Epistle of Saint James


The first of the seven so-called “Catholic” Epistles. The author calls himself “James, the servant of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ.” According to almost unanimous tradition, this James was one of the Apostles, the son of Alpheus (Matthew 10), “the brother of the Lord” (Galatians 1), the first Bishop of Jerusalem (cf. Acts; 12; 15; 21), and one of the “pillars” of the Church (Galatians 2). By the epithet “the Less” he is distinguished from the “brother of John,” the son of Zebedee, known as “James the Elder.” The Epistle was addressed “to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad,” i.e., Jewish Christians, as a warning against half-heartedness and the spirit of compromise in matters of Christian faith and conduct. The readers are admonished that their faith must manifest itself in good works (2, 26), in patience amid the trials of life (1, 2), in self-mastery, as exemplified in the bridling of the tongue (3, 2), and in detachment from the world (4,4). Prayer obtains true wisdom and the strength to persevere (1,5; 5,13). The contents and spirit of the Epistle indicate that it was most probably written before the year 49, since no mention is made of the problem concerning the relation between Jewish and pagan Christians, which called for settlement at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15; Galatians 2).

MLA Citation

  • “Epistle of Saint James”. New Catholic Dictionary. CatholicSaints.Info. 13 June 2010. Web. 29 November 2021. <http://catholicsaints.info/epistle-of-saint-james/>