ESV - 1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.
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The date and authorship of the book of James may be different than the traditional thinking. A few scholars are beginning to consider it written a few years after the resurrection of Jesus. The recipients of the letter, “twelve tribes scattered abroad” (James 1:1) could be those who had assembled at the first Pentecost and then went back to their lands. If so, the possibility of James the son of Zebedee as the author becomes greater, as he would have had about a dozen years to write it before his death in AD 44. Identifying himself simply as “James, a bondservant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,” would signify the recipients knew him well. Befitting an apostle, his purpose in writing the letter was to encourage Jewish believers who had come to faith. Furthermore, James the son of Zebedee must have been a prominent leader as Herod Agrippa singled James out first for execution (Acts 12:1, 2). Also Mark 5:37 lists the three going into the house of Jairus in this manner, “Peter, James, and John the brother of James.” It seems James is better known and John is perhaps the unknown younger brother. In every list of the apostles, James always precedes John. When James died, James the half-brother of Jesus seems to quickly fill his sandals as a prominent church leader. If James the son of Zebedee was the writer, he would join the others of the inner circle, Peter and John, in penning a book. These three allude to seeing the Lord in His glory when He was transfigured, II Peter 1:16-18, John 1:14, and James 2:1. These three follow in order the topical arrangement given by Paul in I Corinthians 13:13, faith (James), hope (Peter) and love (John). The Greek used by James (as well as his brother John) reveals a higher form of education that the well-to-do family of Zebedee could have provided. Zebedee had hired help and the family seems to fit with the higher class as the mother sought positions for her sons in the kingdom and John had access to the high society courtyard of the high priest. There are a number of other reasons to consider him as the author. Some of the words such as synagogue and Lord of Sabaoth, the allusions to several Old Testament characters, resemblance to Proverbs, and the very Jewish nature of the book point to an early time. James mirrors many of the words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount which suggests he was with Jesus for His ministry, which the half-brother of James was not, apparently not coming to faith until after the resurrection of Jesus.
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