1 Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ: 2 May mercy and peace and love be multiplied to you. Jude 1-2
Jude, or Judas, was one of four half-brothers of Jesus (James, Joses, Simon). We also read he had sisters, but none are called by name in the Bible (see Mark 6:3). All grew up with him, having to contend with his perfection day in and day out. We are aware of little about Jesus in his early years, except him holding court with the leaders in the synagogue while thought to be “lost.” So he was a handful in a very peculiar way.
We read that his brothers at least were not big fans.
5 For not even His brothers were believing in Him. John 7:5
By Acts 1:14 though, Jesus’ brothers were in the fold, with their mother and the disciples in the Upper Room after witnessing the ascension of Jesus on the Mount of Olives. Prior to that, Jesus had made peace with brother (in Christ) James (1 Corinthians 15:7), and likely tapped him to lead his church in the Holy City at that time.
No doubt, the half-brothers carried a bit of notoriety as kin to Jesus, but the nature of their past relationship with him was likely used as something you don’t want to do, that is to “scoff” at the King of kings for so long, even if he was your “always right” big brother.
Jude was now ready to share something in writing about the “common salvation” (verse 3) we have in Christ. Most important to Jude was his—or better our—standing in the faith. First, he was called. Even the fate of the half-brother of Jesus’ was in question until he was tapped on the shoulder by God himself. Identifying with Christianity is never enough. This salvation was by invitation only (meaning behind the Greek word kletos for “called” in this case and not to be confused with the “effectual call” discussed in the Epistles). Next, he was beloved (agapao in the Greek) in “God the Father.” In the past, it seems that all that could be mustered in Joseph and Mary’s household was “brotherly love” (phileo). Now God had installed in Jude the ability to love sacrificially, unconditionally, and deeply. On a family level, Jesus sacrificially and personally died for Jude, or to put it graphically (not that crucifixion isn’t graphic enough), he fell on a hand grenade for him. Finally, perhaps most importantly, he was “kept for Jesus Christ,” or guarded by the Lord. In all its aspects, it was this “common faith” that Jude was most fond of talking about.
So, Jude starts his letter with it (common salvation or faith) as his intended theme by calling himself a slave of Christ and drops his other brother’s name, James, the leader of the church in Jerusalem, I guess to further enhance his credibility, but he didn’t need to. For he’d seen Jesus grow up, his miracles, him crucified and then alive again, and him ascend into the clouds. So he wished the same mercy, peace, and love he now experienced would abound (“be multiplied”) to all.