This is part 1 of a 15 part Bible Study on the book of James . Compiled and written by Norma Becker - a true woman of God and God's word.
Part 1 - Who is James?
The author of James identifies himself as “James.” Who was he? Four men in the New Testament have this name.
He could not have been the apostle James the son of Zebedee and brother of John because according to Acts 12:2 he was martyred under Herod Agrippa I. This took place about ten years after Jesus' death so it was too early for this book to have been written. There were two other men named James who had neither the
stature nor the influence to have been the writer.
This leaves James the brother of Jesus as the probable author. Some reasons to base this on are:
He was one of several brothers of Christ and was probably the oldest since he heads the list in Matthew 13:55: "Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas?"
- At first he did not believe in Jesus and even challenged him and misunderstood his mission. “But when the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was near, Jesus' brothers said to him, ‘You ought to leave here and go to Judea, so that your disciples may see the miracles you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world’" (John 7:2-5). For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
However, he was one of the select individuals Christ appeared to after his resurrection. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:7: “Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.”
Paul called him a 'pillar' in the church. “James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews” (Galatians 2:9).
Paul, on his first post-conversion visit to Jerusalem, saw James. “Then after three years, I went up to Jerusalem to get acquainted with Peter and stayed with him fifteen days. I saw none of the other apostles - only James, the Lord's brother” (Galatians 1:18-19). Paul did the same on his last visit: “The next day Paul and the rest of us went to see James, and all the elders were present” (Acts 21:18).
When Peter was rescued from prison, he told his friends to tell James: “Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. ‘Tell James and the brothers about this,’ he said, “and then he left for another place” (Acts 12:17).
James was a Leader
James was a leader in the important council of Jerusalem. “The whole assembly became silent as they listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. When they finished, James spoke up:
‘Brothers, listen to me, Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God’” (Acts 15:12-14, 19).
Jude could identify himself simply as 'a brother of James' because he was so well known.
Jude 1:1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James….
It is interesting to speculate how he became so knowledgeable. He wasn't with Jesus for the three years like the apostles or he wasn't taken to Arabia to learn from the Lord like Paul was.
Part 2: When and to Whom Was James Written? Click here