Jude 1:3- Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share; I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.
The New Testament speaks of faith in at least two ways. One is a man’s personal confidence in God-(Hebrews 11:6- And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.), and another means “the practice of true religion.” In most cases one can determine which is meant by the little article “the.” “The” means “the one and the only one.”
After explaining various views of who Jesus was, Jesus asked, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter responded, “Thou art the Christ” (Mt. 16:16). Jesus was the one and only Christ, and that was emphasized by the little article “the.” Likewise we read, “The faith,” speaking of the practice of true Christianity in the Lord’s church. Consider other verses which use it:
Acts 13:8- But Elymas the sorcerer (for that is what his name means) opposed them and tried to turn proconsul from the faith.
Acts 13:22- strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God,” they said.
Gal 1:23- They only heard the report: “The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy.”
Col. 2:7- rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
Titus 1:13- This saying is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith.
“the faith once for all entrusted (delivered) to God’s holy people.”
The Greek word translated “once for all” (paradidomi) is the same one used in Hebrews 9:27-“And it is appointed for men to die once,…” which clearly means “once for all.” “The faith” here is for all people and all remaining time. It is finished. There will be no more. No continuing revelation.
“contend earnestly for the faith”
This means to engage people; to take a stand for this thing called “faith.” Can you imagine how cruel such a command would be if there was actually no pattern called “the faith”? It would set Christians up to look ridiculous among the very people they were charged to teach. He wants them to contend earnestly for it. For what are Christians to contend earnestly? The faith, the practice of true religion, the pattern.
Paul references “the faith” in this meaningful way: “Keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all.” “The faith” is the “one faith.” We often use “faith” in this way as we refer to the different faiths (or religions) in the world. How heartless Paul would be to tell us there is one faith when he knew there was no pattern for true religion! Paul wrote in the Roman letter, ” But God be thanked that though you were slaves of sin, yet you obeyed that form of doctrine to which you were delivered.” (Rom. 16:16). That “form” is a pattern we are to follow.