The introductory benediction for the recipients of this epistle (v. 2) is unique among the biblical epistles. “Grace (charis) and peace (eirene)” is the typical form used by Paul, Peter, and John. Jude alone uses mercy (eleos), peace (eirene) and love (agape). We must be very careful not to ready Scripture with modern concepts of biblical terms but to see them from the understanding of those who wrote or spoke them in the beginning. Jude was a Jew writing in Greek with a Hebrew understanding of OT concepts. The three items in his blessing relate to the calling of his recipients as loved in the Father and kept (by the Spirit) for the Son, who purchased and redeemed them for Himself.
Mercy (eleos) relates to the Hebrew term, racham, for compassion, as evidenced in God’s revelation of Himself to Moses (Exodus 33:18, 19; 34:5–8). Grace (khane) is the favor or acceptance shown to those who have received mercy (Exodus 34:9; see also Zechariah 4:5–7; 12:10). Mary’s “magnificat” (Luke 1:46–55) reveals her deep understanding of God’s purpose in mercy. Her praise reflects the truths set forth in Psalm 103:8 and 11, which shows the correspondence of mercy with covenant love (hesed). The condition for one to have the favor of God and receive His mercy is that they fear Him. This is possible only to one whose heart and eyes are open to understand God and His ways (Romans 3:9–18; 11:8–10).
Therefore, we must understand that mercy assumes three things: (1) all are guilty of sin and liable for God’s justice, being the children of Adam (Romans 5:12–14). (2) The mercy of salvation from sin and judgment is the only hope for any of Adam’s descendants (Romans 5:18–21). (3) Mercy is shown only to those included in God’s elective choice (Romans 1:5–7; 8:28, 29, 33). These elect are a people chosen by God in eternity past (Ephesians 1:4) and given to Jesus to save (John 17:2–10).
Peace is the result of mercy and is made when a breach is repaired and hostility ceases. Peace (shalom) is the result of a process. When things are not right with God, sin brings guilt to the conscience (Isaiah 48:22). Jesus came to make peace, that is, to repair the broken relationship with God by providing both justification and righteousness for those He saves (Isaiah 32:1). The Septuagint sometimes uses the word salvation to translate peace because salvation restores and completes (Isaiah 26:3).
Finally, love (agape) is the atmosphere of God’s faithful covenant kindness to His own (Romans 5:1–5). What a glorious heritage God’s people enjoy! This is the true prosperity gospel (Psalm 35:11; Romans 8:37; Isaiah 54:10). Indeed, the Hebrew shalom (peace) is sometimes translated prosperity (Psalm 72:3).