A Question I Was Asked:

But When Was 'The Faith' Actually Delivered?

My question is this:

How could the book of Jude be a part of "the faith" (that is, to mean the body of New Testament teaching recognized as "the faith") if the book of Jude itself states that the faith "was once and for all delivered to the saints" (in verse 3)? To put it another way: If Jude says that 'the faith' was "delivered" once and for all in the past, then how could his own writing - brief that it is - be written after the fact, then be part of that "faith"? Similarly, how could Peter state that God "has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness" (2 Peter 1:3), if Peter was writing material after that statement was actually made pertaining to this "life and godliness"? I have asked this same question of others but never been satisfied with the answers I have received. Can you help?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Wow! I really think that you are being overly pedantic here! It may be that I am not even properly understanding the question, but I'll give it a go. There is a sense in which 'the faith' was delivered from the foundation of the world; It's in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15; Revelation 13:8), for instance. Although the Gospel of Jesus Christ would not be formally preached until the First Century AD, much of it is there in the laws of Noah, Much of it is in the Ten Commandments and the other laws given to Israel through Moses. Finally, it becomes complete and entire in Christ, and we gradually learn that certain of the laws given to Moses were like a temporary scaffolding - important in that phase of God's dealings with His people, yet never intended to be a permanent part of the landscape - just as scaffolding is never meant to be permanent.

You need to also understand that when something is recorded in Scripture is not necessarily when that thing is 'delivered.' The sacrifice of our Lord Jesus has efficacy backwards and forwards throughout all time. God Himself is not restricted to the various time slots which He has ordained that we must live within - He is eternal and timeless.

To quibble over whether or not the Book of Jude is included in 'the faith once delivered' (of course it is), is to get too pedantic on the detail and not focusing on the big picture!

Just consider that God inspired Peter and the apostles to preach the Gospel on the day of Pentecost after Jesus' resurrection and ascension into heaven; however, that sermon was not recorded until somewhere around 30 years later by Luke. Since that is the case, we understand that the material had been delivered to the church long before it was preserved in written form by the Holy Spirit in the Book of Acts.

In their epistles, both Peter and Jude are making the point that they were reminding their audiences of material that was already out there and available. Peter actually stated, "I will not be negligent to remind you always of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth." (2 Peter 1:12). Jude wrote something similar when he stated, "But I want to remind you, though you once knew this" (vs. 5). Also when he stated, "remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ." These authors insist that they are reminding their readers of material that the readers had access to before they read these letters. Does this answer the question?

I honestly do not know if my questioner will consider this response adequate but I feel it is the only response I can give if he does not explain his rather unusual position more clearly.

Robin A. Brace. July 19th, 2017.