This epistle was written by Jude, one of the twelve apostles of Christ (Acts 1:13). It is called a "general epistle" because it is not written to any particular person or church but to the saints in general. The design of the epistle is to exhort believers to continue in and contend for the faith, to describe false teachers, to point out their principles, practices and dreadful end, so that we might shun and avoid them.
(Vs. 1.) "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ." This is a common title for all believers, yet here, as in other epistles, it is peculiar to an apostle, or a minister of the gospel. It is not just a mark of humility, but it reveals two other things: firstly, God called him to serve in the kingdom of Christ and, secondly, he obeyed Christ and faithfully performed the commands and the will of his Master.
"To them that are sanctified by God the Father." This does not refer to internal sanctification, but to the act of eternal election which is peculiar to the Father. The language is taken from the Old Testament Scriptures, used of persons and things that were sanctified and set apart for and unto the Lord (Gen. 2:3; Exod. 13:2; 29:44). God takes that which is ordinary and common and by divine decree sets it apart for his glory (2 Thess. 2:13; Eph. 1:3, 4).
"Preserved in Christ Jesus." Those who are sanctified, or set apart by God the Father in election, are in Christ. They are chosen in him, they are put into his hands, they are redeemed by him, they are sanctified or made holy by him (I Cor. 1:2; 2 Cor. 5:21), they are accepted in him and they are kept by him (Jude 24; John 10:27, 28).
"And Called" not merely externally by the preaching of the Word, but internally by the Spirit and grace of God (I Thess. 1:4, 5). This is a special and effectual call, whereby men are called out of darkness into light, out of bondage into liberty and out of the world into fellowship with God (I John 1:3).
(Vs. 2.) Jude salutes them with a desire for the multiplication of mercy, peace and love unto and among them. Someone said, "Grace is God giving us what we do not deserve, and mercy is God not giving us what we do deserve."
"Mercy" is a perfection of God and is revealed in a special manner through Christ to all believers. We need eternal mercy, redeeming mercy, daily mercies and future mercy.
"Peace" may design a fresh and enlarged view of the peace we have through the blood of his cross (Col. 1:20), an increase of peace in our own hearts and conscience (Rom. 8:1; Isa. 26:3) and may also include peace among ourselves.
"Love" is understood as that of God toward men as well as that of men toward God and toward one another. It is impossible to have one without the other (I John 1:7, 9).
(Vs. 3.) "Beloved." Jude called the persons to whom he writes "Beloved." They were beloved of God, beloved of him and beloved of other believers.
"The common salvation" (Titus 1:4). I believe Jude is speaking her of the gospel, redemption, faith and all things that pertain to our salvation. The covenant of grace and the blessings and promises of it are shared commonly by all believers. The gospel may be said to be common because it is preached to all believers. Jesus Christ is a common because it is preached to all believes. Jesus Christ is a common Saviour in that all of our righteousness, redemption, wisdom and sanctification are in him. We are bought with the same blood, justified by the same righteousness, called by the same Spirit and shall enjoy and posses the same glory.
"Earnestly contend for the faith." Jude here designs, by "the faith," the whole scheme of evangelical truths to be preached and believed. It is sometimes called the "word of faith", "the faith of the gospel", "the mystery of faith", "the most holy faith", or "the common faith". The faith is to be preached, contended for and defended against false teachers: the Trinity, the deity and sonship of Christ, the divinity and personality of the Holy Spirit, the state and condition of man by nature, the inspiration of the Scriptures, the grace of God in election, justification by his blood, imputed and imparted righteousness, regeneration and sanctification, final perseverance, the return of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the future glory of the saints and the eternal condemnation of the lost.
This is said to be "delivered to the saints" (Heb. 1:1, 2). It was delivered to Christ as our Mediator. It was promised, pictured and prophesied by Old Testament writers and ceremonies. It was delivered to the apostles by Christ himself and to us by his apostles (Heb. 2:1-3).
We can contend for the faith by preaching it openly, boldly and faithfully, by bearing an experimental and holy testimony to it, by praying for the success of it, by supporting with our gifts, our presence and our prayers the preaching of it and by encouraging and exhorting other believers.