of the importance of worship and praise in the life of a believer. Acknowledging God’s glory, majesty, dominion, and authority reinforces the centrality of God in all things and inspires a posture of reverence and gratitude. Worship is both a response to God’s goodness and a source of strength for believers.





Conclusion


Jude 1:22-25 offers profound insights into the nature of mercy, faithfulness, and God’s preserving power. By examining these verses through the lens of conservative evangelical scholarship, we gain a deeper understanding of the practical and theological implications of Jude’s exhortations. The balance of mercy and holiness, coupled with an unwavering trust in God’s sovereignty, provides a robust framework for living out the Christian faith in a way that honors God and supports fellow believers.


About the Author

EDWARD D. ANDREWS (AS in Criminal Justice, BS in Religion, MA in Biblical Studies, and MDiv in Theology) is the CEO and President of Christian Publishing House. He has authored more than 220 books and is the Chief Translator of the Updated American Standard Version (UASV).


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