James 1:1
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
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(1) James, a servant (or slave, or bond-servant) of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.—Bound to Him, i.e., in devotion and love. In like manner, St. Paul (Romans 1:1, et seq.), St. Peter (2Peter 1:1), and St. Jude brother of James (James 1:1), begin their Letters. The writer of this has been identified (see Introduction, ante, p. 352) with James the Just, first bishop of Jerusalem, the brother of our Lord.

To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.—Or, to the twelve tribes in the dispersion. To these remnants of the house of Israel, whose “casting away” (Romans 11:15) was leading to the “reconciling of the world;” whose “fall” had been the cause of its “riches;” “and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles” (James 1:12). Scattered abroad indeed they were, “a by-word among all nations” (Deuteronomy 28:37), “a curse and an astonishment” (Jeremiah 29:18) wherever the Lord had driven them. But there is something figurative, and perhaps prophetic, in the number twelve. Strictly speaking, at the time this Epistle was written, Judah and Benjamin, in great measure, were returned to the Holy Land from their captivity, though numbers of both tribes were living in various parts of the world, chiefly engaged, as at the present day, in commerce. The remaining ten had lost their tribal distinctions, and have now perished from all historical record, though it is still one of the fancies of certain writers, rather pious than learned, to discover traces of them in the aborigines of America, Polynesia, and almost every where else; most ethnologically improbable of all, in the Teutonic nations, and our own families thereof. But long before the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, and even the preaching of Christianity, Jewish colonists were found in Europe as well as Asia. “Even where they suffered most, through their own turbulent disposition, or the enmity of their neighbours, they sprang again from the same undying stock, however it might be hewn by the sword or seared by the fire. Massacre seemed to have no effect in thinning their ranks, and, like their forefathers in Egypt, they still multiplied under the most cruel oppression.” (See Milman’s History of the Jews, vol. i., p. 449, et seq.) While the Temple stood these scattered settlements were colonies of a nation, bound together by varied ties and sympathies, but ruled in the East by a Rabbi called the Prince of the Captivity, and in the West by the Patriarch of Tiberias, who, curiously, had his seat in that Gentile city of Palestine. The fall of Jerusalem, and the end therewith of national existence, rather added to than detracted from the authority of these strange governments; the latter ceased only in the reign of the Emperor Theodosius, while the former continued, it is said, in the royal line of David, until the close of the eleventh century, after which the dominion passed wholly into the hands of the Rabbinical aristocracy, from whom it has come down to the present day. The phrase “in the dispersion” was common in the time or our Lord; the Jews wondered whether He would “go unto the dispersion amongst the Gentiles” (John 7:35, and see Note there).

James 1:1. James, a servant of Jesus Christ — Whose name the apostle mentions but once more in the whole epistle, namely, James 2:1, and not at all in his whole discourse, Acts 15:14, &c., or Acts 21:20-25. It might have seemed, if he had mentioned him often, that he did it out of vanity, as being the brother, or near kinsman, of the Lord; to the twelve tribes — Of Israel; that is, to those of them that were converted to Christianity, and with an evident reference, in some parts of the epistle, to that part of them which was not converted; which are scattered abroad — In various countries; ten of the tribes were scattered ever since the reign of Hoshea, and a great part of the rest were now dispersed through the Roman empire, as was foretold Deuteronomy 28:25; Deuteronomy 30:4. That the twelve tribes were actually in existence when James wrote his epistle, will appear from the following facts. 1st, Notwithstanding Cyrus allowed all the Jews in his dominions to return to their own land, many of them did not return, but continued to live among the Gentiles, as appears from this, that in the days of Ahasuerus, one of the successors of Cyrus, who reigned from India to Ethiopia, over one hundred and twenty-seven provinces, (Esther 3:8,) the Jews were dispersed among the people in all the provinces of his kingdom, and their laws were diverse from the laws of all other people; so that, by adhering to their own usages, they kept themselves distinct from all the nations among whom they lived. 2d, Josephus considered the twelve tribes as being in existence when the Old Testament Scriptures were translated into Greek, (namely, in the time of Ptolemy Philadelphus, about two hundred and fifty or two hundred and sixty years before Christ,) as he says that six persons were sent out of every tribe to assist in that work. 3d, On the day of pentecost, as mentioned Acts 2:5; Acts 2:9, there were dwelling at Jerusalem devout men out of every nation under heaven, Parthians, Medes, &c: so numerous were the Jews, and so widely dispersed through all the countries of the world. 4th, When Paul travelled through Asia and Europe, he found the Jews so numerous, that in all the noted cities of the Gentiles they had synagogues, in which they were assembled for the worship of God, and were joined by multitudes of proselytes from among the heathens. 5th, The same apostle, in his speech to Agrippa, affirmed that the twelve tribes were then existing, and that they served God day and night, in expectation of the promise made to the fathers, Acts 26:6. 6th, Josephus (Antiq., 50. 14. c. 12) tells us, that in his time one region could not contain the Jews, but they dwelt in most of the flourishing cities of Asia and Europe, in the islands and continent, not much less in number than the heathen inhabitants. From all which it is evident that the Jews of the dispersion were more numerous than even the Jews in Judea; and that James very properly inscribed his letter to the twelve tribes which were in the dispersion, seeing the twelve tribes really existed then, and do still exist, although not distinguished by separate habitations, as they were anciently in their own land. Greeting — That is, wishing you all blessings, temporal, spiritual, and eternal.

1:1-11 Christianity teaches men to be joyful under troubles: such exercises are sent from God's love; and trials in the way of duty will brighten our graces now, and our crown at last. Let us take care, in times of trial, that patience, and not passion, is set to work in us: whatever is said or done, let patience have the saying and doing of it. When the work of patience is complete, it will furnish all that is necessary for our Christian race and warfare. We should not pray so much for the removal of affliction, as for wisdom to make a right use of it. And who does not want wisdom to guide him under trials, both in regulating his own spirit, and in managing his affairs? Here is something in answer to every discouraging turn of the mind, when we go to God under a sense of our own weakness and folly. If, after all, any should say, This may be the case with some, but I fear I shall not succeed, the promise is, To any that asketh, it shall be given. A mind that has single and prevailing regard to its spiritual and eternal interest, and that keeps steady in its purposes for God, will grow wise by afflictions, will continue fervent in devotion, and rise above trials and oppositions. When our faith and spirits rise and fall with second causes, there will be unsteadiness in our words and actions. This may not always expose men to contempt in the world, but such ways cannot please God. No condition of life is such as to hinder rejoicing in God. Those of low degree may rejoice, if they are exalted to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom of God; and the rich may rejoice in humbling providences, that lead to a humble and lowly disposition of mind. Worldly wealth is a withering thing. Then, let him that is rich rejoice in the grace of God, which makes and keeps him humble; and in the trials and exercises which teach him to seek happiness in and from God, not from perishing enjoyments.James, a servant of God - On the meaning of the word "servant" in this connection, see the note at Romans 1:1. Compare the note at Plm 1:16. It is remarkable that James does not call himself an apostle; but this does not prove that the writer of the Epistle was not an apostle, for the same omission occurs in the Epistle of John, and in the Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, the Thessalonians, and to Philemon. It is remarkable, also, considering the relation which James is supposed to have borne to the Lord Jesus as his "brother" (Galatians 1:19; Introduction, 1). That he did not refer to that as constituting a ground of claim to his right to address others; but this is only one instance out of many, in the New Testament, in which it is regarded as a higher honor to be the "servant of God," and to belong to his family, than to sustain any relations of blood or kindred. Compare Matthew 11:50. It may be observed also (Compare the introduction, Section 1), that this term is one which was especially appropriate to James, as a man eminent for his integrity. His claim to respect and deference was not primarily founded on any relationship which he sustained; any honor of birth or blood; or even any external office, but on the fact that he was a "servant of God."

And of the Lord Jesus Christ - The "servant of the Lord Jesus," is an appellation which is often given to Christians, and particularly to the ministers of religion. They are his servants, not in the sense that they are slaves, but in the sense that they voluntarily obey his will, and labor for him, and not for themselves.

To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad - Greek "The twelve tribes which are in the dispersion," or of the dispersion (ἐν τῇ διασπορᾷ en tē diaspora). This word occurs only here and in 1 Peter 1:1, and John 7:35. It refers properly to those who lived out of Palestine, or who were scattered among the Gentiles. There were two great "dispersions;" the Eastern and the Western. The first had its origin about the time when the ten tribes were carried away to Assyria, and in the time of the Babylonian captivity. In consequence of these events, and of the fact that large numbers of the Jews went to Babylon, and other Eastern countries, for purposes of travel, commerce, etc., there were many Jews in the East in the times of the apostles. The other was the Western "dispersion," which commenced about the time of Alexander the Great, and which was promoted by various causes, until there were large numbers of Jews in Egypt and along Northern Africa, in Asia Minor, in Greece proper, and even in Rome. To which of these classes this Epistle was directed is not known; but most probably the writer had particular reference to those in the East. See the introduction, Section 2. The phrase "the twelve tribes," was the common term by which the Jewish people were designated, and was in use long after the ten tribes were carried away, leaving, in fact, only two of the twelve in Palestine. Compare the notes at Acts 26:7. Many have supposed that James here addressed them as Jews, and that the Epistle was sent to them as such. But this opinion has no probability; because:

(1) If this had been the case, he would not have been likely to begin his Epistle by saying that he was "a servant of Jesus Christ," a name so odious to the Jews.

(2) and, if he had spoken of himself as a Christian, and had addressed his countrymen as himself a believer in Jesus as the Messiah, though regarding them as Jews, it is incredible that he did not make a more distinct reference to the principles of the Christian religion; that he used no arguments to convince them that Jesus was the Messiah; that he did not attempt to convert them to the Christian faith.

It should be added, that at first most converts were made from those who had been trained in the Jewish faith, and it is not improbable that one in Jerusalem, addressing those who were Christians out of Palestine, would naturally think of them as of Jewish origin, and would be likely to address them as appertaining to the "twelve tribes." The phrase "the twelve tribes" became also a sort of technical expression to denote the people of God - the church.

Greeting - A customary form of salutation, meaning, in Greek, to joy, to rejoice; and implying that he wished their welfare. Compare Acts 15:23.

THE GENERAL EPISTLE OF JAMES Commentary by A. R. Faussett


This is called by Eusebius ([Ecclesiastical History, 2.23], about the year 330 A.D.) the first of the Catholic Epistles, that is, the Epistles intended for general circulation, as distinguished from Paul's Epistles, which were addressed to particular churches or individuals. In the oldest manuscripts of the New Testament extant, they stand before the Epistles of Paul. Of them, two only are mentioned by Eusebius as universally acknowledged (Homologoumena), namely, the First Epistle of Peter, and the First Epistle of John. All, however, are found in every existing manuscript of the whole New Testament.

It is not to be wondered at that Epistles not addressed to particular churches (and particularly one like that of James, addressed to the Israelite believers scattered abroad) should be for a time less known. The first mention of James' Epistle by name occurs early in the third century, in Origen [Commentary on John 1:19, 4.306], who was born about 185, and died A.D. 254. Clement of Rome ([First Epistle to the Corinthians, 10]; compare Jas 2:21, 23; [First Epistle to the Corinthians, 11]; compare Jas 2:25; Heb 11:31) quotes it. So also Hermas [Shepherd] quotes Jas 4:7. Irenæus [Against Heresies, 4.16.2] is thought to refer to Jas 2:23. Clement of Alexandria commented on it, according to Cassiodorus. Ephrem the Syrian [Against the Greeks, 3.51] quotes Jas 5:1. An especially strong proof of its authenticity is afforded by its forming part of the old Syriac version, which contains no other of the disputed books (Antilegomena, [Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3.25]), except the Epistle to the Hebrews. None of the Latin fathers before the fourth century quote it; but soon after the Council of Nicea it was admitted as canonical both by the East and West churches, and specified as such in the Councils of Hippo and Carthage (397 A.D.). This is just what we might expect; a writing known only partially at first, when subsequently it obtained a wider circulation, and the proofs were better known of its having been recognized in apostolic churches, having in them men endowed with the discernment of spirits, which qualified them for discriminating between inspired and uninspired writings, was universally accepted. Though doubted for a time, at last the disputed books (James, Second Peter, Second and Third John, Jude, and Revelation) were universally and undoubtingly accepted, so that no argument for the Old Testament Apocrypha can be drawn from their case: as to it the Jewish Church had no doubt; it was known not to be inspired.

Luther's objection to it ("an Epistle of straw, and destitute of an evangelic character") was due to his mistaken idea that it (Jas 2:14-26) opposes the doctrine of justification by faith, and not by works, taught by Paul. But the two apostles, while looking at justification from distinct standpoints, perfectly harmonize and mutually complement the definitions of one another. Faith precedes love and the works of love; but without them it is dead. Paul regards faith in the justification of the sinner before God; James, in the justification of the believer evidently before men. The error which James meets was the Jewish notion that their possession and knowledge of the law of God would justify them, even though they disobeyed it (compare Jas 1:22 with Ro 2:17-25). Jas 1:3; 4:1, 12 seem plainly to allude to Ro 5:3; 6:13; 7:23; 14:4. Also the tenor of Jas 2:14-26 on "justification," seems to allude to Paul's teaching, so as to correct false Jewish notions of a different kind from those which he combatted, though not unnoticed by him also (Ro 2:17, &c.).

Paul (Ga 2:9) arranges the names "James, Cephas, John," in the order in which their Epistles stand. James who wrote this Epistle (according to most ancient writers) is called (Ga 1:19), "the Lord's brother." He was son of Alpheus or Cleopas (Lu 24:13-18) and Mary, sister of the Virgin Mary. Compare Mr 15:40 with Joh 19:25, which seems to identify the mother of James the Less with the wife of Cleopas, not with the Virgin Mary, Cleopas' wife's sister. Cleopas is the Hebrew, Alpheus the Greek mode of writing the same name. Many, however, as Hegesippus [Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 23.1], distinguish the Lord's brother from the son of Alpheus. But the Gospel according to the Hebrews, quoted by Jerome, represents James, the Lord's brother, as present at the institution of the Eucharist, and therefore identical with the apostle James. So the Apocryphal Gospel of James. In Acts, James who is put foremost in Jerusalem after the death of James, the son of Zebedee, is not distinguished from James, the son of Alpheus. He is not mentioned as one of the Lord's brethren in Ac 1:14; but as one of the "apostles" (Ga 1:19). He is called "the Less" (literally, "the little," Mr 15:40), to distinguish him from James, the son of Zebedee. Alford considers James, the brother of the Lord, the author of the Epistle, to have been the eldest of the sons of Joseph and Mary, after Jesus (compare Mt 13:55), and that James the son of Alpheus is distinguished from him by the latter being called "the Less," (that is, junior). His arguments against the Lord's brother, the bishop of Jerusalem, being the apostle, are: (1) The Lord's brethren did not believe on Jesus at a time when the apostles had been already called (Joh 7:3, 5), therefore none of the Lord's brethren could be among the apostles (but it does not follow from Joh 7:3 that no one of them believed). (2) The apostles' commission was to preach the Gospel everywhere, not to be bishops in a particular locality (but it is unlikely that one not an apostle should be bishop of Jerusalem, to whom even apostles yield deference, Ac 15:13, 19; Ga 1:19; 2:9, 12. The Saviour's last command to the apostles collectively to preach the Gospel everywhere, is not inconsistent with each having a particular sphere of labor in which he should be a missionary bishop, as Peter is said to have been at Antioch).

He was surnamed "the Just." It needed peculiar wisdom so to preach the Gospel as not to disparage the law. As bishop of Jerusalem writing to the twelve tribes, he sets forth the Gospel in its aspect of relation to the law, which the Jews so reverenced. As Paul's Epistles are a commentary on the doctrines flowing from the death and resurrection of Christ, so James's Epistle has a close connection with His teaching during His life on earth, especially His Sermon on the Mount. In both, the law is represented as fulfilled in love: the very language is palpably similar (compare Jas 1:2 with Mt 5:12; Jas 1:4 with Mt 5:48; Jas 1:5; 5:15 with Mt 7:7-11; Jas 2:13 with Mt 5:7; 6:14, 15; Jas 2:10 with Mt 5:19; Jas 4:4 with Mt 6:24; Jas 4:11 with Mt 7:1, 2; Jas 5:2 with Mt 6:19). The whole spirit of this Epistle breathes the same Gospel-righteousness which the Sermon on the Mount inculcates as the highest realization of the law. James's own character as "the Just," or legally righteous, disposed him to this coincidence (compare Jas 1:20; 2:10; 3:18 with Mt 5:20). It also fitted him for presiding over a Church still zealous for the law (Ac 21:18-24; Ga 2:12). If any could win the Jews to the Gospel, he was most likely who presented a pattern of Old Testament righteousness, combined with evangelical faith (compare also Jas 2:8 with Mt 5:44, 48). Practice, not profession, is the test of obedience (compare Jas 2:17; 4:17 with Mt 7:2-23). Sins of the tongue, however lightly regarded by the world, are an offense against the law of love (compare Jas 1:26; 3:2-18 with Mt 5:22; also any swearing, Jas 5:12; compare Mt 5:33-37).

The absence of the apostolic benediction in this Epistle is probably due to its being addressed, not merely to the believing, but also indirectly to unbelieving, Israelites. To the former he commends humility, patience, and prayer; to the latter he addresses awful warnings (Jas 5:7-11; 4:9; 5:1-6).

James was martyred at the Passover. This Epistle was probably written just before it. The destruction of Jerusalem foretold in it (Jas 5:1, &c.), ensued a year after his martyrdom, A.D. 69. Hegesippus (quoted in Eusebius [Ecclesiastical History, 2.23]) narrates that he was set on a pinnacle of the temple by the scribes and Pharisees, who begged him to restrain the people who were in large numbers embracing Christianity. "Tell us," said they in the presence of the people gathered at the feast, "which is the door of Jesus?" James replied with a loud voice, "Why ask ye me concerning Jesus the Son of man? He sitteth at the right hand of power, and will come again on the clouds of heaven." Many thereupon cried, Hosanna to the Son of David. But James was cast down headlong by the Pharisees; and praying, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," he was stoned and beaten to death with a fuller's club. The Jews, we know from Acts, were exasperated at Paul's rescue from their hands, and therefore determined to wreak their vengeance on James. The publication of his Epistle to the dispersed Israelites, to whom it was probably carried by those who came up to the periodical feasts, made him obnoxious to them, especially to the higher classes, because it foretold the woes soon about to fall on them and their country. Their taunting question, "Which is the door of Jesus?" (that is, by what door will He come when He returns?), alludes to his prophecy, "the coming of the Lord draweth nigh … behold the Judge standeth before the door" (Jas 5:8, 9). Heb 13:7 probably refers to the martyrdom of James, who had been so long bishop over the Jewish Christians at Jerusalem, "Remember them which have (rather, 'had') the rule (spiritually) over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God; whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation."

His inspiration as an apostle is expressly referred to in Ac 15:19, 28, "My sentence is," &c.: "It seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us," &c. His episcopal authority is implied in the deference paid to him by Peter and Paul (Ac 12:17; 21:18; Ga 1:19; 2:9). The Lord had appeared specially to him after the resurrection (1Co 15:7). Peter in his First Epistle (universally from the first received as canonical) tacitly confirms the inspiration of James's Epistle, by incorporating with his own inspired writings no less than ten passages from James. The "apostle of the circumcision," Peter, and the first bishop of Jerusalem, would naturally have much in common. Compare Jas 1:1 with 1Pe 1:1; Jas 1:2 with 1Pe 1:6; 4:12, 13; Jas 1:11 with 1Pe 1:24; Jas 1:18 with 1Pe 1:3; Jas 2:7 with 1Pe 4:14; Jas 3:13 with 1Pe 2:12; Jas 4:1 with 1Pe 2:11; Jas 4:6 with 1Pe 5:5, 6; Jas 4:7 with 1Pe 5:6, 9; Jas 4:10 with 1Pe 5:6; Jas 5:20 with 1Pe 4:6. Its being written in the purest Greek shows it was intended not only for the Jews at Jerusalem, but also for the Hellenistic, that is, Greek-speaking, Jews.

The style is close, curt, and sententious, gnome following after gnome. A Hebraic character pervades the Epistle, as appears in the occasional poetic parallelisms (Jas 3:1-12). Compare "assembly": Greek, "synagogue," Jas 2:2, Margin. The images are analogical arguments, combining at once logic and poetry. Eloquence and persuasiveness are prominent characteristics.

The similarity to Matthew, the most Hebrew of the Gospels, is just what we might expect from the bishop of Jerusalem writing to Israelites. In it the higher spirit of Christianity is seen putting the Jewish law in its proper place. The law is enforced in its everlasting spirit, not in the letter for which the Jews were so zealous. The doctrines of grace, the distinguishing features of Paul's teaching to the Hellenists and Gentiles, are less prominent as being already taught by that apostle. James complements Paul's teaching, and shows to the Jewish Christians who still kept the legal ordinances down to the fall of Jerusalem, the spiritual principle of the law, namely, love manifested in obedience. To sketch "the perfect man" continuing in the Gospel law of liberty, is his theme.


Jas 1:1-27. Inscription: Exhortation on Hearing, Speaking, and Wrath.

The last subject is discussed in Jas 3:13-4:17.

1. James—an apostle of the circumcision, with Peter and John, James in Jerusalem, Palestine, and Syria; Peter in Babylon and the East; John in Ephesus and Asia Minor. Peter addresses the dispersed Jews of Pontus, Galatia, and Cappadocia; James, the Israelites of the twelve tribes scattered abroad.

servant of God—not that he was not an apostle; for Paul, an apostle, also calls himself so; but as addressing the Israelites generally, including even indirectly the unbelieving, he in humility omits the title "apostle"; so Paul in writing to the Hebrews; similarly Jude, an apostle, in his General Epistle.

Jesus Christ—not mentioned again save in Jas 2:1; not at all in his speeches (Ac 15:14, 15; 21:20, 21), lest his introducing the name of Jesus oftener should seem to arise from vanity, as being "the Lord's brother" [Bengel]. His teaching being practical, rather than doctrinal, required less frequent mention of Christ's name.

scattered abroad—literally "which are in the dispersion." The dispersion of the Israelites, and their connection with Jerusalem as a center of religion, was a divinely ordered means of propagating Christianity. The pilgrim troops of the law became caravans of the Gospel [Wordsworth].Jam 1:1 The apostle's address to the dispersed Jews.

Jam 1:2-4 He recommendeth patience and joy in afflictions.

Jam 1:5-8 and prayer with faith.

Jam 1:9-11 He giveth advice to the poor and to the rich.

Jam 1:12 The reward of those that are proof under trial.

Jam 1:13-16 Our own lusts, and not God, tempt us to sin.

Jam 1:17,18 God is the unchangeable author of all good to his creatures.

Jam 1:19-25 We must receive the word with purity and meekness, and not

only hear, but do it.

Jam 1:26 The necessity of governing the tongue.

Jam 1:27 The essential duties of true religion.

James, the son of Alpheus and brother of Jude, called likewise the brother of the Lord, Gal 1:19.

A servant; not only by creation, as all the creatures are, Psa 119:91, or by redemption, as all believers are, but by special commission in the office of an apostle; see Gal 1:10 Phi 1:1 2Pe 1:1; compare likewise Rom 1:9.

Of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ: the members of this clause may be taken, either jointly, and then the conjunction and hath the power only of an explication, q.d. The servant of God, even the Lord Jesus Christ, as Tit 2:2 and the sense must be, the servant of Jesus Christ, who is God: or, separately, (which our translation seems to favour), to let his countrymen know, that in serving Christ he served the God of his fathers; and by the authority both of God and of Christ wrote this to them.

To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad: being one of the apostles of the circumcision, Gal 2:9, he writes to all his believing countrymen wherever dispersed, as they were upon several occasions, and at several times, into divers countries, Act 2:9-11.

Greeting; a salutation usual, not only among the heathen, but the Jews, Mat 26:49 27:29; and used by the Christians, Act 15:23. It seems to answer to the Hebrew salutation, peace, which was comprehensive of all happiness; and so is this here to be understood.

James, a servant of God,.... That is, of God the Father; not by creation only, as every man is; nor merely by calling grace, as is every regenerate person; but by office, as a preacher of the Gospel, being one that served God in the Gospel of his Son, and was an apostle of Christ; nor is this any sufficient objection to his being one, since others of the apostles so style themselves:

and of the Lord Jesus Christ; the Ethiopic version reads this in connection with the former clause, without the copulative "and", "James, the servant of God, our Lord Jesus Christ": and so some consider the copulative as explanative of who is meant by God, even the Lord Jesus Christ: but it seems best to understand them as distinct; and that this apostle was not only the servant of God the Father, but of his Son Jesus Christ, and that in the same sense, referring to his office as an apostle of Christ, and minister of the word:

to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad; by whom are meant believing Jews, who were of the several tribes of Israel, and which were in number "twelve", according to the number and names of the twelve patriarchs, the sons of Jacob; and these were not the Christian Jews, who were scattered abroad upon the persecution raised at the death of Stephen, Acts 8:1 but they were the posterity of those who had been dispersed in former captivities, by the Assyrians and others, and who remained in the several countries whither they were carried, and never returned. The Jews say (f), that the ten tribes will never return, and that they will have no part nor portion in the world to come; but these the Gospel met with in their dispersion, and by it they were effectually called and converted, and are the same that Peter writes to, 1 Peter 1:1 2 Peter 1:1. And thus we read of an hundred and forty and four thousand sealed of all the tribes of Israel, Revelation 7:4 and to these the apostle here sends greeting; that is, his Christian salutation, wishing them all happiness and prosperity, in soul and body, for time and eternity; and it includes all that grace, mercy, and peace, mentioned in the usual forms of salutation by the other apostles. The same form is used in Acts 15:23 and since it was James that gave the advice there, which the rest of the apostles and elders came into, it is highly probable that the epistles sent to the Gentiles were dictated by him; and the likeness of the form of salutation may confirm his being the writer of this epistle.

(f) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 110. 2.

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the {a} twelve tribes which are {b} scattered abroad, greeting.

(a) That is, written to no one man, city, or country, but to all the Jews generally, being now dispersed.

(b) To all the believing Jews, whatever tribe they are from, dispersed throughout the whole world.

Jam 1:1. Address and greeting. James calls himself a “servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Oecumenius correctly: Θεοῦ μὲν τοῦ πατρὸς, κυρίου δὲ τοῦ υἱοῦ; some expositors have incorrectly taken Θεοῦ καὶ κυρίου together as applied to Ἰησ. Χρ. There is here no combination of the Old and New Testaments in this conjunction (against Lange). It is to be observed that in the apostolic addresses our Lord’s name is always given in full: Ἰησοῦς Χριστός.

Δοῦλος] is here an official appellation, which, however, belongs not only to the apostles, but to every possessor of an ecclesiastical office received from the Lord; comp. particularly Php 1:1 : Παῦλος καὶ Τιμόθεος, δοῦλοι Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, and Judges 1:1. In this name the consciousness is expressed that the office is a service in which not our own will, nor the will of other men, but only of God or of Christ, is to be fulfilled. Oecumenius: ὑπὲρ πᾶν δὲ κοσμικὸν ἀξίωμα οἱ τοῦ κυρίου ἀπόστολοι τό δοῦλοι εἶναι Χριστοῦ καλλωπιζόμενοι, τοῦτο γνώρισμα ἑαυτῶν βούλονται ποιεῖσθαι, καὶ λέγοντες καὶ ἐπιστέλλοντες καὶ διδάσκοντες.

Ταῖς δώδεκα φυλαῖς ταῖς ἐν τῇ διασπορᾷ] A designation of the people of Israel living outside of Palestine, and dispersed among the Gentiles. On αἱ δώδεκα φυλαί it is to be observed, that although this appellation of the people of Israel after the exile does not occur in the Apocrypha, yet the people who returned were still regarded as the twelve tribes (1Es 7:8-9); as the people of the twelve tribes are the covenant people, to whom the promises given to the patriarchs refer; from which it is to be explained that in the N. T. the number twelve is particularly emphasized (Matthew 19:28; Revelation 7:4-8; Revelation 21:12), and that James designates by this name the people to whom the promise was fulfilled. On τῇ διασπορᾷ, see Deuteronomy 30:4; Nehemiah 1:9; Psalm 147:2; 2Ma 1:27 (Jeremiah 15:7); John 7:35; Winer’s Realwörterbuch, article “Zerstreuung.” Whether this designation is to be understood in a literal or symbolical sense, see Introduction, sec. 2. Laurentius, Hornejus, Hottinger, Pott, Gebser, Kern, Schneckenburger, Neander, Guericke, Schmid (bibl. Theol.), Wiesinger, and others correctly consider the Epistle as addressed to Jewish Christians; only it is to be observed that with the early composition of the Epistle these are not here to be considered as contrasted with the Gentile Christians. Had the author been conscious of such a contrast, it would have been elsewhere indicated in the Epistle itself.

χαίρειν] sc. λέγει; see 1Ma 10:18; 1Ma 10:25; 1Ma 15:16; 2Ma 1:1; and in the N. T. Acts 15:23; Acts 23:26 (2 John 1:11). It is to be observed that this very form of greeting, elsewhere not used in the N. T. Epistles, occurs in the writing proceeding from James, Acts 15:23 (Kern); the pure Greek form of greeting is more fully: χαίρειν καὶ ὑγιαίνειν καὶ εὖ πράττειν, 2Ma 9:19.

Jam 1:1. Ἰάκωβος: A very common name among Palestinian Jews, though its occurrence does not seem to be so frequent in pre-Christian times. Some noted Jewish Rabbis of this name lived in the earliest centuries of Christianity, notably Jacob ben Ḳorshai, a “Tanna” (i.e., “teacher” of the Oral Law) of the second century. The English form of the name comes from the Italian Giacomo. θεοῦ καὶ Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ: Only Κυρίου here can refer to Christ; in Galatians 1:1 the differentiation is made still more complete … διὰ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ καὶ θεοῦ πατρὸς τοῦ ἐγείραντος αὐτὸν ἐκ νεκρῶν. On the other hand, in John 20:28, we have ὁ Κύριός μου καὶ ὁ Θεός μου. But the disjunctive use of καὶ in the words before us does not imply a withholding of the divine title from our Lord, for the usage of Κύριος in the N.T., especially without the article, when connected with Χριστός, is in favour of its being regarded as a divine title, see e.g., 1 Corinthians 1:1-3, etc. Hellenistic Jews used Κύριος as a name for God; the non-use of the article gains in significance when it is remembered that ὁ Κύριος, “Dominus,” was a title given to the early Roman Emperors in order to express their deity, cf. Acts 25:26, where Festus refers to Nero as ὁ Κύριος. The Palestinian Syriac Lectionary (containing, as generally conceded, the dialect which our Lord spoke), as well as the Peshittâ, read “Our Lord,” the expression used in the Peshiṭta in Matthew 8:25, Κύριε, σῶσον, ἀπολλύμεθα, and in Matthew 20:33, Κύριε, ἵνα ἀνοιγνῶσιν οἱ ὀφθαλμοὶ ἡμῶν; both instances of divine power being exercised. Χριστοῦ: the use of this title, applied to Jesus without further comment, speaks against an early date for the Epistle; in a letter written to Jews during the apostolic age it is inconceivable that the Messiah should be referred to in this connection without some justification; Jewish beliefs concerning the Messiah were such as to make it impossible for them to accept Jesus as the Messiah without some teaching on the subject; this would be the more required in the case of Jews of the Dispersion who could not have had the same opportunities of learning the truths of Christianity as Palestinian Jews. The way in which the title is here applied to our Lord implies that the truth taught was already generally accepted. The absence of the article also points to a late date. δοῦλος: Generally speaking, to the Jew δοῦλος (עֶבֶד), when used in reference to God, meant a worshipper, and when used with reference to men a slave; as the latter sense is out of the question here, δοῦλος must be understood as meaning worshipper, in which case the deity of our Lord would appear to be distinctly implied. ταῖς δώδεκα φυλαῖς ἐν τῇ διασπορᾷ: the “twelve tribes” was merely a synonym for the Jewish race (ἔθνος Ἰουδαίων), but there was a real distinction between the Jews of the Dispersion and the Palestinian Jews. The latter were for the most part peasants or artisans, while the former, congregated almost wholly in cities, were practically all traders (cf. Jam 4:13). In each case there was a restricted circle of the learned. The connection of the Diaspora-Jews with Palestine became less and less close, until at last it consisted of little more than the payment of the annual Temple dues; with very many one visit in a lifetime to Jerusalem sufficed, and this was of course entirely discontinued after the Destruction, when the head-quarters of Jewry became centred in the Rabbinical academy of Jabne. From the present point of view, it is very important to bear in mind, above all, two points of difference between Palestinian and Diaspora-Jews, (1) Language, (2) Religion. (1) Among the former, Aramaic had displaced Hebrew; Aramaic was the language of everyday life, as well as of religion (hence the need of the Methurgeman to translate the Hebrew Scriptures in the Synagogues); among the latter Greek was spoken. It is not necessary to insist upon the obvious fact that this difference of language brought with it a corresponding difference of mental atmosphere; the Jew remained a Jew, but his way of thinking became modified. (2) Their contact with other peoples brought to the Diaspora-Jews a larger outlook upon the world; at the same time, they could not fail to see the immeasurable superiority of their faith over the heathen cults practised by others. This resulted on their laying greater stress on the essentials of their faith; the ethical side of their religion received greater emphasis, the spirituality of belief became more realised, and it therefore followed of necessity that universalistic ideas grew, so that proselytism became, at one time, a great characteristic among the Diaspora-Jews; Judaism contained a message to all peoples, it was felt; and thus the particularistic character of Palestinian Judaism found no place among the Diaspora-Jews. But, at the same time, the Bible of these Jews, which exercised an immense influence upon their thought and literature, was Hebraic in essence though clothed in Greek garb; hence that extraordinarily interesting phenomenon, the Hellenistic Jew. In view of what has been said it is interesting to note that two outstanding characteristics of the Epistle before us are: Hebraic thought and diction expressed in Greek form, and the emphasis laid on ethics rather than on doctrine. The meaning of διασπορά is quite unambiguous, and there is no justification for restricting it to the Eastern Dispersion; it includes the Jews of Italy, Macedonia, Greece, Asia Minor and, above all, Egypt, as well as of Asia. For further details see Esther 3:8; Esther 8:9; Esther 9:30; Esther 10:1; Acts 2:9-11; Syb. Orac., iii. 271; Josephus, Antiq. XIV., vii. 12; Contra Ap., i. 22, etc., etc. χαίρειν: Cf. Acts 15:23; Acts 23:26, the only other occurrences of this form of salutation in the N.T. “Historically there is probably no ellipsis even in the epistolary χαίρειν” (Moulton, Grammar of N.T. Greek (1), p. 180). It is of interest to note that in the Epistle inspired by St. James (Acts 15:23) this form of salutation is used; it would, however, be precarious to draw deductions as to authorship from this, for the use of the infinitive for the imperative is quite common in Hellenistic Greek; as Moulton says: “We have every reason to expect it in the N.T., and its rarity there is the only matter of surprise” (Ibid.). The Peshiṭtâ and Syrlec have the Jewish form, Shalôm.

1–4. Trials and their Purpose

1. a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ] The description which the writer gives of himself throws no light on his identity. The term “servant,” better slave, as one who had been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Corinthians 7:23), was used of themselves by both St Peter (2 Peter 1:1) and St Paul (Romans 1:15 Titus 1:1). It might be claimed by either of the Apostles who bore the name of James, or by the brother of our Lord, or indeed by any believer. (1 Peter 2:16).

It may be noted that this and ch. James 2:1 are the only passages in which St James names our Lord, and that the form in which the Name appears is identical with that in the Epistle from the Apostles and Elders assembled under St James’s presidency, in Acts 15:26.

to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad] Literally, that are in the dispersion. The superscription is interesting as shewing that the ten tribes of the Kingdom of Israel, though they had been carried into a more distant exile than Judah and Benjamin, were thought of, not as lost and out of sight, but as still sharing the faith and hope of their fathers. So St Paul speaks of “the twelve-tribed nation” as “serving God day and night” (Acts 26:7), and our Lord’s promise that His twelve disciples should sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28), and the Apocalyptic vision of the sealing of the tribes (Revelation 7:5-8) imply the same belief. The legend as to the disappearance of the Ten Tribes, which has given rise to so many insane dreams as to their identification with the Red Indians of America or our Anglo-Saxon forefathers, appears for the first time in the Apocryphal 2 Esdras (13:39–47), a book probably of about the same date as the Revelation of St John.

The term, “the dispersion,” the abstract noun being used for the concrete, had come to be a technical term for the Hellenistic and other Jews who were to be found within, or beyond, the limits of the Roman Empire. So the Jews ask whether our Lord will go “to the dispersion of (i. e. among) the Greeks” (John 7:35). So St Peter writes to “the sojourners of the dispersion” in the provinces of Asia Minor (1 Peter 1:1). The term had probably come into use from the LXX. of Deuteronomy 28:25 (“There shall be a dispersion in all the kingdoms of the world”). So in Jdt 5:19, Judah and Benjamin are said “to have come back from the dispersion,” and the prayer of Nehemiah in 2Ma 1:27 is that “God would gather together his dispersion,”

greeting] The salutation is the same as in the Epistle purporting to come from the Church over which St James presided, in Acts 15:23. The literal meaning of the word is to rejoice, and the idiomatic use of the infinitive is a condensed expression of the full “I wish you joy.” It was primarily a formula of Greek letter-writers, but it had been used by the LXX. for the Hebrew “peace” in Isaiah 48:22; Isaiah 57:21, and appears in the superscription of the letters of Antiochus in 2Ma 9:19. It is the word used in the mock salutations of the soldiers in the history of the Passion, “Hail, King of the Jews” (Matthew 26:49; Matthew 27:29; Matthew 28:9). In 2 John James 1:10-11 it is rendered by the colloquial English of “bidding God speed.” It is not used in any other of the Epistles of the New Testament, St Paul and St Peter using the formula “grace and peace.”

Jam 1:1. Ἰάκωβος, James) Peter, John, and James were the apostles of the circumcision; Galatians 2. James was especially employed at Jerusalem and in Palestine and Syria; Peter, at Babylon and in other parts of the East; John, at Ephesus and in Asia. Of the twelve apostles, these and Jude have left us seven Epistles, which are called General Epistles, a title given to them all in ancient times, though not adapted to all alike, since some of them are addressed to individuals; they are also called the Seven Canonical Epistles, to distinguish them from the Canonical Epistles of St Paul. John wrote from Ephesus to the Parthians, as ancient tradition affirms; Peter, from Babylon to the dispersed Jews of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia; Jude (from what place is unknown), to the same persons as his brother James; James wrote from Jerusalem to the twelve tribes scattered abroad. This James is an apostle: respecting him, see on Acts 15:23.

The Epistle has three parts.

I.  The Inscription, Jam 1:1.

  II.  An Exhortation,

1.  To Patience, that the brethren endure outward, Jam 1:2-12 overcome inward temptations, Jam 1:13-15.

2.  That, having regard to the goodness of God, Jam 1:16-18;

Every one be swift to HEAR, slow to SPEAK, slow to WRATH.

And these three subjects

a)  Are proposed, Jam 1:19-21;

b)  Are discussed:

  I.  That HEARING be joined with doing, Jam 1:22-25;

(And in particular with bridling the tongue, Jam 1:26;

With compassion and purity, Jam 1:27;

Without respect of persons, Jam 2:1-13.)

And, moreover, that faith be joined in all cases with works, Jam 2:14-26.

  II.  That the SPEECH be modest, Jam 3:1-12.

  III.  That WRATH, together with the other proud (inflated) passions, be restrained, Jam 3:13 to Jam 4:10; Jam 4:11-17.

3.  A second exhortation to Patience, which

a)  Derives weight from the COMING of the Judge, in which draws near—

  I.  The calamity of the wicked, Jam 5:1-6;

  II.  The deliverance of the righteous, Jam 5:7-12.

b)  Is nourished by PRAYER, Jam 5:13-18.

  III.  The Conclusion, by Apodioxis,[1] Jam 5:19-20.

[1]    See Append. on Apodioxis.

Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, of the Lord Jesus Christ) The apostle does not again introduce the name of Jesus Christ in this Epistle, except ch. Jam 2:1; nor at all in his speeches, Acts 15:14-15; Acts 21:20-21. If he had often used the name of Jesus, it might have been supposed that he was influenced by vanity, because he was the brother of the Lord; and therefore he less knew Christ after the flesh: 2 Corinthians 5:16. He makes no mention of Abraham, of Isaac (except incidentally, ch. Jam 2:21), of Jacob, or Moses; he says nothing about Judea, Jerusalem, and the temple. Christianity, so recently introduced, is the source from which the whole Epistle is derived.—δώδεκα φυλαῖς, to the twelve tribes) of Israel.—διασπορᾷ, in their dispersion) 1 Peter 1:1; Acts 8:1; (Septuagint) Deuteronomy 28:25; Deuteronomy 30:4.—χαίρειν, to rejoice) A word of frequent use in salutations, and especially adapted to this passage. Χαρὰν, “joy,” in the next verse. The design of the apostle is, amidst the distress of those times, to exhort to patience, (ὑπομονὴν), and to check their Jewish pride (inflation), which was aggravated by the abuse of Christian faith: in fewer words, to commend moderation, or, if the expression is preferred, a spiritual calmness of soul. See notes on Jam 1:19 : comp. Hebrews 12:1. For in many particulars the Epistle of James corresponds with the Epistle to the Hebrews, and also with the First Epistle of Peter. We will point out the agreement at the passages in question. Oft-times have prophets and apostles, apart from each other, used the same sentiments and expressions, to confirm the minds of their hearers.[1]

[1] St James makes frequent use of the figure Anadiplosis, which properly signifies the use of the same word at the end of one sentence and at the beginning of the next. When used, as here, in a wider sense, it denotes the using of cognate words in the same way; for instance, χαίρειν at the end of this verse, and χαρὰν at the beginning of the next verse: and so in the word ὑπομονὴν, Jam 5:3-4; λειπόμενοι, Jam 5:4-5; διακρινόμενος, twice, Jam 5:6. Add Jam 5:13, etc., James 5:19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27.

Verse 1. - SALUTATION. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. (On the person who thus describes himself, see the Introduction.) It is noteworthy that he keeps entirely out of sight his natural relationship to our Lord, and styles himself simply "a bond-servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ." That, and that alone, gave him a right to speak and a claim to be heard. Δοῦλος is similarly used by St. Paul in Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1 by St. Peter in 2 Peter 1:1; and by St. Jude ver. 1. It is clearly an official designation, implying that his office is one "in which, not his own will, not the will of other men, but only of God and of Christ, is to be performed" (Huther). To the twelve tribes, etc. Compare the salutation in Acts 15:23, which was also probably written by St. James: "The apostles and the elder brethren unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch, and Syria, and Cilicia, greeting."

(1) Ξαίρειν is common to both, and not found elsewhere in apostolic greet-tugs. (It is used by Ignatius in the opening of all his epistles except that to the Philadelphians.)

(2) The letter in the Acts is addressed to Gentile communities in definite regions; St. James's Epistle, to Jews of the dispersion. So also his contemporary Gamaliel wrote "to the sons of the dispersion in Babylonia, and to our brethren in Media, and to all the dispersion of Israel" (Frankel, 'Monatsschrift,' 1853, p. 413). Ταῖς δώδεκα φύλαις (cf. δωδεκάφυλον in Acts 26:7; Clem., 'Rom,' l, § 55; 'Prefer. Jacob.,' c.i.). Such expressions are important as tending to show that the Jews were regarded as representing, not simply the tribes of Benjamin and Judah, but the whole nation, including those so often spoken of as "the lost tribes" (cf. 1 Esdr. 7:8). Διασπορᾷ. The abstract put for the concrete. It is the word used by the LXX. for the "dispersion" (2 Macc. 1:27; Jud. 5:19; cf. Deuteronomy 28:25, etc.), i.e. the Jews "so scattered among the nations as to become the seed of a future harvest" (Westcott on St. John 7:35). (On the importance of the dispersion as preparing the way for Christianity, see the 'Dictionary of the Bible,' vol. 1. p. 44:1.) It was divided into three great sections:

(1) the Babylonian, i.e. the original dispersion;

(2) the Syrian, dating from the Greek conquests in Asia, Seleucus Nicator having transplanted largo bodies of Jews from Babylonia to the capitals of his Western provinces;

(3) the Egyptian, the Jewish settlements in Alexandria, established by Alexander and Ptolemy I., and thence spreading along the north coast of Africa. To these we should, perhaps, add a fourth -

(4) the Roman, consequent upon the occupation of Jerusalem by Pompey, B.C. 63. All these four divisions were represented in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (see Acts 2:8-11) - a fact which will help to account for St. James's letter. The whole expression, "the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad," makes it perfectly clear that St. James is writing

(1) to Jews, and

(2) to those beyond the borders of Palestine. James 1:1Jesus Christ

Only here and in James 2:1; nowhere in the speeches of James (Acts 15:14, Acts 15:15; Acts 21:20 sq.). Had he used Jesus' name it might have been supposed to arise from vanity, because he was the Lord's brother. In all the addresses of epistles the full name, Jesus Christ, is given.

Servant (δοῦλος)

Properly, hired servant. Compare Philippians 1:1; Jde 1:1.

That are scattered abroad (ἐν τῇ διασπορᾷ)

Lit., in the dispersion; on which see on 1 Peter 1:1. Rev., which are of the dispersion.

Greeting (χαίρειν)

Lit., rejoice. The ordinary Greek salutation, hail! welcome! Also used at parting: joy be with you. Compare the same expression in the letter from the church at Jerusalem, Acts 15:23; one of the very few peculiarities of style which connect this epistle with the James of the Acts. It does not occur in the address of any other of the Apostolic Epistles.

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