James 1:1 NIV
1James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,
To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations:
Human authorship of James – 45 A.D.
The first question is, Who was the author? It has been attributed to one of three persons:
The one is James, the son of Zebedee, Matthew 4:21; Mark 3:17; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13, et al. He was the brother of John, and is usually mentioned in connection with him; Matthew 4:21; Matthew 17:1; Mark 5:37; Mark 13:3, et al. The name of their mother was Salome. Compare Matthew 27:56, with Mark 15:40. He was put to death by Herod Agrippa, about 41 A.D. Acts 12:2. He was called the major, or the elder - to distinguish him from the other James, the younger, or the less, Mark 15:40; called also, in ancient history, James the Just.
The other James was a son of Alphaeus or Cleophas; Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Acts 1:13; Luke 24:18. That Alphaeus and Cleophas was the same person is evident from the fact that both the words are derived from the Hebrew הלפי h-l-p-y. The name of the mother of this James was Mary, Mark 15:40; and James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas, are mentioned as brethren; Matthew 13:55.
There is also a James mentioned in Matthew 13:55; Mark 6:3; and Galatians 1:19, as a "brother of our Lord."
In the New Testament, James appears as a prominent and leading man in the church at Jerusalem. He appears, from some cause, to have had his home permanently in Jerusalem, and, for a considerable portion of his life, to have been the only apostle residing there. As such, as well as from his near relationship to the Lord Jesus, and his own personal worth, he was entitled to, and received, marked respect. His prominence, and the respect which was shown to him at Jerusalem, appear in the following circumstances:
(1) In the council that was held respecting the rules that were to be imposed on the converts from the Gentiles, and the manner in which they were to be regarded and treated Acts 15, after the other apostles had fully delivered their sentiments, the views of James were expressed, and his counsel was followed. Acts 15:13-29
(2) when Peter was released from prison, in answer to the prayers of the assembled church, he directed those whom he first saw to "go and show these things to James, and to the brethren." Acts 12:17
(3) when Paul visited Jerusalem after his conversion, James is twice mentioned by him as occupying a prominent position there. First, Paul says that when he went there on the first occasion, he saw none of the apostles but Peter, and "James the Lord's brother."Galatians 1:18-19. He is here mentioned as one of the apostles, and as sustaining a near relation to the Lord Jesus. On the second occasion, when Paul went up there 14 years after, he is mentioned, in enumerating those who gave to him the right hand of fellowship, as one of the "pillars" of the church; and among those who recognized him as an apostle, he is mentioned first. "And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship." Galatians 2:9
(4) when Paul went up to Jerusalem after his visit to Asia Minor and to Greece, the whole matter pertaining to his visit was laid before James, and his counsel was followed by Paul. Acts 21:18-24
Having said so above, there are strong probabilities, from the Epistle itself, to show that it was written by James the Less, a son of Alphaeus or Cleophas: Matthew 10:3; Mark 3:18; Acts 1:13; Luke 24:18.
(1) his position at Jerusalem, and his eminence among the apostles, as well as his established character, made it proper that he should address such an epistle to those who were scattered abroad. There was no one among the apostles who would command greater respect from those abroad who were of Jewish origin than James. If he had his residence at Jerusalem; if he was in any manner regarded as the head of the church there; if he sustained a near relation to the Lord Jesus; and if his character was such as has been commonly represented, there was no one among the apostles whose opinions would be treated with greater respect, or who would be considered as having a clearer right to address those who were scattered abroad.
(2) the character of the Epistle accords with the well-known character of James the Less. His strong regard for the law; his zeal for incorruptible integrity; his opposition to lax notions of morals; his opposition to all reliance on faith that was not productive of good works, all appear in this Epistle. The necessity of conformity to the law of God, and of a holy life, is everywhere apparent, and the views expressed in the Epistle agree with all that is stated of the early education and the established character of James. While there is no real contradiction between this Epistle and the writings of Paul, yet it is much easier to show that this is a production of James than it would be to prove that it was written by Paul.