“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints.” Jude 1:3
Do you ever wish you could just take a moment to sit down and chat with your favorite author? Jude is surely one of those guys for me. I’m convinced we are somehow “cut from the same mold,” so to speak. He just can’t help but encourage. Landing as one of the shortest letters in the Bible, we only catch the slightest glimpse of his radiant heart,
and it’s just so beautiful.
He hooks me right in with his very first statement. Like so many great writers, Jude begins sharing the purpose of his writing. Though he intends to simply chat about our common salvation experience, the Holy Spirit comes on him so
it’s as if the pen in his hand has a mind of its own. This overwhelming urge
urge [parakaleo]– used for every kind of call to a person which is intended to produce a particular effect
wells up and overflows from deep within, changing not only the main objective of the whole letter but also the entire content.
Don’t ya just love it when that happens?
In that moment, you know God is speaking and you’re just the mouthpiece.
I brace myself every time in anticipation of a divine message.
So what does He say through Jude?
A simple phrase.
Contend for the faith.
I have to share how I stumbled upon this verse. I was praying some time back, talking (perhaps complaining) to God about a particular situation that felt heavy and burdensome. To be honest, I was fed up, exhausted, and tired of asking for the same thing and seeing no result.
In fact, in the physical, the situation looked worse. In almost an audible voice I heard a phrase so clearly, yet barely understood
“Contend for the faith.”
Intrigued, I launched into a full-on study in Jude.
What’s this phrase mean?
Contend [epagonizomai] comes from two Greek words meaning to strive, struggle for, make a strenuous effort on behalf of.
Interestingly, this Greek word is only used in this verse. It’s not found anywhere else in the New Testament.
Contending expresses an intense fighting or conflict, and the word paints a vivid picture. Let’s just say, it’s not for the “faint of heart.” In the day this was written, many gathered in coliseums to watch the most gruesome events.
From duals to executions, where bodies were pulled apart,
“blood and guts” somehow equated entertainment.
When used in athletic imagery, this word depicts two things:
1. The one against whom one is contending.
2. The person or thing upon whom one depends for support in rivalry. Wow!
Did you get that?
There’s a twofold definition here that doesn’t quite translate in the English.
When Jude commands us to contend for the faith, he is illustrating the obvious picture of downright dirty fighting (my sister-in-law calls it “skunk wrestling”).
But not only that, he is illustrating an all-out dependency on Jesus. He is our support!
Sometimes we get weary from the battle.
Sometimes the road is long.
Sometimes we can’t go on another second.
Not only in fighting the good fight, but lean into Jesus to support you. It’s the only sure chance of victory.
Jesus, I kneel before You asking for the heart of a warrior. I find myself living in a society where faith takes all shapes, forms, and sizes. Would You lead and guide me through Your Truth? Equip me to fight for others’ faith in the spiritual realm. Teach me and guide me, I pray.