Who Wrote the Book of James?

James 1:1 ESV James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greetings.

James 1:1 KJV James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

James 1:1 NIV James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the 12 tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.

1.0 Introduction to James 1:1
Verse 1 is a welcoming introduction to the letter. The author claims to be James. He take the approach of a humble servant in his writing to the intended audience, the dispersed remnant of Hebrews living away from Jerusalem.

1.1 Who was James?
The author identifies himself as James. This “James” is generally accepted to be the biological half-brother of Jesus mentioned in Mt 13:55.

Mt 13:55 “Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas?” This verse tells us about a James who is not the Apostle James that was with Jesus through his ministry. James the half-brother didn’t even get along with Jesus while he was alive in the flesh. Obviously he came into his salvation at a later time, almost certainly after the resurrection. He became well known and a leader of the church council in Jerusalem (Ac 15:13, 2:8, Jude 1, Gal 1:19, 2:9). Secular records indicate he was martyred 62 AD. There is some debate, but many scholars hold that the book of James was written around 45-50 AD. This makes it one of the earliest books in the New Testament. The author almost certainly was not the Apostle James because he was martyred about 45 AD (Acts 12:1-3).

There was also some debate in the early church as to whether this book was authentic. This book was accepted as canon some time in the second or third century AD after much deliberation and examination of the evidence available at the time. Much of the debate came from the perception this book has a very “Jewish” flavor. It features greater emphasis on the practical application of works than most other New Testament writings. The book generally refers to God or Lord while Jesus is only mentioned by name in this first verse and once again in James 2. This led some to believe it was an older Jewish writing adapted for new Christians. While this is something of a curiosity, there are several reasonable explanations. I believe this deep and extended study will only serve to support the balance of Old and New Testament scriptures. The perfect agreement we shall discover only serves to validate the presumption that this book is the inspired work of our Lord and God Almighty.

If I had to sum up the book with one sentence it would be: “The Book of James – An Operator’s Manual for Christianity.”

Get your copy of Ask James one today.

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About Lance Ponder

Christian author of "Ask James one"; public speaker; husband and father. Available to speak on Creation and the Gospel.
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