The Saints’ Guarantee
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 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. (24–25)
All of the doctrines of salvation are absolutely essential and profoundly precious to the redeemed. But the doctrine of eternal security, more accurately known as the perseverance of the saints, stands out as the most marvelous of them all. The glory of the other aspects of salvation—such as justification, regeneration, conversion, and adoption—could not be fully appreciated if salvation were not forever. Without the assurance and confidence of eternal security, the Christian life would give way to doubt, worry, and fear as believers wondered if the other doctrines were permanent. And the thought of giving up everything to follow Christ would hardly seem worth the cost if all might be lost in the end (cf. Luke 9:23–25). Yet, because of the doctrine of eternal security, we as believers can rest assured that nothing can rob us of that saving faith that will ultimately produce an “eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. 4:17).
If it were up to us alone to maintain our salvation, we would surely lose it. As those who still struggle with sin (1 John 1:8–10; cf. Rom. 7:15–23; 1 Cor. 1:11; 5:1; 11:18; James 1:14–15; 4:1–3), we would repeatedly forfeit our righteous standing before God. Even the apostle Paul acknowledged his continuing battle against the flesh, exclaiming, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” (Rom. 7:24). He recognized that he could neither gain nor maintain salvation through his own self-righteous efforts (Phil. 3:4–14).
Thankfully, true salvation is not based on our works as believers, but rather the work of Christ. It is His righteousness that covers those who trust in Him (Phil. 3:9; 2 Peter 1:1). We need not worry about keeping, or losing, our salvation because it is not based on our deeds. Instead, it is based on the unchanging person of Jesus Christ (cf. Heb. 13:8). The plan (Rom. 8:29–30), promise (Heb. 10:23), power (Rom. 1:16), and provision (2 Cor. 5:21) from God Himself guarantees our eternal destiny.
The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints (that true believers persevere in faith in the gospel to the end because the Father has granted them an unfailing faith) connects inseparably with the other doctrines of salvation. For instance, it is intimately tied to the doctrine of election (v. 1; Eph. 1:11; 1 Thess. 5:24; cf. 1 Peter 1:4–5)—God makes sure that those He chooses for eternal life will never lose it (John 10:28–29; 1 Cor. 1:8–9; Phil. 1:6). It is also eternally linked to the doctrine of justification (Rom. 5:1, 9; 8:30), by which Jesus Christ has fully paid sin’s penalty for believers (1 Peter 2:24; cf. 2 Cor. 5:21) so that there is no basis on which they can be condemned (Rom. 8:1, 33–35). And it connects inseparably to the doctrines of sanctification (2 Thess. 2:13) and glorification (Heb. 2:10)—the Holy Spirit seals believers and sanctifies them (2 Cor. 1:21–22; Eph. 1:13–14), thereby certifying that all will be brought to glory (cf. Heb. 10:14–15). If we—who by faith embrace the gospel—could lose our salvation, then each of these other doctrines would be severely undermined.
As he brings his letter to a close, Jude underscores God’s preserving work in salvation by means of a doxology, a word of praise to God. In so doing, Jude is in keeping with biblical precedent. Each of the five books of Psalms, for example, concludes with a doxology (41:13; 72:18–19; 89:52; 106:48; 150). The New Testament also records many other doxologies (e.g., Luke 2:13–14; 19:35–38; Rom. 11:36; 16:27; Eph. 1:3; 3:20–21; Phil. 4:20; 1 Peter 5:11; 2 Peter 3:18; Rev. 1:6), all of which focus on the glory and grace of God. They are always outbursts of praise for the greatness of salvation and the promised blessings of eternal life in heaven. For instance, Paul concluded his letter to the Romans with this doxology:
Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which has been kept secret for long ages past, but now is manifested, and by the Scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the eternal God, has been made known to all the nations, leading to obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be the glory forever. Amen. (16:25–27; cf. Gal. 1:3–5; 1 Tim. 1:17; 2 Tim. 4:18)
In contrast to his warnings regarding apostasy, Jude’s doxology brings comfort and encouragement, reminding believers of the faithfulness and power of God. It negates fear (cf. Ps. 27:1; Prov. 1:33; John 14:27), brings joy (cf. Isa. 35:10; Matt. 5:12a; Rom. 15:13), and stimulates hope for the future (cf. Rom. 12:12; Eph. 4:4; Titus 1:2; 1 Peter 1:3). And it does this by emphasizing two crucial things that the Lord will do for us His saints: preserve our salvation and present us blameless before His glorious throne.
The Lord Preserves the Saints
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, (24a)
Because God is perfectly faithful, supremely powerful, and infinitely loving, He will not allow His children to fall away from saving faith or defect from the gospel so as to be lost again in their sins. Not only is He willing to preserve believers (Rom. 8:28; Eph. 1:9–11; cf. John 17:20–23), He is also able to preserve them to the end.
During His earthly ministry, Jesus taught definitively that God sovereignly secures all who believe:
All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.… No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:37–40, 44; cf. 10:28–29; 1 Peter 1:3–5)
Scripture is filled with many other testimonies to God’s promise and power to preserve His people. In another New Testament doxology, Paul exulted to the Ephesians, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Eph. 3:20–21; cf. 2 Cor. 9:8). And the author of Hebrews, speaking of Jesus, echoes, “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25; cf. 5:7).
Humanly speaking, the path to heaven has always been perilous (cf. Acts 14:22; 2 Cor. 6:4–10; 11:23–30; Heb. 11:32–40; Rev. 12:10–11), full of dangers from Satan and his apostate agents (Luke 22:31; Eph. 6:11–17; 1 Thess. 2:18; 3:5; 1 Peter 5:8–9; cf. Job 1:12–19; 2:6–7; Matt. 4:1–11). But, from God’s perspective, the path to heaven is absolutely safe, not because believers are able to preserve themselves, but because God is able to keep them.
To keep is the translation of a military word (phulassō) meaning “to guard,” or “to watch over.” God is at His post, standing guard over believers to ensure their safety (Ps. 12:7; Prov. 3:26; 1 Cor. 1:8–9) during any assault from the enemy (cf. 1 John 5:18). He is the One who keeps them from stumbling into apostasy. As Jesus the Good Shepherd told His listeners:
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27–29)
The Lord Jesus again entrusted His followers into the hands of His Father in His High Priestly Prayer recorded in John 17 (cf. vv. 9, 11, 15). In verses 24 and 26 (nkjv), He prayed,
Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.… And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.
The Son’s infinite love for the Father ensures that He will keep those whom the Father has given Him. And vice versa, the Father’s infinite love for the Son makes certain that He will protect those whom He has given to the Son. Thus the believer is secured by both the Father and the Son.
Salvation is also guaranteed by the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul underscored this truth while writing to the Ephesians. After emphasizing the doctrine of election, that God chose His own solely on the basis of His good pleasure (1:3–12), Paul added:
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory. (vv. 13–14, nkjv)
In the same way that an ancient seal served as both a secure guarantee and a mark of ownership, the Holy Spirit is given to believers as divine proof of salvation. The work of the Spirit in the lives of His people confirms that they have truly been regenerated (Titus 3:3–8; cf. Gal. 5:21–22). As Paul noted elsewhere, “The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16). Having been adopted into God’s family, believers are assured by the indwelling Holy Spirit Himself that they will never be disowned.
In several places in his writings, the apostle Paul also emphasized that salvation is a gift based solely on God’s grace through Christ’s death. It is not based on human good works, but rather on God’s working alone. In Romans 5:8–11, Paul wrote:
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
Before God saved them, believers were the enemies of God (Eph. 2:1–3). There was nothing good in them that made them worthy of His love (cf. Rom. 3:10–19). Thus it was only by His infinite grace and according to His perfect plan (cf. Rom. 8:28–30) that salvation was ever even offered to them. Ephesians 2:8–9 reiterates this reality: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Salvation is truly a free gift from God. It could not possibly be earned by human works or self-righteousness (cf. Titus 3:1–8). By the same token, it cannot be kept by human effort. The eternal security of the believer rests upon the same infinite sacrifice that brought salvation in the first place—the death of Jesus Christ (cf. Heb. 7:27). Because Christians did nothing to earn salvation, they can do nothing to lose it; they were saved by the loving power of God, and they remain saved by that same power. With this in mind, Paul joyously exclaimed,
For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Rom. 8:38–39)
Nothing, including personal acts of sin, can separate the true believer from his or her Savior.
Other passages in the New Testament also affirm this doctrine to be true:
You are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you in the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Cor. 1:7–9)
Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Eph. 4:30)
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phil. 1:6)
May the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. (1 Thess. 5:23–24)
In light of the biblical evidence, one author asks,
Is it conceivable that in spite of all this, [Christians] may still fall away and be lost? Is it possible for God to predestine us to holiness, and yet we do not become holy? Can He adopt us as children and then disown us? Can He give us a guarantee of salvation and then renege on His promise? Is the human will so strong as to overcome divine power? Surely not! What more does God need to say to assure us that He will uphold us to the end? (David Clotfelter, Sinners in the Hands of a Good God [Chicago: Moody, 2004], 176)
Even the apostle Peter, who was continually prone to failure (such as denying Christ three times), never suggested that salvation could be lost. Instead, when he penned his first epistle, Peter recognized God’s power as that which preserved salvation:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:3–5)
At the end of this same epistle, he returned to the theme of perseverance, writing, “After you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself perfect, confirm, strengthen and establish you” (5:10).
The magnitude of that promise is overwhelming. God Himself perfects, confirms, strengthens, and establishes us who are His children. Though His purposes for the future involve some pain in the present, He will nevertheless give us grace to endure and persevere in faith. Even while the enemy attacks us personally, God simultaneously perfects us. He Himself is doing it. He will accomplish His purposes in us, bringing us to wholeness, setting us on solid ground, making us strong, and establishing us on a firm foundation.
To be sure, the doctrine of eternal security does not mean that people can live in patterns of unrepentant sin and still be assured of heaven. Eternal security is not a license for sin (cf. Rom. 6:1). For that matter, we who truly believe would never view it as such—since we have been given a new nature (cf. 2 Peter 1:4) that loves to obey our Master (John 14:15). Those who make a profession of faith, but then fall away into lifestyles of sin, reveal that their profession was never really genuine (cf. 1 John 2:19). But for those of us whose faith is real, the security of salvation is a joyous certainty indeed.
The Lord Presents the Saints
and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 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. (24b–25)
A hallmark of genuine saving faith is that it endures to the end (Matt. 24:13). To make you stand translates the verb histēmi, which more precisely in this context means “to set,” “to present,” “to confirm,” or “to establish.” At present, believers stand in grace (Rom. 5:1–4), but in the future they will also stand in glory (Col. 3:4; 1 Peter 5:10).
For fallen men to stand in the presence of God’s glory should produce sheer terror. Isaiah pronounced a curse on himself (Isa. 6:5). Ezekiel fell over like a dead person (Ezek. 1:28). Peter, James, and John experienced overwhelming fear on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matt. 17:5–7; Luke 9:32–34). The apostle John fainted as one who was dead when he saw the vision of the risen and glorious Christ (Rev. 1:17). Having come face-to-face with God’s glorious presence, each of these men instantly felt the full weight of his sinfulness (cf. Luke 5:8). Each fell to the ground, overwhelmed by his own sense of unworthiness.
To stand in God’s glorious presence, believers must be blameless. Revelation 21:27 makes it clear that unrepentant sinners will not enter the glory of heaven: “Nothing unclean, and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into [the heavenly Jerusalem], but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (cf. 22:14–15). Amōmos (blameless) means “faultless,” and it is used here to describe the sinless state that believers will one day enjoy. The New Testament also uses the term to refer to the purity of sacrifices (Heb. 9:14, “without blemish”; cf. 1 Peter 1:19). Although believers, as those of us to whom God has imputed Christ’s righteousness, are now positionally blameless (Rom. 4:6–8; 1 Cor. 1:30; 2 Cor. 5:21; Titus 3:7), we are still in our fleshly, sinful bodies. We are yet awaiting the resurrection, when we will receive our new glorified bodies (cf. John 5:25; 11:24–25; 1 Cor. 15:21–23, 42–44; 2 Cor. 5:1; Phil. 3:21). In heaven we will experience not only an absence of sin but also a presence of perfect holiness (1 Thess. 3:13; cf. Rev. 21:22–22:5). All our faculties will be emancipated from evil and fully devoted to the righteous worship of God forever and ever (cf. Rev. 4:6–11; 5:11–14; 19:6).
As saints in glory, we will know nothing of the fear and trauma that characterized being in God’s presence on earth (see the aforementioned examples). Instead we will experience great joy, which will characterize every aspect of our heavenly life (cf. Rev. 7:16–17). This joy refers primarily to the divine joy (cf. Luke 15:7, 10; Zeph. 3:17) of the Father and the Son over our fellowship with other believers—a joy in which the redeemed will share for all eternity. Thus all believers will dwell with God in perfect love and holy delight forever and ever.
There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it [the New Earth], and His bond-servants will serve Him; they will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever. (Rev. 22:3–5)
As he ended his epistle, Jude offered praise for the present salvation and future glorification of believers: to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Only God … through Jesus Christ can accomplish the work of a Savior. As a result, Jude reserved the highest praise for the Son. Glory summarizes all the divine attributes in their powerful radiance (cf. Ex. 33:22); majesty signifies the absolute reign of the Father (cf. Heb. 1:3; 8:1) and the Son (cf. 2 Peter 1:16); dominion refers to the extent of His might and active rule over all (cf. Ps. 66:7); and authority denotes Christ’s supreme right and privilege to do as He wills (cf. Acts 2:33–35; Phil. 2:9–11). This divine supremacy over everything in the universe encompasses all eternity (cf. Rev. 1:8): before all time (eternity past), now (the present age), and forever (eternity future).
Because He is all powerful, and because His glorious name is at stake, God’s promise to preserve us His saints and to one day present us blameless before His throne can be trusted without reservation. To doubt the reality of that promise is to doubt God Himself. But to embrace it is to find ceaseless joy and never-ending comfort. In the words of Charles Spurgeon:
When I heard it said that the Lord would keep His people right to the end,—that Christ had said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of My hand,” I must confess that the doctrine of the final preservation of the saints was a bait that my soul could not resist. I thought it was a sort of life insurance—an insurance of my character, an insurance of my soul, an insurance of my eternal destiny. I knew that I could not keep myself, but if Christ promised to keep me, then I should be safe for ever; and I longed and prayed to find Christ, because I knew that, if I found Him, He would not give me a temporary and trumpery salvation, such as some preach, but eternal life which could never be lost, the living and incorruptible seed which liveth and abideth for ever, for no one and nothing “shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (C. H. Spurgeon, from “Danger, Safety, Gratitude,” sermon no. 3,074, preached January 8,1874, The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit [reprint, Pasadena, Tex.: Pilgrim Publications, 1978], 54:24)
Tribute to the One Who “Keeps” (24–25)
Having called forth past examples of divine judgment and exhorted the faithful to realize their part in being a disciplined community, Jude concludes by offering an exalted tribute to the One who preserves them. This is done in the form of a doxology, a “proclaiming of glory.” Several basic patterns of speech to God tend to emerge from the OT: petition, praise, and thanksgiving. Hymnic material that offers praise and glorification of God can assume the form of any of these. The origin of doxology is owing to a distinctly Jewish matrix. The early Christian doxology, in style and content, resembled that of the Jewish synagogue and was not infrequently accompanied by an eschatological deliverance call. Normally framed in the third person (as in Jude 24—to de dynamenōphylaxai …), the doxology functioned to proclaim God’s praise (“To him who is able …”) as well as to affirm his eternality (“before all ages, now and forevermore.”
24 The epistle concludes with a benediction praising God for his attributes that express themselves in his power to preserve the saints. This doxological benediction reiterates in the active voice what the author stated in his salutation through the passive voice: his readers are called, loved, and kept by God. The introduction and conclusion of the letter thus form a rhetorical inclusio by opening and closing with the same theme: the saints are kept by the power of God. The conclusion follows a series of eight exhortations to the faithful that are to serve as antidotes to apostasy in the light of the previous condemnations (so Marshall, 166). The saints are to remember, build themselves up, pray, keep themselves, anticipate, convince, save, and have mercy (vv. 17–23).
The rhetorical effect of the doxology, following the rather brief but rapid-fire hortatory section, is deliberate. After all has been humanly done to safeguard against the cancer of apostasy, it is the power of Almighty God our Savior mediated through Jesus Christ that is “able to keep you from falling.” Exploiting a prominent catchword in the epistle, the author uses a strengthened form of “preserve”—phylassō (GK 5875)—to describe divine action: God is able, literally, to “guard [safely] as a prison.” Moreover, he is able not only to safeguard the saints against falling but even cause them to stand “before [God’s] glorious presence without fault and with great joy.” In the end, then, it is not mere persistence or the great investment of human energy that is ultimately responsible for the saints’ salvation; rather, it is the saving and keeping power of God.
25 It is to this God our Savior alone that the following attributes are ascribed—glory, majesty, power, and authority. The cumulative force of these resources is the surpassing might of the one who called us (cf. v. 1). With precise calculation, Jude employs the language of sovereignty. The saints need not be shaken by the sobering instances of God’s judgment in history if, in fact, they have a genuine desire to be established in the faith.
Finally, praise is due this Almighty Savior “before all ages, now and forevermore.” Although throughout the epistle Jude draws on the language and imagery of Jewish apocalyptic familiar to intertestamental literature, in his concluding doxology he aligns himself with a decidedly OT prophetic view of history, i.e., the past, the present, and the future are all seen as working toward the consummation of the divine purpose.
Doxology (Jude 24–25)
24 / Jude ends his letter with a great ascription of praise. Having bidden his readers “to keep (tērein) themselves in God’s love” (v. 21), Jude balances that thought with the assurance that for his part God is able to keep (phylassein) you from falling into the sins of the false teachers. It is a reminder that in facing temptation the believer must depend not on personal, inner strength but on the power of God. Jude’s two different Greek verbs, while synonyms (and both rightly translated “keep”), have a slightly different emphasis: tērein means “to have watchful care,” while phylassein is “to stand guard,” implying custody and protection. So the dual thought is that it is the believer’s duty to keep him or herself in God’s love by maintaining a steady gaze upon God; it is God’s responsibility to do the active protecting from evil attack, however open or insidious that onslaught may be.
God is able to keep believers from falling. The Greek is more exactly translated “without stumbling.” It does not necessarily imply falling flat on one’s face. God can keep us from lesser as well as greater temptations. The grace of divine strength and ability is available for those who will draw upon it (1 Cor. 10:13).
On a more positive note, God can make us, frail and liable to sin as we are, fit to stand in his glorious presence without fault, amōmos. The Greek word is a sacrificial term and applied in the ot to perfect animals suitable to be offered on the altar to God (Exod. 29:38; Lev. 1:3; 3:1). God can do still more. He can bring us into his presence, not with the fear and shame that would be appropriate to our characters, but with great joy, his great joy as well as ours. God’s supreme object is to make the church of believers fit to be presented to himself (Eph. 5:27) as a sacrificial offering, “through” the actual perfect sacrifice of “Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Pet. 1:19). The same thought is in Eph. 1:4; Col. 1:22; 1 Thess. 3:13.
25 / He is our only God. The expression reflects Israel’s creed “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deut. 6:4). While the further descriptive term our Savior is one that the nt more usually applies to Jesus Christ, Jude is not alone in speaking of God as Savior (see Luke 1:47; 1 Tim. 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4). What follows is not a prayer (which would make nonsense of before all ages) but a declaration of praise: be [not in the Greek] glory, majesty, power, and authority. The four terms describe God’s attributes. Glory is the essential radiance of divine light; the word for power means dominion, the absolute control God has over his world, which ensures his ultimate triumph over all opposition from whatever source; transcendent majesty is applied only to the Father (Heb. 1:3; 8:1); authority expresses his sovereign ability to do all that is necessary to met human needs (delegated to the risen Christ, Matt. 28:18).
The expression before all ages, now, and forevermore is the best words can do to cover the past, the present, and the future (cf. Heb. 13:8), and thus it further emphasizes God’s total and complete charge of all. The final Amen is the Hebrew affirmation “So be it!” and it has from the earliest days of the church regularly concluded prayers and doxologies.
Contending for the faith: the salvation we share
The closing words of Jude’s letter are probably the best known. Many people who say and sing this ‘magnificent doxology’ do so without having travelled the route we have travelled, through Jude’s concern for his church. It does make sense as a glorious song in its own right, but put into the context of Jude’s argument2 it leaps into more dramatic life. Jude is closing his letter as he began, with a prayer (cf. verses 1–2), and he is still dwelling on the same thoughts. We saw that the statements and concerns there (that we are ‘called’, ‘loved’ and ‘kept’, and that we might know ‘mercy’, ‘peace’ and ‘love’) point us to our future hope. In this closing section, we see how God leads us to that hope; he is able to keep us from falling and to present us before his glorious presence. Jude’s letter was intended to prepare us for a long road, and now we look to our journey’s end as we prepare to meet our Saviour.
- He is able to keep you from falling (24a)
Jude says that God is able. He is thus introducing two parallel actions of God—one negative (he is able to keep you from something) and one positive (he is able … to present you to someone). The little word able slightly plays down the magnificent power Jude attributes to God in this verse. God is exercising great power on our behalf.
As marathons become more popular, we are getting used to seeing amateur fun-runners cross the line exhausted and hurting, but exhilarated at having covered so much distance without falling by the way. Having seen what Jude has taught about the dangers that surround even the most ordinary Christian, it is a massive reassurance to discover that God is able to keep us from falling. Jude has written about the Israelites dying in the desert, angels losing their positions of authority and the cities of the plain being swept from their beautiful setting. All these ‘serve as an example’ to us (verse 7). We have seen Cain, Balaam and Korah abusing their privileged knowledge about God, and Jude’s opponents ‘have been destroyed’ already in the aftermath of that rebellion (verse 11). Such people in our churches inevitably influence us, and we wonder if we will ever manage to reach the finishing-tape in a race where so many seem to fall along the way. Marathon runners who fall suffer physical injury, but we, if we fall, lose the very prize of salvation.
Jude’s reassurance is that God will ‘guard you so that you are exempt from stumbling and never trip or make a false step.’ We will never fall over our own feet, nor will someone else be able to wrong-foot us. He has urged us to take pains to ‘keep’ ourselves ‘in God’s love’ (verse 21), and now he gives us God’s promise to match that obedience: he will keep us from falling. As Jude’s readers face the challenge of living with the constant pressure to stumble coming even from within the church and among the church’s leaders, what a great relief to know that night or day ‘He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep’!6
- He is able to present you before his presence (24b)
In the Christian marathon, everyone who crosses the line is a winner. The prize is that God brings us before his glorious presence. This slightly odd phrase is probably a respectful way for a Jewish writer to talk about the glorious God himself in his ‘moral splendour’.9 This is the final judgment scene, where God’s glory is displayed in all its aweful purity: ‘the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ’. The prophet Malachi had imagined that heavenly courtroom scene and asked, ‘Who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears?’11 The correct answer is that no-one is able to stand on the basis of the lives we have lived. Yet Jude has seen that a wonderful transformation will have occurred, enabling Christians to face that holiness without flinching.
Jude says that God will be able to present us before his presence without fault. That is a most amazing statement. In the tabernacle and temple worship, anything that was presented to God had to be without fault: the bulls, rams, lambs, and all the other offerings had to be perfect. In one comprehensive command, God told Moses: ‘When any of you brings an offering to the Lord, bring as your offering an animal from either the herd or the flock. If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he is to offer a male without defect.’ The Israelites had to learn that not only their sacrificial animals had to be faultless; so did they. David saw this with great clarity. ‘Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous.’ Taken to its logical limit, that would mean that no-one could dwell in the presence of the holy God. That was one of the hard lessons that Israel had to learn from the exile in Babylon.15 No-one could produce ‘the integrity and moral purity which is what [God] really demands from his worshippers’.
Jesus Christ’s death changes that, for he died a sacrificial death as ‘a lamb without blemish or defect’. The writer to the Hebrews grasped the magnificent difference which that makes. ‘The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!’18 It is not surprising, then, that New Testament writers such as Jude use Old Testament sacrificial words to describe the ultimate purity of Christians, for they will share the wonderful purity of Christ.
Jude’s ‘dear friends’ (verses 3, 17, 20) belonged to a church which had prominent members who were ‘blemishes’ (12) and whose sins were like clothing ‘stained by corrupted flesh’ (23). Perhaps they felt contaminated by being near such people, and worried that some guilt might rub off. Jude holds out to all of them the amazing words that were said to Joshua the high priest, ‘See, I have taken away your sin, and I will put rich garments on you.’ That scene will surely be characterized by wonderful, exuberant, great joy on the part of ourselves, the angels22 and even Jesus Christ himself.
- Hallelujah! What a Saviour! (25)
Jude begins to close his letter by bringing together exhilarating words of praise which overflow into one another, and which he probably does not intend us to disentangle too analytically. He wants us to respond with praise to a God whose magnificent dominion is unchallengeable for ever. It cannot be challenged because he has glory, majesty, power and authority. Glory (doxa) is the public, visible and acclaimed presence of God, the glory of Sinai, in the tabernacle and the temple, which left at the time of the exile. It was again seen on earth only in the face of the Lord Jesus, where the apostles had ‘seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth’. We will see it only when he brings us before his glorious presence for ever. His majesty is his ‘awful transcendence’, his eternal right to rule. His power underlines his unique claim to his throne (the word it translates, kratos, is only ever used of God himself and his work), and he acts in that power when he uses his authority.
Jude’s timescale is breathtaking too, for he spins us back before the creation of our universe and says that God had this unimaginable power before all ages; despite the apparent godlessness of our world, he has it now, and nothing will ever replace him for evermore.
Jude seems to be echoing the delighted praise of David:
Praise be to you, O Lord,
God of our father Israel,
from everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the majesty and the splendour,
for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, O Lord, is the kingdom;
you are exalted as head over all.
Wealth and honour come from you;
you are the ruler of all things.
In your hands are strength and power
to exalt and give strength to all.
Now, our God, we give you thanks,
and praise your glorious name.
There is, however, a new element in Jude’s praise which David could barely see in the distance. All the praise and acknowledgment are offered to God through Jesus Christ our Lord. This elevates Jesus to the highest place, for ‘words could hardly express more clearly Jude’s belief in the pre-existence and eternity of Christ’.
This wonderful heaping up of praise is due to God for one great reason, the reason that has shone through Jude’s letter from start to finish, and the only beam of bright light that can offer any glimmer of hope to those who live in a world with a grim present and an even grimmer future under God’s judgment. The reason is that he is the only God our Saviour. He is the only God there is, which rules out the delusions that Jude’s opponents were spreading. In addition, he acts towards us as Saviour. It is such a small word, and has been so abused and trivialized in much Christian thinking and praise. But when the mighty day of God comes, more terrible than we can imagine—when we see for the first time who it is we rebel against; how perfect his standards are; how ghastly our sin is; how seriously he meant all the Old Testament warnings of judgment on the grumbling Israelites, the mutinous angels, and Sodom and Gomorrah—then we shall see with fear and wonder what a mighty work the cross of Christ was, and is, and shall be for ever. The fact that God himself has acted on our behalf to rescue us from a judgment which we so thoroughly deserve means that the heavens will echo for ever with our shout of praise: Amen.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2005). 2 Peter and Jude (pp. 205–213). Chicago: Moody Publishers.
 Charles, D. J. (2006). Jude. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 568–569). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 Hillyer, N. (2011). 1 and 2 Peter, Jude (pp. 267–268). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 Lucas, R. C., & Green, C. (1995). The message of 2 Peter & Jude: the promise of His coming (pp. 230–234). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.