by Mike Ratliff
3 Ἀγαπητοί, πᾶσαν σπουδὴν ποιούμενος γράφειν ὑμῖν περὶ τῆς κοινῆς ἡμῶν σωτηρίας ἀνάγκην ἔσχον γράψαι ὑμῖν παρακαλῶν ἐπαγωνίζεσθαι τῇ ἅπαξ παραδοθείσῃ τοῖς ἁγίοις πίστει. (Jude 1:3 NA28)
3 Beloved, being extremely eager to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you encouraging you to contend for the faith delivered once for all to the saints. (Jude 1:3 Translated from the NA28 Greek text)
One of the topics of contention that I often deal with “commenters” whom I screen and block and with those who contact me via email is that “doctrine” is different from the truth given to the Church by our Lord through the Apostles. These are the same people who contend that there is a seperation between truth and the revealed truth the Church has in God’s Word.
13 ἕως ἔρχομαι πρόσεχε τῇ ἀναγνώσει, τῇ παρακλήσει, τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ. (1 Timothy 4:13 NA28)
13 Until I come attend to the public reading, the exhortation, and the teaching of scripture. (1 Timothy 4:13 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
In this passage, the Apostle Paul commands Timothy to attend to handling God’s Word diligently in a certain way. He is to read it publicly, that is, read it to his flock. He is to us it to exhort them. The last part of that command τῇ διδασκαλίᾳ or literally, “the teaching” or “the doctrine” or “the instruction.” Timothy was being commanded to impart “doctrine” to his flock. That is what Biblical teaching is. A Pastor’s primary function is this very thing. He is not to be an entertainer or entrepreneur nor even is he to place his love for his flock above the necessity to teach them the truth from God’s Word.
Those who disagree with me and most of you in our doctrinal stand within our Orthodoxy are usually about just being a Jesus followers with no doctrinal boundaries while they and those they set as the foundational teachers of the Church teach us the very opposite. Go back to the passage I placed at the top of this post, which is Jude 1:3. I ask, how can we contend for the faith if we do not know the truth? If your truth is different than my truth then how can we do that?
The word “contend” in Jude 1:3 translates the verb ἐπαγωνίζεσθαι or epagōnizesthai the Infinitive, Present, Deponent case of ἐπαγωνίζομαι or epagōnizomai. This is a compound word made up of ἀγών or agōn, “”which means strife, contention, [a] contest for victory.” It along with the verb ἀγωνίζομαι or agōnizomai originally referred to the fighting and struggle involved in the Greek games.” By adding the prefix ἐπί or epi,. “for”, Jude is telling us that we must fight for the faith. How can you ἐπαγωνίζεσθαι for the faith if all you have is doctrine-less Christianity? All you can do is point to your own experience not our immutable God and His doctrine that never changes.
My brethren, we can make an idol out of anything and pride is deceitful even masquerading as humility so we must always understand that Christ is our all and without him we can do nothing. God gave us his word and we are to read it, exhort others from it, and teach doctrine from it as commanded.
Soli Deo Gloria!