James (Jas 1:1)

“James,

A servant

Of God

And of the Lord

Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes

In the dispersion:

Greetings!”

Ἰάκωβος Θεοῦ καὶ Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ δοῦλος ταῖς δώδεκα φυλαῖς ταῖς ἐν τῇ Διασπορᾷ χαίρειν.

James said, “James (Ἰάκωβος), a servant (δοῦλος) of God (Θεοῦ) and of the Lord (καὶ Κυρίου) Jesus Christ (Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ), to the twelve tribes (ταῖς δώδεκα φυλαῖς) in the dispersion (ἐν τῇ Διασπορᾷ): Greetings (χαίρειν)!”  Who is this James?  There are at least four people with this name of James (Ἰάκωβος) mentioned in the NT writings.  There is first of all James, the son of Alphaeus the Less or the Small one, one of the Twelve original apostles.  He may have been the brother of Matthew or Levi.  James the son of Alphaeus was explicitly mentioned four times, always in the list of the twelve apostles, Mark, chapter 3:18, Matthew, chapter 10:3, Luke, chapter 6:15, and Acts, chapter 1:13.  Then there was James, the son of Zebedee and brother of John, also one of the Twelve original apostles.  Acts, chapter 12:2, explicitly mentioned his death around 44 CE.  He was referred to as James the Greater.  He was mentioned quite often with his brother John on a number of occasions in the gospel stories, plus in the list of the twelve apostles listed above.  Thus, two of the twelve apostles were named James.  Then there is the half-brother of Jesus, James, the Just, who seems to in charge in Jerusalem.  He may have died around the year 62-66 CE.  Finally, James was the name of the father of Jude, the apostle.  As you can see, James was a common name.  This James was a servant or slave of God and the Lord, Jesus Christ.  He was writing this letter to the twelve Jewish tribes, the sons of Jacob, who were dispersed throughout the world.  He wanted to send them greetings or grace.  He did not call himself an apostle the way that Paul did.  However, he used another Pauline term, slave or servant of God.  This was a standard Greek greeting, but addressed to the Jewish people who were not in Jerusalem.  Do you know anyone named James or Jim?

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