Sunday, September 11, 2022

James' Greeting (James 1:1)

Several weeks ago, I published the first part in my verse-by-verse study of James. In the first part, I skipped over the first verse of the first chapter of James, as I did not think that the verse was very important to the verses that I was discussing. Since then, I have realized that I should have written about James 1:1. The Bible, and all its books, exist for a reason. If a verse was not necessary, God’s Word would not include it. If a verse is included in the Bible, we can have confidence that the verse in question comes from God.

That being said, let us go over James 1:1.

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion:


[James 1:1, ESV]

The first line of James 1:1 is fairly straightforward. James identifies himself as a servant of God, and of the Lord Jesus Christ. The next line begins with a capital letter, which would suggest that the word “To” marks the beginning of the next portion of James’ greeting.

The second line of James 1:1 establishes the people to whom James has addressed his letter: the twelve tribes in the Dispersion. The letter is addressed to the twelve tribes, which is most likely a reference to the twelve tribes of Israel, meaning that James was addressing his letter to the Jewish Christians. The term “Jewish Christian” refers to a person who descends from one of the twelve tribes of Israel, who has converted to Christianity. “Jewish” is used to describe heritage, while “Christian” is used to describe faith. As for the word “Dispersion”, there is a simple explanation, although said explanation is harder to find in the translation that I am using. I have been using the English Standard Version for years, it has been very helpful for my studying of God’s Word, but that does not mean that it is always the best translation. In fact, there is no such thing as a perfect translation. James 1:1 is an example (in my opinion) of where the English Standard Version makes God’s Word confusing. Upon referencing some other translations that I have, I was able to understand that James addressed his letter to the twelve tribes of Israel, who had been dispersed. The reason why the word “dispersion” is capitalized in certain translations is likely due to the way the word “dispersion” is used to describe the Jewish Christians as a single group, in order to unify them around their faith in Jesus Christ.

Several theories exist as to why the Jewish-Christians had been scattered. What we do know is that the Jewish Christians were being persecuted, which likely caused them to disperse into other nations. While researching this verse, there was a website that referenced several passages in Acts, which described how the Jewish Christians had been scattered due to the persecution against them. Whether or not the events of Acts led to what James here refers to as “the Dispersion” is unclear, but we do know that the Jewish Christians had been dispersed due to some kind of persecution.

The third line of James 1:1 simply means, “hello”. I am not going to explain what the Greek word means, or what “hello” would suggest. James says “hi”.


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