Amplified: JAMES, A servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes scattered abroad [among the Gentiles in the dispersion]: Greetings (rejoice)! (Amplified Bible - Lockman)|
KJV: James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
NLT: This letter is from James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is written to Jewish Christians scattered among the nations. Greetings! (NLT - Tyndale House)
Phillips: James, servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, sends greetings to the twelve dispersed tribes. (Phillips: Touchstone)
Wuest: James, a bondslave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes, those in the dispersion. Be constantly rejoicing. (Eerdmans)
Young's Literal: James, of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ a servant, to the Twelve Tribes who are in the dispersion: Hail!
|JAMES, A BOND-SERVANT OF GOD AND OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST: Iakobos theou kai kuriou Iesou Christou doulos: (James - Matthew 10:3; 13:55; Mark 3:18; Luke 6:15; Acts 1:13; 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; Galatians 1:19; 2:9,12; Jude 1:1) (Servant - John 12:26; Romans 1:1; Philippians 1:1; Titus 1:1; 2Peter 1:1) (Exodus 24:4; 28:21; 39:14; 1Kings 18:31; Ezra 6:17; Matthew 19:28; Acts 26:7; Revelation 7:4) (Related Resources: Article by Douglas Moo on Theology of James)
Vine's Analysis of James…
Pastor Steven Cole opens his sermon series on James with this introduction…
Douglas Moo makes the point that…
James was a common name among Palestinian Jews during the first century so it is not surprising to find that the NT uses it to refer to 5 individuals - (1) James, the son of Zebedee, one of Jesus’ twelve apostles (Mt 4:21) and one that with Peter and John were with Jesus privately on 3 occasions (Mk 5:37, Lk 8:51), the transfiguration (Mt 17:1, Mk 9:2, Lk 9:28) and at Gethsemane (Mt 26:37, Mk 14:33). (2) James, the son of Alphaeus (always added to distinguish him from James, the son of Zebedee), and also one of the 12 apostles, always mentioned ninth in the 4 lists (Mt 10:2, 3; Mk 3:16, 17, 18; Lk 6:13, 14, 15; Acts 1:12, 13, 14). (3) James the Less (Mk 15:40) (4) James, father of Judas (not Iscariot) (Lk 6:16; Acts 1:13), (5) James, the oldest of Jesus' four younger (half) brothers (Mt 13:55, Mk 6:3, cp 1Co 9:5). He is generally considered to be the James who authored the epistle by his name. Eerdmans adds that this latter James "While not a follower of Jesus during his ministry, James seems to have been converted shortly afterwards, perhaps when the risen Jesus appeared to him (1 Cor. 15:7; cf. Acts 1:14). James gradually took over the leadership of the Jerusalem church from the leaders among the Twelve, becoming one of the most important leaders in the 1st-century Church" (Acts 12:17; 15:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21; 21:18; Gal. 1:19; 2:9, 12). According to Josephus, James was stoned to death by order of the Jewish high priest Ananus II in 62 c.e. (Antiquities of the Jews. Book 20. Chapter 9 - scroll down), while according to Eusebius he was killed just before Vespasian invaded Jerusalem in 67 (He 2.23.18).
It should be noted that Jerome considered the author of the present epistle to be James, son of Alphaeus, but most evangelical scholars favor James, the younger brother of Jesus.
The name Jakobos is used 42 times in the NT to refer to 5 different individuals thus calling for careful attention to the context (or the paternal description "of Zebedee" or "of Alphaeus") in order to accurately interpret which specific James is being described - Mt. 4:21; 10:2, 3; 13:55; 17:1; 27:56; Mk. 1:19, 29; 3:17, 18; 5:37; 6:3; 9:2; 10:35, 41; 13:3; 14:33; 15:40; 16:1; Lk. 5:10; 6:14, 15, 16; 8:51; 9:28, 54; 24:10; Acts 1:13; 12:2, 17; 15:13; 21:18; 1Co. 15:7; Ga 1:19; 2:9, 12; Jas. 1:1; Jude 1:1
Regarding the description of bondservant, Hiebert comments that…
Bondservant(1401)(doulos from deo = to bind) (Click additional notes on doulos) was an individual bound to another in servitude and conveys the idea of the slave's close, binding ties with his master, belonging to him, obligated to and desiring to do his will and in a permanent relation of servitude. In sum, the will of the doulos is consumed in the will of the master.
In using the term bondservant James is not declaring any outstanding personal qualification other than the expression of his complete devotion and subservience to his heavenly Masters. In other words, James as a bondservant is saying he was surrendered wholly to God's will and thus devoted to God and the Lord Jesus Christ. James recognized that as a redeemed soul, he was no longer his own but had been bought with the price of the blood of Christ (1Co 6:20, 7:23, Acts 20:28, Gal 3:13, Titus 2:14-note, 1Pe 1:18,19-note, 2Pe 2:1-note, Ep 1:7-note, Heb 9:12-note, 1Pe 2:9-note; Ro 3:25-note, cp Mt 20:28 Mark10:45, Rev 5:9-note). He was now the property of his Lord Jesus Christ, the one who on earth was his half-brother. His relationship as a bondservant of the Lord Jesus Christ so much overshadowed his earthly family relationship that he does not even make mention of it in this introduction.
Beloved, does your attitude and actions (thoughts, words, deeds) reflect the eternal truth that you are no longer your own, but that your body is actually a holy temple of God and that this privilege was purchased and made possible at infinite cost to God? Let us meditate on these profound principles and privileges, that the Spirit might renew our minds and empower of walk that it is indeed worthy of such a high and holy calling.
Hiebert comments that…
Why is this concept of bondservant so important? For one thing as Jesus taught, no man can serve two masters (Mt 6:24 - note). James before his new birth by grace through faith (Eph 2:8, 9-note), had been a slave of Sin (see note on "the Sin"), by virtue of his physical birth in Adam's likeness (cp 1Co 15:22, Ro 5:12-note), but now by virtue of his spiritual birth (John 3:3, 2Cor 5:17), James had become a slave of Christ (cp "Born once, die twice. Born twice, die once.") In sum, James had no will of his own, no business of his own, no time of his own and was now devoted to his Master, Christ; dependent upon Him and obedient to Him. Click the convicting poem He Had No Rights written by Mabel Williamson a missionary to China.
As someone has well said no man's life is for his own private use. We can either spend our days for time or spend them for eternity. We all serve someone whether we realize it or not. If we are not born again, we are bondservants of Sin (Jn 8:34, 1Ki 21:25, Pr 5:22-note, Acts 8:23, Ro 6:6-note, Ro 6:16, 17, 18, 19-notes, Ro 7:14-note, Ep 2:2-note, Titus 3:3-note, 2Pe 2:19-note) and Satan (Jn 8:44, 1Jn 3:8, 9, 10, 1Jn 5:19). If we are born again we have a new Master, God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord (Master) (Ro 6:22-note, Ro 8:2-note, Jn 8:32, 2Cor 3:17, Gal 5:1, 5:13, 1Pe 2:16-note)
There are 124 uses of doulos in the NASB - Matt. 8:9; 10:24, 25; 13:27, 28; 18:23, 26, 27, 28, 32; 20:27; 21:34, 35, 36; 22:3, 4, 6, 8, 10; 24:45, 46, 48, 50; 25:14, 19, 21, 23, 26, 30; 26:51; Mk. 10:44; 12:2, 4; 13:34; 14:47; Lk. 2:29; 7:2, 7:3, 8, 10; 12:37, 43, 45, 46, 47; 14:17, 21, 22, 23; 15:22; 17:7, 9, 10; 19:13, 15, 17, 22; 20:10, 11; 22:50; Jn. 4:51; 8:34, 35; 13:16; 15:15, 20; 18:10, 18, 26; Acts 2:18; 4:29; 16:17; Ro 1:1; 6:16, 17, 20; 1Co. 7:21, 22, 23, 24; 12:13; 2Co. 4:5; Gal. 1:10; 3:28; 4:1, 7; Ep 6:5, 6, 8; Phil. 1:1; 2:7; Col. 3:11, 22; 4:1, 12; 1Ti 6:1; 2Ti 2:24; Titus 1:1; 2:9; Philemon. 1:16; James. 1:1; 1Pe 2:16; 2Pe 1:1; 2:19; Jude 1:1; Rev. 1:1; 2:20; 6:15; 7:3; 10:7; 11:18; 13:16; 15:3; 19:2, 5, 18; 22:3, 6. The NAS translates doulos as - bond-servant(11), bond-servants(12), bondslave(3), bondslaves(3), men(1), servants(1),slave(58), slave's(1), slaves(39), women(1).
In the Greek culture doulos usually referred to the involuntary, permanent service of a slave, but the use in the epistles of Paul and Peter elevates the meaning of doulos to the Hebrew sense which describes a servant who willingly commits himself to serve a master he loves and respects (cp Ex 21:5, 6 Dt 15:12, 13, 14, 15, 16). By Roman times, slavery was so extensive that in the early Christian period one out of every two people was a slave! From at least 3000BC captives in war were the primary source of slaves.
Doulos speaks of submission to one's master The doulos had no life of his own, no will of his own, no purpose of his own and no plan of his own. All was subject to his master. The bondservant's every thought, breath, and effort was subject to the will of his master. In sum, the picture of a bondservant is one who is absolutely surrendered and totally devoted to his master (cp single mindedness and purity of devotion in 2Co 11:3). What a picture of James' relation to his Lord! What an example and challenge for all believers of every age to emulate!
By using doulos James is saying
Matthew Henry adds that…
Kenneth Wuest explains that a doulos as
the most abject, servile term used by the Greeks to denote a slave. The word designated one who was born as a slave, one who was bound to his master in chords so strong that only death could break them, one who served his master to the disregard of his own interests, one whose will was swallowed up in the will of his master. Paul was born a slave of sin at his physical birth, and a bondslave of his Lord through regeneration. (Note: There was another word, andrapodon which was person taken prisoner in war and sold into slavery) The chords that bound him to his old master Satan, were rent asunder in his identification with Christ in the latter’s death (Ro 6:1,2,3, 4, 5, 6 -notes Ro 6:11-note; Ro 7:4-note). The chords that bind him to his new Master will never be broken since the new Master will never die again, and is Paul’s new life (Php 1:21-note, Col 3:3,4-notes). He has changed masters because he has a new nature (2Cor 5:17, 2Pe 1:3,4 - note), the divine, and the evil nature which compelled him to serve the Devil has had its power over him broken (Col 1:13-note, Heb 2:14, 15-note). Paul’s will, at one time swallowed up in the will of Satan, now is swallowed up in the sweet will of God.
The reader will observe how wonderfully God has watched over the development of the Greek language so that at the time it was needed as the medium through which He would give His New Testament revelation to the human race, its words were fit receptacles and efficient instruments for the conveyance of His message to man. Paul calls himself a bondslave of Christ Jesus… The apostle is proud of the fact that he is a slave belonging to his Lord. There were certain individuals in the Roman empire designated “Slaves of the Emperor.” This was a position of honor. One finds a reflection of this in Paul’s act of designating himself as a slave of the King of kings. He puts this ahead of his apostleship." (Wuest, K. S. Wuest's Word Studies from the Greek New Testament: Studies in the Vocabulary of the Greek New Testament: Grand Rapids: Eerdmans) (Bolding added)
In summary, the doulos…
• Was owned by and totally possessed by his master.
• Existed for his master and no other reason.
• Had no personal rights.
• Was at the master’s disposal "24/7".
• Had no will of his own but was completely subservient to the master.
Paradoxically a bondservant of the Most High God is one of the most privileged, noblest professions in the world. Little wonder that notable men of God in the have always been called the servants of God. The list of names includes
Moses (Dt 34:5 Ps 105:26 Mal 4:4)
Joshua (Josh 24:29)
David (2Sa 3:18 Ps 78:70)
Paul (Ro 1:1; Phil 1:1; Titus 1:1)
Peter (2Pe 1:1)
James (James 1:1)
Jude (Jude 1:1 )
Prophets (Amos 3:7; Jer 7:25).
Ideally believers (Acts 2:18; 1Cor 7:22; Eph 6:6; Col 4:12; 2Ti 2:24).
Guy King comments on the phrase bondservants of Christ Jesus writing…
Regarding the setting free of slaves in Paul's day, Deissmann records the following custom which has clear parallels with Paul's teaching on saints as bondslaves of Christ…
Dr Wayne Barber has an excellent practical explanation of the significance of a bondservant asking the practical question…
A businessman once asked his Bible study group,
The reply came back…
It’s not easy to find an attitude like that. But for a disciple, servant-hood is one of the keys to growing in Christ-likeness.
Describing His own ministry, Jesus said:
Thomas Manton asks…
Of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ - This order makes prominent the identity of his heavenly Masters. The description in this verse was utilized by the Greek fathers to argue against the Arians for the divinity of Jesus Christ. Think for a moment of what James is saying here - it is as if he could think of no higher honor than being the bondservant of such glorious Masters. And should not every believer adopt such a heavenly mindset? What a privilege to be in the service of such holy and loving Masters. Beloved of the Father and the Son, think about the work God has called you to today and rejoice in your high position and privilege to carry out His good and acceptable and perfect will, which will bear fruit not just in this life but he life to come! (cp 1Ti 4:8-note) Hallelujah!
Commenting on the name the Lord Jesus Christ, Hiebert writes that…
When we give Jesus Christ His rightful place as Lord of our lives, His Lordship will be expressed in the way we serve others - no longer as a duty, but as a delight to please and imitate our Lord (Mk 10:45, Php 2:3, 4, 5, 6, 7-see notes). Therefore, one of the best ways we can demonstrate our love for God is by showing love for our fellow man. We demonstrate love for others by helping them, by sharing their problems, and by doing what we can for them. Why should we serve? For Jesus’ sake that men might see our good works and glorify (as they observe our godly attitude and actions they might thereby obtain a proper opinion of) our heavenly Father (Mt 5:16-note).
TO THE TWELVE TRIBES WHO ARE DISPERSED ABROAD: GREETINGS: tais dodeka phulais tais en te diaspora chairein. (PAN): (Dispersed - Leviticus 26:33; Deuteronomy 4:27; 28:64; 30:3; 32:26; Esther 3:8; Ezekiel 12:15; John 7:35; Acts 2:5; 8:1; 15:21; 1 Peter 1:1) (Acts 15:23; 23:26; 2Timothy 4:21)
The twelve tribes (10 times in OT/NT - Ge 49:28; Ex 24:4; 28:21; 39:14; Ezek 47:13; Mt 19:28; Lk 22:30; Acts 26:7; Jas 1:1; Rev 21:12-note) - Clearly addressed to Jews and in context those who have received Jesus as their Messiah (Jn 1:11, 12, 13). The phrase the twelve tribes in context is clearly a Jewish expression denoting the Jewish people as a whole (Mt 19:28; Acts 26:7). While tribal divisions had been lost to many Jews, nevertheless even in New Testament times many of the Jews were still able to establish their tribal descent (cp the importance of the tribal lineage of the Messiah in Mt.1:1-16; Lk 1:5, 2:36; cp Php 3:5-note). It is interesting to note that James does not say to the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and the "ten lost tribes". They are all "lost" spiritually without Christ and none are lost who are in Christ. Though the "twelve tribes" were scattered (and are to this day), they are not "lost" in another since for members of each tribe (except Dan) are listed at the close of biblical history in the Revelation (Re 7:5, 6, 7, 8 - see notes Re 7:5; 7:6; 7:7; 7:8). The OT prophets repeatedly spoke of the reunification of the divided nations of Israel and Judah under the coming Messiah (e.g., Isa 11:11, 12, 13; Jer 3:18; 50:4; Ezek 37:15-23; Zec 10:6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12), and there was a strong Jewish expectation that when the Messiah came, He would reestablish the chosen people (Is 43:20) in their correct tribal divisions (Ezek 48:1-29).
Tribes (5443) (phule form phúlon = race, tribe, class) refers to a nation or people descended from a common ancestor. In this context phule refers to all the persons descended from one of the twelve sons of the patriarch Jacob.
Phule- 31x in 23v - Matt 19:28; 24:30; Luke 2:36; 22:30; Acts 13:21; Rom 11:1; Phil 3:5; Heb 7:13, 14; Jas 1:1; Rev 1:7; 5:5, 9; 7:4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 8; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6; 21:12
Dispersed abroad (1290) (diaspora [word study] from diaspeiro = to scatter abroad - from dia = through + spora = a sowing) is a noun describing the condition of being scattered and thus refers to a scattering or dispersion as one would scatter seed in a field. In John 7:35 diaspora is used with its literal meaning to refer to those Jews who were living outside Palestine, while the other NT use in Peter is figurative (1Pe 1:1-note)
James used diaspora as a technical term to refer to Jews outside of Palestine, scattered like seed throughout the Gentile world. Over the previous several hundred years, various conquerors (including the Roman Pompey in 63 BC who carried hundreds of Jewish captives back to Rome) had deported Jews from their homeland in Palestine and spread them throughout the known world. In addition, other Jews had voluntarily moved to other countries for business or other reasons (cf. Acts 2:5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11). And so by NT times, many Jews lived outside of their homeland. In fact Philo (20BC to 50AD), a Jewish philosopher estimated that up to one million Jews lived in Alexandria, Egypt. An equal number had settled in both Persia and Asia Minor, and about 100,000 lived in Cyrenaica and Italy. The Jews who were dispersed throughout the world in this manner outnumbered the Jews who remained in their native land.
At various times and for various reasons, the Jews were scattered into foreign countries “to the outmost parts of heaven (cp Dt 30:4). (Additional resources on dispersion Easton, ISBE Smith) Some of these dispersions were voluntary (of great importance during the Greco-Roman period when Jews voluntarily migrated to all the chief towns of the civilized world, chiefly for the sake of trade), while others were forced upon them by the conquering nations (see below: Assyria [2Ki 17:6], Babylon, [cp 2Chr 36:10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21] Rome [Lk 21:20, 21, 22, 23, 24 - describes destruction of Temple in 70AD]). The Jewish dispersions were predicted and sovereignly decreed by God in the Pentateuch (5 books of Moses = The Torah) where he warned Israel what would transpire if she rejected His statutes and abhorred His ordinances so as not to carry out all of His commandments.
In Leviticus we read God' s warning to Israel
Moses warned Israel again that
So clearly the various Jewish diasporas, especially those secondary to foreign conquest, were the result of the sovereign outworking of the righteous justice of Jehovah (see attribute - Justice). He is faithful (see His attribute - Faithfulness) to keep all of His "promises", even the ones we don't particularly want Him to keep!
God speaking to His prophet Ezekiel in exile in Babylon explained that
The majority of the nation of Israel proved not to be believers, but God's grace and mercy continued to preserve a godly remnant of believing Jews (saved by grace through faith). Contrary to popular opinion there never has been nor ever will be a complete end to Israel (cp Ro 11:25, 26, 27, 28, 29-see notes). Click study of doctrine of the remnant (believing Israel).
One of the most interesting and strategic "dispersions" occurred in Acts 8, after the stoning of Stephen, at which time
The believers in Jerusalem (remember the church initially was almost 100% Jewish) were scattered like seed so that they might spread the "seed" of the Word of God, the Gospel.
Hiebert asserts that
Greetings (5463)(chairo - a primary verb) in some contexts means to rejoice or be glad (e.g., Jn 16:20, Ro 12:15-note, Mt 5:12-note) but here in James is used as a formalized greeting wishing the readers well. BAGD says that the idea can connote "that one is on good terms with the other". The Gospels render chairo as "hail" (Mt 26:49, 27:29). Luke uses chairo much like James to convey the idea of "Greetings" (Acts 15:23, 23:26).
Chairo - 74x in 68v - Matt 2:10; 5:12; 18:13; 26:49; 27:29; 28:9; Mark 14:11; 15:18; Luke 1:14, 28; 6:23; 10:20; 13:17; 15:5, 32; 19:6, 37; 22:5; 23:8; John 3:29; 4:36; 8:56; 11:15; 14:28; 16:20, 22; 19:3; 20:20; Acts 5:41; 8:39; 11:23; 13:48; 15:23, 31; 23:26; Rom 12:12, 15; 16:19; 1 Cor 7:30; 13:6; 16:17; 2 Cor 2:3; 6:10; 7:7, 9, 13, 16; 13:9, 11; Phil 1:18; 2:17f, 28; 3:1; 4:4, 10; Col 1:24; 2:5; 1Th 3:9; 5:16; Jas 1:1; 1 Pet 4:13; 2 John 1:4, 10f; 3 John 1:3; Rev 11:10; 19:7.
NAS translates chairo = am glad(1), glad(7), gladly(1), greeted*(1), greeting(2), greetings(4), hail(4), joyfully(1), make(1), rejoice(33), rejoiced(8), rejoices(2), rejoicing(10).
Note that the verb chairo is related to the word joy (chara) in the next verse, suggesting James was in some sense preparing his readers for the radical command to consider it all joy.
John MacArthur makes a good point emphasizing that James uses chairo not as a…
Steven Cole comments that…
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