My dear congregation, I, your pastor, love you in very truth. And I'm not alone - everyone who knows the Truth
that has taken up permanent residence in us loves you.
Let grace, mercy, and peace be with us in truth and love from God the Father and from Jesus Christ, Son of the Father!
I can't tell you how happy I am to learn that many members of your congregation are diligent in living out the Truth, exactly as commanded by the Father.
But permit me a reminder, friends, and this is not a new commandment but simply a repetition of our original and basic charter: that we love each other.
Love means following his commandments, and his unifying commandment is that you conduct your lives in love. This is the first thing you heard, and nothing has changed.
There are a lot of smooth-talking charlatans loose in the world who refuse to believe that Jesus Christ was truly human, a flesh-and-blood human being. Give them their true title: Deceiver! Antichrist!
And be very careful around them so you don't lose out on what we've worked so diligently in together; I want you to get every reward you have coming to you.
Anyone who gets so progressive in his thinking that he walks out on the teaching of Christ, walks out on God. But whoever stays with the teaching, stays faithful to both the Father and the Son.
If anyone shows up who doesn't hold to this teaching, don't invite him in and give him the run of the place.
That would just give him a platform to perpetuate his evil ways, making you his partner.
I have a lot more things to tell you, but I'd rather not use paper and ink. I hope to be there soon in person and have a heart-to-heart talk. That will be far more satisfying to both you and me.
Everyone here in your sister congregation sends greetings.
The Pastor, to my good friend Gaius: How truly I love you!
We're the best of friends, and I pray for good fortune in everything you do, and for your good health - that your everyday affairs prosper, as well as your soul!
I was most happy when some friends arrived and brought the news that you persist in following the way of Truth.
Nothing could make me happier than getting reports that my children continue diligently in the way of Truth!
Dear friend, when you extend hospitality to Christian brothers and sisters, even when they are strangers, you make the faith visible.
They've made a full report back to the church here, a message about your love. It's good work you're doing, helping these travelers on their way, hospitality worthy of God himself!
They set out under the banner of the Name, and get no help from unbelievers.
So they deserve any support we can give them. In providing meals and a bed, we become their companions in spreading the Truth.
Earlier I wrote something along this line to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves being in charge, denigrates my counsel.
If I come, you can be sure I'll hold him to account for spreading vicious rumors about us. As if that weren't bad enough, he not only refuses hospitality to traveling Christians but tries to stop others from welcoming them. Worse yet, instead of inviting them in he throws them out.
Friend, don't go along with evil. Model the good. The person who does good does God's work. The person who does evil falsifies God, doesn't know the first thing about God.
Everyone has a good word for Demetrius - the Truth itself stands up for Demetrius! We concur, and you know we don't hand out endorsements lightly.
I have a lot more things to tell you, but I'd rather not use pen and ink.
I hope to be there soon in person and have a heart-to-heart talk. Peace to you. The friends here say hello. Greet our friends there by name.
I, Jude, am a slave to Jesus Christ and brother to James, writing to those loved by God the Father, called and kept safe by Jesus Christ.
Relax, everything's going to be all right; rest, everything's coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!
Dear friends, I've dropped everything to write you about this life of salvation that we have in common. I have to write insisting - begging! - that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish.
What has happened is that some people have infiltrated our ranks (our Scriptures warned us this would happen), who beneath their pious skin are shameless scoundrels. Their design is to replace the sheer grace of our God with sheer license - which means doing away with Jesus Christ, our one and only Master.
I'm laying this out as clearly as I can, even though you once knew all this well enough and shouldn't need reminding. Here it is in brief: The Master saved a people out of the land of Egypt. Later he destroyed those who defected.
And you know the story of the angels who didn't stick to their post, abandoning it for other, darker missions. But they are now chained and jailed in a black hole until the great Judgment Day.
Sodom and Gomorrah, which went to sexual rack and ruin along with the surrounding cities that acted just like them, are another example. Burning and burning and never burning up, they serve still as a stock warning.
This is exactly the same program of these latest infiltrators: dirty sex, rule and rulers thrown out, glory dragged in the mud.
The Archangel Michael, who went to the mat with the Devil as they fought over the body of Moses, wouldn't have dared level him with a blasphemous curse, but said simply, "No you don't. God will take care of you!"
But these people sneer at anything they can't understand, and by doing whatever they feel like doing - living by animal instinct only - they participate in their own destruction.
I'm fed up with them! They've gone down Cain's road; they've been sucked into Balaam's error by greed; they're canceled out in Korah's rebellion.
These people are warts on your love feasts as you worship and eat together. They're giving you a black eye - carousing shamelessly, grabbing anything that isn't nailed down. They're - Puffs of smoke pushed by gusts of wind; late autumn trees stripped clean of leaf and fruit, Doubly dead, pulled up by the roots;
wild ocean waves leaving nothing on the beach but the foam of their shame; Lost stars in outer space on their way to the black hole.
Enoch, the seventh after Adam, prophesied of them: "Look! The Master comes with thousands of holy angels
to bring judgment against them all, convicting each person of every defiling act of shameless sacrilege, of every dirty word they have spewed of their pious filth."
These are the "grumpers," the bellyachers, grabbing for the biggest piece of the pie, talking big, saying anything they think will get them ahead.
But remember, dear friends, that the apostles of our Master, Jesus Christ, told us this would happen:
"In the last days there will be people who don't take these things seriously anymore. They'll treat them like a joke, and make a religion of their own whims and lusts."
These are the ones who split churches, thinking only of themselves. There's nothing to them, no sign of the Spirit!
But you, dear friends, carefully build yourselves up in this most holy faith by praying in the Holy Spirit,
staying right at the center of God's love, keeping your arms open and outstretched, ready for the mercy of our Master, Jesus Christ. This is the unending life, the real life!
Go easy on those who hesitate in the faith.
Go after those who take the wrong way. Be tender with sinners, but not soft on sin. The sin itself stinks to high heaven.
And now to him who can keep you on your feet, standing tall in his bright presence, fresh and celebrating -
to our one God, our only Savior, through Jesus Christ, our Master, be glory, majesty, strength, and rule before all time, and now, and to the end of all time. Yes.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)