To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ (Jude 1b).
In his address, Jude uses three descriptors to define the identity of his readers. Notice that these describe the people but are based on the action of God. For example, if I use “well-dressed” as a descriptor of myself, that would be based on an action of mine (i.e. dressing myself in nice clothes). Or if I used “patient” to describe myself, that would be referencing my character, which I have control over through the decisions I make and the disicplines I practice. But in this verse, Jude points out that the realities of who we are in God’s eyes, which are not dependant upon us but upon God. Whether in any given moment we choose to live according to this new identity in no way diminishes the fact that we are called, beloved, and kept.
So let’s break this down. First, we are named “the called.” We, as individuals, and together as the people of God, are identified as those who have been called by the Father and received and acknowledged that call at some point. We have been named by God and given an assignment and a vision for the future. We have a “calling” in life, which is to become the people that God wants us to be, and to take part in His Kingdom purposes. This calling is primary and above any other “calling” in life, be that to any specific job or task that we might identify as a personal “calling”.
Then Jude says we are beloved of the Father. I could write a book on what that means, but suffice it to say, there is nothing that we could do or say that would change the way God feels about us. Our “belovedness” is secure because it rests in God’s capacity to love rather than our ability to perform or to receive that love.
And then Jude mentions we are kept for Jesus. It is unclear what is a better translation of the last part of the verse: “kept in Jesus” or “kept for Jesus” or “kept by Jesus”. In both of the first two instances, the Father appears to be doing the keeping. In the first instance it indicates our spiritual status and our relation to Jesus, and in the latter it seems to mean we are preserved for the sake of Jesus, which I don’t quite understand. Then, in the third option, Jesus in the one doing the keeping the guarding. I suppose any of these options are good, but I do not know that Paul refers to the “saints in Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:1) and from Jesus’ own teaching we know that he fiercely guards and protects his own (See Lk 20:31-32; Jn 10:28, 17:12), so I prefer the “in” option. But again, it is God who is doing the action on us. We do not guard or protect ourselves, but are sustain and kept by the God who is able to do so, and who does so out of his love for his beloved, and in order that we may persevere in the calling to which he has called us.