In the Letter of Jude we read what seems to be a clear declaration that all Scripture has finally been delivered to the saints:

Jude vs.3: "Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints" (emphasis added).

While there seems little question that the Book of Revelation belongs in the N/T canon, why would Jude make vital this pronouncement if his Letter was not the very last to be delivered to the faithful, and that Revelation would follow? Is there a good reason why Jude appears 2nd to last?

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    There seems to be little or no logical connection between the question being asked, and the quoted text; this is not the first time the OP exhibits this type of perplexing thinking pattern.
    – Lucian
    Sep 27, 2021 at 11:44
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    @Lucian The connection is clear enough when it is seen that some people take the 'faith' to be synonymous with the 'scriptures', as many do. After all, the scriptures explain what this faith is. But once it's shown that one can have all the scriptures yet remain devoid of the faith that it explains, the query is cleared up.
    – Anne
    Sep 27, 2021 at 16:05
  • @Anne, the gospel or faith was delivered by the apostles through teachings of mouth, in all the four corners of the world. It was later documented by some of them in letters. The so called scripture comes from the apostles. Gospel comes from them, not from their books.
    – Michael16
    Sep 29, 2021 at 12:08
  • @Michael16 Yes, that's what I said in my answer, the paragraph ending, "It started out verbally, was written down decades later, and by the time Jude wrote that sentence, there were still other parts of the New Testament yet to be written." Read the whole para. please and you will see that we are in agreement, though I'm puzzled as to why you speak of "the so called scripture".
    – Anne
    Sep 30, 2021 at 11:15
  • @Anne, oh, I didn't read your answer. The reason why I used the concept of scripture pejoratively because people often give them a wrong status with the image of being "scripture", forgetting the human source and worshipping the book. Such people tend to be very same as those who killed Jesus. The concept of inspiration and revelation is highly twisted among the religious community. We may understand the word of God only when we recognize those are books of men inspired by God, and God's communication and word is not exclusive to the books, as NT present when having God alone the top priority.
    – Michael16
    Sep 30, 2021 at 12:06

5 Answers 5


The order of Jude (or texts of the NT in general) in Scripture is often seen as chronological, but there is nothing contained within that requires it. The only chronological stamp would be that it must be after 2 Peter (and Peter's death), as it references 2 Peter 2. The debate for many is whether Revelation was written before AD 70 pertaining to some or all of the events in Jerusalem at that time, or AD 96 and pertaining to the Roman Empire. If the former, then it is easy to see that Jude could easily be the last book of canon. If the latter, then Jude might still be the last book of canon (especially given the reference to Jude by Eusebius), but not as clearly.

As to the idea of faith (and comments made to it), there really is no reasonable reason to deny that faith and Scripture can be exchanged in this passage as synonyms. The concept of the "delivery" of faith makes faith in this context a substance that is being delivered to men; it cannot refer to the content of the believer's heart, but something given of God. Since faith comes by the Word of God (Romans 10:17), the only real meaning here is that Jude is referring to a full delivery of the Word of God, something that the NT writers already expected (1 Cor. 13, 2 Tim. 3:16-17, 2 Peter 1:3).

Thank you for the question!

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    Welcome to the site, Brainardo, and for your answer. I note your reference to my answer where I say faith and scripture are not necessarily synonymous, for one can have "all scripture" yet not have saving faith. In this verse of Jude I would have no quarrel with anyone equating faith with scripture, but still feel the need to point out a possible danger in assuming the two are always synonymous, mainly due to a lot more scripture still being in the pipe-line, and not yet 'delivered'! But I would not quarrel about that - just make a point, and leave it at that.
    – Anne
    Sep 28, 2021 at 13:49
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    @Anne - Thank you for the welcome!
    – Brainardo
    Sep 28, 2021 at 16:07

If scripture was synonymous with faith, that would mean that nobody could have the faith Jude spoke of without having "all scripture". If he had written, "...the faith which was once for all written down by the saints", your idea would have had a basis. But faith can be "handed down" verbally, without reading anything. Just consider how many billions of people have been in the world without being able to read any scripture in their native tongue. Yet many of them have come to faith in Christ.

You can have all scripture, but no faith: consider how knowing God and Christ is a matter of divine revelation, not human investigation. That is why a mere academic knowledge of theology is a dead thing. There are plenty of people who have an impressive grasp of what the scriptures say, but they don't have saving faith, the faith the saints delivered. Yes, the word of God is alive and exerts power (Hebrews 4:12), and that word is both verbal and written down in scripture and the more we have of that written scripture the better it is for us who believe. That is why Jude wrote, in disappointment, that what he desired to write to them about had to be shelved for the time being, because of the dangerous situation of them being swayed by faithless teachers. He told them to pay attention only to the faith of the saints, in order to contend for that faith.

Further, consider Acts 2:40-42, which happened even before the book of Acts was written:

"And with many other words did [Peter] testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship..."

The doctrine of the apostles was being declared publicly just after Christ's resurrection, resulting in thousands of people coming to saving faith in Christ, long before the New Testament scriptures even began to be written. And when many Gentiles also heard the word of faith of Christ, they became believers, without hardly any knowledge of the Old Testament, let alone never having read any New Testament writings. The apostles taught Jews and Gentiles alike, then those converted under their ministry got going to tell others. It started out verbally, was written down decades later, and by the time Jude wrote that sentence, there were still other parts of the New Testament yet to be written.

That is why Jude never said that all scripture had been fully delivered to the saints, at that point in time. The faith was being delivered, and it is that faith the apostles delivered that is the "once for all time" point Jude makes. No teaching of faith in addition to what the apostles handed down is to be believed. Remember that John, who later wrote the Revelation, was the last living apostle, so the last book in the New Testament is absolutely integral to that faith delivered to the saints. Yet the faith previously delivered was augmented by the Revelation because it expanded on what the Christians already believed, regarding Christ's return and the Day of Revelation and Judgment. It's clear from reading John's record of that Revelation that it was to encourage the believers to hold fast to that faith they already had - to give them a vision to look forward to, and knowledge to enable them to endure the tribulation ahead, to keep faith.

Had Jude wanted to say that all scripture had been handed down by the saints, he could have used the Greek word for 'scripture'. It is used extensively throughout the New Testament. But he never did. He spoke of the faith that the saints had already delivered, as being a once-for-all-time delivery. That is why the scriptural record completed by the end of the first century is so necessary for us, and all who went before us, because we no longer have any apostles around to tell us directly what saving faith is all about. It is vital that we heed Jude, who said we must earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. This counteracts the attempts of pretend believers to teach us things that the saints never did. Because we have faith in our only Lord, as handed down by the apostles, we can identify counterfeit gospels and faith that does not save.


Why might Jude vs. 3 tell us that "faith" had been fully delivered to the saints?

Answer: Far more than "faith" is meant here. The statement in Jude vs. 3 applies to all that is contained in the Word of God.

While it is true that faith applies to our common salvation in Christ, there is a much more profound meaning than the superficiality of mere "faith." Jude's reference to "faith" is characterizing the totality of that which Christians believe. The word "faith" is used to encompass the entire, recognized body of teaching that emerged from Peter's initial preaching on the day of Pentecost.

And, this includes all the basic N/T requirements of faith. A substantial case may be made that faith is composed of the following commandments to which the faithful are accountable:

1. Hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17). That would be the totality of Scripture — all of that which has been delivered. (Jude vs. 3, cf. John 6:44-45).
2. Belief in Jesus as the Son of God (Hebrews 11:6, John 8:24, 20:30-31).
3. Repentance of sin (Acts 2:38, Acts 17:30).
4. Confession that Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 8:36–37, Romans 10:9,10).
5. Baptism baptism now saves you (1 Pet. 3:21, Gal. 3:27, Acts 2:38, 8:12, 8:16, 8:36, 10:48, 16:15, 16:30, 19:3-5, 22:16, Mark 16:16, Romans 6:3, Titus 3:5).
6. Living a life of faithful obedience (1 Peter 2:9, Colossians 1:22-23).

Faith is also comprised of our obligations to worship God on the first day of the week (Sunday) and to observe the Lord's Supper (communion). All of this is accomplished as we internalize the Holy Spirit — the words of Scripture.

Coffman suggests the following:

Here again, in the New Testament usage of faith, it means, as so frequently in other New Testament passages, as Alford put it: "Faith means the faith which is believed, not the faith by which we believe."1
The use of the Greek word [hapax] carries the meaning of "once only and forever." The gospel delivered to mankind was not a piecemeal revelation, "here a little and there a little" as in the Old Testament, but the full message in its entirety and completeness as delivered through Christ to the apostles. The word (Greek: hapax) is the same as in such New Testament expressions as "appointed to man once to die," "Christ offered himself once," etc... The gospel was delivered not in part, but as a complete whole.

If faith has been delivered once and for all, the most relevant meaning is that the source of faith, the Word of God, has been fully delivered in its totality. This would then parallel Paul's Second Letter to Timothy:

2 Timothy 3:16: "All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness" as statements that indicate the complete knowledge of God having been bestowed upon us once and forever.

If we did not have "all Scripture" as Paul maintains, we would not be so equipped. This seems to be Jude's point in the third verse of his Letter — as "perplexing a thinking pattern" as one especially useful contributor suggests.

1 Delbert R. Rose, a quotation from Alford, op. cit., p. 432.


Let us be very clear what Jude 3 actually states and what he does not state. He says:

the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints

Thus, Jude is saying that it is the "faith" that was delivered to the saints. This says nothing about whether the NT canon was complete or not. Indeed, at the probable time of writing Jude, several more books we yet to be written, very likely, 2 Peter, Revelation, and possibly one or two more.

The word (noun) Jude uses is πίστις (pistis = faith/trust/belief) never has the sense in the NT of the writings of the apostles and prophets but of their belief and practice. Indeed, BDAG defines the meaning of πίστις in Jude 3 as:

3. that which is believed, body of faith/belief/teaching., eg, Jude 3, 20, Rom 1:5, Gal 1:23, 3:23-25, etc.

Therefore, Jude 3 cannot be used to answer any question about when or much the NT canon was or would be complete.


OP: there seems little question that the Book of Revelation belongs in the N/T canon

Actually, there was a lot of controversy about it.


Revelation, the final book in the New Testament, was “squeezed into the canon in the fourth century,” said Pagels, and barely made it into the 27-book lineup. Over the centuries, it continued to draw the ire of critics, from theologian Martin Luther to author D.H. Lawrence. To this day, Eastern Orthodox Christian sects decline to use Revelation in public worship.

The Book of Revelation: How Difficult Was Its Journey into the Canon?

Few today would contest the claim that the book of Revelation stands as one of the most controversial, complicated, and esoteric books in the New Testament canon. Perhaps it should come as no surprise, then, that its reception by the early church was equally complicated and controversial.

  • I must ask you something. When Christ says Matt. 24:35: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away" does this not mean that Scripture is inerrant and infallible? If this is not true, how can we trust a word that is written? At one point not so long ago, one of my (pre-Christian) problems with the Bible was how it could possibly survive thousands of years of attempts to subvert, malign, and destroy it. And yet, it exists in its entirety to this very day. Is this not God's providence to ensure that all books are correct, inspired, and indestructible?
    – Xeno
    Sep 27, 2021 at 22:26
  • "inerrant" and "infallible" are not terms found in the Bible. I try to stick to words found in the Bible while discussing :)
    – user35953
    Sep 28, 2021 at 13:48
  • That's fair enough, Tony. Something I try to keep in mind is that God spoke the material universe into existence. Since our eternal fate rests on the validity and accuracy of the Bible, it seems to me that God would ensure we receive His words the way He meant them to be received. This would require that all the works we have, in the order we have them, is instrumental for everlasting life. These words are tantamount to the Creation itself because our adherence to them is the primary reason for our existence (i.e. to understand God and our desperate need for Him). Thanks!
    – Xeno
    Sep 28, 2021 at 18:53
  • Amen. Also, I find it useful at times to distinguish between the Word of God and the records of the Word of God which is the Bible.
    – user35953
    Sep 29, 2021 at 14:07

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