Jude 1:1-25; Revelation 1:1-2:29
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Jude: Today we start and finish the book of Jude!
~ Jude ~
Author: Jude, a brother of Jesus
Date: A.D. 65-70
Content: It is not known to whom this letter was addressed, but the problem that Jude confronts is very clear. Jude is urging the believers to stand firm against some false teachers and the false doctrine that they bring. In a lengthy passage Jude gives examples of judgment in the past that God visited upon sin, as well as a devastating description of the evil lives of those false teachers. Jude closes with an exhortation to the Christians to stand fast in the power of God who will keep us from falling.
Theme: The danger of false doctrine and the need for constant vigilance by the church is the theme of this book. Jude admonishes us to examine what people say and the kind of lives that they live so that we may approve what is pleasing in the sight of God. We may call upon God to help in this with full assurance that he will hear and answer our prayer. (Above commentary is from “The One Year Bible Companion” pp. 34-35) A great overview of Jude by Daniel Wallace is at this link.
The letter of Jude carries forward some of the themes in John's letter's we've recently read about false teachers. This letter was written in about 65 A.D. From Jude & John, it seems like there were obviously some issues of false teachers back in the early church. People that twisted the truth of who Jesus was. I read a commentary today which said the twisted truths back then were basically these: 1. Jesus was not divine. He was just a man who was infused with the divinity of "the Christ" when he was Baptized in the Jordan, but that the divine nature left him before he died on the cross. (this would be a huge issue for theology... it ain't true folks...) and 2. Once you believe in Christ and your sins are forgiven, then you have a license to do whatever you want in life. You're home free. Feel free to be as immoral as you want. (again not true of course...). Early Gnosticism was a part of the problem with these lines of thinking. The early Gnostics basically believed that anything of matter/material/flesh was bad, and anything of the spirit was good. Hence, their belief that Jesus really couldn't have been a man and God at the same time - and that once they were saved/believed in Christ, then their sins were forgiven in the spiritual realm, so they could do whatever the heck they wanted. They veered way off the path of Truth...
All this to say - it is so easy for theology to get twisted around. It happened back in the early church as we see in Jude's letter today, and in John's previous letters. And it happens today. Something I heard recently that I liked and that I believe is so true. The Gospel is not complicated. It's simple. If you want the straightforward simple truth of the gospel, head for the Gospel of John in the New Testament and everything you basically need to know is there. That's it. We don't need to complicate things so much that we get ourselves caught up in ideas that basically create barriers to our relationship with God. God who loves us so much and wants to be in relationship with us... we have a good way of complicating this very simple love relationship! :)
Verse 24 is so wonderful at the end of Jude's letter today:- "And now, all glory to God, who is able to keep you from stumbling, and who will bring you into his glorious presence innocent of sin and with great joy." Great joy indeed I believe can only be found through our relationship with God! There are other temporary happinesses we experience in life. But great joy... that's God.
Revelation: Today we start the book of Revelation! I have to confess that I have been a bit nervous about blogging through the book of Revelation. But here goes nothing! :) Revelation has been called "The Revelation of John", but really this book is "The Revelation of Jesus Christ". It is believed that the apostle John wrote this book. He also wrote the Gospel of John and the letters of First, Second, and Third John. There was some dispute about the apostle John writing this book in the third century by a bishop named Dionysius - as he thought the writing style of this book was so different from the Gospel of John & his letters. But most do believe that the apostle John did indeed write the book of Revelation on the Island of Patmos, off the coast of Ephesus, or modern-day Turkey. It is said that one of the major purposes of this book, written in circa 95 A.D., was to encourage Christians to resist the Roman empire's demands of emperor worship. The other important thing to note is the Revelation is apocalyptic literature, which means that its writing is highly symbolic. Below is artwork of John on Patmos writing the book of Revelation:
There are basically 4 lines of thinking on how to interpret the book of Revelation, which I think are helpful to consider before diving into this book. I am editing these comments below from bible.org at this link: Please check out this link for more details on these 4 points below and the book of Revelation overall - these comments were edited on bible.org from M. C. Tenney, Interpreting Revelation.
"(1) The preterist approach believes that “Revelation is simply a sketch of the conditions of the empire in the first century.”
(2) The historicist view (or continuous-historicist view) “contends that Revelation is a symbolic presentation of the entire course of the history of the church from the close of the first century to the end of time.”
(3) The futurist approach usually argues that “all of the visions from Revelation 4:1 to the end of the book are yet to be fulfilled in the period immediately preceding and following the second advent of Christ.”
(4) In the idealist approach, “the Revelation represents the eternal conflict of good and evil which persists in every age, although here it may have particular application to the period of the church.”"
Into the readings today... Chapter 1 verse 8 certainly stands out in today's readings, as we hear from Jesus himself: ""I am the Alpha and the Omega--the beginning and the end," says the Lord God. "I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come, the Almighty One." I like that - the Alpha & Omega. The first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Jesus is the beginning and end of all things. Jesus is God.
In verses 17 & 18 today we hear this similar theme from Jesus again to John: "Don't be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one who died. Look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave." It is awesome that Jesus uses the term Living One here. This is very similar to Old Testament verses we hear about God being a Living God. Jesus is also truly Living today in our lives. Do you believe Jesus is the Alpha & Omega? The Living One?
Revelation chapter 2 begins our journey of Jesus' messages to the seven churches in Asia Minor! (modern day Turkey). Below is a map of the 7 churches of Revelation:
Depending on what type of Bible you read, you might notice that ALL of the words in chapter 2 in today's readings are highlighted red - meaning, we are hearing directly from Jesus in these verses, so it's good to pay attention here! :)
The beginning of Revelation 2 verse 2 stands out to me today - ""I know all the things you do." Short and simple.... Do you suppose this is true about Jesus and your life? Do you think Jesus knows all of the things you do? Even every single thing that you think?
Verse 7 certainly stands out today as well from Jesus: "Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches. Everyone who is victorious will eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God." The tree of life takes us back to the Garden of Eden with Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve ended up eating from the forbidden tree of knowledge - which gave them the knowledge of good and evil. God then banished them from the Garden before they could eat from the tree of life and live eternally. The tree of life represents eternal life, and as we see in this verse it is offered to all who are victorious. What does it mean to be victorious? Do you want to eat from the tree of life in the paradise of God? Will you listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying? Below is a stained glass image of the Tree of Life:
Verse 17 is intriguing! "Everyone who is victorious will eat of the manna that has been hidden away in heaven. And I will give to each one a white stone, and on the stone will be engraved a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it." The second sentence is very intriguing to me - a white stone will be given with a new name upon it. I need to do some more research on what exactly this means. If anyone has thoughts on the white stone / new name, please post up in the comments below.
Today in Revelation we continue to read Jesus' messages to the 7 churches in Asia Minor - see above for a map of where these 7 churches were located. Also, don't forget the powerful vision that John saw of Jesus in Revelation chapter 1 verses 12 through 14 and verse 20 just before we began reading these messages to the 7 churches: "When I turned to see who was speaking to me, I saw seven gold lampstands. And standing in the middle of the lampstands was someone like the Son of Man. He was wearing a long robe with a gold sash across his chest. His head and his hair were white like wool, as white as snow. And his eyes were like flames of fire. His feet were like polished bronze refined in a furnace, and his voice thundered like mighty ocean waves. He held seven stars in his right hand, and a sharp two-edged sword came from his mouth. And his face was like the sun in all its brilliance... This is the meaning of the mystery of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and the seven gold lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches."
To order prints visit her "Revelation Illustrated" site.
Revelation chapter 2 verse 19 is awesome as Jesus says: ""I know all the things you do--your love, your faith, your service, and your patient endurance. And I can see your constant improvement in all these things." How are you doing in these areas in your life? Are you focusing on love, faith, service and patience? Are you constantly improving in these areas in your life?
Worship God: Revelation chapter 1 verse 8 in today's readings reminds me of the fantastic song by Mark Harris called "One True God:"
Do you know the One true God? Click here and meet the One!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "'I am the Alpha and the Omega,' says the Lord God, 'who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.'" Revelation 1:8 (NIV)
Prayer Point: Pray that you know that Jesus is your Alpha and Omega. Pray today and every day, Come Lord Jesus, Come!
Comments from You: What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
p.s. Download our monthly Small Group study notes for our Chronological Bible readings at this link.
p.p.s. Download a schedule of our Chronological Bible readings for the year in PDF format at this link.