Lange Commentary - James

Online Resource Library

Return to | Commentary Index | Bible Index | Search | Prayer Request | Download

Lange Commentary - James

(Show All Books)

Verse Commentaries:





J. P. LANGE, D. D.

Professor Of Theology In The University Of Bonn



Professor Of Theology In The University Of Utrecht





Rector Of St. James’s Church, Lancaster, PA




In the preparation of this Commentary on the Catholic Epistles no pains have been spared to make it useful to Anglo-American readers. More than three years of labour have been bestowed upon it; and the translation of several Epistles, originally made from the earlier German editions, has been carefully revised by the latest. The addenda are numerous, and have entailed a vast amount of work. They will speak for themselves. It is hoped that the readings of the Codex Siniaticus, uniformly embodied in this Commentary, the constant reference to the best English and other divines, ancient and modern, and the extracts from their comments on this section of the New Testament, will place the reader in possession of every element necessary to the understanding of these Epistles.

I have endeavoured faithfully to comply with the general principles regulating the translation; and if the reproduction of the style of four different writers presented peculiar difficulties, it is gratifying to me that none of the Catholic Epistles in Lange’s Commentary have ever before been translated into English. The diversity of style, to which I have just referred, will be especially apparent in the Introduction and the Critical and Exegetical portions of the Epistles of St. James, from the pen of Dr. Lange. He has an extraordinary genius for word-coining, and some of his combinations are so graphic, telling and original, that I have deemed it proper to reproduce them in English for the reason that these somewhat grotesque and strange-looking words have often the effect of stimulating the mental activity of the reader. The context is generally their commentary; where this was not the case in the original, due recourse has been had to periphrastic explanations.

On many questions I differ from the authors, and the addenda are mostly made to remove onesidedness of statement. In numerous instances, however, I hesitated to express my dissent, because I did not think it fair to carry on a controversy with them in the pages of their own works. I am only responsible for the matter in brackets, [ ], marked M.

May the Divine blessing rest upon my humble endeavours to aid in the elucidation of this important and interesting section of the Inspired Volume!

To the reader I would say: “Errores pauci fuerint si forte libello,—errores paucos tollat amica manus!”

J. Isidor Mombert




My respected friend and coöperator, Dr. van Oosterzee, has charged me to represent him also in this Preface to the second edition. The first thing to be said imports the assurance that each has carefully, revised, and here and there rectified or improved his respective part, without subjecting the original shape of the work to unnecessary changes.

Since the publication of the first edition Dr. van Oosterzee has been called and translated to Utrecht in the capacity of Professor ordinarius of Theology; he himself has thus occasioned the first and very gratifying change on the title-page. Another call, namely, the removal of our friend, the Rev. Chantepie de la Saussaye, from Leyden to Rotterdam, had, alas, the consequence that the note on page 5 of the first edition [not inserted in the translation for this very reason—M.] could not be fulfilled, according to which he had undertaken the preparing of the Johannean Epistles, but found himself for an indefinite period prevented to carry his task into effect. But, by the help of God, said section of this Commentary passed from one competent hand to another. Our whole work, moreover, has lately made considerable progress; the publishers, as well as the authors, may look back upon the road already traversed, with cheerful gratitude, and forward to the goal with increasing hope.

With reference to exegesis there have appeared since the publication of the first edition in 1862, four theological novelties in our field of labour, which deserve to be noticed: The second edition of the Commentary on James, from the pen of Dr. Huther, appeared in 1863; last year the third edition of the respective section of de Wette’s Handbook, prepared by Dr. Brückner; in the same year also a new commentary, of considerable extent, on this Epistle, from the pen of the lately deceased venerable Professor Bouman of Utrecht, published after his death by his sons under the title of “Hermanni Bouman, Theol. Dr. et in Acad. Rhenotraject. Prof. Ord. Commentarius perpetuus in Jacobi Epistolam post. mortem auctoris editus. Trajecti ad Rhenum apud Kemink et Filium, 1865.” To these Commentaries must be added the publication of the Codex Sinaiticus:

The second edition of Huther’s Commentary on the Epistle of James, having been concluded as early as October, 1862, has not led to reciprocal discussions between it and our exegetical work. Interesting is Huther’s discussion with his reviewer, Professor Frank of Erlangen, introduced into the preface owing to the circumstance that his reviewer misconstrued the statement that Paul also teaches a consideration of works in the final judgment. Dr. Brückner has referred to our work both in the Introduction and in his exposition. The circumstance, that we could not move that highly-esteemed theologian to pronounce in favour of the radical modifications of the exegesis of this Epistle, in consequence of the definite historical construction which we have put on it, does not disturb us or fill us with doubt; it must also be borne in mind that he had to deal with the revision of a book which, as the preparation of a mandatary work, imposed upon him the most rigid self-constraint. In opposition to our statement that the author designed to fortify the Jewish Christians against the already roused revolutionary spirit of the Jews, without incautiously drawing the impending revolution in over-distinct colours, Brückner simply contends that then the “political fanaticism” ought at least to have been touched in the Epistle. In reply we have to observe, that it is characteristic of the apostolical wisdom of the author to oppose political fanaticism only in its religious motives and roots. These motives and roots, however, appear plain enough by replies to the following questions: 1. Which was the greatest common cause of all the twelve tribes of the Jews in part believing, in part still receptive of belief, during the sixth decade after the birth of Christ? 2. Which could be the manifold common temptations which through patience and steadfastness they were to change into all joy? Or, to be still briefer, which was at that time the common great trial of faith of the twelve tribes? And wherein had, consequently, the common proof to consist? 3. Why does the Apostle, after the general warning against representing the general temptation as a temptation from God, i.e., as a provocation, pass at once to the condemnation of wrath? 4. And what, in particular, is the import of the warning in chapter Jam_3:13 sqq., which even progresses to the naming of ἀêáôáóôáóßá as the result of æῆëïò and ἐñéèåßá ? Similar questions arise from each separate section of our Epistle in opposition to the non-historical construction of our Epistle as being merely a collection of edifying exhortations to good moral conduct, but where it is anything but edifying that the author straightway assumes that the poor were disregarded at worship and otherwise neglected in all the twelve tribes of the dispersion, and that the rich Christians were guilty of conduct that he felt justified or rather constrained to utter a woe on them. We reiterate the expression of our conviction, that the non-appreciation of the historical motives and prophetico-symbolical phraseology of the Epistle leaves its great one fundamental thought well-nigh unopened, and this is proved by the extraordinary misconstructions which have been put upon it.

Bouman, the venerable veteran of Dutch theology, who left his Commentary in manuscript, like a testament, to the care of his sons, has first of all gladdened us by the decisiveness and scientific force with which he represents in the Introduction the view that the author of our Epistle could have been none other than the Apostle Jacobus Alphaei. May this example be a sign that theological science begins to turn away from the all-confounding and self-confused prejudice, that a non-apostolical James had risen to the highest apostolical repute in the apostolical Church, because he was a brother of the Lord according to the flesh, who at a late period became converted to the faith. We discover also a welcome agreement of the author with this Commentary in the assumption that the Epistle, though primarily addressed to Jewish Christians, had also the secondary design of converting the receptive Jews to the faith; and that this circumstance accounts also for the prophetical colouring of the Epistle. His attaching particular importance to the parallelism between the Apostle as the head of the Church at Jerusalem and the High priest with reference to the Jewish dispersion, appears to us as not unfounded; but the hypothesis that the Epistle dates from the earliest time of the propagation of Christianity, does not induce us to change the view expressed by us in this respect in this Commentary, or to fortify it by the production of new arguments. The exposition itself resembles variously the Scholiaform, and moves in the track of the customary general and abstract construction of the Epistle, takes, however, in a learned and independent manner, cognizance of modern exegetes, and manifests also with reference to the Codex Sinaiticus, a free critical judgment.

The readings of the Sinaiticus, wherever they appeared to be important, have mostly been added to the critical notes.

May the joint preparation of this Epistle continue to be blessed in promoting the vital appreciation of the glorious totality of the Scripture as the Word of God, which appreciation must be consummated in the belief that all the writings of Paul and of James are in perfect agreement with one another, and with the whole Scripture.





This Commentary on the Epistle of James is the joint work of my respected friend, Dr. van Oosterzee and myself. The Introduction, the translation and the Critical and Exegetical notes, are my work; the Doctrinal and Homiletical sections have been supplied by Dr. van Oosterzee. I heartily thank my friend and collaborator for the cheerful and valuable help he has thus far bestowed upon this Commentary.

With respect to the sections undertaken by me, there were especially two reasons which made the work one of peculiar interest to me. In the first place, I was anxious to improve this opportunity to testify against the old Ebionito-apocryphal fiction of non-apostolic brothers of the Lord, who were, at the same time, held in high Apostolic repute. In the second place I desired to express my conviction that the Epistle of James (like the First Epistle of Peter and the Epistle to the Hebrews) cannot be sufficiently appreciated unless the history of the world, at the time when it was written, be constantly referred to, viz., the beginnings of that great Jewish revolution against the Romans, which, with its national sympathies, was, to the Jews in general, a great temptation to become hardened, and to the Jewish Christians an equal temptation to apostasy. This historical reference, hitherto neglected, in my opinion, can only prove advantageous to the exposition of this Epistle. In this sense I have been working; may the fundamental thought of my work be attested by blessed results.

I only add that I did not expect that my honoured collaborator would forthwith apply in the Doctrinal and Homiletical sections the aforesaid points of view, which have still to fight for recognition among theologians. On the contrary I thought it most desirable that the universal side of the Epistle should be fully developed in the Doctrinal and Homiletical sections without special reference to its historical points; and, indeed, the independence of my friend, led me to expect an execution of his work carried out in this sense. The Commentary, as a whole, has doubtless gained in allsidedness by this recognition of the universal by the side of the historical point of view.









The term “Catholic Epistles” embraces the seven Apostolic Epistles, which, besides the Pauline Epistles and the Epistle to the Hebrews added to them, are found in the Canon of the New Testament; namely the Epistle of James, the two Epistles of Peter, the three Epistles of John and the Epistle of Jude.

According to the primary and original meaning of ἐðéóôïëὴ êáèïëéêÞ , it denotes an encyclical writing, which as such was primarily addressed not to individual Churches or persons, but to a larger ecclesiastical sphere, to a number of Churches. In this sense Clement of Alexandria (Stromat. iv.) calls the Epistle of the Apostles and of the Church at Jerusalem addressed to Christian congregations according to Act_15:22-29 an ἐðéóôïëὴ êáèïëéêÞ . So Origen (contra Celsum i. 63) calls the Epistle of Barnabas, the contents of which characterize it an encyclical writing, êáèïëéêÞ . Eusebius (Hist. Eccl. v. 18) reports that Apollonius reproached Themison, the Montanist, with having written in imitation of the Apostle (probably John) an ἐðéóôïëὴ êáèïëéêÞ . This shows that the universal character of the First Epistle of John was designated by the term ‘Catholic’ as early as the time of Apollonius, that is: in the beginning of the third century. Even Origen applies this designation in this sense to the First Epistle of John (in the Commentary of John), to the First Epistle of Peter (according to Euseb. vi. 25), and to the Epistle of Jude, but in passages which are found only in a Latin translation (Comment. in epist. ad Roman.). In the time of Eusebius, the term ‘Catholic’ was already applied to the whole group of Epistles, which we call Catholic. “James,” he says “is said to have written the first of the Catholic Epistles;” and then adverts to “the seven Epistles called Catholic.” (Hist. Ecc_2:23). The meaning “Epistles more general as to their contents and object,” which Guerike considers to be primary, could only be secondary, because it generally resulted from the nature of the encyclical writing; for the very first Catholic Epistle (Acts 15) was not general as to its object and contents. There was but one step from changing the originally somewhat general character of these circular letters which assigned to them a more enlarged sphere of the Church, into one altogether general. Thus the Apostolical Epistle (Acts 15) was already destined to apply to the whole Gentile-Christian Church, while the Epistle of James and probably that to the Hebrews were designed for the whole Jewish-Christian Church. In this sense, Oecumenius (Prolegom. in Epist. Jacob.) declared that they had been called ‘Catholic,’ inasmuch as they had not been addressed to a particular people or city, like the Epistles of Paul. but to believers in general (as a whole, êáèüëïõ ), whether to Jewish Christians of the dispersion or even to all Christians, as members of the same faith.

In the Western Church the term epistolæ canonicæ instead of catholicæ obtained great currency from the time of Junilius and Cassiodorus (see Credner, Introd. p. 570). That this could not have been the original sense follows decisively from the fact that Eusebius (Hist. Ecc_2:23) applies the term ‘Catholic’ also to the Epistles of Dionysius of Corinth to the Churches at Lacedæmon, Athens, etc. But Eusebius probably combined also here with the idea of the encyclical character the idea of the universal, for he remarked concerning said Dionysius and his Epistle, “that he was most useful to all ( ἅðáóéí absolutely) in the Catholic Epistles which he addressed to the Churches.” Yet Eusebius gave already occasion that the idea of general reception or canonicity was combined with the idea of partial or entire universality by saying of the First Epistle of Peter: “The First Epistle of Peter is universally acknowledged, but the Acts of Peter, the Gospel according to Peter, the Preaching and the Revelation of Peter are not among the Catholic writings.” [Hist. Ecc_3:3—M.].—It is evident that neither the idea of universality nor that of canonicity could be applied absolutely to the Catholic Epistles as contrasted with those of Paul. If they were called universal, the reference was to their more general tenor, if they were called canonical, the reference was at once to their more general contents and to their direct general authority, without any intention of seeking thereby to weaken the less direct universality and canonicity of the Pauline Epistles.

Besides this definition of the term ‘Catholic Epistles,’ another has arisen in modern times, Hug in his
Introduction to the Writings of the New Testament ii. p. 429 observes as follows: “After the Gospels and the Acts had been referred to one division and the writings of St. Paul to another, there were still remaining the writings of different authors which might again be collected under one head and had to be distinguished by a name of their own. They might most aptly be called êáèïëéêὸí óýíôáãìá of the Apostles and the writings contained in it êïéíáß and êáèïëéêáß , these two words being frequently used as synonymes by Greek writers.” In proof of this statement, Hug brings forward the declaration of Clement of Alexandria concerning the Apostolical Epistle, Act_15:23, namely, the Catholic Epistle in which all the Apostles took part. But ôῶí ἀðïóôüëùí ðÜíôùí has not the meaning which Hug discovers in it. He then cites the judgment of Eusebius that the “First Epistle of Peter is universally acknowledged, but the Acts of Peter, the Gospel according to Peter, the Preaching and Revelation of Peter are not among the Catholic writings.” This, according to Hug, denotes the class to which the Apostolical writings in general were then referred. But the citation from Eusebius established rather the contrast between writings acknowled and writings not acknowledged. The circumstance, finally, that the Epistle of Barnabas is called Catholic, he tries to account for by the assertion that Barnabas also was sometimes called an Apostle. But the true explanation must be sought in its contents, for in the time of Origen, the Epistle of Barnabas was neither acknowledged as Apostolical nor as Canonical. In the sense of Hug, it has also been attempted to draw a parallel between the origin of the Canon of the Old Testament and that of the Canon of the New. For it is maintained that as in the formation of the Canon of the Old Testament, after the Thorah and the Prophets had been collected under their respective heads, the remaining sacred writings, in general, were collected under the head of Hagiographa, so, in the formation of the Canon of the New Testament, after the Gospels and the Pauline Epistles ( åὐáããÝëéïí and ἀðüóôïëïò ) had been collected, the remaining sacred writings of the New Testament were collected under the head “Catholic Epistles,” i.e., writings of the New Testament in general ( êáèüëïõ ).—Apart from possible objections to that view of the Old Testament, it is self-evident that in that case the reference ought to have been to Catholic writings and not to Catholic Epistles, and that then both the Revelation and the Epistle to the Hebrews ought to have been included in the last-named class.

Credner gives the following natural account of the old arrangement of the Canon of the New Testament: “First historical notices of Jesus (the Gospels); then such notices of the Apostles; then general (catholic) Epistles of the Apostles; then Epistles to separate congregations and to individuals (the Epistles of Paul). This primary arrangement originated in a clear perception of what was collected and why it was collected.”

But the ideal principle of division has evidently been modified by historical relations. A division purely made with reference to subject-matter, would require the Epistle to the Ephesians and that to the Hebrews to be included among the Catholic Epistles, the second and third Epistles of John to be excluded from them. The latter, however, were considered as supplemental to the first Epistle of John, and the former retained by the great mass of the Pauline Epistles, as it were, by attraction.


The Catholic Epistles, comprehending only a small part of the New Testament Canon, are of the utmost importance on account of the completeness and fulness of that part. As the four Gospels are designed mutually to complement each other, so here the types of the doctrine of James, Peter and John, complement the type of the doctrine of Paul. By this complementing they preserve the Christian consciousness from a one-sided culture of the Pauline expression; by the variety and fulness of their modes of treatment and expression, they guarantee the fulness of Christian cognition and the full vitality and motion of the churchly spirit. Paul has been called the Apostle of faith; John the Apostle of love, Peter the Apostle of hope. This is a very imperfect mode of distinction, because, to name only one reason, it is exclusively Pauline; it denotes, nevertheless, the riches of the Apostolical complements furnished by the Catholic Epistles. These Epistles, moreover, are highly important as mirroring the condition of the Church during the latter period of the Apostolic age. In this respect they constitute an indispensable connecting-link between the Acts and the Pauline Epistles (excepting the Pastoral Epistles to which they are intimately related) on the one hand, and the Apocalypse and the Apostolical Fathers on the other.—While in the Book of Acts and the Pauline Epistles, we have the exhibition of the external diversity of the Churches which were springing up every where, as yet predominating over the certainly existing internal unity, the encyclical character of most of these Epistles (as also of that to the Hebrews) gives already greater prominence to the consciousness of a full, and moreover, of an external unity of the Church. This holds also good of the Epistle of James, for he addresses Christendom of Jewish origin not as an Ebionite Jewish-Christian but as an Apostle. These Epistles moreover acquaint us with the further developments of Church-life in the Apostolic age; with the springing up of the Ebionite and Gnostic weeds among the wheat of pure doctrine, and on the other hand, with the development of the more distinct, the dogmatically more conscious Apostolic and church-testimony. Ebionitism is perfectly drawn in symbolical characters not sufficiently appreciated—in the Epistle of James (Jam_2:2, etc.), in the first Epistle of John (Jam_2:22, etc.), and probably also in the third of John (3Jn_1:9); Gnostic libertinism, on the other hand, is condemned in the Epistle of Jude, in the second of Peter (James 2), and in 1Jn_4:1, etc. With respect to ecclesiastical constitution, our Epistles confirm the identity of the Presbyterate and the Episcopate; but the dignity of the presbyter-bishop becomes more distinct in the position taken by Jude, James, John (2Jn_1:1) and Peter. That is, we have to deal with Apostolical men who, as leading presbyters, had even then entered upon close relations with specific ecclesiastical circles; this applies at least to James and John. We also obtain hints of the form of worship (Judges 12; 2Pe_2:13), and of a certain method and gradation in the presentation of Christian doctrine (1Jn_2:12, etc.).

With respect to the relation of the different New Testament types of doctrine, so richly represented in the Catholic Epistles, we take for granted that in this field a conflict of doctrine is impossible but that differences of doctrine, various types, i.e., individual views, conceptions and modes of statement are necessary. All the Apostles are agreed in that they see in Christianity the New Testament, that is: 1, the fulfilment and therein the harmonious contrast of the Old Testament, the completed religion of Revelation 2, the fulfilment and contrast of all incomplete religions in general, the perfect religion absolutely; 3, consequently they see in the New Testament the primeval, even the everlasting Testament, the everlasting religion which, while it must branch out into the two æons of struggling development and of glorious consummation,, can nevermore be followed by another religion. In these respects James is not by a hair’s breadth less evangelical (German: neutestamentlich) than Paul and John.

The New Testament, according to all the New Testament types of doctrine, is the fulfilment, the real form, therefore, of the religion which the Old Testament had traced in the symbolical shadow.

Christianity is the fulfilment of the law of the Old Testament, hence the royal law of love, the law of liberty, of spiritual life, of unity; such is the teaching of James.

Christianity is the fulfilment of the theocracy of the Old Testament, hence the real kingdom of God, the real royal priesthood, which, first a kingdom of suffering, finds its consummation in a kingdom of glory; such is the teaching of Peter.

Christianity is the fulfilment of the old Covenant, of the sacraments of the Old Testament, hence the real circumcision and regeneration, hence the real passover, the real redemption and the real new human life as the principle of a real new world of the resurrection, the New Covenant of faith and the new covenant-jubilee of the communion of faith; such is the teaching of Paul.

Christianity is the fulfilment of the worship of the Old Testament, hence the real eternal Divine worship of the completed word, of the completed Sabbath, of completed sacrifice and of the completed festive-church (Germ: Fest-Gemeinde.); such is—closely following Paul—the teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Christianity is the fulfilment of all the symbolism of the Old Testament, and of all the symbolism of primitive monotheism (Germ.-Urmonotheismus) in general, on which the Old Testament is founded, hence the real new world in the development of its glorification (Germ. Verklärung) by the Personal Word in the threefold lustre of real light, real love and real life; such is the teaching of John.

The Epistles of Peter (on the character of Peter see my Apostol. Age, I., p. 354, and the Article “Petrus,” in Herzog’s Real-Encyclopædia,) are connected with the speeches of Peter in Acts, and the Petrine Gospel of Mark. They form a connecting link between the doctrine of James and that of Paul.

The fundamental idea of the First Epistle of Peter is 1Pe_1:3-4, the regeneration of Christians out of suffering unto an incorruptible inheritance (Land of inheritance and kingdom of inheritance). The division is as follows:

Introduction: The new hope of the spiritual Israel flowing from the resurrection of Christ from the dead, 1Pe_1:1-3. The theme already specified, 1Pe_1:4.

I. Believers destined for this blessedness of the inheritance, 1Pe_1:5-9.

II. The Old Testament pointing to this inheritance, 1Pe_1:10-12.

III. The pilgrimage of the spiritual Israel to this goal. Their sanctification. Their redemption. Their brotherly love on the ground of their common heavenly descent by means of regeneration, 1Pe_1:13-25.

IV. The New Covenant. The preparation of the New Testament. Christ the living stone, antitype of Sinai. Christians, the new theocracy 1Pe_2:1-10.

V. The wilderness-pilgrims (1Pe_2:11) and their behaviour towards pagans; a. according to the relations of the pagans, 1Pe_2:12-17; b. according to the relations of the Christians. The behaviour of enslaved men (males); that of wives, especially in mixed marriages, 1Pe_2:18 to 1Pe_3:2.

VI. The behaviour of Christians among themselves, 1Pe_3:3-8.

VII. Their behaviour towards persecutors, 1Pe_3:9-22.

VIII. Readiness and blessedness of suffering, 1 Peter 4.

IX. The proper relation of the leaders of the flock of God and those who are led, especially as the proper preparation against the adversary, 1Pe_5:1-9. Conclusion, Benediction and Salutation, 1Pe_5:10-14.

But compare the First Epistle of Peter in this commentary. As to its literature, we have still to mention Schott’s commentary, which has recently appeared. Erlangen 1861.

With respect to the Second Epistle of Peter, we refer to our work, “The Apostolical Age” (Das Apostolische Zeitalter, Vol. I., p. 156). We continue to maintain the hypothesis there advanced, that the Epistle of Jude according to its contents was at a later period inserted in the original Epistle of Peter. The fundamental idea of the Second Epistle of Peter is this: Christians are promised to become partakers of the Divine nature by the knowledge of Christ’s glory and virtue; hence they are charged to make their godliness [ åὐóÝâåéá —M.] sure by perseverance, 2Pe_1:3-4. Conformably thereto is the Introduction, which serves the purpose of wishing and recommending them to grow in the knowledge of God and in Christ, 2Pe_1:1-3. Why this is necessary is shown by the argument.—The above mentioned theme, 2Pe_1:3-4.

Development: I. They are to grow therein practically by the development of their Christian life, 2Pe_1:5-9.

II. Their growth in knowledge is necessary, because otherwise they would fall through stumbling, 2Pe_1:10-12.

III. Such a stumbling might be occasioned to them by his impending departure (his martyr-death) and lead to their doubting the promise of Christ’s advent, 2Pe_1:13-19. (But prophecy is established as the word of the true prophets of God contrasted with the false prophets who shall arise, 2Pe_1:20 to 2Pe_3:2).

IV. The coming of those who deny the advent of Christ, 2Pe_3:3-4.

V. Refutation of their denial, 2Pe_3:5-13, Conclusion, with a reference to misinterpreted sayings of Paul. concerning the advent of Christ, 2Pe_3:14-18.

The Epistle of Jude (on the character of Jude, see my Life of Jesus, II. 149, 699; Apostolical Age, I., p. 364.—Compare the Epistle of Jude in this work) may be regarded as the forerunner of the apocalyptic descriptions of Gnostic Antinomianism (2 Peter 2; Rev_2:6). The type of its doctrine and the symbolical mode of its expression connect it with the Epistle of James. Its more definite analogies in the Old Testament as revelations of the judgment are the books of Obadiah, Nahum, Habakkuk and Zephaniah. On the Apostolicity of its Author compare our special introduction to James.

The fundamental idea of the Epistle of Jude: contending for the true faith against the false belief or unbelief of the (Gnostic) Anomists, Jdg_1:3. The introduction pursuant to this theme: a word addressed to those who continue preserved in Christ Jdg_1:1-2. The theme, Jdg_1:3. Division of the short Epistle.

I. The real character of the Anomists: turning the grace of God into wantonness, Jdg_1:4.

II. The ancient types of these Anomists and of their judgment; a, the people of Israel in the wilderness; b, the rebel-angels; c, the Sodomites, Jdg_1:5-7.

III. More definite characteristics. Fanaticism unfolding on the one hand into voluptuousness, on the other, into contempt of authority, Jdg_1:8-10. The development of their ruin, Jdg_1:11. Their pseudo-Christian and anti-Christian character, Jdg_1:12-13.

IV. Their coming foretold as to the fundamental trait of their character, viz., murmuring against revelation; a, by Enoch, the most ancient prophet (according to Jewish tradition, to which the book of Enoch also must be supposed to have been indebted); b, by the Apostles of Christ, Jdg_1:14-20.

V. Exhortation to proper behaviour towards them; a, defensive, Jdg_1:20-21; b, polemical, Jdg_1:22-23. Conclusion, Benediction for the preservation of the readers and doxology, Jdg_1:24-25.

The Epistles of John join with the Epistle to the Hebrews, as the last type of the developments of Pauline doctrine. They form in conjunction with his Gospel and Apocalypse the last and most completed type of New Testament doctrine. On the unity of this grand trilogy, compare my History of the Apostolic Age, II., p. 571.

The much misunderstood unity of the three Epistles of John, flows from the relation of the second and third Epistles to the theme and division of the first. For the theme of the first Epistle is not, as is commonly supposed, communion with God through Christ, but the mutual communion of Christians based upon that communion. The true communion of the Church based upon walking in the light, 1Jn_1:7. The Introduction leads to this. The end of all Apostolical preaching is to bring about Apostolic communion as a medium of communion with the Father and the Son. For historically the communion with God is made to depend on communion with the Apostles; but then the communion of Christians among themselves as a communion of perfect joy (the êïéíùíßá = ἐêêëçóßá ) is made to depend on communion with the Lord. Hence:

I. The communion of God and Christ on which the communion of Christians is made to depend: a, permanent reconciliation; b, confession of sins; c, faith in the Advocate; d, the keeping of His commandments; e, that is, of His word; f, i.e. of the commandment of brotherly love; g, formation of this behaviour in fathers, young men and children; h, the rooting of this behaviour in the love of God, as contrasted with the love of the world, 1Jn_1:7 to 1Jn_2:17.

II. The communion of Christians as contrasted with the Ebionito-Antichristian denial of Christ and hatred of the brethren, evidenced by the abandonment of communion, 1Jn_2:18 to 1Jn_3:24. The Antichristians; a, seceded; b, denial that Jesus is the Christ, the Son; c, exhortation to perseverance in faith; d, the protection of the anointing (with the Holy Ghost); e, the dignity of adoption [Kindschaft=state of being the children of God—M.]; f, the demonstration of adoption: righteousness, brotherly love.

III. Maintenance of purity of communion as contrasted with Gnostic spirits who deny Christ having come in the flesh, 1Jn_4:1-6.

IV. The vitalizing of the communion of Christians among each other, 1Jn_4:7 to 1Jn_5:12; a. The source of brotherly love: God is Love; b Maintenance of this love by brotherly love, by the Holy Ghost, by the confession of Christ; c, the perfecting of this love in joyfulness before God; in rejoicing in the brethren as God-born; d, Test of true brotherly love by the love of God as evidenced by faith in the Son of God. Conclusion. Exhortation to faith; to prayer; to intercession for erring brethren; to confidence; to watchfulness against deifying the world, 1Jn_5:12-21.

Now since the First Epistle of John manifestly sets forth the law of the life of Christian communion, his two lesser Epistles are dearly corollaries of the first, the second (to the êõñßᾳ ) warning against a lax loosing of the limits of communion, and the third (to Gaius) contending on the other hand against a fanatical narrowing of its large-hearted and wide-reaching sphere.

The Epistle to the Hebrews, being so variously connected with the Catholic Epistles and more particularly with the Epistle of James, we also add a brief notice on its construction. Its fundamental idea is: Christ, the fulfiller of the revelation of the Old Testament as the Son of God, is as such the eternal Mediator of the real atonement-religion [Germ. Versöhnungs kultus, the real worship of the religion of atonement—M.], and therefore the eternal and heavenly Centre thereof, Heb_1:2-3.

I. As such He is superior to the mediators of the Old Testament economy; a, to angels, even as God-Man, Heb_1:4 to Heb_2:18; b, to Moses, the servant of the house, as the Son preparing the house, Heb_3:1-19; c, to Joshua, the mediator of Sabbath-rest in Canaan, Jam_4:1-13; d, to Aaron, the Highpriest, as a Priest forever, who has offered obedience, Heb_4:14 to Heb_5:14; e, to Mosaism in its entireness, to which the readers of the Epistle cannot return without falling away, Hebrews 6; f, to Abraham even, as the real Priest of God, typified by Melchizedek, Heb_7:1-11.

II. As the priesthood of Christ is superior to the status of the Old Covenant, so is also the New Covenant with its services superior to the Old Covenant, a, The superiority of the new law and covenant, Heb_7:12-22; b, the superiority of the new priesthood, Heb_7:23-28; c, the superiority of the new sanctuary and its services, Heb_8:1 to Heb_10:39. (1, The new tabernacle, 2, the New Testament, 3, the new entrance of the new High-priest into the holiest of holies. The new covenant-blood and sacrifice. 4. Warning against the new or the New Testament apostasy).

III. Hence the New Testament faith is also the sublime completion and fulfilment of the old faith, Heb_11:1-40. Warning against apostasy from this faith, Heb_12:1-17.

IV. Hence also the new congregation on the spiritual Mount Zion, is superior to the old congregation at Mount Sinai, Heb_12:18-24. Warning against disobedience. Exhortation to thank-offering; to the manifestation of this living service in brotherly love, Heb_12:25 to Heb_13:7. Conclusion. The application, Heb_13:9. Caution against false teachers. Exhortation to bearing the reproach of Christ, to the life of prayer, to churchly disposition [i.e., with reference to Heb_13:17—M.]. Appropriate benediction and salutation, Heb_13:10-24.


See the General Commentaries. Those on the New Testament Heubner, (Vol. IV., has since been published), Heidegger, Enchiridion, p. 617. Danz, Universal Dictionary, p. 513; Supplement, p. 60. Winer, Manual of Theol. Literature, 1, p. 270; Supplement, p. 42. Lilienthal, Bibl. Archivarius, p. 734. Reuss, Introduction, p. 132. Wiesinger, The Epistle of James (Olshausen’s Commentary, Vol. VI., part 1,, p. 45).

On the Catholic Epistles in general or in part: Clement of Alex., Didymus, Ven. Bede, Grynæus, Aretius, Justinianus, Hornejus, Herder, Epistles of two brothers of Jesus in our Canon, Lemgo, 1775.

On separate epistles: Schröder, Seemiller, Semler, Roos, Morus, Hottinger, Zacharlæ, Paraphrase Exposition. Göttingen, 1776. Bengel, Explanatory Paraphrase of the Catholic Epistles and the Revelation of John, Tübingen, 1781. Commentary by G. Schlegel, 1783.—Carpzov, Epist. Cathol., Halle, 1790. J. L. W. Scherer, the Catholic Epistles Vol. I., James, Marburg, 1799. Augusti, the Catholic Epistles, Lemgo, 1801–1808. Pott, Epist. Cathol., 2 vols., 1786–1810. Göpfert, the so-called Catholic Epistles, Lemgo, 1801–1808, Grashof, the Epistles of the Holy Apostles James, Peter, John and Jude, translated and explained, Essen, 1830. Jachmann, Commentary on James, Leipzig, 1838. Scharling, Jacobi et Judœ Epistolœ, etc., Copenhagen, 1841.

Treatises on the Catholic Epistles:—Stäudlin, Comment de fontibus Epistol. Cathol. Göttingen, 1790. Storr, de Cathol. Epist. occasione et consilo, Tübingen, 1789. J. D. Schulze, on the Sources of the Epistles of Peter, etc. The literary character and value of Peter, Jude and James., Weissenfels, 1802. F. Lücke ἐðéóôïëáὶ êáèïëéêáß and Epistolœ Canonicœ in Theol. Studien und Kritiken, 1836, p. 643–650. Meyer’s Commentary (Parts–XII, XIV, XV. Commentary by Huther); De Wette, Exeget. Handbuch, I Vol. 3; III. Vol. 1.

[Besides the General Commentaries of Matthew Henry, Scott, Gill, Clarke, Whitby, D’Oyly and Mant, Barnes and the Greek Testaments of Bloomfield, Alford and Words-worth, there are also the following: Apostolical Epistles: Cajetanus, Folio, Venet., 1531, Titelman, F., Elucidatio in omnes epistolas apostol., 8vo., Ante., 1532.—Gualtherus, R Homilœ in omnes epist. apostol., Folio., Tiguri, 1599.—Hemmingius, N. Comment in Omnes Epist. Apostol, Foiio, Lips., 1572.—Estius, Guilelmus, In omnes Epist., item in Cathol. Comment. Moguntiæ, 1841–45. Dickson, D., Expos. analyt. omnium Apostol. Epistol., Glasg., 1645.—Pyle, Thomas, A paraphrase, with notes upon the Acts, and all the Epistles, 2 vols. 8., London, 1737.—Macknight, James, A new literal translation from the orig. Greek of all the Apostolical Epistles, etc., London, 1816.

On the Catholic Epistles: Theophylact, Oecumenius, Aquinas, Hus, Faber, Calvin, Cocceius, Crit. Sacr., Cornelius alapide, Riclot, Dom Louis, Paraphrase des Epîtres Canoniques, 12vo., Metz 1727. (Much commended by Calmet). Collet, Samuel, Pract Paraphr. on the seven Catholic Epistles, etc., Lond., 1834. Benson. G., The seven Catholic Epistles. Sumner, Abp Pract, Expos. of the general Epistles of James, Peter, John, and Judges 8 vo., Lond. 1840.—M.].



James, who describes himself as Author of this Epistle, must be either the Apostle James the Less (Mar_15:40), or the son of Alphæus, Jacobus Alphæi (Mat_10:3; Mar_3:18; Luk_6:15; Act_1:13), or also “the Lord’s brother” (Gal_1:19; Jam_2:9), who is altogether identical with Jacobus Alphæi (Act_1:13; Act_12:17; Act_15:13; Act_21:18).

This definite hypothesis does not follow solely from the Introduction: of this Epistle, in which he calls himself “a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.” But it does follow from it, that James claimed to possess a prominent position in the Church, and felt conscious of being known to the whole Jewish-Christian Church as James, the servant of God and of Jesus Christ in an exclusive sense, which rendered it impossible to confound him with any other James.But that the tradition of the Church ascribed to him (with a preponderance of testimony) Apostolical authority follows from the reception of his Epistle into the Canon, although it was enumerated among the Antilegomena; indeed it is matter of inquiry, whether during the third century it was not by confounding data and opinions first included for awhile among the Antilegomena.

It is settled, however, that James the Elder, the son of Zebedee, cannot have been the author of this Epistle, because he suffered martyrdom as early as A. D. 44 (Act_12:1-2), while the internal allusions and statements of this Epistle belong to a much later period. The subscription in the Peschito and that in an old Latin translation ascribe without any reason the authorship to him, and Luther took him for the pretended author.

The question of the authorship of our Epistle would thus be settled, had not an old error diffused the opinion current in ancient tradition and modern theology, that it is necessary to distinguish the Apostle Jacobus Alphæi from the Lord’s brothers. It is the old Ebionite apocryphal legend of the Lord’s brothers.

Adhering to the simple statements of the New Testament all doubt concerning the identity of James with “the Lord’s brother” must vanish; although we do not at once see why James the son of Alphæus should be called the Lord’s brother.

For James, the son of Alphæus, passes at once from the lists of the Apostles, given in the Gospels (Mat_10:2; Mar_3:16; Luk_6:14), into the list of the Apostles given in Acts (Jam_1:13). Here he appears as yet as James the son of Alphæus, by the side of his prominent name-sake, the son of Zebedee, who is therefore called simply James. But immediately after the death of this prominent James (Act_12:2) there is mentioned another James, who bears that name without all further qualification (Act_12:17); and the assumption is highly improbable that James, the son of alphæus, should in so short a time, have vanished from the stage past all tracing, without being thought worthy of having even his death noticed by Luke, the historian, and that there should suddenly have sprung up some non-apostolical James, who actually occupied a prominent position among the Apostles. We are thus forced to maintain that if after the death of James the son of Zebedee, who was simply called James, there arose forthwith another James who went simply by that name, that James must have been the son of alphæus. And thus he is mentioned all through Acts, ever the same and ever in the same position of a mediator of the new Christian faith and the historical national consciousness of his people (Act_15:13; Act_21:18). But while the last meeting of Paul the Apostle, and this James of the Acts, who is called James without any further addition to his name, occurred about 59–60, A. D., it is to be noticed, that Paul made mention of James, as the Lord’s brother (Gal_1:19; Gal_2:9) several years before that time (about A. D. 56–57); so also the appellation “the Lord’s brother,” simply, or “James” simply (1Co_9:5; 1Co_15:7 about A. D. 58). Here, again we have to call attention to the circumstance that Paul. in the first chapter of Galatians, conjoins the same James, whom in the second chapter he describes as one of the pillars among the Apostles, with the rest of the Apostles, as the Lord’s brother.

In the first place, then, we must hold fast the hypothesis that James the son of Alphæus, and the Lord’s brother, are identical. The question now comes up, what is the relation of this supposition to the most ancient tradition of the Church? The oldest tradition is represented by Hegesippus and Clement of Alexandria. Hegesippus, according to Eusebius, 4:23, reports as follows: “James, the brother of the Lord received the government of the Church conjointly with the Apostles, who from the time of the Lord until our own was surnamed the Just by all; for many were called James, but this one was consecrated from his mother’s womb.” Then follows an account of his holiness, the character of a pious Nazarite and a faithful Christian martyr. He undertook the government of the Church with the Apostles, that is, he was not the exclusive bishop, but the coöperation (in the office) was reserved to the Apostles as such. As bishop in the Apostolical sense, according to which every overseer of the Church was subject to the joint Apostolate of the Church, he was distinguished from the Apostles although he was at the same time an Apostle, just as Peter was distinguished as spokesman from the other Apostles, although he belonged to their number, Act_5:29 ( ὁ ÐÝôñïò êáὶ ïἱ ἀðüóôïëïé ). If we here press the letter in the sense of a distinction of the son of Alphæus from the brother of the Lord, Hegesippus in another passage (Euseb, III., 22) on the descent of James declares himself in favour of the identity. He says that Simeon the son of Cleophas succeeded James the Just as bishop, this one again being a descendant of the same uncle of the Lord ( èåßïõ áὐôïῦ referred to the next following ὁ êýñéïò ), and that all gave him this preference, as being the second relative of the Lord ( ἀíåøéüò ). Cleophas, or what amounts to the same thing, alphæus (cf. Bretchneider’s Lexicon) was consequently our Lord’s uncle, James and Simeon (the same as Simon) his sons, James and Simon brothers, both the sons of alphæus, both cousins of the Lord, but the former, as appears from what has gone before, revered by the surname “the brother of the Lord.” Still more important is the testimony of Clement of Alexandria(Euseb. II., 1): “The Lord imparted the gift of knowledge (the gnosis) to James the Just, to John and Peter after His resurrection. These delivered it to the rest of the Apostles.” He then adds expressly, “there were, however, two Jameses; one called the Just, who was thrown from a battlement of the temple and beaten to death with a fuller’s club, and another, who was beheaded.” To this must be added the testimony of Origen in his Commentary on Matthew, James 17: But the testimony of the Gospel according to the Hebrews that Christ, after His resurrection, had appeared to James the Just, the brother of the Lord must be taken in conjunction with the testimony of Paul (1Co_15:7), that “Christ was seen of James, then of all the Apostles. The same appearing therefore is called once an appearing to James the Apostle, and again an appearing to the brother of the Lord.

The list of the brothers of Jesus, given in the Gospels, specifies James, Simon and Judas (Mat_13:55). The list in Acts also specifies James, Simon and Judas, but it distinguishes the James there introduced as the son of Alphæus, from James the son of Zebedee, the Peter there introduced, as Zelotes or the Canaanite from Simon Peter, and the Jude there introduced, as Lebbæus or Thaddæus from Judas Iscariot.1, In the Apostolical Epistles we find after the death of the elder James, the name of a James who is an Apostle and also a brother of the Lord (Galatians 2; Galatians 1), who is also a brother of Jude, and to whom we are indebted for an Apostolical Epistle.

The most ancient tradition (that of Hegesippus) informs us therefore that James the brother of the Lord, was the brother of Simon, and that both were the sons of Cleophas=Alphæus. But from Clement we actually learn that there existed no other James of any importance than James the Elder and James the Just, who was one of the most distinguished Apostles (so distinguished that Clement, indeed, erroneously confounds him with James the Elder). Lastly concerning Jude, Hegesippus reports likewise a Jude who was called the brother of our Lord, according to the flesh (Euseb. III., 19, 20). Eusebius after his uncritical manner, or as an erring exegete, turns the phrase “he was called a brother of the Lord” into, “he was a brother of the Lord.” For in like manner he makes Simeon the son of Cleophas, whose death is reported by Hegesippus (Euseb. III., 32), the grandson of Cleophas, because he understood the phrase “Maria Cleophas” to denote “Mary the daughter of Cleophas.”

This identity, which is everywhere transparent, follows also from the most striking particular evidences. Mary, the mother of James the Less or of James the son of Alphæus, is also the mother of Joses (Mat_27:56; Mar_15:40; Mar_15:47; Mar_16:1). This proves that four brothers of the Lord bore the same names as the four sons of alphæus, viz.: James, Simon, Jude and Joses. On tie numerous complications of both lines, see this commentary on Mat_13:53-58.

The opposite view, that the brothers of the Lord constitute a line of the same name to be distinguished from said Apostles is a development which through different stages must be traced back to the Jewish-Christian consciousness; treated with respect to the real point of observation, we may designate it as a view of Ebionite-apocryphal origin. Its first stage is the New Testament emphasis on the sons of alphæus as being the brothers of the Lord. The Jewish-Christians gave peculiar prominence to the respective Apostles of the Jews, especially to James, particularly as contrasted with the authority of Paul. Paul admits this emphasis as to its historic value and recognizes as a climax of authority in which we have first the Apostles in general, then the Apostolical brothers of the Lord and then Peter, the Apostle (1Co_9:5). But his language in Galatians 2 shows how far he is from according to this historical authority any thing like Apostolical priority. The continuance and growth of this Jewish-Christian emphasizing follows especially from the report of Hegesippus. But he still insists upon the identity of the brothers of the Lord with the sons of alphæus, he still designates their brotherhood as an original cousinship, he still holds fast to the coördination of the Apostles.—All this was changed with the full development of Ebionitism. The first Ebionite fanatics, who brought about a decided schism, denounced the aged bishop Symon, doubtless because he opposed their heresy, as a descendant of David, consequently as a relative of Jesus, doubtless after immoderate veneration had changed into immoderate hatred (Euseb. III. 32). But the later Ebionites (according to the Clementines) highly exalted James as the Lord’s brother even above Peter. Now since Peter was unmistakably the most distinguished member of the whole Apostolical College, the distinction of the brothers of the Lord from the like-named Apostles became inevitable. In the case of the common Ebionites was superadded the natural interest that this facilitated the view which made Jesus the actual son of Joseph, and Mary the mother of a number of children.—This spurious, apocryphal tradition imposed upon and misled the uncritical Eusebius, who was wont to huddle every thing together, who was consequently either greatly at variance with himself or uncertain in himself. As by misunderstanding Papias, in the interest of Theology against the Apocalypse (see Apostol. Age I., p. 215) he conjured up the phantom, of a presbyter John, and made Judas Lebbæus Thadæus one of the seventy disciples (Jam_1:12-13), so he made also James, the brother of the Lord one of the seventy, that is: distinguished from James the Apostle (Jam_1:12), although in every instance he takes refuge behind tradition.

This laid the foundation of the vacillations of the later fathers concerning the brother of the Lord, among whom Gregory of Nyssa and Chrysostom favoured the distinction, Epiphanius and Augustine the identity, while Jerome is undecided (see Article Jacobus in Herzog, p. 408). Since all these fathers depend on Eusebius, their opinion, as opposed to the original tradition in this matter, is devoid of all independent weight. In modern and most modern times the majority of theologians beginning with Luther (that the author of the Epistle “was some good, pious man”) have decided for the distinction; but they are opposed by a great number of eminent theologians (see Winer, Art. Jacobus; Wiesinger, The Epistle of James, Introd. p. 4 and others).

The only question, however, relates to the merit of the arguments advanced in support of the two opposing views. But first of all must be settled the question how it was possible that the sons of Alphæus and of a Mary different from the mother of Jesus, could be or become the brothers of the Lord. According to Hegesippus (Euseb. III. 11) Alphæus or Clopas the father of Symeon the second bishop of Jerusalem, was the brother of Joseph and consequently Symeon the cousin of Jesus, by origin. But Mary the wife of this Alphæus is commonly and erroneously considered to have been the sister of Mary, the mother of Jesus. For Wieseler (in Studien und Kritiken 1840, Vol. III., p. 648) has shown that Joh_19:25 ought to be rendered: “But there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and the sister of His mother (Salome; after the manner of John only to indicate personal relations without specifying names), Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalene.” Hence the sons of Alphæus were at the most cousins of the Lord in the legal sense through their father Alphæus and Joseph the foster-father of Jesus, while the sons of Zebedee were at all events His cousins in a stricter sense, as the sons of Salome, the sister of Mary the mother of Jesus. Hence the reference to a wider sense of the term brother as denoting a relative or cousin ( ἀíåøéüò ) is altogether insufficient to account for the constant appellation of James as the brother of the Lord. “But in this place arises the most simple hythosesis, supported by the custom of the Jews everywhere (see Joh_19:26-27). Cleophas was dead, Joseph the foster-father of Jesus was his brother, (Hegesippus in Euseb. xi. 3); he now became also the foster-father of the sons of his brother Cleophas and thenceforth the family of Joseph and the family of Alphæus-Cleophas, the other Mary, therefore, and her sons James and Joses, Simon and Jude, with several daughters formed one household (Mat_13:55; Mar_6:3). Now after the decease of Joseph also, the oldest brothers of Jesus, who most probably were older than Jesus especially James, gradually became the heads of this household and this circumstance would account for the disposition of these brothers even at a later period, to assume some kind of guardianship over Jesus (Mar_3:31; Joh_7:3.—See my article Jacobus in Herzog’s Lexicon).”—The sons of Alphæus were then according to Jewish law the brothers of Jesus. Schneckenburger on the false hypothesis of Mary Cleophas having been the sister of the mother of Jesus conceived that upon the early decease of Joseph, Mary the mother of Jesus went to live with her sister the wife of Alphæus.—

We now purpose giving (with reference to the Article Jacobus in Herzog’s Real-Encyclo-pœdia already quoted repeatedly) a brief account of the reasons and counter-reasons of the distinction between James the son of Alphæus and James the brother of the Lord.

Reasons: 1. James the son of Alphæus, being only the cousin of Jesus, could not be called the brother of the Lord. This difficulty is set aside by the above discussion of the subject.

2. The most ancient tradition of the Church does not make mention of James, the brother of the Lord, as of an Apostle. We have seen that the most ancient tradition affirms the opposite.

3. In the title of the Epistle of James