Scribes of Scripture - James: A Servant of God

 •  4 min. read  •  grade level: 7
There were three New Testament men named James. One, the brother of John and a son of Zebedee, was appointed an apostle. He was killed by Herod (Acts 12). When Peter escaped from prison, he asked the believers to tell James. There was a respected brother at Jerusalem called James. Paul refers in Galatians 1:1919But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother. (Galatians 1:19) to James the Lord’s brother. When Mary’s children are named in Mark 6:33Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. (Mark 6:3), there is a James and a Jude (Juda). Paul in Acts 213Now when we had discovered Cyprus, we left it on the left hand, and sailed into Syria, and landed at Tyre: for there the ship was to unlade her burden. (Acts 21:3) went up with a group to Jerusalem. The day following they went in to see James and the elders.
When certain men from Jerusalem came to Antioch, they taught error concerning circumcision of the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas were sent by the assembly to the apostles and elders at Jerusalem about this question. After a thorough discussion of the matter, it was James who proposed the answer. He first summed up the way the Gentiles had been brought into the church and cited Old Testament Scripture to back it up.
He then gave his sentence that the Gentiles who had turned to God be not troubled about the matter of circumcision and outlined four things that predated the law of Moses. They should keep themselves from idols, fornication, things strangled and blood. This pleased the apostles and elders with the whole church, so a letter was written to the saints to inform them of the decision. This presents a pattern for assemblies of Christians today.
How interesting, then, that James, in his epistle, does not even hint of a natural relationship to Jesus. Rather, he takes the lowly place of a servant and refers to Jesus as the “Lord Jesus Christ.”
James wrote to believers among the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad. He does not bring in “church truth.” That was given to the Apostle Paul to do. James does give us much good advice on our proper conduct as believers. Inward faith should show itself in outward action (ch. 2). Watch your tongue (ch. 3).
We delight in James 1:1717Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. (James 1:17): “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” Also, “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (ch. 5:8).
James writes with clear logic and takes a place level with other believers. He refers to others as “my brethren.” Notice how he speaks in chapter 3:17-18: “The wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
Jude: Servant of Jesus Christ
Jude introduces himself as a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James. He thus identifies himself with one better known. He was, therefore, also a half brother to Jesus. Neither of these men mentions the natural relationship.
He addresses his letter to all “that are sanctified by God the Father. ” He intended to share some things all believers have in common, but the enemy had slipped in unawares, and they needed to be warned. In Proverbs 16:99A man's heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps. (Proverbs 16:9) we learn, “A man’s heart deviseth his way, but the Lord directeth his steps.” Thus this man of God wrote as he was “moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:2121For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:21)).
Jude reminds the saints of what they once knew (vs. 5), as the apostles had already warned them (vss. 17-18). We too must be reminded of what we once knew. Paul said, “To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe” (Phil. 3:11Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you, to me indeed is not grievous, but for you it is safe. (Philippians 3:1)). Peter also reminds us of things, “though ye know them” (2 Peter 1:1212Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth. (2 Peter 1:12)).
It must have grieved Jude to have to write of sin and failure that God will judge. He quotes Enoch’s prophecy which is not recorded in the Old Testament. God the Holy Spirit gave it to him by divine inspiration. “The Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all... that are ungodly.”
“But ye, beloved” is a happy change. The Holy Spirit allowed Jude to write some of what he had on his heart after he gives the warning. The best safeguard against evil is the truth. “Building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (vss. 20-21).
Jude also commits us to “Him that is able to keep you without stumbling,” and he speaks of our Lord Jesus Christ’s “glory, majesty, might, and authority, from before the whole age, and now, and to all the ages. Amen” (vss. 24-25 JND).
T. A. Roach