The Greek term that is translated as “love” in English is typically translated in Hakka Chinese as thung-siak / 痛惜 or “pain-love” when it refers to God’s love.

The same term is used for a variety of Hebrew terms that cover a range of English translations that refer to God as the agent, including “love,” “compassion,” and “mercy.”

Paul McLean explains: “[Thung-siak / 痛惜] has been used for many years in a popular Hakka-Christian mountain song based on John 3:16. The translation team decided that for this and other reasons it would be a good rendering here. It helps point to the fact that God’s ‘love’ is a compassionate (cum passio, with suffering) love.”

love (by God)

Translator Lee Bramlett submitted this on the translation of the Greek word that is translated into English as “love” (referring to God’s love). This letter was then reposted by Wycliffe Bible Translators (see here ):

“Translator Lee Bramlett was confident that God had left His mark on the Hdi culture somewhere, but though he searched, he could not find it. Where was the footprint of God in the history or daily life of these Cameroonian people? What clue had He planted to let the Hdi know who He was and how He wanted to relate to them?

“Then one night in a dream, God prompted Lee to look again at the Hdi word for ‘love.’ Lee and his wife, Tammi, had learned that verbs in Hdi consistently end in one of three vowels. For almost every verb, they could find forms ending in i, a, and u. But when it came to the word for love, they could only find i and a. Why no u?

“Lee asked the Hdi translation committee, which included the most influential leaders in the community, ‘Could you ‘ɗvi’ your wife?’ ‘Yes,’ they said. That would mean that the wife had been loved but the love was gone.

“‘Could you ‘ɗva’ your wife?’ ‘Yes,’ they said. That kind of love depended on the wife’s actions. She would be loved as long as she remained faithful and cared for her husband well.

“‘Could you ‘ɗvu’ your wife?’ Everyone laughed. ‘Of course not! If you said that, you would have to keep loving your wife no matter what she did, even if she never got you water, never made you meals. Even if she committed adultery, you would be compelled to just keep on loving her. No, we would never say ‘ɗvu.’ It just doesn’t exist.’

“Lee sat quietly for a while, thinking about John 3:16, and then he asked, ‘Could God ‘ɗvu’ people?’

“There was complete silence for three or four minutes; then tears started to trickle down the weathered faces of these elderly men. Finally they responded. ‘Do you know what this would mean? This would mean that God kept loving us over and over, millennia after millennia, while all that time we rejected His great love. He is compelled to love us, even though we have sinned more than any people.’

“One simple vowel and the meaning was changed from ‘I love you based on what you do and who you are,’ to ‘I love you, based on Who I am. I love you because of Me and NOT because of you.’

“God had encoded the story of His unconditional love right into their language. For centuries, the little word was there — unused but available, grammatically correct and quite understandable. When the word was finally spoken, it called into question their entire belief system. If God was like that, did they need the spirits of the ancestors to intercede for them? Did they need sorcery to relate to the spirits? Many decided the answer was no, and the number of Christ-followers quickly grew from a few hundred to several thousand.

“The New Testament in Hdi is ready to be printed now, and 29,000 speakers will soon be able to feel the impact of passages like Ephesians 5:25: ‘Husbands, ‘ɗvu’ your wives, just as Christ ‘ɗvu’-d the church…'”

In Hawai’i Creole English the love that God has is often translated as love an aloha. Aloha has a variety of meanings, including “hello,” “goodbye,” “love,” “thank you,” etc.

The Philippine languages of Cebuano, Tagalog, and Pampanga use a word (gugma, pag-ibig, and lugud respectively) that is also used for a “noble, refined love of people for each other,” distinct from romantic love. (Source: G. Henry Waterman in The Bible Translator 1960, p. 24ff. )

In Mairasi, the term that is used for love by God, for God and for people is the same: “desire one’s face.” (source: Enggavoter 2004)

See also love (Jesus for young, rich man), God is love and this devotion on YouVersion .

complete verse (Jude 1:1)

Following are a number of back-translations of Jude 1:1:

  • Uma: “This letter is from me, Yudas, the servant of Yesus Kristus and the relative of Yakobus, I send it going to [you] relatives who were called by God the Father to become his people. He loves you and he always cares for you until the coming again of Yesus Kristus.” (Source: Uma Back Translation)
  • Yakan: “This writing is from me, Judas, a servant of Isa Almasi and the sibling/brother of Yakub. I send this letter to you, the ones chosen by God. You are loved by our (incl.) Father God and you are cared for by Isa Almasi.” (Source: Yakan Back Translation)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “I am Jude, the brother of James and the servant of Jesus Christ. You whom our Father God has made believers, who are dear to him and who are strengthened about by our Lord Jesus Christ, you are the ones I am writing to.” (Source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Kankanaey: “I am Jude the younger-sibling of Santiago who wrote this. I am one who serves Jesu Cristo. Here is my letter to you whom God the Father has called/invited. You are the ones whom he very-much-loves and protects until the coming again of Jesu Cristo.” (Source: Kankanaey Back Translation)
  • Tagbanwa: “I who am Judas, servant of Jesu-Cristo and sibling of Santiago, am the writer of this. I am writing to you who have been separated out by God the Father so that he would make you his people and who are really valued by him, you who are always being cared for by Jesu-Cristo and inspired (lit.had it put in your mind) to submit to him.” (Source: Tagbanwa Back Translation)
  • Tenango Otomi: “I am Jude, Jesus Christ’s worker, and I am James’ brother. I greet all those whom God has called. You are the people God loves and Jesus Christ now guards you.” (Source: Tenango Otomi Back Translation)

Christ, Messiah

The Greek Christos (Χρηστός) is typically transliterated when it appears together with Iésous (Ἰησοῦς) (Jesus). In English the transliteration is the Anglicized “Christ,” whereas in many other languages it is based on the Greek or Latin as “Kristus,” “Cristo,” or similar.

When used as a descriptive term in the New Testament — as it’s typically done in the gospels (with the possible exceptions of for instance John 1:17 and 17:3) — Christos is seen as the Greek translation of the Hebrew mashiaḥ (המשיח‎) (“anointed”). Accordingly, a transliteration of mashiaḥ is used, either as “Messiah” or based on the Greek or Latin as a form of “Messias.”

This transliteration is also used in the two instances where the Greek term Μεσσίας (Messias) is used in John 1:41 and 4:25.

In some languages and some translations, the term “Messiah” is supplemented with an explanation. Such as in the German Gute Nachricht with “the Messiah, the promised savior” (Wir haben den Messias gefunden, den versprochenen Retter) or in Muna with “Messiah, the Saving King” (Mesias, Omputo Fosalamatino) (source: René van den Berg).

In predominantly Muslim areas or for Bible translations for a Muslim target group, Christos is usually transliterated from the Arabic al-Masih (ٱلْمَسِيحِ) — “Messiah.” In most cases, this practice corresponds with languages that also use a form of the Arabic Isa (عيسى) for Jesus (see Jesus). There are some exceptions, though, including modern translations in Arabic which use Yasua (يَسُوعَ) (coming from the Aramaic Yēšūa’) alongside a transliteration of al-Masih, Hausa which uses Yesu but Almahisu, and some Fula languages (Adamawa Fulfulde, Nigerian Fulfulde, and Central-Eastern Niger Fulfulde) which also use a form of Iésous (Yeesu) but Almasiihu (or Almasiifu) for Christos.

In Indonesian, while most Bible translations had already used Yesus Kristus rather than Isa al Masih, the use of Yesus Kristus was prescribed by the government in 2023 (see this article in Christianity Today ).

Other solutions that are used by a number of languages include these:

  • Dobel: “The important one that God had appointed to come” (source: Jock Hughes)
  • Nyongar: Keny Mammarap or “The One Man” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Mairasi: “King of not dying for life all mashed out infinitely” (for “mashed out,” see salvation; source: Lloyd Peckham)
  • Western Bukidnon Manobo: “One chosen by God to rule mankind” (source: Western Bukidnon Manobo Back Translation)
  • Bacama: Ma Pwa a Ngɨltən: “The one God has chosen” (source: David Frank in this blog post )
  • Binumarien: Anutuna: originally a term that was used for a man that was blessed by elders for a task by the laying on of hands (source: Desmond Oatridges, Holzhausen 1991, p. 49f.)
  • Nyongar: Keny Boolanga-Yira Waangki-Koorliny: “One God is Sending” (source: Warda-Kwabba Luke-Ang)
  • Uab Meto: Neno Anan: “Son of heaven” P. Middelkoop explains: “The idea of heavenly power bestowed on a Timorese king is rendered in the title Neno Anan. It is based on the historical fact that chiefs in general came from overseas and they who come thence are believed to have come down from heaven, from the land beyond the sea, that means the sphere of God and the ghosts of the dead. The symbolical act of anointing has been made subservient to the revelation of an eternal truth and when the term Neno Anan is used as a translation thereof, it also is made subservient to a new revelation of God in Jesus Christ. The very fact that Jesus came from heaven makes this translation hit the mark.” (Source: P. Middelkoop in The Bible Translator 1953, p. 183ff. )

In Finnish Sign Language both “Christ” and “Messiah” are translated with sign signifying “king.” (Source: Tarja Sandholm)

“Christ / Messiah” in Finnish Sign Language (source )

Law (2013, p. 97) writes about how the Ancient Greek Septuagint‘s translation of the Hebrew mashiah was used by the New Testament writers as a bridge between the Old and New Testaments (click or tap here to read more):

“Another important word in the New Testament that comes from the Septuagint is christos, ‘Christ.’ Christ is not part of the name of the man from Nazareth, as if ‘the Christs’ were written above the door of his family home. Rather, ‘Christ’ is an explicitly messianic title used by the writers of the New Testament who have learned this word from the Septuagint’s translation of the Hebrew mashiach, ‘anointed,’ which itself is often rendered in English as ‘Messiah.’ To be sure, one detects a messianic intent on the part of the Septuagint translator in some places. Amos 4:13 may have been one of these. In the Hebrew Bible, God ‘reveals his thoughts to mortals,’ but the Septuagint has ‘announcing his anointed to humans.’ A fine distinction must be made, however, between theology that was intended by the Septuagint translators and that developed by later Christian writers. In Amos 4:13 it is merely possible we have a messianic reading, but it is unquestionably the case that the New Testament writers exploit the Septuagint’s use of christos, in Amos and elsewhere, to messianic ends.”


The Greek Iēsous is “only” a proper name but one with great importance. The following quote by John Ellington (in The Bible Translator 1993, p. 401ff. ) illustrates this:

“In Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus Christ, Joseph is told that when Mary gives birth to a son ‘you will name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins’ (1:21). This name is a Greek transliteration of the Hebrew name [Yeshua (יֵשׁוּעַ) which is a short form of a name meaning] ‘the Lord [Yahweh] saves.’ The name is very significant and is in itself especially dear to Christians around the world. (…) Unquestionably great importance is attached to the name of Jesus by Christians of all persuasions and backgrounds.”

While Iēsous (pronounced: /i.ɛː.suːs/) is transliterated as “Jesus” (pronounced /ˈdʒiːzəs/) in English (but was translated as “Hælend” [the “healing one”] in Old English — see Swain 2019) it is transliterated and pronounced in a large variety of other ways as well, following the different rules of different languages’ orthographies, writing systems and rules of pronunciation. The following is a (partial) list of forms of Jesus in Latin characters: aYeso, Azezi, Cecoc, Chesús, Chi̍i̍sū, Ciisahs, Ciise, Ciisusu, Djesu, Ɛisa, Ƹisa, Eyesu, Gesù, Gesû, Gesü, Ġesù, Ghjesù, Giêsu, ꞌGiê‑ꞌsu, Giê-xu, Gyisɛse, Hesu, Hesús, Hisuw, Ià-sŭ, Ié:sos, Iesu, Iesui, Iesusɨn, Iesusiva, Ié:sos, Ihu, Iisus, Ijeesu, iJisọsị, Iji̍sɔ̄ɔsi, Iosa, Íosa, Ìosa, İsa, I’sa, Isiso, Ísu, Isus, Isusa, Iisussa, Isuthi, Itota, Îtu, Isuva, Izesu, Izesuq, Jasus, Jeeju, Jeesus, Jeesus, Jeezas, Jehu, Jeisu, Jeju, Jejus, Jeso, Jesoe, Jesosa, Jesoshi, Jesosy, Jesu, Jesû, Jesua, Jesuh, Jesús, Jésus, Jesúsu, Jethu, Jezed, Jezi, Jézi, Ježiš, Jezu, Jezus, Jézus, Jėzus, Jēzus, Jezusi, Jėzus, Jezuz, Jíísas, Jiizas, Jiijajju, Jisas, Jisase, Jisasi, Jisasɨ, Jisasɨ, Jisaso, Jisesi, Jisɛ̀, Jisos, Jisọs, Jisɔs, Jisu, Jiszs, Jizọs, Jizɔs, Jizọsi, Jizọsu, Jòso, Jusu, Jweesus, Ketsutsi, Njises, Sesi, Sisa, Sísa, Sisas, Sīsū, Sizi, Txesusu, uJesu, Ujísɔ̄si, ŵaYesu, Xesosi, ´Xesús, Xesús, Yasu, Ya:su, Ɣaysa, Yecu, Yeeb Sub, Yeeh Suh, Yeesey, Yeeso, Yeesso, Yēēsu, Yēēsu, Yehsu, Yëësu, Yeisu, Yeisuw, Yeshu, Yeso, Yesò, Yëso, Yɛso, ye-su, Yésu, Yêsu, Yẹ́sụ̃, Yésʉs, Yeswa, Yet Sut, Yetut, Yexus, Yezo, Yezu, Yiisu, Yiitju, Yis, Yisɔs, Yisufa, Yitati, Yusu, ‑Yusu, :Yusu’, Zeezi, Zezi, Zezì, Zezwii, Ziizɛ, Zîsɛ, Zjezus, Zozi, Zozii, and this (much more incomplete) list with other writings systems: ᔩᓱᓯ, ᒋᓴᔅ, Հիսուս, ᏥᏌ, ኢየሱስ, ያሱስ, ܝܫܘܥ, Ісус, Їисъ, 耶稣, იესო, ईसा, イエス, イイスス, イエスス, 예수, येशू, येशो, ਈਸਾ, ພຣະເຢຊູ, ජේසුස්, যীশু, ଯୀଶୁ, ཡེ་ཤུ་, ‘ঈছা, இயேசு, ಯೇಸು, ພຣະເຢຊູ, ယေရှု, ઇસુ, जेजू, येसु, เยซู, យេស៊ូ, ᱡᱤᱥᱩ, ယေသှု, యేసు, ᤕᤧᤛᤢ᤺ᤴ, އީސާގެފާނު, ਯਿਸੂ, ꕉꖷ ꔤꕢ ꕞ, ⵏ⵿ⵗⵢⵙⴰ, ଜୀସୁ, يَسُوعَ,ㄧㄝㄙㄨ, YE-SU, ꓬꓰ꓿ꓢꓴ, 𖽃𖽡𖾐𖼺𖽹𖾏𖼽𖽔𖾏, ꑳꌠ, ᠶᠡᠰᠦᠰ (note that some of these might not display correctly if your device does not have the correct fonts installed).

Click or tap here to read more.

In some languages the different confessions have selected different transliterations, such as in Belarusian with Isus (Ісус) by the Orthodox and Protestant churches and Yezus (Езус) by the Catholic church, Bulgarian with Iisus (Иисус) by the Orthodox and Isus (Исус) by the Protestant church, Japanese with Iesu (イエス) (Protestant and Catholic) and Iisusu (イイスス) (Orthodox), or Lingala with Yesu (Protestant) or Yezu (Catholic). These differences have come to the forefront especially during the work on interconfessional translations such as one in Lingala where “many hours were spent on a single letter difference” (source: Ellington, p. 401).

In Chinese where transliterations of proper names between the Catholic and Protestant versions typically differ vastly, the Chinese name of Jesus (Yēsū 耶稣) remarkably was never brought into question between and by those two confessions, likely due to its ingenious choice. (Click or tap here to see more).

The proper name of God in the Old Testament, Yahweh (YHWH), is rendered in most Chinese Bible translations as Yēhéhuá 耶和華 — Jehovah. According to Chinese naming conventions, Yēhéhuá could be interpreted as Yē Héhuá, in which would be the family name and Héhuá — “harmonic and radiant” — the given name. In the same manner, 耶 would be the family name of Jesus and 稣 would be his given name. Because in China the children inherit the family name from the father, the sonship of Jesus to God the Father, Jehovah, would be illustrated through this. Though this line of argumentation sounds theologically unsound, it is indeed used effectively in the Chinese church (see Wright 1953, p. 298).

Moreover, the “given name” of 稣 carries the meaning ‘to revive, to rise again’ and seems to point to the resurrected Jesus. (Source: J. Zetzsche in Malek 2002, p. 141ff., see also tetragrammaton (YHWH))

There are different ways that Bible translators have chosen historically and today in how to translate the name of Jesus in predominantly Muslim areas: with a form of the Arabic Isa (عيسى) (which is used for “Jesus” in the Qur’an), the Greek Iēsous, or, like major 20th century Bible translations into Standard Arabic, the Aramaic Yēšūaʿ: Yasua (يَسُوعَ). (Click or tap here to see more.)

Following are languages and language groups that use a form of Isa include the following (note that this list is not complete):

  • Indo-Iranian languages: Persian, Dari, Central Pashto, Southern Pashto all use Eysa (عيسی or عيسىٰ for Southern Pashto), Sindhi uses Eysey (عيسيٰ), Southern Balochi Issa (ایسّا), Central Kurdish (Sorani) and Northern Kurdish (Kurmanji) use Îsa (عیسای and Иса respectively), Turkmen has Isa, and Tajik Isoi (Исои — compare Iso/Исо in the Tajik Qur’an)
  • Turkic languages: Turkish uses İsa, Kazakh, Kumyk, Nogai, Crimean Tatar all have Isa (Иса), Kirghiz has Iysa (Ыйса), Uzbek has Iso (Исо — compare Iiso/Ийсо in the Uzbek Qur’an), Bashkir uses Aaisa (Ғайса), North Azerbaijani İsa, Uighur uses Eysa (ئەيسا), and Kara-Kalpak İysa (Ийса)
  • Caucasian languages: Bezhta and Lezghian use Isa (Иса), Avaric has Aisa (ГІиса), and Chechen Iza (Иза)
  • Various African languages: Somali, a Cushitic language, has Ciise, Kabyle has Ɛisa and Tahaggart Tamahaq has Yeswa (both Berber languages), the Saharan languages Central Kanuri, Manga Kanuri have Isa, the Atlantic-Congo languages Dagbani, Mampruli, and Bimoba use Yisa, and the Chadian Arabic Bible has Isa (عِيسَى)
  • In Indonesian, while most Bible translations had already used Yesus Kristus rather than Isa al Masih, the use of Yesus Kristus was prescribed by the government in 2023 (see this article in Christianity Today ).
  • Some languages have additional “TAZI” editions (TAZI stands for “Tawrat, Anbiya, Zabur, and Injil” the “Torah, Prophets, Psalms and Gospel”) of the New Testament that are geared towards Muslim readers where there is also a translation in the same language for non-Muslims. In those editions, Isa is typically used as well (for example, the Khmer TAZI edition uses Isa (អ៊ីសា) rather than the commonly used Yesaou (យេស៊ូ), the Thai edition uses Isa (อีซา) rather than Yesu (เยซู), the Chinese edition uses Ěrsā (尔撒) vs. Yēsū (耶稣), and the English edition also has Isa rather than Jesus.)

In German the name Jesus (pronounced: /ˈjeːzʊs/) is distinguished by its grammatical forms. Into the 20th century the grammatical rules prescribed a unique Greek-Latin declination: Jesus (nominative), Jesu (genitive, dative, vocative), Jesum (accusative), from which today only the genitive case “Jesu” is still in active use. Likewise, in Seediq (Taroko), the morphological treatment of “Jesus” also occupies a special category by not falling under the normal rule of experiencing a vowel reduction when the object-specific suffix an is added “since it was felt that the readers might resent that the name has been changed that drastically.” (Compare Msian for “Moses” (Mosi) as an object, but Yisuan for “Jesus” (Yisu).) (Source: Covell 1998. p. 249)

In Lamba the name ŵaYesu consists of a transliteration Yesu and the prefix ŵa, a plural form for “proper names when addressing and referring to persons in any position of seniority or honor.” While this was avoided in early translations to avoid possible misunderstandings of more than one Jesus, once the church was established it was felt that it was both “safe” and respectful to use the honorific (pl.) prefix. (Source C. M. Doke in The Bible Translator 1958, p. 57ff. )

In sign languages, including American Sign Language, Costa Rican Sign Language, Spanish Sign Language, Auslan (Australian Sign Language), Brazilian Sign Language, British Sign Language, and German Sign Language “Jesus” is signed with the middle finger of each hand pointing to the palm (or wrist) of the other in succession (signing the nails of the cross). In the context of Bible translation this has been pointed out as theologically problematic since the “semantic connections of the original name Jesus do point towards ‘salvation,’ they do not naturally lead to crucifixion.” (Source: Phil King in Journal of Translation 1 (2020), p. 33ff.)

“Jesus” in German Sign Language (source )

The style of the following drawing of Jesus by Annie Vallotton is described by the artist as this: “By using few lines the readers fill in the outlines with their imagination and freedom. That is when the drawings begin to communicate.” (see here )

Illustration by Annie Vallotton, copyright by Donald and Patricia Griggs of Griggs Educational Service.

Following is the oldest remaining Ethiopian Orthodox icon of Jesus from the 14th or possibly 13th century (found in the Church of the Saviour of the World in Gurji, Ethiopia). As in many Orthodox icons, Jesus’ right hand forms the Greek letters I-C-X-C for IHCOYC XPICTOC or “Jesus Christ.”

source (c) Jacques Mercier and Alain Mathieu

Orthodox Icons are not drawings or creations of imagination. They are in fact writings of things not of this world. Icons can represent our Lord Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary, and the Saints. They can also represent the Holy Trinity, Angels, the Heavenly hosts, and even events. Orthodox icons, unlike Western pictures, change the perspective and form of the image so that it is not naturalistic. This is done so that we can look beyond appearances of the world, and instead look to the spiritual truth of the holy person or event. (Source )

See also this devotion on YouVersion .

Translation commentary on Jude 1:1

The expression servant of Jesus Christ is a popular formula in the opening parts of letters in the New Testament (see Rom 1.1; Phil 1.1; James 1.1; 2 Peter 1.1; also Gal 1.10; 2 Tim 2.24; 1 Cor 7.22; Eph 6.6). Many Old Testament characters are identified as “servants of God,” which means that they understand their calling to be that of serving God and doing his will. In the New Testament this term is also used of Christians in general, suggesting that Christians have been freed by Christ from the slavery of sin and now belong to Jesus Christ as his slaves (1 Cor 7.23). In a special way the term is used of those who are called to a special task, indicating that the Christian leaders are an example in their life of the servant role that all of God’s people are supposed to play. The term therefore includes the components of service, obedience, and complete surrender to Jesus Christ and recognition of his authority. Those who use this title for themselves are recognized as having some kind of authority in the Christian community, but this authority is based primarily on their call to serve Christ rather than on their personal qualities. Certain languages maintain a clear distinction between a person who works for a fixed salary and one who is a personal servant or attendant supported by his master, but who does not have a fixed salary. It is this latter term that should be used in this context, if it is necessary to make such a distinction. There are also languages where people will say “I am Jesus Christ’s man,” meaning “I work for Jesus Christ.” In many languages it is impossible to maintain the structure Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, in which the descriptive expressions are simply placed alongside the name. In such a case we may translate this first section of the verse as “I, Jude, who am a servant of Jesus Christ, and a (younger) brother of James….”

Some translators will find it helpful to begin this epistle in a way that is natural to letter writing in their own languages. So it may be necessary to start this letter in a different way from the English or Greek. In particular it may be desirable to adjust the third person reference to the writer to a first person reference, and the third person reference to his readers to second person reference. Examples are: “I, Jude, who am a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, write this letter to you…” or “This letter comes from Jude, who is a servant….” It may also be necessary in certain languages to combine the opening clause with what follows and say, for example, “I, Jude, who am … write this letter to those people who…” or “to you who….”

Jesus Christ is the usual Greek form of the name of Jesus. The word Christ comes from the word “Messiah,” meaning God’s promised King, but when it follows the name Jesus, it can be treated simply as a name and not as a title. The term Christ is a title if it is used with the definite article (“the Christ” or “the Messiah”). In some cases “Christ” may also function as a title when it comes before “Jesus.” However, this doesn’t seem to be the case in this letter.

The word brother is understood by some to mean “co-worker”; most probably, however, it is used here in its natural biological sense, “blood-brother.” For identifying James see page 2. Since James is not described or identified in any way except by his name, this indicates that the readers of the letter had a very clear idea as to who he was, and that he was a famous personality at that time.

In some languages it is necessary to state whether Jude is the older or younger brother of James. This is not so with Greek, and therefore the text does not clearly give us this information. One clue is sometimes the order in which names are mentioned, and since in Matt 13.55 James is mentioned ahead of Jude, then perhaps Jude is the younger brother of James.

The intended readers of Jude’s letter are not identified, either in terms of who they are or where they come from. This is one reason why it has been suggested that this letter is a “general” letter, addressed to the whole church and to Christians everywhere. However, the letter deals with certain particular problems, as we shall see; and this seems to indicate that Jude had a particular audience in mind.

Although Jude does not identify his readers, he describes them in three ways: they are called, they are beloved in God the Father, and they are kept for Jesus Christ. It should be noted that these three expressions are influenced by and perhaps derived from the passages in Isaiah known as the Servant Songs, where Israel is described in the same manner, that is, called, loved, and kept by God (for “called,” see Isa 41.9; 42.6; 48.12; for “loved,” see 42.1; 43.4; for “kept,” see 42.6; 49.8). It is a common practice among New Testament writers to take descriptions of Israel as the people of God and apply these to Christians. They could do this because of the understanding that the Old Testament promises are fulfilled in Christ, and that those who believe in Christ are in a real sense God’s people.

In the Greek text, called comes last in the series, after beloved and kept. However, it is clear that called is intended both in grammar and in meaning to be primary in the series, and most translations therefore reflect this understanding (for instance, Phillips [Phillips] “to those who have obeyed the call, who are loved by God the Father and kept in the faith…”).

The word translated called is a technical term that in the New Testament is almost identical in meaning with “Christians.” In much the same way that the Israelites were called by God to become his people, and were called out of slavery in Egypt in order to possess the promised land, so also Christians are called by God from a life of sin and evil to a new life of godliness. The use of this term for Christians puts a focus on the fact that it is God who takes the initiative in calling people to trust in him, and that when people respond in faith to this call of God, then they become God’s children. In the New Testament God calls people primarily to trust in Christ and become Christ’s followers. In languages that do not use the passive, translators will need to restructure this event word and say “… whom God has called” or “God has called you.”

The expression beloved in God the Father is difficult to understand and has been the subject of much discussion. In the New Testament the expression “in God” is rarely used. A literal translation of the whole expression can give rise to the false meaning “loved (by Jude) in God the Father.” Jude of course was not referring to his love for his readers but to God’s love for them. The preposition “in” can be understood to mean either “by” (as the Revised Standard Version [Revised Standard Version] footnote indicates), hence “loved by God the Father” Phillips, or else “in the sphere of.” This latter meaning seems to be reflected in Good News Translation “who live in the love of God,” which means that they live in the consciousness of God’s love for them, and as a result they experience God’s love and presence with them. A similar expression appears in verse 21 of this same letter. Another way to render this expression is “who live knowing that God loves them (or, you)” or “who live with the certainty that God loves them (or, you).”

It should be noted further that beloved is a perfect participle in Greek, which includes as an element of its meaning the continuing effect of God’s love for these people.

The expression kept for Jesus Christ translates an expression in which the name Jesus Christ is in the dative case and no preposition is used. Since there are several prepositions that can go with the dative case when translated, this has resulted in various interpretations of this phrase:

1. Revised Standard Version represents one interpretation. In this case, kept has God as the unstated agent, and the whole expression can be understood as “kept safe by God until the coming of Jesus Christ,” during which time they will have full fellowship with him (Christ). A less likely sense is “kept safe by God for the sake of Jesus Christ.”

2. Good News Translation represents a second interpretation, where the dative is understood as instrumental: “kept by Jesus Christ,” hence “live … in the protection of Jesus Christ” or “whom Jesus Christ protects (or, keeps safe).” In this case the expression can mean that Christ keeps them safe from the influence of the godless people who threaten their faith (which Jude will discuss later in the letter). If we take the phrase as having a future sense, then it means that Christ keeps them safe in the present so that they can be with him when he comes again. This is probably the more likely interpretation.

3. A third interpretation takes “in” to be the preposition for the dative form. “In Christ” is a favorite expression in the letters of Paul and indicates the Christian’s close relationship with Christ; hence “living in union with (or, united to) Christ.” Some translations have echoed this position, as, for example, Goodspeed, An American Translation [An American Translation] “kept through union with Jesus Christ.”

Like beloved referred to above, kept is a perfect participle which carries the meaning that those addressed continue to be the object of Christ’s (or God’s) care and protection.

One further note: in the Greek text verses 1 and 2 form one rather long sentence; and it may be necessary to divide this into two or more sentences in order to achieve better communication with the audience. How this is done will depend on the requirements of the translator’s language.

Two translation models for the whole verse are:

• I, Jude, who am a servant of Jesus Christ and a (younger) brother of James, write this letter to you whom God has called. You live with the sure knowledge that God the Father loves you, and that you are protected by Jesus Christ (or, Jesus Christ protects you.)


• I, Jude, who am a servant of Jesus Christ and a (younger) brother of James, write this letter to all of you fellow believers in Christ, who are loved by God the Father and are protected by Jesus Christ.

An example of the way the whole verse is handled in one major Asian language is:

• Dear brothers and sisters, whom God the Father has called and loves very much, and whom Jesus Christ protects. I, Jude, write this letter to you and pray that God bestows his blessings, mercy, and peace on you bountifully.

It is also possible for the three elements (“God has called,” “live with the sure knowledge that God the Father loves you,” and “protected by Jesus Christ”) to be arranged in a different sequence in order to arrive at a more smooth and natural rendering in the translator’s language.

Quoted with permission from Arichea, Daniel C. and Hatton, Howard A. A Handbook on The Letter from Jude. (UBS Handbook Series). New York: UBS, 1993. For this and other handbooks for translators see here .