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...
I. Concerning trials (Jas 1:1–18).
II. Concerning obedience to the Word of God (Jas 1:19–27).
III. Concerning the royal law (Jas 2:1–13).
IV. Concerning a working faith (Jas 2:14–26).
V. Concerning the control of the tongue (Jas 3:1–12).
VI. Concerning strife and worldly-mindedness (Jas 3:18–4:6).
VII. Concerning patience, prayer and power (Jas 5:7–20).
Pastor Steven Cole opens
his sermon series on James with this introduction...
One of the popular TV shows when I
grew up was “Dragnet,” starring Jack Webb as Joe Friday, a detective
with the Los Angeles Police Department. Joe Friday was a no-nonsense
cop. His famous line was, “Just the facts, Ma’am.” He didn’t want to
hear anything irrelevant to solving the case. If somebody went off on
a tangent, he cut to the quick with, “Just the facts, Ma’am.” James is
the Joe Friday of the New Testament. He cuts to the bottom line
without messing around. He’s not really interested in hearing your
profession of faith. He wants to see your practice of the faith.
Several writers refer to James as the least theological epistle in the
New Testament, except for Philemon. It’s not that James discounts the
importance of sound doctrine, but rather that he wants to see that
doctrine affecting how we live. Talk is cheap; James wants to see
results. Of the 108 verses in the book, 54 (half) contain imperative
verbs. James is like a crusty sergeant barking orders at the troops.
He wants to see some action!
Who was James? There are several
men in the New Testament by that name. We know that this James was not
the apostle James, brother of John, because he was martyred in A.D.
44, too early for this epistle. The vast majority of scholars agree
that the author of James was the half-brother of Jesus (Mt 13:55).
Apparently he did not believe in Jesus as Lord until after the
resurrection, when the risen Savior appeared to him (see John 7:5; 1Co
15:7). He became the leader of the church in Jerusalem in the years
following the Day of Pentecost (Gal. 2:9; Acts 15:13-29; 21:17, 18,
19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25). He became known as “James the Just” (or,
“Righteous”) because of his well-known holiness. James could have
pulled rank by opening the letter, “James, the son of the virgin Mary,
brother of none other than Jesus Christ. I grew up with Him! I knew
Him long before He became famous!” But James (1:1) and his brother,
Jude (Jude 1:1), both opened their letters by calling themselves
bond-servants. The word means, “slaves,” and refers to those who
are the property of their masters. They had no rights. They lived to
do their masters’ will. James adds, “a bond-servant of God and of the
Lord Jesus Christ.” By mentioning God and Jesus Christ on equal terms,
and adding “Lord,” the Old Testament word for God, to Jesus, James
affirms the deity of Jesus Christ. (Steven
Cole - James 1:1-4 A
Radical Approach to Trials - Excellent Resource - His Sermons
are highly recommended)
Douglas Moo makes the
Many readers skip the opening
verses of NT letters, treating them as unimportant formal details. But
this is a mistake. For the letter introductions usually contain more
than bare names. They also describe the writer and the recipients in
ways that provide us with important clues about the nature and
purposes of the letter that follows. The introduction of James is no
exception. (Moo, D. J. The letter of James. The Pillar New Testament
commentary. Grand Rapids, Mich.; Leicester, England: Eerdmans)
means supplanter and is transliterated as Jacob. In English we have
two names, Jacob and James, both coming from the common
Hebrew name Jacob.
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.
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
He prefers to speak only of his
status as a Christian man. When after His resurrection Jesus appeared
to James (1Cor. 15:7), and James became convinced of His true nature
as the Messiah, the spiritual identity of the One whom he had
previously regarded as his physical brother became so important to him
that the physical relations receded into the background. While others
in the church might have referred to him as "the Lord's brother" (Gal
1:19), he preferred to speak of himself as a "servant" rather than the
"brother" of the Lord Jesus Christ. Mayor observes: "We find here an
example of the refusal "to know Christ after the flesh" (2Co 5:16)
which appears in ii. 1; the same willingness to put himself on a level
with others which appears in iii. 1,2." (D
Edmond Hiebert - James. Moody)
deo = to
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
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,
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...
Christianity found the term
doulos appropriate in setting forth the essence of the believer's
true relationship to God. It aptly set forth the Christian
consciousness that believers are totally dependent upon God, belong
wholly to Him, and are convinced that His will is the only true rule
for all of His people. Because believers voluntarily and joyously
accepted this relationship, the term was commonly used in the New
Testament of the believer's relationship to God without any
implication of involuntary servitude. For them the term did not
suggest any degradation, but only their total surrender to their
spiritual Master. (Ibid)
Why is this concept of bondservant
so important? For one thing as Jesus taught, no
man can serve two masters (Mt 6:24 -
James before his new birth by grace through faith (Eph 2:8, 9-note),
had been a slave of Sin (see note on
by virtue of his physical birth in Adam's likeness (cp 1Co 15:22, Ro
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.
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
1Ki 21:25, Pr 5:22-note, Acts 8:23, Ro 6:6-note,
Ro 6:16, 17, 18, 19-notes,
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)
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,
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,
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
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
doulos James is saying
I am a slave to the Lord Jesus
Christ. I am absolutely sold out to His will. I am willing to do
whatever He tells me to do. I am willing to say whatever He tells me
to say. I am willing to go wherever He leads me. I am a man who has
made a choice. I am going to serve Him for all eternity."
The highest honour of the greatest
apostle, and most eminent ministers, is to be the servants of Jesus
Christ; not the masters of the churches, but the servants of Christ.
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
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,
He has changed masters because he has a new nature (2Cor 5:17, 2Pe
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)
In summary, the doulos...
Was owned by and totally
possessed by his master.
Existed for his master and no other
Had no personal rights.
Was at the master’s disposal
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 (use
to see Scriptures in context in the version you prefer)
Moses (Dt 34:5 Ps 105:26 Mal
Joshua (Josh 24:29)
David (2Sa 3:18 Ps 78:70)
Paul (Ro 1:1; Phil 1:1;
Peter (2Pe 1:1)
James (James 1:1)
Jude (Jude 1:1 )
Prophets (Amos 3:7; Jer
Ideally believers (Acts
2:18; 1Cor 7:22; Eph 6:6; Col 4:12; 2Ti 2:24).
comments on the phrase bondservants of Christ Jesus writing...
Let it be said at once that the
word here is the same as bond-slaves - a conception
which would be vividly familiar to every reader of this Letter. Quite
a number of them were, or had been, slaves themselves - and the word
would catch their attention at once. I say "had been" of some, because
the law of manumission (process of releasing from slavery) would have
operated in their case - a price would have been paid, and the slave
In his fascinating Light from the Ancient East, Dr. Deissmann, pp. 319
ff., has some most interesting paragraphs on this releasing of slaves
(see note that follows); and, with his quick and ready mind, the late
Archbishop Harrington Lees, in his CHRIST and His Slaves, made use of
the learned Doctor's discoveries to point many a moral concerning
spiritual servitude and release.
Paul's writings abound in allusions to this last phenomenon. The
material and the spiritual are found together in such a passage as
He that is called in the LORD,
being a servant, is the Lord's freedman: likewise also he that is
called, being free, is Christ's servant.
When a man becomes a Christian,
though materially bound as a slave, he is spiritually freed from
bondage to Satan and sin; on the other hand, such a man, though
materially set at liberty, is, in the spiritual sense, bound hand and
foot to CHRIST.
How Paul himself rejoiced - and even gloried - in this New Slavery. In
his letters he so constantly uses the word as indicating his
relationship to JESUS CHRIST. He would so readily enter into the
attitude of the well-satisfied slave of Exodus 21:5, "I love my Master
. . . I will not go out free."
From the bondage of sin, the
believer has, by the manumission price of "the precious Blood", (1Pe
1:18, 19, see notes
been set free-only to find himself thereby committed to a bondage more
binding than ever. Yet, this time the "service is perfect freedom",
the bonds are honourable and sweet.
And, for our encouragement, let us remember that
(i) The Master is responsible for His slaves' needs - feeding,
housing, clothing, and all else is the slaveowner's concern. It is
because we are GOD'S servants (slaves) that our Lord says "Therefore .
. . take no thought . . .", (Mt 6:24,25, see notes
for the ordinary needs of life. Our apostle will say later in this
very Epistle, "My GOD shall supply all your need." (see note
(ii) The Master is responsible for His slaves' duties - they
will not choose their own task, or their own sphere. Whether ours is
to be the more menial, or the more genial, work is in His plan, not
ours. It is the Christian's wisdom to stand before Him as those in
2Samuel 15:15, "Thy servants are ready to do whatsoever my Lord the
King shall appoint", or as Gabriel in Luke 1:19, "I . . . stand. . .
and am sent . . .".
(iii) The Master is responsible for His slaves' supplies - "Who
goeth a warfare any time at his own charges?" asks 1Corinthians 9:7:
the soldier has all his military equipment provided; and likewise, the
slave is supplied with everything needful for the adequate discharge
of all his duties. Whatever He tells us to do, we can do - "If . . .
God command thee . . . thou shalt be able to . . ." Exodus 18:23 -
because all supplies are at our disposal. And as Paul records, in 2
Corinthians 12:9, "My grace is sufficient for thee". (Ibid)
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...
Among the various ways in which the
manumission of a slave could take place by ancient law we find the
solemn rite of fictitious purchase of the slave by some divinity. The
owner comes with the slave to the temple, sells him there to the god,
and receives the purchase money from the temple treasury, the slave
having previously paid it in there out of his savings. The slave is
now the property of the god; not, however, a slave of the temple, but
a protégé of the god. Against all the world, especially his former
master, he is a completely free man; at the utmost a few pious
obligations to his old master are imposed upon him. The rite takes
place before witnesses; a record is taken, and often perpetuated on
stone. (Deissmann, A., & Strachan, L. R. M. Light from the Ancient
East the New Testament illustrated by recently discovered texts of the
Graeco-Roman world. Pager 326. London: Hodder & Stoughton. 1910).
Dr Wayne Barber has an
excellent practical explanation of the significance of a bondservant
asking the practical question...
"Why do you serve the Lord Jesus
Christ? "Well, I had better. God will kill me if I don’t." You know,
I’ve talked to a lot of people who have that mentality. It is as if
God has a big club and if you don’t do what He wants you to do, then
He will hit you over the head with it. Yet God says, "Wait a minute. I
have set you free. You are free now to be what you ought to be. Make
up your mind. No man can serve two masters." The person who has any
sense at all will say, "Lord, You have overwhelmed me. I am making a
choice out of love for You to be Your slave. I know I am no longer
Your slave, but I choose to be Your slave." Do you want to be used by
the Lord? Come to the place in your life that you are willing to say,
"God, it doesn’t matter what You tell me to do, I am willing to be
submissive to Your will." When you come to that place, God will do
things through you like He did through Paul. One picture of that is
beautiful, and it is found in Dt 15:12, 13, 14, 15,1 6, 17: "If your
kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve
you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free. And
when you set him free, you shall not send him away empty-handed. You
shall furnish him liberally from your flock and from your threshing
floor and from your wine vat; you shall give to him as the Lord your
God has blessed you. And you shall remember that you were a slave in
the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore I
command you this today. And it shall come about if he says to you, ‘I
will not go out from you,’ because he loves you and your household,
since he fares well with you; then you shall take an awl and pierce it
through his ear into the door, and he shall be your servant forever.
And also you shall do likewise to your maidservant." What a gorgeous
picture. Slavery in that day and time was nothing like we know today.
The slaves had to be treated as if they were your own children in your
own family. You had to treat them with dignity and integrity. After
they had served you for a period of time, you had to set them free.
But the beautiful picture here is of a slave. He served a master for
seven years. The master has loved him, provided for him, been kind to
him, helped him, all the things that you would look for. Now the day
comes that he has been set free. He is given of the flock, given of
the threshing floor, given of the wine vat. This servant stands there,
and he says, "You know, I have been so cared for during the seven
years that I have worked with you, where would I go? I don’t know
where I am going to go. Nobody would love me like you have loved me.
Nobody would do for me what you have done for me. Why, I am going to
choose to be your slave. I know you have set me free, but because of
who you are and because of my love for you, I want to continue to be
your slave. I want to do for you not because I have to but because I
just want to." What a gorgeous picture. They had a public ceremony and
they would take that little instrument and put it up by their ear and
drive it through the ear into the door, leaving a hole in the ear.
What a gorgeous picture when you see this slave walking alongside his
master, smiling. You would see that man and you knew he had been with
him seven years, maybe it is three years down the road past that seven
years and you say, "Isn’t that wonderful! That man was set free and
now that man has chosen to serve out of love for his master." Man
looks on the outside. God looks at our heart. Why are you serving the
Lord Jesus? If you don’t love Him, if you haven’t understood that
nobody else will ever treat you like Jesus, then no wonder you are not
being used of the Lord in the task He has assigned to His church. A
man that God can use is a person who is willing to bow, a person who
is willing to say, "God, I just want what You want in my life." ...God
is waiting on us to love Him and to bow before Him and to make
conscious choices. "God, you have given me everything. If I left you,
where would I go? Lord, I want to serve you. No man can serve two
masters. I want to serve You. I want to be usable in the kingdom of
God." That is the Apostle Paul. He was a man who was willing, sold out
to the will of God." (Click
for additional notes by Dr. Barber on "bondservant)
A businessman once asked his
Bible study group,
“How can you tell if you have a
The reply came back...
“By the way you react when you are
treated like one.”
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,
“For the Son of man also came not
to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many”
Thomas Manton asks...
why not “apostle”? He does not mention his apostleship, first,
because there was no need, as he was eminent in the opinion and
reputation of the churches; therefore Paul says he was reputed to be a
pillar of the Christian faith (Galatians 2:9). Paul, whose apostleship
was openly questioned, often asserted it. Secondly, Paul himself does
not call himself an apostle in every letter. Sometimes his style is,
“Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus” (Philemon 1); sometimes “Paul and
Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:1); sometimes
nothing but his name Paul is prefixed, as in 1 Thessalonians 1:1 and 2
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
Commenting on the name the Lord Jesus Christ,
Hiebert writes that...
three names serve to unfold the true nature of this Master. "Jesus"
is His human name. It was the name given Him before His birth and
speaks of His saving work in incarnation (Mt 1:21). Iesous is
the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua meaning "salvation." This
name embodies the entire gospel story concerning the historic Man of
Nazareth. "Christ" (Christos) is the Greek rendering for the
Hebrew "Messiah" (Ps. 2:2; Acts 4:26), both meaning "the anointed
one." For Jewish readers, the term Christos, whether placed before or
after Jesus," meant that He was the fulfillment of the Old Testament
messianic promises. For James and the early church, the name "Jesus
Christ" embodied the faith that the messianic redemption was realized
in the incarnate Jesus.
Thus, "Jesus is the Christ" became the earliest Christian
confession (Acts 2:36; 3:20; 5:42; cf. John 20:30, 31). This faith
arose in the hearts of His disciples from their associations with
Jesus during His earthly ministry (John 1:41; Mt. 16:16) and received
unshakable confirmation from His resurrection and ascension (Acts
2:32, 36). The Christian church proclaimed this incarnate and risen
Savior as its "Lord" (kurios). As her Savior and
Master, He received her full allegiance and whole-hearted service.
For Jewish readers, the title "Lord" carried with it
implications of deity. In the Septuagint, it is the translation for
the ineffable Name (Yahweh) and speaks of His sovereignty.
Various quotations from the Old Testament referring to Jehovah are
applied directly to Jesus in the New Testament, where they were
"understood of the new Lord of the Christian church. The term
kurios occurs fourteen times in this epistle (Jas 1:1, 7, 12; 2:1;
4:10, 15; 5:4, 7, 8, 10, 11 twice, Jas 1:14, 15). Only here and in Jas
2:1 does James connect it directly with Jesus Christ, and it is
not always clear in the other places whether his reference is to God
or to Christ.' (Ibid)
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
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
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
(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
[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
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
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
You however, I will scatter
(diaspeiro in the Greek translation of the Hebrew) among the nations
and will draw out a sword after you, as your land becomes desolate and
your cities become waste. (Lev 26:33, cp Lev 26:33)
warned Israel again that
Jehovah will scatter
(diaspeiro in the Greek translation of the Hebrew) you among the
peoples, and you will be left few in number among the nations where
Jehovah drives you. (Dt 4:27, cp Dt 28:64, 30:3, this latter passage
[Dt 30:1, 2, 3] prophetically promising restoration of the believing
Jewish remnant at the end the
and inauguration of the
reign of Christ in the Messianic
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
I will leave a remnant, for you
will have those who escaped the sword among the nations when you are
scattered (Greek word = diaskorpismos = dispersion, scattering
dispersal) among the countries.
The majority of
the nation of Israel proved not to be believers, but God's grace and
mercy continued to preserve a godly
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
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
a great persecution began against
the church in Jerusalem and they were scattered (diaspeiro)
throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria (Acts 8:1) and
those who had been
scattered (diaspeiro) went about preaching (euaggelizo/euangelizo
= "evangelizing") the word. (Acts 8:4)
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.
James were to post his letter today it would be marked ‘Return to
sender’ on the ground of being insufficiently addressed. He names no
names and specifies no place as destination: twelve tribes contain a
lot of people and the Dispersion, in its special sense of the
scattered people of God, was in principle world-wide. (Motyer, J. A.
The Message of James: The Tests of Faith. The Bible Speaks Today.
Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., U.S.A.: Inter-Varsity Press)
Through their contacts with other people, the Jews of the Dispersion
generally had a larger outlook on life and a greater openness to new
ideas, whereas their contacts with the surrounding paganism generally
made them more strongly convinced of the immeasurable superiority of
Judaism over the pagan religions. As the gospel spread in the Gentile
world, it was seen that wherever there was a colony of Jews with their
synagogue, their message of ethical monotheism had become a strong
preparatory force for Christianity. Scattered abroad as seed, they had
"become the seed of a future harvest." (James)
- a primary verb)
in some contexts means to rejoice or be glad (e.g., Jn 16:20, Ro
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),
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...
mere formality; he expected what he
wrote to gladden his readers’ hearts by giving them means to verify
the genuineness of their salvation. That, James knew, would provide
great comfort to them in their trials, which Satan persistently uses
to try to make Christians doubt they are indeed God’s children and
fellow heirs with Jesus Christ.
J. James. Moody or
Steven Cole comments that...
Many writers claim that there is no
unifying theme to James, but that it is just a series of unrelated,
random exhortations. But, as difficult as it may be to outline the
book, I think that the contents may be arranged under this theme of
true faith. James is giving a series of tests by which one may
determine whether his faith is genuine or false (D.
Edmond Hiebert “The Unifying Theme of the Epistle of James,”
Bibliotheca Sacra [135:539, July-September, 1978], pp. 221-231).
I offer this outline:
Introduction: Author and recipients (Jas 1:1).
1. True faith responds with
practical godliness under testing (Jas 1:2-27).
A. True faith responds with joy when it faces testing (Jas 1:2, 3, 4).
B. True faith seeks God for wisdom in times of testing (Jas 1:5, 6, 7, 8).
C. True faith adopts God’s eternal perspective in both poverty and
riches (Jas 1:9, 10, 11).
D. True faith perseveres under testing, not blaming God for
temptations (Jas 1:12, 13, 14, 15, 16 17, 18).
E. True faith obeys God’s word, even when provoked (Jas 1:19-27).
2. True faith shows itself in
practical obedience (Jas 2:1-26).
A. True faith does not show partiality (Jas 2:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7).
B. True faith practices biblical love (Jas 2:8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13).
C. True faith proves itself by its works (Jas 2:14, 15, 16, 17, 18,
19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26).
3. True faith controls the
tongue and acts with gentle wisdom (Jas 3:1-18).
A. True faith controls the tongue (Jas 3:1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,
10, 11, 12).
B. True faith acts with gentle wisdom (Jas 3:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18).
4. True faith resists arrogance
by humbling oneself before God (Jas 4:1-5:18).
A. True faith practices humility in relationships (Jas 4:1, 2, 3, 4,
5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12).
B. True faith practices humility with regard to the future (Jas
4:13, 14, 15, 16, 17).
C. True faith practices humility by waiting for God to judge the
wicked who have wronged us (Jas 5:1-11).
D. True faith practices humility by speaking the truth apart from
self-serving oaths (Jas 5:12).
E. True faith practices humility by depending upon God through prayer
(Jas 5:13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18).
Conclusion: True faith
practices biblical love by seeking to restore those who have strayed
from the truth (Jas 5:19, 20). (Steven
Cole - James 1:1-4 A
Radical Approach to Trials -
Excellent Resource - His Sermons
are highly recommended)