The adjective “blameless” refers to what is acceptable to God in His worship and service, whether physical in the case of animals for sacrifice (Lev. 1:3) or moral in the case of humans (Luke 1:6). It points to legal indemnity and moral integrity and amounts to perfect holiness, which was Jesus’ purpose in representing and reconciling them to God by His obedient life offered up in His propitiatory death (Eph. 5:27; Col. 1:22). “Great joy” spells the purpose of His incarnation (Luke 2:10) and its consummation at the marriage supper of the Lamb (Rev. 19:7) when all the baneful effects of sin will have passed away (Rev. 21:4). Such joy will animate the Son, who will be glad to confess His own before the Father (Luke 10:31; 12:8) and also the Father who will welcome them into His presence in a face-to-face encounter. “The ransomed of the Lord shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads, they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away” (Isa. 35:10).
There are many doxologies in the Bible. Some are spontaneous outbursts of the writer in response to what he has just proclaimed about God; for example, the words “blessed forever” (Ps. 89:25; Rom. 1:25; 9:5; and especially 11:33–36). Others have an explicitly corporate address and formal setting, as in 1 Chronicles 29:10–13, where David was speaking to the people of God in his day about the building of the temple, and Romans 16:25–27, where Paul was concerned about the establishing of the church at Rome. Jude’s doxology is of this latter kind as he ascribes (and prescribes) such praise to “the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord” and reminds the faithful saints of God’s splendor and sovereignty by the words “glory, majesty, dominion [and] authority.”
As has been mentioned earlier in the section on “the faith,” it was monotheism and mediator-ship that stamped a hallmark on the Christian church, setting it apart from Judaism and the multiple strands of gentile thought and practice. The Apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians of this by saying,
We know that “an idol has no real existence,” and that “there is no God but one.” For although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth—as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”—yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist. (1 Cor. 8:4–6)
This double-edged truth needs to be reaffirmed in countries where Christianity was once generally respected because the notion that now prevails is that there are many gods (if there is one at all) and that Jesus is not the only Lord and the only way to God. Our national occasions that have a religious flavor are now multi-faith in character. “God” may be referred to—but which one? Jesus may be mentioned, but not “Christ the Lord.”
The basic theme of Jude’s doxology is that there is only one God. There is no other; there cannot be another because two gods, let alone more, would result in no being worthy of the name God. Deity is unique, exclusive of all else, but the God who is real is neither alone nor aloof. In the mysterious harmony and fullness of His being, He is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is not lonely in His dignity, but in His benevolence He stoops to His creatures and gives Himself to human beings in particular. He is a God who saves and sends His own Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to be the Savior of mankind. This is why saints have gladly sung out His praise and acknowledged His splendor and sovereignty. Soli Deo gloria has been their anthem from place to place and age to age, this one included.
A time reference normally closes a doxology, which can be no more than “forever,” which though brief is complete enough. It indicates that there is to be no time limit to God’s praise because He Himself is eternal. Jude’s time reference is very full. It refers to eternity past and future with the words “before all time” and “forever.” But he adds a special touch to it by means of the words “and now,” which is included in that encapsulation. He is not content to just write of the praise that God always deserves, but he adds the words “and now.” Why does Jude specify that? It is because his concern was with God’s glory in the situation that obtained at the time. For him, the current and the contemporary are bound up with the eternal. The “then and there” glory that belonged to God before the “heaven and earth” was created and that will be His in the “new heaven and earth” was not to be detached from the glory due to Him from His saints in their “here and now.”
The saints to whom Jude wrote had been brought to the kingdom to serve the King of kings and the Lord of lords when and where they are. All that is involved in “contending” was therefore to be done in dependence on God’s keeping power and with His honor and glory in view. The faith was to be defended not with gritted teeth but gladdened hearts, and that because of what God had done and will do through Jesus Christ.
Jude’s epistle is a fine example of semper reformanda, nec tamen consumebatur, and soli Deo gloria. These three Latin tags are part and parcel of our tradition. The first, which means “always being reformed,” points to the recurring need of church to subject itself to Holy Scripture and not adjust itself to keep up with the times. Nec tamen consumebatur, which means “it was not being consumed,” comes from Exodus 3:2 and points to the fact that as the church adheres humbly to the Lord of the covenant of grace (Acts 7:30–32), it will see Him maintain the church from generation to generation, reforming and reviving it as necessary. Finally, soli Deo gloria, which needs no translation, ennobles the mind, stirs the profoundest emotions, and galvanizes the will more than all national anthems, each of which redounds to the glory of man in some way or other. The end will come “when he [Christ] will deliver the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power . . . that God may be all in all” (1 Cor. 15:24–28), and to that every Christian can say, “Amen.”
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a series on Jude. Previous post.