In the third verse of his short letter, Jude, strikingly, tells his readers that the letter they received was not the letter he actually set out to write. Jude intended to write an encouraging letter “about our common salvation” (Jude 3), but when false teachers threatened the church, he instead wrote a scathing denunciation of the false teachers in order to protect the congregation from harm. Rather than glossing over the difficulty, or hoping it would go away on its own, Jude took drastic action. In this he serves as an example for today’s churches in which materialism, convenience, and consumerism are too often the rule and radical discipleship and God-centeredness the exception.
For Jude, the false teachers were a spiritual menace that must be confronted with utmost seriousness and urgency. Their immorality must be exposed; their appeal curtailed, and a rescue operation for those swayed be launched. “Have mercy on some who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; on others have mercy in fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh” (Jude 23). It may be inconvenient to change our plans and (as Jude did) to shift gears from encouragement to exhortation, but if we care enough to confront, we will not let false teaching in our churches go unchecked but contend for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.