James, the Synagogue, and Jesus – part 3

Mark 1:21 (CJB)

21 They entered K’far-Nachum (Capernaum), and on Shabbat (Sabbath) Yeshua (Jesus) went into the synagogue and began teaching.

They were amazed because he taught as a Rabbi – more succstinct, a Rabbi that got his authority, not from a Rabbi that taught him like other Rabbis did, but as David Stern pointed out at the end of part 2 of this series, claimed authority from God himself:

Matthew 28:18 (CJB)

18 Yeshua came and talked with them. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.

Mark 1:23 (CJB)

23 In their synagogue just then was a man with an unclean spirit in him, who shouted,

Mark 1:29 (CJB)

29 They left the synagogue and went with Ya‘akov (Jacob) and Yochanan (John) to the home of Shim‘on (Simon) and Andrew.


2362. Ἰάκωβος Iakōbos name

James. (See oxford Dictionary below)

Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “2362. Ἰάκωβος,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Zeta-Kappa, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “2362. Ἰάκωβος”.



mid 19th century (in use earlier with reference to St James): from modern Latin Jacobaeus (from ecclesiastical Latin Jacobus ‘James’, from Greek Iakōbos‘Jacob’) + -an

2361. Ἰακώβ Iakōb name


Thoralf Gilbrant, ed., “2361. Ἰακώβ,” in The Complete Biblical Library Greek-English Dictionary – Zeta-Kappa, (Springfield, MO: Complete Biblical Library, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “2361. Ἰακώβ”.

James, Name of

by J.K. McKee posted 14 December, 2006 http://www.tnnonline.net

Why do you call the brother of Yeshua, “James,” when his name was clearly Ya’akov or “Jacob”?

The given name of the half-brother of Yeshua, most commonly referred to as James the Just, was actually Ya’akov (bqo[]y”) or “Jacob.” The name Ya’akov, which appears in the Tanach or Old Testament for the Patriarch who was renamed Yisrael (laer’f.yI) or “Israel” by God, was transliterated in the Greek Septuagint as Iakōb (VIakw,b). Things get somewhat complicated in the Apostolic Scriptures or New Testament where a derivative form, Iakōbos (VIa,kwboj), is also used.

Modern Hebrew New Testaments such as the Salkinson-Ginsburg and UBS 1991 versions render

Iakōbos as Ya’akov or “Jacob.” It is likely that Iakōbos was used by the New Testament writers to distinguish those who had this name from the Patriarch Ya’akov or Jacob.

However, most English Bibles, rather than rendering Iakōbos as Jacob, render it as James. Some believe that this was done to appease King James I of England who commissioned the translation of the King James Bible, but this is an opinion and not a fact.

It is notable that James is an English derivation of Jacob, and it was used to render Iakōbos, to differentiate it from Iakōb.

J.K. McKee (B.A., University of Oklahoma; M.A., Asbury Theological Seminary) is the editor of

TNN Online (www.tnnonline.net) and is a Messianic apologist.

He is a 2009 recipient of the Zondervan Biblical Languages Award for Greek.

He is author of numerous books, dealing with a wide range of topics that are important for today’s Messianic Believers. He has also written many articles on theological issues, and is presently focusing his attention on Messianic commentaries of various books of the Bible.

Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard, Updated

Edition (NASU), 1995, published by The Lockman Foundation.

Ironically, Strong’s Greek Dictionary tells us that Ἰάκωβος Iakōbos (James) is a “Graecised” form of  Ἰακώβ Iakōb (Jacob). Notice the following entry for James (Ἰάκωβος Iakōbos):

Greek Strong’s Number: 2385

Greek Word: Ἰάκωβος

Transliteration: Iakōbos

Phonetic Pronunciation:ee-ak’-o-bos

Root: the same as <G2384> Graecised

Cross Reference:

Part of Speech: n pr m

Vine’s Words: None

Usage Notes:

English Words used in KJV:

James (son of Zebedee) 21 James (son of Alphaeus) 16 James (half-brother of Jesus) 5 [Total Count: 42]

the same as <G2384> (Iakob) Græcized; Jacobus, the name of three Israelites :- James.

James Strong, Strong’s Talking Greek & Hebrew Dictionary, (Austin, TX: WORDsearch Corp., 2007), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “2385”.

Graecized” is defined as: “making Greek or Hellenistic in character.”  In the NASB, we do NOT see the name James applied to anyone with the name Ya’akov (Jacob) in the Tanakh.  In the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, it states:

Some NT names are Hellenized equivalents of traditional Hebrew names-James for Jacob, Jesus for Joshua.

Leland Ryken, James C. Wilhoit, Tremper Longman, ed., “Name,” in Dictionary of Biblical Imagery, (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 583.

Notice what it says in the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary:

 zondervan Illustrated bible Dictionary

In the book: Soundings in the Religion of Jesus:  Perspectives and Methods in Jewish and Christian Scholarship, the following is presented as another possible theory concerning name change in the Greek text:

 Soundings in the Religion of Jesus_ Perspectives and Methods in Jewish and Christian Scholarship

Why do we call Ya’akov James? 

  • It may be as simple as some dictionaries and commentaries state: to make distinction between the Patriarch Ya’akov and others in the Brit Chadasha (New Testament) named Ya’akov. 
  • It may be as stated in the above book Soundings of the Religion of Jesus
  • It may be something altogether different like the theory that King James wanted to establish his own authority as part of the linage of  the Davidic line and therefore a king of divine right and authority. 

I will leave it up to you to research and decide on your own.

Mark 1:39 (CJB)

39 So he traveled all through the Galil (Galilee), preaching in their synagogues and expelling demons.

Mark 3:1 (CJB)

1 Yeshua went again into a synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there.

The shriveled hand being healed on Shabbat (Sabbath) here can overshadow a very important verse:

Mark 3:5 (CJB)

5 Then, looking them over and feeling both anger with them and sympathy for them at the stoniness of their hearts, he said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” As he held it out, it became restored.

The Greek says “anger” and “being grieved” at the “hardness of their heart” – Remind you of anyone?  Pharaoh may have had his heart hardened, but did that mean ALL Egyptians?  As I am sure you are aware, more than just Israelites came up out of Egypt.

Mark 6:2 (CJB)

2 On Shabbat he started to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astounded. They asked, “Where did this man get all this? What is this wisdom he has been given? What are these miracles worked through him?

Again, another important verse – Yeshua teaching ON Shabbat IN the synagogue per the biblical command:

Exodus 20:8-11 (CJB)

8 ד‎ 8 “Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. 9 You have six days to labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a Shabbat for Adonai your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work — not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the foreigner staying with you inside the gates to your property. 11 For in six days, Adonai made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why Adonai blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself.

Mark 12:39 (CJB)

39 who like to have the best seats in the synagogues and take the places of honor at banquets,

When we look at this verse in context, we see something VERY important:

Mark 12:38 (CJB)

38 As he taught them, he said, “Watch out for the kind of Torah-teachers who like to walk around in robes and be greeted deferentially in the marketplaces,

I hope you can understand what Yeshua is doing here when he is teaching this.  He is not sitting here just criticizing – He is showing these disciples that He hand-picked what kind of witness, leader and servant he wants them to be – that he EXPECTS them to be!  He wants them to be humble, not proud – sincere, not hypocritical!  He is doing this by showing them what he specifically does NOT want them to be – He is giving them examples of what NOT to be – the way NOT to act!

Mark 13:9 (CJB)

9 “But you, watch yourselves! They will hand you over to the local Sanhedrins (courts), you will be beaten up in synagogues, and on my account you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them.

This verse has a context that is hard to understand for some:

Mark 13:10 (CJB)

10 Indeed, the Good News has to be proclaimed first to all the Goyim.

Now let’s compare that context with another statement that Yeshua made:

Matthew 15:24 (CJB)

24 He said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Isra’el.”

This can be tough to understand unless you understand why these two statements are made.  This topic is a paper in and of itself, so to keep this post shorter, I will direct you to a point in the text that will give you a clue: 

Deuteronomy 31:19 (CJB)

19 “Therefore, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the people of Isra’el. Have them learn it by heart, so that this song can be a witness for me against the people of Isra’el.

Now read in context the rest of  Chapter 31 and then Chapter 32:1-43 which is known as Ha’azinu (Hear) – The song of Moshe (Moses).  If you are still confused, don’t worry.  I will write something more detailed on it in the future.

Luke 4:15 (CJB)

15 He taught in their synagogues, and everyone respected him.

This becomes a tough verse if you think EVEYONE in the synagogues are hypocrites.  This same Galil (Galilee) mentioned in our first verse in Part 2 of this series in Matt 4:23 is mentioned here too – ALL (everyone) gave “glory, honor, and praise (respected)”

Luke 4:16 (CJB)

16 Now when he went to Natzeret (Nazareth), where he had been brought up, on Shabbat (Sabbath) he went to the synagogue as usual. He stood up to read,

Again, a tough verse if you think Yeshua condemned all Jews.  A tough verse if you think Yeshua considered all in the synagogues hypocrites.  “AS USUAL (as was His custom)” 

Luke 4:20 (CJB)

20 After closing the scroll and returning it to the shammash (attendant), he sat down; and the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him.

Sitting down meant that he was going to say something important – Jews in synagogues knew this.  This is why it says “the eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fixed on him. 

The people in this synagogue in Nazareth were a little different than the ones in Galil and they got ticked-off at his teaching (see verse 28 below)

Luke 4:28 (CJB)

28 On hearing this, everyone in the synagogue was filled with fury.

Luke 4:33 (CJB)

33 In the synagogue there was a man who had an unclean demonic spirit, who shouted in a loud voice,

Luke 4:38 (CJB)

38 Leaving the synagogue, he went to Shim‘on’s (Simon’s) house. Shim‘on’s (Simon’s) mother-inlaw was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him to do something for her.

Luke 4:44 (CJB)

44 He also spent time preaching in the synagogues of Y’hudah.

Interlinear: of Galil (Galilee). of [Y’hudah (Judea)]

Luke 6:6 (CJB)

6 On another Shabbat (Sabbath), when Yeshua (Jesus) had gone into the synagogue and was teaching, a man was there who had a shriveled hand.

Luke 7:5 (CJB)

5 for he loves our people — in fact, he built the synagogue for us!”

More context here: 

Luke 7:6 (CJB)

6 So Yeshua went with them. He had not gone far from the house, when the officer sent friends who said to him, “Sir, don’t trouble yourself. I’m not worthy to have you come under my roof —

He went with them why? Again, context:

Luke 7:4 (CJB)

4 They came to Yeshua and pleaded earnestly with him, “He really deserves to have you do this,

If the synagogue was all bad, would Yeshua have considered their pleading and reasoning to go see this Gentile that causes Yeshua to exclaim:

Luke 7:9 (CJB)

9 Yeshua was astonished at him when he heard this; and he turned and said to the crowd following him,

I tell you, not even in Isra’el have I found such trust!”

This seems like a good place to stop to keep this post shorter.  I will finish the 4th and final part soon.

Brothers and Sisters, I really hope and pray you are seeing how things in the text can be taken out of context, omitted here and there, accepted here and there, explained to fit a theology (eisegesis), while ignoring Yeshua’s main approach and teaching when he faced the Adversary where he said,

But it also says . . .”

We would be wise to remember those 4 little words because they are the catalyst for understanding.  The reason is simple if we are willing to see them for what they say.  As I have done before, I will leave you with this verse which explains why:

Ephesians 2:14-16 (CJB)

14 For he himself is our shalom — he has made us both one and has broken down the m’chitzah (barrier wall) which divided us 15 by destroying in his own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, with its commands set forth in the form of ordinances. He did this in order to create in union with himself from the two groups a single new humanity and thus make shalom, 16 and in order to reconcile to God both in a single body by being executed on a stake as a criminal and thus in himself killing that enmity.

Blessings to you all and may you have that shalom (peace) that our blessed Savior died to give us so that we could be one new man!  Praise Yeshua HaMachiach – the lamb that was slain, for us, so that there could be forgiveness of sins!


About Even If Ministries

Dani'el 3:17-18 (CJB) 17 Your majesty, if our God, whom we serve, is able to save us, he will save us from the blazing hot furnace and from your power. 18 But even if he doesn’t, we want you to know, your majesty, that we will neither serve your gods nor worship the gold statue which you have set up.”
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