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