Jude is addressed to people who are referred to as called. Two qualifying statements identify these called: they are loved in God and kept for Christ. This calling also involves being sanctified or set apart to God (Romans 1:7) and the fellowship of saints, the church (1 Corinthians 1:9). We turn now to the two qualifying marks of those who are thus called, beloved, and kept.
Those who are called of God to salvation are loved in God the Father. The preposition used in the Greek is en (the locative, within). The English translation of en is “in”—“beloved in God.” It is my personal opinion that this preposition has been abused by those whose theology is not served by translating the word consistently and simply by in. I firmly reject the imposition of the so-called instrumental use (by or of). Scholars will disagree, and a scholar I am not. Eternity will either correct me or affirm me.
The Authorized Version reads “sanctified by [in] God,” which accords with Colossians 1:12 and 1 Peter 1:2. The Greek terms in the received text (KJV) and the modern text look almost identical. The problem seems to be a scribal misreading in a copying process. The best textual evidence, however, supports “beloved in God” (Ephesians 2:4, 5). The truth is unchanged, as sanctification is a necessary act motivated by His love (1 Thessalonians 1:4; 1 John 3:1).
Believers are loved in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:3). In John 15:9 Jesus stated an incredible truth that is rarely understood by Christians: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” John amplifies this: “God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.” (1 John 4:16). The Trinity exists in an atmosphere of pure and glorious love. God desires to include Adam’s redeemed children into that circle. Imagine that, if you can. To be included, they are covered with Christ’s merit and enabled to love God (1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Peter 1:21; John 15:10). Jesus pointed out to the Jews that their refusing to believe Him was due to God’s love not being in them (John 5:42).
Love is the foundation and motive for God’s work in the world. Salvation originated with the Father because of His love for His creation and desire to restore His original plan for creation (Romans 8:19–21). Thus, Paul concludes, “If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
The called are kept for Jesus Christ. The probable meaning here is that those in whom the Spirit is working grace are being preserved in the midst of trial and temptation for Christ at His return (see Jude 18–21). This keeping involves their being in the world, the enemy’s territory. The Spirit is keeping them in the world but from the world and from the flesh. Believers are not being kept because they are good but because Christ paid for them (1 Peter 1:3–5) and prays for them (John 17:9, 15–19; Hebrews 7:25). Does not the Lord deserve the fruit of His suffering?