The doxology of Jude 1:24–25 says, “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.” What does it mean that God is able to keep us from falling (as the KJV terms it)?
In understanding the meaning of any verse, context is key. Jude is a letter written by Jude, a half-brother of Jesus. The letter is written to fellow believers, whom Jude addresses as “friends” (Jude 1:3, 17, 20). According to Jude 1:3, Jude had wanted to write about salvation, but he instead felt compelled to write about the need to contend for the faith. It seems there were false converts within the church who were “ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord” (Jude 1:4). Jude goes on to explain some of what these false believers are doing and compares their actions to other historical rebellions. Jude warns that these people will not escape judgment.
Jude then goes on to exhort the believers to continue in the faith. He says not to be surprised that there are “scoffers who will follow their ungodly desires” (Jude 1:18) as it had been prophesied. Rather than be taken in by the deceptiveness of the false teachers among them, they should continue to grow in the faith: “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life” (Jude 1:20–21).
After lambasting the ungodly who had “secretly slipped in” (Jude 1:4), explaining the serious nature of God’s judgment, and imploring his readers to live godly lives, Jude ends his epistle with a doxology. Here is where he writes that God is able to keep us from falling. Though Jude tells his readers to “keep yourselves in God’s love” (Jude 1:21), he also points out that it is God who keeps us. Our righteousness does not come from ourselves, but from God. We are to contend for the faith and persevere. But, ultimately, our security does not rest on us. We need not fear that we will fall away from God, for it is He who keeps us upright. We rely on His power, not our own.
In Jude’s song of praise, “the only wise God our Saviour” (Jude 1:25, KJV) is credited with doing two things for us: He is able to keep us from falling (literally, He keeps us unfallen), and He is able to present us faultless “before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (verse 24, KJV). Amid all the pitfalls of this world, including the false teaching so rampant everywhere, our Savior is able to keep us from sin and error. The false teachers Jude condemns have stumbled into sinful lifestyles, but God is able to preserve His own. One day we will stand in His very presence fully sanctified and blameless (see Colossians 1:22).
Jude writes this as an encouragement. He warns believers to be steadfast and to live a holy life. And he reassures them that God is both willing and able to purify His children. True Christians will struggle with sin (1 John 1:8–9). We will fail. But we can trust that our God is faithful and able to keep us in His grip and to present us blameless before Himself (John 10:28–30; Romans 7–8; Philippians 1:6). Not only can He do this, but He does it with great joy. This is why we praise Him so greatly.