Jude 1,2 No Proof Text for Deity

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

To those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for[a] Jesus Christ:

Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.

No Proof Text for Deity

Douglas J. Moo writes this about whether Jude 1,2 could be used as a proof text for Jesus’ deity:

Once we recognize the theological overtones in the phrase “servant of Jesus Christ,” we can find in the phrase a reminder of the exalted nature of Jesus.  his exalted status is something that, after centuries of orthodox teaching, most of us take for granted.  But many do not, and many who do give him a unique status fail to give him “equal billing” with God the Father (e.g., Jehovah’s Witnesses; Mormons).

True, we cannot use Jude’s description of Christ as a proof text for his deity.  But the phrase clearly moves in that direction.  It is, in fact, in just this transfer of language about God in the Old Testament to Jesus that we find some of the best New Testament evidence for Jesus’ deity.  Specific texts in which Jesus is called “God,” such as John 1:1; 20:28; Romans 9:5; 2 Peter 1:1; Titus 2:13, and so on, are important.  But even more impressive is the abundant New Testament evidence that the early Christians, most from rigidly monotheistic backgrounds, came to act toward Jesus and to speak of him as if he were God.  They worshiped him (e.g. Matt. 14:33; 28:9; 17; cf. Heb. 1:6); they applied Old Testament verses about Yahweh to him (e.g. Rom. 10:13); they prayed to him (e.g., Acts 7:59). Though much less direct than a proof text and harder to use in arguing with Jehovah’s Witnesses on our doorstep, these indications of how the early Christians viewed Jesus are some of the most valuable arguments for his full deity.

So it would seem that we can argue from this text that a significant change happened in the perception of Jude regarding his brother, Jesus,  The family did not buy into Jesus’ descriptions about himself as he was raised with them.  Imagine having an oldest brother who, rather than just acting like he ruled the household, was God incarnate.  It would be a hard pill to swallow.  However, both James and Jude acknowledge that Jesus is totally other than they thought he was.

Prayer

Jesus I am thankful for these texts that reinforce our faith in who you are.  You transcend our limited perceptions of you as merely human. You are more than just an example of how to live a selfless life.  You are the God and Creator of the Universe.  You are distinct from and co-equal to the Father.  You are to be praised and worshiped.  Amen.

Questions

  1. By his own account, who is Jude?
  2. How might Jesus’ deity be indicated in these verses?
  3. Why does Jude expand on the traditional greeting to include mercy, peace, and love?
  4. What are your views on Jesus’ deity?
  5. How does the fact that Jesus is God inform your life?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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4 Responses to Jude 1,2 No Proof Text for Deity

  1. 33324bg says:

    I don’t know if God’s preparing and keeping me for a husband on this earth, but I do know that I’m being “kept for Jesus Christ”! This phrase stuck out to me. It seems like some times there can be so much talk among single Christian women about “saving oneself for their future husband.” I definitely agree with this, but perhaps the focus should be more on “keep oneself for the Groom, the Husband- Jesus!” This resonates in me as such a special thing. I’m chosen, picked by God to bless His Son, along with all of God’s people, as His very own- Bride. He’s coming back for me. He wants to find me waiting for Him, not loving anyone or anything higher than Him. I need to guard myself against idols. The picture increases in greatness and majesty when one remembers that this Husband, this Groom is God Himself! My Lord, my Master, I’m being kept by God now for His pleasure, for His enjoyment, for our enjoyment together. We’re one now, in that we’re very much in love, but the feast is coming, the consummation..Wow I love thinking about this.

    • Bronwyn! I love what you are talking about here. We tend to overlook the fact that we are being kept for and saving ourselves for our Groom, the treasure of our soul and the delight of our heart.

  2. More than most other theological concepts, the deity of Jesus is so important to me… it is one that I will guard and defend with all that I can! I became even more passionate about it when my close friend converted to Mormonism and my Jehovah Witness friend from community college and I would have lots of discussions. I love how the testimony of the early church aligns with this precious reality of Jesus being fully God and fully man that is evident in Scripture.

  3. kevin w. says:

    This is not a passage which I would normally have looked at as a proof text for Christ’s deity. It is convincing, however, that Jude had such a turn around as to be writing part of the New Testament when he initially was ashamed of his brother. Jesus was and is God and this changes lives. It changes my life because I have a clear example of what it means to follow God by looking at how God would live the human life in submission to the Father.

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