Jude 3: Over-Agonizing for the Once for All Delivered Faith

Dear saints,

Jude, our Lord’s brother, commanded us long ago to epagonizomai for the faith once for all delivered to us. Epagonizomai means to “over agonize.” In Colossians 1:29, Paul said he was agonizomai, agonizing, with God’s energeo, God’s energy, to present every man perfect in Christ. Jude puts epi, over, in front of that agonizomai. We are to “over agonize” for the faith.

What is the faith? To borrow a phrase from Tertullian, a writer from Carthage around the year 200, everything turns to its original for classification. The “original,” the very first faith that we know, is recorded in Acts 2:38-48:

  1. Repent and be baptized, every one of you, for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the Holy Spirit.

Peter said, so long ago, that this promise of the Holy Spirit was for those who heard him and …

for your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God might call.

We are far off, but the Holy Spirit is a promise to us who have believed in Jesus and been baptized.

  1. “He solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, ‘Be saved from this perverse generation!'”
  2. Those who “received the word” were baptized and “were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, the breaking of bread, and to prayer.”

Look at those phrases! “Solemnly testified”; “kept on exhorting them.”

The apostles spoke and the hearers “received” and “continually devoted themselves.”

The result?

Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe, and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. All those who were together and had all things in common, and they began selling their possessions and property and were sharing them with everyone, as anyone might have need. Day by day, continuing with one mind in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, they were eating their meals with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with the people.

And the result of this Holy-Spirit-inspired behavior?

The Lord was adding those who were being saved to their number every day.

No wonder Paul “agonized with God’s energy” to present us complete in Christ! No wonder Jude exhorted us to “overagonize” for the faith once for all delivered to the saints.

This was not revival. This was not “re-“; it was the original. This was vivification, life coming to earth from the Holy Spirit. “Re-” vival is the restoration of that life.


“Agonize” is not the best translation of _agonizomai_. I am not trying to correct our Bible translations. “Fight” or “strive” in the sense of trying to win is the correct translation, but “agonize” is the right picture. We are supposed to picture a wrestler agonizing to throw his opponent to the ground, or a sprinter trying to nip his opponent as he crosses the line (reference). It is that effort Paul was giving to make us complete in Christ. It is MORE than that effort that Jude wants us to give in fighting for the original faith.

The original shines through in Acts 2:42-48. It was not forced. It was not communism nor mandatory daily banquets. It is the “of course” result—the fruit—of a fervent people (Rom. 12:11), set on fire by the Holy Spirit to love one another (Rom. 5:8), and zealous to do the deeds (Tit. 2:13-14) they were created in King Jesus to do (Eph. 2:10).

About Paul Pavao

I am married, the father of six, and currently the grandfather of two. I run a business, live in a Christian community, teach, and I am learning to disciple others better than I have ever been able to before. I believe God has gifted me to restore proper foundations to the Christian faith. In order to ensure that I do not become a heretic, I read the early church fathers from the second and third centuries. They were around when all the churches founded by the apostles were in unity. I also try to stay honest and open. I argue and discuss these foundational doctrines with others to make sure my teaching really lines up with Scripture. I am encouraged by the fact that the several missionaries and pastors that I know well and admire as holy men love the things I teach. I hope you will be encouraged too. I am indeed tearing up old foundations created by tradition in order to re-establish the foundations found in Scripture and lived on by the churches during their 300 years of unity.
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