Answering Islam - A Christian-Muslim dialog

The Christology of James and Jude

What The Commentators and Scholars Are Saying

Sam Shamoun


In this specific section we will be quoting from a variety of sources and commentaries, both conservative and liberal, to see how various scholars have interpreted passages such as James 1:1, 2:1, 4:12, and 5:7-9, as well as Jude 1:4-5, since these are the particular texts that help us discern the Christological beliefs of James and Jude as representative of what is commonly referred to as Jewish Christianity. As will become evident from what follows, the views of these inspired authors and eyewitnesses concerning their half-brother perfectly comport with so-called Pauline Christianity and the historic, orthodox view of the Lord Jesus Christ. As the citations will demonstrate, these early disciples of the risen Lord Jesus were anything but Muslims. 

The readers will immediately pick up on the fact that the scholars are undecided on how to best translate James 2:1, i.e., should it be rendered as “our glorious Lord Jesus Christ,” or as “our Lord Jesus Christ, [who is] the Glory.” However, despite this difference, all of these expositors and theologians agree that the passage itself ascribes full Deity to the Lord Jesus, and therefore proves that Jesus’ earliest Jewish believers believed in his essential Divinity.   

The References

“This long string of genitive phrases has been variously rendered over years of translation. KJV, RSV, TEV, and others agree on 'our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Glory,' assuming a second kyrios ('Lord') to make sense of the phrase. Laws and others suggest a more literal 'our Lord Jesus Christ, the Glory' but then must rather laboriously account for the additional title by way of the Hebrew kabod and the Shekinah. Attempts to construe 'glory' with 'faith' (pistis) are undermined by their relative distance in the expression and differences in case; so also the suggestion of 'faith in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.' Interestingly, the very awkwardness of the expression argues in favor of its originality, for an interpolator would likely have provided a smoother phrasing less apt to call attention to itself.33

33 So M. Dibelius, Letter of James (1975), p. 127. The awkwardness of the phrase has implications for the original 'Christianity' of the letter, for just as an editor would be expected to have smoothed out the phrase, an interpolator would be expected to have inserted something more felicitous. (William F. Brosend II, James and Jude (New Cambridge Bible Commentary) [Cambridge University Press, 2004], p. 57; bold emphasis ours)

“… Jesus is identified by name on only two occasions in this letter (1:1; 2:1). This led Massebieu (249-83) and Spitta (1-239) to advance the theory that the letter of James was originally a writing stemming from the world of Israel, later Christianized through the insertion of a twofold reference to Jesus (1:1; 2:1). Such a theory fails to take account of this letter's closeness to Jesus' thought and sayings, which permeate the writing. Furthermore, no manuscript evidence can be given to support such a theory. The Greek nouns theos and kyrios are both without the article. This has led some scholars to see the phrase as referring solely to Jesus: 'Jesus Christ, God and Lord' (e.g., Vouga, 'Jesus-Christ, Dieu et Seigneur,' 35). For Jesus to be described in such an unequivocal way as God would be extremely unusual in the context of the New Testament writings, especially if the letter of James is judged to be a relatively early writing (see the Introduction). Some manuscripts try to remove the ambiguity by identifying God as 'Father' (pater). This is clearly not the original text, but an interpretation. James is a slave both of God (as Father) and Jesus (as Lord), which implies an equality between God (as Father) and Jesus (as Lord), but their exact relationship is not discussed in any depth. In calling Jesus 'Lord' James reflects a practice found in VERY EARLY Christian liturgical texts: 'Come, Lord Jesus!' (Rev 22:20) and 'Our Lord, come!' (1 Cor 16:22). The LXX used the noun kyrios for God. In the New Testament it gradually becomes a title applied to Jesus showing a growing consciousness and confession of Jesus AS GOD. In the letter of James the term kyrios is used sometimes in reference to Jesus and other times in reference to God (Father). Only the context can decide. The noun christos is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Messiah, meaning Anointed One. This title indicates that the hearers/readers belong to a messianic movement that sees in Jesus the fulfillment of the messianic hopes of the house of Israel.” (Patrick J. Hartin, James (Sacra Pagina), ed. Daniel J. Harrington, S.J. [A Michael Glazier Book published by Liturgical Press, Collegeville, MN 2009], Volume 14, p. 50; bold and capital emphasis ours)   

“… James’s lofty description of Jesus as the Messiah of Israel (Christ), the Lord, the glorious one (or, less probably, ‘the glory,’ alluding to the Shekinah, the presence of God) shows just how exalted is his conception of Jesus…” (Baker Commentary on the Bible Based on the NIV, edited by Walter A. Elwell [Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI: Second printing, 2002], pp. 1155-1156; bold emphasis ours) 

“… James goes beyond the OT usage in adding the Lord Jesus Christ to servant of God. This shows the movement in the early church to recognize the equality of Christ with God.” (New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, edited by G.J. Wenham, J.A. Motyer, D.A. Carson, R.T. France [Inter-Varsity Press, Downers Grove, Il/Leicester, England: Fourth edition, 1994], p. 1356; bold emphasis ours)

“… Though James was the Lord’s brother, both here and 2:1 he gives Him His full title (cf. 2 C. 5:16). Such words from a strict Jew, especially as he links the service of God and of Christ, are equivalent to a confession of His deity…” (New International Bible Commentary (Based on the NIV), F. F. Bruce (General editor) [Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI 1979], p. 1537; bold emphasis ours) 

“… ‘Lord’ is not repeated here in the original before ‘glory’ and Bengel suggested that the meaning is ‘our Lord Jesus Christ (who is) the glory’, and that rendering has been accepted by Hort, Mayor and others (cf. Lk. 2:32; Jn 1:14; Rom. 9:4; Heb. 1:3; 9:5; 1 Pet. 4:14). A simple emendation would yield the attractive reading: ‘the Lord Jesus Christ, our glory’. Mayor quotes evidence to show that the Shekinah, the Jewish name for the divine glory living among men, was used of God and of the Messiah, e.g. ‘The Lord of the serving angels, the son of the highest, yea, the Shekinah’ (cf. Zech. 2:5; 6:13)…” (Ibid, p. 1539; bold emphasis ours)

“James wrote as a servant ‘of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Some have understood this phrase only to speak of Jesus, thus identifying Him as God. Since the 'and' (Greek kai) could be understood to mean 'even,' this is possible, but it seems more natural to see James referring to God the Father and to His Son. In typical N.T. fashion, this places Jesus and His Father on equal terms

“The titles James uses for the Savior are common in the N.T., yet significant. ‘Lord’ (Greek kurios) traces its meaning back to its use in the Greek translation of the O.T. called the Septuagint, often designated LXX after its alleged number of Jewish translators (see the 'Letter of Aristeas'). There 'Lord' served as the translation for the divine names, both Yahweh and Adonai. Its N.T. application to Jesus is therefore freighted with significance. Jesus is the Yahweh of the O.T., and N.T. writers are not shy about making this identification (e.g., cf. 1 Pet. 2:3 with Ps. 34:8).

“‘Jesus’ (Greek Iesous), meaning 'Jehovah is salvation,' is His human name, given Him prior to His conception. It points both to His deity and to His purpose for taking on flesh.” (Harrison Picirilli, The Randall House Bible Commentary: James, 1, 2 Peter, and Jude, Robert E. Picirilli (General editor) [Randall House Publications, Nashville, TN 1992], p. 10; bold emphasis ours) 

“… That He is referred to as the Lord 'glory' should probably be understood to indicate that He is glorious (Martin 60). This adjectival use fits well with other passages in James (e.g., 1:25).

“On the other hand, some understand the phrase to mean that Jesus is 'the glory' and particularly, the Shekinah glory (Townsend, 'Christ' 116, 117). Though the designation 'Shekinah glory' never appears in Scripture, surfacing only in post-biblical literature, it applies nicely to Jesus. Its Hebrew root (shakan) means 'to dwell' (cf. Ex. 29:45, 46), making the term most applicable to the God who dwelt among men. However we understand the phrase 'Lord of glory,' the allusion to Jesus' glorious nature stands as 'one of the noblest titles accorded to the church's head in the New Testament' (Martin 74). With the glory clearly belonging to Jesus, this certainly leaves no room for lauding men, no matter how rich.” (Ibid, pp. 27-28; bold emphasis ours) 

“Although James's service was rendered to 'God and to the Lord Jesus Christ,' the text could bear the sense of affirming the deity of Christ. This sense appears again in 2:1, where Jesus can be said to be the glory of God. It is grammatically possible that James was saying he served 'Jesus Christ who is God and Lord,' which would be one of the great affirmations of the deity of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. Titus 1:1, the only other New Testament greeting to use the term 'servant of God,' does not add the name of Jesus Christ, whereas Rom 1:1, 2 Pet 1:1, and Jude 1 use 'servant of [Jesus] Christ.' The Book of Acts expresses the close relation between God and Jesus Christ (cf. 11:17; 15:26; 28:31). We should not turn away too quickly from this suggested interpretation.

“James, however, may have been intending to exalt both God the Father and Christ. There is no doubt that such an ascription of deity to Jesus Christ would be a sensitive issue–though not as much in a Gentile as in a Jewish context. We must remember what an exalted status 'Lord' carries and how it can be applied to both God and Jesus (1:27 and 3:9). Perhaps there is a kind of openness in this text for a reading that both distinguishes and identifies God and Christ. Against this ambiguity, however, is the use of the word 'God,' which in James always refers to the Father (1:27; 3:9). In serving Christ as Lord, James served God the Father.” (Kurt A. Richardson, James – The New American Commentary: An Exegetical and Theological Exposition of Holy Scripture (New International Version) [Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997], Volume 36, pp. 53-54; bold emphasis ours) 

7 doulos ("slave," a better translation than "servant") indicates full subjection to the authority of another. Note the use of this title rather than that of "apostle." Jude, the brother of Jesus, also employed the title "slave" at the beginning of his letter. This simple title indicates the familiarity of all with the author. No reference then is being made to Jesus in his earthly life (cf. 2:1). Instead, James was putting himself in the same relation of faith in Jesus as other believers (cf. 3:1-2). (Ibid, p. 53; bold emphasis ours)

The Lord Jesus Christ is the divine glory.6 He is the one who is the light and radiance of God. A close thought connection with Paul's ascription 'the Lord of glory' in 1 Cor 2:8 can be detected here. But even the Pauline phrase does not assert what John's Gospel does with its reference to 'his glory' (John 1:14). After all, if John shared the leadership of the Jerusalem church with James (Gal 2:9), then they probably also shared the same inspired understanding of Jesus. Although the glory of Christ was made clear to the disciples in his resurrection, John asserted that Jesus' glory was always apparent by faith. In this unique verse in James, Jesus is the very embodiment of the divine glory made present in the world. Like the Shekinah to the people of God in the Old Testament and the Immanuel who is Jesus, the very glory of God is embodied in the person of Christ

“An interchangeability between Christ and glory is observable here. Christ is the divine Savior, and the divine glory saves the believer. Since the glorious divine Word became embodied as the Messiah, believers do the works he has assigned to them on an equal standing with each other…” (Ibid, p. 109; bold emphasis ours)

6 tes doxes: "the glory" of God; possibly "glorious Lord" (cf. Heb 1:3). The combinations of Greek words in this verse make it notoriously difficult to translate and therefore difficult to interpret precisely. The word "glory" stands here for the Lord himself, who contains all glory in his essence. The early date of this epistle is no argument against this ascription to Jesus Christ. It is likely that biblical references to the presence of God and the divine glory among his people are the proper frame of reference for this statement; cf. Lev 26:11f.; Pss. 63:2; 85:9; Zech 2:5; 6"12f.; Hag 2:7,9; Matt 22:14; 25:3; F. Mussner, ""Direkte' und 'indirekte' Christologie im Jakobusbrief," Catholica 24 (1970); 111-17. (Ibid) 

“… ‘Slave’ preserves the sense of the Greek word here (doulos) better than 'servant.' Christians committed themselves to Jesus as their absolute divine master just as actual slaves had to swear unconditional allegiance to their human masters.

“Because 'slave' is anarthrous, 'God' and 'Lord' follow suit, which means that Granville Sharp's rule, in which two singular, personal, nonproper nouns joined by a coordinating conjunction and governed by a single article refer to the identical entity, does not come into play. But except for the article, all of the necessary elements are present, so this could be an early equation of Jesus with God. He is, at the very least, Master and Messiah (Lord and Christ). 'The Lord Jesus Christ' is the fullest of the many combinations of the name Jesus with various titles or appellations in the NT.” (Craig L. Blomberg & Mariam J. Kamell, James: Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Clinton E. Arnold (General editor) [Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI], p. 47; bold emphasis ours) 

“The last genitive, 'the glory' (tes doxes), can be taken in two different ways. The first, and by far the most common, is as a descriptive or qualitative genitive, that is, 'our glorious Lord Jesus Christ' (cf. Jas 1:25; 1Co 2:8). The second, appropriate in such a strongly Christological context, is appositional, so that Christ is equated with the shekinah glory of God, the 'localized presence of Yahweh.' If this reading is accepted, James's letter displays a high Christology very early in the development of the church.

“Moo argues against this second interpretation by claiming that 'never in the OT or in the NT is the word "glory" used by itself as a title of God or of Christ. But, as Robert Sloan observes, the term 'has a long pre-history in Jewish history and theology as a euphemism for Yahweh,' building on the light in the tabernacle (Ex 40:34) and temple (1Ki 8:11) and Ezekiel's vision of the heavenly throne (Ezek 1:28). It is widely used in close association with God and Christ to refer to their presence, and in this context it is not occurring 'by itself,' but with a triad of related titles. Furthermore, a simple descriptive genitive seldom puts the noun functioning as a modifier so far from the word modified; the unique syntax must be stressing the role of 'glory' in some fashion. Baker observes: 

Such a deft reference to Christ as the manifestation of God's presence seems more compatible with the emphasis here on impartiality. This interpretation is reinforced by the reference to Christ as Lord and Judge upon his return in 5:7-9. 'Glory' is best recognized then, as signifying the presence of God as judge.” (Ibid, pp. 106-107; bold emphasis ours) 


At first glance, Jesus appears to play a surprisingly minor role in this NT document. He appears explicitly only in 1:1 and 2:1, though given the full title, "Lord Jesus Christ," in both instances. James knows that Jesus is both the Messiah and the Master of the universe. He also appears to be the very shekinah glory of Yahweh (2:1). The numbers of verbal allusions to his teachings, however, disclose an even more thoroughly Christian composition. The clearest appear in 1:6, 17, 22; 2:8, 10, 11, 13, 14; 3:18; 4:13-14, 17; 5:1, 2, 9, while 5:12 deserves to be called an actual quotation. For James, Jesus is obviously the authoritative teacher. While 'Lord' in 1:7; 3:9; 4:10; 5:4, 10, 11 appear to refer to God the Father, 'the coming of the Lord' in 5:7 and 8 clearly refer to Christ's return. 'The name of the Lord' (5:14), given the frequency of early church prayers in Jesus' name, likewise points to Christ, which then makes 'the Lord' in 5:15 Jesus also. Although less certain, all this makes the reference to leaving room for 'the Lord's will' in 4:15 more likely a specific reference to Jesus than just to God. (Ibid, p. 260) 

“Jude is deliberately raising the stakes here. He does so in a way that some early Christians found difficult, and they amended Jude's words. Jude applies to Jesus not only the usual title Lord (kyrios), but the much stronger term Sovereign (despotes), a word the New Testament normally reserves for the sovereignty of God the Father. Jude even says that Jesus is our only Sovereign. Although we should honour attempts to be reverential, there is no need to amend the text, or to doubt what Jude is saying about the absolute right of Jesus Christ to our sole loyalty and obedience.” (Dick Lucas & Christopher Green, The Message of 2 Peter and Jude (Bible Speaks Today), John R. W. Stott (The New Testament Series Editor) [InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove Il/Leicester England, 2004], p. 180; bold emphasis ours)

38 Lk. 2:29; Acts 4:24; 2 Tim. 2:21; 2 Pet. 2:1; Rev. 6:10.

39 'The only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ' is how the NKJV phrases it here. 

40 The words 'Sovereign' and 'Lord' are governed by a single definite article in the Greek; only one person is in view. (Ibid; bold emphasis ours)

“There is a wide variety of suggestions for such an explanation. The final phrase may be seen as adjectival, qualifying one of the preceding nouns: 'the glorious Lord', or 'the glorious Christ'; but this would be to disrupt the self-contained phrase 'our Lord Jesus Christ'. Ropes and Dibelius see it as qualifying the whole phrase, 'our glorious Lord Jesus Christ'; but for that one would expect a different word order, with tes doxes intervening between the first noun and its article. Alternatively, the genitive might be seen as objective, describing the content of the faith as in 'the glory of our Lord...' This is the solution of Chaine, who finds support in the Peshitta, and cites for comparison Acts iv. 33, the witness of the apostles tes anastaseos tou kuriou (comparison may also be made with similar constructions in 2 Cor. iv. 4 and Rom. v. 2). Again, the objection to this suggestion is that the genitive phrase is at some distance from the noun, faith, which it is said to define; even granted the self-contained character of the long intervening phrase. A third approach is to admit that tes doxes cannot be attached to any one word in the preceding phrase; rather it stands separate from it to supplement or complement it. Thus it could be taken as giving a second title of lordship to Christ: 'our Lord Jesus Christ, (the lord) of glory'; though one would expect that second 'lord' to be expressed rather than understood. GNB adopts that translation, and NEB paraphrases, 'our Lord ... who reigns in glory'. Hort and Mayor see the relation of tes doxes to the preceding as one of apposition: 'our Lord Jesus Christ', i.e. 'the glory' (Mayor compares a similar use of the genitive in apposition in 1 Tim. i. 1; Jas i. 12 would provide a comparison within the epistle itself). 

This solution seems best to take account of the structure of the verse, but the question would remain of what it means to describe Christ as the glory. In the LXX doxa as the regular translation of the Hebrew kabod is part of the language of theophany denoting the splendour, sometimes the actual light, that is both a sign and an effect of the presence of God. So the presence of God in the wilderness is demonstrated by a 'glory' (Ex. xvi. 10); the entry of the glory into Solomon's new temple is a sign of God's presence in it (2 Chron. vii. 1-3), as its departure is a sign of his abandoning it (Ezek. xi. 23); glory is part of the context in which the prophet meets with God (Is. vi. 1; Ezek. viii. 4), and in which the shepherds receive a message from heaven (Lk. ii. 9). The eschatological hope of the future enjoyment of the presence of God may be expressed as a hope for the return of glory, as to the temple, in Hag. ii. 7-9; Zech. ii. 5 (and thus there is no need for any other light in the New Jerusalem of Rev. xxii. 5). In the NT Jesus is frequently associated with, or described in terms of, glory. The synoptic transfiguration narrative has clear associations with the Exodus theophany (Mk ix. 3; Matt. xvii 2, 5; Lk. ix. 32), and may reflect the hope expressed in 2 Macc. ii. 8 that at the last days 'the glory of the Lord shall return, with the cloud'. 2 Pet. i. 17 describes the transfiguration as Jesus' receiving ‘honour and glory'. Paul, John and the author of Hebrews all speak of his glory in terms of his relation to God: Paul, contrasting the revelation in Christ with that through Moses, asserts that God has given 'the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ' (2 Cor. iv. 6); John described the glory of the Word as 'glory as of the only begotten of the Father' (Jn i.14), and records the Son's prayer to the Father to 'glorify thou me with thine own self' (xvii. 5); while in Hebrews the Son is 'the effulgence of his glory' (i. 3). These writers develop the idea of glory in their individual ways, but in their common use of it there may be reflected one early form in which the Church expressed its understanding of Jesus. In him it experienced the presence and activity of God (however precisely or imprecisely this might be defined); a revelation of God that was perhaps his final revelation. A natural framework of language in which to express this belief would be the OT language of theophany, of which 'glory' was an important element. So when James calls Jesus the glory, he may be seen to reflect this understanding of Jesus as 'theophany'; A MANIFESTATION OF THE PRESENCE OF GOD.

“James differs from the other NT writers quoted above in not providing any further definition of the glory he associates with Jesus. This absolute use of the noun probably led to Hort's taking it as a more specific title, identifying Jesus with the divine hypostasis, the Shekinah or the Presence. It is not, however, certain either that 'the Presence' was thought of as an hypostasis in the NT period, or that 'glory' be an obvious or appropriate term for it. The more general idea already presented is probably as far as we can go in defining James's christology…” (Sophie Laws, James: Black’s New Testament Commentary [A. and C. (Publishers) Limited, 1980], pp. 95-97; capital and underline emphasis ours) 


James contains little explicit Christology. The exhortations are more generally theological than christological, like Jewish theology generally. This is not to say that James is devoid of Christology. Baker (2002) makes an interesting case that in James, Christ is implicitly regarded as the teacher and Lord of the church. As such, Christ shares the quality and offices of God. Whether or not James can be pressed quite so far, certainly basic Christian convictions are in evidence:

1. In 1:1, James is identified as a "slave of God and Jesus Christ." Jews called themselves "slaves" ONLY with reference to God, and this formula implies recognition on some level of Christ's deity.

2. In 2:1, Christ seems to be the critical factor in the expected obedience of the hearers, making Christ the embodiment of Torah. By referring to Christ as 'Lord of glory' (or 'glorious Lord'), the author makes at least a vigorous association of the exalted status of Christ with the exalted status of God. Paul uses the same phrase in 1 Cor. 2:8, and a good case can be made that the phrase was derived from early Christian christological interpretation of Ps. 24 (see Bauckham 1998b:243). Further, Jews had faith in God, NOT IN OTHER CREATURES, and the expression… (echein pistin tinos, literally "to have faith of someone") means "to believe in" (Mark 1:22). Admittedly, many commentators understand the phrase… (pistis Iesou Christou) to mean "faith of Jesus Christ," the faith that Jesus himself held. This is addressed more thoroughly in the commentary, but at this point we simply note that at the very least the text speaks of faith that is in some way defined by a commitment to Jesus as the Messiah (Christ).

3. In 5:7-9, James refers to the coming… (parousia tou kyriou, arrival of the Lord) and says that the… (parousia engiken, arrival is near) ; that is, the judge is at the door, reflecting Jesus's announcement of the coming kingdom and the Son of Man in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24; Mark 13; Luke 21).

So at the very least, James operates within AN EARLY CHRISTIAN FAITH COMMITMENT to Jesus as the Christ, the glorious Lord, who will come in judgment, to whom the author is committed as a "slave."… (Dan G. McCartney, James (Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) [Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI 2009], pp. 69-70; capital and underline emphasis ours) 

"In this letter, however, James identifies himself simply as a 'servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ.' Since James includes no definite or indefinite articles with these words, it is possible to read this phrase as 'servant of Jesus Christ, God and Lord.' But it is more likely that he is simply closely associating the two nouns: Lord Jesus Christ and God. In any case, we must remember that when a Jew put the words 'God' and 'Lord' together, the Lord in view could only be God (cf. 1:7, where 'from the Lord' means 'from God'). No matter how the verse is read, James is setting forth a very high Christology, identifying Jesus not just as Christ (Messiah) but also as Lord, mentioned in the same breath with God. Furthermore, Jews saw themselves as servants of God, not of any earthly king or master, and as Dibelius points out (1975: 65), the term 'servant' or 'slave' ‘expresses a definite relationship to the God to whose cult a person is committed.' So again James's declaration of being a 'slave' to the Lord Jesus is an implicit acknowledgment of Jesus's deity." (Ibid, p. 78; bold emphasis ours) 

“James's extensive title for Jesus is noteworthy. In the sequence of genitives in Greek (… tou kyriou hemon Iesou Christou tes doxes), almost certainly tou kyriou Iesou Christou is a single genitive entity, that is, 'the Lord Jesus Christ,' the object of the phrase 'have faith in.' Both 'Lord' and 'Christ' are not names but meaningful titles. To call Jesus ‘our Lord’ is an acknowledgment not just of the general sovereignty of Jesus, but especially of his lordship of his people (and hence the necessity of their obedience to his teaching); and 'Christ,' of course, refers to his Jewish messiahship. Clearly, James assumes that the people to whom he is writing are believers in Jesus, those who acknowledged him as the Lord and the Christ, or at least those who claim to be.

“‘Of glory' most likely reflects James's Semitic phraseology and should be read as simply a genitive of quality: 'glorious Lord' (as in 1 Cor. 2:8) or possibly 'glorious Christ' (Dibelius 1975: 128; Mussner 1975: 116; Davids 1982: 106). Compare 'glorious Father' in Eph. 1:17, 'glorious name' in Neh. 9:5 LXX, 'glorious throne' in Wis. 9:10, and 'glorious robe' in Sir. 6:29. Since the one article tou seems to group kyriou hemon Iesou Christou into a single entity, 'glorious' modifies the entire noun phrase ('our Lord Jesus Christ'), not any particular one of the nouns. Much less likely is the suggestion by Hort (1909: 47) and Mayor (1897: 77-78), recently supported by Laws (1980: 95-96), that 'glory' is in apposition to 'Lord Jesus Christ,' thus reading 'the one who is "the glory"'; in other words, Jesus is the manifestation of God's character. Although Jesus is indeed the manifestation of the glory of God (Heb. 1:3), the bare term 'the glory' is nowhere else used as a title for Jesus, whereas, as noted already, the qualitative genitive is not uncommon. 

“But even if 'the glory' is not a title, 'glory' in biblical literature refers to a manifestation of attributes, importance, and honor, particularly of God. In calling Jesus 'glorious Lord,' James effectively ascribes the divine attributes and importance to Christ. Since he does not do so in 1:1, one may ask why he does so here. Perhaps he does so, first, because here he spells out that Jesus is the object of faith (the one in whom believers trust), and, second, because in speaking against favoritism he wishes to remind his hearers that faith in the glorious Christ must exhibit his divine character, which plays no favorites.“ (Ibid, pp. 136-137; bold emphasis ours)

“In 4:12 we come to the closing proverb for this section, with a rhetorical question attached. The ‘one lawgiver and judge’ is in Jewish theology the Lord himself, who gave the law through Moses, and who one day will judge all the people of the earth. God stands at both the beginning and the end of redemptive history; his justice is both the standard of, and the motivation for, obedience. The sober reminder that God is the one judge who can save and destroy calls to mind Jesus’s admonition: ‘Fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell’ (Matt. 10:28). 

In the Christian context this judge is Jesus (see James 5:9), and we have already seen how frequently Jesus’s lawgiving activity so apparent in Matthew is reflected in James. In this very context, by using… (plēsion, neighbor) as the one who ought not to be judged, instead of… (adelphos, brother) as in the previous verses, James probably is alluding to Jesus’s declaration of Lev. 19:18 to be the ‘second great’ commandment (Matt. 22:39). Johnson (1982: 397) observes that the love command as found in Lev. 19:18 itself specifically forbids judging and slander: ‘You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge [slander?] against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.’” (Ibid, p. 221; bold emphasis ours)

“The ‘arrival of the Lord' is the… (parousia) of the Lord. Here James may simply be expressing the general Jewish conviction that God will come in judgment. But this very term is used elsewhere in the NT for the return of Jesus Christ in judgment (Matt. 24:3, 27, 37, 39; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:15; 5:23; 2 Thess. 2:1; 2 Pet. 3:4). The fact that James identifies the 'Lord' in 2:1 specifically as Jesus Christ indicates that James certainly can understand 'Lord' to refer to Jesus. Further, the term parousia is not commonly used in other Jewish literature to refer to God's coming in judgment (A. Oepke, TDNT 5:864). Its use in the NT seems to be based on its use in general Greek to refer to the presence or arrival of a royal or official personage, such as a king (LSJ 1343). Here, then, it is almost certain that James, like the rest of the NT, regards the future parousia to be the arrival of Messiah Jesus in judgment. This is reinforced by the next verse… James bases his command ‘be patient' on the fact that the parousia 'is near' (… engiken), the very form of the word used when Jesus announces that the kingdom of God is near, or 'at hand,' in the Gospels (e.g., Matt. 4:17; 10:7; Luke 10:9). Three other NT authors use this verb (… engizo) to speak of the day of judgment or the arrival of the Lord (Rom. 13:12; Heb. 10:25; 1 Pet. 4:7). The power for patience lies in the conviction that the time of judgment is imminent.” (Ibid, pp. 240-241; bold emphasis ours) 

“Although grumbling may seem to be a minor offense, James's warning against it is serious. To say the judge is 'at the doors' surely is to indicate that the day of judgment is imminent. Despite James's paucity of specific references to Jesus (1:1; 2:1), his overall Christian context suggests that the judge is Jesus (so Davids 1982; 185; Martin 1988: 192). Laws (1980: 213) claims that its close association with James 4:12 ('there is one lawgiver and judge') means that the judge is simply 'God.' But it is not clear that James 4:12 is not also a reference to Jesus Christ (see the commentary on 4:12), and the fact that James so plainly links the imminence of the parousia of the Lord with the judge being at the very doors (just as Jesus does in Mark 13:29) makes it quite likely that here too Jesus is in view.” (Ibid, p. 242; bold emphasis ours)

Note 8. Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. The points that could be drawn from here are many, but I will just mention a few. 

1. Jesus Christ is Sovereign and Lord, despotes kai kurios, 'King of the nations' (Jeremiah 10:7), 'King of the ages' (Revelation 15:3), or, as the apostle Paul states, 'head over everything for the church' (Ephesians 1:22). Christ is over all things; he is supreme and absolute. He is the church's head, from whom believers receive all kind of provision.

2. Observe again that Christ is both Lord and Jesus. He came to rule and to save. I shall handle these two titles together and then separately. 

a. These titles are mentioned together in certain places. "God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ' (Acts 2:36). Christ who is the great Lord is also Jesus. He has the greatest power and the greatest mercy. He is mighty but is also a Savior. This is partly to show how we should receive him. We should not only come to him for ease but should take his yoke upon us. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:28-29).

b. I will now take these two titles separately. Jesus is Lord. Since he is God, he has the same glory as the Father. As mediator he has a dominion arising from this office. He is the head of all creatures and the King of the church and on the last day will judge everyone. But he is chiefly Lord because of his heritage in the church. He is Lord over his own people, who are given to him for a possession by God the Father. "Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession” (Psalm 2:8). "The church … he bought with his own blood" (Acts 20:28). Jesus as Lord has brought the church into a marriage covenant with him. "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless" (Ephesians 5:25-27). 

Jesus means "Savior." Christ is a Saviour positively as well as privately. He gives us spiritual blessings as well as freedom from misery. "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him" (John 3:17). Also, he is a Savior not only by way of deliverance but by way of prevention. He does not only break the snare but keeps our feet from falling. He is like a shepherd leading the flock as well as a doctor healing our diseases. God is to be satisfied, and Satan has to be overcome. So Jesus rescues us out of the hands of Satan and redeems us out of the hands of God's justice. To rescue a condemned criminal and to take him by force out of the executioner's hands is not enough. The judge must also be satisfied and grant a pardon or the man is not safe. Christ "has rescued us from the dominion of darkness" (Colossians 1:13), and in him the Father is "well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). (Thomas Manton, Jude- Crossway Classic Commentaries, eds. Alister McGrath and J. I. Packer  [Crossway Books, Wheaton, Il 1999], Volume 21, pp. 100-101)

The Lord is coming– that is, the Lord Jesus, who was appointed to be the Judge of the world. This is given special status emphasis by the word see: See, the Lord is coming, as if to say, "Note this–he is in front of your eyes." 

With thousands upon thousands of his holy ones. This may be translated "his holy myriads" or "ten thousands." The original word signified the highest possible number. This means the Lord will come with huge multitudes of angels and saints: as another apostle says, "when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones" (1 Thessalonians 3:13). (Ibid, p. 17)

According to the recognized usage of the Greek article, the clause must read ‘Denying the only Lord, even our Lord Jesus Christ.’ The word for Lord, here employed by St. Jude, as well as by St. Peter in the parallel passage is commonly used, both in the New Testament in the Greek version of the Old, of a human master; but when applied to a higher Being, belongs exclusively to the Supreme God, as in the prayer of Simeon, in the prayer of the disciples after Peter and John had been threatened by the Jewish council, and in the cry of the souls of the martyred dead mentioned in the book of Revelation, where it seems to be applied to the Lamb who was alone found worthy to open the seal of the book. (The Last Epistles; Commentary Upon The Epistle Of St. Jude Designed For The General Reader As Well As For The Exegetical Student, by Frederic Gardiner, M. A., Rector of Trinity Church [Published by John P. Jewett and Company, Cleveland, OH 1856], pp. 63-64) 

* There are several probable reasons for supposing both these titles to refer to the Savior, independently of any argument to be drawn from the use of the article. It can hardly be supposed that false teachers would be tolerated, even in the most corrupt state of the church, who went to the length of denying God altogether. The passage 1 John ii. 22, sometimes referred to in this connection, relates to a different subject–the denial of the relation between the Father and the Son. What has been alleged concerning certain heretics who are said to have denied God altogether is also inapplicable, inasmuch as it is not pretended that such heretics remained in the communion of the church–like those (see ver. 12) of whom St. Jude speaks. Nor is there any evidence that the Apostle meant persons who, “to avoid persecution, denied the only Lord and God of the universe, by acknowledging and worshipping the heathen deities;” on the contrary, the persecution of the Christians did not aim so much at the denial of the God of Israel, as at the rejection of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2. Some weight should be allowed to a sense which is incorporated into the Syriac translation, and into those MSS. upon which the Complutensian editors based the reading ton monon Theon kai despoten ton Kyrion hemon ‘Iesoun Christon arnoumenoi. 3. He who is here described as ton monon despoten is called in the parallel passage 2 Pet. ii. 1, ton agorasanta autous despten, an evident description of Him who “purchased the church with his own blood.” 

* despotes, whence our word despot. In Greek as well as in English, it conveys the idea of supreme, irresponsible, authority–the authority highest in its kind. (Ibid, p. 63)

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