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James 1:1

Context
Salutation

1:1 From James, 1  a slave 2  of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes dispersed abroad. 3  Greetings!

1 tn Grk “James.” The word “From” is not in the Greek text, but has been supplied to indicate the sender of the letter.

2 tn Traditionally, “servant” or “bondservant.” Though δοῦλος (doulos) is normally translated “servant,” the word does not bear the connotation of a free individual serving another. BDAG notes that “‘servant’ for ‘slave’ is largely confined to Biblical transl. and early American times…in normal usage at the present time the two words are carefully distinguished” (BDAG 260 s.v.). The most accurate translation is “bondservant” (sometimes found in the ASV for δοῦλος), in that it often indicates one who sells himself into slavery to another. But as this is archaic, few today understand its force.

sn Undoubtedly the background for the concept of being the Lord’s slave or servant is to be found in the Old Testament scriptures. For a Jew this concept did not connote drudgery, but honor and privilege. It was used of national Israel at times (Isa 43:10), but was especially associated with famous OT personalities, including such great men as Moses (Josh 14:7), David (Ps 89:3; cf. 2 Sam 7:5, 8) and Elijah (2 Kgs 10:10); all these men were “servants (or slaves) of the Lord.”

3 tn Grk “to the twelve tribes in the Diaspora.” The Greek term διασπορά (diaspora, “dispersion”) refers to Jews not living in Palestine but “dispersed” or scattered among the Gentiles.



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