The book of Jude is addressed to Christians who needed to wake up to fight against some ungodly people with ungodly ideas among them (Jude 3 -4, 12, 16, 19). The key statement of Jude exhorts these endangered Christians to, “Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
“Contenders” are interested in building up other Christians (20) “…building yourselves up on your most holy faith…” Those who would contend earnestly for the faith are to be interested in stability and fruitfulness in their brethren (cf. Eph. 4:13 -16). Teaching that leads to instability and unfruitfulness is to be rejected. Stability and fruit -bearing only occur when God ’s word is lovingly taught and properly applied.
“Contenders” pray for unity (20) “…praying in the Holy Spirit…” The ungodly in verse 19 of Jude are those who, “cause divisions, not having the Spirit.” Jude says that those who properly contend will be confident of their salvation (Eph. 1:13), and will pray earnestly that God ’s people might be united as one (John 17:20 -22; 1 Cor. 1:10). Even though he teaches what is right, if a Christian is not praying for unity in God ’s church, he is not contending for the faith.
“Contenders” put the love of God first (21) “keep yourselves in the love of God…” When ungodly ideas are promoted within the body, a desire to avoid controversy often causes those who love truth to keep silent. Later, these “silent dissenters” might try to justify their silence by reasoning, “I’m merely practicing the Bible command to love my brethren.” It must be recognized that those who would contend for the faith must seek to, “keep [themselves] in the love of God.” Loving Him and pleasing Him is to be the Christian ’s priority, even if that means Christians must reluctantly wade into some unpleasant controversies at times.
“Contenders” keep the end in mind (21) “… looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life…” The Greek word translated, “looking for,” in this passage means that a person has a credible expectation or belief that a future event will take place. Jude does not want Christians to get caught up in practices like sexual immorality (v.7), rebellion against authority (v.8, 16), and causing divisions in the body (v.19) because the cost of participating in those things is too great (cf. Mark 8:36 -37).
“Contenders” use wise discernment (22) “And on some have compassion, making a distinction…” Some people “parrot” false ideas and harmful behaviors simply because others have influenced them to do so (Gal. 2:10 -14). Ignorance, immaturity, and instability are somewhat common, especially among younger Christians. False ideas and sinful practices must be dealt with, but not every false idea or sinful practice demands a “howitzer” approach.
“Contenders” see the urgency of dealing with sin (23) “Others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” Jude says that it is wise to identify the instigators and active promoters of false ideas and sinful practices and to deal with them as a parent would deal with a child who has fallen into a fire. There is to be a sense of danger and urgency used when contending earnestly for the faith.
-John Baker, Katy church of Christ